On Wednesday I found out that one of my favorite people in the universe will not be able to go to the Antarctic for being girl shaped. This got me really pissed, which in turn reminded me of every time someone somewhere was a condescending jerk to me for being of the female persuasion. Yes, it was pretty bad.
I’m gonna make an statement that most of you might have heard a million times already. Being a girl who wants to be respected as an equal by men and women alike is harder than making a whitespace compiler. At the tender age of three years old women will receive the following statement from several sources (said sources sometimes include their own family members) “girls suck”. Yes, as soon as women learn to talk they will also learn that a huge chunk of society thinks they are worthless because they were born in a body they didn’t choose to be in.
You might argue it’s not so bad as it used to be now we can vote, choose who we marry to and we can technically get the same jobs any men would. I personally find terrifying that several of the things Virginia Woolf points out in A Room of one’s own are still current issues with varying degrees of gravity. The only thing that has changed since Woolf’s time is that nowadays women have more tools to fight back.
But we still have to prove to the world that we don’t inherently suck, we women of the world have to make a political statement being too young to even understand what politics are supposed to be about1. Each one of us will fight it in a different way, for instance, some will renounce from all genders, some will try to be the very best at what they do no matter what, some others will embrace the suck and then you have all the women who will choose not to fight back at all. I was once having lunch surrounded by girls from human resources who all agreed that “women at work need to be led by a man or they will fight with each other, get emotional and not get anything done” and that phrase uttered from other women’s lips hurt a million times more than any jerk from kinder telling me that I suck because I’m a girl.
Every right we supposedly have gets questioned whenever we decide to make use of it. If I choose not to marry at all, a lot of people will pressure me or pity me, because I’m not settling up for the first guy that pops up into my life or because my partner might not appreciate me enough for real compromise. If I’m bisexual I’m desperate because no one will have me, if a women happens to be a lesbian she might also be desperate or going through a phase, an asexual girl is someone who couldn’t find anyone.
The girls in violent and unhealthy relationships get the worst slice of injustice pie. The abuser will not leave them alone, even after breaking up, the girl’s family might not even take the situation seriously nor try to support their own kin, the authorities will certainly not help. That girl will live in fear until injury or death and when that happens people will blame her, because she didn’t leave the abuser or shouldn’t have started a relationship with him in first place.
If I get the same job as a man I will most likely get paid less, like half of his salary. If I get a job in a male dominated field, say programming, the lightest offense will be having coworkers from other projects confusing me with someone from graphic design or human resources2. Sometimes, they will think I’m too stupid to fill the job qualifications required to get hired in the same job as them, so they will slowly explain to me how to do things I learnt to do ages ago, step by step. Those same guys are the ones that believe that every male coworker with whom I have a friendly relationship are trying to have sex with me and make jokes about “protecting me from their evil intentions”. No, they won’t stop when you tell them to and they might even sound hurt by any implication that what they do is actually harmful.
Then there’s the coworkers that will pretend you don’t have feelings towards they jerk ass attitudes and opinions with regards to women, because you are a girl who programs. They won’t even pretend that they’re treating you with respect, because you are not the kind of woman that attracts them. They will also laugh their ass off if your boss bullies you the whole day into calling a customer to do some tests, arguing that “since you are a girl, you are also a pain in the ass like all the other girls, and calling this customer to be a pain in his ass should come to you naturally”. At one point one coworker told me not to go to college to study engineering, because I was a pretty programmer girl, which would lead everyone to rape me.
None of the jerks mentioned above ever apologized for any of this. I had to stood up to them by being civil and joking back to them in any way I could, in this cases you have to ride the anger, not let the anger ride you, because if you do, you will be considered a bitch who cannot take a lighthearted joke. At least I can take some comfort in them being an ex boss and ex coworkers.
This is why I need the Slut Walk to exist, why I need to know there are people like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper and even non-legendary but nevertheless awesome girls like Zoe Quinn, why I need the friendly and respectful male programmers and geeks to help me make this a better environment for female programmers. Because all the people who go around saying that women inherently suck are lying, we don’t suck, the sexist douchebags are the ones that suck and they are too scared that we finally figure it out.
Most grown ups don’t even understand that either, so maybe we as a society should work harder so that everyone knows what politics are. ↩︎
I get that tons of girls work in those fields, but being a female programmer shouldn’t be the most unthinkable thing on earth. Every time I get someone from a techie field trying to guess what my job is, he goes through a lot of jobs and programmer might not even pop up on his list. They make me feel uncomfortable, as if I was some non-Euclid geometry pattern from R’lyeh. Which is funny because I think Lovecraft would be intimidated by female programmers as well. ↩︎