The cultural primacy of making, especially in tech culture — that it is intrinsically superior to not-making, to repair, analysis, and especially caregiving — is informed by the gendered history of who made things, and in particular, who made things that were shared with the world, not merely for hearth and home.Chachra, Debbie. “Why I Am Not a Maker.” The Atlantic. Last modified January 23, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/.
I really love this article about the “Maker” movement. I’ve thought a lot about the ways in which sexism pervades United States culture through our system of values — our culture tends to see values more typically associated with femininity like “repair,” “analysis,” and “caregiving” as less important than typically masculine values like production, innovation, and novelty. This inequality of values harms everyone in our society because it means that certain essential characteristics of this society cannot develop, while other characteristics develop without sufficient regulation. This problem of values dominates SO MANY cultural realms within the United States including education, environmental protection, and medicine (I recently listened to a podcast which even tied this kind of value-based sexism to hookup culture on college campuses. If anyone listens to this episode please comment or discuss it with me, I find it soo fascinating!). I really like how Chachra’s article highlights the way in which this type of sexism plays out within the realm of technology.
I also want to note that I think there’s a fragile line with this sort of value-based sexism analysis, and Chachra’s article could have done a better job of navigating it — this kind of analysis really focuses on “male” and “female” gender characteristics without offering enough consideration for other gender identities and nonbinary gender identity. Considering these identities would make the analysis more accurate and inclusive. I also think it’s important to note that gendering a value like “caregiving” as feminine doesn’t mean that only people identifying as female can have that value, it just means that this value is often considered feminine in a person of any gender.
I am interested in exploring the meaning and implications of gender in the digital realm more throughout my work in this class. I was actually attracted to the class (and the concept of Digital Humanities more broadly) because I observed an interesting intersection of various value systems. Digital Humanities emphasizes production and innovation through digital means, but also emphasizes deliberation and analysis through humanistic inquiry… I think that’s pretty cool!