afterthree: (Default)
This popped up on [profile] ontd_feminism today and, predictably, given my typical reaction when someone plays the BUT HER BREASTS ARE TOO BIG card, I has thoughts to share. Cross-posted to my other blog.

Some parents are in a twist because Mattel's new "Back to Basics" Barbie collection -- featuring a line of dolls in modern cocktail attire -- has a doll sporting a knee-length black dress with a plunging neckline and "bowling-ball cleavage".

Let's consider for a moment that all these Barbies, as a set, are themed around cocktail and evening wear. None of the dresses on any of the Barbies in this set strike me as particularly over-sexed: most of them are pretty standard fair, black dresses based on current trends or classic styles. There are only two showing off any extreme amount of cleavage, including the one in question and -- arguably, depending on your perception -- number 11 with the halter dress..

A concerned Minnesota mother says:

"I don't want [my daughter] to think she has to be this, you know, busty Barbie who's constantly wearing heels and these low-cut shirts. And that's really the image I think a doll that you're going to buy for a child is portraying."

Read the full article.


Not for nothing, but some of us HAVE naturally large breasts and for me the problem at the core here is a culture and society that over-sexualizes large breasts and judges them as automatically inappropriate. I have large breasts and I'm sick of being policed for them, especially by other women: they're no more or less appropriate than small ones.

What if the daughter of this woman grows up to have naturally larger breasts? What kind of messages are we sending to her then, that her large breasts are abnormal and 'slutty' just by virtue of their size? That she's forever doomed to the "fake-breasted stripper look" if she wears a top that so much hints at cleavage? How is that any better than telling small- or average-breasted teens they need large breasts to be sexy?

Also -- and I know I've said this before but I'm gonna say it again -- slut shaming and madonna/virgin worship are two different sides of the same coin: women are either pure, modest and sexually restrained or slutty, sex-crazed whores. The clothing choices on this set of Barbies seems very measured to me given the theme: the hemlines mix from long to short, the tops range from turtleneck to plunge, and the sleeves range from full to strapless. As a representation of basic cocktail dresses women in the current day and age wear, I think Mattel did pretty well representing a broad set of styles and degrees of sexual expression.

Of course, they're all identical body-types -- skinny, hourglass-shaped and tall. That's the bigger issue to me than what they're wearing. Wouldn't it be great if we could see a range of body-type as broad as the range of fashion? Short, stout girls, pear-shaped girls, flat-chested girls, tall and lanky girls, etc. Mattel is starting to think a little more carefully about race when they're building these dolls (though still not enough: hair and face shapes still tend toward a largely caucasian standard even when the skin tone is modified), so why not represent a broader range of body sizes and shapes as well?

Sure it would cost more to manufacture, but also think of the sales potential! With a variety of body types comes the need for consumers to buy a broader variety of clothing and accessories, especially for girls with multiple dolls that wouldn't always be able to draw from the same wardrobe. If I was Mattel's CEO that's where I'd steer the ship: good publicity and a whole host of new products to sell.

afterthree: (typewriter keys)
After having worked with a lot of different people and -- now -- several different companies building websites, I would like to let the rest of the world know something that I see as obvious but is apparently a massive surprise to others.

Website content is not a 'feature': for the user, it is the entire point of your website.

People don't come to your website to see good design or a good user interface; these are all important things to have, yes, but in the end what those things get you is goodwill and happier repeat visitors. What users come for -- the reason they click a link or search for you -- is to see your content. To read the words. And watch videos or look at pictures, yes, but mostly to read what you have to say about whatever it is you do.

If you don't have content on your site -- good, text-based content -- then you don't have a good website.

I cannot stress this enough: unless you're work is primarily based in photography or video, what people are ultimately looking for is information that can only be communcated via words. And even if you are a photographer or an artist or a video producer, once they look at all your pretty they're going to want to know things that take words to communicate, things like 'who' and 'where' and 'how much'.

Good content takes time. A lot of time. Time to plan, time to create, and time to markup and format. Content is almost always the biggest time-spend, no matter whether it's being created from scratch or migrated from one platform to another. Trust me on this.

I have spent days, weeks, months and even years working on content pre-launch. I have written it from scratch. I have formatted it with any number of markup tools and languages in lists and tables and columns. I have copy/pasted more times than is possible to count. I have tagged content, catagorized content, pagenated content and aggregated content.

I have some expertise in this. So when I say with 100% certainty that whatever amount of time you've budgeted for content is not enough, you know I'm not pulling your leg.

The other thing good content takes is writers. And not just any writer, but a copy-writer. Preferably one with web copywriting and SEO experience, because writing for the web is different than writing for any other medium, just like writing a newspaper ad is different from writing a commercial is different from writing a book.

You should never just slap something up in online spaces, but that's what happens all the time; things need to be adapted. In print you write and design around turning pages; on the web, it's all about scrolling down. Print that can be read comfortably on paper is too small or too big on screen. Words in graphic elements can't be seen by search engines, and either the graphics need to be rebuilt with searchable text over background images or appropriate alt and title tags need to be added.

Remember also that content is never 'finished'. There's no 'done' like there is with design. Content changes, expands, and expires. There is nothing more frustrating to users than old, outdated, inaccurate, or stale content. Good content is always current content. Keeping archives of content is great practice, but the most important stuff you've got is the stuff that's relevant now: online content is always about 'now', and the first place new content should be available is from your website. If updates happen in other mediums before they make it to your online sites and media, then you're doing it wrong.

Here endeth the lesson.

afterthree: (typewriter)
By doing this in my own journal instead of in [profile] penny_lane_42's comments I'm probably turning this into a meme, but it's kind of awesome and I think deserving of meme status.

The idea is that we all watch different shows, even when we all watch the same ones. BtVS and Joss fan [profile] penny_lane_42 posted about the shows she's watching, and got my thinking about the ones I watch.

When it looked like I was watching Gargoyles I was actually watching Blond, Bland Gentlemen Have More Fun Serving Amoral Megalomaniacs, and The Magnificent Seven was absolutely The Con Man with a Soft, Mushy Centre he Resents.

What appeared to be a book about a boy named Harry Potter was in fact The Baggage of Severus Snape and A Werewolf Tries Very Hard Not To Be Happy, For Everyone Else's Sake. The last could of books were also Dumbledore Plays Wizard Chess and You Are All His Pieces.

From the beginning, The West Wing was Lemon Lyman and his Quirkily Brilliant and Impervious Assistant Fall In Love with the occasional CJ Is Awesomer Than Pretty Much Everybody, Bitter, Angry, Sad Toby Tries to Save the World with Words, and Jed and Leo: It's Good Friends Who Keep Us Sane spinoffs. The first two seasons are definitely Dialogue That Plays Like Music, and that show was the first one that made me realize dialogue can be just as flexible and brilliant and god-damn evocative as narration.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was primarily I Love Allegory and Metaphor Like You Cannot Even Believe and Important Stories in Dark Places. Season Two became A Librarian Was Not How I Thought I'd End Up, But Somewhere Where I Was Always Headed, while Season Three was The Mayor and Faith Need Each Other, and Are Good People Gone Astray, Really. Season Four was, to my surprise, mostly When Did Xander Become So God Damn Brilliant, and Why Didn't I Notice Until Now?. Season Five was definitely My Sister is More Important than the World Entire, and That Is Just Fact so Live With It, and Season Six I watched Buffy Learns to Feel Again after getting Really Good at Not. In the end, it turned out I was also watching A Girl Who Forgets How To Be a Girl Because she Has To Be a Man the whole time.

When I watched Doctor Who with David Tennant I was watching The Loneliest Man in the Universe Searches for Distraction That Usually Makes it Worse. When Season Four started it absolutely became Donna is Awesome and the Doctor Needs Her More Than Anyone Else in the Universe. I also admit to watching the Unashamed Sci Fi Crack is Cracktastic Win show on a regular basis and loving it the most.

Torchwood was mostly Torchwood Makes Everything Worse, But In a Good and Often Hilarious Way but also sometimes Sex and Love and All the Awkward, Strange, Niggly Spaces In Between Make Us Human. CoE was, by and large, Gwen Finds Her Awesome.

I watch Criminal Minds for Garcia Is My Hero In All Ways, but also for Women, Even When They're Victims, Are Not Just Victims and Playing With Gender Roles and Identities in Smart Ways.

Dollhouse started out as Victor and Sierra and Nothing Else Matters, but then suddenly and wonderfully became Topher Doesn't Want to Hurt Anyone Else But Can't Help It Because That's Who He Is.

There are others, of course. I could go on forever, but these are the ones that leap immediately to mind. What shows within shows have you watched? What tinted glasses do you wear when you watch or listen or read the stories you do? I'm intrigued by this discussion and by discovering other people's points of view.

afterthree: (thumbs up master)
Over the last week, Dreamwidth has come under fire from some organized trolls with ties to hate speech organizations, posing as concerned parent organizations in an attempt to convince Dreamwidth's merchant processor and upstream provider that they are hosting child pornography. There have also been several phishing attempts (setting up sites that look like Dreamwidth in order to obtain user's passwords.

PayPal, the merchant processor, has requested Dreamwidth remove the "offending" entries, and Dreamwidth has refuesed to do so. As a result, they're on the hunt for a new merchant to accept credit cards. For those with accounts expiring in the next week or two, Dreamwidth is happily providing those people with a one-month extension of paid service while they set up with a new payment processing merchant.

I wrote a post some time ago about Dreamwidth, why I was interested in the service, and how I thought their no-ads model might work out better for its fandom users particularly. This is the first major test of those principles, and so far the Dreamwidth team is passing with flying colours. I am extremely pleased and impressed.

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