I use IRC. Unsurprisingly, this means I lurk in numerous channels.
One of these channels has, due to the recent holiday season and the plentiful spare time it gives some people, acquired a few new chatters. One of these new chatters has managed to grate me raw.
Since I am an Operator (moderator for you forum-oriented peeps) in many channels including support channels, I have highlights for "high risk" words -- words that are likely to indicate a problem user in a support channel. No, it is not Carlin's 7 dirty words, but there is some overlap.
That is how I first noticed this individual. And I noticed him like every 5 minutes. When you highlight yourself like this, it's beyond expectable that your actions are going to be scrutinized.
Not that I had to look hard or anything. Reading the scrollback I can easily spot: Homophobic comments, ableist comments, sexist comments, fat hate, racist comments, religious persecution. You name it. Calling transfolk "psychopaths" because they're "not in touch with reality" really takes the cake. W. T. F!
I confronted him when he felt the need, after mockingly offering his butt to a guy, to announce in capital letters that he was in no way gay and following up immediately with "i hear in australia they still execute gays and retards". De-lightful.
The next day, someone misspelled sydney as syndey. Someone sparks up with "What's wrong with Cindy now?". Mr Sensitive to the rescue:
"depends... if she's cute, absolutely nothin. if she's got a broken face... well, that's what's wrong"
Me: "because a woman's worth is entirely based on her looks?"
Whoa, bad move on my part there! Someone else pipes up:"that sounds like a comment from an unattractive woman :-P"
Insert comments that smack of "ugly bitches need to suck dick to get anywhere".
A while later this lass PMs me to tell me that "it's sad" how I speak up with my opinions, because me speaking up is Harming
women in IT groups and the reason she doesn't participate in them.
I bite: "it's sad that you expect me to sacrifice my opinons on homophobia, transphobia, disablism, fat hate, and misogyny under the belief that your participation in groups that aim to provide safe places from these things would be of some service to said groups.
Not sacrifice, she says, Just don't say them. Because it's a spectacle.
How very unbecoming of me. I tell her that I shall endeavour to be a wallflower in the future, because tacit agreement of that shit is just totally helpful in stopping it.
She continues; telling me about girl geek events she's attended and how they're so full of self-pity and not geeky at all. The presentations at these events are dumbed down. Why do these events need dumbing down, and why are they full of self-pitying non-geeky women? She personally done well in her career, she says, so clearly
there's no problem whatsoever in reality.
A reality that lacks mikeeusa, jonathan walther and other woman-unfriendly people, I query. She doesn't know about any of this, she admits, and that now "perhaps" I have a valid point.
We move on and discuss the events in the channel, and her reactions to me. Out come the tropes. "Ugly women are feminists because they're jealous of pretty women", "feminists hate men" and all sorts of fun stuff.
Here's the thing. Real feminists don't hate dudes. Real feminism is not
female chauvinism. Period.
Real feminism also isn't fat hate, disablism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, religious persecution... etc. Real feminism is wanting Women, in general, to be equal with "the rest of society". If your average obese, wheelchair-using, gay, black, Jewish trans-man, you know, part of "the rest of society", cannot be equal as well then fundamentally Feminism cannot work. (But I'll be damned if I that means I don't speak up.)
So back to the experience this lass had with Women in Tech groups. She's now satisfied that real feminism isn't about hating men, or hating her 'cause she's pretty. Or talking about shoes rather than geekery at Women in Tech events.
She tells me how one of these events she went to had a male host, and during the evening, the host was asked by a woman in the crowd why he thought there aren't many women interested in IT careers. His response in a nutshell? Essentialism
. Later in the evening, she had a conversation with this fellow who admitted to her he was "only there for the chicks". This, she confesses, combined with the lack of actual geekiness at these supposedly geeky events, has left her with bad experiences and disillusionment about the whole deal.
As she parted the conversation, she offered this: "well it's nice to hear that not all women with feministic views hate men (and men can be pro-feminism too) or disklike women based on their apperance :-)"
So, you see, me
speaking up against objectifying comments is the thing really
harming the Women in Tech cause. Not the geekless geeky meetup events. Not the sleaze hosting said Women in Tech events. It's all me. Making a fuss. A spectacle. My speaking up was so damaging and clearly
turned her off feminism.
I'll endeavour to be a wallflower next time.