Self-described ‘technology evangelist’ Adria Richards, upon overhearing the words ‘forking’ and ‘dongles’ being used in what she felt was a sexual context, in a conversation she was not involved in and was not directed at her, took it upon herself to snap a picture of the people and publicly shame them via Twitter, (without, I might add, speaking to them directly) the end result of which is that the two jokers were fired from their jobs.
Again, let’s be clear: Adria Richards got 2 guys talking amongst themselves fired for a conversation she simply overheard that wasn’t aimed at her.
Recent and past events, both public and private, have caused me to be hyper-aware of what women face in communities that are often identified as male-centric, and since I self-identify as a feminist, it’s been very difficult for me to read people I respect supporting Adria as a knee-jerk reactionary response, without considering the deeper implications.
I work damn hard to be accepted and respected in my field, and Adria’s actions have set women in tech back further than an asinine dick joke (which she’s not against using herself) ever did. And I’m furious about it, because in her unwarranted thermonuclear strike she hit us where we eat, and she’s made us all collateral damage in a quest for notoriety and blog hits.
Why am I so angry? How have Adria’s actions hurt us? Because important networking happens in casual social situations and conversations, and as a woman in a predominantly male field, it’s hard enough to be included in these activities, and will be even more so when people are worried about whether or not they might offend the wrong vindictive bitch and she’ll have them sacked. Actions like Adria’s only ensure that the rest of us who actually know how to react moderately and with a sense of humor all get tarred with the brush of ‘possible vindictive bitch.’ And we’re excluded, to the detriment of team-building and our careers, because of fear.
Every place I’ve ever worked, I’ve had to make sure the guys I work with know I’m not gonna get deeply offended by them goofing around and being silly, and that I can roll with it like an actual human being and not get all butthurt about my womynfeels.
Adria states on her blog, “Women in technology need consistant messaging from birth through retirement they are welcome, competent and valued in the industry.”
Well, Adria, here’s my message to you:
I disagree. I don’t need you to stick up for me. I don’t need it and I don’t want it, and the very idea that you think women need to be stroked verbally and given a gold star is demeaning and frankly, more sexist than all the dick jokes in the world. The idea that women should be catered to and handled with kid gloves HURTS ALL WOMEN, not just in tech but everywhere.
I don’t need to be told I’m valued. The fact that I have a job that pays me money is pretty much the definition of valued. I don’t need to be told that I’m welcome. I can see it by the way my coworkers treat me. And I certainly don’t need to be told I’m competent. I DAMN WELL KNOW IT. And the very idea that you feel you need reassurance in these areas… well, that says a lot about you.
And if posting this means I lose my feminist/post-feminist/post-post-feminist card and decoder ring then… whatever. I don’t support people or ideas based on gender politics. I support them based on their merits.