I got caught up reading Margaret Robertson’s great post today, In Which I don’t try to write like a man. She describes how she has self-censored herself. How she has tried to frequently go out of her way to de-gender herself in her writing on games.
Here is a particularly good quote:
It’s taken me a while to recognise that a big part of why I don’t post things like this is because I’m *scared*. Actually scared. Actually worried that I’ll terminally undermine my credibility. And that’s because the degree of abuse you can attract is of a different order from the generality of internet rough-and-tumble
This depressed me. This feeling of depression took me back to reading Skud’s post, On being Harassed. (Seriously, if you haven’t read Skud’s post go read it now, and some of the links.)
See, I work on open source, but I work on it in libraries and the digital humanities. I also do things with games, but it’s humanities research. In both cases, I end up spending my time on the web hanging with feminists like myself. In general, I think folks in the digital humanities respond rather well to issues around gender and technology. For example, I think the What Do Girl’s Dig conversation that Bethany kicked off was really productive. Heck, it became a book chapter. With that said, we are working on it. I think DH folks do a rather good job in realizing that conversations about technology come pre-loaded with gender problems.
If you read Robertson’s post, and the comments, and Skud’s post I think this becomes rather self-evident. You are either a expressed feminist or you are a witting or un-witting misogynist. I just wanted to make where I stand clear, and invite anyone else who wants to make this clear to say so as well.
Mysogony or Feminism: The Choice is Yours
But I’m an equalist!!!!111!! No, you’re not. If you are an equalist you are a feminist. The situation is as follows. Society is normative. Society is anti-feminist. That is just how power works. You can choose to recognize this. If you do, the result is that you need to think very carefully about what you are going to do to try to help make sure that your actions don’t further exacerbate the problem. Otherwise you can accept that you are an unwitting accomplice in perpetuating the status quo. Seriously, go read about some of the psychological research on stereotype threat. (For those unaware of stereotype threat research, the gist is that you can quantify the effects of gender and race stereotypes effects on academic achievement on tests.)
This is Not Novel But It Needs to be Restated
The purpose of this post is not to make a new or novel point. I make no claim to be breaking new ground. I just think we need more people in tech, more men in particular, who will explicitly and unambitious state that they are feminists. There are plenty of people out there waiting to shout women down and the more people willing to clearly state that this is a problem the better we will all be.
This is not a women’s issue. I want to live in a more just society. That is why I am a feminist. If you want to live in a more just society then you’re a feminist too. It upsets me when I am reminded of just how unkind and abrasive the web, technology and gaming communities are to women. I feel rather strongly that the world needs more people in technology, men in particular, who are willing to clearly state that they are feminists. To me that means being someone who is willing to think through and second guess my own actions. It also means that I consciously try to advocate on behalf of women in technology.
So, which side are you on? Remember, you get to choose, but choosing not to choose is also choosing a side.