Please notice me in the corner

Gina, who I like and respect, wrote a post at Misbehaving about how she doesn’t …wanna fight anymore — she doesn’t want to have to be louder online in order to be visible. She references who wrote:

See there’s been this ongoing discussion on the Internets over where are the ladies? They’re not involved in conferences, their blogs aren’t pushing the technical envelope blah blah blah.

And where are the ladies?

They don’t feel like making everything a fucking argument.
That’s where they are.

I can understand and sympathize with both ladies. It’s not pleasant having to yell, get into people’s faces and scream out, “Why can’t you see us!” Doing so usually irritates people in power, and loses us jobs and opportunities. What’s the old saying? You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?

Of course, in the past, the women that fought for equal rights for women (and blacks, the early sufffragettes also promoted equality in race) didn’t stay quietly at home. No they usually dressed in their black business suits or white summer dresses with their sashes and marched through the streets yelling out for equality. And they would get spat on, and hit, and jailed, and force fed, so I can see why there were many women of the time that didn’t want to get involved.

Several decades ago more women marched for equal rights for women, and for the right of women to control their bodies. They were labeled bitch, and their femininity questioned. Some of them have gone on to be killed when abortion clinics have been exploded or shot down. Others still keep up the fight, but they’re considered anachronisms now — you know those shrill feminists who hate men?

In fact, many women would rather quietly sit and chat in a corner and wait to be noticed. After all, we have primary care giving responsibilities for our families and kids — we can’t afford to spend the time to get into tech user groups or conferences and make our presence known. It’s up to the men to notice us.

Still, for every three women who sit in the corner quietly writing or talking or doing good work, there’s one tough broad who still believes we have to get into people’s faces and demand to be heard. You’ll know her easily because she’ll enter political or technical threads and be one of the few women slinging mud with the rest; or she’ll submit her proposals to conferences, or write about the lack of visibility of women. She’ll call even the most popular guy out when he makes a sexist joke, or generalizes based on sex. She can be unpleasant to be around; most will say she can’t take a joke.

Of the three women in the corner, one, who is primping in a mirror and putting on lipstick, will look at the tough old broad and shake her head, saying something about those ‘crazy feminists’, and how if you want to get ahead, you have to make the guys feel good about themselves; after all, these big, tough men don’t want some shrill women yelling at them. Let’s face it: women have used sex and sexiness to get ahead for years — what’s wrong with using what works?

The next woman is the proper woman and she looks in disdain at both the primper and the tough broad because both are, frankly, rather distatesful: the primper because she uses sex, and the tough broad because she gets angry and makes a lot of noise, and that’s just not very professional. Not to mention ladylike. No she looks down her nose at such messy behavior because all it takes is connections to get ahead. You have to make connections. So what if you don’t call this guy or that on his behavior? Once women are in power, then we can call the guys on how they act. In the mean time, you have to play the game to get ahead.

The third women is a lot like you and me and every woman. She wants to be respected for her work and her ability. She gets frustrated that being a woman means that she’s less likely to get notice, or to get recognized for her achievements. She speaks up from time to time, but each time she does, she gets slapped down, and no one likes to get slapped down. She wishes that a lof the guys she respects would speak out more, and would stop making sexist generalizations –but she likes these people and they do a lot of good, so she holds back. She doesn’t really want to argue. She just wants to be respected. To be noticed for her work.

And who could blame her?

But that fourth woman, the tough broad; the one who keeps up the fight, who barges in, who calls the guys out, no matter how nice? Well she’ll just continue doing what it is she does, until the day she no longer needs to, or, more likely, the day she just gets tired. When she does get tired, she’ll probably join the ladies in the corner–if they’ll have her. But she won’t sit and quietly talk. No, chances are, she won’t say a damn thing.

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