Pick your hills carefully

800px-GeorgePickettearlyphotoOne thing that never ceases to amaze me, and is often magnified by Internet discussions, is the willingness people show for picking the wrong hill to die on.

People say something casually without thinking about all the implications, without considering how this sounds to an outsider, without realizing they used the wrong word or a flawed approached.  But when called on it, instead of saying “Oops, my mistake, I should have expressed myself better / I need to clarify / I didn’t realize that… / I didn’t know about the context,” they  start arguing badly, resorting to a whole arsenal of flawed rhetoric to justify post-hoc what was an ill-thought position in the first place.

This is particularly frequent when issues of privilege and prejudice serve as our own blinders to the consequences of what we say.  “No, what I said wasn’t racist/sexist/ablist/homophobic/transphobic/etc., because I don’t want it to be!”  This is a stupid hill to defend.  I always find it much, much easier to own up to my ignorance or lack of reflection and back away slowly, with my mouth shut, rather than fighting a losing battle that makes me feel stupid.

If you want to die for a hill, make sure that: (A) this really is a hill and not a manure mound, (B) that hill is in fact a valuable position to defend, (C) there isn’t a higher, easily accessed hill nearby, (D) the cause for which you fight is worth going to battle for in the first place, and (E) you’re actually holding the top of that hill, not standing at its base.


Geek Women: A Short Ramble

Image copyright Kate BeatonI just noticed that my Geek Gals circle on Google+ has grown to 328 names, primarily met through common gaming interests but also reading, movies, and tech.

At the role-playing game table, women are often in the majority and rarely represent less than 40% of the group.  My husband has often found himself the only man at the table.

On my long work commute on public transit, women represent approximately 60% of the riders, and most of them are gaming on a phone or tablet to pass the time.  I often see well-dressed business women killing aliens, zombies or orcs on the way to work—but even more often from work…

(Because at works, it often sucks.  My company, for example: the only way to get promoted is to be an old white man.  I have seen many a young woman give up on the degrees she had earned and the tech career she had worked for to go do something else where it was easier to pay the bills.)

I guess this is also a good time to thank some of the wonderful people—of all genders—in the gaming hobby and other geeky pursuits that have worked hard to promote diversity in all forms.  Thank you, my many friends, for opening publishing, conventions, game design, etc. to become more like the diverse world I see around me and less like a gated community.

Credits: The image of the New Woman is from the wonderful Kate Beaton, of Hark! A Vagrant fame.