Tag Archives: writing

Is there life on linkspam? (21 March 2014)

  • Reason #140 Why Sexist Bullshit in Academia is Not Okay | Isis the Scientist (March 21): “Professor Righetti is continuing to publish his hilarious graphical abstracts and I suspect it is but a matter of time before we get more titties. He is also on the editorial board of several journals, including the journal with his hilarious graphical abstracts. He’s essentially using his leadership to be a huge creeper.  Worse, the leadership of the journal is letting it happen.”
  • Women-only Calls and Non-Binary Authors | Polenth’s Quill (March 3): “I’ve talked before about the issue of non-binary gender in genre. Specifically that it’s difficult when the only gender or sex identity calls going out are for women. [...] This doesn’t mean woman-only calls are inherently a problem. Much as it’s not a problem when we have race-specific calls or separate calls for different sexualities. The issue is the woman-only calls don’t happen alongside more general calls for marginalised sex and gender identities. It’s assumed that the way to counteract cis man dominance is to provide opportunities for cis women, rather than to provide opportunities for anyone who isn’t a cis man.”
  • How to break games out of the “act like a man” box | Dennis Scimeca on ars technica (March 19): “According to the boys Wiseman polled, strong people didn’t “act like a girl.” Being easily upset, awkward, or having disabilities were also things the boys identified as making someone weak. [...] Empowerment is tied to “high status” traits like those within the “act like a man” box, but it doesn’t have to mean encouraging players to act like assholes.”
  • Why I Was Part of Creating a Thing Called Transtech | Lukas Blakk (March 19): “Last night I helped hold the third local meetup of trans and genderqueer people who are interested in getting together to hack on our projects. This is the third event since the amazing Trans*H4CK  Hackathon (the first one of its kind!) that took place in October 2013.”
  • Debate vs Inquiry and “Reasonable Debate” as a silencing tactic | tigtog on Hoyden about Town (March 18): “[...] latest iteration of the pattern whereby people with uteruses are asked to respond to anti-choice arguments “as if they were just another interesting political topic for discussion and debate – as opposed to the grotesque violation of the right to bodily autonomy that they are”.”
  • Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to Work in Silicon Valley | Sascha Segan on PCmag (March 17): “[...] we’re talking about my daughter, right? I want her to go somewhere she’s valued, not somewhere she’ll have to fight every day against forces trying to grind her down. Yes, that’s what billions of people struggling on this earth do daily, but the goal of civilization is to lessen that particular struggle. I want her to live a life where kindness and understanding are important. And if she chooses tech, fortunately, she’ll have options.”

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.

The Velveteen Linkspam (13 Aug 2013)

  • “If I Can’t Have a Hugo Fan Award, Then No One Can!”: “This campaign to dismantle the Hugo Fan Awards lest they fall into enemy fans is not just toxic, selfish and reprehensible, it is an attempt to slam the doors of fandom shut in the face of yet another generation of passionate and devoted fans.”
  • Snarky comebacks for sexists in academia: Captain Awkward takes apart “you’re only here because of affirmative action”.
  • Sexual Harassment Conversations, in Comic Form: Jim C. Hines hits the nail on the head with the responses women receive when reporting (or not reporting) sexual harassment [Warning: the comments contain exactly the apologia the comic is mocking]
  • My experience with game industry hiring: “The final answer was that culture matters most and I didn’t fit into their culture. What would that culture be, if not being a gamer, technically-inclined, and caring about their company’s products or audience. Looking around the room, it seemed that fitting into that Kulture they were talking about would mean being white and male.”
  • Why Are Female Developers Offered Such Low Salaries?: A company which allows bidding on tech employees by potential employers finds that women generally receive lower bids than men.
  • Sorry, Mario Bros!: … but Princess Toadstool can rescue herself. “The game spans three of Super Mario Bros’ original levels, this time from right to left, as the Princess jumps, stomps, floats, and warps her way from the dark castle dungeon up to the bright and wonderful Mushroom Kingdom, proving that female protagonists can be just as awesome as male protagonists.”
  • Debunking the ‘gender brain’ myth: ” ‘In the majority of cases, the differences between the sexes are either non-existent or they are so small so as to be of no practical importance in, for example, an educational setting’ “
  • On The Border: An Interview with Heather Logos: The Border House interviews Heather Logos, who has worked in the games industry as a contractor, an academic and a game designer at Telltale Games.
  • The Banal, Insidious Sexism of Smurfette: “Today, a blockbuster children’s movie can invoke 50-year-old gender stereotypes with little fear of a powerful feminist backlash.”

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

All those linkspams will be lost in time (8 January 2013)

  • Why do you write strong female characters?: “The heart of the question implies that if a male character is ‘strong’ that’s to be expected, because boys and men are strong. Normal. Default. Go about your business. But if a female character leads a story, does stuff, has a voice and a purpose and changes her life or others’ lives or starts or stops a war or makes a stand or has power then it’s newsworthy, because that’s not expected, not true to life. Not normal. Not our default assumption about girls. So stop and take note.”
  • You can’t determine an author’s gender from a sample of their writing: Summary of 10 sample stories and over a thousand guesses at authorial gender.
  • Play with my V spot? | VentureBeat: “Guys, this is why we don’t have more women in tech: It’s a cesspool. As long as we’re passing offensive schlock like this off as marketing for a major technology conference, we don’t deserve more women in tech.”
  • Don’t underestimate Viking women: “‘To assume that Viking men were ranked above women is to impose modern values on the past, which would be misleading,’ cautions Marianne Moen. She has been studying how women’s status and power is expressed through Viking burial findings. Her master’s thesis The Gendered Landscape argues that viking gender roles may have been more complex than we assume.”
  • A Remarkable Number of Women: “You can tell you’re in a male-dominated discipline in the sciences when a gathering of three or more women working, standing, or sitting together in a professional setting in that field is considered ‘remarkable.'”
  • Take the pledge: Don’t serve on all-male panels: “A hopeful new trend is growing: People are noticing when conference speakers are all or mostly men (and often all white as well). And they are asking questions: What kind of selection process results in an all or mostly male speaker lineup? Is it true that all the best speakers just happen to white men, or are there other qualified speakers who are getting passed over? No one thinks these conferences are deliberately signing up only men, but they do think that all-male lineups are a sign of not trying very hard to get the best speakers. One solution is for men to publicly pledge only to participate in panels that have at least one woman on them, as Rebecca Rosen proposed in The Atlantic last week.”

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.

Linkspam smash! (13 November, 2012)

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.

Why subscribe to their feeds when you can get the linkspam for free? (21st November, 2010)

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.

Open Thread: Music to $action by

A friend of mine released some songs with the following note:

Originally conceived for release on 3″ CD, this four-track EP was inspired by the many difficulties encountered over the years by women who are writers and writers who are women. It encompasses glitchy droning ambience, mellow downtempo beats, aggressive drum’n’bass, and distorted rhythmic dance.

I’ve found I really like track two while I’m actually writing:

Ess EP by We v2 Collective

I listen to very different music when I write English (or French) than when I write code, though. For writing human language, it’s all about the classical with some jazz or wordless ambient electronica thrown in to mix it up. Or really, anything wordless can do in a pinch, but I find it hard to write and listen at the same time. And it’s much worse if I’m listening to a different language from the one I’m writing (an issue given that I radio-flip a lot and we’ve got a decent number of non-English stations here). But for coding, it’s completely different: there, it’s all about the uptempo (fast) stuff, and words are fine. As a teenager I once scandalized my parents and my friends by coding away happily to ABBA for hours, and I can listen to stuff while coding that I find to monotonous if my brain’s not engaged elsewhere.

So… what’s your music of choice for your geeky (and non-geeky) activities. Do you have any pattern?

And, as you likely guessed, this is an open thread, so feel free to talk about anything else that’s on your mind and needs sharing!

Girly geeky lit

Here’s a bit of a 101 thread with a difference, it’s 101 for women writers, not 101 for feminism.

Over at Tiger Beatdown C.L. Minou talks about her transition in reading (which coincided with her transition in gender presentation), from reading books by and about men to reading books by and about women. Here’s an excerpt, although you should definitely read the whole thing:

Back in my youth I indulged in the most stereotypical of male literature, science fiction, reading it pretty much exclusively for about a decade. It wasn’t all wasted—I got my first bits of sex ed reading New Wave sci-fi—but I don’t need to tell anyone that a lot of what I was reading was so backwards on the matter of gender as to be fucking retrograde. I liked the Big Three a lot: Asimov, Clarke, and god help me, Heinlein—a man who not only thought “all women are the same height—lying down†was a good pickup line, he actually wrote a story where it worked as a pickup line… And women authors? Hah. Even when I was reading science fiction exclusively, I didn’t like LeGuin, the most openly feminist sci-fi author. I think I read one book by Cherryh. Octavia Butler? Never heard of her. Seriously. I’d never heard of Octavia Butler until she DIED. And the authors of my Great Books tour could pretty much all use the same restroom…

Now for our 101. A lot of the fannish geeks here are all over great stuff by women, I imagine, but some (ahem, me) aren’t so much. So here’s a thread for those of you who are on top of your recommendations: women fiction authors, especially ones that you think of as somehow geeky (by genre, or style, or… geek vibe). Some things to start with:

  • General description of fiction that this woman writes (genre, style, language if not English)
  • Recommended starting point for her work.

What you recommend doesn’t have to be professionally published original fiction. Just stuff you love and want to share.

How John Scalzi invented fanfic

So the other day John Scalzi posted on his blog that he is writing a “reboot” of H. Beam Piper’s science fiction novel “Little Fuzzy”. He says:

Why did you do this?

Because as far as I know it’s never been done before. Science fiction TV and movie series are rebooted all the time — see Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek for recent examples of this — but I can’t think of a significant, original universe in science fiction literature in which this has been done, at least, not by someone who is not the original author. So I thought, hey, this seems like it could be a fun thing to do. So I did it.

If your eyes aren’t rolling enough already (because, hello, fan fiction?), melannen pointed out to me that Ardath Mayhar, a female author, had even written a professionally published retelling of the Little Fuzzy story (a fact that’s mentioned on the Wikipedia page for Little Fuzzy, so it’s hardly obscure.)

Is it time for another round of How To Suppress Women’s Writing?

  • She didn’t write it.

(But if it’s clear she did the deed. . .)

  • She wrote it, but she shouldn’t have. (It’s political, sexual, masculine, feminist.)
  • She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. (The bedroom, the kitchen, her family. Other women!)
  • She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it. (“Jane Eyre. Poor dear, that’s all she ever. . .â€)
  • She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (It’s a thriller, a romance, a children’s book. It’s sci fi!)
  • She wrote it, but she had help. (Robert Browning. Branwell Bronte. Her own “masculine side.â€)
  • She wrote it, but she’s an anomaly. (Woolf. With Leonard’s help….)
  • She wrote it BUT. . .

When women do it, it’s just fan fiction. When men do it, it’s a reboot. Right.

ETA: I’ve been pointed at a subsequent post in which Scalzi admits he’s writing fanfic.

For those who are new here, I’d like to point out that we have a comment policy which asks you to “Be at least one of: feminist, friendly, amusing, or perspicacious. Two is even better.” Comments along the lines of “She wrote it, BUT…” (it wasn’t commercially published, it wasn’t called a reboot because we hadn’t invented that word yet, she didn’t have permission from TPTB…) will be bitbucketed.

Linkspam, the country where I quite want to be (8th December, 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. 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.

And she’s cute, too!

Today’s guest blogger, Juliet Kemp, is a sysadmin, technical writer, and environmentalist.

The other week, I got an email from someone who had read one of my articles. This is something that happens from time to time, and normally it makes me happy. It's good to hear that people appreciate what you write.

So I opened up the email, and sure enough, it started off with a compliment about the usefulness of a particular article that I'd written. Great. Warm fuzzies abound. Unfortunately, the warm fuzzies vacated the premises in the next paragraph, in which the (male) writer concluded with the sentiment that it was nice to read such good articles written by "a cutie".

I think I may have said something very rude at that point. It certainly left me feeling uncomfortable and a little creeped-out.

The problem I have with this isn't just in the assumption that it's OK for a total stranger (who I've never even seen in person) to comment on my appearance. It's in the implication that the technical merit of my writing isn't the important part here — that what's important is how physically attractive I am. (And in particular with the form of words used, not just "cute", but "a cutie", which is a very neat way to suggest that everything important about a person can be encapsulated in their appearance.)

But hey. Maybe this guy was just ill-informed, right? Maybe he really did just mean to be complimentary, and didn't know that what he was saying might well cause discomfort or give offence.

So I took some nice calming breaths, and I emailed him back, saying: "Hey, thanks for letting me know that you like my writing, but the rest of your comment made me uncomfortable. And I'm sure you don't mean to do that, or to come across as creepy, so I'm letting you know that it was inappropriate."

Next day, I got a reply. He started off by saying that my response (finding his comment inappropriate) was as expected; then that he wouldn't mind someone calling him cute; and then went on to elaborate on his opinion of the attractiveness of "most" women in tech (low), and of the competence of those women who were attractive (also low).

Without even getting into the broader points (I'll do that in a moment), this man is saying "I expected this to make you uncomfortable, but I said it anyway, because I think it should be OK". This isn't even just cluelessness: it's deliberately causing distress. It's on the same continuum as the guy who gropes women on public transport, because he wants to and he doesn't care what they want.

I gave up at that point, but for the benefit of those playing along at home, here are the issues in play:

  • Issues of privilege and systemic gender inequality mean that it just is not the case that you can swap genders over and say "it would be fine this way around, so it's fine the other way around". These things have different meaning depending on your position, and men and women are starting from different positions (with different social expectations of their behaviour, and different access to power).
  • Not to mention the all-too-familiar "I think this, which differs from what you think, thus your response is invalid".
  • Techie women aren't cute? Cute women aren't techie? Those who claim to be both are mostly lying? We're back to a set of assumptions about what makes women worthwhile: appearance. And a projected opposition: you can be either attractive or intelligent, but not both. Women are only allowed to fit into one of two pre-defined categories, rather than existing as the 3 billion or so complex individuals that they are.
  • It is simply not relevant what someone looks like in this context. By drawing attention to appearance in this way, what's coming through is that what matters here isn't my (or any other woman's) technical ability, it's our physical appearance. This is not a standard which is applied to male geeks (and hey, it wouldn't be acceptable if it was).

(This link about exceptionalism also contains some useful thoughts about these issues.)

The thing is: this isn't an isolated incident. It would still be shitty even if it was; but it isn't. Other geek women I spoke to had similar experiences, and in a couple of cases deliberately kept photos of themselves offline in order to avoid such problems; there's plenty of evidence that people who openly operate online as "female" get significantly more harassment than those who operate as "male". And often far worse or blunter than this particular incident, which made me uncomfortable and angry, but at least wasn't threatening. That's a typical female experience in itself: to tell yourself, well, this was unpleasant, but it wasn't, y'know, dangerous. Frankly, fuck that shit.

It's all part of a continuum. Think of women as primarily important for their appearance, and that informs your interactions with them. It's patronising, degrading, and it's fundamentally not acceptable behaviour. Compliment me on my technical skills, by all means, but don't suggest that that's just an adjunct to what really matters: that you think I'm cute.

And, of course, this puts women off engaging in what is already (as has been extensively discussed, here and elsewhere) a very male space. This, exactly this, kind of behaviour, is what creates a space where women are not comfortable to contribute. And that sucks even more than the ignorant behaviour itself.