Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminist Retrospective

4676321f1359087d6029615ef179fca3?s=47 Skud
June 25, 2014
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Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminist Retrospective

Presented at Open Source Bridge 2014.

The Geek Feminism wiki is one of the central resources for feminist activism in geek communities ranging from open source software to science fiction fandom. Learn how the GF wiki started, how it's run, and what we've learned about doing activism the wiki way.

4676321f1359087d6029615ef179fca3?s=128

Skud

June 25, 2014
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Transcript

  1. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 1/30 Feminist Point Of View A Geek

    Feminist Retrospective 1 / 30
  2. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 2/30 Content notes This presentation deals with

    sexism and issues surrounding it It contains links to accounts of abuse, violence, etc. I have provided content notes/trigger warnings inline for these Pages on the GF wiki and blog also include trigger warnings inline You are welcome to leave this talk at any time with no judgement 2 / 30
  3. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 3/30 What is Geek Feminism? Wiki (2008)

    http://geekfeminism.wikia.com Blog (2009) http://geekfeminism.org Backchannels Mailing lists, IRC, etc. Structure (lack of) No formal organisational body No manifesto or statement of values 3 / 30
  4. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 4/30 My role I started the blog

    and wiki I was an admin for a few years I stepped down from adminship in 2012 Now I'm a participant (albeit an opinionated one) 4 / 30
  5. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 5/30 The Geek Feminist community "men, women,

    trans and genderqueer people, married people, single people, polyamorous people, monogamous people, parents, childless people, people of colour, mixed race people, immigrants, people of a variety of religions or no religion, people with disabilities, heterosexual, bisexual, gay and lesbian people, asexual people, people with > 20 years experience in technical fields, members of the "digital generation", students, academics, unemployed people, people who wear suits every day for work, professionally published writers, artists and crafters, community managers, open source developers, people who work with proprietary/non-open source software, gamers (online and off), science fiction fans, anime and manga fans, vegetarians and vegans, femmes, butches, androgynous people, people who have worked as sex activists and educators, people who produce erotica/porn, people with PhDs, people with no degree, introverts, extroverts, people on the autism spectrum and off it, people with other mental health diagnoses..." — Source 5 / 30
  6. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 6/30 RTFM cards by Brianna Laugher. Photo:

    CC-BY-SA. 6 / 30
  7. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 7/30 Origins: an urge to document I

    was involved in open source, LinuxChix etc I wanted to research women in open source, tech, etc Also, issues and problems we faced I had trouble expressing myself -- lack of vocabulary No prior education in feminism, gender studies, etc Idea: start a wiki! Write things down as I learned them Handy reference for people and projects I learned about Note-taking for my own self-education in feminism Potentially, an RTFM resource geekfeminism.wikia.com I chose Wikia for ease of admin They handle spam/vandalism 7 / 30
  8. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 8/30 The Wiki today Scope Examine geekdom

    from a feminist point of view Introduce geek women to feminist concepts in their own language Improve the visibility of women in geekdom and orgs that support them Provide evidence for sexism in geekdom Explore oppressions that intersect with gender in geek culture Content High level concepts: intersectionality, privilege, allies Women in geekdom: individuals, organizations Timeline of Incidents, Timeline of Geek Feminism Common issues: impostor syndrome, splaining, tokenism Silencing tactics Shared resources, eg. anti-harassment, therapist guide, feminist reviews 8 / 30
  9. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 9/30 Feminist Point of View (or at

    least a feminist point of view) This is not Wikipedia We are not neutral We do not have to present opposing views We do not require citations; lived experience is valued Not everyone gets it We have to constantly assert this We ban egregiously and persistently anti-feminist editors 9 / 30
  10. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 10/30 Why we document People often criticise

    us for documenting problems, saying we're harming the community. We consider it a core part of what we do. "Had you asked me in 2003 for troublesome incidents in Free Software -- are we doing anything wrong, or is this a problem we've inherited from other people who did things wrong, or is this just a thing about women, that they don't like to be too nerdy in their spare time? -- I don't know that I would have been able to give you examples of anyone doing anything much wrong. A few unfortunate comments about cooking and babies at LUGs, perhaps." Mary Gardiner, Why we document, 2009 10 / 30
  11. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 11/30 Retroactive meta-documentation We've been better at

    documenting what others do than what we do We usually start doing things in an ad hoc fashion Documentation of what we do comes later For example Wiki Editorial guidelines date from late 2013! 11 / 30
  12. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 12/30 2009: Geek Feminism blog Standing Out

    in the Crowd July at OSCON: my keynote about women in open source Result: hundreds of blog comments, anxiety, dread Wanted: safer space, shared responsibility, and support The blog is launched About half a dozen people I knew Mary, Val, Liz, Sumana, Yatima, Maco, Tempest, Lesley (I can't quite remember! We don't have it documented.) Influences: Hoyden About Town, Shakesville, Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog A quick start: up and running in a few days Comments policy based on Hoyden About Town (Mary and Skud) Blog contributor guidelines (Google doc, also Mary and Skud) 12 / 30
  13. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 13/30 The problem: scaling feminist activism Too

    much 101 and repetition Abuse and harassment Burnout (short and long term) What we wanted A forum where this was on topic A curated audience, already feminist identified Faster ramp-up for new activists Focusing on multiplier-effect projects Sharing the load to minimise burnout 13 / 30
  14. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 14/30 GF blog, the early days 2009:

    "a watershed year" Content note: These links lead to accounts of harassment, may include sexual content, etc. CouchDB "program like a porn star" talk RMS "emacs virgins" Mark Shuttleworth "girls don't understand computers" (Trigger warning: violence and threats against women) MikeeUSA We were making it up as we went along Less developed feminist sensibilities We wasted more time on non-allies We used more humour, trolling, etc We're now more careful (and/or professional) 14 / 30
  15. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 15/30 Racefail First half 2009 Sprawling discussion

    about race and racism in science fiction publishing and fandom "Sides" seemed somewhat generational older generation: single-author blogs, real names, etc younger generation: livejournal, pseudonyms, etc O HAI RACEFAILZ: Notes on reading an internet conflict What we learned from Racefail Linkspam as a tactic Vocabulary: Derailing and silencing tactics Parallels and similarities between anti-oppression movements between geek communities 15 / 30
  16. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 16/30 What we didn't learn Racial diversity

    is something we're still not great at Almost all of us are white Bloggers: 20% people of color by headcount, fewer by number of posts Linkspam and Wednesday Geek Woman regularly include people of color, but still a minority Other intersections We have several queer, trans, and genderqueer/gender non-conforming contributors/participants but would like more trans women's voices in our public spaces We are mostly from developed, English-speaking countries We have disabled contributors and work on accessibility, but could do better We have few direct contributions by younger and older women We claim interest in all geekdoms, but tend to cluster around coding and SFF 16 / 30
  17. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 17/30 Our culture starts to settle (As

    usual, this was all retroactively documented years later.) What makes Geek Feminism different? We dropped the F-bomb Pan-geekdom, not particular to one field Invite-only spaces / checks for shared values (But not women-only) Systems approach: kyriarchy, intersectionality, patterns of abuse... Evidence-based feminism: documentation, statistics, data viz Women as a minority in geekdom Very different from mainstream feminism Minority issues: invisibility, xkcd 385, increasing numbers More likely to challenge gender norms We have/lack different privileges 17 / 30
  18. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 18/30 2011 onward: spawning new initiatives Visualisation:

    Geek Feminism Family Tree Source on github Notable descendents Anti-harassment policies The Ada Initiative Feminist hackerspaces (Seattle Attic, Flux, Double Union, etc) Meanwhile, elsewhere... Proliferation of geeky, feminist-flavoured media Uptick in feminist content in mainstream media Uptick of geek coverage in feminist media (eg. Jezebel) Dev bootcamps and coding schools, many aimed at women Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms enabling feminist projects 18 / 30
  19. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 19/30 2011-2012: Harassment incidents Harassment within our

    community A GF contributor was harassing people at events and online We had no process to deal with this The GF AHP was mostly for conferences, not dispersed online groups Bonus complication: this person had admin rights Result: asked to leave community and hand over admin rights Harassment from outside Harassment incident at a conference (which had no AHP) Harasser used GF terms / cited our wiki Harasser was not known to us, but we were implicated Characterised as "The Dark Side of Geek Feminism" We really didn't know what to do about this, except to say "Don't." 19 / 30
  20. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 20/30 Geek Feminism needed a CoC/AHP But

    it was difficult Primarily online spaces Dispersed communities, no fixed membership Do we want to respond to harassment: which occurs outside our spaces by people not formally associated with us Holding ourselves to a higher standard Protecting against bad-faith reports Creating a GF CoC Began in 2012 Stalled several times Annalee Flower Horne led the current CoC effort Our Code of Conduct is live as of today (June 26th, 2014) 20 / 30
  21. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 21/30 2012-2013: the blog slowed down Blogging

    overall has slowed down Shift to other social media (especially Twitter) Other commitments: Ada Initiative, AHPs, other outreach programs Burnout (2 years seems normal) Technical difficulties combined with lack of tech availability We considered whether the blog had run its course Keeping it alive Mary recruited a specialist linkspam team The blog is shifting more toward aggregation Our backchannels remained active We kept supporting each other Other active orgs kept momentum going 21 / 30
  22. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 22/30 2014: 6 years without flaming drama

    Challenges, but not schisms Differences in approach Availability, energy, and burnout Blurred boundaries for people with multiple affiliations Internal incidents of oppressive behaviour and language Harassment incidents Technical and administrative bottlenecks Most drama came from outside Ongoing harassment and abuse (especially blog comments) Vandalism and trolling (especially on the wiki) People who disagreed with our approach (this is fine! but sometimes there was drama) Muckraking journalism 22 / 30
  23. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 23/30 How we kept it together Marshalling

    our energy no 101/RTFM strong moderation (including banning, locking pages) 3rd party hosting (wikia, wordpress.com) Distribution of work/stress supporting/reviewing each other's writing sharing comment moderation linkspammers Best practices/etiquette: a superset trigger warnings (from fandom) linkspam etiquette (from fandom) accessibility measures (from disability activism) trans-inclusiveness Boundary-setting (see next page) 23 / 30
  24. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 24/30 Boundaries, not manifestoes Our first boundary-setting:

    Comment policy Wiki scope and behaviour: Editor guidelines Blog content: Guest post policy, linkspam guidelines As usual, many of these were retrospectively documented Other ways we define what we do Existing content/canon provides continuity and context but it's jargon, which is hard for newcomers can be a weight tying us to the past Inclusion/invitation processes (mostly lightweight) eg. 3 guest posts = invitation to be a regular blogger Double Union wrote our manifesto for us See their Base Assumptions 24 / 30
  25. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 25/30 An anarchist collective Leigh Honeywell pointed

    this out to me the other day. Whoa. My impostor syndrome, let me show you it. I thought this was just how we did things on the Internet. Structure, or lack thereof Unincorporated No formal finances, low costs, informal hat-passing No official leaders admins in various roles step up and do it / step down anytime "servant leadership" but: Tyranny of Structurelessness Collaborative, consensus-driven, evolving processes/guidelines ... but they evolve slowly and are documented more slowly e.g. embarrassingly slow to adopt a full CoC for all our spaces 25 / 30
  26. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 26/30 Lessons learned Don't make our mistakes

    Don't wait so long to document processes Make roles and responsibilities explicit Assume that membership will change and people will leave Share responsibility and keys to everything (no personal accounts) Start with a full Code of Conduct and ways to enforce it Make paths to inclusion/invitation clear to outsiders Give credit for individual work 26 / 30
  27. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 27/30 Lessons learned But you might want

    emulate these... Conserve your energy / prevent burnout Work with people who share values, not attributes Adopt best practices and etiquette from as many sources as possible Build reusable toolkits and focus on those with the highest return Take a systems approach, recognise patterns Use backchannels for organisation and mutual support 27 / 30
  28. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 28/30 Where next? Caveat: these are just

    ideas I've heard about, not formal plans A more formal structure? would allow us to accept donations Labor issues, paying contributors volunteer labor = people with time on their hands = privilege maybe participate in OPW or similar programs Keep working on intersectionality explicitly inviting intersectional voices paying contributors may help with this Document what's worked for us (and hasn't) Major wiki improvements, community building around the wiki Build more toolkits/resources Spawn more groups that use our ideas 28 / 30
  29. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 29/30 How to get involved Wiki editing

    // Editor guidelines - no account required Blog comments // Comment policy Guest posts // Guest post policy Send us links // Instructions in every linkspam post GF Classifieds // Here's how; Latest classifieds post Join #geekfeminism on irc.freenode.net (open channel) 29 / 30
  30. 6/28/2014 slides.html#1 file:///Users/skud/writing/presentations/geekfeminism-history/slides.html#1 30/30 Credits Geek Feminism bloggers, guest posters,

    and commenters Linkspamming team, especially lead linkspammers (most choose to be anonymous) Wiki editors and admins, especially Tim Chevalier, Rick Scott, Sarah Stierch, and Mary Gardiner Policy and community management: Annalee Flower Horne, Mary Gardiner, Valerie Aurora, Leigh Honeywell Technical support by Tigtog, Liz Henry, Leigh Honeywell, Matt Zimmerman, Mary Gardiner, and others Hundreds of contributors and participants overall. Thank you! More info // Contact skud@infotrope.net // Twitter: @Skud http://geekfeminism.org // Twitter: @geekfeminism These slides will be posted on geekfeminism.org 30 / 30