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#thatwoman, A Hashtag About the Difficulties of Speaking Up About Gender Politics in the Tech Industry

Yesterday, Kotaku published a piece by Rachel Edidin that went by the title “She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She’s Speaking Out.” While it was structured around telling the story of Alice Mercier (not her real name) a female member of the video games industry who recently anonymously publicized her sexually harassment on Facebook by a male peer, the piece also focused on how infuriatingly, personally familiar Mercier’s story is to many women working in video games and the wider tech industry. Even so, despite the the entire article clearly laying out the reasons why women find it socially difficult and professionally dangerous to speak up about sexist behavior in the tech industry, it left lots of people asking why all of these ladies didn’t “shut him down,” “complain to HR,” or “go public.”

Folks banded together with the #thatwoman hashtag to point out that one of the reasons is that pushing back against harassment or biased treatment, no matter how clear a case, can and even tends to follow and negatively affect the victim just as much as the accused. Nobody wants to become that woman.

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