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

Posts tagged ‘gender’

CFP of Interest: “Science, Art, and Gender in the Global Rise of Indigenous Languages”

Update/ “Science, Art, and Gender in the Global Rise of Indigenous Languages” 26-29 October 2011, | cfp.english.upenn.edu.

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Electro Feminisms: I’m in Love with a Strict Machine | Bitch Media

Electro Feminisms: I’m in Love with a Strict Machine | Bitch Media.

Shared by Elizabeth Swanstrom: Interesting Bitch piece about female artists, singing about sex with robots. Thought-provoking excerpt: “The robot is a really productive way for women to address sexuality without the constraints of hetero-gender roles, allowing them to explore different forms of sex without being tied into a real-world queer narrative.”

Fashioning Circuits: Emerging Media and Fashion

Though I must be insane to be voluntarily increasing my workload, I am very excited about leading an independent study this Fall on the topic of fashion and Emerging Media. We will most certainly address issues of gender and sexuality, so I thought that readers of The Spiral Dance might be interested. A brief, preliminary course description is available here.

CFP of Interest: SLSA: Gendering the Posthuman

Once again addressing the A in SLSA:

Gendering the Posthuman
This session invites submissions from art historians, curators and artists who
examine relationships between art, gender and technology from the 1960s to
present-day. Cold War fascination with the possibilities of new
technologies inspired influential critic and curator Jack Burnham in 1968 to call for a new
posthuman paradigm for art, characterized by a synthesis of the
technological and biological. The relationships between individual identity and technology
were later addressed by feminist artists in the early 1970s, who embraced new
technologies, such as video, as tools capable of facilitating social progress
and gender equity, but who also criticized domestic and military technologies
as tools of patriarchal domination. In the 1980s, scientist Donna Haraway hailed
the internet as an anonymous space where women might adopt alternate identities
and perhaps shape the gender politics of an emerging cyber-frontier. Her
utopianism was challenged by feminist critiques of the internet leveled by
artists in the 1990s, many of whom also targeted technologies affecting
women’s reproduction and the environment. Has recent art, including film, installation,
net art and performance,adequately addressed issues of gender in an
increasingly post-human present? Have new technologies in the art-making process yielded
greater gender equality, or replicated cultural inequality? How have the
intersections between gender and technology changed, if at all, over the past
40 years? Is a feminist critique of technology still viable or even relevant???

Due May 2, 2011 (more…)

I’m a girl. (What) do I dig? A response to Bethany Nowviskie’s “what do girls dig?”

I am writing this post in response to Bethany Nowviskie’s excellent storify collection that asks some important questions about the gender imbalance visible at the Digging into Data conference. Be sure to click “load more” and read the comments as well.

As a first year assistant professor, I have to admit that I am more concerned with learning the ropes at my new university and keeping my head above the waters of teaching and service than with applying for a grant of this scale.

However, I do a bit of data analysis in my dissertation/book project so it isn’t inconceivable that some day I could find myself wanting to apply for this grant, or another like it. I admit to feeling intimidated by the thought due to A) a lack of statistics training and B) (possibly arising out of the former) a reluctance to commit to this type of engagement with data. I find myself less interested in “digging into” data than playing with it, poking at it, batting it around, deforming it (in the Jerome McGann / Lisa Samuels sense), and perhaps even breaking it. I suspect this is the response to framing and rhetoric noted by Nowviskie.

At MLA 2009, I heard a Digital Humanities talk in which one of the speakers encouraged the audience to move away from “doing science badly.” The phrase has really stuck with me, though likely not for the reason the speaker intended. I am fascinated with what we might learn from doing science badly. It’s not that I want to be irresponsible to the data. I don’t. But I take inspiration from this quote in Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage,

Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. (93)

So perhaps I should say that it’s less that I want to do science badly, than that I am reluctant to do it “professionally.” I like being a data amateur. Again, this may be related to a lack of statistical training. Though truth be told, this is not an insurmountable issue. I could easily pick up some books and even audit some classes at my university were I interested in overcoming this particular obstacle. So far, I’m not.

I am hesitant to label this an effect of gender, however. I do recall that as a child my well-meaning mother, perhaps in an effort to celebrate my natural affinity for words and reading, set up a dichotomy in which those who were good at words, were not good at numbers. Wanting to emulate my mother, who introduced me to the Bronte sisters when I was in fifth grade, I embraced my love of words. I took the minimal amount of math required and I suspect that I subconsciously wrote off any challenges with numbers as the unfortunate by-product of my linguistic prowess. It wasn’t until many years later, when I thrived at a job in which I was responsible for large financial forecasts and budgets, that I realized how deeply ingrained that dichotomy had been and as with many dichotomies, just how false it was. Again, this is not necessarily a gender issue. Though one might argue for it as the legacy of attitudes toward women in math and science from when my mother was in school in the 1960’s.  However, I now recognize that I am not bad at numbers and I could develop my skills further in this area. But for whatever reason, I don’t.

Perhaps it is a matter of the right research question coming along. Perhaps someday the siren call of a large-scale data set will prompt me to step outside the realm of the amateur. Perhaps after I’ve found my footing as an assistant professor, I might have the intellectual resources to point in this direction. But for now, I find a certain liberty in the position of the amateur and am content to watch from the sidelines as the professionals do the digging.

Hotties in the Library: YouTube’s Response to Alexandra Wallace’s Cleavage

02:52. That is all the time it takes for UCLA political science major Alexandra Wallace to alienate and offend, expose her own ignorance, and pretty much put an end to her prestigious UCLA education. Wallace accomplishes all of this in her video “Asians in the Library,” initially posted to YouTube on March 11, 2011. The video is commonly labeled a “racist rant” which suggests that she turned on her webcam and, in the heat of the moment, let the hate flow. However, there is clear evidence that someone took the time to edit the video and an article from The Sacramento Bee quotes her father as saying that she was planning to purchase a domain name to support the video’s distribution [1]. While this does not mean that the video isn’t technically a rant, it is important to recognize that this was not the rash outburst of a young woman with no sense of how the internet and publicity operate. Wallace did not assume she was safely anonymous among the noise of the Internet. Rather, if her father is to be believed, she sought publicity and intended to use the video to launch her career. In my opinion, the evidence of forethought and planning makes the video even more egregious.

What she clearly did not plan was the overwhelmingly negative response. Dreaming of a career as a video blogger, she expected neither death threats, nor the exposure of her personal information, nor to be ostracized on campus. Her official apology, printed in The Daily Bruin on March 14, indicates that if she could take the video back, she would. Questions of her sincerity aside, it is clear that the Internet remains unsatisfied. New video responses continue to appear on YouTube almost three weeks after her official apology.

As a researcher who is writing about viral structures, and an educator in a program in Emerging Media and Communication at UT Dallas, I have been watching the debacle with interest. The video provides a valuable opening to discuss ongoing issues of racism and the insufficiency of strategies of “color blindness” in U.S. culture. It is also a concrete lesson on the uncontrollable and long term consequences of our online actions.

But there is one more lesson to be gleaned from the video and the responses to it. What follows is in no way intended to condone Wallace’s ideas, nor her actions. I find her ignorant and offensive. However, I do feel compelled to focus the discussion here, if just for a very brief moment. (more…)

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