Girl Trouble

I don’t know how to sugar coat this. Women get a pretty raw deal in our culture, and the more instances I get exposed to, the angrier I become.

My daughter is nine years old. She’s just a few short years from boys turning from an annoyance into a actual problem. The kind of problem where being attractive and female seems to turn many men into degenerate neanderthals. The kind of neanderthal whose behaviour makes it into blog posts like these. I’m writing this because these posts have made me angry enough to blog about it. Here’s an excerpt from Ashe Dryden, citing examples of the kind of behaviour I’m talking about:

A guy at a tech conference asked me where he could get in line to have sex with me.

I stopped drinking because my fear of not being able to protect myself at all times was greater than my want to go out and have fun with friends.

I’ve had a male coworker threaten to come to my house because I didn’t want to discuss a work issue with him while he was angry. Because he attended most tech events in the city I lived in, I stopped attending them – even the ones I was involved in organizing.

Sexuality is at the very core of our being, as both men and women. Men constantly struggle with their urges, and women are under constant scrutiny as potential mates. Nothing is ever going to change that. But we have the mechanisms of culture in place to protect women from men, and men from themselves.

I’m talking about mores here: a generally-accepted notion of what is acceptable. Men whose behaviour ranges from killing innocent turtles to not washing their hands in the bathroom highlight, for me, the ways that mores can be violated.

But there’s a special hell waiting for men who think it’s in any way acceptable to speak to or treat a woman as we’ve seen in these posts (and others). This example is particularly troubling:

I reported coworkers for sexist and homophobic language directed at me only for my boss to not only tell me it “wasn’t that big of a deal”, and then go out of his way to tell the person who said those things to me, creating a very unsafe work atmosphere.

Because it reveals a stark truth about so many men’s attitudes towards women. I’ve thankfully never witnessed this kind of behaviour in person, but I’ve heard enough stories to believe it.

The proof of it is in how women everywhere live their lives. In how I notice most women walk down the street with their gaze fixed straight ahead or on the ground, lest they meet the eyes of some man and somehow encourage him. Or in how I am often surprised to find the front door of my own home locked when I’ve been out, because my wife is alone there and fears a man will break in and rape her. Or in how, in a public place, I can look at a pretty girl walking by, and then look at the other men around me and see them watching her too.

For the percentage of those men who think it’s cool to approach that woman in an aggressive way: it’s not. Every such advance a woman suffers becomes further evidence to seed her mistrust of men. And this is a disservice to all of society.

I see it especially in technical circles. I actually thought there were no female Cocoa developers in Toronto, because Tacow went for years without seeing any women at meetings. But it turns out those empty chairs could be filled by developers like Ashe Dryden, or all the women who spoke at the recent Renaissance IO Conference.

Women developers are out there, but they’re not coming to the meetings. And the boorish behaviour of men is the reason.

So, for the sake of better diversity at my technical meetups, and for the well-being of my wife and daughter, men really need to shape up. Wash your goddamn hands, leave the turtles alone, and treat women with the same respect you should treat your mother.