An apology: I’m done being “acceptable.”

Since I joined the tech community, I have worked very hard to be acceptable. I have tried to be the “acceptable feminist,” and I’ve done this because I thought it would protect me from the problems present in tech. I really thought that if I was a nice, “reasonable”, friendly, middle-ground person, I’d be safe.

Turns out that isn’t how it works. I don’t know why I was so naive to think I’d be more protected if I was fake, not myself. I hid who I really was because I was afraid of being trolled, doxxed, blacklisted, assaulted, and hurt.

Turns out those things happen no matter what I do, no matter how you are protected. If I’ve learned anything from the events of the past few months, particularly this week, it’s that nothing is what it seems to be. Julie publicly defended GitHub because she thought she had to, and regardless of her motives, it didn’t matter, she wasn’t safe. Allies have bad motives, supporters turn on you, you get fired, or blacklisted, betrayed, abandoned, bad-mouthed, and questioned.

So I’m done being acceptable. I’m done breaking my back to be the “nice feminist” who explains and listens, and makes you feel like a good ally when you’re really a shitty person.

Doing this, trying to protect myself publicly, is a betrayal to my fellow feminists and underrepresented groups in tech.

The terrible press this week surrounding the incidents at GitHub was a smack in the face: it can happen to anyone, and I was a fool to think I could protect myself by being acceptable. I was betraying my people to make those in a position of power feel better so I would be accepted, so I would be safe. It’s sad that I felt I had to, and heartbreaking that I actually did.

I’m done being acceptable for someone else who won’t accept me and my friends. I’m done betraying people with my silence. From now on, it’s Liz. From now on, I stand with my friends.

And really, sit back and think about how you might be contributing to tech culture. Think about your part in the “community” that made me feel I had to lie about who I was, and what I believed in, to feel physically and emotionally safe.

My friends, and people who I don’t know who felt betrayed: for that, I am very sorry, thank you for helping me to realize what I’ve been doing. It won’t happen anymore.


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