interactions with gloria steinem!

March 12, 2008 - Leave a Response

I recently had the honor of dining with Gloria Steinem.

Yeah. It was an amazing opportunity and really highlighted how fortunate I am to have the chance to go to a school that attracts/ can afford such high profile personalities. Thanks Mom and Dad!

While I’m not especially well read on Ms Steinem (I did find her Op Ed in the New York Times quite compelling) I wasn’t especially impressed with her speech. It lacked direction, and I felt frustrated during the question and answer session; it seemed as though Steinem either wasn’t answering the questions posed to her or was doing so in a round about way.
She definitely did have some lovely sound bites, and is funny. (Plus I loved hearing her curse+ seeing her reaction to the 16 year old feminist’s use of WTF -Crystal, what’s her name and how do I volunteer to be her mentor/friend?) But generally i felt like it was very intro to women’s studies/ cotton candy feel good feminism.
There were two incidents that particularly bothered me.
Gloria’s speech was generally very positive, and she spoke at length about the connections between racism and sexism. I would have hoped that she would extend this uniting attitude toward a fellow feminist such as Maureen Dowd, but rather undermined her intelligence, suggesting that she had shoulder pads between her ears! Very disappointing.
At dinner, for which Ms Steinem was tired, (I don’t blame her! What a tour schedule!) Michelle Tea’s visit to Tulane and work came up, and Gloria seemed very interested until I mentioned Michelle Tea’s sex work and her graphic novel about it. (Rent Girl, I’d recommend both it and Valencia) Ms Steinem was of the opinion that prostitution can in no way be empowering. I understand that this is a common view, but the prospect of disagreeing with such a feminist rock star face to face in a personal conversation was both exciting and heartbreaking.



March 10, 2008 - Leave a Response

watch this! please 🙂

one thousand words and a good deal of rage.

March 5, 2008 - Leave a Response

In doing my research on the death threats Kathy Sierra received and the reactions to them, I was initially surprised at Sierra’s decision to remove her original blog post discussing the threats and announcing her withdrawal from the eTech conference. Since the blogging movement is so invested in a bottom up dissemination of information, it seems bizarre to me that Sierra would not want her personal detailed account of her harassment online. The reaction in not only the blogosphere but also in traditional media has provided the public with sundry opinions on ideas around internet free speech versus hate speech. Most of these articles link back to Creating Passionate Users, either to a dead page or to a page explaining that Sierra has removed even the off homepage original post. In this post, Sierra explains that the original post had caused too much pain for her friends, her family and herself.

While I understand and respect Sierra’s decision to remove her original post, not providing a concise description of her struggle puts her story in the voice of major news outlets or other bloggers.

In class, the first question that came up in response to the disgusting treatment of Kathy Sierra was “Why?” Call me cynical, but that question hardly crossed my mind – at least in regards to this particular incident. The anonymous nature of the internet, which can be a very positive thing, ensures that there will be a space for people to be mean on the internet. This is neither a new or novel concept. The class aspect of the internet, although largely diminished in recent years, continues the power plays that happen offline. Misogyny, racism, classism and ableism thrive on anonymity, some more than others. It takes little more than a Google search to see hate speech/imagery against women. The excess of pictures of sexualized objectified women on the internet brings to mind Laura Mulvey’s work on the gaze, in which she posits that traditional male directed images objectify or fetishize women.

I am so glad that Kathy Sierra made use of her bloggingg voice and fame and spoke out against the hate speech and misogyny that runs rampant online. Even more important are the reactions by the blogging community, largely supportive of Sierra’s call for an end to internet bullying. The rare blogger who questioned or de-legitimized Sierra was put through the runner by other bloggers.

Michelle Malkin did have an interesting criticism, criticizing Sierra for her decision to quit blogging, and calling out the blogosphere for their bias. Malkin reports being harassed onling for many years, even on one of the “top liberal blogs.” Malkin’s method of dealing with such harassment by reporting the serious threats to law enforcement and continueing to blog. Malkin’s method of refusing to feed the fire provides a discussion worthy contrast to Sierra’s attention raising campaign.

Scoble, a prominent blogger, opted to take a week off from blogging in solidarity with Sierra, offering his own experiences of online threats.

Awareness of the impact of hate speech on the internet has grown around the Sierra incident, as seen in greater media coverage, PSAs and various drafts and versions of a Blogger’s Code of Conduct. Below is my favorite.
A code of conduct for bloggers and commenters

  • Be courteous.
  • Give accurate information in the spirit of being helpful.
  • Respectfully disagree.
  • Use the correct venue for your post.
  • Admit the possibility of fault and respect different points of views.
  • If you screw up, take responsibility for your actions.
This code of conduct is inspired by the Gentoo Linux code of conduct. It is more concise and based on human action than technological implementation than the primary, wiki blogger code of conduct.

Hello world!

March 3, 2008 - Leave a Response

“Hi Subversion Depot!”

This is not my first foray into the blogosphere, but being in a course on feminist participatory media is a pretty good reason to start a new blog. I love starting new notebooks, journals, and apparently blogs too. In addition to using this space for Feminist Participatory Media purposes, I’m planning to record some of my observaions and analyses of pop culture.

responses to death threats against kathy sierra

March 3, 2008 - Leave a Response

Reactions to Kathy Sierra’s call for a bloggers code of conduct, and the death threats against her which prompted such a call are below. I’ve included traditional and new/participatory media. faithz1.doc