Digital Sisterhood radio – Online Feminism episode

Thursday, Dec. 16th, I’m going to be on a radio show on Feminism Online, hosted by Ananda Leeke as part of her month long Digital Sisterhood project. The show will air on Dec. 16, Digital Sisterhood Radio, from 9:00 pm EST to 10:00 pm EST on Talkshoe.com: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015.

Eight amazing fierce feminist panelists have confirmed their participation. They include:

1) Shireen Mitchell “the original Digital Sista”, Speaker, trainer, and thought igniter in media, tech, and politics – www.shireenmitchell.com and
http://twitter.com/digitalsista.

Shireen

2) Stacey Milbern, Disability justice organizer, poet, and radical woman of color feminist blogger – http://blog.cripchick.com and http://twitter.com/cripchick.

Stacey Milbern and Alexis Pauline Gumbs photo

3) Veronica Arreola, Professional feminist, mom, writer, speaker, PhD student, and blogger – http://www.vivalafeminista.com and http://twitter.com/veronicaeye.

Veronica Arreola photo

4) Liz Henry, BlogHer web developer, geek feminist/sci-fi blogger, speaker, poet, and literary translator – http://twitter.com/lizhenry, http://bookmaniac.org, http://geekfeminism.org, and http://feministsf.org.

Yerba Buena

5) Mimi Schippers, Tulane University professor, blogger, and author of Rockin’ Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock – http://tulane.edu/liberal-arts/sociology/schipper-profile.cfm and
http://www.marxindrag.com.

Mimi Schippers photo

6) Treva Lindsey, University of Missouri-Columbia professor and blogger, – http://twitter.com/divafeminist and http://www.thedivafeminist.blogspot.com.

Treva Lindsey photo

7) Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Feminist blogger – www.blackfeministmind.wordpress.com, www.blackfeminismlives.tumblr.com, and www.twitter.com/alexispauline.

Alexis Gumbs

and,

8) Brandann Ouyang Dan, Native American blogger, invisibly disabled, U.S. Navy Veteran, social justice activist, and contributing writer for FWD, Feminist with Disabilities – http://disabledfeminists.com.

Related posts:

Geek Lab at BlogHer 09: Hold my hand please!

Can’t wait for BlogHer!

I’ll Be Geeking Out
I'll Be Geeking Out

Mostly I’ll be in the Geek Lab area, so look for me there and say hi!

Lately I’m having a little trouble with mobility even in my ultralight wheelchair, so I will be asking people for a push or a holding-hands tow, whenever I can! If you want to hold my hand, I’d be super happy! Just don’t pat me on the head or kick my tires.

Any time I’m loitering in the geek lab or the hallways, please feel free to ask me techie questions, about your blog setup, templates, code, web hosts, and so on. And, of course, about the ad network or BlogHer Publishing Network. I’ll be “on” as much as possible to be helpful to everyone at BlogHer 09! (Picture Lucy from Peanuts behind her advice booth: The coder is “in”.) Yes, I will get down and dirty and look at the back end of your blog, right now, if I possibly can! P.S. I really like chocolate.

Here’s my plan for BlogHer 09:

Friday

8am breakfast with Newbies
9 – 10 Welcome and icebreaker
10:30 Geek Lab! I will bounce between the CMS/Drupal session and the WordPress session.
11:45 Birds of a Feather lunch (which one! Feminist, LGBT, political)
1:15 Geek lab – probably the CSS or an advanced/CMS session – or just loitering
2:45 I will do a Geek Lab session on Dreamwidth, an open source project that forked the LiveJournal code. Want to become an open source developer working on a big project to make great social & blogging tools? Devs are mostly women and very welcoming to newbies.
4:15 Community Keynote (so good!)
ROOM SERVICE PARTY IN MY ROOM lying down exhausted. Are you a hermit? Do you need a rest? Come with me! This is where I weep gently in exhaustion before getting drinks.
6:30-8:30 Cocktail party
8:30 Sweeet & OUT loud – Queerosphere party at the Crimson Lounge in Hotel Sax
Then, more “room service party” for the Lizzard! ie, lying in bed in my room quietly communing with my beloved laptop!

Saturday

8:30am Breakfast
10:45 Geek Lab – either the .htaccess stuff or loitering
12 noon – Lunch! BOF to be determined!
1:30 Geek Lab – definitely the PHP session. Yay phpwomen and oh, how I love php.net function pages as a resource for learning. The examples and comments there are so good.

2:15 STUPID UNIX TRICKS or LOVE YOUR COMMAND LINE – I will give whirlwind tour of beginning Unix and then share some super useful tricks with awk and grep. Grep your log files!

3:00 NOT IN THE GEEK LAB – I’ll be in “Burning Questions about the BlogHer Publishing Network”. It’s my job!
5:00 Closing Keynote – Who We Will Become (I think this is where Eszter Hargittai is gonna talk and I’m totally her fangirl. Don’t miss it…)
6pm is another fabulous cocktail party which I’ll miss because… I’m going to…

ROLLER DERBY !!!!

The Windy City Rollers are playing on Saturday night, about a 10 minute cab ride away from the Sheraton Chicago, at 525 S Racine Avenue, doors open at 6pm, bout starts at 7pm. Buy a ticket and come with me and team member Ada Hatelace! I love how her team number is “1337”. Anyway, come and we’ll liveblog the roller derby!

Windy City Rollers links:

Facebook page
Tickets!

Derby Nerds!
stats

Sunday: Brunch?? and I fly out from O’Hare at 1:30. See you!

Related posts:

The Planet of Swears

I’m writing some RSS feed scraper programs and while playing around with that, set up an install of Planet feed reader. It was very funny to see on the one hand, lots of people blogging or writing things like “Oh, this doesn’t even need setup, just unzip it and you’re basically done” — and the Planet documentation itself saying that the config file’s comments explained everything — vs. actual step by step instructions of what to do, like burningbird‘s post, which I found very helpful. That’s a lot of “nothing to do” to explain and it still didn’t get far enough for what I’d like to figure out: how to set up one installation of Planet but also set up multiple feeds in different directories, each with their own template.

Meanwhile I’m very amused that for another project I get to write a spider with a curse word filter. I haven’t had that hilarious of results since writing porn filters for Excite’s web spider. My output files and screen output when swear-spider.py runs are very funny. “Asshole Detected!”

A quick search on lists of dirty words gets some very amusing Supreme Court hearing transcripts. Like so!

FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978), Decided July 3, 1978. The dissenting opinions are especially great!

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.”

I’ll try quoting that to my kid next time he frown at my liberal use of what he carefully calls “the f word”.

Related posts:

Access Sex: panel at SexTech conference

The Access Sex panel on sex education, sexual health, and people with disabilities was just beautiful.

Panelists: Cory Silverberg (http://sexuality.about.com/mbiopage.htm), Bethany Stevens (Morehouse School of Medicine), Liz Henry (BlogHer), Jen Cole (GimpGirl)

Cory Silverberg opened by asking some questions about who was in the audience. Our audience was full of public health workers and health/sex educators and providers.

Then Cory asked what people want from the panel. What do they need to know?
A: How to deal with school, staff, parents. They don’t think the kids are at risk. How to get education across? Special ed classes also have to educate to multiple levels at once.

We didn’t get a lot of other answers, but I felt like this was a great trick of moderation, a good way to start the panel; it helped me feel connected with the people we were speaking to.

Bethany, Jen, and I each talked for about 10 minutes each. Bethany spoke on models of disability, medical vs. sociopolitical. I spoke about disability and sex. Jen then talked about GimpGirl, a successful, long-lived online community for women with disabilities. We spent the rest of the hour and a half on audience questions and discussions. It was a very lively discussion!

We mentioned the guide for health care providers for disabled women a lot, and here is the link to it: Table Manners and Beyond: The Gynecological Exam for Women with Developmental Disabilities and Other Functional Limitations. Please read it!

Bethany’s lightning talk on disability politics

Bethany introduced herself. “My CV is big and throbbing. I released myself from the shackles of Power Point and recommend it to you.” Going to talk about different models of disability. Also, with some personal narrative, personal examples of what I mean about different theories. Speaking on an embodied level.

There are two models I want to outline. First, the medical model of disability. I recommend you move away from that. Don’t use it in your work. It posits that the problem of disability is on the individual rather than on society. Rather than addressing structural issues of oppression, architectural or social, look at as a social issue with social and political solutions. Medical model puts an onus on individual to normalize their bodies. It puts us in a constricting box of normalcy. The medical model leads us away from civil rights ideology. By pushing the idea of normalcy we create more problems than solutions.

Second, the social model – I want to create a model of the world I want to live in. Michael Oliver in Britain. The idea of impairment is separate from the idea of disability. Separating a functional issue or condition from the social ramifications of that imapirment. For example I have osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bones. The embodiment of that is being deemed subhuman. That may seem like a dramatic statement, but it is true. We are treated inhumanely. Cory suggests we are the most under-served population for sexual health, education and rights.

Think about the social meanings of disability.

I encourage you in your work to denounce and deconstruct these concepts. It is the first step in creating this revolution of embodiment. By doing this in your work it is liberatory not just for people with disabilities but for all other people. 80% of people in the U.S. will deal with disability in their lives. We have increasing elderly populations. Create that revolution of consciousness starting with young people, teach them that embodiment exists on a spectrum. There is a mental health problem of losing ability.

1) We’re often treated as children. I am constantly, people bend down in my face and use baby talk, sing song voice, the disabled people in the crowd here are nodding, it’s egregious. I’m a lawyer, shut up and treat me like a human. As I’m aging and becoming more mature, I realize that’s maybe not the best response. This issue is a bad one.

2) We are perceived as dependent, always needing help, we’re helpless. These things intertwine. Example, when I’m sitting anywhere, recently I was sitting texting someone in front of a building and two people in a row stopped to ask if I needed help. I didn’t look helpless or perplexed non-verbally or make any eye contact. But, of course on the other hand, there is something beautiful about that we sometimes need help, we are interdependent. There is beauty in helping each other.

3) Sexuality: it is very pertinent. Pivotal to my life path. Disability and sex focus. The common notion that we are asexual and undesirable. This is a pervasive assumption in all aspects of culture. It is very politically disempowering. We need to be allies with queer people and people of color. This is a tool of oppression, sexuality; stigamatizing our sexuality is a form of dehumanization. It means we are regarded as nonhumans. This legitimizes all sorts of abuse, exclusion, and exploitation. PWD have at least a 2 times higher rate of experiencing sexual abuse than the non-disabled. For example many are abused by caregivers. You might have a choice. Have a care giver? Get a bath plus sexual abuse? Or, not have care, and turn our abuser in? The stereotype of asexuality exists. Sexual silence. It’s about anxiety-producing issues; disability and sexuality are both anxiety producing. Exclusion from media representation. Not including PWD in teaching materials. Public health intervention plans don’t include us. Think about culture beyond race and ethnicity. Beyond the glbtq axis.

Interweaving some of my narrative. As a young person I was born this way, nowhere was disability mentioned in any classroom space at all. No matter the subject. Maybe in the Holocaust’s history but not really. Certainly not in sex ed. The stereotype was that we were asexual and undesirable. I was using dialup internet so I was trying to find info on sexuality on the internet, when I was 16 or so. There is not a lot of information. Dr. Tepper, Sexual health network is inclusive, has disability info online. Practical methods. Cory has a sex shop in Canada: Come as you are, that has a disability section. How do you make sex toys accessible. Just mentioning this counters the stereotypes. Gaps have been filled a little bit. Have information about specifically disability and sex, but mention disability in everything – in basic sex ed.

Cory – There are sex toys that strap on to you and you don’t have to use your hands. We train our people to say, “This is so you don’t have to use your hands, if you don’t want to, or for people who can’t hold the sex toy.” If you say that to a non disabled customer they say, “What do you mean?” and it becomes an educational moment with just those three words “or who can’t”.

That’s a cheap revolution!

Three ideas how to include disabilities in your work. Have it represented, outreach to young people. Figure out where they are. Are they getting sex ed? What are their needs? Talk to stakeholders. We are providing you that space right now, you can ask us those questions. You can tailor your message in a way that’s competent and not offensive. In public health you can’t just tweak your program a tiny bit and not alienate the culture you’re trying to serve. As much as I hate the word “normal”, make people more comfortable with disability, make it normalized. Put in a wheelchair in your visual images.

Liz’s talk on sex, disability, and sex ed
Then, I gave my bit of the talk, which is basically outlined in these notes. Some bits of my talk are missing because I improvised and told stories. (“Whiskey, Vicodin, and hold me when I cry” was the money quote…) Some bits in my outline I didn’t go into in the talk.

Then, Jen Cole gave her part of the talk and described GimpGirl. She worked from a written speech which maybe she’ll put up on the site and if so, I’ll link to it. Here’s my notes on what she said, a bit shorter than my notes on Bethany’s talk.

Jen’s talk on GimpGirl

– We were young queer women with disabilities and started our group online 11 years ago. We met through the “do it” program at U of Washington, and all felt isolated. We’re not trained professionals. We’re just women with disabilities who care about our communities. No degrees or certifications. We make our community what we want it.

GimpGirl has meetings weekly, about a hodgepodge of topics: political advocacy, support group, staff meeting. We all come up with projects and start going on them.

– We generally have a smart sassy geeky spirit in common.

– We started on Serenity MOO, kind of like a MUD. We had email lists. Moved to LJ in 2003. It is easier to maintain than mailing lists. Young women, queer women, art and culture. We branched out into Second life, Facebook, and Twitter in 2008.

– 850 people, 265 members on LJ. From all over the world. This last year, we were donated a fourth of a SIM on 2nd life. 3d embodiment. Connecting people with disabilities to 2nd life. Second Life brought a huge wave of growth to our community. It brought opportunities we didn’t know we were going to go after. Started to bring in financial support. Professionals in a myriad of different fields wanted to be part of our community. Women, disability communities hooked up with us.

– Recently we tried bringing in partners of PWD to talk with us about sexuality and whatever comes up in relationships.

– Problem with Second life, it’s not very accessible to a large population. Some people can’t access, older computers, limited finances, blind, visual processing issues, we also have an IRC channel with a live relay that goes back and forth between 2nd life and IRC, so people with visual impairments can participate.

– Examples of what our community is about. Partners meeting. The next day the girls were like “how did it go!” and they were just super curious. We realized that they wanted to do a singles meeting about sexuality. That was cool to me as an organizer to see women do that.

– Our community isn’t about sexuality specifically. For 11 years, it comes up a lot in discussion and story telling. We have a lot of Q and A within our own community.

– specific and general information.

– accessible gynecologist list. Who people think is good and bad. Are their offices accessible? What parts are accessible and what parts aren’t? Are they treated like human beings? Can they get on the exam tables? This info is on our wiki at gimpgirl.com.

We then went into audience comments and discussion.

q: panel idea great. I work for a hotline program in Massachusetts, sexual health, mariatalks.com All info thru lenses of characters. Accurate information. How can we make sure community is well represented in all our characters? I was a PCA for a while, the woman I worked for had awful experience with exams, being lifted up, put on a table. ER with capabilites? How do we know where to send someone?

Bethany – first question. Going to the stakeholders. Reading books is great, you learn about the sexual politics of disability. Tom Shakespeare et al. But talking to people is good. It is your responsibility to be culturally competent in your area. Find a group. So it’s not based on stereotypes and uses contemporary language. That’s inclusive. For example, we’ve moved away from the word “handicapped”, so it would be a bad idea to use that word.

(Dr. Sandra Welder. Peg Nosick from Texas. Curriculum for health providers. CROWD: Center for Research on Women with Disabilities. )

Second life and IRC questions.

Information on safer sex practices for people with disabilities?

– not a lot out there. sexy harm reduction. Put on a condom with your mouth.
– Liz: this is a good subject for brainstorming.
– There is good information about safer sex for people with cognitive disabilities.

Resources on developmentally disabled.
Cory – there’s lots of stuff. This is the one area that has a ton of stuff out there.
(I agree, it was a topic easy to find material by googling!)
Terri Couwenhoven. Downs Syndrome is in the title of the book. Teaching Children with Downs Syndrome About Their Bodies, Boundaries, And Sexuality: A Guide For Parents And Professionals.)

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability. Excellent guide! Cory started that project.

Technology. As a blogger – Is the blog medium effective for getting across a message?
Liz: Yes! Twitter and Facebook also. Blogs mean you can speak at length, and the information is persistent. And it is current. Personal voice. Story telling is effective. Age brackets – MySpace/Facebook, LJ, etc Look at the disability blog carnivals, and Ouch (BBC’s disability site and group blog).

Who’s talking.com google different topics.

50% of population with disabilities doesn’t have access to sex ed.

Title 10 clinics in California. We invested money into that, into access, and there still is not a large number of women being served. Where do we find women who need the services? how can I help facilitate the connection? We want women with disabilities to be on our advisory boards or boards of directors (but can’t find any)

A: Mailing lists. Blogs. Contact existing organizations. There are a lot. (Independent living centers too but I forgot to say that.)

A: Bethany adds (again) not to expect people with disabilities to work for you for free and be grateful for the opportunity.

Competencies – tragic stories, clinic with restroom wheelchair access, the contractor build a hallway too narrow to get to it.

People who might be on the board? The bay area is one of largest populations. So you should be able to find someone.
– berkeley disabled group. has a mailing list.
– D-WILD
– Ed Roberts Campus groups
– Etc!!

Bethany – Working at Morehouse school of medicine. General advice to read about it first before they ask the questions.

sexualhealth.com

Guy in hat. 2nd year medical student at ucsd in reproductive health. san diego. noticed that youth grow up, teen years, development and growing. It is a huge transition and growing. Doctors, children transition from seeing a pediatrician to adult medicine. Pediatricians are family focused. Adult medicine focuses on disease and a person. That change is really important, causes stress on a patient.

Bethany mentions Dr. mirian kaufman. transition care, sexuality and disability.

jen – this was what our non profit was about, transition between your family and family helping with things and transitioning to adulthood. you’re thrust out there into nothing. not a lot of support for how to transition. how to move out on your own? attendant care and health care.

We talk about people’s fear of giving PWD responsibility over their own health care.

Parents, caregivers, that want to protect that person with disability from becoming an adult, from experiencing their sexuality. it’s a huge issue.

The guy in the hat continues talking a couple of times about transition. Introduce physician early in teenage years. He is kind of repeating himself.

Bethany: This question as it keeps going is irritating to me. We continue to be viewed by that medical lens. Sure it’s important. But doctors do not dominate my life. We all deal with a transition plan. There should be services that help us because we do have to engage with the medical profession. However, that’s the one field where i’m NOT excluded! They want me there! Everywhere else I need some support! Medical expertise is just one facet.

Q: Physical accessiblity. I never see anyone who is disabled. Emotionally accessible. And, how can it be a safe space?

A: think of the glbt community , queer youth, tendency that we bring youth into our center, but we need to go outside our center to where they are, we need to bring community to them.

A: something like putting up a rainbow, disabled symbol?

A: In trans health – service providers often think they have never seen a trans person. But they probably have.

A: In questionnaires at our clinic, we haven’t had anyone who identifies with that population, as disabled.

aud – I have disability but can hide it. If I’m asked I don’t check that box. I don’t want to be seen through that lens necessarily and set off whatever will happen when I check that box.

aud: – thanks for talking about desire and sexuality as positive rather than something dangerous to be controlled. A lot of the panels this conference have been sex negative.

Other guy – curious about second life. Embodiment. How can you be embodied? Do you have to be able bodied?

A: Yes and no. The range of body types is not that varied. But people built wheelchairs and animations and other mods. If you go around in the mainstream world of 2nd life people will ask you a lot of questions about why you are in a wheelchair and why you would choose to represent yourself that way. They can be harassing or hostile.

Bethany: Everybody can fuck! It doesn’t matter what your body can do. We can have sex in all sorts of fun ways. Sex machines! Assistive devices! Expand the idea of pleasure and sexuality.

Now, about being inspirational! I should inspire you to have sex. If I can do it? You can do it!

(End of Panel)

I would like to add that despite our comments during the panel that you might want to pay people with disabilities to consult rather than expecting them to jump at the opportunity to work for you for free, three people approached me and asked me to do free work after this panel. They mean well and I respect that they want to be inclusive. I was not harsh about this in person, but actually, I feel a bit harsh on the subject. Some lady making like 90K a year working in public health? If her institute can’t afford to pay a consultant she can pay me or someone else with disabilities out of her own pocket to help her learn to do her job. I have a full time job and a complicated family life and I’m editing a book and, like, 6 blogs. It is a bit like, when women point out that technical conferences don’t have child care and then the conference organizers ask them to do the child care. Hello, if I’m doing the child care (for free no less) I won’t be participating in the technical conference will I? Pay for it, folks. Don’t exploit people because to you they look like the most exploitable people around.

Thanks to Cory Silverberg and Jen Cole for inviting me onto this panel! I confess I was sort of suspicious of Cory at first but he turned out more and more awesome over email and then incredibly awesome in person, I was sorry not to get to spend more time with him (and Bethany who I now adore). Jen and her partner and I went out to dinner and had a nice time; it was great to finally meet Jen who I have known online for a couple of years. I have to say also, SexTech was not a huge conference, maybe 300 to 500 people? But at this conference, in one afternoon, I saw and spoke with at least 8 people who were wheelchair users. At SXSW which was something like 5,000 or maybe way more people, there were 4 people in wheelchairs (more than I saw last time, and it felt amazing to me, but look what Sex Tech can do – I would like to challenge SXSWi to increase its outreach and invite more PWD to its conference.)

Related posts:

Ada Lovelace Day

I felt a little wistful as I thought over who to write about. I wished for a clear mentor or hero who I would have known about from childhood onward. Not many of us had that kind of computer science hero or even a childhood or teenage computer geek peer.

I admire the many women I know (or know of) who start organizations to give community and support to women programmers and geeks. People I admire from afar in Linuxchix: Val Anita Aurora for her excellent writing, Akkana Peck because I’m always stealing bits of her .bashrc file and I admire how she posts useful tidbits like that, Sulamita Garcia, Miriam Ruiz for being a developer also outspoken about sexism and misogyny. Desi from Devchix who not only is a leader in a great organization for women but who is such a good evangelist and teacher for Ruby on Rails (almost enough to tempt me away from Python and php). Angela Byron aka webchick who is so helpful and a great teacher for being involved with Drupal, too. All the women on linuxchix, ubuntuwomen, phpwomen, devchix, and Systers: you are my heroes!

Of developers I know, well, I don’t know that many. My co-worker Kirsten aka Perlgoddess, Kaity aka ubergeekchick (uberchicgeekchick on github) who writes and podcasts so thoughtfully about development and creativity, and skud aka Kirrily Robert who is a developer, a great blogger and good friend. My co-workers at BlogHer, Julie Douglas who taught herself php and Drupal, and Skye Kilaen who works with me on blog templates and problems (can debug a legacy Moveable Type template like nobody’s business!) and who runs All Access Blogging, which gives detailed step by step information on how to make various blogging platforms accessible to people with visual impairments. And my sister Laura, who as well as being a hilarious and fierce personal blogger who can express any emotion simply from inflecting the word “dude”, inspired me through sharing her 10 years of professional experience as a web developer in SEO, and by having more O’Reilly books about HTML, CSS, Java, and Javascript than I do, enough to make California slide off into the sea, and tackling the ever-shifting landscape of web dev head on no matter how much it makes a person just want to scream. And last but not least my fellow conspirator and BFF, Laura Quilter, whose expertise I depend on, running the back end of feministsf.org server, blog, mailing lists, and wikis.

Of other techy women I have worked with I would like to say a few things about women who either worked or learned from me. I look up to them too. Jasmine Davila, Olivia Given, Lark Baum all worked with me at the University of Chicago Lab Schools, doing web stuff, tech support on about 400 classroom and office Macs, twiddling with the servers, installing the physical wiring in tiny basement network closets and crawling through the ceilings wearing our headlamps, Flukes, and walkie talkies. They were so awesome. We all learned it on the fly, without any big attitude that we had to have a big attitude. We were not always pretending omniscience in a field where the range of things to know changes daily. We approached what we had to do as stuff to learn. That still inspires me a lot! I include in this category my mom, Karen Henry, who began asking me questions about the Internet in about 1994 and who ended up teaching classes on email, gopher, databases, and the early Web as a business and science reference librarian at the Houston Public Library.

Obviously I love and admire social media leaders and thinkers like Tara Hunt, all the women of She’s Geeky and BlogHer, but there are too many to list! All my co-workers, the bloggers on our site and in our network, all the social media experts and technophiles, I am honored to get to be part of these networks of thousands of women. And to all the relentlessly intelligent bloggers I know from blogging, feminism, and science fiction fandom like Tempest, Jen Cole and Aleja Ospina, Karen Healy (Girls Read Comics) and Robyn Fleming (Cerise and The Iris Gaming Network), Strata Chalup, SJ from I, Asshole, Sarah Dopp, and Debbie Notkin, thank you for putting your words out there.

For anyone who has ever sat down with me to hack on some code or who has made any sort of public technical blog post with code in it, I feel a deep sense of sisterhood and am very, very happy to know you. It is both sad and inspiring but every woman I have ever spoken to in person about coding, even the people I think of as light years ahead of me in knowledge and experience, has expressed feeling like they are not hackery enough to really “count”. As if in every thing we do has we have to prove our perfect technical competence for the honor of all womanhood. I try to fight this feeling in myself. Let’s keep fighting it and put more of our work out there even if it’s not “good enough” or done. And let’s keep supporting each other’s work and using peer mentoring and pair programming as much as we can!

(post for Ada Lovelace Day pledge organized by Suw Charman. Thanks Suw!)

Related posts:

Sex:Tech talk on Sex and Disability (Access Sex)

Here are my notes for a panel on Sex and Disability coming up this afternoon at Sex:Tech 2009 in San Francisco. It’s a conference for health workers and sex educators. I’ll post my report on the conference and the panel later this week, but here’s what I’d like to cover today.

What should you know about people with disabilities (PWD) as a health worker or sex educator?
– Don’t assume what people can or can’t do (or feel)
– Don’t assume what people need
– Avoid constantly medicalizing disabled people’s bodies or experiences
– Watch your gender/sexuality stereotypes
– ASK what people want or need
– LISTEN
– OFFER resources
– CONNECT the person with other people with disabilities
– Follow up actively

Charity models of giving help to PWD often can be pitying, condescending, paternalistic. Offering the wrong kind of help.

Self determination is key!

Consider your own level of discomfort with disability. Educate yourself. Read some blogs that are by disabled people where they speak about their own experiences, unmediated. Don’t just read how-to-talk-to-disabled people booklets, though they can be useful. For example, the long-running Disability Blog Carnival run by the Disability Studies Dept. at Temple University has a special issue on sex and disability.

Kids, teenagers, adults all need access to sexual information and health care. Different disabilities: mobility issues, deaf, visual impairments, intellectual/learning disabled, autism, Downs

Kids:
– developing sexuality, gender identity
– Kids with disabilities need access to the same sex ed their peers are getting
– Language to describe gender, genitals, puberty, sex
– Masturbation, appropriate privacy
– Safety and self-advocacy
– Kids with disabilities 4-10 times more likely to be sexually abused
– Put sex ed into a child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan)

Teenagers:
– All of the above.
– Contraception, pregnancy, masturbation
– STD info and safer sex info
– GYN care
– Body image
– Relationships and dating
– Sexual satisfaction
– Self advocacy. Role playing workshops (anti-date rape, self defense)
– Privacy
– Independence and self determination
– Unsupervised time with peers
– Drug/drinking use likely good to discuss
– Internet access likely empowering. Privacy/net access info!
– Warn/educate about fetishists and devotees especially online
– Educate family, PCAs, carers

Adults
– All of the above!
– Independent living
– OB/GYN care. Accessible gyn care, offices, tables
– Discussion/support groups online or offline
– Sexual assists, mobility aids, sex toys, pillows, benches

How to have sex with a disabled person? Good question. Same as with anyone else but these issues may come up: difficulty communicating, limited mobility, fatigue, pain, or lack of sensation. Communication and consent are key. As with safer sex education, de-emphasize the importance of sponteneity. Verbal or non verbal subtleties of consent and desire.

Safe spaces online. They can be difficult to create and maintain. They shouldl be moderated to keep out fetishists if that is a goal, and to keep out hostile and mocking comments or posts. Registration is useful. Protect your users’ anonymity carefully!

Example – my difficulties with the wheelchair Flickr group. Fetishists intrude at least once a day though they are specifically discouraged. How to discuss sex online without being commodified and made non consensually into someone else’s porn?

A good quote from Laura Hershey from Crip Commentary:

The health rights, sexual rights, and reproductive rights of women with disabilities are part of two large, multifaceted movements: the disability-rights movement and the feminist movement. Both movements, at times, fail to recognize these as essential human rights issues. Both have yet to make disabled women’s access to health care, disabled women’s sexual self-determination, and disabled women’s reproductive freedoms high priorities on their agendas.

A few useful resources:

* Special Ed Law Blogs
* disabilitytraining.com
* Sexsupport.org
* Crip Commentary by Laura Hershey
* Free downloadable booklets, very good, for kids and parents:
Growing Up, Sex and Relationships
* More than Ramps: A guide to improving health care quality and access for people with disabilities

Related posts:

SXSWi: Ending Racism with Social Media

Thank you again to Nalo Hopkinson for fixing up my very, very rough transcript! (Nalo I can’t believe you just did that.) And thanks to all the panelists and participants for a great SXSWi session.

******

Can Social Media End Racism?

LaToya Peterson (Racialicious), Kety Esquivel (CrossLeft, NCLR), Phil Hu (Angry Asian Man), Jay Smooth (Ill Doctrine)

The Postville Raid. AbUSed. May 12 raid “many women were terrorized and were saying what about my children, what about my children?” their kids s were with babysitters. ICE migra raids on .

Kety Esquivel new media manager for NCLR, National Council for Latino Rights. The Sanctuary, online forum. Megan La Mala, kyle, manny, duke, others who were critical in getting this off the ground. As progressive Christian I work for social justice and a radical message. All of us from different blogs in the pro-migrant movement, united. Stop the hate: http://wecanstopthehate.org

Jay Smooth. Ill doctrine radio show.

Phil Yu. angryasianman.com

Latoya: This discussion is intermediate level, not Racism101 We don’t want to talk about whether racism exists. not interested in that. It’s about our experiences with social media.

We were going to ask, What was your favorite racist moment online? All of us found that actually it all blends together, there’s so much of it.

Kety: Wecanstopthehate.com Hate mail. Case prosecuted, death threats , FBI. We had some problems with Sean Hannity. He made an accusation against NCLR. It was a lie. I’m not going to repeat it. We are going to all come together and do some activism and mobilize. There’s cards on your chair. Everyone on panel will participate.

Jay Smooth. Each one is like a snowflake, all beautiful. And YouTube is like a blizzard. Social media is useful to show how racism exists, though it doesn’t show institutional racism. Through anonymity you can show your racism better. People really know what you’re thinking.

Jay: How to tell people they sound racist. video . It was posted 15 months ago, but 5 seconds ago as you see, someone felt it necessary to go on and post a comment that says “i hate spics”.

*laughter from audience*

Latoya: The world online was eyeopening, to see how many people and how much they hate people of color, they feel online space is only for them, it’s a white space and a US space. I thought Racialcious blogging would end that because it would be my community. But you find people like to attack community and discussions of race. Also just communities of color! links we got, sheer number of links from hate and white supremacist sites. People would leave wrong detailed emails of why black people were different from white, and footnotes to studies of how black men rape more than white men (which is false) People bring their prejudices there . people talking about African American community, can be very hateful towards Latino, Muslims, Arabs, Persians, biracial identity, transgender community within African American community, every time something new comes up there’s a fresh wave of hate. We’re mostly women, 7 of 8 of us experienced racialized sexism. Comments about our vaginas, our sexuality, we find them more amusing than offensive. We got one that was like, “this person is so angry at the world because SHE HAS A BIG VAGINA.” Carmen was like “that’s why i carry my laptop in it.”

*laughter*

Phil: People tell me, “I’ve never *seen* such anger in an Asian before !” My attitude is, fuck comments! I don’t allow them. i don’t have the time to deal with that. I’ve received over 8 years a lot of hate mail. it blends together to the point where i posted this thing the anatomy of a hate mail. check off, racial slurs, stop bitching about racism, go back to where you came from, start speaking fucking English. Which? I mean, “motherfucker!” That’s English. You write to me in English, how am I supposed to read it?

Smooth: people are likely to react to my words and the substance of what I’m saying rather than just comments about my appearance so i benefit from some gender privilege there.

Kety: we allow for comments and community posts.

Kety: New space. New media is a new world, we’re building it together, we can’t ignore history, but it’s global and it’s iterated in many ways, we can acknowledge the opportunity, we can stop in and say he what are we going to do to support engagement, expression, Go into it with our eyes open. If we don’t do something different we get more of the same. Hope and possibility fight the good fight.

spread Knowledge
create refuge
mobilize to action

1) spread knowledge. talk radio without just being “controversial” for ratings. blog as information warehouse.

phil: writing for my community, for Asian American community. I’m trying to convince members of my own community that racism exists. information about issues that are affecting us. Asian Americans have reputation that we are largely apathetic about things going on. hard to get people to realize, this movie’s wack, racist depiction, this guy on radio. shouldn’t go unchecked. hate crimes in our community. so many people, criticism I’ve encountered is often from other Asians, saying don’t rock the boat, why are you doing this?

Latoya: can you talk about your tagline, “That’s racist!

Phil: put a zinger on it. in italics . get the point across. it should be obvious, but it’s not to a lot of people.

Smooth: base to articulate what your principles on. web video , go viral, use that medium, clever, but with substantive ideas.
(We watch the video)

Latoya: Nez, Nezua, The Unapologetic Mexican. Actually you can do to much toothbrushing which erodes the gums of racism. LOL

Creating a refuge: it’s tiring to have the same conversation over and over again. It’s not our responsibility to explain to every single person to their satisfaction. At Racialicious we are a heavily moderated space. we moderate every comment by hand.

Iris Network !!! Chromatic. gamers of color! Don’t have to explain that racism exists there, we can just talk about what we want to talk about.

Kety: Network of bloggers, we all have day jobs. Not always monetized. We had some conference calls, the online/offline combination is good. Where do we go, what do we do, how to leverage who we all are individually to make a collective that can help us make a difference. We made a questionnaire for all the presidential candidates. behind closed doors in private they say oh we’re pro immigration but that doesn’t get translated out of Spanish. we need these people to go on record, say what your policies are? McCain, Obama, we reached out equally. Up to that point in time among republicans McCain had a pretty good position then he did a huge pivot. We got ignored, and ignored. These questions are something they can respond to. we finally got a call from CNN. Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista, phenomenal blogger out of texas. helped us out. Went on CNN, grass roots groups of bloggers, not even being paid, i had the honor of representing our collective on CNN and saying why it is crucial to speak to the Latino community. the candidates needed to be straight with us. I’m a political independent, I’m committed to social justice, as a Latina and as a Christian

Latoya: Mobilizing. mainstream media. bloggers fight to get attention of mainstream media. ICE raids, what’s happening. Avatar the last Airbender. finally they casted an Asian actor but as the villain. sometimes we hustle it so much we hustle it backwards.

The Tsunami Song on hot 97. communities working together cross culturally changed lyrics to mock the victims of the Tsunami. amazed this would represent hip hop and it was so racist. i asked are we as a hip hop nation are we going to tolerate this, do we think this is cool? no! people got on board, going from my blog post, next morning, enough noise, hot 97 posted an apology half hearted apology that made people more angry, 100s of thousands of views, 2 weeks after that blog post i was at city hall with activist and government and bloggers figuring out some way to hold them accountable.

Phil: i would never be exposed to that from hot 97 in los Angeles, i was appalled, i did what i did which was post the address of everyone at hot 97 and all their advertisers to get the ball rolling. get people on board speaking out. Such a hard thing to do, the Internet has made that a lot easier J posted the audio clip rather than just reading the lyrics.

J: bringing global attention to a local problem. it’s easy to spread when there is a piece of compelling media around it. but media provocation is not always the most useful thing. Imus is off the air, nice but he’s an interchangeable cog in the wheel. we need to use compelling media to build interest around other issues, not just about something someone said in the media.

Q: which comment to axe and which to keep?

A: (It varies)

Latoya and Kety, populist caucus . people of color not represented, not invited, didn’t know, not in same circles, be very assertive in your outreach

Q: danah boyd: history of racism online, cross country, racism has different roots in different countries. cross nation, cross culture racism, how you get people talking, they don’t know the history and roots played out.

Latoya: very hard question, good question, complicated.

J: define your terms. it is hard, even in the US we don’t agree what “racism” means. On the international level, what is race! people have a completely different idea in Brazil than in the UK. defining terms is a good first step.

Phil: I can only agree, that is complicated. Asian American, very huge, Asian and pacific, nationalities, cultures, generations, it’s impossible to be all on the same page on any one issue. That’s a whole other panel!

Latoya; thank you for asking that question danah I’ll open up a thread on it on racialicious.com UK, Australia, India, we should open that up and cross post.

Kety: panel for next year for sxswi. critical for each of our communities. assumption, indigenous assumption everyone is white.

Q: Don , what’s going on now in Austin. new media has a heavy influence. last question good, perspectives on what is racism. allowing people to come to you, you are leaders , for me racism always involves economic policy and politics. bigoted, tied to what is racism. what true racism technically was. you guys have got to start to consider, explaining. proper way to channel the images, so the real important factors in racism don’t get lost and lumped together,

Latoya: the proper way to do something in terms of racism. which I’m going to say there isn’t one. Racialicious focuses on media images and pop culture and people of color. why don’t we talk about this why don’t we talk about something else. people only talk about something quantifiable to them. racism for some people is a question of representation. blacks not in sitcoms, how come? how come black people can’t front their own sitcoms? no jobs, no roles, no black actors, it’s economic. i don’t think there will ever be one strict definition of what racism is.

Kety: it’s important we’ve been having this conversation, it’s huge, there are several different chunks and pieces. continue conversations More representation in these conversations is important!!! In leading these conversations.

J: No one way, but important to keep in mind racism is not just in sentiment and feelings. Even in Obama’s speech he talked about feelings, objective realization of centuries of institutional racism. it takes more than conversation to address that! we can all be Twitter friends with each other but that would be most useful if we follow that up with ways to act on these institutional issues.

Latoya: The color of Wealth, good book.

Q: André Brock, University of Iowa. comment. questions. retention of grad studentss of color. thread here is central. universal ethos of promoting diversity efforts, anti racism. it’s often left to the individuals, with very little institutional support.. I do race online. Artifact of practice and belief. what are the practices, what can we encourage others to do? adopting beliefs and strategies, build cadre,. the idea of building cadre. Individual efforts, micro and macro aggressions. it burns people out. Cadre. Evangelists, activist, enlightened participants, avoid having that one person sitting up on the podium burning out. Mechanics to silence voices of dissent. Disemvowelling. consider other tech. Steve Gilliard, news blog. censure. He would post an egregious comment, he’d post it and let his community address it, shame the people and put them on blast, let people know those people exist.

Latoya: for colleges talk with Carmen. she does work with colleges and universities. Creating best practices! Encouraging a cadre, i really like that

Shakesville, emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. solidarity with other communities, go into gaming space. social justice in video games. What would resident evil 5 look like if it had an anti colonialist viewpoint? what if you’re playing as one of the leaders from whatever nation and the forces coming to exterminate them? humanizing these characters, make it not perfect, but complex!

Kety: diverse group, I’d love to see it grow. It can’t be one voice in isolation.

Related posts:

SXSWi: Fighting online misogyny panel

Thank you!!! times a hundred to Nalo Hopkinson who just now took my rough live transcript and cleaned it up and emailed it back to me so I could post it. Thank you Nalo! You rock so hard.

***

That’s Not My Name: Beating Down Misogyny Online

Panelists: Cecily Walker (Cecily.info), Ann Friedman (Feministing), Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon.net), Samhita Mukhopadhyay (Feministing)

Cecily Walker: How do you think that new media and Internet technology, new tools, feminists can use these new media tools? Boosting feminist activism?

Samhita Mukhopadhyay: All of us have a tremendous amount of expertise using online tech. women’s community, grass root organizing community, new tools, support work happening on the ground. Strategic media campaigns, budding networks, social media to support our justice-minded goals. We use tools, though, that tend to represent the same stuff we’re fighting; tools produced in environments highly volatile for feminist voices. 50/50 good, problematic. Opportunity, brought up new issues.

Amanda Marcotte: Promise of blogging world many years ago, we could divorce ourselves from identity and just be pure voices, as the online and offline world merged into one. But you can’t communicate about your ideas without bringing your identity along. Pluses and minuses.

Ann Friedman: Divorcing identity is not a useful way to do activism. we don’t actually want to live out whatever early Internet ideal enables us to not have an identity, that hampers our activist goals.

Cecily: I wasn’t finding many black female queer voices online, it was important to me to blog under my own identity. given our circumstances today, how important is it to you to blog under you own identity.?

Amanda: I started blogging under my own id without really thinking of it, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. in retrospect it was good and it sets a good example if you can. a lot of women who are afraid to , the more of us who can do it, the less threatening it is for others.

Samhita: when i started we were excited if we got comments on a post. then 2 years into it we started getting threats. you then realize the threats mostly don’t translate to real live experiences. I also think for women online it’s an important statement to make. you’ll notice a lot of men have a blog under their own name. women tend to be in group blogs or under a different sort of brand name. So it’s important for your future to use your real name.

Friedman: women in the political blog world as pseudonymous and I’m thinking of Digby. But it’s not always a great idea to blog under your own name. It’s fraught. There’s a certain amount of privilege and risk you assume. Not all of us even thought about it. we didn’t consider the implications. Concrete advantages, consider Digby, they didn’t know she was a woman, so they didn’t pigeonhole her. ‘This is just a women’s issue’, etc. We can try to keep a voice but transcend some of those boxes.

Cecily: What are some of the key repercussions of online threats that moved into offline space? Paint us a picture of what that looks like.

Amanda: Not the John Edwards campaign. *laughter* I started off on a smaller blogspot blog. Was invited to join Pandagon by Jesse Taylor. there weren’t many high traffic liberal blogs that had any women at all. I honestly think my entrance on to the a list was a profound thing for many of the male commenter, mind you right wing male commenters who felt this was a boys’ club. It turned ugly really fast. Publishing my address, telling people to show up at my house and do violent sexual things to me. Calling my work and trying to get me fired. Nobody in the liberal blogosphere that i turned to had any experience whatsoever with this kind of thing and they didn’t believe it at first. he’d experienced viciousness and racism from commenters but he’d never seen anything cruel and violent as was directed at me. We had free comments, we had to turn that off and turn on registration for comments. I don’t know how serious the threats are but i have to assume they’re pretty serious if they’ve found out where i worked and called my boss.

Ann – Feministing has an appointed FBI agent where we send our threats. It’s that bad. Political blogging … I’d say that, we don’t control the space for (tapped?) as much as we do on Feministing. so it’s a more sexist space and a less feminist space. undoubtedly in terms of the private mail we get, via Feministing, that’s way worse. we can control the comments but not the private email.

Samhita: some of the worst misogyny I’ve experienced is on other blogs. this isn’t about how we feel threatened but about how it affects the community. we’ve been chastised a lot for not moderating every comment and not providing a safe enough space online for our readers. it’s not about protecting our own identity and feeling threatened but about how it makes our community feel. if you’re someone who’s experienced violent misogyny in your life there’s a moment of violence and violation that happens that makes you feel unsafe. we have to be clear about creating boundaries so our community can feel safe.

Ann: there’s a chilling effect when one woman, one person of color or queer person , is a target, then others are deterred from speaking in quite so open a manner. so the power structure online, that mirrors the real world…

Amanda: listening to auto admit case, on NPR, it’s a case law blog targeted very randomly two law students, two women. one man posted something about one of the women who had turned him down to go on a date. another woman got looped in. it got to the point of stds, slept with everyone, posted photos of them in their daily life with lurid rape fantasies, I’m sitting behind her in class, she’s at the gym right now, The defenders of the auto admit blog were going on about free speech. Can’t you understand that women also have the right to free speech and if you’re using yours to silence her then you’re not for free speech?

Cecily – at the library. heavily gendered space, 90% female environment. if we contribute to the web sites, we have to use our full names, our names on badges, one unsafe thing about a library you are in a female controlled space, you are in a culture that is heavily invested in keeping your individual name safe, but now that’s not true. i have to get people to feel more comfortable posting on the Internet, but it’s not going well, people don’t feel safe doing that, we get crank calls, complaints, we try to showcase all political viewpoints. spaces you might not define as feminist, we’re feeling some heavy pushback from the staff. how are we going to roll this process out?

Cecily: why is it important to look at gender and how it plays out online?

*laughter*

Samhita: we want to keep this panel to what it means to be feminist online. But because of these highly volatile experiences we’ve had it…. we’ve had different experiences online, male blogers don’t have that same thing. there’s never been a question, when i say something a little controversial, it’s not about the issues, it’s about whether i should have said something in the first place, you internalize that belief you constantly have to prove yourself.
A lot of our readers have experienced sexual violence and want to share those stories but don’t feel that they can. You have to make a lot of different negotiations to feel comfortable in it

Ann – women’s writing, the dynamics. One thing i do for myself is go through everything i write and strip out all the i thinks and i believes. because I’m writing it duh it’s what i think. writing more authoritatively. if you’re going to pick me apart for this i might as well say it right out. Or, you can add 50 million caveats and end up not saying anything and not offending anyone. the Internet constantly needs to be fed. the evolution of women’s writing online, if i look at things i wrote in 2004, that’s largely in response to being hardened by this sort of stuff.

Amanda: i tend to say things very authoritatively and that’s always been a very hard things for me and many men who have multi year grudges against me. I’ve got into the habit of qualifying and adding the i think in.

Ann: but that doesn’t stop it. that’s not going to stop you from getting slammed on some blog full of dudes who hate you already!

Amanda: when i taught writing i would circle them in girls’ writing and tell them to take it out. it was always girls.

Cecily: lessons you’ve learned?

Samhita: Uh, that I’m a masochist

Cecily: I think you might have to unbox that one for us? lol

Samhita: yeah I’ll “unpack” that. ha. The content of what I’m writing and who i am writing it, it’s twofold . at least once a month i want to throw in the towel

Cecily: what keeps you from doing it?

Samhita: masochism? ha ha. It’s telling me that the level of importance of what we’re doing, for every piece of hate mail i get i get something else from Idaho saying they’ve never read something about sexism and racism and it’s changed their life in some . It’s not just for my own voice but it’s part of a movement of online feminism that we’re a movement and moving forward. Online solutions and best practices and you have to not care any more. you have to divorce yourself from caring about what people say about you, you have to go “well, you have 1/4 the readership lol” not the most humble way to think about it, but hey it helps me feel better. plus if I’m pissing off people who i wouldn’t like in real life,

Ann: 6 of us who write on Feministing and we can all each other up and go “i know people say mean shit all the time but this one really got to me!” and we all know how it feels. sometimes you have to decide what is a good public fight to have, vs. “you just want to call me ugly and tell me to make you a sandwich” i know it sounds ridiculous but it is hard to tell the difference sometimes! we need help in figuring that out, when to engage and when not to. you can engage with people who just don’t get it. But Feministing is on our terms. we don’t like it, we can delete your comment. we can respond to just part of what you’re saying and ignore the rest. or we can have a full blown back and forth, having a community to help decide and talk about how to engage has been crucial

Amanda: the purpose is to shut you up and if they don’t get what they want, they stop trying to shut you up, the more I don’t go away, and don’t shut up, the less harassment i get. just go out there and write every day and eventually they will give up. it’s not working, it’s straight up behavioral science.

Cecily: these tools that help us to get our voices out there, also hurt us. social networking tools.

Samhita: Twitter is a very useful tool. Communities, we have different community that comments on our youtube videos, twitter is another micro group environment and you get to know people a different way. That’s very powerful. I’ve had friends on my twitter feed who in the blogging worlds we have knock down “your mama” fights but on twitter I’m like “Oh you do yoga? i do yoga toooo!” lol. It’s less serious, less formal, commenting on Feministing can feel very formal.

Cecily: using these tools to get people to organize around a specific activist event?

Ann: When someone is getting attacked elsewhere, get into comments and post in support. Supportive conversation in public. Positive, or smackdown.

Cecily: Basic survival tips: solutions. if you’ve felt threatened, what do you do?

Samhita: Do not feel bad about banning people.

Amanda: Don’t feel guilty about it, some people are not there to engage. they shouldn’t be there.

Ann: You determine the levels of your own engagement, that’s self preservation. Free speech, free speech, my rights! whatever! go start your own blog! you do have free speech. Shockingly, no one has registered the url, getyourowneffingblog.com.

Cecily: libraries are public spaces, oh wait we can’t suppress these voices. what kinds of tools, for someone in that situation where the people in charge don’t understand it’s a safety issue an a respect my own house issue.

Amanda: Some men are allies. make alliances with men who will back you up can be very powerful. atrios alone has been useful in getting people to shut up being nasty about me. he’ll write a post saying they’re morons and he’s a man so people respect him and they shut up. that helps a lot. who has power in your community that you don’t have? exploit it a little. exploit other people’s privilege.

Ann: comments on huff po are useless, they’re a free for all. when you’re writing for bigger spaces it’s not that meaningful or helpful, it’s not my community responding to me it’s just like, crazytown. just ignore it. At feministing, people who read us regularly and have been for a long time, Samhita has a word for people who are super engaged

Samhita: minions

Ann: No! not that one! *laughter* Our regular readers are quicker than we are and say no that’s bull or email us and say please moderate this crazy comment. that is unbelievably helpful.

Samhita: creating a community people are bought into, invested into keeping a certain way. that is one of the best practices which has kept us afloat. it is crucial

Cecily: being a librarian i can’t do anything without reading about it in some academic journal. Germany researchers, algorithm to measure level of sexism in a comment. they had men tell jokes to a computer set up to “think” like a woman. the level of harassment the computer notices, correlated with the level of harassment real women experience online. women who identify as feminists get more harassment. if a woman mentioned herself or posted a photo her level of attractiveness had nothing to do with it. automated sexism detector!

Amanda: what we need a machine to back us up now!

Amanda: registration is the most useful way to control your space. disemvoweller is useful, button for it. Also, give some of your attack dogs moderation power. delete a comment and replace it with videos of bunnies hopping around. it makes people happy to see bunnies. *everyone laughs*

Cecily: what’s crazy bait?

Samhita: writing about any part of popular culture people feel invested in, fraternities, video games, if you want to get a lot of traffic then piss off the gamers, just kidding Latoya! *laughter* Race and gender, intersection. people feel very personally offended. Gentrification.

Amanda: Biggies are rape and domestic violence. if you write about rape or domestic violence in any form that’s crazy bait. Abortion, gotten better than it used to be. But if anyone tells a personal experience, that gets nutbars who will make personal threats directly against the person who got the abortion if anything has a racial aspect watch out it’s going to get really ugly.

Ann: if you’re writing about The Presidential Race or The Economy in the abstract without a personal level, people aren’t pissed off. Gentrification, when you get at where people live, it gets to them . Lipstick. what you wear. what people have personal experience with. they feel authoritative about it.

Cecily: Takeaway?

Samhita: Don’t feel threatened. it’s not about you. there’s some crazy people out there, it’s about them. keep going. young women reading, young women’s voices. the potential is very great right now. don’t give up.

Amanda: You’re not alone, you have friends. When under attack you can feel very alone. Feels hard, you don’t want to “play the victim” but reach out and ask for support. Own what’s happening and ask for other people to care. they will often step up more than you would think initially.

Ann: Yeah. community. public, on blog, private space to process, that’s what it all comes down to for me. And, vast quantities of self esteem. A reservoir to draw on. Especially if you’re doing video blogging

Amanda: If you can learn to feed off the hate like … like trolls…

Ann: Youtube comments about how ugly, or how attractive. they have the same tone! stepping back and realizing they’re crazy!

Audience questions:

Kimberly: kimberlyblessing.com Feminist web dev : twitter is where i get problems. i speak to my community via twitter including feminist issues and that’s where i get attacked and it carries over to the real world because i work with the guys who followed m on twitter. i get angry and it affects me at work. i i start to internalize all of it. when there is something that important, what would be your other tips, i don’t have community, i work with almost all men. who do i go to? I don’t have any support or anyone more powerful to turn to. I just shut down and then go away for a while.

Ann: there must be other feminist web developers. Reach out to them.

Kimberly: Someone pulls you aside and says, hey that post you made this morning on twitter linking to that feminist thing online, you’re about to go into a big meeting with some vice president…

Amanda: what’s wrong with men who need to see women fail like this? pity them.

I’m Elisa from Blogher. (*applause, cheers*) There is disdain for business women and moms and women of color, dismissed, conservative women bloggers treated badly in other space, the misogyny itself is the problem, we need to see it everywhere, we can’t allow it, wherever we allow it to fester, it will continue to grow.

Q: Misogyny mommy bloggers, they have a more accepted space. women are more accepted in the blogosphere in “women’s blogs” networks, food, moms, travel. when we try to venture into economy, science, web dev, that’s where we are told to sit down and shut up. how can we continue to cross over?

Samhita: There is something different about “women” and “feminist” you are in a space you’re not supposed to be in , a political space. to be a woman in one of those fields, you have to fight with some best practices.

Amanda: any women who feel confident to feel about politics please do so more. write about the economy and politics. other women need to see that behavior modelled. know you’ll get a lot of blowback. eventually it helps.

Q: tendency to email privately? or privately and hateful? how do you draw the line?

Ann: sometimes our commenters have already talked back, engaged, other times it has a derailing effect.

Amanda: 90% of it is public, they are performing for other people

Monday night: Feministing party at Beerland on Red River & 7th- 8th!

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Talking at ETech this Thursday: DIY for People with Disabilities

I’m going to be speaking at ETech in a couple of days about technology, culture, and disability/access invention. I’m all fizzy with enthusiasm and can’t wait to give the talk and see what people about afterwards!


ETech Conference 2009

If you’re curious, Here’s the talk description, and I’ll put slides up on Thursday or Friday.

Wheelchairs aren’t any more complicated than bicycles, but they cost a ridiculous amount of money. They shouldn’t. Neither should other simple accessibility and mobility equipment. In the U.S., people with disabilities who need adaptive devices depend on donations, charitable agencies, insurance, and a corrupt multi-billion dollar industry that profits from limiting access to information.

With a cultural shift to a hardware DIY movement and the spread of open source hardware designs, millions of people could have global access to equipment design, so that people with disabilities, their families, and their allies can build equipment themselves, and have the information they need to maintain and repair their own stuff.

Since we can’t all do it ourselves or weld our own chairs, we also should encourage a different mindset for the industry. You can’t stand up all day at your desk, but you don’t need a doctor to prescribe you a $6000 office chair. A consumer model rather than a medical and charity model for mobility aids would treat wheelchairs simply as things that we use to help us get around, like cars, bikes, or strollers.

Small assistive devices such as reacher/grabbers, page turners and book holders, grip extenders, can be made with bits of rubber tubing, PVC pipe, and tools as simple as box cutters and duct tape. Rather than obsess over impossible levels of healthiness and longevity, we need to change people’s expectations of how they will deal with changing physical limitations. Popularizing simple designs, and a DIY attitude for mobility and accessibility gear, will encourage a culture of invention that will be especially helpful to people as they age.

This will be my first O’Reilly conference. No, wait, it won’t, I went to a huge impersonal scary Perl conference in about 1998, as a somewhat lonely programmer and the founder of Orange County Perl Mongers. But that’s another story. What I want to say here is, I really liked the O’Reilly conference registration site. It let me make my own profile and control it, rather than emailing a bio and info 12 months ahead of time. It lets me see all the other speakers and attendees, which is hugely important for me so that I can picture where I’m going to, how comfortable or hostile an environment it will be, whether I know *anyone* else there, how my talk will fit in with other talks, and so on; it helps to emphasize that people are the map. There are even social network features so that I am coming into the conference “friended” with a bunch of people and able to message back and forth with them. It is all very slick and very useful to me.

A conference is a social event. It makes sense to build social media around it.

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My tiny adorable flowered computer!

I got an HP Mini Vivienne Tam edition to review a few days ago, and I’ve used it so far for blogging, surfing, email, IM-ing, and writing up my thoughts in Notepad. Here’s my preliminary review based on four days of casual but heavy use.

This is a good computer for a blogger or a student who doesn’t need a huge screen or massive computing power. Also it’s incredibly cute.

Here’s some praise!

I’m a demanding blogger. I type 100 words a minute and I like to have about 50 tabs open. This HP Mini was incredibly easy for me to slip into using. I blogged from it without noticing the slightly smaller keyboard; I could type just as fast as I usually do. The size, key placement, action, and feel of the keys are all just great. If you’ve tried a mini before, but had trouble getting used to the keyboard, you may be pleased with a Mini.

The screen is big and very readable! It’s tiny and very light.

I like the way the case opens and shuts. The shell is hard plastic – not fabric or gelskin covered.

It has two USB ports, which seems quite nice.

I’m happy with a 60GB hard drive in such a tiny, light computer.

The wireless mouse works well.

Everything I wanted out of my Asus EeePC, but sadly never quite got, has come true in this adorable netbook!

Here’s my wishlist.

I fervently wish for holes in the case where I could attach straps. Two holes near the hinge would be ideal, so that I could put a shoulder strap on this beastie. At She’s Geeky conference this weekend, how many women did I just watch, walking around the room holding a computer, a paper notepad, a pen, a purse, and a latte? Around the house, it would be all that plus a book and a baby and 6 things you’ve picked up from the living room to move to the office. Computers need handles. But beyond the OLPC or old clamshell iMac handles that require a hand. Shoulder strap power!

Backlit keys would make me *very* happy. I’m often typing in bed or in a darkened room, in work meetings or conferences. It’s lovely if I can see the keys, but keep the screen relatively dim.

Neutral thoughts

* Mostly, I use MacOS X or Linux. So this is the first time I’ve used Windows. While I’m not especially impressed with Windows XP, I’m also not especially annoyed. So for a week or two, I’m going to stick with XP to give it a fair shake.

* I haven’t tried doing any development on this machine yet, but I think that will go quite well.

* I haven’t tested battery life. So far, it hasn’t been a problem, but I haven’t approached it systematically.

* I haven’t tried the webcam yet. It has a built in camera! I will take it through some video chat paces.

* I haven’t tried installing any games or a Second Life client on it. I’ll let you all know how that goes. I figure, I don’t play a ton of games, but if Second Life behaves well, then I can stand by my recommendation the computer for the writer and student who’s also a casual gamer.

My criticisms of the HP Mini are minor.

* The computer goes to sleep a bit too quickly when I half-close the lid. I’m often blogging or emailing or IM-ing in social or work situations, or doing actual work with private information in a cafe, and if someone comes up to talk with me, I need to half-close the computer so they can’t shoulder-surf. While the Mini wakes up very quickly, I wish it didn’t go to sleep until I *actually shut the lid*.

* The bumps on the f and j keys are too subtle for me to feel them easily. I could type with more confidence with better subliminal feedback about the “home” keys.

* The hinge on the case could open a little more widely. It goes past 90 degrees, but not quite far enough. I type in my lap, not on a desk. This is partly habit I’m sure, but I wonder if it’s at all a gender related habit, as chairs, desks, and tables often don’t match up for me, because I’m shorter than the default person (male) they’re designed for? Because the computer’s in my lap, and the resulting viewing angle, I sometimes need to tilt the screen further back than 100 degrees. Now, this is also true when I have my HP Mini in bed. Which I often do.

AND NOW FOR THE ADORABLENESS

This computer is cute. It’s pretty. But it doesn’t make me hurl with the pinkitude. Really!

It’s a really nice color of deep red, with black around the screen. There’s nothing ugly and clunky about this computer. It’s totally elegant. I take it out of my bag, and everyone admires it, and whatever one might think about HP’s targeting of women or the cut of the marketing, women everywhere I go are exclaiming with delight at how cute this computer is. It is very much OMG I WANT THAT. Then, because I’m this sort of person, I hand them the computer and invite them to type something and take it through its internet browser paces. In fact, it’s been really fun to have people come up and talk to me and be so friendly, because they’re curious about my computer.

For quite some time I’ve been asking the world for an adorable computer that is small and light, yet still a useful computer. (Oh, how I miss my 12 inch MacBook, but how I wished it were *even smaller*.) While I have issues as a feminist with everything being pink especially like, pink tools and pink computers, (see girl geek bingo), I also have mixed feelings and like things that are pretty and cute. It’s better if they’re pretty, cute, and punk rock, and actually work.

This is my usual style (me and my sister, with 13-inch MacBooks covered in stickers)

And here I am with the Vivienne Tam,

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This gets across how tiny and handy it is. See how it likes to sit on top of my MacBook?! It’s like a cute little ladybug!

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The Internet is srs bzns and so am I, in black boys’ guayabera, SF State tshirt, cotton handkerchief with red stitching, and matching computer,

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The Vivienne Tam and its matching mouse want to wear my Fluevog boots:

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If it had a hat, it would have a beret. If it were a color of nail polish, it would be “I’m Not Really a Waitress” red. Yes. I have middle class brand awareness. I cannot help it. When I wasn’t playing video games, I grew up in a mall. It seeps into your blood.

Even the packaging was nice! It was like buying a computer at Sephora. Or Bloomingdale’s or something. I know it’s shallow, and obviously I care WAY more about the specs and usability of a computer than the box it comes in, but I noticed the box anyway. Check this out:

exciting box

tiny pink computer!

At the She’s Geeky / Women 2.0 Dinner, I ended up passing the computer around almost as much as I got to use it myself. And when I whipped it out of my backpack to show to my friend Beth aka Techmama, she yelped and pulled out her own! We were like, “Oh no, same dress at the prom!” We managed to share the cuteness!

I can heartily recommend this computer if you’re a blogger, writer, or you just want your own laptop instead of using a shared family computer. The 60 GB hard drive is big and fast enough to deal with the *ton* of photos, Flip videos, and music that I tend to accumulate as a blogger. The wireless also works very well so the machine lives up to its promise of portability.

ALSO, IT IS REALLY CUTE. Did I mention that!?

I have three matching wireless mice to give away. Red mice with lavender flowers and silver sides. Who wants them?

* Buy it from HP: HP Mini Vivienne Tam (“Buy it” link gives all the specs)
* Buy it from Amazon:HP Mini 1140NR 10.2-Inch Netbook – Vivienne Tam Edition (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB Hard Drive, XP Home, 3 Cell Battery)

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