Eater of Trees

Posts Tagged ‘race

(crossposted on tumblr)

So anyway, Cabbage was just applying for a job and one of the steps prior to getting an interview was like… fill out this questionaire where you say you’re extroverted and organized and have no disabilities.

I maaaay have taken down the problematic questions.  (There were about fifty questions total, problematic and un-.  About half were problematic in some way or another.)

Anyway it came out with ten questions that were blatantly discriminatory against people with autism, most of which would also be discriminatory against introverts or people with other social issues (because they related to liking being around people or knowing how to deal with people.)

Four of them were things like “I’m organized!” which would be incredibly discriminatory against people with ADHD—after all, organizing things as a job and keeping your house clean are so totally the same skillset. (sarcasm)

Five were discriminatory against people with mental health issues (“I’m calm when I’m stressed” = “I have no anxiety disorders” or “I’m cheerful all the time” = “Depression? Nope don’t have that”)

(Though I mean, you could maybe make a case that those can effect your ability to preform a job, because they certainly have for me; but there’s still like… a certain threshhold where your issues won’t be that disruptive but are still there.  Also? HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE IF YOU’RE TOO ANXIOUS TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE MOST DAYS?)

Also they asked about grades in school, which, I mean, doesn’t really seem like it would necessarily have much effect on the ability to do the job if they weren’t good, and often, you know, they can suck because disabilities with no or minimal accomidation.

SO: I am rather creeped out and certainly do not feel like this company is remotely as “equal opportunity” as they’re pretending.

And speaking of creeped out, here’s the creepiest questions: (They were “agree or disagree” type questions, for the record, so they’re in the form of second person statements)

“Any trouble you have is your own fault” = WOOO VICTIM BLAMING! Also: When we act like exploitative shits, or possibly when someone else in the company is an oppressive asshole, will you make trouble? We don’t want people to challenge the status quo here.

“People are often mean to you” = YEP BECAUSE THAT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER. (I have honestly no idea which answer they’d prefer; probably “disagree” on the grounds of they don’t want, you know, oppressed or marginalized people who’ll be angry at them :\ Regardless though it’s incredibly creepy.)

“When someone treats you badly you ignore it” = YOU MUST SUBMIT TO ALL OPPRESSION!

“You don’t care if people offend you” = DITTO! (I mean, “offend” is often used as code for “abuse and/or oppress and/or hurt” in popular culture.  Personally I don’t actually give much of a shit about offense.  But usually “offense” isn’t just that.)

And finally: “Your friends and family approve of the things you do.” = Approval from people who may have mistreated you for years or generally treat you poorly and who you don’t particularly have much say of whether they’re in your life of not? THAT IS SO IMPORTANT. (obviously this is mostly a problem for people with shitty families, but considering, you know, 40% of trans people have been disowned…*)

Also the whole thing ended with “Are you a woman?” and “Are you hispanic/Latino” which had an “I would prefer not to answer” option, but also is like… they’re going to look at Cabbage’s legal name and probably just assume both of those.  So like… not entirely confident that discrimination there would be avoidable. :\

Cabbage adds:

I really, really, really, really, hate online job applications because they are so completely discriminatory and so common. Every single online application I’ve taken has been exactly like this. You really have to basically be extroverted, normative, able, well organized, and have a perfectly normative past in order to look good on these applications. I hate having to lie because I’m really bad at it but I know if I don’t bullshit my ass off there’s no way I’m going to get an interview even though I know I’m an excellent employee. How is this equal opportunity if I can’t even get an interview because, despite my qualifications, I don’t fit the unattainable mold they expect their ‘preferred’ employees to fit in?

*EDIT: Double checking the statistics it’s ~50% experience some of of rejection; 40% for family refusing to speak with them. (according to the NTDS results)

[crossposted from my tumblr]

I am colorblind.  I see reds at a slightly reduced intensity compared to everyone else, especially when they’re mixed with other colors.

People who claim to not see race are privilege denying asshats.  However, (usually) they can see all colors normally.  Therefore they are not colorblind. (Except obviously when they are)

If people who claim to not see race do claim to be colorblind, then they are also appropriating ableist asshats.  I mean like seriously.  This also applies to when people who think that ignoring race is a terrible idea call it colorblindness and talk about how terrible it is.

(And it’s especially egregious when they do it in an article that talks about appropriation.  I MEAN SERIOUSLY.)

(I’m focusing mostly on video games and fantasy here, but the general ideas definitely appear elsewhere in speculative fiction, and moreso in other media.  I’m just focusing on that combination because that’s where I’ve seen it the most lately, and also because fantasy video games seem to have not gotten passed making clones of Dungeons & Dragons, and by proxy, Tolkien.  And Tolkien had racefails all over the place, which later works sometimes uncritically copy. And Dungeons & Dragons brought a whole bunch of its own to the table, too)

(Disclaimer: I am white, and discuss racism a lot here.  It is possible I may miss things due to privilege.)

This is one of those things I’ve heard people say a lot without any actual thought into how accurate it actually is: “Oh, no, our product can’t be inclusive because it wouldn’t be realistic if it were.” …or similar statements, like “This product is great because they finally have the courage to make a realistic product unfettered by political correctness” or “This product shouldn’t be as inclusive as it is, that’s not realistic!” (I’ve heard specific examples of these comments referring to Dragon Age, The Witcher, and Echo Bazaar, coming of the top of my head.  And those aren’t the only times)

And for an amusing juxtaposition, these arguments are often found along with the reverse “We don’t have to/can’t be inclusive because our world isn’t the real and including real things would be unrealistic.”  This is also full of holes and really doesn’t actually work, either.

Obviously, these are problematic, as anyone with any awareness of privilege will quickly realize.  Ignoring or insulting large portions of potential players because their identities aren’t normative is a really cruel thing to do, made moreso by the fact that many people in positions of privilege tend to just assume that they are the only group that matters, and thus finding works when you aren’t privileged becomes nearly impossible (like, video games with informed, positive representations of transgender people? I have yet to even prove they exist.  Echo Bazaar comes close by making unspecified/nonbinary gender a fully developed option, though I haven’t seen any NPC’s who are explicitly ungendered, and besides, my gender is pretty clearly specified, so we’re not there yet.)

So people invoke these ridiculous arguments about realism when they do screw up and make bigoted fantasy.  When people say “But inclusion is unrealistic!” the problems are that completely erasing minorities usually actually isn’t, their portrayal of the culture that they are supposedly being realistic to is generally not actually, and finally, realism is actually clearly not a priority usually. On the inverse, when saying “But including real world groups would be unrealistic,” usually this is ignoring all the normative real world groups that you’ve included, and, for that matter, when the setting isn’t real there’s no reason not to have it ridiculously diverse.  And certainly no reason to make the normative race in your faux-Europe white.  After all, it’s not really Europe.

With regards to the “inclusion is unrealistic” argument, non-normative people aren’t actually a new thing.  For example, LGB and trans people have existed throughout history (there was a Roman emperor who wanted people to make them a vagina.  I mean seriously, we’re not new) . For that matter, systematically silencing them sometimes is a new thing.  Modern concepts of race are, well, modern.  In an actual medieval society things would probably have been slightly different.  And secondly, the real world is actually pretty diverse.  Even focusing on just medieval Europe, you’ve got North Africa and the Middle East right next door, for a really obvious example.  There was definitely some communication between them and Europe. (Have you heard of the crusades? They certainly weren’t friendly communication across cultures, but they were still communication.)  And of course, there’s no reason for every fantasy game ever to be set in medieval Europe.  Precolonial southeast Asia, would be pretty interesting, try setting it there (I’ve only seen this even attempted once, in Diablo 2.  Not sure it was actually done particularly well, but it’s something new, and should be inclusive if it is done well.)

Anyway, back to the medieval, since video games seem to be stuck there.  As a second point, when they are set in faux-Europe, these games are rarely even trying for realistic cultural attitudes.  I’m not particularly a medieval scholar, I will readily admit, so I can’t point out too many specific holes in it’s supposedly realistic portrayal of medieval culture, but really, there’s never really any research or effort put in to making these things accurate to the time.  I do know, for example, that those giant stone castles that are practically the hallmark of medievalness? Only really showed up towards the end.  And the armor is usually ridiculous (and that’s not even starting on the chainmail-bikini type armor.) And that the Catholic church was all over the place.  And these settings seem to have an abnormally large number of katanas or other references to Japan, usually without the non-white people to go with it (the former is by itself not particularly a problem, and I would guess the latter isn’t a problem nearly as much in games from Japan, which I’ve played rather less of unfortunately.) Which is to say, it tends to be more a popular pseudo-medievalness then anything actually accurate.

And outside of culture, the game’s world rarely is even remotely realistic.  Wounds don’t cause any lasting harm, usually, just lower a hitpoint meter that doesn’t do anything until it’s empty.  Infection and disease, which were some of the leading causes of death, are nonexistent.  Weapons tend to have completely ridiculous weights.  Frequently you can, for that matter, carry huge amounts of stuff with no effort put into modeling how you go about carrying six suits of armor without even a backpack.  Cities are really really tiny.  Farming is often nonexistent, or only there occasionally for scenery purposes, and certainly not in proportion to the food requirements of the world.  Magic tends to provide certain abilities, such as, for example, flying, or blowing things up, that would completely require rethinking how you defend a city (walls don’t work when you can fly over them).  And things tend to only happen when the player is around.

Many of these breaks from reality are completely okay, obviously.  Because it’s not the real world.  You want “medieval” fantasy, you want castles and knights.  And probably wizards and dragons.  The fact that the latter may possibly get in the way of the former if you think about it at all realistically isn’t really a problem.  And it’s a game, not a academic simulation; a protagonist centered world is not particularly a problem, because we only ever see the protagonist’s point of view.

But the point here is, you aren’t trying to be realistic.  You’re not modeling your game off of real history, you’re modeling it off of modern ideas that are related to real history but only sort of.  Thus neglecting or demeaning your audience because you claim it’s realistic is entirely out of place with what you’re actually doing.  Your not creating a bigoted fantasy because it’s “realistic”, you’re creating a bigoted fantasy because you want to (or slightly more generously, because you weren’t thinking of others beyond yourself), and realism is just a crutch you’re using to defend you’re obvious mistakes.

Now, when people claim that “We can’t put real groups of people in the game because our game isn’t the real world and that would be unrealistic!” there arguments are still really faulty. People who say this are rarely referring to games that haven’t already included large swaths of normative people.  If your game has a bunch of different “races”, and all of them have white skin, you’ve included white people.  They are also a race.  Claiming you can’t include any others because it’s unrealistic for your setting, is, well, racist.  There’s no reason for everyone to have a light skin tone in your completely fictional world.  And lets be honest, having everyone in your world be the same is really pretty boring.  On top of the racism.

And, on that topic, if your setting isn’t the real world, why not just make your faux-England population black?  It’s not like it’s actually real England, there’s no reason to copy that trait unquestionably.  (Of course, making faux-England have everyone be black wouldn’t actually solve your problems either, but it would be progress.)

The next thing I’ve seen people do, in an attempt to defend it, is to start inventing in-setting justifications for racial uniformity.  Like “Oh, but there’s black people over here across these mountains, and a faux-Asia down here in the south” …which is to say, places that the story never actually goes.  …if you’re going to start inventing these races, why not put them in the game? And if you’re going to start invoking, say, sunlight, to explain how your faux-Europe, being rather far to the north, doesn’t have dark skinned people, why don’t you put that effort into creating more diversity?  And while we’re at it, if you’re using the last one, let’s remember there’s more than one race from northern (or southern, if you’re below the equator) climates.  And they don’t all look like white people.

Really, the point is, except in very rare circumstances your game is not even trying to be realistic, and once you accept that you don’t have to follow reality, there’s no reason not to have diversity in it.  (like, Dwarf Fortress is the only game I’ve ever seen that even comes close to actually trying to be realistic.  And your dwarves can and frequently do have non-white skin tones.  Or are female.  So it’s the only game that could come close to getting away with invoking realism to defend lack of inclusiveness and it’s still inclusive. Also it frequently clearly isn’t trying to be realistic to facilitate gameplay, like, well, everything else.)

In short, if you invoke “realism” to defend bigotry in a game, it’s quite clear that you haven’t actually thought things through from the perspective of “lets make a realistic game.  Ah crap now we can’t be inclusive,” you’re coming from it from a perspective of “Hmmm how can I defend my bigotry? Oh, I know! Your point of view isn’t realistic!”

So, stop thinking like this, and actually make inclusive games.  If you promise, for example, customizable characters, but then go and eliminate large (or small) swaths of humanity, you’re basically telling said swaths “Yeah, you know what, I don’t actually care about you.”  Which is to say, you’re being an asshole to your audience.  Stop doing that, and stop trying to rationalize your bigotry, it makes you look like you’re self absorbed and don’t care about anyone beyond you.