“Sexism and Satire”
After reading the article and conducting my own very thorough research I found myself very conflicted. All the titles I hold found themselves relating to every person in the article. I’m a parent providing for a child, a woman in a male dominating work force, a professional, and a feminist. How would I be able to take a side when essentially I could relate to everyone? Upon a little more research I realized I had more In common with Adria Richards than I realized. Adria Richards is an outspoken black women who has probably dealt with more sexism and rascism than we know. Maybe, just maybe this was simply the straw that broke the camels back.
In the article Adria Richards attends a tech conference where she is seated in front of two males who are making sexist jokes about the hardware being presented. She becomes very uncomfortable and instead of confronting them she turns around and snaps a picture on her cell phone and immediately post it along with the following statement “jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and big dongles are not cool”. It didn’t take long for her to get a response on the matter from an organizer for the conference who saw the tweet and pulled the men aside to discuss it, when they both admitted that the jokes were in poor taste and apologized. But the attention didn’t stop there; the tweet gained so much attention that it caused one of two men to lose their job as well as Adria Richards. So was her act of courage in vain?
As I read the article over and over again, I began to change my view on her lack of professionalism, when in fact she was using her techonological expertise as an outlet. Twitter was simply a platform for the point she was trying to make and what she essentially stood for. She knew the attention she would draw and she knew if she was going to make a change in her field of work she was going to have to expose the sexist of underbelly of it all.
Although initially It was hard to see the intent of the tweet past the lack of professionalism even after reading her blog and noting how calculating she had been. In her mind she was confronting them but in the mind of outsiders, all it would have taken was simply turning around and speaking on it. Maybe even if she had felt so compelled to make a difference or uncomfortable at the thought of speaking to them she could have spoken to HR about the incident. The conference made such an effort to diversify and make everyone comfortable, that I have no doubt that they would have acted immediately. As a woman in the military I have heard some disgusting and disturbing remarks from my male counterparts and I make an effort to assert myself by letting them know when something is inappropriate and if that doesn’t work there are always the resources to handle such a situation. The end result doesn’t always have to be a loss of job for either party, because most people don’t even realize they are being offensive until they are called out on it.
As a professional I always try to look for the correct outlet to handle a situation, in this situation there were several steps she could have taken in order to avoid the certain backlash that the tweet itself would cause. She could have spoken to an equal opportunity representative or HR about the sexist comments, or simply confronted them herself. Tweeting during a conference where everyone in the room is obviously connected to social media is completely inappropriate which is what led to the fast spreading responses that I’m sure she received. Using social media, as a platform to speak negatively about your company or a fellow employee is fireable offense for many companies, which is why I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had been fired as well.
As a parent, a single parent at that, I know how expensive children are and how difficult it is to care for them when you don’t have sufficient funds. Which is now the case for one of the two men involved in the inappropriate joking. Approaching them and having a mature conversation about the content of your conversations and the audience which surrounds you could have ended the situation immediately without the termination of a family breadwinner. I found it easy to sympathize with him on that front, but this was the only area in which I found any sympathy at all for the inconsiderate pair.
I began to read some of the negative responses and more extreme responses to her actions my feminist fire burned brighter and brighter. I was disgusted by what I read, and more disgusted by my fellow women than the men who posted there empty threats. How can you tell another woman to sit idly by in male dominated conference and pretend she doesn’t hear ill-made jokes that are making her feel uncomfortably? Then blaming her for the difficulty that you suffer in your work place because of other “overly sensitive women”. She’s making an effort pave the way for women to be comfortable in the work place, as well as to feel comfortable reporting this type of behavior. We never made any progress as woman by victim shaming. Most of all I’m disgusted by the author of this article who catered to her “professional white male” dominated audience by blatantly displaying sarcasm and the underlying theme that she also found Richards to be too sensitive for the field of work she‘s in. When did we decide as women to tear each other down for men instead of standing together and protecting each other in male dominated world?
I found myself conflicted throughout the entire article trying to choose a side and a way of thinking. Then I remembered being a feminist means having a right to choose and make an educated decision no matter how it may look. I could relate more to Adria Richards than the privileged white males that this article catered to. The article wasn’t exposing sexism but questioning whether its really relevant in the work place or if even exist at all. As a black woman I know that its very relevant and very alive. Adria Richards was only guilty of speaking her mind and in a field where she is already a minority based on her sex, she shrinks into a smaller demographic based on her race. Her abrasive attitude and lack of tolerance for this behaviour may be new to this particular field of work and they have no idea how to handle it. Black womem are oppressed in every area of life and Im sure she refuses to take it any longer. As a professional in her field she knew exactly what she had staged the platform for.
Works Cited Page
1. Hill, Kashmir. “‘Sexism’ Public-Shaming Via Twitter Leads To Two People Getting Fired (Including The Shamer).” Forbes.com. 21 Mar. 2013. Web.
2. Richards, Adria. “But You’re A Girl.” But Youre A Girl. 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
3. “When Sex and Porn Are On-topic at Conferences: Keeping It Women-friendly.” Geek Feminism Blog. 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.