A vindication of the rights of linkspam (13th January, 2010)

2010 January 13
  • Barbie.com – I Can Be: Vote for Barbie's next career: 'Computer Engineer' is one of the options. Let's make it happen!
  • How objectification silences women – the male glance as a psychological muzzle: Ed Yong describes an interesting study by Tamar Saguy on silencing ourselves when we feel the male gaze. The comments are good for the feminist bingo card, but not much else.
  • WoMoz at FOSDEM: The nascent Women in Mozilla group will be at FOSDEM (6-7th of February 2010, in Brussels, Belgium), are figuring out their roadmap & plans, and need your suggestions
  • Can we ever stop fighting?: Ann Somerville describes the tension between slash fanfic and woman-authored original fiction about gay men as a free expression of women’s sexuality and as describing the real lives and issues of a minority group.
  • What’s Wrong With Using Porn To Sell Your Wordcamp Session?: Adria Richards challenged the Wordcamp Boston organisers over accepting a porny Ignite talk.
  • Gizmodo has a video of Booth Babe Confessions (note, their writeup has icky moments), and Rebecca Thomson responded with Why “booth babes” reveal the technology industry’s sexism
  • Some criticism of various aspects of the Women in Fantasy issue of Realms of Fantasy:
    • More on Realms of Fantasy: Tansy Rayner Roberts explores the cynicism that the announcement was originally greeted with
    • On writing: Jonquil points out that every word in such an invitation is important to writers, and in comments: "If they wanted to buy more work by women, they'd have just sat down with their slush piles and done it. "
  • Agencies pull ad after outrage at ‘career women make bad mothers’ billboard: nothing like the oh-so-challenging strategy of “getting people talking” by stating a stereotype. See also Matt Zimmerman’s take.
  • A couple of highlights from the “Women of Influence in Software Testing” issue of Software Test & Performance magazine: in And Now, The Women! Fiona Charles introduces the issue and in Women of Influence Karen Johnson conducts brief interviews with 13 women in testing.
  • my five fav tools to dialogue about justice: cripchick links to five online resources she points people to a lot when educating or challenging them about social justice.

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.

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20 Responses
  1. jjhunter permalink
    January 13, 2010

    Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll by M. G. Lord is a fascinating read, for anyone still thinking about the ‘Barbie.com–I can be’ link at the top of this post. Barbie is such a hot button thread in the history of gender in American that it’s really interesting to get a long-term view.

    Thanks for your links, Mary; I’m always impressed by the quality of this blog and how much it enriches my thinking about identity online and off.

    • Mary permalink
      January 13, 2010

      You’re welcome; the links are almost entirely the work of readers now, which is great. (The summaries take some time though!)

  2. Mary permalink
    January 13, 2010

    Sociological Images has picked up the Barbie “I Can Be” thing in Are the New Disney Princesses Feminists?: “The new rule is: a girl can be anything, as long as she’s hot”.

  3. Restructure! permalink
    January 13, 2010

    Whenever I read about tech conference incidents which involve using the sexual objectification of women to teach technology to men, I find that the bloggers who protest have a lot of difficulty expressing themselves and articulating why it’s wrong. They often complain about the “sex” or “half-naked women”, and the terms “sexual objectification” or “dehumanization” are not in their vocabulary. Commenters then accuse them of being prudish and against sex, and the point is lost.

    I think the problem is that many women in tech are not versed in feminist vocabulary. Conversely, most mainstream feminists are not aware of how bad the sexism is in geek communities, as these issues are not on their radar.

    This is why the intersection between geek and feminism is necessary, why the Geek Feminism blog, wiki, and community are necessary.

    • Skud permalink*
      January 13, 2010

      Restructure, you’re on to me ;) That is in fact one of the main reasons (in terms of personal motivation) why I set up the GF wiki — because I wanted to improve my feminist vocab and wanted somewhere to record and share what I learnt ;) Learning feminism 101 concepts etc has been really important to me these last couple of years. I find it almost funny when people assume that I have a degree in women’s studies or something. Nope, I just read and take notes and practice.

      • Mel permalink
        January 17, 2010

        One of the things I appreciate about GF is similar to one of the things I appreciate about open source – that both make exploring their topics (the intersection of feminism and geekhood, the creation and use of software in a collaborative community) have much lower activation energy barriers than I had originally assumed. It’s now possible to engage in each of those worlds without having to dedicate a significant portion of one’s time and energies for an extended period of time specifically towards doing so.

        Ironically, the “I can do it in a few minutes in my spare time while studying and working?” aspect of open source software was what got me started – about 3 years ago now – and kept me engaged for long enough for it to grow as a passion, an interest, and now (increasingly for about the past year and a half) my career path.

        I wonder if the same thing will happen – or is happening – for geek feminism.

    • Dorothea Salo permalink
      January 14, 2010

      Question, not an assumption or an accusation: To what extent is there an age-based component to this phenomenon (which I completely agree exists)?

      Anecdata by way of calling myself out: didn’t think much of or about feminism until I was in my mid-20s and learning to be a computerish sort of geek (as opposed to sci-fi or RPG geekdom, which I’d been around for a long time). Simply assumed that those were historical battles, no longer needing to be fought. Then Stuff Started To Happen and I started to see why feminism mattered… but I had a bit of an uphill climb to master the vocabulary and the 101 arguments.

      Add that to the backlash that has made “feminist” difficult to identify with for some women, particularly (I suspect) younger ones, and…

      So is it, in fact, predominantly young women who don’t speak feminist? And if it is, what else can we do to help?

      • Restructure! permalink
        January 14, 2010

        Do you mean young women in tech don’t speak feminist, or young women in general don’t speak feminist (where “young” is defined as younger than mid-20s)?

      • January 15, 2010

        I think part of it is also disciplinary — that geek women are less likely to have taken the sort of studies at university that would give them the tools to think about this stuff. This may be less true in the US where there is a tendency towards breadth in undergraduate education, but in Australia I never took any humanities (other than compulsory English) after year 10 in school, and so lacked some of the tools/techniques for thinking about this stuff until I made an effort to learn them. I’m not just talking about women’s studies, but also things like media studies, sociology, etc — most of which have pretty low prestige in geek circles.

        • Restructure! permalink
          January 15, 2010

          Definitely agree that “geek women are less likely to have taken the sort of studies at university that would give them the tools to think about this stuff” and that social sciences have low prestige in geek circles.

          However, my background is science and humanities (philosophy), but even then, I remember saying, during my undergraduate years, that feminism was unnecessary because we’ve achieved equality. Luckily, I had blazing WOC roommates in the social sciences who set me straight.

          I said a lot of ignorant things back then that I’m now embarrassed about, stereotypical geek-ignorant-about-the-outside-world things.

          On the other hand, I feel that female undergraduate students are not as discriminated against as women employees, as people tend to be more nurturing to undergrads, but after that, people see you as competition or undeserving of your job (because they think you must have been an affirmative action hire, or that you were hired because you are pretty girl, in some cases).

        • Restructure! permalink
          January 15, 2010

          To clarify, you don’t learn about these things in a humanities education, either, and I also looked down on women’s studies, media studies, sociology. I still probably have a bias against courses in which you are graded subjectively.

        • Mackenzie permalink
          January 16, 2010

          I was an International Affairs major my first 2 years of uni, so I took psychology & sociology at a community college in high school and then anthropology and such type classes at the start of uni. And I still thought feminism was outdated and unnecessary because sexism doesn’t exist anymore. It was the geek women I met through LinuxChix who told some of their stories that made me realise that things that’d been said to me for GWF (Geeking While Female) were actually sexist.

        • Restructure! permalink
          January 16, 2010

          Speaking of LinuxChix:

          I read about it a few years ago, but although I am a female linux user, I was turned off by the name “LinuxChix”. “Chick” is a sexist term (and understood to be by mainstream feminists), and the name of it gave me the impression of a bunch of women saying “i iz a chixx0r!!11″ and I didn’t want to be associated with that.

          I also assumed that women who call themselves “chix” must not be feminists, so there was nothing in it for me.

          So I continue(d) to ask for linux help by using gender-neutral usernames and pretending to be non-female.

          It was only when I found the GF blog I realized that LinuxChix is probably not what I had thought.

          But I still don’t like the name “LinuxChix”.

        • Mackenzie permalink
          January 16, 2010

          Yeah, “ugh, how can you use such a sexist term??” has come up quite a number of times. And the usual response is “we’re reclaiming it.” There’s also DrupalChix, WikiChix, and DevChix now too.

        • Restructure! permalink
          January 16, 2010

          That should be in the FAQ or something. :)

  4. Jon Niehof permalink
    January 14, 2010

    There’s a thread on the feminist_rage LJ community which has grown a “List of SF/F book recs with convincing female characters“

  5. Andrew Ducker permalink
    January 16, 2010

    This might be worth sticking in the next LinkSpam:

    • koipond permalink
      January 17, 2010

      That one is a bit problematic. There is commentary on the fact that dudes are more able and willing to bluff their way to get better stuff and that women tend not to do that. However, instead of being all ‘Wow, this system is broken maybe we should fix it’ he went the ‘Ladiez, why don’t you put yourself out more!’ ignoring the whole system that actively discourages women from doing just that thing.

      • Andrew Ducker permalink
        January 17, 2010

        Oh, definitely problematic. But worthy of discussion, I think. There’s a couple of good comments on it.

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