[AUTHOR’S NOTE]: I now feel more positive about this and have written A Glass Half Empty, which reflects that

TL;DR: You can’t avoid deliberate misrepresentation by changing the terms you use, so be yourself and call yourself as you wish to be known.

At one time I advised that feminists should try using a different for ourselves because the term has become overloaded by those who choose to claim that feminism is about ‘reverse discrimination’ or a ‘matriarchy’ in place of ‘patriarchy’, rather than as a term for those of us who do what they can (on a personal level, and maybe a political level) to ensure that women are treated as equal partners in life. (Aside: I do not believe this means that one should expect women to be ‘just men with breasts and an uterus’, but with concerns and wants that are as legitimate and important as the issues and desires confronting those of us with external genitalia/‘dangly bits’).

I believed that changing terms would help based on the disrepute in which the term ‘hacker’ has often been held, and the switch on the part of some, to the term ‘maker’ (particularly when dealing with hardware). ‘Hacker’ is a term that I have often referred to myself with pride. It does not mean that I steal data, attack systems, or otherwise do nefarious things. Instead, I use the term with original meaning of ‘doing really amazing/clever/innovative things with computers/technology’. For a time (ending now), I avoided the term ‘hacker’ because of the negative misattributions that the less tech savvy have associated with the term, due to misapplication to those who are malicious with tech.

I would in fact argue that ‘crackers’ who are often mislabelled ‘hackers’ are most often less about technological sophistication and skill and more about social engineering and manipulation. The appropriate terms are those like ‘con artist’, ’thief’, ’extortionist’, or mischief maker (in the sense of the crime of public mischief, not simply being amusing in a harmless way), and in general what has changed is that they’ve added on a technology component.

In any event I have discovered that the term ‘Maker’ does not save the day when it comes to promoting enjoying and ‘playing’ with technology, or taking pride in one’s technological accomplishments. At the Midland Public Library ‘Maker Place’ (an excellent name for a Makerspace as far as it goes), ‘Maker’ has gone from promoting the future of technology, computers, and STEM in general to widening to ‘STEAM’ and then turning into ‘arts and crafts’ and ‘shop’.

That’s not to say that I do not appreciate that there is a time and place for enjoying old school tools and art and creativity, and DIY in general, but that is not what the ‘Maker’ movement is or was about. The Maker movement came from the renaming of ‘hardware hacker’ to ‘maker’ due to public perception of the ‘hacker’ term, and is first and foremost about technology and the awesome and amazing things one can do with it.

In short, because those who operate the ‘Maker’ programs are not those whose primary interest is technology and STEM, it has morphed into what they are interested. Sadly, I think this will turn off and turn away true STEM aficionados from otherwise interesting and rewarding pursuits.

I think the situation with feminism and trying to use a different term to avoid being misunderstood is doomed to failure, even without politically motivated deliberate misrepresentation and alteration that occurs with an issue such as feminism. It does not help, however, that certain forms of political manipulation attempt to force one to adhere to a particular group’s version of feminism, and claim that if one claims to be a feminist that one is promoting their type of feminism.

It is this type of nonsense that has led to the ‘anti-woke’ sentiment that has recently been popular. It is still totalitarian and freedom-taking to insist that one believe and support a particular interpretation of ‘progressive’ thought. For myself, I will speak and believe as I will and take the flack from ‘both sides’, because I refuse to be forced into a particular mold in an effort to avoid it being claimed that I am like those with whom I ‘disagree on the strongest terms’.

I am free, and I will promote freedom for all, including the right to name oneself as one wishes.


Credit for photo close-up of a Monarch butterfly tagged at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Katie Steiger-Meister USFWSwidwest, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic, via Wikimedia Commons