Cross dressing on the internet and gender issues

So the actual buzz is gender issues
I dare say it is a non problem. But before let me tell you my story as a cross dresser ... on the internet.

Once upon a time I signed up for a famous dating site. And as advised by a friend, I was told to try with a fake feminine account. Well, let me tell you: it feels awkward. You are not at the right place. You directly notice it because communication is really different. Communication is sexualized.

At least it gave me tips on how to hit on girls: which techniques were working (thanks to fellow men), and which were not. After 3 hours, I stopped and analyzed on what I learned in the gender difference issues, and scripted a very efficient lightweight bot to help me improve my dating ratios.

Years later, I became a City of Heroes player. I had two very good reasons to cross dress again:
- if you ever played a MMORPG (meuporg as we say in my country), you may notice that in order to level up a support player needs to team with a party, and men prefer to team up with girls;
- the camera was always showing the player in subjective view, and feminine 3D model were awesome.

That's how I became half a man, and half woman. My damage dealers/tanks would be men (because they were accepted easily) and my support/controls were women. I was «love», «tainted love», «true love» and was having a perfect body I could enjoy watching... And even women would prefer my masculine looking damage dealers. Everyone is biased ...

Well, being proposed many times in global canals was disturbing. My chat was only feminized using huhu and hihi and nothing else, but talking like a men for the remaining turned them on. It was weired. So, I created a feminine only guild so that we wouldn't be bothered, and played with women. Needless to say the guild was 66% masculine IRL players (huhu). And I discovered women are not only common but good players. And we teamed up with feminine guilds too (that were knowing we were mainly men).

I then decided MMORPG were really enjoyable but taking too much of my time, so I get to a more fast paced game known as Urban Terror where my nick became [SF]Julie.  During pickups, I was favorised even though my level was lower (there are very good she players on Urt btw, I was even below their average).
I had of course troubles on public servers: people trying to hit on me or being sexists, but as I was an admin of our public server, they would get kicked/banned easily. And, I dare say that by being quite extreme, girls would enjoy playing on our server since they would not be annoyed.

Finally, nowadays on IRC I am an androgynous creature named Julie1 (julie + 1 pronounce as my real first name in french but people oddly enough just only read the feminine part). So I still am cross dressing in a way, and let me tell you, it has one advantage: on tech channels I get answers faster than «men».

Everybody is being pissed by the bad behaviors, and not the «unfair positive bias». And that bugs me; gender issues is like an auto reflexive feedback loop. How do we break it?

Speaking of women in free software

First I apologize for having crashed libroscope server. But as you can notice here, we libroscope were amongst the first to publicly speak of women in free software. Our method was to let them speak by themselves.

Since I am quite doubting everything, I was quite dubious to their claims they were discriminated. But, we let them speak. And I listened. Perline claimed for instance that the problem with men is that no project can be achieved in a mixed environment since men would take the lead, and not let women express themselves. And I thought to myself: «what a joke!» and then came the Q&A.

Well, for 15 minutes, an -he- anarchist, and very sensitive to women problems and utterly activist would explain to every one his problems as a women. The actual women present in the room were not even able to talk a single word. It was like a proof in example.

He was trying to shine in his white armor of protecting the women's pride. And all my years as a cross dresser came back: men talking on behalf of women on gender issues  is weired. Women being pushed in conference is also weired: it is like when I was accepted for partying only based on my gender. At my opinion it does not help women cause, it reinforces the bias.

So my message to men heralding women would be better understood in song I guess :

Do I have a solution?

Critic is easy. And I have a solution. One of our speaker the year before -Benjamin Mako Hill- made an awesome speech on the first freedom of free software (and that explained especially why non commercial use was bullshit), the freedom to use that in its term is radically non discriminative.

The ethic of free software/Open Source is based on action, and production. And I think that by being a regular free software user we should envision the deep implication is has:
- not a single discrimination, positive or negative is acceptable;
- when we install/use/modify a software do we already care if it is French, Black, Women Alien made? No we don't...

So Free/Libre/Open Source Software community is armed for accepting women... and all other minorities...

If Perline is right and women only communities are what it takes to empower feminine presence in Free Software: please do it. Production and quality is the only stuff that matters, whatever the means you have to use. You have my full support to exclude me from your workshop the time it will take for you to produce enough software in order to be respected. Even if it is kind of strange.

On internet though -dear women- you should try cross dressing. And if you want to fully understand men, maybe you should even try cross dressing on a dating site, in games, on IRC to understand the bias we all experience...

In fact, I praise everyone to walk in the other's shoes by cross dressing on internet. 

One of the stuff that bugs me though is: are we really aiming at the right issues. Behind the gender issues wouldn't we miss a broader issue? Why was free software shaped the way it was, and what is the invisible barrier that keeps not only women, but also a lot of other minorities out of free software? And shouldn't we measure in an objective way the diversity (economic, geographic) so that we can measure the impact of our actions?

I will make a wild guess however ... Free Software is probably regressing in terms of diversity since we are becoming more and more «experts». And, we might observe more and more people leaving the way pierre 303 left stack exchange.

But as I said before, without a survey we babble nonsense: we don't give ourself the means to measure the impact of our actions and to understand the real nature of the problem. 

1 comment:

Matthias Rahlf said...

Wow, that was a once-a-year post. Informed, intelligent, surprising and mind changing. I thought I had a fairly complete view on the issue, but you expanded my views. Thanks and praises on you.