Tag Archives: sex

Linkspam of Pandaria (25 September, 2012)

  • AT&T Archives: First There Was Sarah: Recruiting video for women at AT&T in 1969, and an interesting history of women working at AT&T from the 19th century on.
  • Swing And A Miss: “While many know about the [All-American Girls Professional Baseball League] due to the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, few realize that women played professional, minor league baseball until 1931. That year, a young woman named Jackie Mitchell ended women’s hopes of breaking into the big leagues. How? By striking out Babe Ruth. And, for good measure, she struck out Lou Gehrig too.”
  • When sex and porn are on-topic at conferences: Keeping it women-friendly: “We’d like to start a discussion: How can the Ada Initiative extend the example anti-harassment conference policy to explicitly allow respectful, woman-positive discussion of topics like sex and pornography when it is on-topic, without creating loopholes for sexist and exclusionary behavior to creep back in?”
  • Recently divorced woman sends her wedding ring into space on a homemade rocket: “Talk about catharsis: Looking to find a unique way to symbolically end her marriage, Rebecca Gibbs from Christchurch, New Zealand, has sent her wedding ring into space by using a homemade rocket that she built with her brother. After watching the rocket’s second propulsion phase kick in, Gibbs described the experience as ‘uplifting.’”
  • Women Speak Less When They’re Outnumbered: “There is an exception to this rule of gender participation, however. The time inequality disappeared when researchers instructed participants to decide by a unanimous vote instead of majority rule. Results showed that the consensus-building approach was particularly empowering for women who were outnumbered by men in their group.”
  • More responses to the study on gender bias in science that we linked last week:
    • Bias Persists Against Women of Science, a Study Says – NYTimes.com: “As a result, the report found, the professors were less likely to offer the women mentoring or a job. And even if they were willing to offer a job, the salary was lower. The bias was pervasive, the scientists said, and probably reflected subconscious cultural influences rather than overt or deliberate discrimination.”
    • Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters. Whenever the subject of women in science comes up, there are people fiercely committed to the idea that sexism does not exist. They will point to everything and anything else to explain differences while becoming angry and condescending if you even suggest that discrimination could be a factor. But these people are wrong. This data shows they are wrong. And if you encounter them, you can now use this study to inform them they’re wrong.

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

Closeup of a slide staged on a microscope stand

“Does sex sell?” is an empirical question

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our readers:

We keep hearing the old chestnut “sex sells”, and we hear it most especially when we complain about how some item of geek culture is sexist – video game bosoms or ridiculous outfits on superheroines, for example – as if that was some kind of excuse for objectification.

Does sex sell? Does sexism sell? Where’s the evidence for this? I’ve got moderately good Google-fu but haven’t been easily able to turn up much in the way of useful information or anything more rigorous than blog rants and newspaper opinion pieces. Can anyone answer this one, or point me to some useful resources? Where is the real, empirical evidence for this? Are advertisers and content providers (comic artists, game producers etc.) operating on an outdated or scientifically unjustified model?

I’ve read quite a lot of your basic feminist literature. I’d like some science, or at least some vaguely scientific numbers. Can anyone help?

What do you think?

This happens in geek circles every so often. They 'Hey, this is just a system I can figure out easily!' is also a problem among engineers first diving into the stock market.

The Geek Social Fallacies of Sex.

This is a guest post by Holly Pervocracy. Holly Pervocracy is a kinky, geeky feminist sexblogger. She writes essays on her experiences as a member of the BDSM and polyamory communities, editorials from a sex-positive feminist perspective, advice on sexuality and kink, and humorous critiques of sexism online and in the media.

This post originally appeared at Holly Pervocracy’s blog.

Note from the GF mods: links from this post may lead to sexually explicit writing or images. In addition, Holly Pervocracy’s original entry has some anti-feminist comments, so ‘ware for that if you head over to her site. (Comments made here are expected to adhere to our comment policy.)

This happens in geek circles every so often. They 'Hey, this is just a system I can figure out easily!' is also a problem among engineers first diving into the stock market.

xkcd #592: Drama (by Randall Munroe, CC BY-NC)

With all apologies to the original, which all geeks should read…

I think geek sexuality is an awesome thing.  God knows it’s the only sexuality I’ve ever known.  Geeks are tinkerers who constantly try to improve and innovate, and geeks are not bound by many mainstream social rules, and these two things combine to create some fucking hot sex.  Also for some semi-mysterious reason the overlap between “geek” and “kinkster” is, like, 90% of both groups.

But geeks also are prone to weird social thinking, some of it a reaction to the ungeeky mainstream, some of it their very own invention.  Here’s some common misconceptions that can fuck up geek sex.

GSFS 1: People can voluntarily control their emotions about sex.

This manifests a couple different ways:

“We’ve agreed this is casual sex, so as long as we decide not to develop feelings, we won’t.”
“Sex is just a physical activity, so adding it to our dating/friendship won’t change our relationship.”
“My partner promised not to feel jealous because I’m not monogamous, but they’re betraying me by feeling jealousy anyway!”  (Note that in this example both partners are apparently carriers of this fallacy.)

Pretending you can just decide whether you’ll feel any emotions at all is a geek fallacy stemming from the idea that you should be able to optimize your own brain to not do anything unproductive or unintended.  But geeks ought to know better, because come on, you can’t even get a computer to do that.  This stuff comes on you, it gets you by the heart and the gut, and it doesn’t ask you “pardon me, I’m an emotion, are you okay with experiencing me?” first.

What you can and should voluntarily control is how you express your emotions.  It’s okay to feel strong emotions; it’s not okay to attack people or break promises and use “I was emotional” as an excuse.  This is when it’s time to tell your partner “hey, we need to talk, I’m feeling an emotion!”  Solving the problem may involve changing your relationship boundaries, it may just involve talking it out, or it may mean you have to end the relationship.  But the solution is never “that is an incorrect emotion, please stop experiencing it.”

GSFS 2: The weirder your sex, the more enlightened you are.

I’ve done a whole post on this, so go there if you want extended pontification.  The short of it is: geeks have a tendency to mistake “less mainstream” for “better,” and to conclude that sex that least resembles the mainstream is both the sexiest and the most virtuous.  So polyamory gets seen as more enlightened than monogamy, kink gets seen as sexier than vanilla, and monogamous vanilla geeks get a big steaming pile of “I guess you’re just not very open-minded.”

I think polyamory and kink have great things to offer geeks of all sorts, but “having sex with multiple people” and “having ouchy sex” aren’t those things.  Those are just neutral activities, things to do if you like and not if you don’t.  The real takeaways are conscious and explicit communication.  That’s what makes us cooler than the squares.

GSFS 3: Cool chicks don’t worry about sexism.

This isn’t exactly a sex thing but God does it plague some geek circles.  I know because I’ve been the cool chick.  I’ve played the “don’t worry, I’m not like those other girls, I’m not into gossip and drama” card; I’ve played the “well, you have my permission to objectify me, because I take it as a compliment” card; I’ve even played the “that mean lady was such an uptight no-funster for having boundaries” card.

Those cards are the fuck out of my deck now.  And I’ve paid the social price for that.  There’s definitely some people in my circles who’ve put me in their “uptight no-funster” mental box since then, or who deliberately bait me about “watch out, Holly, I’m going to patriarchally oppress you!” because ahahaha she’s an angry little lady isn’t that cute.

I don’t blame a woman who sees this go on, decides she wants friends more than she wants to start fights about some abstract problem that doesn’t seem to affect her personally, and starts telling her male friends not to worry, they can be sexist around her, she’s cool.  The problem isn’t her.  The problem is all the people who made it so much easier and more pleasant for her to be a “cool chick” than a woman who gives a damn how people think of her gender.

GSFS 4: Drama is always worse than the thing the drama is about.

I guess the xkcd comic has a little bit of this one.  Drama’s never fun, but it beats the fuck out of suppressing real issues.  In my time in geek circles, I’ve seen reports of sexual harassment and even outright assault silenced with “well, I don’t want to make drama” or “but whatever, that’s just drama.”  A woman in the group is a sexual predator? Gosh, I don’t spread gossip.  A man needs to be disinvited from parties because he’s repeatedly threatened people at them? No, kicking him out would make a scene, it would make drama.

In geek sexual communities, the illusion of smooth functioning and of everyone being bestest friends with everyone can supersede people’s needs for comfort and safety.  A lot of this has to do with the “Ostracizers are Evil” non-sex GSF, but it gets worse when you add sex to the mix, because defensiveness about our non-traditional sexuality suppresses important issues even further.  Like, if you admit that people violate boundaries in BDSM circles, then you’re admitting that BDSM isn’t a perfect haven of consent and negotiation, and that’s just going to play right into the mainstream idea that BDSM is abusive!  So we end up defending abusers to prove BDSM isn’t abusive.

“Drama” is a trivializing word.  Let’s try “conflict,” instead.  “I don’t want to treat him any differently just because he gets a little handsy with women, that would cause conflict.”  It doesn’t sound so superior and level-headed now, does it?

GSFS 5: Sex should be no big deal.

This is related to GSFS 1, but even nastier.  This is the idea that since sex is just a super simple physical act–you rub some bits together, it feels good, the end–that there shouldn’t be anything complicated or difficult about sex.  That casual sex should be easy for everyone, that having multiple partners should be as simple as “it’s like having a sexual partner, but more than one of them,” that everyone who makes sex into a big complex issue is being dramatic (GSFS 4) or no-fun (GSFS 3) or narrow-minded (GSFS 2).

Sex is complicated as fuck, and if you think understanding sex is easy, you don’t understand sex.  I’ve written 1300 posts on sex and I’ve already changed my mind about roughly half of them.  It amazes me that the same people who admit that games about rolling dice can hide deep complexity and meaning will go on and claim that sex is just some squishy bits coming together.  It’s not.  Sex is two (or more) people interacting in a huge diversity of ways, and while it can be great, it’s never simple.

I love geek sex.  I love the way we’re endlessly willing to rethink and improve and break stereotypes about sex.  But we gotta stop buying into this crap.  We’re geeks; we oughta be smarter than that.

Open thread: parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons

A baby Komodo dragon born by parthenogenesis, photographed at Chester Zoo (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia user Neil)

A baby Komodo dragon born by parthenogenesis, photographed at Chester Zoo (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia user Neil)

What the hell. It’s geeky. And this is a fairly new (published 2006) finding about komodo dragons. To quote from Wikipedia:

On December 20, 2006, it was reported that Flora, a captive Komodo dragon living in the Chester Zoo in England, was the second known Komodo dragon to have laid unfertilized eggs: she laid 11 eggs, and 7 of them hatched, all of them male. Scientists at Liverpool University in England performed genetic tests on three eggs that collapsed after being moved to an incubator, and verified that Flora had never been in physical contact with a male dragon. After Flora’s eggs’ condition had been discovered, testing showed that [London Zoo dragon] Sungai’s eggs were also produced without outside fertilization…

Komodo dragons have the ZW chromosomal sex-determination system, as opposed to the mammalian XY system. Male progeny prove that Flora’s unfertilized eggs were haploid (n) and doubled their chromosomes later to become diploid (2n) (by being fertilized by a polar body, or by chromosome duplication without cell division), rather than by her laying diploid eggs by one of the meiosis reduction-divisions in her ovaries failing. When a female Komodo dragon (with ZW sex chromosomes) reproduces in this manner, she provides her progeny with only one chromosome from each of her pairs of chromosomes, including only one of her two sex chromosomes. This single set of chromosomes is duplicated in the egg, which develops parthenogenetically. Eggs receiving a Z chromosome become ZZ (male); those receiving a W chromosome become WW and fail to develop.

The Nature article is Phillip C. Watts et al (2006) Parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons, Nature 444, 1021–1022 (21 December 2006), doi:10.1038/4441021a.

This is an open thread, for a discussion of biology geeking, great nerdy events and, of course, anything else you want to discuss!

A rising tide lifts all linkspams (19th January, 2011)

  • Russell Coker writes about conferences designed for people on the autism spectrum. In summary NTs seem to think that Autism Spectrum Disorders are only about socialisation, not realising that for many people on the Spectrum it’s sensory issues that are their main problem. Social problems are exacerbated by sensory issues and other causes of stress, so I think it’s worth considering ways in which conferences can be planned to be less stressful for people on the Autism Spectrum…
  • Lots of discussion of privilege and intellectual property following from Twitter and then Karen Healey’s A Brief Pause for Some Rage. There’s a roundup at On piracy and copyright. If you’re very interested in ebook and intellectual property issues, check the Mobileread forums too.
  • Not social justice from where I’m standing: The upshot here is that asexual people get hit particularly hard as being repressed or messed up, standing in the way of a singular social justice narrative around sexuality.
  • How young is too young? (for kids to get into computers)
  • My Experiences as a Female Software Engineer: Something that frustrates me about the field of computer science is that there are a lot of jerks who think that just because they’ve mastered some programming language or know some obscure unix commands, they are gods and you are nothing.
  • Cass Cain Counts: A campaign has been launched to bring Cassandra Cain back back fulltime to the DC Comics universe… Cassandra Cain served as the titular heroine of the first ongoing Batgirl comic book series. Of Asian descent, she is also the first non-white member of the Batman family and has remained one of the most prominent non-white superheroes…
  • Cyberfucking While Feminist: For a number of us, erotic roleplaying is a double-edged sword. It is, for some, a path to sexual freedom and a means of enacting another significant dimension of a roleplayed character’s life. But it is also an exercise fraught with a myriad of pitfalls created by the institutional sexism that still haunts many gaming and geek spaces.

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

One scoop of linkspam flavour, please (27th 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.

Linkspammers burning their bras (29th 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.

The Mists of Linkspam (26th 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.