How to be Better at Being an Ally

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Sylvia Pankhurst
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How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Sylvia Pankhurst » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:20 pm

Dear Men of Quizbowl,

Let’s discuss how we, as a community, discuss issues pertaining to women.
First of all, this is not a post meant to accuse anyone. It’s understood that everything you’re doing is out of a genuine place to create change and move the community forward. However, when your allyship is speaking over women and limiting the space within which they can contribute, there is a real issue.
#Misconduct right now is terrifying—reading through it makes me anxious to the point of severe nausea. Which is horrible!! #Misconduct should, arguably, be the single most inviting place on the discord to better encourage these discussions rather than scare anyone who might want to post away. Below, I've linked screenshots from Halle Friedman, tireless moderator of #Misconduct echoing some of what has been said here for those who like me are intimidated by discord
The discord entirely male dominated, as are the forums (though, of course, so is quizbowl). Now, this lack of (young) women posters can be attributed to a lot of different factors, and forcing the burden of dealing with this entirely onto their shoulders isn’t fair either—but I think there is something that has to be said for the ridiculous disparity in posts.
So let’s talk about how to be better going forward.

1. If a woman has already posted exactly what you’re going to say, don’t post it. Instead, begin your point with "Like (woman who first made the point) said," and then continue where you feel she left off. This way, you’re not talking over anyone and credit can be given to the woman who first posted.
2. Before you post, think to yourself, does my comment actually move the discussion forward? If it does (which many male comments did do!! I’m not trying to deny that) post it. If it doesn’t, don’t.
3. Now this is more discord specific, but if the content of your post is nitpicking something a woman has said rather than dealing with the actual content of her post, maybe reconsider why you feel the need to post it in the first place.

https://imgur.com/qXsfLeP
https://imgur.com/nBXEtaZ

**edited bc I am apparently incapable of spelling Halle's last name
Lauren Onel
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Connie Prater
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Connie Prater » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:45 pm

Thank you for posting this, Lauren. It's really important not only in the context of misconduct allegations, but also everywhere in the forums (and also on the Discord), that men in particular consider how they engage with women's posts and whether they're complicit (although inadvertently so) in reinforcing the kind of environment where many women do not feel comfortable participating to the extent that men do. I say this as someone who, for a very long time, has felt uncomfortable putting my opinions forward, knowing that I'll likely be talked over instead of supported... including and perhaps especially on topics that predominantly impact women.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Amiable Vitriol » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:09 pm

Some more tips on how to successfully be a man in discussions about issues primarily affecting non-men:
- Monitor your implicit biases. Ask yourself if internalized sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or other forms of prejudice are affecting your view of someone's arguments. Everyone should be held to standards of basic civility and logic, but unfairly dissecting the arguments of people because of unconscious prejudices needs to stop.
- Amplify women's voices. Do the thing Lauren mentioned about quoting a women's point, and do this often. Women's points are often held as more legitimate if men agree with them, and you can really help as an ally by validating women's arguments while still giving her credit for her ideas.
- Do what women might feel more uncomfortable doing. Last month, after Susan Ferrari posted Matt Bruce's blog on the Discord, Harry White combed through the blog, finding the creepiest parts to present to NAQT. This action would be extremely emotionally taxing for a lot of women (those directly targeted by Matt's posts) and Harry stepped up to the plate. This is a great example of being an ally.
- Don't make it about you. Your primary concern in discussions about issues affecting women in quizbowl should not be the feelings or experiences of men. The safety of women needs to be valued above all else in this discussion, even at the expense of hurting well intentioned men's feelings. No one should be actively trying to be rude, but if you mess up, people are going to let you know.
- When in doubt, listen. This isn't fun to hear, but you, as a man, are inherently unqualified to speak about the experiences and feelings of women. Whatever observations or speculations you have about women in quizbowl, a woman could probably say it better.

EDIT: edited for more sensitive/less extreme language
Last edited by Amiable Vitriol on Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Olivia Lamberti (she/her/hers)
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Aaron's Rod » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:50 pm

I really love Olivia's actionable tips about things allies can do.

I'd like to expand upon it with some real-life experiences that I've had with quizbowlers where I was thankful for people using their male privilege for good (or just realizing they have it!), in hopes that they also serve as good examples. As far as I know, of the people named by letters in these stories ID as men.
  • I was in a control room during lunch at a tournament. All of the packets were password-protected with themed passwords. Person A made a juvenile suggestion that one of the passwords be something that fit the theme, but was also a crude, sexual joke. Person B, who was older and more respected in the community, immediately took them aside to tell them that wasn't appropriate.
  • I was traveling (without a school) to go to a tournament, and was chatting with person C about my travel logistics. Upon hearing that I was relying on a potentially unsavory character for part of the travel, person C asked if I actually knew them in person, and tried to warn me about their potential un-savoriness.
  • I was running an opening meeting with person D, and was standing at the front of the room with person D waiting for people to arrive. Person E came up to person D and said "it looks like you're in charge here?" Person D said "actually, we're both in charge."
  • Realizing that the writing team for their set was really unbalanced, person F messaged me asking if I knew of any women who might be interested in writing for their set.
  • Persons G/H/I had two double hotel rooms for a tournament, and allowed me to crash with them last-minute. Very graciously, they allowed me to pick who my roommate was. (Variations of this have happened multiple times, actually.)
I've had other positive experiences, but hopefully these are illustrative.
Alex D.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Jewish Pugilist » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:12 pm

Hey guys,
Sorry if this comes across as me trying to derail the thread, because the discussion is important and should continue, but I was just wondering why the discord names of the examples were not blacked out as I do not think it would take too long. Yes, I know discord is fairly easy to access and if one really wanted to be find the names it would not be hard, but not everyone in the community is on there. If the men who commented in the image were truly not being used as examples, shouldn't some sort of anonymity be maintained as the overall point still holds true.

As a queer Hispanic in the QB community, I have always felt comfortable expressing my ideas or grievances (esp. among fellow Floridians,) so maybe I am taking that for granted.
Best,
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by mhayes » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm

I'd like to add a point to this discussion (which is based on my own discussions with women in quizbowl and beyond).
No one should be actively trying to be rude, but if you mess up, people are going to let you know.
If you are a man and fall into this category (as I did), the first thing you should do is listen to those who have raised concerns. As alluded to by others, you should not be defensive, needlessly argumentative, or willfully obtuse when others point out your own biases. Do your best to hear people out before responding in any manner.

Also, do not extrapolate your own experiences with women to all women. Everyone is different. This should apply to issues of gender and race alike.

Edit: grammar
Edit 2: clarity
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Amizda Calyx
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Amizda Calyx » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:47 am

Something I'd like to point out is that people shouldn't conflate respect and conscientiousness around women with being patronizing or handling us with kid-gloves. And I also think it's unhelpful to assume everything critical (even many things *unfairly* critical) of a woman's comments or actions is coming from a sexist place. Like it's honestly pretty insulting to me for (mostly men who are well-intentioned) to suggest that something that was rude or needlessly acerbic is an example of misogyny just because the target was a woman. It's like a) any dialogue that goes against a woman's opinion can be attributed to sexism; and b) other forms of marginalization just don't exist when it comes to a woman. There is a lot of elitism and gatekeeping and cliquishness in quizbowl, and these things can be much bigger driving forces of attrition than overt or benevolent or institutional sexism. Of course the latter three problems can and do contribute to people leaving and are often intertwined with the former issues, but when they're all lumped together it makes it way harder to identify what needs to be fixed and can shut down conversation. I don't want guys to agree with or support me because I'm a woman and "need help"; I want them to do so because they value my opinion and believe what I have to say is true on its own. Blanket-categorizing every negative interaction with us as a symptom of misogyny dilutes the meaning of the term, ignores other important sources of othering, and potentially allows a *woman's* assholery to go unchecked.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:56 am

Don't make it about you. Your primary concern in discussions about issues affecting women in quizbowl should not be the feelings or experiences of men. The safety of women needs to be valued above all else in this discussion, even at the expense of hurting well intentioned men's feelings. No one should be actively trying to be rude, but if you mess up, people are going to let you know.
As an often under-emphasized corollary to Olivia's (very correct) point here, I would also discourage well-meaning men from feeling the need to publicly berate themselves in response to a general point made about gender issues in quizbowl, as seems to happen a lot in the discord. To be clear, what I mean is that when someone (say, a non-male person) makes a point about some negative things men do in quizbowl, I don't think it's generally helpful to immediately go "oh, was this me?? I'm so sorry, here are several paragraphs of explanation/justification/further questioning." This is, despite clearly good intentions, another way to "make it about you."

Now, to be clear, I am NOT saying that you should not personally consider whether a general description might apply to you. That's in fact exactly what you should do - but consider whether the person who made this statement needs to be made responsible for hearing/managing/bearing witness to your realization, or whether you can handle that shit on your own time. Of course, this is different if you're speaking to a friend you want to dialogue with, if you want to ask productive questions about aspects of behavior you hadn't thought about before, etc. And if you feel that you HAVE personally acted problematically to someone (whatever the context, honestly), yeah, of course apologize to that person directly!

This is a tough thing to navigate, I get it. But I've seen an awful lot of responses to women posting accurate, general assessments of problematic gender dynamics in quizbowl that immediately make things highly individualized and go into either flagellation or defense mode, and neither is productive. (Witness Halle have to repeat multiple times in the linked discussion that she is making a general point, that individualizing it is missing the point, etc.).

It's a fine line, and I'm REALLY not saying don't engage in dialogue, because dialogue is critical. Just be aware if you're saying something to make yourself feel better/vindicated, and then realize that this is not the point of the discussion.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Amiable Vitriol » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:23 pm

DumbJaques wrote:


As an often under-emphasized corollary to Olivia's (very correct) point here, I would also discourage well-meaning men from feeling the need to publicly berate themselves in response to a general point made about gender issues in quizbowl, as seems to happen a lot in the discord. To be clear, what I mean is that when someone (say, a non-male person) makes a point about some negative things men do in quizbowl, I don't think it's generally helpful to immediately go "oh, was this me?? I'm so sorry, here are several paragraphs of explanation/justification/further questioning." This is, despite clearly good intentions, another way to "make it about you."
This is a really great and important point. If someone points out a behavior as problematic that you recognize in your own actions, say sorry once and move on to working on remedying this behavior. Please do not do the several paragraphs thing in your discussion forum of choice or in a woman's DMs. Regarding the latter: I know this community is very close knit and online connections are an important part of that, but remember that women in quizbowl have lives outside of this role and may not have the time or energy to respond to paragraphs of apologies/emotional distress regarding this situation,** especially from strangers. Just because someone posts online doesn't mean their inbox is unconditionally open (though I know a lot of people have specifically stated otherwise, and I commend them for their generosity!)

**This is not targeted at anyone specifically and is meant to be a general reminder of something observed in a variety of communities.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Connie Prater » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:18 pm

Jewish Pugilist wrote:I was just wondering why the discord names of the examples were not blacked out as I do not think it would take too long. Yes, I know discord is fairly easy to access and if one really wanted to be find the names it would not be hard, but not everyone in the community is on there. If the men who commented in the image were truly not being used as examples, shouldn't some sort of anonymity be maintained as the overall point still holds true.
I think this was really just an oversight, and it's definitely been hashed out with the people in the screenshots. I hope everyone is aware that the screenshots are not meant to single out anyone in particular, but are more valuable for Halle's comments on broader trends Lauren commented on in her post. To interpret them as singling anyone out would be to miss the bigger picture.
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by jinah » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:22 pm

I don't know if this would count as "allyship," exactly, but I want to extend a thanks to Auroni for inviting myself, Alex, and Athena to edit this year's ACF nationals. If QBwiki is correct, this is the first time (ACF) nats has had even one female editor in seven years, aka since Susan Ferrari edited in 2012.

(As a side note, it was also super exciting to meet Susan for the first time at nats, a sentiment I heard echoed several times by other people!)
JinAh Kim
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Re: How to be Better at Being an Ally

Post by Perturbed Secretary Bird » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:42 pm

I second JinAh's statement, and think that we did a pretty dang good job :) I'm very pleased that my religion stuff was at least decently received, especially since I spent months worrying that I'd just been affirmative-actioned into something that I was not qualified for. But guess what, I was qualified enough. Please continue to recruit promising, under-represented editors, everyone. Thank you Auroni (and Eliza? I was first approached by her).
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