101 off limits


I keep saying that impromptu, unwanted feminism 101 discussions are exhausting and not a good use of my resources. Then people ask what I mean by 101, so I'm starting to make a list. This list will change over time - I recommend checking back.

I highly recommend checking this list before engaging with me about feminism if you're new to it. It'll save both of us a lot of time and frustration. It's written in my voice. If you don't like that, feel free to find another resource. :)

Diversity in tech

Women aren't equally represented in tech because biology

Nope. This argument is bad and the science does not support it. Unfortunately, every time you say this out loud, you are contributing to cultural problems that do decrease the number of women in tech.

Also see, How Does Biology Explain the Low Numbers of Women in CS? Hint: it doesn't by Terri Oda.

Minority-only spaces are \*ist

Nope. You keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means.

Also see That’s reverse-*ism!

You're giving <minority> an unfair advantage by helping them

Nope. The post Why do women try to get ahead by pulling men down? by Missy Titus uses some good metaphors that might help you understand why this is wrong.

<minority demographic> is underrepresented in tech because they don't try hard enough

Nope. It sure sounds like you're saying an entire demographic is lazy. Not cool and not true. Try evaluating what sort of cultural issues discourage that demographic and what privileges make tech more accessible for the highly representated demographics.

Diversity at Conferences

Read Ashe's awesome posts So you want to put on a diverse, inclusive conference and Increasing diversity at your conference.

Gender neutral language

Regularly using male pronouns is exclusive. Even mixing and matching he and she is insufficient because gender isn't binary.

Check out this FAQ from Alex Gaynor.

Language Matters: Stop Using "Guys" to Address Mix-Gender Groups by Christie Koehler.

Code of Conduct or Anti-harassment Policy

Read this great 101 and FAQ from Ashe Dryden.

Check out the examples from the Geek Feminism Wiki. This is pretty much the gold standard. Most conferences use some variant of this policy.

Watch this video from Ken White a lawyer and legal blogger. He outlines how American anti-harassment laws work, how convention policies supplement them, and how best practices can make them more effective.

Don't be the guy I discuss in my thoughts on a diversity discussion.

You're exaggerating how bad it is

I recommend reading my post Abuse as DDoS.

The Level Playing Field Institute's The Tilted Playing Field: Hidden Bias in Information Technology Workplaces does a good job of showing the difference in perception between different groups.

Compare attrition rates. For example, according to NCWIT "Forty-one percent of women leave technology companies after 10 years of experience, compared to only 17 percent of men."

Rape and Rape Culture

Sexual Violence: Facts at a Glance from the CDC.

Explain rape culture to me.

This is too sensitive a topic for me to be willing to do 101 on. Go read rape culture 101. Then read it again. And again. And again. Pretty much read that on the daily until it's seeped in.

I spent an evening explaining this on twitter and sharing resources. Check out the collection of tweets.

I don't think rape culture exists.

See Explain rape culture to me. If you still think it's not a thing, please don't ever speak to me about this. Honestly, I'm not really interested in engaging with people who are aware of what rape culture is and deny its existence.

Rape jokes are funny

Nope. They're really not. Additionally, they contribute to rape culture. When you tell them, you are also contributing to rape culture. You probably didn't know that before. It's ok. Now you know. Make a change for the better.

This comment about rape jokes may also help you understand.

Women need to stop being so paranoid all the time.

Go read Schrödinger's Rapist. This may help you understand. Alternatively, you may have read this already and that's why you're saying this to me. It's not paranoia when the rape and violence statistics are what they are. Please don't tell us how to react to our own lived experiences.

How should a community handle sexual assault?

I strongly recommend reviewing my other resources in this section and then moving forward with an accountability process. Below are some good resources about accountability processes.

from Creative Interventions

from Transformative Justice

Who commits sexual assault?

Read Meet the Predators from the Yes Means Yes blog. It reviews some studies about who commits rape and how frequently. It's important in understanding that many rapists are not strangers in dark alleys. That they're people we know. That many will do it again and again because they get away with it. They also have a follow-up post Predator Redux.


Your behavior is pushing away allies

You're not being a good ally when you're telling members of the oppressed group you're supposedly allied with how to behave. You and I may just have different definitions of what being an ally means. I highly recommend reading about the fixed state ally model versus the process ally model. I subscribe to the latter, and it sounds like you subscribe to the former.

But I'm an ally! Why are you attacking me? (generally in response to disagreement)

Disagreement is not attacking. Being an ally does not shield you from criticism when you make mistakes. Being an ally does not make you an expert on the lived experiences of the people who are claiming to be an ally to.

See also Your behavior is pushing away allies

How do I become a good ally?

Read my post So You Want To Be an Ally.

Read Intro to Power, Privilege, Oppression, and Allyship from NASCO.

Check out the Bad Ally Quiz and see how you're doing. Learn about and avoid ally smells.

This comic from Robot Hugs about harassment is a good read about casual sexism, harassment, and how you can help.


How to make mistakes

Read my post On Making Mistakes to learn about my approach to making the best of a bad situation when I fuck up.

I'm not *ist but

Let me stop you right there. Sentences that start this way very rarely end well. Just don't.

Why do you hate men?

I don't. I like lots of men just fine. In fact, I even love some of them. Sure, I have contempt for some men, but it's because of their individual bad behavior, not because of their gender. That being said, I am pretty sick of the terrible bargain we've regretfully struck.

If you won't teach me, how will I learn?

You are not entitled to my (or anyone else's) attention or efforts, especially on demand. There are tons of writings (books, blog posts, journal articles, etc.) on all of these topics. I'm pretty sure you're capable of finding some of them if you try even a little bit. I have limited time, and I would much rather spend it on other things that make me happy and help others.

I'll be a lot more likely to give you my time if you schedule it with me and do the bare minimum of research first.

I don't like your tone. You'd catch more flies with honey. etc. etc.

This is called a tone argument. It's a well-known derailing technique that is patronizing and dismissive. Some of the things feminism has to say are hard - there's no nice way to say them. It's also not my job to act pleasing and friendly on all occasions. If you regularly find my tone to not match your interests, feel free to find another source - I won't be mad. I will be frustrated and contemptuous if you use a tone argument on me.

You're being too angry

See Feminism 101: On Anger.

Also, groups of marginalized people are often accused of being angry when what they are is frustrated. Sometimes, we're not angry, we're dissatisfied.

Why the hell do you keep talking about spoons?

Go read about the spoon theory.

That's reverse-*ism!

Reverse-sexism/racism/*ism isn't a thing. There's just sexism/racism/*ism, and there's a reasonable likelihood that you don't know how they work. oppression = prejudice + power.

I'm just playing devil's advocate.

I'll be honest, it feels like you're saying terrible things and trying to shield yourself from criticism by yelling "devil's advocate" while doing so. Maybe that's not what you're doing. It doesn't matter a whole lot because either way I don't want to have a conversation with someone pretending to take the side of some hyperbolic other. Please don't initiate these conversations with me.

Not all guys are like that!

Read this post.

Why are you so easily offended?

I'm not offended, I'm contemptuous.

Other Resources

Here are some 101 lists from others that I have found useful.