The Otome Game Experiment

Phone app games have gained popularity as a way to pass time and a reason for baby boomers to call millennials and gen-z kids “lazy”.

“Otome” style games (literally meaning “maiden”) are, in essence, romance simulators. Along with advancing the story, the player advances a romance with one of many dashing bachelors.

The first time I can recall otome games finding their way into the Western mainstream culture of gaming was with the game “Mystic Messenger” where the player would get actual texts (not in-game messages) from the love interests. Since then, I haven’t seen a game make the same ‘splash.’ Seeing an ad for one of the games piqued my interest and got me asking questions concerning the lessons that individuals playing the game were learning.

Ikemen Sengoku is the otome game I saw advertised and the game that I decided to download and play. The premise of the game is you, the player character (hereinafter referred to as the “PC), are transported back in time to the Sengoku period in Japan. The Sengoku was a time of immense social and military conflict and the perfect atmosphere to develop a romance with one of the various shoguns. The game itself is a visual novel, meaning the simple mechanic of the game is tapping past the story and occasionally making dialogue decisions that inform the chosen romance.

Ikemen Sengoku offers many options for the PC to romance, including the three real-life unifiers of Japan: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. After the prologue of the story, you are given the prompt to “choose your favorite guy” and embark on their romance route.

I chose the route of Oda Nobunaga (Nobunaga Oda in the Western translation). His title, which I believe is available when choosing the romance route, is the “Devil-King”… We’ll explore why.. Also spoilers follow for Nobunaga’s route on Ikemen Sengoku.

Nobunaga’s romance route starts with a common romance movie/novel/etc trope: “I hate the main love interest who is cruel and rude to me, but I also might like him?” The trope is inherently toxic since it supports the idea that negative behavior is romantic. We see this with  the age old phrase many parents say to their young daughters, “He’s only being mean because he likes you”.

The romance aspect of the story begins with Nobunaga making a bet with the PC. The gist of the bet is if the PC can beat Nobunaga in a game of Go (a Japanese chess-like game) then he will accompany her to the space where she can time travel back to the present (yeah, he believes the time-travel thing right away when she tells him). With each game the PC loses, however, Nobunaga gets to claim a part of her. I’LL REPEAT. With each game the PC loses, Nobunaga gets to CLAIM a part of her. In fact, he calls it “conquering”.

“But, Mariam,” you may be thinking, “if it’s consensual, it’s totally fine!” You’re absolutely right. If it’s consensual. The PC tries to get out of the bargain because she simply doesn’t like Nobunaga and doesn’t like the idea of giving up parts of her body to him. Nobunaga’s response? Threats. He tells the PC that if she doesn’t agree to the bargain, he will lock her up in the castle’s dungeon. How that idea even left the pitch-room for the game is beyond me and how the PC is able to look past this fact and fall in love with him.

All in all, with how far I am with the route now, this particular otome game exemplifies the worst parts of a romance game and the romance genre as a whole. If we are to cultivate a culture where our children (our daughters based on the audience for the otome games) can learn healthy perceptions and practices of a good partner then we need to start with games that employ more feminist ideas such as affirmative consent and pushing back against harmful notions of attraction.


 

 

CF Staff pic

Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American fourth year SCSU student who double majoring Gender and Women’s Studies and English. Mariam has loved writing from a young age and is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding identity and pop culture today. Mariam is a writing tutor at The Write Place and in her free time runs a personal blog at micarlixx.wordpress.com and is Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games. Social Media Consultant.

Advertisements

An Open Letter to Those Who Tokenize Me…

When you ask “Are you adopted from Korea?” I hear the underlying tide of your English is so good! When you follow up my measured response of “No, I’m not” with “Are you adopted at all?” I hear the barely concealed because there are many Asian refugee children! And when you continue with “Are both of your parents Asian?” the blatant suggestion of colonialism oozes to the point I have to physically cringe.

I tell you I’m Filipino-American because I fully embrace and love that title. It does NOT mean that you can talk to me about “Asian stuff.” What does that even mean? I don’t watch anime, I’ve only seen one Korean Drama in my entire life, and my entire existence is not the plot of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Crazy Rich Asians.

The very phrase “Asian stuff” completely dilutes every ethnicity and culture that lives within the continent into one mono-ethnicity. My experiences and ‘stuff’ as a Filipino-American varies wildly from the experience of a Korean-American or a Japanese-American. If you want to talk Filipino culture with me, let’s talk, but I’m surely not the person to share your obsession with Kim’s Convenience. And before you get ahead of yourself, no my culture does not only consist of “Lumpia and Chicken Adobo.”

When you say “I love Asian people!” I recoil in reaction. With a history of fetishization, the comment is more predatory and offensive than a way to get into my good graces. At this point, you’re past three strikes, but I continue to speak to you because it’s only polite.

And that’s another stereotype, isn’t it? The Asian girl who will laugh and nod and accept what is being said because I’m submissive. In honesty, it’s the complete shock that someone has the audacity to pry so deeply into my personal life and then put me into the label that you deem all Asians to be. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life for this to be the first experience of something so blatantly racist, and I’m hyper-aware now, knowing that this will definitely not be the last.

To the person who tokenized me, I leave you with this: challenge yourself and your problematic speech when it comes to Asian-Americans. Realize that we are our own individual people with individual interest and beautiful, rich, different cultures. Don’t expect us to hold your hand and explain every problematic thing to you. Do you own research! I’ll throw you a bone and give you this Ted Talk by Canwen Wu. Neither I nor any other Asian you come across are your Asian Stereotype.

Quite Sincerely,

Mariam Bagadion


CF Staff pic  Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American fourth year SCSU student who double majoring Gender and Women’s Studies and English. Mariam has loved writing from a young age and is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding identity and pop culture today. Mariam is a writing tutor at The Write Place and in her free time runs a personal blog at micarlixx.wordpress.com and is Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games. Social Media Consultant.

Championing Diversity or Upholding White Supremacist Values?

In the wake of the violent Charlottesville rallies that happened last month, black Model.jpgtransgender DJ, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf called out white supremacy and structural racism in a personal Facebook post that went viral:

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes all white people. Because most of y’all don’t even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.”

Munroe wrote this before she signed on with L’Oréal but it blew up when the Daily Mail caught wind of her post and published an article on it. On Munroe’s twitter she confirms that a white gay man named Adam Pennington had reported her post to the Daily Mail with the intentions of ruining her career.

She was receiving so much backlash that L’oreal made the call to fire her in the name of “championing diversity”.  They responded to Munroe’s comments with a Tweet.

Tweet

A black transgender woman speaking out against the oppressive system that endangers her life and many others, is at odds with their “values”? They proved the exact point that Munroe was making.

The white people crying out “RACIST!” at Munroe Bergdorf for her “yes all white people” phrase is unsurprising. When people of color voice out their oppressions, the responses of white people is not how to dismantle these issues, but how to silence them.

If Munroe had chosen “some” over “all” instead, it would allow white people to be absolved from taking any responsibility for white supremacy. It would allow for them to remain complicit in their contribution to structural racism, which was never the intention of her post. Monroe didn’t care about the comfort of white people. It’s just unfortunate that the situation was handled by centering white people and their feelings at the expense of her career.

L’Oréal’s values and ideas of diversity actually mean tokenizing, exploiting and silencing the voice of a black transgender woman. Corporate feminism is a farce. These major brands learn how to use marginalized identities to sell their products, not to give them a platform. L’Oreal showed us that they don’t value trans women or women of color. We don’t matter to them because we’re seen as disposable.

This is a list of L’Oréal brand names that you can boycott, and here’s a list of black owned beauty brands as an alternative. Please also support trans organizations, whether nationally or locally, and give your time and money to them however you can. Check out organizations like Trans Lifeline and Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) for starters. Always remember to support and uplift the voices of Queer-Trans/People of Color (QT/POC) in your life.

 

mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.

 

The Filling, the Overflowing, and the Emptiness

On November 23rd of this year, I had the honor of being appointed to the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet of Minnesota.

The Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet brings together nonprofits, businesses, and government to improve equity in outcomes for young women in Minnesota who experience the greatest disparities.

This cabinet has been a work in progress for years, but nowhere would approve it until Minnesota. It wasn’t approved until Minnesota because no government officials were on board until Governor Dayton. As soon as the idea was pitched to him, he was on board!

If our action plan works, this cabinet will be starting in many other states as well and for those of us in the cabinet, we will be a part of history.

There are about twenty five women on this cabinet, ranging from ages of 16 to 24 who are working with me to create an action plan to strengthen services and areas that are already working for women in Minnesota.

It is seldom I feel proud of myself but being appointed to this cabinet is one of those moments. My voice didn’t seem important until now.

But getting appointed to this cabinet a few short weeks after the election was conflicting for me in many ways.

Being a part of this cabinet was the hope that I needed in humanity and in the world I live in.

There’s a phrase that says ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ and the election had me feeling as if my cup had run permanently dry.

After a few weeks of feeling absolutely empty post-election and then getting to be a part of this cabinet, it felt like the cup I pour from was overflowing.

But how does one keep faith in the work they’re doing when the world at large is actively working against them?

I have always believed in people and that they hold the power.

To maintain my full cup, I needed to be a part of this cabinet working to create change in a world that so desperately needs it.

At the first cabinet meeting, we each spoke about what made us decide to apply for a position on the cabinet. As each woman went around the room sharing what brought them to this cabinet, I had hope in the people around me and faith in the fact that people still care.

Each woman that spoke has known various forms of struggles and disparities. Each of the women has the desire to create a better world for all the people in it. Their passions ranged from healthcare disparities to racial profiling and beyond. Even though we all had different issues that brought us to this cabinet, we were a room full of people who cared. The amount of empathy and passion in that room was enough to empower anyone.

It was everything I needed to hear. Being in a room so filled with passion, I felt my cup overflow.

And I recommend becoming a part of something to everyone who is feeling their cup has run dry.

Be engaged.

Surround yourself with people who care and have passion to create change like you do because you are not alone. You are not the only one who feels empathy for others or has a desire to change the way that our world is going. And there is nothing more than to fill your cup up with hope.

Hope in the people around you.

There are more of us out here fighting for good than you think.

So my advice is to do whatever you can to find people like this because they do exist.

And people have the power.

We just forget that.

 

 

grace-espinozas-blog-pictureGrace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism. 

 

The Concert of Fiction and Feminism

I always wanted to make a career out of writing but never journalism. Writing things in a way that I had to completely detach myself was never appealing. It never made sense. I see writing as something intrinsically personal, to the person writing and to the person reading. Something that always seemed exempt from that level of importance is fiction.

The stories that have any semblance of meaning are those that are rooted in experience, rooted in the Truth that the author has found for themselves. There’s always a call, especially, for marginalized groups to tell their stories.  The call almost becomes an obligation when your people (be it people of color, of the LGBTQIA+ community, etc.) are all but absent in the sphere of literature. These stories become sources of inspiration, and I never got my hands on a memoir or something that could be comparable to my lived experience until I read The Joy Luck Club my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t feel a strong connection to the stories and even resented them and their depictions of Asian Americans. Of course, my feelings changed with age and understanding. However, from the beginning of my jaunt into literature I found I could always rely on the inspiration in fiction.

Fiction acted as what I call a gateway into the vast world of feminism instead of what some people may seem as escapism from the harsh reality of violence. Harry of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter arguably endured an abusive home life with his aunt and uncle forcing him to cook meals, only giving him the burnt scraps to eat while his cousin relentlessly bullied him. This is the reality that many children face in their daily lives and while reading about how Harry is then whisked away to a magical boarding school may seem like the very definition of escapism, the reader is simultaneously thrust into a world where there is a registry for witches and wizards based on their bloodline and a powerful figure is fighting for the eradication of those who aren’t pureblood. The series is fraught with corrupt politicians, an underground resistance movement, and culminates in a battle for freedom from this oppressive power. These young students take it upon themselves to lead the charge against what they know to be wrong, an example diffused to many children who are now old enough to lead the charge against the oppressive regimes seen in today’s society.

In children’s’ and YA fantasy novels, there is also always a clear celebration of the different. The different, in the world of reality, is a distinction that leads to ridicule and danger. Rick Riordan noticed this in his son who was constantly bullied for his ADHD and Dyslexia. Riordan started to tell his son stories of how this difference was a strength. His famous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series shows those very attributes as the marks of demigods. Heroes. Riordan doesn’t stop there. He has written openly gay, black, latina, Asian, Muslim and, lately, a transgender character. These representations have opened conversations on diversity in YA literature.

Living with ADHD, Dyslexia, and abuse in the home are realities that feed into the lived Truth that is so important to feminist work and feminist writing. The setting of these truths, in a magical boarding school or Greek monster infested Manhattan, do not diminish the effect that they have in empowerment and beginning conversations of the celebration and power of difference. In fact, it puts these discussions in language that act as good introductions to feminist thought and language that may be missing from common discourse.

The validity of fiction as a source of inspiration and feminist thought is on the same level as that of stories that are truer to reality. In childhood and adolescence, they teach moral nuances and often start to help develop an understanding of the surrounding world; its injustices, its diversity, how they interact and how they influence each other. It is fantastical case study with the potential to reach past the pages. The concert of fiction and feminism is the concert of theory and practice.

 

 

thumbnail_147Mariam Bagadion is a second year student at SCSU double majoring in Women’s Studies and English. She has a passion for writing and social justice and thinks the coolest thing in the world is when the two can be combined. In her free time, she writes fiction, watches Netflix, and plays one of the three songs she knows on the ukulele. 

Self-Care Over Spring Break

Spring Break is nearly here! While you’re using next week to catch up on schoolwork, add more cash to your paycheck, or play a new video game (or like me, a tasteful blend of all three!) self-care is extremely important as we move into the final half of the semester.

What is self-care? Broadly, self-care is anything that allows you to take a deep breath, to center (sometimes, re-center) yourself in your own life. Doing intersectional feminist work is just as exhausting as it is rewarding, and it is essential to make room for yourself. Self-care includes everything from hugging a cat to staying off Facebook for a week to going to the doctor. Try answering the question, “What do I need?”

This awesome article talks about self-care, especially its importance to black women, and aptly quotes Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” That is, making time for yourself is not selfish–it’s connected to survival, which for some marginalized groups is an act of defiance.

Find more self-care strategies here:

Self Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible

Self Care Strategies to Reduce Stress

Even Non-Artists Use Art Journaling to Relieve Stress

How to Avoid Burnout and Still Help Others

Self-Care Tips for Activists–‘Cause Being Woke Shouldn’t Mean Your Spirit’s Broke

Enjoy break!

–Collective Feminism

Hand in Hand

If she holds his hand

She’s an itch, a bitch

Independent, she can’t

Not without a man

And if she is, she’s considered a lesbian

A goddess for one to gawk

With a head for one to mock

Not of worth

Unless naked

Or adorning a short, short skirt

Can’t she dress the ways she desires

With more than man that she aspires

Too much does her body inspire

The wrong things—what the man wants—the liar

If he holds his hand

Is he still a man?

Has he lost what makes him a brother

If he gives into the arms of another?

A being that must be strong

For anything but strong is wrong

He must not cry, he must not sob

He must not wear the woman’s garb

Beaten for being like her

Being awarded for beating her

Forced to live with tightened bounds

But his cries for help lack resound

Can he not live free from the whip that cracks?

From the voices that praise and despise his sex?

If they hold their hand

They are feared, abandoned

The letter overlooked

In the alphabetic set of oppressed crooks

A confusion to pick apart

A problem—an issue not for the faint of heart

For those who have lived with the chains of bi

That punished anyone that dared to try

Those that believed we could be more

More than what we and they have built at the core

Can they not choose what to feel?

Must we comply to the chains; must we kneel?

If we hold each other’s hands

And forget about if one is darker or lighter than

Perhaps then we will realize

That we are living short, piteous lives

Must we be unsatisfied

If we cannot lower one or hate before we die?

There comes a time when we must perceive

That we are not alone on this land or across the sea

Unified we can be better—together

Not in agreement, but with respect, with understanding, for one another

 

 

 

chuaya-loChuaya Lo transferred to St. Cloud as a third year undergraduate. She greatly appreciates the diversity and emphasis on heading towards the goal of a better world of equal treatment and respect. In her free time, Chuaya enjoys writing fiction, watching anime, TV shows, playing video games, and drawing/writing graphic novels. She’s majoring in linguistics with a TESL minor, with the goal of teaching English in Japan.

(Feminist) Thoughts on the March

Just after the Women’s March on Washington, Carly Puch (one of our own!) wrote on her own blog about her experience participating in the march.

She brings together a thoughtful perspective on the empowering heart of the march, critiques of its unmistakable whiteness, and what both of those things mean for the kind of work we have, as feminists, ahead of us.

Here’s an excerpt…

There are improvements to be made, and particularly we white feminists can do better but what these marches symbolized was that recognition. More women are mobilized because for many it is the first time their rights are truly being threatened, whether that be attributed to their race, their class, their age or any other factor that has allowed them to turn a blind eye to injustice. Human rights campaigns in this country have been built on the backs of people of color, do not silence them, but listen and learn to those who have been fighting before you.

Continue reading here!

The kind of work we have ahead of us must not be forgotten or ignored: it must be thoughtful. We must strive to love each other, build bridges between those of us with vastly different experiances, and act beyond our fear to achieve things which may seem impossible.

What do you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Be Afraid

The power in the room
Reverberates off the walls
A steady shared heartbeat
A collective consciousness
Pulsing behind our skin

It has been ingrained
That silence is synonymous
For woman
But our voices
Could shake the foundation
On which they stand

Tell me,
Does that scare you?
For we should

Taught to be timid
Conditioned to give in
To squeeze into spaces
We are wrongfully put in

But in this room full of women
Who have discovered
They are too big
To fit in these boxes
We’ve been given
 

I can finally breathe again

 

grace-espinozas-blog-pictureGrace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism. 

Black Representations in Film

Crunk Feminist Collective recently published an insightful post on their blog titled, “Moonlight Musings & Motherhood: On Paula, Teresa and the Complicated Role of (Bad) Black Mamas in Film.”

They present an intriguing critique of the new film, Moonlight, and in particular, how the black female and male characters are problematically represented.

Here is an excerpt…

As an autoethnographer, I am invested in the importance and significance of black folk telling our own stories and telling our own truths, and telling them even if and when they may be stereotypical or troubling.  But representation matters.  So, I find myself wrestling with what it means when filmic depictions of black men and women imply that progressive black masculinity, and positive black womanhood, cannot co-exist.  In many ways, these images suggest that in order for fluid black masculinity to be possible, black women and black women’s bodies must be somehow sacrificed.

Continue reading here!

Have you seen the film?  What did you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Image: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2016/10/28/moonlight-musings-motherhood-on-paula-teresa-and-the-complicated-role-of-bad-black-mamas-in-film/moonlight_2016_film/