Damn lazy millenials

This is not about Alex St John. It's not even about people like him. It's about systems, and how they trick and affect us all. Let's start with some context.

Wait what's going on?

Yesterday saw Gamedev twitter explode in outrage after the publication of a VentureBeat article. The article in question is basically the usual rant against privileged lazybums who don't realize how good they've got it. Except this time it seems to come from one of our own, and it caught fire. Rami Ismail wrote an excellent first-level takedown, which should be mandatory reading for every young game developer out there. Kotaku wrote an article, everyone got very angry on social media, the usual.

But the story doesn't stop there. Thanks to a friend, I happened to have heard the guy's name before. It turns out that he wrote some hiring advice a good while back, that is surprisingly honest in how disgusting it is. "Recruiting Giants" is a masterclass in hiring for maximal exploitativity. It's a fascinating piece of writing, because of how brutally honest it is about not caring about people, diversity, health or any of those boring things.

A quick aside on ad hominem

I am still relatively new to the game industry. As such, I did not know much of Alex St John's reputation, which is apparently horrendous. It looks like he's known as a clown, a joke, and more. But if you use that to dismiss the article, you're missing the point. He's not alone in his thinking: look at how he mentioned the "Recruiting Giants" presentation was being given to other CEOs! Whether he's a joke or not, he's influential, and representative of a type of thinking. So let's dig into that thinking instead of getting distracted with gossip.

The hypocrisy of leaders

On one hand, we have a piece designed to make us stop whining. The whole point of the VentureBeat article is to make us feel guilty, and thankful that we even have a job in this privileged field. He frames this as a moral argument: don't we realize how lucky we are? how good we have it? Laziness, entitlement, dismissing the value of intellectual work over physical labor... It's all there. That is what he's telling US. Now let's look at what he tells LEADERSHIP instead.

"Recruiting Giants" is about recruiting people you can exploit. Note how it frames "real engineers" are people who can be fully dedicated to your company, and how it encourages breaking youngsters, especially if they're undiagnosed Asperger (!). It hates people who know their market value and perform to it: of course, that's bad business from the hiring end. It mentions passion, again and again, forgetting as always that the word comes from "suffering" - learn Latin and you too get to be an etymological killjoy.

This two-face discourse is the interesting thing here. On one hand, he wants us feeling guilty we're not passionate. On the other, he explain why passionate people are better for exploiting. This is propaganda and manipulation, nothing less. The only thing unique about St John here though is how honest he's being about the whole thing, because this mindset is by no means unique, neither to him, nor to games, nor even to tech.

Loving your job

One of modern capitalism's greatest successes is tying personal worth to the job market. "You should love your job, be dedicated, be happy you work in such a great place. If you don't love your job, be grateful you even have one, because have you seen the economy these days? Stop complaining. You're so entitled. Back in the days it was much harder so clearly you're whining over nothing."

I hate this line of thought. It pretends that progress has to stop somewhere. That since we have it better than people before us, we need to stop striving for more. That because the economy is bad, we need to relinquish quality of life as people. That because we have fancy smartphones these days, clearly alienation isn't a thing anymore. This ties into the basic income discussion, into French protests to preserve our social care, into boomers bashing millenials, into the banks bailouts, into what we should aspire for as a species. But let's focus on alienation.

A job is the exchange of labor for compensation. Period. That is what your work contract says after all. Does that mean you can't be dedicated, love your job and more? Of course not! But it does mean you should keep in mind that relationship is contractual, and there should be a fair trade-off. A company is not a person. It has no heart, no morals, no ethics, except those that are imposed onto it by regulation or its leadership. A company is generally profit-driven. Therefore making you dedicated to your job is an easy way to squeeze more out of you. No need to tell you to stay late, you'll do it yourself because you care. No need to ask you to monitor your emails late at night, you'll do it yourself because you can't turn off the work brain. No need to ask you to do free marketing on social media, you'll do it because you're proud of your work, and it'll look more honest to boot. I'm not saying you're a bad person for doing any of that: I'm saying understanding the mechanics behind it is important. Otherwise you'll just pin it on "bad management" and do it all over again next time.

Another aspect of that trick is how employement and self-worth become linked. You're unemployed? That has nothing to do with your worth as a person. The job market's fucked. Your skills might be misaligned. Bad luck. Bad time. Shitty passport making you hard to hire. Discriminations. So much more. It's not your fault but it becomes your fault. It becomes a failure of your very self, and does a number on your mental health. Especially in a messy field like games, unemployement is to be expected. But we always internalize it as a failure on our part, instead of a product of the circumstances.

There's a French economist called Frédéric Lordon. His book, "Capitalisme, Désir et Servitude" has a concept of the angle between two vectors: your will and that of your employer. Your productivity is the dot product of those two vectors. The higher the angle, the less productive you are. So it's in the company's interest to align your desires with theirs, ideally without your awareness. This is exactly what St John is trying for in the VentureBeat piece.

Resistance and perspective

It is important to remain aware of how good we have it. That is absolutely orthogonal to striving for better still. Yes, game development is a "fun" field compared to many out there. Yes, our labor is pretty low on the physical side. Yes, we get to be creative, sometimes. Yes, it could be a whole lot worse. None of that means we shouldn't strive for more.

The project of the 20th century was to work less. Mechanization was going to free us, not become the scapegoat of chronic unemployement. Increased production efficiency meant more time for other things, creation, enjoying life. But somehow, somewhere, that was taken away. Bulltshit Jobs is a good read on that.

As we face a 21st century with a different job market that leaves many people stuck, it is worth asking: how did we end up striving for "a good economy" rather than a world where work isn't even needed anymore? Why would it be such a bad thing to not need to work, if systems are in place to keep the world running? Is it laziness to aspire to a society where hard work is genuinely not necessary anymore? I'm all for respecting our elders' and our peers' efforts, trials and hardships. But maybe aiming to avoid them ourselves is not such a bad thing.

No but seriously can we just burn him?

No. No burning. No pitchforks. It doesn't help anything and the ash is a mess to clean. Dogpiles are not good. Harassment is not good. So cut that crap. Take down ideas, not people.

As explained above, understanding how systems shape us is important. They mold our worldview, how we analyze and understand things, how we see ourselves and our self-worth, what we aspire to. That ALSO applies to those flinging shit from up above. For whatever reason they've had it good and become convinced the system is good, and therefore have an interest in maintaining it. Alex St John seems to genuinely believe his version of "real engineers" is the best way to get stuff done. He's painfully wrong, but that's not entirely his fault. The system does reward his version of things, to a point. How do we resist that system? How do we change it? Those are the questions worth asking.

My solution to this was to go freelance and do things on my own terms. I can afford to do so because I'm a French citizen in Sweden and therefore have full healthcare no matter what. I can afford to do so because I'm a programmer and work is easy to come by. I can afford to do so because my partner has a stable job, my parents have a stable job, and I have three or four safety nets below me. I can afford to do so because my mental healths needs last year were covered and I am now functional again.

Others do not have this. How can I help them? How can I get them to a place where they too can do things on their own terms? I'm still looking for answers. Writing things like this to help fix manufactured guilt is hopefully a start. Don't fall for this bullshit. Complain. Unionize. Reflect and respect, but don't let them guilt you into inaction. You deserve better.

On basic income

Alternate title: Where I Come Out As An Eeeeeeeevil Anticapitalist. Put on your best red scarf, raise your fist and start chanting, here we go. Sarcasm aside, this makes no pretense to be a well-built essay, it's more a collection of loose thoughts.

Let's agree on words

First off, the best way to have an argument that goes nowhere is to forget to agree on words.

By capitalism, I mean the dominant conception of economics, known as market economics. I mean a system based on accumulation of capital, and the possibility to generate profit solely from the possession of said capital. Capital is, basically, money. It ties into concepts of ownership, private property, etc.

By job market, I mean the dominant conception of work and labor exchange. I mean the concept of looking for a job, begging sometimes, and the exchange of labor against money mostly under the structure of private salaried employment.

By basic income, I mean an unconditional distribution of money to all, no questions asked. The implementation can take several forms: negative taxes, etc.

Sources?

I am not talking entirely out of my ass on this. I have yet to read Marx, it's on my massive to-do list. But I did have basic economics classes in my higher studies, and I immensely respect our teacher for the perspective he provided. We mostly studied market economics, but he made it clear where they came from, and that they were only one way to look at things.

There is also a French youtuber known as Usul, whose ongoing series "Mes chers contemporains" is an in-depth look at various social, economical and political topics, built around specific characters in the French public scene. The latest entry, "A salary for life", is an analysis of the job market crisis and how it ties into the failings of capitalism, along with one proposal for another system, designed by Bernard Friot. Unfortunately the video is in French and has no subtitles!

Here comes the rant

Basic income is a good thing if your goal is to give everyone a very, very basic income indeed. The proposal in Finland will not allow people to live decently in Helsinki. It will be tight even in the countryside, as far as I can tell. As some will say, it's better than nothing. It might prevent homelessness and starvation, and that is good of course. But it's not enough, at all.

As explained in Usul's videos, capital holders are capturing more and more capital as time passes. The percentage of GDP that goes to those few people keeps going up: the amount of cash that is effectively removed from the system every year is growing at an alarming rate. To be clear, I am not an expert: but to me this means that basic income would not be sustainable, since the same minority would capture more and more of the money needed to pay it out. We could also use a moral argument, and ask why the majority should live on crumbs while a minority accumulates capital.

Basic income also considers us as creatures of need that need handouts. It does not recognize labor that we all provide, unrecognized by capitalism. Laundry? Labor. Dishes? Labor. Cooking? Labor. Childcare? Labor. Drawing? Labor. Sewing? Labor. Notice how so many of these are, currently, either handled by women or poorly-paid workers? Yep, this is where feminism comes in. All this traditionally feminine labor is undervalued by capitalism since it used to be provided for "free", and results in poorly paid jobs. A "universal salary" would have to recognize all labor, not just the one valued by the current system. It wouldn't be a handout but a recognition of the fact that we all work most of the time after all!

Many say basic income would increase consumption, and encourage entrepreneurship. It probably would! I however hope it would also increase community work, social discourse, and maybe contribute to toppling the system once and for all. Unless it creates apathy, and causes everyone to preserve a less-bad status quo instead. My parents often say that the French Revolution only happened because people were starving. And the common folk was urged onwards by bourgeois, such as merchants, lawyers, and more, who wanted the power of the nobles as recognition of their wealth. The majority didn't get all that much out of it.

Basic income is, in the form it is often proposed, a crutch for a failing capitalism. Increase consumption, keep the machine ticking. But this isn't how we save the planet, this isn't how we get healthier, this isn't how we progress.

Our good friends in Silicon Valley are convinced that technology will save the world. They consider governments useless, confusing a poor implementation with a bad idea. They think themselves brilliant at everything just because they're good coders, and good business people in a rotten system.

The Zeitgeist movement is convinced that technology will save the world. They have a conspirationist undertone that I dislike: I deeply believe that most of the world's problems are caused by incompetence and not malice, by deep convictions towards the wrong goals and not by evil. They lack a transition plan, but they have interesting ideas. It's worth a (very critical) look.

I've seen some people say that basic income allows you to opt out of capitalism. Wrong: it might allow you to opt out of the job market. But unless you start making everything yourself, renounce money and stop keeping cash in the bank, you can't opt out of capitalism. It's everywhere. I've seen blogs by people living a "zero trace" lifestyle: their supplies still generally come from somewhere. If what you mean by "opting out" is "left in peace to work on my stuff", you're not leaving capitalism. And that's okay. But use the right words, please!

Conclusion and obligatory link to current shitstorm

As mentioned, I don't pretend to be an expert, or that this is worthy of the "essay" name. It's just a long-form response to a curious twitter-buddy. I do not have a solution: because the devil is in the details, implementation is complicated, requires a transition plan, etc. For that, go read people like Bernard Friot!

Brianna Wu tweeted pro-capitalism stuff the day before yesterday (the tweets have since been deleted due to harassment, and she expanded on the topic and shared this piece on basic income). She got bashed in response, and our favorite gators of course pounced as always. I hate that this is what we have come to, that it becomes impossible to criticize problematic stances without giving ammo to hate mobs, that a takedown of her problematic lines gets called extremist, or - and that I cannot accept - that criticizing a pro-capitalist feminist is called sexist. Being anti-capitalist isn't being extremist. We have just so broadly accepted market economics as the norm that we forgot anything else can even exist.

You can participate in the system, leverage it and enjoy yourself without praising the status quo. And that's what I plan on doing. Does it make me a hypocrite? Maybe. I think it makes me human!

2015 in review

It's been a hell of a year. It feels like a big blur, lots of time passing by without growth, without progress, without learning, without achievements. Burnout does that to memory. Luckily, I've kept notes. And I can now look back, and realize how far I've come anyway.

What went wrong

1: Work

I'm still torn on how much to say about Frostbite. About what happened, what didn't, how I felt, why I really really wanted to punch some people. I'm not afraid of career bridge-burning: I'm scared it would get attention from gamers. What I can say is that I left the team in January and it was both the hardest and best decision I ever took. I'm still struggling with an immense amount of anger and guilt. I miss some people. I'm left with a master key of a resume and mental health issues. If you envy me anyhow, please do consider how fucked up that is.

I'm tired of engine coding and pondering what to do next. C++ bullshit kills me, week-long hunts for one-character fixes kill me. I'm not having fun working on engines professionally. It might or might not be due to Frostbite and anxiety triggers. I don't know. But it means rewriting the story I've been telling myself for three years, and that is difficult.

2: Health

Burnout, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia. My old friend trichotillomania had never really left but I had some really bad episodes this year. My guts are broken. I spent the year hunting tests down, which yielded only all-clear. So I keep on inflating and being in pain and having emergency bathroom trips. It can add up to days wasted in pain, or two hours stuck on the throne over a day's work. Yeah, it's gross. Imagine how fun it is living with it. I don't know what's wrong. Probiotics seem to help, a bit. Lactose-free seems to help, a bit. Taking a break helps a bit. But it's still bad and I don't know why. And it scares me shitless to be broken at 23.

3: Being French

Hollande, the French president, started January hoping for a quiet year. He... did not get his wish. January exploded with Charlie Hebdo's office. Cabu's death hit me hard. His art was special to me. I watched gears turn into gears, as old agendas came to life in an overreaching surveillance law. I watched gears turn into gears, as France's old racism and islamophobia came crashing down once again. And then round 2 happened in November. I'm heartbroken for my country, for my nation. I weep for everyone who doesn't look, sound or behave French enough, whatever the hell that would mean. We're treading to road to Vichy once again. And I can't do anything. It hurts like hell.

4: Socializing

I have always been very, very bad at keeping in touch (Sorry, friends). I don't ask for news, I rarely give any. Like many, I feel that everyone secretly finds me awful, and that asking them to hang out would just waste their time. I also look horribly busy all the time due to my ridiculous hobby count, so people never ask! As a result I have been extremely isolated my whole life, and it was worse this year due to the loss of my immediate DICE social circle. I would vow to do better next year, but odds are I won't.

5: Gaming

I didn't take enough time to play games. I love the medium, what it is, what it can be, but I didn't take much time to enjoy it. When I did, I kept going back to the same games. From Bloodborne and my complex love-hate relationship with it, to the consistent masochistic comfort of Risk of Rain, I didn't discover all that much this year. The new The Room and the new Monster Hunter don't really count as new faces. Splatoon, Dungeon of the Endless and Ziggurat were the only really new things I touched this year.

What went right

1: Work

Leaving Frostbite was good. Working with Uprise was good. Working with Bitsquid was great. Leaving Bitsquid was hard, but what I needed to start healing. Getting praise from Niklas Frykholm meant a huge lot to me, and I am extremely glad and thankful I got to work with him.

2: The boyfriend

We found an apartment! We moved in together! We got a cat! We went to IKEA plenty of times, assembled furniture and did not kill each other in the process! Hard to say much about it but it's a huge deal. He's great, we're happy and he's been a tremendous help over the rough year.

3: On the road to recovery

It took me a while, too long really, to admit I was in very bad shape. It took three job switches, more than six months of half-time, and a whole lot of therapy before I just gave up and stopped. And now I'm getting better: not just not getting worse, but actually healing. It feels wonderful. My memory's starting to work again, I feel productive, I feel... well, happy's never really been my thing, but not-awful. Proud of my achievements. Almost at peace.

4: Arts and crafts

I learned so much. I tried to hold an art streak and failed: but I drew a lot anyway, and completed Inktober! My sketching has gotten a lot better, I've kinda maybe somewhat figured out ink, and I made some very decent watercolours early this year. I figured out Modo. I did some real-life sculpting. I want to do more, but argl time, as always. I finished UFOs (UnFinished Objects): an old biscornu and a scarf. I also made some progress on The Fortunate Traveler. I did dyeing experiments. I tried out woodcarving and glassblowing during Medieval Week in Visby. I finally figured out knitting, and got pretty darn good at it. I learned spinning, from my dreadful blobby first try in January to very nice chunky yarn and a lovely thread-like merino single now. I started weaving, from a tablet weaving kit, to inkle weaving, to a tapestry class.

5: Code

I kicked ass at GGJ15, helping my teammates create a portfolio piece they were super proud of. It wasn't much for me, but it felt good to deliver. I made several prototypes this year, from Processing quick hacks to a feature-complete game prototype. Hell, I even finished something for Ludum Dare 34. I almost made a thing for Revision but ran out of time, and noticed that Web and PC were the same compo after all. Not a chance. I do still love programming, and I'm bloody good at it. It just can't be the same thing I used to do, and think I wanted to do professionally.

I remade my bloody website and moved away from Wordpress. It had been bugging me for a solid year, but I finally took the jump and did it. Enjoy the static, PHP-free awesomeness.

Bonus: Misc awesomeness

  • I did half of the french subtitles for Game Loading: Rise of the Indies. The movie's good, go buy and watch it!
  • I tried out Crescent Bay and I'm now sold on VR. I am, however, not sold on it finding a market.
  • I finally spent some time reading again. Lots of great comics: The Wicked + The Divine now has a very special place in my heart.
  • I forgot my shoulder bag in the metro, with an iPad and a 3DS in it. I got it back and it still feels amazing thinking of that glorious moment at the lost and founds.
  • I have a note from Medieval Week that says "too much ice cream" so clearly that was a good time.
  • I graduated SFI, which means I now have a piece of paper saying I can speak Swedish!
  • I bumped into a fellow textile nerd on the metro - she asked about my tapestry frame - and ended up invited to a crafty hangout.
  • I got a gradient club spot at Hilltop Cloud and that is WAY more amazing than it sounds.

The way forward

The plan is to setup shop as a sole trader in January. I'll freelance code to pay the bills, and setup a mini-textile studio on the side. I want to try out the indie dyer gig, and probably sell some handspun and handwoven stuff when I get good enough.

My plan is still to get into HV Skolan, a local textile handicrafts school. I ended up first on the waiting list this year due to a late application. I need some time in art school to learn the process and find what I want to focus on. And I want said school to teach me either sculpture or textile. HV Skolan's one-year base education seems like a good start!

2015 has been complicated. It brought bad, ugly, horrible things. But on a personal level it feels like I touched rock bottom and started going back up. I'm hopeful. I'm glad to have a safety net, a wonderful-if-tremendously-annoying family, and a great boyfriend somehow putting up with weirdo me. Who knows, the cat might even become pettable next year.

Nadine the cat

Classy, fluffy, cute and grumpy.

Whatever happens, 2016 will be exciting. I'm giving up stability for freedom and experimentation, and I am of course scared out of my skull. But I'm also really, really excited! I hope it works out. I have no idea if it will. But you know what? I'm young. I'm a solid programmer. I'm a better engineer than most. I learn fast. I'll be just fine. And hopefully, I'll be able to support others who don't quite have it that good.

On workaholism

As we all know, Twitter is a terrible place to argue intelligently. So I thought writing something a tad longer here would be the smart thing to do.

History: I bumped into a coworker when in the city center on a Saturday. Nothing unusual, except that his answer to "What are you up to?" was "Going back to work". As is oft my way I went on to rant on Twitter, which triggered counter-ranting.

My original point is that self-inflicted crunching, week-end work, long hours, and general workaholism are toxic. My arguments would be similar to John Walker's regarding working for free:

  • You are devaluating your work, by not being paid for it.
  • You create expectations, both by your employer and newcomers in the industry. Your employer will expect more of you than your contract states, and newcomers will think they have to put in more than is reasonnable to fit in.

It was rightfully pointed out that this only applies if overtime is unpaid. This is, sadly, a very widespread rule in the game industry. If you put in work that is unpaid, you're harming yourself and those that will come after you. Read John Walker's post, he put it much better than I ever could. If you do get paid for your overtime, I'd be very surprised if your company lets you put in as many hours as you want :)

Now, shouldn't you just let people do whatever they want? Sure, but not in the context of their job. Your contract is an exchange of services for money or other perks. It is not a pass to do whatever you feel like with your company's tools and office space: anything on work hours should be work-related, breaks aside, and anything work-related should be on work hours. If you enjoy your job, that's awesome. Hell, I mostly enjoy mine. That does not mean I don't look forward to going home and doing something else. If you have nothing else but your job... no offense, but it might be time to reconsider a thing or two.

Another point brought up was the fine line between learning for yourself and learning on company time. I do not have a good answer. But I think you should not be using your company's tools, codebase or anything else outside working hours. Fiddle all you want, but make sure it's yours. I know US law can make this messy.

The impact of unpaid, self-inflicted overtime on company culture can be pretty bad. There are the aforementioned issues of devaluating your work and creating expectations. But there are also problems akin to what mandatory crunch can create. Very tight bonds can be created outside the normal hours, and then you don't belong unless you join in. The game industry can already suffer from boys' club or clique effects, and this compounds it, even more so when self-inflicted. Most workaholics also happen to be men...

Quick side-note on belonging: if you feel like you belong, hey, great for you! But don't dismiss someone's concerns around that as being grumpy, complaining, being emotional, overreacting, needing to cheer up. If all that sounds like gaslighting and textbook sexism, well, maybe it's for a reason...? Look inwards first before answering that no, really, Everything is Awesome.

Anyhow, that's about what I have to say on the topic. I do think people who have nothing in their life except their job should seek help of some form (entrepreneurs being a possible exception). I am a firm believer that all overtime should be paid, and that as a consequence studios would kick their employees out once the hours have been put in. Any unpaid overtime, especially voluntary, is Wrong in the grand scheme of things, and harmful to those who come next.

Did I mention we need unions? :)

Addendum: Someone else on Twitter rightfully pointed out something else. If you are prevented by your contract to use your skills for personal projects, then your only outlet for what you likely love doing is, indeed, your work. This is a very good, and sad point: in my opinion such clauses should not exist, but we're not in a perfect world. This does not change anything about getting paid for the work you do, though.

On (my) sexism

Well, it's been a while. So let's try to get writing again, with a topic that always inspires me somewhat...

Possible trigger warning for some rude sexism and sexual violence related words. No graphic descriptions or anything though.

There's been a bunch of interesting articles a while ago (e.g. this one, or this one), from women realizing they used to be sexist, too. Watching Feminist Frequency's older videos, reading some stuff on the Everyday sexism website, got me thinking quite a bit about the topic. This article on Tomb Raider being empowering helped as well. But it's this write-up about distinguishing appearances from personality which was the real wake-up call. And I realized that, well, I used to be sexist, too. Let me explain.

My closest friends were always girls, but never "girly girls". Part of me thought that trying to be pretty, putting on make-up, shaving your legs and such was giving in to social conventions, and synonym with being stupid and weak. So I was never going to do that, right, since I was so much smarter and better and blah blah blah? I slowly became more tolerant, but only saw recently how messed-up that was.

During my higher studies (three years of Computer Science), I was one of the only girls in the class, and a pretty good student. Part of me loved that, being so special and everything, and I was pretty cold to other female students by default. Something in me thought that they didn't belong there since they weren't as good. Or something. And I was especially nasty to them when they showed up in skirts or that kind of thing, like for those simulated job interviews we had. They were being weak, right?

Me being "one of the guys"? Yeah, there was some of that.

And if only that was the worst. Thanks to the image of men that society builds for us (Internet is especially guilty), I finally unearthed something really dangerous in my thought process. I have no memory of ever being harassed for being a girl. A few annoyings remarks here and there but nothing traumatizing. I never got hit on by anyone, except some "Eh mademoiselle t'es troooooop belle" in the metro once in a blue moon by random dumbasses five years younger who probably say that to every girl. You'll tell me, that's nice, good for you. Well, something in me was saying "Never been harassed? Must mean you're completely unattractive considering how all men are."

I probably turned very, very pale when I finally pinpointed that. It's so wrong, on so many levels. First, as mentionned, I never made any effort to actually look even remotely nice before recently. Even in that broken frame of thought it didn't make much sense. But the most important? I've internalized the idea that it should somehow be normal, be flattering to have people not respect you. Also, it's kind of insulting to guys when you think about it. So, let's state a few things here both for myself and for anyone reading my blurbs.

No, saying "I'd gladly fuck / rape you" is NOT a compliment. It's at best irrelevant unless you're in a rather specific context, and plain creepy and threatening otherwise.

No, trying to be pretty is not "asking for it" or anything. Don't do slut-shaming or victim-blaming, that's plain nasty. I've changed my style quite a bit lately, and I realize that looking better just feels good. Attracting people is irrelevant. Also, kudos to the people at the office who complimented me as looking "awesome" and not any other adjective!

(On that note though: in theory one should be able to do whatever one wants without being threatened. The victim is never the guilty one. We don't live in a perfect world unfortunately, so watching out somewhat can't hurt. But if anything happens? It's not your fault, no matter what. Period. As excellently stated on domestic violence here, violence is a choice of the perpetrator, and a very bad one.)

No, a girl actually caring about her appearance is not necessarily shallow or dumb. Looks have nothing to do with that.

No, the correct way to make a female character strong is NOT to rob her of every bit of sex-appeal and to make her breasts smaller. It's so much more complicated than that, and yet so simple. Just write a good character, and stop taking male as the default option.

Now, does anyone have a time machine handy? I've got a 12-year-old me to go lecture. Or a 20-year-old me as well.