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

CFP: Texting Girls: Images, Sounds, and Words in Neoliberal Cultures of Femininity  via HASTAC.

If the abstract in the CFP is any indicator, this upcoming issue of Women & Performance is going to be a great read.

I have lately been fascinated by the YouTube videos of the Japanese group Babymetal and may submit something on them.

At first glance on their website, they appear to be a pretty standard death metal band. The only clue to their difference might be the hearts in the Bs in “Baby.”

But watch a video and you will see that this is a strange mashup of death metal and choreographed reality-show J-pop, rounded out with apocalyptic goth lolita fashion. The only overlord they seem to be worshipping here is their waistlines as they demand chocolate but simultaneously worry about weight gain in the lyrics. Fascinating.



Postcolonial Digital Humanities | CFP: Ada Journal: Gender, Globalization and the Digital.

Deadline for essay submissions is September 30th. The review process is open and pretty short. Accepted essays are published the following May.

How the Humanities Compute in the Classroom – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This is a pretty nice overview of Digital Humanities (DH) teaching and scholarship for those who may be unfamiliar with it. It is great to see Miriam Posner’s work profiled and to see an emphasis on pedagogy. I additionally appreciate the author’s focus on the impressive work of student Iman Salehian.

There are two points to which I’d like to draw attention. Neither of these ruins the article for me, but both are worth considering, even if just for a moment:

2014 is off to an inauspicious start with the return of Sad Lady Ada.

2014 is off to an inauspicious start with the return of Sad Lady Ada.

1. The first is the statement, “Ms. Salehian, 20, is a petite junior with an outsize work ethic.” While this is meant as a compliment to Ms. Salehian, her bodily stature is irrelevant to her work ethic and to her DH work. Would she have been similarly described were she not petite? Why is the young male student in the article not described similarly? I’m sure the author didn’t even realize he was doing this. This is a great example of implicit bias, y’all… It’s hard to imagine a male student being described in diminutive terms. I hate to start the new year with the return of my Sad Lady Ada meme, but so it must be. Read the rest of this entry »

Your 2013 year in blogging.

See the link above for the 2013 Year-in-Review for The Spiral Dance. 4,200 visitors, with a record for the most in any day (696 on Feb 25th in response to this post).

Thanks for a great year!

tweet alerting me to the Microsoft bra, with an image from the article

Tweet about the Microsoft Bra

Earlier this week, Twitter user @s_hardey tweeted at me that Microsoft is working on a high-tech bra. The tweet came on a Tuesday, which is my busiest teaching day. Before I got a chance to check it out, it got buried in my mentions.

But today…today is an unexpected work-at-home day thanks to winter storm Cleon. So when I saw this PolicyMic article in my Tweet stream, it reminded me that I had never followed up on Sarah’s tweet and gave me the chance to check it out.

Microsoft Has Invented a Bra That Discourages Women From “Emotional Eating” – PolicyMic.

Nina Ippolito is responding to a research team’s project that used a phone app to track the relationship between women’s emotions and eating habits and then tried to use the app to intervene before emotional eating could occur. The intervention came in the form of a message that suggested deep breathing exercises. The third stage of the project developed a prototype bra that tracked the emotional state of the wearer based on vital signs. The data gathered by the bra did not result in an intervention. Instead, the purpose was to see how well the vital signs aligned with emotional state. The paper does not seem to indicate how the bra might eventually be connected to a strategy of intervention. Would it buzz? Shock? Connect to the wearer’s phone and the app? It’s unclear.

Ippolito’s critique of the Emotional Eating bra raises many interesting questions. Like Ippolito, I find myself hesitant about the researchers’ choice of which women’s health problem to solve. I suspect that emotional overeating is a problem for which the researchers felt that their wearable device presents a plausible solution. However, the device has problematic potential for policing women’s emotions and bodies in a culture that is already quite adept at doing so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Call for papers Virtualis 9 | Departamento de Estudios Culturales.

This upcoming issue of Virtualis intends to expand the discourse on digital divide beyond quantifying access to the skills and literacies necessary to achieve inclusion.

Looking at past issues, it looks as though a range of methodologies are welcome: from study-based to critical/theoretical readings of policy, and so on.


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!


Worldwide Events 2013.

The website Finding Ada is collating information about worldwide events to celebrate women in STEM in honor of Ada Lovelace Day on October 15, 2013. (Not sure who Ada Lovelace is? Read about her here but be sure to come back to read about these great events celebrating her legacy.)

If you can’t make it to an offline event, there are multiple online ways to participate, including writing a blog post about a women in STEM whose accomplishments you admire!

Just write your blog post, publish it, and then head on over to findingada.com to add your story to their collection.

I am celebrating by participating in Design Your World, a STEM for Girls conference, on October 19 with my Fashioning Circuits project. In addition, I’m giving a talk on “Fashion and the Threads of Digital Literacy” at the end of the month (A new talk on diversity each Friday in October; Free tickets here).

Let’s all actively work toward a future in which I no longer have any need to use my Sad Ada Lovelace meme!

An image of infant Ada Lovelace looking forlorn.

I invented a new meme: Sad Ada Lovelace. Thanks to http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/PictDisplay/Lovelace.html for the image.

Gender, Bodies, and Technology Conference – May 1-3, 2014 – The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center – Blacksburg, Virginia.

I have a feeling that May 1 – 3, 2014, Virginia Tech is going to be the place to be for those interested in gender and emerging media. Often when I see conference calls I think the conference sounds interesting but realize that to apply I would have to work up something new. Or I have something that would work, but the disciplinary lens of the conference does not quite match up with my methodologies. Not so in this case. For this conference I have to decide between multiple projects in progress.

“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.

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