The Phantom Linkspam

  • Where do programmers work? Help us show the world | The Media Show (November 24): “We want to show as many kinds of people as we can programming. People of color. Queer and trans folks; men and women. Older and younger folks. People with disabilities. People with tiny kids running around them while they code.”
  • The Data on Diversity | Communications of the ACM (November 2014 issue): “Diverse teams are more effective: they produce better financial results and better results in innovation. These results show that having a diverse organization is a business imperative.”
  • Women ‘belittled, underappreciated and underpaid’ in tech industry | The Guardian (November 21): “Beyond structural gender disparities, many respondents complained of a “macho, misogynist culture”, with bosses organising events at strip clubs, and frequent commentary on women’s bodies the norm.”
  • Your groundbreaking is not my groundbreaking | N.K. Jemisin (November 25): “I’m pretty sure nobody in the planning meetings for this game went Muahahaha, now we can really stick it to those curly-haired, dark-skinned people!* I think they just started from a completely different set of assumptions about what is “normal”, than… well, what actually is normal to a lot of people. And those assumptions have skewed the whole bell curve of the game.”
  • My Magical Experience at Geek Girl Con | Black Girl Nerds (November 19): “This is why conventions like this exist.  It is to illustrate in such a magical way that you are not the only Black geek girl or queer geek girl, or fat geek girl, or disabled geek girl.  There is a place for you in this community and you have friends and fellow geekettes out there who are willing to support you and tell you that you need not to fear being a member of geekdom.”
  • “I’m so done with it”: Conservationist speaks out against sexism in science | Retraction Watch (November 24): “I think there’s been a sea change in conservation and conservation science. We’re seeing a shift…a lot of discussion about diversity of culture and diversity of gender in conservation science. It’s up to all of us to speak out and say, this is not ok in our community. We’re just not gonna take it.”
  • Pro Star Craft 2 Player Makes Rape Comment about Female Opponent, Gets Booted from Tournament | The Mary Sue (November 24): “I’ve spent some time in competitive gaming myself, and I can’t count the awkward confrontations I’ve gotten into over other gamers—friends, even—throwing around “rape” and other words that they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, most of the time the comments go unanswered, which leads to impressionable players getting the idea that they’re acceptable and even funny things to say.”
  • It’s Not about that Damn Shirt | Women in Astronomy (November 20): “Women said “Dude, wearing that shirt is not cool”. Men are now spending days telling those women the graphic, specific ways they would like to rape and murder them.”
  • No Title, by Marie Connelly | The Pastry Box Project (November 24): “When we talk about platforms, about social networks, we often focus primarily on the technology. Yet in my time as a community manager, I have found that community is rarely about the technology itself—a platform is nothing without the people who use it. And right now, we are losing people. We are losing people who have wisdom and insight and so much to share, because public participation on the web has become increasingly more dangerous.”
  • #Gamergate as a response to re-engineering: BPC as a conspiracy to change computing | Computing Ed (November 23): “We in the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) community are aiming to achieve a similar kind of social engineering that the Gamergate supporters are complaining about.  I am part of a vast, international (though maybe not particularly well-organized) conspiracy to change computing culture and to invade computing with many women and members of under-represented groups. We are “actively plotting to influence” computing.

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

A tsunami of testimonies: assaults in the Swedish larp community

Warning: this post details sexual violence.

This is a guest post by Kristin Nilsdotter Isaksson. It originally appeared in Swedish and in English on Spelkult. The English translation is by Charlie Charlotta Haldén.

Editor’s note: “larp” is live-action role play.

We’re talking about sexual harassment in the world of larp. Molestation, groping, assault and rape of participants who are asleep or intoxicated, aggravated rape with violent abuse, and even attempted murder.

On June 17, 2014, a new Facebook group was created for Swedish-speaking larpers who identify wholly or partially as women. The group quickly drew many members, and now comprises 580 larpers of varying ages and backgrounds. The idea was to create a sanctuary for discussions about different aspects of being a female larper. There are discussion threads about portraying female antagonists, about dealing with menstruation during larps, about sewing tricks, creating characters, organising larps. Small questions, big questions, and questions of vital importance.

It’s so important that we talk about our experiences. About how common this is, and that it’s not OK. About our right to say no, and that it’s never, ever, acceptable for someone not to listen. Everybody knows a victim, but nobody knows a perpetrator, and it’s time to take a stand now. — anonymous

A lot of times, I am personally skeptical of gender separated forums and arenas. I think spaces that are open for all tend to support a broader sharing of experiences. But I have realised that there are exceptions.

Lately, a darker subject has crept into the discussion threads, and during the past few weeks, a tsunami of voices has swept over us. Post after post, comment after comment, telling stories of painful experiences. We’re talking about sexual assault. At larps, or in larping circles. Over a thousand posts detailing experiences, sharing thoughts, discussing preventive measures, and not least, holding out hands in support.

There are a lot of perpetrators, and a lot of victims. The threads almost exclusively tell of assaults perpetrated by men towards women. There have been instances of sexual harassment, molestation, groping, assault and rape of sleeping or intoxicated larpers, aggravated rape with violent abuse, and even attempted murder. Some of these incidents have been reported, but a large amount of them have not reached the police, or even the larp organisers. Until now.

I was almost completely out of it, and I couldn’t do much of anything to stop it, because I hardly understood what was happening. He raped me, and in the morning I was ashamed and just left the camp, because it felt like it was my own fault. — anonymous

A lot of cases involve young people, 15-16-year-olds who are offered alcohol and harassed by older boys or men, and then things get out of hand during the night. In other cases, the acts are meticulously planned and perpetrated over a long period of time.

I was always supposed to play a submissive role at the larps, a servant to the group, to his friends. I was thrown around like a handbag. But I felt so worthless, so I reckoned I should be happy to get any attention. Then it got worse, the mental stuff turned into physical abuse… — anonymous

Many people ask themselves how this can happen. Shouldn’t larping be a safe arena, with a lot of eyes and ears that can react if something seems to be going wrong?

Most probably, it can happen because the people around let it happen. Partly because larpers are not really any different from other people in society, partly because the setting of a lot of larps actually makes sexual harassment more acceptable. Sociology calls this “habitus”, a series of codes that underlie a person’s behaviour. A lot of larps, especially in the fantasy genre, are stereotypical. Gender roles are clear and coded with different behaviours.

Male players will often choose a warrior character with a macho attitude, an acceptance for sexualising women and literally taking what he wants. This is a behaviour that would not be at all OK in normal society, but one that is seen a lot at different larps.

In the same way, female characters are often coded to be submissive, service-minded, soft, madonna-whores, or defenceless. Given that context, it can seem perfectly reasonable if a male player is upset about new rules suddenly being enforced that forbid playing on rape, since he had planned that his character should be an active rapist during the larp. When female characters are coded as submissive, the more dominant aspects of the male characters are intensified.

I was 13 years old, going to my very first larp together with a friend. None of us had any experience, and we didn’t know anyone except each other. The larp begins, and everything goes pretty well until the second day, when we are handed a note. The note says that the two older men in the tent across from ours want to meet us, because they want to find wives. This made me extremely uncomfortable, and I ended up hiding in the woods for the remaining days. — anonymous

Another contributing factor in several stories is that the victim has been separated from her group and placed in a new situation where she hardly knows the other players. Her safety net is gone.

Note that I didn’t know ONE SINGLE person in Sverok (The Swedish Gaming Federation) then. I had gone there all alone, representing my organisation, and had never met anyone else, so I didn’t have a single person there to talk to or seek support from. — anonymous

Some of the stories shared tell of incidents where larpers have lost their way in the middle of the night and been offered a place to sleep in exchange for sexual favours, or woken up with an unknown person’s hands all over their body. Because the victim has few contacts in the new group, she automatically becomes dependent on the perpetrator, and her scope for action is restricted.

Suddenly, I notice someone lying down next to me and starting to touch me, moving their hands under my clothes. I was really gone, but I realise that it’s the guy from before, and that makes me feel I can’t say no, because he might have thought I wanted to. So I let him keep on, and I just wanted to go to sleep so I didn’t have to experience this. We never talked again, and I never told anyone. — anonymous

In many of the cases, shame or fear of retribution has kept the people involved from telling anyone about the incidents. Moreover, the perpetrator usually has a larger amount of social capital than the victim does. They may be much older and more experienced, perhaps an organiser or someone with a lot of contacts in the larping world – as one person wrote, “someone you could trust”. If the person who was assaulted would report it to the police, or involve an organiser, there is almost always a legitimate fear that she would tarnish more people than the perpetrator – their friends, their network, the larp event – by diminishing the perpetrator’s power and social standing. This very strong group mechanism can often cause many people to initially take the perpetrator’s side and turn against the victim. There may be accusations saying that she put herself in the situation, that she behaved like a slut, that she was drunk and provocative and “corrupted” the perpetrator. There are numerous examples of this. The Bjästa case in Sweden and the Steubenville rape in the US are just two well-known examples outside the larping world.

I walked homewards, ice cold and freezing. It was dark, I couldn’t even see the path. Almost knocked myself out. I just wanted to get home so I could sleep. This guy was friends with the organisers, with my friends, everybody. Nobody would believe me, and that’s why I just kept quiet. — anonymous

This ongoing conversation has already resulted in some practical measures: Several organisers have taken action against alleged perpetrators, and suggestions for preventive efforts have been put forth, such as larps providing safety hosts and safe sleeping quarters. And people are talking, and processing. Some who have not dared go to a larp for several years because of fear have now felt safe enough to sign up again, and many larp organisers are working hard to ensure that larp is not a lawless haven for perpetrators to hide in.

All this may lead to people being named and shamed, and suffering reprisals such as being banned from larps and other social contexts. Whether this is justified or not is, of course, a matter of judgement. There is also a significant risk that those who have now dared to speak out might be accused and called into question.

My blood runs cold when I realise that I probably know several of the guys described here. People I have larped with, had fun with, and maybe been lucky enough not to end up alone with — anonymous

But this can also lead to a much safer larping experience with increased freedom of action for many players. The tolerance for this kind of behaviour may decrease as the spotlight is placed upon it. What might have been silently accepted earlier can now be pulled out into the open and questioned. Together, organisers and players develop new methods to ensure safer play for everyone, and that more women dare take up more space and choose among a broader array of characters.

The issues are now being discussed in other open larp forums too, and several players have called for more male voices in the conversation. Partly because this is not just about women’s experiences. There are not only male perpetrators. There are male victims too, and they may risk invisibility and stigmatisation. But there are also a lot of men who want to do something about this and show support. However, the question is if this massive sharing of experiences would ever have happened at all if the forum had been open to everyone. Most of the members of the Facebook group would probably say a resounding “no” to that question. Those who have been subjected to violations need a sanctuary in order to find the courage to start talking.

Our newsfeeds keep filling up. We keep talking. We discover connections. Someone who has felt desperately alone in her experience discovers, with hope and with horror, that there are many others out there who have been through similar things. This gives strength and breeds courage. The voices are powerful, and they will surely not quieten for a long, long time yet.

Background

The Facebook group referred to in the text is named LWU, Larp Women Unite. The group was started by Karin Edman after Linnea Risinger came up with the idea during the Summer of 2014.

The ”Prata om det” campaign (”Talk about it”, hashtag #prataomdet) was and is a movement consisting of writers, bloggers and tweeters, emanating from a Twitter discussion started by geek feminist Johanna Koljonen in 2010. This concerned sharing stories about grey areas in sexual situations, about when sex becomes violation. This campaign opened doors to conversations that had not previously been had on a larger scale in “geek culture”.

That’s The Way I Linkspam It (26 November 2014)

  • Twine, the Video Game Technology For All | New York Times Magazine: “Although plenty of independent games venture where mainstream games fear to tread, Twine represents something even more radical: the transformation of video games into something that is not only consumed by the masses but also created by them. A result has been one of the most fascinating and diverse scenes in gaming. The very nature of Twine poses a simple but deeply controversial question: Why shouldn’t more people get to be a part of games? Why shouldn’t everybody?”
  • 25 Tips for Diverse Hiring | Model View Culture: “In order to be successful with diverse recruiting, tech companies must invest in analysis and improvement at every stage of the hiring process. In this post, we offer a 101-style guide to top areas of focus, with specific suggestions to improve your hiring process and build more diverse teams.”
  • Ambling Along the Aqueduct: Sexual Harssment and Public Space: “I think that the difference for the second decade of the twenty-first century lies in the stunning, important fact that women are increasingly claiming a place in public space and are consequently transforming public discourse in ways that challenge male entitlement to a serious degree… The implication is that women are in public space on sufferance, as special cases, being given privileges that can be revoked for any one of a number of arbitrary reasons, usually amounting to not in some ways being above rubies.”
  • Casual sexism in scientific journal leads to editor’s note | Retraction Watch: “The Elsevier journal Biological Conservation has put out an apology, but not a retraction, after outcry over a bizarre, misogynistic non sequitur in a book review by Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm.”
  • Funding – linux.conf.au 2015 | 12 – 16 Jan | BeAwesome: “Apps close December 9. LCA 2015 and InternetNZ are proud to support diversity. The InternetNZ Diversity Programme is one way we ensure that LCA 2015 continues to be an open and welcoming conference for everyone. Together with InternetNZ this program has been created to assist under-represented delegates who contribute to the Open Source community but, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend LCA 2015.”
  • How Blacks and Latin@s Are Left Out of Tech Hiring by Stephanie Morillo | Model View Culture: “In other words, the qualified CS graduates of color tech claims it cannot find not only exist, but are actually being turned down for jobs in the very industry that says it cannot find them. For Blacks and Latin@s with dreams of going into tech and the social mobility it brings, this means that possessing credentials — and the increased networking opportunities that stem from respected CS programs — are not enough to erase the hidden (and not hidden) biases in tech’s hiring practices. The message that this then sends to younger generations of Blacks and Latin@s is clear: you need not apply.”
  • Barbie Remixed: I Really Can Be a Computer Engineer: “I happen to study remix, so one of my first thoughts upon seeing this was: someone is obviously going to remix this. I figured, why wait? I also have at my disposal my roommate Miranda Parker, a student of Mark Guzdial, who studies computing education and broadening participation in STEM. So with her input, I rewrote the book with a slightly different spin. (I also kept her as a “computer engineer” even though she’s really more of a computer scientist, software developer, etc.)  I hope you like this new narrative better, too!”
  • Engaging With Hateful People in Your Community Lends Legitimacy to Their Presence: “So why do you men get to care about the bigoted arguments and even engage & rebut? Because you’re unlikely to be targeted. They read as ‘abhorrent’ to you, but not as ‘threat to your safety’. Good for you! But for me, the presence of this person is a problem. When I see a male supremacist show up in an online space, the likelihood that I will participate drops to zero.”
  • No Solution | Medium: “If your coworker has chosen to share their story and truth, please respond with empathy and understanding. If empathy isn’t something hard wired into you, here are some tips: Listen as though it’s your only job. Avoid the urge to tune out. Avoid the urge to form counter arguments or move into defensive thinking. Avoid the urge to be “right”. Avoid the urge to critique.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

The Desolation of Linkspam

  • Men Explain Technology to Me: On Gender, Ed-Tech, and the Refusal to Be Silent: Hack Education (November 18th): “There’s a problem with the Internet. Largely designed by men from the developed world, it is built for men of the developed world. Men of science. Men of industry. Military men. Venture capitalists. Despite all the hype and hope about revolution and access and opportunity that these new technologies will provide us, they do not negate hierarchy, history, privilege, power. They reflect those. They channel it. They concentrate it, in new ways and in old.”
  • Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt on Journalists | BuzzFeed (November 17th): “A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.”
  • The moment I learned just how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women | PandoDaily (November 17th):  “I have known many of Uber’s key investors and founders personally for six to ten years. Over that time I’ve seen an ever-worsening frat culture where sexist jokes and a blind eye here-or-there have developed into a company where the worst kind of smearing and objectification of women is A-ok.”
  • Gender, Race, and the Supernatural: Appreciating Sleepy Hollow’s Abbie Mills | Ms. Magazine Blog (October 29th): “Still, it’s one of the few shows featuring a black woman character who is not only kicking butt and taking names in her various encounters with demons, sorcerers, ghosts and zombies, but is constantly saving our white male hero and acculturating him into our 21st-century era: including driving automobiles, learning which mobile phone devices are the most up-to-date, and more recently, practicing yoga.”
  • Sweden Considers Special Labels for Sexist Video Games | Time (November 16th): “A government-funded innovation agency in Sweden is considering creating specials label for video games based on whether or not the games’ portrayals of women are sexist.”
  • Update: the following two links criticize Sweet Peach as described by Austen Heinz and Gilad Gome. Founder Audrey Hutchinson says her company, aiming to produce individualised probiotic mixes for vaginal use, was seriously misrepresented (November 23).
    • These Startup Dudes Want to Make Women’s Private Parts Smell Like Fresh Fruit | Inc (November 21): “At the DEMO conference in San Jose, California, on Wednesday afternoon, Heinz and Gome outlined their shared vision and previewed plans for a new probiotic supplement that will enable women to change the way their vaginas smell. Called Sweet Peach, it will be made using Cambrian Genomics’ DNA printing technology and financed through a campaign on the crowdfunding platform Tilt.”
    • How Not to Disrupt Women’s Bodies | Inc (November 21st): “Since time immemorial, beauty and feminine hygiene companies have used the promise of personal empowerment to help sell equally reprehensible, if much more subtle, campaigns based around negging women and then offering the solution to all of their bodily imperfections. Or smells. Especially smells. Poor Sweet Peach, trying to put a “probiotic supplement” gloss on what’s essentially the boring old douche market.”
  • Three Tactics that Block Women from Getting Ahead | Accidentally in Code (November 19th): “There are different kinds of gendered experiences. The outright sexual harassment, versions of “get back in the kitchen” is one, but another is patterns of behaviour that happen over, and over again to women, but much more rarely to men. It’s behaviour that men feel more OK with exhibiting towards women, because subconsciously they know they are much more likely to get away with it.”
  • Meet the Women Challenging the Media and Tech Establishments | Fast Company (November 17): “Not many journalists would leave a high-profile job at one of America’s most storied newspapers to create their own startup. But that’s exactly what former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin did last year when she founded the tech news site The Information.”
  • Tech Freedom vs. Feminism | On the Left (November 19): “Several prominent tech freedom organisations choose to align themselves with and refuse to depose these kinds of men, no matter how horrible the shit against them is. The men themselves get away with harassing and abusing women because they are seen as being ‘valuable’ to the movement. Once you’re up on a tech freedom pedestal, it seems like it’s impossible for someone to bring you down.”

 

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Comfort me with links, for I am sick of spam (18 November 2014)

  • 55 works of iconic Indian writer released on Wikisource under a free licence | Wikimedia blog: “A total of 55 Kannada books by Niranjana are re-licensed. “This is the single largest and most comprehensive individual collection of a writer to be released under CC-BY-SA 4.0 in any of the Indian languages so far,” says Kannada Wikimedian Omshivaprakash.”
  • Over 9000: A game about visibility online when you’re a woman, made by Maddy Myers
  • Job Listings That Don’t Alienate (with images, tweets) · kissane | Storify: “I asked for people from communities that are underrepresented in their fields to talk about language in job descriptions that makes them back away, and the reverse—wording or specification that feel inviting. I got a lot of replies. If you make listings/do hiring, you should probably read them.
  • Barbie book about programming tells girls they need boys to code for them | The Daily Dot: “The latest affront to basic decency in gendered toy marketing comes from a Barbie book that tells girls they can’t be game developers or programmers…  Despite its encouraging title, Marenco’s book actually tells preteen girls that Barbie can only contribute to the design of the game she’s building.”
  • What a Huge Difference Those Little Actions Make | Medium: “I’m looking for more examples of positive stories from women in tech. I want to publish a collection of them — a LOT of them — in the hopes that reading them will make more people take that extra step to be welcoming and encouraging. To take that little step that costs nothing but might mean everything to a new, tired, or discouraged coworker.”
  • Night Witches by Bully Pulpit Games | Kickstarter: “Night Witches is a tabletop RPG about Soviet airwomen during World War Two, flying daring night time bombing missions in biplanes.”
  • How It Feels to Land a Spacecraft on a Comet | New York Times: Physicist, woman, person of color Claudia Alexander on landing a spacecraft on a comet: “Once we started getting the data, we are getting what we expected to get, and we know that the field is going to benefit from having made the effort to get this accomplished. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
  • Not All Nerds | The New Inquiry: “Silicon Valley monopolizes our national ideas about the future, aided by a presumption that the industry is exceptionally progressive when it comes to race. It’s this monopoly that turns the idea of putting iPads in the hands of every child into an urgent need. If we are to challenge Silicon Valley as the shining embodiment and most aggressive promulgator of a neoliberal future, then we need to attack its futurity. We can start by emphasizing how woefully retrograde it is—how 19th century its economics are, certainly, but especially its racial politics.”
  • Weather forecasters predict better services for women | Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said progress had been made in improving weather forecasts and climate services to protect lives and livelihoods. ‘But if we are to help communities cope with long-term climate change and the anticipated increase in hazards like floods and heat waves, then we need to do more to reach out to women with gender-sensitive services,’ he said.”
  • Pandora Releases Its Staff Diversity Statistics | Complex: “Are we supposed to believe that there are no black, Asian, or Latino people out there that have expertise in music? This is especially strange if you consider that most of the Pandora consumer base is minorities.”
  • Sartorial Misogyny, Feminist Concern Trolling, and the “Little Things”  | Shakesville: “When feminist concern trolls like Dawkins whine about the misuse of feminism, talking about feminism like it’s meant to be kept under glass, broken only in case of a ‘real’ and ‘serious’ emergency, they’re deliberately ignoring how culture works. The ‘little things’ don’t happen in a vacuum, but are part of a spectrum of expressed misogyny that forms a systemic oppression of women.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

The Principle of Least Linkspam (14 November 2014)

 

  •  Questions To Ask An Interviewer To Detect How Female-Friendly A Company or Engineering Team Is | Hackbright Acadamy:  “ “We do a lot of things outside of work together. I actually went surfing with one of my coworkers this morning. But if you wanted to find someone to, I don’t know, go shopping with you, I’m sure you could.” Such gender-based assumptions would cause me to worry about future assumptions that might be made. Not all answers will give such a clear signal, but any answer should still give you a good feel for the personalities of the people you would be working with.”
  • [Content note: descriptions of rape apologism and anti-semitism/nazi and fascist references] How we tried to prevent incidents at a hacker camp, why we expected not to succeed, and how we failed | Milena Popova: “Safer spaces policies are there not to prevent the reproduction of all patriarchal biases, but to prevent their manifestation in violence- verbal, mental or physical. They’re there to lower the cost of participation for people from oppressed groups from “I’m going to get slurs shouted at me all day” to “I’m going to feel slightly out of place”. Of course, they also have a second purpose – they are a form of fliter, a message saying “we’re not actively violent towards oppressed groups and if you are then you’re not welcome”.”
  • The Ladies Vanish | The New Inquiry: “Amazon has built a massive network of casualized internet laborers whose hidden work helps programmers and technological innovators appear brilliant. Their Mechanical Turk program, taking its name from the 18th century curiosity, hires people to do invisible work online—work which makes their client companies’ software look flawless. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos calls it “artificial artificial intelligence.” Ninety percent of human intelligence tasks pay under $0.10 per task.”
  • [Trigger Warning: descriptions of harassment, stalking, sexual assault, and death threats] What US Law Can (and Can’t) Do About Online Harassment | The Atlantic: “Self-taken photos are owned by the photographer, so a website displaying those photos without consent is violating copyright.” “[Federal cyber-stalking] laws specifically stipulate that an “interactive computer service” cannot be used to threaten. Approximately half of the states in the U.S. have also updated their laws to allow authorities to press charges against people engaging in cyber stalking and cyber harassment.”
  • Dear @airsage | Sarah Fine: Airsage have published a sexist graphic depicting women’s participation in the transportation industry.
  • #endGamerGate2014 Linkspam | Bluebec: Another linkspam covering #GamerGate’s bad behaviour.

A few links about Matt Taylor wearing a ‘naked-lady shirt’ while representing the European Space Agency (note: he has since issued a personal apology):


We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Scenes from a linkspam (11 November 2014)

  •  QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION! | LIGHTSPEED (31 October): “Submissions for our Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. Anyone who identifies as queer can submit science fiction short stories, up to 7500 words. No fantasy for this special issue, though if our Kickstarter campaign goes well we might unlock Queers Destroy Fantasy! and Queers Destroy Horror! special issues as well. We very much want to see diverse queer representation and queer themes, but we are focused on the identity of the authors and the quality of the story. Submissions open October 31, 2014 and will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on February 15, 2015″
  • Wearables Are Totally Failing the People Who Need Them Most | Wired (6 November): “As the Internet of Things becomes an actual thing, more steps are being counted, more sleep patterns are being logged, more activities are being app-ified. What isn’t appearing in the data is much common sense or ambition. Instead, developers continue flocking to a saturated market filled with hipster pet rocks, devices that gather reams of largely superficial information for young people whose health isn’t in question, or at risk.
    It’s a shame because the people who could most benefit from this technology—the old, the chronically ill, the poor—are being ignored. Indeed, companies seem more interested in helping the affluent and tech-savvy sculpt their abs and run 5Ks than navigating the labyrinthine world of the FDA, HIPAA, and the other alphabet soup bureaucracies. This may be their own undoing, as there is a very real—and potentially lucrative—potential to shake up the healthcare system and frack the $2 trillion annual cost of chronic disease.”
  • [warning for discussion and video of harassment and sexual assault] #TakeDownJulienBlanc | Storify (7 November): A timeline of the #TakeDownJulienBlanc campaign.
  • Quirell | Indie Gogo (31 October): “Quirell is a social network currently in the planning stages being developed by queer/trans collective CollectQT. Quirell differs from traditional social networks in that it aims to be a place for marginalized community members and others to escape the noise and over-saturation of traditional social networks. This project is needed because as users of social media, we are affected by the lack of privacy measures in place on current social networks, ‘real name’ policies, and the way that new features are implemented and security is handled within most social networking sites.”
  • [warning for discussion of harassment] #DudesGreetingDudes Is One Guy’s Takedown Of Catcalling | Buzzfeed (6 November): “Ever since a video of a woman getting catcalled all over New York City went viral, people on the internet have been debating between whether catcalling is really a destructive expression of misogyny or a flattering dialogue between strangers. The dialogue inspired This Week in Blackness CEO Elon James White to question why, if this behavior is so harmless, or “complimentary,” don’t men do it with other men. Thus, the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag was born, meant to shine a light on the hypocrisy of men saying that they’re just “saying hi” when they talk to women on the street.”
  • Exploiting Impostor Syndrome | this ain’t livin’ (4 November): “Just as women tend to be gaslighted, men are also very aware of impostor syndrome and how it works – even though they may not know that it has a name – and they exploit that knowledge to suppress the women around them. This is an example of how sexism snarls around people of all genders, with men taking advantage of a known phenomenon that affects women, and women thus becoming deeper ensnared in it because there’s reinforcement all around them.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Protector of the Linkspam ( 9 November 2014)


We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Linkspam on My Mind (7 November 2014)

  • The Dads of Tech | The Baffler: “Dad’s simplified Internet is a meritocracy, a place where the best rise to the top and competition makes regulation unnecessary. It is a realm where heroic innovators build on the work of their predecessors, steadily advancing and bettering humankind through the incessant upgrading of algorithms and apps, insistent that they are making the world more democratic and egalitarian even as they hoard wealth and influence for themselves.”
  • Codes of conduct and why my opinion about this doesn’t really matter: “Once a few events had accepted Codes of Conduct I started asking people new in the community, particularly women, how they felt about them. What they said, fairly unanimously, was that the Code of Conduct made them feel a lot better, and safer, about attending their first conference and joining the community. Of course I adopted a CoC after this, not just because they change how I felt about CoC’s, but because my opinion didn’t ever really matter. I’m a white guy, I don’t get to decide what makes non-white non-male people feel safe and accepted. This is even more important to remember during enforcement of the CoC where the goal must be to make those effected by harassment feel safe again.”
  • Handling of Sexual Harassment Case Poses Larger Questions at Yale | New York Times: [CW: Harassment, abuse of power] “A sexual harassment case that has been unfolding without public notice for nearly five years within the Yale School of Medicine has roiled the institution and led to new allegations that the university is insensitive to instances of harassment against women.”
  • Female academics: don’t power dress, forget heels – and no flowing hair allowed | The Guardian: “Essentially, the message is the same: unless women dress modestly and conservatively, they look out of place in academia, because fundamentally, they don’t have the right bodies to be academic authorities. This infuriates me, and I refuse to accept it. My intellectual abilities as an academic should be judged on my work: my research, my publications, and my lectures. This is how I have earned and now own my place in academia, regardless – or in spite of – my “feminine” appearance.”
  • They Call Me Doctor Berry | New York Times: “I was typically one of only two or three female students, and one of only one or two African-American students. I wanted to change the face of engineering by showing that the profession could be cool, interesting, exciting, engaging and, most important, diverse. In that way, insisting that students use my title isn’t just about me — it’s about broadcasting, to any female and black students who might hear it, that I am black, a woman, and an engineer, and that they can be the same.”
  • We’re Sexist Toward Robots | Motherboard: “But what’s weirder than our insistence on assigning gender to non-sentient machines is that we then sometimes treat them differently as a result. We’re sexist to robots. It would be funny in its absurdity, if it didn’t so harshly reflect the prejudices already ingrained in human society, and risk entrenching them even further.”
  • Why is Firefox tweeting Gamergate nonsense? | The Daily Dot: “Whatever strategy of back-and-forth inclusiveness Mozilla may be incorporating in order to warrant this kind of dual-sided approach, the women and other progressive gamers who have had to suffer the effects of Gamergate for the last two months (and counting) have lost all patience for it. Firefox may think it’s just being objective, but the reality is that the encouragement is amplifying the voices of Gamergate members who are already planning to branch out to Tumblr just as the rest of us are trying to declare the whole thing dead.”
  • The Other Side of Diversity — Medium: “I avoided the one place in the Bay Area I could go and feel not so different. It never dawned on me that the people who were telling me not to go there were the people who might go there and feel uncomfortable. It never dawned on me that I’d let other peoples experiences and cultural upbringing completely negate my own. It never dawned on me that I really wasn’t in the set of Us.”
  • For A Culture At War, PAX Australia Was The Perfect Antidote | Kotaku Australia: “Most of all it was reassuring to find that, face-to-face with the people who make up gaming culture, the negative element was absolutely a small group making a nasty unruly noise. It confirmed to me what I had suspected all along: the people who want to tear it all down, the people who want to harass and prod and bully: they are in the minority. And we can all applaud ironically as they finally leave the building.”
  • Gamergate and Academia | ICA Newsletter: “You might feel that these events do not relate to your research area, your position, or your students. You are wrong. The harassment members of our community have experienced is a problem that can have chilling effects on academia – both in and out of the communication field. Already, graduate students (and even some colleagues) have conveyed to us that they are frightened to speak up or study video games. When fear enters academia it is the research that suffers as all of our research becomes suspect and ‘under investigation.'”
  • Let Me Fix That For You, New York Times | Red Ink : “Yesterday, the New York Times dropped an opinion piece by Cornell researchers Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, making the bold claim that Academic Science Isn’t Sexist (<– that IS the title of the post, Gentle Readers)…. In order for any persuasive piece to be effective, internal consistency and logic is the rock-solid foundation upon which to pile on your massive heap of shite.  We’ll let the good people of science decipher the treatment of data, and tackle the post for the masses instead.  In the interest of bettering persuasive science writing, New York Times, let me fix that for you…”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

The Linkspam and I (3 November 2014)

  • A Teenager Gets Grilled By Her Dad About Why She’s Not That Into Coding | Matter — Medium (29 October).
  • On alcohol and tech culture | beerops (28 October): “I don’t have any problems with alcohol in and of itself, but I do have problems with how I’ve seen it used as a gauge for someone’s value in the tech industry.”
  • Tech companies haven’t gotten past sexism 1.0 | SFGate (27 October): “I wondered whether the point of the gift had more to do with my gender than his company. It seemed as though Blake Francis, the founder, was addressing me as a woman, but not a journalist.”
  • I Hope Twitter Goes Away | Alex Gaynor (30 October): “Every user floats by themselves, interacting with who they please. This denies us the ability to build communities, to set social norms, and to enforce them.”
  • We do what we must because we can | ravishly  (27 October): [CW: harassment, transmisogyny, TERFs]  “I made a casual reference to the most famous, most prolific TERF—my intent was not to indict, but to illustrate that we are individuals in larger, arguably adversarial movements. Well that casual reference proceeded to feature me on her blog, replete with my birth name, home address and links to videos I’d forgotten I’d even made.”
  • Dealing with harassment (and spam) on the Web | BCC (26 October): “It’s not an easy algorithmic problem, it takes a psychological toll on human moderators, it puts online services into the uncomfortable position of arbiter of appropriateness of speech.”
  • The EntitleMen: techno-libertarian right wing sockpuppets of silicon valley | graydon2 (29 October) : “My thesis is that it is not [Neoreaction] per se that’s a “memetic adaptation of conservative thought”, but libertarianism; [Neoreaction] is a natural (hopefully brief) proto-fascist outburst from a long-lived libertarian movement in American politics, one that’s been growing in the tech community for a long time, and is fundamentally running on old-school conservative (rightist) ideological and emotional fuel.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.