Queering Gaming

“There’s a tendency for every character’s ‘default’ to be straight, white, and male in our industry – and nobody questions that default. No character ever has to justify why they’re straight, white, and male. The moment you make them anything else, you suddenly need reasons why that’s okay…or do you?” — David Gaider, Lead Writer for BioWare, 9 July 2015

Megan Condis published “No Homosexuals in Star Wars? BioWare, ‘Gamer’ Identity, and The Politics of Privilege” in the 22nd volume of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, May 2015.

Why the study? Prof. Condis points out that earlier research on convergence culture and gamer identity tends to lump all gamers, fans, and game producers together without looking at the important gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity differences among them. More than this, no other study is player-centered in looking at how the players themselves argued for and against a virtual queer presence. BioWare’s 2009 censorship of “homosexual,” “gay,” and “lesbian” on their forums, its segregated “gay planet” in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and its introduction of the first gay male character, Dorian, and its first trans* character, Krem, provide context for the study.

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Changing Campus Rape Culture, One Bystander at a Time

“I think universities need to accept that this is a problem, rather than thinking it is something that comes up only every once in a blue moon. They need a culture that supports victims while they are on campus.” — Laura Dunn, JD (SurvJustice.org)

Profs Kei Alegría-Flores, Kelli Raker, Robert K. Pleasants, Mark A. Weaver, and Morris Weinberger (Alegría-Flores, et al.) published “Preventing Interpersonal Violence on College Campuses: The Effect of One Act Training on Bystander Intervention” in Volume 30 of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, September 2015.

Why the study? In 2013, the Campus SaVE Act was passed by Congress as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To combat campus rape and other violent acts against women, the Campus SaVE Act requires colleges and universities to start bystander education for new students. The law does not offer program components or a way to measure effectiveness, so this study looks at two programs,Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now (HAVEN) and One Act and discusses their outcomes. (The One Act program was created by student leaders working with full-time staff and faculty. The program’s goal is  to train students on prevention of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and intimate partner violence by interrupting the bystander effect and taking action.)

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Post-Occupy: Another Way to Do Unions

“Oakland, by acting on the premise that they have a moral right to strategic workplaces in the economy, has emerged as a leader in the Occupy movement. Their strategy, which we argue is an extension of solidarity unionism from one workplace to the entire economy, will challenge the ruling class’ monopoly on the distribution of value.” Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), 2011

Prof Derek Keenan published “Is Another Unionism Possible? Solidarity Unionism in the Industrial Workers of the World in the U.S. and Canada” in the 18th volume of WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, June 2015.

Why the study? The Starbucks Workers Union in NYC recently succeeded in organizing and changing policy by using Solidarity Unionist strategies, which were started by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). However, even in the face of recent unprecedented attacks on traditional unions, very few labor movement researchers have looked at Solidarity Union arguments. Given the current significant challenges to unionism, this study asks, “Is another unionism possible?”

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Racism is a National Public Health Crisis

“Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.” Healthy People 2020

Profs Jennifer Jee-Lyn García and Mienah Zulfacar Sharif published “Black Lives Matter: A Commentary on Racism and Public Health” in the 105th volume of the American Journal of Public Health, August 2015

Why the study? Profs García and Sharif show how public health researchers mostly neglect looking at how racism impacts public health, even with all the recent media attention paid to the killing of unarmed Black men by White officers. Prof García and Sharif show, too, that women and trans* people of color are victims of racialized police violence and misconduct. Ultimately, they point out that only “race” is included in public health research rather than “racism,” even though race alone does not impact public health.

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Politics: Racist & Sexist Attitudes Hurt Fair Pay Policies

“The concept of political intersectionality highlights the fact that women of color are situated within at least two subordinated groups that frequently pursue conflicting political agendas.” Kimberlé Crenshaw, February 27, 2015, Brown University

Profs Erin C. Cassese, Tiffany D. Barnes, and Regina P. Branton published their study, “Racializing Gender: Public Opinion at the Intersection,” in Volume 11, Issue 1 of Politics & Gender, 2015.

Why the study? Profs Cassese, Barnes, and Branton conducted the study because most political science research looks at race and gender separately. When that happens, those studies promote misleading results about the influence of racial and gender attitudes on public policy. So, they asked two research questions:

  • “Do race and gender attitudes operate relatively independently, or do they work together to jointly shape policy attitudes?”
  • “What does the relationship between them suggest about the ‘double jeopardy‘ facing black and Hispanic women in the United States?”

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Media: Stop Making Trans* and Gay People “Confess”

“I am completely horrified by the talk show, the interrogation and confession format, the weeping, the tears of the host whose sympathy underscores the inherent tragedy of my life as a transgender person.” – Lana Wachowski, HRC speech, October 20, 2012 

Nicholas de Villiers published “Afterthoughts on Queer Opacity” on April 18th 2015 in InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture for the Special 22nd Issue on “Opacity.”

Why the study? Prof. de Villiers wrote the article as an update to his book, Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol because he wanted to see how the theme of “opacity” (privacy) is playing out in 2015 for trans* and queer celebs.

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