Rabid Anti-Feminism Strikes Again

It gets inconvenient and weird to have to whisper everything to everyone.

I had always considered it egregiously impolite to listen in (let alone act on the information gained by) on a private conversation. It has also appeared to me that this was the case in Western culture. It appears that I've had the wrong impression. The onus is on listeners to not listen, where I live. It's remarkably easy to be deaf if you've a mind to doing so. It's certainly easier than trekking half a kilometer or more just to have a conversation where I'm sure not to offend anyone.

I can say with certainty that it'd be nearly impossible to find a place where you're sure no one will overhear in a typical office work environment around here. "The walls have ears," is very nearly literal. Fortunately, we choose to be polite and not listen. Otherwise, there'd be knifings in the street on a daily basis. Well, more than there already is.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

More fixation on Adria not objecting "right" - and I'm not sure that Adria having some threshold of followers is especially relevant (she had ~10k followers at the time this happened - hardly a PA-size "horde").

10,000 followers is nothing to sneeze at. Certis, by comparison, only has 2,000. I'm a moderate user and I have around 200.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

But again, I think that "she objected wrong" is secondary to the bigger point, namely that even at a tech conference that is making major efforts to be inclusive, a woman apparently can't call out behavior that makes her uncomfortable without having to fear a flood of rape and death threats.

Absolutely no one here thinks what she did excuses rape and death threats.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

To me, that sequence doesn't read like someone whose goal is stirring up trouble, and certainly not like someone who was hoping to get anyone fired.

It's pretty clear that by sending the tweet she was expecting something not good to happen to the developers. At the very least, she wanted them either given a stern talking to by the event staff or booted from the show.

Her tweet later in the day shows that:

And her blog post the next day escalates things by painting the two developers as effectively being responsible for all of the ills of the tech industry:

I saw a photo on main stage of a little girl who had been in the Young Coders workshop.

I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so.

In addition, I'd like to hear what Dimmerswitch has to say about culling back the hate culture that results in rape and death threats. Sexism means that in this particular instance, it was aimed at women, but the same harassment can be directed anywhere for a variety of reasons. I've a bunch of thoughts on that topic, but to be perfectly frank, I am afraid of sharing them here.

I would like to point out that part of the reason I stand against Adria here is that her MO is fairly typical of harassment culture and tactics. The chief difference is one of degree and power, not methods, mores, or values. I won't give her a pass because she's a woman. That would be sexist.

I'd like to ask again, since it was ignored before: If Adria's tweeting had the result of the men being sent death threats and rape threats in addition to their being fired, would that have been a desirable result?

It was ignored because it's such a hilariously ignorant question -crossing the line well into offensive - that we did you a favor by assuming it was rhetorical.

Should we not have?

(You can assume that's rhetorical. :))

Dimmerswitch wrote:

But again, I think that "she objected wrong" is secondary to the bigger point, namely that even at a tech conference that is making major efforts to be inclusive, a woman apparently can't call out behavior that makes her uncomfortable without having to fear a flood of rape and death threats.

I feel that she could indeed have called out behavior that makes her uncomfortable without having to fear a flood of rape and death threats, and that's the point being made. In fact I think that a similar flood with less misogynistic tones would have been unleashed had a male attendee done the same thing with the same unintended results. She could have omitted the picture, for example... or sent it straight to the event staff along with making the same tweet without it. She had plenty of choices, and made a wrong one.

To be clear, the programmer didn't get fired because of Richards' tweet. Most everyone here thought it should have been handled by the conference, and it was. The guys in question were asked to leave, which I am assuming is grounds for dismissal when representing a sponsor.

That is, unless the real issue is that Richards was a tattletale, and was supposed to keep her mouth shut.

Seth wrote:

It was ignored because it's such a hilariously ignorant question -crossing the line well into offensive - that we did you a favor by assuming it was rhetorical.

Should we not have?

(You can assume that's rhetorical. :))

My apologies. I do not have many of your cultural touchstones. I was not aware of how it could be offensive, nor how it could be ignorant. Given that Adria was engaging in the same tactics that are being universally condemned when it was used on her, I felt that it was a relevant question. Are we giving Adria a pass because she's a woman, or because she was incompetent at rallying her dogs?

Soooo...rhetorical again?

Nope. I'm rarely rhetorical, you must understand. I'm rarely sarcastic, too. I feel that these devices only serve to offend and to muddle what should be a clear line of communication and logical discussion.

I'm not inclined to be sarcastic in RL. Sarcasm usually serves to condemn, criticize, or complain; I do not find these functions to be very helpful. I'm very much less inclined in pure text communication where most of the context is lost or prone to misinterpretation.

Jayhawker wrote:

To be clear, the programmer didn't get fired because of Richards' tweet. Most everyone here thought it should have been handled by the conference, and it was. The guys in question were asked to leave, which I am assuming is grounds for dismissal when representing a sponsor.

I think that's up for debate.

According to PyCon's blog, the developers in question were not asked to leave:

Both parties were met with, in private. The comments that were made were in poor taste, and individuals involved agreed, apologized and no further actions were taken by the staff of PyCon 2013. No individuals were removed from the conference, no sanctions were levied.

The CEO of the company the developer used to work for, PlayHaven, had this to say about the firing:

PlayHaven had an employee who was identified as making inappropriate comments at PyCon, and as a company that is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior, we conducted a thorough investigation. The result of this investigation led to the unfortunate outcome of having to let this employee go.

So his firing was directly linked to the incident at PyCon. What's up for debate is whether or not he would have been fired if Richards had chose to address her concerns directly with the event staff instead of tweeting--and then blogging--about it.

LarryC wrote:

I had always considered it egregiously impolite to listen in (let alone act on the information gained by) on a private conversation. It has also appeared to me that this was the case in Western culture. It appears that I've had the wrong impression. The onus is on listeners to not listen, where I live. It's remarkably easy to be deaf if you've a mind to doing so. It's certainly easier than trekking half a kilometer or more just to have a conversation where I'm sure not to offend anyone.

In the USN when you are on deployment you are generally never alone. So there is a lot of politely ignoring one another when in tight spaces. There can still be fights and misunderstandings of course but we tend to handle those fairly well after all. Some of this can also be said of highly dense cities.

You have to have a thick skin to survive cheek to cheek with each other and that honestly gives many people a new outlook on how they view others as well as a new understanding of the differences that can arise in the many different cultures in America. That and we all do enjoy a good "dongle" joke from time to time.

There is a large variety in American culture that can throw many people off. The land mass is so huge that simple distance can create entirely different norms and means of thought and action. Let alone all the different types of peoples that we accept into our copper pot.

Learning to accept somebody who is different than you can be an eye opening experience for some of these people. For others it is just the same old thing that they are used to.

The result I'm focused on is an image of a person whom other people will remember and tie to the story. That is the longer term result of putting the picture up on twitter along with her words. That sort of thing can do damage beyond being let go from a single company. Maybe they would have been fired even had the picture not been there. These guys may have already been on notice for something else, reacted wrongly to the investigation, or been fired for any number of reasons beyond what was stated. However, they would have had a better opportunity to learn from it and not have this incident follow them.

Despite fully admitting that you are unable sort out the semantic nuances of our culture, Larry, it is amazing to me that you continue to insert yourself into conversations that are 90% semantics. Its not really that entertain, though.

Plavonica, I don't see this discussion as some tale of learning to get along with those different than us in close quarters.

And are we really defending dick jokes in professional environments? I work in banking - a fairly sexist, bro type atmosphere - and dick jokes at a convention are a quick way to your pink slip.

Seth wrote:

Plavonica, I don't see this discussion as some tale of learning to get along with those different than us in close quarters.

And are we really defending dick jokes in professional environments? I work in banking - a fairly sexist, bro type atmosphere - and dick jokes at a convention are a quick way to your pink slip.

If you didn't notice, I said that I find the dick jokes HERE AT GWJ fairly uncomfortable most of the time. I'm the last person who'd want to defend that kind of bizarre cultural artifact, especially since I have no values tied into it. If I'd made any dick jokes myself, it was only in a (probably poorly delivered) effort to get along. If no one made a dick joke starting tomorrow, worldwide, it can't be sooner.

No, I am not defending the dick jokes.

It goes beyond just "getting along." It's the entire culture of harassment. It manifests in women being catcalled, in minorities being flagged down, in women being targeted by rape threats, and yes, by people choosing to target other people for punishment by siccing their followers on them.

LouZiffer wrote:

I feel that she could indeed have called out behavior that makes her uncomfortable without having to fear a flood of rape and death threats, and that's the point being made. In fact I think that a similar flood with less misogynistic tones would have been unleashed had a male attendee done the same thing with the same unintended results.

I disagree with this.

The first sentence is debatable. Is it possible that she could have called out the behavior without receiving death and rape threats? Sure. It's also possible that she would have been ignored entirely, as Deanna Zandt noted is a common experience in the Forbes piece Jayhawker linked to upthread. My point is not that every single objection that gets raised faces a firestorm of violent misogyny. I know that the possibility of that would make me extremely wary of bringing up any objections if I were a woman, though.

As to whether a similar flood would have been unleashed if Adria were male? I'm happy to learn of any similar cases where the recipient of the death threats, DDoS, and lobbying for termination was male. (They may well exist - I'm honestly coming up blank right now, though).

In the meantime, here are some other examples.

Courtney Stanton[/url]]A very high-profile man in the tech community is arrested for multiple counts of sexual assault. The tech community assumes loudly and repeatedly that the women reporting the assaults are lying. Again, this was three years ago.

A woman representing her employer at a large tech event was physically assaulted by a man attending the event. That was two years ago.

A woman who produces online feminist educational content ran a Kickstarter campaign to examine tropes about women in video games. In response, avid gamers sent her rape and death threats, vandalized her Wikipedia page, and created a game that allowed the player to "beat up" the woman's image. Again, this was only last year.

bandit0013 wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
LarryC wrote:

Is there any conversation about how we condemn the misogynist actions taken against Adria? Is anyone around here for that?

She wasn't fired until after the crapstorm caused by her actions. The company has lost a lot of money in the denial of service attacks and several of their customers spoke out against what happened. I don't think her firing had anything to do with her gender at all. She was a political timebomb and the company attempted to distance themselves.

Doesn't make it right, but I don't think it was gender motivated.

{Re-inserting the context}

Yes, but the DDoS attacks and such [em]are[/em] pretty likely to be gender motivated, given it's the same MO as the crap that gets thrown at people like Anita Sarkeesian for speaking out about misogyny, and on feminist issues in general. So... I'm not sure "this other stuff wasn't misogynist" is a terribly good answer to "can we have a conversation about the misogynist stuff?"

What use would having a conversation about internet vigilante groups be? Someone told a racist joke, let's discuss the KKK?

So... which discussion are you having?

An off-color joke in a conference setting made Adria Richards uncomfortable. She complained about this in a perhaps unreasonable way. She was targeted by the usual suspects who go after anybody who says anything even remotely associated with feminism. More things happened.

The misogyny here is the clowns who decided that since she complained about someone's behavior, she deserved to be the target of this crap. The guys telling the off-color joke? That wasn't misogyny. Was it the kind of thing that makes it unpleasant to be a woman in the tech field? Sure. But it wasn't misogyny.

Treating the complaint as rampant evil feminism that must by God be stopped? That was misogyny.

Her getting fired? That was stupid, but not misogynistic. Mr. Hank getting fired? Also stupid.

The Internet lynch mob? That was gender motivated. That was misogynistic. That was punishing a woman for speaking up about something that made her uncomfortable.

So again: There is some misogyny to talk about here. You're right that the thing you brought up isn't it--but Larry didn't say "can we talk about how her getting fired was misogyny", he said "can we talk about the misogynist actions taken against Adria". So, I'm not sure that this entire series of posts between the two of us is anything other than a giant non-sequitur.

Hypatian:

The misogyny here is the clowns who decided that since she complained about someone's behavior, she deserved to be the target of this crap. The guys telling the off-color joke? That wasn't misogyny. Was it the kind of thing that makes it unpleasant to be a woman in the tech field? Sure. But it wasn't misogyny.

I rarely engage you because you clearly think I'm the anti-Christ, but this statement is incorrect.

Clowns deciding to target a person for complaining about things they shouldn't even know isn't misogyny. It's misogyny because she was targeted for being a woman talking about something that she's making out to be a feminist issue.

Pardon me for being stupid. I'm sure that was what was meant, but I like clear statements.

Correct. I didn't specify why that was the action that is misogynistic, simply that it was that action rather than the others. The reasoning you have provided matches my own.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:

I feel that she could indeed have called out behavior that makes her uncomfortable without having to fear a flood of rape and death threats, and that's the point being made. In fact I think that a similar flood with less misogynistic tones would have been unleashed had a male attendee done the same thing with the same unintended results.

I disagree with this.

The first sentence is debatable. Is it possible that she could have called out the behavior without receiving death and rape threats? Sure. It's also possible that she would have been ignored entirely, as Deanna Zandt noted is a common experience in the Forbes piece Jayhawker linked to upthread. My point is not that every single objection that gets raised faces a firestorm of violent misogyny. I know that the possibility of that would make me extremely wary of bringing up any objections if I were a woman, though.

As to whether a similar flood would have been unleashed if Adria were male? I'm happy to learn of any similar cases where the recipient of the death threats, DDoS, and lobbying for termination was male. (They may well exist - I'm honestly coming up blank right now, though).

That possibility would make me very wary of bringing up objections, too... which in my mind makes a public objection on the internet an even weirder choice. Why not object at the conference, and then object to the conference's treatment of your complaint if you felt it wasn't handled appropriately (or at all)? If that's the real problem, why not address it?

I honestly can't think of another time when I've seen someone who posted a picture of a person on twitter trying to call them out for rude behavior at a professional conference. That's unprofessional in itself, in my opinion.

It is frankly shocking to me that the disucssion here is centering around the event rather than the fallout from the event.

The thing that is abhorrent about this story is not whether someone violated someone's privacy by tweeting a picture, or whether dick jokes should be ignored in a professional environment. The thing that is abhorrent is the generally misogynist response of the tech community.

Are we so inured to the Angry Internet Misogynist that we just expect them any time an issue like this happens? Isn't there anything that can be done to at least slow them down? I'm reading here: "Oh yeah, nobody thinks that death and rape threats are okay." Then why aren't people speaking out against them? I waded into a wretched Reddit hive of scum and villainy and told them they were full of sh*t, and got downvoted into oblivion. Where are the voices of reason in these misogynist internet echo chambers?

Why isn't the conversation about the real scumbags instead of the papier mache scumbags that were actually at PyCon?

I asked Dimmerswitch to post more. I invite you to do the same, BadKen. I posted something to the effect of fighting the culture at its source: harassment culture, the very impetus that people have to comment on bad parenting skills, sexy legs, fat tummies, and uppity people of any stripe. Did you miss it?

It's also the reason why I think Adria is perpetuating that sort of culture by her activity; she's part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It's ironic that she got hit by the same sort of force she was using to her own advantage (but drawing from a different subculture), but you'll pardon me for not laughing. It's not amusing.

LouZiffer wrote:

This has been brought up several times. We all agree that they're scumbags. We can summon a wall of text about it if that's the appropriate way to appease the gods of concern, but I don't think there's much debate to be had there.

Why does it keep happening any time there is a significant feminist event in the tech sphere? What can be done to tone down the shouting? Those poisonous internet discussion threads are part of the reason events like this keep happening. We're not going to talk about ways to shut them down, or make them look silly, or deflate them somehow, because it's not interesting, because we all agree they are wrong?

LarryC wrote:

It's also the reason why I think Adria is perpetuating that sort of culture by her activity; she's part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It's ironic that she got hit by the same sort of force she was using to her own advantage (but drawing from a different subculture), but you'll pardon me for not laughing. It's not amusing.

This is why trying to fight fire with fire won't get people anywhere. Maybe someday we'll be able to engage in more constructive discussion about it, without everyone feeling so defensive. It's hard stuff.

BadKen wrote:

It is frankly shocking to me that the disucssion here is centering around the event rather than the fallout from the event.

The thing that is abhorrent about this story is not whether someone violated someone's privacy by tweeting a picture, or whether dick jokes should be ignored in a professional environment. The thing that is abhorrent is the generally misogynist response of the tech community.

Are we so inured to the Angry Internet Misogynist that we just expect them any time an issue like this happens? Isn't there anything that can be done to at least slow them down? I'm reading here: "Oh yeah, nobody thinks that death and rape threats are okay." Then why aren't people speaking out against them?

Why isn't the conversation about the real scumbags instead of the papier mache scumbags that were actually at PyCon?

This has been brought up several times. We all agree that they're scumbags. We can summon a wall of text about it if that's the appropriate way to appease the gods of concern, but I don't think there's much debate to be had there.

(Seriously not trying to be flip, though on reviewing it looks like it. The response on the internet in general and in tech circles pisses me off. I'll be happy to rant about it, but I can't think of anything truly productive to say about it or a decent way to fight it aside from being a good example and encouraging that in others.)

LarryC wrote:

It's also the reason why I think Adria is perpetuating that sort of culture by her activity; she's part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I categorically disagree with this. I don't care how egotistical or hypersensitive to sexual innuendo she is, she should be able to speak out without bringing upon herself the wrath of the Angry Internet Misogynist Club.

I blame talk radio and 24 hour infotainment programs for perpetuating the idea that whoever shouts the loudest is the most correct.

BadKen:

I have no problem with her speaking out. She did not speak out about a problem. She targeted specific individuals for persecution and harassment, ending with their being fired. That's exactly the sort of thing that gets women fired, in the mileu of sexism. It's precisely because of this sort of battling and tactical style that there are even Angry Internet Men. I was strongly against Gabe for this. I am equally against Adria for the same reason. If AIM in this incident were organized, I'd criticize their leader, too.

The thing is, I don't think they are. They were animated by harassment culture, but triggered by sexist keys. It'd be nice to not have the sexist keys, but it would be nearly impossible to have that kind of change in the environment of the din and clamor. Fostering a culture of respect can engender more respect. Fostering a culture of hate only begets more hate.

BadKen wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:

This has been brought up several times. We all agree that they're scumbags. We can summon a wall of text about it if that's the appropriate way to appease the gods of concern, but I don't think there's much debate to be had there.

Why does it keep happening any time there is a significant feminist event in the tech sphere? What can be done to tone down the shouting? Those poisonous internet discussion threads are part of the reason events like this keep happening. We're not going to talk about ways to shut them down, or make them look silly, or deflate them somehow, because it's not interesting, because we all agree they are wrong?

While you posted I was adding to that, because it felt incomplete upon reading what I said. How do we shut these things down when we're talking about insular tech communities which are predominantly male? I'm coming up empty there. Perhaps the increase in communication about such things brought about by the internet will eventually assist with a culture change, but I think it may be a generational type of change similar to how civil rights issues become addressed. Awareness is key to those, but in itself that isn't enough. You have to reach a critical mass of people for whom such things are unacceptable, and we're not nearly there yet.

Communites that are predominantly of a gender or group of similar nature will not become less abusive just because there are more of the other group. It'll just escalate the conflict; make it more widespread. I've been in a situation wherein the field was dominated by many women of strong character. Over 90% of my superiors were women. 80% of my immediate work group were women. They didn't mean to be exclusionary, but it was, anyway. The dynamics of gender and sex make it that way. This can't be bypassed unless we all become asexual.

The way to change the culture is partly to change perceptions about women, but it's also about changing what's acceptable. People making stupid private jokes is okay. People using their influence to persecute other people: not okay. Mass behavior in a culture of discrimination: not okay.

As far as I'm concerned, both the male developers and PyCon were okay, not because they're male, but because they engaged in acceptable behavior. Making stupid jokes is human; I'll tolerate it after a fashion, whether it's guys making dick jokes, or women grousing about how stupid and oblivious men are (in a purely "I'm frustrated" dating sense). Adria's actions? Not okay. AIM? Not okay. Both not okay for the same reasons.