5 years ago
I just read this post
on the use of the word "Offense" (and derivatives), and how it is unhelpful when describing interactions between people that result in one or more of the participants feeling "offended".
I won't reiterate the post here, because it's very well written and clear and anyone interested can just go read it there. However, what really fascinates me is the comments that followed.
I generally agree with everything in the article, but while I was reading it, I was thinking that there is still a responsibility on the behalf of the person feeling the reaction, and I thought this was somewhat missing in the post. So I read throught the comments, and I came across one that made me think, "yes! exactly what I felt was missing too". I'm quoting a bit here:
People do need to do a better job of taking responsibility for their actions, this is absolutely true. However, people need to take responsibility for their reactions as well.
[ snip ]
As long as you accept things as being done to you, you will remain the victim, this is true of everyone, male or female. When you cannot separate someone’s action from your reaction, you are enslaved. When you can make that separation, when you can process the situation and then _act_ instead of simply reacting, you become powerful.
I remember recently that I wrote about sexism at the Best of Swiss Web awards
. One of the comments
was about the minority frame of mind. Quoting again:
In my experience, whenever a minority group feels they are being discriminated against, they tend to adopt the victim frame of mind, and interpret people's actions through that frame of mind.
I think this is a very important point when it comes to dealing with undesirable sexist behaviour. That is not to say that accepting it is easy
, it's definitely not. It takes real, tangible effort, to, when in the heat of the moment (the moment in this case, being confronted with behaviour that causes an uncomfortable reaction), to stop and evaluate not only the behaviour, but also the reason you are feeling the reaction, and how you can react in a way that isn't going to exacerbate the problem.
Yes, of course, we as women in open source should not be lumped with having to do this
. But the reality is, as others have pointed out, that there are good, and bad, ways of trying to create change. Blindly reacting is the status quo, it's the innate response. Taking the time to cool off, take a few deep breaths, and react to the situation in a positive, change-forming way, that is power
I don't want to be a victim. I have been in situations that made me see red and react blindly and been unable to stop myself. I have also been in situations where after the fact I realised that my reaction was actually caused by baggage on my behalf, and that the offense I felt was due to that, rather than actually anything that was the fault of the offender. I increasingly try
to be in situations where I cool off before I react, and own my reaction
. This doesn't mean I do, all of the time, but this is what I aim for.
Back to the post that caused me to write this blog post. So I agreed with one of the comments. I continued reading, thinking there would be interesting follow-on discussion from that. I guess I shouldn't have been, but I was surprised, to see that this person (I didn't assume gender but the following comments made me believe it was from a guy) was completely flamed. Why? He wasn't rude or patronising. People flamed him, and he came back and tried patiently to explain himself again. As far as I can tell, he wasn't blaming the victim (he was accused of this), he was merely saying that in an interaction between two (or more) people where offense is created, it's something that both of them must deal with. Blaming the victim would have been to say, "HTFU and stop overreacting" and I didn't get that from his post at all. So why is this idea (that I support) that owning our reactions is so terrible?
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