No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry

No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry:

The aggression committed towards these women is truly abhorrent – it speaks poorly to the various efforts to effectively combat sexism and misogyny. No one should be on the receiving end of such comments, ever, and to normalize the sending and reception of them is just wrong. To be clear: this isn’t bullying, but the cases speak to acts of hate. And it’s an area where hate speech laws should be triggered to bring offenders to justice.


If the going metaphor of the startup is that male hackers are stars whose physical characteristics are a source of status and power, the role of women in startups often becomes tinged by differently sexualized and submissive ‘groupie’ expectations. Because even though employers might imagine that startup slogans like “who’s your data” are denatured of their original sexual meanings, they aren’t. Deploying terms for engineers that invoke sexual dominance signals that the startup at some subconscious level wants to emulate a model of power where men perform while others watch and wait, intent on servicing their needs. Some startups even make the desired correlation between women workers and selfless service explicit, as in the app “Geisha” which served links to web designers in the guise of a red-cheeked, submissive female product mascot. The Geisha app deploys fetishized racial stereotypes towards an all-too-common model of tech culture in which men are centered and powerful while women serve them from the position of exotic ‘other.’ The Geisha app’s deployment of racial and gender stereotypes was so blatant that it even received criticism on Hacker News, which prompted the app to change its name.

Kate Losse, “Sex and the Startup: Men, Women, and Work

Kate Losse, once again, doing a terrific job critiquing the masculine and sexist working conditions in Silicon Valley. You should really read her book The Boy Kings to understand what it was like working at Facebook; it’s an absolute eye-opener.


Powerful men may actually be the worst?:

As a political reporter for GQ, I’ve been jokingly asked whether I ever posed for the magazine and loudly called a porn star by a senior think-tank fellow at his institute’s annual gala. In my prior job as a Hill reporter, one of my best source relationships with a member of Congress ended after I remarked that I looked like a witch who might hop on a broom in my new press-badge photo and he replied that I looked like I was “going to hop on something.” One journalist remembers a group of lobbyists insisting that she was not a full-time reporter at a major publication but a college coed. Another tried wearing scarves and turtlenecks to keep a married K Street type from staring at her chest for their entire meeting. The last time she saw him, his wedding ring was conspicuously absent; his eyes, however, were still fixed on the same spot. Almost everyone has received the late-night e-mail—“You’re incredible” or “Are you done with me yet?”—that she is not entirely sure how to handle. They’re what another lady political writer refers to as “drunk fumbles” or “the result of lonely and insecure people trying to make themselves feel loved and/or important.” … Sometimes they reach the level of stalking: One colleague had a high-profile member of Congress go out of his way to track down her cell-phone number, call and text repeatedly to tell her she was beautiful, offer to take her parents on a tour of the Capitol, and even invite her to go boating back home in his district.

This speaks depressing volumes about many individuals who are deeply invested in the political machinations of nation-states.


Police Look Up Woman’s License 425 Times

We should never forget that a large number of data/privacy breeches start from within a bureaucracy/organization. When an audit was performed on the drivers license database in Minnesota, auditors found that a staggering number of officers had ‘checked up’ on a woman’s profile. From the article on this:

The numbers were astounding: One hundred and four officers in 18 different agencies from around the state had accessed her driver’s license record 425 times in what could be one of the largest private data breaches by law enforcement in history.

The Department of Public Safety sent letters to all 18 agencies demanding an Internal Affairs investigation of the 104 officers. If the cops are found to be in violation of federal privacy law, they could be fired.

It isn’t enough to assume that the police are all knights in shining armour, incapable of doing wrong. No: they’re people, with all the expected foibles and failings. Give them information and powers and they will abuse them. The only questions are when and with what consequence.


Academics Rally to Defend Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown law student who has been targeted by Rush Limbaugh since giving testimony about the importance of insurance policies providing contraceptive coverage. The academic community has issued a statement in response to the misogynistic attacks that have been launched by Limbaugh and his supporters. It’s available as a .pdf (with a list of signatories) here, and the statement text is below:

The undersigned faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center and other law schools strongly condemn the recent personal attacks on our student, Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke has had the courage to publicly defend and advocate for her beliefs about an important issue of widespread concern. She has done so with passion and intelligence. And she has been rewarded with the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate. As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them.

Limbaugh’s hateful attacks are despicable. I’m incredibly happy to see the academic community publicly rally behind Fluke and would be delighted if this kind of hate speech were prosecuted. If there’s any group that’s likely to have the chops to do this it’s the massive body of lawyers from around America who have stood up in support of Sandra. Losing advertisers and a poor apology aren’t enough: Limbaugh should be prosecuted for his intentionally slanderous and libel speech.