I read "Fuck you, I got mine" a few days ago and It’s been gnawing away at my subconscious ever since. The author is so angry. She’s spewing out hate in all directions. Toward men, toward women like me. Her descriptions of the world of tech seem so foreign. Her anger and hatred so misplaced.
Then it occurred to me. I’ve been that angry too. Just as deluded as she seems to be. Just as convinced that the world was against me. The only difference was that I didn’t have the self confidence to express my anger openly. Also, I was 12.
"Hey look, there’s that girl who’s so ugly"
No, I never got death or rape threats. Never got beaten up or anything. But I got the message. I was inferior. And I was alone. It all seemed so unfair and so random. All I’d done wrong was to fall out with my best friend. The girls in my class all played in pairs you see. When my best friend and I “split up” I was suddenly left all alone - she found a new best friend straight away. Being alone in a group seemed to trigger some weird tribal vibe that made everyone shun me as if I were a leper.
Me having no friends and actually being treated badly only lasted a few months. And very very few people actually said anything mean to me. But my perception of how people saw me was completely warped for years. Those few assholes made me think everyone was against me. I was angry. I remember almost wishing that someone would try to attack me when I was on my way home alone from somewhere, just so I could beat the shit out of them :-D Never happened. All those years of martial arts training to no use.
I’m not angry any more. I don’t take things personally any more. But that’s taken years and years of “training” if you will. I’ve taught myself not to care. So if I come across as an insensitive bitch, this is why. It was either that or be depressed and angry. Not really caring that much can actually be quite liberating and fun. I know full well some people dislike me, but I really don’t mind. I can be myself. And I like myself the way I am.
Even so, I can’t really recommend this strategy to anyone. The world would probably be a better place if people cared more. Without a doubt, the best thing would be if nobody were made to feel inferior and excluded. It’s horrible. I remember.
But the way to achieve this is not by spewing out hate. At the end of the day people in the tech community, more than in any other community, know how it feels to be left out. Why not appeal to their better nature, make them understand how you feel. They’re likely to have been there.
Attacking people makes them defensive, aggressive, more attached to their beliefs and ways. When was the last time someone called you names and you thought “Hmmm, I think you have a point there, I AM a stupid bitch! Wow, thank you for that insight. I’ll rush off and change my ways immediately”. It doesn’t happen often, does it.
While I wish nobody had to learn the hard way NOT to care what others think, I DO hope that more people get to see the software community like I do. The angry feminists are giving you guys a bad name. It’s not fair and you deserve better. You guys rock. You’re the best. I refuse to believe that the concentration of misogynist assholes is higher here than anywhere else in society.
You know what I hate most about working in tech? The fact that being friends with you guys can be a bit tricky. I’m surrounded by the most amazing people I really enjoy the company of, but if I ask you out for a coffee, or a drink or anything, it seems like a date and gets weird and people get the wrong idea. Spouses have to be involved. I practically only socialize in large groups. Close friends can be hard to make when you’re the only girl in the office. So I really hope we convince more girls to join us in tech. I know we can. But we’re more likely to get them by showing off our best sides, not our worst ones. And if we want people to change, then encouraging good behavior is better than punishing bad behaviour. This is a pretty well established fact.
So come on people, let’s go find some girls and show them how awesome we are :-D