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My Feminist Identity

Jessica Valenti opened her talk tonight by asking the feminists in the audience to raise their hands, and I froze.  I take the classes, I read the books, I try to monitor the research, and I obsess over the blogs.  I know what a feminist looks like.  I’m a feminist.

But I didn’t raise my hand. 

Initially I figured that her question had caught me off guard, and I just hadn’t reacted quickly enough.  That seemed like a proper excuse.  But I don’t think Jessica, the Executive Editor of Feministing.com, and author of Full Frontal Feminism, would let me get away with that.  I don’t think I should let myself get away with it. 

I kept my hand down because I was embarassed.  It’s the same reason that I’m careful not to talk about Feminist Studies courses with most people.   I get sick of hearing “Why are you taking that ?”, or of pretending to ignore the wisecracks about how I must be trying to get laid.  When I get that response, my stomach shrinks, my neck goes frigid, and I find myself backpedalling, and explaining why I find value in learning about giving everyone equal rights, opportunities, and control of their bodies.  I’ve conditioned myself into avoiding talking about a large part of my interests, just to avoid the haters and the stereotypes.

FUNK THAT.  I’m sitting at my computer, raising my hand right now.  And I’m not going to back down next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist.

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Posted by on April 10, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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The Bungie Experience

I just got out of a job talk by Bungie; I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, I did not win a free copy of Halo 3.

Generally, I’m looking for a new job starting sometime anywhere from 18-20 months from now. Tentatively, I’m going to go into academia in applied math or something along those lines. Realistically, I’m not a prime candidate for a position in a software or gaming company, because my training and experience are in a field that’s only tangentially related (it wouldn’t be impossible, but I assume it’s unusual). I just went to the talk for fun and to think outside of the standard job box a little.

The talk was fun. More technical than I expected. I never thought I’d hear the term “spherical harmonics” come up in a context where I was actually interested. Bungie sounds like a fun and creative place. When I asked if one of the three projects they’re working on now was called “Marathon”, they all looked at the floor. It’s not a “no”, and I’d like to interpret it as a “yes”, but in truth it’s probably just their default response when someone asks a question they aren’t allowed to answer. In all I learned a bit about what goes into making a game like Halo 3 look the way it does, and how some bits and pieces of the things I’ve learned at school are relevant outside of the bubble in which I apply them.

I was struck, however, when they showed a “life at Bungie” video, and only one female employee was shown in the whole company. The flick showed maybe 50 employees in their element (out of more than 200), and they were all guys. I’m sure Bungie is an equal opportunity employer, so I don’t fault them for this. It was just surprising from the perspective of someone in an engineering program with a high proportion of women (50/50 in the undergraduate part of my department). Looking around the job talk it seemed like 20-30% of the attendees were women, and I’m curious why the numbers I see here haven’t trickled down into a prominent company like Bungie. Perhaps after the Jade Raymond controversy, this shouldn’t be a surprise. After getting some press during promotion for Assassins Creed, Raymond was subjected to a myriad of disgusting attacks, and some of the coverage was just outright creepy. That story revealed a lot of prejudice in the gaming community, and perhaps yields a better perspective on the low gender ratio I noticed in the Bungie video than my sheltered University lifestyle.

I don’t really know anything about industry wide stats on this issue, so I’d welcome more information if anyone has it.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2008 in Entertainment

 

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