Filed under General

It’s not a Team V Podcast, but it’s like its sibling.

This is Doc of Team V, who has been reminded by Carrie that if I have a podcast that’s doing similar discussion as to what we have here, why don’t I promote it here? In fact, Carrie is in an episode (and hopefully more!) so you should check out Associated Geekery. It’s myself, always with Ryan, sometimes Mac, occasionally Ben, and many others (hopefully) talking about a week of nerd news. We tend to find the articles that make us mad so we can vent them out on the podcast with what’s wrong. So if you want a group of people or as Ben put it once “3 white people and a white sympathizer” listen to us!

We’re up to episode 6 and they are about an hour long each so it’s not that much to catch up with, I’ll start posting them up here so you can catch them. We’re also available on iTunes.


Rage and Reason: Covered In Bees

“You know, just being mad and shouting at people doesn’t help fix anything.”

A friend and I were talking about gender fluidity and the problem of people getting perpetually mis-gendered, and the rage that can result when you’re just mis-gendered like all the goddamn time, and the occasionally-resulting backlash against cis people as a result. I mean, this comes in all forms. People of color getting fed up with white people, women getting fed up with men, gay/bi/pan people getting fed up with straight people, you name it. Sometimes you just get so overwhelmed with crap that you just lash out.

And lashing out in rage, well, it doesn’t help further the conversation. Sure. The moments where some of us scream “Fucking men, I swear to God!” don’t really help the “feminists hate men” thing, does it?

But man, sometimes, you just get mad.

Here’s the way I see it. Someone walking along, gets stung by a bee. Pending they’re not allergic, they will say “Ow!” and check out the injury, and say “I got stung by a bee! Can someone help me take out this stinger?”

But maybe they get stung again. And again. And then they’re being chased through the woods by an angry swarm of killer bees, and all they can do is scream BEESBEESOHMYGODHELPBEES.

Now, what are you as a bystander going to do? Are you going to get mad at the person being stung by ten thousand bees for not being able to communicate anything more than BEES? “I can’t help you if all you’re doing is being angry about bees! If you’re just shouting about BEES you’re not furthering the conversation!” Coz Imma be real, if you do this, you’re kind of an asshole.

People have a right to be mad when BEES. And no, BEES doesn’t help further the conversation. But when someone is BEES they aren’t really thinking about the conversation, the bigger picture. They’re thinking about the ten thousand bees chasing them through the woods. So what you need to do is step back and not hassle them about the whole BEES thing. Acknowledge the fact that BEES. If you can help with BEES then you probably should help with BEES, but if you can’t, man, just back off and don’t go adding to the BEES.

(Note: I want to be absolutely clear here. When you are talking with someone who is BEES about a situation, you must still treat them with respect. Don’t pat them on the head and say “Yes you are angry and so I will not treat you like a rational person until you calm down, but I won’t tell you to calm down, aren’t I so thoughtful?” The anger is not irrational, and they are not irrational for being angry. Their anger deserves your respect and consideration, not your patronizing BS.)

Overthinking It: The Necessity of Specific Examples

How often has this happened to you? You’re having a conversation about some specific incident as it relates to feminist issues. Some new study revealing the violence inherent in the system. Some specific, particular issue that serves to be a bullet point in the ever-expanding list of incidents. You’re having that conversation. You’re exploring it, discussing it, discussing how to identify it, adding your own personal experiences.

When suddenly someone jumps in saying “Why are you picking at this specific example? Don’t you realize this problem is so much bigger than this tiny thing you’re picking at?!”

And they’re sitting there looking at you feeling all

consider the following

And meanwhile you’re like


Oh really? Yes, please, explain to me how I, in discussing this particular instance of misogyny (or whatever) am missing the big picture of sexism (or whatever). Please, let us talk about how this is actually a bigger problem than just this little dark thing we are shining a light on. Because we have to have every conversation all the time forever.

If you haven’t pieced together for yourself why this kind of statement is both (a) offensive and (b) showing very clearly how much you are missing the point, then please read on.


First of all, here’s why it is offensive: you have entered into someone else’s conversation, of which you were not originally invited to be a part of, and have decided that the direction of this conversation is not to your liking, so you change it into something that is. Perhaps it’s because you felt personally attacked (“gosh geek guys pick on geek girls a lot”) or because you feel like you have to defend a thing you love (“geek culture sure has a lot of racism in it”). You never once attempted to engage the actual conversation. And this philosophy also applies to, say, blog posts. If you jump in the comments with a completely different topic in mind, sheesh, at least own up to it.

If you think picking on a specific subject is not helpful, then start your own, different conversation on that subject. Don’t hijack mine.

And second of all, here’s why it’s showing how badly you’re missing the point.

You’re jumping into a conversation where a woman is talking about sexism, and shouting down her opinion. You’re jumping into a conversation where a black woman is talking about racism and sexism and the intersectionality therein, and shouting down her opinion. You’re jumping into a conversation where a trans* person is discussing transphobia, and shouting down their opinion.

You may think you’re really enlightened when you’re talking about the “big picture” of problems in the world. But in this instance, you yourself are becoming the exact problem you claim to be rallying against.

So, yeah, instead of talking so much


But the thing is, this argument gets held up over and over, demanding people look at the “bigger picture.” And the reason it keeps being held up is, there’s a kernel of truth there. There are in fact bigger problems. This single issue is not the only issue that happens in the entire world. Nor is it the worst.

However, if you don’t understand the need to discuss specific instances of –isms, then I’m not entirely sure you want to hear my opinion of your critical thinking skills.

When you are dealing with someone who doesn’t understand that –isms are a real thing, a really solid way to counter their opinion is to have an arsenal of examples. Some examples are very clear-cut and obvious, but a lot of them are not. In discussing these specific examples, we are able to flesh out exactly what they mean in terms of the –ism(s) they pertain to. For instance, these persistent “fake geek girl” debacles that resurface every few months like a bad rash are simply steeped in misogyny. But it’s like an overstuffed suitcase, filled with layers upon layers of stale-smelling clothes: it requires some unpacking.

The process of unpacking these instances is important in working to fix the bigger issues. You can’t solve a problem if you can’t address the symptoms. By talking about these issues in a more calmly controlled environment, we can fully analyze what’s going on and develop our reasons for why this particular event is problematic. That way, when we’re out in the real world, full of the issues that you as a person of privilege don’t have to deal with, we have the ideas and the words to point out what is and isn’t bullshit. We are prepared, so we don’t just sit there in stunned silence, feeling uncomfortable and threatened and hurt and not able to articulate why.

You might come at us with the argument of needing to look at the bigger picture, but I think perhaps you should be looking at the facts on the ground. We’re both talking about the zombie apocalypse here. Instead of standing there philosophizing about the greater problem of the T-virus and how best to stop it, maybe you should pick up the bat and help us fight the zombies chasing us the hell right now.


Objectification, or You are Really Bad at Root Cause Analysis

Caveat: This post is discussing sexism. It’s going to use a lot of gender-binary language. I’m sorry about that, but I have a distinct point I’m trying to prove, and the statistics gathered which support this are all in terms of men-v-women, and well. Also this is focused on the United States, because that’s the context that I can speak from, confidently. And while this post is going to focus primarily on sexism, please understand that it can translate just as easily to any other -ism we see. You can replace the statistics, but the core point holds.

Normally I try to keep it geeky here, but this came at a personal request, so sure. It’s an important topic, and something a lot of people Don’t Get.

Here’s an argument I hear a lot: “Sexism doesn’t really exist. It’s about people being awful to other people. That’s the real problem.”

I’m going to be up front: if you think the “real problem” is people universally being horrible to one another, and don’t understand the underlying problems of sexism/racism/etc-ism, you are really shitty at root-cause analysis.

So I’m an engineer by trade. This is what I am paid to do. I write software all day, erryday. One of the skills I posses is a certain tenacity when it comes to bug-fixing, where I refuse to stop at a band-aid, where I will dig into the architecture until I find the source issue, and fix it in such a way that I resolve the core issue and do not break other things in the process. Related to this is my ability to observe and analyze whole systems, to understand the interactions between them, and to spot potential problems in those interactions, all while keeping a clear idea of the end goal, of making the system useful, of making things clear for the user.

Being an engineer, I look at the world with an engineering mindset. The world we live in is not a collection of discrete, independent components. Everything relies on everything else. And because the world we live in is so incredibly complex, it can be challenging to see how anything impacts anything else, and to understand the real problems we face.

So let’s talk about real problems.

1 in 6 women in the United States is a survivor of sexual assault. Contrast this to the statistics for men: 1 in 33. Only 3% of rapists will ever spend a single day in prison. (RAINN)

Women earn less than men, across the board. Whether the stat you get is 77 cents to every dollar or 81 cents to every dollar, it doesn’t matter, there is a wage gap based on gender. (wiki) And those stats get worse when you consider race: black women earn 69 cents to the dollar, and Hispanic women earn 59 cents to the dollar. (infoplease)

“But although women make up over half of America’s labor force, as of 2009, only 12 Fortune 500 companies and 25 Fortune 1000 companies have women CEOs or presidents.” (infoplease)

Women are sexually assaulted at significantly higher rates than men are. Women are paid less (despite currently being the percentage-majority graduating from higher education). Women struggle to reach positions of power in the professional and political world. I could keep going, but I feel like this gives you an idea of real, actual problems.

You may be wondering how this could possibly relate to objectification. These are real-world problems with gender lines, but none of them appear to have anything to do with treating another human being as a sex object, except maybe the rape one, right?

To which I will say: you suck at understanding system interactions.

Imagine we live in a world where the above problems don’t exist. There is no significant divide between men and women in terms of sexual assault, of leadership, of wages earned, of media representation, anything. Your CEO is just as likely to be a man as a woman. Women earn the same as men, on average. Women are no more likely to be the victim of sexual assault than men are. Let’s pretend this is the world we live in.

If this were the world, then objectification would be the same, both ways. It would be just as dehumanizing to objectify men as it is to objectify women, because men and women are coming at the problem on equal footing. There is no inherent power balance going on here.

However, this is not the world we live in. And everything has context.

There is a pervasive thrum in media of women as an object to behold. Women are used to sell products to other women as well as men. Women are “booth babes,” not men. Women are the prize for men at the end of the film. They are to be seen, and not heard, and certainly not followed or respected.

A woman is something to be possessed, to be claimed as a prize at the end of the journey. She is an object, a reward, and little else. Why pay her more? She’s just there to look pretty. She can’t do the same work as a man, and whatever, she’s probably just going to get pregnant and quit anyway. And don’t even think about putting her in power, she doesn’t belong there, what would she even do with it. And if you want to have sex with her, well damn, go have sex with her, that’s your right. If she doesn’t want it, well, get her a little drunk, get the bitch to loosen up, amirite? All she’s good for.

These aren’t conscious thoughts most people have. These are unconscious biases. And this is, in fact, the world we live in. Women being objectified so pervasively translates to unconscious bias, which translates to real-world bias. Sexism’s language has become more coded and less obvious, but it’s still there. You just need to dig at the root cause.

When a man objectifies a woman, he does it in the context of being more financially secure than her, of being in professional and political power over her, of being statistically more likely to perpetrate sexual violence against her. When a man looks at a woman as an object and not a person, he is coming from a position where this is an actionable perspective. If a woman is not human, she doesn’t deserve to be treated as one.

When a woman objectifies a man, she does it in the context of being less financially secure, of having less power, of being more likely to be victimized. It isn’t necessarily “all right” for a woman to objectify a man, but there are not real-world ramifications for men as there are for women.

It is not the same. It is not “people being horrible to people.” Not when the results are this imbalanced.

To the people who claim that sexism isn’t the real problem, it’s just people being awful: when you see this, when you see these problems, when you see that women are paid less, treated as less, respected less, that there are fewer women are in power, in leadership roles, when you see this world we live in with its very real problems, this long history of abuse, erasure, imbalance, all this inescapable context… how can you think anything divided on gender lines is going to be equal?

What about this do you not understand?

Flight of Valkryies at SDCC?

So both Dr and I are going to be at SDCC this year, and we were wondering… are any of you out there who read this blog going to be there too?

Should we, perhaps, arrange a luncheon hangout in the park?

This post is to gauge interest. Please to comment if you would like such a thing, and we’ll figure out what works best for schedules.

And because it’s not a TeamV post without a reaction gif:

Many Links for a Friday


Static Shock: Blackout (Short Film)

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)

Banned from Kickstarter for being a Stalking Victim — Wow, Kickstarter. Good. Fucking. Game.

Internet Entrepreneurship is Getting Arab Women into the Business World

‘Sandwich Makers’ Finally Described as ‘Female’ in Facebook’s Leet Speak Option — “In the interest of hearing all sides of the situation—it’s only fair—I fired off an e-mail to our contacts at Facebook PR asking for comment on the “54ndw1ch m4k3r” description. Not long after the e-mail was sent, I checked the settings again and “54ndw1ch m4k3r” had quietly been changed to “Female” under the Leet Speak option. But why did Facebook wait until now to do so?”

Hackerspace for Moms in Berkeley — Holy cow, this is so cool.


Female Science Fiction Author Reading List

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story — I may have linked this before and I’m likely to someday link it again, but every time this comes back on my radar, I just want to share its awesomeness.

Amy Boggs on Diversity in Books and Why She Wants to See More


Before you ask, I’m not linking to the stupid Oatmeal bullshit because no.

The Type of Women I Want to See at PAX — A personal essay on being trans at a gaming convention.

Colonialism and Games — A game specifically designed to bring up discussion about colonialism.

Ten Year Old Makes Audio-Only Game for his Blind Grandmother — HANG ON I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE


Tosh.O Suggests Dudes Should Grope Women For Laughs — So can we arrest him yet? I discovered that making mediocre television isn’t a crime (unfortunately), but surely this must be?


How to Spot a Male Fauxminist — Male Fauxminist, better known as The Nice Guy

Why the ‘Girl’ Matters: Yet Another Post About Geek Girls and Gamer Girls — While I don’t agree with using the word “girl” to self-describe, I respect opinions and think that, of the opinions that disagree with mine, this is well-stated.

Hot Girl + Nerd Culture = Poser

Hey Everyone: Stop Taking This Picture. No, I Mean It — The tits/ass/glance over the shoulder shot. You know the one.

Many Links for a Friday


Whitewashing, Racebending, and Why “We’re All Human” is Bullshit — I am putting this first for a reason. READ IT.

John Carter is from Mars, and Women are Nowhere in Sight — So apparently the female character in John Carter… does stuff? Is active? You wouldn’t know she even existed going by the trailers. Marketing fail.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)

Cookie of the Week: Chad Whitacre — Came up with a name for something that was dumb; got called out on dumbness; apologised and changed the name. Win.

Female Students Wary of Engineering Workplace — “Women who have internships or jobs find they are too often relegated to ‘female’ roles of note-taker, organizer or manager…” and “a fair amount of the older men in my working environment treat me like I know nothing and I’m only working there because my dad works there.”

Etsy Hacker Grants: Supporting Women in Technology — in conjunction with Hacker School, Etsy is announcing a new scholarship and sponsorship program for women in technology

Visualizing What it Takes to be a Woman in the Tech Industry: An Infographic

Internet Entrepreneurship is getting Arab Women into the Business World — “Adbullah Alghadouni is CEO of the, a Saudi-Arabian site aimed at helping women find jobs in a nation where they are not legally allowed to drive.”

In a letter from a little girl to Albert Einstein:

I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact.

Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!

And Einstein responded:

I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.



Women at Gaming Events — A positive note on women at gaming events: Seems there are more! And not just women, but families! Kind of awesome.

Titular Characters and Gendered Titles — “… when I hear the term ‘Lady Captain’, I hear an unnecessary gendering of my character whose gender was never in question anyway.”

MTG Tournament Participants Not Immune to Sexism — Excuse me while I recover from the shock.

Network of Video Game Creators Tries to Equal the Playing Field — “They just assume the woman at one of these events isn’t a game developer in her own right but just there as somebody’s girlfriend… We need to get reality to catch up.”

Bastion and Men as Automatic Protagonists — Why all the characters with stories and motivations gots to be mens, and the one lady character is just a prop? Spoilers for Bastion within.


Sharing my Own Privileged Dumbassery — I feel like it’s been a little while since we’ve talked about how awesome Jim Hines is. Let’s talk about that! He’s awesome!

The Problem is Not the Books — Oldie but a goodie. When people cry about how there are no books for boys to read, maybe let us ask ourselves why we think boys can’t read books about girls (but girls can read books about boys).

Cover Trends and the Female Body — “In thinking about these covers and thinking a lot more about the notion of gendering books, I’ve really found myself finding fault with a lot of ya covers. More specifically, the ones marketed to teen girls.”

The BSFA Awards — So, that happened, and Meaney happened, and it’s worth reading and chasing the links, just to know. It’s also a happy-making to know that apparently many people simply walked out of the award ceremony in protest. That pleases me.


Newcastle Ad: Brewer’s Hands — So, I think what they wanted to say, if I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here, is that they don’t need to use scantily clad women to sell their beer? Maybe? Eh, who am I kidding, they’re sexist assholes too. Great going, beer!

The New Aesthetics of the Male Gaze — An interesting take on New Aesthetic, surveillance, and male gaze.

ok lets see if that thing with glasses chicks suddenly becoming super weird feminine when they whip off their glasses works — hilarity ensues

Why Rape Jokes Are Never Okay — They’re just not, mkay?

Many Links for a Tuesday

Emptying the link coffers. This is just part of it, I don’t want to drown you in links.


Is Game of Thrones Too White? — by Saladin Ahmed

Step Into My Film School: The Importane of Casting In Breaking Open Movie Stereotypes — This is what internalized –isms looks like.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)

NASA Girls, New Mentoring Program — Eligible girls in grades 5-8 can apply to be selected in this program where they will be mentored one-on-one by a woman working at NASA.

Abandoned by Facebook and Foursquare; Creepy, Stalker-Enabling App “Girls Around Me” is Pulled by Developer — This is just gross and I’m so glad it was pulled. I can’t believe it was ever approved in the first place.


There’s No Such Thing as a Good Stereotype — Discussing why stereotypes of positive qualities are still a bad thing.

We’re All the Same Deep Down — Why this statement of how we’re “all the same, really” kind of misses the point.

Evil Straight White Dude — Why opening your comments with “I’m just a straight white guy so you’ll probably ignore what I have to say” is really really stupid.


Mists of Panderia: First Impressions and Nitpicks — World of Warcraft’s new expansion and — surprise!! — sexism.

The Unsung Female Game Designers of Japan — My favorite part? There’s only pictures of the games they made!


Grammar Tip: Woman vs Female — Apparently it’s hard for some people to know when to use “woman” and when to use “female.” Spoilers: one is a noun, one is an adjective.

Misogyny Isn’t Caused by Male Horniness — There was this Cracked article recently about how men are trained to hate women, which kind of missed the mark for me, and thankfully there’s a writeup as to why.

Many Links for a Friday

Couple of book-keepy things:

  • If you are on the Facebook, and you like Team Valkyrie, perhaps you could like it on Facebook?
  • If you are on tumblr, you should know, we are on tumblr too.
  • If you tweet, and want to tweet at us, we’re on twitter.
  • Note that we actually do respond to tweets and questions and stuff on the Facebook, and comments make us happy and make us post more.
  • Also, since we’re about to start a new month, that means we’re about to start a new series of cute animal pictures. April is for Sloths. So say we all.

Okay, now onto linkspam.

STEM – Science Technology Engineering Math

What’s the Big Deal? — “Over the course of this internet argument, I had several well-meaning and curious guys reach out to me to try and understand what all the fuss was about. They seemed like good people, but they were missing something about what it means to be sexist. … So I’m going to take a shot at explaining.”

On Women in Tech — My favorite quote from this is the header “Frats Preserve Tradition, Startups Disrupt it”

Rachel Graham, The Jane Goodall of Sharks — Awesome!

Women in physics: A Tale of Limits — Really long, lots of data, kind of depressing, but good knowledge, because knowledge and understanding can lead to action.

Some Things to Think About Before You Exhort Everyone to Code — Why telling minorities “just learn to code!” doesn’t really work.

Amalie Noether, The Most Significant Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of


Show, don’t tell: why they need to be there — On the importance of diversity of main characters in fiction, and what it means to readers

You Don’t Read Women Authors, Do You?

Should science fiction and fantasy do more than entertain? — Opens with the image caption of “Poor representations … The 2012 film John Carter continues to rely on racial sterotypes to establish the ‘otherness’ of its alien characters.” and goes from there. Comments are mixed.


On being the “face of the community” while female


Geeks Respond to Their Friend Coming Out — Kind of awesome, read the whole thing.

Surprise! I’m Not a Booth Babe


I’m introducing a new linkspam category because I think we need it. Reality is ugly, folks.

NOM Strategy: Divide ‘Blacks’ and ‘Latinos’ Against ‘Gays’ to Get Critical Votes — So, this happened. Excuse me while I deal with this surprise.

Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide for Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates and Politicians — Because we really need this, as pathetic as that is.

Dear Tara Tiger Brown and Forbes: Go Away

Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away.” Tara Tiger Brown, you should go away, for writing something like this, and Forbes, for you should go away, for hosting something like this.

The problem here isn’t that there are people who self-identify as geek but aren’t “real geeks.” The problem is this phenomenon of judging who is and isn’t a “real geek.” This snide derision is not helping anybody, especially women in geekery.

Ladies, we’re not in competition with one another. Don’t hate. Support. If you see a woman who is new to geekery and self-identifies as geek, don’t turn her away. Welcome her. Show her the depths of nerddom. Hand her a d20. Lend her your beloved copy of Transmet vol 1. Show her some anime. Hand her some Asimov.

If she’s authentic in her passion, but just new to this whole deal, don’t shun her. Don’t accuse her of needing attention, or having such an empty life that she just wants to feel something, anything. If she’s not passionate about it, she’ll likely just walk away eventually. No need to rail against these supposed faux-geeks (have you ever met one? I haven’t) and risk scaring off the newer nerds. Unless, of course, like the bullies we’ve called out as a community, you’re just being cruel to boost your self-esteem.

And you know what else, Brown? You title that opinion piece by targeting women, but the things you accuse them of in the article are things anyone can be guilty of, male or female. So why limit it to women? Is it because it’s easy? Is it because this is how you show the “real” (read: male) geeks that you’re totes legit?

This is a harmful game that women are taught to play: compete with one another for male attention, because male approval is what’s worth striving for. Why? Why is geekery a competition? Why isn’t female approval worth striving for? (And as an aside, why is it that beautiful women who are openly sexual are typically the ones who get the most flack for being faux-geek?)

You know what the result of this kind of logic is? It’s women feeling driven out of cool things because they are unwilling to put up with this frat boy ideal of what it means to be a “real geek.” Yes, frat boy. It’s the same logic that drives brogrammers, that mentality of not being a “real developer” unless you’re up until four in the morning chugging Red Bull and sleeping underneath your desk. If you’re not full-throttle to a self-destructive level, if you’re not so passionate about your geek thing that your life is out of balance, then you’re not a “real geek.”

A main argument I hear for why this enrages a certain type of geek woman so much is that these faux-geeks make men more likely to challenge her “geek cred,” to make her prove herself. To these women, I suggest that instead of getting mad at the kind of women who don’t have the same level of “geek cred” as you do, get mad at the people who challenge your “geek cred” in the first place. That’s the real problem.

And honestly, what’s wrong with being a light geek? What’s wrong with being someone who enjoys the mainstreem geek things and perhaps also watches sports or listens to top 40 or likes fashion and cars? What’s wrong with simply enjoying something for what it is, rather than diving in and knowing it obsessively? What’s wrong with information being readily available to everyone? Why does Brown hate these things so much that it required a two-page article on Forbes to get it out of her system?

I’m not sure what Brown is doing to help make women feel more welcome in geekery, but this sure as hell ain’t it. Good day, madam.