Feminism

An Open Letter to Doritos- “But is it yogurt flavored?”

Dear Doritos,

I imagine right about now you are asking yourselves what happened. Why has your glorious decision of soft-ish chips, directed towards the females of the planet, been targeted by trollish harassment and mockery since its announcement. Somewhere, I imagine there is an R&D specialist who is gazing woefully at the trending hashtags of #LadyDoritos. They lurch every time the phone rings, expecting the call to be from their immediate supervisor, alerting them of their immediate termination over what can only be described as a social and cultural misstep that fails to recognize the needs of specific user groups and imposes values and desires on a specific group without proper consideration.

Somewhere, that R&D specialist is weeping into their bag of chips, making them soggy, gazing malignly at a bowl of orange mush vaguely resembling Donald Trump’s face in both skin and, I imagine, texture, wondering how did we get it so wrong?

                Was it the concept of soft Doritos? No. I know plenty of people who detest the sound of crunching chips. They equate it to a leaf mulcher eating human bones. To them, it is worse than finger nails down a chalkboard. There are others still, who hate the feeling of your equilateral products scraping the delicate corners of their mouths, cutting in like a foodie’s Glasgow smile. Some of us hate the feeling of chip bits falling down our shirts, getting caught in our bras or man girdles. We all have our neurotic likes and dislikes when it comes to our snack foods, but I’ll let you in on a secret for the general population…

Never once, when discussing my snack food choices with my coworkers, loved ones, or strangers on the train, have we ever considered semi-raw potatoes rolled in fake cheese and sodium as an appropriate alternative to our chip problems.

You know why, Doritos?

Because no one fucking cares.

Look around you. Look at the state of the world. Have you seen who the President of the United States is? Did you notice that there is still war and famine across the globe? Did you notice the opioid epidemic on your streets or take into account the rate of homelessness around you? You probably did, but like most corporations, you saw it as a by-product of the time and instead opted to focus your research and energy into a literal half-baked scheme that no one asked for.

                Least of all women.

And there’s your second issue right there. I’m not sure. Maybe your R&D group is a bunch of old white men raised on some cotton farm in southern Alabama where women still wear petticoats and do declare things with appropriately subdued enthusiasm, but the ladies I know are not marching for softer chips for our delicate lady palates.  Unless your Doritos are going to be extra absorbent when it comes to dealing with my period blood, or, I don’t know, fucking yogurt flavored (because apparently we are really into yogurt too), I could quite literally not give a single shit about the crunchy level of your product. I’m too goddamned busy worrying about, and coming to terms with, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the fact that my male coworkers are paid more than me, and the assholes that think me smiling at them is an invitation for them to call me things like “sweet cheeks” and “sexy” that, hey, if I don’t return in kind, suddenly turn into alarming forms of aggression and derogatory comments like the goddamned c-bomb or even fucking grabbing at me

                Who, just tell me who thought women wanted softer Doritos? Who thought, in an age marked by struggles for equality among gender and sexual orientation and race, it would be a great idea to market fucking slightly softer Doritos to an entire group of people. Are you shitting me? No, you’re not, though an over-indulgence in your product would certainly lead to plenty of distressing shits that I wouldn’t wish on my greatest enemy.

Here’s a better question for you.

Who asked you for this? And, follow up question, did they also ask you if you really think you should be vaccinating your kids? Because I’m guessing someone who shows the passion for one probably has enough time to waste on the other.

I understand as a snack product you need to stay on top of things. You have to keep up with trends and constantly be producing the next best thing. In a market saturated with delicious treats and snacks, it is vital that you are always in. Here’s an idea. Try a new flavor. Goddamned novelty flavors are all the rage. People love trying new, stupid flavors that they know will only be around for a short period of time. Hell, Japan has made a name for itself offering up weird-ass chip flavors that we can’t even dream of here in North America. You can be damn sure that if Doritos put out a Seafood Jazz Dorito or Cheesy Enchilada Dorito flavor people would eat that shit up. Again, literally. Lays has made a name for itself having contests about chip flavors! Doesn’t that seem like a good idea? That seems like a good idea to me.  Much better than trying to market an insulting snackfood to half the world who, just to remind you, never asked for it.

Times are changing, Doritos. You have to use a measure of social intelligence and recognize the values of the culture in which you are trying to market your product.

Spoiler alert: our current top ten values do not, and I would guess will never include slightly softer chips.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky Esq.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Job hunting is a bit like tossing your arms out and spinning wildly in a circle, hoping someone might catch you before you keel over in a puddle of vomit.

I don’t officially graduate until June 10th, but have gotten confirmation that all my courses are hunky-dory and all my credits check out. Even the ones I faked by writing 1 CREDIT on a piece of bread and leaving it on a desk at the Registrar’s Office. I’ve been job hunting since before my courses finished, but didn’t put too much effort into the process. I had assignments to focus on, which I did, and exams to ace, which I sort of did. Now, however, I have zero excuses. I need a job and I need it two weeks ago.

Calgary is full of communication related positions. Coordinators, advisors, social media analysts, content developers and marketing pros. Despite the downturn in the oil and gas industry, we are still a city build on dinosaur juice and classy white cowboy hats. There are lots of jobs out there, and I have applied to them.

I got a couple call-backs; individuals wanting to know more about what and how I write (and I blame my rather salty open letters for not receive any further communication with those two potential employers). Nothing has been secured yet.

I turned my attention to the non-profit sector because, quite frankly, I would rather earn less and help more than the other way around. The non-profit sector is built on helping those who need it most, the vulnerable and the lost, and the individuals who can’t always help themselves. These non-profit organizations offer not only the support, but the tools to help take people out of those circles of abuse and violence and vulnerability and offer up a chance to create their own agency. That’s probably why I love NPO’s. They say We know you need help, and we will offer it. But you also have to be willing to help yourself. To me, it is a vital part of ensuring the success of our community. We can’t offer handouts willy nilly any more than we can close our eyes and hears to the needs of those around us. There is a fine line, and the NPO’s tread it brilliantly.

And I want to help. I want to connect successful community organizations with these NPO’s and show that even though we don’t think about the vulnerable on a daily basis, they don’t cease to exist, and it is our responsibility to ensure that no one forgets.

The Calgary Women in Need Society is looking for a Marketing and Communications Manager. I want that job. I want that job because my education, while being based primarily in comms, has brought me into the circles of some amazing women who educated me on our gender and how we exist within our culture. They melded my silly, naïve little brain into a roaring feminist who wants equality for both genders, who wants to help wherever and whenever she can. There is something to be said for the strength of women: we are undefeatable, strong as hell (Thanks, Kimmy Schmidt!), and we have fought for every success we have seen over the last century. Alberta had a provincial election a week and a bit back. I got to vote. As a woman, as a person, I got to vote. I always thought I was amazed at the concept of voting because it was about being part of the democratic process, but I think part of me is thrilled with it because if this had been a hundred years earlier, I wouldn’t have had the right. I wouldn’t be considered enough of a person to have the right to vote.

I get to have a say in what becomes of me, of my life. I have total agency, and to squander that, or see others squander it, would be unfathomable.

Now I have been remarkably lucky in life, despite my chronic pain and my surgeries, and my own personal drama. I have weathered the storm and come out the other side stronger for it. That is almost wholly thanks to a series of amazing women who have been part of my life.

To have a job in an industry that works towards helping women find their own agency, their own voice, would be, I think, the best. Just simply the best. I may not get a call, may not get an interview, may be lost amongst the stack of more highly qualified resumes, but I tell you what… The chance of them appreciating the importance of the organization and the job as much as I do is slim.

Fingers crossed I won’t have to sell my soul to oil and gas. If it comes to that, I might as well start making a buzzing noise and call myself a ‘drone’.

On Video Game Harassment and Dum-Dums

These things I know to be true:

  1. Online harassment in video game communities exist.
  2. Critics of the culture of harassment have received some really, really disturbing threats that have made them fear for their lives, quit the gaming industry, as well as a variety of other actions.
  3. I don’t know Zoe Quinn and I don’t care about her social life. My only thought about her is “Oh sweet, she made a video game! I wish I had programming skills so I could make a video game!” I also think that about Ken Levine, the guy that made Earthbound, and Naughty Dog, for making The Last of Us.
  4. I don’t know what #GameGate is, and that is essentially because the information I have read has told me it has to do with everything from corruption in gaming journalism to the harassment of women, to how many pancakes bunny rabbits can balance on their heads until they fall off with adorable ‘plooping’ noises.
  5. Harassment is not defined by gender; both victims and perpetrators have and continue to be male and female.
  6. Harassment, and indeed any type of bullying is wrong. Can we all agree that it is wrong? It is wrong.
  7. The issue of harassment is commonly broken down into an us versus them mentality, which is true for those of us that aren’t douchehats, but problematic because said douche hats probably aren’t reading the criticism essays about their attitudes. They’re too busy being douchehats, you see.

And while it is great that we are having a discussion about how awful the harassment is, whether the conversations are politely structured or are reduced to petty name calling, the fact of the matter is that it really isn’t getting us anywhere. Women are still getting death and rape threats, men are still pointing out that they are misrepresented, and those putrid little bastards that take harassment to an extreme level are still… well, harassing.

None of us, none of us needs that around. Life is tough enough out there in the real world without that sort of scum-sucky attitude infecting our time online. So maybe someone can answer me this…

Why are we letting them get away with it?

We’re spending all this time arguing with each other about this and that when really, like I said before, we all think harassment and bullying are wrong. That, at its most basic level, is a problem we should all be concerned with. Because bullies that think it’s okay to make death and rape threats to women, and men, while online are probably just as comfortable telling that teenage girl to kill herself, or that young man that he’s worthless because of his sexuality. Those people are the same ones that think they’re untouchable, that have no concept of consequences and that, when their victims react and, sadly, often act as these threats suggest, don’t get that they actively contributed to the pain, suffering or even death of another human being.

That shit is messed up, man. So why are we letting them get away with it? Why are we making excuses of ‘that’s just the way it is’ or ‘oh he/she is young and doesn’t know any better’?  Nu-uh, I call bullshit. If they are old enough to be online, in an environment like that, then they sure as hell are old enough to be educated about what normal people do and do not do.

Our inaction against these bullies and their harassment, and our focus on each other is exactly what is allowing this sort of attitude to prevail. Wouldn’t our attention and energy be better off dealing with those morons? And no, I’m not suggesting battering them down with vitriol and sarcasm. As much as I enjoy calling them ‘douchehats’, I have to acknowledge that to make a firm difference we need to be adults. As gamers, no matter the gender, we report harassment when we witness it. As moderators we treat every instance of bullying and harassment as if it is the final straw. We show that there are consequences for being a total nob.

Because nothing is going to get through to these people who bully, harass, and troll earnest individuals except real world consequences.

So don’t make excuses for it. Don’t say ‘That’s just the way it is’ or ‘he’s just a kid’ or ‘he doesn’t know what he’s saying’. Make the person know what they are saying. Educate them about their stupidity, and if the trend continues even for a single instance after that, punish them through real world consequences.

I just… it’s so simple. We’re on the same team here, gang. We all want bullying to stop, and when it does, then we can finally have real conversations about gender portrayal and balance and tropes and cliches and who is better, Tifa or Aerith, and why sandbox games are becoming so popular, and hey how about that Bioshock Infinite?

Because I don’t know about you, but I’d love to talk about video games and everything about them, but I’d rather not have some asshat tell me he is going to find and kill me for expressing an opinion.

Also the answer is Tifa, obviously.