Leading Lady Links: Sourcecode is Sexist.

July 23, 2012 Leading Lady Links Comments (5) 71

Well, this has been an interesting week in gaming news. Most of us are still reeling and trying to wade through all the news that SDCC brought to us, and also trying to move on and find new stories.

The first of these new stories revolves around a fun string of code found in Microsoft. As the BBC informs us:

“The hexadecimal string 0xB16B00B5 was discovered lurking in code that helps a Microsoft program work with Linux open source software.”

So basically, some programmers thought it would be funny to add a string that reads “big boobs” into a program for kicks and giggles. Yes its juvenile, but as James Gaffar points out in a follow up article, it also points to larger problems for women with the coding community

At the most basic level it’s just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it’s also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren’t welcome.

It basically reminds me of being back in high school taking AP Java or any math class that required a more high-tech calculator. Boys would spend a good chunk of their time finding ways to draw and spell boobs on their techno toys. This also demonstrates that sexism runs all the way back to the level of coding. While many of us are critical of representations of women in video games and computer games, the sexism runs deeper than racy images of woman. The problem runs all the way back to the code, and a coding community that thinks it’s cute to insert “boobies” into programs whenever possible. If that isn’t disturbing enough, this web page gives a review of some common coding jargon, scroll down to number 29.

Hooker Code: Code that is problematic and causes application instability (application “goes down” often). “Did the site go down again? Yeah, Jim must still have some hooker code in there.”

While these stories may seem silly they do point to larger problems for women in the technological community, a community which is still primarily male-dominated.

2.) In much better news, many gamers are beginning to realize the sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. that composes a good chunk of the gaming community. Sam Killerman has decided to do something about this in the form of his site “Gamers Against Bigotry“.  The site features a pledge against identity-based slurs for gamers to sign, currently over 1500 people have signed. The Mary Sue‘s Becky Chambers interviewed Killerman, who further explain the goals of the project.

Getting the word out about the pledge to all gamers, and giving them a chance to decide whether or not they will sign, is crucial in understanding exactly where the community, as a whole, stands on this stuff (something we don’t truly have any idea of at the moment). If we can advertise the pledge through a variety of channels, we can increase the odds of that opportunity cropping up.

We also want to work with game developers to improve the current systems that prevent bigoted hate speech and promote a stronger gamer community. While working on this, we want to create outlets for GAB pledgees to form our own gaming community by making it easier to connect and play with other people who care enough about others to not degrade their identities.

Unfortunately, as was the case with Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter the trolls of the internet appeared to hack the site, while there have been over 1500 people that have pledge against bigotry, the current counter only reads 15. You can read about the hacking here but fair warning, the post contains images of the way the website was hacked and they are graphic, violent, and made me want to throw up more than a little. To help the site fight against hackers, you can donate to their indiegogo fund.

3.) (Trigger Warning: Rape) Continuing with hacker news, buzzfeed covers the story ( of 4chan trolls hacking the site feminism.org As buzzfeed notes

So it’s basically another example of subpar misogynistic rape-based humor to add to this summer’s archives. At least it’s on a site no one’s looked at in a decade anyway — weak humor and weak hacking.

How sad is it that we need to have a category of “subpar misogynistic rape-based humor” to put multiple stories from this summer in? While the site was not in working order, this is yet another clear attack on women by some extremely misogynistic men from 4chan. This summer has been abuzz with troll attacks, which on the one hand have helped illuminate the extent that misogyny is still alive and well on the internet, but have also been truly disturbing in their frequency and tactics.

4.) Some of you may have noticed ComicCon happenings if you been present on the internet recently. Ms. Magazine blogger Natalie Wilson has written a great article called ‘Women Attend Comic Con But Don’t Run the Show” As Wilson points out, over 40% of the attendants of Comic Con were women, but this was not reflected in the Comic Con program.

Instead, the majority of programming consisted of panels where the ratio was (at best) one woman for every five men. Though it’s true there are more strong women’s roles than before in television, film, games, comics and graphic novels (as discussed here), there is no equivalent growth in the number of women writing, producing and directing that media–let alone equivalent numbers of men and women on the Comic-Con panels.

There were some women on panels, and you should read the article to hear what the women who did get to speak at Comic Con thought were problems in the community.

5.) For those of you interested in female representation in video games (like I clearly am) the Gamelogical Society over at the AV Club wrote an article this week called “Something Other than a man: 15 games that pass the Bechdel test“. For those unfamiliar with the Bechdel test, the requirements to pass it are that two women must have a conversation about something other than a man. It is sad how few movies and video games pass this test, although passing or failing the test does not necessarily always indicate how well a game or movie represents women.

6.) For those of you who haven’t seen this video of Ellen Page being interviewed about her work on Beyond: Two Souls, you should definitely watch it now:

Ellen Page provides some interesting insight in what it was like to play a video game character and be involved in the project. Also, I just happen to think Ellen Page is a very interesting actress who tends to thwart and complicate gender roles norms with the movies she has been involved in (Hard Candy anyone?).

That is it for the weekly round-up this week! If there are any stories you think I’ve missed, feel free to share them in the comments, and come back next week 🙂

5 Responses to :
Leading Lady Links: Sourcecode is Sexist.

  1. Bailey says:

    Reblogged this on mustard ampersand and commented:
    A friend of mine has some really excellent commentary today as part of her really excellent blog. Agreed with all of it, and you should follow her blog.

  2. Thanks for the GAB mention. Looks like you found us RIGHT after things were at their best 🙂

    We’ll be back.

    1. My pleasure! Finding out about GAB was one of the highlights of my day. I wish I had more skills/was able to help more

  3. Andrea says:

    Awesome post,I will invest more time researching this topic.

Chat me up!