Can Women Write About Technology? And Other Useless Questions

I love a good rant about bad internet commenters, but Molly Oswaks at Gizmodo takes them down with a more specific look at the types of comments she gets on the site. Specifically, sexist ones aimed at her for being a woman who writes for a technology website. I know. How dare she.

It seems that the best insult dissatisfied male (Oswaks assumes) commenters can come up with for Oswaks and her co-worker Leslie Horn is that she and Horn must have blown someone to get their jobs. HILARIOUS. Always so, so funny to insinuate that a woman was required to perform sexual acts to get where she is. YOU ARE JUST SO CLEVER. HOW DO YOU EXIST AMONG US MERE MORTALS?

On the face, this could just be a well-written rant against sexist comments, but the piece struck me as being broader than that.

1. It’s about being the minority in a field.

This is always, always difficult. If you are the only anything in your field, you are going to get shoved the burden of representing how well all people like you are capable of doing in that field. Oswaks mentions how if she makes a mistake in a post, people are quick to blame her gender whereas if a male counterpart makes a mistake it would be absurd to say, “Well, naturally all men can’t write about tech.”

Turns out people are all individuals with different lives, experiences and skill sets. But you know. Women can’t know anything about technology. Because of our tiny squirrel brains and the fact that we still rub two sticks together to make fire. Wait. How am I writing this article? I’m on a…computer? What’s that? What is this? WITCHCRAFT. WITCHCRAFT. BURN IT.

As Oswaks points out:

Let’s jump inside your sexist mind for second—a place where women belong in the home while you, the “man”, are off at work. There is SO MUCH technology at home. Vacuum cleaners. Hand mixers. TVs, stereos. Juicers! See? Even a ridiculously backward, sexist notion of a woman’s place places her with a shit load of technology.

Have I made my point? It’s that women use so much technology alllllll the time. Just as men do. Which apparently is always already assumed as fact. Hmphh.

Being the token anything isn’t fun. Being the token lady or feminist is a specific brand of not fun that includes being called “angry” or “whiney” which until recently I thought were just emotions you can have as a human and not you know, just reserved for women. Minority opinions in fields dominated by one thing or the other are extra important. Do you really have to ask why?

2. If you don’t like what someone is saying, insinuating they performed sexual favors is like, your last resort as a critic.

This is what you say when you don’t have any real criticism to bestow. It’s not productive. It doesn’t add to the conversation. It doesn’t illuminate why you disliked a post. All it does is show that you have nothing to say and probably, the maturity of a middle schooler riding a school bus.

Oswaks says:

You have absolutely no obligation to agree with my opinions. I am but one human on a planet of many, and if you don’t like what I have to say about something, that is so fine. You don’t have to! I didn’t write this to make you smile. I wrote it because I have an opinion and a platform and if you are jealous of that then please by all means start your own blog it’s so easy now, and free.

Stop being degrading. If you don’t like something, you are welcome to explain why. Reducing someone to their genitals won’t change what you don’t like — unless you don’t like women which would be weird since we all came out of our mothers.

3. It showed me that the tech world is kind of messed up for women in a way I’d never thought about.

I’m a woman in comedy and comic books so I have my own gender normative battles to fight. It hadn’t really occurred to me that women in the tech and tech blogging fields face similar BS. It seems really obvious (considering I went to school in Boston where pink Red Sox caps are routinely mocked) but pink gadgets are seen as “less than” in the tech world. There’s a weird “pink-washing” going on in tech and one of Oswak’s favorite topics is pointing out the effed-up-ness of that and other similarly sexist situations. Then she gets blamed for talking about it too much. How exactly are you supposed to create change if you don’t have someone showing you why it’s wrong? If anything, that seems like a great use of this platform she’s earned.

Three very interesting points about sexism — all made in a rant against internet commenters. So thanks internet commenters. Er. I guess.

PS: Now I’ve opened myself up to comments about how I blew Ryan O’Connell for this job. JOKES ON YOU. Ryan blew me. Because he is gay and I am a man. Carry on. TC Mark

image – NASA Commons

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