Sexism and Framing

I have only worked closely with four women in my life who are software engineers, in a career that spans almost ten years. I have worked with women in managerial positions who I’ve reported to, trainers, testers, designers and just one sys admin. But only four software engineers. I have yet to read a definitive reason why.

This post has little to do with that.

What pisses me off – always – are attempts to use race, gender and religion as a means to control a conversation and use them to distract from truth. Everyone does it to some degree, but it rarely helps a conversation.

It’s the very same thing in politics these days. Truth be told, it always was so. People are just getting better at it. The practice is called “Framing”.

Here goes an interview with UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff where he discusses the technique.

By grouping a set of opponents together, using a label directly or indirectly to describe them, a label that will have negative connotations within the larger group they are operating in, you have attempted to shut them up and push them down.

“The liberal controlled media hates America”…

“Those right wing Republican nazis want to control everything”….

“These hateful women should just calm down their hysterics”….

Popular applications of Framing are Ad Hominem and Personal attacks.

These techniques have, amongst their many damaging drains on conversation, the effect of placing the victim of them in a position where they feel compelled to answer instead of continuing their original purpose, cause or pursuit.

I will not link to bullshit. I will not help it’s voice. And I will say here and now that you don’t have to either. You have a hidden vote and role in all of this. Your link.

I think it’s a good thing to read words that offend us – after all – I love Howard Stern. South Park is now my favorite TV show with Angel off the air. And fuck the FCC. It’s the offensive voices we encounter that help to open our minds and perspectives.

But we got to remember that we have the right to turn the channel. That sometimes we have the duty to point out the hurtfulness spewing from it. And that we too have the right to protest and speak out.

Don’t let bastards stereotype us into silence.