Tag Archives: history

Bringing the blog to a close

We’re bringing the Geek Feminism blog to a close.

First, some logistics; then some reasons and reminiscences; then, some thanks.


The site will still be up for at least several years, barring Internet catastrophe. We won’t post to it anymore and comments will be closed, but we intend to keep the archives up and available at their current URLs, or to have durable redirects from the current URLs to the archive.

This doesn’t affect the Geek Feminism wiki, which will keep going.

There’s a Twitter feed and a Facebook page; after our last blog post, we won’t post to those again.

We don’t have a definite date yet for when we’ll post for the last time. It’ll almost certainly be this year.

I might add to this, or post in the comments, to add stuff. And this isn’t the absolute last post on the blog; it’d be nice to re-run a few of our best-of posts, for instance, like the ones Tim Chevalier linked to here. We’re figuring that out.

Reasons and reminiscences

Alex Bayley and a bunch of their peers — myself included — started posting on this blog in 2009. We coalesced around feminist issues in scifi/fantasy fandom, open culture projects like Wikipedia, gaming, the sciences, the tech industry and open source software development, Internet culture, and so on. Alex gave a talk at Open Source Bridge 2014 about our history to that point, and our meta tag has some further background on what we were up to over those years.

You’ve probably seen a number of these kinds of volunteer group efforts end. People’s lives shift, our priorities change as we adapt to new challenges, and so on. And we’ve seen the birth or growth of other independent media; there are quite a lot of places to go, for a feminist take on the issues I mentioned. For example:

We did some interesting, useful, and cool stuff for several years; I try to keep myself from dwelling too much in the sad half of “bittersweet” by thinking of the many communities that have already been carrying on without waiting for us to pass any torches.


Thanks of course to all our contributors, past and present, and those who provided the theme, logo, and technical support and built or provided infrastructure, social and digital and financial, for this blog. Thanks to our readers and commenters. Thanks to everyone who did neat stuff for us to write about. And thanks to anyone who used things we said to go make the world happier.

More later; thanks.

Analyzing How “Hamilton” Appeals to Geek Feminists

“History is the trade secret of science fiction” — that quote’s attributed to me, but I think I got it from Asimov.

Ken MacLeod, “Working the Wet End” interview, The Human Front Plus…, 2013, PM Press

For the past several weeks I’ve listened several times to the cast recording of the new Broadway musical Hamilton, and I’m only one of many; my circles of fandom have fallen in love with it and it’s the most-requested and most-offered fandom in this year’s Yuletide fanfic exchange. I’m quickly summing up some thoughts not just on what makes Hamilton good, but what makes it so astonishingly appealing to my circle of feminist friends who also adore reading speculative fiction, and who don’t generally find their tastes running to Broadway musicals.
Continue reading

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About Linkspam (28 December 2014)

  • Diversity != Inclusion: Expanding the “diversity in tech” conversation | Tiffany Mikell at Medium (26 December): “Diversity in tech conversations have become stagnant and narrow. Missing in these conversations is the relevance of culturally specific learning, methods of curating inclusive work spaces, practical ways to navigate the psychological toll of being an under-represented person, and attention to the value of supporting economic ecosystems that financially and structurally support POC communities.”
  • Why You Have To Fix Governance To Improve Hospitality | Cogito, Ergo Sumana (21 December): “if you want a hospitable community, it’s not enough to set up a code of conduct; a CoC can’t substitute for culture. Assuming you’re working with a pre-existing condition, you have to assess the existing power structures and see where you have leverage, so you can articulate and advocate new worldviews, and maybe even move to amend the rules of the game.”
  • Turning girls of color into robot-obsessed techies | Fortune (21 December): “In three years, Black Girls Code has grown from a pilot with a dozen students to an organization with chapters in seven U.S. cities, and one in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Robot Expo sold-out before Black Girls Code could do any outreach to schools. In Berkeley recently, nearly 200 girls rotated through classes that were a big contrast to their usual school curriculum. They learned about building a circuit with Play-Doh to make an LED light up, snapped together machines made of Legos that could be hooked up to motors, and assembled robots that could wheel across the floor on their own steam.”
  • Lupita Nyong’o: Star Wars Finally Gets It Right | Black Girl Nerds (24 December): “We have yet to see a Black woman depicted in a major role within the Star Wars universe.  This will in fact be a monumental moment for both fans of Nyong’o and the Star Wars franchise itself.  I am giddy with excitement that I can finally see a woman of my ilk kick ass in a big budget sci-fi film.  This is a colossal point in history for all black girl nerds.”
  • Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality?  | Springer Link (6 December): “We aimed to investigate the relationship between lower levels of agreeableness and innovation process such as idea generation, promotion, and group utilization, as well as potential contextual moderators of these relationships. Disagreeable personalities may be helpful in combating the challenges faced in the innovation process, but social context is also critical. In particular, an environment supportive of original thinking may negate the utility of disagreeableness and, in fact, disagreeableness may hamper the originality of ideas shared.”
  • The story of Grace Hopper (aka Amazing Grace) | Stanley Colors (9 December): [comic] see also a previous SMBC comic.
  • No true conference organizers | ashley williams at Medium (22 December): “there are no true conference organizers. Just conference organizers doing better and worse jobs at making conferences safe. Instead of appealing to purity, let’s stay constructive and keep iterating on our efforts. Design is not opposed to iteration, rather, it is a very important element of every iterative step. The dichotomies and post-rationalization Jared demonstrates in his blog post render his opinion unfalsifiable and, as a result, premptively end any further critical conversation about how to make conferences safe. That’s the last thing we want.”
  • Deep Lab Book | Studio for Creative Inquiry (23 December): “Deep Lab is a congress of cyberfeminist researchers, organized by STUDIO Fellow Addie Wagenknecht to examine how the themes of privacy, security, surveillance, anonymity, and large-scale data aggregation are problematized in the arts, culture and society.”
  • [potentially not safe for work content] An Oral History of the First Cyberfeminists | Motherboard (11 December): “Over twenty years later, in the many feminist conversations happening online, groups like VNS Matrix and their compatriots in the Cyberfeminist trenches are not frequently cited. They should be. Their spirit of joyful subversion is more relevant, more cannily timely, more totally necessary today than it has ever been.​”
  • [warning for harassment and violence towards women] Why Are We Kicking Up Such a Fuss About The Interview? | In These Times (24 December): “Yet here we are, with the new and supremely newsworthy face of terrorism, The Interview’s cancellation. And it mirrors, in exact detail, what women have been going through all year. It’s international terrorism, whereas other cases were domestic, but if that makes a significant difference, no one told Oklahoma City. It’s a case of nations opposing each other, rather than one privileged group within a nation opposing and punishing a less privileged one”


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.

Feminist Point of View – my slides from Open Source Bridge

A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk at Open Source Bridge entitled Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminist Retrospective. The presentation was a review of the 6 years of the Geek Feminism wiki and blog, and the lessons we’ve learned from doing this.

I said I’d post the slides here on the blog, so — with apologies for the delay, mostly due to travel and jetlag and all that stuff — here they are.

Thanks to all the GF contributors who contributed to the talk, and to all those who came along.

Dogs And Cats Linkspamming Together (16 Aug 2013)

  • Resource-building: Anti-Oppressive Collective Witchy Woo | Not Your Ex/Rotic: “There have been various discussions on multiple Facebook groups about a lack of resources on magick, witchcraft, and woo that weren’t plagued with problems – transmisogyny, racism, cultural appropriation, and so on. Some people have expressed interest in putting together a resource, such as a zine or a website, that will provide the witchy woo needs we asked for. Here’s a Facebook group to hash out ideas, post your writings, and put things together! Feel free to invite people with similar goals and resources here.”
  • The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki and Spirited Away | bitchmedia: “the flowing narrative structure of Miyazaki’s films allow for a lot of flexibility in the roles played by heroes and villains. Most of the time, the hero or heroine’s journey does not center on the need to violently defeat an ultimate villain. […] Miyazaki’s ladies in general demonstrate more strength and complex personalities than American heroines (especially princesses) tend to. Characters Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa both actively fight to defend their homes, using both weapons and kindness.”
  • Women and Men Both Ask for Flex Time at Work. Guess Who Gets It? | Slate: “Two professional workers, one male and one female, and two hourly employees, one male and one female, walk into an office. All four want to ask their boss for a flexible schedule, either to advance their job- or career-related skills or to attend to family responsibilities. Both women expect the boss to approve their request, while the men think they’re unlikely to get approval. All four ask, and their managers award flexible schedules to both men but neither women. This scenario is true-to-life, according to a new study published in the Journal of Social Issues. Bosses favor men over women when employees request flextime.”
  • Everyone Should Want to Be A Hufflepuff, Or, Stop the Hogwarts House-Hate | Tor.Com : “While Slytherin and Hufflepuff both have their share of intensely dedicated fans, it’s no secret that among the general Potter-reading population, most would prefer to be a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw. Why? Do people prefer lions and ravens? Red and blue? Or is it something a little less obvious… perhaps something to do with the attributes awarded to each house, and the values we place on them as a culture?”
  • Why Do We Have More Female Scholars, But Few Public Intellectuals? | bitchmedia: “The academics listed in the opening graf (Dr. Brittney Cooper, Joan Morgan, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Tanisha Ford, Dr. Treva Lindsey and Dr. Kaila Story) exchange ideas freely through blogs and social media platforms, but are we undervaluing the importance of their intellect by culturally offering their male counterparts larger platforms and opportunities?”
  • Go Back in Time with GE and See Some of the Awesome Ladies Responsible for Today’s Tech | The Mary Sue: “This is Katharine Burr Blodgett, the first woman to get a PhD in physics from Cambridge in addition to being the first woman scientist to join the GE Research Laboratory. She’s known widely as the inventor of “invisible glass.” “But most glass is invisible anyway,” I hear you say. “It’s glass.” Well you can back that assumption right up, because KBB here figured out how to make glass mostly non-reflective and therefore, yes, nearly invisible.”
  • [Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault]  Five ways that “staying safe” costs women | Salon: “All of this is why going to the bathroom together isn’t just a fun girly thing that women do. The reality is that moving in packs, taking more time, spending more money, seeming less adventurous, isn’t a luxury. It’s a tax.”
  • History of Feminism: “60 seconds with…” | History of Feminism Network: “60 seconds worth of informal introduction to our favourite historians of feminism and feminist historians. New interviews will be added regularly; do get in touch if you have a suggestion or want to be interviewed!”
  • Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You | Observation Deck: “we saw McFarlane, Len Wein and Conway on the panel promoting PBS’ documentary “Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle,” in which McFarlane and Conway enjoyed stroking each others’ egos by arguing that creators don’t really have control over how comics portray women, because, history. Since all of this debate is understandably pressing on my ladybrain, I find it easier to bullet point this pile of self-indulgence. So let’s take a look at why, exactly, comics just aren’t for women, and their portrayal in comics just doesn’t matter.”

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.

A fisherman of the inland linkspam (14 May 2013)

  • Sometimes I Feel Like I am a Fake Geek Girl: “I know that I’m not really faking anything as I’m pretty up front with the holes in my experience, but sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t even call myself a geek because I’m missing so much ‘critical geekdom’. It feels like geek culture is a competitive and not-inclusive space with invisible hierarchies.”
  • How to draw sexy without being sexist: “‘Sex appeal ONLY comes into play when the characters PERSONALITY dictates that as a factor,’ says Anka. ‘The CHARACTER must be first and foremost the inspiration and guideline for all the decisions made when trying to design the clothing.'”
  • The Great Debate: Comic about the misguided idea that disabling youtube comments to forestall harassment is censorship.
  • ‘Brave’ creator blasts Disney for ‘blatant sexism’ in princess makeover – Marin Independent Journal: “Disney crowned Merida its 11th princess on Saturday, but ignited a firestorm of protest with a corporate makeover of Chapman’s original rendering of the character, giving her a Barbie doll waist, sultry eyes and transforming her wild red locks into glamorous flowing tresses. The new image takes away Merida’s trusty bow and arrow, a symbol of her strength and independence, and turns her from a girl to a young woman dressed in an off-the-shoulder version of the provocative, glitzy gown she hated in the movie.”
  • The Latest on the Women in SFF Debate: Roundup of links about the recent debate on recognition for female authors of sci-fi/fantasy.
  • Using Python to see how the NY Times writes about men and women: “If your knowledge of men’s and women’s roles in society came just from reading last week’s New York Times, you would think that men play sports and run the government. Women do feminine and domestic things. To be honest, I was a little shocked at how stereotypical the words used in the women subject sentences were.”
  • Queer in STEM: “A national survey of sexual diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
  • This 17-Year-Old Coder Is Saving Twitter From TV Spoilers: “Jennie Lamere, a 17-year-old girl, invented the software last month—and won the grand prize at a national coding competition where Lamere was the only female who presented a project, and the only developer to work alone.”
  • A Woman’s Place: “Now, almost 50 years after the birth of an all-female technology company with radically modern working practices, it seems remarkable that the same industry is still fumbling with the issue of gender equality.”

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.

Rocky Horror Linkspam Show (6 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.

Chainmail (European 4 in 1 pattern)

The Linkspam Mystique (15th June, 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.

Leslie Harpold

She was a great humanizing influence upon the early Web and one of its ultra-connected nodes. She was a very good designer and a better writer, but her greatest contribution was to embody the fact that if the Web is not about people, it is not about anything. I have not the heart to retell the stories of her many sorrows and unbearably early death, five years ago today.


Leslie is, in any case, the sort of discovery you should make for yourself. Her domains haven’t been maintained but there are precious copies. You might start with her proto-blog Hoopla, archived at the Library of Congress:

So when i talk about my day, my latest artistic obsession, launch into my five minutes on retinol vs. fruit acids, or pause trying to think up the next topic for our conversation, I am really saying the same thing over and over again: I love you, I love you, I love you.

There’s more in the Wayback Machine, although it’s not in great shape.

Of one of her best-loved projects, almost nothing remains. Every year Leslie built an online advent calendar, full of reader-contributed stories, links and Easter eggs. As chance would have it, she published a story of mine on December 5, 2006, and a story by a mutual friend of ours on December 6. We simultaneously realized we had a significant number of BFFs in common and exchanged thrilled emails. I remember walking to work one sunny December morning full of happiness and the prospect of getting to know a whole new person.

Leslie never updated the calendar again. She is much missed.


Photograph of Branca Edmée Marques

Wednesday Geek Woman: Branca Edmée Marques, Portuguese scientist, and collaborator with Marie Curie

This is a guest post by Jennifer. Jennifer is a feminist and actuary who is travelling the world with her family and profiling notable women of history on her blog.

This entry is cross-posted from Jennifer’s blog.

Submissions are currently open for Wednesday Geek Woman posts.

Photograph of Branca Edmée MarquesBranca Edmée Marques was a Portuguese scientist, who studied and worked with Marie Curie. She was born in Lisbon in 1899, and studied chemistry at the University of Lisbon. In 1925 after completing her degree, she was invited to be an Assistant by the Chemistry Professor. He was concerned about whether she would maintain discipline in her classes, being female, but she must have succeeded as in 1930 she was awarded a scholarship to study with Marie Curie at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

Marie Curie was by then very famous, having won two Nobel Prizes. Curie liked her work so much that she gave her one of her most interesting research projects to do, and wrote a letter to the Portuguese government asking them to renew her research grant.

Unfortunately the combination of Marques being a woman, and the Portuguese government being in a state of flux (transforming from military to civilian dictatorship) meant that her grant wasn’t renewed. Curie managed to finagle a continuing scholarship for her anyway, and her doctorate on “new research on the fragmentation of barium salts” was awarded with the highest possible rating of tres honorable. In 1936, the Portuguese Universities recognized the degree, and awarded her an equivalent doctorate.

On returning home, however, she was unable to get an appropriate post at University. This, from all my sources, does appear to be fairly simple sexism, even if the lack of financial support in France might not have been. Instead, she lectured and started up the Laboratory of Radiochemistry and only in 1942 was she awarded the title of First Assistant, which meant that the University was recognizing her contribution more significantly.

Photograph of Branca Edmée Marques
She continued to lecture and work towards building up a new department, which eventually became the Department of Radiochemistry and Nuclear Chemistry. She published regularly throughout her professional life, researching many aspects of peaceful application of nuclear technology. In 1966, her contributions were finally recognized with a full professorship at the University of Lisbon.

She died in 1986, at the age of 87.

This post is based on Portuguese language sources (linked below) so anyone who can read the original Portuguese, please feel free to comment if my interpretations were wrong!

Marcas das ciências e das técnicas: Professora Branca Edmée Marques
A ciência em Portugal: Branca Edmée Marques
Maxima: Sancha Sanches