Women, don’t you just love having to defend your achievements every step of the way? Don’t you just adore how fragile-ego’d men will try to undermine you every chance they get? And, be honest: How great is it being reduced to a 2-dimensional piece of meat that is either allowed to be attractive, or good at something, but never both? And of course, if it’s the latter—if you happen to be skilled at something, let’s say at some traditionally ‘nerdy’ or ‘male’ thing—then how amazing is it always being assumed to be not as accomplished as a male equivalent or contemporary? And, if you decide you’re sick of it and so make a move to assert yourself and state your accomplishments, well—how wonderful is it that you’re then said to just be boasting?
I’m so jealous. Being a woman in this world sounds like so much fun.
Recently, the Instagram account Coding Engineer decided to highlight one Lyndsey Scott. Ms Scott is a former Victoria’s Secret model, and a brilliant programmer. They did so with this post:
There are a few predictable reactions to seeing this. One might be: ‘Wow, what an attractive human being.’ Another would be: ‘Holy shit, what an accomplished human being! Where does she get those extra hours in the day from?!’
One consequence that’s just as predictable, but far more depressing, is the sight of insecure men crawling out of the woodwork, hungrily eager to demean a woman for having the temerity to be conventionally attractive while also being skilled at something they would love to imagine is ‘their’ domain.
To wit, some of the first comments to appear below the post about Ms Scott:
Only print “Hello World!”
What a waste
Well printing Hello World these days is considered as coding
Yeah she can write Hello World
Don’t you just love the sarky, mocking tone? And how different male users, presumably thousands of miles apart, can come together and how, without coordination, seemingly as members of one hive mind, they can adopt the exact same tone, and even use the same lame fucking joke, in order to diminish a woman. It’s almost as if they teach us this shit in school. They don’t, but it is an attitude inculcated into us almost from birth. Men are indoctrinated into this cult of fragile, toxic masculinity quickly and efficiently, and it is reinforced continuously as we grow. It’s how the patriarchy replenishes itself and ensures its survival. We learn, by watching and doing, that there’s a step by step playbook for minimising women. First you mock and dismiss or reduce. Then, if they resist, you pretend to take a high ground—either saying you were ‘just joking’ or that she ‘shouldn’t be so defensive’, or ‘proud’ or ‘boastful’. Then, finally, if nothing else works, we have violence. That is the Patriarchal Playbook For Diminishing Accomplished Women Who Want To Rise Above Their Place. Men will oppress all women, but there is a special kind of venom they have for those who try to break out from underneath that oppression. And if you’re a woman of colour? You better bet there will be even more layers to that.
Luckily, the world is changing. Or, more accurately, it is being changed. By women who won’t put up with any shit.
So when the trolls came for Lyndsey Scott, she came back, hard:
Looking forward to the day when women in tech don’t have to go above and beyond to prove themselves. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/MFe3RcKWKx— Lyndsey Scott (@Lyndsey360) September 8, 2018
If you can’t see that tweet then this is Lyndsey, responding to the comments mentioned above:
I have 27481 points on StackOverflow; I’m on the iOS tutorial team for RayWendelich.com; I’m the Lead iOS software engineer for @RallyBound, the 841st fastest growing company in the US according to @incmagazine, I have a Bachelor’s degree from Amherst where I double majored in computer science and theater, and I’m able to live my life doing everything I love. Looking at these comments I wonder why 41% of women in technical careers drop out because of a hostile work environment 🤔 #gofigure
Stack Overflow is the forum where developers come together to pose questions, solve problems, and help build their careers. Ms Scott’s profile on Stack Overflow reads like a corridor-length trophy chest of coding.
And the response to Ms Scott rightfully asserting herself?
we all hustle and we all have achieved some success and improvment, but we don’t brag about it!
Right out of the playbook.
Now, apart from her formidable achievements on SO, Ms Scott was also an athlete at Amherst, running and doing high jump for the track and field team, earning a All-America status for the 400 metre dash in the process. She was the first black model to sign an exclusive runway contract with Calvin Klein. And she started her programming career at 12 years old, writing games on her calculator, now using her skills to develop apps for kids, specifically with the goal of trying to attract young girls into programming.
So, putting aside the fact that Ms Scott has clearly earned the right to a good brag now and then, what she was actually doing underneath that Instagram post was exercising her right to defend herself and her achievements in the face of insecure cave troll men who would love nothing more than to tear her—or any woman who doesn’t conform to their bullshit, minimised, male-adjunct standards—down.
Other women, naturally, spoke of similar experiences:
Yesterday I had to tell a coworker that he can stop translating web development for me because I've been coding for years.— Jenifer Daniels 🧘🏾♀️ (@jentrification) September 8, 2018
I’m in that world and it’s a struggle every day! I have 74 employees and only 2 of them are women 🤦🏽♀️ https://t.co/yLtLHWHzW2— Bee (@Honeybcruz) September 8, 2018
This is so real. I truly love what I do. I don’t know of that many female network engineers but I am so tired of defending, explaining, and having to prove myself to my all male coworkers and clients while trying to dodge sexist ass remarks. https://t.co/OmHgXs9lcb— .:::Eden:::. (@FelishaEden) September 9, 2018
Sexism is a huge issue in the study of computer science. Being the only/one of the only girls learning to program in a room full of males is not only threatening but uncomfortable too. Speaking from experience— Ally (@Ally_Jaynex) September 9, 2018
Image sources (in order of posting): Instagram, Twitter