Never Forget

Geek Feminism Blog: “Let Us Never Forget Their Names” plus 1 more
Let Us Never Forget Their Names
Posted: 06 Dec 2013 03:12 PM PST

Content Note: This post deals with the École Polytechnique massacre and violence against women.

24 years ago today, 14 women were killed in an act of sickening violence at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Targeted for being women and for being engineers, we must never forget their names.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

For those of us who grew up in Canada, the white ribbons of December were a reminder not just of the work left to do in stopping gender violence, but of the links between that violence, deeply held notions of gender roles and “women’s place”, and the importance of pioneering women’s work in science and engineering. While Montreal stands out in our timeline as one of the few acts of outright violence documented there, we must remember that the “tits or GTFO”s of the world exist on a spectrum of micro- and macro-aggressions, oppression, and violence that we must be vigilant for in our communities, online and offline.

Fellow blogger Lukas writes:

This event was a catalyst for action in Canada, spawning a monument for the deceased, a national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, and a White Ribbon Campaign (started by and targeted at men in order to address and confront male violence against women). For me, Dec 6th marked the beginning of my independent feminist organizing. It happened when I was just starting high school and shortly afterward a few classmates and I started a feminist club at our school. We attended local vigils for women who died at the hands of their male partners. We educated ourselves about issues facing women beyond just our small city and we organized gatherings to share this information with others. In the years that followed Dec 6th was a touchstone for doing actions that both drew attention to women and domestic violence but in recent years since moving into the tech world it’s developed a whole other layer of relevance to me.

When this date rolls around I am reminded that the outreach I do in the tech community matters, to be proud of being feminist, taking space in engineering, and also being someone who works diligently to make space for more women and underrepresented groups to join me. It may not always be through a directly violent act but there are many ways women and minority groups are being told they do not belong here and there are some of us are proving ‘them’ wrong. We are designers, engineers, problem solvers, big thinkers, dreamers, creators, makers, and people who can help make worlds both big and small better for others. We can be a pipeline for new arrivals, be mentors, be allies. On this day I am grateful for my allies both within the geek feminism community and without who work side by side with me to work on improving equality, seeking justice, and calling for the end of violence and discrimination in the technology space.

Never forget their names.

Source: Fembot Listserv

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Essay on Minecraft Accepted!

This last month or so I’ve been sitting on some exciting news: the backbone of my master’s thesis has been accepted into a collection of essays on Minecraft. The chapter I am writing for the book will talk about the conventions of gender in the game as a place to think about the utility of “genderlessness” as a “gameplay mechanic.” 

What’s with the ” ” ? you might be asking yourself—this essay is inspired by Notch’s public reflection on gender, wherein he referred to gender as a “gameplay mechanic.” 

If it wasn’t for the fact that the default Minecraft character is referred to as “Minecraft Guy” and that I once jokingly answered “Steve?” when asked what his* name was, Minecraft would be a game where gender isn’t a gameplay element.

The human model is intended to represent a Human Being. Not a male Human Being or a female Human Being, but simply a Human Being. The blocky shape gives it a bit of a traditional masculine look, but adding a separate female mesh would just make it worse by having one specific model for female Human Beings and male ones. That would force players to make a decisions about gender in a game where gender doesn’t even exist.

All the other mobs in the game are genderless and usually exhibit the most prominent traits of both genders. …

Also, as a fun side fact, it means every character and animal in Minecraft is homosexual because there’s only one gender to choose from. Take THAT, homophobes!

I hope to trouble notions of who determines the gender of players and their avatars, and how the setting in Minecraft is suggestive of an interpretation of Steve’s gender (i.e. why it is, perhaps, no accident that Steve is popularly perceived as a dude). 

ImageTo anyone who may not know me personally, I am very excited about writing this essay—I openly adore the game. The first aca-paper I wanted to write for publication was conceptualized 2 years ago when the game was in one of the earlier beta versions. At the time I considered the playscape as an existential plane—perhaps if I was more into philosophy I would have gotten around to actually writing about it. Alas… 

As an aside, it’s equally exciting for me to now know who is also doing research on the game—sometimes the videogame research world seems like a small place. At Oregon, doubly so. I look forward to sharing more about the collection + who is in it as we get closer to publication deadlines.