Friendly Shoving Matches

There is a great scene in the based-on-a-true-story movie Remember the Titans in which one of the white team members shoves one of the black team members and invites him to shove him back. The black guy hesitates.

In the racist place and time where these events occurred, a black guy shoving a white guy was potentially a good way to wind up seriously harmed or dead. The point at which the black guy shoves back is the point at which race no longer matters to this team. In spite of the horrendous racist environment in which the team existed, the team itself had gotten past race and become a cohesive whole.

Nothing quite as pleasant and triumphant as that scene is happening on Hacker News today. But amidst a lot of not nice comments, downvotes and the like, someone did basically invite me to "shove back" and someone else emailed me to express support.

I don't recall anything quite like this ever happening before. Someone else also conceded I had a point on one particular detail.

In spite of the numerous not great things happening in that discussion, this is a thing that I have commented on before: That one of the differences for men and women is that men get more of a mix of positive and negative. Women often get just overwhelming negativity.

So, overall, I am pretty pleased with this incident. It has made an otherwise crappy, frustrating day look decent in my eyes.

A big thanks to the short list of people who chose to constructively engage me instead of gratuitously joining the beat down while acting like I just "have a martyr complex" and am just imagining that a beat down is a negative experience.

If you are male and wondering what you can do to promote gender equality without making the mistake of White Knighting, this is a thing you can do: Actively invite friendly shoving matches from openly female forum members, female coworkers, etc. Actively encourage them to debate you. Do so in a genuinely respectful manner.

You don't have to agree with their point of view. But you can help them voice it.

I have written about "shoving matches" as a metaphor for how to improve sexism previously on a different blog that no longer exists. I do not appear to have written about it on this blog. So, if it sounds to you like I have said something like this before, you are correct. You also probably are one of the few people who has been reading my stuff for a long, long time.

Update: There was a typo in my search. I found my previous post on this blog, though the new theme has screwed up formatting. Ugh. I did some editing to make it more readable.

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