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[Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse

Helena, Analissa, Jacob, all,

thanks so much for sharing your invaluable thoughts and experiences. It strikes me as very interesting and positive finding that xmca has so much more for the world out there than what one can tell by just looking at what appears in the e-mail thread itself. I should myself testify to this truth: I have in many occasions gone back to readings and/or conversations that were sparked by threads going on at xmca where I had not contributed and no one would have been able to tell wether xmca had had anything to do with whatever (cumulative) product may have emerged from there. It is also truth that some of the times in which xmca has had a biggest impact in me have been when I had to articulate myself, to unfold in writing by addressing/responding to others, taking active part in whatever a thread was to become. Clearly, there are different levels/places in which the “cumulative” problem that Mike poses exists as a different problem, and none should be ignored; all are valuable and worth taken care of. Thanks to ALL for making visible the lines of development that remain invisible to the mail list but which nonetheless begin there, for good and for bad. Making sure that EVERYONE feels welcome and worth participating is surely a premise for any form of accumulation, collective, personal, visible, or invisible. 

I think that what many of the posts in this thread are showing us, in addition to the profound respect to Mike and his borderless generosity, is that the challenges that Mike has identified are re-definable rather than solvable, or that part of their solution requires a re-definition of the problems. As David Kirsh nicely summarises in his chapter in the Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition, solving problems is more about framing and defining them than about searching for their solution. Experiences such as those by Jacob are invaluable input (thanks so much for sharing!). But hear surely invisibly listening, as Analissa seems to suggest, may not be enough. I hear Analissa asking everyone to take responsibility in acting upon what, for many, is a problem. Just as we have to work out what the problem is, it is in and as the WORK that a solution exists. In a book that has had some influence in recent MCA publications, Tim Ingold cites Spanish thinker/writer José Ortega y Gasset to remind us that “The only thing that is given to us and that is when ther is human life is the *having to make it*, the fact that “life is a task.” As such, I think we surely need materials such as the one Analissa has shared. Whether the particular one she has now shared is more or less helpful, more or less sensible, whether the term "allie" is appropriate, etc, may be the topic of another thread, or an extension to this one. Obviously, being about supporting woman in open technology, this link is relevant to xmca. But what I take for this thread is that, as a task, addressing (framing, re-defining) xmca’s challenges with regard to gender needs to be approach with the openness to learning that other  educational tasks require.

Analissa, I take your suggestion on being able to remove one’s own texts verbatim and will transmit it to the persons that will know whether that is technically possible or not (I guess it will be possible to take them out of the archive in the xmca pages, but I also believe that it will remain in anyone else mailbox unless they do not delete it themselves; but let me find out with someone with the appropriate competence to answer). 

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
Sent: 27 October 2016 22:07
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse


I am very sympathetic to Jacob's post. I think what I want to respond to immediately, and I hope respectfully, is the underlying emotion and hurt I sense in his post, feelings which I share. It is one thing that perhaps isn't addressed because it is non-academic in nature, too messy or too irrational or overwrought. I have solidarity with Jacob's appeal to consider the the subtle hurtful practices that just end up causing Others not to participate.

No one wants to be called a whiner, or complainer, or be considered "too sensitive," which just adds insult to injury, by the way. And yet the problem stubbornly remains.

Of course, I do not say these things in a general way: there are some very sensitive, evolved, and mature people on this list who sincerely want to create a just and equal space here. However, the labor involved to create that space has to be shared. It cannot be the victims of the hurt who must carry the labor of fixing the problem.

In a car wreck (for example!), we don't expect those who are injured to drive themselves to the hospital. Emotional injury should be no different. Saying "I'm sorry," is a powerful bridge maker, and also listening with an intent to learn to be better. Empathy for a fellow human being goes a long, long way, as well as reaching out to ask for understanding. No one is requesting perfection. Well maybe some of us do, but we will be in the minority.

I just spent the half hour watching the Ally Workshop video at youTube, and there you will learn about many unsavory scenarios that will never happen on this list serve. Still, there are many subtle dogwhistles in posts sometimes that signal and threaten many women and Others, who have worked too much of a hard-scrabble journey to get where they are to jeopardize all that in a display of defensiveness on a listserv where a post could sit for a few decades.

[Suggestion: Might it be possible to instill a listserv policy that an aggrieved person who calls out can request the texts of one's own posts removed, with a fidelity for a "right to be forgotten"? Clearly, this has to be done on a case by case basis, but I myself am unclear of such a policy.]

Just as an injured person from a car wreck cannot know how to operate upon her own injuries, it's a lot to expect the same harmed constituencies to advocate all the time for a better listserv so as to prevent future injury. That is why those voices are silent is my best guess, even though I do not mean to speak for all Others, I can say that for myself.

Also... even though such nefarious exchanges as described in the Ally Workshop don't happen on this listserv, it is a nagging fact that they still exist in the world in which we live. So there are triggers, or not to be as gun-happy in metaphor, there are aromas. It is hard sit in a room that just smells bad. And it is impossible to battle a bad smell without opening some windows.

Many of us have to slog these unwelcome realities out in the real world and it is not easy to place that baggage down at the door. Which is why an aroma can be sometimes far more offensive on the list than someone making an obviously crude and baldly offensive comment.

As a consequence, rather than get bogged down by this emotionality and defensiveness (as Jacob points out, we can be interested in other things), we either lurk or we just stop reading and do Other Things.

What I hope to bring focus at this point Most of All is the Lost Opportunity for those who think the status quo is just fine. But also to those who don't think that it is fine.

We are Losing Out because of all what hasn't been shared in the entire life of this listserv. Strike that, we have Lost Out. It isn't something that can be analyzed, so it is impossible to think that the solution will be found in past discourses on the list. If there is, it will only be the tip of a very large iceberg that will never be seen, cannot be detected, because it exists far below the surface of the textual discourse of posts.

I do not intend to be binary about this. There have been plenty of tremendously rewarding discussions I have had the privilege to benefit from XMCA. I have learned from adversarial discussions too. I warrant that am learning now. Might I emphasize that we simply cannot know How Much Better the list could be if there had been more plural voices who feel safe enough to connect here.

Kind regards,