I was voted most talkative in Jr High…
but I’m only now learning the power of my voice.
When Amy asked that I write a guest post for her social justice blog, my immediate response was YES! But when she told me that I could write about anything I wanted as long as it related to gender & injustice … I felt nervous. Not because I didn’t think I had something to say — but because I almost have too much! How do you fit in a lifetime worth of thought and learning and experience about these kinds of things into one blog? The answer… you can’t. So… I’ll start small.
We could talk about Wikipedia’s gender gap — where about 85% of the volunteers who write the site are men; a complicated fact that touches upon issues of information privilege, knowledge gatekeeping, online harassment, and more.
To extrapolate just a bit: if we start with the assumption that information is privilege, what we find is that the white, male-dominant community of editors on the English Wikipedia (a population of people who have the time, education, and financial means to volunteer their time to write an encyclopedia for fun *insert comment about women bearing the bulk of the second shift here*) are creating a site that reflects mostly their own interests and experiences. If you look at a list of Wikipedia’s Featured Articles (the best of the best of Wikipedia) what you find is hundreds of articles about subjects related to military history, warfare, video games, sports, and pop culture, but very few articles about subjects relevant to or important to women. You’ll also find that an enormous 80% of the biography articles on Wikipedia are about men, this despite knowing that yes, women make up over 50% of the world.
And while I appreciate that these contributors are individuals who are volunteering their time to grow what is the world’s largest free information resource — this imbalance does create some problems. The barriers to entry to join Wikipedia are high, and the site is rife with online harassment for women and newcomers. And despite a years-long effort to grow the number of women who contribute, the gender gap persists.
We could talk about the presidential election, and how despite being the most qualified candidate in recent history, Hillary Clinton still isn’t seen as enough somehow. We could also talk about how a woman has never been president before — again despite the fact that women make up 50% of the world’s population, and the majority of college graduates — but even talking about the fact that Hillary’s a woman is somehow seen as indelicate, or as betraying my preferences (in case you were wondering, #imwithher).
We could talk about rape culture and the way it creates hurtful norms for men and women. About the problems of “locker room talk” and Brock Turner and meninism and the courage required of all of us to hold each other accountable.
We could talk about #everydaysexism and the problems with statements like “she’s somebody’s wife/mother/sister/daughter.”
Basically, we could talk for days (or at least I know I could). And I welcome you to join the conversation.
The more we all talk and share — not just in an echo chamber of friends from college who look and think like us — but with family and friends and strangers whose experiences and beliefs are different from our own, the more we learn. The more we teach. The better we become at listening.
So… to Amy, thanks for asking me to reflect and put to words a few of my thoughts on social justice & gender. I’m so excited to join you on this journey.
To anyone who reads this, I hope the links and images and videos included here help you learn something, or help inspire you to start a conversation. If I missed something important (ha), please forgive me. The conversation is bigger than any one blog could possibly cover. (Just realized I didn’t even mention the pay gap, abortion access, or street harassment, but luckily the video above covers all three and how they relate to intersectional feminism beautifully.)
To those of you who may disagree, I’d love to talk more so that we can learn from each other. You can email me at email@example.com.