Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tell me to listen--I need it, sometimes.

Huh, I didn't have a "feminism" tag before now. That seems odd. Or maybe not so odd: I guess I haven't really talked about feminism all that much; and when I have, it's probably been couched in historical terms.

But, that aside, I am very interested in feminism, particularly over the last few years where I've noticed something of a backlash. Not that you have to be all that perceptive to notice a backlash when you have GamerGate and last year's Hugo Awards nominee debacle and everything else in the world.

Like that video that went around recently of a woman walking in NYC and getting harassed. Not just that people felt free to talk to her (when, honestly, they wouldn't have felt the same freedom with a man), but the implicit and often explicit calls for this person's attention as a right.

That video, and all this recent backlash, has bothered me.

I've heard some people say that men need to do a better job policing other men. That if I'm bothered, I should speak up about it. That I should tell my friends who do these things that they shouldn't. But, by and large, my friends don't do those things.

But the other night, I was talking with some friends about what it was like to be a woman developer; and my one friend (girl) made some comment about what it was like to be a woman or what other men were like and my other friend (guy) made a "but is it really like that?" sort of comment. Not hostile or totally dismissive. But dismissive enough for me to notice. And when he finished questioning and she finished explaining, I commented to this friend that over the last year or two, I've learned that listening without dismissing can be very powerful.

I'm not telling you this long story to hold myself up to praise for this very minor example of telling a male friend how he was going down a bad road; rather, I'm bringing it up because I still need to hear from people about how I can be better about these issues. Because I love to talk--and argue from the position of Devil's Advocate--so much, I need to be told to listen sometimes.

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