[hackerspaces] Hackers, feminism, and bullying

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Fri Jan 18 22:42:55 CET 2013

Sure, I like people to know more about my perspective.  It provides a
frame of reference.  I think it's very useful for people to talk about
themselves and how the discussion relates to them.  Getting even a
glimpse into another persons perspective is valuable.  And it's why I
comment on these threads.  I learn a lot from you guys in spite of the
occasional derailing ( which sadly I am sometimes responsible for.  i
do tend to get off onto tangents.  by all means call me out on that
and stop me please. )

On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM, Al Billings <albill at openbuddha.com> wrote:
> You sure talk a lot about yourself, Matt.
> --
> Al Billings
> http://openbuddha.com
> On Friday, January 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM, Matt Joyce wrote:
> "It is difficult to even talk about gender/race/heteronormativity
> because as soon as it comes up, people from the named dominant group
> panic, get defensive, scold the complainers, claim that they are being
> reverse-discriminated. "
> That is what we like to call an assumption. As a primary source
> viewpoint on being the proverbial "dominant group", I can assure you
> when reading some of the emails I have responded to in a sometimes
> unpopular fashion, I have never done so because of... panic,
> defensiveness, or with a desire to scold. As to the claim of "reverse
> discrimination". I would claim that I've never been reverse
> discriminated upon in my life.
> Do I Panic? The only thing that makes me panic is being faced with my
> own mortality. I find your opinions interesting. I find you
> suggestions to be exciting to my sense of curiousity and my thirst for
> knowledge. And I see your different viewpoints as an opportunity for
> us to learn from each other. That is about as far from panic as could
> be the case.
> Am I defensive? No, but I am conservative and a moderate. I prefer
> people think before acting. I prefer people separate themselves from
> their emotions and address issues with well reasoned logic. I prefer
> a pursuit of truth and engineering built on proven methodologies
> rather than blind conjecture. However, I acknowledge when breaching
> new territory often times fortune favors the bold.
> Do I scold complainers? No, but I am annoyed by them. Complaints are
> fundamentally worthless. It's like in IT. When someone complains
> about something you can't fix that. You need a bug report, with a
> reproduceable state. You need logs. You need metrics. You need
> numbers, reproduceability, and a test case to satisfy. Complaints
> help no one. If you care that much, put together the data that will
> allow people to isolate, define, and address the issue or issues. Oh
> wait... I guess I do scold complainers. But you deserve it. Learn to
> express yourself better.
> Have I claimed reverse discrimination? No. I don't discriminate
> against anyone but Gingers. And mostly they love me. In fact in some
> households my photo hangs just below Ron Howard's rusty visage.
> However, I have suffered from discrimination among feminists because
> of my gender, and my skin color. As I have suffered discrimination in
> europe for being an American. Discrimination in Brazil for being a
> "rich American". Discrimination for being from Brooklyn, or for not
> liking baseball, or for simply failing to dress the same as others.
> There's nothing reverse about any of that. There are bad people in
> every group of the world. There are feminists with the extremist
> mentality of KKK members. They walk this earth and they are a
> disgrace to all people, and male or female. And wherever you
> encounter extremists, no matter their beliefs you will find
> discrimination, closed mindedness, and hostility.
> That is my rebuke of your supposition. You tell me I do not
> understand the woes of the "minority". Well, you do not understand my
> position either. That is why dialogue is important.
> Ironically males are a population minority. To which you respond, we
> have wealth and power etc. This is why numbers are important.
> Reproduceable results are important. We need to set constraints and
> find values before we can begin to address the issues. And sure there
> are plenty of numbers out there in the world. But there aren't many
> on hackerspaces. The early threads began to address that. There is a
> request for data by a grad student on this list as well beginning that
> work. There is the demographic that is done yearly by that lovely
> person in the netherlands.
> There's a lot of discussion to be had if we use the tools we have to
> communicate without misunderstandings. Without the jaded view of our
> own perspective.
> -Matt
> On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 12:22 PM, rachel lyra hospodar
> <rachelyra at gmail.com> wrote:
> Many of you raise an important question that I don't think can be answered
> singly - so what do we do? Because while there are a hundred strategies that
> could be employed, that we should share, there is also a limit to what we
> can share that way. Other community groups that may be more gender-balanced,
> and worth reaching out to... a vague feeling that women like things to be
> clean... classes that are targeted perhaps not even in subject matter but in
> presentation style and in the ways they are promoted... working on creating
> a welcoming space. Treating the conversation, and goal of integration, as
> important. People besides the targeted group working towards the goal.
> Why do I say there's a limit? because all those things might be important,
> and help... but I think the best strategies will come from within the
> hackerspaces themselves, fitting to their style & their potential audiences.
> As a hacker who did not come to hackerspaces with a feminist agenda, but
> rather having developed one after finding a community based on logic that
> allows its blind spots and emotions to perpetuate illogical behavior.... all
> I want is to not have to explain what I am doing if I am busy, to not have
> to spend my hacking time helping people develop stunted social skills WRT
> talking to me, as if I was some sort of rare bird and/or social experiment.
> Women do edit themselves out of the technology scene, but I believe its for
> two reasons... one is internalized belief that the work is not for them. The
> other is dissatisfaction with the social norms. Both can be addressed but
> my perhaps controversial stance is that those who don't identify as women
> should focus on grokking the second of those, understanding why it is the
> case before seeking to effect change. Once you understand, you can write
> this email instead of me, and maybe I can have some time back from all this
> teaching to work on my interface project.
> Maybe this seems like 'drama' to some. The same could be said for what is
> happening with legal prosecution of hackers in the US. Drama. Booooring.
> Unless it affects you. then it's important enough to go to jail for, or to
> die for.
> It is difficult to even talk about gender/race/heteronormativity because as
> soon as it comes up, people from the named dominant group panic, get
> defensive, scold the complainers, claim that they are being
> reverse-discriminated. (watch a group of white feminists talk about race if
> you want to see women act this way, too) This might sound like an imprecise
> and nonscientific statement but as a person better versed in welding than in
> psychology I still need to be able to describe recurrent observed behavioral
> phenomena. This may be less interesting that stack overflows to you.
> Honestly it is to me too. I would love to spend my time in the hackerspace
> community....actually hacking....it's funny that 99% of the interpersonal
> conflict I have helped to mediate at noisebridge has been among men. It
> turns out emotional intelligence is valued in technology communities...when
> the men have problems or need mentorship.
> One thing that would make hackerspaces more welcoming to the groups that are
> not showing up is visibly throwing in with them - despite the discomfort or
> confusion, making inclusiveness a permanent priority. There is no magic
> bullet. You must actually decide to care about the issue in an ongoing
> manner in order to make progress.
> Uh, and genuinely seek to practice listening along with speaking.
> R.
> On Jan 18, 2013 3:45 AM, "Bill French" <william.french at gmail.com> wrote:
> Greetings, again, from heavily armed, definition crazed, white, male,
> America! "America: Why are we so dumb?"
> /Rule #1: When a girl comes through the doors, do NOT try to find
> her on social networking or dating sites!
> /
> It's weird to me that this is the only piece of practical (right or wrong,
> it's practical to understand, if not implement) advice i've picked up in
> this conversation. I really hope I didn't miss anything else. As a white,
> male, 30ish person, president of a mostly male hackerspace (current list has
> us at 15% female), i recognize that the attitude of "please, just tell me
> what to do, so we can fix this!" is not very helpful, but short of going for
> a masters in women's studies, i'm not sure where the middle ground is. I
> don't even know if Women's Studies would be the right thing to study. Maybe
> it is even offensive to say that. I don't know! I think basically being
> called a clueless idiot who doesn't get it, especially based on factors of
> my birth beyond my control, is not the middle ground, either. I hate to see
> such "teaching moments" get wasted. I want to learn. Who here wants to
> intentionally oppress women?
> I do know that I love my mother, my wife, and my sister (all different
> people, to be clear) and would not want them to ever feel uncomfortable or
> unwelcome anywhere by anyone. But I don't know where to start to learn how
> to be better, how to help other be better, and make our space the best it
> can be, that is reasonably practical among everything else I need to do. I
> also want to hack.
> ANYWAY, rule #1 bothers me, could rule #1 be changed somewhat:
> Rule #1: This space respects personal privacy. All people entering this
> space have a reasonable expectation of privacy. To that end, do not Google,
> Facebook, or otherwise search for anyone, their families, or their friends
> without explicitly asking them directly for permission, first. Everyone is
> here for their own reasons. If you want to know, ask them, wait for them to
> tell you, or mind your own fucking business.
> Thoughts?
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