I like being a woman…most of the time. I like dresses, especially in the summer. I like painted toenails, lip gloss, shoes and being a mom. Growing up in the Eighties, the women in T.V and movies were an interesting mix–gone were the butch, tough acting women of the Seventies who were brash and crude and demanding equal treatment. The Eighties women were equal, and they knew it. They used femininity to their advantage in the workplace: think Alexis Carrington on ‘Dynasty‘ or Melanie Griffith in ‘Working Girl‘. I’ve been blessed enough to stay home and raise my eight children, but during my brief forays into the ‘working outside the home’ world, I took my cues from the actresses I saw as powerful. I was lucky to also have real life women in my life as role models. When men at the office cracked inappropriate jokes, I would roll my eyes or walk away, sometimes I even laughed. The one time a man stepped over the line with a comment, I walked away, went to my boss and thankfully, that was the end of it.
Obviously, there are some very serious cases of sexual harassment in the workplace and I don’t for a second think any woman should tolerate it. At the same time, it seems like more and more women believe they should never, ever be talked to in any type of “offensive” way—funny or not. A writer at Jezebel agrees that it should be “all about women”:
“…[I]t is sexist to contribute (willfully or cluelessly! Ignorance is not an excuse!) to a hostile work environment for women. Full stop. If you didn’t realize you were doing it, that means you haven’t bothered to think critically about women’s comfort and needs.”
Ouch. To me, it’s a little much. Be considerate, don’t cross that line—just common sense, right? Do men in the workplace really need to “think critically” about women’s “comfort and needs”?
You have probably heard about the situation at a recent tech conference, Pycon, in California. It’s been a major topic on Twitter, known as ‘#donglegate’. A woman, Adria Richards, had confronted a man for making a “sexist joke”. Later, during a presentation, two other men sitting behind Richards also made a “sexual” comment about a piece of tech equipment. Nothing too outrageous, in fact, it’s a bit of a stretch to even call it “sexist”. Rather than asking them to stop or going to someone in charge, Richards chose her own path. She turned to the men, took a photo with her cellphone and sent it, along with this message, to Twitter (via butyoureagirl.com):
She shared her ‘trigger’ on her website, butyoureagirl.com, regarding a photo she saw of a young girl on the stage:
“I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so.”
While the Pycon chairman was talking about its success, Richards claims that the two men were saying things like, “Thank me, thank me!” and that they “talked about ‘big’ dongles”.
“Was this really happening?” Richards wrote. “How many times do I have to deal with this?”
Despite Richards’ claims that her company was standing behind her Tweets, apparently they were not. Some believe pressure from Anonymous made them fire her. It’s almost certain in this situation, based on comments by the men, had she been subtler, this could have been avoided. That’s not to say a woman shouldn’t roar when she needs to roar, but it’s pretty clear this particular roar wasn’t necessary. Did Richards have an agenda?
An anti-feminist, anti-marriage website, avoiceformen.com believes Richards was intent on busting men at the conference. It doesn’t seem far-fetched given the name of her website and the fact that she tried to humiliate the men. They claim to have discovered that the ‘code of conduct’ for the conference was taken from a hardcore feminist organization:
“The Ada Initiative is a feminist organization aimed at removing male sexuality from tech spaces while allowing feminism approved flavors of female sexuality to remain.”
The basic voice of the code is that men can’t control themselves if the subject is sex! You really have to read it to get the full effect. Frankly, it’s demeaning to men. Did the two men know about this ‘code of conduct’? Not according to A Voice for Men.
Sadly, this case reminds me of a pet peeve. As a Christian woman, nothing riles me more than the constant claim that we’re subservient to men. Forget the facts in front of their faces, they just know and they attack. Is the gentle art of being feminine gone forever? Is the new feminist a harsh, in-your-face attack machine—or perhaps a woman dressed in a vagina costume? In Adria Richard’s case, we discover a common denominator with the new feminist: the double standard. A quick review of her Twitter reveals that she doesn’t have a problem with talking about men in a crude way. Big surprise.
The Ada Initiative would refer me to a blog post where a woman who works in the tech field dared to suggest that women fight fire with fire, in a smart and humorous way. Valerie Aurora, co-founder of Ada said of that post and others like it, “It’s a classic way to belittle and trivialize other people’s real experiences.”
Maybe I miss the nuances of the male/female relationship. Can’t we be equal without going overboard? According to Jezebel, God apparently forgot to “correct gender imbalances”, so the men need to get right on that. They wrote, “It is not women’s responsibility alone to correct gender imbalances.” And here I was thinking He did a pretty good job!
I once read that white men are the fastest growing minority in America. True or not, they are somehow responsible for every ill in the country, much more so if they’re wealthy. Remember before the ’47%’ comment, everywhere you’d look there were ‘rich white guy’ comments about Mitt Romney. The same people that made those vicious comments are celebrating today—and they are the same people who preach peace, yet love to publicly humiliate and destroy those who don’t believe their truth.
One of the two men in the Richards/Tweeting incident were let go. PlayHaven, who fired him, wrote that their company “is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior.” Somehow, I doubt his wife and three kids find the companies actions ‘honorable’. Hopefully, they’ll have a change of heart.