I attended OSCON for the first time last year, and had some experiences that almost completely turned me off of the idea of attending this year. I was criticized to my face for wearing low necklines and skirts of a short-yet-modest length, and told that I was “sexualizing” the conference through my attire. I was lambasted for my honest answer (“I’m here with my boyfriend.”) when I was asked about my reasoning for attending, and even told that I should lie about why I was attending OSCON instead of “undermining” the feminist community. I started the conference last year with an eagerness to learn more about open source software, and I left the conference feeling unsure about whether or not I wanted to attend again in 2012.
As is this follow up:
I’d never cut it as a “geek feminist”. There are just too many rules I might want to break.
Besides, some people only consider me to be a woman “near tech” instead of a woman “in tech”. Apparently I’m a Carrie Bradshaw because I write about tech, which is probably why I’ve kept mostly silent on the topic of “geek feminism”.
The problem is that there are some really nice women and girls who are getting hurt by some members of a movement that is meant to be helpful.
Neither of these are my experiences, but I can definitely imagine this happening, and it really irritates me that it’s happening under this banner. Like anyone needs any more reasons to feel impostor syndrome.
I’ve been meaning to put together a post ways to let other people enjoy stuff that’s problematic and not being a jerky social justice warrior… but this is much worse than what I’d been seeing. Go read both posts: The Dark Side of Geek Feminism and Why I’m not a “Geek Feminist”.
If you’re doing this, cut it out.
If you see someone doing this, ask them to cut it out.
The idea with geek feminism here was to support women with geeky interests. Going out of your way to judge and bother other women doesn’t really help anyone, and certainly isn’t going to help interest anyone in further geekery. Fundamentally, you’re being as bad as the jerk who goes around declaring that some geek women aren’t geeky, and no one needs more of those dudes of any stripe. Calling people out has its place, but it’s not in the face of people who just aren’t geeky enough for thou. There’s a difference between hoping to see better representation of women at different levels of geekery on panels and in high profile spaces and just being a dick to attendees. Watch that you don’t cross that line.
Updates August 1–2: roundup of discussion [by Mary]
Note that some of these links may be triggery or upsetting, especially the Reddit threads. Additional discussion includes:
- GF wiki roundup
- Christie Koehler on Geek Feminism: A Response to Nice Girl’s “The Dark Side of Geek Feminism” (also on Christie’s blog)
- Jamelle Bouie: The Dark Side of Geek Feminism?
- Jan Wildeboer on Google+
- Leslie Hawthorn: My Feminism Isn’t Good Enough for You
- Nixie Pixel: Too Sexy for Linux (video)
- Bruce Byfield: Geek Feminism’s Opposition Emerges
- Rikki Endsley (in reply to Christie Koehler), My Response to A Response to Nice Girl’s “The Dark Side of Geek Feminism”
- Nice Girl, This Is Why
- Skud on Geek Feminism, Thoughts on the “Dark Side” discussions
- Various Reddit threads, including: r/opensource and [link to hate group removed after GF blogger discussion]