I’ve been visiting hackerspaces and their kin in various cities for a while, and much as I love them, most of them have a few Very Big Problems:
- Sexism. This has been detailed elsewhere so I won’t delineate it.
- Privileging of software and hardware expertise. This is a strange one to me. In one space I visited, biologists were made to feel unwelcome and second-rate because they were wetware experts, not software and hardware specialists.
- General unfriendliness to noobs. A lot of the time, this isn’t intentional. But sometimes, it is. Techxperts tend to forget that noobs can’t hold more than maybe two or three new things in their head at any one time, and ramble on and on with a litany of gobbledegook that turns a noob’s face green with sick.
The sum of these boils down to one thing: bullying. That’s all it is. We don’t need to go through why bullying is bad. We know it is. Some of us, including myself, have friends who committed suicide because of bullying. It’s super, super, incredibly bad. You never get over a suicide.
What do you do if you’re like me and want to find a safe community in which to geek out and learn stuff with people who won’t bully you? You look for it online. Unfortunately, the global hackerspace list doesn’t tell you which spaces are safe for marginalised peoples.
I guess we need a safe spaces list. Let me know if there already is one, or email me your favourite safe space and I’ll put a list together.