Around the Sphere: The Bullrun of Women

Well …this isn’t just happening around the sphere, but I couldn’t help notice the incredible amount of bullshit that women have been challenging over the past week. Some of it’s happening in the gaming community but a lot of it is happening out there in our world. This week has been a good week for progress and awareness.

The Bullrun of Women

First #1Reasonwhy hash-tag on Twitter exploded as women answered a simple question from an average guy: Why are there so few women in the gaming industry? The thread took on a life of it’s own and marched around the internet at full speed. Women came forth and shared their stories, while men came forth and admitted their role in keeping them out. Women outside the industry even noted how they feel it’s not worth it to work on the inside due to the poor treatment programmers *already* receive, never-mind women programmers. Trolls came as well, but they were scarcely spoken about around the web. The message was clear: women are ready to share their stories, be heard, and break the cycle.

Second, the above then spawned a movement to offer mentor-ship to women who want to work in the games industry. I hope that this has what it takes to last. Providing mentor-ship from insiders gives solidarity to women who have been timid to pursue their dreams for fear that they were simply alone in their suffering.

Next up, we have women in the American military taking the Department of Defense to court for excluding women from combat roles. The ACLU is representing four highly decorated women veterans. This is still developing, so you can follow-up the story here.

The Slutwalk is on in Hong Kong and I saw the most awesome poster ever to grace this event in a photo on Kotaku. It really hits the nail on the head and throws the question of guilt back at rape apologists.

But oh no, no, it’s not just women who are making noise. I’m late to the news on this one but earlier this week I ran into some articles about the cancellation of the Brit Ruby 2013, a developer conference for Ruby programmers. Basically, the show was cancelled because the organizers didn’t solicit a diverse enough audience of speakers and funders to attend. I know this isn’t how the story has been told in many other circles, but that’s exactly what it came down to. Their all white, all-male guest list was insufficient to cover the costs of hosting the show. Of course, the organizers themselves are blaming racism and sexism for the cancellation, which ironically turns out to be true. Just not the way they think so; I’m not accusing anyone of being an overt racist/sexist, but our values shine through in our everyday choices and actions. There’s no hiding that. In any case, many men, especially white men, rallied in support of more diverse conferences and even offered to help Brit Ruby save the show. But at this point it looks like they would likely rather cancel it than reconcile the lists and seek more developers and resources. The good news coming out of this outweighs the bad: more men are being vocal about the lack of diversity and what a detriment it is to the tech industry. The support and offers of support in order to make that happen put sunshine in my tea.

That’s it for this week’s Around the ‘Sphere. With the American holidays over and the early Christmas shopping sales behind us, next week should have a wider offering of noteworthy gaming community conversations!

  • Pai

    When I started my gaming blog six years ago, simply making the statement that sexism was a problem in gaming got most gamers calling you delusional. This past year, however, has really been amazing in how things have finally changed; how gaming is finally taking this issue seriously. It’s very encouraging!

    • http://www.trredskies.com/ Doone Woodtac

      Its easy now for me to see how pervasive it is, but there was a time when I didn’t understand what the problem was. I was mostly just naive, but I also learned that some of the reasons I felt odd or annoyed when certain exchanges between men and women took place were cases where sexism were present. I just didn’t call it that and I imagine this is the place a lot of male deniers are. The “it’s something other than sexism/racism” mindset.

      It’s a tough nut to crack when I’m trying to think of ways to get through to people about these issues. On the one hand, the trendy consumerism truly leaves people blind to reality so you always have to convince them that the buzzwords “feminism”, “sexism”, and “racism” are in fact real and what they think they know about them is false. On the other hand, once you get them to grapple with reality there’s a tendency of them to want to reframe the problem such that they or people they know aren’t cast as contributing to the problem.

      This year has been awesome for going on the attack on these issues around the gamer community and I plan to do a round-up post for social justice in 2012.