Do You Mean Women? Or Do You Mean Those Not Affected by Cis Male Privilege?

Four professional women sit together around tables.

As professional business organizations attempt to diversify and welcome Gen Z, you may conflate the two and have to adjust your mindset and your group.

For over 15 years, my professional career has sat at the crosshairs of tech and community. In the US, tech1 is dominated by men, especially cishet able-bodied white men. Community professionals (those running these groups) are predominantly cis white women, and cishet able-bodied white men dominate as community “thought leaders.” None of this is shocking, given we live in a white supremacist patriarchal society, and our workplaces and associated groups reflect this.

In workplaces, men are given more leadership opportunities and more chances and space to voice and enact their ideas. Many men choose (consciously or unconsciously) to use patriarchal tools of violence to enact domination for power in little and world-changing ways.

Women comprise the majority of community roles because they’re considered “natural” at nurturing, compassion, empathy, general social skills, and a host of other feminine traits seen as inherent to women.2 As long as they don’t push back against the hierarchy and are okay with men rising to the top as leaders as these men chase power (influence + fame + money). Many women choose (consciously or unconsciously) to use patriarchal tools of violence to enact domination over other women and people of intersecting marginalized identities (especially against people of color) for power in little and world-changing ways.

Cishet able-bodied white women, in particular, often choose to be “second” in white supremacist patriarchy under white men rather than align with the global majority. This can look like pulling up the ladder behind them, not promoting employees equitably, considering themselves “not like the other girls,” socially enforcing Western beauty standards, etc. This false assimilation can be alluring to gain power and keep the status quo under hierarchical workplace and societal systems and allows white women (or anyone else grasping at pick-me status) to not do the work of unpacking, understanding, repairing, healing from, and rejecting white supremacist patriarchy.

For-profit (tech) companies have used community as an avenue to soften their image and create super fans. Some have created cults as cults result from using your community-building skills and expertise for unethical or nefarious purposes. They also use women (and sometimes other underrepresented minorities) to soften their image. Cue Sheryl Sandberg. On smaller scales, I’ve witnessed many female employees of all levels “make nice” with people who were incredibly and often rightfully pissed at the company’s male CEO or other executives.

Enter the “nice” way to push back against workplace patriarchy: professional women’s groups

Continue reading “Do You Mean Women? Or Do You Mean Those Not Affected by Cis Male Privilege?”

COVID Is Not Normal: The Language of a Virus

A pile of tissues, mug, and glasses

There are no “seasons” of sickness.

NPR’s science podcast Short Wave released an episode entitled “What You Need to Know about the Current Tripledemic” on January 17, 2024. The host, Regina G. Barber, discusses the current surge in RSV, the flu, and COVID with NPR health correspondent Pien Huang, mostly citing US CDC data and guidelines.

The episode was pure propaganda to normalize COVID. To normalize what Huang referred to as “the annual tripledemic that is RSV, the flu, and COVID” and to downplay the impact of illness, the deadliness, the risk of disability, and any possible solutions. Continue reading “COVID Is Not Normal: The Language of a Virus”

Magneto Was Right

Community, Karl Popper’s the Paradox of Tolerance, Mutant’s Rights, and learning to apply history

This week, a friend of mine reached out to me about a community management problem. Last newsletter, I’d linked to an article about how to improve your communities by banning bigots outright, and he’d been curious about how to do this when your community is both online and offline.

His community had a new member, who seemed fine at their in-person gathering, but then proceeded to post ‘COVID-19 is a hoax’ nonsense and became further abusive toward the moderators when they removed the posts. He was worried about a possible confrontation at their next in-person meetup. As we discussed various possibilities, scenarios, and some of my own experiences banning people from in-person events, my friend left our conversation with a good plan for dealing with this person.

Our conversation made me consider all the times I hadn’t outright banned someone when I should’ve because they already told me who they were. When a white cis man sealioned about men’s suicide statistics in a post about equal pay, I didn’t ban him. Then that same man left conference “feedback” around how all the women speakers were of lower quality than the men and how we cheapened the conference with speaker binary gender parity. (Ironically, when his individual speaker scores were tabulated, he didn’t actually rate the women any lower or higher than the men on average.) And then, friends, this same man tried to get hired at this company.

Popper’s Paradox

This summer, my mother hit me with a right-wing talking point about how intolerant I am of bigots and intolerance and isn’t that just so closed-minded of me. In fact, I was possibly the most closed-minded person she knew. I hadn’t had my morning tea, so I wasn’t exactly on my toes to discuss Karl Popper’s the Paradox of Tolerance. I probably yelled something about how I’m not going to tolerate people who want to kill me and others.

Popper wrote in 1945: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” Continue reading “Magneto Was Right”

A Community Approach to Leadership and Teamwork

If you scroll through Nobel prize winners — particularly those in science — you’ll noticed multiple winners and shared rewards. We’re at a point in civilization were major breakthroughs and innovations are created by teams. They are built on the work of others. They are solved by a group of different minds with different backgrounds and experiences coming together on one problem or project.

We have great looming, global problems to solve. Climate change — ignored by the vast majority of the government in the US — being one that may utterly destroy all life on the planet in my own lifetime. Problems of this scale won’t be solved by one great leader, or one amazing scientist with one answer, but hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people with good approaches and behavioral changes. It is scientific breakthroughs, as much as it’s policy changes, regulation of large polluters, and community leadership.

Anyone who calls themselves a leader — from world leaders down to small companies — needs to address how they think of teamwork, and have active conversations about what teamwork looks like at their organizations. How do people communicate? How is power and rank distributed through the hierarchy? How are decisions made? How are teams operating? What is most efficient and successful? What is not? How can leaders empower teams and empower others with specialized knowledge to make company and industry-impact? How can an individual members achieve career goals, while the organization achieves their mission, vision, and goals?

If a leader cannot answer these questions with more than a work ethic philosophy, then they will not be able to scale and they will not be conscious of their impact on their teams or the world. Continue reading “A Community Approach to Leadership and Teamwork”