Women, I swear that I will never ask you to do anything like this again, but as a favor to me, please tell Ben about your experiences in math class. Ben, if we do this for you, you have to promise a.) to spend some time perusing this blog and b.) listening to women when they let their guards down.
Because, see, what’s happening right now is that it feels to me very much like you’re saying that, no matter what I tell you–that I experience being a woman in this society as being bullshit in ways it doesn’t seem to me men have to face–you refuse to give my understanding of my own experience as much weight as you give your own experience, even though you aren’t a woman and I am.
I could whip my dick out and tell you that I have a minor in Women’s Studies that compliments my double major in Literature and History (though, sadly, was little help with my Russian minor) and that my master’s thesis necessitated an intimate knowledge of feminist theory, and that I relied heavily on the works of the French feminists and their thoughts on écriture féminine in order to prove my point about the fallacy of the non-linearity of hypertexts and other forms of experimental fiction all as my way of showing that I know what I’m talking about, but I’d hope that you’ve been a man long enough to see that for the bullshit move it is.
What I want is that when I tell you about my experiences, you take them at face value and that you ask questions that aren’t premised on the supposition that I’m either too stupid to understand that there’s really nothing much wrong with our society in regard to gender or that I’m making shit up. I don’t want to have to act like a man or talk about my experiences in the way you’ve come to expect the Truth to be delivered to you in order for you to take what I say seriously.
So, why aren’t there more women computer scientists? Is it that women don’t want to be computer scientists or is it that we’re told, repeatedly, that we suck at math? Shit, Ben, even Barbie had to get in on the “math is hard” message for girls.
I, myself, discovered that girls sucked at math when I was a junior in high school and there were nine people in our calculus class, taught by the man who also taught computer science, and three of us were girls. We had to sit in the front row, because ‘girls have a harder time with math than boys do,’ which was, apparently, code for ‘I like you to sit where I can openly stare at your tits and regularly brush my crotch against your arms or back as I’m checking to see how you’re doing on your test.’
Guess which class we regularly skipped? Guess which three people in that class were not about to be stuck in a computer lab in the basement with that dude?
But, you know, I’m sure the reason none of the three of us went on to be computer scientists or other math-intensive professions is just because we didn’t want to. I mean, yeah, we didn’t want to, but not because of something inherent to computer science.
You can’t just look at the choices women have made and extrapolate from that that women are doing what they want to do and that because you don’t see any real injustice, none exists.
And I’ll humor you, because I’m willing to put up with a lot of stuff that’s hurtful if I believe that the person spouting it doesn’t really intend to be hurtful (which is one of the reasons I was so pissed at Steinem. She knows what she’s doing; she knows how hurtful it is and she said it anyway), but it’s grueling, really, to both have to fight against obvious bullshit and repeatedly show that bullshit to people who are obviously smart enough to see it for themselves.
So, I can’t, at the end of the day, promise you that you’ll get any other women to participate.
But you might. And I’d ask that you just listen to what they’re telling you about their experiences. Just about this one thing. I’m not even asking that you change your mind. You can still think I’m full of shit. But just listen and ask yourself if you really can say for certain that women don’t want to be computer scientists.