[hackerspaces] Hackers, feminism, and bullying

quemener.yves at free.fr quemener.yves at free.fr
Fri Jan 18 18:40:10 CET 2013

Ok, I think I identified something that tend to annoy me in these discussions. The question of the kind of member we want to attract made it clearer for me.

First, the kind of people I want to see in a hacker/makerspace are hackers and makers. Anyone able to use tools to do cool stuff is welcomed. However some people are not welcomed, those that just want to talk, do politics, hang out like it is a cool bar and contribute nothing.

It is ok : some politics are cool, I like to hang out at a bar too, but the h/m-space is not that. These people are not welcomed and I don't consider it a problem that they feel that way.

I think it may be typical for a LGBT or feminist activist to be unwelcome as a non-contributing member and to mistake it as being unwelcome as a L/G/B/T or feminist (or woman, or black, or buddhist, whatever...). 

Second, there is also a characteristic that is probably desirable amongst member : the ability to keep drama to a minimum. Let's face it, we prefer to solve technical problems than drama. I prefer to talk about the way we will put 12 cluster nodes online with our current electrical installation than to examine whether Jack really was disrespectful to Jenny.

I think there is an instinct amongst geek to steer away from drama. Some here see that as a bad instinct, yet I am not sure it is so. Dramas do end up solving themselves, sometimes in a less than ideal way, but I am not convinced that throwing more people at it helps it solve in a better way.

It can lead to collateral damages : interesting people leaving because they felt bad about someone or something. It is totally possible that this is more repulsive to women than to men (is there some proven truth to the stereotype that men are more confrontational than women?) but I see the usefulness of the current laissez-faire solution and would not change that for a less effective approach. Just saying "drama is important, let's get everyone involved to solve it!" is a known recipe to disaster. I am open to better implementations. 


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