18 June 2010

Linkspam for June 18, the Geek Edition

I'm a bit behind on most of these, so sorry about that.

First up today is this fabulous post by Alisa Krasnostein talking about the invisibility of women in science fiction:
This discussion has never been about overt sexism or deliberate exclusion of women from publishing in science fiction. Ok, it has been in the distant past. But these days, when the supposed obstacles to women getting published and recognized in science fiction have been lifted, we remain often invisible and forgotten. These obstacles may once have included ideas like women couldn’t write “real science fiction” or that women didn’t write as well as men. These days, we argue that the lack of gender balance is a result of far more subtle and subconscious factors. And for me, those factors were at play and well evident in both the Mind Melds and in the lack of reflection by Sutter on his collection of SF “Giants”.


For me, the struggle is always how to explain that the issue at hand is not a deliberate act of sexism, but that a subconscious, unmeaning, unthinking act can be just as harmful. This is especially true when the product is one meant to make criticism and build canon – to say who is worth remembering, and therefore by exclusion, who is not. This may not have been the deliberate intent, yet it remains the final result. And without criticism pointing this out, especially to those who might never see it otherwise, we are destined to repetition.
As she points out in the comments, we need a new way to build canon that doesn't allow us to ignore important (which doesn't just mean famous!) female sci fi authors.

Next, Lore Sj√∂berg's hilarious The Nice Guy’s Guide to Realizing You’re Not That Nice:

There are any number of geek guys running around out there without the love and companionship that many people and all golden retrievers deserve. Sometimes these guys sit down and try to figure out why they’re living a life devoid of love, romance, sex and discussions about whose hair it is in the shower drain.

They undertake a deep self-assessment, questioning all their long-cherished beliefs about themselves, and this is what they conclude: They’re too nice. And that’s hilarious!

Guys, you’re not “too nice.” That’s like saying you can’t get seated at an L.A. restaurant because you’re too famous.
Avoid the comments, unless you're feeling particularly thick-skinned today.

Geek Studies has this to say about the (heartening) results of the PAX survey on its ban of booth babes:
What’s more, it’s worth noting again that the overwhelming majority of respondents on this survey happen to be men. I’d be curious to see the correlation between the gender of respondents and their answers, but that’s just the researcher in me talking. Even so, if every female respondent liked/loved the ban, and every respondent who disliked/hated the ban were male (which I highly doubt was the case, even before factoring in LGBT respondents), that would still mean that there are twice as many men who don’t want “booth babes” as there are men who do.

Think about that for a moment. Think back, for instance, to that article I linked the other day from Cracked, about 5 reasons it’s still not cool to admit you’re a gamer. Think about how much that piece focused on how the gaming industry tries to market to gamers as if we’re all sex-starved adolescent males.

This is not a safe assumption anymore, if it ever was. This is not just about appealing to a male audience vs. a female audience. This is about how people want to be marketed to, men and women alike.
Next, Border House calls out some advertising for assuming that the default "nerd" is male.
You know, I usually don’t feel the need to append my gender to any identities or titles I might claim. I’m a geek, a nerd, a writer, a gamer, a Witch. Not a lady-geek, a lady-nerd, a lady-writer, a lady-gamer, and a lady-Witch. So any ad that starts out by reminding me that I can’t just be a nerd, but must instead be a lady-nerd, distinct and different from “regular” nerds…yeah, if that’s how you’re going to approach me, I’m just really not. interested.

But I think we can have fun with this. Let’s play opposite day with it! We can talk about the “man-gamer” as if he is the rarest of endangered species, and giggle dismissively at the thought of the positively mythical “male programmer”. See? Default gender assumptions can be fun, when you’re on the privileged side of it! /snark
This isn't, of course, a particular geek/nerd problem, but a problem with the way that our culture sees men as people and women as women. Sociological Images has a number of posts up about this troubling phenomenon.

Speaking of sexism, Forever Geeks pisses me off fairly regularly by suggesting that the way that women can be geeks is by being sexy! (For geek men, of course.) Recently they highlighted Star Wars corsets. The writer of the post then gleefully quotes from the designer's website:
For aspiring Galactic oppressors we offer our Galactic Empire Corset Collection.

Keeping your empire in check is always a little easier if you’ve got everyone’s attention!

Lastly, via Pandagon, this lovely video about what the male fantasy of the fembot says about male attitudes towards women:  

While thinking about this video this morning, I realized that Joss Whedon seems to be professionally fascinated by the feminist implications of the fembot. There's the Buffybot from Buffy, the Mr. Universe's "love-bot" in Serenity, and, one could argue, Dollhouse is premised on the commercial demand for fembots.

Anyway, new and exciting post coming up soon! Cheers!