Aggressive men and women who just take it.
Wanna see a reason why women still have no standing in this oh so male world? Then take a look at the video below and look out for “accepted behavior in a community” and try to imagine what kind of implication it has for group dynamics, the behavior against single members and especially against women.
Yes, this is a fun video about something different, but it is very very good example to the point I am making below.
As several of the comments as well as mails seem to have missed the point of this post, I would like to stress:
I am aware that this is supposed to be funny (and fun is subjective, which is fine), an over the top display of behaviour of blog/digg commenters as if in a real life meeting. I was aware of this before I saw the video for the very first time – and even if not, it running on ‘colleage humor’ is a dead give away.
The following points are made in reference to the fact that this video – although it is about something different – did resonate with me in a very strange way and I finally found out about why. It also goes into the point that despite this is a joke video, this portraits in a quite realistic way how other women are still treated and how this kind of behaviour is defenetely not happening around me.
As this seems really to be tricky to understand: It is not about the video. Nor about me being (and I quote one email here) “too afraid and chicken when meeting other people” – clearly that person never met me.
This kind of behaviour as portrayed in the video does happen more or less subtle in todays world. It is the men’s job to stop doing it and the women’s job to help enlighten them, as well as from the men getting it.
I have seen this video popping up at several places, saw it two times up to a about a minute and gave up. Interestingly with a feeling of deep deep anger and rage in my stomach. Usually I am not that easy to bother, I am not that easy to boil up but this somehow made me wanna hit something.
Going through an older batch of feeds and seeing it on Crunchnotes again, I took notice in the subline of Mike (“This is pretty much how every comment stream on TechCrunch goes these days.”) and it made click in my head and I suddenly had a hunch.
Enduring to watch the full video and reading some of the comments it finally hit me WHY this annoyed the hell out of me. It is the way how the women in this video do not speak up against being treated this way. Not counting on the men there, because they obviously are a lost cause.
I was in anger because I could not make it stop. Wait, I? Yes, me. I would not sit back and just take it like that, neither directed at myself or to another women. I am confident enough to think that a look and or a short comment from me to one of such men actually would change the way he acts. Because he would be intimidated instead of him trying to intimidate me.
And just like an animal which is hunting, he would go for an easier target. Because this one is too complicated and fights back. Why I am so sure about that? Because coming to think of it, I have seen this kind of behavior. But not really more than once or twice, at least not around me.
Because in fact especially such guys are the easiest to be ‘put back in their place’ because Mama usually raised them well and they do react on enforcement like this. And they are not really confident at all or a leader – which is why they need this kind of behavior to ‘prove’ themselves to the group.
While I jokingly refer to the fact that I am Garfield rather than Nermal (»self-proclaimed “The world’s cutest kitten.”«) and it would be easier to be “little, cute, blond” instead of “big, sarcastic and brunette”, it is always stated by me with a sarcastic grin. It shows part of an envy for something I will never have, but basically I am quite satisfied with being the Garfield in this equation. (I might be tempted if a fairy comes up and would give me the offer, because Nermal actually is both Garfield and plays the game, but that is a different story.)
The reason why it made click when reading it on Crunchnotes was because of the women who wrote for TC for some short time and then quit due to the rough comments (please see olivers comment on that below). Because she was attacked. And obviously the community thought it was okay to have her attacked like that. I have not seen the comments, and but I imagine that this is exactly what has happened. Remember the Kathy Sierra incident with all the others included? Same deal. The only time when it ‘stopped’ was when she fought back.
Now, this video was an example of the “real world” in the sense that it portrait a real life meeting, while the story was about how blog comments would be / feel in a real meeting. Reacting in the real world is easier than on the net, as on the net you do have asynchronous communication and everybody with an equal access level. The only way I see this changing is actually to reinvent what we have in real life already: A system to show support, approval and disapproval. In case of a comment that would mean rating such a comment, to show how one feels about it to eliminate unwanted behaviour.
Of course this means unwanted behaviour by me and my peers, as we all have different preferences and surroundings. Something the net is not yet very good at solving, because there is usually only one bucket for everyone where votes are counted.
I wrote yesterday an unconnected piece on blognation where I talk about groups in this way a bit, and I like the term user base for reality so I bring it up here again:
One of the reasons of why I am so enthusiastic about blognation is simply the fact that it brings me in touch with a different reality. Or better: A reality with a bigger user base than the one I like to spend time in.
The reality I spend 100% of my time in has ME in it. Meaning everything is connected to me and as such I would – as mentioned above – not take such behaviour in my presence. But on the net I “have to take it” and the only thing I can do at the moment is writing about it. And hope people take notice and start thinking about it.
But this is just me. How do I reach people or let them now that this is something I feel should change? How do I make sure that others can walk in the umbrella of protection I am putting up? How can I help spread more of those umbrellas for the moment but in the long run make sure that this kind of acid rain stops? And no, by stopping I do not mean removing me from this beautiful space and leaving it.
I am asking that as a real question, because obviously, I already can walk in the acid rain without being hurt. Does everything pearl just right of me? Of course not, I am a human being like everybody else. But does it get to me to the point that I cave in and or stay away because I can’t take it? No way.
It is not easy being green. And may not be easy to be confident enough to speak up. But you know what? That is the only way things are going to change.
And while scary at first, this kind of investment pays off a million times. Because then speaking up like this here or do it in public in front of such people actually is not scary any more, but just speaking.
As there are still so few visible women speaking up in the community this means men have to speak up as well, even first and give an example. And please, not only when a blond damsel is in distress, but also in other cases – including for guys. ;)