Tag Archives: cons

The linkspam your mothers marched in the street for (10th June, 2010)

  • Get ready to PITCH: Women 2.0 Startup Competition: it’s open to entrants around the world, and entries close October 1.
  • Lisa Crispin writes What Gender Diversity Means to Me: Jon Bach asked me a good question… The group was nicely balanced with as many women as men. Jon asked me what advantages I felt this gave the conference. He found my reply helpful and encouraged me to share it here.
  • Penny Arcade Expo fans come out against booth babes: … 60 percent of respondents either lik[ed] or lov[ed] the ban on booth babes. Only 12 percent of respondents hated the ban, putting public opinion firmly in the anti-babe area. The major addition to the policy stipulates that the models need to be educated about the product, and partial nudity has been banned. Models can dress up like characters from games and wear revealing clothing, as long as it’s true to the original character.
  • cme writes In which everything takes rather longer than I thought: When I get to this point, people often say that the Open Source movement has a history of being hostile to all new people (true), so it’s not a big deal and certainly doesn’t mean they are anti-woman (false)… it *does* mean that their attitude has the effect of being anti-woman (really, it has the effect of being anti-everyone-who’s-not-a-white-straight-cis-ablebodied-man). Because any barrier will affect people more who have more barriers to hurdle. The less privilege you have, the more any particular barrier will set you back.
  • Alana Kumbier analyses Jessica Floeh’s line of insulin pump accessories: Insulin-Pump Accessories And Cyborg Embodiment
  • Kamvar, Schiavoni: Techies with a Cause: [Sep] Kamvar and his wife, Angie Schiavoni, recently launched CodeEd, a pilot program to introduce fifth-grade girls to computer science. Funded with $20,000 donated by the couple, it’s the only such program in the U.S. geared to underprivileged preteen girls.
  • In Mary Anne Mohanraj’s WisCon 34 Guest of Honor Speech she issues a call: I’m asking you to take up that flaming sword, because it is here; I am standing on your doorstep, and I am calling you. You can be brave enough, you can be a hero.
  • Jill Psmith is a radical feminist who doesn’t think science is bad: The argument has been made that intuition is superior to science because it is somehow free of the oppressive misogynist entanglements that encumber its dude-dominated counterpart. A spin-off of this argument says that, because academia has traditionally given (and continues to give) women the stink-eyed bum’s rush, science is antifeminist and, presumably, must be shunned in favor of this women-centric intuition dealio… Unfortunately, it is not possible for any concept, process, person, or cognitive function to exist outside of patriarchy. (See also PZ Myers, Stereotyping women right out of science)
  • Standard Operating Procedure: tech vendor VersionOne is using gender stereotypes in their promotions. But it’s a joke! Nothing to see here!

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.

Quick Hit: GenCon Events for the “Better Half”

GenCon has some programing for non-gamers who might be attending the con with their spouse. Sounds like a good idea, for those who want to travel together but don’t all want to attend the con. The problem is that they’re represented by this icon:

GenCon SPA - Activities for the Better Half

Valleyviolet has an excellent critique of the problematic responses GenCon has made in response to complaints.

I noticed the category of events at GenCon for the “Better Half” shortly after they began running several years ago. As Vanir points out, their icon is woefully not ok. When I first saw it I went to the Con Staff and said so. They looked at me like I was some kind of giant purple ostrich with two head and they had no idea what words were coming out of my mouth(s).

But Vanir’s open letter got more response. The official response from GenCon can be summed up something like this: “I’m a woman and I thought it was funny” as well as “but the events are fun!” (which never seemed to be in dispute). Valleyviolet points out that this really isn’t a very good response:

Women can be sexist. Saying “my company has women in it” is like saying “I have a black friend”. It’s tangential and unrealistic to expect that every woman (or person who works with a woman) has a full understanding of the gender related issues that upset other people.

[…]

I don’t know if you are a gamer. I don’t care other than to ask if you fully understand how sexism still affects the women at your con. Have you enjoyed the stereotype of the non-gamer wife every time you walk into the exhibit hall and have exhibitors address your husband and ignore you? Have you sat down to games and enjoyed being asked if you date the GM (who you’ve never met) because you got a ruling or a character that someone else at the table thinks you didn’t deserve?

Being a gamer is part of my identity and that icon says that you do not understand or respect how others have hurt me and continue to hurt me by disregarding my identity and feelings. “Oh haha it was a joke” is no more an appropriate excuse here than when it’s used to excuse any other disregard for the feelings of others.

Quick hit: PAX’s Girls and Games fail

Our dedicated linkspam spies have dug up a lot of critical takes on the “Girls and Games” panel at PAX East 2010, which sounds like it was a how-not-to for discussions of women in geek communities. Here’s the blurb from their own schedule:

According to the ESA, more than 43% of video gamers are female, making women the single largest untapped market segment in the gaming industry. Look at the milestones crossed and the hurdles to come as developers and publishers reach out to this previously overlooked demographic. Are current strategies effective? What does this mean for the game industry as a whole?

Panelists Include: Brittany Vincent [Editor-in-Chief, Spawn Kill], Julie Furman [Founder, SFX360], Jeff Kalles [Penny Arcade], Alexis Hebert [Community Relations Manager, Terminal Reality], Padma Fuller [Product Marketing Manager, Sanrio Digital], Kate Paiz [Senior Producer, Turbine]

Critics include:

  • The Border House and While !Finished: “Putting up with sexism and not rocking the boat may be the best thing to do as an individual to get ahead, but frankly it does fuck all for other women in the industry.”
  • Fineness & Accuracy: “Virtually no mention was made at any point of institutionalized sexism, or of the ways that banter and trash-talking with imagery of rape and sexual violence… functions as a signifier to the demographic that is overwhelmingly more likely to be targeted by perpetrators of real rape and sexual assault that they are not welcome.”
  • Laser Orgy: “Obviously those present in the room were already feminist allies, but the confusing part for me was that the questioners (both male and female) seemed much more open-minded than the panelists. The five ladies wrote off GameCrush.Com as something we should ‘expect’ of gamer culture and ignore — and most of the other problems facing women got the same treatment.”
  • gaygamer.net: “Thankfully the audience asked many intelligent and both general and more focused questions. Unfortunately, the panel seemed at a loss to answer them in any satisfying manner (for the most part, a few exceptions applied).”

The volume of criticism has attracted a response from Brittany Vincent: “First off, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I let you all down, as a female gamer, and as a panelist. It brings me to tears to think that you all were so disheartened by this missed opportunity.”

Stompy Boots Linkspam, 12 February 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 may learn math anxiety, 8 February 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.

When linkspammers roamed the earth (23rd November, 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.

Yet Another Geeky Gal

/me waves

Hi!  I’m Sumana Harihareswara, a twentysomething geeky gal living in New York City. I grew up in various US cities and states, the daughter of Indian immigrants, loving books and Star Trek. Currently I manage programmers at an open source consulting firm. With my partner (a programmer I met via his blog), this year I edited Thoughtcrime Experiments, an online scifi/fantasy anthology.

Geek communities are home to me.  I never feel more comfortable than when I’m complaining about the end of Enterprise, or joking that the problem with desktop open source software is that it so often ships with the “usability” flag set to 0 by default.

So it amazes me when leaders in my communities say and do things that exclude or demean me.  But I’m also amazed, and gratified, at how many allies I have (at WisCon, Systers, the Geek Feminism wiki…), and how visibly the tide is turning.  It’s only right that I should be a part of this effort, and blogging here is a little bit of that.

To quote myself from a discussion on Skud’s other blog: Public discussion of our values, and explicit enforcement of our norms, is nothing new to open source. And another principle in open source is that any design that makes lots of users go through some hacky workaround (â€oh, everyone just ignores that bugâ€) is long overdue for rewrite.

On why I’m going to PAX… and why I don’t go anywhere else

Cross-posted from my personal blog.

My sister and I are currently working on our costumes for PAX 2009. I’m really looking forwards to going again this year because I had so much fun last year.

But PAX is the first fan event I’ve ever attended where I can say I unilaterally had fun. It’s the first event where I’ve immediately said, “hey, I should bring my sister!” It’s the first fan event where I’ve felt comfortable enough to dress up. I’ll dress up in places where I feel safe (the university, the NAC) but I’ve never felt safe enough to do it at a con.

I don’t even attend cons anymore. I used to go out to local events, and frankly, I was stared at, hassled, and generally made to feel uncomfortable. (Don’t get me started on creepy otaku, the reason I don’t use my middle name in public any more.) I think I even snuck out of one or two events, trying to keep someone from seeing me leave so they wouldn’t follow me home. Think that’s just me? Read the geekfeminism post on worst con experiences or take a look through other people’s bad con experiences and you’ll realise I’ve gotten off light. The local 501st joke about how many times someone grabs their butts when they’re out doing their thing… they think it’s funny, but most of them are wearing body armour, so it’s hard to be really offended. Small wonder I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to put on a metal bikini and join them.

And let’s just say that stories like “EA puts sexual bounty on the heads of its own booth babes” haven’t inspired confidence that things are changing.

But I was trying to be positive here. So let’s talk about PAX.

PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo. Now, I admit I’m not a huge fan of Penny Arcade, but some friends convinced me to go (with the aid of a time-travelling robot, but that’s a longer story). So I did.

You most definitely don’t have to be a Penny Arcade fan to enjoy PAX. It’s a huge gaming convention — tabletop rpgs, computer games, board games, card games, video games, rock paper scissors in the hallway… if you like playing games at all, you’d find something to enjoy here.

But that’s not what surprised me. What surprised me is that PAX feels like a huge community of people who you’d actually like to have as friends. There were people about exchanging cookies for donations to child’s play. People brought their families. You could turn to any stranger next to you in line and say, “Hey, want to play a game?” and you’d quickly find something to try out, and possibly a new friend. People didn’t get that cranky in lines, because they found ways to have fun. There were so many women about that I never felt out of place. On the second day, I even dressed up in a low-cut tank top and skirt I usually wear for dancing, just to see what happened, and nothing did. I felt as safe and comfy as if I were hanging out with my local friends, even though I was on a show floor with thousands of other people. If someone had told me this before I went, I would have said they were crazy, that they just weren’t noticing the bad stuff, but the fact is, I wasn’t noticing it either. And I’m pretty attuned after years of bad experiences.

At PAX, I didn’t even have to think about being a girl. I was just a gamer, a geek. And that was more than enough.

Worst con experiences

Wordweaverlynn, over on LiveJournal, has a post asking people about their nightmare con experiences (especially at science fiction conventions, but others too.) It’s not really surprising to read how many of the bad experiences are gender-related:

Sitting squashed together on a bed with a bunch of people watching a show in someone’s room, and being groped on the breast and ass by a friend (who suddenly entered the “former friend” category thereby) who, in his own later words, “didn’t think I’d mind.”

And…

I expect my least favorite might have been getting cornered at a con in Chicago by a fanboy who wanted to rant at me about how women just aren’t as creative as men, he didn’t mean to be offensive but it’s a fact, as you can see by the fact that there has never been a great female writer.

And…

I fell asleep in my room once and woke up to a man I hardly knew groping me and obviously planning to rape me in my sleep. I don’t go to that Con anymore. Someone, somewhere, gave him my room number and told him my last name so he could get a key.

And…

You may have heard of Sailor Moon? The girls in that show wear leotards with skirts similar to what figure skaters often don for competition. Well, apparently I was dressed as someones most lusted after character, because in browsing post-con reports I found out some man with a camera had followed me around for a good 20 minutes or more taking upskirt photos of me and zoom in shots off my butt while I was waiting for my friends. I was mortified. I’m still mortified. These are my fellow fen?!?!

Thank god for Girl Wonder’s Con Anti-Harrassment Project, is all I can say. You can take a look at their database of cons that have anti-harrassment policies, and join their letter-writing campaign to encourage more cons to have a policy.