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Stuff We Never Talk About

I thought this NYT article was interesting, about women talking with their male partners openly, often for the first time, about the sexual harassment and abuse they have experienced in their lives.

Similarly, the reaction to Kelly Oxford's Twitter thread about the first time women experienced abuse or harassment was enlightening: to women because it confirmed their experience, and to men who were shocked and horrified at what they learned. [Guardian article currently down because of DDOS attack. Alternate article here.]

It seems to me that this is an area that we don't talk about because the men in our lives are - for the most part - "good men." But we lose the chance for "good men" to be better allies, champions, peer interventionists, and changemakers if they don't even know what the lived experience is for #yesallwomen.


  • After reading some of the #notokay Twitter replies, Nacho asked me if I ever felt dismissed or condescended to at work, and I asked him if he ever saw that kind of thing in his field and how he responded. I felt sort of surprised to discover that we had never talked about that before!
  • *Gathering my thoughts for this important topic*
  • I just figured nobody wanted to talk about this.
  • I didn't know what to say. I have had lots of conversations with the women in my life about abuse and harassment. It's very sad how common it is, but I'm glad they feel comfortable sharing those tough experiences with me. I'm glad more men are hearing about what's going on every day.
  • Right out the gate: Freddy, nice topic. Thanks for bringing this up here.

    It's such a personal thing--I mean it really hits close to home. At times I have marveled at the difference between the everyday knowledge of women as of men. It's such a lonely feeling. As a chick sometimes I feel like none of my acuity, wariness, and perpetually lived outrage is being shared in my bf--in their lived, emotional range. But if I am close to a guy who has a clue, they let it be known that they are as disgusted by the everyday obscenities such as this one that I am.
  • edited November 2016
    In general, lots of people do so much messed-up, abusive garbage to other people, mainly for reasons of sexism, racism, hating witches, and capitalism. It's best to look at any of those key words being influenced by any of the other key words at any given time.

    I like to say, "truth is stranger than fiction." We people are doing do more cruel, strange things to each other than is cordial to admit.

    It's very awkward to talk to men about. Because you have a grievance that cannot directly be addressed.
  • Arguably not the best topic for internet forum discussion. But I'd really like to know: dudes and dude-identifyings, do you see casual (or less so) sexism in your personal and professionals lives? Do you ever do anything about it? What can be done?
  • The perfect topic for internet forum discussion!!
  • edited November 2016
    At the bank this morning we were talking about remodeling the cabin and we were talking about working on it so much over the past year, and I said how Sasha designed and worked on everything cause I am no good at interiors, and the nice banker guy said "so you were just the muscle" but Sasha was both the muscle AND the design, we were BOTH the "muscle", so I had to say so. He understood.
  • edited November 2016
    We had a strong female leader come into our technology team as part of a recent restructuring and there was some backlash as you would expect to any change. But this was the first time I heard things like Dragon Lady and Ice Cold Bword in the workplace and it was very weird, especially from pretty young dudes. She was very smart and aggressive in a good way, never mean spirited or cold. But sometimes you have to tell a software engineer that their plan isn't going to work, or that they need to change their process.

    After this I started realizing how female leaders frequently have to ratchet up the "niceness" more than you would expect from a man who would give the same corrective feedback. If they don't, they risk running into this weird undercurrent of sexism from a small subset.

    In this case the worst offender ended up leaving the company on his own.

    EDIT: Oh I forgot about the worst example in my career, a guy was fired for taking pictures with his phone over the cube wall of a younger lady web dev in our group. This was in the day when your flip camera made a loud digital "click" sound so it was odd that he thought he was being sneaky about it.
  • I had to give some feedback to one of my team members lately that I needed her to make her client-facing emails a little nicer/softer - like, add some social niceties before getting to the point (the point in this case being that no, you can't have that because your budget and contract don't cover it).

    She told me that she had made a specific effort over the last year to be more direct in her communications, after reading articles like this. She felt that there was a double standard at work, and that a man would not have gotten the same feedback.

    I acknowledged that there was some truth to what she said, but also that I still needed her to do it. I sort of felt like a tool of the patriarchy, but I can't keep getting phone calls from this (female) client about how my team member is being "rude" or "not helpful." (I still think spending a bit of time on politeness and carefully couching a "no" is worthwhile, and I'd like to think that I would give the same feedback to a man. But it's possible that the degree to which directness seemed like a problem would be less.)
  • edited November 2016
    RE: the comment above: THIS is exactly what I hope the future of this conversation is. Not about "have you noticed sexism" but "OK, now that we've established that sexism is at play, let's try to parse out an even finer balance of acceptable behavior." It's difficult because it's logistically challenging, not because there is a basic unwillingness to listen.
  • edited November 2016
    I dated a dev lady for a couple of years and was constantly blown away by the subtle dismissive and shitty things people would say to her. There is so much sorta well-intentioned sexism in the development world. It is weird to see. When she was first looking for a job she was real anxious about it and people kept saying things to console her like "Don't worry. You'll get a job. You're a girl and everybody wants girl developers right now." Which she would get pretty frustrated about because she wanted to get a job because she busted her ass and she was good and not just because she was a lady. I watched a couple variations of this, one even from another lady dev and it was so weird to me. I think there is a lot of that sorta thing going around. Portland brand sexism. Subtle and well-intentioned but still shitty.
  • edited November 2016
    This clip illustrates it perfectly:
  • OK... I'm gonna kick it up another notch like Emeril...

    We have to speak up about it when it happens, in the moment, especially when we are onlookers. Gotta give 'em the BAM!

    Especially if they're "nice," "well-intentioned." They'd WANT to help, right???
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