Because when women speak up and voice their opinions, men feel entitled to do things like this (serious trigger warnings).
The threat of violence, particularly sexualized violence, is a favorite tool for insecure men, usually safely anonymous themselves, for trying to push women out of the public sphere. Women targeted by AutoAdmit found themselves wondering which of the men they knew were posting updates on their locations and making rape threats; last year, Jill missed several days of classes. Melissa McEwan dropped out of the Edwards campaign after receiving increasingly credible threats. Amanda Marcotte’s been threatened. Pretty much every feminist blogger has, at one time or another — and you should see some of the stuff that turns up in our moderation queue.
And if there are complaints, there’s always someone who accuses the targets of being oversensitive, imagining things, not having a sense of humor, not being tough enough to take it in the blogosphere.
In Kathy Sierra’s case, threats of sexualized violence, not only at her blog but at tech blogs run by people she respected, led to her withdrawal from a workshop she was scheduled to give at the ETech conference in San Diego. Not to mention disgust with a blogosphere that condones the kind of posting even as it wonders why women don’t participate more in the tech world:
I do not want to be part of a culture–the Blogosphere–where this is considered acceptable. Where the price for being a blogger is kevlar-coated skin and daughters who are tough enough to not have their “widdy biddy sensibilities offended” when they see their own mother Photoshopped into nothing more than an objectified sexual orifice, possibly suffocated as part of some sexual fetish. (And of course all coming on the heels of more explicit threats)
I do not want to be part of a culture where this is done not by some random person, but by some of the most respected people in the tech blogging world. People linked to by A-listers like Doc Searls, a co-author of Chris Locke. I do not want to be part of a culture of such hypocrisy where Jeneane Sessum can be a prominent member of blogher, a speaker at industry conferences, an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and at the same time celebrate and encourage a site like meankids — where objectification of women is taken to a level that makes plain old porn seem quaintly sweet.
(Of course, Frank and Jeneane are among the people who make outraged posts about the lack of female speakers at tech conferences. If THIS is what a woman has to put up with for having visibility in the tech world…)
And as we know, it doesn’t even take threats of violence to push women to the margins. All it takes is refusing to let them participate in substantive discussions, whether by discussing their fuckability, or shouting over them, or asking disingenuous questions, or demanding that their concerns be addressed before anything else is discussed.
Dr. Violet Socks has more. As Violet says, I’m not sure that there’s much we can do other than leave a supportive comment at Kathy’s blog. But if anyone more plugged into the tech world has any further ideas, they’re more than welcome.
H/T Lindsay, and Stephanie in comments.
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