Speaking Up, Knowing the Rules & Other Shit Women Deal With

What’s a Mistake? What Isn’t?There’s something we all have to sort out at various times: what’s a mistake and what isn’t?

Two stories that I have been watching carefully have been the Steubenville rapes and the Adria Richards’ tweet.

Both of these have had tragic consequences. Both of them have created an incredible amount of discourse about what’s okay and what’s not okay. These events both revolve around women’s issues that women have been struggling with for, like, ever. Rights to our bodies and rights to “be and feel included” in men’s worlds.

Lots of people think it’s irrelevant to bring up the alcohol involved in the Steubenville case. And, because I have a personal experience with that, I agree. I think most people have a fundamental understanding about not touching another person sexually without their consent. That’s a line that everyone becomes aware of as children.

Part of the comment by Flying_carpets on Jezebel.com’s post “What Lies Ahead for the Steubenville Rapists? explains what is wrong with anyone who is defending these young men: “What people are really saying is that a male’s future should not be compromised for a crime against a female.”

Guys who do things like this need to be identified and given the opportunity to change and then watched for the rest of their lives, because they have proven they will cross the line the rest of us learned as children and, if they are not suitably punished, they might just “laugh it off” and find no problem doing something else like it again if no one is watching. Women deserve to have their rights to safety protected.

In regards to other kids speaking up about it, no one really knows how far something is going to go until it actually happens. And they were all drinking under age, which is self-incriminating. Not a great environment for anyone to readily speak up, but hopefully many more people will now understand that they should have.

In Adria Richards’ case I think both people should be given their jobs back and allow everyone to just move on understanding this was a teachable moment for both sides.

1) There were rules about “appropriate language” at PyCon, but how many of the guys read them?
2) Women are sick of guys getting away with the kind of shit that affects their experience and want the world to see it.

VentureBeat.com has a post that explains SendGrid’s decision. I don’t know how much Richards has seen of this kind of crap in her position (from what I’ve experienced with my oldest daughter in tech, I am guessing quite a bit), but how people relate to one another is obviously important to her. Her job was developer relations. But like the guys who “didn’t know the rules” at PyCon, she apparently didn’t know the rules about what she did.

We’re all here to learn. Why is a human error that was intended to teach others about what is happening “behind closed doors” by using the media regarded as so egregious that this woman is considered incapable of learning and being able to use that new knowledge in her job to teach others? The guy should not have lost his job. She didn’t intend to hurt him, but just show the world what continues to go on. It’s understandable that he was upset. No one wants to have words put in their mouth or be called out as a jerk. Apparently he was made aware it and wanted to defend himself, to say, “What she said I was saying is incorrect. What I said wasn’t bad.” He said; she said. No one recorded it. But, she’s in the business of personal relations and found whatever he said offensive and it made her uncomfortable. (I was depressed just seeing the lack of women at the event.)

I hope, if SendGrid won’t reconsider, that someone else will give her an opportunity to continue to do what she was doing, because it’s obvious she cares about what is happening in these environments. Oftentimes if women just make a little peep, like a “text,” most people will just roll over it without noticing and nothing happens. I think this is part of what men don’t get. The way to get noticed, we are told, is with images. This one was a mistake. Can everyone, including the bosses and the guy affected, realize something important was learned from it and get over it?

In this case, as opposed to what women are often told in order to accept this kind of behavior, “getting over it” doesn’t mean no one learns from it. Everyone at this moment in time who has seen these stories has learned something. Will our education system learn anything from it? Will they incorporate this kind of information about offensive language and rights to privacy/defamation of character into curriculum so that the kids who are too young to understand what’s going on at this time don’t have to go through this? Are they revising their sexual education courses to talk about everything that constitutes rape and addressing the attitudes that perpetuate these events with discussions about what to do if someone sees it? Will parents? How many parents are logging this in the back of their minds as part of the talk they need to have with their younger kids?

We all make mistakes. Hopefully, not ones that are too big. If we learn from them and have an opportunity to share what we learned with someone else so they can avoid hurting someone in the same way, most people will.

But, we always have to remember, some people learn and some people don’t and, really, only time will tell.

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