The text (of my previous post entitled WORD!!) is a hyperlink of someone else’s words, but the sentiment is near and dear to me.
First let me say that I like the organization, I liked the folks I met at the installfest, and I plan to go back to future ones. I don’t think anyone acted in any way maliciously or unpleasantly. It was just “cultural programming in action”, like fish in water. I am not bitching (verb; to voice a non-positive opinion on anything that makes men feel defensive) about the org or the installfest, merely about the US of A culture in which it rests. That said…
It was less than fully amusing to attend a Linux installfest this past weekend and have total strangers grabbing my equipment without asking me first, and rushing to tell me what to do to set it up as I’m getting it out of the box. I got quite the look when I said, pleasantly but firmly, “Please leave that alone for now, thank you.”
If I’d shown up with a laptop or desktop PC looking lost, I could grok it. But I came loaded for bear with multiple laptops, cabling, hub, keyboard, a bagful of various kinds of serial connectors, my own install disks, and some hardware that a number of folks there had quite literally never seen before. On the latter, I got to watch guys asking other guys about it, rather than me, even though it was clearly part of my setup. When my friend Jeff was there, it was natural to ask him, but I’m not counting that– before he got there several guys went around the room asking other guys about “that hardware on the table”, or trying to pick it up to take it across the room to the folks running the installfest. In the latter case, I said, again pleasantly but firmly, “Hey, hello, that’s my hardware– do you have a question about it?”.
And normally I wouldn’t even bother to write it up, because it’s also Just Another Normal Thing.
So yeah, I don’t go out with placards, or think penetration equals rape, or any of that stuff. But I do consider gender relations in this culture, and many others, to be genuinely screwed up. An interesting book I’m reading on Pagan deities actually turns out to be much more philosophical than I’d realized. One author’s theory is that as agriculture, and warfare that can’t be nomadically avoided because you have to defend your fields/granaries, became more common, male deities and men themselves took more societal prominence, at the consensual request of society.
Now that we’ve moved beyond brute endurance style warfare, for the most part, perhaps societally we can afford to move into a more gender-balanced space. Of course, that actually is a threat to the privileged gender, so there will be a reaction and effort to keep the status quo. Please note that I’m not advocating matriarchy or woman-centric society either. I’d just like to see a bit less gender based grabby/bossy stuff going on, to save myself the trouble of having to smack/push back.
It *is* annoying, and the extra workload that it takes to maintain my own place in the face of all the competitiveness is a workload that I increasingly weigh vs the benefits of being social in professional and recreational groups. The whole aura of “hey, you’re breaking the rules / being a bitch” that gets generated when I, and other women, refuse to let folks talk over us or don’t smile when somebody tries to tell us what to do, that aura is just a royal pain in the ass and I am pretty tired of it.
Oh, and when we go off and make a ‘place of our own’, like linuxchix or the BlogHer conference, as soon as it looks interesting, guys come out of the woodwork to smugly say “you can’t have it both ways” and accuse women of discriminating if guys aren’t allowed. So anybody who comments to say that, get a life.
Screen, screen, screen… if you don’t want to be unscreened, say so in your comment.