I missed Kathy Sierra’s keynote at LCA2007. This was due to being otherwise occupied hauling gear and swag for the Ubuntu/Ubuntu-Au booth at the Open Day, from one of the topmost corners of the college that I was staying in.
I now regret missing the talk. This is why.
I’d like to invite anyone that has ever doubted the reasons why LinuxChix and $distro-Women are important, to read Kathy’s post.
These groups are not solely about fighting discrimination, they are groups of solidarity, friendship, companionship. They are like-minded, empathetic groups of people who have the same hurdles, experiences and issues that many women in the geek world have.
Kathy is not the only one who is affected by the kind of outright hatred that she describes in her post above, and the kind of attention she has aquired is not the only type of harrassment that I myself have witnessed. As I explained previously in a recent blog post, I’ve had issues in the past, specifically in the RPG gaming world that I mentioned.
One such incident involved an unwelcome email containing imagery of a rather grotesque and painful-looking antique machine, used historically to relieve female hysteria, asking if it turned me on or something of the sort. This sort of thing accompanied love-notes in-game. I was not the only one he was doing this too either — another girl was subjected to similar treatment. When he realised that neither of us wanted anything to do with him or his affections, he publicly touted us as seductresses who use men’s emotions as entertainment.
I mistakenly kept quiet about this, until he was rewarded with ‘immortality’ for his good work elsewhere in the game. When I voiced my concerns, I was told by those who could do something about it, that I was making it up out of revenge. Needless to say this is what drove me from that community.
You see, the biggest problem is not the narky ‘go play with your barbie dolls’ dismissals when we have genuine questions. The real problem is the narky ‘go play with your barbie dolls’ dismissals when we have genuine concerns.
LinuxChix and $distro-Women are groups of people who have gone through this all before. As I’m writing this, the LinuxChix channel is deep in discussion about Kathy’s post, and each woman is recounting her own experience/s. Someone even said “Every woman I know has one, everything from the creepy to the horrid.”