To think I was worried I wouldn’t find something to be angry about this week. I was reading Captain Awkward, as you do, and in the comments somebody linked to this fucking bullshit and I remembered how much I hate it.
Now, I’m more than a little late to the party here, but hey, I’m still getting a blog post out of it and maybe I’ll be less pissed off about this massive dickbaggery by the time I’m done 🙂
A quick summary for people who may not be interested in reading another blog post so they’ll understand this one: Ms Asshole wrote a post about how she feels happy and accepted in the tech community. So far so good, right? Yeah not so much. As much as she likes to think she’s not saying “fuck you, got mine” she’s absolutely saying “fuck you, got mine.” Yes, there are good things about the tech community. Many a nerd has been delighted to find a place where they can win arguments by being right, not by being popular. It’s okay to like that. What’s not cool is to tell other women:
What I’ve got, and what I wish the rest of the “women in tech” community who rage against the misogyny they see everywhere they look could also have, is a blazingly single-minded focus on whatever topic I happen to be perseverating on at the moment. It has kept me awake for days puzzling out novel algorithms and it has thwarted a wannabe PUA at a conference completely by accident. It is also apparently the most crashingly successful defense against attempts to make me feel inferior that has ever been devised.
which boils down to: have you considered just not caring when people treat you like shit because you had the poor taste to be a woman?
how. original. I have never been told to stop having feelings about it when people are jerks to me because I committed the terrible crime of being a better programmer than them and having tits at the same time before. what. an. amazing. revelation. Who could ever have possibly guessed that if I didn’t care about being treated badly then I, uh, wouldn’t care about being treated badly. Honestly, this asshole sounds exactly like every straight white man who just can’t believe there could possibly be a problem with tech because everyone is nice to him and obviously his experiences are universal. Newsflash: people who aren’t exactly like you do in fact exist. People who aren’t like me, do in fact exist too. Being a woman in tech can be a huge pain in the ass but because I’m white, there’s a massive amount of bullshit I just don’t have to deal with. But because I’m not a self-centered jackass who is incapable of caring about anyone but themselves, I believe people of colour when they say tech is shitty for them in ways that I haven’t personally experienced.
I want to be clear that I’m not attacking this self-centered asshole for being non-neurotypical, I’m attacking her for being a self-centered asshole. Being autistic does not mean you can’t empathize with other people (although it can make it hard to show it in a way that neurotypical people recognize, which is a separate issue), it does not mean you can’t understand that other people have experiences that aren’t like yours, and it does not mean you get a pass for acting like a complete douchebag.
My compilers are coming with me, but you can borrow my shoes, if you want.
Borrow your shoes? I would have to cut my toes off to fit into them, asshole. I WILL NOT STOP HAVING FEELINGS. I AM NOT WRONG FOR HAVING FEELINGS. I WILL NOT CUT OFF PIECES OF MY HUMANITY TO SUIT YOU.
The absolute nicest spin I can put on this shit is that Ms Asshole has only ever found one place where she fits in and is scared it will change and she won’t fit in anymore. What I think is more likely is that she has built her whole identity around a frankly toxic community and is taking any suggestion that maybe people who notice when they’re treated badly and experience emotions about that could be included too as an attack on her very self.
Nobody is saying that there’s nothing good about the tech community. Nobody is saying it would be a bad idea to have a place where technical correctness instead of popularity would win arguments. The problem is that magical place where the quality of your ideas is the only thing that matters DOES NOT EXIST. When an idea comes from a woman it magically becomes questionable at best and she will have to prove over and over and over that she isn’t stupid and does deserve to be there. The exact same idea becomes a heartbreaking work of staggering genius when it it proposed by a man. Where’s your meritocracy now, fuckface? No seriously, WHERE THE FUCK IS IT. How can you possibly say tech is about technical merit when women have to do much more work (and god fucking forbid you’re a black woman, you’ll have to work at least twice as hard as a white woman to get even less credit) to be taken less seriously? You know how much more work I could get done if I didn’t have to fight my own goddamn coworkers to listen to me for five goddamn minutes?
Not only do white men have to work less hard to prove they know what they’re doing, but not having to defend themselves constantly gives them far more time and energy to think about their tech. And let’s not forget that to this day women do far more household labour than men do. Not only do women have to work harder, we get less time to do our work.
Not only has a true meritocracy never existed (unconscious bias, it’s a thing), but not tolerating assholes is good for everyone. We cannot possibly know how many people who could have been amazing programmers have been driven out of the community by jerkbags who convinced them it was just not worth it to keep trying. We cannot know what incredible things could have been built if the tech community as a whole rewarded cooperation over proving you’re the smartest.
Seriously, what the fuck would we collectively lose if we as a community stopped being such incredible fucking douchebags to people who aren’t straight white men with no social skills? You can value technical correctness and also not be a raging asshole, I swear. If you can’t see how technical rigor and compassion can coexist, it’s not because they can’t, it’s because you’re an asshole who doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s feelings but yours.