The following section will be at the top of all posts in the LW Women series.
Several months ago, I put out a call for anonymous submissions by the women on LW, with the idea that I would compile them into some kind of post. There is a LOT of material, so I am breaking them down into more manageable-sized themed posts.
Seven women replied, totaling about 18 pages.
Standard Disclaimer- Women have many different viewpoints, and just because I am acting as an intermediary to allow for anonymous communication does NOT mean that I agree with everything that will be posted in this series. (It would be rather impossible to, since there are some posts arguing opposite sides!)
To the submitters- If you would like to respond anonymously to a comment (for example if there is a comment questioning something in your post, and you want to clarify), you can PM your message and I will post it for you. If this happens a lot, I might create a LW_Women sockpuppet account for the submitters to share.
Please do NOT break anonymity, because it lowers the anonymity of the rest of the submitters.
Notes from Daenerys:
1. I'm not on this site very much anymore, so I'm going to try to remember to post these about once a week to get them off my to-do list. So the next couple weeks might have a lot of gender discussion, but I only have 2 left, so it will be done soon.
2. This post ended up being less anonymous. Please do NOT link to any identifying information.
3. There were some questions recently about the purpose of this series, which makes sense because the purpose was discussed 8 months ago, which is a pretty long time, by LW standard. Shortly, by virtue of the gender ratio here (90% male), the men's voices tend to drown out the women's voices, and many women may just not post on certain issues due to the feeling of swimming upstream, so this was a way to compile a bunch of LW women's opinions and thoughts. Note that, going by the latest LW survey there are less than 100 women on here, so each submitter is over 1% of the total female readership of LW. Here is the original call for responses, and the original discussion of the LW Women series idea.
I wasn't going to write, but something happened at today's meetup that really irked me.
A man turned to a young woman near him and asked, "So, do you actually read Less Wrong, or did someone drag you here?" I asked, "Are you saying that because she's wearing heels and lipstick?" "No, no," he answered, flustered. "It's not because of how she's dressed. It's just that most of the women who come here are dragged by someone else." I asked, "Do you think that any woman, no matter why she came here, would feel welcomed by being asked that question?" At that point he began apologizing, and the other woman assured him she wasn't offended.
It really bothered me, though. It seemed like a basic failure to think about the consequences of his words. Apparently his hypothesis was "Most female meetup attenders do not read Less Wrong." It's fine to have that hypothesis (although I think it's incorrect), but it's different to test it in a way that's likely to offend. If you really want to find out if she reads the site, ask how long she's been reading Less wrong or what her favorite posts are. Don't start by saying, essentially, "I assume you are an outsider." (For the record, he was wrong - she's an avid LW reader.)
If someone doesn't fit the usual Less Wrong demographic, they're probably far more aware of that than you are. If you notice someone doesn't fit your mental model of a Less Wronger, please don't demand that they explain their presence. There are probably other ways to satisfy your curiosity, and if not, your curiosity does not justify making someone else feel they don't belong.
UPDATE from Submitter C
This happened last year, and since that time we've talked about it more. I think it was a genuine mistake/misunderstanding and not a deliberate attempt to alienate anyone. I don't know how the other woman took the whole situation. I know it pushed my you-don't-belong-here button, and I responded based on that. The whole thing would have gone better if I had responded more charitably.