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[ 73 ] February 28, 2015 |

I think it will come as a shock to no one that a movement as misogynistic and transphobic (and, oh yeah, craaaaazy racist) as GamerGate also places A LOT of stock in fat-shaming. Hey! Did you know that all women who oppose GamerGate are fatty-fat-fat non-gamers?

Well, they are.

Making Any Art Form More Inclusive Will Probably Only Improve It

[ 39 ] February 27, 2015 |

Amanda Marcotte has a good rant over at Raw Story about how nobody is going to stop game developers from making sexist games. That’s true and I think that’s good–people should be allowed to make sexist games. And games that don’t acknowledge the existence of people of color and LGBT folks. That’s fine. Now, while acknowledging that, it’s important to keep in mind that when you make these sorts of myopic, exclusionary games, you are not guaranteed an audience for them. Aww, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant for a whole ‘nother day and people who don’t understand what censorship is aren’t reading this blog anyway.

For awhile now I’ve had conflicted feelings about my body of work (as an artist). Looking through my gallery, I can’t help but notice that all my models are young, thin, and white. I also manipulate my models quite heavily. It’s an odd sort of manipulation–I’m not making them prettier, I’m making them weirder mostly. I’m playing with proportion, I’m making their heads too big, their waists too small, their shoulders too narrow, their dresses impossibly voluminous. I’m painting their faces to make them look, uh, creepy-glamorous, I guess.  I have every right to use models that are young, thin and white. I have a right to play with proportion the way I do. I have every right to do my weird take on glamor make-up. But if someone wants to offer a critique of my art based on the observations I just made, it will only help it if I listen.

Lately I’ve been pushing myself to change things up a bit, to create the mood I’m after without relying so heavily on my old tropes. I’m exaggerating proportions less. The piece I’m working on now features models slightly younger than I’m used to working with so I’ve decided not to distort their faces or bodies–at all. I simply wasn’t comfortable taking liberties with younger models and was worried about the message I’d send if I’d gone “all in” as I normally do. Do I view this as a limitation? No, not at all. It’s a challenge, and a fun one at that. I’ve already got my workarounds all mapped out, so there will be no magic missing from my canvas in the end. This has got me excited about working with models of color (although they are distressingly hard to find at my hunting grounds) and and of size. Making my art more inclusive is not going to hurt it, it’s going to help it, and it’s going to make me a better artist with more interesting body of work.

To be clear, I have every right to use any sort of model I want and manipulate her how I choose. However, if I make my art exclusionary I will *purposely* be taking money out of my own wallet. Since I’m not a moron, I happily choose diversity. Here’s to challenging myself and giving everybody a choice and acknowledging the existence of a wider range women. This is a good, healthy development that’s going to spur creativity, not stunt it.

“Open up your hate and let it pour on them” is Def Leppard’s lesser-known song for a reason

[ 54 ] February 27, 2015 |

Only true completists know about the week Vox Day was part of the band.

Linkin’ Around on Wednesday

[ 43 ] February 25, 2015 |

One MEELLION Dollars

[ 43 ] February 24, 2015 |

Questions on Raising an Evil Child

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Black Men Who Scrapbook

[ 37 ] February 23, 2015 |

So, I wanted to put this out there for everyone to see: hobbies don’t belong to people. Hobbies are pastimes that anyone may pick up at any time. When women game, they are not “invading” a male space. A.) Women have always been gaming. B.) People are allowed to express an interest in an activity whenever they damn well feel like it.

Though I am not a gamer, I admit to gritting my teeth whenever I see the charge that gaming is a “male space.” No, nuh-uh.  Nein. Women have always gamed. When I was a kid, my friends and I were obsessed with arcades. We killed space invaders, we gobbled ghosts, we played pinball. I was playing Atari when most gamergaters were just a glimmer in some dude’s eyes. I rescued the princess a million times. (That’s Nintendo, I know, dipshits–I had it.) And even when gaming did legitimately start catering almost exclusively to guys, women were still there, still playing (if in fewer numbers). So women haven’t invaded anything. Let’s just establish that as FACT right now.

But let’s say we *had* “invaded?” SO WHAT? Who the hell cares when a person decides to try out a new hobby? I’ve always wanted to scrapbook. I don’t ‘cuz I don’t have the time, but it’s always looked like a buttload of fun to me, a great way to get people who aren’t necessarily artists to express their creativity.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that most scrapbookers are white women–it’s just a guess. I’d even go so far as to say that someone who scrapbooks is pretty likely to use Pinterest. Fair enough? Now, say, for some reason a bunch of black dudes took an interest in scrapbooking and started using Pinterest to get inspiration. Here’s the thing: if I’m a white woman and I don’t like that? I can fuck right off–the hobby/site doesn’t belong to me. Scrapbooking suppliers are allowed to cater to a larger client base and Pinterest will inevitably look more like its changing demographics. In this brave new world, scrapbooking suppliers are allowed to make cool stickers and stencils and what have you that black dudes like. What won’t be allowed is whining like a pissbaby because the hobby changes slightly to look more like its participants.


Bullet Points on Trolling

[ 49 ] February 22, 2015 |

Piggybacking on the comments in my last post, here are some things I wanted to mention before I move on to a new subject:

  1. There is a spectrum of trolling; none of the trolling I’ve been the recipient of has even remotely been in the “death and rape” threats category. The minimal trolling I’ve experienced has been merely of the “I’m going to try to upset/frustrate/shut-up bspencer” variety.
  2. While some trolling is dangerous and some merely annoying, I’m uncomfortable dismissing the latter, as–as I say above–trolling directed at women has a specific aim– to shut women up. To annoy, frustrate, and enrage them to the point of giving up. To waste their time, to gaslight them. To wear down their self-esteem, to wear them down, full stop.
  3. Volume matters: one or two obnoxious comments can be easy to wave away, ten obnoxious comments can be significantly harder to dismiss. Trolls often count on mob action to achieve their aims.
  4. Any trolling that women of color receive will probably have a nice thick layer of racism on it. So in addition to suffering annoying/awful trolling, they can expect to be horribly degraded for their skin color and/or religion/creed. It’s pretty terrific!*


*No, not really.

Being Trolled is Unpleasant

[ 150 ] February 20, 2015 |

I’ve been trolled. Before LGM implemented its registration system, I got trolled occasionally. Very occasionally; I feel silly complaining about it, so I won’t. I’ve been the recipient of sneering, condescending, snarky comments. Someone called me a cunt. (At one point I considered not blogging here anymore.) But when it comes to online trolling, that is bush league stuff. That is smallest of small potatoes. I feel lucky, so, no, I’m not going to complain about the people (person, maybe?) who troll(s) me. I’m going to complain about the people who troll much more prominent feminist writers. They are just the worst.

Being trolled takes a toll on the person receiving the trolling. The remarkably “mild” trolling I experienced had a profound effect on me, mostly because it was “mild.” More prominent online feminists have experienced what I’ve experienced multiplied by a thousand, at least. It’s a remarkably depressing thought.

Imagine being relentlessly snarked and sneered at, being called an idiot, being called dumb. Being called fat and ugly. Being called rapeable. Being called not rapeable enough. Receiving death threats. Being told to kill yourself. Now imagine having that happen with any sort of regularity. Can  you really deny that that wouldn’t take a pretty profound psychic toll?

I know what it was like trying to keep a home and raise a 3-year-old son while dealing with some–by internet standards–pretty mild assholishness. It was difficult. I don’t have the time or energy to care about what some douche on the internet thinks about me. I’ve got family and a million little obligations to think of every day. I simply can’t afford the psychic toll it takes. So I can’t imagine the toll that prominent feminists (or just outspoken women) pay.

Tuesday Links: Poe or No Edition

[ 72 ] February 17, 2015 |
  • Brianna Wu, game developer and non-shutting-up woman has been the recipient of several death threats, but this may be the most the bizarre one. I hope Brianna stays safe. I shudder thinking what these high-profile #GamerGate detractors must go through.
  • Our own Barry Freed sent me this link. My Poe radar is completely broken; GamerGate’ll do that to you, but…this woman thinks that dinosaurs never existed.
  • N_B wants to you read this blog entry titled “A Non-PC View on Architecture?” Well, he’s a polar bear; there’s no accounting for his taste.

If You Hate My Art and Say So, You’re Not Censoring Me

[ 62 ] February 16, 2015 |

This post has two aims: to tell show you a couple of my latest pieces and to let you know that I’m not a hypocrite–I stand by what I say, even when doing so makes me uncomfortable.


In my last post I asked if any of you liked problematic art/entertainment. Most of you said “yes.” One poster even mentioned my art and said s/he (I don’t like to assume gender based on names) found it problematic. Do I find my art problematic? No, not particularly, but you know what? Thinking my art is problematic is PERFECTLY VALID. It is not insane. It is not silly. It is perfectly reasonable. You know what else is valid and reasonable? Finding my art banal or bad or ugly or weird or creepy. (I mean for my art to be weird and creepy, not so much banal and bad.) It is also perfectly reasonable to scream “I HATE BSPENCER’S ART!” and to not buy my art because you find it crappy or problematic. (If you hate my art, please don’t tell me to my face. It’ll hurt my feelings and I’m already filled with self-loathing, so you’ll just be beating a dead horse and everyone knows that’s Erik’s beat.)

ANYWAY, IN SUMMATION: I HAVE NOT BEEN CENSORED. Please, everyone…I’m begging you: learn what “censorship” means.

The Weight of Masks


[ 239 ] February 16, 2015 |

I wanted to elaborate on my earlier post because it’s a topic so ripe for discussion. See, I like lots of stuff that is problematic. Some of it is mildly problematic. Some of it is “Sin City.” But the bottom line is I can’t afford to–nor would I want to–run around with my hair on fire every time I see something I couldn’t find in my “Politically Correct Entertainment for Social Justice Warriors Handbook.”

So, apparently there’s this game called “Hatred” that was waiting to be greenlit. It was, thanks to the support of gobs of slobbering, neo-reactionary gator-gamers. Some people have described Hatred as a murder simulator. I’ve seen a snippet of the “game” and that appears to be a pretty accurate assessment. But here’s the twist ending you weren’t expecting: I think Hatred should be allowed to exist and I think gobs of slobbering gators should be allowed to support it just to be dickweasles and also because I am NOT THEIR MOM, DAMMIT. Hatred should exist. By the same token, I should be able to call it disgusting  and assume the people who play it are training for a murder spree. That’s how this whole “free to be you and me” thing works. You are allowed to have your gross entertainment–I am allowed to criticize your gross entertainment. Oh, and I’m also allowed to petition for better entertainment.

I could write  dozens of posts like this. I could talk about myriad examples of mildly and hugely problematic art that I enjoy. Because I want to put “paid” on the notion that people who critique art are out to censor and destroy controversial or trope-laden mediums–it’s an outright lie.

Out of curiosity, I was wondering if any of you enjoy problematic (on a large or small scale) entertainment. Let’s discuss!

On Liking Problematic Entertainment

[ 105 ] February 15, 2015 |

I decided I have to talk about this because there’s been a weird convergence of events concerning problematic entertainment. Following #GamerGate, I’ve learned that people who want video games to be more inclusive and less sexist are–without fail–characterized as wanting to censor and irreparably harm the gaming industry.  Following the hubbub surrounding the release of “50 Shades” I’ve learned that women who like the book/film are admitting to a secret desire to be guided by the masterful hand of a strong yet loving asshole. I didn’t know assholes had hands, but in this crazy new video game-destroying, secret-subsmissive world, I suppose anything is possible.

These conversations are so dumb because they’re completely devoid of nuance. I don’t game, but I know that if I did I’d want to play games that aren’t heavy on hooker-killing. And, yeah, I’ll admit it: I’d probably want to play a character that doesn’t have gravity-defying grapefruits as breasts.  If you’re a normal person, you might read this and think “Fair enough. Maybe we need to tweak the way we think about video games and who’s playing them.” But if you’re a Gator, you pretended to read that as “I hate all video games and think that all problematic video games should be destroyed.” Yeah, no. I think that even problematic games should be allowed to exist. I just think there need to be choices out there for everyone who’s gaming; developers need to understand that it’s not just straight white dudes who game. To its credit, I think the industry is waking up to that fact…which is why #GamerGate is a thing.

“50 Shades” is something that should be in my wheelhouse. In fact, when blogs started covering the movie release, I was excited because I thought–for once–here’s a subject where I am–for all intents and purposes–the geek. I’m the person who knows romance novels. I’m the person who can talk with authority about this phenomenon. Well, no. I didn’t read the book. I tried to, but found it bad even by my admittedly lax standards. I found it corny and poorly-written. Then I read second-hand accounts of the story that described the hero as abusive. If the excerpts I’ve read are representative, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. And while I’m guessing that his abuse exists in a prettied up, “sexy”, gray (yes) space, I think folks who say the book is problematic are probably on to something.

HOWEVER, I don’t think that if a woman enjoys the book she is a stupid dumb secretly kinky submissive idiot who wants a man to tell her to her eat her broccoli, dammit, and like it. (Is there a sexy broccoli-eating in scene in the book? I don’t know–I can only hope.) I’m guessing that most of the women who could make it through the book either glossed over Grey’s jerky behavior, didn’t recognize it as occasionally awful, or did but simply enjoyed other elements of the story enough to excuse its icky bits.

Furthermore, it’s a STORY. It’s fiction. It’s about an impossibly handsome 27-year-old billionaire who takes a liking to this “hey, you could be this chick” chick for reasons that are beyond me. It’s ludicrous. It’s silly. I imagine for the women who liked the book, it’s transporting. When you’re reading, you’re transported to a world where impossibly handsome billionaires are obsessed with sexing you up and only your sweet loving will tame them. It’s flattering.

The bottom line is that we all like things that are problematic, because we have to. As things stand now, we just do. Things aren’t written/drawn/created/produced according the dictates of some politically correct manifesto. And as annoying as many of us social justice warriors are I’m not sure we’d even want them to be.

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