Reply to: Re: Reply to: Re: Recent sexism postings

Subject: Reply to: Re: Reply to: Re: Recent sexism postings
From: Tammy Williams <williams -at- OCLC -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1993 11:32:38 -0400

Norm (npArry -at- center -dot- colgate -dot- edu) wrote:

>We have almost nothing to learn from the _victems_ of racism, sexism, abuse,
>discrimination. What are we going to learn from them, why they were
>mistreated? How they were mistreated? How it felt?

>Yes, surely. But we have so much more to learn from racists, sexists,
>abusers, bigots. Can we learn about racism from the victems of the holocaust?
>Yes, perhaps, a little. But if we want to know why it happened, how it was
>done, what caused it, we have to ask the Nazis (pretty difficult to do, since
>the day the War ended, they all magically disappeared - during the war, nothing
>but Nazis, after the war, no Nazis!)

I have recently received a number of personal replies to the sexism
and racism issues. I have also read a number of replies and responses
to the issues. I have no idea of why these issues have continued other
than there must be many of us who feel strongly about the issues. I
hope that this message will clarify how painful this type of a debate
can be. I also hope that it clarifies the stance that I and some
others take on the issues. I include "others" because of some of the
personal and public statements I have recently read.

I think if we are discussing gender and racial issues as the apply to
technical communication, we're fine. I think we have a duty to portray
people fairly and accurately. If we're discussing them from a
philosophical area of who's more helpful--the victim or the oppressor--
I don't think this is the place.

I'm an African-American female. I don't need a
male telling me how it feels to be a woman nor do I need a white
person demeaning the pain my people suffered at the hands of white
slave owners by saying that the oppressor's rational for oppressing
me/mine is more important than how I/we feel/felt. If someone
chooses to not hire me because of my gender or color, I go homeless
and hungry. I don't need anyone to validate my pain! I was recently
sexually harassed. A man lifted my top and exposed my breast at a
public place. I didn't need for someone to come over to me and say,
"You must feel humiliated." I knew how I felt! When a homeless person
goes for days without eating, he doesn't need a doctor to say, "Your
stomach's hurting." He knows how he feels!

The philosophical debates are painful because we know how we
feel. We don't need other people to validate things to make them a

I would like to use this list as a tool to help me become a better
technical writer. I would appreciate it if we could stick to
technical communication issues that directly affect improving

Tammy Williams
williams -at- oclc -dot- org

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