An Open Letter to Women in Technology
Are you tired yet? Tired of our weak, sanitized, country-club, polite-society feminism?
Are you tired yet?
Tired of our weak, sanitized, country-club, polite-society feminism?
Tired of the conservative, timid face of our “movement”, more a tea-time than a rebellion?
Tired of our upper-class, white women’s happy hours and dinners, our patronizing remedial programming classes? Tired of our corporate-sponsored diversity organizations that accept a pittance of donation in exchange for protection against the phantom of woman-led revolt? Tired of of our silence at work while we complain bitterly behind closed doors about our salaries? Tired of our underground mailing lists but our public anonymity? Tired of work conditions that feel more like a frat house than an office? Tired of indulging the ignorant anti-feminist tantrums of men in our industry, aired to broad circulation with a minimum of condemnation by either women or their allies? Tired of going to conferences where women are ornaments, where you are treated like a hired pin-up doll instead of a person, where women you know get harassed and groped and assaulted and even raped?
Are you tired of doing what they want?
Make no fucking mistake that you occupy your cushy tech salary, your mid-level management job, your paltry access to power by permission of the patriarchy. It is a deal with the devil. They will pay you, and let you make small career advances, in exchange for acting more like a poster child than a revolutionary, more like a mother than a peer, more like a secretary than a boss. In exchange for you shutting the fuck up, in exchange for you being content with your cute women-in-technology dinners, in exchange for your affirmative-action speaking slots, in exchange for you focusing more on “community building” than burning shit down. In exchange, in exchange, in exchange.
As women in technology, we simultaneously occupy a position of privilege and are imprisoned by sexism and patriarchy. We are more educated and have more access to opportunity than most women in the world. Indeed, we are more educated than most men in our own field - an industry that penalizes women but not men for dropping out of college and even high school. We make more money than most women in the world - even when we are consistently paid less than men, promoted less, required to work harder and longer and smarter for the same benefits. As women of extraordinary privilege and unprecedented ability to speak out, we are still in a unique position to threaten the patriarchy — a unique position that has not been available to billions of women over the course of history, who have been denied the privileges we have.
Let’s start talking about tactics. We never, ever talk about tactics. How come we never talk about fucking tactics?
Let’s talk about a network of feminist hackers who can fight and dox the anonymous white male militia that threatens to rape and kill us when we speak up. Let’s go into the PR firms and the administrative units which are sprawling ghettoes for women. Let’s teach them to code and to stand up to the fucking man and let’s get them into the technical workforce. Let’s form radical feminist organizations that educate, that execute, whose agendas are political as well as cultural, that won’t back down to thugs and infighting. Let’s create radical transparency and access to salary information. Let’s identify and litigate systemic pay inequalities in major technology companies. Let’s talk about lobbying and what we can do with our combined economic power. Let’s talk about boycott and protest. Let’s talk about rhetoric and how we can change our mewling, submissive pseudo-feminist slogans into subversive, transformative speech. Let’s create a system for revealing and publicly challenging the pervasive anti-feminist propaganda of our industry. Let’s make our language one of constant cultural critique rather than silent acquiescence. Let’s commit to speaking up every. fucking. time. Let’s discuss how to create radical feminist intervention into online and real-life technical communities. Let’s talk, seriously and honestly for once. Let us evaluate the state of our army and our fight, let us strategize and battle, let us do it all again.
We have yet to witness even the specter of the punishment patriarchy will mete upon us if we rise in earnest. Yes, they will hurt us. There will be consequences. They will refuse to hire us, and when they have on accident, they will fire us. They will pay their white male terrorist regime to photoshop our faces onto dead bodies, to email us rape threats, to publish our home addresses. Many of us will quietly disappear from the internet and from the industry, unwilling or unable to saddle the personal repercussions of acting out. Most of us will slowly burn out on the futility of mounting a political and personal battle against a thousand-year old regime. But we must do it. It is a moral imperative. It is the obligation we have to ourselves, to our gender, to our classes, to our friends, peers, colleagues, sisters, soldiers. Consequences be damned. Patriarchy be damned.
This isn’t a social club. This is a fucking class war.
Act like it.