Ada Lovelace and Why Well-Behaved Women Never Make It In My Circle

Jose Vilson Jose

Stereotypical Cartoon from the 1900's about Women's Suffrage

Stereotypical Cartoon from the 1900's about Women's Suffrage

In the early 1800s, a woman by the name of Augusta Ada King, countess of Lovelace (commonly known as Ada Lovelace), wrote a “program” for Charles Babbage that would work for a “computer” that he hadn’t even created yet. She’s widely credited as the first computer programmer, and even had the first major computer named after her. Yet, there’s still debate about this point because, of course, Babbage didn’t acknowledge her or any other contributors to his work much.

From many reports (and just from reading some of her sample biographies), she didn’t seem like one to follow rules. She studied math in a time when the idea of women becoming educated citizens in this world was still either new or still unheard of in many countries. From all accounts, she was a badass and a thinker, who actually predicted that, with computer programs, we’d be able to hear music while others found it to be nonsense. (New Zealand was the first country to let women vote … in 1893! The US only picked that up 30 years later.)

Now, I wouldn’t bring someone up like Ada Lovelace (who I still don’t think the male-dominated technology fields give enough props to) because she was the first computer programmer or a bad-ass, but because she was the first computer program AND a bad-ass. People have said in my circles that well behaved women rarely make history, and that stands true to now. It’s easy for males to say that women need to act a certain way to be productive members in society. They should naturally lean towards the kitchen and the laundromat. They should naturally lean towards taking care of the kids. They should naturally wear certain types of clothes or act a certain way.

And naturally, I find it all to be BS. I want you right now to make a list of all the women that have made history right now in your mind.(rosaparks, angeladavis, michelleobama, sallyride, doloreshuerta, arethafranklin, susanbanthony, sojournertruth, idabwells, yurikochiyama).

OK, that’s enough time. Now if 60% of your list were goody-two-shoes, then I suspect you need a few more lessons in history.

Now, think about your present situation and think about the women in your life. I’ll give you enough time to think about the women who make a difference in your life, in any facet …

Right. Now if your list is 60% goody-two-shoes, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. I said it.

For some reason, whether the woman is my girlfriend (who is as misbehaved as they come), or the writers of the blogs I read, or the friends I’ve made, the women who surround me serve as, at once, independent figures who I believe are making history with their ways or starting revolutions with their work and counterbalance to my own delusions of grandeur. I don’t think any of them are considered well-behaved, and while some of them play nice when needed, none of them conform to some social standard of what they’re supposed to do.

And that thrills me.

As men, we need women. I’m not ready to worship women either, but the ones in my life need that affirmation to let them know just how they’re breaking standards in their own way. I prefer when the women aren’t well-behaved, and make conscientious noise. This behavior isn’t about being rude, disrespectful, trifling, bellicose, or disagreeable. It’s about breaking those social norms that dispel the nonsense of what women can achieve and can’t.

Society is quick to tell women how they should behave, but it’s often the ones that don’t behave that push the human race forward. If people can’t accept that, then maybe they need to be reprogrammed.

Jose, who needed the right impetus to celebrate Women’s History Month …