Will you run?

I have a confession. I love snark so so much. (This feminist killjoy needs something to fuel my rage and humor at the same time!) And so when I heard about the new snarky website that asks, “Bruh, can you not?” I just had to check it out. Underneath the snark was some important wisdom and social commentary: Perhaps well-meaning white bros should support diverse candidates that share their views rather than running for office themselves.

At our annual conference last year, one of our amazing speakers mentioned that on average a woman has to be asked to run for office seven times before she actually will. Not so for men.

There is a lot to unpack here, but ultimately the thing that matters to me is that if we want to see change―at local, state, and national levels―we need to do things differently. And maybe the change is having more women, and people of color, run for office and win.

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After the Anita Hill catastrophe, there were a record number of women elected to Congress in 1992. We knew that in order to challenge sexual harassment and rampant sexism, women needed to be at the table.

We still need that. We need a diverse group of people weighing in on sentences for convicted rapists. We need a diverse group of people passing laws that enable welfare recipients to get their support without wasteful, costly, and inhumane drug testing. We need a diverse group of people fighting for reproductive freedom. And we need a diverse group of people challenging institutional racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

So, I am asking. Maybe this is the first time you’ve been asked or maybe (even better!) it’s the seventh. Will you run? Will you ask someone else to? We need you, we really do.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

The black female engineers at Slack took the spotlight this week, accepting the award for Fastest Rising Startup Award. Then one of them, Erica Baker, called via Twitter for white men to give up space to minorities: “I don’t *need* another board seat, let me help them find a woman of color to take it.”

Meet The Queer Woman Who Proved Einstein’s Theory About Gravitational Waves “I am just myself,” says Prof. Nergis Mavalvala. “But out of that comes something positive.”

When actually doing something meaningful to disrupt institutional inequality would be way too much work; why not just Rent-A-Minority instead?

Geeks making a difference

One of the things that I love about anti-violence work is that anyone can do it, anytime, anyplace. You don’t need to have special training or education to start addressing the issue (though I’m always impressed by and thankful for those folks who’ve gone deeper in their learning).

Case in point: cons. For those who don’t know, cons are fan conventions, most frequently focused on things like comics, gaming, sci-fi/fantasy, etc. Probably the most well-known con is Comic-Con in San Diego, but we have several cons right here in our own backyard, like Sakura Con, PAX Northwest, and GeekGirlCon (full disclosure: I am a volunteer staffer for GeekGirlCon). Cons are a fun way to connect with others who share your geeky interests, show off your cosplay, and maybe even meet some of your favorite artists/designers/actors/writers/etc.

hollaback-coverUnfortunately, cons—like the larger world—can often feel unwelcoming and sometimes even dangerous to women, to LGBTQ folks, to people of color, and others. A little bit of internet searching will bring up plenty of stories and history that I won’t go into here, because what I really want to focus on is what people are doing in response—actions people are taking to make things better!

HollabackPHILLY partnered with artist Erin Filson to create the anti-street harassment comic book Hollaback: Red, Yellow, Blue. They use the comic in workshops addressing street harassment, as well as starting conversations about harassment at cons and in the gaming community.

Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend sci-fi and fantasy conventions, with the goal of increasing ethnic and racial diversity at these events. While this work may not seem to some folks like it is directly addressing harassment, it actually makes a big difference to have larger numbers of folks who are typically underrepresented.

WisCon, GeekGirlCon, and BentCon all took a slightly different approach: they decided to make their own darn cons, focusing on feminism in speculative fiction, women in all aspects of geekdom, and queer geekery, respectively. This type of DIY convention helps create safer spaces, and the effects of those safer spaces often ripples out into the larger, more mainstream cons.

Author John Scalzi wrote about why he won’t attend cons that don’t have anti-harassment policies. He used his influence as a popular writer to take a firm and principled public stand. Not only that, he opened it up for other individuals and organizations to co-sign on his policy—to date, well over 1,000 people have co-signed.

I know these examples are just scratching the surface; please share any additions (or other thoughts) in the comments below!