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Re: Free Software and the New Sexism

From: Taylan Kammer
Subject: Re: Free Software and the New Sexism
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2023 12:20:24 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:102.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/102.14.0

[[[ Sorry about the butchered formatting on the last post.  At least,
it looks butchered in the web archive.  Here's a copy with hopefully
better formatting if the first was really received with that terrible
formatting by other clients. ]]]

This list sadly seems to be used for little more than the occasional
troll post every now and then nowadays, but I have an actually serious
article to share.

It is, nevertheless, about controversial topics that are a favorite of
some trolls.

Free Software and the New Sexism


Why Codes of Conduct are a total failure in addressing misogyny

No, this is not a:

- Cliche-filled "political correctness gone too far" rant

- Conspiracy theory about Evil Feminists doing "misandry"

- A call for free speech absolutism

- etc.

(Sorry to disappoint if you expected something along those lines!)

I genuinely care about sexism.  The commonly recognized kind, that
targets women.  For nearly 10 years now I've also been following very
closely the conflict between feminists and the transgender movement,
mostly siding with the feminists.

Free Software is, as we all know, very male and white.  Sometimes this
apparently led to communities becoming less-than-ideal in climate for
people who are not male and/or white.  In recent years, some have
tried to curb bad behavior in various communities by deploying "Code
of Conduct" documents with good intentions at heart.

These codes of conduct, too, were written by people who are male and
white for the most part.  And it really shows itself in the way
they're written and enforced.

The most popular CoC, now adopted even by Linux (the kernel), is
written by a male person who identifies as a woman.  They have
correspondingly strong opinions on the aforementioned conflict between
feminist and transgender views.

Further, many free software projects are so extremely male-dominant
that you actually have more active contributors who are transwomen
than who are women as in born female.  (I don't have actual statistics
to prove this, but I'm pretty sure it's accurate.)

This leads to a situation where certain feminist positions are
immediately branded as "transphobic" and censored.  (It doesn't help
that many women, as in female humans, join in on the knee-jerk
reaction, and say that any feminism not 100% supportive of the
transgender movement must be "fake," when in fact some of the most
renowned life- long feminist activists like Germaine Greer, Julie
Bindel, or Alice Schwarzer to name only a few, agree with these
criticisms of the transgender movement.)

As an example of such knee-jerk reactions and consequent censorship,
please look into the Guix mailing list archives from 2022 February and
March and make up your own mind on whether I deserved to be hounded
out of that community after I've suggested the CoC should include the
word "sex" (as in whether a person is female or male) in the long list
of characteristics based on which a person could be facing
discrimination.  It's quite astonishing to me that this was omitted in
the first place.

I've also just been suspended from the Fosstodon fediverse server for
sharing this article.  I also posted it on HackerNews, where it was
soon "flagged."  (I'm not a regular there and don't know what exactly
this "flagging" entails.)

I suspect I will be chased off from many more places where I share
this, because of this illogical conflation of ideological criticism
with "hateful" views.

As a result of all this, I cannot in good faith recommend Free
Software to most people anymore, especially if they're feminists and
don't limit their views to a narrow interpretation of feminism that's
pre-approved by liberal men.  They'll be chased off the moment a male
member of the community (whether trans or considering themselves a
"trans ally") brands them as "transphobic" for caring about women's
rights in a world that mistreats people solely for being born with a
female body.

When I say "recommend Free Software" (capitalized), I mean actually
getting involved in the communities, instead of just using the
software like a consumer product.  That may still be better than using
proprietary software, but it's gravely limiting and, in my opinion,
not what Free Software should strive to be.

It's quite tragic, and I'm not very optimistic anymore.  I guess this
is a final attempt to pledge for more common sense before I completely
give up on most Free Software projects and just confine myself to my
own hobby projects (that will, of course, still be free software).


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