It’s an oft-voiced suggestion that rather than looking at the bad thingsÂ that happen in our communities, we should focus on the good things.Â There’s a number of highly successful geek women already – should we notÂ be concentrating on encouraging more of them, rather than scaring peopleÂ away with tales of thoughtlessness, discrimination and outright abuse?
Let’s draw an analogy. One day, a $20 charge appears on your creditÂ card. You didn’t make it. You report it to your credit card company, whoÂ assure you that they take fraud seriously and then do nothing. A fewÂ days later, another $20 charge. Your credit card company tells you thatÂ such events are rare, unrepresentative of the general credit cardÂ experience and continue to do nothing. A week afterwards, anotherÂ charge. This time your credit card company describes how they’reÂ planning on implementing a brand new anti-fraud system, but that this isÂ unrelated to any events that may currently be occuring and will giveÂ no details as to when it’s going to be rolled out. And proceed toÂ ignore any further reports you make about fraudulant transactions.
Would you stay with this company? Or would you take your businessÂ somewhere else?
The problem with the “Let’s look to the future rather than spending tooÂ much time getting stuck in the present” argument is that it assuresÂ people that things will get better without providing a roadmap forÂ getting there. It does nothing to validate their concerns or make themÂ feel wanted within a community. It assumes either that people will stickÂ with a community that doesn’t respond to their complaints, or that it’sÂ possible to construct a community that’s welcome to an assortment ofÂ genders, ethnicities and lifestyles without any of those people beingÂ represented in the first place.
Ignoring people’s concerns is an excellent way to drive them away fromÂ your community. Doing so because of a potential future that’s probablyÂ conditional on you having those people in your community is shortÂ sighted and self defeating. Ignoring the present doesn’t benefit theÂ future. It benefits the status quo.