by Erik Erikson, 27New York, New York
Growing up, nobody talked to me about feminism. It’s one of those things I found out about later on, despite having unwillingly listened to my sister’s copy of Live Through This through her bedroom door for several years. She and my mother, the only two women in my younger life besides my teachers, never intentionally taught me anything about the movement. They led by example, and if I didn’t pay attention it was my loss.
My education was even less deliberate. There were no lessons about issues affecting women as a whole, and even a brief mention of the American women’s suffrage movement was simply a footnote as one of the many upheavals of the 20th century. However, we learned about many important female figures, and the problems that affected them.
Later on, I ended up writing code for a living. There are many complicated was to describe what a programmer does, but my favorite is just “solving problems”. When I first started really hearing about feminism (albeit mostly in a negative context, given the state of the tech industry), it all clicked: women throughout history and even today, have all had these same problems—discrimination, violence, sexualization, objectification—feminism is the solution.
The irony of this line of logic is often lost on my peers. Also lost is the fact that many of the pioneers of computer science were insanely smart women. It’s unfortunate, and though I have a pretty good handle on why this particular industry is so dismissive and hostile, it still makes me uniquely uncomfortable to hear about how smoking hot the only woman on our team is behind her back.
Many people in tech were once ostracized and singled out in their adolescence. If standing up for someone’s intellectual dignity brands me a Feminist, I’ll happily be the minority in that minority.