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Re: For those who care about lesbians

Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> writes:
> On Sat, 14 Jan 2006 11:19:37 -0800, Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> said: 

>> Er, I thought it was offensive because it was sexist, not because
>> there's anything wrong with being lesbian.

>         Umm, the fact that the phrase "You like looking at
>  hetrosexuals"  is sexist just flew below my radar.

I'm not sure this is the place, but, well, since several people have said
they didn't understand....

The message that started all this is sexist because it ties into and
reinforces a presentation of women as sexual objects for men to stare at
in a context where this is entirely inappropriate.  It plays into the
conception of lesbians as eye-candy for men, thereby demeaning and
belittling a sexual choice in a way that isn't done to gay men.  It's
sexist because it specifically uses women in a sexual situation to make
its point, thus addressing readers differently depending on their gender
in a forum where gender should be irrelevant.  It's sexist because it
brings gender and sexual orientation into a context where there was
absolutely no reason to discuss it, in exactly the same way as making
jokes about lesbians in a professional workplace environment would.

That it wasn't intended as sexist, but rather was being used to make a
completely different point, actually makes it worse.  That such a message
would be considered appropriate to make that sort of point is an
expression of casual, subconscious sexism, rather than anything conscious.
It's exactly the sort of behavior that, in sum, across many such
supposedly "harmless" individual instances, makes professional technical
environments uncomfortable for women.

I don't mean to make a huge deal about this.  I'm only posting this
because you essentially asked, and because I think other people honestly
didn't get it and maybe someone will understand.  It is, by itself, not
particularly overwhelmingly horrible, and I expect pretty much everyone
who read it went "wow, that was stupid" and went on with their lives, but
it *is* the sort of thing that sets the wrong tone and over time, with
repetition, creates a more hostile environment.

(If you don't agree with me, please, please, *please* don't argue about it
here.  It's really not at all relevant to this mailing list, and talking
about it at length just makes it worse.  I promise I won't post any more
on the topic; I'm sure that we would all like to put the whole stupid
thing behind us and get back to doing the technical work that this mailing
list is actually for.)

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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