Dear friend, colleague and inspiration, Drex posted this article on Facebook with the video in it about girl geeks feeling, it would seem, mistreated in the world. Not uncommon for me, I have several thoughts about it, since, in a sense, it directly speaks to the sort of person I am — both a “girl” and a “geek” and someone who proudly identifies as a girl geek.
As someone who got a degree in computer science in 1991, I find this video sort of laughable. Anyone who thinks it’s bad now, should have been around 20 years ago when it was way worse in my experience. The societal trend is definitely better, and at the same time, the people in the video seemingly reflect a different and younger generation than mine so they may not understand just how far we’ve come. I’m guessing anyone from the generation before mine would point out the obvious: back in the 70’s it was even worse… and back in the 50’s even worse… and before that not even comparable, I’m sure, considering women didn’t even really have much in the way of career options.
So from where I sit, as someone who has seen so much reduction in sexism over my own lifetime, this video just sort of cracks me up. Sure, the proud girl in me that hated getting picked on wants to rally and support… and then I think about the fact that when I was a kid, sexism was everywhere. I mean everywhere. Simple every day example: the girls all wore dresses to school and the guys pants. It was a big deal when girls started wearing pants and this was back in the 70’s. Yet today, girls likely take the fact that pants are socially acceptable for granted and don’t even think about that fact that within my lifetime (born in 1969) there was a cultural standard that girls “dress like a girl” (read as: in a dress) as well as “act like a girl” (as in: stay home and raise the babies) which really seems to be much reduced. Let’s face it — women have careers and are single and don’t need men anymore the way they did 100 years ago plus the internet has been a huge cultural and gender equalizer so I really hope these girls who are up in arms in the video are also embracing the reality of the situation…
Because, really, we have come so far… even if we, humanity, still has a long way to go…
Remember though — we’re still animals and I think as much as we try to get away from that limbic part of our existence, it does matter and it is present.
This leads to some normal and expected challenges because in some contexts it does matter if you’re a man or a woman — like, say, sexual attraction or if can you pee in a urinal without a funnel or if you can birth a baby — and in some contexts it doesn’t matter so it is sometimes confusing and difficult on a societal level to know where the line is/keep it clear in one’s own mind and behaviors.
I can recall at my last high tech job at the last group training I went to for the systems engineers there were 43 people in the room getting trained. I was the only woman present and you know what? Despite that reality, I really think I was treated fairly and well. I’m not going to say the men didn’t make jokes that one might describe as sexist but I will say, it never once felt like they were directing it at me, demeaning me or my work in any way even if jokes were made about going bowling which was code for going to a strip club.
I maintain, though, the strip club thing is a limbic response; how I was treated after presenting my systems models was a work thing and much more rational. The reality is, the guys were different in each context and from my own experience, largely are able to see the difference between the two. I’d say this video could be chalked up to “women are sensitive” and perhaps a bit oversensitive, but then, that’s because I have the perspective of much deeper flavors of sexism than I see around today. Then again, I don’t think telling dirty jokes makes you a male chauvinist because I like that kind of joke too. 😉
Upon reflection, I think I was treated less fairly as a woman when I was in my 20’s and teens than in my 30’s+ and I think, as much as anything, age matters too. In truth, I’ve seen and been a victim of ageism a lot more than sexism. Of course, I did spend a significant amount of time in my 20’s being androgynous looking and perhaps that helped the sexism piece because I in no way acknowledged my own sexuality at the time; maybe the other’s around me followed my cue, too. 🙂
In any event, I’d like to consider myself an early adopter and progenitor in the poi “industry” (if we’re actually an industry yet) and I do not experience myself as ever having been discriminated against in the flow arts field because of my gender. Not once, ever.
So whatever the men in the flow field are doing, maybe the other geeks in the world can take a cue from them. 😉
Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you are looking for an amazing coach to help you step up your skills as an instructor, student, performer or otherwise using personalized coaching with GlitterGirl, either in person or remotely via Skype, email her directly (GlitterGirl <at> TempleOfPoi <daught> com).