Tuesday, December 05, 2006


On the mailing list for the English Wikipedia there were some women who articulated that a sizeable group of women feel not comfortable in the en.wikipedia community of editors. To alleviate this issue, they decided to create a community of women called Wikichix.

Angela, who is one of the best around for creating communities, set up some infrastructure including a mailing list for those interested in joining. A lively discussion started about this. Many men denied that there is a need, and that it is appropriate to have such a self help group. Several of them expressed that they feel excluded and even discriminated against. Several women including Anthere, provided graphic evidence of how women are dealt with by some of the males that think nothing of making disparaging remarks qualifying them as "jokes".

Even though it was said time and time again that this was to engage more women to become part of the Wikipedia mainstream, some people could not accept that what is good for some does not need to be an affront to others. Sadly, Anthere has now asked for the mailing list not to make use of WMF infrastructure. :(

Personally I feel it as a loss. A loss because it does not help to engage more people. A loss because it may even prevent the engagement of people who are not part of the Wikipedia community and all this because of the boorish behaviour by some.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that there are people who just don't get the concept of the usefulness of women-only space. Over and over again men ask what can be done to help women come into a field or into public discourse - and when they get the answer that in order to combat systemic bias, they need breakout groups for discussion, particular men freak out. Anyone who goes off about "reverse discrimination" is part of the problem.

People who ask really should listen to the variety of answers that come back. And people who are in a group favored by systemic bias should think about why it is hard for them to hear, and why it is hard in this case for women to assert, the need for space apart.

Women are traditionally rewarded for sucking up to men and for telling them that their jokes are okay, for example -- even if in a group of only women, they agree that it's not okay. The rewards are great for playing nice with the big boys. And the risks for contradicting the dominant discourse are very real. Because of this, we need women-only space just to be able to safely have a conversation about sexism and strategy.