Things that start with “sex” and end with women trying to destroy each other
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Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself in a series of (mostly unrelated) events that all drilled into this same themes from different angles:  Women. Technology. Sexism. Sexual tension. Sexuality. Sexual privilege. Sexualization. Sexual harassment. Feminism. Power. Reaction. Anger.

The tech industry is a male-dominated field, and it doesn’t have a lot of social infrastructure in place for dealing with its sexual transgressions.  To add insult to injury, we’re stuck with woefully inadequate language to describe what’s happening in general terms.  The phrase “women in the tech industry” doesn’t refer to a unified group of people with common opinions and experiences.  Instead it describes a scattering of individuals who are, far too often, trying to get a job done as the only woman in a room.  They face sex-related challenges in professional situations on their own, and they’ve found their own ways of walking through them.

As a young woman in the tech industry who’s still just trying to figure out the rules to the game, I have to admit I’m a little pissed off about how much in-fighting, criticism, and judgment I see women dishing out to each other on the subject of sexism, sexual harassment, and other concepts that start with sex.  Forgive me for sounding naive and idealistic here, but it seems like our energy would be better spent respecting the differences of our individual paths over such a rocky terrain, and throwing each other a rope when needed.

As a gender-bending queer, I’ve always felt like mainstream representations of “women’s issues” included a lot of things I didn’t identify with, relate to, or experience in my daily life.  On the same token, I fight my own unique list of social battles that many “mainstream women” (which is a bullshit notion in itself) don’t have to deal with.  Our paths are different.

Except when they’re not.

Every single person on this planet can look at any large group of people and say, with plenty of evidence, “I’m one of them.”  That same person, looking at the same group of people, can also say with just as much truth and proof, “They’re not like me.”

And when we’re talking about sex -ism/-uality/-ualization/-ual harassment, what we’re talking about is a big fat knot that has no right answers, and we all have to find our own paths through it.

I’d like to walk through it with the support, thoughts, ideas, respect, and understanding of the women around me.

(p.s. Just dawned on me: stuff about sexual harassment in the tech industry is usually about office politics.  I’d just like to say that I work with the best, most respectful team on earth, and that area in my life is just fine.)

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3 Responses to “Things that start with “sex” and end with women trying to destroy each other”

  1. nikkiana Says:

    I’ll be honest, one of the things that has frustrated me to no end since getting semi-involved with a couple of women in technology groups is the fact that all of the sudden, certain topics of discussion that guys tend to talk about when they congregate that never made me uncomfortable before suddenly do… Not because I find what’s being said offensive, but because I’m paranoid that another woman is going to overhear and get upset that I didn’t do my job as “policewoman” and tell them to clean up their act and their language.

    My coping mechanism with the tech industry and the high male to female ratio has always been a little bit of “when in Rome”, and it worked well for me… I look back at college especially and realize that there were things said that probably could of fallen well within the realm of sexual harassment if I hadn’t thought they were so darn hilarious… I made some of the best friends those years… and now I look back and am not so sure how to feel. Would it have been better to have been offended and not have any friends?

  2. schmutzie Says:

  3. Missy Says:

    Great post. Women in the workplace seems to be a cliched phrase somehow, but the issues are there, and will be until women as a group deal with them.