About my article in American Libraries on libraries, technology, and gender


[ed: You can read the article online, page 26, though it is it flipbook style. A direct link will be forthcoming next week.]

Dear Internet,

While I’ve known this was coming for months, and I’ve had an advanced copy for a few weeks now, today the official copy was slide into my mailbox. As it is now out in the wild, I wanted to address some things that are bothering me since the final edit a few months ago.

Most importantly: the article is horribly flawed.

After the panel at Midwinter, when it became clear other voices were not allowed to participate in the conversation including people of color,  those who do not prescribe to binary definitions of gender, and other marginalised groups, I panicked. I panicked because I did not want to present myself as the privileged, white lady feminist role of speaking for all when I was only speaking for myself. I panicked because it is important to me that others get to be a part of the discussion to, not just me.

I contacted my editor straight away and pitched an idea of less on women being marginalized and more on other types of oppression within the library technology world.

The editors felt, and I vehemently disagreed, that the focus should remain only on women in technology since that was my experience. While that is my experience, it is not the only experience that exists of the oppression and marginalization that happens to those who do not fit the white, male, able construct. I wanted to bring awareness.

That idea was rejected.

I was talked back into writing on a singular point of view with the idea more of this line of thinking could potentially come forward, hopefully by others coming to the discussion too. I agreed. I did not fight harder to be more inclusive and that embarrasses me.

I decided if I couldn’t write the article I wanted to write, I would at least be more inclusive with my language.

That language was changed and or edited out.

It’s interesting to be excited and proud creating a THING and so horribly defeatist that I didn’t do enough for that THING.

In order to work at dismantling the system, we need to make sure we are being inclusive. I was not inclusive in my piece and for that I’m deeply apologetic. My privilege was definitely showing because I could have fought harder, not written it but wrote about it somewhere else, and more. That shames me. With the upcoming book, and pieces, I will do better.

Speaking of books, as some of you already know, Sarah Houghton and I are co-editing a book on this very topic, and one of the things we’ve been doing has been inviting people (and they have been accepting — yay!) from all over the human spectrum to make sure we can get as many diverse voices into the conversation as possible.  It is going to be amazing and I cannot wait until we get it published.


Update: After this was published, I was notified by an anonymous person, who has done some live blogging for American Libraries magazine, that they approached the magazine to invite panelists from the Midwinter libtechgender session to write in depth about the topics that were being discussed as the live blogging was only covering the topic at a blush.  AmLib invited the blogger to extend invites to the panelists to write in as “letters to the editors” with the addendum that I, yes Lisa Rabey, would be covering these very topics in my piece and they felt I was qualified enough to write on topics I have no business writing about. Wrap this up to my panic phone call to my editor around the same time and what transpired from that conversation, it seems pretty clear to me AmLib has no intention on actually working to promote the conversation forward or by making sure that others are invited to the conversation in the first place.

LibTechGender article roundup for January 2014

Dear Internet,

Here is your curated monthly round up of stuff on library/technology/gender, covering many -isms and spaces. Citations are pulled from writer’s about pages. If you have an alternate preference, please let me know! As always, check out the #LibTechGender project for even more.




Live Action Sexual Harassment Continuum

Warning: Triggering for sexual abuse, harassment, rape

Dear Internet,

I did not throw the t-shirt out. I plucked it out of the trash before leaving the hotel for good and I’ve worn it several times since. I’ve attempting to pretend nothing ever happened.

But of course this doesn’t work that way, now does it?

On the day Live Action Sexual Harassment was published, I had over a thousand page views to EPbaB for that day, when I normally get 1/5th of that on a very good day. Since that publication and taking in the history of my site since June 2012, LASH has twice as many direct page views as any other article I’ve written on any topic at any time. There has not been a day in the nearly three months since writing it that I don’t get a smattering of visitors who read it, whether it has been referenced from a direct link somewhere or from someone searching.

Today, I want to give you an update what has happened to me since that night.

  • My sex life has waned considerably. At first I dismissed it as effects of coming off of Lithium, but as time has gone on, I am finding myself more unwilling to be sexy compared to even my darkest hours. It used to be when TheHusband, who loves my boobs above anything on the planet (Admittedly, I do have a nice rack.), would stroke my breasts, it would give me great pleasure. Now, not so much. My sexuality and my desire to be sexual is very important to me. I’m working with my therapist on moving past these feelings of inadequacy.
  • I have dreams, frequently, where I’m the recipient of unwanted heavy sexual manipulation. In the example of the dream I had last night, I was seeing a doctor who could only examine me while I was unclothed and he was unclothed, his erect penis pressed up against my side, my back, my belly as he moved around me, stroking me as he probed and touched. As someone who used to find great enjoyment in subscribing to Penthouse Letters and watching porn, this should have been some kind of wet dream and instead, I found my dream self and my real self both simultaneously unwilling, repulsed, and frightened.
  • I’ve been told privately, and openly, by men and women, they would not have let the asshole who was assaulting me go on as it had. I was also given examples by these same men and women of other women who would “not stand for that kind of thing.” I don’t think anyone would agree I am a weak woman or unable to defend myself, but these comments, even if the intention was not to be assholes, were assholish. After receiving one of the latest comments, I waited a good while and made vague series of comments on Twitter that to say such things was effing stupid. You have NO IDEA how you’re going to react in all manner of situations. I always thought of myself as a cool cucumber in place of high panic, because often I am the one who is that way when I’ve been with people who were in their own crisis modes, but in several situations I had no way to prepare myself, and thus was in panic mode supreme, forever cured me of that illusion.
  • Men, often well known men in certain circles, writing they had no idea such travesties were occurring in the work place, at conferences, etc despite the fact they were told repeatedly of such things and still denied it was happening until they heard it from a woman of note discussing it. It is striking to me that the ONLY way to get the point across is if someone of note brings it across. As someone who is not of note, being dismissed of my experiences that do not represent what these men were experiencing with females in their own circle moved these men into personal circles of frenemy I did not know I needed to have.
  • Private comments told to me that many well placed male figures in the library world who promote feminist allyship publicly while sexually harassing women privately.
  • Women commenting either on blog pieces or subtexting on Twitter that since they never personally experienced sexual harassment or gender inequality, it either does not exist or exist to the degree being discussed and/or the need for ALA’s Code of Conduct is stupid.
  • Watching conversations on gender/lib/tech being had only within certain circles, with articles on the topic being promoted only within certain circles, and forgoing, either for personal reasons or other, important bits  and people of the conversation. If you want to advance the conversation, stop preaching to your acolytes and MOVE BEYOND your comfort zone. There are quite a few people I’m not terribly fond of but I try to not let personal feelings marr their work on these topics and include them without reservation.
  • I have been criticized, numerous times, that my work on these topics and in keeping content clear and concise on my sites for others is damaging and promotes the troll behaviour I portray to be so vehemently against.
  • I’ve called various disparaging names and have been personally attacked online for my writing, discussing, promoting of others work as I find it online.
  • I’ve lost “friends/followers/whatever” for calling others out if I disagreed with their stance and when discussing this topic publicly.
  • I’ve been told by various my pieces only present a singular view and therefore are not potent to the conversation as a whole.

In the 3 weeks and 6 days I was off for winter break, I left the house less than half a dozen times. I have become more isolated and withdrawn from everything and anything in the physical world. The struggle to be ME from the plundering of my brain from all the drug trials the past year vs the struggle to not be defined by 2 minutes of someone’s sexual aggression is hard. Every time I see read my own past words, watch a movie with sexual assault, or hear about sexual assault/harassment from a third party, it is like picking at the scabs of a barely closed wound. It is never not painful.

This is not a pity party. None of this is written for you to feel sorry for me. It is written to present you with facts of a singular incident in a long history of incidents. In 1999, I confessed all of my sexual pathos, including discussion of date rape, possibly familial molestation, and being beaten by past lovers. In 2011, I finally posted a piece I wrote in 2008 about the ending of an abusive relationship and the aftermath. In early 2013, I introduced the 17th anniversary of one of the first pieces I wrote on the Internet, which includes how 24 year old me’s innocence was kind of shocking in regards to being date raped.

But I know my back story, I know how I struggle with my own emotional boundaries, and all of the protection I have worked so hard has now been weakened, my borders are compromised. I start to question how even my most benign of clothing choices became the object of his attention, his needs, his wants.

Some are going to read this and think,”What’s the big effing deal? You were at a bar, some drunk asshole was a dick, you weren’t hurt physically. Get over it.” But that’s my effing point, it IS a big deal. me, Live Action Sexual Harassment

It is timely today that Jezebel, though as much as I tend to abhor that publication, Lindy West provides a anger fueled visceral, yes even in print,  take down on why we must not stop shutting up.

Anyone who genuinely cares about anything is bound to sound like a broken record from time to time. If you actually give a shit about a problem (and I don’t mean a “problem” like “the co-op is out of Honeycrisps,” I mean a PROBLEM PROBLEM), then you don’t just lodge your complaint and sit back down while the world rolls on around you. You do not shut up until that problem is fixed. You repeat and reframe and repeat and reframe and message, message, message, and eventually—hopefully—you manage to lodge that message somewhere in the public consciousness. That is how things move forward. Lindy West

As it was, so it will be; this will be fodder for future panels, for examples and illustration purposes. The cycle continues.


Frankenstein’s Monsters: Roundup of Responses to ALA’s Code of Conduct

Dear Internet,

Apparently this was the wrong time to take a break from social media as it is currently all enflamed about ALA’s Code of Conduct — yes, this again. It will always be “this again” because as long as I have a vagina, someone, somewhere out there will be in disagreement of what I can and cannot do.

Below are as many of the articles I could find that have been published in the last week, which I’m going to put in chronological order. But to set the mood, I’m kicking things off with a piece by Sarah Houghton from 2011 about her experiences with professional sexual harassment, and adding in my own piece when I got harassed in 2013, and a piece from Dorothea Salo written 2007 about a woman being harassed at a DSpace conference. It’s stories like ours that explain the background reasoning as to why CoC’s need to exist. As Salo succinctly puts it in her blog,

No woman should have to “escape” people in a professional setting. EVER.

You’d think this would be enough, but obviously it isn’t or else we wouldn’t continue on having these “conversations.”

I’m also including a link to the working document to the CoC so that you can see how the process started and formed and a link to the finalized piece that is now on ALA’s website. I’m also including the Storify that ALA is tracking of all the commentary, which will be ongoing. Additionally, I’m adding in Will Manley’s piece, which was dismantled from his site several days later and lost through Googlecache, that I was able to capture via Pocket and made viewable to the world via Evernote and well, what started the whole pitchforking in the first place.

This entire list will be ported over to the LibTechGender project. Make sure to bookmark that page.

Lastly, as to be expected, there is trolling on some of the pieces and social media has been in a tizzy about calling those people out in public spaces for being effs. It is one thing to have a discourse with someone on a particular topic, even if  you violently disagree, but it’s a whole ‘nother space to start pitchforking for blood and harassment — that’s bullying. Don’t be an asshole to assholes.

Edit: 1/18/14 to add new posts.
Edit: 1/27/14 to add new posts.

LibTechGender Wayfinding

Hey there.

If you came over here from Andromeda Yelton’s piece on LibraryJournal or her blog  or from Julie Jurgen’s piece: Welcome! Glad to have you here!

If you’re interested in more of my writing on library / technology / gender intersectionality, this tag has all of my pieces. I also keep a digital clearing house of all of my work and the works of others, as well as suggestions, conferences, panels, etc over at LibTechGender Project. You can also track the tag on Twitter. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.