Tag Archives: bechdel test

It is a linkspam universally acknowledged (25 February 2014)

  • 7 Disney Princesses My Daughter Wishes Existed | cecilyk on babble (Feb 21, 2014): “Like so many 7-year-old girls, my daughter is utterly obsessed with Disney Princesses. [...] But because I’m a feminist, I annoy my daughter by having long discussions with her about the way Disney portrays women and how she feels about it. [...] she also longs for a princess that is more, well, like her. So we sat down together, and she gave me a list of what she would love to see in a Disney Princess. Take note, Disney!”
  • What I learned while editing Wikipedia | Noopur Raval on opensource.com (Jan 27, 2014): “My work with the Wikimedia Foundation and editing Wikipedia has helped me take a hard look at myself as a woman of colour from India in technology. [...] The question I ask myself now everyday is whether merely enabling access through infrastructure and providing free platforms like Wikipedia can help us resolve uneven digital geographies created in the process.”
  • Software Engineering Made a Woman Outta Me | Jennifer Gilbert on Medium (Feb 18, 2014): “When I decided to learn to code, I knew I was entering a male-dominated field. But I considered that challenge far less worrisome than, say, taming the black magic of recursion. [...] And yet, the day I became a software engineer, I became a woman. It was a lonely moment. My dad wasn’t even there to awkwardly hug me before yelling for my mother and excusing himself to Any Room But This One. [...] The biggest tomboy alive can suddenly feel like Programmer Barbie if her surrounding context is male enough.”
  • debian women – MiniDebConf Barcelona 2014 | DebConf (2014): “On the 15th and 16th of March, Barcelona will host a Mini DebConf with both talks and social events, to which everyone in Debian is invited but the speakers in the talks are all people who identify themselves as female. We consider this important to: Encourage women who haven’t yet given their first DebConf talk; Provide role models for women who are interested in contributing; Debunk the myth that there are not enough women who can give talks in DebConf. The idea behind the conference is not to talk about women in free software, or women in debian, but rather to make discussion about Debian subjects more inclusive for women. [...] We are still raising funds to cover the costs of running the conference and to offer travel sponsorship to people who cannot pay for it. Please, consider donating any amount you can, everything helps!”
  • Rubrics Like the Bechdel Test are a Start, Not an End | s.e. smith (Feb 14, 2014):
    “The obvious question you have to ask after applying it is ‘why did it pass (or fail)’? You can point to specific scenes, or lack thereof, that helped a film or other piece of media meet the standard, and you can note shortcomings of the Bechdel test; for example, if a piece of media is a solo performance by a woman, it’s going to fail, but does that mean it’s necessarily sexist? If a movie passed, does that mean it’s not sexist? Two women talking to each other about something other than a man in a piece of media don’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t contain sexist stereotypes or other problems.”
  • Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction | Aja Romano on The Daily Dot (Feb 15, 2014): “A conversation on a science-fiction forum this week revealed a section of the community that’s teeming with indignation about recent attempts to make the genre more progressive. [...] But these days, the sci-fi community is an increasingly large, public place. And with the advent of instant communication across the Internet, more voices are coming to the table and speaking out”

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.

NAND and NOR gate sketch, coincidentally in the shape of a heart

Hacker School Gets an A on the Bechdel Test

NAND and NOR gate sketch, coincidentally in the shape of a heart

NAND and NOR gate sketch, coincidentally in the shape of a heart – by me this week

cross-posted from Cogito, Ergo Sumana

When part of the joy of a place is that gender doesn’t matter, it’s hard to write about that joy, because calling attention to gender is the opposite of that. I want to illustrate this facet of my Hacker School experience: mostly, Hacker Schoolers of all genders talk about mostly the same things. And we talk about them in all gender combinations — including, just by chance, among women.

The “Bechdel Test” asks whether a work of fiction includes at least two women with names who talk to each other about something other than a man. Thus in my blog I have an occasional series listing topics I’ve discussed with other women. My life passes the Bechdel Test! ;-)

So here is an list of some things I’ve discussed with Hacker School women. (About half the facilitators, cofounders, participants, and residents are women.)

Some Things Hacker School Women Talk About

  • why LVars and set operations relate to current work in distributed systems
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • IRC etiquette, and when to use IRC instead of a mailing list, videocall or wiki
  • troubleshooting git-review
  • the Haiku operating system’s key features (many of them similar to BeOS)
  • refactoring a function a guy wrote so it doesn’t do everything in main() (technically breaks Bechdel?)
  • whether to work at a nonprofit or for-profit
  • where is that maple syrup smell coming from? (answer: someone was making oatmeal)
  • our GitHub report cards
  • how to use machine learning techniques to train a Markov chain to generate funnier sentences
  • how the hell Makefiles work
  • what the hell a cuticle is
  • binary search and Huffman coding
  • saving time with useful Python standard library modules (string, time, os, etc.) and packages, e.g., requests
  • Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
  • where pip gets its info (PyPI)
  • the Pythonic convention for reading from a file, with open('file','r') as f, and the fact that it’s a context manager
  • when and how to use list comprehensions and dictionary comprehensions, generators and decorators, ord and chr
  • why we use pass for stub functions or classes instead of return
  • birth control amortization
  • how you would override Python’s default behavior to raise an exception when slicing a list with a negative int
  • how to write a hill-climbing algorithm and why
  • G.K. Chesterton’s use of the mystery genre
  • what the #! (hashbang) line at the beginning of a script actually does
  • song currently stuck in one’s head (“Gettin’ Jiggy Wid’ It”) and confusing “Wild Wild West” with “Back To The Future III”
  • what it takes to work remotely
  • security issues inherent in creating a sandboxed version of an interactive Python interpreter
  • who put this post-it note on the fridge saying “No Java on Monday”? When? Did the author mean the beverage or the language? Was it descriptive or imperative? Why did they never take it down?
  • an awesome 1982 Bell Labs video about UNIX featuring Lorinda Cherry

I could make this list probably ten times longer. My point is, if you don’t care about gender, Hacker School is awesome. If you’re irritated by the tech industry’s usual gender crap, Hacker School is blissfully free of it and you can — if you want — turn into someone who doesn’t care about gender for three months.*

You can apply now for the next batch — apply by Saturday night, December 14th.

* an oversimplification! But you get what I mean.

A quick post about The Walking Dead

The makeup for this show: phenomenal.
Cross posted at From Austin to A&M.

 Like any good geek, I love me some zombies. So of course I tuned in last night to AMC’s new zombie show, The Walking Dead. And I found myself disappointed. Spoilers ahoy! (NB: I haven’t read the graphic novel. This is just a review of the pilot that aired last night.

The show starts with our hero, Rick, and his misogynistic partner, Shane, talking about how women and men are different. This conversations seems to function solely to tell us that Shane is a bit of a prick, Rick is a genuinely good guy (which I didn’t really buy), and Lori, Rick’s wife, is a bitch. Basically, it took about ten minutes for me to realize I was probably going to blog about this show, and not in a good way.

The dudes, who are police officers, get into a shootout, Rick is shot, and then we see Shane bringing him flowers in the hospital. (He assures us that he didn’t pick them out himself, however. That’s for sissy ladies. And he’s not gay or anything gross.) Rick wakes up, the flowers are dead, and the hospital is full of corpses and ruin. I did like the set up here; Rick has no fucking clue what it going on, and he’s still injured, so he basically cowers home, where he discovers his empty house and runs into Morgan and his young son, Duane. Their family was heading to the refugee camp in Atlanta when Morgan’s wife became infected and got all zombified. She still hangs about, and they can’t leave with her haunting them. Morgan wants to “put her down” and even attempts to in this episode, but he can’t. 

Anyway, Rick and Morgan arm themselves, keep open a line of communication, and Rick sets off for Atlanta, where he thinks his wife Lori and son Carl have headed. We find out that Lori and Carl are with Shane (and Lori is with Shane) outside of the city, because it’s been overrun with zombies. Rick runs into the city on a horse (looking straight out of a zombie videogame), gets his horse eaten by zombies, and takes an incredible amount of time to seal himself up in a tank. (Seriously, this guy must have the lowest amount of adrenaline ever present in a human being. He moves like molasses.)
In case you missed it, he’s a goddamn cowboy.

So far, I liked the story okay, and it seems promising for the character development of the people the show seems to care about. Unfortunately, none of those characters are ladies, who existed in this pilot for the sole purpose of helping to advance dude characters’ development. Morgan’s wife is in the refrigerator, gets absolutely no characterization (not even after the fact), and the only reason we even care about her is that Morgan and Duane are all traumatized by this. She gets a lot of face time in this episode solely because she’s been stuffed in the fridge, and we’re supposed to see her (rather pretty for a zombie) face through Morgan’s eyes. And the only other lady character with a name is Lori, who gets very little screen time, and most of that is devoted to kissing Shane, presumably so we can see how whorey she is, since she got over her husband faster than it took for him to heal from a gunshot wound. And perhaps I’m being too harsh on the writers here; they may not want us to judge her so quickly. But it’s difficult to tell, since that is basically the only thing she does onscreen, and the conversation in the beginning of the episode is intended to make us think she’s a bitch. She doesn’t ever get a side in that conversation, and we don’t get to hear about what happened from another party, because she doesn’t actually matter. She exists solely to develop Rick and Shane for us, and doesn’t exist outside of those relationships.

Get me out of the refrigerator!

This episode failed the Bechdel test hard, despite being an hour and a half long, and a fucking zombie movie, not a rom com. It could easily have included two women talking about practically anything, including zombies and survival, if they were feeling uncreative. But it didn’t, because it would have had to have two women talking on screen at the same time. And that, apparently, was too fucking difficult.

I think this show could get better. According to their cast of characters, there are at least some women playing a part in the show later. Significantly less than men, but they’re there. Possibly, then, they will get some personalities and perhaps even plot lines not connected to their dudes and romantic relationships. But I was really disappointed by the premiere, and am not feeling particularly optimistic.

Attention The Walking Dead  writers: women are not plot devices. And we don’t like watching shows that don’t think women matter as characters. Fix it.

Further reading (will be updated): 

Linkspam is idealized into powerlessness (29th October, 2010)

  • San Francisco, USA: Women 2.0 PITCH Night, 4th November: Watch the finalists of the Startup Competition pitch live, learn firsthand from successful female startup founders how they grew their ideas into industry-changing businesses, and network with hundreds of Women 2.0 members (entrepreneurs, investors, startuppers, and technologists) at our biggest event of the year!
  • Apple’s tightly controlled App Store is selling a transphobic application, see solarbird’s initial discussion and addenda, including complaint avenues.
  • New Scientist is running a Flash fiction competition 2010: Forgotten futures. 350 words, including the title, and you grant them a non-exclusive right to republish.
  • Also on the subject of fiction, Baen has made the entire Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold , available for free in digital format.
  • hradzka discusses the Bechdel Test: mechanical approaches: On those occasions that a conversation does turn to why a work fails the Bechdel Test, there are basically two ways that conversation can go. It can turn into an activist discussion of sexism and society, or it can turn into a discussion of the mechanics of writing. There have been a lot of the former, but there haven’t been all that many of the latter.
  • There’s a UK geek calendar released as a fundraiser for The Libel Reform Campaign, largely featuring geek communicators (geeks who are writers, TV hosts, and so on). See their about page for image links: on first look it seems not to have really sexualised any of the geeks, including the women, very much. What do you think?
  • People involved in Ubuntu may know Amber Graner and her husband Pete. Unfortunately they lost their house to fire while away at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (their children and pets are all safe and well). Rikki Kite has a fundraiser.

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.

Firefly unleashes her thunderbutt attack: Bidding farewell to Tao of Geek and looking for geeky women in web comics

My friend and fellow female geek Liz has just concluded her long-running comic, Tao of Geek. Congratulations Liz! In celebration, here’s one of my favourite strips:

Tao of Geek comic: June 9, 2005

Tao of Geek comic: June 9, 2005

But with Naomi and Chris (the lead women of ToG) retiring, I’m realizing the fairly small selection of web comics that I read regularly will be lacking in geek fare that passes the Bechdel Test. Girl Genius is a fair bet, and both Schlock Mercenary and XKCD have some interesting women but not as many conversations between ‘em.

I’m sure there are lots out there somewhere that pass Bechdel more clearly, so here’s where I’d love some recommendations: what web comics are you reading lately that are filled with awesome geeky women? For each link you post, tell me why it’s awesome from a geek feminist standpoint and point out a favourite geeky woman moment or two!

Linkspam decided she liked math after all

  • Desperate to own Computer Engineer Barbie? She’s now up for pre-order on Amazon.com, shipping December 15, 2010. Other places may have her as well (feel free to note any you find in the comments, especially for non-US readers). Edit: Note that she comes as both African American and the stereotypical Blonde-haired Caucasian variety.
  • Think maybe Computer Engineer Barbie just isn’t for you? You might get a kick out of this photo of the Open Source women at GHC10. We decided to do a photo where we “patched” her to be a bit more free software friendly:
    Grace Hopper 2010-13

  • Ever wondered if complaining about sexist language actually made things better? The answer may be yes: Accusations of Sexism Spur Greater Sensitivity: “New research finds confronting a man about his sexist language can have surprisingly positive results.
  • Eva ponders, “What does Bechdel really mean?” examining why she originally disliked the arbitrary-ness of the test and what she gradually learned through applying it to things she loved.
  • You’re probably sick of hearing about The Social Network, but I’ve been told if you’re feeling like doing some outreach to feminists who believe that CS really is for loser male nerds, here’s a thread or two you might like (or hate) to check out.

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here and if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention you can also use the tag #geekfeminism 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 in comments and on delicious or twitter.

Quick hit: xkcd “Phobia” passes Bechdel Test

Today’s xkcd comic strip, Phobia, passes the Bechdel Test.

  1. Contains two women
  2. Having a conversation
  3. About something other than a man

Last time this happened, as far as I can tell, was over 400 comics ago, where the two women in question ended up being rescued from the RIAA and MPAA enforcers by Richard Stallman. Or has there been one more recently?

One thing I like about “Phobia” is that the two characters just happen to be women. They’re not there to tell us a very special message about women or to be part of someone’s romantic fantasy. They just… are. People. With fears and motivations and ideas and dreams.

So, thanks, Randall! More like this please!

Bechdelicious geek entertainment of 2009

Inspired by a post of lauredhel’s asking for recent movies that pass the Bechdel test, I wondered if anyone has some recommendations for good recent geeky entertainment that also passes, ideally comprehensively rather than barely. Share your recommendations in comments. Fanfic and vids and similar welcome!

Quick refresher: passing the Bechdel test requires that:

  1. the movie [media/story/game/narrative...] has at least two women characters;
  2. who talk to each other;
  3. about something other than a man.

If you’d like to recommend something not-women-hostile that passes a variant instead (two people of colour who talk about something other than a white person, for example) go ahead.

Link Roundup: The Geekening (Sep 5th, 2009)

Revenge of the Link Roundup (August 17th, 2009)