Sexism, Ableism, Mental
Illness, Suicide, Transphobia
Believe it or not, this is my very first lightning talk. I’m kind of terrified, but Whitney said I should do it. So, thank you, Whitney.
I can only give you a few seconds to prepare yourselves or flee, but for what it’s worth: this is your trigger warning. I’m going to cover some
I was having lunch with someone today who said something amazing, and I'm totally going to use it right now: "I may start to cry. And I would prefer it if
you would interact with me as though I wasn't."
Ruby is great. I love the language, but more importantly, I love the community. I love how creative and friendly and welcoming we are.
But sometimes we're not welcoming. Some of the things we do without thinking about them are actively *not* welcoming. I’m here to talk today about
• a process or a rhetorical device in which one
group is seen as "us" and another group as
We Need To Talk
I've seen a few instances of othering here. I’m not here to shame anybody. Like I said, I love how open and welcoming we are, and I want us to be even
We’ll start small: I know you know women who don't mind being addressed as “you guys”. I know you know women who say "you guys" to other
women. There are also women who feel othered by this.
My brain really wants there to be another syllable there. So I've tried to replace it with "you all" or "you folks"... and yeah, it sometimes feels a little
awkward and I hesitate. I still do it, because some momentary discomfort for me is an unusual thing, but feeling othered is something that many people
experience several times a day.
In a similar vein, I notice a few things that were less desirable being described as "lame". Are you really comparing some bit of technology that you
happen to find awkward with a disabled person? Think about that.
Much more noticeable and frequent to me, though, is the word "crazy". I know there's an arms race in intensifiers, and everything is awesome, so we
need bigger words. But these words are used to hurt real people every day. "Crazy" is a word you use when you can't think of words like "absurd" or
"ridiculous" or "extreme" or "incredibly". It's a verbal copout. Take a second and think of a word that means what you say.
Drinking the Kool-Aid
This is a reference to an act of mass suicide.
Yesterday, there was a slide featuring a man in drag. For a small number of you who are familiar with the TV show it came from, this slide said to you
"Computer says no." For a small number of you who are trans, and for me, who has some trans friends, it was... a slide with a man in drag, that people
laughed at. In a talk about empathy. I know it wasn't intended that way, and Dan immediately apologized and said he'd think about whether and how he
used that image in the future. Thank you, Dan. That was exactly the right way to respond, and it increased my respect for you.
Knock That Shit Off
Othering doesn't just affect women, or people of color, or people with physical disabilities or mental illness. Now, I have to point out that my experience
is not somehow *more* valid because I'm a white dude. If anything, it's less so, because I'm only feeling awkward on behalf of other people. But because
this doesn't harm me personally, I can come up here and tell you all: please think about it. If we welcome people with big actions, like the Opportunity
Scholarship, we shouldn't push them away with small ones.
I have one last request: don't clap for me. I don't want applause for this. I want you to think.