This is a symptom of a larger problem I don't want to be a part of:

genderstats

these are stats from my YouTube channel from over 2k unique viewers in the last 28 days… I thought I was already trying to help fix this by making information more accessible, and also by literally just uploading and sharing my art, so I am slightly confused by this INSANE gender imbalance that still persists to say the least.

I don’t want to go off on too much of a rant but this makes me very mad and frustrated because nothing about what I want to do or create is inherently male. As someone who replied to my story when I posted this put it:

“my theory is that [glitch art] is gardenwalled by guys who are gearheads and more interested in hardware/engineering aspects than creative expression”

I hate that in actuality I’m being lumped in like that; I am an artist first and foremost and not an engineer. To be fair it has taken me a while to get to the point where I can express myself with my tools, so maybe the world still hasn’t gotten over the fact that I’m doing stuff in analog. I’m not trying to attack talented engineers out there making cool discoveries with video, but I certainly don’t want to perpetuate a watered-down culture of art where the ticket to success is buying a museum of gear or just making things that simply revel in their own technical novelty (and once glitch art/video art gets more popular, this novelty will quickly fade).

What do you think?

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hi there. first off, i am frustrated by the gender imbalance in electronic media art as well. i could go into that more, but i’m a little bit confused by your question. it seems like you are thinking about it from a few different perspectives: the problems with the field as a whole and what causes this, gatekeeping, etc. on the one hand, and on the other hand, concern about whether you are contributing to the problems.

it’s hard to summarize my thoughts about how we can address the larger issues, in society and in the field of video, glitch art, etc. but to your point about being worried about contributing to the problem, i think that making information more accessible is definitely a good thing. i think that those viewer stats really speak to the proportions of these problems, and thanks for sharing that, because i think that talking about this is important. i don’t think that those stats are a reflection of whether you are contributing to this problem; i’m not familiar with your channel, but it sounds like you are trying to do a cool thing.

i agree that some people being douchey about gear and such is definitely part of the problem, but i think there is a lot more behind it too. to name a few things: biases in the educational system, how people are raised with gender roles and discouraged from pursuing interests in tech/stem etc, and a lineage of predominantly male artists and engineers in the field. but there’s also a really cool history of media art being used by women and gender non conforming people as a means of expression and towards their own goals, and i personally feel like supporting that is the best way to help things move forward. and yes i think that making information accessible is a big part of that.

i dont really know what else to say about this. i guess that people not being sure whether to consider what we are doing to be art or engineering is kind of like a sign that those terms are not so easy to distinguish as the language implies. i don’t think that people being either more interested in the engineering side or the art side is furthering gender oppression more or less than the other side; i think that people being assholes about it is contributing for sure, and there are pretentious pricks on both sides and everywhere in between. so yeah… im not sure if that addresses your question. maybe others in here have thoughts as well.

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I totally understand that there’s been a reputation for the engineering side of things to be a stereotypically male thing with education and history and all that, but my main thing is that, at the very least, I am frustrated that this reputation also seems to carry over into art that merely just uses engineering type tools. My wish is just for these tools to be super accessible so we can at least enable other demographics to make art without having to be experts in analog technology, something that tends to be gatekeeped (which I regrettably sometimes feel guilty of).

I get that there’s people who are more fascinated by what you can technically accomplish with video tools, but more and more I have become fascinated by what you can express with video tools, if that distinction makes sense. It is this artistic expression that I feel most certainly shouldn’t have a gender imbalance.

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if you want to get more people in general involved start with kids

that is what we have done together with our after school groups

when a green screen/synth/mixer/camera are setup kids quickly separate into their niches without really even thinking about it.

especially with all of the app based dancing kids have been doing in the past couple years they sure know how to bring interesting movement to the screen.

And there is also always someone who wants to be on camera zooming in and out.

Putting information out is great and is certainly a part moving toward a more desirable future.

Putting art making tools into peoples hands is also very helpful.

A lot of kids already have visual art tools their parents buy for them in their pockets.

Putting visual art into a context they already understand/use is also helpful.

Some of our kids did some really wild composition work on snapchat (a couple years back)

This all comes from experience as we have been working in this capacity for nearly 10 years now. Art is always a goal with our kids.

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Yeah I am starting to think about things a little differently now. It used to be I was concerned some people got into making this art without really knowing the science behind it, but I now I realize that that’s a pretty pretentious way to think about it, and hypocritical too if I’m talking about it from an artist’s perspective. Any tool that is easy to use and makes making glitch/video art fun is better for the health of art in general than demanding that people have a large amount of technical knowledge and build things themselves.

I’m barely 20 years old and can see that people even younger than me are constantly looking for new ways to separate themselves aesthetically and that’s why I think there’s a real big future with analog video.

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@respirator as always huge respect to you for the work you do with kids !

@YOVOZOL i definitely understand your frustration. i think of myself as an artist first and foremost (despite being paid in my day job for my technical expertise), and i also feel as though what can be expressed is much more interesting than just creating a flashy display of tech.

i guess i just feel as though the issue of gender imbalance in tech-based art can’t really be solved without also addressing the gender imbalance in tech. i totally agree that people shouldn’t need a lot of super in depth technical knowledge in order to create art using technology, but i think that it does help to have at least a little bit of tech info to get things started, and i feel that it’s one of the main barriers to entry. so i feel like what @respirator is doing with guided fun projects with kids is a really great way to help people get into this zone. but i also feel as though, if tech in and of itself wasn’t so wrapped up in male gender roles and such, that entry into tech-based art would be made even more accessible.

and as a non-male person whose work can be very technical, i definitely want to push for more gender balance on both the tech and creative side. because i want to be able to explore that technical side in a way that isn’t just showing off or wrapped up in consumerism, and id like others like me to feel more comfortable exploring that too.

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Sorry I haven’t read the comments above yet, so my apologies if this has already been discussed.

I think it’s likely that because the world is gender-inequitable and it’s harder for women to achieve the same quality of life as men that they have to work harder, which leaves less time for art and entertainment, which is what this all is for the vast majority of us.

That is unlikely to completely explain the incredibly disproportionate gender rating on those video views, but I think it’s a key part of the problem and the most significant issue that needs to be addressed.

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(I had noticed @YOVOZOL mentioning this elsewhere, and I had invited him to bring here this discussion, because I feel like Scanlines.xyz is and is becoming a welcoming, respectful place - which shouldn’t be taken for granted, this being the internet)

I agree this is part of a larger problem, and I feel it’s not a simple one. I also agree with the other comments, in particular with @palomakop about how this goes beyond tech-based art, and more in general it has been affecting tech forever. Women friends tell me the debate about gender imbalance in IT has been going for a while and it’s been giving some results, so that’s a field we can look at.

Electronic music / DJing is another tech-based art field where men are well known to be overrepresented. I closely follow this topic in this scene and I can attest women or non binary artists actually exist / are more than you’d imagine. Often, it’s simply harder for them to be booked, or to get into Top Charts, because the underlying structures and mechanisms are handled by men who tend to support other men, and because many men who benefit from it don’t see anything wrong in it.

Female Pressure (http://www.femalepressure.net/fempress.html) has been doing a great work to counter this, by offering visibility to female/trans*/non-binary artists, creating opportunities for mutual support among them, working with data and publishing statistics and exposing inequalities in festivals, etc.

We Pixelflowers are two genderqueer people, but I grew up as a man and that’s what people see when they look at me. To realize that this sometimes makes things easier took me years, and wasn’t intuitive or easy to understand, especially at the beginning. So I think it’s just healthy to notice this imbalance, not to dismiss it, to question ourselves about what can we do about it.

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Yes, exactly this.

And, with all respect to @respirator, I think it makes focusing only on the pipeline — on kids — a little bit of a cop-out when talking about representation. Teaching the next generation is good and wonderful and valuable, but there are adult women here right now who struggle to get seen, included, and supported.

I also take part in live code, and while it is still a bit dude-heavy, there are significant women performers and toolmakers. That comes from a concerted effort to recruit women with workshops (often women-only); a real commitment from the men in the scene to promote women; and an informal leadership that is very vocal about this. And it’s still imperfect. A few years ago, for instance, a documentary about the scene just happened to include no women.

Anyways, thinking about this is a good first step, and nothing will fix it overnight. But explicitly supporting women; making information easy to access; and making spaces that are noisily welcoming make a lot of difference.

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My intentions weren’t that an only kids approach was the goal. That is the work we are currently doing and I wanted to throw out that bit as something that is important as young female artists are also female artists. I do appreciate you pointing that out as it only approaching an issue in one way is not reasonable.

We have started a video synth study group to try and get more people talking about all kinds of things. Mostly dudes have shown up at this point. I’d love to talk about this kind of stuff on there :slight_smile: This is the kind of conversation I feel benefits from human to human interaction.

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i dig the idea of hosting workshops specifically for women and non binary people. even just thinking about doing this feels like a breath of fresh air.

i dream of starting (or joining and helping with) some kind of irl community space (not sure yet what that will look like exactly or where)

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one of the most toxically sexist environments i’ve ever worked in was at a sketchy laptop refurbishing company. most of the employees and the owners as well were just kind of locked into these patterns and it was incredibly difficult to get anyone to a point where they could recognize anything wrong with their actions. for a quick laundry list of the kind of talk that went on there we would have

  1. employees (and the owners) staring out the window and making comments on objective appearances of women walking down the street and how much they would enjoy having sex with them
  2. employees would sit and talk about movie stars and rate them in order of how much they would like to have sex with (or conversely how disgusting and how much they did not want to have sex with them)
  3. employees would refer to women as ‘redheads’, ‘blondes’, ‘bitches’, ‘cunts’, and like literally anything other than as fellow humans
  4. one employee (one who would regularly refer to random women as ‘bitches’ if they made him angry) once said something along the lines of 'women who can fix computers are marvelouslly special and wonderful creatures who we should treasure and respect above all others".

lots more than this but i feel like this kind of sums up the atmosphere.

at one point the owner was out on the floor and bemoaned “i dont understand why we can’t keep any female employees for more than a week or so here”. I responded by “im totally not surprised by that at all” and then listed off just a handful of the same shit i listed right above there. I said: “yalls treat women as tho they belong to a different species and are just basically objects and it seems like literally no one here has had a friendship with a woman other than that of someone you are related to or someone you want to fuck. Its incredibly alienating to be treated like your not a human 99 percent of the time, no one wants to be otherized and objectified in that way even 1 percent of the time.” No one really had much to say in response to this in the room itself, I just went and punched my time card and left the building after that. One of the other employees followed me out (an older man, they had worked as computer programmer for the navy in the 70s in punch card days and also had been invited to get a tour of Kowloon Walled City by one of their triad friends way back in the day) and was like “right on, thats the spirit. Women are special and it is our responsibility as men to protect them” and I just basically said nothing to that, smoked a cigarette and felt depressed.

The thing is, I didn’t hate anyone at that place (not to say i did not find it incredibly aggravating at times). These people were not monsters, they were not evil, they were just products of their society, and to an extreme degree fairly representational of how men in tech seem to think of women: as some overlapping venn diagram categories of ‘object’, ‘relation’, and/or ‘someone who i might want to fuck’. But never as ‘a fellow human who I can relate to’. This seems like a huge fucking tragedy for everyone involved. They literally could not befriend, have an open conversation with, or relate to 50 percent of the entire fucking world. Sexism hurts everyone in a society, while it more obviously and harshly harms women in our society it also turns men who are sexist into emotional cripples potentially filled with alternating lust and rage towards people who they have very little possiblity of ever being able to have honest communication with.

this was a mildly extreme situation but I’ve seen various versions of this behavior literally everywhere ive had interactions with in western society. It ends up being highly coached and more passive aggressive and loaded with code words and whatnot in supposedly more ‘liberal’ music/punk/DIY/creative tech zones but its very rarely not present in some form.

I don’t think this is a hopeless situation by any means and I’m sure its far better now than it was in like the 1950s or whatever but thats no reason to say “ok women can vote and go to college now sexism is done we won!” Its not pleasant or fun but there are some things that men can do that might be able to help slightly and most likely wont actively hurt anyone. One is to look at oneself and try to examine in what ways culture, media, and upbringing has led one into any kind of though processes, speech behaviors, and actions that reinforce instead of actively combat the idea that ‘men’ and ‘women’ are essentially seperate species and then doing whatever possible to eradicate them. The other is to figure out ways to communicate to people who speak and act in ways that reinforce sexism about just how hurtful and damaging their behavior is. I understand the urges to just shout “you are a fucking horrible monster” and then go and cancel them from ones social group but I don’t think this is necessarily the most productive approach at all times. (sometimes it definitely is though) I feel that anyone has the ability to change and overcome the negative conditioning that their society imposes upon them and it is important to try and give people an opportunity to change. No one is a monster just because of societal conditioning. But if someone is well aware of how societal conditioning has negatively affected them and the people they interact with and they refuse to make any effort to change then yeah they are kind of an asshole.

Because of some combination of a somewhat non standard upbringing that involved a definite lack of interaction with american media and value systems along with what seems to be a definite non standard brain wiring in terms of how emotional and social information gets processed I’ve never in my memories identified as being a man or as being masculine at all. Neither do i identify as a woman or as any bucketed gender construct, its more like I can abstractly understand why some people enjoy identifying as socially constructed genders but it seems to have very little relevance to how i behave and operate. Every time someone calls me ‘dude’, ‘man’, ‘bro’ etc its makes me cringe inside a bit and reinforces my constant low level alienation but i’m also like not exactly in the mood to lecture 1000 randos on instagram on a weekly basis either. I’m positive that this is only a tiny fraction of how frustrated people identified as women get with the kind of language that is tossed around without thinking.

I’m bringing up the ideas of genderized language and gender identities because of one tiny request I have for literally everyone who reads this: Please make an effort to remove all genderized langauge in your interactions with others. It reflects assumptions you have no business making, it reinforces negative stereotypes, it otherizes and exludes people, and i’m not exactly sure what the benefits are. People have pointed out to me that as trans folks they often would 100 percent prefer to have proper genderized langauge directed at them. My response is usually that "i would like to try to help decondition sexist thought from western society. I understand where you are coming from and this is a totally valid exception but it seems easier to have and make these kind of exceptions once the ground is levelled and people aren’t just by default projecting genders willy nilly all over the place. Starting from a default of ‘they/them’ feels more useful in the grand scheme than starting from the default of EVERYONE IS EITHER A HE OR A SHE AND THATS WHATS UP BRO’. but i’m open to discussion on this point if anyone is super pissed at what i’m saying!

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Yes, I’ve seen you posting about it. I think it’s hard to get women to things they expect to be dude-fests, and you are carrying all the expectations women have about all the A/V meetups they’ve gone to. I wonder if specifically reaching out to women we know and maybe having them meet like 30m before the men join in would help get over the bump of not wanting to sign in and find out you are the only lady.

From live-code I’ve also learned that just being consistent through hills and valleys in terms of attendance can help too. You are doing good work, though, and I swear I’ll come some day. :laughing:

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