- TechZING! interviews Corrine Yu, 3D Engine Lead for XBOX HALO.
- Computer games company PopCap is advertising their new game Planets vs Zombies with ads featuring conventionally attractive… zombies, in a parody of the now notorious “what would make people want to play a civilisation MMORPG? PICTURES OF BOOBS!” Evony ads (see Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror post from July for more on the original Evony ads)
- Plus Ã§a change: it’s the goals not the data: “The real battle is for the hearts and minds of these teachers, to convince them that getting a broad range of students engaged with computing is important. Itâ€™s not about media computation â€” itâ€™s about deciding priorities.”
- Cheryl M. Morgan writes about Women and SF: the numbers
- Petition for an apology to Alan Turing, who (in 1952) was prosecuted and convicted of gross indecency for sexual relations with another man.
- Only 13% of Wikipedia contributors are women, study says (WSJ)
- The Organization for Transformative Works’ election season begins; find out how run for office, vote, etc.
- Short (SF) stories by women published during August, at the Feminist SF blog
- Tim Bray interviews Ravelry founder Casey — as Casey pointed out on Twitter, it’s a different kind of interview for them, because it’s a techie one!
- Women aren’t vending machines: How video games perpetuate the commodity model of sex at GameCritics.com
- Margaret Atwood doesn’t think she writes science fiction. Ursula K Le Guin would like to disagree. (A review of “Year of the Flood”.)
- sarahtales takes on Uhura, Harriet Potter, and Jo from Little Women and wonders why we hold women in fiction to different standards.
- ROSE blog interviews Kanika Vats (GSoC student)
- “I never identified as a feminist because, never having personally experienced sexism in real life, I thought the topic was irrelevant. Reddit, you have proved me wrong!” Â Hey Reddit, why is there so much sexism on here?
- Lovelace and Babbage vs the Client pt. 3 — you DID see this awesome Ada Lovelace comic when it debuted a while back, didn’t you? If not, go NOW.
- Boys outperform girls in maths for a change — the article, as oursin points out, is “molto creepy”.
- Cate at Hardcore Nerd City posted Gatefail 2009 (or, A Primer on Stories that Scream) which explains the whole Stargate: Universe brouhaha for those who are coming in late to the drama.
- Johanna at Comics Worth Reading reviews the Manga Guides to Calculus and Electricity
- lizbee reviews Loving Richard Feynman, a book about a 15 year old girl who fangirls Richard Feynman.
- Flickr blog: many different takes on We can do it!
I can’t remember how I found this post (probably looking at linkbacks from FeministSF), but I’m so glad I did. It breaks down the number of women who’ve directed episodes of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis and reveals that, behind the scenes, women don’t play much of a role. Some years there were only one or two eps directed by women and, after SG-1 Season 8, none. Fantastic.
I used to love Stargate SG-1 and would still sit and watch many of the episodes in the first 8 seasons with happiness. (Seasons 9 through whatever do not exist because they are filled with shame and stupidity.) I even gave Atlantis a try for a season or so. But both shows slowly chipped away at my love for them due to their portrayals of women and people of color.
The fact that both shows have women and POC in lead roles is great, believe me. I am a fan of Samantha Carter and definitely heart me some Ronon. But in the end I loved them despite what the Powers That Be did in terms of writing and directing. Looking at their dismal record of including women behind the scenes, this is not surprising. And though they have a very smart and competent guy as a creative consultant (John Scalzi), I am not sure even he can stem the tide of ickiness that has flowed from the Stargate franchise lo these 6 years at least.
As this is my first post, I’ll offer an introduction before I begin. Hi there, I’m Tempest, and am indeed a geek. A rare unicorn of a geek since I am not only a woman, but a Black woman besides. I’m a writer,Â both of science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction and of non-fiction. During the day I write about laptops, web apps, Linux, eReaders, gadgets, and other such exciting subjects. At night (or, really, any time I can spare) I write or write about or read or read about or watch spec fic. And that is mostly what I’ll be talking about here.
Anyone who has ever been involved in the SF community knows that there are issues surrounding women and people of color in media and in fandom. I’ve spent the last, oh, four or so years dealing directly with it, often to the detriment of my zen state. Ranting and getting angry is satisfying, but I find it much more so to then make a positive step toward change. Thus, after a recent heated debate about an anthology that included no stories by women or people of color, I decided to ask genre fans to tell me what science fiction stories, books, or authors blow their minds. Then I took those suggestions and collated them into this massive list.
People are still adding to the original posts and to the one at Tor.com, which makes me happy. It shows that even when you’ve named dozens of works and authors, there are still more to name. It shows that we are out there creating amazing stuff and to ignore us is to cut out a huge swath of great fiction. Helping people understand this is a major goal of mine. But it’s heartening that more and more people are noticing, speaking up, and creating positive change themselves.
- The Free Software Foundation will host a mini-summit on women in Free Software on September 19. Seth Schoen notes that “I guess the venue and timing could be a challenge for some people (it doesn’t seem to be colocated with, or right before or after, anything else in particular)”. See LWN for some discussion, some much of it probably will cost you some sanity points.
- OMG! Girlz Donâ€™t Need Games or Features! — A review of the new Lilac PSP demonstrates that Sony, like many companies before, could use some lessons on how to market games and gaming systems to women.
- Anna Filina offers her take on women in IT saying (among other things) that she hates working with women. Um?
- Late business at the Hugo Awards in which Yonmei proposes a small modification to the nomination procedures for the Hugos to help redress the gender imbalance. Result: “There was certainly considerable SMOFFISH outrage at the idea that there could be anything imperfect or biased about the Hugo nomination system which might need to be remedied.” Links to LJ discussions at the bottom of the post.
- ROSE blog interviews Erica Brescia (BitRock), Angela Brown (Linux Foundation), Stormy Peters (GNOME Foundation), and Dru Lavigne (BSD).
- Another round of technology and gender images at Sociological Images, including a woman tied to a bed as an inducement to buy Gameboy consoles.
- Melissa McEwan (via M. LeBlanc)Â on how puzzled privileged people get when they have fun intellectual devil’s-advocate conversations about our oppression and we get personal about it.
- The GNOME development community is planning an outreach program for women similar to the 2006 outreach program. They are looking at funding women developers to work on GNOME Shell.
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.”
- jmtorres posts about her Bechdel-Test-passing vid show from Vividcon. Links to numerous fanvids about women relating to each other.
- Sarah Allen, who teaches Ruby on Rails to women, posts about Test Driven Teaching
- Stargate: Universe responds to the furore over the disabled-lesbian-bodyswap thing.
- Irene Alder guest blogs about Girl books vs boy books, and how painting in such broad strokes leads to some pretty ridiculous conclusions.
- JAOO Aarhus (a European software development conference) is offering free single-day entry for women to encourage a more even gender representation at the event. Google is also offering two grants for women to attend.
- Via the Feminist SF blog: If you’re a publisher or author or just in the know, let them know about recently published or upcoming SF/F/H fiction by women and they’ll post a monthly roundup.
- Newsflash: there are more men than women speaking about tech is the latest in the ongoing discussion of the issue.
- GF blogger Terri over on her other blog: Why DON’T we teach computer science earlier?
We geeks like our entertainment as plot/banter firehose with subtle, unspoken worldbuilding. That’s what In The Loop (and its predecessor TV show, The Thick of It) deliver — that and social engineering. Â You get to watch people scheme, performing ad hoc systems analysis to solve the puzzle of their immediate predicament. Â It’s like Leverage without the wish-fulfillment or Hardison, Elliot or Parker. Â (In the geeky-banter category, In The Loop has characters mock Toby (Chris Addison) by calling him “Frodo,” “Ron Weasley,” and “baby from Eraserhead.”)
One of my geekeries is politics, specifically organizational behavior and the power of institutions. In The Loop argues that the media/governing apparatus functions as one homeostatic institution, where any demonstration of the pettier human weaknesses (e.g., status-seeking, frustration, lust, loathing) leads to an instant barrage of bad press and gives your enemies leverage. It’s a marvelous system, really, and ultra-efficient: if you think you’ve found some room to maneuver, some opportunity for arbitrage, you’re wrong and your audacity will be punished. It’s a power structure that guards itself against change, and will only ever pay lip service to feminism and anti-racism. A dark vision, but the film left me laughing.
Warning:Â Sexist and homophobic insults pervade the dialogue from start to finish.This would have bothered me more if I’d thought the insults were more substance than form; the viciousness was so over-the-top that I couldn’t take it seriously. But some people will find it distasteful or triggering.
Software geekery: Late in the film, two users across the Atlantic from each other open their laptops and work on the same document simultaneously, one telling the other via phone what to delete or rearrange. I immediately thought,Â If only they were usingÂ AbiWord’s document-sharing plugin, they couldÂ collaborate in realtime usingÂ Telepathy integration!
Fairly recent items from around the web:
- The Hathor Legacy reviews and recommends “Green” by Jay Lake, a new fantasy novel about a young, bisexual woman of colour.
- K. Tempest Bradford on Creating Better Magazines (and Anthologies): “The present and the future of the genre and the community is not just heterosexual, able-bodied, upper or middle-class American or British white males. The future of SF is made up of women and people of color, and people of various cultures and classes, and LGBT folks, and non-Americans and non-Western nationalities (China, India, the Philippines, to name just three).”
- Editorial work is hard, asshole. “This response to Tempest’s post (above) reads like a list of things I wish had thought to put on the tips for finding women speakers.” – Skud
- Trigger warning Harriet Jacobs of Fugitivus recounts in Two More Things how a fellow D&D roleplayer of allegedly liberal beliefs made constant misogynist jokes in character.
- Socialogical Images: a collection of items related to gender and science/tech topics.
- OTW: two early fan-written Star Trek novels by Jane Land are now available online through the Open Doors project. “Kista (1986), a novel about Christine Chapel, was described by the author as, ‘an attempt to rescue one of Star Trek’s female characters from an artificially-imposed case of foolishness.’”
- The nonprofit scifi/fantasy magazine Strange Horizons needs to raise about $5500 more in its annual fund drive. Â One of the most women-friendly pro markets in our genre: the editors publish more fiction by female than male authors, and have been considering gender issues in SF publishing for a while.
- Girls have less free time to play video games than boys do. Â ”Our findings suggest that one reason women play fewer games than men is because they are required to fulfill more obligatory activities, leaving them less available leisure time.” Â Comments from Amanda Marcotte and Hugo Schwyzer. Â How many girls get as much free, unstructured time to game and hack as their male counterparts?
- Blogger rawlesÂ suggests that it’s more empowering to see Nyota Uhura get the guy in the new Trek movie than it was for her to be single in the original series. Â In mainstream media, “[t]his near total invisibility [of black women] is perhaps the very first thing that I think needs to be understood in any feminist discourse about Uhura, but it seems to be the last thing most people talk about.”
Again, if you see something geek-feminist that we should link to in the next roundup, drop us a comment.
This week’s science fiction Fail came to us courtesy of a husband-and-wife team: L. Jagi Lamplighter and John C. Wright. Yesterday Skud linked to Jagi’s post-Writercon rant in favour of colourblindness – that is, the practice of not even acknowledging race. The trouble with this position is that it assumes a white default. Today, interestingly, Jagi has apologized to Karnythia and has retracted some of her more egregious positions. That’s a relief, especially as she also mentions she and her husband are in the process of adopting from China.
Unfortunately Jagi’s epiphany coincides with her husband having a highly public and somewhat disturbed meltdown over gay sex. To me, the most perplexing part was this:
Odd as it sounds, I was fully loyal to the sexual revolution as an idea. Then someone tried to convince me that two lesbians licking each other in the crotch was the same in all ways, just as sacred, just as romantic, just as normal, just as beautiful as Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Iseult, Micky and Minnie, Adam and Eve, Jove and Juno, Father Sky and Mother Earth, me and my wife.
Romeo and Juliet: normal? Micky (sic) and Minnie: sacred? (For that matter, oral sex: gross?) But leaving all that aside, what this makes clear to me is how difficult it can be to separate the strands of sexism, homophobia and racism, especially within a given social milieu. Jagi mentions John’s views on race to support her own; John holds up his marriage to Jagi as the ideal to which all of us sexual perverts out here ought to aspire. The comments threads are polarized between their supporters and their angry opponents, with supporters frequently attacking opponents for failing to be sufficiently polite. With the possible exception of Jagi on colourblindness, few minds are changed.
It’s all fairly depressing for your average liberal progressive SF fan (1), but it serves as a salutary reminder of what can happen when people carve out little enclaves for themselves where they can take positions they believe are brave and iconoclastic, and everyone around them provides positive reinforcement. That is, they can fall prey to all kinds of cruel ideas.
Let’s (2) not do that. Let’s not be those people. Let’s think hard about intersectionality, and remind ourselves that while we struggle in one context, as women or feminists or mothers, we’re often hugely privileged in other contexts, as technically adept or educated or white or heterosexual or able-bodied or young or some world-historical jackpot combination of the above. Oppression’s not good for much, but if it doesn’t teach us compassion for people who are differently or multiply oppressed, we’re just not paying attention. The effort is going to suck. It’s going to drain our energy and, for some of us, use up scarce spoons. We’re going to make mistakes and show our asses, but we’re geeks, right? I have faith in us. I just know we can fail better than this.
Edited to add:
(1) That subset of SF fans who happen to be liberal and progressive; clearly, not all SF fans are either.
(2) By “us” here I mean the aforementioned liberal progressive SF fans.