Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Tone wars: please be nicer when you complain about sexism

Torn between inspiration that us uppity women (warning, contains irony) are bringing up our issues with sexism and inequality and despair that we not only still have to bring up the issues, we still have to justify them to people (nearly all men, but I typed that automatically) as being 'real' issues', I spotted this lovely phrasing.

"People of color, women, and gays -- who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before -- are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles."

How about an example of that? I could take every comment thread from every blog post or article by a woman talking about sexism, in technology or elsewhere, ever, and deconstruct and annotate the derailing, mansplaining, subtle sexism, overt sexism and plain rudeness that proves the points in the blog post or article. But conveniently, Charles Arthur (who edits the tech section of the Guardian) has done exactly that for a recent thread on Twitter in which a woman called Shanley Kane asks the founders of Geeklist politely why they have an ad with their slogan on a T shirt worn by a woman otherwise wearing only her underwear, expresses her opinion a tad more forcefully and asks them to take it down. Ooh, that's too aggressive say the men and there's a classic Internet pileon, including threats about her job, because she wasn't all nice and submissive and well-behaved in the way she complained. Because we women have been told since the cradle to 'be nice'. Sure, it would be great if everyone was nice all the time, but you know what? Real equality means women can choose whether to be nice or not. If their opinion gets thrown back in their face, they can choose not to be nice - and that doesn't give other people the right to ignore the substance of what they say, start with the threats or ignore them. Bad behaviour? We're allowed to exhibit it and still have a valid point, a job, an area of expertise and a voice.

Read Charles's delightful and skewering commentary. The comments? Maybe not so much ;-(
Tags: personal, rant

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