Fascinating post, thanks for sharing. I'm a man, and I'm really trying to understand and help. It's extremely tiring to be told that that's impossible and that my help is unwanted. Please don't interpret my questions/statements as some sort of an attack as that's not my intention (I don't mean to assume your reaction, but it's a pretty common reaction to any follow-up questions about this kind of thing...).
No problem. Let's see how this goes :)
We live in a world where literally yesterday a woman was stoned to death by her family for failing to live her life they way they wanted. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/28/world/asia/pakistan-pregnant-woman-killed/) .
That's terrible, but bad things happen to people of all stripes all the time for terrible reasons. That sounds incredibly callous, I know, but we live in a world where only 70 years ago 11 million people were killed simply because they had the wrong religion, disability, or ethnicity. My ability to help in any of these cases is very limited, although I do what I can. But the rest of your post is about *our* (I assume you mean Western) culture, so I'm not quite sure what your point is here? There's all sorts of terrible (to us) stuff happening in other cultures, but I'm not sure how any of it is relevant to this discussion - if so, please elaborate. Frankly, stoning a woman to death is pretty tame compared to e.g. everything in North Korea.
I cited it as an example of the logical (and terrible) conclusion when women are treated as possessions/trophies, but mostly because it was fresh in my mind (it just happened). Maybe Steubenville would have been a better choice, since being not in the US makes it easier to say "that doesn't happen here"?
And yeah, absolutely: Bad shit happens to all kinds of people all the time. Does that make it any less bad, or any less worthy of being deplored? To me, there's a difference between bad shit happening to you because bad shit is happening to everyone (e.g. Earthquake! Flood!), or because of something you have (robbery, mugging) vs. bad shit happening to you because of who you are. It's infinitely more personal when someone targets you because of your gender, or race and equally bad when it happens to anyone, at any point in time. I think we all lose if we get into an "awful-olympic" -- bad things happening to one group doesn't absolve thinking, rational, caring people from responding strong to a different bad thing.
That link doesn't work for me - I'm not sure which cover you're referring to (the anchor doesn't seem to do anything). I see a whole bunch of recent ones implying that the gunman was crazy ("Childhood snub set me off", "Rage of the virgin", etc).
D'oh. Sorry. The link was supposed to be to the post cover: "Killer Crush: Childhood snub set me off". The image is of the young woman who was named by Rodger in his manifesto.
If you meant to link to the former, I'm not sure that I'd equate "a demonstrated madman blamed a woman, among other things, in his ramblings" with "our culture... blames her if she rejects them". Not even the Post (a pretty terrible trash rag) was making that claim.
True, it's a PoS. But it has the 6th highest circulation of all newspapers in the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_the_United_States_by_circulation). So we're not talking some fringe part of the culture.
I wasn't trying to make a point about what some batshit crazy dude claimed as the source of his problem. I was trying to make a point about how we as a culture are digesting this event, as evidenced by that article. Taking aside the fact that it's abhorrent to me that they'd even try to put the spin on this that she was somehow even aware, let alone culpable for his actions (the label "Killer Crush" next to your picture is pretty pejorative in my book) -- They published her name, her face and where she worked! And then as icing on the cake, they used a picture of her in a bikini to illustrate the article. How is that remotely okay? What does it say about our culture that a paper that reaches 500k people a day thought it was an okay thing to do?
Madman killers claim all kinds of things - the guy who killed John Lennon said he was following Catcher in the Rye.
Yeah, I agree. Batshit people latch on to all kinds of weird things -- while kind of curious, it's not the important part to me. It's the response of the rest of us (again, by the 6th largest paper in the US) that depresses the shit out of me.
And I know some people are going to say, "But I didn't think that/react that way! And the post is a rag!". Sure. I'm not trying to attack anyone -- what I'm trying to say through all the noise is "Hey, there's something gross and toxic and pervasive going on. I don't think it's specifically your fault, but I need your help to fix it. If you think the problem doesn't exist, I'll try to help you understand what I'm seeing by the experiences I've had, and why I think there's a problem. Will you listen without shouting me down?". It's a remarkably difficult message to get heard.
And men are also judged (less harshly, it's true) for being "man whores", at least in adult circles. IME the balance is shifting towards normalization, actually - female promiscuity is becoming relatively less stigmatized, and male promiscuity is becoming relatively more.
Mmmm...What do you think the responses would be if you walked up to random man and called him a slut? Mostly confusion, and probably a little bemusement. Now imagine calling a random woman a slut? Same response? I think it's the difference between racial slurs against minorities and racial slurs against whites. They simply don't carry the same amount of weight.
But I do hope you're right. :)
Excellent. I'd love to make things better. But I didn't see any of this stuff in university or at my employer. And I really, really was looking for it - I'd been hearing all through high school about how terrible it was for women, so I knew what to look for. But... all I ever saw was women in the same classes as I was getting the same treatment, with normal variance due to ability (less variance than the men, though there were more men). In fact, as a TA, I noticed that women generally did better, since they tended to come by office hours earlier and more frequently, which kept them off the wrong paths. There were a few women-only engineering organizations (SWE, WICS, etc) at school, and there weren't really any issues that I knew about (I tried to stay fairly plugged-in - like I said, this is something I care about).
At my tech job now, which is admittedly notably progressive about this issue compared to the rest of the industry, I haven't seen anything either - the most I saw was someone at a company meeting who said in passing "thanks to all the guys who worked on XYZ" instead of "all the folks" or "all the people", and was ripped to shreds over it.
I have seen women getting ignored or talked over in a meeting, and I do what I do when anybody else gets ignored or talked over (easy to happen when people are passionate about their idea) - I bring it up again in a "John/Jane was saying something about the Foobar module?" way (if I'm not getting talked over or ignored myself!). Nobody ignores anybody on purpose. Nobody spews any sexist bullshit, either. The women we have are respected (at least) as well as all the men - we just don't have many women because there are few women CS grads!
tl;dr For 6-7 years, I've been in an environment where I can't find anything to help with, and constantly being told that I'm (as a male in tech) part of the problem.
I can only speak for myself, but: In general little things like "guys who worked on this" vs. "folks" doesn't bother me (although after a while it does feel like death by a thousand tiny cuts).
It's tough, since so much shit happens either behind closed doors or in a non-obvious way, but here's one thought: Why don't you ask the women you work with (if you have any) if they've experienced sexism in the workplace? Maybe they'll have nothing, but their stories might surprise you. A couple of caveats: You should already have a good working relationship with her before you bring it up (if you've never spoken to her before, it could be an off putting icebreaker). And I'd do it in a place where you're not putting her on the spot (IE in a meeting with 15 co-workers) -- a small lunch might be ideal. You can even reference this post if you want to start the conversation.
(This might sound ironic, but I don't actually think online is a great place to have these conversations. Too many trolls, too much shouting. Face to face is infinitely preferable).
And any time I try to ask for suggestions, I get shouted down as being blind to all the obvious issues that must be around me, or unable to empathize with fellow humans ("you just don't get it") or something equally offensive.
I'd start by asking questions about women's thoughts/experiences on sexism in CS and listening to the answers. Going straight for "what do you think I should do about this?" could come across as "well, this is your problem...." (*Not* that I'm saying you intend it this way). I know it can be hard -- but think about it from her point of view -- if you'd been shouted down and belittled for trying to share your experiences for long enough, it can make you hypersensitive to tone and criticism. As a white person, I have a similarly hard time talking about race, because I know my experiences have caused me to have massive blind spots. So when having a conversation about race, I try to approach it with a sense of humility -- I honestly don't know what it's like to be a black man or woman (for example) in America, so I try to listen more than I talk.
And I wonder how many men are in my situation. I know it's not your job to help me with this, but I'm really stuck here! Your post made a lot more sense to me than a lot of the stuff I read, so I'm hoping you have some insight I've been missing. What can I help with?
At the basic level, I think you help one conversation at a time. Just getting heard is a huge step forward.