Reviews of books, articles, and poetry written by or about ssbbw/bbw
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Dating as an SSBBW
Kate Lang is a single parent who has begun blogging about her dating experiences as a BBW/SSBBW. Read an excerpt below and check out her blog [Kate Hates Dates].
Hobos, Potatoes & Oh No's - Part 2
You see all kinds of interesting people when you work in an office downtown. If your there long enough you start to get to know some of the locals. This can be a good thing when you want to find a rowdy bar, an awesome cheeseburger or a safe place to park your car.
For work, I used to park in a garage and there was always a cashier there on Friday nights that was really nice to me. I used to flirt here and there but sadly, he never asked me out. One Friday, the Weekday cashier was in the booth with Friday Night Guy and the testosterone was flowing. Weekday Guy suggested that Friday Night Guy wanted my number. Finally! So I happily handed it over, except Regular Guy called me. Whatever. I wasn’t dating anyone at the time and I thought maybe this would give Friday Night Guy the balls to ask me out too. So I set up a date with “Tim” and went out a few times. Boring, boring, boring. He had some obsession about the local cable company and the Rambo films and really didn’t talk about much else. Maybe it was the fumes from the cars in the garage, but he always paid for everything so I tolerated him.
My friends and I decided that we were all going to go try out a local family entertainment center and I was going to bring along Tim to introduce him to the “gang”. I was trying to describe him to my friends. I told them his personality was sort of a cross between Elmer Fudd and a Potato. He was then dubbed at that point by my friends and me “Elmer Spud” but my youngest daughter couldn’t remember that so it turned into “Elmo Potato” and it stuck.
He met my friends at dinner where he completely embarrassed me with his lack of table manners and his continuing ranting about the cable company. After the night was through my friends advised me that he reminded them of a serial killer. I decided he wasn’t that bad and wasn’t about to drop him just yet.
Our next date, we went and checked out a band. I had a GREAT time. Shocking. We had a few drinks, good music and good food. Well I guess all of this went to my head because I decided this was the night I was gonna take the next step. We went back to his place to do what people who date do, and reality came along to slap me in the face. It was the size of a thimble. FULLY ERECT. Now I’m not one to judge people on size but give me SOMETHING to work with. Thankfully, it ended quickly.
The next morning, after the alcoholic fog lifted, I realized that I had such a fun night with Elmo Potato because I didn’t actually have to talk to him. And clearly he wasn’t going to be worth the effort in other areas……. So it was time for me to end it, which was awkward because I had to drive past him twice a day, four days a week. I stopped taking his calls and started to speed by him on my way in and out of the garage. Thankfully he still had Rambo and the cable company to comfort him.
I don’t know if he ever talked about our dates with Friday Night Guy, but he never did ask me out. I guess this is a good thing though because finding a parking spot downtown on a Friday night is tough enough all on its own.
Written and submitted by: Kate Lang
Source: Kate Hates Dates [http://katehatesdates2929.blogspot.com/]
A Word from a Gamer
For some reason, video games have become big news as of late. This doesn’t upset me, really, but it is rather surprising. I’ve gone most of my life gaming, but it hasn’t been until the past month those 20 years of useless trivia finally becomes pertinent to current events. Today’s topic is video games and their impact on the popular culture in western society. For those of you not ‘in the know’ as the hip cats and bee’s knees would say, 2010 is, has been and evidently will be a big deal for video games on the whole. How does this impact you, loyal readers of SSBBW Magazine? In a lot of ways, actually, but I’ll simplify the sum of my argument into one key point: feminism in video games. I could go on about a plethora of topics about censorship, the United States Supreme Court case and others, but you’re not here to talk about that – so let’s dig in.
For those of you out there, currently rolling your eyes and making comments about “the cute college boy and his strange, foreign hobbies” finding it odd, surreal or outright unbelievable that I’d be patronizing you all about video games, please reconsider. I assure you that what I’m talking about is relevant to your concerns to: media-lovers, writers, mothers, concerned on-lookers, feminists or, heck, some of you out there might be gamers too, who knows? For those of you who remain unconvinced, let me begin by pointing out the Big Lie of Video Games: they’re a young medium, a niche hobby and have had limited marketable appeal outside of the demographic of 5-20 year old males. This makes games, on the whole, appear weird, distant and inapproachable. Reports by poorly-informed pundits (and, on occasion, the outright liars) increase this divide by reporting solely on the negative elements of the infant medium. Even where they mean well, they’re doing a big disservice to us all.
For reference sake, please consider the following. Gaming at-large has only existed in its present state for roughly 30 years. Movies have been around for close to four times that long, spanning easily over a century’s time. Or, for comparison’s sake, the internet as we know it is only about 15 years old in terms of its use by the everyday consumer – yet you had no trouble finding this very article, your e-mail or any number of other features each day. It’s not a matter of the information not existing, it’s avoidance. So, for this one time, let me speak – as a gamer – to you about a misunderstood and oft-neglected medium and I’ll never bring it up again, okay?
Getting back to the essay that should’ve begun 300 words ago is something I’ve really wanted to dig into for a long time: feminism and video games. The core to a sticky issue games have had for a long time is that we’re now in an era where narrative is more than blocky, 8-bit blocks of color and poorly-translated text. By extension, there’s no reason to rely on the crutch of one-dimensional stock characters. The worst of it is that it seems only the fairer sex gets this treatment. Women in games have the dishonor of being cast primarily in one of three roles: wholly uninteresting love interest, Ms. Fanservice (i.e.: overtly-sexualized stereotype), or unbearable emotionless Ice Queen. Now, I’m not saying this is true 100% of the time, but it is a lot of the time and it shouldn’t be. There is no excuse anymore. It’s time women get their time in the limelight too. It’s time to rise up above the degradations and the Tomb Raiders and the Princess Peaches.
Fortunately, games seem to be headed in a better direction now more so than before, but not without resistance. For a recent example, Nintendo and Team Ninja released the next game in the ever-popular Metroid franchise, subtitled “Other M”. For a brief overview, Metroid (a Nintendo license that debuted in 1986) stars space-faring bounty hunter, Samus Aran, notable as one of the first female video game protagonists of all and very notable in that she's one of the few who isn't dressed like a prostitute or treated as such. The "Metroid" title comes from a race of brain-sucking green parasites of the same name but that’s not important right now.
What is important is the impact the game had on its own long-standing fanbase. Somehow or the other, it struck a nerve. Evidently, the fans had the collective notion that Samus is the aforementioned Ice Queen and that "strong, independent woman" is synonymous with "completely unlikeable, anti-social shrew". This was simply a consensus made up by the fans – a phenomenon known as “projection” wherein a personality is assumed for a character where one is not supplied. For starters, they argue that the fact that Samus cooperates with a military operation and acknowledges rank status somehow diminishes her role as a feminist icon. The bulk of their argument comes from a new debut in the game, one Adam Malkovich, a commanding officer from Samus’ past when she was part of a galactic federation army. Even though Samus begins the game with a backpack full of ammo, she must wait for clearance from Malkovich to being using it – a purely aesthetic change for the series, shifting from “find the ice beam” to “wait for permission to use ice beam”. Further, Samus openly narrates the events of the game – sharing her (occasionally melodramatic) inner monologue with the player, including her worries, her concerns, her feelings and possible post traumatic stress disorder from sudden, violent turns of events from her childhood. And, yes, this extends into the paternal figurehead that she views Malkovich as teetering ever-so-uncomfortably close to an Electra Complex.
But here’s the catch, before Other M, she was a one-dimensional character, given special mention in the annals of history solely due to the first game’s twist ending that the protagonist was female. This is one of the reasons I've never latched onto or was ever able to connect to the Metroid series or Samus as a character. Other M, breaking Nintendo's nigh-intolerable "Characterization is BAD" approach, finally broke that shell and makes Samus a sympathetic and – you can quote me on this – a likable, three-dimensional character. Her acknowledgment of the military ranks – despite bad parting terms in the past – actually emphasized her "cool" factor, because it made her more real and her actions make sense given the context. Other M did not "feminize" Samus Aran, it humanized her.
Other M was a big step in the right direction, but the medium on the whole has a long way to go. Raise your hand if you’re as tired as I am of seeing shovelware such as “Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball” or “Tomb Raider” on store shelves. Yes, there’s definite room for improvement, no doubt about it – I could write a thesis on the psychological harm that puts young women through and equally as much on the harmful effects on young men too. But we can help it along that course, though, simply by being informed about the medium and making equally informed choices about which games to buy. Let us raise up the great and shun the bad – encourage game designers to make well thought-out stories and characters instead of letting them get away with the common practice of buying a big (for example) movie license and churning out a half-baked product. We’re prepared for something better – and we’re asking for it too – and we won’t settle for less. If they can do it for books and movies and plays and all the other mediums, they can do it in our games too. Thank you for your time and consideration and good night.
Written by: Jeff M.
|"The sweet calm sunshine of October, now
Warms the low spot; upon its grassy mold
The pur0ple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough
drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold."
~William Cullen Bryant
|"Where there is no imagination there is no horror."
~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.