Or “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things….”
Nice Girl (warning: this blog contains NSFW matters, as you can likely tell from the URL) has penned a post about her experience at OSCON this year and last, and I’m really glad she brought her experiences to the fore. I’ve been watching the women and tech and women in FOSS debate rage for awhile now, and I’m so pleased someone has brought the spotlight around to a concept that I’ll call “My Feminism Isn’t Good Enough for You.”
I’ve heard from women in the FOSS community have been told that they are “traitors to the feminist cause” for wearing pink. Or that they ought not to have changed their last name upon getting married. Or that they were doing all women a disservice at FOSS conferences by wearing provocative clothing.
I think provocative clothing is in the eye of the beholder, but on the one occasion that I’ve observed this behavior personally rather than hearing about it through the grapevine, said provocative clothing consisted of spiky heels, a skirt that cut off at the knee, a professional top with a lower neckline and a suit jacket. I didn’t think it was provocative, and I was raised in a no skirts above the knee and preferably not above the ankle household. Again, eye of the beholder.
I also hate pink. However, dear sisters in FOSS and beyond, if you want to rock the pink, I celebrate you. Go for it. Enjoy it. I will enjoy your enjoyment of it, just not partake.
Here’s my take on feminism – all people, women included, are allowed to make choices for themselves and are not prevented from doing the things they’d like to do due to sexism or other forms of discrimination or harassment. Period. That simple. Telling women to lie about how they ended up at a conference is unacceptable, telling them how to dress is unacceptable, etc. All one does by telling folks how they ought to act for the good of feminism or the good of women in tech is simply buying in to the same crap that demands that one woman somehow represent all women, because we are not to be regarded as individuals, with individual choices and individual responsibility for the consequences of those choices. If someone chooses to dismiss you because you’re wearing “sexy” clothes at a conference, so be it. Your choice to do so, your responsibility to accept that some people will think less of you for doing so, and your choice to measure your desire to dress a certain way against potentially negative outcomes.
Until we live in a world where we don’t judge people over superfluous matters or have their judgement affected by socialized and personal biases – and that time is a long way off, my friends – can we all just agree that we’re adults and that folks can live with the consequences of their actions.
And if you send me something pink as a gift, you’re off my non-existent Christmas card list.