Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Female geeks and nerds of the world UNITE!

This post is inspired by a really really good thread on the often fabulous MetaFilter about geek feminism. Its not often that you get intelligent, articulate and thoughtful threads on gender issues. They very quickly descend into aggressive defensiveness and apoplectic rage. A bit like….
Person M: oh here we go – playing the gender card. when u chicks gonna to get over it??? we re all equal now!!!! Stop MOANING.

Person F: Great, out come the MISOGINISTS! Yeah, try being a woman in AFGANISTAN – women r made to where burkas!!!!!!! and they cant even go out of their home!!!!
You also by and large get 3 Person Ms to every 1 Person F. You get the picture...

Can I first draw your attention to some fascinating links from the MeFi thread:
Nerds and Geeks – book reviews on Pandagon
Feminist Geeks
How People Explain Female Geeks – Geek Studies
Cerise - Female Gamers website

I don’t want to reiterate all that was said on the thread – it really is worth reading – but I just thought I’d show my solidarity with the female geeks and nerds out there (for I acknowledge the difference betwixt nerd and geek) and echo their frustrations with geek/nerd men. It boils down to this: we expect more from you.

Yes we live in a sexist world, a society that objectifies women and where the pay gap hangs on stubbornly. But sexism, as with racism, homophobia etc, is borne out of ignorance if not a concerted effort to maintain supremacy.

Nerds and geeks should therefore understand power dynamics and – after years of having your head shoved down toilets – you should understand bullying and marginalisation. You are intelligent, often leaders in your obscure nerdy field, you should be able to comprehend the concept that equality does not mean ‘the same’ and that there may be a theory that draws together gender stereotyping, the pay gap, the lack of rape convictions, the glass ceiling, and the way that what women wear has almost become an international crisis.

You are scientists (or at least you look like one) so you should be able to interrogate evidence rather than fall back on lazy stereotypes. There are women involved in opensource software, that know their Petri dish from their agar plate, know the difference between mode, mean and median, and watch songs about PCR on YouTube. AND IT DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE A ‘MALE BRAIN’.

But most of all, you must not believe that your special exclusive little subculture, which skilfully excludes all the jocks, the stupids, the popular kids and quacks, is immune from the machismo that excludes women and turns them off even more than your lack of personal hygiene.

As mentioned in the MeFi thread – rape jokes in WoW, soft porn images in software presentations and sexually violent anime are the same as titty calendars, sexually violent porn and rape jokes in the locker room. What makes it worse is that female geeks and nerds expect more from you.

This guy has the right idea…
*Disclaimer: contains massive geekiness and schmaltz. Apologies*

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