Geek Feminism Wiki

At Talk:Open Source Male Privilege Checklist, I posed the question of whether that list and this list should be merged. Please discuss there -- thanks! Monadic 18:50, July 31, 2011 (UTC)

"Joining in appreciation of the sex object du jour without having to be gay or bisexual." is problematic

This is pretty othering to those of us who are bisexual or gay of any gender.

I'm bi, and the person who originally wrote that was bi. I think the point is that when workplace bonding involves appreciating a "sex object du jour" who is a woman, this includes the majority of men (those who are het or gay), but others the majority of women (those who are het).
If you have a better way to phrase it, please go ahead and try. But I think that as per articles like Sexualized environment, heteronormative displays of het male sexuality are a way that women in tech fields get othered that need to be discussed. 21:33, July 31, 2011 (UTC) (Oops, that comment was actually from me: Monadic 21:34, July 31, 2011 (UTC))
What are other people's thoughts on making a specific intersectionality section? Because neither heterosexual nor asexual women (assuming a heteronormative workplace) would be able to join in, excluding them, but pan/bisexual women and lesbians would have to choose between joining in and outing themselves if they weren't out already, or staying out of a discussion that they might have liked to join if they fear that they would run into problems for not being straight. So since there's more than one issue there, it might be able to be phrased better alongside other intersectional issues.
Something like:
Appreciation of the sex object du jour: in workplaces where the dominant culture is heterosexual men, this excludes straight and asexual women. Women who do find a female sex object under discussion attractive may also be excluded if they need to remain closeted.
Azurelunatic 06:40, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
Or maybe "Most of my colleagues share my gender and sexual orientation; we can discuss people we find attractive with a reasonable chance of finding common points of appreciation" and follow that up with "I am unlikely to stumble upon a workplace discussion of a sex object to find that I am the topic of discussion." Azurelunatic 07:22, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
I'd definitely be in favor of calling explicit attention to intersectionality. But does corraling intersectional issues in a separate section go against the whole spirit of talking about intersectionality in the first place? (I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm just asking.) Monadic 19:00, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
I think specifically corraling them does go against the spirit, but adding an additional highlight to them (either inline or in a separate section while still having the points present in the other areas to which they are relevant) sounds good to me. Azurelunatic 22:21, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
That seems pretty reasonable. From a technical standpoint, I'm not sure how to do that (like, it would be nice to have an "intersectional" template for those bullet points so that they could either show up twice without literally having to copy/paste the text into different sections), since I've used Wikimedia wikis a lot more than I have Wikia. If you know how, though (or someone else does) I'd be in favor of any variant on this. Maybe color-coding? (In a way that's redundant with some non-color markup for people who can't distinguish colors or who use screen readers, of course.) Monadic 22:25, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
The parenthetical "See also: link" things seem to flow well without much fuss and bother; one would then link to the intersectionality section's anchor. Azurelunatic 22:29, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
If you want to go ahead and make the change you're talking about for just one example, I can see what you have in mind (right now I'm not sure I'm exactly picturing it right). Monadic 22:30, August 3, 2011 (UTC)
I've echoed the closed-door discussion item between Othering & Personal Safety in this fashion now. Azurelunatic 20:51, August 6, 2011 (UTC)
I think that style works well (sorry for the tardy response!) I'll try to emulate it for other things. Monadic 02:47, August 11, 2011 (UTC)

Removal of strange and unreasonable points

I think this list would stand a lot better if a few of its more questionable points were removed.

Here are the points, followed by my argument as to why they should be removed.

  • "The ability to listen to speakers refer to an inanimate software construct as "this guy" without feeling othered and getting distracted from the content of the talk."

Anthropomorphism is a common literary technique. It is common to call ships "she," for example. If you're talking about code with some figurative intent (the daemon wants to keep your connection alive, eg), it is natural to describe it in a anthropomorphic way. Would the author of this point would find it equally objectional for the software construct to be described as "this gal"? Asking that speakers reject this technique is (in my opinion) extreme and seems unreasonable in contrast to the other good points raised in the list.

  • "Being praised for the content of your writing rather than the neatness of your handwriting."

Neat handwriting is not exclusive to women. If someone comments on your good presentation, have the good grace to accept the compliment. Again, this item stands out as extreme and nonsensical compared to the others.

  • "Having potential romantic partners assume from your career that you're smart and well-to-do rather than unattractive and unfeeling."

Again, this sentiment is hardly uniquely ascribed to female programmers. In fact, this is the dominant stereotype of nerds generally. The tides may be changing (slowly), but most male nerds suffer from the assumption that they are cold.

  • "If you're married, having people take you to lunch without them speculating on how your spouse would feel about them taking you to lunch."

I take exception to this item because it is absolutely unrelated to programmers or the tech scene. This is supposed to be a list about male programmer privilege.

The reason I took the time to write this is because I assume the intent of the list is to educate. Points that are easily disproved or ridiculed serve to weaken the list as a whole. It's a good list, and I think it would be a better one without the points listed above.

I find this comment to be derailing. Please reflect on whether you're engaging in Oppression Olympics here. Also, on what authority do you claim the right to decide what is reasonable? To many people who haven't thought much about privilege, everything on the list would be unreasonable.
With particular attention to the first point, gender-specific anthromorphizing is othering. Like ranking women by hotness as an example of a database algorithm, it sets up an "us" and "them" dynamic. Saying it doesn't matter because it doesn't bother you is a textbook example of several of the oppressive discursive strategies catalogued under Category:Silencing tactics.
But it would be good if others expressed their opinions. Finally, please consider creating an account (which need not be tied to your identity) and signing your comments. It would show that you are committed to making this wiki a better resource, rather than just pushing a point of view. Monadic 05:08, August 1, 2011 (UTC)
I dont feel in any way oppressed, so I doubt it. I recognize my privilege. Why do you find the comment derailing? I have addressed a small few troublesome points in a rather long list.
If that point is supposed to be about othering, then it should use a different example. A presenter should feel free to refer to an object as "he" or "she". The example you give here (ranking women by hotness) is a clear example of othering, but the list item I take issue to simply refers to refering to an object as "this guy." That is not necessarily othering.
I think it is a poorly expressed point. If it's supposed to be about othering, it should be more specific. As it stands, it seems to be about anthopomorphism.
This is very much a drive by comment from me. Take or leave it. But know that I am speaking sincerely and with an agenda of making the list more compelling to the typical male reader. Again, I point out that I'm only taking issue with these few specific points, not the list as a whole. Again, I think it's a good list, and that it would be better with the removal of these points.
Thanks. -Anon.
"A presenter should feel free to refer to an object as 'he' or 'she'" -- this is your opinion, and I don't agree with it.
Fine, but that list item provides no justification or rationalization as to why this would be a bad thing (while the other items stand for themselves). Please clarify the point, either here (to satisfy my curiosity) or in the list itself (to make it actually sensical).
Many people also believe that a presenter should feel free to include images of naked women in a computer science talk. What makes this different?
To the casual observer they are totally dissimilar things. I am more interested in why you would equate the two.
You haven't substantiated it with anything other than your opinion. And I'm sorry, but "making the list more compelling to the typical male reader" sounds a lot like concern trolling. If that wasn't your intent, don't do it in the future. Feminism will never be appealing to the typical male reader -- very few people are willing to give up power voluntarily. And my understanding of what this wiki is for isn't "convincing" or "persuading", but rather documenting.
This list seems like a propaganda tool (in a positive way). It seems designed to coax the male reader into putting himself outside his own experience so that he may observe his own privilege. I think it does a good job, but these points mar an otherwise well-executed piece of prose.
I do hear you when you say that you agree with the majority of the content of the list, but I just don't think "somebody thought it was unreasonable" is a valid reason to remove content -- otherwise, this entire wiki wouldn't exist, because it goes against the opinions of many people who would find it more reasonable for us to be barefoot and in the kitchen. Monadic 05:26, August 1, 2011 (UTC)
I guess I'm just asking you to consider why I would approve of the work in principle and majority, but these few points somewhat awry. You seem more concerned with attacking me and my motivations rather than my point and purpose. (PS: you say "us", but aren't you male? Your profile links you to Tim Chevalier.)
People with the mindset that would put women barefoot in the kitchen would also consider me to be a woman. I'll let you figure out the rest.
Just as a bit of advice, when you want your points to be taken seriously, it's best not to make your opening salvo one that asserts your own opinion as the objective truth ("strange and unreasonable"). When you want to cooperate, don't start by being hostile. Otherwise, others might reasonably assume that you want to derail, not cooperate. Monadic 05:43, August 1, 2011 (UTC)
I didn't see some of your other comments because you replied inline without signatures, which makes it very difficult to follow the comments (take a look at some talk pages on Wikipedia to see how discussions on talk pages usually look). As for why gendered anthropomorphization belongs on the list: because hearing someone identify themself with an animate object by saying "this guy" is a reminder that the speaker expects everyone else in the audience to also think of themself as a guy. Anf that's othering, and enforces power structures in the same way that any other kind of othering does. If you don't see it as othering, perhaps that's because you haven't experienced it. But not having experienced it doesn't make it not real. Monadic 06:44, August 1, 2011 (UTC)

Right place ?

The freedom to listen to speakers use gender fields in database schemata as an example of an attribute that never changes and only has two possible values without having to sit on your hands.

This priviledge is real, and relevant to geekfeminism. However it's unrelated to being male. It's a priviledge of unawareness, not of maleness.

I hesitate in removing it though, because it's a good point and I'd like it preserved. Is there some other good spot I could move it to ?

It's not exactly unrelated to being male, as it's a cis man's privilege rather than a man's privilege (many of the other privilege -- though not all -- are enjoyed by both cis and trans men, though for trans men it's always conditional). But not that there's a Cisgender Programmer Privilege Checklist, I'm moving it there. Monadic 08:44, August 1, 2011 (UTC)

"Having colleagues who close the door when they talk to you."

When did this become rude? I am under the understanding that it is rude to close the door when having a solo conversation with someone of the opposite in order to facilitate them feeling safe while speaking with the other person and free from the threat of possible implied sexual assault. Is this not the case?

Well, this is a list of privileges that male programmers have; rudeness doesn't really have anything to do with it. You could see it as polite, but it would still be true that male programmers have a privilege that female programmers generally don't have. I suggest not bringing up issues of "rudeness" or "politeness" when talking about oppression -- it usually has an individualizing, exceptionalizing effect, distracting from issues of institutional power.
It's on the list because it's a reminder that your colleagues see you as a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen, not as an equal colleague. If you're presenting as male, it's OK to have a workplace conversation that either might be loud enough to disturb people in the halls if the doors were open, or might touch on sensitive topics (the latter can be especially true in an academic context). But if you're presenting as female, others will assume you're going to accuse them falsely of sexual harassment, and put their own needs ahead of your need to work effectively. It's doubly insulting because there's an easy way to not get accused of sexual harassment: don't sexually harass people. The door doesn't have to be open, it doesn't have to be closed, you just have to not sexually harass people. The idea that false accusations of harassment are common, necessitating the need to take pre-emptive measures even at the cost of engaging in othering towards a minority group member, is just another vestige of rape culture.
In general, treatment that makes a person of a minority gender more aware of their own gender is othering. Monadic 18:35, August 1, 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps this is a cultural development i have simply missed. I have always been tolld that when you ask a member of the oposing sex for a private conversation in a plutanic setting, it is "rude" (read as misogynistic or misandrist) to assume the other person is comfortable being with you in a confined space. When asked for a private conversation with female co workers or superiors in the past, I was always asked if I felt comfortable if they were to close the door before they did so, and I have always done the same to women when I requested a private conversation with them for the same reason. Has this practice simply changed? Is it misogynistic of me to not assume a women might be uneasy having a private conversation with me and question her comfort level before closing the door? Is it misandrist for a women to ask me the same question and not simply assume I have no issue? I'm sorry I am simply very confused as to why this is a gendered issue as I thought it was expected for both genders to perform this.
I don't think this talk page is really the right place for this conversation, as it's not about improving the wiki page but rather about helping you learn about privilege. Try and for starters. Monadic 19:46, August 2, 2011 (UTC)
At some point I went in and added some clarifications based on some of the items in this discussion to the actual list, with the hope that it would help forestall further iterations of this conversation. Azurelunatic 09:38, May 12, 2012 (UTC)


Woops, didn't mean to take out the Delicious Librarian bit. I blame the Internet Gnomes. Azurelunatic 08:13, February 5, 2012 (UTC)

No worries, that's what I assumed. Monadic 08:30, February 5, 2012 (UTC)

"Perceived as" and cis privilege

I edited the opening because I was uncomfortable with the "perceived as male" part. To me, it implied that trans women who are pre-transition can have male privilege. That implication is part of a lot of nasty transphobic tropes. In reality, trans women report that they experience conditional or no male privilege, as they are often perceived as gender-variant (or as "feminine" men, who are subordinate) even before they voice themselves as trans or as women.

I also didn't want to imply that trans men who are pre-transition have male privilege (though some do), so hopefully my edit is more accurate. Monadic (talk) 05:06, October 4, 2012 (UTC)

Only tangentially related, but I noticed that the "cis" link in that top section which links to wikipedia, links to cissexual, which itself redirects to -- someone (possibly me when I get back to a home computer) should make that change. --Azz 00:11, April 8, 2014 (UTC)
Done :) ProgVal (talk) 06:22, April 8, 2014 (UTC)