Monthly Archives: July 2012

Failing at Geek Feminism

Now this post is just depressing:

I attended OSCON for the first time last year, and had some experiences that almost completely turned me off of the idea of attending this year. I was criticized to my face for wearing low necklines and skirts of a short-yet-modest length, and told that I was “sexualizing” the conference through my attire. I was lambasted for my honest answer (“I’m here with my boyfriend.”) when I was asked about my reasoning for attending, and even told that I should lie about why I was attending OSCON instead of “undermining” the feminist community. I started the conference last year with an eagerness to learn more about open source software, and I left the conference feeling unsure about whether or not I wanted to attend again in 2012.

As is this follow up:

I’d never cut it as a “geek feminist”. There are just too many rules I might want to break.

Besides, some people only consider me to be a woman “near tech” instead of a woman “in tech”. Apparently I’m a Carrie Bradshaw because I write about tech, which is probably why I’ve kept mostly silent on the topic of “geek feminism”.

The problem is that there are some really nice women and girls who are getting hurt by some members of a movement that is meant to be helpful.

Neither of these are my experiences, but I can definitely imagine this happening, and it really irritates me that it’s happening under this banner. Like anyone needs any more reasons to feel impostor syndrome.

I’ve been meaning to put together a post ways to let other people enjoy stuff that’s problematic and not being a jerky social justice warrior… but this is much worse than what I’d been seeing. Go read both posts: The Dark Side of Geek Feminism and Why I’m not a “Geek Feminist”.

If you’re doing this, cut it out.

If you see someone doing this, ask them to cut it out.

The idea with geek feminism here was to support women with geeky interests. Going out of your way to judge and bother other women doesn’t really help anyone, and certainly isn’t going to help interest anyone in further geekery. Fundamentally, you’re being as bad as the jerk who goes around declaring that some geek women aren’t geeky, and no one needs more of those dudes of any stripe. Calling people out has its place, but it’s not in the face of people who just aren’t geeky enough for thou. There’s a difference between hoping to see better representation of women at different levels of geekery on panels and in high profile spaces and just being a dick to attendees. Watch that you don’t cross that line.

Updates August 1–2: roundup of discussion [by Mary]

Note that some of these links may be triggery or upsetting, especially the Reddit threads. Additional discussion includes:

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing - Baltimore 2012 poster

Last day for Early Bird registration for the Grace Hopper Celebration

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing - Baltimore 2012 poster

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – Baltimore 2012 poster

Today is the last day for early bird pricing for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing! It’s not the last day to sign up, but since tickets often sell out, it’s a good idea to get them ASAP anyhow!

This is a large conference filled with technical women, great science, and great fun. It’s a really different experience, going to a technical conference where the vast majority of attendees and speakers are female, and I’ve found that the quality of the talks is often a cut above the other conferences I attend because so many people here really care about communicating their research and their ideas to others. There’s lots of technical tracks, student and educator tracks, as well as career building opportunities and a great job fair where you just know the employers you meet are serious about hiring technical women!

I reminisced here about how I first decided to attend GHC, and this year I’ll be attending for my 4th straight year!

One of the cool things I’m doing this year is that I’ve joined the committee for our Open Source Day Hackathon. I’m going to be mentoring people working on infrastructure for Systers, a large online community for technical women, but there are a whole lot of really fascinating projects running that day. All of them are related to doing social good in the world, and we’re looking for technical help. There will be lots of knowledgeable helpers on hand, so it’s a great day to come out and try your hand at a new project or do your first hackathon! You can get more information about the organizations and sign up for open source day here. We had a lot of fun last year, and I’m looking forwards to this year!

So register for Grace Hopper then register for open source day and I’ll see you there!

Chainmail (European 4 in 1 pattern)

You require more linkspam (31st July, 2012)

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

Angry woman covered in dark paint, wearing a shirt reading 'freedom'

Wiki help: anti-harassment policies

I’ve been sketching out an expansion to the Conference anti-harassment pages over on the wiki, but I could use a lot of help. Get your wiki editing game on, or alternatively leave info and ideas in comments here and someone will pull them into the wiki. If you are new to wiki editing, please see Wikia’s introduction to wiki editing.

Gather posts about anti-harassment policies

Several communities have had extensive online discussion of adopting anti-harassment policies now, most recently was the campaign to get skeptical and secular events to adopt policies. We’d like to gather the links together on one page, the Conference anti-harassment reading page. If you’d like to help out, please seek out links discussing anti-harassment policies and add them to the appropriate section:

  1. Adoption of policies, for pages about drafting policies, or announcing their adoption or similar
  2. Support of policies, for pages in support of adopting policies
  3. Opposition to policies, for pages opposing adopting policies

Suggest actions in support of anti-harassment policies

Many people would like to support anti-harassment policy adoption, and I’ve created a short list of actions that support policy adoption. Please expand this with effective actions you know of!

Design buttons and ribbons

One of the ways people have shown support of policies is by distributing buttons, ribbons, stickers and so on for supporters to wear at conferences. Please share your designs so that others can use them!

Time Ladies: All 11 Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women. Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Adorable Gender-swapped Doctor Who

So. Darned. Cute.

Time Ladies: first 6 Doctors from Doctor who, represented as women by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Last 5 Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women.  Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women. Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Picture via Gladys, whose artwork just took up some of my afternoon and I don’t mind a bit!

I should probably compile a post with some of the excellent gender swaps I’ve seen lately, but I know if I wait I might forget, and this is too cute risk forgetting.

So in preparation for a potential future post full of pictures… what’s the cutest gender swap you’ve seen lately?

wall-mosaic

A Linkspam for the People (27th July 2012)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in 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.

Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

With great power there must also come — great linkspam (24th, July 2012)

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

The word LINKS spelt out in clips (safety pins)

Linkspammer’s Delight (20th, July 2012)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in 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.

Close-up of large weathered chain links in sunlight.

Veni, vidi, linkspam (20th, July 2012)

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

The word LINKS spelt out in clips (safety pins)

Freaky Friday Linkspam (13th, July 2012)

It’s been a busy week for linkspam!

  • You Ask Why I Need To Talk About Women in the Python Community?: The day following her successful Europython talk on engaging women in the Python community, Pythonista Lynn discovers a distasteful tweet tagged with #pyladies. Lynn: “I JUST gave a talk on yesterday about women & Python.  This dude asked me a question on the things men do unconsciously.
  • Ouya’s Big Day: Ouya, a video game console company headed by Julie Uhrman, “became the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars, and the fastest ever to do so.” 
  • On Race, Feminism, and Jodie Landon | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture: “Look at her. Gaze upon the one person who is even more aware of the irony and hypocrisy of the world than Daria Morgendorffer. This is the one person who has even more right and insight to call everyone out on their sh-t.”
  • How I Stopped Worrying and Started Loving PyLadies: “The fact is: we want [women] to enrich our community, so we have to look for pragmatic ways to get them in – even if the means don’t seem sound to us on the first sight because we don’t get it.”
  • Sexism red/yellow cards at Defcon: “I will let you in on a not very well kept secret. Defcon is hell for women. Defcon is also many wonderful things. It is a fantastic environment to learn, network, and connect with friends old and new. But I’m not here to talk about that.”
  • How Stereotypes Can Drive Women To Quit Science: “[Researchers] had male and female scientists at a research university wear the audio recorders and go about their work. When the scientists analyzed the audio samples, they found there was a pattern in the way the male and female professors talked to one another. When male scientists talked to other scientists about their research, it energized them. But it was a different story for women.”
  • Willamette Geek: Turns Out, Portland Women Do Want to Code“: “‘It is definitely not the case that women don’t want to learn to code,’ says Rowley. ‘What appears to be the case is that women are human beings, and human beings are generally averse to stepping alone and uninvited into communities in which they feel like they don’t belong (or aren’t welcome). In our follow-up survey, over half of the female respondents mentioned that one of the main things that got them to come out to the event was that it was women-oriented.'”
  • See, This is What I’m Talking About: Tosh.0 and Rape “Jokes”: (Trigger warning: rape) The Women’s Health News blog is looking for a tough-stomached vidder in response to this week’s Daniel Tosh controversy.
  • A Woman Scorned By Fans: Why do so many fans hate the female leads of their favorite television shows? “This hate isn’t even just coming from lonely geeks in the basement, pining after girls. It’s not even coming from just dudes. And that rhetoric used demonstrates that it has nothing to do with fans wanting stronger female characters.”
  • Teenage Dread | Toronto Standard: How teenage-girl metalheads are derided by metal bands and metal culture.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in 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.