The Amazings Respond
In reference to the job listings we posted about yesterday, we received this message from The Amazings:
We just want to say we’re sorry the copy on our website caused offence. It was intended to highlight the need for more women in tech, not the opposite. We recognise this could be misconstrued however, and have removed it from our website.
Courtney Stanton reports that she received the same as a comment on her blog, and her response pretty much sums up our feelings:
“sorry this has caused offense” is not the same as “sorry we wrote something offensive.” Likewise, your intent does not magically absolve the actual action. “This could be misconstrued”…no. You wrote a shitty thing, hence people reacting to it as they did. I didn’t “misunderstand” your cool feminist snark, you just failed to actually pull it off. Learn how to actually say “we’re sorry for our fuckup” and knock off the “ugh some people MISUNDERSTOOD US” tone.
We’re advocates of tabooing the word “offense” in the first place, because more often than not it short-circuits having to think about what was said or done. It also implies that the person doing the calling-out is at fault for “being offended”, as though they had a choice in the matter.
The Amazings did not cause offense, they posted job listings that were off-putting to women and served to reinforce the idea that tech is a man’s world.
How Privilege Manifests in Well-Intentioned Men
We wouldn’t normally bother with this, but accusations of misrepresentation are something we take rather seriously.
At the bottom of that second post, we linked to this tweet by UX designer Ian Fenn, and remarked that “some male members of the web development community have responded less than sympathetically”:
Fenn has since accused us of taking him out of context. First there was this:
In situations where Twitter fails to provide sufficient context and nuance, a blog post can be a great way of making your argument clear. And that’s exactly what this one does—it demonstrates unambiguously that Fenn, whether intentionally or not, is working to mansplain, silence and derail discussion of the issues faced by women in tech. It’s a textbook manifestation of male privilege.
“wonderful oasis of openness”
An actual phrase actually used by actual tech writer Jason Calacanis in this article dismissing racism as a cause of non-whites advancing in tech writing:
Racism exists. Racists exists.
However, the tech and tech media world are meritocracies. To fall back to race as the reason why people don’t break out in our wonderful oasis of openness is to do a massive injustice to what we’ve fought so hard to create.
It’s a response to “And Read All Over”, which is an actual good article on race inequality in tech which you should read.
Alternatively, if you’d rather remain in the head of a privilege-denying white dude for a while, Jason also claims that he’s never met a racist in tech and that all you have to do to succeed as a tech writer is work really hard. Thanks, white dude!
More Speaking Up
Sarah Parmenter’s blog post from Monday has received a lot of attention and encouraged a number of other women to come forward with similar stories of harrassment.
Then there was the one comment I saw in a live irc style backchannel at an event, just after I came off stage. I wish I’d had the forethought to screenshot it or something but I was so shocked, I dropped my laptop on the table and immediately went and called home, to check on my kids.
Because the comment said (paraphrasing) “This talk was so pointless. After she mentioned her kids at the beginning I started thinking of ways to hunt them down and punish her for wasting my time here.”
As he raised his voice, he stepped closer and closer. His face was twisted in anger and he was shouting at me. We were at the conference reception that followed my presentation. He was less than two inches away from my face. I stood there frozen. I was in shock. Another guy, stepped in and pushed the angry conference attendee away from me and helped me escape the situation.
In the fall of 2009 I started receiving Twitter @-replies from a well-known speaker and author from the web design community. He wasn’t commenting on my work, rather he was commenting on my attractiveness, particularly my avatar. He wanted me to put my phone number on my website, sent me provocative DMs once I started following him.
I have been the victim of harassment since I began blogging and tweeting in 2008. Almost as soon as I found myself with any kind of following, any sense of belonging within the community, people immediately wanted me out.
Simultaneously, some male members of the web development community have responded less than sympathetically. (Update: first dude has now protected his account; second has deleted his tweet and apologised.)