Abuse Tourism

When a cis-male poses as a woman in an industry dominated by men, where women have to struggle to be seen as competent, able, equal, and not abused, there are many issues at stake.

A man is able to opt into abuse. If the abuse received was fabricated, that is an even more painfully egregious offense. But even if the abuse is real, he is receiving the abuse willingly. He can opt out when he’s had enough. He doesn’t need to be afraid every day, because he knows it can be turned off with a simple “reveal”.

Women can’t turn it off. It’s our daily lives.

These experiments make women more of a target because now women can’t be trusted to be genuine and real, opening the doors for even more abuse.

We don’t need men to experience abuse for us. Asking for the harassment to happen to them, even under the guise of “wanting to know what it was like,” is offensive. It is saying they are unwilling to believe stories from actual women — that women are incapable of explaining ourselves and we need a man to help tell the world what abuse is really like.

Men who do this are shouting over us because they think our voices aren’t strong enough.

That is the disconnect: we are equally strong. Our stories hold more weight than men’s stories about us. We live them every day, and we can’t opt out. We don’t need a male voice to highlight these issues. Women are capable. A woman’s voice should be seen as enough. Her words are enough.

What we do need is for everyone to listen. To hear us. We are marginalized because we are not heard.

If you are a man in tech and you want to help women-in-tech issues, ask a woman to tell her story and share her voice, and listen. Don’t just talk about her issues amongst yourselves. Invite women into the conversation. Make us feel equal by listening and responding with questions and interest, just as you would with men. Those moments are what we fight for, and what many men don’t see as exclusionary to women.

But now, that just became harder. Women were knocked down again by VWJ/SB: back to not being trusted, treated with skepticism, and not being heard or invited into the conversation while it happens around them.

Let’s turn this around and learn what we can.

Take this opportunity to raise other voices. Promote people whose experiences and ideas come from genuine diversity and different life experiences. They’re already speaking — we all just need to listen.