The 92nd Down Under Feminists Carnival

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In blue on a white background, the DUFC logo: in a square with rounded corners, there is the female/feminine symbol; with the Southern Cross inside, above which it says 'Down Under' and below 'Feminists Carnival'.

Welcome! This post is the 92nd monthly Down Under Feminists Carnival. This edition of the carnival gathers together December 2015 writing of feminist interest by writers living in Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to all the writers and submitters for making this carnival enraging, sorrowful, celebratory, and joyous in different ways and at different times.

Highlighted new(er) Down Under voices

I’ve highlighted posts that come from people who began been writing at their current home in 2015, such posts are marked with (new in 2015) after the link.

This carnival observes the rule that each writer may feature at most twice.

Race, ethnicity and racism

Celeste Liddle was angry that Andrew Bolt of all people will be centered by the ABC in the constitutional recognition of indigeonous people debate.

The inquest into the August 2014 death of Ms Dhu in custody in continued in early December (now to resume in March). December writing about Ms Dhu’s death and the inquest included:

Stephanie explored peak white person in travel writing about drug tourism to Colombia.

Bodies

Australian feminist bike zine 3rd Gear launched, with Issue #1 available and Issue #2 calling for submissions (new in 2015).

Catherine Womack swam at McIver’s Baths in Sydney; a women-and-children space.

Ashleigh Witt asked why private health insurers in Australia won’t pay for contraception?

Jo Tamar detected classist overtones in the reporting of bulk-billed IVF treatment in Australia.

Kath asked for marketing of plus-sized clothes that is unashamed and aspirational, using models in the size range of the clothes.

Rebecca shared educational information about breast cancer after another treatment.

Workplace

Stephanie made fun of the silly IBM #hackahairdryer campaign.

Deborah observed that there are more men named David running NZX-listed firms than there are women.

Harassment and abuse

Brydie Lee-Kennedy discussed her experience in the Australian comedy community as a domestic abuse survivor.

On December 1, Clementine Ford shared abusive messages she’s received online. In the followup Kerri Sackville kicked off a Twitter campaign sharing the names of men who send abusive messages on the #EndViolenceAgainstWomen hashtag. Other writeups include:

Clementine Ford, Van Badham, Lou Heinrich and Hoyden‘s own Viv Smythe spoke to Tanya Ashworth about optimism in the face of online abuse and Viv followed up about her feminist burnout.

Lauredhel invited people to resolve to oppose rape culture in 2016.

Deborah Russell condemned NZ PM John Key’s participation in a prison rape joke.

Relationships

Emily wrote about the myth of “spoiling” children by being kind and compassionate (new in 2015).

Celeste Liddle celebrated seven years of singledom.

Jo Qualmann reflected on her experiences being aromantic and asexual in a relationship.

Sky Croeser collected intersectional and anti-capitalist resources on solidarity and healing.

Media and culture

Doctor Who Season 9 wrapped up and Liz Barr mostly but not entirely liked the final three episodes.

Daily Life announced their Women of the Year finalists, with the eventual awardee being Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs.

Scarlett Harris looked at women’s friendships in two media phenomenons: Taylor Swift’s performed-friendships and in Grey’s Anatomy.

Ju wrapped up her 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge reading and reviewing.

Anna Kamaralli drew out less-recognised abusive parenting themes in King Lear.

Year end

2015 retrospectives included: Emily (new in 2015), A.C. Buchanan, Avril E Jean, and Rebecca.

New sites

Blogs and sites started in 2015 featured in this carnival were:

Next carnival

The 93rd carnival will follow at Zero at the Bone. Submissions to chally.zeroatthebone [at] gmail [dot] com by 2nd February 2016.

Volunteers are needed to host carnivals from April onwards. Volunteer via the contact form.

Quick link: decriminalise abortion in NSW

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In 2013 and 2014 there was a push to introduce legislation which incorporated fetal personhood into law in NSW: Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill (No. 2) 2013. See for example Julie Hamblin’s commentary at the time on how such legislation could be used to further restrict access to abortion in NSW, even when the stated purpose is to allow for abusive violence to fetuses to be punished. The bill passed the Lower House of NSW Parliament but was never put to the Upper House, and thus lapsed in November 2014 when the 55th Parliament ended. It never became law.

Leslie Cannold, speaking to a Greens forum in September 2013 (video here, not subtitled) called on NSW to not only fight a rear-guard action in defending pregnant people seeking abortions from further rights being granted to fetuses, but to follow Victoria (and later Tasmania) in decriminalising abortion entirely. And now Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi, is campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW. Here are some of the facts about abortion access in NSW her flyer gives:

The laws surrounding access to abortion in NSW are very confusing. Abortion is currently in the Crimes Act (Sections 82-84), although court decisions have established that abortion will not be unlawful if a doctor reasonably believes it is necessary to save the woman from serious danger to her life, or mental or physical health[…]

In NSW, an abortion is unlawful unless a doctor deems that a woman’s physical, psychological and/or mental health is in serious danger. The criterion of ‘mental health’ can include economic and/or social factors[…]

Any amendments to the Crimes Act, such as those proposed by supporters of foetal personhood laws risks changing that interpretation. By removing abortion from the Crimes Act, it will no longer be a criminal offence and women and their doctors will no longer have to rely on the interpretation of the law by a court in each case in order to avoid criminal liability.

Learn more about the campaign at the Decriminalise Abortion page on Faruqi’s website. You can help by signing the online petition in support of decriminalisation or collecting signatures offline.


Featured image credit:
Pro_Choice_March-Texas_State_Capitol-2013_07_01-9378.jpg
by ann harkness on Flickr.

Blogging for Geek Feminism, a short history

With yesterday’s release of Spam All the Links, I’ve finished my long awaited project of departing the Geek Feminism blog.

I was involved in the blog on, if not from the first day of its existence, at least from the first week of it. My involvement in the blog was huge, and comprises among other things:

  • over 200 posts to the blog
  • founding and for a long time running the Ask a Geek Feminist, Wednesday Geek Woman and Cookie of the Week series
  • doing a linkspam post by myself multiple times a week for about a year
  • recruiting the initial team of Linkspammers and setting up their manual, mailing list and of course, the script that supports them
  • recruiting several other bloggers, including Tim, Restructure! and Courtney S
  • a bunch of sysadmin of the self-hosted WordPress install (it’s now hosted on WordPress.com)

My leaving the blog is delayed news. I initially told the co-bloggers I was leaving close to a year ago now (mid-August, if I’d waited much longer on writing this I could have posted on the one year anniversary), because my output had dried up. I feel in large part that what happened was that I spent about ten years in geekdom (1999–2009) accumulating about three years of material for the blog, and then I ran out of things to write about there. I also have two more children and one more business than I had when I was first writing for it, and, very crucially, one less unfinished PhD to avoid. But I had a handover todo list to plod my way through, and Spam All the Links was the last item on it!

I remain involved in Geek Feminism as an administrator on the Geek Feminism wiki, on which I had about 25% of total edits last I looked, although the same sense of being a dry well is there too.

The blog was obviously hugely important for me, both as an outlet for that ten years of pent up opinionating and, to my surprise, because I ended up moving into the space professionally. I’m glad I did it.

Today, I would say these are my five favourite posts I made to the blog:

“Girl stuff” in Free Software, August 2009 (Why we document, August 2009 (original link):

I do not in fact find writing the wiki documentation of incidents in geekdom very satisfying. The comment linked at the beginning of the post compared the descriptions to a rope tying geekdom to the past. Sometimes being known as a wiki editor and pursued around IRC with endless links to yet another anonymous commenter or well-known developer advising women to shut up and take it and write some damned code anyway is like a rope tying me to the bottom of the ocean.

But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers.

(I’d be very interested in other people’s takes on this in 2015, which is a very different landscape in terms of the visibility of geek sexism than 2009 was.)

Why don’t you just hit him?, December 2010 (original link):

This is the kind of advice given by people who don’t actually want to help. Or perhaps don’t know how they can. It’s like if you’re a parent of a bullying victim, and you find yourself repeating “ignore it”, “fight back with fists” or whatever fairly useless advice you yourself were once on the receiving end of. It’s expressing at best helplessness, and at worst victim-blaming. It’s personalising a cultural problem.

You are not helpless in the face of harassment. Call for policies, implement policies, call out harassment when you overhear it, or report it. Stand with people who discuss their experiences publicly.

Anti-pseudonym bingo, July 2011 (original link):

Let’s recap really quickly: wanting to and being able to use your legal name everywhere is associated with privilege. Non-exhaustive list of reasons you might not want to use it on social networks: everyone knows you by a nickname; you want everyone to know you by a nickname; you’re experimenting with changing some aspect of your identity online before you do it elsewhere; online circles are the only place it’s safe to express some aspect of your identity, ever; your legal name marks you as a member of a group disproportionately targeted for harassment; you want to say things or make connections that you don’t want to share with colleagues, family or bosses; you hate your legal name because it is shared with an abusive family member; your legal name doesn’t match your gender identity; you want to participate in a social network as a fictional character; the mere thought of your stalker seeing even your locked down profile makes you sick; you want to create a special-purpose account; you’re an activist wanting to share information but will be in danger if identified; your legal name is imposed by a legal system that doesn’t match your culture… you know, stuff that only affects a really teeny minority numerically, and only a little bit, you know?

But I’m mostly listing it here because I always have fun with the design of my bingo cards. (This was my first time, Sexist joke bingo is better looking.)

I take it we aren’t cute enough for you?, August 2012 (original link):

… why girls? Why do we not have 170 comments on our blog reaching out to women who are frustrated with geekdom? I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women.

The one I’m still astonished I had time for was transcribing the entire Doubleclicks “Nothing to Prove” video. 2013? I don’t remember having that kind of time in 2013!

Thanks to my many co-bloggers over the five years I was a varyingly active blogger at Geek Feminism. I may be done, at least for a time and perhaps in that format, but here’s to a new generation of geek feminist writers joining the existing one!

Hand holding aloft a cocktail glass
from an image by Susanne Nilsson, CC BY-SA
Image credit: Cheers! by Susanne Nilsson, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike. The version used in this post was cropped and colour adjusted by Mary.

The 79th Down Under Feminists Carnival

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In blue on a white background, the DUFC logo: in a square with rounded corners, there is the female/feminine symbol; with the Southern Cross inside, above which it says 'Down Under' and below 'Feminists Carnival'.

Welcome! This post is the 79th monthly Down Under Feminists Carnival. This edition of the carnival gathers together November 2014 writing of feminist interest by writers living in Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to all the writers and submitters for making this carnival outstanding, amazing, sad, outraging and uplifting.

Highlighted new(er) Down Under voices

I’ve highlighted posts that come from people who began been writing at their current home in 2014, such posts are marked with (new site) after the link. Hopefully this will be a quick guide to sites you may not be following yet.

Also, this carnival (broadly…) observes the rule that each writer may feature at most twice.

Feminist identities and practices

Kelly Briggs explained how her intersectional feminism supports Aboriginal women:

Critique of pop culture does nothing for me and my sisters. It does nothing to aid in our struggle to be seen as equal, which is why I stick to critiquing the policies of governments that use black women as whipping posts… At my last reading of the statistics surrounding this heinous human rights violation [the intervention] incarceration rates have more than doubled, self harm rates have more than doubled, suicide rates are at unprecedented epidemic proportions and forced rehab is nothing short of criminal. WHERE ARE THE FUCKING FEMINISTS?

Catherine Deveny republished her Destroy the Joint piece Feminism in Twelve Easy Lessons.

Tulia Thompson explored the limits of conceiving of bargains with hetero-patriarchal culture as an individual choice.

Race, ethnicity and racism

Kelly Briggs wrote about racism and resulting self-harm and she and Christine Donayre wrote about Aboriginal deaths in custody and how they seem invisible to Australians (new site) compared to police killings of black people in the US. Kelly was also interviewed by Saffron Howden about racist barriers to accommodation and employment for Aboriginal people.

Celeste Liddle listed terrible failures of top-down approaches to Indigenous safety and wellbeing.

Ruby Hamad asked why Australian media continually assembles panels full of white people to discuss race issues and non-white people and communities? She also recounted how she and other people of colour are commonly dismissed as having a lower bar for their work.

Bodies

Jessica Hammond took us on a pictorial tour of the truth of her body. (new site)

Kath at Fat Heffalump described the double-bind of fat women’s sexuality.

Jes Baker asked why the hourglass figure is the only version of plus size that we see?

Tracey Spicer showed us how she uses makeup, how she looks without makeup, and how various pressures changed her makeup use during her career.

Disability

Some of what were to be Stella Young’s last pieces appeared in November:

Danielle Binks discussed differing portrayals of Deafness in Young Adult fiction.

El Gibbs explored other people’s attitudes to disability, and how it’s those that make disability hard.

Carly Findlay wrote about unsolicited comments and advice in the workplace about both disability and appearance. She also debunked claims that autoimmune illnesses are caused by “self-hatred” and cured by “self-love”.

Kathy writes through the five stages of chronic illness (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).

LGBTQ

In the wake of Apple CEO Tim Cook coming out, Rebecca Shaw argues that coming out is still important and heroic.

Harassment and abuse

Jem Yoshioka explored the alignment between activist organisations in the technical community with misogynists and abusers such as Julian Assange and weev. (new site)

Jo Qualmann asked why rape is tolerated as a subject of “masterpieces” of Western fine art?

Roger Sutton, chief of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, resigned after allegations of sexual harassment. Writings included:

Jenna Price reported on the Australian government denying responsibility for violence against women in a report to the UN.

Deborah Russell highlighted the many chilling aspects of the Roastbusters ongoing rape scandal in Auckland, including police failures.

Ada Conroy talked about her work as a men’s behavioural change practitioner.

Jane Gilmore debunked claims that women are as likely to commit violence as men and observes that offender demographics are far harder to access than victim demographics. Jennifer Wilson followed up urging men to stop feeling unfairly attacked.

Motherhood

Lisa Pryor wrote a column about surviving medical school and mothering with the help of caffeine and antidepressants. Former federal Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham responded in the Australian Financial Review with commentary (which I’m not going to link) called “Why left feminists don’t like kids”. Criticism of Latham’s piece included:

Penni Russon talked with her daughter Una about time travel, women heroes, and community.

Andie Fox told her story of hiding her caring responsibilities while proving herself at a new job as part of the broader picture of women’s caring responsibilities and workplace roles.

Education

Camilla Nelson followed up some October pieces in counting how many of the various states’ English curricula texts are by men.

Clementine Ford wondered what would an anti-sexism school curriculum look like?

Media and culture

Sharon Smith attended PAX Australia and found that the Australian gaming community proved that it was not GamerGate.

Danielle Binks remembered Heartbreak High, including its exploration of gender and racial politics, and the role of public broadcasters in creating diverse programming.

Scarlett Harris explored feminist themes in the musical Wicked and anti-feminist themes in Gone Girl.

New sites

Blogs and sites started in 2014 featured in this carnival were:

Next carnival

The 80th carnival will follow at The Scarlett Woman. Submissions to scarlett.harris [at] y7mail [dot] com by 5th January.

Volunteers are needed to host carnivals from March onwards. Volunteer via the contact form.

Vale Stella Young

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Photograph of Stella Young
Stella Young: Twitter photo

As a few people already wrote in the Welcome back thread, Australian writer, comedian and disability activist Stella Young died suddenly on Saturday, December 6.

I didn’t know Stella in person; I knew her work mostly for her writings on ABC’s Ramp Up, but the many other places she appeared as a performer, speaker and writer included TEDx Sydney, the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Global Atheist Convention. You’re welcome to link your favourite appearances and pieces in comments.

I loved Stella’s writing, and I’m really sad. I wish 80-year-old Stella had got to read the letter. Goodbye Stella.

Call for Submissions: Seventy-Ninth Edition @ Hoyden About Town

I’m the next host of the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! Here’s the call for submissions:

The next edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival is planned for 5 December, 2014 and will be hosted by Mary at Hoyden About Town or perhaps puzzling.org, as circumstances permit. Submissions to mary-carnival [at] puzzling [dot] org.

Submissions must be of posts of feminist interest by writers from Australia and New Zealand that were published in November. Submissions are due on 2 December at the latest, but it’ll be easier on Mary if you submit sooner rather than later. So submit early and often, please, and spread the word!

Submit away, please!

Are your lulz low quality? Valerie Aurora is here to help

This article originally appeared on Geek Feminism.

Warning for mention of sexual assault, and extensive discussion of harassment.

In May, my GF co-blogger and Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora posted Handy tips for my Internet harassers on her blog. They included:

Threatening my job: Unfortunately, I am my own boss. Try emailing one of the Ada Initiative sponsors? Although they might take that as a sign that the Ada Initiative is doing important work and make another donation. Hmmmm. Maybe create a Yelp page for my file systems consulting business and leave bad reviews? Endorse me for CSS on LinkedIn?

Rape and death threats: Run spell check! There’s nothing more jarring than reading an otherwise creative and well-written death threat and then seeing “decapetate.” Also, chain-saws are so last year. Remember, Gmail won’t display images by default. P.S. I happen to know one of the members of Nirvana and your bright idea has already been done.

Why did she do such a thing, and what resulted? Geek Feminism obtained an exclusive tell-all interview.

Q. Have you received any harassment as a result of this post? Was its quality indeed improved?

Sadly, no. Part of the problem is that my friends loved it — I’ve never had so much positive feedback on a post — but they didn’t want to share it with other people online. I like to joke that it’s the ultimate in dark social since people only talk about it offline using vibrations in the air called “sound.” I think that my friends are more afraid of me being harassed than I am.

Q. The post is pretty out there! Why did you put this post up? What point are you trying to make?

“Self-doxxing” myself (thanks, Kate Losse for the term) was inspired in part by how incompetent and bad the online harassment that I’ve received has been. Most people doing online harassment are just trying to impress other online harassers, at the same time that what they are doing is, frankly, totally unimpressive. The reality is, anyone can spend $25 and get another person’s home address and a bunch of other personal information, but we act like it is some kind of amazing act of computer hacking. By showing how bad people are at online harassing, I’m hoping to remove some of the motivation for people to do the harassment, or at least make them spend more time on it before they get the reward of “so cool, bro!”

I was also inspired by Krystal Ball , who ran for U.S. congress in 2010. When her political opponents tried to slut-shame her into quitting her political campaign over “sexy photos” of herself that they published, she turned around and shamed THEM — both her opponent and the media outlets that published the photos. It was glorious, and it hit home for me: if we let the existence of sexy photo of a woman prevent her from serving in political office, then I and every woman born after 1990 were out of luck. Women’s representation in political office would go down.

Q. Should other people do this?

For most people, no, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was okay for me for a lot of reasons: I already went public about sexual abuse in my family, I’m white, I’m my own boss, I don’t have children or a partner, I have skills that are in high demand, I have lots of friends and a huge support network — my emotional, physical, and economic safety is pretty good. Most women have a lot more to lose.

However, I think it is a very good exercise to think about worst cases like this: what if the thing I am most afraid of other people finding out got published all over the Internet? Because a lot of times, that thing actually doesn’t reflect on you – the shame is on the person who did the original act or publicized a private matter. It can be healing to plan what you might do, even if you don’t actually go public with it yourself.

Q. Why won’t you accept my endorsement for CSS on LinkedIn? I taught you everything you know, dammit.

I’d hate to embarrass you by letting anyone else know that you are the source of my mangled <div>’s! [Ed: good point, well made.]

Q. When are you monetising this? How can investors contact you? How big is your Series A and at what valuation?

Actually, that is a great idea. Instead of vetting a political candidate and saying yes or no, you investigate them and then publish everything that might be a problem in a funny blog post.

Or better yet, here is my favorite idea: If I ever run for political office, I’m going to scan in all my embarrassing naked photos, then watermark them with the email addresses of various journalists. Then email them anonymously to said journalists. Then when the photos get published (it’s “news,” someone else would have, etc.), I can expose the specific person who decided that slut-shaming a candidate was “news” and put the shame where it belongs. Sexism-shaming as a service, SSaaS. I’m accepting funding now.

Code of Conduct timeline and postmortem

This article originally appeared on Geek Feminism.

Last week, Geek Feminism announced we’ve adopted a Code of Conduct.

As Annalee said in that announcement, this comes long after adoption of codes in other communities, especially events:

You’ve been promoting Codes of Conduct for years. Why didn’t you adopt one of your own sooner?

We dropped the ball in a big way here. We’ve known for at least two years that we needed a Code of Conduct internally. We’re sorry for the inexcusable delay.

We thought it would be useful to other communities to discuss how this happened.

Timeline

May 2008: Skud founded the Geek Feminism wiki, two and a half years before anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct began to be promoted by geek feminists.

August 2009: Skud founded the Geek Feminism blog, more than one year before anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct began to be promoted by geek feminists. At the time of launch. the blog had a strong comment policy which remains in essentially the same form (albeit expanded since). We weren’t the first by a long way to have such a policy (in fact it was based fairly closely on that of Hoyden About Town) but this was at the time unusual among the technical blogs and forums that many of the original bloggers frequented.

November 2010: Warning for assault Nóirín Plunkett was assaulted at ApacheCon. Within the month, Valerie Aurora had released a draft anti-harassment policy for events and finalised it for events to adopt. This is the policy that is now maintained on the wiki.

I have not found any discussion of Geek Feminism adopting such a policy internally at this time, which isn’t surprising considering it was envisaged as being for in-person events.

Early 2011: there were person-to-person complaints within the Geek Feminism community that an individual within it is harassing people when Geek Feminism contributors meet up in person (as sometimes happens at conferences we attend and similar).

January 2012: AdaCamp Melbourne (the first event I know of run by Geek Feminism community members that occurred after the development of the event anti-harassment policy) has an anti-harassment policy.

July 2012: Blogger Nice Girl reported harassment at OSCON by attendees identifying as geek feminists and using terminology from our wiki. (We do not know the identities of these people.) In August, Skud wrote on the blog:

We are taking a few different steps to address the specific concerns raised. One is that we are reviewing our wiki pages to make sure that we have information on slut-shaming and that it is appropriately cross-linked with articles about sexualised environments at geek events to help reinforce/educate people that criticising an individual woman’s choice of clothing is very different from criticising (for instance) a business that uses booth babes as a marketing device.

The second thing is that we are setting up a process so that people can contact us if they experience harassment by someone associated with GF. This is a work in progress, especially since GF is (as mentioned) a loose affiliation with no official membership, and because we may be asked to deal with harassment that occurs outside our own spaces. However, if someone is harassing another person under GF’s name or in a way associated with GF, then we want to provide a private way for people to contact us, and respond appropriately.

On the same day, Skud wrote the first version of the wiki’s Slut shaming page.

At around this time, Skud founded Growstuff, reducing her available volunteer time; her participation in the blog and other Geek Feminism activities dropped drastically over the next few months.

July/August 2012: Emails about the harassment by a Geek Feminism member discussed earlier began to circulate among Geek Feminism bloggers, presumably with our awareness of internal harassment risks heightened by the public and private discussions of Nice Girl’s reports. More than one person reported feeling unsafe and no longer recommending our backchannels as safe spaces. Skud first became aware of these reports at this time.

Given the seriousness of a known harasser operating in a community central to anti-harassment policy promotion, it didn’t seem appropriate to wait for a policy and response group as mooted by Skud to be in place and instead Valerie Aurora spearheaded a letter asking this person to leave the community, which was signed by several others including myself. The person left our community.

After this, I cannot find any further internal discussion of an anti-harassment policy for approximately another year.

April 2013: Recognising her lack of availability for volunteering due to work commitments, Skud formally announced she was stepping down as a Geek Feminism administrator. There was a discussion about handing over various technical responsibilities but not (that I can find) about the anti-harassment status.

July 2013: I sent an email to the blogger backchannel reminding them that an anti-harassment policy is still to be developed. There was a short and inconclusive discussion.

October 2013: Annalee produced an early draft policy document with many unresolved questions, particularly who the policy was intended to apply to, and how reports would be resolved. Comments on the document were made by several community members.

November 2013: Rick Scott began to formalise existing editorial practice on the wiki in the Editorial guidelines page, which was revised over a few months by a small group of wiki editors. It is intended more to communicate norms to newcomers and onlookers than to protect wiki editors from each other.

January 2014: Discussion had died down on Annalee’s draft. I sent an email with some open questions but no one including myself follows up before May.

May 2014: Annalee produced a new draft anti-harassment policy and circulated it for discussion. Skud, Tim, Valerie and myself all commented and edited substantially. Annalee asked for consensus on adopting it, Valerie suggests she JFDI, and I ended up proposing a timeline through to late June for circulating it more widely, giving people time to familiarise themselves, appointing the Anti-Abuse team, and then making the document public.

June 2014: The Anti-Abuse Team was appointed after an internal feedback process. Annalee announced our Code of Conduct publicly. I made our policy made available for reuse and promoted adoption by other communities.

Post mortem

Things we did right

Skud established best practices (particularly the comment policy) at the time our community was founded.

When it became clear that harassment in our community was a periodic problem, we acknowledged publicly that we had not put best practices into place (a anti-harassment policy) and began discussing one suitable to our community.

We returned to the issue periodically without further external prompting or known (to me) incidents of harassment and eventually got a policy in place. In the process, we hope we have developed a new best-practice policy for communities to use so that others do not have to go through this process.

Our new policy has a pretty sophisticated description of various types of harassment, based on a wide variety of personal experiences and reports of harassment received by those of us who do anti-harassment action or advising in other communities. It is better adapted for a long-lived community than the event policy is, by, eg, considering incidents of harassment in the past and in other communities. It has a more explicitly feminist stance in, eg, stating that it centres the concerns of marginalised people, and that tone-policing will not be regarded as harassment.

Things we did wrong

Various individual members of the community were slow to recognise harassment in our community based on first-hand reports from victims.

We were very slow at responding to the known need for a policy, especially for a group which was among the leaders in advocating that in-person events adopt policies. Even on the most generous reading of this timeline, there was explicit discussion of an internal anti-harassment policy in August 2012, at the time Skud discussed Nice Girl’s harassment, meaning that nearly two years passed between us explicitly committing to it existing and it being put in place. We seem to have been caught in a common problem here: we had no active need for the policy (that I know of personally), and so we did not push ahead with it.

Less central members of our community report that they wondered why we didn’t have a code of conduct, but did not feel empowered to ask about it.

Where to from here?

It is far better to have clear documentation concerning safety in particular, and common problems in general, before they are needed. We hope our reusable policy gets adopted by other communities or assists them in drafting their own, to avoid some of the slowness involved in starting from scratch.

Skud reviewed our community structure and documentation in the lead-up to her Open Source Bridge talk and found various inadequacies. She and Annalee have each raised the issue of reviewing our community’s processes,. We would need to look at questions such as:

  • are we following best practices in anti-harassment, anti-abuse and establishing safer spaces?
  • is our group unusually reliant on certain individuals and if so (it usually is so in any community), how can we share knowledge and resources so that there are less single points of failure?
  • is our documentation sufficient for a newcomer to the community?

Does anyone have pointers to similar review processes in other groups? That would be really handy.

Skud suggests that in addition, with important projects like a code of conduct, a relatively structureless group like ours explicitly appoint people to the project, so that they feel empowered to act on it. We particularly need to be alert to Warnock’s dilemma (does silence signify consent, ignorance, lack of understanding, lack of interest or contempt?) in discussing changes to our community. We also need to be alert to hidden hierarchies, to, eg, the sense that nothing can go ahead without approval from, say, Skud as founder or myself as the most frequent poster.

Annalee suggests that we need to improve our institutional memory with documentation like that above, together with internal private documentation where it is impossible to make things public. This helps identify when things were done for a very good reason, versus having emerged essentially by accident, versus never having been done at all by anyone. We also need to clarify (probably continuously) about whether we are a JFDI community, or whether projects must have people appointed to them, or other.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Annalee, Maco, Skud, Valerie and one of the linkspammers for their review of this post. Except where explicitly attributed, all opinions herein should be taken to be mine, informed by discussion with others in Geek Feminism but not necessarily co-signed by them.

Is harassment in your community unwelcome? Adopt a Community Anti-Harassment Policy!

This article originally appeared on Geek Feminism.

Last week, the Geek Feminism community announced that we’ve adopted a code of conduct in our community. Our code begins:

The Geek Feminism (GF) community is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.

This code of conduct applies to all Geek Feminism sponsored spaces, including our blog, mailing lists, and wiki, as well as any other spaces that Geek Feminism hosts, both online and off. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of the Geek Feminism Anti-Abuse Team.

We took quite a long time to do this, after two harassment incidents associated with the Geek Feminism community (albeit, one probably not by people who are actually active in our spaces and who therefore can’t be excluded from them). We’d love it if others learned from our example and adopted a policy within their own communities. To that end, as of today, our Community Anti-Harassment Policy is available for re-use under Creative Commons Zero/public domain and we are beginning to develop associated resources, just as we have done over the past few years for the Conference anti-harassment policy

Here’s what you need:

  1. a policy (remember, ours is available for re-use, either as is, or in a modified form)
  2. a contact point where harassment reports can be received
  3. a group of responders who receive reports and have the power to act on them up to and including excluding harassers from your community

If your community does not have an obvious way to create a group of responders, start discussing how you can create one. In many communities, there is likely to be an existing volunteerocracy at the very least. Can these people reach consensus that your community should be safer from harassment, and that they are unwilling to work with harassers? Simply announcing to people that they must cease a behaviour, or they must leave the community, is in fact very effective as long as there is basic consensus around community norms. For online groups technical structures can help, but social structures are in fact the root of anti-harassment. You don’t need ops or admin power or the crown of the ancient rulers to enforce anti-harassment policies in your community, you need consistent anti-harassment responses by people with social power.

If you don’t know that your community has concensus on being anti-harassment. as a start you can declare your own personal anti-harassment stance, and publicly call for your community to adopt a anti-harassment policy, and a structure that enables the response team to exclude people from the community.

As Geek Feminism shows, activist groups or groups that have advocated for anti-harassment are not safe from internal harassment and still need a policy. And groups with no known harassment incidents are also not safe; it’s quite likely that people in your community have experienced harassment they felt unable to identify or report. Take steps to ensure harassing behaviour becomes known, and that it is known to be unacceptable.

One specific model we encourage you to avoid is the Our community is amazing! So wonderful! We rock! PS no harassment model in which you spend a lot of time affirming your community’s goodness and make a general statement about anti-harassment in passing. We discourage putting this in your anti-harassment policy for these reasons:

  1. you probably do not know the extent of harassment in your community without a policy and a reporting mechanism, and may not rock as much as you think
  2. stating that you are “anti-harassment” without saying what harassment means to you doesn’t give your existing community and potential new members the information they need to find out if their safety needs are a close enough match for your community’s norms

Stating your community’s great work or exemplary behaviour can be really useful for establishing social norms and letting people understand what joining your community means. They form a good basis for specific policies. But don’t make such statements in your anti-harassment policy, make them in a separate document listing your community’s values and goals. And it may be best to say that you aspire or intend to create an amazing space, rather than that you have definitely attained that goal. Statements that you are definitely no questions amazing may be used to silence people with critical feedback and in the end reduce your amazingness.

We also discourage private anti-harassment policies (shared only within a community or within its leadership), for reasons outlined by the Ada Initiative [disclaimer: I co-founded the Ada Initiative].

Do you already have a community anti-harassment policy, or have we convinced you to adopt one? List your community on the Community anti-harassment adoption page! And thank you.

Quick hit: Google publishes their EEO-1 diversity data

This article originally appeared on Geek Feminism.

As promised earlier this month, Google’s diversity data is now up on their blog.

They write:

We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.

Their numbers — globally — are 70% male, 30% female (this seems to add up to 100%, which suggests that either Google or the EEO-1 process need to review their gender categories), dropping to 17% female among their technical employees. We’ve tabulated some data at the Geek Feminism wiki. You can compare with female-male breakdowns from some other companies (many quite small) at We Can Do Better.

Google’s US workforce is also 2% Black, way below US national figures of 13% nationwide and 3% Hispanic against 17% nationwide. (Nationwide figures from US Census numbers dated from 2012 and rounded to the nearest whole number to have the same precision as the Google figures.)

What do you think? Is disclosure a meaningful action here? Are you surprised by Google’s figures? Do you think the rest of the tech industry will or should follow?