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

Archive for the ‘Gaming’ 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…)

Thoughts in Response to “What It’s Like to be a Woman Making Video Games”

“Feminist Heart Stickers” by Etsy user PixieandPixier

Whitney Hills has a Kotaku post titled “What It’s Like To Be A Woman Making Video Games.”

Someone posted it to my Facebook feed this morning. Be warned that the comments contained a lot of people being dismissive of her experiences.

There were a few things I’d love to discuss that I want to highlight from the piece.

At the end of the article, Hills writes,

“Most people have good hearts and really DON’T want to offend. But when men feel terrified of offending the women they work with, it only contributes to our sense of isolation and inequality. “

It immediately called to mind the experiences I wrote about in my post “A Cautionary Tale of Bro-havior and Benign Intent” I think this is the same problem that many feminists have started to approach by using humor. I was recently looking for feminist stickers or window decals on Etsy for my new office and came across the stickers pictured above. I particularly like the yellow one that says “Feminist killjoy.” Jokes about being a humorless feminist or a feminist intent on sucking all the fun out of the world seem to be one way of acknowledging that people can be…made uncomfortable by trying to moderate their behavior? That was really the best description I can come up with. This is my fundamental issue with people who talk about being “politically correct” as well. Those striving for “political correctness” seem to often be more concerned about not getting in trouble than by actually treating everyone with respect. I’d love to hear what people think about this. Is a good heart a good excuse? Should we be concerned that people are “terrified” of not offending and therefore expression may be constrained? Are we falling back into some trap of expectations of appropriate behavior if we put the feelings of the offenders above our own? Can discomfort be powerful? Or are we fooling ourselves to think that acting “PC” will translate to actual respect?

In addition to the issue above, I was really struck by the commenter who suggested that because she had never felt the same way, Hills’ experience and interpretation of her own experience was “ridiculous.” You see this argument a fair amount in talking about harassment or even isolation in tech or computing spaces. “I have never seen it, therefore it does not exist!” (one example). There are two lines along which I am thinking about this. One one hand, this woman is attempting to provide alternative viewpoints on the experience of women in the video game industry. Where this breaks down is in her declaration that Hills’ framing of the issue is ridiculous. Isn’t it possible to provide alternative views while acknowledging that not everyone may have the same experience? It reminds me of the young child, who thinks you cease to exist when they cannot see you. Hills could just as easily reply that she has not seen the kind of equity and easy camaraderie described by the commenter, therefore it is the commenter, not she, who is ridiculous. My temptation would be to reply that I am glad the commenter has never experienced this, but that just means that she is lucky, not that Hills is wrong. I mean, in both cases, we are talking about anecdotal evidence.

Except when we aren’t. Hills doesn’t invoke any statistical data but there is plenty out there to suggest that young women have the perception that if they enter computing fields, they will face isolation, discrimination, or harassment (http://www.aauw.org/research/why-so-few/ and http://www.girlscouts.org/research/publications/stem/generation_stem_what_girls_say.asp to get you started). And of course, there is also the issue of implicit bias where the person who has a good heart does not even realize they are reinforcing gender disparity*. No matter how often discrimination or isolation occurs (and the statistics bear out that this does happen a lot), so long as the dominant cultural narrative is that it happens, this has its own power. Earlier this week I was reading the chapter “Fashion and Gender” in Joanne Entwistle’s The Fashioned Body. On page 175 Entwistle is describing a new form of masculinity that emerged in the U.S. in the 1980s that was more image conscious at the same time that it was more caring. In response to media debates about whether this man “actually exists,” Entwistle reminds readers that there is never a 1:1 correlation between representation and reality and that “representations have their own reality” (175). At the time it struck me that this was also applicable to the questions of whether the brogrammer actually exists (much like a hipster, few if any will admit to being one). And I believe it applies here too. Do we need different strategies for addressing the representational narrative of disparity than the ones we use on “actual” instances of disparity?

So many questions come out of Hills’ Kotaku piece. I’d love to hear what others think. In the meantime I am going to order some “feminist killjoy” stickers so I can declare it loudly and proudly.

*I did it myself earlier this week on The Spiral Dance‘s Facebook page by assuming a programmer who wrote a letter defending her daughter was male. Even though she says twice that she is a woman. I will probably remain embarrassed about this for months, years, even a lifetime! But I left it up both as a mea culpa but also as a reminder to myself.

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!


Gamasutra: Arinn Dembo’s Blog – Gamazon: ‘Feminist Whore’ Powers Activate.

Gamasutra: Arinn Dembo’s Blog – Gamazon: ‘Feminist Whore’ Powers Activate..

Read this. Now.

This issue and the blog response were brought to my attention by my friend and colleague Amanda Phillips.

And if you’ve any doubts about the pervasiveness of these attitudes and the need for ongoing, thoughtful discussion about gender, just take a gander at the comments.

One of my favorite moments, in response to a commenter who insists that nobody would be upset if the gender-roles were reversed, is by the original post author, Arinn Dembo:

“Since offensive terms were not applied equally, since we aren’t working in an industry with gender equality in the workplace, and since we’re not getting into what characters deserve to be called (only what they are called) we’re having the discussion.”

Engage in hypothetical response all you want, the reality is this is the thing that happened and that needs to be addressed.

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