Tag Archives: Stereotypes

My New Xbox is Sexist

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Alright – you folks haven’t had a good old fashioned Kortney rant in a minute, so here ya go…

Thanks to quite a bit of overtime and a little help from both my mom and Jake’s mom, we were able to get ourselves a shiny new Xbox One the day (night) it came out. It’s perfectly cool with us if you’re in the PlayStation camp, or the Wii camp, or even the PC camp. Heck, if for whatever reason you don’t actually play ANY video games (honestly, think Candy Crush Saga, Farmville, whatever else the new fad may be…), I still think you’re perfectly swell. That’s beside the point, though – the point is that we’ve been Xbox fans since the first generation. Back in 2002 when the original Halo got 8 friends together split-screening on their 4 consoles and 4 TVs set up in 4 different rooms (or 4 different areas of the same room) connected with Ethernet cables in LAN parties – that was Jake and me.

Granted, I was often the cannon fodder for several of our friends, and occasionally you could find my Master Chief standing in a corner, pointing his gun at the ceiling, and spinning around in circles while you heard me cursing and screaming from the next room over that I STILL couldn’t get the first person controls down. But I was new to the genre, I tried, and I had fun. Being a girl didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wasn’t as good as the guys we played with – I simply didn’t have to same amount of experience playing. I was an absolute beast, however, with games like Ninja Gaiden, Beyond Good and Evil, and Tony Hawk Underground.

Fast forward to 2005, when Jake and I were standing in line at the midnight release awaiting the Xbox 360. People in line were talking to Jake about various video game stuff, and I’d chime in a bit here or there about the games they were looking forward to versus what we were excited for, and no one really acknowledged me as part of the conversation. We even got a snicker of “Man, how did you get your girlfriend to come out here and wait with you for the new Xbox?” We shook it off as nothing – little did they know that I would be the first to play Gun in the wee hours of the morning as we brought our new console home.

Now, with our shiny new Xbox One, it seems it’s a lot more common for girls like me to be playing games. And even for the guys we were hanging out with while we were waiting for the release, it wasn’t that weird of a concept for them that I could keep up with their Zelda and Portal references – or at least they hid it well if it was weird. Heck, there were even a few women there standing in line with us, albeit more than a couple were moms who were likely buying the Xbox as Christmas presents for their teenage boys sleeping soundly at home. But I digress yet again…

The new Xbox One comes standard with a Kinect 2.0, a magical mystery robot that listens to me and sees me at all times. Pretty cool, huh? I say things to it like, “Xbox, on,” and it turns on, or, “Xbox, watch TV,” and it seamlessly switches over to my cable so Doodle can watch a cartoon or we can catch up on some Walking Dead. I can even say, “Xbox, volume down,” and it actually turns the volume down a few notches! Or, at least, that’s the point…

The problem with that is it only listens to me about 25% of the time. Another 10% of the time, it thinks I’ve said a completely different thing: for instance, “Xbox, watch Disney Junior,” has been heard as “Xbox, watch MTV,” or, “Xbox, turn off,” has been heard as, “Xbox, stop,” which would seem like it’s a comparable command, but they’re used very differently. The other 140% or so of the time, it just completely ignores the fact that I’VE GIVEN MY ROBOT A COMMAND AND DESIRE IT TO PERFORM A TASK FOR ME!

They still have to work out some basic kinks, right? I mean, it’s relatively new technology, right? Only, I’ll sit there and say, “Xbox, pause,” over and over and it won’t hear a single word I’ve said, and Jake will chime in, “Xbox, pause,” and it immediately bows to him and does his every command!

So I took to the only source I trust, and I Googled “Xbox One sexist” to see if anyone else is having problems with this darn robot not listening to higher-pitched female voices while fully recognizing deeper-toned male voices – an understandable issue, but a concern nonetheless. What do I find instead? Apparently Microsoft has hurt the feelings of a few people in the world, and everything having to do with the new Xbox and sexism is stemming from a promotion campaign that Xbox put out to boost holiday sales.

This is supposed to be an e-mail template you send to your loved one in attempt to get them to want an Xbox One as well, or at least be comfortable with you bringing one into the house. I guess the green underlined words were meant to be replaced by various other options Microsoft thought you might want to say instead, depending on who you were specifically petitioning to.

APPARENTLY, saying things like, “Hey Honey,” or, “You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies,” or, “Did I mention how beautiful you are?” imply that the intended receiver of this letter is the anti-fun female counterpart to the football-loving gamer male who wants the new console and is trying to trick the un-fun lady into buying it when they’d never actually play together.

Women, get yourselves!  Men who want to appear inclusive and pro-feminism, get over yourselves!  I don’t care who you are, this is HILARIOUS!  Had we, for whatever reason, not been able to get the new Xbox on opening day, and had Jake sent this to me in a futile attempt to get me to approve of digging ourselves into more debt, I would have LAUGHED MY ASS OFF while I told him, “No, we can’t get it because of this and this reason that we’ve already had reasonable and civil conversations about since we make choices about what we purchase for the household together as a team.”  And honestly, some days I would rather knit than watch him slay zombies, or destroy buildings with tanks as he’s been doing recently, but other days, “Jake, it’s my turn to sail the open seas of the Caribbean!  My pirate fleet needs to be updated so that I can send ships out on new missions, and I’m fairly certain that you’ve progressed further in the story line than I have so don’t you even think about turning on Assassin’s Creed before I get a chance to get ahead of you!”

Are we really so concerned with being politically correct that people got offended enough for Microsoft to actually issue an apology and switch out the options that were clearly meant to be used as “could have been construed as” gender-specific JOKES that people who know, understand, and love (or ARE) true gamers would only laugh at?  And honestly, how am I supposed to Google legitimate questions about whether or not the new Xbox is sexist when everyone is sitting there whining about how not all gamers are guys and how some girls would rather slay zombies than knit?  OBVIOUSLY it was a joke, OBVIOUSLY it was over your head, and OBVIOUSLY you are far too stuck up to see that truly hilarious things are actually funny.

But seriously, anyone else have problems with the Kinect not listening to women?  I know it’s made by guys for guys so they probably didn’t take into account a tiny little girl voice like mine using it to watch Lifetime or use the Fitness app, but I’d really like to be able to communicate effectively with my little robot.  Maybe I should try asking it what kind of sandwich it wants…

/rant

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Best Friends

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Doodle has a few best friends.  There’s Boogie, his almost 6-year-old best girl cousin friend, JJ, his 4-year-old best bro cousin friend, and Ling, his almost 3-year-old best girl friend – these are probably the three that he’s spent the most time with, that he asks about the most, and that he wants to see as often as possible.  He does have one other best friend though, one who lives for him and only him.

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Best friends since before his chubby legs could take him anywhere.

Ash, our family dog, is almost 6 years old.  She was born exactly three days after Boogie, one of the best cousin friends.  Jake and I (and consequently Ash) lived with Boogie and her mama (my sister M) when Boogie was still just a wee one for about a year and a half, and then another year and a half after that we brought Doodle into our family.  Ash has been the guardian protector for both Boogie and Doodle her entire life.  She’s also been perfectly present whenever dozens of other friends and cousins have come over to play.  She knows nothing but the love and play from tiny hands that still grab, pull, push, and prod.  And she loves it.

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Waiting patiently for him to learn how to roll over.

Ash is an American Staffordshire Terrier.  You might know her breed better as an American Pit Bull Terrier or just a basic Pit Bull.  Run in horror real quick people – this dog eats babies.

As you can clearly see, Doodle is in danger at all times he’s around his bud.  She’s completely unpredictable.  One minute, she seems calm as a cucumber, and the next, with no apparent motive, she turns into a ravenous beast who needs to be muzzled and tranquilized in order to maintain our family’s safety.  Seriously, dangerous stuff here. We do try to feed her a few dozen babies or kittens each week to keep her blood lust satisfied, but we can only do so much and we never know at what moment she’ll turn on our sweet boy.

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I think he’s more interested in chewing her up.

So, aside from my (hopefully) obvious sarcasm there – some people actually think these things.  Heck, you, my faithful reader, might even think these things.  And that’s ok.  It’s not a character flaw.  You might have owned a pit bull who completely snapped on your unsuspecting family.  More likely than that, however, you heard about somebody who heard about somebody who knew somebody whose loving family dog flipped its lid on a small child who thought they were just playing. Either way, I do want to raise some awareness that while some dogs can become scared or angry and attack someone without apparent provocation, sometimes, just sometimes, any breed of dog can be absolutely amazing.

But that’s the thing about dogs in general.  They’re animals.  They come from wild animals.  Sure, there’s been a few dozen generations between their wolf ancestors and your little Fido barking in the backyard, but the fact should never be discarded that they are animals and they do have the capacity to act on various wild instincts.

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Laying on the sweetness so she can get a turn on the XBOX.

Owning a dog, any dog, is a big responsibility.  Not only do they need the basics of food, water, shelter, and exercise, but they also need owners willing to invest time into them to properly train them in obedience and socialization and to invest money into them to make sure they are healthy.  This is for any dog.  And even with all of these factors met, there’s still the potential for any dog to have health, socialization or behavioral issues.  Just like people, each dog has a different personality.  Some don’t deal with change well, others don’t seem to notice.  Some appreciate space when they’re trying to relax, others prefer dog piles.  Some get jumpy or anxious when new people come over, others couldn’t care less.  Some like to dig under fences, others are completely content in whatever confinement they’re given.  They’re all different, some good, some bad, some not at all cut out for families with children.  But, overall, there are many dog breeds that, on average, have amazing reputations as family-friendly dogs.  And do you know who’s near the top of almost every list there’s ever been?  Yep, Ash and the rest of her Pit Bull brethren.

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Doodle enjoys ear licks – Ash is happy to oblige.

Ash is what we like to refer to as a big dumb dog.  (Say that in a dumb dog voice as though it’s just one word, and that’s pretty well everything you need to know about her.)  She loves cuddling, but she’s not really smart enough to know the full extent of her size, so she’s terribly awkward.  We accidentally taught her the command “be a cat” when she was a puppy.  We had cats, she loved chasing the cats, and when they would perch on the back of the couch, she’d perch right next to them.  How cute, right?  Let’s teach her to do that on command, right?  Argh!  We had just about no idea what we were doing as dog owners for a good bit of her growing-up-ness.  Oops.

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Good be a cat, Ash!

She farts, and then looks toward her back-end with this look of curiosity as though to say, “Where in the world did that noise come from?!”  She goes to smell something on the coffee table, doesn’t realize where the end of her nose is, and accidentally knocks it off the table after a few nudges, then cocks her head and stares at the object in complete and utter confusion, “How’d that get down there?!”

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Don’t let her look of frustration confuse you, they will sit like this for hours, every once in a while she’ll turn up her head and lick his little face joyfully.

She loves having her ears pulled and played with, hanging out in the play area with Doodle’s stuffed buddies, chasing the big ball in the yard when Doodle kicks it, and running around the swing set when Doodle and his buddies are playing on it.  Never mind that she doesn’t pay attention to the moving swings and sometimes gets knocked around – she’s totally resilient and will just keep on running with that tail a-waggin’.

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Keeping watch over her Doodle while he practices some fine motor skills.

What’s best of all about her personality, though, is how much she just wants to be close to Doodle.  She’ll park right next to him and do nothing but watch his surroundings, mainly toward the front door.  If ever there’s a noise outside that she deems detrimental to his safety, she posts up right in between him and the offending sound as though she’s about to kick some intruder ass for getting too near her boy.  If he goes upstairs, more often than not she’s right behind him, stopping a little ways away from him but still keeping an eye on him.  Even when she lays down to catch a few winks, she’s still facing him, opening her eyes every once in a while to get an updated location of him and moving her head toward his new vicinity.

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This isn’t a dog, it’s a horse. See?

And how does Doodle feel about his dog? He can’t get enough of her. He absolutely adores giving her nice touches, knows full well not to ever hit her or pull her hair (or anyone else for that matter) and would give up any amount of playtime to simply cuddle with her on the couch. He wants to help feed her and give her water anytime he notices us doing so, and he lets her out back as often as he thinks she might want to go potty (so long as we help him with the door if it gets stuck).

He’s very kind to her when he accidentally steps on her or knocks a toy onto her, as well. He gives her this amazingly remorseful, “I’m so sorry, Ash. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I love you,” as he proceeds to give her head the softest sweetest nice touches he can muster up. Throughout the entire ordeal, Ash has either barely noticed that anything has happened (bigdumbdog) or is licking Doodle’s face with a thousand kisses.

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Perfect timing!

Speaking of kisses, it started as one of those disgusting habits that I frantically tried to do away with when he was little. She was never really a licker before him – I mean, sure, she’d kind of lick us, like on our hand if we were petting her head or on our chin if our faces got a little too close to her face. But, when Doodle was little, she’d straight up go out of her way to give him a full-face slobber kiss at any available moment. We were obviously concerned that she’d develop a taste for him and gobble him up he’d think this was just how you interact with dogs and we’d never be able to stop it.

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Gearing up for a kiss.

Well, while he was learning how to properly open-mouthed slobber kiss us in his first few months, he decided that she was part of the family too and she deserved the same kind of kisses, so that just perpetuated her love of full face licks which in turn further perpetuated his open-mouth kisses. I finally gave up. That’s just how they share their love, and it boosts up his immune system anyway. Luckily, he doesn’t instigate the open-mouthed kisses anymore, but he does still grab her face and give her smooches right on her lips, to which she happily responds with a few good licks across his face. Giggles follow, and then a nice squeeze or chase around the living room ensues.

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Passed out together on the dog bed.

So, as he in an only child and I am a stay at home mess, even though we do play with many friends frequently, Doodle spends most of his time at home with boring old mom, so his dog is his favorite company.  I just adore their love for each other. He’ll get her set up on the couch with a pillow, blanket, and stuffed buddy so she can take a nap, he’ll ride on her like a horse, or he’ll put a hat or basket on her head so she can play whatever super hero or birthday party game he’s playing. And she eats him it all up.

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You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

But my absolute favorite is when he specifically wants to sit on the couch with her so that he can watch a cartoon with her. He’ll ask me if he can go to sleep with her, then he’ll just cuddle up to her however is comfiest for him based on how she’s laying, and he’ll zone out on his show, scooting closer if she adjusts at all. And she’ll place her head on him or shove it between his body and the couch and doze off. And there they’ll stay, probably for hours on end if I kept the cartoons rolling or didn’t remind him to go potty occasionally.

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Cuddles on the couch.

There’s really nothing I can say to emphasize completely how grateful I am that we were blessed with such a kind-natured dog as Ash.  As stinky as her farts are, as annoying as her snoring is, and as irritated as I may get with her when she won’t stop jumping on people who come over no matter how much I work with her on it because she’s so darn stubborn or when she needs to go outside for the billionth time in the last hour even though she’s already done all of the business she could possibly need to do AND has patrolled the backyard at least a dozen times and nothing has changed and she’s just going to want back in after 13.45 seconds of being out there anyway, she really is such a sweet girl and our life would be much less rewarding without her company.

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**Love**

As far as Doodle is concerned, having a family dog (other pets too, but especially dogs) is ridiculously beneficial to children in the realms of education, health, and socialization.   Seriously, check it out herehere, or here, or go look it up yourself.  Children with dogs in their families (or access to dog reading programs like this one) even tend to learn to read fluently easier and enjoy reading more by having a furry friend always willing to sit and listen to a book without correcting mispronounced words or telling kids they skipped a page.

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Lounging on his bestie.

He’s learned more about remorse, sharing, and forgiveness from her than he has from any other friends of family members.  He knows to be kind to all things, creatures and people alike, because we have been able to stress with him the importance of caring for her with love and respect, but also giving her space when necessary.  He will likely grow up with an open mind regarding many myths and stereotypes once he’s old enough to realize the common (and some legislative) views of dogs like his (among other things).  Granted, by that time she’ll likely not be around anymore, but hopefully we will have provided him with ample time and opportunity to make amazing memories with his wonderful dog.  And, by that point she will have also taught him her final lesson – about grieving and loss.

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You just try to separate these two!

Above all, though, he’s got a best friend who whole-heartedly adores him.  Happy, healthy dogs tend to love with a fervor that knows no bounds.  No matter how long it’s been since she’s seen him, how many times he’s taken food out of her bowl, how many times he’s closed the back door accidentally leaving her outside when she wanted in, or how many times he steps on her as he tries to get down from the couch (because if she’s not up on the couch with him, she’s likely parked right below him waiting for him to get down), she’s always ecstatic to see him, kiss him, chase him, and fall asleep on the couch with him.  She really is a boy’s best friend.

The Skinny

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102 this morning. No, not a fever – my weight. 5’7. Calculate it for yourself, BMI standards label me as severely underweight. I’m healthy, I chase a toddler around all day, I’m active, and I eat – regularly, often, large portions, I love food.

I’ve always been this skinny, I’ve always had bones jutting out in every direction. I’ve always had bigger women tell me how jealous they are of my metabolism, and I’ve always heard many of those same bigger women talk about curves being mandatory for sex appeal.

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That’s me, in all of my skinny glory. I’ve been called anorexic, bulimic, a tweaker, a stick, a twig, gross, Skeletor… I have no self esteem issues about what people have called me. I don’t care if some people think the shape of my body makes me unattractive. I landed the only man I care to impress, no one else’s opinion really matters to me.

He’s perfectly ok with my ribs showing, my spine showing, tendons in my wrists and ankles sticking out, my bony bottom sitting on his lap. That’s all that matters to me. But this hate on skinny in general is really disheartening.

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I can’t even begin to find a true source of this image, or the rest in this post for that matter. If you’ve been anywhere other than under a rock the past few years, you’ve seen these or something like them.

I’m just amazed at this dichotomy between curvy and bony, fat and skinny. No one wants to be judged negatively on their own weight, yet so many are seemingly content pegging their size as the “optimal” size, while criticizing others for being a bag of bones or a butterball. And it’s not even just a recent thwart to overcome the stigmas placed on women by size 0 models and actresses.

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It would seem that skinny girls have been told they’re too skinny just as long as fat girls have been told they’re too fat.

What’s that? “Fat” is a little too insensitive of a word for you? Then stop letting skinny get tossed around like a cuss word. It feels as much like a war on skinny as a bar full of frat boys feels like a war on fat for the girl with the most predominant curves. It hurts just the same.

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Dogs? Really? You see pictures and quotes like these posted on things like Facebook and Pinterest followed by some clever comment like, “LOL! So true! Real women have curves.” What’s that make the rest of them? Am I a fake woman? Am I a man? A little boy?

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I understand potential health implications of being very big or very small, and I’m not undermining the fact that some people should work towards being healthier, but I also understand that there is no “one size fits all” where women’s bodies are concerned, regarding health or attraction. It is very hurtful to imply that a girl who is too skinny or too fat or too whatever is automatically less attractive, less of a woman, than another.

If we all want women to be happy, healthy, and confident, we need to stop focusing on their shapes, stop making comparisons to other shapes, and stop finding reasons why one would be better than another. Not all skinny women starve themselves, just like not all heavy-set women can’t say no to junk food. The emphasis that we place on any size or shape only helps to further propel these stereotypes.

I guess what gets me most is how this is all part of some campaign to try and get women to feel better about their differences, feel better about their curves – prove that looks aren’t what make a woman beautiful, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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Yet, if you don’t fall into this perfectly curvy mold, you don’t have real beauty? You’re not a real woman? You look like a ten year old boy? You’re leftover scraps for a dog? What is the difference between this and calling a woman lard-ass, muffin top, or chunky monkey? Why did this somehow slip everyone’s idea of completely and utterly offensive?

When has it ever been socially acceptable to say things like, “Real women don’t have cellulite?” Or, “Men don’t like rolls on their women, they only like them with turkey and mashed potatoes.” Or, “Stretch marks: If I wanted stripes on my women, I’d date a zebra.”