[hackerspaces] Safe Space Policies?

Christie Dudley longobord at gmail.com
Mon Jan 27 14:23:37 CET 2014

Long thread is long, contentious and a lot of postulation.

I've been talking with women who aren't part of the hacker/hackerspace
scene, but could fit in if they wanted to. I'm assuming it's that
demographic that everyone is talking about here?

Yeah, the sleazebags will put people off, and you better believe that if
that's the first impression your space gives a person (male or female)
they'll probably leave and not tell you because they're so creeped out.

But that's not why the women I have talked to don't like to hang around
hackerspaces. They don't like to hang around because they're *bored*.
People don't talk to us/them or includes us in their conversations, even if
we seem interested, except in a strange and smarmy sort of way where we
can't really engage unless we're like looking for a date or something,
which has nothing to do with why women *should* be showing up to
hackerspaces, although that's about how more than half of women wind up
there - ushered in by their SOs.

I sometimes wonder if I would have ever joined had Audrey not been hanging
around the day I showed up trying to iron clothes with a knife. ("Here, use
a pan! It's much flatter!") I look back in fondness at all the friends I
have made along the way... but still if I go back to the first hackerspace
I joined, I see it all again. All I can do to find someone who's there from
before who remembers me and knows I'm interesting to talk to.

If you have the kind of establishment where you are concerned that the men
there will behave inappropriately around women, then you have two problems.
Anti-harassment policies might address the first, but tend to make the
second even worse, as it's been my experience that people tend to shy away
from things entirely that could get them in trouble if they make the wrong

I'd be willing to bet that if you tried to foster a culture of address the
problem of engagement (especially technical! Find out what they know! It
might surprise you!) then the harassment problems would fade away. It's a
symptom of the problem of "othering" women, not the problem itself. ("Women
are different and separate from us, so it's OK to behave badly/unusually
around them.") The same could be true for the rest of the gender/sexuality
spectrum. The problems are not distinct.


"As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but
puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire tapping."
 - Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. US, dissenting opinion

If you're interested in my work,
Videos of my talks can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/user/longobord
I was a discussant at the World Forum for Democracy in 2013:
Slides from my talks are here: http://www.slideshare.net/ChristieDudley
My papers can be found here: http://ssrn.com/author=1999441

On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 3:00 AM, Walter van Holst <walter at revspace.nl>wrote:

> On 27/01/2014 06:23, Madelynn Martiniere wrote:
> > Al responded perfectly. If there's no stories to tell, there's no
> article.
> >
> > If the semantics are truly bothersome to those who would like to share
> > their stories, I'm happy to change the wording of the question, though
> > it won't change the results as I'm asking for qualitative data.
> If you want an account on blog.hackerspaces.org for this, that can in
> all likelihood be arranged.
> Regards,
>  Walter
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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