Tag Archives: ableism

That’s not a Linkspam. THIS is a Linkspam (15 April 2014)

  • So You’ve Got Yourself a Policy. Now What? | Stephanie Zvan at Freethough Blogs (April 10): “We know from situations in which they’ve failed that “zero-tolerance” policies, policies in which any act that is deemed to be unacceptable results in expulsion and exclusion, don’t work well. They fail in three main ways. People who are against harassment policies in general are quick to point out that they leave no room for honest mistakes. They are correct when talking about zero-tolerance policies, even if they make the same criticism about all policies.”
  • What’s Missing from Journalists’ Tactic of Snagging Stories from Twitter? Respect. | Tina Vasquez at bitchmedia (March 21): “Christine Fox does not consider herself a social justice advocate. On March 12, Fox’s timeline took a decidedly different turn. That night, to illustrate that there is no correlation between clothing and sexual assault, Fox asked her more than 12,000 followers to share what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. It was the first time Fox facilitated a conversation on this scale and it was also the first time she publicly shared her story as an assault survivor. She walked away from her computer that night feeling positive about what took place—and many tweeted to thank her, saying that through the tears, the discussion felt healing. But the next morning, Fox felt her hands go shaky. She felt nauseous and sweaty. She’d later learn from followers on Twitter that after reading through hundreds of tweets about assault, she had likely “triggered” herself, a term she was relatively unfamiliar with. Still, she knew something powerful had happened and she was proud to have sparked it. And then BuzzFeed came along and fucked everything up.”
  • My Cane is Not A Costume – Convention Exclusions and Ways to Think About Oppression at Cons | Derek Newman-Stille at Speculating Canada (April 7): “On a regular basis at speculative and other fan conventions, I get knocked around, shoved, pushed out of the way. People assume that because I am using a cane, I am taking up more than my fair space, after all, I have THREE whole legs on the ground (two legs and a cane). I hope this is because they assume that my cane is the equivalent to their lightsaber, a performative piece, a part of a costume… That is my hope. However, I have seen issues of systemic ableism at cons.”
  • Why are People Perennially Surprised By Internet Misogyny? | s.e. smith at meloukhia.net (April 14): “I have a confession: I was tempted to cut and paste this piece, since I’m pretty sure I’ve written it before. I realized that my desire to cut and paste was kind of an indicator of how endlessly circular this topic is, though. [...] I really don’t know how many times people need to say this before the message will sink through: the internet is a dangerous place for women. It’s especially dangerous for women living at the intersections of multiple marginalisations.”
  • Collecting Inspiration with Supersisters | Liz Zanis at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (April 3): “Published in 1979, the Supersisters trading cards were a playful, informative, and accessible way to spread feminism to younger audiences. The series was inspired by Lois Rich’s daughter, an eight-year-old baseball-card collector, who asked why there weren’t any pictures of girls on the cards. With a grant from the New York State Education Department, Lois Rich and her sister, Barbara Egerman, contacted five hundred women of achievement and created cards of the first seventy-two to respond.”

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

Screenshot of video player playing Kathy Sierra video

Kathy Sierra: Take back the comments: stop online harassment

Warning for quoted ableism, and harassment and malicious behaviour towards people with a disability.

Kathy Sierra has published a video about online harassment and malicious behaviour:

I haven’t seen a transcript anywhere else yet, so hopefully this is of use in making it widely accessible. I’ve altered the text of Sierra’s slides very very slightly in a couple of cases, adding punctuation for clarity where the slide layout was originally providing information about which words were in different sentences.
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Linkspam made the top 10 (24th June, 2011)

  • Color Lines gives us The Ultimate 21st Century People of Color Sci-Fi List

    It seems that when it comes to sci-fi, cultural experiences of the melanin-inclined are merely reserved for exotic backdrop (ahem, “Stargate”) and half-assed tokenization (ahem, the horrible Mandarin in “Firefly”). [...] This is for all the disappointed moviegoers who felt the title “Minority Report” was misleading.

  • Forbes lists The 10 Most Powerful Women Authors The list only counts living authors, but includes both Pulitzer-Prize winners and bestsellers
  • on privilege denial within disability: If the only time you bring up being not abled is when someone calls you out on being ableist, this may apply to you.
  • An Open Letter to Courtney Martin, an Editor at Feministing.Com: To offer a review on a feminist Web site of Octavia Butler’s work without discussing, in depth, her contribution to feminism in general and black feminism specifically is to do the legacy of Octavia Butler a tremendous disservice.
  • (Warning: extensive anti-women/feminist statements quoted, some advocating violence.) How to choose the absolutely wrong person to write about girls and D&D — the title really says it all. The article in question has since been removed.
  • On Geekdom and Privilege: Sympathy For The “Pretty’?: All of which is not to say that celebrities or hot people can never be members of the community. In calling herself a history geek, Campanella herself seems to fit the definition of a geek ally: she has some geeky interests, and she believes in evolution (thank goodness), but it’s not like she chose to cosplay Wonder Woman for the swimsuit competition, either.
  • Ann Leckie: Wiscon-Related Thoughts pt 1: But we still do it, ourselves. Some portions of the eternal what’s really science fiction debate seem focused on excluding pears and oranges from our basket on the grounds that they’re not really fruit. Except no definition that excludes oranges and pears will also include every sort of apple.

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

Quick hit: don’t blame autism dammit

Marissa Lingen writes on the highly disturbing but very very common theme of explaining harassment and abuse as inevitable results of people with autism spectrum conditions participating in geek or online communities:

Somebody conflated predatory sexual harassment with lack of social skills, and both of them with “Asberger’s,” by which one can only assume they mean Asperger’s syndrome/autism spectrum disorders.

People who have poor social skills, whether because of a neurological condition or because they were raised badly or because they have disdained to learn them or whatever other reason–those people make their social gaffes in full view of large groups. Their colleagues are never surprised to find that they have been saying inappropriate things to a particular group of people for years, because they have poor enough social skills that they don’t get that they’re screwing up. So they don’t hide it. These are the folks who will be sitting with you in the consuite and blurt out a remark, about two notches too loud, about the size of your breasts. And if you are a kind person and feel that they might learn, you can gently say something about that not being a very appropriate thing to say.

But someone who waits until they are with someone they perceive to be in a position of less power to make their remarks? Someone who makes sure that there are no witnesses who will have the authority to censure them? Someone who makes a consistent pattern of aiming their behavior at people who will have a difficult time making the bad behavior known or a reason not to do so? That is not someone who lacks social skills. That’s someone who is using their social skills fairly precisely.

(Via Russell Coker.)

A linkspammer as good as a man (21st June, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Linkspam feels left out (2nd June, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Lost in La Linkspam (25th May, 2010)

Spoiler warning: the last part of this spam spoils a scene in a very recent Doctor Who. There thus might be spoilers in our comments too.

  • Two-wheel triumph: Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh’s InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life.
  • Regis Donovan has responses to a few of our recent links at nyt: why so few women in silicon valley and ssh and sexism.
  • Why women were shut out of Canada’s science-star search: Their report… finds no deliberate attempt to shut out women, but concludes the tight deadlines for the competition, the areas picked for research and a competition where candidates on the short list had only a 50 per cent chance of winning probably all worked against female candidates.
  • Ableist Word Profile: Why I write about ableist language: When someone proudly assures me that words like lame and dumb and r#tarded are never used to describe actual people with disabilities, I’m fairly certain I’m talking to one of the currently non-disabled. Currently non-disabled readers, I’m here to tell you: those words, and any similar words you think are archaic and not used anymore, are used all the time, as taunts and insults towards people with disabilities…
  • Punding: “Punding†refers to repetitive, purposeless, stereotypical behavior typically induced by prolonged use of amphetamines or cocaine or by some drug therapies… a good example of gendered behavior that can look purely biochemical but which also, the slightest reflection shows, has a large social component that can’t plausibly be thought to be innate.
  • (Spoilers be here…) Quixotess on unacknowledged sexual assault in Doctor Who: What happened at the end of Flesh and Stone was sexual assault: Q&A.

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Good girls don’t linkspam (3rd May, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Ableism in RPG gameplay

This is a guest post by Jonathan Lavallee. Jonathan spends his days toiling about with batch processes and overnight jobs, but in his other life he’s a game designer and a poet who is constantly trying to unpack his suitcase only to find more stuff he didn’t realize was in there already. You can find his blog at Gamish Designer and game design work at Firestorm Ink.

This is a question that came from the Ask a Geek Feminist post, which is still taking your questions. If you’re curious about something you think a geek feminist could answer, ask away and we’ll see what we can come up with. If none of the regular bloggers will pick up the question, they’ll throw it to someone for a guest post or open it up to the general commentating public.

That’s why you got stuck with an ally answering this enchanting question from Timm! (it’s big so I’ve edited it down a bit):

Many table-top RPGs feature a merit/flaw or asset/complication system where you buy little extra things for your character (assets or merits) offset by buying some kind of flaw or complication. It occurred to me that, among all those available flaws, there’s always a list of physical disabilities to choose from, things like blindness, deafness, missing a limb, etc, and this stuck me as potentially problematic. On the other hand, in games that don’t feature this kind of option, you essentially never see any characters who are less than fully able-bodied (at least in my gaming experience, YMMV) unless they have some magical/technological device that completely negates the disability (think Geordi’s visor in Star Trek) so merits and flaws at least encourage players to think about characters with levels of ability different from their own.

So my question is: are these systems problematic/ableist by nature? Or does it matter more how they are implemented from game to game or gamer to gamer? Does the mechanical underpinning of the system figure into this consideration at all? If these systems are inherently problematic, any thoughts on how to implement them so they’re not (as) problematic? Thoughts on RPG characters with disabilities in general?

It’s big, so I might take this apart and talk about it in pieces because there are a lot of questions there but they all pertain to ableism in RPGs, specifically in regards to the character creating process.

are these systems problematic/ableist by nature?

I don’t think that the advantage/disadvantage model (or how ever it is flavoured in the game) is inherently problematic or ableist. The concept is that you want a character that is not perfect, and as such will have to overcome not only external obstacles but internal obstacles. If you read a story where the characters are perfect all the time and there is no potential for conflict because they are perfect it’s going to be a pretty boring story. Like Timm! mentioned, systems that don’t have this kind of mechanic tend to have those perfect characters that go about doing perfect things.

Where the problem happens is when designers try to fill in the blanks for what would be considered an advantage and a disadvantage. The first game I ever ran into that had this concept was the Hero system which had great disadvantages like dependant non player characters (DNPCs) and Enemies and Limitations on Powers. All this was great, and if they stayed there the potential for ableism was lowered greatly because these are just people who depend on you, people you’ve pissed off and times when you couldn’t use your special powers. The problem happens when you get into things like physical and mental ‘disadvantages.’ This is where the ableism is so thick you shouldn’t be able ignore it. Doubly so because as a reason to take these ‘flaws’ the game gives you a carrot in the guise of more points to spend on cool stuff for your character. There are many people who play games with the desire to push the rules as far as they can, and in doing so will take those ‘disadvantages’ because it will get them points to spend without thinking about what that actually means.

Or does it matter more how they are implemented from game to game or gamer to gamer

This is two questions in one. When it comes to being implemented from game to game the answer is no, it doesn’t matter. If you want to use the advantage/disadvantage model, which as noted above I don’t believe is ableist on its own, and then add blatantly ableist material then it’s ableist regardless of what kind of spin they want to put on it. The problem is that they’re all lumped together with all the other negative traits like being vengeful, being intolerant, or any sort of other negative traits. That one isn’t that hard.

What’s hard is when you talk about it from player to player. As a TAB-gamer, playing a character that has a disability has its issues. Much like anyone from a privileged position who plays an oppressed character — a cis-man playing a woman, someone who is TAB playing a disabled person, a white person playing a person of colour — it can be incredibly problematic when done without thought, understanding and respect. This isn’t to say that such a thing can’t ever be done, but that the potential for appropriation and caricature are great, almost too great in that kind of setting. The reason is that unlike a novel where you can take a break and do some research, your answers are improvised and are based off of you, in that moment and that’s often when your privilege is going to show up.

It’s one of my biggest frustrations with the gaming community in general, this cross playing of characters, and I rail against it a lot when it happens around me in non safe settings (conventions being the biggest venue) because more often than not you’re left slamming your head aginst the table as you watch someone reinforce their X-privilege (X being straight, white, male, able-bodied, cis-gendered or any combination there of). There are plenty of guys who try to play, “The Hot Chick” or TAB-players who think that having DID* is fun without any regard of the inherent problems of doing so.

I have stories. Oh goodness do I have stories about that, but that’s for another day.

If these systems are inherently problematic, any thoughts on how to implement them so they’re not (as) problematic?

To keep this answer shorter, because I think I’m going to be repeating myself, the system itself isn’t inherently problematic. I can take an undesirable characteristic, like being vengeful, and attach it to my character to gain a benefit that can be applied elsewhere. The problem is when the designer gives you options that are oppressive. There the fault lies with us as designers to make those options as wide and varied as possible, to create a large number of characters and possibilities, without dipping our toes into frameworks of oppression. I know that I want to be as inclusive as possible to have more people who are able to enjoy the games that I make.

Thoughts on RPG characters with disabilities in general?

I’ve touched on RPG characters with disabilities being played by TAB-people above, so I’ll just make a general comment. The lack of characters with diabilities in role playing game isn’t unique to RPGs. It’s the systematic problem that exists in all media, which is kyriarchal in nature. You don’t see people with disabilities often in television, books, film, theatre and even then when they do exist they’re often caricatures, comedic relief, or done really badly. I remember reading the frustration of a lot of wheel chair users at Glee because people would just push Artie’s wheelchair around. When I heard that, having spent time around people who use wheelchairs, my jaw dropped because that was at best horribly rude. However, that’s how the Kyriarchy thinks, always from their perspective and so they don’t see a problem with any representation that fits within their world view.

RPGs are just another avenue for telling stories. It’s collaborative storytelling that runs into the same problems that any storytelling method has. The storyteller, both as player or as GM or other if you play a lot of indie games, has to unpack and try their best to understand their privilege, otherwise their representation of a character that isn’t exactly them is going to be horribly problematic-ist.

For those in the comments: How do you feel about thoughts on RPG characters with disabilities in general? How do you feel about “cross-playing” as mentioned above?

*DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder, still called Multiple Personality Disorder by many RPG books!

No business like linkspam business (21st October, 2009)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.