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Engineering and Punk

January 7, 2010

So, I was browsing Instructables to think of a sweet gift for my girlfriend for the holidays (I ended up making her this steel bird) and stumbled across all of this steampunk stuff (I know, I know, I’m way behind the times). From a gender perspective, I think this is so interesting because punk is generally a masculine domain (and I’m a huge fan of the early ’90s feminist response to punk music known as riot grrrl).

Wikipedia describes steampunk as

The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

And a host of other engineering related punk genres which show up in sci-fi/fantasy as a derivative of cyberpunk.

Of course, I started to wonder how women fit into steampunk and found this interested thread at the Gaslamp Bazaar regarding feminism and steampunk. One comment struck me in particular:

Furthermore, the Victorian era was not just about tightly laced corsets and women as objects. It also witnessed the birth of feminism and of anarchism. Society always has an undercurrent of rebellion — against political oppression, economic oppression, sexual oppression. As steampunks, we should stand with the rebels.

Although I would argue that in terms of gender, punk as a whole hasn’t been particularly rebellious. It’s one thing to claim to be anti-sexism and another to ensure that women’s voices are heard and listened to. I think that the people in that thread want steampunk to be feminist even though there are large parts of it that are not.

As Karen Cadora explains in her article “Feminist Cyberpunk”, cyberpunk (and steampunk) is by default male. Women are forced to create their own space within cyberpunk to explore feminist themes. Because of course, feminism is a women’s issue. Pretty rebellious.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 16:55

    I just found your blog through sociological images, and I need to say how glad I am to have found you. Though I’m not an engineer, I am a woman who has a lot of male dominated interests and I find a lot of relevancies here. Thank you for being another voice out there!

  2. jared permalink
    February 22, 2017 04:22

    I am a recent electrical engineering graduate from the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering, specializing in electromagnetics, and I also completed separate Mathematics and Photography/Sculpture minors. Art, Science, and the Supernatural are one in the same! If you don’t understand/believe that, then you are too fucking stupid and should probably die, or at least get the fuck out of my way! The day the microwave was invented (thanks NASA!), Darwinism was fucked, because fat assholes could live off of microwaved food and survive long enough to pass on their inferior, lazy-ass genetic code! Houston is a city that has had a secure stronghold on the oil&gas industry since at least the 1940’s/50’s (when they forced Black Americans to move into ‘the Wards’, neighborhoods which are now being gentrified at an alarming rate!). There are multitude of reasons as to why Houston became this way, and as such, Houston, TX is an economic stronghold that almost no one realizes or understands. If the farce deemed ‘9/11’ had occurred in Houston, international oil&gas production worldwide would have shut down, causing a much larger economic/social impact than a few late airplanes. [Side note, two easiest ways to affect a population, tamper with the water and food supplies, 3rd best… fuck with the economics of a capitalist country!] For capatilist governments/economies the equivalent, nowadays mind you, is fucking with the ‘free flow’ of oil. Few people realize that there was 1, single airplane allowed to leave the US after air traffic had been shut down on ‘9/11’. The small private jet left from a private airport near Houston’s Hobby airport, and it carried the Bin Laden royal family, as they were in Houston at the time for oil negotiations. After working for an older gay man (he totally looked way younger than he was, kudos gay dudes!, even though the vast majority of you do not pass along your genetic code!), who was the solely contracted florist for the Houstonian (Houston’s premier old-oil-money crowd, which are not in short supply in Htown!), and delivering his floral arrangements to the secluded, private ‘club’, I witnessed families similar to the Bush family (in fact, actual Houstonian members for decades, plus a bunch of Connecticut, Yankee pricks, whose family lineage is traced back to British/European royalty. THEY ARE NOT FROM FUCKING TEXAS!!!). I have played in numerous bands over the last ~15 years, including a hardcore punk/athiest/vegan/straight-edge band that toured all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Asia during my tenure with them (the band toured Russia, Costa Rica, and Europe after I left). IT IS ALL BULLSHIT, FUCK YOUR SENSIBILTIES!!! All of the touring was done while Bush 2 was US Pres, even though I was not punk, athiest, vegan, and/or most certainly not straight-edge at the time, or even fucking now! The fact of the matter is every human being has the right to free electricity (think Prometheus 2.0), and we have the technological/scientific expertise as a species (Google Lunar Solar Power plebeians!), to provide accomplish that feat! So why do we still dig shit out of the ground and burn it to get from A to B? Because they control us! Fuck your bullshit ‘hacking’ and learn some real physics! Electromagnetism is what is redefining our world! Anything ‘wireless/bluetooth’ you can thank your local electrical engineer for, but we can take it so much further! WIRELESS PRODUCTION AND TRANSMISSION OF ELECTRICAL ENERGY, WITHOUT FOSSIL FUELS, IN UNLIMITED SUPPLY FOR EVERY HUMAN BEING!!! That at least allows every human on the planet to read a fucking book after the sun goes down, and educate themselves! As much as I love Star Wars (~26 hours of Star Wars tattoos on my body), the utopian world of Star Trek should be our end goal (which is clearly unattainable), although Roddenberry was pretty fucked in the head himself! Chaos and Anarchy do not necessarily mean destruction and death, despite how fun destroying shit is, and how easily one can arrive at an unexpected outcome from said anarchy/chaos.


  1. women & steampunk « asterisk & ampersand

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