But as a white male, I feel powerless to do anything. I can't speak for women, or for other races, or really for anyone else. I want to help fix this, but where do I begin?
Here's an article with a bunch of options ("What Can Men Do? Men working with other men against patriarchy in technology"): https://medium.com/tech-culture-briefs/a1e93d985af0 - and here's an allies training workshop that you can encourage your company (or your friends' companies) to do: http://adainitiative.org/what-we-do/workshops-and-training/
Shanley sees all men as de facto oppressors (of varying degrees) due to their gender and the existence of the patriarchy. (Don't believe me? Look at her point: "Men need to work with each other on sexism. It is not okay to lean on the class of people you oppress to solve your system or your discomfort with it.".) This is not a productive avenue for making progress IMHO.
And specifically, which of her points do you disagree with? Are you saying that men don't need to work with each other on their sexism? Or, are you saying that instead of men taking a responsibility to address sexism or overcome their discomfort with this issue they should instead lean on women?
Terms like "patriarchy", "privilege", and even "problematic" serve to re-frame the debate in a way that causes many negative consequences. It is pretty much the same tactic used in politics to control the language in order to disarm your opponent before debate even begins.
First, it causes debates on issues to immediately have one side assume the premise. If we are having a discussion about privilege, then I am already conceding that in this instance I had privilege in the first place. Second, it turns small issues between individuals into illustrative examples of a wider power and class struggle, regardless of how appropriate such extrapolations might be. Third, it carves a lens through which all day-to-day human interactions may suddenly become viewed, where innocent actions that normally would have gone unnoticed become immediately magnified into sexist acts because they fit into a pre-conceived mold defined by this language and ideology (lets call it what it is) regardless of context. This is what the OP is talking about. Fourth, these terms provide no way to measure progress, similar to the "War on Terror", the "War on the Patriarchy and White Male Privilege" will never be won since it is by definition immeasurable against an enemy that is a concept. Finally, in this particular case it serves to cause women to see men, all men, as inherently flawed and part of a systemic regime of oppression, and men to see themselves that way too. This is all counterproductive, dare I say, problematic.
If you'd like, you can wait to start doing that until the principle becomes an HN guideline. You might have a couple of weeks left to ignore it ('dang has more or less said it's coming). But since it's just a good plan regardless of what the site rules say, I think you should start now.
The tendency for people to litigate framing, tone, and decorum instead of substantive points has a name in online feminist circles: "tone policing". I find the application of that term incredibly annoying. Which is why it's especially discomfiting to see someone directly play into the pattern of behavior the term was coined for.
If you'd like the "tone police" card to get played less often, stop burying the lede that you agree with all the substantive points of this-or-that feminist blog post under a mountain of concern trolling about tone.
You can buy yourself the rhetorical space to criticize someone's tone by demonstrating that you took their substantive points seriously. But read your comments; you can see clearly that you did nothing of the sort here.
In Australia we are having a debate about immigration. The actual debate is over the treatment of refugees (or "Illegal Immigrants" as the government calls them) that arrive by boat. The refugees (sorry "Illegal Immigrants") who arrive by boat are treated very differently from those that arrive by plane. In the last few decades, the refugees who arrive by boat aren't even just "Illegal Immigrants" anymore, they're "Boat People". And we need to "Stop The Boats".
So, in less than 20 years, we've reduced the words "Boat" and "People" into snarling invective that the masses can spit at each other in self justifying jingoism.
I agree that the "substantive points" in any statement are the ones that need to be considered, but if the majority of a country can be persuaded to be in fear of "People" who arrive on "Boats", then we need to recognise that the delivery is just as important as the substance.
When we live in a society where "tone" itself can cause offense, then "tone policing" is probably, although unfortunately, justified.
Sorry, but an anecdotal story from a random anonymous person on Hacker News isn't very convincing. Put another way: I know several women in tech who think Shanley's approach is downright hostile and is not helping in the least and I tend to agree, so you should just disregard what she says.
You're saying that since you and others regard Shanley's approach as hostile, guys should disregard what she says.
I'm saying that guys who want to help should find away to get past their initial reaction to an approach they see as hostile, look at her concrete suggestions, and act on them.
As it stands, the comment you wrote could have been written by someone who hadn't read the post at all. I imagine that's not the message you meant to send.
That feels like a loaded question.
As Roizen points out in her article, while she believes that things have improved, she's still often the only woman in the room. Other women, like Shanley Kane, believe that working within the system and ignoring or brushing off sexist behavior when it's experienced merely propagates the (unacceptable) status quo. They're different ways of looking at the problem from people who actually experiencing it, and they're both valid perspectives. Listening to the perspectives of women and trying to understand where they're coming from, even if it makes you uncomfortable, is literally the first step towards making progress.
I don't entirely disagree with some of your points but I certainly don't entirely agree with them either.
2) I don't view men as oppressors, but I do think we as men have privilege and that is why we need to work with each other on the issue of sexism. I do not find her language condemning, but I have been working on issues of gender for several years now.
In all honesty, I would love to hear more about why Shanley's language does not work for you as I think her core points are excellent and I would love to know what language to help share this with others.
I posted above my issues with Shanley's language, in general I am strongly against the tumblr-ization of language for a number of reasons.
Some people listen well to a quiet, compassionate word. But many need the application of a clue-by-four before they even begin to listen, and Shanley is excellent at applying that. She is also brilliant at expressing the anger that a lot of women feel. So I think her approach, although not the only useful one, has been immensely productive.
Obviously Shanley is unpopular among dudebros. If she weren't (and god forbid hit the top of HN) it's a sign she's doing something wrong.
When ideological lingo is used to communicate, it's going to, right or wrong, cause some folks to stop reading.
I've read bell hooks, and I consider myself a feminist. But the problem is that there's no universally agreed-upon definition. How will we know when patriarchy is dead? What metrics are we judging this by?
What does it say about the HN community that it was downvoted?
[And by the way, this is an example of the 'speaking up' that britta mentioned. Guys, when you see this kind of hostile-to-women behavior on HN, call it out.]
First off, check that you are never participating in the behavior you don't want to see. I'm amazed how often I have to check myself.
Second, use your position of power as a white male to call out other men, privately or otherwise, when you see them behaving like any of the reprobates in this article. You'll be amazed at how much weight your voice can have in these situations.
Third, proactively advocate for women.
You can also do a lot to signal boost. Passing along stories, links, and books is one thing. (I'll often send people to Everyday Sexism or Project Unbreakable, for example, or to particular things on the geek feminism wiki.) And if you notice non-white-male people getting shortchanged at work, do something about it. For example, I've heard a lot of women in tech tell stories of saying things in meetings and getting totally ignored. So be the person who says, "Hey, Jane's point is really interesting, and we went right by it. Jane, could you say that again, and maybe expand a little?"
And you can do things right here. Among a number of groups, Hacker News is basically seen as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Call out bullshit. Point out the distorting effects of privilege. When people are derailing, don't let it slide.
Eh. I work in tech in the Bay Area, alongside people from Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. I would say the amount of diversity is far more than what I see working at other industries. Is there a gender imbalance? Sure, but I don't see it as a bad thing considering that not every industry has equal representation of both races and gender. For example, I rarely see public initiatives to get more Asian men to be hollywood stars, models, politicians, teachers, etc. and that doesn't bother me.
Society stamped the male designation on my forehead, and feel like there's no end of wonderful things I do that have an immediate impact. Which improve people's dignity and quality of life. Do I attack patriarchy? Good. Do I attack the boss's ability to extract unconscionable hours, dignity and money from his wage-slaves? Good.
But you know that movie Avatar, which portrays the white male hero "leading" an army of poor blue savages? Avoid such corrosive social nonsense, and you'll spend a lot less energy. Simply assist and amplify the efforts of others, share literature which isn't afraid to be radical, and you'll go far.
Indeed, I'm curious how your being a male lets you do "no end of wonderful things that have an immediate impact". Either you're in a high socioeconomic position, or you're overstating your abilities significantly. "Attacking the patriarchy" doesn't mean much, and the latter sounds like it comes straight out of a parodic parable.
Finally, that colorful interpretation of Avatar was interesting, though not particularly innovative.
Never apologize for anything that is not your fault, and don't cry about the things you have no power to change.
There is no particular reason to wave someone else's war banner. You won't get any trophies or medals for it. So speak for yourself. And if anyone ever tells you to "check your privilege," translate that as "count your blessings," and let them go about their own business.
And I won't say anything more about it, since these sorts of topics tend to attract "downvote for disagreement" moderation.