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Re: Women in FOSS at OSWC II

* Christian Perrier <bubulle@debian.org> [2006:02:24 07:20 +0100]: 
> > I also had several young people, including young women approach me
> > afterwards really happy to hear my point of view. It made me realise how
> > much a negative attitude can turn young women off. I guess if the lady had
> This is something I often have problems with when talking about D-W
> (not doing presentation as I never did one, obviously, but rather
> informal talks):
> Explain that D-W is not a feminist club full of people like the woman
> you're talking about who are angry about men in FLOSS. In the same
> time, explain that such "active feminists" are not strongly excluded
> as well because we certainly all agree that they also have a lot to
> bring to us (for instance, your talk with the woman mentioned in this
> thread was certainly interesting anyway, though not helped by a
> translating gateway which does not make easy to have quick interaction).

(I have more general comments, but I'm following up to your post because
your thoughts and Amaya's have caused me to think about this issue.)

First of all, like it or not, DW is a feminist club of sorts. It's
certainly feminist in the sense that it is promoting women's involvement
in an area they're clearly underrepresented. And maybe some people are
uncomfortable with feminism-as-a-label, but I am inclined to say "well,
too bad". I'm also inclined to invite them to help redefine that label.

Second of all, some of us are angry -- maybe we're not stark-raving mad
and maybe some of the issues that upset us are not always at the
forefront of our thoughts and actions -- but make no mistake about it,
if you get a group of us talking about the crap we've had to put up with
either professionally or within free software, you are bound to see a
fair amount of outrage. Is it possible to be positive when your mailing
list is more or less being assaulted by someone who wishes death on you?
Is it easy to promote involvement in a group that is prone to such
attacks? Is it even easy to /be/ in a group that is prone to such

I think what Pia is talking about is promoting middle ground, which I
believe most of us try to do. If we weren't angry or upset or whichever
adjective sounds most appealing and fitting to each of our personal
situations, we might very well not be here at all, because to pretend
everything is going fine would only maintain the status quo. However, to
shift the blame onto men and claim it's all their fault removes some of
our own power in the situation; I, for one, do not feel powerless in the
face of a very male-dominated field and I think it's a copout to say
it's all men's fault and that they are keeping us out. There is a
difference between recognizing social structures which discourage
interests and subscribing to them, even in a vehemently opposed rage.
I'm going to choose the option that gives me some say in the matter.

The thing I'm not clear on, which I think Pia could probably elaborate
on, is: what level of silence is appropriate? Screaming from the
rooftops about the evils of men is certainly unproductive, but I am
concerned that pretending nothing is wrong is going to mislead people.
At some level, at least within Debian, there is not much to complain
about. There are visible women in Debian and there are also,
statistically speaking, a /lot/ of women in Debian and people are used
to us being around by now. But as a general matter, is it that good across 
the board? I really don't know. When does it stop being "awareness" and
start becoming "discouragement"? 

off the chain like a rebellious guanine nucleotide

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