24hrs After Standing Up for Women in Tech
I used my social media platform to address what I thought was a pretty straight forward topic and here’s what transpired over the next 24hrs.
Myself and My Platform
I have the largest developer account on Instagram where the focal point is a single human and not a group/collective, memes, or reposts ( see: dvlp.r ).
I post images of my laptop, code, projects I’m working on, myself, microprocessors, books I’m reading, articles I find useful/interesting, talking about life as a dev, the hustle and grit it takes to actually keep up with such a quickly evolving industry, being kind to others and true to yourself through self-awareness, or promoting one of my two companies.
The overall tone of my account is lighthearted, motivating, but also focused on doing the work to achieve what you want.
I believe my strong following has been in part due to being personable/entertaining, constantly coming up with new content, and putting a lot of work into building the online tech community. I’ve started:
- DVLPR_NATION, a place for up and coming devs to go to find others to collaborate on resumé or skill building projects
- prgrmmrs, as a way to build community, promote up and coming devs and bring attention to DVLPR_NATION
- dvlpr_run_club, a social site currently being worked on as a way to incentivize going on daily runs to maintain health and improve focus for devs
and overall just link up with companies to offer gadgets, apparel, and discounts to online learning to my followers.
My following breaks down to 72% men and 28% women with the majority being age 18–24 and located here in NYC. Most other devs (male or female) have a much lower female following than I do.
But enough about that, let’s get to it.
Doing What’s Right
For quite some time I’ve avoided speaking on sexism in tech, even though I’ve felt compelled to since I’m a social progressive and classic feminist (basically I just believe in complete equality across the board), because I generally avoid political or polarizing (PoP) topics in fear of losing the interest of followers or creating divisiveness. I pick and choose very carefully which, and how often, I bring up PoP topics.
Two days ago I finally decided to speak out to my mostly male audience about what sexism is, how it’s not always as obvious as one might expect, and how to un-abrasively pull someone aside and stand up for the female in a one-on-one conversation. I did this in a lighthearted manner by tossing a few jokes in. This was for a few reasons:
- I know my story viewership would’ve dropped off after the 4th or 5th story and doubt most would’ve continued through all 16 stories otherwise. Note: I generally never post more than 5–6 stories within a 24hr period because I see a drop in followers gained when doing so. However I went into this assuming I would lose followers.
- I wanted to address the topic in a way that aligned with the level of seriousness this affects my mostly male audience. Since most have never experienced or noticed sexism or especially been the victim of sexism this isn’t as serious of an issue for them as it is for some of the women it affects.
- And finally, because keeping things lighthearted is 100% true to who I am.
I spoke from the heart and 99% of the response was beautiful and supportive and really inspired confidence in me for humanity.
I would say of those 99% positive responses there were three main camps with 2/3 of the responses coming from women (in descending order): 1) those that just wanted to agree with my point of view on the future is female (FiF) argument I made. 2) absolutely supportive but had stories to share of sexism happening to them. 3) about five people that agreed but was of the opinion I shouldn’t be joking while talking on the subject.
I replied to almost every single response that came in and had genuine conversations with each individual about their experiences and thoughts.
Find an exact transcription of all 16 stories word-for-word below.
The Other 1%
This camp is easily summed up — future-is-female-ers (FiFers) or those that align with that campaign but also have created a name for themselves in the community for being bandwagon activists and participating just to build community and gain following.
My argument (as seen below) is that I don’t agree with FiF because I believe the phrase itself implies inequality but in the other direction as if men and women are completely pitted against each other and there’s only and one sex that can lead. No, just no. There’s a lot of grey area still left to work with.
How about we shoot for complete equality and classic feminism where everyone’s equal no matter sex, race, or class. It’s idealistic of course but we’re talking about high level ideologies and if we’re shooting for one or some shouldn’t we be shooting for this one, for the best one? Aren’t we problem solvers and moonshot thinkers?
Regardless, this was my subjective opinion on the approach of feminism to gain complete equality. It’s something that could’ve been discussed, however, that’s not what ensued.
Instead, I was attacked, insulted, publicly shamed, and threatened. I had my entire history gone through in an attempt to find any piece of dirt they could use to tear my life apart and burn it down. They directed their followers to come to my page and comment on my photos unwanted comments, spam my DM’s, etc.
It seemed as though the goal was to attack me hard enough to either silence me or get me to cower down which was so crazy to me. It a very mob-like mentality.
It was like they were trying to come in fast and hard to shut me up so they didn’t have to form any non-regurgitated thoughts that weren’t already a part of the group-think.
Most people that know me or follow me know I have a good heart and put in quite a bit of effort to uplift those around me so this didn’t actually bother me too much. But it was just truly one of the most disgusting sides of humanity I’ve ever been illicitly involved in.
Oh, I should mention this was only two people heading this up — outliers. The girl mentioned in the first story, Robyn, and one other. It turned into 3 or 4 in the end but less than a handful of just very loud SJW’s. I had hundreds of messages from supportive women and only 2 that caused this so-to-speak shit-storm.
I find that very disheartening that 1% can be loud enough and obnoxious enough to silence the other 99. I think it’s time we start standing up against these extremists that are speaking on and representing the causes we care about.
The Effect on Feminism
Well in the most simple of terms — damaging to their cause.
I was someone who was on their team and willing to stand up for their cause, spread the word, and create awareness on something that didn’t personally affect me — knowing it would probably lose me influence in the community I’ve spent so much time trying to build and keep positive.
I was willing to answer hundreds of DM’s conversing and explaining and discussing points of views, using time that I didn’t have, all because it was a belief I felt strongly about and wanted to support.
Instead of taking the parts of my argument that they disagreed with or said I was misinformed on (again, see transcript below, it’s a very basic high-level overview of my opinions), they used it as a way to have something to talk about and to give them days of content of, again, finding anything they could on me, tearing apart my page, and publicly shaming me, and sending their followers to, in a sense, attack me — forcing me to outcast and distance myself from supporting them, since no sane human would fight to stay a part of that.
And why, all because I didn’t spend days studying the topic before making a few story posts? Because I didn’t check all the boxes?
Luckily, as mentioned, this was only 1% of them and they were just extremely loud and the rest of them have been great and super supportive.
The Effect on Me Personally
It’s been mostly positive honestly.
My daily following for the last 24hrs has hockey-sticked up and is at about 400% of what it normally is. And obviously it’s mostly in part to them talking about me and bringing attention to my page. From there those whose views align with mine or like what they see jump on board. All publicity is good publicity right? But this exactly why they do this, because it does the same thing for them when others’ are fighting back.
However, this makes it hard to decipher when to stay silent as to not bring them attention and when to stand up for yourself and the cause both parties hold in common.
I’ve also had toooonnnnnssss of people messaging me saying things such as “I was following her until I saw how she was talking about you. I came to check out your account and stories for myself and now I’m following you and unfollowed her.” etc. And, it’s good to hear that people are seeing through the one-sided narrative they’re portraying about me and choosing to unfollow people that add negativity instead of positivity to the world. That’s the best way to vote for what you believe in — with your time, attention, or money.
The engagement is high. Comments are high. I’ve gained a ton of support and a lot of others feel empowered to voice their opinion on both sexism in tech and the FiF campaign.
And with them digging for whatever they could find and coming up empty it’s like being audited and finding out the IRS owes you money! Now everyone has seen this and it’s instilled more confidence in my fanbase.
The fact is, I know exactly who I am and so do my friends, family, and followers so I’ve got a pretty strong resolve and am 100% confident in the person I am, my growing contributions to the tech community, and the level of work and moral ethics I put into the things I give my attention to.
You can’t break me.
But alas, something still seems to be missing because this was supposed to be about helping women make progress towards equality.
Try your best to keep an open dialogue. Come from a place desiring to understand the other side’s point of view. Attempt to meet in the middle. Stay on the side of inclusivity and avoid divisiveness.
Don’t let the loud few stifle doing what’s right. They’ll defeat themselves in due time. Keep your focus on the ones that are being supportive.
A lot of the women I spoke to that were against FiF didn’t want to speak out on the matter because they were afraid of this gang-like mentality and getting called out — exactly what’s happened here to me. So I understand fully why someone would avoid something like this. But women, you’ve got to start being more vocal about which approach is correct so more people can get on the same page and then us males know we’ll have equal support in return when supporting you.
It’s a real shame this article even needed to be written but I just wanted to share my personal account of trying to stand up for a cause that has a toxic and loud branch to it. To be honest, writing this is me being a little selfish so I don’t have to keep talking about it and can direct everyone to one place to get the full story since they’re continuing to talk about it after I’ve chosen to get back to work and stay focused on IRL things.
The Transcript of Stories
Keep in mind that when you take jokes and performance conversation out of context and transcribe them you lose the cadence and delivery.
A lot of the uh’s or um’s were pauses in order to create dramatics. But some were just because I was, um, thinking. lol
On like an actual real, real note, have you guys been seeing what’s going on with all like the sexism that’s going on with like Ro… just women in general in coding but like Robyn’s post specifically, [redacted]’s post that went viral on facebook? Yea? no? Let me know.Regardless, saying sexist comments like ‘she can’t write code’ or ‘she didn’t write a line of that code’ or “girls that look like that don’t write code” I get that, I get the different — [sic] why you might be saying different things and what you might be meaning when you say it.But you really need to focus more on what how the other person might take it and the situation they’re in. Um. This is such a shitty subject to have to talk about. Just be better than that. You guys are better than that. Be better than that.And for those of you who are true, you know, to the ground sexists and don’t think women should be in coding, um, fuck you. I know so many good women programmers. Mo-Most of the programmers I look up to are women. They’re not even men. Most of them are women.And if you feel threatened because they’re also attractive and the and because most environments are mostly made up of men and they would rather take an attractive female over your ugly ass. I get that feeling.I don’t feel that feeling personally. I would never been, uh-uh- I can’t feel that, there’s just, it’s not possible for me to feel that. But I could understand why you might feel that. Just work harder. Be better. Work harder. Work your ass off. Put your fuckinghead down, get in the books, work harder, be better. [long pause] I mean, I really can’t put it any easier than that. Be inclusive. Be all for equality. Everyone, everyone equal, all the time.And since I’m addressing this topic stupidly, I shouldn’t be, it’s a little too political. But I find myself in these positions all far too often. I’m going to address the other side too. If you’re doing this ‘the future is female’ shit: cut that shit out.From a male’s perspective, even somebody who’s all for equality, when you say ‘the future is female’ that-that’s not, that doesn’t sound like it’s for equality to me. It sounds like it’s for inequality in the other direction. And I’ve talked to women that have different outlooks and say different things. And if that’s you, preface it, put...a caption under it, explain yourself, make it known that what you’re saying isn’t like ‘fuck men’ or like that ‘we’re going to just, we want to destroy them and take over the world.’ Because that’s what it sounds like. When you say ‘the future is female’ it sounds like men no longer exist or are needed. And that’s not cool.And that’s not cool and it prevents people like me who are I would say are classic feminists um and just want pure equality across the board for everyone, and it should be about your mind and, and your heart and what you are contributing. But it pushes us kind of away a little bit.To circle completely back to the beginning, if you are finding yourself that you might be being a little sexist and you’re not sure, start asking questions, just be curious, try to have more women around you in your life, and then ask more questions. Ask them what they think on things.Try to truthfully decipher, or sincerely decipher, like what-what where they’re coming from and what they’re saying. And you get the few that are like social justice warriors and just like too hardcore or they’re just like whiny and they’re using it for attention, but a lot of them are being real about it.With that said, I’ll end with, I’ve never seen sexism in front of me before within tech; it’s never happened in real life. I’ve only seen it here on the internet and it’s like a 2% of like the community it’s like the people who sit at the lunch table by themselves because no one else will let em sit with us.I'm saying, [sic] so rudely interrupted once again. If you want to sit at our lunch table, you want to sit with the cool kids, then you've got to start being cool. Be cool. Because we wanna eat lunch together. We wanna chit-chat. Ya know what I’m saying?Send me your guys’ opinions on this. Guys, I mean guys as in inclusive with girls as well. But DM me your guys’ opinions if you align with what I’m saying or you think I’m completely wrong, tell me, like, if I’m wrong I’ll hit myself in the face with a book like a big book, like I have the complete works of William Shakespeare over there.
Onward in progress.