Feminism for NerdsMarch 22, 2013
Updated December 29, 2015
Once you have decided that you might care about feminism, it can still take a lot of reading, empathy, and effort to really get it. It takes some consciousness-raising. This list is an attempt to make that journey a little bit easier.
I think helping good but hyperprivileged folks to really understand others’ experiences is really important, not just fighting villains. So I’m putting my energy into trying to get more empathy and understanding from well-meaning geeks, rather than trying to somehow defeat the vilest of the trolls.
Until (unless?) there is a definitive book on how to recognize your own privilege and truly listen to others’ experiences, the best approach I have found is to piece it together from lots of individual bits like these. Here are the bits that have helped me so far.
The state of women’s experiences in the tech world is summarized in this group post; this is my new preferred introduction to the topic:
- About Feminism by Divya Manian, Jessica Dillon, Sabrina Majeed, Joanne McNeil, Sara J Chipps, Kat Li, Ellen Chisa, Jennifer Brook, and Angelina Fabbro
- Feminists are not responsible for educating men by Cecilia Winterfox points out why you shouldn’t just ask someone to explain it all to you. If you really care, then you have some homework to do in order to get a foundation in thinking about things that are not obvious from your own experience.
My own consciousness was initially raised on the topic by these articles about the Dickwolves situation at Penny Arcade. The way this debacle unfolded was the turning point that really changed the way I think about social justice, and eventually led me to a fundamentally different way of looking at humanity.
- Gaming, rape culture, and how I stopped reading Penny Arcade by Maddy Myers
- The Boys Club by Jet Wolf
You Can Understand “Privilege”, I Promise
- Of Dogs and Lizards at Sindelókë finally got me to understand the concept of privilege, which is crucial for this whole conversation. Possibly the most important step along the way, for me.
- And Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is by John Scalzi drove the point home.
- On Nerd Entitlement by Laurie Penny explains why having privilege does not mean that you have never suffered, or that you don’t deserve empathy.
- When “Life Hacking” Is Really White Privilege by Jen Dziura drives home a lot of how privilege works in day to day life.
Especially important posts that I keep coming back to in my mind:
- Notallmen/Yesallwomen, secondary trauma and relearning everything for the sake of not killing each other by Sarah O is a brilliant, essential exploration of how we feel and talk about this stuff, especially for men.
- How to Be a Fan of Problematic Things by Rachael at Social Justice League will help you keep things in perspective.
- Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be by John Scalzi is pretty much the definitive word on the topic of welcomeness in geekery.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds by Arthur Chu dismantles the bogus narrative that’s sold to geeky men.
- Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits by Ryan at Mad Art Lab makes great points about how visual attraction to characters fits in with all this.
And now a heap of miscellaneous awesome:
- Schrödinger’s Rapist by Phaedra Starling
- Helpful Hints for Dudes, and the rest of the copious Feminism 101 series at Shakesville.
- A Letter to the Developer Community by Brittany Tarvin
- The Privilege Delusion painfully made me realize that I disapprove pretty hard of my own favorite author sometimes
- 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women by David Wong
- Why I Hid My Gender by Sanya Weathers
- Racism and Meritocracy by Eric Ries
- Misogyny by Matt Gemmell
- I Was a Teenage Sexist by Jenn Frank
- STOP. Listen. Collaborate. by Kaebot (with whom I have had very productive conversations both before and after I knew what I was talking about)
- The Dogs Project by Daniel Abraham, my favorite fiction writer these days
- Trigger Warnings at Inquisitive Spark finally got me to understand trigger warnings.
- Video Game Feminist of the Decade by Jenn Frank
- Dismantling Women’s Bodies by Jenn Frank
- Manic Pixel Dream Girl by Elizabeth Simins
- Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost by Amanda Blum
- And of course, at the center of the entire feminism-in-geekery topic, the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series by Anita Sarkeesian
- Things You Think Aren’t Sexist, But Really Are by Ruth Burr. The article admits that these are more inappropriate than necessarily sexist.
- The UX of Community in Contested Space by Alexis Finch. The bike-lane metaphor is bound to become a classic.
- On Consuming Media Responsibly by Jenn Frank
- Games! Girls! Onions! by Whitney Hills is a fantastic examination of what it feels like to be affected by all this. (One time I met her at a party! She is cool!)
- Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist at This Is Not A Pattern
- How To Talk To Girls On Twitter Without Coming Off Like A Creepy Rando by Lily Benson – “What if you just didn’t? Would you die?” has become a sort of mantra for me.
- Her Story, Further Reflections by Emily Short is ostensibly about a (very good) video game, but ends up being about much more. Skip to the phrase “So what truth did I see in all this?” to avoid spoilers.
- Bingo and Beyond by Leigh Honeywell, about helpful and unhelpful allies, among other things.
- The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About by Gretchen Kelly.
That’ll do for now. Time to quit obsessing and hit post. I’ll surely add many more resources as this journey continues.