Rabid Anti-Feminism Strikes Again

Jayhawker wrote:

She didn't call it sexist, she called it uncool.

Except in her longer form blog post where she specifically frames this as an issue of sexism ( the timing of which OG has enumerated with some detail)

Jayhawker wrote:

She didn't call it sexist, she called it uncool. And it pretty much was.

On her blog post about it; which is really what blew up the internet when it started making the rounds, she said she did it because she looked at a picture of a little girl on the stage, and realized that she had to make the world safe for women hearing sexist jokes about people forking projects.

And, to be fair; I didn't think what they reportedly said was uncool...more derpy than uncool, but I've been in this industry for so long that perhaps I'm just inured to geekboi humor. I can't imagine my reaction to the conversation being anything but a snicker and an eye roll. But then, I'm the mother of a 10 year old boy, so potty humor is the height of comedy with the pack of children who seem to live at my house when they're not at school.

Jayhawker wrote:

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.

In many cases, that is true. Reporting harassment is not easy. Defining sexism is not easy. But in this particular incident, there were established rules of conduct, and established ways to report violations of those rules. One player in this theatre of the absurd admitted that his comments may have made someone uncomfortable, and were thereby a breach of the rules of conduct. The other player in this drama did not follow the rules. She didn't just tweet the organizers, or call them, or send them a text message asking them to come to her. According to her own account of the incident, she stood up, turned around, took the picture, tweeted it to her own timeline with a Pycon hashtag. She then engaged the show organizers; but only AFTER she had published the photo which clearly showed nametags.

Are there times when vigilante justice via trial by twitter is the only tool in someone's arsenal? Quite possibly, perhaps even probably. Was this such a case? No. This whole situation could have been handled quietly if she had followed the rules she was insisting be enforced on someone else.

Here's how the whole thing could have played out, if she had followed the rules: She contacts the organizers, they do what they did, which is to pull the offenders outside the conference hall, tell them that they made someone uncomfortable, told them to cut it out, they would have learned a lesson, they could apologize, and everyone moves on with no ripples in the social media world at all.

Her reaction was using a nuke to swat a fly. If this guy had said something TO her that was directly sexual, I would probably change my stance on the propriety of public shaming. There are plenty of times in my life when I would have considered posting "look at this sexist asshole" pictures. But this, this was a ridiculous overreaction, and I stand by my opinion that she wasn't so much offended as she saw an opportunity to stir up buzz.

That said, I've taken heat for dealing with sexism in person. For a small, round woman, I can intimidate the f*ck out of some people when they get me riled up. I personally made it my quest to get one director fired because he wouldn't stop talking about my boobs; and in 1988, as the ONLY woman at the entire tech company that wasn't administrative staff, lemme tell ya, that was an ugly battle. But at the end of it, our company was one of the first to have HR policies forbidding sexual harassment. I've fought battles and changed policy at companies like Dell, EDS, GE, Anderson, Raymond James and American Airlines. My graduate studies were in feminist bioethics, and I have actively worked to change how women are treated and perceived in the workplace and in the world at large. I do not suffer fools or sexists.

I think I've finally nailed down what it is about this entire situation that just pisses me off. When trivial things like this incident are run up the flagpole and fellow feminists and gender equality warriors are asked to salute, it cheapens the real battles we fight under the flag of true equality.

OG_slinger wrote:

Several points.

It's apparent that the thread as a whole is more interested in having the first conversation I outlined, so I'll get out of the way. I did want to acknowledge that you're spot-on about my assumption regarding timing. I'd actually gone on Twitter to search through her @-replies and see what the exact sequence was, but didn't have the stomach to make it through all the pages of garbage to see when the floodgates opened. I'd love to see any info you have about timing out of curiousity, but you are right to have pointed out my assumption.

That said, my argument doesn't really hinge on when the rape and death threats started. If you'd prefer, you can mentally edit my paragraph there as follows:

Revisionist 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 The fact that Adria was able to constructively engage in calling someone out on a more overtly sexist joke earlier that day, 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.

You also respond somewhat confusingly to a lot of points I never said, about claims of special treatment I'd never said anyone was making and about absolutist statements about the situation that I don't think were made anywhere in this thread.

So perhaps I should clarify: for me, the 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" needs to include conversations about how folks can call out behavior in ways that are less-likely to escalate into the kind of clusterf*ck that happened here. Nobody needed to be fired here, or really have any consequences more dire than being engaged in conversation about how jokes in debatable taste might be perceived by others (as happened earlier that same day with the skirt / bare joke guy).

Switchbreak wrote:

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.

+1. I also still think that Seth's earlier point about the likelihood of this being a non-event Adria had been a man is spot-on.

Just adding my thanks to duckideva as well for that very interesting post. My thoughts on the matter are very similar but she put it better than I ever could, both because I'm not a woman and because she's a far better writer than me.

I'm late to the party, so I apologize if this has been covered, though I did take the time to read duckideva's post (which was excellent).

I'm confused. Were the stupid jokes directed at her? Were they mentioned in a conversation in which she was part? Or were they simply overheard by her?

To me, the answers to those questions frame whether her response (the orginal tweet) was warranted. If they were said directly to her, I believe that would be outright sexism. If they were mentioned as part of a conversation in which she was periphally part, then that is a gray area between sexism and social ineptitude. If she simply overheard them, then I believe it isn't any of her business.

It was 2 guys talking behind her, none directed at her so far as anyone can tell. And looking at the terms out of context I want to ask the men and women this. It was basically Beevis and Butthead chittering on about large dongles.

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store? Have you ever moved the carrot down a few feet on a snowman?

Well that's another interesting wrinkle: does it matter to whom the speech was directed? I'm inclined to think there would be no requirement for the target and the person overhearing it to be identical.

I think there's certainly room for discussion on that topic.

Duckideva, thank you for posting your thoughts. It gives me a lot of historical context I was missing, especially pertaining to the tech industry.

KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store?

The f*ck?

Hypatian wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store?

The f*ck?

I am trying to find a common thread of sophomoric penis humor people may relate to. A conference on python development is a bit obscure even for these parts.

I'll freely admit that when I am with good friends, I freely say and joke about many inappropriate things, not thinking about who might be listening (except kids, being father has helped me regulate that, at least). A person in a public place has no right not to be offended. Now, if it had been directed to her, I believe that is crossing a line.

+1 to DuckiDeva! Pretty much what I've been thinking all along here.

KingGorilla wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store?

The f*ck?

I am trying to find a common thread of sophomoric penis humor people may relate to. A conference on python development is a bit obscure even for these parts.

You may have picked an example or a way of stating it that's a bit more than sophomoric penis humor, then, because my reaction to anything that [em]I[/em] would call "person X humping person Y with a cucumber in the grocery store" would be about ten seconds from calling the cops.

Nevin73 wrote:

I'll freely admit that when I am with good friends, I freely say and joke about many inappropriate things, not thinking about who might be listening (except kids, being father has helped me regulate that, at least). A person in a public place has no right not to be offended. Now, if it had been directed to her, I believe that is crossing a line.

A person in a public space also has no right to offend.

She clearly didn't handle this well—broadcasting her complaint that way was out of line, as I've said before.

But if she had complained about it in a less stupid way? That would be totally appropriate. It comes down to the rules of an event or venue or what have you to decide what the balance is in terms of what sort of stupid joking around to allow. In the case of this specific event, she was well within her rights to complain.

If somebody doesn't beat me to it, at some point I'm going to try to write up an explanation of why this sort of stupid juvenile humor in professional spaces is a problem (and, yes, sexism) and needs to be addressed.

Quasi public place, that distinction is important to make in this instance. If these 2 are standing in line at the post office, they are not fired is my guess.

Hypatian wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store?

The f*ck?

Well, that certainly broke the tension in this thread!

Nevin73 wrote:

I'll freely admit that when I am with good friends, I freely say and joke about many inappropriate things, not thinking about who might be listening (except kids, being father has helped me regulate that, at least). A person in a public place has no right not to be offended. Now, if it had been directed to her, I believe that is crossing a line.

I would tell you that in every corporate meeting on sexual harassment I have been to, whom jokes are directed to have no bearing on whether it would be harassment. It's one of the things that leads a lot of guys down a path that costs them their jobs. Nothing has to be directed towards a woman for it to contribute to a hostile work environment.

KingGorilla wrote:

Quasi public place, that distinction is important to make in this instance. If these 2 are standing in line at the post office, they are not fired is my guess.

This is a good point. In terms of workplace policies, that conference would be considered a workplace, not just a public gathering.

And i don't think the guy should have been fired regardless, based on what Richards tweeted and posted about the incident. Their employers took the opportunity to have a reasonable discussion with the employees and turned it into a circus.

Whether Richards was right or wrong in how she handled it, it didn't need to lead down the path it did. The fact that it did says far more about the male dominated industry than it does about Richards.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever humped your girlfriend, wife, husband, room mate, etc., with a cucumber while in the grocery store?

The f*ck?

Well, that certainly broke the tension in this thread!

Yeah, he's vegetable man.

Well Richards lost her job as well. The 2 guys lost their jobs for what was supposedly said being put on twitter; Richards for the tweet, the blog, and the DDOS that ensued. About 80% that last part.

3 people lost their jobs due to the means at which were used. And that is a crying shame.

What is rubbing me wrong is that this became a spring board for agendas that just are not present in the situation. Jezebel is making this out to be another case of sexual harassment by the good old boys of tech, the same with the firing. Others, that this is another instance of some uppity bitch who should just make sammiches.

In that case, it is media business as usual. Bury the lead, and make bombastic statements not routed in reality. We just sent a former mayor and his cronies to the federal pen, and they all loved to state any detraction against them was from racism and white insecurity. And a lot or places ran with that.

Gayle Laakman has posted a counter-point to Amanda Blum's piece on Adria Richards, which has been linked multiple times in the thread. It's a long one, so I recommend reading it in full, but here's an excerpt:

Laakman's post wrote:

Amanda alleged a pattern behavior which, frankly, isn’t backed up in the post (at least not once you get past the high-level summary). And, interestingly, I also have yet to see someone else write up a similar set of issues. In fact, everything I see about people who have worked with her is fairly positive. Maybe there are a bunch of other stories lurking in the background, but I haven’t seen them: not from Amanda and not from other people.

Regardless, whether Adria has a pattern of behavior like at PyCon, it does not justify how the angry mobs of the internet handled it. We should speak up and have rational discussions about these issues; that is valuable. It is perfectly okay to object to how Adria handled the situation.

And getting mad at the internet horde of anonymous idiots is a waste of time. We can be mad about it all we want, think it's disrespectful, ridiculous, etc... but this isn't the first time we've talked about the f*ckwad theory, it's not the first time that has gotten some media attention, and it shows no sign of stopping.

And who Richards is to people who have not incurred her wrath versus when they have is kind of a false front to me. My experience is that you learn who people really are when poop hits the fan. If you've not had reason to end up as a blog post of hers, good for you. That doesn't mean she's a perfectly nice person if this is the kind of history she has with people and her blog either.

I think it's also worth noting that when I look at the ravening hordes of the Internet Hate Machine (to borrow diva's phrase) I don't see much point in discussing their actions because I don't think there is any defense for what they have done. But that doesn't mean I am shrugging my shoulders and saying that we should just accept it because there's nothing anyone can do, because The Internet. Threats of the kind that have been made against Richards are often a criminal act, and should be prosecuted. That behavior is not only unacceptable, it is illegal, and it needs to be crushed with extreme prejudice. These people need to be dragged into the sunlight and made accountable.

For the rest of the tech industry, where most people are not vicious sociopaths, the private conversation really is a highly effective tool. I have been on the receiving end of a few of those "that's not cool" conversations over the years--not about misogyny, but other stuff--and I have changed my behavior and attitudes as a result. I have a hard time believing that the average dude in the tech industry is less reasonable than I am.

Jayhawker wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Quasi public place, that distinction is important to make in this instance. If these 2 are standing in line at the post office, they are not fired is my guess.

This is a good point. In terms of workplace policies, that conference would be considered a workplace, not just a public gathering.

And i don't think the guy should have been fired regardless, based on what Richards tweeted and posted about the incident. Their employers took the opportunity to have a reasonable discussion with the employees and turned it into a circus.

Whether Richards was right or wrong in how she handled it, it didn't need to lead down the path it did. The fact that it did says far more about the male dominated industry than it does about Richards.

I agree that the conference being a quasi-work related affair, better behavior is expected and I honestly didn't think about it being a work function. But once I found out that she overheard the dumb remarks, instead of thinking "Idiots doing idiot things because they're idiots", it seems she went straight to "men are assholes".

A Woman Walks Into A Tech Conference

This is a great piece on the whole thing.

Then I read the comments and wept. *sigh*

Hypatian wrote:

A Woman Walks Into A Tech Conference

This is a great piece on the whole thing.

Then I read the comments and wept. *sigh*

Get used to it, sugah.

/bitter irony

Hypatian wrote:

A Woman Walks Into A Tech Conference

This is a great piece on the whole thing.

Then I read the comments and wept. *sigh*

My problem with all the ass hats that post that crap is that it allows people to deflect any criticism and just highlight the horrible to gain traction. If these knuckle dragging mouth breathers would shut the f*ck up, we could actually have a discussion on the issue but we can't because these people won't let us. I think we should follow the Simpsons advice and just ignore them. If we ignore them they'll go away.

Hypatian wrote:

Then I read the comments and wept. *sigh*

Internet Rule #1: Never read the comments

Ulairi wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

A Woman Walks Into A Tech Conference

This is a great piece on the whole thing.

Then I read the comments and wept. *sigh*

My problem with all the ass hats that post that crap is that it allows people to deflect any criticism and just highlight the horrible to gain traction. If these knuckle dragging mouth breathers would shut the f*ck up, we could actually have a discussion on the issue but we can't because these people won't let us. I think we should follow the Simpsons advice and just ignore them. If we ignore them they'll go away.

I've been trying this for years. Doesn't seem to be working so far.

Maybe we can just have part of the discussion now, and hope we're not devoured by trolls in the meantime?

Unfortunately the situation has also served to identify at least two HR departments that don't understand how social media works

Just because we keep looping back around here. "It was just some silly thing put on the internet for anyone in the world to see."

I think the two companies and their HR knew very well what Twitter does. For one it sparked a DDoS attack.

It can get millions of eggs all up in your face.

Twitter is a powerful tool, ask the Syrians.

The unfortunate end-game of that is "nobody ever uses social media for anything personal, because they're afraid of how their employer might some day decide that it reflects upon them". For myself, I think the smart thing to do is to say "thou shalt not use a personal social media site for anything business-related, stick to social media sites that are specifically branded as business-related for that". Now you don't advertise stuff on your personal twitter feed, you don't put personal stuff on your business twitter feed, and there's a clear division between when you're speaking in an official job-related capacity and when you're speaking in a personal capacity.

If we can't get to that spot, things are going to get very very stupid. (i.e. even more stupid than they already are.)