Tag Archives: allies

Being an ally in the workplace

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our commenters.

What interventions do you recommend pro-feminist male geeks make in their workplaces? If you could get the guy geeks on your side to agitate for the cause and to provoke change, on what specific issues do you think they should focus? How could they best lend support?

I ask because I get this question a lot from decent guys who aren’t sure what to do. Feel free to list things they should read and areas about which they should inform themselves.

Being an ally to a “OMG hot girl!1!!!!”

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our commenters.

This questioner asked us not to quote the exact context, but was involved in one of those scenarios where a woman got involved in a technical discussion with a man and he very quickly diverted into a “by the way, hot geek girl whoa, will you marry me???!?” tangent. (Incidentally, if you’ve done this recently and you’re sure we’re talking about you… sadly we probably aren’t as it happens all the time.) The questioner writes:

I felt I should say something, but didn’t really know what… So, what would you have hoped I’d say when involved in something like that?

What do you think a man should say if he disapproves of this kind of thing, and it’s a fast-paced discussion (IRC, chat, Twitter, Facebook, emails flying around, that kind of thing)?

A linkspam stole my baby! (November 6th, 2009)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

“We’ve got your back.”

That’s what we like to hear. And since our PSA last week about MikeeUSA, we’ve been really pleased to see people coming out of the woodwork to say, in effect, “OMGWTF!” and “NOT COOL.”

It’s funny… when I wrote that post, I was cringing in anticipation. After the last couple of contentious things I’d written, I was sure that I was going to get a flood of posts telling me how I was over-reacting, how raising these issues was harming the open source community, or that I should focus on the positive. I hit “post” with some trepidation, then left the office almost shaking.

I kept checking the comments throughout the evening, and even woke up in the middle of the night expecting a storm of invective. And there wasn’t one. Around twelve hours after the post, I cautiously said on IRC, “maybe there won’t be a backlash this time,” and then wanted to retract the words in case it was some kind of jinx.

Instead, what we got was support. Twitter and Identi.ca were buzzing with retweets/redents of people spreading the PSA, and the comments here on GF — even from people who said they usually disagreed with feminist goals — were 100% supportive. You know how we have a comment policy here that says we will delete stuff that’s blatantly anti-feminist? Well, this was the first contentious post we’ve ever had where we didn’t delete a single comment.

So, thanks. It’s good to know that there are some things just so vile that nobody in our community will tolerate them. It’s good to know that we can visit almost any open source blog this week without having to be confronted by Mikee’s hateful comments, because they’ve been sent to the bit bucket. And it’s good to know that at least some of the women (and men) who were targetted by Mikee’s hate speech over the last week or so knew how to handle it, and knew they weren’t alone, because we got the word out.

Thanks for having our backs.

But let’s stop for a moment and think about why that’s such a big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s unusual. Most of the time, backlash, not support, is the strongest response.

Next time round, I’d like to ask everyone to remember that every little incident in our community occurs in a context of institutionalised sexism that ranges from the odd thoughtless joke to… well, to Mikee and beyond. And it’s the little things, repeated over and over and excused just as often, that serve to reinforce the feeling that we don’t quite belong, and that the majority of the community might not back us up, might even attack us, if the shit hits the fan.

Please don’t let this happen.

We need to know you’ve got our backs. Even for the little stuff. Even when it’s a community leader. Even when you aren’t quite sure why it’s a big deal. Especially those times. Because it’s the security of knowing that someone’s got our backs that lets us speak about the big stuff without shame or fear. And it’s only that security that lets us feel safe to give all our energy and focus to what we came here for in the first place: free and open source software.

Ceci n’est pas une linkspam (4th October, 2009)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention.

Her Links Rose Up Forever (18th September, 2009)