* This is one of the most factual, well written articles that I've encountered on the subject.
* It's just sad to see socially awkward people manifest their sexual frustration in this manner. And it's even sadder to see that the few women we have in our profession feel threatened at conferences. The overwhelming majority of good people need to intervene to interrupt any form of harassment towards anyone and above all report them to whoever appropriate.
* It's important to remember that sexual harassment is not simple unwanted attention from someone you find unattractive. magamiako deleted his comment, but he was right on the money when he said that certain actions will be interpreted as innocuous flirting if the person perpetuating it is attractive, and as harassment if their are not. It may not be PC to say this, but it's important to distinguish unpleasant, but fundamentally innocuos flirting from awkward people, from bona fide sexual harassment like groping or inappropriate touching. The latter must be eliminated from tech conferences.
* Sexism and unprofessionalism can be avoided without being prudish about the content of your presentation. This is a slide I used in one of my Italian presentations. The title reads "Eye candy is important": http://grab.by/grabs/bd8b294c0aa850b4b577012a258979a3.png (Actual slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/antonio.cangiano/tu-vu-fa-lamerica...). This was just after the "CouchDB performs like a porn star" scandal, and several women at the conference complimented me for pulling it off without objectifying anyone.
Sexual harassment includes the comments like the "how much for a sexual favor?" example. That constitutes bona fide harassment.
Here's my example from the last 2 years. I'm blanking on the conference now, but there was a live IRC session running on the overhead, and each time a question was asked by a woman, IRC would be filled with lude and aggressively sexual remarks. It was totally uncomfortable! I think this situation qualifies as bona fide sexual harassment.
Touching or groping someone in a sexual manner is assault (at least it can be in the US.) It's so far beyond mere harassment that it's not the point of the article...
EDIT: for clarity...
I wasn't implying otherwise. Sexual remarks like the ones you describe are certainly uncalled for and a form of sexual harassment.
What I meant is that it's important to draw the line between "awkward flirting" and harassment/assault of a sexual nature, so that severe and proper corrective actions can be taken when actual episodes of harassment or assault happen, and so that they cannot be easily dismissed.
(I wasn't going for the distinction between harassment and assault in my comment, and I used the word harassment as an all-inclusive term for any form of sexual, inappropriate behavior).
UPDATE - after watching it again, they handled it pretty well.
As much as it’s PC to portray men and women as completely equal I think men who witness this behavior have a greater responsibility to step in. Our society has always defined “being a man” as taking on certain responsibilities and I think this is one of them.
Further I think every father should teach his sons that they have a responsibility to be protective of women. That means not just respecting them but stepping up and dealing with a jerk who thinks he doesn’t have to. That’s part of being a man in our society (or at least it should be IMHO)
I’m not saying women can’t do it too but I wouldn’t think less of a woman if they didn’t. I would think less of a man (and again I know how un-PC that sounds but it doesn’t make it less true)
I like to use an analogy when explaining the female mind to men who are not respectful of women's private space: imagine an 8 foot giant of a man whose only thoughts, leers, and actions speak to wanting to have sex with you (or rape you). Visualize that in your head, you may have a better appreciation for the "why's" of women and how they act in social circumstance.
It is perfectly possible to regard someone as physically weaker, but intellectually equal or superior. If I'm making a decision on whether I'm "taking someone seriously", physical strength isn't going to factor into that in many situations. In the context of FOSS conferences, their physical stature is completely orthogonal to whether I give a damn.
From here I only need make the assumption that those physically weaker than their peers may need assistance sometimes, and we're basically there. Of course, I would not assert that all women need assistance, or that some women need assistance all the time - I know some girls that play rugby and I'd wager they could beat 95% of HN readers in a showdown.
However the fact remains that many people believe that stronger people have a duty to protect weaker people, that many women are weaker than many men, and (importantly) that women are being targeted because they are women. I for one am going to step in if I see any shenanigans, because I am a man.
Note on male camaraderie and bravado: I'm not sure whether it is constructive, de-constructive or neither for men to place themselves as protectors and aspire to such ideals as "be a man" and "man up", but in situations like this such phrases serve as good motivators to get people to do the right thing, so unless I find evidence of such phrasing being harmful, I think it's a useful tool to inspire decent behaviour.
I'm up for equality, and I mean real equality. We will be equal when a woman hits a man in the face, and the man responds in kind by punching her, and nobody says anything about "hitting a woman".
Lastly, I have a duty to protect all those I care about, male or female. I would just as well die (or kill) for my guy friends as I would my female friends. What you have between the crotch doesn't matter to me.
From other people your size, yes.
> Can anybody say bullshit?
Sure, but it's not coming from ZoFreX.
If person/entity A is being coercive towards (or just randomly assaulting) person/entity B, you should generally intervene to protect person B if possible. This applies to men protecting women from other men, stronger men protecting less-strong men from other stronger men, the police protecting the general populace from violent criminals, the various forms of consumer-protection laws, employment law, civil-rights protesters and some revolutionaries, teachers breaking up playground fights, ....
There's a reason that social moor exists. Until women catch up in physical power, or men regress, most men will have the power to seriously injure a woman and walk away unharmed, unless the woman is trained or armed. As such, it is a man's duty to take responsibility for this difference, and that is where the taboo on striking a woman came about. There's a partner taboo as well- regarding children- that exists for exactly the same reasons.
Would you argue that someone more powerful does not have a responsibility to manage their strength, and using brute force on women and children should not be considered reprehensible?
And yes, I would also protect my male friends. As it stands though, they are not the ones being sexually assulted (mostly - and in those rare situations, generally the guy is able to get himself out of it), and the article only talked about male on female assault, so that's all I really addressed.
"A presenter had a title slide followed by a slide of bikini-clad women holding laptops, which he said was just to get people to pay attention."
It's rarely attractive men in speedos holding the laptops. The lunch isn't being held at a strip club where men are dancing. It's all these small things that add up to an intolerable environment. It's like little pricks of a needle. It's not that any individual one is "that bad", but it's the bigger picture when society looks at you as a voodoo doll.
I whole-heartedly agree that repeated verbal and physical assault are totally unacceptable, and anyone around must take urgent action against it. But as said above please dont see harassment in everything, just because men find something funny, or because they show a girl on a slide, it is almost never meant to be offensive to anyone. It just isnt, and the poor guy hasnt even thought it could offent anyone. it is just a means of trying to avoid Death by Powerpoint.
And just in case anyone wonders. I do not mean to offend anyone :)
I think the difference is actually that men can laugh at that stuff because a) it's ironic in that those images are typically the other way around and b) that sort of objectification of the male body isn't reminding them that they're at greater risk for sexual harassment and assault. Because they aren't.
The problem is that those images and that humor, in public, about women, happens in the context of a world where women are more easily abused, assaulted and harassed, and men more easily get away with it. So context matters, and in this social context, that "humor" shouldn't be acceptable.
Should I have e-mailed the parent commenter instead of posting publicly how strongly I agreed...?
Furthermore, that sort of slide sends a clear message to the audience about who the speaker thinks they're speaking to. In this case, it says that the speaker thinks that his audience is composed of heterosexual males, which <sarcasm>I'm sure feels just great to any women who might also be in the audience.</sarcasm>
: I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the author of those conference slides did not include them in an attempt to appeal to the audience's lesbian members. I am, of course, willing to be corrected on this point.
I was not there, and I do not know if it was done in the spirit of things--had the conference been in Miami in August, bathing suit clad models wouldn't be terribly out of context--but if pressed to decide whether the presenter acted criminally or in bad taste, I'll err on the bad taste side.
Having said that, and having been to many conferences, and having had large staffs, I can say that I've seen both offensive behavior and harassment proper. I'm not a lawyer, and I've never been an HR professional, but my experience dealing with both tells me this specific situation would not have escalated. Perhaps poor judgement (context considered), but certainly not harassment.
I've read somewhere that using the words "offensive" or "offended by" puts the emphasis on the person who has expressed concern about the situation. It focuses on the negative: "what can we do to be less offensive?".
The article I read suggested using terms like "unwelcoming" or "exclusive" instead--as it puts the focus on the community. This allows us to focus on the positive: "what can we do to become more welcoming?".
So rather than considering whether this is a question of harrassment or offensiveness I find it useful to think of actions being "welcoming" or "unwelcoming" toward members of our community.
It might be uncomfortable, but it is not (in and of itself) harassment. Distinguishing is important, even if you agree that both are a problem.
As an aside, LWN is great and has lots of well written articles, technical and otherwise.
Actually, even something like this is still considered offensive. See http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Sexualized_environment
A sexualized presentation will most likely disproportionately offend women over men particularly in a male dominated audience.
I don't think conferences are a place to have an entirely dry professional existence, but women should feel comfortable that they can interact with men without persistent come-ons. As immature as it may be, men make sexual jokes with men that they don't mean - the "how much for a #%^¥" comment in this article may have been such a comment directed toward a women in an attempt to relate, or it may have been sexist harassment. It's hard to say which from the article. Either way it's immature and reflects badly on the speaker but in only one instance is it real harassment.
I suggest women give these men, many of whom are unsure how to relate to women, the benefit of the doubt that they are joking or just naive, possible even give them some straightforward advice. If someone is persistent, rude, physically assaulting, or otherwise clearly violating you, I think it's your responsibility to report this as well as not to blame the behavior on the entire conference.
I remember once casually joking at a get together, Someone needs to tell ESR that he's not God's gift to women. When everyone was done laughing, it turned out that both women present at the table had actually been propositioned by ESR. (And had turned him down.)
A small minority of men cause the vast majority of the problem. Unfortunately it doesn't take many to create a real problem.
This seems like the most important point. Moreover, it's critical that all men who see and hear of such things work to stomp them out. If individuals don't have the social skills on how to woo, it's a topic for personal discussion. Dating isn't hard if basic respect is the first item to be debugged.
It makes me think of pg's nerd essay and with having just found the fantastic TV show Freaks and Geeks. Sexual socialization ripens when we're most vulnerable. If those hurts are carried into adulthood by otherwise successful people, we need to work as a community to help our friends and colleagues along.
EDIT: For a more positive final note.
I recall a study which found that among the IT community only 3% of males make unvanted advances to women. But because the share of men to women is so lop sided, the women experience a near constant stream of unwanted advances.
I think there might have been an HN discussion abou this... And a few men in traditionaly female dominated professions, like nursing, might have shared similar experiences.
Or I am mis-remembering it all.
You're missing some important numbers. How many made wanted advances?
Following an HN link, I read your article today on LWN http://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/417952/bf6a55b67170ff0e/ and it rang a bell. There's an event I remember from a conference in LSM around 2002 IIRC in Bordeaux, France where I was part of the org team and giving a couple of conferences. It is way more social than most other conferences I attended at that time - in fact, it's now the only conference I keep attending. Everyone is housed on university dorms, the conferences are given in a university, and many social events occur during the conference.
There's a big "dinner night" which I can only compare to the dinners in Harry Potter - long lines of tables, everyone seated to eat but also demoing some technical stuff time to time.
Anyway, that year the dinner was preceded by a cocktail. We were all enjoying french wine and appetizers, when a guy grabbed a bottle from the table next to which we were standing and started running around with the bottle in his hands. I thought this was a playful way to show its running skills, and back then since I enjoyed running too, I started running after him, caught him and started laughting. When I asked him as a prize for my win, with a smile and in a non threatening way, to share the bottle with the rest of us, he suddently turned weird. There was 2 or 3 people around, and he started telling about us about growing in Illinois, having had bullet wounds, knowing how to defend himself, and finally threatening violence.
It was so weird. I didn't know what to do at that time. I let it slip over as the actions of some socially awkward guy. Now if something similar was ever to happen again, after reading your paper I would act very differently - including clearly stating that he should apologize, that such behaviour is not acceptable, and if he thought he could get away with it, as part of the organisation team I would do my best to have him expelled from the conference at once - not the next morning, but right now. And if that could not be made to work with the rest of the team, I would call the police and them deal with him.
It did strike me as odd, because I've been attending that conference since the beginning, 10 years ago, and never noticed something like that again. I went to the OSCON, Linux World and various others I can't remember ATM, in north and south america, but this is the only example I have.
Yet I'm sure the guy had the potential to scare away many other guests. I am forwarding this message to the organizers
, along with a link to your original article to make sure a policy get enacted against unacceptable behaviour by guests.
"he suddently turned weird. There was 2 or 3 people around, and he started telling about us about growing in Illinois, having had bullet wounds, knowing how to defend himself, and finally threatening violence."
To me, this sounds like someone with PTSD, (sort of a Walter Sobchak character, if you're familiar with The Big Lebowski). Could you explain a little more? Is the main idea that the guy threatened violence when you thought you were playing something akin to tag?
Anyway I posted that anecdote to push the message that sometimes we build rationalizations about other people behavior. The article is enlightening - as someone else said, others articles reeked of feminism. This one looks quite serious to me. It made that anecdote flash in my mind.
Now I do not care about the reasons why people do something or something else. In a tech conference, you do not threaten other people. That's wrong. Our mistake is to let such persons get away with that.
Please enlighten me.
I have 2 scenarios - either he stole or he was playing tag. If he played tag, threatening is wrong.
If he stole, what exactly should I have apologised for ?
- letting him steal from an open bar ?
- letting him run away with what he stole ?
- daring to catch up with him ?
- smiling to him ?
- asking him to fill the empty glasses of the people around him with the full bottle he stole ?
For god sake, he was no hobo but a kernel hacker invited to a conference!
I believed it was a dare - like playing tag. Maybe he did believe otherwise - but why exactly would you take a full bottle from an open bar and run around laughting?? But when confronted I repeat in a non threatening way, why try to escalate instead of going back to normal mode and sharing with the folks having empty glasses around?
I mean it's an open bar. You are not paying per drink, but that's not a reason to grab a bottle and run away or like come with a big back and fill it up as in a supermarket.
That's rude. Following up with threats of violence now crosses my line of "non acceptable behaviour".
I encountered a person with very similar behavior at a party once. There was a bunch of horsing around in a mosh pit sort of thing and this other guy grabbed onto him from behind. He flips the other guy over his back and slams him onto the floor so hard the other guy's ankle literally breaks in two.
Be careful with doing things that may potentially be seen as aggressive to other people, your story could have turned out worse.
For the record, the guy with the broken ankle wasn't angry about it, and there's now a pretty cool photo of the broken ankle on the Internet (I mean it literally got broken in two - his foot was fully separated with the bones sticking out). I talked to the PTSD guy about it later. He was defensive and wanted to kick my ass at first, then he also told me about the rough things that happened to him, and then we shared some drinks. He was on ok guy otherwise.
In your case I'm not sure trying to get the guy kicked out would have been the right thing to do. It would have probably escalated a situation that he didn't intend on creating and wasn't consciously responsible for. Handling it so that the guy would have calmed down instead of threatening people would have been better for maintaining decorum and for helping the guy get over his PTSD.
The situation you describe looks like an honest mistake to me - being grabbed from behind is weird. I wouldn't blame him for reacting and hurting the grabber while he was simply slamming him onto the flow. Bad things happen.
But later on, the guy is still threatening you? To me, the honnest mistake apology is gone. PSTD my *ss - he's abusive. I wasn't there and can't say for sure but to me that's totally different.
Yes. But perhaps 'catching' him crossed his.
To follow up on the original subject, let me rephrase what I understood from your one liner: "maybe the female attendees, by daring to show up in non-unattractive clothes, provocked the gropings". Sounds acceptable to you? Not to me.
Huh? I'm saying physically attacking someone (if that's what they perceive) may result in the same.
I think that's fairly obvious, so I've reported your comment.
Nobody should have to carry those hurt feelings around all the time - this would also contribute a little bit to a better world ultimately.
Guys, be good friends and ask for advice. Talk about dating and your difficulties. Your friends in relationships can really help. Just avoid the guys who speak badly of women. They're also a big part of the problem.
I know if I ignore a problem then it always just goes away ... /sarcasm
Probably better, if you can, to stand up against people who are being badmouthed without warrant.
> When strippers were hired to mix with people at the Saturday night event everyone attended, that made everyone uncomfortable
I suspect that there is some level of ignorance and even acceptance in the community
On no planet is it anywhere near appropriate. Jobs may as well crack a load of miscarriage/rape gags during his next keynote, thats on the same level IMO.
Then again, I really do not want to know.
I think that only a small minority of organizers would be that insensitive. Given the number of conferences and events there are, I don't think that that can be taken as typical.
Most of the other incidents were something that can be explained by a relatively small number of creeps. In one of them there was clear evidence that said creep had done the same thing to multiple women.
It is not clear to me that she actually knew the guy's name, or that she reported the incident. If she didn't report the incident (women rarely do), how could he be banned?
The result - while open-source conferences might have the same amount of harassment per male attendee as any other conference, the percentage of female attendees affected by it is much higher.
This creates dramatically different perceptions. As a male, I haven't seen any more sexual harassment at tech conferences than I have at academic conferences on Russian history, so it doesn't feel like there's much of a problem. But from the female perspective, the situation looks like an epidemic.
I have no solution to this unfortunate situation. Perhaps open source conferences should ban alcohol, so everyone can stay properly inhibited. This hardly seems fair to those of us who enjoy having a beer and can do it without molesting others, but a minor inconvenience to the majority is usually acceptable when it prevents a devastating experience for a minority.
Beer doesn't make people creeps... Their personalities do.
I've not had a lot of contact with the autistic (or those with other mental health issues) but lacking proper social inhibitions has come up. If I were a psychologist I think that a FOSS conference would be very interesting.
Not that we're all freaks though ... nor indeed that this excuses uninhibited behaviours (and certainly not sexual assault).
Guys confronting sexual harassers is a big part of the solution, and so is an anti-harassment policy is one good part of a solution. More women will come to conferences if it's not so likely they'll be harrassed.
In most circles of independent minded, proactive people (like those in the OSS scene) that I have moved in, such blatant acts of sexual assault would lead to a massive commotion, probably violence. How can you walk up behind a stranger in a public place full of your peers, grab them on the ass and proposition them for sex without getting something broken over your head, or at the very least being shouted and screamed at?
Sounds like people need to be more willing to stand up for themselves and their friends, to more clearly establish group norms of what is and isnt acceptable.
Articles like this are very depressing to me as a young idealistic developer who sees the open source world as a progressive and egalitarian model for how to live our lives.
What is the point of getting into a potentially life-threatening situation just to teach a jerk a lesson?
As for less drastic responses, I agree that the best way to enlighten people would probably be when caught in the act. It seems unlikely that "photograph upskirt guy" is reading this article and just now it dawns on him "maybe I shouldn't have been doing that".
It shows a level of restraint that is certainly morally commendable, whether it has benefitted the community long term I am not so sure.
> What is the point of getting into a potentially life-threatening situation just to teach a jerk a lesson?
What is the point of getting into a potentially life-threatening situation just to be on the other side of a street? Your question is tautological.
If you do ever need to deal appropriately with some pervert taking upskirt photos, I recommend putting him in a headlock and getting a couple of other guys to help you wrestle him to the ground, where they can hold him down while you lecture him on the subject of good manners and appropriate behaviour.
In other news, I love the image of a cordial lecture on good manners and being polite to women directed towards a guy in a headlock on the ground beneath me. Hopefully I'll have the guts to do it if needed.
Potentially "being different" in addition to standing up and out can be a daunting prospect. There's a lot of perceived social risk in such situations.
This is laughable considering how much talk there is in the hacker world of defying convention, challenging conventional wisdom, standing out from the crowd, changing the world and associated platitudes.
If you're a guy, try wearing hot pink jeans and shoes, a lavender femme-looking unisex top, and nail polish to a tech conference and see how the other guys react. It's eye-opening.
I don't think the hacker community is any more welcoming of dissenting opinions than the world at large. Standing out is a good way to get flamed. Or be told that one's opinion is "laughable". :)
The medium is the message I suppose.
I wonder if this style, applied to this issue, is powerful only for technical people, or it it would be equally compelling to other groups.
I doubt other groups would find this so compelling, because a lot of intelligent, engaged, perceptive people have been writing about this for a long time and I've never seen something like this from a non-technical writer.
On the other hand, this article is much more useful: a compelling description of the problem and examination of what isn't working, followed by a clear call-to-action on what they suggest be done (in this case, adopting a minimal anti-harassment policy).
More like this, please.
> I lay across the bed, sat on laps, generally tried to squish in to any available space and get time to talk to all the fabulous people thronging the place. [...] I had a few drinks. I was wearing a skirt of such a length that I had cycling shorts on under it to make me feel more comfortable getting up on stage and dancing. I had been flirting with a couple of other boys at the party.
Way to be professional...
Whether it's a professional networking event or a fun, crazy, not-so-professional party, no one should be treated in this manner. No matter her (or his) behavior or the atmosphere. Period. Also, she mentioned "sitting on laps" because there was no room in the party, and people have a right to flirt without being, uh, sexually molested.
Finally, the linked article cites this as one example. There are many others, like when the author
organized a group outing to a pub, only to have one of the invited workshop attendees grab my ass while I was having a completely normal conversation.
(EDIT) sp332 points out that GP is discussing the environment at these events, but we're operating in shades of gray here.
The author talks about how the attitude towards women at these events is "institutionalized sexism." That is, people hired strippers etc. for years, and that attitude still exists at conferences/events. Noira could've been out-of-bounds by sitting in someone's lap, but we don't have any information on whether she knows the person, has a relationship with them, etc.
Still, GP's comment implies that Noira's behavior fosters the "sexualized environment" the author is complaining about. My point is that there's a big leap from Noira's flirting to women being groped.
Look guys, women flirt to signal interest. You can never assume anything more than that is intended. It's not fair to them and you'll look foolish (or worse) if you go too fast.
However, read the proposed policy: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/index.php?title=Conference_ant...
> We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference [without a refund] at the discretion of the conference organizers.
Sexual language is forbidden. I think we can agree that this too, is ridiculous.
I just think that no matter how crowded a hotel room, you shouldn't sit on other peoples laps or flirt with people if you actually intend to keep the gathering anything close to professional. If you want to sexualize your environment, I'd suggest a short skirt, flirting and sitting on people's laps.
Sadly, you can't have both.
Even in a sexually charged environment where people are strongly flirting with each other, a reasonable person will know the line between flirting (and back off if the signals are poor) and assaulting someone. When a woman rejects your potentially reasonable advance, shoving your hand down her pants isn't step 2.
I'm a guy, but when I go out I try and look nice. Sometimes I'll flirt with people. That's fine. If I flirt with someone and it's not reciprocated, I stop. Immediately.
You're basically just rephrasing the "she was asking for it"argument there. And it's crap. So don't.
But when rebuffed you don't then feel her up. There is a line to be crossed; she brought the passes on herself to be sure, but not the assault.
(EDIT: the replies to this make it clear my point got a bit twisted. I was rebuffing the parent to this' point about her being flirty at the party; by suggesting that flirtyness is not wrong and neither is [in many cases] making passes at flirty people. But that assaulting them after a clear rebuff is always wrong. In this case it is clear he was entirely in the wrong. Using the word "necessarily" was meant to convey that, obviously that didn't work ;))
Brought the passes on herself? No. You can flirt with someone, if they don't reciprocate, it's not cool. First move = kiss is not flirting, it's massively inappropriate.
Yep, she did. But that is not a blame on the victim.
If you wander round flirting with people they are going to make passes at you. She admits this, and seems fine with it. There is nothing wrong with wandering round being flirty, there is nothing wrong with guys taking that as a signal to make a pass at her.
Feeling her up after being rejected definitely is wrong.
Someone being flirtatious with others is not a green light for you to make a pass. Not if they're not flirting with you. Even then, there's still plenty of nuance and context which would determine whether that's acceptable.
In this case he was in the wrong all the way; but you could put down everything up to the kiss as misguided, or confused or as simply idiotic behaviour. Guys get funny around flirty girls and make stupid choices.
But action after the clear rebuff is a different matter (and this was sorta the point I was trying to make but it got a bit bogged down).
(on re-reading, in this case, I'd only excuse the bit up to the kiss in this case, he seems to have forced the kiss instead of just going for it [if that follows]).
Asking a woman if you can kiss her may feel hard, but looking back on my single teenage years, that's a whole lot easier than "going for a kiss".
I say all this like I'm Mr. Smooth. Nothing could have been further from the truth and I've been in a committed relationship for 13 years. Watching an episode of Freaks and Geeks last night just brought back a lot of tough memories prior to meeting her.
On the other hand, if you can pull off just going for it and she digs it, that makes you look really good.
But sometimes, the first real move in a relationship is a kiss, which comes fairly much out of the blue.
Context is everything.
If women can't flirt in those environs, we're doomed as a species. Unless you want to go trolling at dance clubs?
Definitely. Were you under the impression that I was saying otherwise?
One that I think is most relevant is CUSID( Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate )
It was very much an organization which had a problem with women feeling pushed out, harassed, and uncomfortable. The result of that was that very few women were getting involved or staying involved.
In 2001 they decided to do something about it. They had a long discussion, and implemented a very strict policy about offensive conduct. You can see it here http://www.cusid.ca/documents/official-documents/cusid-code-...
The TL;DR; of it, is that every tournament is obligated to have an approachable "Equity Officer" as well as an anonymous way of submitting "Equity" complaints. These are comments on things that made someone uncomfortable, feel offended, or feel harassed. The equity officer then takes action, at their discretion, usually informing the offender that what they did was not cool, with no tangible punishment. Sometimes ignoring the complaint. Or in rare cases, taking drastic action against an individual.
Having been at the receiving end of two complaints, they take this policy very seriously. There is a very vocal group that believes that the policy is harmful, because it is too restrictive. There is another group that feels it is necessary and should get stronger. It is a political debate, and the two groups keep each other in check, at the current level.
The IMPORTANT result. In 2001, very few women were involved, particularly in upper levels of the community. This year, female involvement has risen to the point that fully half of the 32 finalists in the BP Nationals held two weeks ago, were female.
There are still issues, and a new discussion is being had on refinements to the policy. The point is that confronting the problem head on, did a lot of good. Particularly the point of having a formal way to complain and have the offensive parties made aware of the inappropriateness of their actions, and hold them accountable.
Yes, I got sexual attention, but only in a social context, and nothing inappropriate. I've also gotten "Let's be friends!" attention from people, including other women. In other words, we are there to meet people who share our interests, on a social as well as professional level.
FWIW some people would consider that unwelcoming/harassing--I think the term is "othering". i.e. what's treated as important is not the person or their skill but their gender.
And, yes, it can be annoying for guy in a "traditionally female" domain as well.
Have you considered treating people as people?
See someone (whatever the gender) at a tech conference? Talk to them about tech. Simple.
>And, yes, it can be annoying for guy in a "traditionally female" domain as well.
I think I'd prefer to have people pay attention to me for a particular characteristic if that meant that you could then demonstrate you're more than just that characteristic once interacting.
I'm dad to an 18month old. We use a sling rather than a buggy. No one ever holds a door for me or steps aside, stepping into the road with a baby because jerks won't let you past on the pavement ... anyway, I'm coming to a point here somewhere ... I've been to a few meetings where I'm the only man and I just get ignored. I find group social situations pretty hard anyway but I only get included if I break the ice and usually the only interaction I get is scowls for playing with their kids.
I think I'm ranting, hang on, yup ranting, I'll just sit over here.
OT, are you aware of the HN parents google group?
Maybe I'm not as handsome as your fella.
Thanks for the info.
I think sometimes in an attempt to be enthusiastic about women attending events, it can go a bit too far. Tokenism and othering as, in the long term, just as damaging to gender relations.
I'm not advising that you never come to someone's aid, but be careful before you commit a misdemeanor crime based on someone's claim, especially when alcohol may be involved.
If this is the case, why do these incidents keep happening?
I guess it comes back to the cliched "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing".
And having a stated policy in place is a pro-active way to demonstrate "Hey, in case you were wondering, this kind of behaviour's not okay and this is how we'll deal with it".
Because as a culture we don't know how to talk about these things - when they happen and when we see and hear about them. And when TV shows - like Freaks and Geeks - come along and try, they're canceled after one season.
Though, you'd have to be pretty smooth to pull that off.
I'm not so naive to say that sexism doesn't exist in our industry, because it clearly does, but I would say that the vast majority of people would neither encourage or stand for any sort of sexism, whether overt or not.
I think it is tempting to create a link between the stereotypical 'geek' - who is a guy that lives in his mom's basement and never meets women - and the sort of overt sexism and abuse as described in this article, but that is dangerous. That stereotype no longer exists, if it ever did, and there will always be men, from whatever industry or walk of life, who view women as objects and not equals. We need to work on this attitude in every walk of life, not just in the tech world.
But because the industry is so female light a (relatively speaking) large proportion of the women in it have been propositioned or assaulted by the more forward members of the group.
But if the people at these conferences aren't "stereotypical geeks" then who are they?
> Later someone was caught taking up-skirt photos of my friend's partner.
Would be interesting to know if he was kicked out of the conference, and whether the harassment cases were reported to authorities / organizers.
See their FAQ: http://lwn.net/op/FAQ.lwn#slinks.
"Where is it appropriate to post a subscriber link?
Almost anywhere. Private mail, messages to project mailing lists, and weblog entries are all appropriate. As long as people do not use subscriber links as a way to defeat our attempts to gain subscribers, we are happy to see them shared."
Thanks for pointing that out.
Also, have you lately been to a students' club? In some places (and not even of the lowest quality) kissing and proposing sex to people you barely know is pretty much a normal behaviour. (this happens from both genders)
Now you have lots of people coming out of that environment and expect them to figure out by themselves that this is a different environment? Of course there will be someone who doesn't quite get it.
It also doesn't help when in some environments women are ok with as much attention as they can get. I've seen a couple of IRC channels of open-source projects where there's a regular female user appearing there. Strictly no-offtopic channels suddenly switch to 2h "what's new in your life in any details you want" discussions between her and 10 random guys that includes innuendos every once in a while. Again - do you expect those people to figure out themselves that it's not the same environment?
I really don't think this is a problem "of open source conferences". It might be something that manifests there more often than in other places.
Have a nice day.
The Conference Anti-Harassment policy is one of the results of the incident.
I Genuinely think this is not really a Geek problem. There is statistically large number of people with sexual deviation. For instance, it is estimated that between 3-9% of the population are Pedophiles. At a conference with about 100 people there maybe 3 persons there with a sexual deviation. But it only takes one of those guys to approach all the women in the conference and spoil the whole thing for all of us.
My suggestion is if ever you were to encounter a situation of sexual assault report it immediately to the police[not the conference organizer]. I don't want that guy who hits ladies on the bum to be walking around freely in society. He would not be operating at Conferences alone.
As a side note to how important it's to report these things:"nonincestuous pedophiles who molest boys had committed an average of 282 offenses against 150 victims". As I said previously, just one deviant can crash the party for a whole lot of people.
This can be due to a lack of respect for women in general, but also due to a mix of social ineptness and sheer desparation. And you can't tell me the latter is not statistically more likely to occur in geeks.
But putting your hand down a females underwear and hitting someone's bum unexpectedly. Normal people don't do that.
People who are going with the flow of a conference often want to stay up and hang out until 10 or 11 and meet people, and it's not difficult to organize or get local companies to organize events that go that late, like hack fests. People who decide to stay up later, well, at that point they're not going with the flow of the conference. Hopefully they know what they're doing. And if they don't, and something bad happens, of course the offender should be blamed.
I just don't think having to wing it should be a normal part of a conference experience.
Edit: I realized that I've only been to small (<500) conferences. It still seems like bigger conferences could have evening events, but they might be trickier to plan. Perhaps having a few evening events that are announced and that the organizers can vouch for would be a solution. Also I don't think it's all-or-nothing; the more well-organized activities there are that fill up the evenings, the less chance of something bad happening at a poorly-organized evening activity.
Going a little broader in the tech field... I know of some people in the hacking/security community who are...well, when you're new to the scene, you're warned about them. I can only think of one guy I was warned about, but he's well known. I can think of two others I was told new guys to the scene (particularly if fairly young) should be warned about, and those two are around-since-phreaking-days levels of established and well known. Being icky doesn't mean ostracism.
The short answer is that the people who do these things include both regulars and newbies. I have personally been groped or fondled by two "core regulars."
I'm surprised that conference organisers would ignore sexual assault particularly with the bad press it must bring - assuming that these women are reporting the sexual assaults (someone fondling your genitals against your express will is pretty clearly sexual assault IMO).
But then if the women assaulted choose not to report such things to the police (I think the onus lies with them as opposed to any witnesses) how can the conference organisers act? They can't assume an uncharged person is guilty, can they?
I think there is a common thread with my observation to sexual harassment at conferences. When people relate to each other on a human (rather than hierarchal level), people tend to respect each other more.
Women also bring greater social cohesion to groups.
The fact that women are sexually harassed could be solved by having more women at conferences.
Yes, ladies, you will be hit on a lot at a conference filled with mostly guys. You are an attractive minority. Now, to the point:
There is no excuse for physical assault. I can even almost excuse a guy going in for a peck, but grab-ass and worse are not cool. If you're going to proposition a girl, do it with your wits and your words, not a firm, open palmed slap on the behind.
On behalf of all young, healthy, mate-seeking males, I apologize for the few who make us all out to be classless jerks.
Of course, it can be argued that you shouldn't be looking to hook up at a FOSS conference, but really... when ISN'T a single guy looking for a woman with similar interests (inside and outside the bedroom)? This isn't a 'geek' problem, it's a 'human' problem.
I also comment on how inappropriate groping a woman is; I would consider my entire 3rd and 4th lines to be expressing frustration at immature male actions.
I consider all sides of an argument, and for that, I will not apologize.
So I think it's good to talk about it. If more people recognise the problem then they're more likely to intervene next time they see it happen, and to marginalise troublemakers. They're good outcomes.
This is key at all times, not just in a post hoc analysis. If a guy and girl are flirting and one takes it too far some of the responsibility does fall on the other to immediately let them know. When this communication is ignored is when there is a problem.
For example, I was out with friends one time at a club and was talking/flirting with a couple different girls. At one point in the night one girl simply grabbed my crotch. She was obviously intoxicated, but once I told her that wasn't very cool she apologized and went on her way. We had been flirting for most of the night, but any girl who does that and wants to hook up the first night I meet them isn't a girl I want to hang out with.
Then your original post was unclear, as you said nothing positive about the article. Because you were negative about the trend of complaints, it implied that you felt this way about the article itself. By proceeding to agree with the points themselves, it implied that these are self evident truths that should just be accepted and not complained about.
Wait... what? The article is complaining about wholly inappropriate behavior, not inappropriate goals. They're not complaining about the attention - they're complaining about its manifestation.
Sure, it's a more-broad cultural problem, but it's highly concentrated among geek populations as so many of us are socially... stunted in general. And having essentially had a 'locker-room' industry for the last few decades certainly hasn't helped.
As long as sexism exists women should be complaining about it. And as you have unwittingly proven, sexism does still exist.
"I get tired of sexism in the startup/tech field."
I suspect it would be a sentiment shared by many who are affected by negative behaviour--both men and women.
Cry me a river. Would you prefer people just shut up about it?
Seems people went to town downvoting me here. I wonder what things would look like if HN had Slashdot's mod/metamod system. Oh, I can dream....
So here you are, complaining about other people complaining when something bothers them. Do I need to draw you a diagram to illustrate your inconsistency?
"Seems people went to town downvoting me here."
Perhaps they enjoy living in a society where people are allowed to express disagreement.
However, are women really that anti-sex?
You might be interested in reading: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Sex_is_beautiful
Also, don't assume that it's only women who object to sexual content in technical contexts.
No one seems to mourn that kind of harassment. Until they do, I remain suspect when I read titles like this. Based on experience I believe that as often as not someone just needs to call the wahmbulance and/or quit using their gender as a weapon of control.
I will add as a side note, and I have no idea if it pertains to this particular article or not, but many (even most) of the women I have seen complaining about 'being harassed' in the Drupal community are openly lesbian. I could care less about someone's personal sexual choices in the bedroom, but it does raise more questions about what is going on with many of these 'harassment' complaints, at least in my mind. There is something dishonest to me about those who have sworn their life to not-include men, also simultaneously want to tell all the men exactly how they are allowed to act/speak/think.
UPDATE: For the record I do acknowledge the very real possibly/problem of actual harassment. I do not wish my comments to diminish the seriousness of those cases. Just sharing my experience of seeing 'harassment' complaints being weaponized, and calling for some balance/sanity.
I guess in the particular case of the particular lesbians I mentioned above - they seem to be looking/seeking to find something, anything, that they can hold up as harassment and persecute the shit out of someone. That's bullying in my book plain and simple.
UPDATE: Maybe I'm ascribing too many personal motivations for their behavior - all I can say that many/most of loudest voices in the Drupal community regarding all things 'harassement' are lesbians. At the very least they have a hair trigger response and get set-off by comments that their straight counterparts do not.
"if I say something to someone and did not mean any offense/harassment, did not consider it to be offensive/harassing - and someone else still wants to cry about it, then f-*ck them"
You are the only one who gets to decide whether your actions are considered offensive? Really?
I bet that the conference organizer who hired strippers didn't consider it offensive, nor the presenters who show slides of bikini babes "to get everyone's attention". That doesn't make those actions not offensive.
So again - I guess my bottom line is, if I didn't mean to offend a person, and they want to get offended and make a big damn deal out of it - they can go right ahead. I'm not changing what I do just to keep up with the most offended person in the room. :-)
Hurting people accidentally and not caring at all. What is that level of lack of empathy and non-caring? Is that autism, or is it some kind of sociopathy or psychopathy?
Oh yes, that completely destroys my claim that being hurt is not subjective. I'd best go back and edit that out.
Oh, wait a second. It seems that I made no such claim and you've delivered a total non sequitur that has nothing at all to do with the topic at hand. I'm as astounded as you are, which is why I doubled-checked, but it came out the same; it seems that rather than read other people's comments, you're just guessing what they might have said.