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Inspired by the Mormon-to-English dictionary I wrote earlier, and the fact that movement atheists attach a lot of emotional meaning to some seemingly straightforward phrases!

Please note that this isn't meant as criticism of anyone's choice not to worship a deity, or to identify as atheist for that reason. I completely respect that, and I think there are a lot more people who would choose that if they felt it was an option than there currently are. This is meant as criticism of what I call "movement atheists" or "internet atheists," who are basically the bad kind of Christian except they believe in one fewer god. And are more snobby and less shouty.

Content Note: Racism, sexism, classism, speciesism, theophobia, heteronormativity, and snark. Lots of snark.

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Content note: Sexism, strong language.

Stop posting hate. Right now. Stop posting detailed reasons why you hate her. Stop justifying your hate.

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http://aiffe.tumblr.com/post/43660300604/for-all-the-women-i-have-loved-who-were-dragged-through

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A slide deck by Garaan Means that neatly and elegantly destroys much of geek culture, by showing how utterly self-defeating it is to police others based on superficial identity markers while allowing yourself to be exploited by the capitalist nonworking class.

Also by stating the obvious.

I'm not going to try and convince you not to have bacon on your sandwich, but I think the results when we portray ourselves as a group of people who uniformly place great value on cured pork and little value on our lives outside our work are results worth examining.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
So I just beat the Knights of the Old Republic games, and I'm looking at stuff for The Old Republic (Bioware's free-to-play MMORPG based on them), and the opening movies are unbelievably Troperrific. What really strikes me about them, though, is how sexist they are, which is ironic considering you can play a male or female character in both TOR and the KotOR series.

If you're not convinced that they're sexist, here's the second movie:

And here's a gender inversion based on it!

Spoilers for a five-minute cutscene. )

I realize this is supposed to be a positive portrayal of a female character, but the message it sends is "You have to be this good." If you're a girl, you don't get to be one of the grunts on the ground; you only get to fight if you're the Manic Pixie Warrior Princess. Which is really unfortunate if you don't happen to have Force powers, like the power of instant battlefield dry cleaning and hair washing.

The game itself will let you play as a female Trooper, and you'll go through the same storyline as the male grunts. You just wouldn't know it from the packaging.

Want to see a good contrast?

Check out this trailer for DUST 514, the free-to-play PS3 shooter set in the EVE Online verse.

Note how she isn't portrayed as anything special at first. She's just another soldier. A cool soldier, but not a strange or exceptional sight on the battlefield, and she wears the same armour and uses the same equipment as the guys out there.

I've been playing DUST 514 for a little while, and I haven't been harassed a lot in it and have even gotten some compliments on my skill, although it helps that I keep voice chat turned off. I don't know how the games' communities compare, except that EVE Online itself (a PC MMORPG) has unbelievably sexist players. I just wanted to point this video out as an example of Doing It Right. And I love that I finally get to play a real FPS not just as a female character, but as a personal one.

Looking forward to trying out TOR!
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
My GNOME Outreach Program for Women internship is now over. My project was the JavaScript app developer documentation. When I started, it was woefully out-of-date and incomplete, and extremely poorly organized.

So how is it now?

Still really bad, in my opinion. Especially compared to Apple or Android's developer docs.

You can see, on the page I was working on, the beginnings of a curriculum. It tells you what you need to do to get started, and then starts to walk you through GNOME app development before giving you lots of code samples for specific widgets. But there are some experiments and approaches I took that I think were questionable, like the Switch widget example that covered AboutDialogs in more detail than Switches, or the starting lesson which jumps straight into Webkit.

When I started this project, I knew things had to be better but I didn't fully know how to get there. I used a lot of trial and error, writing code sample after code sample and refining my approach in each one. After attending the Open Help conference and sprint, I had a much clearer idea of where to go, and you can see the outline for my "App Guide" project on the live.gnome.org wiki.

I hope to complete the first draft of this guide in time for the next round of Outreach Program interns, and I hope to become a mentor for some of them. Whether they're working to improve developer docs, or writing their own GNOME apps.

Taryn's take on the Outreach Program

It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was confusing and frustrating at first, especially once I found out that GNOME app development wasn't as simple as I'd been led to believe by the existing tutorials. But I found my footing quickly, I think, even if that involved asking a ton of questions on IRC.

The parts that I'll always remember include all the technical triumphs, the encouragement from my mentor and the other interns and people involved in the program, and meeting up with people at Open Help. And in the #gnome-women IRC meeting where we gave feedback on the program, I said that one of the best things about it was how open-ended it was, because of how it let me understand the problem and approach it in my own way.

Since then, though, I realized another big thing about the program that helps make it successful:

Money

We've probably all seen the research on what motivates us, and how money is not a big part of it. But you know who's really motivated by money? People who don't have enough.

Women, disabled people, gender and sexual / romantic minorities, ethnic and cultural minorities ... all these groups are more likely to have a hard time making ends meet financially. And the opportunity cost for them to volunteer for Free Software is a lot greater than it is for a white, abled, male, non-queer hacker, who's being paid a decent salary and has health insurance.

Just as an example, the time I spent dealing with autistic shutdown and widespread intolerance, and trying to explain feminism 101 concepts to deter trolls from attacking me and others, are all things that most hackers don't have to deal with. They're practically a second job for many ... to say nothing of the women who are still expected to be the primary (or sole) caretakers for their children.

The Outreach Program's $5,000 payment is barely enough to maintain a minimal first-world standard of living over three months. But for me, it was more than enough. I was finally living my dreams, and being paid to work on what most excited me. And I could set aside other work that I didn't have the spoons (emotional energy) for, so that I could concentrate on this.

One of the reasons I'm going to continue working on GNOME is because I'm hoping to sell the App Developer's Guide as a Creative Commons-licensed book, and make some money from it. I'm hoping that once "GNOME OS" becomes more widespread, more people will want to learn to write apps for it, and that this guide will be there for them.

But another huge reason is because, once the problem of "how do I pay rent and buy food?" was taken care of for a few months, I saw how much I loved being a part of the GNOME community and helping with my part of it. So that stipend provided the activation energy for what will hopefully become a chain reaction, as I mentor other women who may go on to help others in turn.

I'm hoping to show them that they can be a part of GNOME too; that GNOME needs them, and that they can have fun contributing to GNOME. And while it may seem vulgar to talk about if you're explaining the program to people who don't need the money, as someone who's been there that stipend really helps sell the program to people who do.

Wrapping things up

Many thanks to the GNOME Foundation, Google, Mozilla, Collabora, the Free Software Foundation, and Red Hat for sponsoring my internship. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope I made (or am) something that's worth it.

Many thanks to my mentor, Tiffany Antopolski, for answering so many weird questions and doing so much work to find out how to make the JavaScript code work right, especially for her version of the "Hello, GNOME" tutorial which hasn't gone live yet. Seriously, she went the extra kilometre, especially since mentors aren't paid.

Many thanks to her, Radina Matic, and Marta Maria Casetti, for being extremely supportive either on my journal or in person at Open Help. I needed a lot of encouragement and reassurance, and it was an amazing feeling to be validated and accepted there. If I'd known this would happen, I would've tried to raise money to go to GUADEC too somehow.

Many thanks to Shaun McCance for running the Open Help conference, and to him and Ryan Lortie for answering my questions there and helping me figure out what the App Guide should cover. Also just for being awesome. You guys rock.

Finally, many thanks to Marina Zhurakhinskaya and Karen Sandler for running the Outreach Program, and to Karen for helping make it possible as the GNOME Foundation's Executive Director. This may be the most welcoming Free Software community for women (including trans women) that I know of, right up there with Dreamwidth.

Here's hoping, and helping, that it just gets better from here.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
[personal profile] ausbatlyssavirus has a pretty good post on how there don't seem to be a lot and there need to be more:
I thought that I had to be a tomboy to some extent to be someone like Merida (from Brave), who stands up for herself and what she believes in. ...

If I wasn't, then whatever struggles I have - internal and external - weren't hard enough, and I needed to toughen up.

It's just that I haven't seen any stories about people like me struggling with their identity, growing up, and their conflicts.
I posted on Identi.ca about it, and so far I've gotten Spirited Away and magical girl anime as suggestions. Anyone else?
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
The comment section on Danni's post is the reason that certain Free Software communities look like this. (Three cheers to the one woman that they got to stand in front.)

I agree with Michael Meeks that policies like GUADEC's should be explicit in saying what behaviors are prohibited. Because when "freedom of expression" is considered a sacred right, at all times and in all contexts (not just when it involves government censorship), you boil your community down to a very specific group, which just happens to be the one with the fewest PTSD triggers and the most privilege to ignore or walk away from potentially hurtful situations.

Then you end up having to do huge and expensive initiatives to get anyone from the other half of the world's population to even want to show up, and when they arrive they get treated to ablist insults and ignorant rehashings of old arguments, just for pointing out the need for policies against harassment. Because while nobody thinks they're a jerk, everyone's used to an environment that's hostile to women and LGBT people, and literally doesn't know how their words and actions help to create that environment. Sort of like how just because you think that your code will compile, it doesn't mean that it actually will, especially when you're working with a language and processor architecture that you're not used to.

This then has the side effect of people in that group not having any idea what it's like to be genuinely discouraged about trying to become part of that group, or how their behaviours affect others. Which is why discussions which feminists, allies, and others have already had many times and worked out best practices for have to be thrown away and rebuilt in ignorance, instead of actually building on their code base and finding ways to reach out and be even more inclusive of even more potential contributors.

(As an aside, that's why the JavaScript developer docs are the project I care most about. Because I personally need them in order to write GNOME apps, and I can only imagine how many others there are out there who'd be doing so right now if they had any idea how or where to get started.)

No one here wants to be jerks. We all want our code to compile, and our words to be well-received and cause actual discussion instead of PTSD triggers. With that in mind, here are the "developer docs" for that:

Finally, a word about "political correctness."

I once heard that any time you hear the word "drama" being used to trivialize interpersonal conflict, you should substitute the word "conflict" in your head and see if it still seems so silly. Let's try replacing the phrase "political correctness" with "giving a crap about others" and see what happens.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
To recap for those who are just now reading Planet GNOME or who don't subscribe at all, today Michael Meeks wrote:
Fair enough getting aggressive against stalking, groping and such horrors; but encouraging censorship of "offensive" verbal comments related to sexual orientation, religion etc. looks like a persecutors charter in the making. What is offensive ? and to whom ? the fear being that -very- quickly such good aspirations slide from "applied common sense" into a militant denial of a basic right to reasonably critique others' world-views.
This was in response to a section of the GUADEC (a GNOME users' and developers' conference) attendees' policy which said:
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, unauthorized or inappropriate photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
Danielle Madeley has already written about this from the perspective of a woman who has experienced sexual harassment, and linked to the Geek Feminism wiki's conference anti-harassment policy resources.

If I understand Michael Meeks' comment correctly, it sounds like he's on board with rules forbidding sexual harassment. What he seems to be concerned with are rules forbidding "'offensive' verbal comments related to sexual orientation, religion etc." This is consistent with the time in March that he wrote in support of a Planet Mozilla blogger, Gervase Markham, who wrote a post to Planet Mozilla asking people to sign a petition against marriage equality for same-gender couples in the UK. Meeks wrote:
Unamused to see Gerv getting duffed up for being different; apparently 'diversity of opinion' is proving unexpectedly hard to embrace in some parts of Mozilla land.
I'd just like to say that I have some experience with getting duffed up for being different.

A few days ago, the driver of one of the city buses asked me and [personal profile] rev_yurodivy if we were married yet. After they said no, we weren't, the driver told us that if we weren't married we'd go to hell.

I let her know that I didn't personally care where we ended up, and that I was just grateful that we could get married in this state.

On the bus ride back home, we got treated to a fifteen-minute yelling rant about Jesus, and Hell, and salvation, and how the fires of Hell burn seven times hotter than something-or-other. I didn't catch all of it, because I was turning up the volume on my noise-canceling earbuds and waiting for it to be over. Because I'm poor, and I don't have a car, and I need the drivers' help to load our portable shopping cart using the wheelchair lift, and I'm afraid that they'll stop if they decide they don't like us. Because there's noplace else we can go.

"What is offensive ? and to whom ?"

GUADEC has already spelled out its answers to these questions. Michael Meeks objects on the grounds that he has the "basic right" to persecute people for their sexual orientation or religion. And he defends people like Gervais, who make participating in open-source projects like riding my town's buses for LGBT hackers.

Well, I'm an LGBT hacker. And if Michael Meeks attends the same conference as me, I don't expect that he'll beat me, call me a tranny, or yell at me about how I'm going to Hell. But I have no idea when the next time will be that he'll post something like this on Planet GNOME, which reminds me that people like me don't belong here. I have no idea if or when he's going to raise a stink about my using the women's room at a conference, or complain about my being here as part of the Outreach Program for Women, or complain that this post constitutes harrassment of him and have me removed from the Planet. Because I don't know what he or others consider "reasonable" critique of my opinion that I have the right to exist. I just know that they feel they have a "basic right" to express that critique, to the point of being able to mobilize people politically to enforce it. Anywhere, at any time.

That's why I was afraid to even post a hackergotchi head, in case I didn't look feminine enough. Or in case my family, which basically threw me away when I came out to them as transgender, ever recognized it.

That's what being persecuted is like. That's what being afraid of being persecuted is like. That's what it's like when you've had people attack you just for existing, and you've seen people in spaces you frequent attack others just for existing, or defend those who do. You start to hide, because you don't want it to happen to you. You just want to buy groceries or write developer docs, and forget about the politics that people are waging to try to get you to disappear.

But bringing those politics into hacker spaces isn't a "basic right." They are about denying basic rights to others.

Policies like GUADEC's aren't about preventing all criticism of any kind, to the point where we can't even decide what technologies to adopt without worrying about hurting somebody's feelings. They're about respecting diversity of opinion. Instead of making ironic statements about it, that show you don't understand why people are getting mad at and afraid of those who duff them up just for being different.

They're about taking a stand against harassment of any kind, and refusing to play politics when people's lives are at stake.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
If you say you are [X], I assume ...

[Trigger warning for just about everything.]

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... until proven otherwise.

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We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

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