This suggested measure would force this woman, and others, to face this vicious abuse all the time, with no escape except not to use the internet.
This seems like a bad idea. Problems like this are precisely why we must protect the rights to anonymity and pseudonymity, and indeed work to make them normative. (And that's without even getting into the fact that real-names policies have been conclusively shown not to make people behave better.)
Maybe I lead some sort of cloistered life online, but I don't think I have ever seen anything like it. And yes, I am male and my co-founder is female, and all of our team use our own profile pics within our chat widget. I will never tolerate even a paying customer treating any of my team with anything but courtesy and respect.
I have seen all sorts of comments like the ones mentioned in the article, and I hate to say it, but many of them came after we got profiled in places like Hacker News (and other tech websites, too, to be fair.)
One that had a referrer as a thread on Hacker News kept insisting I couldn't be a real person, and wanting me to do basic math like 2+3 "before he would talk to me." It was gross.
I put my own face as an avatar on my current client's chat without thinking twice. Less than 24 hours later, my first interaction on the chat was harassment. Their product is an enterprise B2B SaaS.
I'm a bit confused, is this an example of harassment? I'd be pretty sure I was talking to a bot in one of those chat popups as well.
I put that in there specifically to circumvent people asking if this was a bot.
The person who kept asking me to answer simple math questions had the context of this being the initial interaction. Furthermore, he didn't stop at asking once. He continued to repeatedly ask me to answer math questions, and when I asked him to please ask a question about our product or service, he would refuse and smirk about how I was obviously a bot because I refused to play his game.
It was this repeated questioning that turned it into harassment, from my perspective. And this single interaction was part of a pattern of harassment, both sexual and otherwise, that I've seen manning B2B SaaS chats.
I can also attest that men who've run the same live chats, at the same companies, with their avatars and real names do not get this sort of harassment at all. In fact, they have been shocked at the level of harassment received by simply having a female face and/or name.
Nice idea, but nothing prevents one from writing a bot that starts conversation with "I'm a real person" so that people would type their questions to a cheap bot instead of demanding to speak to an expensive human. Thus not all people trust this. Plus of course not all people read anything that is written as a chat header, because the assume it is a boilerplate filler like "we value your feedback and eager to help you" blah blah, no relation to my actual question so I won't read it.
That of course presents a problem - how do you prove you're human if a bot could always be doing the same thing? I don't really know :)
And yes, chatbot designers frequently use pictures of attractively looking women to make the customer more likely to engage with a bot. Which trains the users in a predictable way, unfortunately.
Basically, if I read dang correctly it is not possible to disagree, because a) she identified as being female, and b) said it was gross, c) it was mentioned in the context of abuse.
I feel like HN just jumped the shark.
You are just trolling, and I am only responding because dang's comment may not be visible to other people reading this thread.
"One that had a referrer as a thread on Hacker News kept insisting I couldn't be a real person, and wanting me to do basic math like 2+3 "before he would talk to me." It was gross."?
(I am not trolling. Disagreeing with your point of view is not the same thing as trolling.)
Now obviously I don't know what happened there, but the above interpretation is not only plausible, it's almost inevitable if you begin by assuming that the other person is just as smart as you are. Instead you began by being a jerk, assumed stupidity on the part of the other, and threw in additional insults. If you behave like that on Hacker News again we will ban you.
I'd like to point out that using this word to imply certain traits (commonly stereotyped to male behaviors) is not much different from calling someone a pussy to imply weakness/sensativity/etc.
I'm sorry, but I literally laughed out loud reading that one. It was gross to have to do natural language processing plus arithmetics?
I hate it when people force me to do arithmetics early in the morning. So gross!
Seriously though, what I do hate is when money-hungry people hijack worthwhile movements for their own monetary gain.
"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."
... you've also been just plain rude. (Edit: and by adding the "money-hungry" slur, crossing into bannable incivility.) Please don't do these things on HN.
I recently offered to let someone email me to discuss their issue. They were all enthused. We never discussed their issue. They basically wanted to know when I might come visit their country. I cut them off and let them know they could write back if they had any actual questions about [issue]. I never heard back.
There is a very short list of men who will talk to me like a human being. But about 99% of men have only one reason they would ever talk to me and that reason is to treat me like a talking fleshlight.
It's very frustrating and I'm getting to the point of starting to be pretty mad about the whole thing. Then when I comment on my gender being a factor contributing to my intractable poverty, inevitably someone is a jerk about that and acts like I am crazy.
You lost me on this.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support twitter moments yet (you have to copy the original tweet url) and, really, REALLY unfortunately, doesn't support this particular "old" tweet because the twitter API doesn't allow fetching tweets more than a few months old. :/
Have you confirmed this with your cofounder?
- it's only because people think you're a bot
- it's because of your target audience
- it's because chat widgets are annoying
- you don't really have enough data to make any conclusions
How much will it take to convince the average HN reader that sexism actually is everywhere?
Many comments in this thread are lamenting these dismissals, which happen to be languishing at the bottom while this comment as well as the original article are massively upvoted. If I were to draw a conclusion about how the community generally feels about this issue, it would be opposite to yours.
When about sexism: “unless this is a triple-blind study that has been repeated across every continent, let’s not jump to the conclusion that there is a lot of online sexism”.
We should all up our game here. It’s depressing how oblivious a lot of the posts are on these comments.
Clearly, the female avatars received the worst abuse. And the effect was so strong, so immediate, and based on a solid hypothesis. Something has gone very badly wrong with the internet and we should be working out what we can do about it, rather than sticking our fingers in our ears saying “boys will be boys” or “this isn’t scientific!”. Are we all too defensive to admit there is a problem?
Instead, people here are looking for realistic fixes - like making the chat box not automatically open so only those who need support will go out of their way to get it. I think the author would have been much less likely to receive abuse if people were actually there to ask her questions about her service than because they had just searched for a way to to generate a shitty meme. I could be wrong about that, but it'd be an interesting thing to do an A/B test with I think.
Perhaps it makes more sense to put it into security terms - In the same way that it doesn't make sense to don't go around talking about how we could live in a dream world where bots don't scan the internet for weak SSH credentials all day, it doesn't make sense for us to go around talking about a dream world where sexism simply doesn't exist. The author found a good compromise to defend herself against that threat - many people on HN are just suggesting other possible defenses.
I think the internet has just served to exposed something heinous that has been in our society for eternity. Plenty of men have held these attitudes from time immortal, it's just that the internet gives them an easier means to express those attitudes without consequence.
I presume those that think this way either have no female friends or have not asked them about it.
Men generally don't get catcalls or get their body fondled by strangers.
Unfortunately it is one of those things that women and sometimes men will have to sacrafice if they want to live in a free country.
But vastly more men catcall or grope women than the other way around. That's the issue.
> It's a general projection, "why would anyone do that?".
To assert power and dominance (both attributes that are part of the common definition of "masculinity" in western societies).
Was a male bartender for nearly two years. I agree it happens from time to time that customers try to score with you, but it's really incredibly rare compared to the stuff my female colleagues had to endure (maybe twice over my career vs daily).
Yeah... I still got it!
The average HN reader is a huge beneficiary of sexism. Most people do not have the mental fortitude to accept that a decent chunk of their good fortune is due to something like this.
I dispute that statement. (I will admit that you can find some possible benefit to the majority from sexism. "Huge" is a much larger claim, though.)
Humans are guided by stereotypes and superstition and not scepticism and scientific reason. And if there is an individual that is sceptical and demands scientific reason, they are punished socially for it. This makes homo sapiens look a bit bad in my eyes.
Don't think putting a can of Coke in a cup was the problem there.
"coke" and "Coke". Different things.
A single punch is battery. A single genital grab is sexual assault. A single demand for quid pro quo sexual favors in exchange for professional rewards is sexual harassment. A single message asserting that an individual is not right for their job because of their gender creates a hostile work environment, and that's also sexual harassment.
Just because there can be cases where a single message does not constitute sexual harassment doesn't mean that a single message can never amount to sexual harassment.
A single demand for quid pro quo sexual favors in exchange for professional rewards is a sexual offence, a bad one, and alone it is not harassment. IANAL, though the dictionary definition sticks with me, especially the key words: "multiple", "unwanted", and "intentional".
That's why "harassment" as a word exists, it is to indicate that multiple unwanted events have happened intentionally.
Maybe the legal definition of "harassment" differs from the dictionary definition. If so, a new word for single event harassment needs to be chosen.
That's simply wrong -- a single egregious instance can certainly constitute harassment, both in terms of common sense and in terms of legal consequences. What matters is severity -- and though repeating the behavior makes it more likely to be judged as severe, one bad incident can easily exceed the threshold. A quid-pro-quo proposal of sex-for-promotion is a perfect example.
Unless my understanding of the word "multiple" (and "persistently" and "continually") is completely wrong...
> Aggressive pressure or intimidation. ‘they face daily harassment and assault on the streets’
English doesn't have a definitive dictionary, anyway -- usage determines meaning. It has been the case for decades that a single quid pro quo proposal could be ruled as "harassment" in court. (As it should be!) Is it any wonder that colloquial understanding would reflect legal reality?
However, in every case where multiple messages were sent, that's clearly harassment in many jurisdictions. Additionally, the sum of actions by multiple people constitutes harassment. Also many jurisdictions will consider it harassment if there is a single, severe incident. However, many of these laws only apply when a co-worker is the harasser.
In summation: your statement is not necessarily correct.
Most people don't witness these kinds of things off the internet, or run with groups who never do this outside of one-to-ones with mostly disconnected people.
I don't dispute her results at all, but I can basically guarantee you that I haven't been around where a woman has said "hi" to someone and they're all "Yea, eff your mom". Only confounding factor I think comes in to play is the assumption that it's a bot, so you can say taboo/antisocial things without repute.
Lucky you, I recently saw this 'interaction' between a guy and a girl on the street:
Guy: Hey cutie!
Guy: Hey sexy!
Guy: Hey girl, come over!
Guy: Hey bitch, come over here.
Guy: Go away you ugly bitch!
The girl just kept walking and the guy turned to more profanities. This wasn't in some shitty part of town, it was at the main station of one of the nicest cities in the Netherlands. It's not just the internet where stuff like this happens.
Obviously it should be clear that I’m not talking about all men, but I have seen this behavior on occasion before and it’s super unnerving.
Are you serious? There is nothing rude about it, she didn’t owe that random stranger anything and it was incredibly rude of him to make unwanted and unsolicited advancements. Yelling “cutie” and “sexy” at a stranger is incredibly rude.
Saying "Hi cutie" isn't exactly a polite or respectful way to start a conversation. Ignoring it is frankly the most polite way to deal with it.
Also I'd expect ordinary people to handle a rejection like that without any problems. (I'm born in Europe and spent most of my time in Europe but would expect this to be the same in North America based on the few times I've worked there.)
When you use the word "sexism", notice how it was not necessary to say "against women". This little example highlights the strong societal view that there exists sexism against women far more than any against men to require that clarification.
The reasons I find it necessary to highlight this fact is: from the perspective of someone trying to intentionally provoke offence in others, this view is an obvious candidate for exploitation when the target is a women.
I'm talking about trolls of course, but it seems to be so hard to get that point across here... there is a clear bias in the offensive messages, but if they are all trolls (and they certainly look that way), then surely the bias reflects the simple fact that sexism against women is a reaction provoking topic, rather than "wow we have a sexism problem look at all these legitimate sincere comments", I mean isn't the later exactly what the trolls wanted.
> How much will it take to convince the average HN reader
that sexism actually is everywhere?
In a sense, it obviously is. But I want to reflect a bit on what that might entail.
You will note (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16390786) that the amount of sexist threads was 14 per week, which, in the period of 3 months with 2100 messages, gives about 1% of messages.
For reference, the DSM gives the prevalence of psychopathy at 3% for males and 1% for females (https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-people-are-psychopa...).
So, even though this sexism is a societal problem (in the sense that it exists in our society and is hard to extricate from comunities) it is not clear that sexism (or at least the sexism displayed in the article) is a problem with a social solution: teaching children (or people in general, as it may be) that this is not OK probably would not reduce the problem much further.
I predict, therefore, that no amount of society-wide measures against sexism can reduce this (very marginal!) behaviour (if the chat itself remains consequence-free for the users). That is: that fighting sexism is not gonna help this at all, and we'd need other, technical and local-to-the-website solutions.
> How much will it take to convince the average HN reader that sexism actually is everywhere?
That it is everywhere, in the sense that some (few) people bring it everywhere, not much. That it is everywhere, in the sense that all of society is guilty of it and each person should try to fix it in themselves, evidence of an entirely different sort.
I would love to see this experiment done as a function of time of day in the user’s IP location. There have already been studies showing higher rates of abusive behavior towards women from low-status males and if internet activity follows general population entertainment consumption trends from television we can infer that there is a higher likelihood of someone being low-status active on the internet during daytime working hours.
I wonder if people are more likely to assume it's a bot when a female image is used - I've noticed that a lot of sites that are automated (or at least aren't so directly connected to a real person) use stock photos of female staff. Certainly not a justification, but could be a factor.
I wonder if there's any way you could control for that to get truer data (I'm not doubting the overall conclusion that sexism is rampant) - maybe explicitly say "This is/is not a bot" or trial photos that look like very stereotypical/generic stock photos?
It doesn't even come close to showing how "sexism is everywhere". For all we know the sample could be entirely edgy 12 year olds.
Tell me again how this self-admittedly "non-rigorous scientific study" proves "sexism is everywhere"?
It could easily be that more attractive profiles result in more interactions and receive the same proportion of sexist responses. Their data measures sexist messages not the proportion of sexist messages over all of their interactions.
Because there have been multiple accounts of bad behavior, both subtle and not-subtle, at tech conferences (https://shift.newco.co/what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-at-a-tech..., https://blog.juliaferraioli.com/2014/08/do-you-even.html), but those aren't studies, they're just isolated experiences, so we can ignore those.
And there have been multiple accounts from women who won't use a feminine identity online due to harassment (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3411627), and really talented women who have to endure sexist work environments (http://rachelbythebay.com/w/2011/12/04/meeting/), and, occasionally, even much more lively discussions from women on what it's like to work in tech (https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/4ioxw9/as_i_sit_i...). But, again, these aren't studies, so we can ignore them.
Of course, there have been studies, including one that found feminine names in chats got 25 times more malicious messages (http://www.ece.umd.edu/News/news_story.php?id=1788), which would seem to support this woman's experience too ... but, surely, we can find some way to dismiss that, too, right?
The important part is that, every time a submission like this comes along, we rush to the comments section to try to shout it down.
There are surely some medium.com posts about experiences that other developers have had that we could upvote instead. Preferably, ones from developers who don't happen to be too feminine.
If you assume a constant rate of harassment (say 5% of men harass women per year) then a woman who works alongside 20 men and 5 women (a common ratio in tech) will get harassed more than a woman who works with 12 women and 13 men (a more typical non tech ratio).
And in truth I wouldn’t be surprised if as women get more outnumbered the frequency of harassment tends to go up.
I'm not sure that's a statement I'd make. I don't think I know enough to say that.
It's tempting to let myself get nerd-sniped into a longer, less productive discussion comparing different fields and pontificating on different possible causes, but then I'd be making the same mistake as so many other people here.
What we really need in these conversations is fewer people like James DaMore writing dissertations on the subject and more people saying, "hey guys, stop being dumb ass holes."
This is a problem that is better resolved by calling out socially repugnant behavior rather than dissecting it.
I am so glad someone on HN is here to tell us exactly why we aren't allowed to have a rigorous discussion when it comes to this topic, in particular.
It is interesting how you immediately reframe women getting harassed as misogyny. Nevermind women likely get more attention online as well.
Let's have a look at the study  you mention. Which measures private messages received from an IRC channel by a bot. Do you honestly not think a female username will receive more attention given the typical gender composition of an online IRC channel? (Who still uses IRC apart from unwashed CS nerds?) 25 times messages likely means there were 25 times more males than females in that particular room.
 Meyer, R., & Cukier, M. 2006 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.89....
This point is, without properly establishing a base rate of attention VS harassment, all you can do appeal to emotion. Yes women are being harassed in tech, are they being harassed in at a higher rate than other industries? Is it a specifically a tech problem? Is your solution to the problem to accuse men in the tech industry as misogynists/sexists further alienate both sides from each other when you don't even have proper evidence?
Namely because that unstated premise is almost exactly the conclusion of the argument you're trying to argue against.
Your final paragraph is particularly telling. Re-read it and think about the equivalences you're trying to draw.
>The point is that the distribution of genders are likely overwhelmingly male.
Do you just intentionally ignore the fact that without there being a differential rate of harassment between people on the basis of sex that this doesn't matter in the slightest? Your argument assumes the point you're trying to argue against.
Work on your reading comprehension before spitting out snark.
It's somewhat disingenuous to say "messages" when the study is specifically counting only "malicious messages" (and makes no mention of how many non-malicious messages were received.)
The statement 'sexism is everywhere' does not mean 'almost all people are sexist'. Instead, it means 'almost all women suffer from sexist attitudes in most areas of their lives.
If 10% of people are sexist, that is easily enough for all women to notice it.
I'd guess the real threshold is more like 3% of people being sexist.
Rachel’s guess is 0.28%, or roughly 1 of 350.
A single story like this doesn't prove anything, but the flood of stories just like that paint a pretty clear picture.
At some point you can no longer say: "This is an isolated incident".
The newspaper rarely bothers to write stories about things that are likely to happen to you, like dying from a hospital mistake, car crash or a drowning.
The risk of dying in a terrorist incident in the US is essentially zero, but you'd never know that from the flood of newspaper stories about it.
The problem with this is there's really no such thing as an "anti-sexism" story. No one posts news about how they worked at a company and everyone was just a normal person. That's not news, that's just life. It happens all the time, and in fact it's probably happening right now within a few hundred meters of almost everyone reading the post, yet it will never make the news. Moreover, the vast majority of news articles on this site are analyzable as containing an absence of sexism, but that's not an "anti-sexism" story either.
What I'm trying to get here is that the signal you are listening to is unidirectional. If you're incrementing a mental counter of "how many sexism-related articles have I seen" without any way of decrementing it then yeah, eventually you'll hit a number you dislike. That's not because there's any meaning behind your metric though, it's just because you've structured your metric in a way that means given infinite time, you'll hit /all/ the positive integers.
Anyway, that doesn't mean that sexism isn't a major problem. But it does mean that you, jakobegger, don't know if it's a major problem or not.
There are enough murders every day to cover the front page of hacker news with a story about each one. It doesn't mean murder is a rampant problem in our society.
There are mountains of real stats. Have you tried to look? All you have to do is google "sexism statistics". The first hit for me has a link to a real study about online interactions: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/
> There are enough murders every day to cover the front page of hacker news with a story about each one. It doesn't mean murder is a rampant problem in our society.
What a strange statement. Since there are enough murders every day to cover the front page of HN, doesn't that prove it's a problem? If sexism covered the front page of HN every day, would that mean it's less of a problem than it is now?
Murder is a rampant problem in our society. There are entire countries with less than one tenth the murder rate of the U.S. Are you suggesting that because the problem is everywhere, it's not a problem?
That you personally know of, despite citing even one?
If a proper study of incidents like this is done, with good stats relating to the totality of incidents in context - i.e that takes into account the full picture, we could then conclude something.
The male co-founder is an attractive man. He did not receive nearly the same amount of sexual harassment. It's reasonable to suspect that the reason is gender. Your objection is true, it could be that way. But given all of the priors we has in this area, it's quite reasonable to lean towards a gender-bias in receiving sexual harassment.
It does not help anybody to come on to a place like HN and broadcast how deplorable you think everybody else is. Even the possible benefits it could bring, like setting the tone for making it clear this isn't acceptable, is handily defeated by the amount of anger you create by accusing people willy-nilly of sexism (which, by the way, people are supposed to be angry about, remember; if sexism is one of the True Evils of the world you should not be surprised when people react to accusations of it) and the way it makes those who are behaving well start to wonder "Why, exactly, am I bothering reigning in these impulses if I'm going to be bathed in accusations of sexism anyhow?"
Whatever the solution is, it isn't going to be found in abusing broadcast media like internet discussions.
No, the number of harassing interactions is in the millions, and the people who acknowledge it's a problem are the majority of people. You are in the minority by denying that this is a real problem.
> It really shouldn't be surprising when the proposed solution to the former is to endlessly harass those doing the latter and accuse them of sexism day in, day out
Did you seriously just claim you're being harassed by this article??
If an article about Julia's experience and not about you or directed to you is harassing you just by existing, how exactly do you think Julia feels about the people calling her names and demanding sex? Do you have any sympathy for what she or other women are going through online?
If reading the topic of sexism bothers you, what about helping to eliminate sexism and harassment? Maybe if we get rid of the sexism, the articles will go away?
> Whatever the solution is, it isn't going to be found in an abusing broadcast media like the internet discussions.
I don't understand this sentence. Where is the solution, and why don't broadcast media help? Public awareness on many topics is going up, due to the internet and broadcast media, for example, public awareness of science. Most people consider this trend a good thing.
Were you forced to read the article? I don't understand the suggestions that the internet & broadcast media are abusing you somehow. Maybe take a break and go outside?
Here are some more stats about the state of sexism in the U.S. and abroad, to help you understand how women, not you, are the victims of this problem.
Please consider more deeply the meaning of the word "ratio". You have no idea what the actual number of either harassing interactions is, nor non-harassing interactions, as it isn't even possible to formulate a definition of "an interaction". But there is no scenario in which these interactions are not a vanishing, vanishing minority of interactions. It literally could not be any other way, because if it was, say, the majority of male/female interactions, that would mean literally more than half the time a man passes a woman in the street, the man harasses the woman. Absurd.
"Did you seriously just claim you're being harassed by this article??"
No, I'm claiming that what you are doing, as are many other people, are harassing people, who are on average the wrong people. And then being very, very surprised when they don't take it very well. Well, yeah. You attacked, so what do you expect? Do you seriously think you helped anyone, even if we assumed for the sake of argument you read my post correctly, which you didn't? No, you didn't help anything. You just made it worse.
"I don't understand this sentence."
Well, try reading my post again with these corrections in mind. You may not agree with what I said, but it may help you understand it. Especially if, again, you consider that I consider your post a prime example of what I am talking about.
> Please consider more deeply the meaning of the word "ratio". You have no idea what the actual number of either harassing interactions is, nor non-harassing interactions, as it isn't even possible to formulate a definition of "an interaction".
Yes, I do. I gave you a link to some actual data. You pulled your "ratio" out of your butt. Please investigate the data, or provide your own source, before you claim the ratio is so small it doesn't exist.
"Roughly four-in-ten Americans have personally experienced online harassment."
"women are about twice as likely as men to say they have been targeted as a result of their gender (11% vs. 5%)"
> But there is no scenario in which these interactions are not a vanishing, vanishing minority of interactions.
That statement is flat out wrong, but feel free to prove it.
> No, I'm claiming that what you are doing... You just made it worse.
I harassed you before I commented? I made what worse, exactly? What is the problem you're talking about, and why is it worse than what Julia experienced?
> I consider your post a prime example of what I am talking about.
Please, instead of being hyperbolic and emotional, explain clearly how I or anyone is attacking or harassing you. I am arguing with you, yes, as you are arguing with me. You're acting like you didn't choose to participate here, like something unfair is happening to you. You're acting like your choice to consume media is hurting you, you're acting like your feelings reading about someone else's problems are worse than their feelings about their own problems.
I’m a man. I feel neither harassed nor accused by this post simply because I don’t harass woman. If you feel accused though, maybe it’s worth taking a closer look at yourself and ask why.
So in addition to proving my point about how berating the people who aren't part of the problem is very common by providing an example before the ink was hardly dry on my post, you've set yourself up for attack in the world of today. You need to be more careful.
(Edit: I suspect I'm being downvoted because some people may have a hard time understanding I'm not just being rhetorical about people saying it's all men, and that it's especially men who think they're innocent. To them, I would commend spending 15-30 minutes browsing through the various results at https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=en&q=all%20men%20are%... . Not just a scan through the results to confirm your prejudices, but to actually look at the conversations happening, which is why I specified 15-30 minutes and not just "a glance". And while I'd observe it may not be "the new york times" for all those results, it's not just "Joe Bob's Blog & Grill" or Tumblr for those results either. I'm also not saying that every last result will say that, but the existence of results refuting the argument also point to the fact that it is being deployed.)
I understand you think they are saying all men, but unless you can read minds over the Internet, that’s just your opinion.
But more than that, saying “men are sexist” does NOT imply “all men”. It means “a large-enough-to-be-generalized number of men are exist”.
If you think it means literally all men (and hence feel attacked by it), in my opinion, on some level, you are sexist and are just trying to avoid discomfort/guilt by spouting #NotAllMen.
Even if someone temporarily accepts this "large-enough-to-be-generalized" definition, it may have a hard time to retain "large" part, because a number on topic is not more than 156/55000, assuming that 156 is a unique set.
"Women can't code"
Not only is it true for a substantial portion, it's true for the majority of women (and men, for that matter). But would you criticize those who object to the statement?
In this light, the “context of thousands of similar things” is one great generalizing bs.
To take it to extremes, that abuse could entirely be the fault of one single person who frequents every forum on the internet (you suggested it was "just 12 year old boys"). That the cause of the problem is only a small subset of men in no way affects the fact that there is a problem that makes being a female tech-person a less pleasant experience than being a male tech person.
I am aware of no study or plausible anecdotal evidence of a significant issue that men are exposed to that women aren't.
Lacking something to 'balance it out' I find it reasonable to conclude that women have a less pleasant experience.
By itself, this article doesn't prove that, it's only one more data point in the vast unending ocean of data points that prove it.
> It could easily by that more attractive profiles results in more interactions and receive the same proportion of sexist responses.
You're imagining something fairly contrary to what the article said, and to what many other examples and studies have shown. The primary factor is the gender of the recipient, and while the article is not rigorous, it demonstrated a greater percentage of sexist comments for the more attractive female photo, and demonstrated a near zero percentage for the male photo.
> For all we know the sample could be entirely edgy 12 year olds.
That, um, doesn't count as sexism? If it's all 12 year olds, we still have a problem. Maybe a worse problem.
Out of curiosity, you seem to be arguing that sexism online might not exist, yet it's a huge problem, easily demonstrable and widely known. What's preventing you from acknowledging the issue?
A woman (or man, for that matter) who really gets distressed by being insulted by a 12 year old kid certainly shouldn't be the norm, and I don't believe they are. If every one of those chat messages had a button to "forward this to their parent", they would look completely harmless, but with the anonymity the internet provides, they are just chat messages from what could very well be a 30 year old man, making the dumb prank of an even dumber kid seem like way more than it is.
What I think would be interesting is some sort of age statistic, because I expect at least two thirds if not more of these messages to be from people under 15.
And since somebody will undoubtedly interpret this message like that, no, I am not saying all online harassment can be dismissed, only the large majority of it.
"The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept" - Lt. Gen. David Morrison
What change in society would count as not tolerating these trolls?
Actually that just means society tolerates trolls. You're showing your bias by jumping to the conclusion that everything is sexism or that somehow antisocial and immature people only target women.
Furthermore, western society actually holds in high regard concepts such as frer speech, which covers idiots being able to say idiotic things.
One big difference is that there was no access to the sort of degrading pornography that is just freely available today. A 12 year old boy in the 70s might be able to get his hands on a Playboy or maybe even a Hustler but it took some real effort and those magazines were tame compared to the porn today.
Even if adults don't know that a kid is being shitty, they can still lead by example towards a happier outcome
I'm glad you're very unlikely to work in any kind of K-12 educational setting, given how eagerly you write kids off.
On the other hand, a 35yo educated person, that just wants to make something silly for ther corporate 'yammer', will definitely NOT insult or waste time in any other manner.
Kids will be kids.
Uneducated kids will be uneducated kids.
And we should all be patient, as.. ahem.. we were kids one time :)
I wouldn't take those odds, if I were you. Being 35 is no guarantee of not-being-an-asshole.
Despite what marketing people tell you about "creating a connection" or "showing that your company is made of real people", often a bit of distance and professionalism is best for your relationship with customers.
Only if you want to avoid rude/sexist messages. You can get more normal messages with good looking girl, and that's what matters for business.
So to answer your question, I would not want to avoid sexist message if it means less money for my business. It's extremely simple to ignore bad people on the Internet. It's hard to earn money.
> it's better to present yourself as an anonymous avatar than a real person
is not what's implied from the article. Rather it should be:
"it's better to present yourself as an anonymous avatar than a real person if you want to receive less crap"
Note: there's a user in this discussion saying in their case image of good looking woman worked the best.
If 12-year-olds are being sexist to be edgy, that's a problem in itself. Also, if it was people deliberately trying to be edgy, I'd expect way generic, or possibly racist, to be directed at Eric Lu, which does not seem to be the case.
If crappy programmers make crappy chatbots, and they all have female pictures, then people's disdain would not be caused by a sexist reasoning, but by the widespread practice of using female pictures in crappy chatbots.
I have no idea how would one go about testing this theory, specially when I believe your conclusion to be correct to begin with. But I can see why other commenters would disagree.
>Other than the creeps, trolls, and bullies, I didn’t notice a shift in the types of questions people were asking - users with problems on Kapwing still asked Rachel for help. But we didn’t analyze the volume of messages, so I can’t say if Rachel got more or fewer messages overall.
Lsh, it is no clear indicator.
Now I agree that the model photo looks a little more artificial for reasons beyond gender, and they should probably have compared with a male model photo as well. Though personally I suspect people would still think it more likely that an attractive man was a real person than an attractive woman.
Except it's not. Stock photos of good looking women are routinely used in marketing to attract users. It's proven by stats from A/B testing.
Okay, I'm being glib, but this idea that thinking of a plausible causation with no further critical analysis means it's "not sexism" is kind of exasperating.
I'm only saying a person using good looking woman as an avatar because of a/b testing does not make him sexist.
Whether they make a decision based on internal biases caused by societal norms, or make a decision by measuring those societal norms directly and responding to them, the decision is still an expression of societal sexism.
They're photos, though. They're real. Not "fake"
But people tend to rationalize selectively, and only when it benefits their worldview. The parent comment made that clear, but you sidestepped that point. I don't think the downvotes are necessarily virtue signaling.
I was temped to downvote you, though. I live with a woman, and know many more, and I've been party to the sexism and harassment they deal with on a day to day basis. I've been party to people not believing what they say because of what's between their legs (eg "...take it for pure truth because a woman said it?"). I've been party to my wife being groped on a crowd, and seeing young teenage girls being catcalled by grown men. I've had female friends who have been raped. At this point, the evidence is more than anecdotal to me.
I find myself wondering, when I read comments like yours, if the people who make them have absolutely no connection with any women at all.
But why are you surprised about this if the next article on HN may be about technology in PornHub?
It’s okay to treat women as a piece of meat in porn, but suddenly it’s a big deal if people are making sexual comments?
No more or less than it's ok to treat people as units of work in corporations. I rarely see sex-tech on HN anyway, plus not every feminist has a problem with porn.
I don't rationalizing it, but I believe, the points you mention are important. And in addition, yes there are idiots on the internet. And not all problems have a easy wrong solution...
The blog post is (for me) shallow and the 'tests' would need to be expanded to be really interesting: what happens if you put on pictures from women from different cultures, ditto men from different cultures? Where are these insulting comments coming from? Does it also happen if you use 'less-into-your-face chat widgets'? etc...
I wonder what you expected. Actually, for most of us its not shocking, as that is exactly the internet we know for some time now. Have you ever been around when some 15ish boys are in a small group? They keep saying such crap the whole day. Some of us eventually grow up some day, but some seem to be stuck in their puberty forever.
I don't like it either, but I haven't found a cure for that disease yet. I mean in some online gaming communities its daily business and when you hear those guys grunting into their microphone you are very happy to have mute buttons and kick/ban vote systems (telling them to stop doesn't seem to have a positive effect on the situation).
The difference here seems to be that, you don't have to play online games, but when you work in our industry you have to cope with such crap.
Btw. whats wrong about 'rationalizing' things? I mean your list just shows quotes of people missing the point.
I personally would be very interested to know why "Julia" is being insulted much more than "Eric", but saying "this is because of sexism" is no better than saying that "the sun is bright because it shines".
The causes of sexism is another subject. But the first step is to acknowledge sexism is going on in the first place.
This argument could stand if we knew the exact sexual preferences of site users. If tested auditory was e.g. 100% to-male-attracted, what is your guess about “Eric” getting harassed or attacked vs “Julia”?
Also the whole "strong statement requires an extraordinary amount of work" thing is entirely dependant on your outlook. I could just as easily say the opposite statement (that sexisim is minimal) and suggest that it requires extraordinary evidence to prove that. The degree to which you think something is extraordinary depends on your outlook and experience, it is rarely objective.
You could, and it does. But it's it matter of opinion/semantics that this is "the opposite statement".
In context, a specific claim is a specific claim, whichever way it goes. The "opposite" in another sense, is to make no claim, and therefor stick to the default position of allowing for either possibility without knowing which (agnostic position?). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that position, and it requires no additional information, as opposed to "less formal information".
Now, if you claim we need to adopt a specific position, and do so with little information, i.e. without the time/money to do so then you'd have to justify that - i.e why isn't it strongly desired, yet still apparently important, to hold a position on the topic?
To some extent, I would take it with a grain of salt. Anonymous internet accounts can be fabricated and controlled by groups or individuals. This is also something that should be taught, actively.
Do not let apparent social pressure have you concede rationality, truth.
So I stopped responding to any message that was inappropriate, mean, or nonsense. It’s a waste of time and energy when you’re trying to grow the company.
Also, IRL anecdote. My ex-wife used to get heckled and cat-called all the time when walking alone (even pushing baby pram). Number of times it happened when she was walking with me? 0. I'm amused and saddened by all the incredulity on display here. I could have said "well I've never seen it, so it's not happening..."
EDIT> You have to be a special kind of ignorant or inexperienced to not have noticed that this is how people talk to women when there are no consequences.
I almost entirely agree with this. Chat pop-ups are _incredibly_ annoying. Many websites have a livechat tab at the bottom, or at the side of the screen that you can click to initiate a chat, and that's fine, but the chat should _never_ be initiated automatically (or appear to be). Once the page loads, any change in the main area of a website should _only_ be initiated by user interaction, such as clicking the 'chat' tab at the bottom. Otherwise, for the interruption it generates in my thought process, you might as well just load another page entirely.
But it wasn't nearly as bad when the avatar was male or nonhuman.
Might I suggest another round of trials but changing up the message when someone joins? It reads quite like a bot/automated system/interactive FAQ, as others point out.
I know that personally if I join one of those with a bot you can usually get a real human on the other end if you curtly answer questions and voice dissatisfaction with the bot answers (e.g. "this doesn't help") at which point it offers to give a human.
What I'm saying is I wonder how this gender effect would interact with a 'bot-like' variable—if people would react this way if the message was more along the lines of "hi, I'm Rachel and I'm a real human working for…'
Then they want to see how the bot responds to stupid memes.
I'm not the kind of person that routinely insults chatbots but if I'd see a portrait photo of a woman I'd likely assume it's a bot, simply because too many companies use fake photos of smiling women because someone told them it's good for business (though this article makes me wonder if that trend might finally change).
Still not as bad as surveys ("Yes, your website was fine until you popped up a modal for this survey which broke my interaction...")
FYI, we tested a while different pics, female, male, average looking, good looking and we just got the best conversion rates with the above mentioned.
"Your real face is too ugly, sorry."
I'm a guy, by the way.
If that's what they interpret, sucks for them.
- your product is enterprise enough to only attract people who are considering speding larger amount of money (and thus are usually more 'adult')
- your users are logged in (and assume you know their identity as they have paid throu their CC)
In an ideal world this would be an attempt at irony.
If you're not an attractive person yourself there are women and girls who are out of your reach. This breeds resentment at an early age, and a weapon of choice, for some, is derogatory language.
Why, because what else can you do to hurt someone so easily without fear of repercussion?
The problem is not just confined to misogynists btw. If you're a man and have an attractive wife or girlfriend the insulting behaviour still goes on, but usually behind your back - these people are generally cowards after all.
When reading the article my first questions were: do these people think there is a real human at the other end, and, if so, do they think the photo is of that human? It's probably impossible to answer that question directly, but putting up a notice similar to "you are talking to a real person, not a bot" and seeing how that affects the behaviour would give some indication, perhaps.