Firebee Dispatch #4: What it is and where it stops nobody knows

date2014-09-05
10 min read

I’m fast approaching the super-busy time of the year at my job, so the dispatches may be a little light for the next couple months. However, I will still aim to faithfully send out dispatches on Fridays. Occasionally, I may be late and publish on a Saturday.

Table of Contents

What I’m Up To

  • I gave a talk to a group of middle school girls on breaking down stereotypes about computing. Check out the slides.
  • I asked the kids two questions about their interests. (1) How many of you really like math? (2) How many of you really like problem solving (e.g. puzzles, logic games). I got considerably more hands for #2 and was able to leverage this into a conversation about the exciting things you can do with programming. Yet another reason why I think the heavy focus on math when talking to young people about programming can be problematic.
  • I finally migrated one of my sites off github pages. Thank you to the people who made recommendations last week! I will hopefully migrate the rest of my sites in the near future.
  • Mitigating internet trollstorms from the Geek Feminism Wiki. Useful advice for anyone who might be targeted by the terrible sections of the internet.
  • The New History Wars from the New York Times
  • Of Cats, Kids, and Harassment by KristyCat. This post discusses some forms of bullying and harassment that sound all too familiar to me. The post is primarily about the recent harassment of Melissa McEwan and other Shakesville contributors, but it could easily apply to many other situations.

The victim has the choice of suffering in silence or lashing out – and getting in trouble from those who saw the reaction but not the provocation.

The most insidious harassment, to me, is the kind where each individual incident, taken by itself, seems benign. It’s only when you look at the larger picture that something more sinister emerges.

In the News

Fuck the Gamer Community

The “gamer community” continues to be a terrible trainwreck filled with horrible people, so they get their own section this week.

Content notice: threats of violence, rape threats, misogyny, “revenge porn”

These people – women, trans and queer people, people of color – do not belong here and must be repelled at all costs, because they will destroy what makes us feel special and important. This is a zero-sum conception of community space and identity defined by consumer culture. More for thee is less for me.

When women challenge decades of almost exclusively male fantasies of sex and power, this alters the content the gamer consumes. And when that content is altered, gamer identity itself under threat. The vitriol isn’t contrived or artificially manufactured. It has a source.

There are cries from some quarters that this is not representative of gamer culture, that the word “gamer” should be reclaimed as something good. But it was never good. It was never worth saving.

This Week in Rape Culture

As suggested by the title, this section needs a trigger warning. I want to write about this stuff when I feel up to it, but also want to minimize triggering people with headline titles or other content. To help with this, I put a bunch of filler before and after, so you can quickly scroll it off your screen.

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HERE BE DRAGONS!!!
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SERIOUSLY, DRAGONS WITH FIRE AND TRIGGER WARNINGS AND TERRIBLE THINGS
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  • Some giant asshole (or maybe assholes plural) stole nude photos of a number of female celebrities because people are fucking terrible and think they have the right to women’s bodies.
  • No Excuses: Responding To One-Handed Reviews from The Hairpin.

We need to start drawing a heavier line between consensual and non-consensual sexual activity, and we need to publicly side-eye people who refuse to acknowledge the difference; men who consume women’s sexuality by stealth. We should be living in a world where men felt gross and embarrassed about looking at naked pictures that weren’t intended for them, and where blame is heaped on nude-leakers instead of nude-takers.

The fact that photos have been shared already is beside the point and a weak justification for violating someone’s privacy and sense of safety. Even if we’re not the people who stole the pictures, and even if we’re not publishing them on blogs or tweeting them out, looking at naked photos of someone who doesn’t want us to goes beyond voyeurism; it’s abuse.

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SERIOUSLY, DRAGONS WITH FIRE AND TRIGGER WARNINGS AND TERRIBLE THINGS
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HERE BE DRAGONS!!!
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Mass Media Musings

Film

Star Trek Into Darkness

I needed a mindless action movie to watch last weekend and this was on Netflix. Below are some random notes I took during the movie.

  • “Enough with the metaphors. That’s an order.”
  • THE BATCH IS IMPERVIOUS TO PINE RAGE!
  • Drunk Scotty! “Captain James Tiberious PerfectHair!”
  • Why is Alice Eve in her underpants?! WAS THIS SCENE WRITTEN BY A PUBESCENT BOY?!
  • I was pretty underwhelmed by this film, but it did the job of being a mindless action movie.

Hackers

I put Hackers on for approximately the bazillionth time as background while I worked on some coding and site administration. This film will never get old for me. HACK THE PLANET!*

Jurassic Park

While working on the talk I mentioned earlier, I picked Dennis Nedry (née Newman) from Jurassic Park as an example of a programmer stereotype. I realized I hadn’t watched the film in about a decade and decided to give it a re-watch. Again, here are some random notes I took during the film.

  • Dr. Grant traumatized an annoying kid. Mwahahahaha!
  • Oh god, the Malcolm laugh.
  • “Life finds a way.”
  • “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.” FULL MISANDRY! Laura Dern is my hero.
  • I totally understand why this film gave an entire generation of kids a raptor phobia.
  • “It’s a unix system. I know this.” Girl computer geek saves the day!
  • The film actually holds up pretty well because they used a lot of practical effects instead of all CG.

My Writing

This week I want to share some responses to my recent writing. I thought they were interesting and added to the original thoughts. If you choose to comment on their blogs, please be respectful and thoughful.

I do remember how good it felt to realize that I didn’t have to justify my boundaries. That I was allowed to just say no, or ask someone to stop doing something, or block someone, and I didn’t have to figure out a bullet-proof justification first.

As a “minority” speaker you can feel a horrible amount of pressure to speak. There’s the feeling that if you say no, you’re allowing your groups to be under-represented. Or worse, the conference organiser can say “well I asked her, and she said no, so it’s her fault we don’t have a diverse lineup.” It’s horrible and wrong, but it happens.

Firebees

Between preparing the talk about breaking down stereotypes and being super busy at work, the firebees lay fallow again this week.

A t-shirt version of Fuck Your Culture in Cross Stitch is on its way to me. If the sample looks good, I will hopefully put them up for sale in the next week or so.

Miscellany

Promotion

In this section, I promote events, fundraisers, organizations, and other things that I think are worthwhile.

Upcoming Events

Our mission is in educating the greater tech and gaming communities about the different aspects of diversity and how marginalization becomes an impediment. In spotlighting initiatives and powerful voices, we hope to strengthen the community’s resolve to create safer, healthier spaces.

Donations

In honor of the gaming industry, this week I recommend donations to women it has been treating like shit.