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Programmers and Painted Nails


After the 2012 Grace Hopper conference I wrote a post in which I raged against the company that had the audacity to put branded fingernail polish in the swag bag. My exact quote:

“Nail polish? For attendees of a technical conference? Just… Fuck you. This is so very, very inappropriate  The thought that someone out there assumed that I, as an attendee of the Grace Hopper conference, would appreciate nail polish as a free gift, is incredibly insulting. It completely ignores the intellectual, technical side of me, and reduces me to someone who cares primarily about upkeeping my physical appearance.”

I had a brave friend who talked with me about this afterwards, saying she felt a bit hurt and alienated because she routinely paints her nails. The fact that she would have appreciated getting free nail polish made her feel that I was reducing her to someone who cares primarily about upkeeping her physical appearance.

This exact issue came up again at the 2013 Grace Hopper conference, during which I attended a fascinating set of short presentations on Representations of Women in the Media. One of the presenters attacked the Grace Hopper poster/logo itself, saying that the 3 women it pictured may be culturally diverse but in no way represented actual technical women. They all had slick, styled hair, wore business suits, and had painted nails.

She then displayed a (rather hilarious) photoshopped version of the poster in which she’d “fixed” the elements she found troublesome – giving them more casual clothing, messier hair, and, she was quick to point out, NO nail polish on any of them.

Come question time, a woman got to the mic and asked (and I paraphrase): “Why do you think technical women and nail polish are mutually exclusive? I paint my nails. I bet lots of women in this room do.”

At which point a good 1/4 of the people in the room raised their hands, displaying colorful nails.

The speaker gave some glib self-deprecating answer about how ‘she can’t keep nice nails because she’s always typing but maybe she’s doing it wrong’ and quickly changed the subject, but this issue is an important one.

It’s this idea that technical intelligence and feminine gender expression don’t mix. Which, of course, is bullshit because the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Note that this is very different from the idea that technical intelligence and women don’t mix – that’s a concept that most everyone agrees is a problem and the tide is slowly turning. (for example, see: the Grace Hopper Conference)

So what do I mean by this? I mean that if a woman walks into a Google mixer with long pretty hair and a skirt, people assume she works in sales. If she walks in with a ponytail and a t-shirt and jeans, people are much more likely to believe she’s a programmer. On the job, feminine appearance can seriously undermine your ability to be taken seriously by colleagues. A friend in college once told me that a professor (a professor!!!) told her she’d never be good at physics because she spent so much time on her clothing and makeup. In short, I mean that this: “You’re an engineer? Really? Well you don’t look like one!” is not a compliment.

On the flip side, and this is the really insidious bit, I mean that feminists speaking at a conference promoting women in technology scorn the thought of programmers with painted nails and pretty hair. I mean that other technical women will also assume someone’s in sales if they walk in with a dress and heels on. It’s the idea that if you’re not 100% fighting the stereotype, then you’re doing it wrong, which is something I have seen come up a lot in feminism. I’ve been tackling it a lot lately, internally.

In short, it’s bad to assume that just because someone’s a woman that she wants nail polish. It’s just as bad to assume that just because someone’s a smart, technical women, that she doesn’t want nail polish.

You can’t fight stereotypes by declaring everyone has to do the exact opposite of what’s stereotypical – that’s just creating a new enforced stereotype. To truly fight stereotypes we must detach the ideas entirely, not replace them with something else.

Nail polish has nothing to do with technical intelligence. (It has nothing to do with gender either, but that’s a bigger battle.) It’s just a colorful paint that you can put on your nails. Some people like to use it. Some people don’t. That’s all, everyone go home now, we’re done.

Porn with Google Glass: please stop.

When Google Glass first came out, everyone in porn was all “Yes, it’s the future of the adult industry!” Quite quickly a comedy trailer was released by who else but James Deen showing the potential for Glass in porn. The full video, if there actually is one, has yet to be released, but today I stumbled across an actual professional shoot with Glass by Dominic Ford.

And oh good god, please please let this just be a fad.

Living in SF I see people on the streets wearing Glass and I giggle every time because they always look ridiculous. Now imagine some naked buff dude making a seductive ‘come-hither’ face while wearing Glass.

Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine it, because it exists. Excuse me while I go cry at the demise of humanity.


And here’s the un-cropped version, because the full nudity just makes it so much worse.


Here he is wearing it during the sex. (no sfw version, because it would rather ruin the point)


slkjvhakeghlwdkgjdlsf. :( :( :( :(

Of course, it’s all worth it just to get high quality POV shots like, uh… this.


Oh wait, did I say ‘worth it?’ I meant the opposite.

Meow-y Christmas!

Let’s just pretend this was posted on Christmas, yes? That didn’t happen because… reasons.


This was my Christmas card from last year! (or, for my Jewish friends with a sense of humor, my ‘Happy Hanu-cat’ cards)

The original idea was more along the lines of the dramatic ‘disembodied head fading into background’ of meme fame, but when you’re working with cats you take what you can get. We started with some festive holiday costumes. (All photography by my friend Dan)



I think these photos show what the cats thought of that…



Although Sarah was rather fond of my hat.


Eventually we got one decent shot with everyone looking at the camera and not looking pissed off. Even if I look totally ridiculous, but, well, that was the point.


Print it, ship it!


Bad Boys of Boston 2014 – Pre-Order now!


(teaser photo stolen from the BBoB Facebook page)

I am incredibly pleased to say that the 2014 edition of the Bad Boys of Boston Calendar is coming soon, and you should all go put your pre-orders in now! All proceeds go to a very worthy charity, and you get to have half-naked men on your walls. Win-win!

Order Your Calendar Here!

If you don’t already know, this calendar is a project I started in 2010 while I was at MIT. It’s an all-male pinup calendar featuring MIT students, and all proceeds go to an excellent charity. I produced the 2011 and 2012 calendars, but when I graduated I wasn’t sure it would carry on without me as the driving creative force. I was deliriously happy when the 2013 calendar came out without me being involved at all! Today I found out the 2014 calendar comes out soon, and people in the Mission probably mistook me for a crazy person as I was skipping down the street towards the coffee shop, grinning like a fool.

Obviously I’m very happy to have a Bachelor’s degree from MIT, but starting this calendar is probably the thing I’m most proud of accomplishing during college.

(Oh, and if it’s not obvious, I didn’t take the above photo, no matter how much I wish I had)

I went as ’50 Shades of Grey’ to the Halloween Party

Because where could this costume be more appreciated than an actual BDSM company?


My 2nd Porn Appearance! …kinda

I made a big deal about my first appearance in porn, but my 2nd one was out for over a month before I remembered I should post it here. My bad!

Well, I think you’ll actually understand – it’s a bit less impressive. This time I was only a background extra in a bar scene.


If you look reeeeaaaaally closely, you can see the dark splotch of my brass rat.


Boom. MIT pride!

Today I was making coffee in the employee lounge when I glanced to my right to see an extremely sexily clad woman walking down the hall towards me followed by camera crew. So I think my 3rd porn performance might be imminent, as long as they don’t cut me out in post. :p I’ll be sure to let you know!

The Wedding of Maggie & Marisa

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day, & in belated honor of that I’m finally posting pictures from a wedding I photographed last November!


Maggie & Marisa are good friends of mine from high school. They threw this gorgeous purple-and-brown themed wedding amongst the splendor of an Arkansas forest in autumn.


Arkansas is likely to be one of the last states that allows gay marriage so they couldn’t legally back up the commitment at the time, but yesterday they got a call that their marriage application has been received in Iowa City and they’ll be traveling there soon to make it “official.”

Marisa shared this lovely sentiment on fb:

“I love that I get to celebrate this day (and every day) openly with the person that I love, and that all of our friends and family have been so amazing and supportive of us as we approach both the first anniversary of our wedding day and this next step in our lives together. Signing the papers next week will make our marriage “real” to people in offices who don’t know us, but it was the love of the people around us on that day, both in person and in spirit, that made it real to me.”


One advantage of a same-sex wedding: You can use the same changing room and help each other get ready.




The ceremony was supposed to start with the lighting of these candles by the brides’ families, but the wind was extremely uncooperative. It did cause the whole thing to kick off with a very light-hearted note, though.


The foliage and sunlight created a gorgeous backdrop for the ceremony (although it made the photography & editing rather tricky).






While the guests helped set up for dinner, I stole the two away for some just-married bridal shots. It caused a bit of a hiccup in the timing, but I like to do these right after the ceremony when emotion is running high.








The day ended with dinner and, of course, dancing.



So what’s it like to work for – Part 2!

My latest posts have been rather heavy, so here’s another light-hearted look into office life at

In case you missed part 1, go check it out!

First off, my business card! :)


aaaaand, the back:


Fancy, no? Although I personally prefer looking at the cards from Naked Sword. No idea why. ;)


And while we’re talking about graphics, the Armory has a ton of paintings on display throughout. Most of them are of screenshots from our videos – lots of intricate bondage positions or particularly appealing moments. Here’s my absolute favorite:


Most of them are way (way) more explicit than this. There’s one in particular that caused me to stop and stare for a few minutes the first time I saw it. Anyone want to guess why?


Here’s why: It is the most detailed painted penis I have ever seen. (and, um, I’ve seen a lot) Let’s look closer:


I love how the guy’s chest muscles and thighs are broad swathes of soft color gradients, but every single bump and wrinkle on the dick has been lovingly recreated in oil paint. Even the faces aren’t that detailed.

One painting that’s always popular on the tours is one that was originally rather PG. Here’s what the painting looked like before we had it: A perfectly respectable, if rather dull, painting of a gentleman rider.


…and after:


Because I like to end on a SFW note, and to show that it’s not all dicks ‘n whips, here’s a delightful poster that hangs in our customer service department.



I just did a really not-racist thing, but got accused of it anyways.

Sometimes, like last night, I’ll get called out for racial bias and agree with it and then get very upset with myself.

Sometimes, like tonight, I’ll get called out for racial bias and be like “nope, you’re just an asshole.”

I was walking back from the gym and this guy was approaching from the opposite direction. As he passed he started cat-calling me, and then turned to walk backwards so he was facing me calling “what’s your name, girl? what’s your name?”

I then made the mistake of actually telling him my name. Because, idk, when someone asks a question my instinct is to answer. I should work on that.

At that point he started walking towards me again and was all “hey, you know, let’s talk girl,” at which point I flipped into ‘holy shit get the hell away’ mode and sped up, saying “no, I gotta get home.”

He did promptly give up (phew. they don’t always.) but said loudly as he was turning away “I see, you don’t talk to black people.”

At which point I, being still just a little bit keyed up and sensitive from last night, turned around and yelled “no, I don’t talk to STRANGERS” and then kept walking. He started cussing me out at that point, but I was too far away to really hear, thankfully.

I don’t care what race you are, you do NOT get to make me feel guilty or ashamed for not wanting to talk to you when the only thing I know about you is that you make suggestive comments to women on the street. I have zero obligation to talk to you, and you have no right to expect it or accuse me of racism when I don’t.

I assure you, I attempt to escape as fast as possible 100% of the time when a stranger tries to chat me up on the street.

You, sir, are just a sexist asshole.

I just did a really racist thing, and I’m fucking pissed at myself.

I was exiting the front door of my apartment building tonight, and there was a young man on the other side. As I went through he moved to go through the open door behind me, but without thinking about it I stopped him and said “um, is there someone you can call to get in?…”

He rolled his eyes and moved back towards the call box, and as I walked away I could hear him mutter “Yeah, alright, happens all the time, I know I’m black.”

And then I was like:



Yeah it’s official building policy never to let anyone piggyback when you go through that door (it’s Oakland, after all), but how often do I actually stop people? Really fucking rarely, that’s how often.

I always think I’m going to, but usually my insecurity about making other people upset with me leads me to just look busy, move really quickly, and hope it shuts before they can get through.

But this time I saw a young black guy who looked a tad scruffy and disheveled holding a crumpled Burger King bag, and some part of my mind went “hey, this time you should probably enforce that rule.”

Fucking christ Clare, seriously?

There was no conscious thought process before this happened, no moment of decision, I just found myself doing it and then walking away and then he said that and I realized “wow, what I just did was really fucking racist.”

I’m super angry with myself right now. Especially after I watched this awesome video today (found on Upworthy) encouraging white people to use their own racial privilege to combat racism.



I’d love to think that in a moment like this woman describes where I see discrimination happening I would realize it and step in and say something, but there was no “see it happening” or “realization” moment tonight, my mind was thinking about something totally unrelated and my automatic reaction was to stop this young black guy from getting through the door.

And I… I don’t know how to change that.

It feels like the only way to change my automatic reactions is to constantly be on guard about the racial implications of what I’m doing, but if that was all I devoted my mind to I’d never get anything done and it would take me forever to make decisions. I’m already hyper-vigilant about gender issues, so much so that it paralyzes my decision making sometimes and I wish I could just not care about it for a little while. I’ve never felt so lucky to be part of only one commonly oppressed group; if I had to deal with Intersectionality on a daily basis my head would explode.

Obviously for the next few days I’m going to be critiquing my reactions to people and looking for similar automatic responses I may have, but that will fade as the rest of my life overwhelms me and consumes my brain power, and next time I go to take the trash out maybe I’ll do it again.

What I am really glad about is that he made that snarky murmur and I heard it, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have given it any additional thought.

If you, dear reader, have any ideas on steps someone can take to change automatic racist patterns of behavior I would love to hear about them.