I have to admit it, I make sexist jokes. And I used to make them frequently. But that is ok right? What could possibly be wrong with a little bit of harmless humor? How could anyone be offended by “just a joke”.
If we were living in a perfect world where everyone respected one another and you would hear these jokes once a week or once a month, than maybe it would be ok. But if you hear these jokes everywhere you go, almost every day they are not as harmless as I thought at first. And the jokes are just a small tip of an enormous iceberg of disrespect. I am utterly disgusted about situations that are going on like gamergate. I was only focusing on the “big violations” so that I could tell myself: “I would never do something like that, I couldn’t even imagine someone doing that. So that must make me almost perfect right? Then my jokes are not that bad.” And that was one of my mistakes: “not that bad” doesn’t mean that they are ok.
The next example is one that helped me understand the fact that I’m on a path and that I certainly have not reached my destination. It is an oversimplification of things and I do not claim that this situation is equal in severity to the situation of gender neutrality. But it was something that helped me take another step down the path of understanding more.
I do a lot of work as Agile coach. One of the biases towards agile coaches is that they are “hippies” because one of the concepts we care about is the happiness of people at work. With happiness we don’t mean the ability to play computergames during lunch. We aim to help transform the way of working, so that the work itself becomes a source of happiness. Some of the remarks that are made by developers and other people is that we are “tree huggers” or “hippies”. That we always focus on emotions and feeling good at work. Emotions have always been important for me and I am learning to express them and work with them for years now.
I just spent a fantastic two days with some of the brightest minds in software development in Europe. And the jokes were there. About how I am fluffy (just as a person, apart from my role as agile coach). And then another about how we should end each day with a group hug because there is an agile coach in the group. And another harmless joke here and there. Before ending the brainstorm, we decided to do an overall retrospective to determine improvement actions for the next one and the near future. I suggested a technique based on the core protocol of Check in because I have been using this successfully for a while now. I immediately got blocked by someone: “oh no, not all this emotional stuff again.” And that was too much. I expressed how this violated my basic need for respect of my expertise and allowing me to be me.
This situation helped me to understand how I contribute to a system of disrespect towards women. I have a lot to learn about how I can improve my behaviour to help change this system. And I welcome all help, support and feedback. Awareness is the first step towards personal responsibility. The second step is intention and the third is confrontation. These are not linear steps but more of a continuous circle towards perfection. So I welcome any help to create more awareness, support to help inspire my intention and feedback that enables confrontation.
I am sorry for contributing to keep a system of sexism alive
I apologise for the remarks, jokes I make and the bias I express that hurt you
I feel love for every human being
I am grateful for the wonderful human beings around me that help me to become a better person