It sucks to read about more shitty behavior at a tech conference. The sad truth of our society is that shitty conduct is common in every industry, especially those dominated by old power structures of white, straight men. I don’t like to hear those stories, but they don’t make me want to leave. They make me want to stand up and be counted. They make me proud to be part of a community where brave people speak up.
There are times when I’ve stood in awkward silence or simply left an uncomfortable situation. I’m human and flawed and sometimes weak or just plain tired. Other times, I hope more frequently, I speak up. I rarely call people out publicly. I think it is important to focus on the inappropriate behavior, rather than vilify the person. We need to focus on how we can all notice it a little sooner before it gets out of hand, and how we can each act to eliminate or mitigate the behavior, especially when we are not the target.
I can understand someone who has been abused not forgiving the abuser. I can understand wanting to exile that person from our society. However, they are going to hang out somewhere and there are other people like them whose stories have not been told in blog posts and broadcast via twitter. We need to do the hard work of staying alert to make our conferences and workplaces safe for everyone.
I’m so proud of all friends who are allies, especially the straight, white guys. I try to be an ally for the folks who don’t have my privilege and power as well. More of us need to speak out in the moment, to be on the lookout. These stories need to be told until we grow up as a community and learn how to eliminate this behavior.