food for thought: this week in gender edition

This week’s links seem to have much to say about gender and how not to be a jerk about gender. I think a lot of the “how not to…” advice could be generalized out in the basic premise to other types of margin/center interactions as well.

Jennifer Allaway @ Jezebel | #Gamergate Trolls Aren’t Ethics Crusaders; They’re a Hate Group.

I do not say this to make the people of #Gamergate seem any more important, or effective, or powerful, or to give any sort of new credence to their ideas. Rather, this is just a structural designation: as immediately dismissible as their tactics and stances might be (at least to anyone who has not become victim to them), I believe it’s important to note that group was formed like a hate group and functions like a hate group in every way.

Let me walk you through my reasoning. The framework I’m using here comes from Linda Woolf and Michale Hulsizer’s 2004 study “Hate Groups for Dummies: How to Build a Successful Hate Group.” In Woolf and Hulsizer’s analysis of the structure and process of building a hate group, they identify four essential elements: Leadership, Recruitment, Social-Psychological Techniques, and Dehumanization.

Melissa McEwan @ Shakesville | On Communicating More Effectively With Women.

4. Because of the way cultural dominance/privilege works, marginalized people are, by necessity and unavoidability, more knowledgeable about the lives of privileged people than the other way around. Immersion in a culture where male is treated as the Norm (and female a deviation of that Norm), and where masculinity is treated as aspirational (and femininity as undesirable), and where men’s stories are considered the Stories Worth Telling, and where manhood and mankind are so easily used as synonymous with personhood and humankind, and where everything down to the human forms on street signs reinforce the idea of maleness as default humanness, inevitably makes women de facto more conversant in male privilege than men are in female marginalization. That’s the practical reality of any kind of privilege—the dominant group can exist without knowing anything about marginalized group, but the marginalized group cannot safely or effectively exist without knowing something about the privileged group and its norms and values.

This is Not a Pattern | Way Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist.

We have all internalized harmful stereotypes about women — it’s part of growing up in a culture that inculcates gender roles from a very early age. Our culture has deeply-embedded patriarchal power structures (ditto racist and classist and ableist and transphobic and homophobic and so on…) that we all absorb and have to intentionally question and deprogram. We all, regardless of our background or our conscious beliefs, have implicit biases that affect the way we see the world.

Groups that are dominated by one sort of person tend to develop ways of talking and thinking that implicitly center the identities and experiences of that one sort of person, which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, because it communicates to outsiders that they are different (at best; unwelcome interlopers or second-class citizens, at worst). It can introduce, or exacerbate, the further self-fulfilling prophecies of impostor syndrome and stereotype threat. It can put pressure on people to conform to a certain type in order to succeed.

I already shared this one via email with the Amiables, but here is Satifice | White Women As Default Librarian #gsisc14.

Discussions of the professionalization of librarianship must mention race. It is just as important to how the field and profession are constituted and created as gender. Librarianship might be devalued because it is women’s work, but it is valued because it is white women’s work. Both of these realities operate at the same time. This generally holds true for any discussion about how ‘women’ entered the workforce… as if Black women and other women of colour hadn’t already been forcibly working for centuries under colonialism.

In many different panels and talks, there was repeated mention about bringing in or using feminist ethics/epistemology/discourse within librarianship to do make the field better. And yet, for the same reasons I resist (white) feminism, I have to say I’m largely unmoved and unimpressed by the necessity of this based on what I heard yesterday. By assuming white women as default woman and librarian, by assuming that white women’s experiences within the field are universal and generally applicable, I find myself deeply unclear as to what changes feminism could possibly bring about within the library.

And if you haven’t already, do check out the tweet stream from #gsisc14…. some excellent discussions regarding gender, sexuality, and the information sciences.

And finally, perhaps in counterpoint to some of what Satifice has to say, my friend Diana writes about libraries as spaces we can appropriate to combat inequality…

Diana Wakimoto @ TheWakiLibrarian | Blog Action Day 2014: Inequality.

It is almost too overwhelming to know where to begin writing about inequality, so I’m going to zoom in a bit to libraries. Most of us have heard or seen the horrible statistics that show just how unequal the division of income and goods and medicine and opportunities are spread around the world. I’m sure some of us have contributed to charities, non-profits, and other organizations dedicated to helping fight inequality, in its many forms, in many places around the world. And I know some of us have volunteered time working with organizations whose missions are to help others. Trying to rectify inequality can seem like an impossible task and I know that it causes some people to give up hope, to throw up their hands, and to let others take point. But that isn’t the way to make the world better, but I understand the feeling of desperation and hopelessness and cynicism. So today, I’m not going to reiterate statistics or offer a way to fix the world (not to mention, I’m not sure how to do that), but I do want to talk about libraries and why I truly believe our work is vital in helping individuals succeed.

As always, if you have links you’d like to share in the weekly round-up, please Tweet, email, or leave suggestion in comments.


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