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The Dark Side of Geek Feminism (nicegirlslikesextoo.com)
20 points by _asuk on July 31, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments

Two comments:

DBAD: Don't Be A Dick

OTOH, many "geeky" types have faced a lot of rejection -- at least, in my generation. It is perhaps not entirely unexpected to encounter negative reaction when presenting oneself in a fashion that they have been conditioned to read as communicating/implying, or just being -- whether or not the message is intended, "You can't have this."

You may think it's unfair. But step away from yourself, for a second, and look at the reality.

(And, if it makes you feel any better, "pretty boys" can and do encounter similar animosity from male geeks.)

Female or male, I think many end up resenting those who are fawned over for their appearance and the resulting advantages they accumulate.

(If you're still unclear on the male side of this, consider perceptions of tall, type A "football" types.)

The negative reaction is sometimes a well-conditioned defense mechanism. And those don't tend to exist in a vacuum, i.e. like them or not, they have some validity -- some real reason for their existence.

That said, we can all learn to act and react better. But denying the underlying basis is not a good point from which to start.

P.S. Physical attraction is also just -- fundamentally, biologically -- distracting. And many people at... "geeky" conferences are not their to be distracted by or communicate with others distracted by a lot of what they consider to be off-topic activity and, erm, "presentation".

One of the commenters mentions the Ada Initiative. Here is our reply, which we have posted to the original blog as well but is awaiting moderation:

We are very concerned about the harassment described in the original post. The Ada Initiative does not condone harassing women about their appearance for any reason. We believe that women should be treated with respect no matter what they are wearing, or how they look. In fact, many of our advisors dress in a way similar to that described in this post, as do our directors.

We dont control members of Geek Feminism, but we will review the example anti-harassment policy used as a source for many conference policies and see if we can make this point more clearly, since it isn’t obvious to some people that criticizing women on their appearance is also harassment.

This comment says that members and board members of the Ada Initiative have engaged in similar behavior at OSCON and conferences like it. Could you be more specific about what this behavior was and who was doing it so we can address this inside our organization? Note that the Ada Initiative does not have members, only a board of directors and a board of advisors.

You are welcome to email me privately at valerie at adainitiative dot org with a guarantee of anonymity if you’d prefer not to report this publicly. I have personally not been to OSCON for several years, so I’m unlikely to be the person who behaved in this manner. You can also email another person you trust on our 20 person advisors board asking for anonymity.

Thanks for letting us know about this behavior and I hope we can get more details so we can address this.

Valerie Aurora, Executive Director of Ada Initiative

Sometimes feminists give feminism a bad image. The sad thing is that in every movement there are people with agendas that align with the movement but don't further the movement. It seems very prevalent in both the feminist and open source community.

Unfortunately for women they often feel as alienated from feminism as they do from the open source community leaving them nowhere to go.

I recently spoke at a careers event in my local middle school (kids are about 11, getting ready to go to high school) about working in video games. Everyone loved it, everyone wanted to work in video games but in the back of my mind I knew a disproportionate number of the girls would lose interest along the way because of the overwhelmingly negative reaction they will get from the 'community'.

As a father of two girls it is a constant battle to give them the tools to deal with it.

This is exactly the sort of thing which makes me hate any sort of single-purpose community - they're so specific in their goals that it ends out being bad for nearly everyone. On the other hand, you can't easily rally people around the idea of not being dicks :(

I've posted a follow-up blog to the one linked above: http://nicegirlslikesextoo.com/2012/08/02/this-is-why/

Your posts have been well written and very honest... Looks like you guys started a wave of good change or at least discussion.

When men tell women how to be "feminist" or what the individual women should be doing to better make women welcome in tech, it is a form of "mansplaining". It's like when your pointy-haired manager tells you which data structure you should use. These are issues the feminist community elsewhere has dealt with in the past. Feminism is new to many techies; there are clearly some growing pains.

Wow, I've never been to an Open Source convention. I always kinda looked forward to going some time, but stuff like this makes me think those are little more than hateful little douche fests where despicable online mob behavior meets the physical world with depressing results.

I'm also at a loss to understand how such events are apparently not about software at all.

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