Tag Archives: meta

Nominate guest posts for Geek Feminism

We’d love to feature more guest posts on Geek Feminism, and we accept proposals at any time. But relying on self-nominations from our core audience, women, is problematic due to social training against self-promotion.

So I want to try something new: nominate a guest post!

Here’s how it works:

  1. you, the reader, think of a blog post you’ve seen elsewhere, published since July 1 2010, that you would like to see appear on geekfeminism.org
  2. ask the author if they are happy to be nominated (this is very important: please do not put us in the position of approaching authors cold)
  3. once they’ve agreed, leave a link to the post, and, if possible, an email address or contact method for its author, in comments here. If you like, you can also leave a reason, for example “Geek Feminism has never covered horror fandom” or “Geek Feminism has never featured a post about South American cons” or “this is the best writer living” or just “best thing I’ve read today!”.

You absolutely can nominate your own writing as well.

Comments will be private on this post. Posts selected for guest-posting will go up, with re-confirmation from the author, and we will do a linkspam containing remaining ones of interest.

We’re primarily interested in cross-posts from smaller blogs, in order to introduce our readers to sites they don’t know of yet, and to introduce writers to a larger readership. But if the author of a piece on a widely read website wants it to appear here, we’ll certainly consider it.

Some information about our blog, and about guest posting, especially if you’ve been pointed here because you’ve never seen our blog before but someone wants to nominate your post:

  • What is our blog about? From our About page: The Geek Feminism blog exists to support, encourage, and discuss issues facing women in geek communities, including science and technology, gaming, SF fandom, and more. (Yes, we take a broad view of geekdom.)
  • Can non-feminists guest post? We will decide on a case-by-case basis. There are plenty of critiques of feminism by women and social justice activists, we are interested in these. Standard anti-feminist or relating-to-women 101 material (has feminism gone too far? how can geek men get a girlfriend?) is unlikely to be chosen.
  • Can non-geeks guest post? Non-geek critiques of geekdom might well be chosen, as might posts by ex-geeks. If the post is not in some way concerned with geeking, being geeky, geek interests, etc, then it probably won’t be chosen.
  • Who decides? The current stable of front-page posters, probably I myself will do the bulk of the work on this. I’m not the best and fairest (I’m also not the prettiest and I’m still not king), but I will try.
  • Am I going to become rich and famous? Possibly, but not by posting here. Posts on the Geek Feminism blog receive somewhere between 500 to 30000 page views, averaging perhaps 1500. We do not pay guest (or regular!) posters.
  • How will comments work? Comments will be open here. You won’t be able to moderate them yourself, they’ll be moderated according to our usual policy and we’ll contact you for any line-ball calls.
  • Can I be anonymous or pseudonymous? You can be pseudonymous (your guest post can appear with a made up or non-legal name), but you can’t use something as generic as either ‘Anon’ or ‘Anonymous’.
  • Will you link back to my blog? Yep, all guest posts will have a little intro bio and a link back to the original post too, unless the author doesn’t want that..
  • Can I edit my post for your site? We obviously can’t stop you (we aren’t going to publish without your permission!) but it’s surprising how often this turns into the guest post that never happens. We encourage you to allow us to post as it originally appeared, perhaps with a short explanation at the start to give context. This is not a super-polished professionally edited website either.

Nominations will be taken until comments on this post automatically close in a fortnight. You are welcome to ask to guest post your own writing here at any time, contact us via an open thread.

Open thread: hello newcomers

Let’s have a party. A better party than this party:

A monochrome unhappy looking woman surrounded by colourful balloons

Pity Party by Evil Erin on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Several bloggers got keys to the Geek Feminism front page lately: Kylie of PodBlack Cat, Steph of 天高皇ä¼é¹…è¿œ and vegan about town and Restructure! of Restructure!. Welcome to them, you’ll see them posting as and when they have time and inspiration, like the rest of us.

Two champage glasses, filled with confetti, being clinked in front of a brightly coloured background

Happy Party People Toasting Cheers Holding Champagne Glasses by D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Let’s add to the party here. Are you reading any new blogs with exciting geek feminist content? Are you yourself new here and want to say hi? Come on in. This is also an open thread, in which you can discuss older posts, ask questions, tell stories, or anything else that takes your fancy.

Call for guest posts: appearance/presentation issues

Some comments on both Kylie’s post and Terri’s latest post suggest that this blog should really is overdue to host discussions on geek women who are oppressed or trapped by or feeling policed about issues to do with: body image, femininity, gender presentation and similar, or who want to question and deconstruct them, or opt-out.

I know it’s a cop-out to say “we’d welcome guest posts”, but here’s why I feel it’s appropriate in this case: our bloggers who are most sensitive to these issues from personal experience aren’t able to be public about it in this venue at this time, or don’t feel that they can deal with the issue sensitively enough or analytically enough for a satisfying respectful discussion with others. So maybe I should say: we need guest posts to address these issues in a satisfying way, and we’re sorry that we can’t properly address it otherwise (at this time, at least).

If you would like to guest-post on this issue, leave a comment here or on the latest Open thread (you’re always welcome to offer a guest post on an Open thread). Otherwise if you’d like to share links, analysis and resources on these issues, or offer shorter comments, or angles that you’d like addressed on this blog by other writers, please comment.

“Ask a Geek Feminist” status

Just a quick note on the Ask a Geek Feminist series, since people are asking. We’re nearly done with the first round: there’s just one more question I want to try and answer myself. The first round was very successful, many thanks to everyone who asked questions and helped out with answers.

Questions aren’t currently open: the series won’t run on a continuous basis because it’s a fair bit of work anonymising and filtering the questions and coordinating answers and such. But it will definitely run again, we’ll be open for questions at the end of May. In the meantime, don’t forget that our latest Open thread is always there for anything you want to discuss.

If there’s anything you’d recommend we add or change for the next round of “Ask a Geek Feminist”, please let me know.

Meetup in Sydney, Australia

Although we’re not as bad as the San Franciscans, Sydneysiders (myself and Melissa) comprise a disproportionate slice of the Geek Feminist Hive Vagina. But as powerful as we are, we can only become more powerful when allied with Hoydens About Town, so… let’s picnic together.

We’re currently organising the picnic for a weekend day in late May. Head on over to Hoyden if you’re coming along and let us know your preferred date.

If anyone is interested in organising an informal meetup in their own city, I suggest posting to an open thread to see if there’s any interest and going from there. I’m happy to post your plans on the front page here once finalised. (At some point that fails to scale, but we’ll worry about it if it happens.)

Comments are closed on this post, if coming to the Sydney meetup, please comment at Hoyden.

On LambdaFail, women writing m/m erotica, and the queerness and/or misogyny of slash fandom

This won’t be news to anyone who moves in fannish meta circles, but I thought it warranted a post for those who might not have encountered the discussion before now.

Back in September, the Lambda Literary Foundation announced that henceforth their awards would be restricted to authors who identified as GLBT, rather than (as had previously been the case) anyone who was writing GLBT-oriented works. This excluded, in particular, a growing segment of the book market consisting of male/male erotica written by (presumably straight) women.

Discussion ensued as to whether such fiction was appropriating gay male culture and offensive to gay men, or whether the backlash against m/m erotica written by women was just another instance of women’s sexual expression being policed by men, as it so often is. A round of Oppression Olympics ensued, with women on one team and gay men on the other; both groups are in the right, being similarly subject to the kyriarchy and privileged (or not) on different axes, but few commentators approached the debate from this perspective in the early rounds.

Recently, the discussion has spread to slash fandom on Livejournal, Dreamwidth, and elsewhere, and this (IMHO) is where it gets really interesting, because that crowd is nothing if not introspective, verbose, smart, and well practiced in massively hypertext discussions of complicated issues.

Slash is m/m erotica written (usually) by women about (usually) male characters from TV, movies, books, etc. Many of the most popular slash fandoms are geek staples such as Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Buffy, superhero comics, and so forth. Unlike the professional m/m erotica market, slash writers are generally working with existing characters, often from fandoms that don’t pass (or barely pass) Bechdel in the first place. Many slashers use their writing/reading to explore sex and gender in a relatively safe online environment that might not otherwise be available to them. And, it turns out, many or most slashers are themselves queer, despite stereotypes about “straight housewives” and the like.

So, fandom being fandom, and things being always more complicated, the discussion coming out of this is pretty crunchy. Some of the questions/themes I’ve seen covered include:

  • Does romance/erotica ignore or erase difficult issues (eg. discrimination, oppression), and should we care? Or does escapism get a free pass?
  • Do fanfic writers have a duty to write the other respectfully and realistically when the “other” in question is gay men/MSM? How do we do this?
  • Why do fanfic writers write about male characters so much more than female characters, anyway? Is this internalised misogyny?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re interested in reading up on some of what’s been posted, take a look at the linkspam and metafandom communities, which have been collecting links to interesting posts on the subject.

Microblogging: Geek Feminist Edition

In a discussion a while back on Twitter, a friend asked me to point her to other geek feminists on there. I could think of lots of people on both Twitter and the various StatusNet-based services like identi.ca who I know through this blog, LinuxChix, Ubuntu Women, and other projects, but I figured it would be nice to have folks self-identify, and possibly what they tweet / dent about if so inclined. I’ll kick it off with my own in the comments!

Identifying as a geek

I mentioned in my introduction post that I haven’t had to struggle internally to identify as a feminist. But the title of this site leads to another question: is it as easy for me to identify as a geek?

And the answer is no. A lot of this is pretty trivially heretical stuff. I mildly tend to being a morning person; left to my own devices, I do not tend to observe a 28 hour day, it’s sometimes as short as 23.5 hours. I am quite staggeringly indifferent to cats. I loathe being bathed in fluorescent light all day and jokes about the alien environment of the big blue room puzzle me. The thought of a world where human communication is as simple as TCP/IP’s SYN and ACK packets makes my skin crawl (I’m a computational linguistics student specialising in lexical semantics, mustn’t wish myself out of a job). I don’t eschew caffeine, but have never been tempted to consume it more than once a week or so. Given these examples and others, there are a lot of (computer) geek insider-status affirmation jokes and rituals that are as foreign to me as mating rituals at nightclubs are.

Some of this is me, and some of it is culture, and some of it is gender I think. I’ve never felt like I had to pass a test to count as a woman, or as a feminist. I feel like I trip over geekdom all the time. I don’t have pithy anecdotes of key experiences, but I strongly identified with Dorothea Salo’s discussion of “honorary guys” in Sexism and group formation:

A woman can be an honorary guy, sure, with all the perquisites and privileges pertaining to that status—as long as she never lets anything disturb the guy façade.

That is, I feel like I’m admitted to geekdom under sufferance, and womanhood and feminism don’t feel like that. But I know this experience is not universal, for many women reading geekdom is your skin and female gender like a coat that doesn’t fit all the time, and for others neither is problematic or they both are. How did you come to feminism, and geekdom, and womanhood (if you’re a woman)? Does one of them fit better than the others at the moment, and does that feed into your questioning anything?

quick hits: enterprising women (see what i did there?)

One of my formative geek experiences was watching Star Trek with my Dad, so when the reboot came out this summer I watched it with a huge mob of friends and a childlike glee. That moment where a young James Tiberius Kirk looks out over the Iowa cornfields to what will become the USS Enterprise? The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Zoë Saldaña’s kickass reinvention of Uhura was another big part of that delight. I was a bit surprised to find that not everyone shared my neo-Uhura love, and greatly relieved when Rebellious Jezebel and Rawles laid out strong arguments in favour.

Much more problematic (=bullshit) were the characterizations of Kirk’s and Spock’s mothers, both swiftly consigned to refrigerators to give Our Heroes matter on which to brood. You may imagine how much I appreciated Latropita’s open letter to Winona Kirk: “Who wouldn’t want to hear your stories?” That plaint inspired a whole LJ community, Where No Woman, dedicated to those untold stories.

In her provocative and memorable meta-fic, Bravecows reminds us that however shiny our future may be, our stories will not all be the same.

“Don’t think I don’t believe in Starfleet,” said Sharanjeet. “I think our kind of job is very important also. But a lot of you young people just come in thinking about all the holo-movie you see. You think you’re going to have adventure like all the starship captain you hear about. You don’t really know what to expect. But you know, when you come onboard a Starfleet ship and the computer cannot understand your accent, you really have to start to wonder.”

Girly geekdom for girls… only?

Several of the front page posters here are participating in discussions on the Python diversity email list, a list created by Python community member Aahz to discuss diversity problems in the Python programming language community. The initial aim of the list is creating a diversity statement like that of the Dreamwidth community.

Some of the more problematic discussions on the list come down to “this stuff is hard, and hard to talk about, and people get angry and defensive when things are hard.” I don’t want to discuss the tenor or direction of the discussions there in general in this post though, I want to talk about a specific incident. A poster to the list made reference to being “beaten up by a girl” (in a metaphorical sense, what had actually happened was off-list criticism from a woman, not physical violence). A 101 discussion followed, and while it was pretty clear to most people posting that the framing played right into the idea that being beaten by women, physically or in argument, is emasculating, it took a surprisingly long time until it was pointed out, originally by me, eventually also by Aahz in a separate thread, that “girls” is a problematic term. It seems this was a new idea even to some of the more pro-feminist posters.

Now despite the Python diversity list’s innocence, calling women “girls” even in conversations where men are just “men” is not a new problem. As I pointed out to someone on identi.ca, Wikipedia has a prominently placed discussion of how there are few neutral terms for women, especially more informal ones. And the geek feminism groups have run into it ourselves. We have LinuxChix and Girl Geek Dinners. One syllable terms make for snappy names and the “girl geek” alliteration has zing. Reclaiming problematic terminology has a long history, but one of the appeals is that it’s just plain fun, and it’s happened to some extent with the term “geek” as well.

But how much are we playing into the idea that geek feminism is for young women, that once first year CS is gender balanced we’re done here? I’ve seen concerning things. LinuxChix’s name has on occasion drawn young women who explicitly say they only want to interact with other young women. LinuxChix and Girl Geek meetups are often just as inconveniently timed and placed for primary carers as LUGs and gaming groups. When Julie Gibson interviewed me for Ada Lovelace day, she talked about how LinuxChix turned out not to be for her, she’s too far removed in time from having enough geek hours in her life to learn Linux. An older woman—in her late forties, perhaps, well outside the Australian LinuxChix demographic—at our LinuxChix miniconf in 2008 said that she’s careful to avoid becoming a “face” for women in IT: she thinks no teenage girl wants to grow up to be her. It reminded me of Lauredhel’s post at Hoyden About Town, Monica Dux thinks I’m bad for feminism’s image, about the trend to say it’s great to be a proud feminist, as long as you aren’t a marketing problem for the feminism brand. Is it only great to be a woman geek if you’re exactly what the guys on Slashdot are asking for, 18 and single and heterosexual and able to fix your own computers, thus making time for everyone’s two favourite leisure activities, gaming and sex? Of course not. But I’m worried that we’re talking about ourselves as though it is.

This is hard for me. I’m in my twenties. It’s a lot easier for me to think about what my fifteen year old girl geek self would have wanted from geek feminism than what the sixty year old woman I hope to be will want. But we should. What does geek feminism look like, for women who aren’t girls any more and don’t want to be?