Hello, and welcome to Feminism Fridays. We've noticed a few trends within the motorsport community that relate to feminism. People are being sexist (homophobic, racist, etc.), and other people are attempting to call them out on it.
The trouble comes in that the vast majority of the people who know that what they're witnessing is hateful, but don't seem to have the words to call the behaviour by its name. Alternatively, they don't want to be called out for being feminists, so avoid naming the behaviour. Either way, feminists of all genders are being beaten down by trolls.
Sexism these days isn't as obvious as it used to be. Sure, there are still calls for sandwich-making, but the majority of what we've seen in the social media surveys has been subtle, crazy-making sexism. The kind of sexism that makes you think, 'Hang on, am I overreacting?'
It's the kind of discrimination that erases or minimises the lived experiences of marginalised groups. It's the kind that furthers damaging stereotypes (like Google Images suggesting 'angry' as the first qualifier on a search for 'feminist'). It's the kind that normalises rape culture and muddies the waters of consent. It's sideways looks and strategic sighs. It's not behaviour that, on its own, anyone can point to and say, 'There! That is where the sexism/racism/ableism/homophobia/transphobia is!'
It's also the kind of thing you hear said offline, rather than in print. Nobody wants to be shamed for their opinions, so those opinions come out as jokes that everyone except the marginalised people (who are often the butts of the jokes) laugh at. And then, if there's a call-in or call-out about the topic of the joke, the person objecting is made to believe they are the ones with the problem.
Alternatively, it's the kind of discrimination that We The Feminists see and write about copiously online, only to be ignored by governing bodies. See the silence from everyone big and official on the subject of Danny Watts' coming out for an example of that. There's always a reason why our point is invalid to them (usually pointed out self-righteously by a white cis-het man with a Twitter account), but contrary to popular belief not all opinions are equal; some opinions are supported by the data.
It's the kind of problem that only shows up when someone writes a piece on their personal blog about how it feels to be a woman in motorsport, whether as a racer, as an independent contractor, or as a fan. (Check out the links under that sentence; they're good pieces.) It goes undiscussed for the most part, because there isn't a place to talk it out and make policy suggestions. Well no more.
These are the things we will be discussing. We'll focus on one trend or behaviour at a time, give you the theoretical grounding for why it's objectionable, and provide some suggestions for how to combat it in future. Hopefully, this will arm you for the battle against the trolls, since 'don't feed the trolls' hasn't sent them away thus far.
We have started a group on Facebook called Miseducation of Motorsport for asking questions and discussing the discriminatory stuff that affects us. The rules are simple – treat others with respect; call in, don't call out; report anything you can't handle to a mod for handling. Feminism Friday discussions will be hosted in that group, because it's an easier interface than Weebly's [our builder program's] comments threads.
At the bottom of every Feminism Friday piece, we will have a contact form. If you would like to ask further questions, join the Miseducation of Motorsport group on Facebook, report an incident, or suggest a topic for us to write about, feel free to use it. Feminist discourse is all about being able to ask questions, so we have built some reasonably scalable features into the series to have this discourse thing with y'all.
Data protection clause for the contact form: We will never share your details with a third party without your written consent. Any sharing of details will be on a case-by-case basis for the furthering of your career, or networking you to achieve the community's goals. In the event of you being added to a mailing list, email will be sent once per week at most, and unsubscribing will be easy and guilt-free.
See you next week for our first topic!