Words, words, words. All of them important.
Let me just preface this post with: I’m not a feminist. I don’t sit around all day dwelling on the fact that I’m a woman in Tech Journalism and IT. This is a post of my thoughts on my experiences. I’m not looking to be right or wrong.
It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon of pointing out sexism and racism in tech. Yes, women are the minority in tech, the geek / nerd culture is not too friendly to women, and we are always being rescued in video games (poor Princess Peach).
I’ve heard and read some rants by some male tech journalists that was just way too dramatic — especially when they were criticizing the Playstation and the Samsung Galaxy S4 events.
I, like a lot of women, do not need to be told by a bunch of men why I should be offended at a portrayal of women.
There has been a lot of sexism talk involving tech keynotes lately. Most recently, the Samsung Galaxy S4 event has gotten some heat for an unfair portrayal of women.
The most controversial scene was the fourth (and last) one, where a bunch of *very* culturally diverse women in a wedding party are standing around drinking with the bride-to-be. During this scene, a dude with a nice body gets naked, and the women objectify him but do not become the damsel in distress.
This was obviously a ripoff of a Sex and the City scene down to the similarity of the music that they open and close the scene with.
I looked at this scene like I did the other ones — as a goofy, weird, and over dramatic portrayal of life written by a person who was paid to make up scenarios where these new S4 features would come in handy.
Would this have been controversial if it was a bunch of football bros high-fiving and S Beaming each other their favorite tunes?
I’m guessing that Samsung’s goal was to conjure up four scenes that had to show off the new features of this phone, cover all the user types Samsung found during their market research, and be racially diverse through it all.
Here are the four scenes through a critical lens.
Scene 1: A Caucasian family (from the Upper West Side, as inferred by the overly-jovial emcee) with a bratty kid who thinks that the absence of the greatest cell phone camera is a reflection of her parent’s love.
Scene 2: Adventurous men in their mid-twenties taking a journey to find love and themselves along the way. One becomes a fool in love, the other faces the challenges of a foreign culture.
Scene 3: If you meet a New Yorker, they are more than likely an actor or a competitive person who is always trying to steal the spotlight. If you have a kid in Long Island, he probably wants money. Men would rather talk to a voice over system than to stop to ask for directions.
Scene 4: Women hang out together like the women in Sex and the City. There’s always a loud friend and a friend who cannot hold her liquor. It’s ok to check out some eye candy. Gardeners are sexy and often get hot from their work so they take their shirts off.
There are serious sexism issues in the tech world, just like many other fields of work but in this case, calling Samsung’s portrayal of women sexist just makes women look sensitive. We do not want to get to the point where people can’t openly address this issue because they feel like no matter what they do, someone is always going to criticize the action.
Maybe this is the adult version of punching your crush on the shoulder— there’s a better way to say “I like you” but the pressure is just too much to handle.
Man bashing is a definitely a thing in society but we don’t hear much about that.
Before you organize a bra-burning meetup, turn on a television. How many sitcoms are of a bumbling, lazy husband and a loving wife who puts up with it all for comedy relief? Isn’t the point of feminism for women to be treated as equals and to have the same opportunities as men do?
If so, then how come so many women can’t take a joke? Or laugh at the fact that we’ve all been to a party with girlfriends and things got loud and obnoxious?
I’ve experienced my share of blatant sexism.
While getting my undergrad degrees and then my masters degree, I worked full-time then part-time at a retail store as a hardware and software certified computer technician. No matter which store I worked at, I was always one of the best and most trusted technicians. I loved my co-workers and I proved myself as a go to person when a mystery problem with a computer popped up. They never showed me sexism or prejudice.
In the face of customers, however, things were different. I’ve had multiple people—men and woman, blatantly tell me that they want to talk to a real technician instead of “the girl who wrote up the paperwork.” I’ve even had a conversation where a guy asked for a real technician, then after being told that I’m the real technician, he looked at me in the eyes and said, “Ok, I want to talk to a man.”
That’s also how you can also kicked out of a retail store. My managers, my coworkers never condoned that. Ever. In a field that’s a boy’s world, they all had my back because I did great work and no one argued with that.
I don’t want to live in a world where people are hyper-sensitive to political correctness. A portrayal of five women having fun together and talking about their diet is not sexist the way Samsung did it, just like how calling it sexist does not get women any closer to equality.
I’m not sure how to have conversations surrounding sexism in the tech world. For me, working hard, proving myself, and having a sense of humor about things has gotten me really far.
When someone gives me negative feedback, I assume that their feedback comes from a good place in their heart, and they they want to make me see how my actions are seen by others, whether or not if I intended to appear that way.
I’m scared that for companies, the easy way out of being labeled as sexist is to hire token women. I never want to be a hire to fill a quota for the number of women at a workplace.
We, as a society, need to encourage kids to be more balanced. We should have coding classes and fun math classes for younger kids. No, not just coding classes that encourage women or young girls. People need to be together, women need to compete with men in math and computer sciences. We need to get more women into these fields.
I wish more teen girls thought that computers and math are cool things to study. I wish TV shows catering to young kids would stop portraying nerds as friendless losers.
I don’t have a solution for this.
The only thing I can do is live my life the way I want to as a tech journalist/support manager. I want to be someone a young girl (who might be insecure about showing off her nerdy talents in math or computer science in fear of being bullied) can stumble upon on the internet one day and say ‘being a woman in tech can be cool’ or ‘Chao didn’t have a prom date and she did ok for herself doing what she loves.’
If you’ve made it this far. Let me just leave you all with a simple thought: relax and be good to one another.
This post is a rambling of my thoughts and ideas. It does not reflect the opinions of my employers.