Yes, all men

As a man, you are, and always have been, part of the problem. Accept it, and start being part of the solution.

Since Susan Fowler blogged about her experience at Uber in February, the debate about sexism in tech has dominated IT and business news. Note that this debate is not new, and Fowler’s story isn’t all that different from many other stories we’ve heard before. It’s just that for once, finally, people were paying attention, and There Were Consequences. Then matters escalated in June with a string of revelations about sexism—not just discrimination, but full on sexual harassment.

Then came the apologies. Let me tell you about the apologies. The average response from a manager or venture capitalist accused of sexism went something like this:

I apologized unreservedly for my treatment of X. I realize now that my innocent jokes may have been misinterpreted. I’m actually a pretty nice guy, and X’s refusal to sleep with me had no impact whatsoever on my decision not to invest in her startup.

Then came the White Knights:

As a VC, I’m appalled to hear about my colleagues’ behavior towards women. I would like to reassure you all that Not All Men are like that. I myself am actually a pretty nice guy and completely innocent in all this.

Guys, it’s time to face the music. We have all been That Guy. We have all made sexist jokes, or laughed when others made them, or stood by silently while our male bosses, coworkers and colleagues ignored or patronized or belittled or humiliated women. We have all benefited from a system that eliminates close to 50% of our competition before the race has even started.

We are all complicit. We are all guilty.

So what do we do? Where do we go next?

First, take a deep breath, do a little soul-searching, and re-read that paragraph until any impulse, however minor, to say to yourself “OK, but not me” is gone. Yes, you too.

Next, if you’ve ever acted inappropriately towards a female coworker or friend or acquaintance, or stood by silently while others did, consider apologizing.

Third, vow to never do so again, and work hard to keep that vow. Respect the women around you as much as you respect the men. If someone around you acts or speaks inappropriately, speak up, even if there are no women present. Be proactive: make sure that women are given equal opportunity to join those career-building projects, and are included in those backstage chats where decisions are made. If you are hiring, seek out female candidates, keeping in mind that women have a tendency to underestimate their abilities and experience just as men have a tendency to overestimate them. If you are teaching, encourage and mentor female students. Reach out to them if they seem discouraged. Don’t wait until they drop out.

Open your eyes. Open your ears. Listen to the women around you. Believe them. Respect them. Be someone they can vent to and someone they can count on for support when push comes to shove.

You will slip up. When you do, apologize and vow to do better.

As a man, you are, and always have been, part of the problem. Accept it, and start being part of the solution.

Fidelio, Act One

I went to see a concert version of Fidelio at the Norwegian National Opera last night. For those of you who aren’t well versed in opera or in the classical or romantic eras of Western music, Fidelio is Beethoven‘s only opera; initially written in 1804 under the title Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe, it took ten years and numerous rewrites before it became what we know today as Fidelio. I know Fidelio quite well, having owned a copy of Karajan’s 1970 recording since my teens, but never really paid attention to the lyrics as a whole until I saw it on stage. I was mildly surprised at how progressive and (in places) possibly even scandalous they are, for their time. They deserve wider recognition. So without further ado, I present my abridged and somewhat… improved version of the libretto. Continue reading “Fidelio, Act One” »

How to solve every problem in the world

  1. Identify a complex problem in country A which is deeply rooted in that country’s demography / economy / culture / political system.
  2. Point out that country B, which has a completely different demography / economy / culture / political system, does not have that problem or has found a simple solution to it.
  3. Declare that the problem is trivial and that country A are idiots for having it in the first place.
  4. Job done, have a beer.

Samples from my Inbox, pt 3

(part 1, part 2)

Bottom of the barrel here.

Take a look at good health products

checks backpack Lamotrigine, Rizatriptan, Diclofenac and Zopiclone (prescription), Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (over-the-counter) and three sets of single-use contact lenses. Oh, does WD-40 count?

Time for great nights with your female partner

Not bloody likely, what with my chronic insomnia.

Your girlfriend wants you to be the best

That’s the great thing about a healthy relationship, we both want each other to succeed and support each other’s endeavors.

Here you will find some photos

Hey, I’ve been looking for those! Thanks for finding that memory card.

The easiest way to gain more health

Look, I know I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I’m already eating relatively healthy and there’s nothing easy about working out regularly, especially with a busted knee. Now get off my case!