Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
“Let her speak please” (facebook.com)
995 points by devnonymous on June 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 646 comments



Edit: I watched the video. The moderator goes on and on and the "let her speak please" sounds very polite.

This is a painfully frustrating reminder that women get talked over by men. It's one thing to have one panelist talk over another, but to have the moderator, who is explicitly in charge of facilitating a panel discussion, be the one to drown out a panelist is just unacceptable. Yes, "not all men" do this, but the fact that this continues to happen in such visible and public settings, where presumably people are on "their best behavior", would suggest that it happens even more in more private situations. Research has shown that groups where speaking is more distributed are more successful at solving problems, and explicitly teams with more women are more successful: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/the-sec...

I will take this story as another reminder to be aware of situations where I might be dominating a conversation, and I hope you will too.


People get talked over by people. I see this all the time and it's generally sexless. As a consultant I've helped at least 100 teams have crucial conversations across tens of businesses. I don't get the constant refrain that this is a male vs. female thing.



Your fuzzy memory is not research so I quote the three top scientific magazines: Forbes, HBR [1] & NYT.

(If you look in the articles, they quote studies with 20 participants. At university I would have been destroyed when making fundamental claims on a sample size of 20).

And yes my gut feeling tells me women get interrupted more often. And from this comment you may assume I'm guilty of this, though my bad social habits probably interrupt men as often.

[1] the magazine of business anecdotes.


Here's one with 216 participants, and a whole bunch of citations that might be interesting: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1046496404263728

Another one from 1989 with 186 participants: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250069045_Interrupt...


Please quote the exact number in those papers. The summery of the first do not specify the levels of women interrupting women or men interrupting men, explicitly focusing only on interaction between men and women.

The other one only say that "both men and women exhibiting higher levels of interruption behavior in male-dominated groups".

Citations is only as good as the ability it provide to verify a claim. Those do not do that as far as summery goes.


I'm not trying to prove anything, it just sounded like people were interested in relevant research with higher sample sizes. The first says "The participants for this study included 216 university students". The second says "We systematically varied the sex composition of the six-person groups, [...] Data on 31 groups in all were collected."

The second study directly addresses this discussion: "The odds of a male attempting to interrupt another male (.078) are less than one-half the odds of a male attempting to interrupt a female (.163). Females attempt to interrupt male and female speakers at essentially identical levels (odds of .146 and .141 respectively). In other words, men discriminate in their interruption attempts, interrupting women much more often than men. Women, on the other hand, do not discriminate; they attempt to interrupt men and women equally. Group composition does not appear to influence interruption attempts."


Interesting to see actually numbers. They imply that the one odd number here is the low rate of male attempting to interrupt another male, and that the natural base line should be around 0.1435 (assuming that the female variance of 0.0025 is the natural one for all humans).

That changes the tone of the issue. A 0.0195 difference from the norm is tiny on the negative discrimination of men interrupting women if we compare it to the norm difference of 0.0655 as positive discrimination for men interrupting men. As a social issue of 13.6% negative discrimination vs 45.7% positive discrimination, its a good time to ask what we want to fix. Is it the negative 13.6%, which mean we want men to interrupt women at the same rate as women interrupt women, or do we want men to treat other men worse by interrupting men as much as women do?

It also raises questions about moderators. Should we favor male moderators over female ones because they will in average interrupt 20% less (.241 vs .287) for a panel of 50% women and 50% men? The original post had a panel of 80% men and 50% men, which given the above numbers would have a male moderator interrupt a panelist at the rate of 0.095 while a female moderator would have interrupted a panelist with the rate of 0.145. A female moderator would be 52% worse than a male moderator in this specific case.


Still a sample too small, they need at least 1500 participants IIRC


Your links do not justify your confident tone. Two are about the 7 Supreme Court Justices and some Google guy. That's 8 people. The first is about a study involving 11 male-female interactions (19 now), and a study which noted that "...The men interrupted their female conversational partners 2.1 times during a three minute conversation. That number dropped to 1.8 when they spoke to other men." So men just interrupt more in general, not against women specifically, i.e. not sexist behaviour but a simple gender difference.

Ironically, the guy's "fuzzy memories" are more accurate than your "research-based" opinions.


> So men just interrupt more in general, not against women specifically

I'll buy that. If this disproportionately affects women then I'll buy that too. I don't buy that men interrupt women specifically out of some sort of bias. My experience has been that the more passionate conversationalists among us will interrupt anyone who will let them.


The more interesting question is whether there's a 3rd variable we're missing.

You were right in your initial assertion: people talk over people. The people desperately trying to prove that "men talk over women" using statistical analysis are all missing the point.

The first thing to do, before looking for sex differences, is to try and identify the reasons why people interrupt, because there are many of them and sometimes there are conflicting or related motives.

Gathering anecdotal evidence would be a starting point for articulating hypotheses. What are the conditions of the discussion? What is at stake? What is the expertise of the participants? What are the personality factors? What is the general conversational ability of each participant? How long is the attention span of each participant? What is the apparent purpose of each individual interruption?

There are so many factors you could look for before looking at sex differences. And would the sex differences persist when those factors were controlled for?


> passionate conversationalists

a nice way of saying workplace bullies.


I think you're losing your focus on defending your position in the face of the criticism you're receiving. I agree that there are other possible explanations besides "passion" such as men generally displaying more aggressive behavior which could, I'm conjecturing because this is a hypothetical, spill over into not only physical behavior but also conversational behavior. However, without contextualization, aggressive behavior is not the same as damaging behavior which is what you're implying when you bring up bullying. For my part, I agree with the others who don't think your sources support the position you're taking.

That being said, it seems to me that the broader implication of your position is that when men and women participate in group dialogue the meta-game of the dialogue often leans in favor of the male speakers. I'd need to do more research to prove this but in general, if this was your position, I'd be inclined to agree with it based on my own anecdotal experiences. However, this still doesn't establish the hostile intention or implicit sexism that, from my reading of your posts, is presented in your claims.


Not really. Bullies have something specific going on. They are trying to hurt people. Many average people get excited when they talk about a subject they are passionate about and enter into a state entirely unlike any bullying I've ever seen but which nevertheless results in non-bullying behaviors like talking over people. These people are exhibiting behaviors like interrupting because they are excited and passionate, not because they are trying to strike out at the people they are interrupting.


I'm occasionally accused of interrupting others. But here's the thing: I like being interrupted. I enjoy conversations with lots of rapid back and forth. When I'm misguided, I want to be corrected as quickly as possible. I want others to finish my thoughts.

But hey, I mostly rein it in :)


That's what I'm saying -- you're not a bully.


Sometimes men care too.


Even if there is a "clear pattern", that doesn't mean every instance of a man talking over woman is sexism. Not even close.

So even if you can prove there is a pattern, it doesn't invalidate his statement that "it's generally sexless"


Thanks for bringing data.


From what I gather, it does get done to women more than to men. From my perspective, an even bigger problem is that women are more expected to just take it.

Having read the piece, it is by a woman who spoke up and said "Let her speak, please" and that's fine. But I have mixed feelings about the title of this piece and how it looks before you read it, because white knighting is a big problem for women. Men coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress and championing her often just deepens the problem. It often simply reinforces the idea that the only role women are allowed to play is that of victim and any justice that happens will be credited to some heroic guy. It often gets done in a way that in no way empowers her. It is frequently just some guy coming in, playing hero and getting pats on the back and when he goes off stage, her situation remains just as crappy and disempowered as before.

I am a woman and I personally don't have any problem with giving the guys push back and that gets me perceived as incredibly confrontational and fighty. At one time, my account on HN was rate limited. My feeling on that is that simply standing up for myself as a woman who often gets a lot of pushback merely for being a demographic outlier was being punished. That winds up a no win situation for women. If you don't stand up for yourself, you get walked on. If you do, you can be actively punished for it.

To be fair, the current mod team on HN has been great. I am sure they often find me cringe-worthy, but they have made me feel much more like I can report people who are really engaging in bad behavior towards me that is beyond the pale and much more like I can stand my ground without fear that doing so is highly likely to get me banned, no matter how reasonable I am about it.

Hacker News has generally been great about putting up with my outrageous agenda* to open my mouth here and engage in conversation on equal footing with the guys. I am well aware that is a shocking expectation and is simply Not Done in so many spaces, both online and off. I want to thank everyone here for being so good about that.

* http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-agenda-fo...


> women are more expected to just take it.

Or women, in general, just don't want the bother.

> giving the guys push back

Excellent. Too many women don't, in my experience. In my personal experience, I find women not standing up for themselves in the situation at hand, and then complaining about it for ages after.

> highly likely to get me banned, no matter how reasonable I am about it.

That seems unlikely. If you are getting banned, maybe you're not being reasonable about it?

> If you do, you can be actively punished for it.

This is not a women-only issue. Men get "punished" just as much for unpopular opinions. Just like they get talked over if they let themselves be talked over. etc.


> Excellent. Too many women don't, in my experience. In my personal experience, I find women not standing up for themselves in the situation at hand, and then complaining about it for ages after.

That complaining about it is pushing back. And you whine about it right now.


Did you even understand that sentence? Let me clear it up.

The "not standing up for themselves" is in the actual situation, against the actual person they need to stand up against.

The "complaining afterward" is after the situation has passed, and complaining to a completely different person not involved in the original interaction.

That is the exact opposite of "standing up for yourself", and it is also not "pushing back", because in order for it to be a push "back", it has to be a push against the original force, not against some random other person.

If I got berated by my boss, which I just let happen, and then reacted by, a while later, berating you, a completely uninvolved third party, would you consider that "standing up for myself" and "pushing back"?


They don't stand up for themselves because they are often outnumbered and/or outmuscled and habitually don't believe that we have their back, for various reasons.


You understand the meaning of "for yourself", right?

It exactly means standing up, well, for yourself, and not relying on or waiting for others.


If you stand up and get punished and ostracised/mocked as a result then standing up did you no good. You will learn not to do it.

Stand up thing worked great in this story. I trust you that your relative could suceed in standing up instead of being treated as crazy bad women. A lot of it is residuum from old times when gender roles were different and some of both genders keep going old way.

Her existence does not excuse dudes who attempt to dominate women more them men. I did won those fights in the past, but the older I am the less I care about whether it was intentional or subconscious. It affects me all the same.

That is why stories like this are good to hear about - it is good role model for women lime your relative - to see that she can stop the dude, not to consider his interest and win.

Maybe you could show her the story to make her inspired for that.


> crazy bad women

This stereotype doesn't come from nowhere.

I found a video of this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er7qPv8jsZo

This "push to Hubeny's field of expertise" seems to start at 1:02:00, "let her speak" is at 1:05:35.

The OP's account is overdramatized and sometimes plain wrong, like the suggestion that Holt didn't let Hubeny speak at all for these three minutes (she had two long blocks) or that there was a dead silence after the OP spoke up (there wasn't). And that's a part of the problem: feminism is routinely being represented by individuals whose subjective perception of events seems to diverge from what others see. FWIW.


Exactly. And when that is pointed out, they chalk it up to "oppression", like any other kind of criticism. Nice little self-reinformcent mechanism that easily leads to completely decoupling yourself from reality.


You don't appear to understand the concept of "standing up for yourself".

It fundamentally includes "in the face of adversity". And that means that you do it well knowing that there can and likely will be negative consequences. If you only do it under a guarantee of no repercussions, then you're not standing up...for anything, really.


Everybody knows what it means, but there are people who are too scared to try. Nobody should really have "a guarantee of no repercussions" when throwing accusations around but at the same time there exist people who could use more support to deal with situations when bad things are happening to them.


Nope it does not. Standing for yourself in those situation is about hurting opponent so that he does not try again. That is what men actually do - they are surely as hell less likely to stand up to the boss - such behavior is quite rare. If you succeed, you successfully stood for yourself regardless of whether there were risks or not. It is also a lot about acting aggressive before there was the actual need, to prevent the situation from even happening.

If women have to learn to stand up for themselves as you imply they should, they need to find a way to hurt people who treat them the way they don't like.


Or women, in general, just don't want the bother.

Yeah, that must be why blacks got lynched in the Deep South. They just couldn't be bothered to stand up for themselves when the KKK came for them.

/s


"Nicht alles was hinkt ist auch ein Vergleich"

This comparison is ridiculous beyond the pale. Show me evidence of women getting lynched for speaking up.


No, it isn't ridiculous. It is exaggerated and that is intentional. The intent is to make it clear that when the social environment is sufficiently hostile, it is ridiculous to act like it is the victim's fault for being victimized.

I already said above that I was rate limited. I believe this was essentially because when I first joined, I would get dog piled simply for being a woman opening her mouth here. You ignore that and accuse me of misbehaving as the reason I was concerned that I might wind up banned, no matter how hard I tried to behave. Thankfully, I no longer worry about that like I once did.


Totally, this is her political perception grid overlaying reality. If Jim Holt or whoever thought that her theories were contradictory, then likely he would've talked over whoever was sitting there, regardless of sex. It could have had as much to do with his condescension to what he perceived as an inferior theory as anything.


> theories were contradictory

That's actually a desirable quality. It means that you are not emotionally attached to your theories (you shouldn't be, it's science not religion) and are willing to contradict them. Still, most people would think that a bad thing.


Yes they do Ryan. And it's something we need to stop. In this particular case though the female expert was asked a question related to her own very specialised area of expertise by the male host, AND then the person asking the question (a) answered on her behalf, (b) then talked over her when she tried to answer, and (c) then made fun of her when her response was to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Truly appalling especially when for over an hour the other all male members of the panel had spoken at length without interruption.


what you describe matches my observations too: i see it happen in both directions, with the most pushy example being, in what i see, certain women talking over everyone regardless of gender. it's just a personality trait, perhaps?


My suspicion is that it is based largely upon context.

I would postulate that academia and journalism are still pretty sexist compared to the 'tens of businesses' you observed.

Potentially in support of your perspective: I see the overspeaking roles inverted in the context of reality TV shows, though that could potentially be seen as a counter-action to normal social roles which develops as structure of society is removed... which would imply the sexist paradigm is the prevalent one.


> I would postulate that academia and journalism are still pretty sexist

Two industries I have not had the pleasure of engaging with. My coaching experience has been around healthcare, insurance, banking, transportation, energy, construction, software, audit, and a few other random things.


Reading the comments here I am surprised at all the people who are claiming that people get talked over by other people all the time and it has nothing to do with sex.

I mean, yeah there's no denying that there exist pushy jerks who are jerks to everyone but guess what? those kinds are more likely to be even greater jerks with women. So either this guy was a regular jerk talking over her because she was a woman or being that special kind of jerk who normally talks over some men but talks over most women. Why is there an difference of opinion about this?

Does anyone really think there is a breed of jerks who talk over some/most men but will never do that/will do less of that to a woman?


That precludes the breed of jerks who will talk over anybody that will tolerate it.

What makes you think there aren't women who also like to claim the center of attention, regardless of other men OR women around them?

I don't understand this need to idolize one sex over the other, when the issue is that some people (like this moderator) are just more tone deaf or inconsiderate than others.

Equality between sexes implies treating everyone as a human rather than assuming that this moderator is a stand-in for men in general.


> That precludes the breed of jerks who will talk over anybody that will tolerate it

So are you claiming that those sort of jerks are not going to be extra nasty to women that will tolerate it? That they are going to be equally nasty to people of both sexes? If that's what you're claiming, I'll humbly disagree but won't engage any further.

> What makes you think there aren't women who also like to claim the center of attention, regardless of other men OR women around them?

I never claimed that there aren't such women. Indeed there exist women who behave worse with other women than they do with men. But then what's your point? Women being sexist doesn't make it okay for men to continue to be so now, does it?


I think his point was that this is not an example of sexism because such people will talk over any gender. Now perhaps these types of people will talk over women more, but in this case it seems this guy is just a jerk talking over either gender.


This has been my experience. My wife claims the opposite experience; people (male or female) who are usually rude to men are less prone to be rude to her or other women. Of course, being more of a jerk to men than to women is, apparently, the worst kind of sexism and the very reason women need feminism. Or something.


> So are you claiming that those sort of jerks are not going to be extra nasty to women that will tolerate it?

That is also my observation. We are just vastly more sensitive to aggressive/jerk behavior against women ("protect the women"), and this is highly emotionally charged for most people.

For a rough intro into the phenomenon, check out the youtube videos comparing bystander reactions to the exact same behavior in a woman -> man vs. a man -> woman setting.


If it was a men complaining about the same situation women would be the first to tell him to man up and speak up.


I'm guessing you're male.


thank you for saying this, and be willing to be downvoted by the PC hivemind. I've personally long given up trying to share a non-PC-orthodox view here on this topic


Journalists definitely like to hear themselves talk, even when formulating questions while moderating a discussion. But if he, as a relative layperson in science, felt that comfortable interrupting Dr. Hubeny and riffing off of her area of expertise, imagine what he's like in a topic in which he doesn't think himself a relative amateur.


Today I met a journalist who gave up on his job because it was all about his interpretations of other people. He instead started projects to empower others to speak.


Please provide some links to these projects.


This one is probably the most representative. http://bordr.org/african-traders/


> Imagine what he's like in a topic in which he doesn't think himself a relative amateur.

He may not be aware that he is a relative amateur here.


If he isn't aware that he's an amateur when it comes to string theory, he definitely shouldn't be put in charge of interviewing a string theory expert.


> Journalists definitely like to hear themselves talk, even when formulating questions while moderating a discussion.

slightly off topic, but with the rise of ubiquitous audio/video and the interview/discussion/panel format, it is infuriating how many hosts just blatantly speak over their guests, over and over and over. it's one of the biggest tells between a professional interviewer and a rank amateur. i can barely make it through my weekly playlist without cringing at half the dialogue.

i completely stopped listening to charlie rose because of this. it's absolutely atrocious. it's not helpful, and makes me anxious when i'm trying to unwind. some guests simply continue speaking, and the entire discussion devolves into little more than a god damn shouting match.

sexism or not, i hope this public assassination at least makes one loudmouth blowhard reconsider his default modus operandi. just let your guests speak! for fuck's sake, it's not that hard.


Charlie Rose has been an absolutely abysmal interviewer his whole career, which is a tragedy considering how good they are at booking great guests. He asks long leading questions, proceeds to answer them himself, and then tacks on an “isn’t that right?” at the end. When the guest inevitably says “that’s not how I think of it, Charlie, let me explain ...”, he then interrupts and repeats his original claim again. Ugh, drives me crazy.

He also kisses up like mad to a few people (Tom Friedman? Yuck.) while stomping all over experts he doesn’t agree with, often because he doesn’t understand their point.

My favorite was when at some point maybe 15 years ago he was interviewing I think Bill Joy, and asked one of his long multi-sentence leading questions. To which the response was ... pause ... “well, duh.”

* * *

Thankfully Terry Gross single-handedly makes up for all the bad interviewers in the world.


Can't agree more with this assessment of Rose. I don't understand how he got or keeps his job.

I wish they'd give that position to Alec Baldwin. His work on "Here's the Thing" has proven him to be an adept interlocutor. While he also has a tendency to talk over his guests it's usually to help enlighten or at least to say something funny.


I feel like he was a good interviewer when he was younger. I'm just into my 40s now and I can see how you could get worse with age as you start to assume you already know the answers. It's why I've stopped listening to the "In Our Time" podcast in the past few years: all of a sudden Melvyn Bragg talks to the panel like he's double-parked.


he was tolerable even five years ago!


I haven’t watched much Charlie Rose in the past 5–10 years, because he was so infuriating to watch before that. So I disagree with your assertion. If you go back and watch his older interviewers I suspect you will change your mind.


I get talked over all the time. I usually chalk it up to being an American living in America, but with a more Scandinavian/Minnesotan conversational style.

That is, I will pause while speaking, spooling my next thought out to the phonological loop, to review and filter it, before streaming it out through the voice apparatus, but then some jackass will use that break to assume conversational priority when I haven't yielded it yet. So when I resume speaking, they are already talking.

It is practically impossible for me to engage in a conversation with such a person constantly ruining it for me, so I usually just keep my thoughts to myself and regret even showing up for the party.

Even my spouse does this in a 1-on-1 conversation. And then I am the one accused of interrupting, as though it is acceptable to jump in between two sentences of a paragraph. It's like I need that stupid conch shell from Lord of the Flies in order to say everything that I want to say. And I get so irritated when people spew out a stream of content-free babble, for the sole purpose of maintaining priority, to the point where I forget what I have been wanting to say for the last 5 minutes.

It might be a sexist thing, but I think it's more likely that the people with the least latency between brain and larynx--and therefore the fewest speech filters--are the ones that never learned that conversational priority isn't just about refraining from talking while sound is still coming out of someone else's mouth. And, of course, there are also the people who simply decide they are the most important person in a conversation and act like they're the lead actor giving a monologue, and everyone else is the chorus.

So please, have a care as to whether a silence in the conversation is a pause or a yield. You may be interrupting someone giving due consideration to what they will say next.


This is my experience as well. I am from Scandinavia and now living in Canada and I have only met a handful of individuals who do not interrupt others while speaking. Unlike you I tell them to shut up, which is the way it is where I come from but doesn't translate well.

Furthermore, I have never seen any american interviewer not interrupting their subjects.

This is my bias, so I never see sexism nor racism in this context. I only see idiots who think more of themselves than they should.

In this particular case and in regards to sexism, however, the voice that should be listened to most, in my opinion, is the voice of the subject. If we don't consider her voice the most important voice we put her in the subaltern and that is the worst position you can have. The subaltern being women in the context of patriarchal history.

The person who said 'Let her speak please.', should also be heard, regardless of her motives. The interviewers should shut up and let their subjects speak at all times, so we need more of this social courage.


Why is it weird to have conversations this way?

I would find it very odd to save a string of questions until the end.

It's much more fun to engage in the conversation actively.

I'm not saying control the conversation. Good conversationalists listen more than they speak.

But having fun in a conversation is engaging in it. Not replying paragraph after paragraph, in my opinion.


For me it is disrespectful to interrupt someone speaking, so that is why I find it "weird". But it is most probably a matter of preference. I don't think everyone should have discussions on my terms.

In the context of interviewer<-->interviewee, though, I think it is generally more interesting to listen to the interviewee than the interviewer. It seems to me that the whole premise of the interviewer<-->interviewee is for the interviewer to get the interviewee to talk.


Absolutely. People who don’t understand that an interview isn’t the same as a chat between buddies at the pub make terrible interviewers.

An interviewer’s job is to let the interviewee speak to the audience, even though the audience doesn’t get to directly ask questions.

In general nobody cares what the interviewer thinks, and we don’t want to hear them blab about themselves.

(This makes many “podcasts” unlistenable.)


This is just a cultural difference, and depends on what kind of family a person grew up in. It’s not intentional, and not a sign of disrespect or incompetence.

If you want to get the most out of those conversations, you need to meet the other person halfway: be more assertive about your time to speak, while also letting them know that they’re trampling you and need to back off a bit. If you don’t tell them they’ll just think you’re a shy person with nothing to say.

Other cultural differences cause similar problems. If someone I don’t know is mad at me and just silently stews with a vaguely grumpy neutral expression on their face, I’m not going to have any idea they’re mad, because in my culture we just come out and tell people what we’re thinking. By contrast I know people who are deeply humiliated by (what seems to me like) light criticism, because it is huge faux pas and therefore never happened in their culture. Similarly, I know people who simply don’t understand the concept of teasing, at all, and others who are almost cruelly biting in their teasing: when those two collide it’s not pretty.

Or if I’m listening while someone tells one thing to one person, and something contradictory to someone else, I will consider them to be dishonest/untrustworthy and start discounting everything they say. But in some cultures, it’s normal and expected to say what you think the listener wants to hear, and listeners just have to learn to read between the lines and interpret subtle distinctions in presentation style.

Etc.


When I'm talking to someone, no matter who it is, I find it's more of a dance than a game with rules.

Good conversationalists will match each other's way of speaking and come to some common ground. It usually happens really quickly.

So you'll know when someone is done, or you'll be able to interject ideas into what they're saying.

It isn't rude, in my opinion, to interrupt someone in this way.

"So, I saw the craziest thing the other day when I was driving by the coffee shop..." "The one on main?" "Yes, that one!"

Etc...

It's called a conversation. It'd be really weird to save your questions until the end in a setting like that.

That said, let people speak. Listening is more important than talking.


I realize this sounds silly, but maybe having a conch, or similar talisman of "I'm not done yet, please listen" might be handy.

I find myself interrupting my children a lot more than I like (and while it often feels like it's because they're interrupting me as well, I'm certain that's usually not true). Having a stuffed animal or similar "conch" talisman might help us actually listen, because each of us could point out who has the conch.


I cannot agree more. Thread done. Thank you for expressing yourself with such great metaphor.


As a tiny, girly looking feminine man who crossdresses half the time, I have to say that everybody- male or female- is at risk for being "talked over" and not given a fair chance. That's just how the world works.

You can be upset about it and say that people were unfair, or you can make yourself a better person by learning from others mistakes.

The world would be a better place if people put less energy into being upset, and more energy into mutual empathy between sexes.


As a large, athletic, deeply voiced man I agree with your sentiment.


This is a real problem in the business and tech communities. I have seen few people "at the top" acknowledge it.

Leaders, make an effort to listen and clear the air for others to speak up. Don't beat them up if they don't articulate brilliantly right away -- it takes practice. You'll be surprised at the rate of improvement.

For individuals, I use this trick when people cut me off AND it's unjustified: saying "hang on, let me finish" and then driving my point aggressively. It has mostly worked though I am male.


If you watch the rest of the video you will find the moderator imposes himself and cuts off the panellists and talks over them multiple times, seemingly regardless of gender. This makes me strongly inclined to believe that this incident had nothing to do with sexism, but rather with the annoyingly dominant and imposing personality of the moderator.

Maybe you think otherwise. Why would you say this incident is a "painfully frustrating reminder that women get talked over by men"? Surely you can't construe this incident to mean that when all panellists alike suffered the same treatment? What's your take?


> If you watch the rest of the video you will find the moderator imposes himself and cuts off the panellists and talks over them multiple times, seemingly regardless of gender.

Honest question: Did you watch the rest of the video?

I did and completely disagree with your assessment.


I watched much of the video and he does interrupt other panelists frequently. He also gives a less obtuse lead-in and allows her to speak uninterrupted at around 27 minutes. Following that, other panelists acknowledge the importance of her statements.

Also, the panelist herself wrote that she thought it funny that the guy was asking and answering a question at the same time; she didn't feel she was targeted or silenced during the event.

This guy just likes to dominate conversations and lacks self/social awareness. I bet he's like that all the time. Does he do it more to the woman in the video? Yeah, you might have a good argument that he does. But I've met plenty of these people in management-level meetings and they do it to everybody; it's soooo annoying. Very hard to assert yourself without making things awkward. Impossible to assert yourself when it's a woman who's overriding everyone else.

The solution is usually to appoint a meeting moderator that everyone knows to be fair beforehand (obviously, this isn't always viable), but we found it shortened up our medical practice meetings quite a bit. The guy who likes to hear himself talk still goes overboard from time to time, but we have a third-party moderator who can cut him off without worrying about upsetting a supervisor.


If you both watched it, we could simply count the number of interruptions and see if she was interrupted statistically significantly more.

There's an objective answer and opinions don't really count here.


To be completely fair, it's not so simple. Opinions may differ in what constitutes an interruption, what's the threshold for considering someone tried to speak up and was cut off, about whether the attitude towards women was more forceful than towards men, etc. It's difficult to quantify these things.


"Statistically significantly" is not a magic word. It has no application when you sample the entire population (in this case, the entire video).


Note that behaviours which tend to have disproportionate impact on one gender over another are still sexist, and women often have difficulty interrupting in the way that the men here did.


Nonsense. By your statement, the reason it disproportionately impacts women is not because of some rudimentary, fundamental reason but rather because they fail to react the same way the men did and speak up. That lies 100% on the women.

In fact what YOU wrote is actually sexist, since it suggests that the corrective action would be to act differently toward her, but not the men. Perhaps you might merely argue that he should not behave that way to anyone simply because of the disproportionate impact. But even if that's the case, you are still saying that women are incapable of speaking up for themselves the way the men did to gain their voice back from the moderator. How is either of those scenarios not sexist on your part?


> By your statement, the reason it disproportionately impacts women is not because of some rudimentary, fundamental reason but rather because they fail to react the same way the men did and speak up. That lies 100% on the women.

No, the effects of deliberate, targeted differences in socialization by gender aren't the fault of the people experiencing adverse impacts because of the intersection of those with social structures that respond better to people socialized in the manner which is targeted at the other gender.

> In fact what YOU wrote is actually sexist, since it suggests that the corrective action would be to act differently toward her, but not the men.

It's not sexist to recognize that the consequences of past sexism may require corrective action that is sensitive to the gender-differentiated effects of that past sexism.


>No, the effects of deliberate, targeted differences in socialization by gender aren't the fault of the people experiencing adverse impacts because of the intersection of those with social structures that respond better to people socialized in the manner which is targeted at the other gender.

I've heard this argument before - that women are deliberately socialized to be subordinate.

Personally, I believe in the strength & agency of women.

>It's not sexist to recognize that the consequences of past sexism may require corrective action that is sensitive to the gender-differentiated effects of that past sexism.

I don't understand how using a persons gender for gauging ability to cope with forceful men isn't sexist.


> I've heard this argument before - that women are deliberately socialized to be subordinate.

That's because it's a fairly well established fact.

> Personally, I believe in the strength & agency of women.

Yeah, so do I. That doesn't negate the effects of differential socialization; objective external circumstances have real impacts.


It is possible for both things to be true at once:

* For women to have strength & agency

* For external circumstances & socialization to have impacts on individuals

But what I don't understand is how you can maintain simultaneously that women are strong & have agency, but must receive corrective action sensitive to gender-differentiated effects.

Are the strong women you're thinking of incapable of overcoming societal pressures without gender sensitive treatment?


When I was little and my brother was hitting me, I was always capable of moving away from him so he couldn't hit me. The right thing, though, was for him to stop hitting me.


Sorry that happened to you. What you've said is true - your brother should not have hit you in the first place.

Apples and oranges, though.

Physical violence, threats, and calls to action must not be equated to expression. The urgency & rigor needed to address violence would be inappropriate applied to expression.

As an aside: it's not always possible to take action to defend yourself, but this does not necessarily mean that passive or defensive actions are all that you have.


Thank you. It wasn't severe abuse, it was just annoying sibling bullying. My point, made obliquely, is that the one's agency is independent of how others should behave.

> Are the strong women you're thinking of incapable of overcoming societal pressures without gender sensitive treatment?

Strength and agency are relative, and different in principle and in fact. All women (and men) are theoretically capable of asserting themselves even against an expressive bully (which is what I think you mean when you say " I believe in the strength & agency of women"; in practice many are not for a variety of circumstantial reasons--bad day, bad upbringing, cultural background, misinformation, fear, insecurity.

Whether men (especially conference organizers and panel moderators) should do something differently in light of received knowledge about sexist patterns of socialization, there's no contradiction with believing in the agency of women. Affirmative action might be problematic at the legislative level, but strongly indicated at the social level.

In other words, Jim Holt could be conscious of the fact that sexism against women in science is a real and ongoing problem, and make a point of being deferential to female speakers; at the very least, he could avoid actively preventing them from speaking more than he was preventing the men. The first would be a positive good; the latter a basic expectation. Neither is an infringement on Holt's expression, nor is a social backlash against Holt for failing to meet even the basic expectation of civility.


From a societal perspective, it would be honorable to right a wrong on behalf of the victim. Sure they may lift themselves up out of their own predicament, but it may not be necessary.


So long as our society rights wrongs reactively I see no problem with this.

A society righting wrongs proactively will never run out of wrongs to right.


"I don't understand how using a persons gender for gauging ability to cope with forceful men isn't sexist. "

Yes! That's the entire point I am trying to make. You just said it in far less words.


It may not be the fault of the people experiencing "adverse impacts", but they still make a choice on how to respond to them. The commenter claimed that women find it more difficult to respond in the same way as men. To me, that's sexist because they are saying women are essentially less capable of standing up for themselves. I don't understand how anyone doesn't see it that way.

"It's not sexist to recognize that the consequences of past sexism may require corrective action that is sensitive to the gender-differentiated effects of that past sexism."

True, but if the corrective action is treating women differently, then yeah, that's sexist. You can't say this guy is being sexist because he acted differently toward her and then say that we need to treat women differently than men to correct past sexism, but that different treatment is somehow not sexist.


Nice victim-blaming, bro. Just because some people push back against misbehavior doesn't mean the misbehavior is right to continue wherever it's not checked.


[flagged]


In precisely what way is any of what I wrote not real?


> In fact what YOU wrote is actually sexist, since it suggests that the corrective action would be to act differently toward her, but not the men.

No - the "correct" response is to avoid talking over everyone. Helps everyone, overall helps women (as a group) a little bit more.

> But even if that's the case, you are still saying that women are incapable of speaking up for themselves the way the men did to gain their voice back from the moderator.

Nope, I'm saying that there's a sort of cultural training against interrupting people, and women are more severely affected by that cultural training since it ties in with a lot of "be nice/the good girl" pressure that women get while men are pressured to be more competitive. What I'm specifically not saying is that this is something inherent in being female - it's a cultural issue, not a female one.

Or, in other words - it's easier for men to interrupt people because it's the norm for men to interrupt people and so they have practice at it. It's harder for women to interrupt people because it's not the norm for women to interrupt people and so they have less practice at it. Doing something you don't normally do is hard, even if you have the knowledge on how to, and it's especially hard when you know you're going against the norm to do it.

I'm sure most people go against the norm sometimes - but we should really be creating social environments in which people don't have to go against the norm to get the same result as their peers.


> By your statement, the reason it disproportionately impacts women is not because of some rudimentary, fundamental reason but rather because they fail to react the same way the men did and speak up. That lies 100% on the women.

Saying "women should just act like men" is actually pretty sexist.


Protip: It's not.


Pulled a quick definition of sexism from the web (they all seems more or less the same - "prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex."

And the commenter said - "women often have difficulty interrupting in the way that the men here did"

At minimum, that fits at least the stereotyping requirement of the definition.


"pulled a quick definition from the web" is virtually never a useful way to engage something like this. It's like quoting a statute from the law books and ignoring a long history of case law that defines how that law actually works in practice.


That's a fair enough point.

I'll strengthen my position this way instead. Let's assume the definition is garbage and ignore it. Are stereotyping examples things that fall into the category of sexism? I think they absolutely are. And I think most people would agree.

"Women aren't as good as men at [whatever]" - sexist? Yep "Women often have difficulty interrupting in the way that the men here did" - sexist? Sure sounds like it to me.


You're doubling down on your quick definition by pushing a simpler, even broader definition that's more trivially satisfied. This isn't an issue of categories and word use, it's an issue of history and culture and every incident is tied up in a large amount of context. This is exactly why simplifying terms and definitions fail here. It's not the land of referential transparency.

I can't say whether either of your statements are substantially sexist because they only have real meaning once you get at what underlies each one. "Women aren't as good at men at critical thinking because they're genetically programmed for motherhood while men are programmed for leadership" seems very sexist because it's talking about essential traits of men and women. "Women aren't as good at interrupting as men are because they're socialized to be deferential while men are socialized to dominate" seems not sexist because it's describing an accident of history that could as easily be the other way.


"Men aren't as good as women at multitasking" - sexist?


Seems you've equated failing to successfully interrupt with "failing to react the same way". I think GP was pointing to the reception, not reaction.


This seems to boil down to the same old question of whether we're really asking for equality or equity. Attempting to guarantee equal outcomes is a dangerous path to head down.


Link to video?

EDIT: Found it at the bottom...



Where?


TFA


I read the facebook post and did not see a video link anywhere. I came to the comments to find the video. You could have actually been helpful and linked to the video.

For anyone interested, the link is here.

http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/programs/big-universe-bi...

edit: The moment happens at roughly 1 hour 7 minutes in.


It's at 1:07:41 in the video linked in the parent[1], but start at 1:03:50 to get the full context (short of watching the whole video).

Also, in case someone does a Ctrl+F for "timestamp", there you go.

[1] http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/programs/big-universe-bi...


Watched the related part of the video. I don't know if it was because of sexism, but it was clearly rude and annoying. The excited native, faster and louder speaking moderator taking over a kind, non-native, slower and smaller speaker. Since as a non-native male, I have seen this kind of taking over whatever the gender is and this might happen to any person which has those characteristics.


[flagged]


Well, in this instance, if you watch the video, males were treated differently.

Yes, hypothetically, if women acted the same (or interrupted only males), she would be as bad as he was. Yes, hypothetically, if he treated males and females the same, he would be just equal opportunity asshole.

Nevertheless, in this specific case, the only women was treated differently.


[flagged]


Studies generally say "yes" - this is the way women are generally treated when they talk.


Can you please share such a study?


There are a million billion!

https://hbr.org/2017/04/female-supreme-court-justices-are-in...

All different settings.


studies in US generally say yes

We all know US men are generally terrible...


Do you believe that it is as common? Do you believe that the person you are replying to doesn't believe that it ever happens? Does excluding a full disclaimer invalidate his thoughts about trying not to talk over women or dominating conversations?

I don't believe it is always necessary to counter-exemplify what you experience as a general trend.


My personal experience, especially through family and to a lesser extent through other acquaintances, is of women dominating conversations and talking over men. I (a man) can't tell you how many times I've had a woman ask me a question and then talk over my answer, or repeatedly interrupt me when I try to participate in a conversation. And I see the same thing happening to other men I know. The men just kind of give up and fade into the background as they realize they are simply not going to be allowed to speak.

Now I'm perfectly willing to believe that other people find the opposite experience more common. But I have to admit my initial reaction to statements like "this is a painfully frustrating reminder that women get talked over by men" is not positive, and I really do wish the conversation could be about people dominating conversations rather than men dominating conversations.


And what you are writing here is a nuanced comment about differing experiences. Perfectly reasonable.

I'll grant that I've seen both in casual social circumstances. But in this kind of situation, fairly serious and focused around competence/status, I'd say I see women get less space.


I would ask that you question your own perception: http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/pubman/item/escidoc:68785:7/compon...


This is an interesting study but it has at least one incredulous assumption:

> Extraordinarily, we do not know how listeners actually assess how much is spoken. Common sense tells us that someone who drawls a sentence slowly is not considered to have said more than another person who gabbles the same sentence twice in less time than the first person took to say it once. That is, we normally make allowance for speaking rate in judging who says most; amount of linguistic material produced is what really counts.

They do not analyze this issue at all in their paper and I don't see how they can just handwave it away with "common sense tells us". My common sense understanding is that our assessment of speech vs talking speed would be some kind of curve, with the extreme ends ending up with underestimation(spoke too fast, could not remember all the words said; spoke too slow, lost track of conversation) and the rest trending as slower -> overestimated and faster -> underestimated. But we both only have our "common sense" to put forward for this conjecture. Either way, it would have helped if they measured the talking speed of the speakers, so we could at least see if there was any statistical difference.


The relevance of that study is a massive stretch.


>people dominating conversations rather than men dominating conversations

You're probably going to get "all lives matter"-alike reaction on this.


Eisler brings up that frame in "The Chalice and the Blade" -- it was often assumed in historical scholarship that non-patriarchial societies were matriarchial. Instead, she reframes it as "dominator" vs. "cooperator" societies. In other words, wrestling over which gender has dominance is not as helpful as shifting over towards cooperation in general.


watch the recode lady interview any one of her favourite nerds.


This is pretty much a textbook troll comment right here.


> This is a painfully frustrating reminder that women get talked over by men

men get talked over as well

some people just talk over other people

nothing new


I can't find the study, but men interrupt women much more than they interrupt men. Also, women interrupt other women more than they interrupt men as well.


http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/07/23/study_m...

Men are 3x as likely to interrupt women. Women will interrupt women, but rarely men.

Informal study, but decent sample size.


I don't think this informal study presents as strong of an argument as you may think it does. As the author themselves admitted, seniority was strongly correlated with rate of interruption, but they didn't control for that in their overall gender comparison. The top three out of four interrupters were women. As it turns out, that particular set of people had a lower number of women in positions of seniority. Is that not a plausible explanation, or at least a confounding factor that you would like to eliminate, before you declare that men interrupt x3 as much?


Do you have another, more rigorous study?


"Informal study"? Isn't that an oxymoron?


It's funny that you linked to that as I was about to dig up a more recent episode, http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2017/0.... Which is in no way to diminish the fact men talk over women but to point out the idea of different conversational styles and how they can each frustrate the other.


If men are 3x as likely to interrupt women, is it sexism or simply a biological tendency? And if it is a biological tendency, is it not sexist to shame men for their more assertive tendencies?


Does it matter?

I'd put the emphasis on the outcome: women being able to express their opinions and contribute to the conversation / problem. Being interrupted (while speaking less in the first place) seems counterproductive to that end.


So its an argument between equal opportunity and equal outcome. It sounds like people want to shame men so as to gain an equal outcome.

Is there a better solution? I'm being serious.

(At the very least, we don't need to accuse men of being sexist if is proven to be a biological tendency—we should call a spade a spade)


How is sexism that's biologically based not sexism? Just like biologically based racism (not my race) still being racist?

The equal outcome is men and women both being given equal and fair opportunities to express their viewpoints.

If this isn't the case because {reason}, then to me that's justification enough to attempt to redress the issue through modified behavior.


If men are 3x as likely to engage in violent behaviour, is it sexism or simply a biological tendency? And if it is a biological tendency, is it not sexist to shame men for their more assertive tendencies?

/sarcasm


Interrupting somebody else isn't physically hurting anybody. This is a real argument that affects lots of people. Don't dilute it with your sarcastic strawmans.


I was countering one strawman argument with another. Please realize that the bar to meet here isn't violence, it's professional and courtesy.


When did I advocate violence? I was trying to take a step back by suggesting that there may be no sexism involved here. Its a valid point.


You didn't. I don't think you did. It was just a reverse moving goalposts argument to suggest that both propositions were wrong.

But "if men are 3x as likely to interrupt women" is literally an example of sexism... the likelihood of interrupting a woman over interrupting a man.

Sexism IS a biological tendency. There is no rational basis for it when scientists are contributing to something as esoteric as string theory. This story overwhelmingly demonstrates how absurd sexism can get.

In any case it is perfectly acceptable to shame someone when they are being rude and excluding someone one from contributing. Especially when that someone is an expert.

The reason why I think she did not take any affront is because she already understands the subject matter. She's motivated not only in understanding herself, but in determining and helping others to comprehend. She can't actually engage in a proper discussion until she realizes that her counterpart also understands the material. When things get complicated, you have to continually establish a common basis for discussion which requires fostering patience.


> Sexism IS a biological tendency

not at all

sexism is behaviour

sexism is believing that women cannot do something because women are inferior by design, not thinking that they are generally weaker (biologically true) and it's probably best if it's the man who carries the heavier luggage


> "if men are 3x as likely to interrupt women" is literally an example of sexism.

no. because men don't interrupt women 3x as likely but it's sexism to assume they do just because you believe it's true


You gotta find the meta study that aggregates the verification studies (and discounts the first due to publication bias.)


There was a study of the video already?


There were four men on the stage who weren't talked over.


Maybe you would care to watch the video more closely. You will find the moderator has the same attitude with every member of the panel.


[flagged]


You've been posting unsubstantive "so what?" dismissals, which is trollish when it comes to a divisive topic. Worse, you've crossed into personal attack. That's a bannable offense on HN, so please don't do it again.


I'm just saying you are not a man because you are clearly pushing an agenda when you don't want to accept all the evidence that disprove your belief that men are worse than women in conversations

so you're just like my dog, you don't listen, bark and don't care if you're right or not

you just wanna bark for the sake of barking

and threats of ban are laughable

if they ban me, I can create another account

it's not really important what HN commenters thinks of me or what I write


[flagged]


kinda looks like you never talked in public with other people…


Ugh, I watched the video, jesus the host might be the least self-aware person who's ever been asked to host anything. I was unreasonably annoyed listening to him.

Anyway I want to share something, made this throwaway account specifically for this. I'm the only female at my company, and a developer to boot. I'm assertive in general, I make sure I'm heard. In fact, I try to be hyper-aware of how much I'm talking in a meeting setting, just to be respectful of others. I also feel that I am virtually unaware of my gender at work. I've been lucky in that respect -- trust me, sexism in the world and sexism in STEM is real, and it's not always easy being a female -- but I'm in agreeance with the author that intent matters, and generally that assumed sexist intent can get a bit dramatic. Whether my personality affects my perception, I can't say.

I work with a lot of very introverted and quiet males -- and a small handful of overpowering, extraverted males. I've found myself doing this exact thing quite often. Weekly even. "Let's let him finish his point", "I'm interested in hearing more from {quiet_guy}", "{quiet_guy}, is {contribution_of_loud_guy} what you meant by that?", et cetera.

I would like to believe that if the panel person was a male, it would have elicited the same building irritation from the audience. Although, I'm less sure that someone would have spoken up. I think someone would have needed to feel personally antagonized in order to speak up, which is exactly what happened here.

Bit of a ramble, sorry. My bottom line is that we should all be looking out for those who speak up less, if we sense that those people are being out-talked. My feeling is that people in that category might be more female than not... but I'm also saying that it doesn't matter either way.


I think your point about there being people who are out-talked is spot on. It seems to me that both quieter women and quieter men both get talked over by domineering men or women, but that due to men generally being more likely to be domineering, the whole situation skews by gender. I think it's one of those situations that seems sexist on the surface, but when you look into it it's more of a social dynamic that correlates with gender.


Thank you. As the "loud guy" around the office I have to keep this habit in check myself. I'd hate to think that, if I was drowning out the women, that people thought it was because I was personally discounting them as women.

Obviously sexism of outcome can be just as important to combat as sexism of intent, so of course I have to break the habit talking over people with my loud and opinionated speech.


Thank you. People get distracted by the difference between "intentional discrimination" and "disparate impact".

You are showing good leadership to your mild-mannered coworkers and also the ones who are better ad speaking than listening, both the women and the men.


> I would like to believe that if the panel person was a male, it would have elicited the same building irritation from the audience. Although, I'm less sure that someone would have spoken up.

This makes me think of a complain I saw years ago from a woman about how she was treated on a mailing list. Apparently someone got aggressive with her and one of the things she complained about is that no one stepped in to defend her.

My response to that was along the lines of "they probably expected you to defend yourself".

Your comment reminded me of that, and even then I thought the same thing. Many women are used to getting defended, but men generally aren't and have learned to defend themselves.

So I think you're right that it would've been less likely for someone to defend the panelist if said panelist had been male and for much the same reason. You would expect the male to defend themselves.


I'm grateful for your perspective and your values.


> You may be amazed to hear it, but during this panel session I genuinely did not feel affronted or discriminated by the moderator’s behavior. It seemed more amusing to see him try posing a question in a way that at the same time tried answering it. It’s true that this made the question a bit of a moving target for me (and therefore harder to address coherently), but I don’t a-priori assume that the incident was rooted in sexism. Maybe I’m too naive, but I simply gave him the benefit of doubt that he was so excited by the newly-learned idea of the duality that he couldn’t resist, and that the same might have occurred had the panelist been a male instead of me. So it didn’t bother me.

...

> Please understand that I’m not trying to say that sexism in science is a myth. It is real and we should all aspire to diminish it. But I am trying to say that it need not pose as much of an impediment as you might fear and that you might be in more control over its influence yourself than you might think. Just as you put up with long lines to see a great show, or with sore feet or mosquitos to have a great hike etc., the annoyance of otherwise abominable behavior diminishes in the larger perspective of doing something you really enjoy.

https://web.facebook.com/marilee.talkington/posts/1015505138...


Indeed, a level-headed comment is what is required in this situation. This is her livelihood, her career.. Pretty much everything for her.

If she was to attack her colleagues, it would spell certain doom for her career. Her opinions and proofs would be dismissed and denigrated. And the specter of "Will I be accused of sexism if I pan this paper?" will rear its ugly head anywhere she would turn.

Think of this as an analogy to badmouthing your previous employer in an interview. You just don't do it. Except, now exchange interview for world-wide public debate/discussion. Nobody in the world, in that field, would consider her.


Aren't you doing the same thing the moderator did?

You're dismissing her comments out-of-hand as not entirely honest and assuming you know her true feelings.

Maybe now that she's been given the opportunity to speak, we should listen to and consider her thoughts.


kefka's comment appears* to be carefully worded to comment only on the situation she finds herself in, and does not make any assertions about her state of mind.

*does HN indicate when a comment has been edited?


I did have 1 edit, around 5 minutes in.

s/world-wise/world-wide/

_________________________

And that's correct. I put no state-of-mind or otherwise speak for her. I'm acknowledging the complexity of highlighting a potential problem amongst your peers in a very public manner. Especially in Academia, where your peers approve, collaborate, and act as a peer, attacking them publicly could have disastrous consequences.

It is "safer", and provides face to be accepting of such actions, be they intentional or unintentional.

(Yes, I work in Academia. This sort of thing happens pretty regularly, from what Ive seen. What's that saying... The nail that sticks out gets the hammer?)


While I agree, it's also plausible that she's being sincere, and it's merely a consequence of being awesome that people treat you well.


> Except, now exchange interview for world-wide public debate/discussion.

There's an important difference caused by this: what you must avoid doing is badmouthing old employers to new employers. It's about what you, and you alone, say to the employer. The new employer isn't sitting around listening for what other people have to say; they're only interested in what you have to say. So your only options are "tell them yourself" or "don't tell them and they'll never know."

But in the public sphere, there's a third option: ask a well-respected-in-the-same-sphere friend or colleague to carry the torch for you, making a big deal of what happened to you while you yourself remain silent. Other people in the public sphere are "listening" to claims made by any-and-all prominent members of the sphere, and so will hear what some random member says on your behalf. Which makes that pretty much the best option 100% of the time; you get the gains from speaking up, with none of the risks.

As a side-note: consider the fact that you can pay people to speak up for you in this way. Consider the implication that "the protection of your social position through third-party calling-out" is a good that can be purchased by the wealthy, and which is less available to the poor. And consider what this implies, in an anthropic-argument sense, for those who rise to the top of social hierarchies.


I think it was really valuable to surface the feelings of the person who was the target of this discussion. It changes the perspective of the incident.


When you look at the full response though.. She is supportive of the woman in the audience who spoke up.

Veronika Hubeny: I applaud your heroism in standing up for what you believe in! I know well the shaky feeling and subsequent exhilarated and heartwarmed contentment in the knowledge of having done the right thing, and I think that doing so has become more crucial than ever. Your behavior was inspiring and I’m glad that many of those inspired shared their gratitude with you.

I guess that, being the subject of the incident, it might be worthwhile to offer my perspective, which to my surprise is rather more atypical than I had hitherto realized, but which I hope might perhaps provide some encouragement to all those who feel put off by the present situation — especially to those who feel drawn to science yet dissuaded from following their hearts’ calling. (For posterity I also feel compelled to correct a point about the physics — as a physicist I can’t help myself wink emoticon;-) — but since I realize that that was entirely beside the point of the post, I’ll only do so at the very end…)

You may be amazed to hear it, but during this panel session I genuinely did not feel affronted or discriminated by the moderator’s behavior. It seemed more amusing to see him try posing a question in a way that at the same time tried answering it. It’s true that this made the question a bit of a moving target for me (and therefore harder to address coherently), but I don’t a-priori assume that the incident was rooted in sexism. Maybe I’m too naive, but I simply gave him the benefit of doubt that he was so excited by the newly-learned idea of the duality that he couldn’t resist, and that the same might have occurred had the panelist been a male instead of me. So it didn’t bother me.

In fact, even though in my entire academic career I was in an environment where women were in striking minority (and as a student often the only woman in the class), I never felt discriminated against or thwarted in my calling. The feeling was rather one of camaraderie: the challenges to unravel the deepest mysteries of the universe, the thrill in understanding another tiny bit of this grand puzzle, and the sheer wonder at how beautifully the physics hangs together, put us all in the same boat, so to speak. In retrospect I think I was fortunate in being amongst like-minded physicists who were not only great but gracious and earnest in their love of science. But when I eventually did start coming across others who were not of the same caliber, they somehow seemed insignificant.

I had early on decided that I like physics so much that I’d be quite willing to give up quite a bit of other comforts for it, but perhaps having made that decision and bracing oneself, then made the actual “discomforts” not only more bearable, but genuinely less discomforting. I think the subjective severity of a lot of these issues can be greatly influenced by one’s mindset, one’s psychology. If you allow yourself to enjoy the beautiful things that really matter, if you don’t let social or peer pressure dissuade you from pursuing a field which appeals to you, then no pettiness or childishness or boorishness that you encounter can harm you so much.

Please understand that I’m not trying to say that sexism in science is a myth. It is real and we should all aspire to diminish it. But I am trying to say that it need not pose as much of an impediment as you might fear and that you might be in more control over its influence yourself than you might think. Just as you put up with long lines to see a great show, or with sore feet or mosquitos to have a great hike etc., the annoyance of otherwise abominable behavior diminishes in the larger perspective of doing something you really enjoy.

OK, so now to the physics (sorry): First, what you refer to as the “two theories of string theory that seem to contradict one another” are actually two ‘dual’ descriptions of the same physics, which while curiously different in rather amazing ways, are completely consistent with each other (one using the language of string theory, the other of a field theory). Second, I cannot take credit for inventing this holographic (so-called AdS/CFT) correspondence — I have worked on understanding how it works at a deeper level, but the AdS/CFT was originated by Juan Maldacena in 1997.

Once again, let me stress my appreciation, Marilee, of how you bravely stood up for your principles and values! Well done!


I think it's worth considering that we're seeing some survivorship bias here - it's possible that she's the only woman on the panel because she thinks this way. In other words, it's possible that other women who would have seen this event as being rooted in sexism may eventually be a part of so many similar events during their career that they effectively burn out and switch to more female friendly fields.

This has been my experience working alongside women in software engineering - the ones who pay attention to how they might be treated differently leave.

It's also one of the hardest things about being black in tech - you must ignore many possible slights and assume that nobody is purposefully racist. You must construct alternative narratives to explain things that you see day in and day out, otherwise it's easy to get swallowed by doubt and lose your ability to contribute effectively. I call it assuming positive intent. It's how you survive.


If you wear sexism-colored glasses, don't be surprised if everything looks like sexism. That, I think, is what she's getting at. If you're always looking for a slight, always looking for a snide remark, you'll find it. Perception shapes reality.


"If you wear sexism-colored glasses, don't be surprised if everything looks like sexism."

and if you wear glasses that block out sexism, don't be surprised if nothing looks like sexism.


It's magical sexism. Everyone agrees in the abstract that sexism must exist, but there are no actual incidents that can be positively attributed to sexism.


Sexism is like racism. It's a pattern of behavior. It is difficult to determine that a single act is motivated by sexism unless the actor uses terminology that deliberately casts it in that light.


That's the way this stuff works, and why it's so hard to fight. Racism, sexism, homophobia, the list goes on. The reason is that bigotry isn't conscious, it's subconscious.


"No actual incidents"

Have you been living under a rock? There are more than enough examples.

Here's just a few examples documenting the sexism in science:

http://www.nature.com/news/gender-imbalance-in-science-journ... https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2...


Whoosh


So, how should I deal with it?

The only way I see is to have an objective definition, which can be objectively applied no matter which glasses I wear. What would that definition of sexism be?


No, this is silly. All language and behaviour has context. This idea that you can eliminate the shades of grey to find some absolute definition is largely what makes me uncomfortable with the more extreme proponents of this stuff. Such as those who believe particular words in isolation are always bad regardless of context.

It would be much healthier culturally if we take into full consideration the meaning and intent of the accused, as well as the feelings of the apparent victim. Which I feel like the OP's comment highlights.

For ex, the moderator could have been oblivious to the fact she hadn't spoken much, as the only woman there, and when he asked the question he may indeed have been so excited that he spoke for her. The kind of people who get moderator jobs at big events like this are the extrovert types. The ones who talk before listening... so I don't think that is entirely unrealistic here.

An extrovert too busy looking for a chance to talk himself, instead of being sensitive to the amount others have spoken? This just as likely as him believing he could do a better job at explaining the subject, merely because she was a woman.

So if we look at the objective facts: that a lone woman on a panel wasn't allowed to speak, even when her expert subject was brought up, would seem like the moderator was sexist. But digging into the context it's possible there was far more to it and this is often lost in the shades of grey when you only view it from a single perspective.


To know the truth we would need to look at how the other panel members were treated. If the moderator spoke for them as well, or tried to but was forcefully overridden, then sexism probably doesn't come into play. But if she was the only one, well... I wish I had time to view the proceedings for myself.


Fwiw, the linked post says the moderator comments on Veronika Hubeny's lack of speaking time, so he wasn't unaware. This presumably is what prompted shifting the discussion to her field. I'm not suggesting this provides any demonstrable proof the moderator was being sexist—Veronika's comments indicate her own take on the moderator's potential motivations.

Nonetheless, I do agree there are pitfalls and dangers in attempting to always distill nuance and shades of gray into stark, problematized blacks and whites. Sexism, like racism, definitely exists—it is woven into the cultural fabric and narratives that compose American society and consciousness. However, we are long past the overt institutionalization of these isms, which leaves recognizing it a regrettable slog through subtler shades of gray that leave opportunities for vehement disagreement. Sometimes I think everyone would be happier if they lived several decades ago, when these isms were black and white, and found themselves standing in solidarity on their own bridges of Selma.


Objectively, we know that many in the audience were also horrified by what they were seeing - because they verbally stated this afterwards. The moderator clearly had no explicit "intent" and the subject has also stated that she didn't detect this as "sexism". But had noone in the audience spoken out, a large portion of the audience would have come away feeling they had experienced a reminder that women are subject to routine gender-based mistreatment - even if neither person on stage saw it that way.


It's not possible to use an objective definition unless you can read minds. Use your best judgement, and keep in mind history and context. Actions don't exist in a vacuum.


Human interaction can't be reduced that way. You can't make objective rules for things that are inherently subjective. It's why we have judges to preside over court cases, rather than just follow a flow chart, for example.


The dichotomy of objective/subjective is a weak rubric for complex situations involving multiple observers and actors all of whom have asymmetric experiences. Sexism is an intersubjective phenomenon which means that it can only be analyzed effectively by taking into account many viewpoints and reconciling them.

As an example in physics of a situation where multiple observers have to be reconciled, imagine a spaceship zipping along at some fraction of c, observed by two observers, both of whom are moving some fraction of c relative to each other. Their observations of the length of the spaceship don't match up naively, but special relativity tells us how to reconcile their measurements: This allows us to consider their measurements as describing the same underlying phenomenon.

In this situation, one of the observers, A, can infer what B sees because B's measurements should only depend on properties of B that A can observe. So A can construct B's measurements by observing B, without B having to do anything. This is a very easy epistemological situation to deal with.

In a complex social situation, A can't take independent measurements and get the big picture. B needs to tell A about how they perceive the situation. Furthermore, B can't reasonably tell A everything all at once: Imagine if we had to spill all of our guts every time we wanted to reach a common understanding. Nothing would get done! So, reaching common social understanding needs to be a process, a dialogue between people.

Understanding phenomena like sexism involves communicating and interacting with each other in order to understand how we communicate and interact with each other. It's a much more complicated epistemological situation than observing an external object, like a spaceship. That's why I think you won't be able to get a satisfactory definition that you would consider objective, especially one that fits in a hacker news comment.


Sounds like you're (inadvertantly?) making the argument that sexism is purely subjective.


to a non-victim, perhaps.


In the same sense there either is a victim, or not a victim; then it either is subjective, or isn't.

There isn't "subjective for some" - there is just differing, and mutually exclusive opinion - a situation in which one party must be wrong.


"subjective for some" takes place when one particular party fails to look at a situation objectively. They are relying on subjective opinion and they are wrong.


In which case it's sarcastic, not literal.

Why not state directly what you believe to be the case?

Just say "that isn't the case, and you only believe otherwise because you are not a victim", them defend that claim.


Sarcasm is an effective and appropriate communication tool used throughout the history of literature and language. I was not aware that Hacker News prohibits sarcasm and i would argue those of us who rely on sarcasm to communicate in many scenarios are being unduly silenced.


Strawman. It's your opinion that sarcasm has been "effective and appropriate" in communication. In domains of importance, like law, is is notably absent.

> I was not aware..

Not the case, just more sarcasm from you. Those who argue unproductively are silenced in some ways, btw, in the form of mod restrictions and bans. Most of us are able to communicate more effectively and agreeably without sarcasm, and care to do so - why waste peoples time otherwise?


Per the guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, there is no such rule that "sarcasm is not allowed" on Hacker News. And yes, if someone suggests that sexism is essentially in someones mind in a real life conversation, sarcasm would certainly be appropriate in response to a statement so thoughtless.

> In domains of importance, like law, is is notably absent.

That's not particularly relevant...

> Most of us are able to communicate more effectively and agreeably without sarcasm

The poster who I was responding to was certainly not being agreeable by smugly suggesting that sexism is a "purely subjective" phenomenon. Victims would not find it "agreeable" to have to defend against absurity such as this.

> Those who argue unproductively are silenced in some ways,

In this case, if any mod looked at this thread, the first thing they'd see is: "zzzeek made a comment that people felt was inflammatory, it got -4 downmod". And the conclusion any reasonable mod would draw from that is, "the system worked! the end." If it ended there, I'd be fine with that as well - I posted something too strong for folks, it got downmodded, oh well. I have about 4000 karma to spend so this is certainly anomalous behavior for this poster, no further action to take.

However, for some reason you have the need to jump on top of this comment and continue to lecture and "correct" me on something, and quite frankly it's a bit disturbing. I don't actually need your guidance on why my comment got -4 points. If there is something about my comment that is so disturbing that it warrants prolonged argument and discussion, maybe it shouldn't have been downvoted, but as it was, continuing to browbeat on the poster is definitely a much greater productivity drain than a simple one line, inflammatory comment (in response to another that not everyone thought was so inflammatory) that was downvoted within seconds.


> there is no such rule that "sarcasm is not allowed" on Hacker News

Has anyone claimed this? You are beating a strawman.

> if someone suggests that sexism is essentially in someones mind in a real life conversation, sarcasm would certainly be appropriate in response to a statement so thoughtless.

I disagree, it's your opinion that a comment is without merit, and you are constructively responding to it rather than engaging - this is not mere "sarcasm", it's sarcasm employed as a punishment for comments you dislike.

HN does discourage these kinds responses, whether implemented using sarcasm or otherwise, for being argumentative and unconstructive:

> if someone suggests that sexism is essentially in someones mind

If this is obviously incorrect, it should be easy to state why, rather than resorting to insults. The rules state "Be civil", there is no stated exception "unless you are replying to a post that is itself civil, or otherwise offends you". The rule "reply to the argument instead of calling names" is in the same spirit.

> continue to lecture and "correct" me on something

Your original post was not civil, something that is in the guidelines (and of which sarcasm is a form).

Why do I continue to "lecture" you? Because this reply continues to be uncivil, down-votes or no - plus you are apparently unrepentant (or at least unapologetic), and your thoughts on the matter imply you will continue to do so.

> I don't actually need your guidance on why my comment got -4 points

I don't know how many point it did, or will, have; nor take it into account. I don't believe it was grayed at the time I responded.

> That's not particularly relevant...

full context:

>> Sarcasm is an effective and appropriate communication tool

> In domains of importance, like law, is is notably absent

meaning, it means on what you are trying to achieve - if you are trying to effectively and unambiguously communicate, it is not effective.


> > there is no such rule that "sarcasm is not allowed" on Hacker News

> Has anyone claimed this? You are beating a strawman.

you did:

> Your original post was not civil, something that is in the guidelines (and of which sarcasm is a form).

> Why do I continue to "lecture" you? Because this reply continues to be uncivil, down-votes or no - plus you are apparently unrepentant (or at least unapologetic), and your thoughts on the matter imply you will continue to do so.

so you are trying to harass me into "repentance"? is this something you think is appropriate on hacker news ?


The "glasses" in this case is the mind looking for threats. The mind can filter (find) threats of a certain type, but can it exclude them in the same way?

There is a framing issue here, and mental "highlighting" seems to be an entirely different kind of bias (wrt the actual mental mechanism) than "ignorance".


What you're talking about is a common mental pattern of attributing bad intent where there is none. Sometimes called "siege mentality". It's a definite problem, and many communication manuals talk about practicing adopting perspectives that avoid it.

You're right about how one's desire to see something a specific way has a huge influence on what they actually think. However, that tends to be counter-productive both ways.

You might choose to ignore the problems because you have to succeed despite them. That's generally how immigrant Chinese people look at the bigotry directed towards them. As a side effect, the Chinese community has issues talking about what that bigotry actually is.

Alternately, you might choose to try to root out the subtle effects that make up the bulk of bigotry, like the feminist movement. So there's a lot of academic language around defining the nature of misogyny, but you get accused of seeing bigotry where there is none because it's heavily contextual.

We want to latch on to egregious moments as catalysts of change, but the real problem is the low level background noise where you have situation after situation where it's unclear how to interpret a specific event. Case in point, I've seen female friends dealing with situations where their mentor probably just hit on them, but it's deniable enough that you can't necessarily call it out. Depending on which glasses you're wearing, you can choose to see it however you want, but the problem is that every female colleague or friend I've talked to can recall instances of ambiguous unwelcome advances mixed into their professional interactions. There's a problem, and it's not just a matter of which glasses they're wearing.


If a sexist makes a comment in the woods and no one hears him (or her), does it matter? I would say no.


The naive people with sexism-blocking glasses are less likely to burn out and leave the field. Solve for equilibrium.

It doesn't matter if people perceive extra sexism or block much of the sexism. It matters which strategy leads to less sexism in objective reality, not in perception.


That's not remotely close to what she said. In fact, she says that there is sexism in science and thanks her for speaking up. She says that her love of science prevents her from getting caught up in concern over the sexism, but she never says that it isn't real or an important issue, just that it has not stopped her from pursuing her passion.


The problem is, it exists. I've seen it plenty of times. It's particularly bad for women in male dominated fields. They have to be aware of it and on the look out for it so they can deal with it. If you continually assume the good in people, when sexism is a common occurrence, you get fucked over. Repeatedly.

There's a female engineer on my team. She started at roughly the same time as a male engineer. Similar levels of experience in the past. Both are quite good. But she's better, especially in several specialties. They sit near each other - and you have to walk past her to get to him. I see people day in and day out walk right past her to ask him about the things that she is a subject matter expert on, that he is not. People that don't have a real background with either of them, where it is widely know that she specializes in this specific thing. It's constant. I'm the most tenured engineer on the team, so people come to me frequently for things - I know it's because of my tenure. But she knows more than I do in these areas, so I refer people to her on the more in depth things. And a good portion of them then walk right past her, and instead ask the male engineer. She also constantly gets dinged by people for giving short and to the point answers - something that he and I do not have a problem with, despite having the same general style of answering questions.

Should she chalk this up to something else? Assume that all of these repeat occurrences are due to some other root cause? Her technical chops are not in question by anyone that actually works with the tech involved - she's undisputedly talented there and has been vital in cracking several major problems. Yet this keeps happening.

Should she ignore it? Should the rest of the team? Or should it be acknowledged and talked about, so people that are (almost certainly) doing this unconsciously can reflect on it and try to modify their behavior to be less biased?

And this is just one of many examples I've witnessed over the past decade+. Sexism colored glasses for women are a basic necessity if you have any interest in trying to get what you deserve.


Tathagata Buddha, the Father Buddha, said, "With our thoughts, we make the world."


And Ronald Regan, the Great Gipper, once thought "I'm shot", and it was so. But it was just as true for JFK, who made no such observation.


Everything will look like sexism, including real sexism.

This is like basic thinking skills 101 here.

Let's simplify.

Let's say you perceive two rocks, one real and one fake.

Just because the fake rock is not real, does not mean the real rock is not real.

You're right, perception shapes reality. But apart from perception shaping reality, there is also an underlying reality beyond perception. A real rock is real.

In the story from TFA, I don't know if the sexism was real or perceived.


The thing is, a lot of sexists may be doing it for the reaction from the target - with no reaction, the sexist doesn't get that 'thrill' that they would otherwise get. If the reward is consistently denied, the behaviour may (may) go away.


Sounds like you are talking about trolls. I agree those exist but I think it's safe to assume they are a small subset of sexists.


That is almost certainly not what she was getting at.


That's what I'm getting out of this. Maybe I was the only one, but my first thought was "physicists still seem pretty damn biased against string theory proponents". I know the theory has sparked a lot of controversy and skepticism in the past. Only later on did it dawn on me that the author was assuming sexism instead of string theory-ism.


100% agree.


The causation might also run the other way. She might have survived in the field and built up this attitude because she was fortunate early on in her career to have worked with some really good people who were just focused on the science, as opposed to being into trivial stuff like workplace power games. So there might have been some luck involved. She did say that early on she worked with great people.

If that's the cause of her attitude, the point about survivorship bias is still valid... but the reasons for survival are different. The luck of having a good work environment (unusual, some would say) caused the good experience and allowed her to stay in the field with a good attitude.

Edit: I'm not claiming it was definitely the way I say in this particular case, versus the way you said. I'm just saying both possibilities should be considered. Also we should acknowledge that sexism does exist, apart from perceptions of sexism, which admittedly can sometimes be wrong.


Or maybe she's just so classy that she can see taking the high ground offers stronger rebuke instead of objecting to the slight. Hubeny was not allowed to speak as uninterruptedly as the other panelists.

I'm not really too thrilled at Talkington's outburst - it kind of makes the offense about her, not Hubeny, who if she wanted to could have asked Holt to shut up - but the sentiment was warranted if you watch more of the video for context.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er7qPv8jsZo&t=3713s


Hubeny doesn't seem like a person who would tell someone to shut up though, and sexism or not, it's basic politeness to give shy people a bit more room. Certainly after announcing that you now finally want to hear their perspective :/ I doubt that moderator can watch that part and say "yeah, that's good moderation".

Just reading the FB post, I was taken aback a little, to be perfectly honest I rolled my eyes at "why is this sexism still happening" because from the description it didn't strike me as necessarily sexist. But now after having seen what a friendly and generous person Hubeny is, and even more importantly what interesting things she had to say, I'm kind of proud that it made Talkington angry and finally speak up. Hubeny may not need "white knighting", but the impetus comes from a good place IMHO.

What of it if it makes the offense about Taffington? I also get mad when someone else mistreats another person in my eyes; if the victim in my eyes isn't a victim in their own comes secondary. That is probably arrogant, or even ironic because it can be disrespectful, but I feel it's usually easier to clear the air after overreacting or misreading a situation, than to muster the courage to stand up for someone after you already got used to not doing it. You have to do it when you see it, maybe after double checking, but you can't linger too long. Certainly not in a situation like that, where mustering the courage takes a lot either way. Hubeny is fine, but for Taffington this was and maybe is nerve wrecking. So kudos where kudos are due :)

Thanks for the context! That post was really missing video.


I didn't mean for her to tell Holt to literally "shut up", but that Hubeny handled it as she want to - which I conclude based on my confidence in her ability and stature to do so and from her follow-up comment - and she was in fact "White Knighted" as what's meant by the term to have jumped in, even if Talkington was female.

Maybe I was raised in a different generation, but disrupting a staged event from the audience unless it's done to prevent clear and present danger is considered rude, and two rude behaviors (Holt's being the first) do not make etiquette, even if comes from a place of warranted indignation. That's what post-commentary media is for. It's not a workable system to praise everyone who gives into their angry instincts in the moment without regard to decorum. That's called childishness.

I'm sure someone will read that as an apology for Holt. Far from it. It's about finding a time and a place to voice one's objections, not losing control and exploiting the attention of a quiet crowd, and then self-styling one's self as a crusader who "created an opening" because one gets a few pats on the back for it, and far from showing any remorse about her timing, saying "please let me not be afraid to do this again ...and again ...and again Because it was scary." Do we really want a one-woman Westboro Baptist Church of anti-sexism disrupting every event that she has decided is "scary"?


I absolutely disagree. This emphasis on "not being rude, even to stop others from being rude" is how we get this casual sexism. Waiting for post-commentary media would mean that Hubeny wouldn't get the chance to speak.

Childishness in this instance is deciding that politeness trumps doing the right thing.


The topic of politeness (civility) and its role in power dynamics has been discussed extensively in the context of race and gender issues.

Politeness tends to reinforce existing subconscious norms, which in practice often includes women not "getting a seat at the table" despite being at the table. If you're a disadvantaged demographic in that setting, politeness is your ally only to the extent that the majority will enforce things for you. But the problem is that if you're a woman/minority, there's a class of issues where social enforcement happens far too infrequently. You can't trust the system to actually look out for you.

As the demographic who has to play from behind, politeness as a mechanism is insufficient to look after your own interests.

Hubeny is a part of a fortunate group of people who follow a certain pattern: some degree of "brick walls be damned" determination, some degree of willful self-exceptionalism, and a lot of luck. It's a powerful combination and she has earned her success, but that combination of traits to succeed despite tilted odds is​ very far from the norm, and it's the norm that needs to shift. I can guarantee you that among Hubeny's peers - other women at the tops of their fields - they view politeness as a fickle ally at best because they are consistently working at its edges out of necessity.


This misses the point, and makes a lot of assumptions about what happened as "power dynamics" which are unwarranted. I would not have faulted Hubeny herself for chastising Holt, because he was a bad moderator and obviously treating her unfairly. This is about the fact that Hubeny herself did not think his offense merited that, and that Talkington decided on her own in the moment that she was so righteously justified to take upon herself to disrupt the event in a way Hubeny neither asked for, nor in her reply conveyed that she was personally thankful for after the fact on behalf of herself of women in science.

If civility is really such a barrier to equality (or whoever perceives it so), why not take this to its logical conclusion as Femen has? Or if it can be conceded that a more nuanced approach is better, why assume the worst of the offender with direct social attack, if you're willing to admit already that the behavior might be subconscious and indirect?


> But now after having seen what a friendly and generous person Hubeny is, and even more importantly what interesting things she had to say, I'm kind of proud...

So if she came across less sympathetically on camera or didn't speak interestingly enough for you it would be OK to treat her with sexism?


Yes. I'm a female engineer, and fairly successful one. And I do think that I have on rose colored glasses, so to speak, when it comes to workplace sexism. Often my friends or colleagues come to the conclusion that something sexist happened far before I do. I virtually always assume little actions, slights, etc. are innocent and not rooted in sexism.

Because I think that usually, they are innocent. But that means I also probably miss out on (and don't have to stress out about) some sexism that occurs. And that helps me 1) not burn out like you mentioned, and 2) not be disliked by work by bringing it up and making a (potentially completely valid) fuss. So it probably helps me, oddly.

I can't say that how I evaluate these kinds of things is correct, or even good, but I do think it's probably helped my career more than it's hurt.


I think the important point is that everyone has to deal with bullshit, and it's generally better to assume it's not meant to intentionally hurt.

I've had many occasions where someone has said something that caught me a little and offended me and I ultimately just decided they didn't mean it that way (even if they did). I do this because I know I'm not the smoothest individual out there and I have no doubt I've said some things that may have causes someone else doubt or offense when it was just me saying things in a bad manner.

When you enter the work force there's a certain amount of bullshit you have to put up with. I once had the CEO of a company roll his eyes at me in the middle of a meeting and say roughly "you IT people are all the same" in front of everyone there.

Sometimes it's just a part of being it the work force and you have to deal with bullshit in your day to day. It doesn't mean it's sexist, racist, or whathaveyou, it just means you're dealing with people who are oblivious or assholes.


> I call it assuming positive intent. It's how you survive.

Assuming positive intent is generally a good way to live, and it makes life significantly less stressful.


> I think it's worth considering that we're seeing some survivorship bias here

True. But there is also a "virality bias" that made us see this story in the first place. If it didn't fit a trending narrative so well we would never have heard of it.

Meanwhile millions of unreported interactions happened the same day. We can't know what big picture they add up to.

To me the lesson is that basing your world view on viral internet stories is one of the worst ways to understand the world.


This^10000!

...https://scholars.opb.msu.edu/en/publications/does-stereotype...

The most interesting result is that lowered performance in adverse conditions seems to stem from the induced cognitive load of wanting to avoid confirming negative stereotypes...

So internally roleplaying a WASP male really does work.


[flagged]


> it's possible that she's the only woman on the panel because she thinks this way

Note I said "it's possible". I did that because I can't prove it. I don't think anybody can prove either possibility.

>why do you assume anything is racist in the first place instead of thinking it is just normal human behaviour?

I'm not originally from the US, though I live here now. While you may look at me and see a black man, I grew up in a country where everyone was black, and therefore nobody was. As a result, I'm probably the least indoctrinated into any movement or society based on identity. The idea that I might identify with racial issues faced by American blacks was one that was forced onto me by reality.

Imagine you're a black person who's never seen racism before. You'd only start assuming that the problems you face are related to race when you are repeatedly treated worse than your cohort, and when you're treated so badly that there is no plausible narrative that you can construct that will lead to another explanation. For example: Employers are shocked (and uncomfortable) when a black face shows up with your resume. Your job offers are lower and less frequent, although you're at the top of your field. People find issues with you and your work that they just can't explain, but accept and praise your work when submitted under other names. Senior leaders think you're a janitor when you lead a department. Patients refuse to be seen by you, even though you are indisputably the best in your speciality. I can go on (note these events have not all happened to me, but each has happened to someone in my inner circle). After a while, even someone who didn't know that racism existed would discover it. You're lucky you don't have to.

Movements like feminism and BLM must sometimes be wrong about specific events - there's no way to really prove what's in someone's heart. And sometimes bad things happen to women and black people - things that would have happened independent of gender and race. But when there's a distinct, recurring pattern, it's really hard to pretend like nothing's wrong.

Separately, you should know that racism and sexism are actually normal (meaning default) human behavior. People form groups based on similarities and exclude those who are dissimilar. These groups may include employment, or leadership at companies. Thats why this is so hard.


But all the things you mentioned could easily happen to a non-Black. I've read tons of Medium posts about this stuff, and everything I read can equally apply to non-Blacks, and as a white I can relate to a lot of what is said. But its so sad that they blame it all on race - something that is 100% unchangeable. Its like as hard as you try - you will always fail. And if you succeed, you were lucky.

It is the most pessimistic and depressing narrative that is forced onto every minority these days.

And at some point its probably a vicious cycle - in that employers become afraid of minorities because they feel that everything will be construed as discrimination. And the minorities have huge power because they can easily play the discrimination card.

Do you see any merit in this?


The feeling was rather one of camaraderie: the challenges to unravel the deepest mysteries of the universe, the thrill in understanding another tiny bit of this grand puzzle, and the sheer wonder at how beautifully the physics hangs together, put us all in the same boat, so to speak.

This is what will end discrimination based on superficial differences: I think our mental reality is so much more interesting than our physical differences. Am I a man or a woman? Mostly I'm human. It may seem stupidly obvious to say that, but I feel it bears repeating.


I kind of thought we were heading in that direction before the identity politics of the last decade, but maybe I was simply naive before.


More importantly, we need to get to "life against entropy" rather than "humans against other humans and other life". As long as we're at this level, who gets mistreated by whom is kind of secondary. Says the white male... though I'm not saying sexism and racism "etc" don't matter, but I insist that overcoming them are still but stepping stones, and if humanity is going to stay the blind menace it is, I would support anything that weakens it more than anything that would strengthen it, in the hopes for it at least remaining confined to the solar system. I don't care for the health of an invading army, I care for the health of gardeners and builders.


I think that accepting who we are and embracing diversity is more important than trying to wash it all out and pretend it doesn't exist. Some people are men, some people are women, some people are black, some are white, etc, etc. Pretending that you can't see physical traits is also ignoring the fact that some people with certain traits are discriminated against. And that yes, some people are different from you.


> If you allow yourself to enjoy the beautiful things that really matter, if you don’t let social or peer pressure dissuade you from pursuing a field which appeals to you, then no pettiness or childishness or boorishness that you encounter can harm you so much.

I like this and also like how it's phrased.

Yes, sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry are real; the way they'll truly be beat is if more and more ostracized people think like this and push through the slights, ultimately normalizing their being among the people that, formerly, ostracized them.

Outrage on behalf of others will only take us so far, although the good intention is surely commendable.


> If you allow yourself to enjoy the beautiful things that really matter, if you don’t let social or peer pressure dissuade you from pursuing a field which appeals to you

I'm amazed at some of the comments here who seem to say "If you just ignore it, it will get better." I highlighted the ifs above because NOT everyone has the strength to overcome what they perceive as discrimination. Sure we can debate as much as we like whether the different treatment was due to discrimination or not, but let's stick to the real fact here: the treatment is perceived to be different.

When this happens sometimes, we can shrug it off - it's not exactly productive nor courteous to express outrage all the time. And absolutely, it may just be in our imagination, or someone is having a bad day! But when that different treatment happens often enough, no matter how subtle it seems, it can cause pain and affect the person's behaviour and performance.

Not everyone is delusional. Not everyone wants to get the limelight. So if someone is claiming that he/she is being discriminated, listen.


I'm not sure if this was meant as a reply to me or to any other comment. I wasn't debating that these problems didn't exist, I literally stated the opposite, nor the intention of the moderator.


In what way? Sure, it's an additional perspective, but it sounds like you're suggesting it should somehow alter the audience perspective.


She saw it as questioner trying to put on table his understanding of the theory so she can correct him in his understanding.

e.g. Mam, you tell me if I got this correctly. This is how I think it works...

I think it is actually a position of submission in a discussion, the person who is doing the talking is accepting the higher authority of person doing the listening to find errors in your understanding of the subject.

You explain to see if you got it correctly in front of a teacher.

The audiences would have been better served by hearing from the expert directly, so the moderator clearly failed at moderating. There is a chance that he may not have been sexist, but more student like and in the flow of events forgot the place, audience and his role in the conversation.

I didn't see the video so just exploring possibilities.

The audience may have come to thank the person who yelled "LET HER SPEAK PLEASE" for two reasons...

1. They thought moderator was sexist and one doing yelling was a liberator.

2. They wanted to hear the expert. Moderator was doing a poor job at moderating. This was not classroom. The people were there to hear the experts, they probably paid to attend the event. So, "HER" in this case is referencing the expert, not a woman. e.g. a version of "LET THE PROFESSOR SPEAK PLEASE".


I don't understand why we're arguing about what the moderator's intent might have been. That seems very much beside the point. I was asking for clarification because it seemed that the post I was replying to was implying that the perspective of the person on the stage should somehow color what we all learn from the Facebook post. I think the person on stage and the people in the audience are all entitled to their own interpretations of the event. I didn't get the impression from the Ms. Talkington's post that she was upset on behalf of the woman on stage. She was upset by her own experience, sitting in the audience.

The point isn't for us to sit here and decide whether or not the moderator's behavior was justified. The point is simply to listen and try to understand another point of view.


>the perspective of the person on the stage should somehow color what we all learn from the Facebook post.

What if you knew she was guiding his PhD thesis? That he was her student. What if he had conversations with her before this topic trying to understand her theory?

What the person on the stage was feeling does matter.

Ms. Talkington is entitled to her interpretation of the event. But, to say that interpretation is correct, by itself, in all circumstances, is not accurate.

> The point is simply to listen and try to understand another point of view.

Just simply listen? why? why am I being denied to have an interpretation and opinion and be able to voice it?

Ms. Talkington did and I fully support her in her ability to have an interpretation and speak about about it and act upon it.

I claim the same and will not let it be infringed upon.


I don't see how your hypothetical, behind-the-scenes interactions would have affected how observers experienced the event. Again, I feel the point of the facebook post was an observer sharing her perspective, not someone claiming to be reporting on some objective, unassailable truth.

I apologize, I wasn't trying to imply that you have less right to speak than anyone else, though I see now how I worded it clumsily. My point in bringing up listening isn't to try to shut you or anyone else down from sharing their experiences. I am suggesting that seeking to fully understand OP's position, starting from the assumption that OP is a rational individual giving a true and faithful account of her reasonable reaction to a sequence of events would be a worthwhile endeavor.


>I am suggesting that seeking to fully understand OP's position, starting from the assumption that OP is a rational individual giving a true and faithful account of her reasonable reaction to a sequence of events would be a worthwhile endeavor.

I read the article on Facebook. I read the commentary by the lady scientist on stage.

I took them at their word about the reaction that they were having.

A reaction of one participant is not the whole story.

My comments were an exercise in probabilities where the outwards symptoms would have been same as seen by the participants of the events.

Hence I said there is a chance that the moderator was not being sexist.

BTW, in what other situations would you grant someone making the claim to be true and faithful recount of events without any further inquiry; especially when you are labeling a living human being as "sexist" for rest of his life, with all the consequences of that in 21st century this day and age.


Right, which is why this happened to none of the other experts?

If you're going to play devil's advocate, at least use the evidence...


I think she's taking a very charitable view of things. She was constantly interrupted by the moderator in a way that the male speakers weren't. There was differential treatment and it didn't sound to me like the moderator was so much more excited about her theories than those of the other speakers when he choose to interrupt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er7qPv8jsZo#t=1h1m53s


Sexism is not misogyny. It is not about intent, and certainly not about hurt feelings. It is an objective quality of a reality where women are given less power. A sexist situation either is or isn't. And as power is a social construct -- e.g. people who are treated with respect by others with a high social status, have their own status elevated and vice-versa -- the reality of sexism is determined by the effect on the audience (i.e., by the perception of power).

Whether or not Prof. Hubeny was herself offended, is, of course, a very important interpersonal matter, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether or not the moderator's behavior was sexist. I certainly hope (and assume) that his behavior wasn't misogynistic, but most sexist behaviors aren't, and they have no ill intent behind them. In some ways, that is precisely what sexism is: social behaviors that are ingrained in us so much that we don't notice when do them, that help perpetuate an imbalance of power.


This. A million times.

I'm the father of two college-age daughters and seeing the world through their eyes is disturbing to me. I wish the world understood this better.


Honestly this is a horrible philosophy -- the notion that anything can be sexist if someone chooses to be offended. You talk about an imbalance of power, but isn't the ability to recontextualize any bad behavior as sexist just because of the participants involved a huge source of power in of itself?


> Honestly this is a horrible philosophy -- the notion that anything can be sexist if someone chooses to be offended.

But it's the exact opposite. Being offended has nothing to do with sexism. Sexism is an objective situation of an unequal distribution of power. Sexism would exist even if everyone in the world thought it was great, and no one was ever offended in the slightest.

> but isn't the ability to recontextualize any bad behavior as sexist just because of the participants involved a huge source of power in of itself?

I don't know what "bad" behavior is. I do know what sexist behavior is: behavior the creates or perpetuates an unequal distribution of power. There is no "recontextualization" involved; sexism would exist or not regardless of how it's contextualized; like gravity. The only ethical question is whether you believe that this imbalance of power needs to be rectified.

But do people who fight sexism have power? Sure, they have some, but clearly, the imbalance of power between men and women is so large, that there is still no question about which side has more power.


In this context all we really know is that the moderator was rude, and the person he was rude to was a woman. We have no way of knowing for certain if he acted that way because of her gender. Saying this is sexism is pure speculation.

To brand someone as sexist is very damaging to their reputation. That women in general suffer from a power imbalance is no excuse for attacking a persons reputation with no strong evidence.


> We have no way of knowing for certain if he acted that way because of her gender. Saying this is sexism is pure speculation.

It isn't speculation, and why he acted the way he did is completely irrelevant. Sexism is a quality of a (social) situation where women's power is diminished compared to men. It doesn't have to be nefarious or intentional.

> To brand someone as sexist is very damaging to their reputation.

No, it isn't. We're all sexist. To brand someone as misogynistic may be damaging.

> That women in general suffer from a power imbalance is no excuse for attacking a persons reputation with no strong evidence.

No one here was attacked. The moderator did something sexist, as we all sometimes do. It happens. The only way to fight sexism is to point it out. I understand that the moderator must have been embarrassed by being called out, but we should all learn to be less sensitive about such things.


> Sexism is a quality of a (social) situation where women's power is diminished compared to men.

Or the other way around. Not super relevant for this discussion, but I feel it's important in the understanding of sexism to keep in mind that the discrimination can swing both ways. (In fact, sexism where men are discriminated against often _also_ end up hurting women, which is a phenomenon that holds for many issues related to sexism -- it's in the interest of both genders to get rid of this problem).


> it's important in the understanding of sexism to keep in mind that the discrimination can swing both ways.

It could (and may even happen in small systems), but in reality, women are the ones with significantly less power. But it's also important to remember that not every discrimination is sexism. For example, sexual discrimination designed to correct an already existing imbalance of power is the opposite of sexism (regardless of whether or not you find it just).


> but clearly, the imbalance of power between men and women is so large, that there is still no question about which side has more power.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2006 only 3.6% of alimony recipients were men. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alimony#History

Mothers are granted custody in ~80% of cases and are the recipients of 94% of child support dollars paid: https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/latest-u-s-custody-...

Men make up 93% of the current prison population: https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_gende...

Men are assumed to be sexist by default: https://amberskyeforbes.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/1240542_...

Men have no reproductive rights. If a woman decides to cede responsibility for her child, she can abort it or give it up for adoption. If a man decides to cede responsibility for a child, he is labeled a "deadbeat" and on the hook for child support payments anyways.

Only men are required to register for the United States Selective Service.

According to a 2012 CDC study, more men than women suffer from domestic violence and psychological aggression: http://www.saveservices.org/2012/02/cdc-study-more-men-than-...

But when the very first domestic violence shelter for men opened in the US it was panned as a misuse of nonprofit money: http://www.xojane.com/issues/domestic-violence-shelters-for-...

More than double the available scholarships for women than for men: https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarsh... https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarsh...

So yeah, there's a pretty clear imbalance of power.


Bad and unfair things happen to everyone. But power is a well-studied, and rather specific concept[1], and there's really no question here. None of the things you mentioned change anything about the very clear imbalance of power. Bill Gates may suffer from an ingrown toenail, but that has little to do with the fact that he's richer than you.

Also, men are sexist, as are women. Being sexist is not being bad; it's being a human born in a sexist society. Just as it takes effort to learn about germs and how to fight infection, it takes effort to learn to see sexism and fight it.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(social_and_political)


The gp just gave evidence of structural sexism against a group. It just happened to be men. Saying that "life is unfair" when one group suffers, while rushing to the defense of the other group is hypocrisy and clearly a double standard.


> The gp just gave evidence of structural sexism against a group.

No, he mentioned things that happen to men[1]. That is not sexism any more than a rich man's illness is called "poverty". He may be sick; he may be miserable; he may be worse-off than just being poor -- but his condition is still not called poverty.

> Saying that "life is unfair" when one group suffers, while rushing to the defense of the other group is hypocrisy and clearly a double standard.

But sexism isn't about suffering; it isn't about taking offense; it isn't about unhappiness or general unfairness. It's an imbalance of power. I'm not rushing to anyone's defense, just explaining what sexism is. Sexism is not the only bad thing in the world, nor is it the worst, but it is what it is.

What is interesting to me is why is it when we discuss such an important issue, others find it necessary to point out that there are other problems, too. We know there are. But now we're talking about sexism.

[1]: Some of them are because men have more power.


This is just arguing semantics at this point, but even if we didn't agree that it's sexism or gender discrimination that male victims of domestic violence don't get help or that only men can be compelled to die or get mutilated in war, we would presumably be close to agreeing that these are good examples of power imbalances.


> This is just arguing semantics at this point

I disagree. If someone responds to an imagined accusation, it is important to explain to him that no one has accused him of what he believes he's been accused, because once people understand that, they become less defensive and angry.

> male victims of domestic violence don't get help

That's certainly very bad and requires addressing, but it isn't a problem on the same scale at all. The fact that women outnumber men significantly as victims of domestic violence clearly demonstrates that the problem as a whole harms women much more.

> or that only men can be compelled to die or get mutilated in war

If you think that on the whole men lost more power than women in wars, then you need to review your history. Although, it is true that in some cases male absence did lead to an increase in power to women back home, but the scale still tips very strongly in men's favor. It is also true that women today have more power than 100 years ago, but we're still far from achieving equality, and the gains were precisely due to constant political struggle against sexism.

> we would presumably be close to agreeing that these are good examples of power imbalances.

If we both start with ten toys, I take five of yours and you take one of mine, we cannot say that the one you took from me is an example of an imbalance of power in your favor.

There can certainly be conflicts where a man is more harmed than a woman, but sexism is a global quality of the system, not necessarily a property of each and every interaction.


I agree with your assessment. You are quoting a lot of examples that are blatant examples of sexism, it just varies in which contexts each gender has more power.

This just underscores the need for fighting sexism in all its forms! And it is also a good idea to not get stuck in the mindset that sex discrimination is something that only impacts women negatively -- this is far from the truth.


You'd have to agree though that it's a remarkable coincidence that this only happened to the only female scientist who was part of the panel.


You'd have to agree though that it's a remarkable coincidence that the moderator began to ramble when he started talking about a topic that he was particularly excited about and which he was not particularly knowledgeable about.


I don't expect he set out that day to make the scientist shut up because she was a woman. A lot of sexism is so deeply rooted that it's not even hostile by the men who engage in it, it's simply the acting of the cultural norms, for example, that men can talk over women.

I don't have a sexist bone in my body and I've caught myself doing this. The only way we improve as a society is to continuously monitor and correct each other because this stuff is laid so deep in our cultural consciousness that catching ourselves every time by ourselves is not reasonable to expect.


I don't think he was doing that because he was sexist, I think he was doing that because he was really excited about the duality.

The only way to improve society is to recognize when things are really done with ill intent and when they're the result of:

    geeking out + bad social skills


The way I see it:

* He was geeking out. True.

* There was no ill intent. True.

* He wasn't sexist. False.

He could geek out all he wanted, but speaking for her multiple times over her trying to get a foot in was very sexist, regardless of intent. I hold the door for guys all the time, but if you're only doing it for "feeble girls" it is telling. This was the case in this panel. She's there because she knows her shit, let her explain it.

> The only way to improve society is to recognize when things are really done with ill intent and when they're the result of: > geeking out + bad social skills

No, the only way to improve society (equality wise) is to recognize when you're treating someone differently (condescendingly) only when they're one gender, however well meaning YOU think it is.

Do you think it's annoying if your parent treats you like you're 10 when you're 35, even when you know they love you and they don't mean it? It's exactly like that, but it's a large portion of the population.


When I'm excited about something I'm prone to talking over everybody, and after realising this was sometimes squeezing people out of conversations where they could provide valuable input I've done my best to learn to catch myself doing this and try and consciously stop and let them talk.

What seems to be the case is that men are more likely to interrupt back, so on a population level this does tend to squeeze a higher percentage of women out - but it doesn't squeeze out the women who're happy to interrupt you back, and it does also squeeze out the quieter men, whose existence and contributions I've also become more aware of as a result.

So the mistake may not have been gendered on his part, and I'd suggest you think hard about whether you're engaging in benevolent sexism by believing only women can be quieter and more in danger of interrupted.

(note that given your other comment down-thread, it may be he's more likely to interrupt women - but it also may be that men are more likely to interrupt him back - if your watching of the video strongly suggests the former then fair enough, but my point here is "all quieter people gain from us learning to talk over people less" and I think that's worth remembering)


> What seems to be the case is that men are more likely to interrupt back, so on a population level this does tend to squeeze a higher percentage of women out - but it doesn't squeeze out the women who're happy to interrupt you back, and it does also squeeze out the quieter men, whose existence and contributions I've also become more aware of as a result.

> So the mistake may not have been gendered on his part, and I'd suggest you think hard about whether you're engaging in benevolent sexism by believing only women can be quieter and more in danger of interrupted.

Aren't these contradictory if you're first saying that women are less likely to interrupt back and then saying it might be in my head?

Either way, your overall point is sound, but she TRIED to interrupt him several time, whereas none of the other panelists had to even try. I'm always questioning myself, but I don't think I'm projecting that interpretation.

I do however agree that obviously quieter people will have less airtime than more extrovert people, regardless of gender.

I think the question is: Do we believe that this is inherent in gender (nature), nurtured in our culture (women's upbringing), or enforced by sexism after the fact (imposed by men as a result of culture/nurture)?

If your hinted statistics are true, then one statement above must be true, unless I excluded an option.


I've concluded that I don't have enough data to be sure but wouldn't be surprised if it's a mixture of all three - testosterone levels correlating with assertiveness/aggressiveness seems sufficient to suggest biology may play a part, and I've definitely seen the latter two happen.

I don't, however, think it's contradictory to say that "women are less likely to interrupt back" does not automatically mean that the person interrupting them is therefore sexist, even though the results of the behaviour end up impacting a higher percentage of women than men - they may simply be oblivious to the consequences, even if from the sounds of it in this case that wasn't it.


I've spoken to people like this moderator and they just ramble over any topic they get excited about.

What specifically makes you think he rambled because she was a woman?


> I've spoken to people like this moderator and they just ramble over any topic they get excited about.

Sure, me too, and they're generally consistent in that between genders. This guy isn't. And people like him are very common too.

> What specifically makes you think he rambled because she was a woman?

By watching the entire video and comparing him to his conduct with the other panelists interviewed. She also wasn't the only non-native speaker, so it's not that either.


Because he did. He rambled over the only woman.


That he rambled over the only woman does not mean that he rambled over her because she is a woman.


Respectfully, I disagree. I am also not convinced that his motivations really matter, in the end he demonstrated that it's okay to let the men speak but not the one woman. In my mind, this is what really matters.


[flagged]


Her words:

> I had early on decided that I like physics so much that I’d be quite willing to give up quite a bit of other comforts for it, but perhaps having made that decision and bracing oneself, then made the actual “discomforts” not only more bearable, but genuinely less discomforting. I think the subjective severity of a lot of these issues can be greatly influenced by one’s mindset, one’s psychology. If you allow yourself to enjoy the beautiful things that really matter, if you don’t let social or peer pressure dissuade you from pursuing a field which appeals to you, then no pettiness or childishness or boorishness that you encounter can harm you so much.

> Please understand that I’m not trying to say that sexism in science is a myth. It is real and we should all aspire to diminish it. But I am trying to say that it need not pose as much of an impediment as you might fear and that you might be in more control over its influence yourself than you might think. Just as you put up with long lines to see a great show, or with sore feet or mosquitos to have a great hike etc., the annoyance of otherwise abominable behavior diminishes in the larger perspective of doing something you really enjoy.

Just because she's strong enough to survive in her field and ignore the sexism doesn't mean it isn't there and should be tried and challenged.

If there's an obstacle course in front of the entrance to a supermarket, I would still have to get food. Even if I'd make it through it, I don't think anyone should have to.

Survivors of inequality doesn't disprove the existence of inequality. Yes, individually you shouldn't let inequality stop you from trying and fighting, but collectively we should fix that shit.


I like how you quote her response where she is talking about sexism in general(which certainly exists), when I and OP were talking about the specific event, and whether it was sexism.

Why didn't you quote this part instead?

> Maybe I’m too naive, but I simply gave him the benefit of doubt that he was so excited by the newly-learned idea of the duality that he couldn’t resist, and that the same might have occurred had the panelist been a male instead of me. So it didn’t bother me.


Because:

1) Regardless of whether she experienced the sexism or not, there is only one response she can publicly express, namely the one she did.

2) There was evidently an entire room/audience that did audibly agree with the "hecklers" sentiment, and many privately expressed so afterwards.

3) Sexism doesn't only exist when the object of it register it.

4) The proof is in the pudding, if you bother to watch through the entire panel. (I did)


1) That's a great way to dismiss any woman's viewpoint: she just can't express what she really feels because of fear

2) good point. Groups of people are never wrong, and there's certainly no selection bias going on. And it was definitely the entire room and not just some subset of the room

3) I agree, but if this is about the supposed victim, then perhaps the supposed victim should have some input.

4) I'm not sure how you can claim it is sexism. Do you know the mental state of the host? Did you consider the supposed victims explanation of why it happened that was not sexism? If a woman is ever treated differently from a man or men, is that automatically sexism?


1) This is a two parter now: First off, you're the one stating "woman's" viewpoint, this is irrelevant. Secondly, "fear" only in potential professional impact. Also unrelated to gender. If you were mistreated in any way in a public and professional setting, and it wasn't malicious (which I don't think it was) you're probably better off just playing it off rather than escalating it, which is what she did.

2) Are you being sarcastic?

3) She absolutely should, but I'm just not sure if it's relevant. Have you ever finished a sentence for a stutterer, behaved differently around physically disabled people, maybe intellectually been more thorough in conversation? Both of these things are seemingly "considerate" or "well-meaning", but they are nonetheless very condescending. If you've never been on the receiving end you might not grasp the concept, which I think is a contributor to people (typically able white men) discrediting these experiences as over-sensitivity.

4) I claim it from watching the entire video and comparing how he yielded the floor to EVERY other panelists immediately if they ended up speaking at the same time, which he did not do for her to my count 8 times, as well as treating the other non-native speaker (man) very differently than her, to rule out that factor. To your last question: That's a tough hypothetical, but if it's systemic I'm inclined to say yes. If incidental, no.


> Why are you mansplaining

Please don't troll here. On HN, if you have a substantive point, make it thoughtfully; otherwise please don't post.


How is it trolling? Mansplaining is in the OED and I explained myself beyond just throwing the term out. Is it because I'm mirroring the supposed victims own words and not jumping on the sexism train, which goes against the received wisdom of this forum?


Now you're meta-trolling. If you want to comment on this site, you need to do so substantively and thoughtfully. If you continue to violate that rule, we're going to ban your account.


Is there any way to disagree with the assertion that you're trolling without being accused of metatrolling? That's rhetorical, I'll see myself out.


That's the obvious retort, but if you think about it, it's easy. Simply don't do things that imply bad faith (rhetorical questions, irrelevant distraction, drive-by swipes, grandiose posturing—all of which you managed to cram in there) and instead do some things that imply good faith, like taking responsibility and finding common ground.


Rhetorical questions have been used by rhetoricians for thousands of years without bad faith. Whether something was sexist or not when reading an article about a supposed sexist event seems highly relevant, especially when the supposed victims has gone on record saying she didn't think it was sexism.

Am I getting special attention because there is a received wisdom around sexism in segments of the tech community which I'm not acknowledging? I'm not sure how other communities operate, but I've noticed that, basically, if anything negative happens to a woman or minority in the tech community, it is automatically assumed that it was because they are a woman or minority. This situation is a perfect example.


You realize you're basically saying Uncle Tom was right.


No - I'm saying I trust first hand accounts from supposed victims more than I trust third hand accounts from random people on the internet mansplaining what happened.


> The only way to improve society is to recognize when things are really done with ill intent

I strongly disagree. We need to fix issues no matter if they had been done because of ignorance or because of ill intent.

The measures and consequences should be different, but naming and fixing the issue should be independent from that.

"Bad social skills" is a common excuse, but in the end, it's just another word for ignorance. Learning a few social rules is like learning design patterns, and learning not to be sexist or racist is like learning about anti-patterns. It is not harder than coding! If anything, learning social basics is easier than programming.

But if you don't care, you won't learn it. Which you may choose to, but then, it's ignorance, not inability.


Are you saying we should fix when people geek out about a topic and ramble? If so, I agree. But good luck making progress on that!


It may be uncomfortable, but it's the only way to make cultural progress.

You should especially take care of that if you have any major position in a larger group, not matter if it is a company department, an open-source project or a user-group.

If nobody cares visibly about social behaviour, that group is either doomed and won't achieve anything in the long run. Or it reduces a very low number of active participants - usually just one.


"Prevent all potentially offensive behaviour" is not a valid solution. What constitutes offense is subjective, and furthermore the topic at hand is sexism.


The issue at hand is an example for precisely the opposite. Everybody agrees that the moderator's behaviour was inappropriate, the discussion is mostly about how bad it was (what should the consequences be?) and the label (sexism or not?).

More general, regarding subjectivity: Although the individual members of a group or society have different subjective standards, they can still find some common ground on what behaviour they accept or don't accept. You'll find such emerging consent not just in informal rules about social behaviour, but also in formal rules which we call "laws".


You're using a different definition of 'offensive' than I am. Also, note that no societies we regard highly have outlawed talking over people. Unless your plan is to modify institutions to reduce offensive behaviour you won't have much luck.


I don't get what you are trying to say. I clearly put "talking over people" into the category of informal social rules, not law.


Yes you did, but then you said that the solution is to reform society so that informal social rules are never broken. And I'm saying that unless you want to make those rules into laws, or something like laws, it's not doable.


I still don't get it. Who said that informal social rules shall never never broken? Who talked about reforming society?

I was just talking about making cultural progress. All I said is that informal rules are established (almost by definition) by reacting to those who break them. Doing so reduces the chances that these are broken again, which is just another way of saying that these informal rules are established. And if a good climate within a group is important to you (in a leading position it usually is), then you need to be part of establishing those. Otherwise you risk that your group becomes a hostile place.

The strategy I described does work, and is generally recommended, so I'm not sure what you are arguing against.

I've seen it working in various groups. If shitty behaviour is criticized as such, people become more aware and more careful. As long as the criticism itself is in an appropriate place and reflects the group's values, this is a very healthy thing to do. If the criticized person refuses to adjust their behaviour, they usually leave the group on their own, which is also healthy. In the worst case there's to way but to throw them out, but that is surprisingly seldom. Either way, these people either have to find a group that is okay with their behaviour (good luck!), or they need to change their behaviour in order to engage in groups.


"Are you saying we should fix when people geek out about a topic and ramble?"

"It may be uncomfortable, but it's the only way to make cultural progress."

And you've really only explained what tacit rules are and how they're enforced, but we knew that already so bully, I guess? The guy talked over her because he was excited and therefore not thinking about the consequences.


In the context of being a moderator for a panel of people who have gathered specifically to talk about their things, yes, it's a bad thing to geek out and ramble over someone. The audience haven't gathered to listen to the moderator crap on; they're there for the panelists.

Chairing a panel of professionals isn't about you getting to talk to them, it's about showcasing their positions for the audience. "Aw, he just got excited" is not an excuse in this context.


Whether sexism or not, if you are moderator and ramble like that, you are doing it wrong. Meaning someone more capable should take your position next time.


Many things that hurt people are done without ill intent. They are often done out of fear, or laziness, or ignorance. The people that do them often do them thoughtlessly or out of a belief that the reasons they do them are so self-evident that they don't deserve much thought.

In my opinion, ignoring hurtful behavior because we believe the intent wasn't meant to be hurtful will only encourage these behaviors in the long run. We also do a disservice to the perpetrator, if they are truly well meaning or absent of meaning then we're robbing them of an opportunity to improve.


> In my opinion, ignoring hurtful behavior because we believe the intent wasn't meant to be hurtful will only encourage these behaviors in the long run.

OTOH, maybe you should man the fuck up and move on with your life. I know that seems blunt and assholeish, but that's sort of the point.

I've been offended plenty of times and talked myself down because I knew ultimately it was my emotions misinterpreting the intent.

There is nothing that says just offense can't be mistaken.

edit: watch someone call the phrase 'man the fuck up' sexist.


But again, his bad social skills only kicked in for the woman.

We can't ever know for certain if it was sexism. I'm not saying take the guy out and shoot him. I'm not even saying do the thing we normally do and try and humiliate him in a public space. I'm saying: This is evidence of the accepted cultural norms in a society that I don't think anyone would disagree was largely designed by and is largely ruled over by men, and there are consequences to that.


What about the possibility that if someone is being a douchebag, blaming their shitty behaviour on the "bad at social skills" strawman is not an excuse any more (or ever was).


[flagged]


Please don't troll here. On HN, if you have a substantive point, make it thoughtfully; otherwise please don't post.


TLDR Even if its not a purely sexist situation if women make up a significant percentage of the victims of this behavior I think it is OK to consider it in the context of women. Rape isn't entirely male on female, both male on male and female on male and female on female also occur but male on female rape is the most prevalent and therefore gets an appropriate proportional amount of attention. It doesn't mean thats the only way it occurs but why derail a conversation about a serious issue facing women by reminding them that they aren't 100% of the problem, just 99%.

That being said, I'm not sure why you are getting downvoted but I've also found myself doing this accidentally and I've learned to moderate myself.

I don't think it is necessarily related to sexism directly, but I am used to talking to people (generally other men) who similarly assertive (not to say any of us are majorly assertive, just we're all at a similar level) and we understand each others speaking style and butt in (somewhat) at the appropriate spot to make a point.

When talking to someone who doesn't converse quite the same way (regardless of gender) it can be a problem. I've talked to people who won't just butt in when you are hogging the conversation and if you want to not have a 1 way conversation (ie, you are not an ass) you have to allow more space for the other person - its a basic courtesy and part of learning to have good conversations. My girlfriend has been helpful in self-identifying this situation because if I'm overly excited (coffee often being involved) she'll straight up tell me rather than putting up with it and I'll realize I was kind of rolling over her unintentionally.

I have no idea if this guy is sexist or not, it may be a subtle deep rooted kind or it may be he's a terrible conversationalist/host but despite the fact that this situation probably occurs more frequently from men to women but its definitely not limited to that.


According to the national crime victimization survey, males account for more than 1/3 of reported rape victims, and males are known to underreport compared to females. It could easily be 50/50.


I think females are also known to under-report as well but its hard to know who under reports more.

I meant it more as an analogy than anything else. I've seen the "but what about X" argument being used a lot lately where X and Y are the same issue that affect different groups and both are deserving of attention but one is more (maybe much more) prevalent than the other. As a means to derail a discussion of Y someone says "but what about X?" so a discussion becomes so broad and general as to be totally meaningless.

In this situation, rather than being able to focus on an issue that many women face, you end up in a discussion about all of humanity and genders and personalities that will likely never address any issue at all. I have room in my head to be concerned with issues that affect different people and talking about them in the context of one group does not imply other groups do not matter but some people act as it does.


Females are also known to underreport, but we know that males underreport to a greater degree (or so I've read in several academic papers).

> I meant it more as an analogy than anything else.

I understand, and my post was a digression, but I felt it important because I was shocked when I learned the severity of the problem.


I agree, it needs to be talked about and I would say most of the stigma comes from other men (though surely not all).


I mean, the stigma has probably been around for tens of thousands of years in the form of masculinity. Bravery and courage probably evolved because men had to do all of the risky hunting and defense and so societies which rewarded make sacrifice and success flourished and the others largely died out.


Agreed, but that doesn't necessarily have as much of a place in modern society or at least there are limits to how many jobs/lifestyles reward those traits. In the same way that women can be frustrated by an unattainable feminine ideal portrayed by media, men face the same dilemma at the opposite end of the spectrum.


Labels can ruin people. This was perhaps poor manners and should be mentioned but how can Marilee Talkington look deep into someone's "soul" by one single event and determine that they practice culturally rooted sexism?

Jim Holt has now been branded from "Facebook" to "Teen Vogue" of being a de facto sexist as a result of Talkington's opinion.

Talkington is an actor, director and women's rights activist which are notable pursuits.[…]


Sexism is unavoidable, and it is not always a negative. Men hold open doors, or offer up their seat, for women more often than for men. That too is sexism, but rarely do you hear complaints.

We shouldn't try to root out all sexism, because that is the same as rooting out sexuality itself. Instead we should focus on rooting out harmful sexism. But then maybe I have that opinion because I'm a man and by definition sexist, so whatever.


> Sexism is unavoidable, and it is not always a negative. Men hold open doors, or offer up their seat, for women more often than for men. That too is sexism, but rarely do you hear complaints.

I've often heard complaints, by women, that this inequality is sexist, patronizing and, essentially (though usually the complaint comes from people who wouldn't use the term) a micro-aggression sending the message that women are regarded as less capable of taking care of themselves.

Now, these complaints usually aren't the complainants' biggest complaint about sexist behavior, but you may be confusing the fact that their are far bigger problems that drown out these complaints with these not actually being problems for women.

> We shouldn't try to root out all sexism, because that is the same as rooting out sexuality itself.

Sexism is not necessary for sexuality, even if it is deeply incorporated in some social norms surrounding sexuality.


Why is it more important to you to prove it's "not sexism" than to be concerned that moderator did his job poorly regardless of the reason?


Because attributing everything to sexism has harmful societal effects.


Maybe it happened to the least assertive person in the panel?


Yes, the moderator's behaviour would have been wrong against any person, no matter their gender. But it is especially inappropriate when done against those who have to endure this more than others throughout their life.

You don't need a sexist intent to behave sexist. Being ignorant to this issue doesn't make it much better. And calling the person from the audience "heckling" just because she made him aware of this issue is a very clear sign of ignorance.

At least he changed his behaviour nevertheless, although I'd attribute this more to the reaction of the rest of the audience.


Yeah, this gets into a problem where people use the word "sexism" in a couple different ways, that don't mean the same thing. Mostly conscious vs unconscious, I think? Almost no one goes home and writes, "Dear Diary, today I insulted some women, because I hate women. Let's keep doing that." So of course, if you accuse someone of being that kind of conscious sexist, it's a huge insult. You're calling them a sad hate monster person. When we do talk about other people's sexism, especially if those people don't have a lot of practice talking about unconscious bias, it might be a good idea to reassure them that we're not calling them a hate monster.

But that cuts both ways, and it's possible to be unfair in the other direction. If someone comes to me and says "I think what you did was sexist," it would be fair and polite of me to assume they meant "unconsciously sexist." If I want to ask for reassurance about that, sure that's fine, but not fair for me to put words in their mouth like "HOW DARE YOU CALL ME A CONSCIOUS SEXIST?!" when I know that both meanings exist.

So yeah, sorry for the long reply, but here's why your comment made me think of it: Saying "that wasn't sexist; so-and-so is actually less assertive" kind of assumes that we're talking about conscious sexism. If we're talking about unconscious sexism instead (the charitable assumption here), that difference-in-perceived-assertiveness might be precisely the problem that we're worried about. This is kind of a nitpicky distinction, except that accusing someone of accusing you of conscious sexism, can be kinda sorta flirting with bad faith?


> Saying "that wasn't sexist; so-and-so is actually less assertive" kind of assumes that we're talking about conscious sexism.

The idea that less assertive implies female is sexist.

The person you're responding to could have simply meant the other participants refused to let the moderator walk over them like that, which has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with behavior.


> The person you're responding to could have simply meant the other participants refused to let the moderator walk over them like that, which has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with behavior.

I think that's precisely what they meant. There are a lot of dimensions here:

- The other participants might've behaved differently than Prof. Hubeny, in a way that got them treated differently.

- The moderator might've had different expectations about how different people on the panel would behave, or how they might want him to behave, prior to anyone's actual behavior.

- Any difference in expectations might or might not have anything to do with sex.

- Someone posted Prof. Hubeny's response elsewhere in this thread, and it sounds like her experience was pretty different from the audience's experience. Which is fine; one event can mean different things to different people.

So there's room for lots of different true, sincere points to be made out of a single story.


I don't disagree with the sentiment, but I felt it important to point out that the assumption made in the sentence I quoted was itself a sexist assumption.


This might be the thing that is most problematic about 'call out' culture. We assume that we know the intention of people's behavior (sexism) and how it is received (offense). In many cases there may be neither. But I'm just cynical enough to suspect that this many not matter to people who 'call out.' They feel that they are on a mission to make society better regardless of whether there are problems in any individual case.


I don't see any "'call out' culture" here. Note that the person in the audience did not say "you are sexist". The words were "Let her speak please". Specific, and to the point.

(EDIT: The article itself uses the word "sexist", so it might indeed have been a call-out. However, that doesn't affect my point that we should not tolerate shitty behaviour, no matter which label is attached to it.)

The moderator's behvaiour itself was inappropriate, no matter which gender the other person had, and no matter whether the other person is offended or cool with it.

Why? Because others might not be cool with that, and rightly so! If we publicly tolerate inappropriate behaviour, we are making it even harder for those who are not cool with it.

That's why we (the audience, the society) should not tolerate shitty behaviour, and speak out publicly against it. Not just to fix this individual case, where the affected person may or may not need our help, but to establish a culture where this shitty behaviour will occur less often in the first place.


>I don't see any "'call out' culture" here. Note that the person in the audience did not say "you are sexist". The words were "Let her speak please". Specific, and to the point.

The "call out" is the Facebook post and the subsequent social media firestorm that follows it.


Exactly. People have different levels of introversion and extroversion. Moderators sometimes over talk introverts when they feel they have to keep things moving. It may not have anything to do with sexism but because the the sexes of the participants it's turned into a conversation that may have no base in the reality of the situation.

It is arrogance to assume that we know the mind of another well enough to call this sexism.


Thanks for the clarification. That's exactly the point I wanted to make.

But also note that the moderator called the person from the audience "heckling" just because she made him aware of his inappropriate behaviour. If not sexism, this is at least a clear sign of ignorance.


That is exactly what a heckling is:

> interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.

When a member yells out something from the audience to someone on stage: That's a heckle. They forced a break in the 4th wall. (yes, the audience member was right, but so was the moderator in that small instance)


What was said ("let her speak, please") doesn't fit any of those categories. It was an interruption, but not derisive, aggressive, or abusive.


It was aggressive. The statement was a command (followed by a desperate request) deriding the behavior and speech of the moderator.

Why do you feel that calling the person who interjected a "heckler" is a bad thing?


First, "heckler" has negative connotation, while the interruption itself was helpful and to the point.

Second, attaching such an attribute at all to that person was inappropriate, given she pointed out an obvious misbehaviour of the moderator.

An appropriate reaction would have been: "Oh, I didn't notice. Thanks for pointing this out!"


The emotional attachment was added by the listener/reader of the word.

> Second, attaching such an attribute at all to that person was inappropriate, given she pointed out an obvious misbehaviour of the moderator.

That is an assumption based on your emotional connection to the word. No one believes that the moderator's behavior was "bad" (different attributions have been made)

> An appropriate reaction would have been: "Oh, I didn't notice. Thanks for pointing this out!"

I would strongly disagree with that. It's impressive that he recognized the heckle, and didn't respond negatively. From what I saw he acknowledged the event and made the correction. For someone to do that on stage is VERY impressive. That takes a lot of experience and a lot of skill. (Many performers respond very negative to a heckle).

The heckle broke the 4th wall, it was processed by the moderator, acknowledged (mentally and then verbally) without anger (which requires processing and understanding), the suggestion (I'm being generous in that) was taken, and the moderator returned back to the 4th wall with the context prior.

That's a freaking amazing job.


> No one believes that the moderator's behavior was "bad" (different attributions have been made)

Err meant to say: No one believes that the heckler's behavior was "bad" (different attributions have been made)


Have you ever been on stage? Have you ever interacted with an audience member who has addressed you in a way similar to what happened here?


We don't need to know one's mind to call their behavior sexist. If, in a particular setting, they do something objectionable to the women and not the men, that is sexist behavior.


Not necessarily. Sure, all else being equal, then yes, I would agree. But I think the point being made here was that there was something different with the woman - specifically, that she is more introverted than the other panel members and the moderator was reacting differently toward her because of that personality trait, not just because she is female.

To gauge for myself, I clicked the video linked above in the comments that went straight to the segment under scrutiny. My immediate response (without reading the comments here or anywhere else) was not that the moderator was sexist, but rather that he seemed extremely energetic and really into the topic that happened to be her area of expertise and got carried away with himself and started rambling about string theory. From the video I actually get the impression he has a great deal of respect for her and is genuinely extremely interested in the topic and just ran off course.

Revisiting it after the comments here, I think that's still very true, but I think what was mentioned by another about this being his extroversion filling the gap her introversion left is probably even more accurate. Watching some more of the video, she seems more introverted and slightly less comfortable speaking than the other panel members. I also think that in the general case the other panel members made their responses a bit more concise. I think all of this was a factor in how he responded to her.

Maybe that makes him a poor moderator. But I don't think he's necessarily sexist.


A moderator should ask probing questions of a panelist before just taking the reins and filling in for an apparent introvert.


Yeah, but the entire Facebook post was a tirade about sexism.


'Impact' is far more important than 'intent'. People do racist/sexist/less than ideal things all the time, without even meaning to, because many of those behaviors are ingrained/systemic. Not meaning to be sexist doesn't excuse sexism.

I agree that call out culture sometimes doesn't leave room for nuance and sometimes unnecessarily shoves people into defensive spaces - i.e. telling people they 'are sexist' vs telling them a behavior they are exhibiting is 'a little sexist'.

In this situation the impact wasn't "The speaker is being offended, I must speak up", the situation was "Im here to hear what the expert has to say on the subject that they are an expert in, and the moderator is doing all the talking" Which would be irritating regardless of the genders involved. But this behavior fit with a very common pattern of men speaking over/for women.


I'm not sure what you even mean by "impact" and "intent". If by impact you mean treating a man differently than a woman, you're neglecting the myriad of factors besides sex which could have resulted in the distinction in treatment. The canonical example being the wage gap, which is ultimately caused by individual choice and not discrimination. If people insist on defining sexism, etc based on the result and not on the cause, then these so-called prejudices aren't worth fighting (because a huge portion of what we're fighting isn't prejudice but individual freedom).

As for "intent", how can one be accidentally racist if racism is defined in useful terms? One can conceivably accidentally participate in a racial disparity, for example, by being an English-speaking business owner providing a useful service, I might only advertise my services in English such that mainly English speakers benefit. Because the racial distributions vary across these language groups, Asians and Hispanics would benefit less, and a race gap might widen. This obviously isn't racism in the original sender of the wires, but people tend to use it in this sense, often it seems to use this ambiguity to make harsh accusations about individual motives while affording the accuser the ability to say "No, I didn't mean it _that_ way! Why are X people so sensitive/guilty/etc?"

The other plausible explanation is that "intent" is meant to refer to a decision by the conscious brain, and prejudice is a deeply subconscious activity. This is generally what I subscribe to, but I could never imagine making wanton and very damaging accusations about the happenings and motives in others when they can't even reliably tap into them. Even when we have existence of a disparity, our society seems quick to attribute it to discrimination, but this is rarely the case to any significant degree (for example, all of the data on the wage gap suggests that discrimination is responsible for a small fraction of the gap at very most).


There can not be any sexism without the behavior being based on sex, and it in this case it isn't clear that it was. That's an assumption people are making.


That's not true at all. Sexism comes from the conclusions others draw, not the intentions of the participants.

If this makes you uncomfortable, embrace that discomfort. It's the first step to understanding this.


I don't understand the proliferation of these silly definitions of sexism and racism. It's like we spent decades attributing malice to every possible demographic gap, and now that the data don't bear out our conclusions, we redefine those sins so they're actually not even inherently bad (for example, sexism is now the perception of sex-based prejudice and not actually prejudice).

This is the pinnacle of stupidity and hubris. We should be happy with our social progress and move onto other real problems.


The second is that you have a choice about the conclusions you draw. Some don't automatically impute malice or harm. That's the way forward for society.


And isn't that "collateral damage" well worth it?

I mean a moderator for a panel consisting of four men and one woman, in this day and age, shouldn't one of their mental bullet points going on stage be "make damn sure she gets about the same airtime as everyone else"?

In many cases I do feel sorry for the person who's 'called out', but in this case: he failed spectacularly at his task, and when you do you can't expect to fully control the narrative of why that happened...


> In many cases there may be neither.

The story tells how the audience applauded to the "let her speak" comment, and how afterwards a large number of people came to thank her for the comment. So in this case it was a large number of people who perceived there being sexism.


Which isn't evidence of much; millions of people assumed Darren Wilson was a racist murderer even after the facts were known. There's a very strong temptation for some people to perceive injustice everywhere.


> millions of people assumed Darren Wilson

Those people only got partial information from whatever media broadcasts they happened to follow. But the link at hand, the audience literally saw with their own eyes what happened in the panel discussion. They have complete information (unless they dozed off for a while).


And even in these comments, there are people who watched the full video and still came to different conclusions.


Come off it. You can't just disregard all the informed opinions of all the witness who disagree with your uninformed judgment


> You can't just discount all the informed witness acounts

You mean [these informed witnesses][1]?

To be clear, my "uninformed judgment" is consistent with eye-witnesses, the jury, and even Eric Holder's justice department! The case is entirely unambiguous. All of the material evidence and many witnesses corroborated the officer's story. Many other witnesses admitted making false testimonies, and those who didn't admit have conflicting testimonies. There is no reasonable alternate conclusion. Even BLM have distanced themselves.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown#Witn...


No, it's not problematic at all. The behavior was unacceptable. The victim being so used to it that they don't notice the offense doesn't make it not an offense.

You can never hide behind "the victim said it was ok". You need to examine the behavior. Consider the environment in which it took place. Consider the statement the behavior makes to those observing it. Maybe even consider why the perpetrator was behaving that way, but don't give that too much weight.

The important part is that public behavior does not exist in isolation, by definition. Public behavior shapes the world in which it takes place, and the perception of it is shaped by the world in which it exists.

Let me jump to a hypothetical case, totally unrelated to what was presented here:

Let's imagine a couple who in private mutually enjoy the male partner dominating the female partner, including verbal and physical abuse. There is nothing wrong with this. "It's not a problem, she enjoys it" is a perfectly true statement.

Now move that couple's behavior into the public realm. "It's not a problem, she enjoys it" is no longer true. She can completely enjoy it, even feel empowered by it, and the situation still presents a problem. The abuse must now be considered in a wider context. If no one challenges it, it is tacitly accepted behavior. That acceptance influences other people - a man sees that there are no consequences for abusing women and thinks the behavior is a bit more acceptable; a woman sees the same and thinks her only option in that situation is to put up with it.

To move the subject back to the original post, then:

It really doesn't matter whether the victim believed she was being attacked. What matters are the conclusions observers would draw from the interaction. Up until the OP spoke out, an observer would see evidence that it's acceptable for a male speaker to talk over the female speaker he's supposedly asking a question of. The OP speaking out (and the room's reaction to it) provided a very strong contrary signal - it's not acceptable.

In context, does this one incident mean a whole lot either way? No. But our reactions to it do. If you read about this and say "hey, that was a good thing, I should do the same if I notice a situation like that" then you are helping to fight sexism in a real way. Every single time someone says "Let her speak, please" it is creating a tiny shift away from sexism. On the other hand, if your reaction was "this was a non-issue, just ask the woman on the panel", you're not doing a thing to help the culture shift away from sexism.

I'm in the former camp myself. I've been on a work call where a male participant jumped in and started talking over the top of a female participant. I'm ashamed it took me almost a whole minute to work up the nerve to tell him we should let her continue talking. Next time I'll be faster about it. And Marilee's story definitely makes me feel better about doing so in the future.

Don't call this "problematic". It's explicitly shifting cultural norms in the correct direction, a little bit at a time. Stand up for what's right and do the same next time you notice a public situation which would serve to normalize sexism. Trust me, I know how uncomfortable it is. But I also know it's worth it.


It's only a matter of time before more people realizing that making simplistic, gender-based judgments in the name of "combating sexism" is a really bad idea, and probably questionably motivated.


So the top comment here on HN is the one that minimizes the possibility of the incident being rooted in sexism. What a shock.

There's a strange mindset at work here. Everyone perfectly well knows sexism is a real thing that happens in billions of incidents all over the world every single day. Yet somehow the possibility that somewhere, sometime, an accusation of sexism might have been misjudged to some degree, gets some people revved up.


> I don’t a-priori assume that the incident was rooted in sexism

So who is sexist in this scenario?

Turns out its the feminist in the audience assuming that a woman needs someone to cause a public disturbance because she could not help herself be heard.

Why is it every time some social justice event gains public attention, it turns out to not be sexism/racist/etc. at all.


To say "every time some social justice event gains public attention, it turns out to not be sexism/racist/etc. at all" seems like a wild overgeneralization. You would probably be more accurate in saying that while "sexism/racism/etc" are often over-attributed as a cause, they are in fact pervasive, but to varying degrees of influence. The first mistake is to assume there's a singular cause of any behavior.


He was plainly speaking figuratively...


I'd be charitable to their claim if they left it at 'every time', but to say the incidents are not due to sexism 'at all' is not a good argument, even interpreted figuratively.


That seems like an arbitrary place to draw a line; it still seems completely, unambiguously figurative to me, but I'm not going to argue the point.


> 'every time'

...is clearly figuratively as the commenter mentioned.


So who is sexist in this scenario?

Maybe it's no one.

A simple test is to ask yourself if you believe it'd have been sexist for a man to have done the same thing. I think we'd all just assume it was someone interested in what the woman on the panel had to say. It's not automatically 'sexist', or even feminist, for a woman to speak up for another woman.


Because our society has advanced a lot in the last fifty years, but some people want to profit from the appearance of "fighting injustice" or perhaps they feel they need some sort of moral consolation?


I really want to understand the internal monologue of these people. There is some culmination of factors that must result in this need to fight injustice. It just feels like they have some chip on their shoulder from adolescents. Being bullied at school. Having gone through a bad breakup. Something like that.


I agree. I think social justice became an identity or a tribe, and each w̵a̵r̵r̵i̵o̵r̵ person in the tribe joined for their own particular mix of reasons (some were probably legitimately the victims of a prejudice and were overcome with hate for their aggressor and his/her racial/gender/etc group, others may have simply made friends with SJ-types in their formative years and taken on the identity, etc). Once an ideology becomes tribal, it's more or less impervious to rational thought. I think this is probably the case and not just wanton psycho-analysis because it mirrors social psychological work done about politics generally.


That's exactly my interpretation of the situation. The moderator is exceedingly polite towards everyone; there's not a trace of sexism.

More

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: