The Big Fat Feminist Critique in The Middle of The Room

Brought to you by the words Autism, Female, and Tech World — Eds

Okay, Feminism, It’s Time We Had a Talk About Empathy


Growing up with autism is a never-ending series of lessons in how people without autism expect the rest of the world to relate to them.


‘Don’t be so direct, don’t you know you’re being insulting?’ ‘Put yourself in her shoes — when are you going to develop a sense of empathy?’ Invariably, the autistic behaviour is marked as less-than, called out as needing to change. So we adapt; we learn to keep our “abnormal” attitudes and behaviours to ourselves in the hope of blending in,  and when we discover communities where, by chance, we fit in a little better without having to try so hard, we cling to those safe spaces like a drowning man clings to a lifebuoy.

I stumbled into my first such space when I was eight, and its name wasFidoNet. I didn’t think of myself as a programmer back then, just a girl who liked fractals and science fiction and BASIC on my IBM PCjr, …. In a very real sense, I did most of my growing up online.

Nobody on FidoNet ever told me ‘no girls allowed’ — or even implied it, at least to an extent that I might have picked up on — and as a result, the assertion that “technology is a boys’ club” has always been foreign to me. Sure, I was always one of a scant handful of girls in the after-school computer or science club, but none of that mattered when there were NASA missions or flight simulator games to geek out on.

I have since been made painfully aware that my experience is atypical. Every time, it has been a woman who has done so. Every time, it has been a lesson in how the woman I am talking with expects the tech world to relate to her and other people like her.

Ironically, I have been discriminated against in the tech world because of my gender; I just didn’t notice until it was brought to my attention long after the fact.

What does leave me feeling snubbed, however — not to mention “scapegoated for the endemic misogyny in our field” — is being told that talking about my overwhelmingly positive relationship with the tech community is nothing more than a callous announcement of ‘fuck you, got mine.

What I’ve got, and what I wish the rest of the “women in tech” community who rage against the misogyny they see everywhere they look could also have, is a blazingly single-minded focus on whatever topic I happen to be perseverating on at the moment. It has kept me awake for days puzzling out novel algorithms and it has thwarted a wannabe PUA at a conference completely by accident. It is also apparently the most crashingly successful defense against attempts to make me feel inferior that has ever been devised. When I’m someplace that says on the label that it’s all about the tech, so am I. I may have come by it naturally, but it is a teachable skill. Not only that, it’s a skill that transforms the places where it’s exercised.

The “women in tech” experience is not monolithic — not for the women who feel uncomfortable in the tech community, and not for the women who feel comfortable in it, either. None of our stories are universal, but when we look at any landscape of stories from enough of a remove, we begin to see patterns. Right now, the dominant narrative about women in tech is overwhelmingly woven of antipatterns. We know a lot about how to go from problems to bad solutions, but if we’re going to make a tech community where people feel welcome, we have to figure out how to go from problems to good solutions — and disparaging women like me as gender traitors makes those of us who aren’t too socially thickheaded to know better far more reluctant to speak up so that there can even be a narrative about amelioration patterns. This isn’t “fuck you, got mine,” this is “damn you, why won’t you let me give you what I have?”

Read all of it at

What’s the Big Deal About Gossip?


Gossip is *such* a double-edged sword.

When it comes to gossip you usually have two camps. The first being “gossip is horrible and never to be done.” The second being “ooooo guuurl tell me what sh*t happened last night.”

And then there are those of the second group who love to re-distribute their recently heard intel to everyone else, regardless of if the intel has been fact-checked and verified.

There are also others who love to start gossip; and sometimes, those people doen’t even need to see anything to get the gossip going.

It’s easy to demonize gossip and those who spread gossip but are those who demonize all who gossip right?

If you were to trust in religion and other forms of thinking that come from non-scientific origins then yes. Religious types and most who subscribe to “rules of thumb” or “common sense” thinking and tend to be all-or-nothing, tend to label all gossip as bad and nothing good can come out of it. (Even though when they talk to their friend about someone possibly being a child predator because so-and-so’s child got the bad touch from this person, this person is indeed gossiping. And something indeed good is coming out of that gossip. Oddly specific example, I know.)

However if you believe in science, then you may know that not all gossip is bad. For example, a 2012 study from University of California, Berkeley, suggests that gossip can help us “police bad behavior, prevent exploitation and lower stress.”

And in 2006, the American Psychological Association (APA) published an article about the “evolutionary past” of gossip and what that past means to us now.

“Natural selection, he theorizes, pressured people to learn as much as possible about the people in their social network-be they an authority figure, potential romantic partner, teacher, political ally or enemy. Knowing about other group members helped people eschew risky alliances, by informing them, for instance, which group member might double-cross them.

“In the process, gossiping also helped facilitate bonds by showing others we trust them enough to share information. …”

Read about the University of California, Berkeley study on the UC Berkeley News Center website. (Is it just me or does the article neglect to mention the title of the study?)

Read the APA story “Bonding over others’ business.”

The point isn’t to completely turn a blind eye to gossiping. Vicious, malicious rumor-mongering is never something to be praised. With that said, finding out indirectly that your buddy is hurting because of money or because a partner just left them or maybe even learning that that guy you’re dating has an issue with impulse control is not such a bad thing and might even be beneficial to your personal health and the health of your social community.


Feel Good Friday: Ayn Rand, Compromise and Compassion

There can be no compromise between a property owner and a burglar; offering the burglar a single teaspoon of one’s silverware would not be a compromise, but a total surrender – the recognition of his right to one’s property. What value or concession did the burglar offer in return? and once the principle of unilateral concessions is accepted as the base of a relationship by both parties, it is only a matter of time before the burglar would seize the rest…

Doesn’t Life Require Compromise
Ayn Rand

Social Media Induces Feelings of Missing Out …What?

In April, the New York Times wrote about the deadly FOMO aka Fear Of Missing Out that can be induced by social media. Basically people who see other people having fun and doing sh*t and posting about their sh*t on their social media profiles, well those people who witness that start to feel like they are missing out on something.

First off: Seriously guys?

Second: WTF?

Third: Get a life.

Fourth: … nevermind

This attention to FOMO is pathetic, even more pathetic that it’s linked to social media. Explain to me how this isn’t just another case of wanting what others have, sometimes called grass is greener on the other side? Even before the masses participated in social media, people were wanting the house, the job, the significant other, the baby, the family (shoes, hair, clothes, body, etc.) that their friends had. (Hence my exclamation, “seriously guys?”)

I guess my disappointment is in the world doing a bad job of repackaging an old concept and linking social media to it to make it “exciting.” The issue is with the people not the technology. (Hence, WTF.)

I feel like a local watching a tourist describe “the wild world of  the social Internet.” “Gee, you mean you still want what other people desire even though you’re on the Internet. OMG how novel!”


From my experience and the experience of a lot of early Internet users, the Internet was great at hooking up like-minded people (which can be great sometimes and horrible in the right circumstances). And quite frankly, when you remember what the purpose of creating the Internet was, to share information, the Internet is doing what it is supposed to do: allow you to share information.

Nerds, people with niche interests and so on, they got to find each other on the Internet. That’s an amazing thing when you feel ostracized because you like things that aren’t for some reason acceptable to the community around you.

And when you feel like you have connected with these people, who cares what they do without you? When they are there, you have someone to joke, commiserate and share with. If you are going, “but I wanna do what they are doing!” Then A) Why aren’t you? and B) What’s the purpose of your relationship with that person? Be happy for them, be happy that they are doing something fun. Employ your social skills and ask them to let you know when they are going out again or even ask them how they know about all the cool stuff they do.

This bring me to my last point, GET A LIFE.

I say that with little judgment.

Be involved with your life, because at the end of the day, if you have time to get depressed over what you aren’t doing then you’re doing it wrong. Yes, it’s understandable to be like “man I wish I was going to the concert/party/movie/etc. like so and so is,” that’s only natural. But depression? Are you living your life?

Me for example, I haven’t been out in ages. And yea I do wish I could go to concerts and travel like I see some of my friends do — eat extravagantly, but I also have an 1 hour commute that kicks my ass five days a week, studying so I can get better at my job trade and applying to jobs since I know that in order to get to that place where I can feel comfortable with traveling and going to concerts I need to be making a certain amount of money consistently. I have a life that needs to be tended.

This goes back to the idea of,”employ your social skills” and even, in this case,  you’re emotional intelligence skills. In a nutshell, what do you need to make happen in your life so that you aren’t looking at what others have and feeling unsatisfied?

Back on me again. Even in my downtime, when I am not being social, I make sure what I do really counts for me. (Which requires you to know yourself, oui?) If I go watch a crappy movie, dammit it’s going to be the most awesome crappy movie in the world.  If I’m going to stay in, I’m going to do the most pleasing thing for myself that makes me forget about what anyone else does. I may even be happy that me and someone else I know got to do really pleasing activities that made us both happy.

Instead of allowing your feelings to make you feel like you are missing out on something, take your feelings as a sign that your life needs some tending to.

So I guess you could be like everyone else and desire what everyone else has; or you can stop right now and try to be happy for everyone who is doing things that make you feel envious and then use your dissatisfaction to make your own life better.

This song’s lyrics don’t really match this writing/rant but the song is still fitting … is social media and everyone else getting the best of you? Video after the jump.

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