"Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." – Donna Haraway

Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

The Trust Challenge | Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online

via The Trust Challenge | Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online.

Check out (and please vote for!) FemTechNet’s proposal to develop educational materials for addressing online harassment. The proposal reads,

Members of FemTechNet, a collaborative feminist network, propose to curate best practices and educational content for communities responding to anti-feminist violence online. This curated collection will be published as an open-access digital book, utilizing the Scalar platform. A year-long schedule of in-person and virtual events will support the creation, dissemination, and use of this resource. Our collaborators include industry professionals, local and national non-profit groups, networked advocacy communities, and U.S. universities and colleges.

And then, when you are done with that, considering coming to visit UT Dallas in February when Anita Sarkeesian will be speaking as part of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology speaker series.

Upcoming Panel on Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures at #NWSA2014:

I am very excited to be presenting at the National Women’s Studies Association Meeting, Nov 13 – 16, 2014. Below you can find our panel description and abstracts of our individual talks.

Conference Theme: Feminist Transgressions Subtheme: Technologizing futures

Panel Title: Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures

Keywords: Intersectionality, Technology, New Media

Science fiction and other speculative genres engage technological imaginaries to problematize social ills and elaborate possibilities for change. Historically associated with men ─ dominated by white cis male authors and related to so-called “masculine” subjects of science and technology ─ science fiction has been troubled with colonial, sexist, and transphobic content. However,  feminist, queer, third world women, and women of color authors and artists also mobilize the conventions of the genre for critique, activism, and imagining new worlds. This panel brings together early career academics working in diverse areas of critical media and technology studies as scholars, activists, and makers. The panelists offer intersectional, queer, and transfeminist readings of literary and new media texts that emphasize their relevance to contemporary political and social issues including gender and sexual identity, neocolonial police states, reproductive rights, and others. The panel explicitly addresses the conference theme of “Feminist Trangression” by analyzing disruptive feminisms in literature, new media, and real-world activism. These texts subvert generic conventions to perform transformative critical interventions. Offering a multi-layered approach to “Technologizing Futures,” this panel examines media and genre as technologies themselves that are often used to enable but also sometimes fight against white cisgender heteronormative futurity. It explores material technologies ─ including both existing technologies/platforms (Youtube, Twitter, music videos, and video games) and imagined future technologies (robotics, androids, and clones) ─ that offer critiques of how feminist technologies can subvert and disrupt hegemonic futures. (more…)

Quick Post: Impressions from #2014ASA Feminist Making I #feministdh

I always have grand plans of writing up blog posts after a conference. And it never happens. I am off to another conference four days after I return from this one so rather than be frustrated with myself for once again not getting around to my post-conference recap in a timely manner, I thought I’d try something new. Quick, impressionistic posts that share some of the ideas from and in response to panels relevant to The Spiral Dance.

This morning, my first panel of the day was Feminist Making I: Building Critical Contexts with Susan Garfinkel, Liz Losh, micha cárdenas, and moderator Lauren Klein.

(nota bene: I’m jet lagged and was hungry and had a head ache during this panel, so I may have misheard or misinterpreted some things.

I really enjoyed Susan Garfinkel’s idea that thinking of objects as performance (influenced by Schechner) allows us to incorporate both the object and the maker into the frame of study. I am also sympathetic to the urge to resist the pink & hearts m.o. of trying to get more girls involved in tech. During discussion, in response to an audience comment about the tension between giving girls “what they want” and the feminist critique of pinkification, Susan articulated something that has been on my mind for a while. Although I don’t like the color pink much myself, I am often made uncomfortable by the denigration of it. But I’ve also written elsewhere on this blog about my frustration with pink tools. And I tend to be really conflicted about it. This is connected to my frustration with “gender neutrality” (I’m not convinced that such a thing is possible) as really meaning things that are not pastel colored. And also connected to the tendency for things that are seen as feminine or feminized as being minimized or dismissed. Susan summed up this tension so well when she responded that there is a difference between turning tech pink and a more substantive effort to address underlying issues. So pink is not the issue. The thing that is offensive is the superficial attempt to attract women to tech by making essentialist assumptions about what women want / like.

I always find Liz’s work so thought provoking and inspiring and today was no exception. I appreciated that she started off the conversation about the problematic notion of transparency and brought in some video of Wendy Chun talking about the problems with assuming that access to source code equates to transparency.

micha picked up the thread of transparency as a problematic tool of domination and I really appreciated the way she talked about transparency as a white patriarchal tool for oppression. I knew of her project autonets but I was really inspired by the way she framed it as addressing how safety from violence feels in the body and in relation to concrete skills for collectively responding to violence.

During discussion, the talk turned to 3d printing and discussants were articulating tensions around what seemed to be questions of the possibility of intervention when one downloads and prints a 3d design. More than one person talked about how something that seems less creative can be a gateway to more investigation, experimentation, and learning. The panel ended as I finally articulated a thought I wanted to share and that was that a lot of the questions about the degree of intervention made through acts of downloading and printing seem to some degree to relate to issues of true creativity and originality, which in other arenas we already recognize as unstable and perhaps unachievable ideals. Had a thought that I wanted to ask and that was about whether this notion in and of itself might be growing out of notions of the sanctity/veneration of the author as individual, and whether pushing against that in and of itself could be a productive feminist act.

Also, during discussion, the question arose of where the makers in the room practice and whether they are comfortable in traditional “maker” spaces. One audience member mentioned that she does a lot at home where she can be embarrassed and frustrated by herself. She made a sort of self-deprecating joke about academic narcissistic work habits, but I think the underlying point of her comment, about privacy, is a really important one. We require privacy to formulate ideas and try and fail in safety. That does not always mean alone, but it does mean within a safe space. And I echo her that for me, that space does not tend to be in traditional maker settings. One of my co-panelists for tomorrow, Lone K. Hansen, and I spoke brieflly afterwards about how that isn’t necessarily a question of male / female space compositions, but more about diversity in a space that is not dominated by hypermasculine “bro” figures (my words, not Lone’s; she was much more articulate).

Last thought: I was really intrigued by the audience question of whether feminism is a process or a product and I thought Liz’s response about the processes involved in building collectives was really productive. I will be thinking about this and all of the above questions for time to come.

I’ll add links and images later, but for now, time to head to Feminist Making II.

Special Issue of Ada on Feminist Science Fiction

Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology – : Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

The latest issue of Ada: A journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology is out and the topic is “Feminist Science Fiction.”

There are lots of great looking articles, including a transcription of a speech by Donna Haraway. I can’t wait to dig in to this issue!


Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion

I saw this on HASTAC and it seemed like readers here might know lots of possible nominees!


A Champion’s work may involve:

  • Being a positive role model in their community for younger kids.

  • Dedicating time to helping build programs and outlets that specifically engage youth from underrepresented communities in technology.

  • Taking time to mentor and inspire youth to think about a future career in technology.

  • Establishing programs that help connect youth with internships and job opportunities in the tech sector.

  • Working with libraries, museums, or other non-school partners to build

  • Maker spaces, design studios, or other safe spaces for using technology.

  • Building programs that recognize and honor young men and women for their accomplishments and interest in technology.

The deadline for nominations is July 1.

LeGuin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship Call for Proposals

Click to access Le_Guin_Fellowship_guidelines.pdf

This seems pretty cool. The Knight Library at U of Oregon has lots of interesting special collections, including LeGuin’s papers (and coming soon: James Tiptree Jr.’s papers!) Open to scholars at all stages or in various types of careers. Deadline is Sept 1, 2013.


Calling all Feminist Scholars! HASTAC Workshop for you!

Calling all Feminist Scholars! HASTAC Workshop for you!

This upcoming HASTAC Feminist Scholars workshop looks like it could be really great! In true feminist fashion, I am already over committed next week so I can’t participate. I hope they do another one over the summer!

Moving the Field Forward: Privileged Places and Inclusive Spaces


Last week I attended the Media Places: Infrastructure | Space | Media conference at Umeå University. The conference was sponsored by The Peter Wallenberg Foundation and universities of Umeå, Stanford, and Lund. The conference was invite-only and I was honored to be asked, not only to attend, but also to give a short presentation as part of a panel on “Moving the Field Forward.”

This was the second conference I attended this semester and each was an interdisciplinary approach to a narrowly focused topic. I really like this format. Media Places had only one track of sessions, so it was great to know that everyone saw the same things and heard the same ideas. This made for frictionless conversation and “networking” as we gathered during breaks and meals. It was as painless as networking can possibly be.

As I mentioned above, I was asked to participate in one of the panels. Patrik Svensson asked myself and two other “junior” faculty members to speak to the issue of moving the field forward, and if possible, to tie it into the conference theme. What follows is a recreation of my talk from my notes. I actually had to edit some of this out on the fly as I was bumping up against the 8-minute time limit. Since I can’t remember what I cut, I’ll just include it all here, as I initially rehearsed it:


Happenings of Interest

I had hoped to blog about these two things before I went out of town for another conference, but with the end of the semester also looming, my to-do list was overflowing.

Rather than let them sit and wait until I return, I thought I’d draw your attention to a couple of items that I have found interesting over the last few weeks;

  • #1reasonwhy
    • Game developer Luke Crane tweeted to ask why there weren’t more women in the gaming industry. The hashtag #1reasonwhy has been used to track answers. As is often the case when people attempt to bring attention to gender disparities in this arena, many of the responses are quite misogynistic in and of themselves. But for the most part, the chorus of answers has been honest and productive. These tweets prompted the derivative hashtag #1reasontobe to explore the positive reasons that women choose to work in the industry.
  • Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
    • The Fembot Collective have published the first issue of their new journal, Ada. I look forward to delving into the first issue and will post a review once I return from the conference. They have some really cool themes coming up, including one on feminists of color.

As I said, I will blog about both of these more fully when I return. But until then, happy reading!


“Get in My Vagina! Language and Power in Online Comedy Videos” posted at In Media Res

I thought I’d take a moment to draw your attention to a recent post I wrote for In Media Res. On their “About” page, IMR describes themselves as “dedicated to experimenting with collaborative, multi-modal forms of online scholarship. Our goal is to promote an online dialogue amongst scholars and the public about contemporary approaches to studying media. In Media Res provides a forum for more immediate critical engagement with media at a pace closer to how we experience mediated texts.”

The structure of the site is that they put out a call for participation for “theme weeks.” Proposals are reviewed and if you are accepted, you submit an image, series of images, or video along with a brief Curator’s statement. One post is published per day during the theme week. The Curators, other scholars, and the public are invited to engage in dialogue around the week’s posts.

This is the second time that I have participated in an In Media Res theme week. The first time, a group of Fashioning Circuits graduate students and I curated a piece called “The Multiply Mediated Voice of the America’s Next Top Model All Star,” that addressed the use of social media to construct “authentic” participant personae on the show. This time the theme week was “Women’s Health is a Joke.” My piece, “Get in My Vagina! Language and Power in Online Comedy Videos” addresses the ways that certain comedy videos use the word “vagina,” taking into account our social context in which biological language to describe women’s bodies is deemed improper.


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