Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ugh . . .

This evening I was catching up on some reading when I got redirected to The Designer Monologues by Gareth-Michael Skarka and his blog post, When Nazis Get Rapey. I would love to tell you that this post was a funny little thing in the vein of Mel Brooks' the Producers where the author is self aware enough to understand that humor can be found in any subject and attempts to prove the point. Unfortunately this is not the case. When Nazis Get Rapey is a mind numbing attempt by Gareth-Michael Skarka to prop himself up as this heroic figure fighting back against the tide of misogyny and sexist attitudes that snake their way into our hobby and threaten to take us all to hell. According to Gareth-Michael Skarka:
. . . [The] Belle and Blade . . . is a fairly notorious vendor at GenCon. Officially, they focus on “military interest DVDs” — the booth is filled with copies of The Longest Day, Midway, Saving Private Ryan, The Four Feathers, Zulu, that kind of thing. Of course, if you look a bit closer, you’ll also find such gems as Ilsa, She-Devil of the SS, Red Nights of the Gestapo and Stalag Bitch. The Nazi fetishism continues on the inside of the booth, where you can find Triumph of the Will and T-Shirts emblazoned with each of the SS Division insignias, “Afrika Korps World Tour”, and other such gems. They’ve been an embarrassment to the industry for the years they’ve been exhibiting, but, depressingly, it seems a not-insigifiant part of the gamer audience actually gets into that kind of shit . . . So I was not surprised when Valerie Laproye of French games publisher 7ieme Cercle was upset on Thursday night, telling me of the Nazi crap she’d seen in the dealer’s hall.

Then she mentioned the panties . . . (When Nazis Get Rapey)
Now before we really start into the crux of his argument I want to point out that Gareth-Michael Skarka already has a problem with the company Belle and Blade before his issue with the panties - a phrase I never thought that I would write, so good on ya Gareth - and that it seems as though he is predisposed to disliking anything that the company will do at Gen Con or any other convention for that matter. I agree with him that the Nazi stuff is the shits but panties . . .
. . . I was used to the Nazi-fetish bullshit carried by Belle & Blade, so I was surprised when Valerie listed women’s underwear in the litany of the booth’s product — She said they were carrying black underwear, hung at child-height on the outside of the booth, emblazoned with slogans like “I COULD USE A LITTLE SEXUAL HARASSMENT.” She was quite upset by this — and I was as well. I had thought that admiration of the Nazis was as low as this exhibitor could go. I was wrong. The next morning, I swung by their booth (1622) before the hall opened, and snapped a couple of pictures . . . (When Nazis Get Rapey)
I will never understand the Nazi fetish that some people fall into. I mean of all the things to get all gooey about Nazism is just plain ignorance gone to seed. To me it's akin to the Ku Klux Klan fetish that you occasionally see from those wack-a-doodles flying Confederate flags on the side of the highway. Yeah, I get it you don't like black people because they're different and different is wrong; and you Nazis don't like anything different from you because different is wrong and scary and it makes you uncomfortable in your pants.

Shut your face and grow up son.

Anyway, Gareth-Michael Skarka posted some pictures of the panties that he found so offensive that it trumped the Nazi fetishism that had previously pissed him off so profoundly. Now you can go to his blog and see the fuzzy, out of focus pictures of the panties in question or you can just look at these clear images I found of the panties they're having such a fit about:
Image found at the Iron Image

Image found at the Iron Image

Image found at the Iron Image                                       

Image found at the Iron Image

Now what I want to tell you next is very important: women are the ones who buy and wear these panties. They are not forced on these women like some sort of rape educing underwear, nor are they a statement about the values that a woman places on her body and society's valuation of her as a person. They are underwear, a garment you wear under your clothes for your private needs and the needs of those who you share those intimate moments with. I have no more problem with these sort of items being displayed at a booth of that sort than do I have a problem with those items being displayed in biker stores. 

You don't like it, don't buy it.

For Gareth-Michael Skarka that's not the point. The point is that these panties have naughty sayings on them at a child's eye level. And they're disgusting, depraved, sexual panties. He headed straight over to security:
. . . where I showed the pictures to a friend I have on the staff, who was as pissed off as I was. He promised to escalate it further up the chain . . . After that, I heard nothing more — things got very busy for me, and I was unable to head back to the other side of the hall to check up on things. On Twitter, more people started expressing shock and outrage. I mentioned it to several colleagues at the show as well. I know that many of these people filed complaints of their own with GenCon.

On Sunday, I heard several reports from friends that the panties were gone — but I’ve also heard via people on Twitter that they’d been only moved inside the booth, to share shelf space with the Nazi fetish bullshit. So far, there has been no official statement of any kind made by GenCon regarding this issue . . . (When Nazis Get Rapey)
The feigned moral outrage is becoming insufferable. Honestly it bothers me more that he's putting on this big show about how he reported the incident to a friend he has on staff and then he got too damned busy to check up on things than the actual panties bother me.
. . . GenCon has vendors guidelines, and a clear policy governing harassment, and women’s panties emblazoned with encouragements of harassment and date-rape would seem to be clear violations of these policies. The silence, especially given that complaints began as early as Friday morning, is concerning.
The message that these products, and any action taken (or untaken) regarding them, sends about our industry is a fairly loud one. I will be keeping my ear to the ground for any news regarding this issue, and will pass along anything I discover . . . (When Nazis Get Rapey)
I'm assuming that Gareth-Michael Skarka is referring to the vender guideline that "No exhibitor or member of an exhibit may promote, display, or behave in a manner considered offensive to decency or good taste as determined by Show Management . . ." (Gen Con Vender Guidelines pg. 3). Clearly this notorious booth is considered acceptable by Show Management for its Nazi paraphernalia and pornographic films so I very much doubt that some novelty underwear is suddenly going to push them over the edge into the unacceptable range. 

I'm not even going to waste my time with his drum beating on the harassment policy as that's just an over reaction to the fact that he didn't like what they were doing.

Instead I'm going to focus on what really got my hackles up about this blog post and why I even bothered with the damned thing in the first place: I can not stand mock outrage. This entry is nothing more than a series of false outrages set up so that Gareth can point out to the world how vile these people at the Belle and Blade are and how he took a stand against them. Yeah they are absolutely assholes for the Nazi smut - but then you crawled right in the shit with them when you started this feigned indignation. 

You're not a hero standing up for the little woman against the misogynistic Nazis of Belle and Blade. By your own admission you didn't talk to the booth proprietor about how offensive you found the panties and the Nazi glorification, instead you ran to a guy you knew on the staff so he could be the bad guy. Then you got too busy to go back over to the booth later and tell the proprietor where he could go and how he could get there for this depravity. For three days after you found out about these offensive panties you couldn't find the time to take fifteen minutes out of your busy schedule to walk over there like a man and say: what the hell is wrong with you.

You, Gareth-Michael Skarka, didn't do anything. You weren't a man standing up for the little guy, you were a coward running to someone else hoping that they would actually do something when you were too afraid to do it yourself. And you're so busy on your blog proclaim how righteous you were for your actions that you can't even see the reality of the situation.

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