Tag Archives: politics

I Find Your Lack Of Linkspam Disturbing (9 May 2014)

First up, a number of linkspams about books, comics, and writing:

  • Politics Belong in Science Fiction | Foz Meadows at Huffington Post (May 2): “Science fiction both is, and always has been, a political genre. When we tell stories about a future in outer space populated entirely by white people, who constitute a global minority; when we describe societies set a hundred, three hundred, a thousand years in the future but which still lack gender equality, and whose sexual mores mimic those of the 1950s, that is no less a political decision than choosing to write diversely.”
  • Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your [slur] | Kay Mayo at The Drum (April 17) (update: warning for gendered slur, with violent implications, in the title of this piece): “I’d like to know: why is romance fiction the punching bag of the literary world? Why are romance readers the laughing-stock of feminist commentators? Why can’t people just let women read sexy things without telling us we’re doing something wrong? When writers deride romance readers for their reading choices, their argument becomes meaningless, and here’s why: not all romance books are the same. When someone insists that there is a formula for romance fiction, it’s clear that they haven’t bothered to look at any serious analyses of the genre, nor do they understand what “genre” actually means.”
  • Comics Legend Brian Michael Bendis on Sexism and Making a Nonwhite Spider-Man | Abraham Riesman at Vulture (May 2): “When you become the writer of Spider-Man, all of a sudden, every day, every week, every month, someone of color — all different races — comes up to you and tells you, “Spider-Man was my favorite and this is why,” and then I hear a version of this story: “My friends, when I was a kid, wouldn’t let me be Superman, wouldn’t let me be Batman, because of my skin color. But I could always be Spider-Man, and Spider-Man became my favorite. As a little kid, I didn’t even understand why he was my favorite, but it was because anybody could be Spider-Man under that costume, because it was head-to-toe.” That’s not why we created a Spider-Man who’s a person of color, but afterwards, I was like, “Oh man, this was subconsciously why we did it.””
  • Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright | foz meadows (May 7): “So, author John C. Wright wrote a thing on the evils of political correctness in SFF [..] Let me show you the problem I’m having. [..] You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproar.”
  • Don’t Be a Dick (Or 15 Great Sounding SFF Novels Available in 2014) | Lady Business (April 24): “Dude makes a list of 13 books that demonstrate why 2014 is going to be a banner year for fantasy novels. List contains 12 books by men and a book by a lady which has been pushed back to 2015. Okay then. I decided to fight books with books. Here’s a list of 15 SFF books by women that I’m excited to see published in 2014.”
  • The Trouble With Wonder Woman | Julia Lepetit and Andrew Bridgman at Dorkly (May 6)[Online Comic] “I’m just sick of it! They make a bunch of Batman movies, then a Green Lantern movie, and a Superman movie. Thought I’d be next – but nope – Batman again. […] I’m one of the three biggest DC heroes in history!”

And now some links from our regular linkspam:

  • Is the Internet Intrinsically Sexist? | Laurie Penny at The Debrief (May 8): “Teenage girls are a perennial target of technological concern-trolling – ‘what will this weirdscape of social sexting, selfies and outraged hashtags mean for their fragile pubescent morality?’ – but, in this instance, the concern is far from baseless.”
  • Approaching Conferences From a Different Angle | satifice (April 28): “If you say you want or encourage diversity in your CFP, but nowhere do you say that diverse applicants will receive support to attend, you don’t want poor people to attend. Now, I’m sure that some people are thinking “well, if it is a professional conference, what poor people?”, which is disingenous particularly for acdemic related conferences […] Moreover, are we really going to ignore the intersections of poverty with disability, race, gender, and other axes of oppression? If you experience just one type of oppression, your chances of being poor are higher. If you experience multiple axes of oppression, these chances only compound and increase.”
  • If it Doesn’t Exist, Build it: An Interview With Jasper Nance | Alison Dorantes-Garcia at Huffington Post (May 5): “Alison: Something that initially discouraged me from attending hackerspaces was the lack of people who I could relate to and identify with. For a while I didn’t see many women, queer identified people, people of color, or working-class people. Did you ever feel any trepidation coming into hackerspaces, and if so, how did you deal with it? What advice would you give to a new (potentially shy) person going to a hackerspace? JN: Have a project, and ask for help! Don’t go into [a hackerspace] with any expectations of what other people are doing or think of you. If you ask a lot of questions, you would be surprised how nice and helpful some people can be at hackerspaces.”
  • Ally Smells: Fear of Speaking Up | Julie Pagano (May 3): “An analogy might help here. Imagine if someone came upon your open source project, didn’t check your README or contributor guidelines, did no background research, and demanded you add a bunch of features that made no sense or have already been discussed ad nauseam. You’d be annoyed. Some people might be kind and discuss it with them. Some might gently point them at documentation. Others would tell them to RTFM (read the fucking manual). Now imagine this happens on your project every day or even multiple times a day. Over time, the RTFM response becomes more common as people run out of patience and energy.”
  • It’s Different for Girls | Heidi Roizen at Advanetures in Entrepreneurship (May 3): “It pains and somewhat embarrasses me that I am not recommending calling out bad behavior and shaming the individual or individuals responsible.  In a perfect world people would have to account for their behavior.  But as an entrepreneur who spent years in a daily battle for existence, I did not feel like I could afford the hit I’d take in exposing these incidents.”

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.

not a beard

This is a guest post by Mari Huertas (@marihuertas).  She is an Obama for America Technology (#ofatech) alumna and instructor at the University of Chicago. She currently is working on an idea to shift self-publishing with fellow OFA alum Nick Leeper (@lucky33). She lives in Chicago with her husband, bossy cat, and an ever-rotating supply of tea. This post originally appeared on her blog.

It was a tongue-in-cheek joke on the campaign trail, and I smiled about it for a while – the recurring meme about the “bearded” Obama Technology team, a group of dudes who wore flannels and didn’t shave and didn’t care at all about either, thankyouverymuch. I smiled about it because it was true, to a point, and I felt we were a family, and family made jokes like that, even if not everyone was into it.

Then came the post-election press, some of which picked up the “beards” gag and, fawning over its delicious cleverness, wrapped it into numerous mentions of the Technology team’s accomplishments. Andrew Sullivan even wrote a post that referred to the Technology team as “Obama’s Bears”.

Now, let us be clear about a few things:

  1. I was on that team.
  2. I’m not at all bearded.
  3. I’m definitely not a bear.
  4. Nerdy? Sure. I’ll own that one.

And other women were on that Technology team, too – smart, savvy women. One managed the creation of an incredible system that our vendor integration and other technology components all could hit so we could operate as synced as possible (Carol Davidsen). One trained an entire digital SWAT team of interns and volunteers to handle Dashboard support (Brady Kriss). One spearheaded the development of our voter outreach and GOTV technologies (Winnie Lam). One reached into the tech community and rallied volunteers to help us build certain pieces of our infrastructure (Catherine Bracy).

Yet some articles skipped mentioning women almost entirely. Rolling Stonenamed one; Mother Jones listed zero before backpedaling under scrutiny and adding a handful at the bottom of the article. Both were chided and scorned for it. It was surprising but not unexpected that so few of my sex were included in articles about winning the election – recognizing women has been a historical, long-standing problem. But these women in particular had done outstanding, difficult work – they had just re-elected a president, for heaven’s sake – so if not now, when should they expect to be recognized for their contributions?

I write this now, in the waning halo of winning the election, because in the past few months, I’ve come to see in a painfully clear light how important it remains to rally and recognize women working in technology. From the dearth of women as speakers and panel members to the lack of diversity on development, IT, and product teams, we have a serious listing that needs to be righted. As I wrote at the end of 2012, we need to elevate the profiles of successful women so that others will see them and want to work alongside them – so they will know what roles are available and what roles they can make.

I want other females, young and old, to feel encouraged by the women who worked on this re-election campaign and in technology, civics, and government as a whole. I want girls and young professionals to find their way by the determined wakes we leave. We’re doing important, satisfying, fun work – we should broaden and extend our purview so more can wade into the fray.

Now, I want to make this next point as clear as the glass ceiling beyond which many women in technology have yet to climb: I love, support, and cheer on my tech brethren, bearded or bare-faced, because they are completely, indisputably awesome and deserve every word of the recognition they receive. I have sat in the front row of the conferences at which they presented and beamed and clapped hard while they stood and spoke. I have touted them publicly on social channels and privately in emails and discussions with others. I wish them every success and am fantastically proud to call them friends and co-workers.

But equal consideration and recognition for the work, contributions, and fur-free faces of the ladies who rocked alongside them?

We need that – not just for this campaign or election, but for all we do. Let’s make that happen.


Sisters lost this week, RIP

Four inspiring women have left us in the space of the past week.

Diana Wynne Jones, acclaimed British fantasy author, lost her life on Saturday at 76.

Ms. Jones’s work is critically acclaimed. Several of her novels have been nominated or shortlisted for awards, including the Carnegie Medal, Mythopoeic Fantasy, British Fantasy Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book, and World Fantasy Award.

Jean Jennings Bartik, one of the ENIAC technicians, died on Wednesday at 86.

Bartik graduated from Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in 1945 as the school’s one math major. She recalled living on her parents’ farm, refusing the teaching jobs her father suggested and avoiding all talk of marrying a farmer and having babies. Instead, she took a train to Philadelphia to work for the military.

There, she learned ballistics calculations and was quickly hired to work on the ENIAC, created during the war by University of Pennsylvania scientists John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Jr.

Bartik and her colleagues debugged the computer, which weighed 30 tons, contained about 18,000 vacuum tubes and completed the same work the women “computers” did but in a fraction of the time.

Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run on the national ticket of a major (US political) party, passed away on Saturday at 75*.

64 years after women won the right to vote, a woman had removed the “men only” sign from the White House door.

It would be another 24 years before another woman from a major party was nominated for vice president — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican running mate of Senator John McCain, in 2008.

Elizabeth Taylor, actress and advocate for gay rights, took her final curtain call on Wednesday at 79, outliving the author of her obituary and turning up to her own funeral 15 minutes late, by request.

“I did not become an activist to win awards,” she said in accepting a GLAAD award in 2000. “I became an activist to try to protect people. I could not sit silently by just doing nothing. I started my activism in the 80s when a new disease emerged that was quickly and inexplicably killing people.”

“Worse than the virus there was the terrible discrimination and prejudice left in its wake. Suddenly gay people stopped being human beings and started becoming the enemy. I knew that somebody had to do something.”

“All my life I’ve spent a lot of time with gay men – Montgomery Clift, Jimmy Dean, Rock Hudson,” she added. “I never thought about who they slept with. They were just the people I loved.”

“I could never understand why they couldn’t be afforded the same rights and protections as all of the rest of us. There is no gay agenda. It’s a human agenda.”

Rest in peace, and thank you.

* See Shakesville for additional commentary on Ferraro’s passing.

The linkspam-industrial complex (15th December, 2010)

  • Call For Participation: Spectral Amoebas – A Blog Carnival about Asexuality and the Autism Spectrum: We are asexual bloggers on the autistic spectrum who want to explore the intersection between autistic and asexual identities. The basis of this project is to have a conversation about our unique experiences being autistic and asexual without looking for a cause.
  • Hillary Clinton Is Asked What Designers She Wears Moments After Making Point About Sexism: because it would be terrible if she forgot for a moment how important it is to be aesthetically pleasing!
  • “Where have all the men gone? Oh yeah, they’re still here – Men hold 84.3% of Fortune 500 board seats.” Catalyst releases a study examining “women’s representation in corporate governance at the largest companies in the United States.”
  • Women in Technology, Western Australia (WITWA) has launched techtrails, an initiative aimed at supplementing the technology sector with new talent. The program operates as a school incursion to raise awareness about program operates as a school incursion to raise awareness about technology careers. WITWA is looking for presenters, volunteers and sponsorship.
  • Women scientists must speak out: [Women’s choices] still cannot explain the near-total absence of women pundits. Sexism must be responsible too. Having both the inclination and the time to do media work myself, I have certainly found myself dropped for programmes and replaced by less-qualified men… Given this bias, I understand why many women might prefer not to get involved.
  • Blag Hag: Feminists’ selective science phobia (warning, substantial “those man-haters make us Good Feminists look bad” vibe in the comments). Evolutionary psychology gets a lot of flack from both inside and outside science. And to be honest, a lot of it is well deserved criticism – too much of evolutionary psychology is arm chair philosophizing and overly optimistic adaptationism, rather than hard data. But I still assert that’s no reason to write off the field as a whole… Unless it doesn’t mesh with your philosophy, of course.
  • IGN’s 2010 Gamer Girl Gift Guide recommends gifts to please men: … make sure to buy the gamer girl in your life a present that actually benefits you instead of her. She’ll love that.
  • (Trigger warnings: fictional rapes.) Rape in MY Anti-Tolkien?: Anti-Tolkien, I think, should be about upsetting the cis-white-male ghetto. It should be about subverting, breaking, and rejecting tropes that make this ghetto such a comfy cesspool to wallow in… It really shouldn’t be about women getting sexually assaulted and liquid brown hitting everything in sight.

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.

Linkspamming in a bubble (16th October, 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.

Feminist political associations with a “geek” focus

A friend of mine submitted this out of season for Ask a Geek Feminist. The benefits of friendship, huh?

Here we go:

I want to donate money to a group that influences politics in a feminist – but also “geek” – direction. In particular, many long-standing political organizations haven’t caught up to social media and other Internet-related changes in political organization, and I want to use my money effectively.

What’s your favorite geek-feminist related political organization and why? (Open question to organizations working in any country(-ies), but we note that the U.S. midterm elections are a month away.)

I want an Elena Kagan t-shirt

(Cross-posted from my personal blog.)

It should be no surprise that I am thrilled – nay, bubbling over with effervescent happiness – that Elena Kagan was confirmed today to the U.S. Supreme Court. As of her swearing in on Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court will, for the first time, consist of 33% women (well, technically, 33.3%).

As a rule, I wear very few shirts with words or logos on them, but I gleefully make an exception for Elena Kagan and/or the womaniest Supreme Court in history. What’s your suggestion for a t-shirt, hoody, bag, or other declaration of support for Elena Kagan and our shiny new Supreme Court? “Elena Kagan Rules” in stark white caps on a black babydoll is a good start. And can I get one in time for the Linux Storage and File Systems workshop on Sunday?

Germany’s Pirate Party: “We already have gender equality.”

Via yvi, who points out problems with the Pirate Party’s stance on gender equality. Sources are in German, but she writes:

Basic summary: “We don’t need to talk about gender equality in our party because we already have gender equality! Every woman who says otherwise is an evil bitch! The evil feminists are trying to exclude the poor men! Also, we don’t need gender statistics in our party because we don’t need to care – see above re: gender equality.”

Err, yeah.

The Pirate Party is a political party who support Internet rights and the oppose online censorship and the like — for a US perspective, think EFF as an actual political party (though yes, there is an actual US Pirate Party, as well as others internationally).

The discussion seems to have come up after an attempt to form a women’s group within the German Pirate Party. A Google translation of the Piratinnen page on the Pirate Party wiki reads:

“We are post-gender” is often claimed by the pirates. This is an ideal and for many it is so, but sometimes the reality, unfortunately, still looks different. That nobody is disadvantaged, can not be dogmatically postulated by the majority. We want to reach women who feel discriminated within the party – and women who are not going to take but the position of the other seriously. In particular, we want to be focal point for women who for network policy and issues of interest to other pirates, but have not been committed because they feel discriminated against than women with us. We want to create a communication space in which such problems can be articulated.

Sounds very much like the same discussions I’ve heard in other tech areas (open source, tech industry, etc.) Are there any German GF readers who can share a bit more insight into this particular situation?

Where are all the men bloggers?

When I look around my Google Reader feeds, I see so many insightful, intelligent political and technical blogs by women, but hardly any by men.

For instance, I read Shakesville every day for US and international politics, The F-Word covers the UK, while for what’s going on in Australia I turn to Hoyden About Town or Senator Kate Lundy who blogs politics and tech.

Other tech blogs I follow: Shelley Powers’ Burning Bird, K. T. Bradford’s netbook and gadget reviews, and Amy’s Ramblings on open source software and social tech. And of course one of the best women blogging about technology is Kathy Sierra… oh, wait.

I wonder why there seem to be so few men blogging in these subject areas. Is it just that they aren’t interested? Do they not have time what with all the sports and drinking and porn? Maybe they don’t feel up to handling tough subjects, or perhaps the conversational style is offputting to them?

I guess, if I really think about it, it’s possible that I just don’t notice them.

Confused? Context, more context.

EDIT: The comment thread on this post is now closed. Please check out the followup post which contains an explanation of what’s going on here, and a chance to discuss further.

Geek & feminist thoughts on “In The Loop”

I saw the political satire In The Loop a few days back.  It passes the Bechdel test — how novel — and it struck me as a fairly geek-oriented film.

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.  You get to watch people scheme, performing ad hoc systems analysis to solve the puzzle of their immediate predicament.  It’s like Leverage without the wish-fulfillment or Hardison, Elliot or Parker.  (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: 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, If only they were using AbiWord’s document-sharing plugin, they could collaborate in realtime using Telepathy integration!

If The West Wing and Star Trek are idealistic, meritocratic wish fulfillment, and In The Loop is a cynical response to West Wing-style idealism, then what’s the bitter-laugh counterpart to Star Trek? Potential candidates: