I've been following the Geek Feminism blog.
I think you should too.
Every now and again, something happens in our community that's problematic -- something racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise harmful.
It can be something
or something as seemly innocuous as a
comment on a mailing list
or irc channel. In fact, I shouldn't say "every now and again" --
it happens a lot. More than you might think.
really spoke to me -- this comment in particular.
Part of the issue surrounding being a minority in FOSS is that your
time and energy get diverted from the productive bits (coding, testing,
writing, etc) whenever you're forced into dealing with incidents
like the above.
We have a lot of amazing people from a lot of diverse backgrounds
in FOSS, and we all benefit from their contributions and expertise.
So when someone says or does something (intentionally or not) that
makes people in the community -- our community -- feel unwelcome,
or excluded, or threatened -- we all need to step up and
Nobody wants to have their project saddled with behaviour that
drives people away. We all benefit from an environment that's welcoming
the broadest possible range of contributors. So when it comes time to
deal with sexist behaviour, women shouldn't be the only ones paying
the troll tax. Geek guys need to step up and take part of the load.
I'm trying to start with me.
Guys, if your experience mirrors mine, you've been in the situation
where someone else has done something that crossed the line. You've
gotten that sinking feeling that what's just happened is wrong, but maybe you weren't quite sure what to do about it, or how to do
something about it, or if you were even the right person to do
something about it. I'm going to urge you to step outside of your
comfort zone a little, and say or do something to let people
know that this kind of behaviour isn't ok. A stern glance or a terse
"not cool" can be enough. It doesn't have to be elaborate or involved,
but it does have to happen, because silence is tacit approval.
If nobody objects, it looks to all concerned as though it's ok.
This isn't a sermon from on high. Nobody is perfect, least of all me.
There are going to be times when we screw up, or let something slide
that we shouldn't have. We're human; it happens.
What's important is that we make the effort -- a serious and genuine
effort -- to work together, respect and support each other as fellow
hackers and human beings.
(Some random links that inspired this post. I found them useful;
I hope you will, too.)