Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Before it was the last bastion of male domination, computer programing was women’s work.

“Free blowjobs for hackers.”

“I could really get my hands on those machines….”

“You can help us with the art!”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it!”

I got an email earlier today inviting me to Naked Girls Reading, an event where naked women will read science fiction on a stage to an audience.  I tried really hard to think that sounds like fun.  I like science fiction, I like story time, and I like going to social events with the person who sent this to me…but this just didn’t sit well.  Finally it dawned on me…Naked Girls Reading makes women an accessory in the geek world – clearly and firmly removing them from the category of core consumer, and placing them in that of perk.

Technology is a strange place to be female.  On the one hand women in STEM careers make $0.86 to the man’s dollar…not perfect but better than the national average of $0.77, and I’ve heard a number as high as $0.94 for computing technology in specific.  On the other hand, it’s clearly a male dominated field.  The numbers are so stacked against women that tech companies start looking like the boy’s locker room, and as I learned in my post-grad-school job search, I am the diversity.  The tech sector behaves as though women in its ranks are a new addition –  “You are the last bastion in IT, boys. Hiss it through your teeth. Shut up, b****.” [Christensen, at Dell’s summit in Copenhagen] – this is blatantly untrue.  We can all talk a good game about Ada Lovelace, but thinking about the start of computing as we know it, I’m more into Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Fran Bilas, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, and Ruth Lichterman [these ladies did the bulk of programing on ENIAC, btw].  Before it was the last bastion of male domination, computer programing was women’s work. More alarming is the fact that the gender gap in computer science is actually becoming greater over time even as women overtake men in college degrees overall.

KC, maker of the awesome Defcon creeper cards puts it bluntly: Defcon is hell for women.  She’s right, every year I consider going to Defcon, look over all the awesome social hacking that will be talked about, get offers of crash space and travel buddies, and ultimate decide it’s not worth it because everything I have ever heard about DefCon has made it abundantly clear that this is a drunken, dick waving, boys club.

What gives?

What could possibly make it ok for someone to walk up to Maymay at a SF hacker space and ask about free blowjobs? In 2012?  How the hell does something like the Open Source Boob Project take hold, even briefly? This sounds like a racy episode of Mad Men, not something that would happening 2012.

Naked Girls Reading is trying to be funny – genre porn for the slightly socially awkward, maybe even a safe sexy thing for women to attend, but ultimately it perpetuates the myth that a geek woman is a mythical creature never found in nature.  It positions science fiction as intended for men and it positions women as treats and sexual objects.  Maybe our ongoing acceptance of these assumptions is what creates a female-hostile environment as maymay describes in his open letter to HOPE9 organizers.

I do love science fiction, I just wish it was as easy to get naked boys to read it to me as it apparently is to get naked girls to do it…

Written by kinkinexile

July 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Books, community, politics

14 Responses

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  1. Its funny how the tech world is so dominated by men. While women are not banned the event, but the rhetoric of the flyer assumes many won’t be in attendance.

    unsightlycandor

    July 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

  2. Increasingly, I am coming around to the point of view that our culture simply lacks any means of encouraging empathy. I’m sure if you asked the organizers, they would be shocked that “Naked Girls Reading…” is seen as sexist and unfriendly to women (sort of like the open source boob project). The reason is simple – no one has stopped to think how it might feel to be the one-in-fifty woman in the crowd.

    I’m working out the details on a personal hypothesis linking this sort of thing to a touch deficit. This will be my breadcrumbs to weave this back into that narrative.

    Tomio Hall-Black

    July 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

  3. I’d trash the statistics used to put up this post, but hell, what’s the point when I’ll probably just get censored. So instead, I’ll just extend a big “women like this are unwelcome” sign, and leave it at that. If you want to know why, you might try reading this :
    http://www.genderratic.com/p/1846/harassment-in-gaming-too-much-focus-on-women/
    Empathy goes both ways, lady. If you want to join a mostly male space it’s best not to try to change it merely to fucking suit yourself.

    Clarence

    August 3, 2012 at 8:05 am

    • Clarence, oh Clarence where do I start? First a response to (a portion of) your actual link:

      “So my awful question (which I admit is pretty awful) is: Do women who are just now entering the gaming community in large numbers feel like they are entitled to change the entirety of the culture (the men in the culture have been treating each other like crap forever) because the possess a pair of magical boobs? Even if they don’t, and just want to change it in general, why is the focus suddenly *women.*”

      This article has a couple points which seem to be, in no particular order:
      * I’m harassed too and no one is paying attention to me cause the women get the spotlight.
      * I’ve pretended to be a woman and no one harassed me!
      * The culture of harassment is part of gaming, why should we change?!

      This issue is far greater than a) gaming or b) women. But perhaps the author and/or you enjoy “treating each other like crap” and in turn being treated like crap? Regardless, and whether you like it or not, you can’t actually maintain a bastion of chauvinism in a changing world short of living in an off the grid bunker. It’s not just about gaming, it’s about a quickly growing industry that simply doesn’t have enough candidates to fill its jobs…for more reasons why this boys club doesn’t work see here: https://www.noisebridge.net/pipermail/noisebridge-discuss/2012-July/031904.html

      And as to your point on getting censored, meh, I haven’t chosen to not approve a comment to-date, but I do like to give my readers a little context for what they’re looking at. Readers can get a better sense of your position on current events, for example, from your comments on Baltimore Sun forums: http://www.talk.baltimoresun2.com/search.php?searchid=5711020

      kinkinexile

      August 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

      • I’ve been in software since 1996. Women programmers are generally mediocrities, not stars. They don’t stay late if the can help it. They’re not team players. I’ve heard reports of female programming hotshots, but only from feminist guys who habitually judge women by much lower standards than they judge men by. Not saying it can’t happen. Just saying if it does, it’s pretty rare.

        Any woman who can pull her weight is welcome on any team I’m on. I’ve known several women who really excelled at software QA and other IT stuff, by the way. And a really top notch QA tester is worth more than most people can understand. But as for programming, it requires a degree of isolation and focus which requires a particular personality type. That type is not common in men, and extremely rare in women. You can’t change that by forcing girls into a major they find boring and alien.

        If we force more women onto programming, software quality will fall and costs will increase.

        Matthew Walker

        August 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

      • Matthew, quite apart from the gender issue, does every single programmer need to be a “star”?

        Not every company is Google. There are plenty of plain ol’, bread and butter companies that need routine, unglamorous programming work done. If every programming position has to be filled by a genius rockstar, well, get used to labor shortages because there aren’t that many genius rockstars on the planet, male or female. (And those that do exist don’t seem to be hurting for work.)

        Most biologists, doctors, engineers, etc. are not hotshots but they still make valuable contributions. Why should programming be different?

        Erica

        August 11, 2012 at 8:48 am

  4. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2012/06/13/no-america-does-not-need-more-scientists-and-engineers/

    Now do we need more software engineers and do we need so many more that we absolutely most double or more the number (presumably females are just as interested in this as males. I won’t even talk about your simplistic history of what the mostly female “human computers” actually did) by accepting women?

    Who knows? I certainly know there’s long been controversy over the H1B program and similar. I don’t think you’ve established the truth of your proposition but who really cares? That’s not the point, nor is your ridiculous condescension.

    The point is you will not just be given these jobs because you have boobs , ESP if you make it a point of blaming and attacking the men in the field you are trying to enter. You are going to have to learn to do something you, as a woman , are not used to having to do: you are going to have to learn to take the male perspective into account. These are not men who are going to fall over themselves for your approval, and most of them can’t easily be replaced by either the rather few geek girls that exist, let alone Sally Officeworker.

    As for creep: http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2011/01/02/men-dont-deserve-the-word-creep/
    Check your fucking privilege.

    Clarence

    August 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  5. Oh, and by the way, dear (see, I can be just as condescending as you) you are looking at a human being, one that happens not to agree with you.

    Clarence

    August 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

  6. Wow. What a dick.

    Lily Lloyd

    August 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

  7. And the award for first unapproved commend in 6 years of blogging goes to Clarence! Sorry dude, but I’m done spending my time dealing with you.

    For those interested in knowing what gets me to unapprove a comment, here you go in it’s entirety:
    “Hey, Mod, could you at least make some semblence an attempt at being fair and warn users (or at least remove their comments) if they attack me at a personal level rather than my facts or arguments? Otherwise, you can have your pinata to beat around, but I’m not going to be here to see it.
    I can give what I take and then some, but trying to outfight 30 bullies is no fun even if you LET me , which most “feminist” spaces won’t. One Moderation Policy For Me and One For Thee and all that.
    To Lily Lloyd:
    Cunt.
    Feels good using sexual organs as slurs, doesn’t it my dear 7th grader?”

    Short answer: nope, I trust my readers to make their own decisions.

    Longer answer: I considered not posting this at all but as Clarence does a great job of undermining his own validity, and as I firmly believe that truth is the ultimate weapon, I decided to post Clarence’s response in it’s entirety within a larger context. And now, because this is my blog and not the town square comments by or about Clarence will be removed. Comments about the actual content are of course still welcome. Excuse me while I nip this flame war in the bud, and enjoy some sunshine instead.

    kinkinexile

    August 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  8. Actually, one more contextual thought I’m gonna throw out there before wrapping this…

    Clarence is a human being, and like all human beings he is a product of his environment. I am forced to ask myself “what don’t I know about this person?” despite my negative-from-the-start interaction with this person today.

    Building the world I want to live in means realizing that pain begets pain and having a little curiosity about what makes people behave as they do. Living in the world I have, unfortunately, also means actively mitigating the pain caused by hurt people.

    kinkinexile

    August 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  9. I have been thinking lately about what on earth it is that causes such defensive reactions to women speaking up against harassment, by men who also feel harassed.

    The logical response would be “yes, let’s ALL stop treating each other like crap, men and women!” Instead the reaction is “I had to get abused and picked on in this space, so you should too!”

    I think some of it has to do with the hazing effect, by which people value their membership in a group more highly if they had to suffer to earn that membership. Hence fraternity/sorority hazing, military boot camp, etc. They fear that the group cohesion will deteriorate if the hazing is removed. (Which has some validity, but it seems better all around that random harassment be replaced by relevant tests of skill.)

    And the other part is the good old “My dad beat me, so I’m going to beat my kids, because only in this way can I prove to myself that the person I love is not really an abuser.” If geeks admitted that their “meritocratic” spaces are not really so equal for everyone, they’d have to face losing an idolized community.

    w/r/t creeps, the best thing I’ve ever read on the subject is here:

    http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2012-05-creepy-guys-arent-always-sexual-predators

    “Mr. Creep had severe anxiety and had been a life-long victim of bullying. He was desperate for companionship and sex, and he hated himself for his inability to get these needs met. As the self-loathing and un-met needs mounted, he came to despise himself for the needs themselves. In other words, he had come to the place where he judged sexual need as humbling personal failing…. During the months we dated, I tried to convince him that women and people in general would no longer respond to him as they did in high school. He did not need to skulk, sneak, or be ashamed. But eventually, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stand feeling pity-fueled remorse when I declined one of his furtive offers for sex and contaminated by his shame when I consented.”

    Erica

    August 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

  10. […] had a lot of life recently.  And then I had a spot of drama.  Between the two I’ve had a hard time getting back on the alt sex/blogging bandwagon so I […]

    • Interestingly, defcon this year felt notably less sexist and hostile-to-women than the last couple of years. I did see a good bit of over-the-top mocking of the yellow and red card idea, but people were also genuinely less jerk like. Maybe awareness is finally creeping in.

      seph

      August 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm


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