On Tuesday a Twitter hashtag — #1ReasonWhy — spread like maple syrup in the hot sun: runny, sticky and far-reaching.
The catalyst, an innocent-sounding Monday morning tweet:
Why are there so few lady game creators?
— Luke Crane (@Burning_Luke) November 26, 2012
Folks, mostly women, responded to Luke’s question and by the afternoon, the hashtag had emerged. Then the longer, personal posts. Then paid media bloggers amplified the story, which touched a nerve with many. Here’s one of my posts on Facebook:
I think this story tapped into my weariness with the tech field and what feels like its extremely protracted adolescence. I did not/have not faced the raw hostility evident in the women’s stories I’ve read associated with #1ReasonWhy. Maybe that’s why this one got under my skin. Or maybe I’m simply tired of women still needing to claw their way to respect, in general.
I was a late comer to feminism.
I was (am) a tomboy. My first career goal, at about age 5, was to be a mechanic like my daddy. My second, at about age 10, was to be the first woman jockey (after my momma took me to the Kentucky Derby). I joined the Eagle scouts the first year that they allowed girls. The only girly thing I did in high school was become a cheerleader my senior year. (I was trying to figure out how to be popular – but that wasn’t enough.)
I have worked (and studied) in male-dominated fields and industries most of my life. All that means is that I have a propensity to like topics that have a male label. And I was fortunate to have a mother who told me almost every day that I lived at home that I could do anything, anything, that I set my mind to.
Nevertheless (or as a result), I spent my early 20s in the narrative spun by Ayn Rand, one of “merit” winning over … whatever the alternative was. I ignored sexual innuendo, drank my Scotch (what real journalists drink, I was told in all seriousness at age 17) with the best of ‘em.
The narrative that I internalized, and that I saw a lot of today on Twitter and Facebook, is that if a woman is just hard-assed enough and strong enough and good enough (which means N times better than the guys) … then it “all works out.” Whatever “it” is.
I decided a while back that I was deluding myself. I’m not alone.
My Storify documents how the meme played out, is playing out. But how is it going to end? Where are we in the “backlash” cycle and how many of these will it take before merit truly is the deciding factor in employment, career success?
[Edited Wed 10.30 am; "today" replaced with Tuesday and contents re-ordered.]
[Updated Wed 12.15 pm; the Storify now includes an excellent analysis from The Guardian and a list of #1ReasonMentors]