Wow! I was absent for two days and this list caught fire! The newer
mails feel like we've been nearer a resolution, but still: there was
lots of heat :-(
I'm going to take a minute to try to summarize and reflect back a
little. Bear with me: I'm on my phone, so I'm not going to be able to
quote individuals or respond inline to earlier mails. But I have read
To recap: Laura originally made a proposal to ask the men on this list
to leave. Her rationale was that men have been inappropriately
dominating the discussion here, which had the effect of silencing
and/or frustrating women who expect and want this to be a safe,
constructive space. I believe that in making that proposal, she was
acting out of frustration not just on her own behalf, but on behalf of
other women here who've been feeling silenced, whether they've spoken
up or not.
If Laura's proposal had gotten significant support from women on this
list, personally I would take that very seriously. It would make me
sad to think that women here couldn't see a workable option that
includes both women and men ----- but if there had seemed to be a
consensus among women that a women-only list is desirable or better, I
would buy that as a regrettable-but-accurate expression of where we're
But, although some people expressed agreement with the basics of what
Laura said, there wasn't much support for the idea of kicking men off
the list. So on that basis, we won't do it.
(To recap for anyone who doesn't know: Erik Moeller started this list
at my request. That makes me the de facto owner, although I'm totally
willing to share that responsibility with others, and I think we all
have a responsibility to help self-govern.)
So. Having said that, personally I think the issues Laura raised are
real, and the discussion they prompted was useful. I think some
helpful stuff has gotten said, particularly when some of the quieter
people started to speak up, and I'd like to now say a few things too.
Essentially: since the list started, a number of people (including me)
have observed that i) there are a lot of men here, maybe more than
women, and ii) the men have talked quite a bit. Certainly there have
been times on this list when I felt like a small number of men were
dominating the conversation, and occasionally also seeming to me to
deny women's experiences, and/or to tell them how to feel about them.
(Lots of men were also asking questions or just listening or offering
support of various kinds.)
That didn't surprise me: I think it's "normal." If you're a man,
you've been trained that your opinion is valuable and wanted: well,
then you are fairly likely to believe that, and to act accordingly.
Similarly, a couple of women here have talked about how they've been
socialized to stay quiet and to defer, and that therefore that's what
they tend to do. In general, I think it would be hard to fault people
too much for their cultural conditioning. And honestly, women here are
likelier to be more aware of (and thoughtful about) our conditioning
than men are, because as the non-dominant group we've had to think
about it more. So I am not surprised that some men here haven't been
(IMO) super self-reflective and self-moderating. And I am also,
honestly, not surprised to see a few women get really, really angry
about that, because my guess is this is not their first time at that
I think that everyone here has a responsibility to try to be
self-aware about how their behaviour is affecting other people. The
Quakers have a really nice principle for their meetings, that in
general, quiet people should aim to talk more, and talkative people
should aim to restrain themselves. I think that's a really good rule.
I would like to hear more from the people here who've been holding
back. And I believe we would hear more, if the talkative people were a
little more restrained.
I also want to say something about men on this list, in general.
Personally, I believe we need to have, and want to have, and should
have, men on this list. I say that because I want Wikipedia to have
more female editors, and I think that the men here can and should be
(and want to be!) part of the solution, working towards that.
Thirteen per cent of Wikipedia editors are women. I assume that many
of those women have no interest in personally, themselves, working to
increase the number of women editors on Wikipedia. Which is totally
fine with me: why should they? If they didn't sign up to be gender
warriors, then they shouldn't be gender warriors: they are in no way
obligated to do it.
But somebody's got to make this happen, and I'm happy to have allies
regardless of their gender. I consider everyone on this list an ally.
Nobody here IMO is trolling, and I'm really happy that nobody here is
contesting the basic premise: that we want to fix this problem.
Everybody's acting in good faith: I truly believe that. Some of us are
probably inadvertently offensive, and some of that offence comes out
of unexamined privilege, for sure. And some of the women here have
expressed lots of anger and frustration, some of which probably
doesn't belong on this list, but spills out here because it's been
brewing for years due to their experiences elsewhere, in addition to
their experiences on Wikipedia and/or this list.
I think we all have a responsibility to try to be our best possible
selves here --- by which I mean our most generous, constructive,
helpful, collaborative, trusting, listening, understanding selves.
Everybody's damaged; nobody's perfect; we're all going to make plenty
of mistakes. But everybody here wants to solve this problem: that's
why we're here. It's going to be a lot of work, and we're going to
need all different types of people. A bunch of non-mutually-exclusive
categories: we will need radical feminists, plus experienced editors,
plus new editors, plus external observers, plus people who like to
question and probe, plus staff people, plus men exploring their
privilege and thinking about these issues for the first time, plus
lurkers. Plus plus plus.
We've all got a role to play. And I hope we all want to continue the
work we've started :-)
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