Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Creating Context and Background

One of the reasons that I identify with Intersectional Feminism, is because my own life is such an uneven grouping of privileges and poverty.

My family got our first home computer (privilege!) soon after we moved to Omaha. An Apple IIe, with a modem, so that my father could send data back to St. Louis University for his Master's capstone (thesis or project, I'm not sure).

I grew up with a computer in the house, and for my generation, that is a privilege. I remember reading odd jumbles of letters and numbers out of a computing magazine, in order for Dad to type them in and create games that we'd save on floppy disk. NOW, I presume that the odd letters and numbers that made no sense in English, was Assembler for the Apple.

Internet culture has been around for a very long time. We had a computer, and a modem, so my Dad showed me a Bulletin Board System (BBS) once. However, I didn't really play on the internet until I reached college.

I've always tended to migrate away from the more aggressive and toxic internet sites, to the ones where people act like decent human beings. It may have been around 2002 that my brother first mentioned learning his netiquette on 4chan, where crudity and trolling were considered a high art. I made a note that that was one site I would stay away from.

All good things come to an end.I joined Twitter as many computer-savvy netizens have, and enjoyed the opportunity to hear directly from celebrities, the opportunity to discuss pop culture, and to find fellow STEM and space advocates. Twitter and the internet community got me through the 3 years of being the only woman on my team, and on to the next project.

Meanwhile, media critique and criticism have continued. As I participate in Fandom, I become aware of many of the tropes that occur on TV shows, in movies... and also in video games. Around 2012, an awesome woman named Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter to fund a video series on tropes against women in video games. I find the series fascinating, humorous, and informative.

In May of 2014, no longer burdened with graduate school coursework, I entered my first hashtag activism with #YesAllWomen on Twitter.In June, the 4chan and 8chan communities attempted to strike back with "end Father's Day," which led to internet sleuthing and #yourslipisshowing .

In August, the GamerGate movement began, which greatly affected the Geek women with whom I identify. In November, the toxic internet hit even closer to home with #shirtgate / #shirtstorm.

2014 marks the year that I truly went pro-active on blocking and reporting uncivil behaviors on Twitter. I don't know what it is that has kept me out of the worst harassing: the pro-active blocking without warning/notice? the low profile? my annoying brother? or my now-former employer?

The idea that many of these online after-hours harassers could have been fellow colleagues by day... is quite frankly, terrifying.