Rabid Anti-Feminism Strikes Again

BadKen wrote:

Why does it keep happening any time there is a significant feminist event in the tech sphere?

Was this a significant feminist event?

Had Mr-Hank looked Richards in the eye, grabbed his crotch, and said "hey, brown sugar, why don't you come over here and suck on my big dongle?" as he winked, I'd agree with you and say that Richards struck one for the forces of good.

But that didn't happen.

Richards overheard (and, according to Mr-Hanks, misinterpreted) someone else's conversation and was offended. As a result of that Mr-Hanks was questioned by event staff and readily acknowledged that he had made a juvenile penis joke related to dongles. Neither Richards nor any other attendee claimed that the joke was directed towards any woman at the conference or even women in general. In a subsequent forum message Mr-Hank again apologized for his lame joke, claimed that he certainly didn't say it with any intent of offending anyone, and that he regretted that the comment make Richards feel uncomfortable.

I believe part of everyone's reaction to this is based on with whom we can most identify.

I seriously of doubt that any male Goodjer could identify with the Cro-Magnon's who sent Richards death and rape threats and who attacked the company she used to work for. Nor would I think that any of us would think that those actions would be ever be considered reasonable or appropriate. Nor would I think that any of us could imagine any of our friends and colleagues doing those obviously sh*tty things.

But I think that more than zero of us who could identify with having a flippant remark that was honestly not intended to offend--or even be heard by--anyone else taken somewhat out of context and resulting in the loss of their job.

For this incident, everyone involved was wrong. But they were each wrong to very different degrees. The least of which was Mr-Hank and the worst of which were all the dreadful examples of the Greater Internet f*ckwad Theory. Somewhere in between--and where exactly is why we're on page six of a thread--was Richards.

OG_slinger wrote:
BadKen wrote:

Why does it keep happening any time there is a significant feminist event in the tech sphere?

Was this a significant feminist event?

It became one when the guy got fired.

LarryC wrote:

People making stupid private jokes is okay. People using their influence to persecute other people: not okay.

You say persecute, I say tomato.

I don't believe her intention was to persecute anyone. She wanted to shine a light on what she saw as unacceptable behavior in a professional setting. She wasn't trying to get anyone fired, she was just trying to point at an issue and say, "It is not okay if you do this. This kind of behavior contributes to a hostile environment for women in technology. I don't want my daughter to have to put up with dick jokes in the audience at professional conferences."

Also, it was not a private joke. It was not private by definition: other people heard it without trying to hear it. A conversation in the middle of a packed audience of a presentation is not private. In fact, it's downright rude, both to the audience and to the presenter. And worse, this conversation violated the acceptable behavior policies of the conference.

BadKen:

That's the part we were discussing. Once again, it appeared to me that not listening in on private conversations was a Western value. plavonica clarifies that Americans who have had to live at very close proximity develop a cultured polite deafness, but this is apparently not universal. This is where we differ. To me, if you're paying enough attention to a conversation to understand an entire sentence, you're trying to listen, because you're paying attention. There is such a thing as inattention blindness. It applies to sound as well. If you're trying not to hear something, it takes quite a bit of noise before you understand anything. But I'll take your word on this here. Let's say that it is as you say.

I'll accept that in the environment presented, the people were expected to censor themselves. It's a Western conference and it seems like you are more conversant with the expected values. It feels like crazytown to me, but what do I know?

So. Let's just assume that everything you say in a Western conference and everything you post on the Internet is fair game for public consumption. This brings us to my next question. How would you like to become unemployable for making a dick joke in here? Do you think that whoever of our collective has made such jokes should become unemployable on the off chance that, say, I was offended?

EDIT:

How about this? She could have shone a light on this matter without revealing the identity of the people involved. She chose to publicize that information. When Gabe did it, I considered it abusive and persecutory. How is this different? Or are you okay with the way Gabe behaves towards people he doesn't approve of?

Clearly the context matters, it's not as if she was a small time twitter user who wouldn't assume their would be mega outcry. She was used to using social media to fight her battles.

There's this group of people lurking in the bowels of the Internet, ready to threaten, harass, bully, humiliate any target they can find. I remember being shocked reading the story of a woman who immediately received death threats on her phone over a vague incident involving a damaged rented car at some tech or video gaming conference. My google-fu is failing me, I can't find the story. In my opinion, the perpetrators should not be able to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and should be held accountable for the caused mental distress. Perhaps a change to what constitutes a criminally reprehensible death threat is in order (in my country's legislation, only writing a threat in a physical form is considered a crime). Perhaps a reasonable friendly visit from a police officer might give some of the little brats that undoubtedly swell the ranks of the angry internet mob a reality check.

I don't think the phenomenon is purely motivated by misogyny though, as others have pointed out, the Penny Arcade guys unleashed the wrath of their fanbase on the man (white male) who wrote that series of rude sales support emails, with essentially the same outcome (perhaps replacing the threat of rape with "we're going to kill your son", or something to that effect).

In the case of Pycon, I do remember a series of stories by women attending last year's conference (might have been another python conference) that made the latent misogyny very apparent. It wasn't men being inappropriate, but condescending. The gist of it was : "so you've come here because of your boyfriend ?".

I think there's a distinction to make between the problem of misogyny in the industry and the problem of the Internet being the Internet. I don't think the legion of Internet creeps clashing with the righteous fury of the easily offended says much about the status of women in the tech industry, whereas the insidious misogyny that some women faced at previous/other tech conferences gave me pause and made me empathize with the prejudices they have to deal with on a regular basis.

BadKen wrote:

The thing that is abhorrent is the generally misogynist response of the tech community.

Really now? What percentage of the "tech community" do you suppose is misogynist? See, the problem with the internet, twitter, etc is that it makes it possible for a very small subset to be very, very loud.

We're seeing the same battles fought over and over. Thousands of instances like what happened to Richards could occur, yet unless the tech community moves past this whole "it's just a few bad apples" mentality, nothing will ever change.

Missed these in my attempt to post before falling asleep last night. Apologies.

ChrisLTD wrote:
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.

I think the number of followers subject is a sideshow, but I guess we disagree about what's a significant number (for comparison @badjokecat has 117k). I am curious about whether for the folks for whom this is an important consideration there is a number of followers that would have made Adria's tweets acceptable for you? Again, they read to me like someone who was looking for help dealing with a situation and then thank the respondents for handling things - though I do think there are other valid ways to read them.

I'm not sure where in that quote I said anyone in this thread was arguing that the threats were excused or merited. I have seen that argument made elsewhere. Repeatedly.

OG_slinger wrote:
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.

We disagree here, and I'm not sure what you're basing your claims to knowing what Adria's expectations were here.

Adria did send that "Joan of Arc" tweet a couple of hours after the initial incident. Was it because she felt that she was a blessed and avenging champion? Was it because she felt that the rape and death threats were her digital equivalent of being burned at the stake for her beliefs? Both? Neither? Don't know, though I suspect (based on the context in Amanda Blum's writeup) that the truth probably contains elements of both.

In terms of the blog post - did it have hyperbole? Sure. Was it not the most productive writeup she could have made about the incident? Almost certainly. But I'm inclined to cut people a little more slack in terms of how they respond when they're in the middle of a sustained firehose of toxic waste. That, coupled with the post on HackerNews where she clearly expresses disapproval of Mr. Hank's firing, make the argument that Adria had planned from the beginning to try to get anybody ejected from the conference or fired, pretty uncompelling to me.

It seems to me like there are two conversations we could be having here. We can have a conversation about which individuals bear what exact portion of responsibility for the sequence of events, and quibble about whether jokes about forking repos can reasonably be construed as sexual, or speculate about what motivations Mr. Hank, Adria, or the PyCon staff had as things unfolded.

Or we could have a conversation about how tech conferences (and the industry as a whole) can do a better job creating spaces where people feel comfortable and confident calling out behavior that they're not okay with, without having to be afraid that they will be insulted, belittled, or attacked.

The first one? That's a pretty boring conversation, I think. I'm much more interested in the second conversation.

For the record - regarding the second conversation, I wish I had better answers, but I think having communication skills be included in large technical conferences like PyCon would be a positive step. I find it telling that Adria was able to constructively engage earlier that day with the guy making the (more overtly sexual, IMO) joke about looking up skirts and preferring them bare. That's definitely progress, and shows that when a safe space for honest communication can be created, it gets used constructively. How can we make a packed conference hall feel similarly safe for communication? I don't know the answer to that one.

[Minor edit to clarify scope - it's not just tech conferences where this happens.]

Dimmerswitch wrote:

Adria did send that "Joan of Arc" tweet a couple of hours after the initial incident. Was it because she felt that she was a blessed and avenging champion? Was it because she felt that the rape and death threats were her digital equivalent of being burned at the stake for her beliefs? Both? Neither? Don't know, though I suspect (based on the context in Amanda Blum's writeup) that the truth probably contains elements of both.

Except she didn't receive rape and death threats or really anything except encouraging comments on the 17th, the day she sent the Joan of Arc tweet...

Dimmerswitch wrote:

In terms of the blog post - did it have hyperbole? Sure. Was it not the most productive writeup she could have made about the incident? Almost certainly. But I'm inclined to cut people a little more slack in terms of how they respond when they're in the middle of a sustained firehose of toxic waste. That, coupled with the post on HackerNews where she clearly expresses disapproval of Mr. Hank's firing, make the argument that Adria had planned from the beginning to try to get anybody ejected from the conference or fired, pretty uncompelling to me.

Again, I think you're putting the cart before the horse somewhat.

Sometime on the 18th there was a thread started on HackerNews referencing Richards' tweet. At around 2 PM, someone let her know about the thread and she responded around 6PM that she was going to post something about the incident on her blog later that day, which she did at around 9:30 PM. Right before Richards put up her blog post someone tweeted her to let her know that Mr-Hank had been fired.

Sometime late on the 18th Richards posted the following in the first HackerNews thread:

Here's context:

The guy behind me to the far left was saying he didn't find much value from the logging session that day. I agreed with him, turned around and said so. He then went onto say that an earlier session he'd been to where the speaker was talking about images and visualization with Python was really good, even if it seemed to him the speaker wasn't really an expert on images. He said he would be interested in forking the repo and continuing development https://us.pycon.org/2013/schedule/t....

That would have been find until the guy next to him...

began making sexual forking jokes

I was going to let it go. It had been a long week. A long month. I had been on the road since February and PyCon was my 5th and final conference before heading home.

I know it's important to pick my battles. I know I don't have to be a hero in every situation. Sometimes I just want to go to a tech conference and be a nerd.

But...
like Popeye, I couldn't stands it no more because of what happened next:

Jesse Noller was up on stage thanking the sponsors. The guys behind me (one off to the right) said, "You can thank me, you can thank me". That told me they were a sponsoring company of Pycon and from the photos I took, his badge had an add-on that said, "Sponsor".

They started talking about "big" dongles. I could feel my face getting flustered.
Was this really happening?

The rest of the story I've posted on my blog: http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forki......

It was in the wee hours of the 19th that sh*t started to hit the fan. The trigger of which was both people's reaction to Richards' blog post, the news of Mr-Hanks firing, and a series of escalating tweets she exchanged with folks who commented on the blog.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

It seems to me like there are two conversations we could be having here. We can have a conversation about which individuals bear what exact portion of responsibility for the sequence of events, and quibble about whether jokes about forking repos can reasonably be construed as sexual, or speculate about what motivations Mr. Hank, Adria, or the PyCon staff had as things unfolded.

Or we could have a conversation about how tech conferences (and the industry as a whole) can do a better job creating spaces where people feel comfortable and confident calling out behavior that they're not okay with, without having to be afraid that they will be insulted, belittled, or attacked.

The first one? That's a pretty boring conversation, I think. I'm much more interested in the second conversation.

The first conversation is essential because, as with everything, timing and context is king. Already, you've made assumptions that Richards was getting a firehouse of vitriol directed against her immediately after her tweet on the 17th when that was not the case. You then used that false assumption to justify her blog post. Quibbling over the content of the jokes is also essential because there really is a massive, massive difference between a "uhhh, huh, huh, huh, hu, he said dongle" Beavis and Butthead joke and one directed at women or said to objectify or degrade them.

I find the second conversation to be the boring one because it's framed in absolutes: you're either for equality or you're a sexist pig. There's no nuance to it. Yes, of course I want people to feel comfortable and to call out questionable behavior in all settings. But I also want feel comfortable that I'm not going to have my life turned upside down because someone misinterprets a conversation they overhear and assumes the worst.

That's not asking for special treatment because I'm a man or because I'm secretly sexist. It's asking for some consideration because I'm human and for the fact that we're really just beginning to figure out this whole public/private sphere thing that the internet and social media have blurred tremendously.

And, for me, that's really the interesting conversation. Would events have unfolded the same way if this was 2005 and Twitter wasn't around? Should we consider Richards' tweet and blog post as something from Richards the offended woman, Richards the fledgling personal Internet brand, or Richards the representative of a company? Do private conversations exist anymore when anyone around you has the ability to take a comment you only intended for your friends to hear and serve it up the Internet mob with little or no context? What are the consequences of social media not being sophisticated enough to account for the numerous and nuanced types of relationships we have? Do people have a responsibility to use the most appropriate form of communication, especially when some have the ability to communicate with thousands?

LarryC wrote:

That's the part we were discussing. Once again, it appeared to me that not listening in on private conversations was a Western value. plavonica clarifies that Americans who have had to live at very close proximity develop a cultured polite deafness, but this is apparently not universal. This is where we differ. To me, if you're paying enough attention to a conversation to understand an entire sentence, you're trying to listen, because you're paying attention. There is such a thing as inattention blindness. It applies to sound as well. If you're trying not to hear something, it takes quite a bit of noise before you understand anything. But I'll take your word on this here. Let's say that it is as you say.

I'll accept that in the environment presented, the people were expected to censor themselves. It's a Western conference and it seems like you are more conversant with the expected values. It feels like crazytown to me, but what do I know?

I am not sure where you garnered the idea that "inattention blindness" is a Western value. Having attended more than my fair share of conferences, people having private conversations during a speaker's presentation or a panel discussion that can be heard by others is what is considered rude. I consider it no less rude than people having their private conversations in earshot while I am trying to watch a film in a movie theater.

Even where I work, people are reminded that our meetings are forums for discussion for everyone, not a place or time for people to have private side conversations while the main topic is discussed by the rest of the group.

I doubt my workplace or the conferences I have attended are out of the norm on that front.

Phoenix Rev:

If so, then it would be appropriate for Adria to have called them out for noise pollution, which I have already previously stated as plausible and normative. Even if she heard it, she had no business paying attention to the content of the conversation, and if she did, the polite thing, IMO, was to forget about it since she had no business understanding what she heard in the first place. Clearly, this sort of courtesy is not considered normal in your opinion. I will keep it in mind.

Thank you for the information.

From my share of conferences, as well as sporting events, I imagine it was more a case of class clownism. You get guys making snarky comments in an attempt t amuse the people around them. But it is a lot easier to paint Richards as the bad guy for her "inability" to tune out the comedians. The attempt to turn this into a "private conversation": feels like it a way to define the event after the event in order to make the accuser look as poorly as possible.

Because two dudes telling dick jokes, not just in earshot of a woman, but within earshot of many strangers, deserve their privacy. None of this would be a problem is she had just kept her opinions to herself, right? I mean, that's what all the guys did.

LarryC wrote:

Phoenix Rev:

If so, then it would be appropriate for Adria to have called them out for noise pollution, which I have already previously stated as plausible and normative. Even if she heard it, she had no business paying attention to the content of the conversation, and if she did, the polite thing, IMO, was to forget about it since she had no business understanding what she heard in the first place. Clearly, this sort of courtesy is not considered normal in your opinion. I will keep it in mind.

While I laud you for trying to pin the cultural norms of "courtesy" on me, the fact remains that it is rude in America for people to have private conversations that cause distraction in a group meeting, large or small.

Perhaps that is something better to keep in mind.

Phoenix Rev:

Let me make it plain that it was neither surprising nor unknown to me that having a private conversation during a presentation in the US would be considered rude. Let's put a stop to that now. I know it. It's not just you. I never said it was just you. I didn't even say anything counter to that (and you can review everything I posted if you like).

What I said was that listening in to a private conversation is rude. That the activity in question is itself rude is another thing entirely. One rude gesture does not justify another, IMO. I was merely saying that it did not occur to me that you would not consider listening in on private conversations as rude; or that you would not consider publicizing the contents of a private conversation you eavesdropped in as colosally offensive. I suspect that many agree with you. I simply did not know that this was acceptable in American society. I am now better informed.

In retrospect, that must be what the idiom, "I can't help but overhear," comes from. I'd always considered it a bald-faced lie excusing a slap in the face, which never really made sense. It's like rubbing salt into the cut you just made. You can almost always deign to listen to a conversation. It didn't occur to me that this was simply not considered rude at all.

Jayhawker:

Let's please unpack that a little further. The ignorant, stupid foreigner here is asking for a little leeway. What the crap is the point of a dick joking anyway? Why is it funny? Why is it okay for guys to tell guys, but not for guys to tell girls? I actually, really have no idea. Isn't that a difference in behavior based on gender?

Why do women mind the dick joking so much? Does it make a difference when guys tell them, or when girls tell them the dick jokes? Do women tell dick jokes? I really can't tell. I don't know the gender of any of you to begin with, and I tend to forget even when I find out. Do any of the women around here tell dick jokes?

This is the sort of milieu that Richards is saying is a barrier to women getting into the tech industry. I think it's worth talking about why dick jokes are a barrier.

LarryC wrote:

What the crap is the point of a dick joking anyway? Why is it funny? Why is it okay for guys to tell guys, but not for guys to tell girls? I actually, really have no idea. Isn't that a difference in behavior based on gender?

Why do women mind the dick joking so much? Does it make a difference when guys tell them, or when girls tell them the dick jokes? Do women tell dick jokes? I really can't tell. I don't know the gender of any of you to begin with, and I tend to forget even when I find out. Do any of the women around here tell dick jokes?

This is the sort of milieu that Richards is saying is a barrier to women getting into the tech industry. I think it's worth talking about why dick jokes are a barrier.

Now there's a topic that definitely deserves its own thread

clover wrote:
LarryC wrote:

What the crap is the point of a dick joking anyway? Why is it funny? Why is it okay for guys to tell guys, but not for guys to tell girls? I actually, really have no idea. Isn't that a difference in behavior based on gender?

Why do women mind the dick joking so much? Does it make a difference when guys tell them, or when girls tell them the dick jokes? Do women tell dick jokes? I really can't tell. I don't know the gender of any of you to begin with, and I tend to forget even when I find out. Do any of the women around here tell dick jokes?

This is the sort of milieu that Richards is saying is a barrier to women getting into the tech industry. I think it's worth talking about why dick jokes are a barrier.

Now there's a topic that definitely deserves its own thread :)

I don't think I could stand the inevitable 30 posts of LarryC feigning ignorance while telling us how backwards and "odd" American culture is.

Judging from the last several pages of this thread, it would still be a valuable conversation to have.

I'm not feigning ignorance, Jayhawker. FWIW, I don't understand the Japanese panty fetish, either. They have a neck thing, too, which I also don't really get. I understand that those items could be considered part of the sexism in their society. If it was involved in keeping women from their tech industry, it would be similarly appropriate to unpack it in a thread discussing an incident about it.

It shoudn't surprise you that a non-American would consider you guys an odd lot. After all, you consider the Japanese odd as well.

LarryC wrote:

I'm not feigning ignorance, Jayhawker. FWIW, I don't understand the Japanese panty fetish, either. They have a neck thing, too, which I also don't really get. I understand that those items could be considered part of the sexism in their society. If it was involved in keeping women from their tech industry, it would be similarly appropriate to unpack it in a thread discussing an incident about it.

It shoudn't surprise you that a non-American would consider you guys an odd lot. After all, you consider the Japanese odd as well.

I don't get many foreign cultures either. I'm not on a board of primarily Filipino gamers and trying to judge how people in their culture seem to act.

But you do seem to slip in and out of understanding in awfully convenient ways. You never admit you were wrong, so your go to has been has been to claim cultural ignorance, even if you are prepared to continue arguing your point. It allows you to condemn with impunity.

Clover is right, a discussion of dirty jokes would be beneficial. I actually took a class last semester on American satire, and the line between what is acceptable and vile is slippery depending on the context, including time period. I love Bill Hicks, but I have to admit that going back to his humor now is uncomfortable. It's homophobic and sexist in ways I would never accept now. I've changed as American culture has changed.

BadKen, thank you kindly for posting my thoughts so I don't have to. Intentional or not, the notion emerging is that the 4chanite reaction is expected, a given, and beyond control--sh*t that happens like an earthquake or a hurricane. Everyone's in agreement that those are bad, too. I find this idea incredibly disturbing. The point of discussing the rightness or wrongness of the Hes or Shes in this situation ended the moment these hate criminals struck.

Jayhawker:

I don't judge habitually. I said I didn't know something that I would consider rude is not rude in your culture (though not universally). That's a fairly factual statement. I take it at face value with no judgment. Every culture's courtesy rules are different. Any judgment in that is purely your interpretation. In fact, "do not judge" is also often something I say and practice. If it seems like I'm judging, feel free to point it out and I'll try to explain.

I infrequently say that I was mistaken. I say, "My bad," "Mea culpa," or some such phrase. If you like, I'll PM you the next time it happens. It happens often enough.

SpacePPoliceman:

If it's of any interest to you, I am not speaking that way. I don't think anonymity and anonymous attacks can be combatted directly, but everything I've posted in this thread so far is aimed at battling the effect indirectly. If you have a better idea, feel free to just say it.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

The point of discussing the rightness or wrongness of the Hes or Shes in this situation ended the moment these hate criminals struck.

Oh yeah?

ChrisLTD wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

The point of discussing the rightness or wrongness of the Hes or Shes in this situation ended the moment these hate criminals struck.

Oh yeah?

Discussions are like Highlanders: there can be only one.

Thank you, duckideva. I really hoped to see your take on this, and am in total agreement. Adria's behavior didn't belong at a professional conference any more than theirs did. In fact I consider her actions to be far more egregious and unprofessional in nature. As I've stated multiple times, gender doesn't figure into it as far as what I think of posting someone's picture over this type of complaint. It strips them of their anonymity and exposes them to far more damage than such an incident deserves. Adria likely feels that pain a thousand fold right now. I honestly feel sad for everyone involved. This is a good example of what can happen when one chooses conflict escalation over resolution. No one wins.

Yeah, thanks for taking the time to post that, duckideva--your thoughts are really well articulated, and your perspective on this situation is maybe uniquely relevant on this forum. I also thought OG made some great points upthread.

Thanks for posting, DuckiDeva. I still think what she tweeted wasn't that bad, and should be a thing people can tweet in general without causing a blowup (or a firing), but I'll defer to your experience here.

100% in agreement with you, duckideva.

I've been discussing this a lot at some other forums, including one that is only technical women. Here's my take, and one that many women over 40 seem to share with me:

For the record; I am a woman. I've been in tech since the 80s. I've subsequently been on the forefront of a lot of tech waves, led many tech teams, and launched a couple of well known IPOs during the dot.com boom. I've published numerous things about women in tech, and have been a member of Systers for almost 25 years. Just putting that out there to establish that I know a little something about the tech field and being a woman in it. I also grew up in a racing family, and was the founder of a comic book publishing company, so I know a little bit about how sexism works in the world outside of tech.

I believe that what Adria did was both an overreaction, and in the long term, a damaging thing for other women who attend conferences. I'm not suggesting that women should tolerate sexism, but it's also ridiculous to publicly humiliate and destroy the career of someone who wasn't even speaking TO her. She didn't know if she misheard it, she didn't know it was an inside joke, she didn't bother to follow the rules she so happily waves about, by asking them to stop. And this nonsense of "having her experience invalidated" is just poppycock. It's a public conference. If she heard it, other people heard it. If nobody else heard it, she didn't hear what she thought she heard, and there's nothing to invalidate.

And she didn't do a damn thing about the guy who actually said sexist stuff TO HER.

Again; I don't have a problem with her going to the conference people, if that's what she feels like she needs to do because she's too delicate a flower to ask some goofy geek to shut the hell up. What I have a problem with is that she broadcast his picture to the internet with full malice aforethought. She destroyed a man's life and is crowing about she's "Joan of Arc", because how dare he make a joke about dongles in a room where she might overhear it.

This wasn't a "win" for women in tech. No woman feels safer because of this. Nobody feels more empowered because of this, except maybe her. Nobody has had their lives or the conference experiences enhanced by this. This wasn't a win for anyone but Adria and her cheerleaders.

Sexism is real. Sexism is a problem in tech. This wasn't sexism. This was a pearl-clutching excuse to grab attention.

Subsequently, once the Internet Hate Machine had turned it's full force on her, I wrote:

None of the following comment should be construed to suggest that I think Adria "deserved" the Internet Hate Machine vomiting on her. Threats are unacceptable, and should be prosecutable. That said; I cannot imagine how anyone in the 21st century wouldn't know that the Internet Hate Machine is a dangerous toy before they decide to wind it up and let it go.

A few years ago, I quit writing for a gaming site that I love when they decided that everyone should use their real name; and a free gig with limited exposure wasn't worth the risk to me of being "out" on a site where I also posted and played on the forums, and would have had to clear out pictures and kid names, etc. A couple of years ago, when WoW said that you were going to have to use your real name to use their forums, and within days there was a hack to grab players real names via command line; I stopped playing Wow; because people get heated over PvP.

I am a woman online in a world of ubiquitous ways to find out where I live. I don't use my real name. Is it fear? Yeah. Obviously. Do I wish the world was different? Absolutely. But I'm too old to constantly be on guard for someone crouching outside my door with a jar of vicks vapor rub in one hand and a machete in the other. (FWIW, I publish in artificial intelligence journals and engineering journals under my real name, but I don't have any social interactions with the readership.)

I suck at social media because I do my damnedest to not be "me" online. Primarily because I've had stalkers, I've dealt with restraining orders and their absolute uselessness, and there is no way that I'm willing to put my kid in the line of fire, because some people really are freaking insane. (Also, I'm quite possibly paranoid.)

But this is not new. This has been going on since Usenet; hence the reason that NOBODY ever used their real name once Arpanet was in our rear view mirror, until Facebook made it mandatory. And it hasn't just been women, although women lately have been getting more than their fair share. My point is that the IHM is a tightly wound tiger, and the odds of holding on to the tail when you set it off intentionally, are low.

The problem with seeking notoriety, is that you find it.

Here's the thing; I've talked to some of the people at PyCon. She could have tweeted them, and they would have come right over. She could have called them, she could have msgd them; there were a dozen inconspicuous ways to get their attention if what she wanted was for someone to say something to the guys behind her.

That isn't what she wanted. This particular woman has a very long history of causing this sort of drama. I know multiple events that had her blacklisted long before this blew up in her face, because she does this sort of thing frequently enough to have made organizers nervous about her. What she wanted was to get patted on the back by her followers. She wanted the adoration of everyone telling her she was right; she was trying to get the echo chamber to cheer her for her tilting at windmills. Seriously, she tweeted that she was the Joan of Arc of Pycon. She did this on purpose.

And it blew the f*ck up. She invoked the Internet Hate Machine, and it turned on her with a vengeance. Never call the IHM. Never. It's an irrational chaotic beast and nobody can steer it.

Do I think she deserves the absolute filth and threats she's suffered? Absolutely not. I can tell you that I have it on very good authority, that the DDOS, and the demands for her to be fired were not Anon. The idiots behind it used the name of Anon...and that was even more stupid than invoking the IHM; because most of the people doing it aren't smart enough to cover their tracks. Script kiddies using out of the box bots who are really likely to have people in sunglasses knock on their door very soon.

As to her being fired: Dude, if my marketing person generated this much bad feeling about my company brand, I'd fire her too. This was a case of her being very, very, VERY bad at her job. Flying corporate colors, on a twitter account branded with the company name, she publicly shamed someone who didn't do anything TO HER, and who happened to be the sponsor of the show she was attending. Bad PR when she's a "developer evangelist" and not being coder saavy enough to understand that the forking reference conversation she was eavesdropping on, was coder slang and not a sexist reference.

TL;DR: I am a feminist. This was not a feminist action. She cannot be defended using the language of sexual harassment, and to do so denigrates the real sexism women face in the tech world. This was a self aggrandizing move by a marketing droid trying to leverage the sexism that is a regrettable part of our industry into fame for herself, and it backfired in a huge and horrible way. Subsequently, the IHM turned on her; and that's got to be terrifying, and I'm sorry for her that it happened, and am actually trying to help make it stop; because while I think she was wrong, and should apologize, she doesn't deserve what is happening to her because of it.

(Edit: typos and a grammatical error that would have made me have nightmares about Sister Bernadette Mary and her ruler of doom.)

Great post, ducki. Your perspective is welcome and needed.

I do think it is dangerous to discount Richards purely based on her desire to stir things up. My biggest problem with the way she has been characterized is that her tweets indicated a pretty minor infraction, and it was the inane overreaction by Play Heaven by firing the employee that helped drive this out of control.

She didn't call it sexist, she called it uncool. And it pretty much was. But the overreaction was what did the damage. As a former manager with Walgreens, who has gone through more than their fair share of sexual harrassment, I'm also aware of how some members of management are full capable of blowing up a small incident to indirectly make it out that uppity women have tied their hands, and have caused this chaos.

So the only women willing to deal with hostile environments are the ones so easily dismissed as hotheads. In my opinion, Richards didn't expose the dumb jokes of two dudes as much as she indirectly exposed a completely dysfunctional set of procedures for dealing with these kinds of issues, from minor to major.