On a recent (as of the end of 2013) Slashdot post, I saw a brilliant comment that I truly believe deserves wider recognition, so I have copied it here. I would encourage you to read the original post and its comment stream if you’ve found your way here.
I wrote a lengthy comment in response to a Wired Opinion article [EDIT: It appears to have since been deleted; so much for “discussion” eh?] called Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists which has a totally different description in the URL that says “richards-affair-and-misogyny-in-tech” (a description which is a more genuine description of the article.) The article is largely a repetition of radical feminist doctrine which ignores the very simple core of what brought the Adria Richards PyCon disaster about: Adria bullied two men by shaming them in the court of public opinion and then hid under a cloak of feminism and social justice to avoid consequences for her bad behavior. There seems to be a total lack of understanding as to why people in tech culture are vehemently opposed to modern “third-wave” radical feminism working its way into a cubicle or message board near them, and I thought it would be good to shed some light on the subject. Tech culture doesn’t hate women and doesn’t hate traditional feminism in terms of equal opportunity and treatment, but it doesn’t tolerate radical feminism, and that’s where the line is drawn. The comment reads as follows:
The tech community is full of people who don’t like walking on eggshells just because someone is overly sensitive and gets offended at the drop of a hat. Gender has nothing to do with it. This situation would be no different if a white male took the exact same actions. Gender is irrelevant. Tech people generally don’t see the world through -ism colored glasses in the first place. What articles like this (and people like Adria) are trying to do is force us technical types to wear those glasses, and we outright refuse. Everyone is equal in my eyes at first. It’s when they start speaking that the criticisms start to mount, and while techies tend to pull no punches in an argument, we’re used to that style of debate, where it’s all thrown out there immediately with no editing or sugar-coating, we hash it out, find somewhere to agree, and it’s over with.
Adria bypassed this. Instead of saying “I have a problem with that,” she attempted to try them in the court of public opinion. Techies don’t like the court of public opinion because it ignores the merits of the core issues and immediately favors whoever tells the best story or has the most favored reputation. Adria Richards immediately loses on the fundamental problem with the situation. Feminists lose because techies don’t accept their premises in the first place, and knowing that brick walls are devoid of logic and cannot be argued with, instead tell them to toss off.
The truth is that the vast majority of people know modern radical feminist rhetoric and the cleverly crafted jargon that comes with it are, in a word, bullshit. Techies are particularly sensitive to this. Feminism, being a term that is gender-biased and therefore favoring some people over others for factors they cannot (easily) change, is viewed in the tech world as a radical religious belief of sorts, one not to dignify with any meaningful response.
Consider this: anyone who is in tech today and over 25 remembers a time when everyone had a handle or screen name, and you didn’t know if the other person on IRC, AIM, Yahoo chat, etc. was male or female, young or old, white or black, able or handicapped, across the street or across the ocean. We’ve spent a large amount of time talking to people who we only knew by cryptic pseudonyms. We didn’t know nor care about these things. We spent a lot of time in an environment where equality was the default.
The article is telling us, a generation or two that already see everyone as equals, that if we’re men, we’re treating women poorly by default. We call bullshit, because it’s bullshit. When that doesn’t shut down the argument, we ask “so what can I PERSONALLY DO as a solution to this problem?” and we get nothing usable in response. This article pounds out alleged problems in painstaking detail, and yet offers no real solutions that the average programmer in his cubicle can put to use. Until workable, reasonable solutions are offered, all of this radical feminist macroaggression towards the male gender will forever be of no real-world value and fall upon deaf ears.
I would also like to point out that while I disagree with the majority of what the article’s author has written, I have also defended her in at least one comment. Criticism of the article is potentially productive, but criticism (particularly name-calling and other immaturity) of the person just because the article is not in agreement with your opinions is bad for everyone. We all need to learn to respectfully disagree, with an emphasis on respect. Also, someone else’s bad behavior does not justify your own. Try to play nicely with others, and we won’t have so many Donglegates in the future.