Consider the linkspams, how they grow (16 June 2015)

  • The unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize | The Guardian: “It is obvious that his comments were sexist, but few people could recognise the names or faces of the women he has so thoughtlessly brushed aside. Even in his inadequate apology, he neglected to mention any women scientists who have impressed him during his career, choosing instead to justify himself with unsolicited details about his love life. Many have railed against Hunt’s casual chauvinism, without questioning why positive remarks about women are still missing. Would such comments be irrelevant? Unless we acknowledge the stories of women he has forgotten, a negative portrayal of women once again takes centre stage.”
  • #TooGayForWifi: Please Stop Blocking Gay Websites | Autostraddle: “In the past year, I’ve been collecting reports of places where Autostraddle cannot be viewed. They include but are not limited to: airports, government agencies (like certain DMVs), car dealerships, gyms and schools. I’ve also been researching which filtration companies these places are using and what filtration categories they’re making available to their clients. I’ve come to two conclusions: most entities aren’t censoring gay content on purpose, they’ve just literally never thought of it; and filters, in most cases, are a waste of resources and a bad idea in general.”
  • I Stand with Irene Gallo | Bedside Notepad: “I’m done with guys being all, oh, women in geekdom get harassed and doxxed and threatened when they speak up about sexism? I HAD NO IDEA. I don’t believe your ignorance any more. You are lying. You are lying because you don’t want to be bothered. Because the serial harasser you employed was a guy you kinda liked.”
  • Female Comics Experts and Pros to Host “Men In Comics” Panel at This Month’s Indy PopCon | The Mary Sue: “We at The Mary Sue were none too happy when we heard about the all-male “Women in Comics” panel at this year’s Denver Comic Con. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Racebending.com’s Gabrial Canada sees how underrepresented women are in all aspects of geek culture and decided to respond to that Denver Comic Con panel by creating this “Men in Comics” panel featuring all women at this month’s Indy PopCon in Indianapolis.”
  • These Women Scientists Know Exactly How #DistractinglySexy They Really Are: “Efforts to not only make women in STEM visible, but to further make that visibility positive and inspiring, are therefore crucial. As these Twitter users are showing, female scientists aren’t distractingly sexy — they’re necessary and valuable additions to every lab.”
  • Leveling Both Sides of the Playing Field | Medium: “What if, instead of teaching women that they have to raise their hands to speak at meetings, we taught men to be more reflective and circumspect; instead of telling women to tamp down their emotions at the office, a man was told that he didn’t appear committed enough to the job because he’s never shed tears over it; instead of pushing women to take public credit for their work, we publicly admonish men who don’t properly acknowledge others’ contributions? I was just invited to a seminar on public speaking skills for women — where’s the class on listening skills for men?”
  • I, Too, Left the Tech Industry | Evgenia Got Free: “We are supposed to manage stress without being able to manage the sources of stress: abusive managers, abusive work practices, unfair wages. This tells us that our feelings, and the results of having them, are the problem, but not the things that caused those feelings in the first place.”

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, 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.

Linkspams are not the only fruit (12 June 2015)

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, 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.

Mad Link: Fury Spam (9 June 2015)

  • Supreme Court Overturns Conviction in Online Threats Case, Citing Intent | The New York Times (June 1): “The Supreme Court on Monday made it harder to prosecute people for threats made on Facebook and other social media, reversing the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who directed brutally violent language against his estranged wife.Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said prosecutors must do more than prove that reasonable people would view statements as threats. The defendant’s state of mind matters, the chief justice wrote, though he declined to say just where the legal line is drawn.”
  • Study: half of black and Latina women scientists have been mistaken for admin or custodial staff | Vox (June 4): “personal choices aren’t the only reason women decide to leave STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. The bias they face in the workplace once they enter these jobs plays a huge role, too. And unsurprisingly that bias is especially intense and takes different forms when it comes to women of color.”
  • Event in St Louis June 13: Super Heroines on the Small Screen | Meetup: “50% of the population is female, but did you know only 37% of all lead roles on cable television are women? Be a part of our discussion about the under-representation and portrayal of super heroines in TV through the years. Our panelists will break down popular television shows and examine their representation of women – the good and the bad – through clips and debate.”
  • Silicon Valley startups are obsessed with developing tech to replace their moms | Business Insider (May 10): “Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have millions in funding to spend on startups and maybe tackle world problems. Based on what they’re building though, it kinda looks like they just want their mom around.”
  • So you want to read about…girl superheroes | Austin Public Library (June 2): “So you want to read about girl superheroes? Of course you do! With Black Widow on movie screens and Supergirl about to grace our television screens, it’s no surprise you feel like picking up a comic or two (or ten). Lucky you, Austin Public Library has a whole host of comics featuring awesome ladies to satisfy your reading needs”
  • Better advice for ‘Bothered’ | Science Careers (June 4): CW: Sexual harassment “The deleted Ask Alice post offering advice to “Bothered,” a female postdoc whose male adviser “won’t stop looking down my shirt,” brought a torrent of critical responses. Many critiqued the original advice: “As long as your adviser does not move on to other advances, I suggest you put up with it, with good humor if you can.” Most criticized Science Careers for posting it. And some filled the gap they felt the original post left by offering their own advice to women scientists coping with unwanted attention from a man in a position of power.”
  • Meet Screet, a  Feminist Sexual Health App | Feministing (June 8): “Screet, and other apps like it, demonstrate the exciting innovation that happens when tech start-ups place feminist goals, such as inclusive sexual health, at the center of their mission rather than wait to incorporate these themes later down the product life-line. Hopefully the continued success of this young start-up will inspire other founders, engineers, investors, and users that tech and feminism go along together rather than just ‘leaning-in.’” [Editor’s Note: a reboot of Screet is happening at http://screetreboot.github.io]
  • Apple Finally Puts Women on the Stage | Bloomberg (June 8):  “The fact that Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are starting to give their female employees a chance to be a part of telling their stories seems like progress. But the real achievement will be when it’s not news that women are participating in these kind of events.”

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, 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.

cover of TRADE ME by Courtney Milan

Book Club: Thought experiments around privilege, and more Trade Me thoughts

Apologies for getting this up late; I’ve been travelling back from WisCon (where I also praised Trade Me at length!).

So as you saw in my April post announcing Courtney Milan’s contemporary romance novel Trade Me as a GF book club topic, I love this book for multiple reasons. From here on out I’ll be indulging in spoilers, so, more after the jump!

Continue reading

Harriet the Linkspam (1 June 2015)

  • All the women I know in video games are tired | Boing Boing (May 29): “For the most part, I still have the same job that I have always had (not that I’m not proud of the growth I’ve had within it over the years). For my friends, the Twine revolutionaries and the vocal Tweeters and the other writers, a great act of deception has occurred: We’ve been in the New York Times and been invited to conferences and told that we are Important Voices, doing Important Work, we’ve been on the news at night and in magazines. We are awash in social capital. But none of it translates to real capital.”
  • tim | “Truth is the first casualty of war.” (May 27): “I know how deep the need to know the truth can go when you’re brought up in a world that seems to be built on lies. We as trans people all come from a world like that, even those of us who only have the fuzziest sense early on that we’re being lied to about who we are. To paraphrase (IIRC) Katha Pollitt, social change is made by people who can’t stand the way things are any more. It’s not made by people who are well-served by the world as it is.”
  • Where Are All The WoC Hackers In Movies? | Model View Culture (May 27): “does the film industry believe that all women techies are white? Women programmers are almost never played by black, latina, native or asian women. The film and TV industry sends the message to women of color that we are not hackers, or at least not supposed to be. Casting hacker characters as primarily white men, and sometimes white women, leaves women of color out of the picture. Lack of representation and exposure is one reason why black women make up the lowest percentage of programmers in the tech industry (less than 1%): if you don’t see anyone who looks like you in a particular field or job, you are less likely to venture into it.”
  • Disability in the Dystopian Future of Mad Max: Fury Road | Women Write About Comics (May 28): “Approximately 15% of the world’s population has some kind of disability, but in pop culture people with disabilities are rarely seen: only 1% of characters have some kind of disability in American television shows.”
  • Bias against women in science persists, even in egalitarian societies | Ars Technica (May 29): “the researchers found that both implicit and explicit measures suggested a strong association between men and science in all 66 nations included in the study. These implicit stereotypes persisted even in countries where women make up approximately half of the STEM workforce, though explicit biases are weaker in these countries, which suggests that simply educating or employing women in science-related fields is not adequate to break down these long-held biases.”
  • TED turns away mother, baby at conference for women | Mashable (May 29): “A mother and her 5-month-old baby were asked to leave TEDWomen, a conference meant to celebrate the accomplishments and potential of women and girls around the world.”

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, 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.

We Built This Linkspam on Rock and Roll (28 May 2015)

  • (CW: rape) A Song of Ice and Fire has a rape problem. | tafkar: “George R. R. Martin uses nameless women’s bodies as character development for male antagonists in A Song of Ice and Fire. Rape victims serve as props and set decoration to illustrate a man’s depravity. Social class does not protect them. The only raped women who tell us their tales, either directly through inner monologue or by telling their story to another character, are villains. Despite numerous claims, Martin’s portrayal of rape is not supported by history.”
  • Denver ComicCon Had a Women In Comics Panel With No Women | Comics Alliance: “Certainly men can be part of the conversation about the place of women in comics throughout history and even today. But they should not be the only people speaking, nor should any panels featuring men speaking about women be given a pass because they’re about history and not diversity. Women deserve the right to speak about their own history.”
  • It’d Be Crazy if VC Firms Didn’t Fix Their Gender Problem | WIRED: “Venture capital isn’t just discriminating while cutting itself off from women’s talent, smarts, and insight. It’s denying itself a huge hunk of unclaimed business—which makes venture capital’s vaunted meritocracy pretty unmeritorious.”
  • Ex Machina Has a Serious Fembot Problem | WIRED: “In a way, Garland is right; pure intelligence wouldn’t have a gender any more than it would have a race. But to say that and then place that consciousness into a body that it will immediately recognize its likeness as female negates that point.”
  • (CW: Abuse, suicidal thoughts) On #YesAllWomen, One Year Later | The Toast: “My Twitter mentions were bursting with reasons why I should [die]. I was a man-hater. I was a rabid feminist. I was capitalizing on a tragedy. I was a terrorist in sheep’s clothing. I was a hypocrite. […] I was a Muslim woman who had dared to start a viral hashtag that laid out the fears women faced – while men shamed and accused them of generalizing against an entire gender for the sins of a perceived few. I was the creator of #YesAllWomen, and in that moment, I had no idea what the morning would bring me.”
  • (CW: Screenshots of abusive texts) How I responded to sexism in gaming with empathy – Lilian Chen | TedEd: “Lilian Chen grew up playing Super Smash Brothers Melee. But when her love of the game led her to compete in national tournaments, she noticed a big gender imbalance that brought with it a troubling social dynamic. In this TEDYouth talk, Lilian details her experiences with sexism in the Smash community and how she is now aiming to raise awareness for this topic in a way that doesn’t shame male gamers.”
  • The Avengers’ Black Widow Has a Smurfette Problem | The Atlantic: “But Renner’s “slut” joke isn’t an example of “shipping”—i.e. rooting for a romance to happen. It’s an insistence upon seeing a woman purely in sexual terms. It’s also a rejection of the notion that men and women can have platonic relationships—that Smurfette could just be friends with the other 99 blue people in her village.”

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, 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.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Linkspam (26 May 2015)


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, 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.

Quick Hit: New Taylor Swift fanvid “Pipeline” calls out tech industry on diversity hypocrisy

As Julie Pagano put it: “So many ‘diversity in tech’ efforts are about getting young women into the pipeline. Ignore the fact that there’s a meat grinder at the end.” So I’ve made a new fanvid (a type of video art piece): “Pipeline”. It’s a little over 3 minutes long and cuts together about 50 different sources over Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space”. Specifically, this fanvid uses clips from documentaries, glossy Hollywood depictions of hackers, comics, code school ads, and the Geek Feminism wiki’s Timeline of Incidents to critique this dynamic. It just premiered at the WisCon Vid Party a few hours ago.

My launch blog post on Dreamwidth goes into more detail and includes a comprehensive list of video.

Download: on Google Drive (165 MB high-resolution MP4 file, 23 MB low-resolution MP4 file, 98 MB AVI file), or at Critical Commons with login (high- and low-res MP4 and WebM files)
Stream: at Critical Commons (choose View High Quality for best experience)
Lyrics subtitles file: http://www.harihareswara.net/vids/pipeline.srt (you can download this and then ask your video playing app to use it as a subtitles track)

It’s under the license Creative Commons BY-SA; please feel free to redistribute, link, remix, and so on, as long as you attribute me as the vidder, and license your derivative work under the same license. Comments are welcome, though moderated.

I am their fury, I am their patience, I am their Linkspam (22 May 2015)

  • I had a culture column at WIRED. And then I didn’t. Here’s what happened. | monica byrne (May 19): “I’ve talked with other writers who’ve had experiences with Wired. My experience is not unique. So as far as I can tell, they don’t cover the future. They produce a white male fantasy of the future. Which isn’t surprising.”
  • The Dehumanizing Myth of the Meritocracy by Coraline Ada Ehmke | Model View Culture (May 19): “We hide behind the motto of “love the art, hate the artist” to justify our preferences despite the faint voice of conscience, persistent in telling us that something is amiss. It seems that ignoring the worst of our heroes is easy, but should the opposite also hold true? Should we ignore the positive, community-oriented contributions of others as quickly as we dismiss some people’s negative attributes? Are the contributions of bad actors really superior to those who bring humane, non-code contributions to our corner of the world?”
  • #girlswithtoys: women remind Twitter they are scientists too | Wired UK (May 18): “Female scientists from all over the world have taken to Twitter to post pictures of themselves with tools and equipment from their workplaces alongside the hashtag #girlswithtoys.”
  • Furiosa (5) | Be Less Amazing (May 18): “I’ve seen a few internet pundits that they “don’t see the feminist content” of this film. Dudes. It’s about the lone powerful woman in a male-dominated society who helps a group of sex slaves escape under the premise that “[they] are not things.” That’s about as feminist as it gets, and that’s just one of the many amazing equality messages going on this movie. “
  • The programming talent myth | LWN.net (April 28): “When we see someone who does not look like one of those three men, we assume they are not a real programmer, he said. Almost all of the women he knows in the industry have a story about someone assuming they aren’t a programmer. He talked to multiple women attending PyCon 2015 who were asked which guy they are there with—the only reason they would come is because their partner, the man, is the programmer. “If you’re a dude, has anyone ever asked you that?” On the other hand, when he got up on stage, he did look like those guys. “So you probably assumed I was a real programmer.” These sorts of assumptions contribute to the attrition of marginalized people in tech, he said.”
  • We Will No Longer Be Promoting HBO’s Game of Thrones | The Mary Sue (May 18): “After the episode ended, I was gutted. I felt sick to my stomach. And then I was angry. My next thought was, “I’m going to have to spend part of the next six months explaining why this was a bad move over and over.””
  • Reasons Why It’s Hard to Find Senior Women Engineers | Accidentally in Code (May 14): “People ask me about this topic sometimes, especially as I’m no longer close to being a “new grad” but at the point where I look for bigger opportunities. I’m collecting it here for reference – reasons and observations from my own experience, of why it’s so much harder to find senior women engineers.”
  • How Social Media is Failing Creative Women | Ink, Bits, & Pixels (May 17): “Real Name policies endanger women. Until these companies understand WHY that is, it’s not possible for the policy to be crafted in a way that reduces the danger.”

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, 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.

What if free and open source software were more like fandom?

This is the second of a two-part post about feminism and the philosophies and vocabularies of “open stuff” (fandom, open source, etc.). Part I is at Crooked Timber, here, and I suggest you read that first.

Recently I was thinking about abstractions we open source software folks might borrow from fandom, particularly the online world of fan fiction and fanvids. I mean, I am already a rather fannish sort of open sourcer — witness when I started a love meme, a.k.a. an appreciation thread, on the MediaWiki developers’ mailing list. But I hadn’t, until recently, taken a systematic look at what models we might be able to translate into the FLOSS world. And sometimes we can more clearly see our own skeletons, and our muscles and weaknesses, by comparison.

Affirmational and transformational

While arguing in December that the adjectives “fan” and “political” don’t contradict each other, I said:

I think calling them fanwork/fanvids is a reasonable way to honor fandom’s both transformative and affirmational heritage

I got that phrasing (“affirmational/transformational”) from RaceFail, which is a word for many interconnected conversations about racism, cultural appropriation, discourse, and fandom that happened in early 2009. (In “Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminism Retrospective”, Skud discussed how RaceFail influenced the DNA of Geek Feminism (see slide 15).) RaceFail included several discussions that X-rayed fandom and developed new models for understanding it. (And I do mean “discussions” — in many of the Dreamwidth links I’m about to mention, the bulk of thought happens in the comments.)

obsession_inc, in a RaceFail discussion, articulated the difference between “affirmational” and “transformational” fandom. Do you bask in canon, relaxing in the security of a hierarchy, or do you use it, without a clear answer about Who’s In Charge?

When we use these terms we’re talking about different modes: different approaches to source texts, to communities, to the Web, to the mass media industries, and to each other. It’s not just about whether you’re into pages of words or audio/video, and it’s not necessarily generational either:

So when I see the assertion that as a group, print-oriented old time fans don’t know how to deal with extensive cross-linked multi-threaded fast-paced discussion, all I can do is cough and mutter “bullshit”.

We have a long-standing heritage of transformational fandom — sometimes it surprises fans to know just how long we’ve been making fanvids, for instance. (What other heritages do I have that I don’t know enough about?)

And I’m mulling over what bits of FLOSS culture feel affirmational to me (e.g., deference to celebrities like Linus Torvalds) or transformational (e.g., the Open Source Bridge session selection process, where everyone can see each other’s proposals and favstar what they like). I’d love to hear more thoughts in the comments.

Expectations around socializing and bug reports

I reread the post and the hundreds of comments at oliviacirce’s “Admitting Impediments: Post-WisCon Posts, Part I, or, That Post I Never Made About RaceFail ’09”, where people talked about questions of power and discourse and expectations. For instance, one assessment of a particular sector of fandom: “non-critical, isolated, and valuing individual competition over hypertext fluency and social interaction.” This struck me as a truth about a divide within open source communities, and between different open source projects.

Jumping off of that came dysprositos’s question, “what expectations do we … have of each other that are not related to fandom but that are not expectations we would have for humanity at large?” (“Inessential weirdness” might be a useful bit of vocabulary here.) In this conversation, vehemently distinguishes between fans who possess “the willingness to be much more openly confrontational of a fannish object’s social defects” vs. those who tend to be “resigned or ironic in their observations of same. I don’t think that’s a difference in analysis, however, but a difference in audiencing, tactics, and intent among the analyzers.” When I saw this I thought of the longtime whisper network among women in open source, women warning each other of sexual abusers, and of the newer willingness to publicly name names. And I thought of how we learn, through explicit teaching and through the models we see in our environment, how to write, read, and respond to bug reports. Are you writing to help someone else understand what needs fixing so they can fix it, or are you primarily concerned with warning other users so they don’t get hurt? Do you care about the author’s feelings when you write a report that she’ll probably read?

Optimizing versus plurality

In fanfic and fanvids, we want more. There is no one true best fic or vid and we celebrate a diverse subjectivity and an ever-growing body of art for everyone to enjoy. We keep making and sharing stuff, delighting in making intricate gifts for each other. In the tech world I have praised !!Con for a similar ethos:

In the best fannish traditions, we see the Other as someone whose fandom we don’t know yet but may soon join. We would rather encourage vulnerability, enthusiasm and play than disrespect anyone; we take very seriously the sin of harshing someone else’s squee.

Sometimes we make new vocabulary to solve problems (“Dead Dove: Do Not Eat”) but sometimes we say it’s okay if the answer to a problem is to have quite a lot of person-to-person conversations. It’s okay if we solve things without focusing first on optimizing, on scaling. And I think the FLOSS world could learn from that. As I said in “Good And Bad Signs For Community Change, And Some Leadership Styles”, in the face of a problem, some people reflexively reach more for “make a process that scales” and some for “have a conversation with ____”. We need both, of course – scale and empathy.

Many of us are in open stuff (fanfic, FLOSS, and all the other nooks and crannies) because we like to make each other happy. And not just in an abstract altrustic way, but because sometimes we get to see someone accomplish something they couldn’t have before, or we get comments full of happy squee when we make a vid that makes someone feel understood. It feels really good when someone notices that I’ve entered a room, remembers that they value me and what I’ve contributed, and greets me with genuine enthusiasm. We could do a lot better in FLOSS if we recognized the value of social grooming and praise — in our practices and in time-consuming conversations, not just in new technical features like a friction-free Thanks button. A Yuletide Treasure gift exchange for code review, testing, and other contributions to underappreciated software projects would succeed best if it went beyond the mere “here’s a site” level, and grew a joyous community of practice around the festival.

What else?

I’m only familiar with my corners of fandom and FLOSS, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what models, values, practices, and intellectual frameworks we in open source ought to borrow from fandom. I’m particularly interested in places where pragmatism trumps ideology, in bits of etiquette, and in negotiating the balance between desires for privacy and for publicity.