Dispatches from the Feminism Front Lines / by Natalie Pavela

Yes All Women

Margot Harrington is the spitfire behind Pitch Design Union, a web and branding studio in Chicago. We loved having her at our spring salon, as she was such an active and engaging part of the conversation. Today she's sharing thoughts in light of the recent #YesAllWomen campaign, encouraging the rest of us to join the conversation on equality, diversity, and empowering women.

For the last week regular mentions of the UCSB shootings and the subsequent #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign have crossed my feed, simultaneously breaking my heart then filling it with hope that this conversation is starting to moving further. I’m in awe of the people sharing their stories and the pain behind their words, but I’m tongue-tied over how to contribute or respond. And then I came across this encouraging article, which publicly announces and acknowledges the homogenous problems in the tech community with real, actionable examples on how they plan to fight it. This community, A List Apart, they get it. People are responding, in small ways already. The fact that they absorbed the shock of this event and used it positively is an inspiration. I would love to see all organizations posting some kind of diversity clause with their own rules and guidelines for addressing it. In fact, here’s another example of a real thing you can display to do just that.

Forth Spring 2014 Brenda Margot

From there, what else is there to do? For starters, we cannot let the conversation fade. There’s still plenty of folks who are tired of hearing about this, and think that “feminists just need to tone it down” (this was a real tweet I saw last week) but we have to keep working on making this conversation more productive. It’s tricky because it’s not at all linear. No 'do X' and 'get Y'. Even something like, “5 tip for improving the relationships in your office” can be seen as a broad generalization that might not be widely applicable. Other listicles I’ve seen are lady instruction books on surviving the world’s boys clubs, but those make me anxious. They put the onus on women to behave properly and stand up to fix the system, with no mention of how to get guys involved in the conversation.

What else then? Is that the best the internet has to offer? Thankfully, no. One of my favorites in recent weeks is the I Am Spartaca campaign. Intended as a unifying badge/banner/button that anyone can wear or put on their profile to tell the world they’ve either experienced discrimination in tech, or they’re an ally against it. It’s a judgement-free acknowledgment that says 'I see your pain, we stand together, and you are not alone'. I’m imagining a whole crowd of people sporting this as a button at the next tech conference, wouldn’t that be so powerful?

Further, here’s a long-ish piece interviewing ladies who are the only female in their band. It’s enlightening and refreshing to see the range in their experiences. It differs from the style of articles I mentioned above because it’s not positing anyone as right or wrong. It’s so empowering to see how each one has managed to make it work for them.

Forth Spring 2014 Margot Harrington

And finally, wonderfully, an encouraging story in the NYT from a man whose college-age son pipes up about how important it is for men to be outspoken feminists. It just about did me in. #YesAllMen, indeed.

Thanks for sharing openly and honestly Margot and for giving us resources to share and devour. You can find Margot on Twitter, PinterestInstagram and Dribble.