[hackerspaces] Hackers, feminism, and bullying

Kevin Mitnick kevin.mitnick at outlook.com
Fri Jan 18 22:53:15 CET 2013

Matt, I think that you have hit the nail on the proverbial head here.
The idea that discrimination is limited to that of those who are of a specific nationality, gender, race, sex, or orientation is absurd as anyone who enters what would be perceived as "foreign territory" would be immediately determined to be different and thus would be treated as such whether negative or not.
Rachel, I believe that your statement is far too broad and generalizing:>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 
This is akin to me saying that all feminists are "horrible individuals" and are "bullies" which is far from the truth. Your statement in my mind gives me the perception of you being a bully, but being that we're in a virtual space, the words you use may not necessarily indicate that you're the person I think you might be.
Let's take the example of the Israel and Palestine conflict. The outside view from many of those is that all Israelis are supporters of settlements and therefore all of the Israelis themselves are horrible people. This statement is far beyond ignorant as Jewish persons only make up 75% of the population followed by Arabs who make up 14%. On top of that, just a few years ago the Truman Institute put out a survey that showed that almost two-thirds of Israelis are in support of dismantling these settlements to begin with. So wouldn't it be sort of wrong to paint all Israelis as horrible individuals?
It is likely that in almost any case where that the vast majority of any perceived dominant group will be in favor of having a discussion and a goal towards resolution when a minority comes in. It's like if you have a neighbor who finds you to be obnoxious with the amount of noise in your yard. Would you rather have them approach you politely and cooperatively, call the police on you, or fire bomb your house? A healthy neighborhood would probably prefer that things be handled politely, but instead we seem to be going for the police option rather than discussing it. The police option should only be valid if you're found to be uncooperative.
Going back to my original e-mail, this is where "being nice" goes a long way. We're better off discussing and working towards a goal rather than policing the heck out of each other.

Kevin Mitnick(May or may not be the Kevin you think I am)

> Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2013 13:10:47 -0800
> From: matt at nycresistor.com
> To: discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] Hackers, feminism, and bullying
> "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?
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Discuss mailing list
> >> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> >> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >>
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> > http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.hackerspaces.org/pipermail/discuss/attachments/20130118/64de5e64/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Discuss mailing list