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How to Apologize (philomousos.blogspot.com)
247 points by hcayless on Mar 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments



This is good, and I like it, but I wonder if we're not painting this in too much black-and-white. It's certainly possible to feel sorry that you expressed your opinions in ways that others found offensive, without feeling sorry you had those opinions. In this case you are really sorry about your choice of words, not the intent of your message. That's okay. It doesn't have to be one way or the other.

I'm not going to try to defend these bozos, so let's try some crazy made-up example.

For instance, I might have an opinion that we should bring back slavery. A totally offensive opinion, yes, but dammit, I'm entitled to have it. In this case I very well may be sorry that I brought it up on MLK day, or that I interjected it in your discussion about feeding the poor, but I'm not really sorry for feeling the way I do.

That's okay -- the part about differentiating between being sorry for being rude and being sorry for ideas, not the part about supporting slavery. People should never have to be sorry for expressing their opinions, only expressing them poorly.

We need to make sure we are not trying to tell people how to think. We can challenge them, call them out, ask them questions, demand an apology for their being rude or offensive, yes, but we change people's thinking by gentle persuasion, not by public mockery or lynch mobs. If we're not careful, the only thing we're going to teach misogynistic youngsters is to bullshit on the net better. And that's not good for anybody.

That's why the apology was weak -- because it was for the wrong reasons, shame instead of understanding. (And I don't think beating them up in public further is going to do much good. In fact, I think we've long past the point of actually doing something useful with this story.)

Or to put this in a business context, it's okay to have policies people don't like, and it's certainly appropriate to apologize if you've expressed your policies in a way that offended people. But it's not okay for a mob to dictate to you what your policies should be. They're two different things.


> For instance, I might have an opinion that we should bring back slavery. A totally offensive opinion, yes, but dammit, I'm entitled to have it.

I think this is confusing two very different things. You are "entitled" to have this opinion in that (a) you shouldn't be locked in prison for stating this opinion and (b) I am not allowed to beat you up for having this opinion. However, that opinion is wrong. You should stop having it, and if you express it at work you will and should be fired.

I think this is exactly analogous to this case. Sqoot could have held a successful hackathon if they didn't display their sexism in their ad copy, but the root problem is the sexism, not the ad copy. That's why the apology rubs people the wrong way.


> However, that opinion is wrong. You should stop having it, and if you express it at work you will and should be fired.

I think this opinion is wrong. If one expresses his opinion about slavery, he should not be fired. Now that you had this wrong opinion about opinions, should you be fired? From work? From Hacker News? Anywhere?


Really? If someone at your job expressed the "opinion" that you, personally, should be chained and sold as property, and that they should be allowed to beat, rape, and murder you as they saw fit, that would be acceptable behavior at your job?

Because that's what the OP was suggesting, except that they used the umbrella term "slavery" to refer to it.


Yes, really. The OP did not really say that. OP used the word "slavery" and having opinions about slavery is totally different than saying that some specific person should be murdered. If someone at my workplace would support slavery, whatever that is by today's standards, I would probably feel that I don't want to work with that person. And depending on that someone's role, his employer might want to have a word with him and might ultimately have some good grounds for terminating his contract. But just having opinions are rarely a reason to fire someone. And that is just right (my opinion).


I imagine that for most people in first-world countries who aren't avid studies of historical ignominy, "slavery" conjures connotations of indentured servitude, rather than complete autocratic determination over others. In fact, even if "slavery" was still something that existed in otherwise-modern countries (let's imagine the US never bothered to fight a civil war over it), you'd probably not be allowed to "beat, rape, and murder" your slaves--any more than you can currently beat, rape, and murder your pets.


Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and they shouldn't be ostracised for expressing them. There is no such thing as a wrong opinion, only opinions that you disagree with.


Oh yes there bloody is: an opinion held in spite of overwhelming evidence.


While I generally subscribe to the Utopian ideal that good ideas should be able to triumph over bad ideas by virtue alone, there are probably both times where it is inappropriate and appropriate for someones opinions and beliefs to be relevant to their employment.

Scenario A, normal job, no customer interaction, non-manager, but an irrepressibly talkative fellow. Likes to talk to his co-workers about how awesome slavery is. Co-workers have complained that they're tired of hearing him, you've talked to him, he keeps talking irregardless.

Scenario B, customer-facing job. It comes up at the company picnic that the employee thinks slavery was really awesome. You haven't yet heard him mention this to a customer.

Scenario C, manager. One of your underlings, in charge of a hopefully-diverse group of under-underlings, expresses his pro-slavery opinions to you.


A more relevant and recent example is whether you support software patents. Those opposed to them rail against those in favor of them pretty hard. Some are now making hiring decisions based upon that. Should I not be allowed to express my views on software patents simply because you don't agree with them? You'd like to paint it as a black & white issue, but I don't see it that way.

Sorry for the liberal use of pronouns there. But there's an extremely worrying trend to me whereby it's no longer okay to disagree or have an open discussion about certain topics that the HN mass has decided their stance on. Most of the time I, and many others, just bow out and let everyone here virtually pat themselves on the back as each professes the moral high road they've taken. It defeats the point of having an open forum or discussion on an article. It's our equivalent of political rhetoric.


You did a very good job of illustrating the slippery slope that we open up when policing ideas and the issue being where do we drawn the line.


Detour from the main point: as a programmer, I'm pretty OK with programmers and programmer-employers coming to blows over software patents. Programmers are still in a bit of a weird spot with respect to the rest of the working class. Get fired from your job as a cashier at Walmart because of your opinions, you'll be lucky to find another job. Get fired from your job as a programmer because of your opinions, you'll probably find a better one even before your blog post on employer X firing programmers who are opposed to software patents gets a thousand points on HN. As a programmer, I just don't feel the same employment-insecurity a lot of non-programmers I know do.

The main point of the matter is, the interests of employers and employees are not well aligned. Employers do not want employees to know what their coworkers or colleagues at other companies make. Employees benefit from having this forbidden knowledge. Employees would prefer to only be fired for direct, active malevolence towards their employer. Employers would prefer to fire anyone they think is a liability to their business.

Employee beliefs matter because, as much as employers would prefer otherwise, employees are not cogs or robots who perform mechanistically. If you don't believe in software patents, how will that affect your performance at your job? Even if your employer isn't a part-time patent troll, but is extremely concerned about being sued by them, will you generate your fair share of defensive patents to be used as a shield for a few years? Or will you knowingly violate software patents you believe are bullshit, opening up your company to 10x the penalties should you lose in court?


> As a programmer, I just don't feel the same employment-insecurity a lot of non-programmers I know do.

I think this perspective is common recently, but only due to the current boom/bubble. I don't expect that to last forever, and somewhat anticipate the kind of insecurity you're describing (although I don't feel it right now), which is why I don't say anything even slightly controversial under my True Name.


A: That guy is not pleasant to work with and needs management. I've worked with people who were like him, but their subject of choice was WoW.

B: Either he's capable of keeping his eccentric views to himself when dealing with customers or he's not. Whether it's supporting slavery or Bush 43, he can ruin a business relationship by expressing that view at the wrong time.

C: Again, he needs management. Does his view negatively affect his capability as a manager? What if he's an evangelical Christian and he has gay underlings?


> but the root problem is the sexism, not the ad copy.

I agree it was a very sexist thing to write. It makes me wonder though:

1. Which is worse, hiring an all female serving staff (perhaps wearing uniforms that would be considered particularly attractive to heterosexual males), or acknowledging that you have done this by writing about it in your invitations? Is it inappropriate (always and everywhere) to hire only attractive females and make them wear "sexy" uniforms? If they had hired all females, but not advertised it, would people still be upset after they had arrived and seen that all the staff were female? I wouldn't be upset. But advertising it, or at least they way they did it, strikes me as offensive, but I don't know why.

2. I feel mentioning the female serving staff in this instance is inappropriate, but is it always inappropriate? Is it acceptable for a sports bar to mention their "Bud Girls" or whatever in their ad copy? I would consider this acceptable, but I don't know why. Is it because a sports bar is purely leisure, and a hackathon, while leisure, is (presumably) directly connected to your profession?

I think what they did feels wrong, but I can't think of a good explanation of why it is wrong that is logically consistent with other acceptable norms in our society.


The point I'm trying to make is that thinking of hiring women staff as a "perk" is sexist and unprofessional, and you shouldn't do it. It assumes that everyone attending is a straight guy, and it also assumes that the straight guys that attend want to be included in your sexual fantasies.

As to the larger society, yes, "Bud Girls", booth babes, GoDaddy ads, and Hooters are all sexist.


FYI, there is an upscale restaurant where I go regularly for lunch that has only attractive women.

(Not Hooters)


There is a difference between a hackathon and a restaurant. There are actually restaurants that hire very good looking men also because they are going for a certain clientele. Sexuality sells a lot of things, but that's hormones and money.

The problem here is that a goodly chunk of people expect the clientele of a hackathon to be developers. Developers are men and women who are professional. As much as sexuality sells beer, food, cars, etc., it is not a accepted selling point of professionals. Rather, it will get you in serious trouble in many professional environments.

Now, it is revealed that this company's fantasy event is programming while being served beer by hot women. This basically puts them in the frat with a big no hire for women.


> it is not a accepted selling point of professionals. Rather, it will get you in serious trouble in many professional environments.

Not to defend Sqoot at all, but... um... booth babes? Every large trade show has them. They are there specifically to excite the hormones of the male professionals in attendance. Their use is as sexist as it is effective.

Had Sqoot quietly hired a bunch of models to serve beer to the attendants, and had they had the sense not to publicly high-five themselves for doing so, there would have been no controversy. The reason Sqoot landed in the soup is because they wore their sexism on their sleeves, and handled their communications like obnoxious rubes rather than responsible business owners. Their crime was lack of finesse.


Just because a form of sexism is pervasive doesn't mean it isn't also offensive and demeaning to people. Part of being professional and encouraging diversity is not promoting a frat-like or male-dominated business culture.


I completely agree. I was just pointing out that sexism of this nature had gone on for years without apparent protest. I was not defending the practice.


Booth babes are a problem and the protests have gone up about them (to the point of misidentifying a women as a booth babe will get you in trouble).

If they had quietly done it and female developers had showed up, the damage would have been worse, much worse. Words are one thing, pictures of scantily clad models serving beer at a hackathon would have been a little too juicy for the bloggers. Twitter pictures turn into mainstream media articles rather quickly these days.

Their crime is thinking it was acceptable. As my Dad told me (constantly as a youth it seemed), "I'm amazed you thought of that, and appalled you actually did it." Fantasy is best kept out of the professional workplace / event planning.


"Their crime is thinking..."

Can somebody help me to issue a DMCA notice?


There are crimes of state and of the heart and mind. Some require paperwork and lawyers. Others result in groups of people expressing their disapproval in various ways. Both can be very serious and poor times for levity.


This was obviously a throwaway account, but nevertheless I just thought I would say that if you want to find out where your ego is too strongly invested, you need only look as far as those areas of your life where you are unable to laugh at yourself. I mean come on, man. I actually agreed with the rest of what you wrote...


It just struct me as a snippy reply and someone trying to laugh off a subject that keeps coming up in our industry. I hate when people laugh off this type of stuff. I figured I'd try (not much of a writer really) to give a less snippy answer. I didn't really succeed. I apologize if that wasn't your intent for the reply and thought behind it.

I can laugh at myself (and I do quite often). If I didn't I think I would have gone insane by now. I don't even have a problem with Hooters, Playboy / Playgirl, or any of the thousands of other places sex is used to sell things. Like I said, hormones and money.

I'm just a little sick of the lack of empathy in this situation. The "midwestern" discussion had the same vibe (obviously not as damaging). Maybe I'm just sick of TV Shows showing a buffalo every damn time they talks about ND, or (much, much more importantly) I'm just sick of thinking about how many developers we have lost because of stuff like this. Can't really be a Meritocracy if stuff isn't based on merit.


It's fine, I'm not offended. The thing is it's very clearly not a meritocracy. There was a comment recently about how Linus got about $1M out of his RedHat shares, and how this seems totally unfair next to someone like Zuckerberg or even say GitHub. The easy money flowing around this current startup bubble is what's attracting the frat boy mentality. As far as empathy is concerned, I think it's pretty much a write-off when mediated by technology. Hell, we can't even get the tone of each other's posts right. And to generalize quite a lot, empathy and making money are just sort of fundamentally odds with each other. I'm sure you'd never see booze bitches (their mindset, not mine) at a free software hackathon.


I think this is confusing two very different things. You are "entitled" to have this opinion in that (a) you shouldn't be locked in prison for stating this opinion and (b) I am not allowed to beat you up for having this opinion. However, that opinion is wrong. You should stop having it, and if you express it at work you will and should be fired.

So one is only allowed to have the "right" opinions?

And who gets to judge that? If it's the majority, then what if a poll showed that most Americans are against, say, abortion or gay rights? (Or most of Utah residents, at a local level). If it's just some minority with power (the government, the PC police, etc), why should they get to say it instead of the majority?

So, you're walking a very fine line here. He is entitled to think whatever, include slavery or the annihilation of mankind, and people should not only not put him in prison for it, but not even fire him for it.

They can disagree all they want with him for it, though. Now, if he tries to put his slavery ideals to practice, that's a totally different matter.

I think this is exactly analogous to this case. Sqoot could have held a successful hackathon if they didn't display their sexism in their ad copy, but the root problem is the sexism, not the ad copy. That's why the apology rubs people the wrong way.

Case in point. I am from a different country, and we would probably laugh at the very idea of the apology, not on the "sexism".

Why something that's ok for, say, a casino or a sports bar (female waitresses) is bad for a hackathon? Because a coding marathon should be for both sexes? Well, aren't casinos for both sexes too? How come they get to have women waitresses? Also, who said the organizers of this PARTICULAR hackathon want it to be?

Is it that they SHOULD want it to be? Is the message that one cannot organize an event the way he likes it, provided he doesn't do anything illegal?


> Why something that's ok for, say, a casino or a sports bar (female waitresses) is bad for a hackathon? Because a coding marathon should be for both sexes? Well, aren't casinos for both sexes too? How come they get to have women waitresses? Also, who said the organizers of this PARTICULAR hackathon want it to be?

I think it has a lot to do with expectations. People held the hackaton to a higher standard than, for example, a strip club, and therefore they are a lot more vocal about it when the organizers fail to live up to what was expected of them.

> Is it that they SHOULD want it to be? Is the message that one cannot organize an event the way he likes it, provided he doesn't do anything illegal?

They have all the rights in the world to organize a hackathon the way they want it, but that also means that the general public has all the rights in the world to dislike it, i.e be outraged.


I think it has a lot to do with expectations. People held the hackaton to a higher standard than, for example, a strip club, and therefore they are a lot more vocal about it when the organizers fail to live up to what was expected of them.

Maybe. For me a hackathon is a pointless thing, like a "machismo" competition for nerds.

They have all the rights in the world to organize a hackathon the way they want it, but that also means that the general public has all the rights in the world to dislike it, i.e be outraged.

Well, with that I fully agree.


> He is entitled to think whatever, include slavery or the annihilation of mankind, and people should not only not put him in prison for it, but not even fire him for it.

If someone wants to kill me and everyone I care about, then surely it is reasonable for me to be somewhat irate at that person, up to and including choosing not to do business with them.


So one is only allowed to have the "right" opinions?

I think it's pretty obvious that everyone should try to have correct ideas. For example, if you think that Mac OS X is the world's most widely-used desktop OS, then you are wrong, and you should revise your thinking on the subject. Similarly, if you think that IP guarantees reliable delivery, you should think something else, because you're not right.

Thinking that it's ok to make people slaves because of the color of their skin (or any other reason) is also wrong, and if you think that (I assume no one on HN does), you should revise your thinking on the subject.

Saying, at work, that you think your coworkers should be made into slaves seems like a pretty obvious firing offense to me.

As for whether an event can be both legal and a bad thing, I think it's pretty obvious that something can -- imagine I organized an event to write patches with backdoors for the linux kernel. If you said you were going to organize an event like that, I would say that you shouldn't do it.


> I think it's pretty obvious that everyone should try to have correct ideas. For example, if you think that Mac OS X is the world's most widely-used desktop OS, then you are wrong, and you should revise your thinking on the subject. Similarly, if you think that IP guarantees reliable delivery, you should think something else, because you're not right.

That about factual correctness. Another ballgame altogether.

Whether a hackathon should have female waitresses or not is an ethical/moral issue. In any case, not something that can be objectively counted and checked.


It's not about whether hackathons should have female waitresses. It's about whether "women" should be listed as perks right under massages. And for what was supposed to be a professional event (in the eyes of its sponsors and potential audience at least), the answer is a clear "No."

And regarding the slippery slope you tried to construct, I don't think there is one, unless you are a moral relativist. Anyone that thinks anyone else is wrong should be able to tell them so (or fire them if it's an at-will situation[1] or part of the contract). If it turns out the majority (or those that are the most vocal) are wrong, then I can only hope that the right opinion will win because of its rightness and/or the persuasiveness of its proponents. Will this situation inevitably lead towards a more moral, ethical society? No. Does it have the potential to categorically exclude/supress correct opinions? No.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment


It's not about whether hackathons should have female waitresses. It's about whether "women" should be listed as perks right under massages.

Only women are not listed as percs.

The PRESENCE of beautiful women serving beer is used as a perc. It's not like you BUY these women or use them as slaves...

In other words, not very different from a Hooters.

And for what was supposed to be a professional event (in the eyes of its sponsors and potential audience at least), the answer is a clear "No."

I'm unsure about the "clear" though.

How much of the potential audience would rather enjoy such an event, but is afraid to say so, because it's not PC?


Thank you, your messages are one of a kind compared to the heavy rain of "holier than thou" blog posts on that matter.

As a non american(coming from a more egalitarian society, or at least a less objectifying society about women) this is for me a totally ridiculous issue. I'm pretty sure the same people that are being so offended by that small sentence have been in the last months to a Strip Club or a bar with prettier than average waitresses.

Some users talk about professional events and that it should not have been like that, go one day to any tech/arm/car/comic con expo and tell me the hostess are not "hot" and chosen because 1) they are women 2) They are good looking.

What a non-issue and HN front page was flooded with that today...


So, female participation in the tech industry is at or near 50% in your country? No women steer clear of the industry because of sexism (real or perceived)? I would like to know which country this is, so I can find out what you're doing right.


Women steer clear of the tech industry because of the sexism that things like sales don't have, I take it?


Yes, women as sexy/sexual objects were listed as a perk. No, it's not as bad as slavery, and no one is saying it is. I'm not sponsoring hooters, and I've never been to one. Am I supposed to protest hooters now in order to have a legitimate claim against API Jam in your mind?

The message I'm getting from you is that you care more about group A than group B. Group A is all of the poor men that would like to see beautiful women while at API Jam and don't care about how that would make their fellow professionals feel. Group B is all of the women that want to go to a hackathon as professional coders, and not have to worry about people from group A. Will people from group A show up to any event? Yes, but they shouldn't feel that their sexism is welcome. I think group A has enough privilege, and they can do without this one perk for the sake of group B.


Thinking that women are appropriate as "perks" is way more wrong than thinking that IP is reliable


I think the driving point, which you allude to is that apologies should be honest. There's a minor point in there somewhere about how wording apologies in terms of the receiver-of-offense is a common tactic for people who care most about what the average person thinks of them.

In this case, I can just barely see this being done by someone who was totally aware of how what they posted sounds, but forgot that the context that might allow them to make that joke, amongst people where it would be obvious that it was intended as a jab at a stereotype that all parties thought shouldn't exist, does not exist where it was posted. And then also hit a bit of a panic mode and put up a sheepish apology like that.

I know enough people that have actually done things similar to that. Not because they didn't understand the issues, but because they were distractable, burst-of-extroversion, nerdy younger folk who tended to forget here and there that the reality bubble they were in was not a universal one, and didn't know how to own up to a mistake well.

I absolutely agree with you about the right to opinion, and that people should not need to apologize for holding one. On the other hand, I do not think that those people have the right to have those opinions respected, and if they're especially ridiculous -- bringing back slavery, or the moon being made of conspiracy, for example -- and they're being expressed publicly and vocally, I do not think that those people have the right to not have their opinions called out in a confrontational manner.

Should a person be disrespected for holding a ridiculously offensive opinion? No. A person gets disrespected for actions related to that opinion.


Agreed.

Interesting sidebar here about John Nash, the famous mathematician. Nash, as you may know, suffered from what was probably paranoid schizophrenia. He had the most severe delusions which crippled his work.

Later in life he managed to get along. After watching the movie I did a little research. As I understood it, Nash basically said that the delusions never went away, and he really didn't stop believing in them, but he learned to live with them and express them in a way that allowed his life to continue. He felt that either way could be true -- the things he suspected or the reality others descried to him. Therefore it was inappropriate to make a big deal out of it. He kept the same useless and perhaps personally dangerous opinions, but he learned to adjust his actions so that he could continue being a functioning part of society.

Very interesting outcome. I think you only get there by encouraging people, not by shaming or ostracizing them. It could have worked out very differently for Nash.


I think you only get there by encouraging people, not by shaming or ostracizing them. It could have worked out very differently for Nash.

I agree strongly, in cases where the opinion is held out of ignorance or misunderstanding, or some root that isn't itself malicious.

People exist who hold, or pretend to hold offensive, or actually incorrect "opinions" for the purposes of power-gathering or pure getting-off-on-pissing-people-off. The latter can range from harmless to very frustrating, the former are dangerous. It becomes obvious that they have explicit motives behind "holding" and expressing an opinion quickly enough, but if the former manages to gather enough people around it it becomes a force to be reckoned with quickly.

Luckily there aren't very many of either of those two types of people, and the best way to avoid malicious ones actually ... doing anything malicious is through a well-educated populace and encouraging people to think and challenging the ideas present in a sane manner -- I mention this stuff mostly due to thinking that it's important to make and know the distinctions between respecting a person, respecting a person's right to an opinion, and keeping in mind that that person does not have a right to voice opinions and have them considered with equal weight, does not have a right to voice opinions and not have them traits like bigotry, purposeful ignorance, attempts at manipulation, and so on. It's normally pretty clear when someone holds, for example, racist views out of ignorance versus malice if you've been engaged in discussion for more than a few minutes.


I don't want to continue the mutual admiration society, but I would like to add something.

The thing to remember above all others is that the vast majority of the popular opinions we hold today were considered offensive and rude at some point in the past. The only reason we've evolved is because people holding those opinions were allowed to voice them.

Of course, for every "good" opinion there were a thousand hateful and wrong-headed opinions. But that's the way it works. You let in everybody and allow reasoned discourse to sort them all out.

Yes, there is a very rare segment of society that are actually evil, and there's nothing much to be done with those folks. Let them express their opinions, punish them when they take actions, just like we treat everybody else. You don't have an obligation to talk to idiotic people, or even say nice things about them. They just have a right to think as they choose.

What I find most shocking is the idea that simply because I am extremely offended by your opinion -- the way you think -- I should take some action against you: fire you, put you in jail, have you "re-educated", etc. No matter how offended I am at somebody's opinion, as long as they don't take action on it (express it rudely, hurt another person, become an embarrassment for the organization, and so on), I will fight for the death for their right to have it. That's the entire basis of a secular society, the root of the enlightenment. But a large majority of people don't understand that.

To me that's a lot more worrisome than a couple of jackasses. World is full of jackasses. </rant>


we change people's thinking by gentle persuasion, not by public mockery

I think this is wrong. I was just reading a book[1] about this actually, and historically convincing people that some practice is wrong does a bit, but if its social convention then people are actually mostly going to keep doing the same thing because "that's what people do" until it becomes a matter of public face or mockery. See dueling in the UK, or foot-binding in China.

[1]http://www.amazon.com/Honor-Code-Revolutions-Happen-ebook/dp...


>"the part about differentiating between being sorry for being rude and being sorry for ideas, not the part about supporting slavery."

An apology for being rude is in the form, "I apologize for being rude." It is not of the form, "I apologize, if someone was offended by my rudeness."

"No harm, no foul," does not apply to apologies.

When I truly apologize, it is not because I have offended someone else. It is because I have offended myself by not holding myself to my own standards.

That is why I may find myself apologizing to you when you have taken no offense.


You're a very well regarded HNer, so I'm not happy writing a critique of your comment [<- ironically, I initially wrote "I apologize for..."].

    >I very well may be sorry that I brought [slavery] 
    >up on MLK day, but I'm not really sorry for 
    >feeling the way I do
You can't apologize for making someone feel badly about something if you still hold that something to be true. Using your MLK/slavery example, why are you apologizing? You are apologizing because you empathize with the black/white person you offended with your statement. You cannot do so if you still hold slavery to be good; if you maintain your belief in slavery as you say this not-apology statement, then you are placating or mollifying or appeasing.

    >We need to make sure we are not 
    >trying to tell people how to think. 
You follow this with suggesting something like Socratic-methodizing them, which is basically a mechanism to get people to think your way.

    >it's not okay for a mob to dictate to you 
    >what your policies should be
Maybe it's not "ok" (whatever that might mean), but it's reality: see law, ethics, morals, common values, cliques, villages, associations, "shunning" or any other "mob" defined construct/action... I agree with a version of your statement that has additional nuance (involving power), but, as written, the statement rejects human mechanics.


You can't apologize for making someone feel badly about something if you still hold that something to be true.

You can express empathy with the other person though. And in English, at least, this is commonly done using apologetic language, "I am sorry that you feel that way and I understand that you are upset" etc.

It is possible to totally disagree with someone but still feel empathy for their reaction to your opinion. As such, you certainly can "apologize" for making someone feel bad even if you don't find the cause justifies it. You're just not apologizing for your opinion.


You can express empathy with the other person though. And in English, at least, this is commonly done using apologetic language, "I am sorry that you feel that way and I understand that you are upset" etc.

No, "I'm sorry I made you feel that way" or "I'm sorry I hurt you."


You can't apologize for making someone feel badly about something if you still hold that something to be true.

You can if what you are apologizing for is the way or time you expressed it. Slavery is probably a controversial example because almost everyone now will agree it is morally wrong. But even absolute facts can be offensive at the wrong time.

For instance, I think more people should be aware of the extent of the dangers of drowning and the right ways to prevent it. It would be insensitive at best if I started discussing that during the funeral of a young child that had drowned. It is a good message to get out, but it would be appropriate for me to apoloize for bringing up in that context.


Crafting the perfect apology is fine, but you need to consider whether there is value in doing so.

Are the people whom you are offending by acting like a fratboy really going to believe that you have "seen the light"? The apology these guys wrote basically says "sorry, we thought this was funny"... which is really just creating more problems.

I'd argue that this affair validates a rule my grandfather had: When you say something really dumb, the smart move is to stop talking.


In the case of wanting to bring back slavery, you'd be unable to successfully apologize. You may as well tell people that Hitler was your father and you were proud of him in that case, because you'll never be totally forgiven.

At some point, it might be best to give your best apology as stated in the post, but assume that you will not be able to recover from the leg down your throat.


Part of his point, I think, is that holding an opinion does not harm anyone. Would it be an offensive opinion? Yes. Are you right that there are a bunch of people who would be very angry about it? Yes. And that those people would likely never forgive someone who thought slavery should be brought back? Yes.

There's also nothing to forgive the person with the offensive opinion for, other than offending someone. I don't think that the opinion-holder would have a right to not have that offense expressed, and I don't think people should have the right to hold and express any opinion with the expectation that no one will express offense, but I also don't think people have the right to not be offended.


I believe in freedom of opinion and speech, but I also believe in freedom of sense. Believing that slavery is good is not only a generally offensive position, but it is an opinion that implies poor morals. Therefore not only in general company is expressing such an opinion a poor choice if one wishes to be socially accepted, but having the opinion itself is an abomination.

Being easily offended is not a good thing. And anything that divides for the purpose of uniting, like political correctness, enforced diversity, etc. is suspect because it can annoy or hurt a group, even if that group is in a power or majority position. And people have the right to be offended or not offended. A morally corrupt person has the right to hang out in the Hall of Evil if they would like. That is freedom.

But the purpose of the original post being discussed is that there is a way to apologize, and for that matter a reason to apologize. I personally think the apology was warranted. But, in the case of wanting to bring back slavery, I just don't think you can defend it as a moral opinion that should be aired. Even though I wouldn't outlaw the opinion, that doesn't stop me from strongly suggesting it is a bad idea and a sign of antisocial foolishness.


Here are some other things that have been considered abominations at one point or another by a dominant culture: homosexual sex; Jews marrying Germans; property right and suffrage for women; atheism (or virtually every religion, in fact).

I am pretty sure that people who held the view that those things were abominable were not Dr. Evil caricatures, but honest people who sincerely believed that these things were utterly wrong and no-one should speak in support of them. I don't say this to illustrate that I think slavery is the moral equivalent of atheism, but that I don't believe that I am smart enough to forgo all my cultural baggage and assert that I have a privileged insight into what is "truly" abominable and what was just bad stuff other people believe.

Even if you do choose to assert that, I think that slavery is an interesting choice because there are arguments that can be made for it. Athenian democracy was essentially built on the backs of disenfranchised slaves; the lack of technological sophistication of Ancient Greece wouldn't have permitted enough free time to nurture a rule by the people without it. Is the world better off for Athenian democracy, slavery and all? I don't think you can answer that with a pat yes or no, but that's the whole point, it's a complex question, not a "slavery is bad, fire everyone who thinks otherwise" question.

Libertarians would question whether the state ought to have the power to ban certain kinds of life-long contract between consenting adults. If you want to stretch the definition of slavery, the standard of living in the West is only supportable by labourers working in other parts of the world under authoritarian systems they don't have political power to change. Is that bad? Sure! Is it a very similar situation to the Industrial Revolution of the 18th/19th centuries, which is essentially the underpinning for every single employment right we have? Yes, it is. Are we then doing good by supporting slavery? I don't know, but again, I don't think these questions should be shut down without discussion.

I don't mean here to speak directly in support of some of the very hateful opinions that you can see expressed every day--I think most of them are vile and I wish their holders didn't do so (and I pity them for the emotional turmoil that must have engendered them and that they engender). But the solution is never to ban or restrict speech, legally or socially, even when a majority agrees that it's desirable to do so, because we are not smarter than everyone else who will ever live.


Thank you. I have tried several times to articulate how weakly we can reasonably attribute rightness to any of our beliefs, and you've done a wonderful job of it. Mary Wollstonecraft succinctly expressed this as "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks." (Full disclosure: only came across this as a section quote in _The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor_.)

On the general topic, I can't add much except that Sqoot's response adds to the apologetic miasma that suffocates honest expression. It is not the same thing, but of a piece, that several times daily a person will say "Sorry" for such transgressions as brewing their K-cup before I can brew mine, or for crossing paths as we walk around the office. It lacks conviction, and it should: these are not offenses, are not rude actions. They so quickly issue "Sorry" that it's as hollow of meaning as the familiar "You know" and "like." It is mere social lubrication without intent.

On the other hand, there is at least one subtlety I haven't read here yet, and that's this: if I enter another culture, either by travelling to another country or merely travelling down the street, I may risk doing something which is legitimately offensive in that culture but which I don't personally find offensive. I can easily, then, find myself in a situation where I am earnest in my apology even if I have no intention of changing my opinion. I can simultaneously claim my values and care enough about others to understand they may find them objectionable and respect them by either keeping my mouth shut or apologizing if I feel I've offended them.

Is there a line to be drawn between that scenario, which doesn't seem controversial, and Sqoot's predicament? Is there room for allowing the male-and-macho developer set to think sexism is cool and still earnestly apologize because they realize others are offended?


Athenian Democracy was not a rule of the people, it was the rule of a massive slave and underclass population by a tiny, exclusively male minority who happened to have a certain internal decision-making process.


While I would agree that believing that slavery is "good" would imply poor morals, I also don't think that morality is objective, and while I think my criteria for evaluation of it are fairly good, I don't think that I would be comfortable making that level of value judgement over someone holding an opinion, particularly if the held that opinion out of ignorance or unknowingly incorrect things they held internally as being axiomatic.

I agree in principle about things that, in your words "divide for the purpose of uniting" to do more harm then good. From the standpoint of idealism, I think that the best way to go about ending inequality is to simply cease treating people unequally. We can't just go straight from here to there though, and I don't have good solutions. I suspect that it's the type of thing that phases itself out as cultural patterns live and die, and that's slow. The ramifications of that are a separate, stupidly large can-of-worms topic.

And people have the right to be offended or not offended.

I agree that people "have the right" to be offended or not offended. I mean, in case the above is indicative of me not expressing myself clearly, that people do not have the right to suppress other people's expression of their opinions because of their offense. And people are not obligated to be sorry for offending somebody by having and expressing an opinion. And people do not have the right to expect that no one will be offended by their opinion. And people do not have the right to only have opinions expressed to them which they do not find offensive, assuming they are not in a ridiculously coercive situation, in which case the breach of right by the gun being held by their temple is probably of bigger concern than the offensive opinions being expressed to them forcibly. Outside of the context of extremist opinions, which are the majority of examples that get brought up in this type of discussion, there are way too many people for that to even be a feasible scenario.

A morally corrupt person has the right to hang out in the Hall of Evil if they would like.

As long as everyone in the "Hall of Evil" is consenting to hang out there, I don't think I could make a moral judgement about them. I could make one about myself, and how I would not feel morally "right" if I was doing what they were doing, but if they know what they're getting into and they're consenting to it, I could not call it morally corrupt. I know enough people that are legitimately into things that make me uncomfortable to think about participating in to not be able to hold another opinion while being intellectually honest with myself.

But the purpose of the original post being discussed is that there is a way to apologize, and for that matter a reason to apologize. I personally think the apology was warranted.

I agree. And I think the second apology they posted was much better. An apology here is absolutely warranted because they ended up making a whole bunch of people think that they were ignorant, or bigoted, or malicious in someway when they are (most likely) not, and did not intend to be so ridiculously insensitive to stuff they knew about. They made a stupid mistake, caused a bunch of people to be offended where they did not intend to, they're in the process of owning up for it, and that's good and will likely cause people to respect them a bit more.

If they posted that they thought "women should stay in the kitchen", and they really thought that, then the most honest apology they could make would be that they were sorry people got offended. I wouldn't agree with them, I would actively show people reasons why their opinion should be ignored if they were campaigning for laws requiring "women to stay in the kitchen". If they realized later they had been publicly holding a pretty ridiculously offensive opinion for no good reason, I would expect they would be apologizing, probably for their ignorance, but mostly for actions and offending people. If they just held it, honestly thought it, expressed it, and offended somebody, I see no reason for apology, and don't see how any genuine apology, other than "being sorry you're offended" would be possible.

Do I think slavery is defensible as a moral opinion? No. I think that if someone does, they should be able to express that, and that if they hold that opinion out of ignorance or misunderstanding that that ignorance or misunderstanding can be addressed. I think that suppressing the expression, the ability to express an opinion, any opinion, because it's offensive or "morally unsound" is dangerous. I don't think that many, if any, of the "extremist" opinions I've heard have enough weight that they should be considered so dangerous as to be banned. Doing so does nothing to solve the problem of people holding those opinions when they do not know they should not be.

Slavery, by the way, is alive and well. A number of people not only think it should exist, but actively purchase humans. A large part of minimizing or stopping that is making it so that when people who think that slavery "is just how it is" -- because they've been surrounded by it, or had ideas drilled into their heads as children, or grasped onto some fallacy they didn't identify -- are capable of being presented with information to the contrary in such a manner as to actually change their minds. This does happen. It does not happen when expression of opinion is suppressed.


In the case of your first paragraph, I'd say just don't apologize then. Say nothing, or, if you must, explain why your thinking differs with those criticizing you.

For example, if Sqoot is not sorry, they could remain silent. Or they could say, "We understand that this is sexist. We care more about getting large attendance, and have a reasonable belief that attractive women serving beer will accomplish that end." That will probably enrage people even more so I think silence is the best option in this case.

> We need to make sure we are not trying to tell people how to think.

It is fine to tell people how to think if they are thinking wrongly. It is fine to use what force you have available to you, be it economic, social or political, to change their actions if you think those actions are harmful enough to warrant it.


I'm a bit torn on this whole issue, I wonder if somebody could give me some perspective. There are two conflicting things I don't like here. In the first place, I don't like when people are so sensitive that there's no room for a harmless joke. In most cases I really would say "oh come on lighten up." On the other hand, among us computer programmers, there's so much social ineptness (and perhaps outright disrespect for women, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt because I really don't understand why it would be particularly prevalent here, other than perhaps a result of ineptness) on the part of the males that a lot of it really isn't so harmless. Not necessarily because it sets out to make women uncomfortable, it's just not funny. And if it's not genuinely funny, the only conclusion women (having better taste than men, I hope I'm not sexist for saying so) can draw is that they're being disrespected.

I feel like this joke is somewhere on the line. In a world where people aren't putting pornography in their slide presentations for no apparent reason, maybe we could take this joke at face value (ha ha, we're all sex deprived computer nerds who would do anything to interact with women for a second). On the other hand it's not particularly funny (and I didn't really get the joke before they explained it), and in this world I can have some sympathy for the women.

I guess my ultimate point is, and I'd like to hear what others here think, I hope it's not too late to turn this around, such the solution is more genuine respect and tact so we can safely go back to actual harmless jokes, rather than this turning into another "PC police" scenario that's going to start making us uncomfortable for different reasons.


I'm a guy who in more of an IT role with alot of women (probably a little less than half the people here) -- so I guess I come from a weird perspective. My sister is an engineer/designer, so I've heard her perspective on this as well.

The issue with this kind of behavior is that it intimidates and/or repels professional women. It doesn't set an appropriate tone.

If you were a woman with a degree in CS who was potentially interested in seriously participating in this event, would you want to to hang out with a bunch of beer-swilling jerks making passes at barmaids? Do you want to be one of a small number of women serious about hacking, feeling inadequate around the girls with tight tops with the beers? Probably not -- but that is the picture that the event organizers were painting.

It's not a matter of bringing in the "PC police". It's about respect.


> It's not a matter of bringing in the "PC police". It's about respect.

The distinction between these points is important to me, I'm glad you bring it up. I know I've been somewhat contradictory on this, but I'll say I agree that the given joke, as it stands, is not respectful. If it were a guy's gathering, I think it would be ok, but it's an open invitation.

Since I've been saying that the problem is about bad taste in humor, I've been trying to come up with a better way of making the same joke (if we are to take them on their word that this joke was really about being a male dominated field). What do you think of this variation (not to say it's that much more funny):

"Women: Yes, we aim to make a welcoming atmosphere for women who want to participate in our hackathon. (And for those men still afraid of getting out-programmed by a girl, we've hired an all-female event staff to serve you cold beer.)"

Granted it maybe sends a bit of a double-message still, I think something more along these lines could make it clear that we mean no real disrespect, but still keep it from getting too uptight.


I don't understand why you think there is some sweet spot for a professional event where a sexist joke can be appropriate.

Problems with your rewrite: Women: Yes, we aim to make a welcoming atmosphere for women who want to participate in our hackathon. (And for those men still afraid of getting out-programmed by a girl, we've hired an all-female event staff to serve you cold beer.)

1. Boys and Girls are children. Men and Women are adults. The target audience for professional events are people.

2. You imply that being out-programmed by a woman will hurt a man's ego. This is outright sexist and perpetuates the idea that men should be better than women. It both degrades women and shames men.

3. It creates a hostile environment for a woman who programs well. By outing herself as capable she will create social strife with her male peers. There is a reason women do worse on math exams in the presence of men. Social pressures is a real thing that you, as a presumably straight white male, get to ignore.

4. Pointing out you hired an all female staff makes explicit you cater to straight men.

5. By prefacing it with "Women:" you are still listing the female servants as a perk. "Great Food" Is a perk. "Handed to by a woman" is not.

The entire concept literally uses breasts and vaginas as a lure for men. You keep trying to force the idea but it won't ever work in an inclusive way.


This reaction seems to be the result of some combination of my own social ineptitude, and your being sensitive about the issue. Either way I can see why it's not going to be that easy.

> 2. You imply that being out-programmed by a woman will hurt a man's ego. This is outright sexist and perpetuates the idea that men should be better than women.

The point was to make fun of sexism, really. It makes fun of the side of us that is intimidated by smart women, and encourages the more adult behavior of not being afraid of smart "girls".

> 4. Pointing out you hired an all female staff makes explicit you cater to straight men.

Well sure, I don't want to make a purely PC joke either, sortof defeats my point. Sexism mixed in with anti-sexism, I would hope, sortof diffuses things with some absurdity. If done right. Which I still have to figure out I guess.

> 5. By prefacing it with "Women:"

I guess a play on the fact that in the first version, women was a perk. Here it's directly about encouraging women to show up. I guess it doesn't work out of context. How about pretend that I didn't put it in the perks section.

> You keep trying to force the idea but it won't ever work in an inclusive way.

I don't know what you mean by keep, this was my first attempt. Any case, I think that with your attitude taken to its extreme, you take away all possibility of fun. It may seem forced because there's no hope for turning this particular "joke" into something viable. I wouldn't have tried it in real life. I'm remain unconvinced that there's zero room for humor related to gender, maybe it has to be made very carefully and mildly. A female friend of mine pointed out that it's going to be a bad idea altogether while women are still less than 5% of the scene. The idea of waiting until things are less tense, I can get behind, I just would hate for this whole thing to result in a permanent taboo.


Ah yes, I obviously share a piece of the blame for being sensitive about how hard you work to secure the future of sexist jokes.

Wouldn't want to have to spend half a second considering the implications of our actions, now would we, Mr orblivion?


What's most offensive about the incident wasn't the wording in the ad, but the fact that they were going to hire exclusively women as sex objects (eye candy) for a professional event. The ad simply provided advance notice and an opportunity to call them out on it before the event actually happened.


> professional event

I didn't think hackathons were particularly professional. But I agree, the whole idea is pretty ridiculous.


I think that you're trying to swim in dangerous waters.

Do you think that your variation would be considered OK if you were talking about a racial group? Or short people?

Personally, I'd want to stress that this is an event where you can hack and have fun. Just say some variation of "We have an awesome event staff on-site to serve you! Cold beer, hot wings, etc on us!"


> It's not a matter of bringing in the "PC police". It's about respect.

99% of time, when people whine about being oppressed by 'political correctness', what they're really complaining about is ordinary human decency.


I think you're saying that these guys didn't mean to push anyone's buttons, they're just clueless guys trying to be funny, and does clueless really deserve such a beatdown? To the guys who wrote this, this faux pas may well feel no more significant than forgetting to match your belt to your shoes. But the latter is -- wait they're supposed to match? is that why people look at me funny? And the former got them ridden out of town on a rail.

The answer is, yes and no. I'm certainly not politically correct -- I think I'm leading for Most Downvoted 2012 -- but there are some flavors of clueless that create problems beyond their immediate vicinity. This particular form is so predictable that it can easily cause a lot of women to just avoid settings where it appears, which pushes them away from activities they might otherwise enjoy and at which they might excel. If we want to provide those people avenues to what they might be good at, we have to make something more of such idiocy than we would of other idiocies.

But I think it is very useful to object to the important idiocies in a measured, thoughtful tone. Because this conveys This Is Serious, and encourages the knuckleheads to _think_ about what they've mistaken. I don't want them to learn to camouflage their boneheadedness from predictable outrage, I want them to be less boneheaded. When you're yelling at someone really the only thing they can do is make apology noises and retreat, which isn't exactly what you want here. I get that some people were genuinely irritated, I think some expressions of that help show the community's feeling, but if that's all there is to the community reaction I don't think it's going to teach all it could.


I'm not sure if you meant to disagree with something I said, but I think I agree with you here. It's not a harmless faux pas, it's making qualified people uncomfortable. I'm just afraid that dealing with this a certain way will lead to people being uptight.

Trying to communicate with the people about what was wrong, as you suggest, sounds like a good idea. Assuming instilling good taste is a viable option for such people, perhaps if someone helps them distinguish disrespectful from edgy-but-respectful, they can safely stay on the other side of it.


Two points:

1) I don't like when people are so sensitive that there's no room for a harmless joke.

The joke might seem harmless to you (because your are privileged[1] to think so), but it doesn't mean it is for everyone. Also, if the joke is based on any kind of prejudice (the teller being aware of it or not), it is in fact harmfull as it only helps the status quo, while a number a groups are putting tremendous effort to disrupt said status quo in order to do something about prejudice that is affecting them.

2) there's so much social ineptness

Social ineptness might explain it but it doesn't justify or excuse it.

[1]: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-...


Though I'm generally turned off by the use of the word "privilege", I actually don't disagree with you on either point.

1) I'm not saying this is a harmless joke. I'm saying that I'm afraid that actual harmless jokes will fall prey to the backlash against ones like this. I anticipate that there will be another story at some point where an actual funny, but edgy, joke will be told and I will have to find myself on the other side of the argument. EDIT: I guess I've been sortof inconsistent on this one. I forgot I said that this one was on the line. It's a stupid joke. I suppose it's harmful in the current atmosphere, I could see it just being stupid in a different atmosphere.

2) I'm actually sortof holding their ineptness against them. I think it's their responsibility to try to learn to understand people a bit better, or leave the jokes to someone else. I'm just trying to get to the root of the problem, rather than assuming it's rooted in actual sexism (and again it very well may be, it just seems weird to me).


Behavior and humor in professional, work environments need to be held to a different standard than what might fly just between a group of friends or in a bar. In such an environment even usually harmless jokes contribute to a subtle if not overt sexist atmosphere which discourages female participation. Sure, there are always going to be some aggressive, driven women who will enter the field anyways and excel, but there are lots of other women who will end up being turned away, believe it or not.


The tech sector seems to hate formality, I think this may also be part of the problem. But in this particular case, it's a hackathon, pretty informal to begin with. If this were a job description I'd agree that any sort of joke that relates to gender would be totally inappropriate.


> I anticipate that there will be another story at some point where an actual funny, but edgy, joke will be told and I will have to find myself on the other side of the argument

I think if there was an actual joke involved (a proper one, which was coherent and possibly even amusing) the reaction would be rather different.


I can't and won't defend these guys, but I remember my teenage years, and I remember being pretty shallow when it came to women. Looking around, I suspect many other males were the same way.

I got over this by slowly growing up, not by having a crowd tell me I was an ass. I think if the crowd had pressured me back then, I'd tell them to go jump in a lake.

These guys were wrong, no two ways about it. My concern is that we've created a system where kids can't go out and get drunk, make racy comments about girls -- basically act like kids -- without the entire world coming down on their head. Everything you do online lasts forever. That doesn't sound like a good thing at all.


Five hundred years ago, "kids being kids" would have described setting cats on fire. We can do better than that, and we can do better than this.


There are many places in our society where kids can do stupid and immature things but I don't think the adults in our engineering profession need to support or sponsor them. I respect Heroku etc for pulling their sponsorship dollars. I'm a huge fan of supporting adult standards of behavior to participate in adult society and I have no patience for sexism in our field.


Perhaps I should have been clearer. You are correct. We can and should encourage adult behavior. Heroku and the rest did the right thing -- from an adult, socially-responsible position. There is nothing new about this, it's the way professional groups have conducted themselves since forever.

From a longer-term view, this incident will still be around 50 years from now when these guys are grandfathers. This is completely new and has never existed before in the history of humanity.

I don't think it's an either-or situation. The immediate response could be exactly correct and the long-term impact could be entirely out-of-whack.


This story won't be around in 50 years. We think it will because when we grew up, our social flubs simply disappeared. Now they're around forever, but the important thing is they don't exist in isolation.

This story, like all the embarrassing comments I have personally published in forums across the internet, can for all intents and purposes be just as lost to time in a deluge of data as it can in a drought.

A year from now, when one searches the names of one of these founders, or the name of their company, this episode will not even appear in the first few pages of Google search results. Perhaps for a person with a sufficiently strong memory that he/she was specifically searching for this exact story, the incident could be dredged up. But for the vast majority of humanity, probably even those looking for some vague form of dirt on sqoot, the episode will have vanished.


That doesn't sound like a good thing at all.

Sounds to me like we can perhaps finally just admit that kids go out and get drunk, and haven't quite expanded their reality bubbles past their own nose, and have all us "grown-ups" stop pretending we didn't (except for where we didn't). And we can perhaps finally admit it because it's punching you in the face all the time with minimal research.

The stigma against having "inappropriate" behavior in youth known about that turned out to be part of a growing up process for a pretty alright person is ridiculous. All I know is that if someone ever brings up to me that they can find an angsty Xanga from my teen years, I won't deny it, but it'll be a huge red flag for me if they judge me, now, on its contents.

I'll agree strongly that it probably won't be the most pleasant transitory phase.


Sadly, we don't live in "a world where people aren't putting pornography on their slide presentations" — we live in a world where it happens pretty regularly. Sexism is deeply embedded in the culture of the software industry; in that context, there isn't really any such thing as a "harmless joke". These "jokes" continually reinforce the thought that women aren't welcome in our community.


And thank are due to you and the other organizers for emphasizing that message at PyCon. The recent conference was a great example of treating inclusiveness as the norm.


s/thank/thanks/

typos, sigh...


Maybe the women need to come back and make fun of these people for being shitty at humor. EDIT: I dunno, I'd just hate to have to resort to being uptight as a solution. Plus it could backfire.


Thing is, it's not as easy when you already feel a bit marginal. Women are definitely the minority at tech events so 'fighting back' in this way takes a lot of guts.

I try to put myself in the mindset as follows: I'm a white guy. If I were in a club that had 90% black patrons and some people were making jokes about 'whitey', I don't know if I'd want to speak up in that environment. Even if the jokes are not intentionally intimidating, and I'm technically 'in the right', it's still going to feel intimidating pushing back and standing out.

I imagine it feels similar for a woman in a 90+% male environment pushing back against jokes like this. There's the uncertainty of 'am I overreacting?' and 'how will I be perceived if I push back?' weighed against wanting to speak your piece.


Great point. I think it might help if we backed them up in doing this.


See, both their joke and the statement: "maybe we could take this joke at face value (ha ha, we're all sex deprived computer nerds who would do anything to interact with women for a second)" assumes women are not programmers and thus makes them feel less welcome. That is the main reason why it is bad.


Exactly. It marginalizes women in the profession. It also supports sexual objectification as being okay in a workplace / professional environment.


And I guess what I'm saying is, if there weren't the disrespectful atmosphere to begin with, I think women could let it slide, with the understanding that this joke is based on the fact that "women are not programmers" is enough of an approximation of the truth that you can base a joke off of it. (again, not that it's that great a joke)


> In the first place, I don't like when people are so sensitive that there's no room for a harmless joke.

But there was no joke. None. It wasn't even an offensive joke (not that they're all that rare in the community, sadly), it was just offensive. I think their characterisation of it as a joke is just an attempt to get themselves out of hot water.


I don't live in the US, and the city I live in is plastered with posters advertising parties. They all advertise with attractive women on the cover. Not that different from a Hackathon advertising with attractive female waiters, if you think about it. I think it was poor style, but I also don't like the mobbing aspect of the "apologize or die" movement.


The first thing I thought when reading this article is that it's a shame the author chose this topic as his way of framing the post. If you remove the focus completely from the potentially flame-war issue this is based on there is some great advice in this article.

Specifically: "When I worked at Lulu, Bob Young used to say that whenever you screw up, it's actually a tremendous opportunity to win a customer's loyalty by making it right."

Pretend the topic is a bug found or any customer job delayed/flubbed. This is a great piece of advice. Generally engineering-types focus very much on explaining what happened and not enough time on hearing the customer, apologizing, and explaining that it won't happen again. It's our natural personality as problem solvers.

But I've seen how apologizing for even a major mistake can win loyalty, get help fixing the problem, and even make deals bigger/longer. "Wait, that problem happened because we are sending the data to you in that convoluted way? We should either fix that or work together on how to make it easier for you to support it." If done right, the relationship will become more collaborative (your ultimate goal) and the customer will appreciate you more.


I framed the post around Sqoot's apology because that was what gave me the idea. I didn't intend to slap them around any more than they have been. It's just an example of what I think was meant to be a genuine apology that fell totally flat.

But yes, my central point is that when someone (or the whole Internet) is pissed off at you, you have their attention and a chance to turn things around, if you have the right goals in mind. Nurturing your relationship with your customer(s) or audience is likely more important than saving face or winning an argument.


I wasn't knocking you at all- sorry if it seemed that way! I was merely saying it's unfortunate that the discussion is going to focus too much on what made you think of this post (this particularly hot-button issue around women in tech), instead of the post itself, in which you included some really useful and practical advice for everyone. Proper apologies to win customer loyalty is a huge and important idea.


That was my impression, too. You weren't grandstanding or sounding sanctimonious, but rather saw an opportunity to write an informative article using Sqoot at an example. It was well-written and entertaining. Thanks for writing it!


"Women: Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you."

I suppose it varies with culture, but I can't imagine any of the women I know getting upset about that line.

So a genuine question, are we getting to a point where you need to think so much before actually saying anything? Personally, even if I were the butt of a mildly racist joke I would probably enjoy the joke than be offended.


Please read the whole context: https://img.skitch.com/20120320-fmsc5mciy8e7n3nxhakmegxxg9.p...

"Women" are being presented in a list of "great perks" -- along with "food trucks", "top shelf booze", and "dark chocolate". This is pretty much a textbook example of objectification.

This sort of objectification and othering is part of what keeps women out of tech, and that's a loss to everyone. More women joining our community means more people in our community, and that's a win for everyone.

>I can't imagine any of the women I know getting upset about that line.

Have you actually asked any women who work in tech about what it's like? Spending just a little time listening to what women in our industry think about the culture can be an eye-opening experience.

I'm not doubting that you can find women who aren't offended by this, but that's quite beside the point. It's essentially the "I have black friends so how can I be racist!?" defense — so laughable that Colbert uses it as a running gag on his program.

> So a genuine question, are we getting to a point where you need to think so much before actually saying anything? Personally, even if I were the butt of a mildly racist joke I would probably enjoy the joke than be offended.

If you think sexist and racist jokes are acceptable then yes, you probably should think twice before making jokes.


Finally some context!

Without the context of the list above, I kept reading "Women:" not as a perk in a list, but as a declarative. I kept wondering why people could be offended by them saying that women were permitted beer.

Now, I see.


I am somewhat more offended by their horrible spelling and grammar.

I would have probably written the whole thing off as a troll (high level of promised services, amateur spelling, unknown startup, and overt sexism. Maybe one of those things could get a slight pass)


As a woman, and a woman in tech at that, I'm not /upset/ by it, but it does bother me.

It bothers me that the organisers assume the attendees will all be straight males and therefore interested in the fact that the servers are women. It bothers me that it plays on the antiquated notion that "women are there to serve". It bothers me that women are being treated as a 'perk', full stop.


I don't think that they assumed that all the attendees will be male, they only assumed that most of them will. Similarly, they didn't assume that everybody likes house music ( or whatever genre of music "Live DJ - Let great beats get you in the groove" refers to ) or dark chocolate, they just assumed most people do.


But for men, the ultimate perk is a good woman. Is there something wrong with wanting women around? I've seen actual sexism in the workplace but I don't think wanting women around a sausage fest is sexist. It's being male.


There's nothing wrong with it, certainly. However, the correct way to have women around at your conference is to make your conference interesting to women in the field, not hire them to serve beer.

From the perspective of wanting women around, this "perk" basically says that they've given up on getting women in the field to want to come to their conference, and the only way to get them there is to hire them. It's pretty lame.


This, I agree with. My job is not to change society though. My job is to enjoy my life and guide my kids. That's it. And I'll enjoy it more with some nice women around.


Who said anything about changing society? There are ways to attract more women to your conference, and hiring beer ladies and playing them up as a perk is almost the exact opposite of that.


I'm saying as an attendee. If the organizers can't do it otherwise, I'll take the servers. Nothing like idle flirting with someone you'll never talk to again.


But for men, the ultimate perk is a good woman.

I'm a man, a mostly hetero-normative one, who disagrees.

The idea that there is something undesirable about a situation that gets it called a sausage fest is not about being male per se, it's part of a very large set of assumptions about gender and sexuality that are fairly pervasive and ingrained and present enough that they are part of identity for a lot of people.

The idea that the term sausage fest, and the idea that it implies -- that there too many penises in the room and not enough vaginas, and that this is making the penises sad, in the context of a hackathon is sexist. It has a sexist nature. It makes crass and sweeping assumptions about a group of people who are passionate about a topic on the basis of their genitalia, when there are plenty of people with other sets of it that share a passion for the topic, and no ones genitalia is relevant whatsoever to the purpose of the event.


Dude, we work all day with a bunch of other men. It's boring as hell.

If we can get some women in the context of our passions, that is awesome.

You sound like someone who is apologetic about their manhood, to be honest. It's unfortunate. Look up Bill Maher's rant about the feminizing of America.


While Bill Maher may or may not make good points, I'm not naive enough to think that he's discovered some sort of thing intrinsic to everyone with a penis, nor to think that he has some great insight on sex, sexuality, gender or much of anything else.

I don't work all day with "a bunch of other men". From a literal standpoint, my workplace is about 1/3 female. It's a small shop, but out of the 4 people writing code there, one of them is female. Even if that wasn't the case, it wouldn't be something I even thought about too much, because when I deal with people I tend to view them as people, not as points on a gender scale.

Maybe I'm just much more left-brained than most people I know. I get absorbed in my work, and I get absorbed in discussing it with peers, regardless of their ... well, anything. A large part of the time, I don't know if the people I'm talking to in those discussions are male or female or whatnot. Their sex is, frankly irrelevant when it comes to the stuff we're doing. Variety and diversity are good to have, but I don't think humans are so static as to be boring because of a ratio skew. Because they're people. Not genders or sexes.

I'm not "apologetic about my manhood". I'm "someone who treats humans in the same manner unless they give me reason not to, and calls out pointless things when he sees them". I also do not happen to fall very much in line with western male stereotypes. I never have. I was not raised in anything near a home that thought that feminism, particularly the more recent waves of feminism, had any sort of legitimacy, I know about that school of thought, and others that have had influence on me because I read a lot of books as a kid.

Something being sexist doesn't mean that someone is necessarily consciously or purposefully stomping on or belittling some other group of people. It means that there are needless disparities about something based on sex. Thinking that a conference would be better just because it had more women or less women or more men or less men or more hot vapid men or women or more people of sex B for no reason other than because there aren't any there is sexist. "Sausage fest" has pejorative terms. It's normally used to refer to keggers, not hackathons. People who go to keggers at least can know that part of the reason people go to alchohol-fueled parties is to find sexual partners, giving at least a reason for the term. Not hackathons.

There's nothing intrinsic about having a penis and testicles that makes me less of a person if I don't fit into the behavioral profile of the ideal western male. There are 7 billion people, even assuming biological trends in behavior directly linked to sex that are unaffected by cultural pressure, that's more than enough for it to be ridiculous to try to shove all of any group of people into an absolutist box, and tell them they sound like they feel sorry about some intrinsic thing about them.

If you're getting bored just because someone with different jibbly bits isn't around, I would suggest finding something that isn't so boring to do. The world's a fascinating place.


My purpose in life is not to exist for your pleasure - I don't care how "male" you are.


Assuming that all of your attendees will be men, and that all of your attendees will find the presence of friendly women a perk, seems sexist.


If they prefer men, that's already handled. So what's your point?

I see what you mean though. Increasingly, there are a lot of professional women in these things. Might be a tad insulting.

Eventually, they'll have to start hiring stud muffins to compensate I guess!


but I don't think wanting women around a sausage fest is sexist. It's being male.

Sure, that's being (heterosexual) male, but you are making the same assumption as the original event-planners did: all of our attendees will be male. There is nothing in the subject material of the event (their API discussion or whatever) that would interest a female.

This is the thinking that strikes me as sexist: all developers are male, so we only need to appeal to males to make our events appealing.


How would you make it appealing to women?


Actually, this is one of the things that is so sad about this case - they had already taken a number of steps to get away from the classic hack-a-thon stereotype of a bunch of sweaty fat geeks eating pizza. They were putting on quality food (including, apparently, chocolate and cupcakes, which I would suggest, have quite strong female appeal - not to, you know, stereotype...). They also offer massages and gym passes, which I think extend the appeal of the event outside the traditional geek stereotype in a way that suggests 'women welcome'.....

... right up until the line where they suggest that having female serving staff bring you beer while you code is another perk, on the same level as those others. At which point you reassess the massages and gym-passes in the context of this new information and realise that there might be a totally different vibe to this event than the cupcakes-and-chocolate-with-access-to-a-gym-to-burn-off-the-excess-calories-and-a-nice-massage-at-the-end-of-the-day a female coder might have, up until that point, been imagining...

Seriously, take out the sexism, and I think they were well on their way to figuring out the recipe for creating an event with cross-gender appeal.


Mostly by not doing things like hiring a bunch of women to serve beer and listing it as a perk. It's then appealing to anyone interested in the topic, regardless of anything.

Just don't do things that explicitly cater to "FOO" if your intentions are not to explicitly cater to group "FOO", particularly if those things include offering up people of group "BAR" as an incentive to come.

Should you do things to make your hackathon appealing to programmers? Yes. These things are food, drinks, subject matter/activities and socialization with other programmers. Food and drinks appeal to humans, and you don't want a bunch of people having heatstrokes or diabetic comas. Subject matter/activities and other programmers being there to socialize with appeal to programmers. Pretty much all programmers who would want to attend a hackathon.


Like orblivion in his comment [1], I too didn't initially understand what was so sexist about that line, then I clicked through to the Cloudmine blog-post on the issue, which had a screenshot of the event posting in question [2].

This made it clearer: that line is not addressing women, it's addressing the event attendees and listing "Women" as one of the perks, because "friendly (female) event staff" get beers for the attendees. It's difficult to believe how a company can offer up "women" as a 'perk', and not expect the reaction that followed.

On a completely different note: it's extremely annoying having to hunt down links when they have exactly the same styling as the surrounding text, like in the Cloudmine blog. [3]

--

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3733914

[2] https://img.skitch.com/20120320-fmsc5mciy8e7n3nxhakmegxxg9.p...

[3] http://blog.cloudmine.me/post/19639692371/sexism-in-tech


I think this line really needs to be preserved in its context. "Women" was listed as a perk. To me, it reads as this close to a wink and a nod that they will procure prostitutes for attendees.


Thinking about how others may react before speaking is part of our DNA, it's not some new idea. What we think about evolves, but the basic principle is as old as humanity. I call it "being considerate," as in considering the effect our choices may have before we make them.


So a genuine question, are we getting to a point where you need to think so much before actually saying anything

Yes - and many people are going to see this as a good thing (and some won't). I think the best route is to never include any references to gender, (or race, or any hot button issue) in any of your promotional material, slides, talks or whatever. Even if it's intended as light-hearted humor.


It's interesting that this sort of thing rarely happens with race in tech (not never, but it's uncommon). I think given various bits of cultural history/etc., people have a stronger internal voice saying "uhh, do you really want to say that?" when it comes to making race-related jokes in public, especially connected to anything official.


> It's interesting that this sort of thing rarely happens with race in tech (not never, but it's uncommon).

In many (most?) cultures, sexist comments are still _far_ more socially acceptable than racist comments. Look at dumb blonde jokes; distasteful and offensive, but many people are willing to make them in public; substitute an ethnic minority for the 'dumb blonde' and you'd find that far, far fewer people would be willing to make them.

You see the same with casual homophobia; it's not socially acceptable, but it's far, far less shocking than racism.


Yes, making assumptions about people based on their race, sex, heritage, etc. is not okay, especially not in a professional setting.


For someone who's part of a group that hasn't been historically marginalized and discriminated against it's a lot easier to laugh off racist or sexist jokes regarding their own differences. With a bad historical precedent however, an otherwise harmless joke reinforces and reinvigorates past discrimination and marginalization, and actively contributes to a hostile culture and specifically a hostile work environment in this case.

Just because you wouldn't be offended by something doesn't mean lots of other people aren't, or that your harmless and thoughtless jokes aren't deeply offensive and repugnant for historical reasons you possibly haven't considered.


> Women: Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you.

I must have missed this entire story, but is this really a line that people are upset over?

Can someone explain why? Maybe I'm not reading into it enough or there is some missing context? To me it seems like they're just saying another female will get them a beer if they want one. How is that offensive?


Yeah, that quote is out-of-context to the point of disingenuousness. Women are listed as one of the "great perks" that (male?) attendees can enjoy:

https://img.skitch.com/20120320-fmsc5mciy8e7n3nxhakmegxxg9.p...


Ah, Thank you! That definitely brings a lot more context into it and I can see how some may get offended by it.

I still question whether this is offensive to myself. Compared to the ads I hear on the radio and TV for local clubs and bars and how they're touting their female attendance or "hot bar tenders" as a reason to come, this seems relatively tame to that...


Don't take this as a dig at you, but I think that's a very revealing comparison. A hackathon is a professional event; people go there to code, not to hook up. Men are largely immune to being propositioned in professional spaces, partly because it just doesn't happen and partly because men perceive public space as "theirs" (there's research to show that women don't). So the cost to men of presenting this as a sexualized event is virtually nil or slightly positive. The cost to women, on the other hand, is phenomenal, because not only does it signal that this is an event where they'll be assessed by their tits rather than ability, but that the organizers of the event are likely to be indifferent or overtly hostile to problems of sexual harassment.

This is often a gedanken experiment that's often as distracting as it is illumination, but (assuming you're a straight man), imagine that 90% of programmers are gay or bisexual, and that one of the few hackathons available to you advertises itself by promising that "beefcake hunks" will fetch you drinks (which is just a couple of points down from the "massage" perk). Would that change your perception of the expected atmosphere of the hackathon?


Just because sexism exists elsewhere, doesn't make it any less sexist though, does it?


Well, for a start, these clubs and bars are presumably targeted at men. I personally, and I believe many people, find that sort of advertising distasteful, but their client base presumably puts up with it.

However, this event was targeted at the tech community. You know, the scary wimminz can program too. The implication of it being an all-male event is perhaps more worrying than the objectification.


Yeah, this blog-post assumed you already knew about the event, so did a poor job of setting the context. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3733948 (link to a comment I made earlier in the thread)


Sqoot now has a statement on their blog that is better, especially when it comes to the "humor" part:

http://blog.sqoot.com/we-can-do-better-an-apology-from-sqoot


This is a very interesting topic. The thing is that an apology doesn't really make any sense unless the person offering it is actually sorry (for what happened, not that they got caught).

I see three different kinds of cases:

1) You do something that has a consequence that you didn't intend and you immediately regret it, like spilling coffee on someone.

2) You say or do something that you don't find offensive until you realize that the other person has a reason to be offended ("my mother is a redhead, you know!")

3) You say or do something you don't find offensive, but the other person does.

Now for #1, the apology will be sincere and it's easy to offer. With #2 it's harder but still possible but if like #3 you basically don't think you did anything wrong but just think the other party is uptight or over sensitive, it doesn't really make any sense to make an apology. People do all the time obviously and it can be the only way to move forward.


I am not known for being very politically correct, but I disagree with your assessment of #3. Some people just don't know where the line is and continually cross it, and that is not ok, but they shouldn't fail to apologize and they should try to learn from their mistakes if possible, and if not possible they should avoid situations that lead to #3.


The only case in which the person who originally wrote this could fall into category three is if they were a sociopath.


I was fairly surprised to read a decent explanation of how to apologize. I took a fairly wide ranging linguistics class a few years ago and an apology was explained as follows:

    * An apology is not something you "say"; 
      it is a *commitment* to the following:
    1) You explain that you understand the situation you 
       produced and why you did it.
    2) You understand how it harmed the other party.
    3) You explain how you will prevent it happening again.
Again, an apology is a commitment. If you don't commit, then you're just saying stuff and are not apologizing. And if you try to commit without explaining the 3 parts, then the commitment is worthless.

Sqoot seems to have failed on all 3 requirements and so their commitment is worthless. For the most part, they merely described what happened, which everyone already knew.


What if there had been a line immediately following with the genders reversed, with attractive serving men as a perk?

Are people upset with the objectification of women, or the assumption that women wouldn't be participants and aren't the audience of that flyer?

You need to know what the offensive issue is before you can apologize and correct it.

Does the apology go more "We're sorry we contributed to the objectification of a group of people, treating them not as an intelligent whole, but simply as a pretty object to be admired, like a piece of art, while the others work."

Or should it be along the lines of "We're sorry we made women feel excluded by targeting solely men in our advertisement, perpetuating the idea that we don't expect women to be participants in the tech event."

To me, I think the latter issue is the major one to be solved. It's something that can be easily corrected, and is specific to the tech industry (and other male-dominated fields).

I reject the idea that the two issues can be conflated, that the very practice of objectification is what makes women feel unwelcome. (Correct me if I'm wrong?) My internal counterexample I'm using is how I'd feel if the flyer offered as a perk "Men: Tired from your long hack-a-thon? Have our hot, muscled men bring you a refreshment or carry you to the lounge area to take a power nap." It's human nature to enjoy attractive people, landscapes, art, etc, and I, as a man, don't feel worse off knowing that women might enjoy ogling attractive men.


Think of it this way: if you were a African-American, or a Hispanic, or an Asian, would you be happy to attend the event if one perk was "Asians: Tired from your long hack-a-thon? Have our hot Asians bring you a refreshment or carry you to the lounge area to take a power nap."

What does this reflect? Simply that objectification has much more of an effect when the group being objectified is not the dominant or majority one. Sure you don't care if men are being objectified, but you very well might if you were an ethnic minority and you've been enduring overt or subtle racism all your life. It's the same with women, who in many places still put up with objectification and obviously don't like it.


> Are people upset with the objectification of women, or the assumption that women wouldn't be participants and aren't the audience of that flyer?

I'd imagine a little from column A, a little from column B. Both are offensive, especially in the context of the ongoing issues with sexism in tech.


Perhaps the most unfortunate outcome of this whole incident is that Squoot--a heretofore completely unknown startup--has gotten a substantial amount of exposure. Thanks to their bigotry, the percentage of the tech world that knows of them has gone up dramatically. What a shame.


Well, yes, but "oh, those are the sexists who can't spell and are bad at admitting responsibility" is not necessarily the reputation they'd like.


Very good article, I'd never really thought about it before, but the 5 points listed would definitely make me feel a lot better about an apology from a company.

I'd also love to see a company's apology where the 'how we will fix it' statement is "I shall be entering rehab tomorrow morning"


This a good analysis.

I wonder though whether over time this kind of understanding is just going to become a formula or best practice that ends up being handled by a PR department.

If it does, then how will we detect an authentic apology from a formulaic one?


How, you ask, can we tell if a smooth-sounding apology is genuine? Well, that "What we're going to do about it" part really shines through here. That's not just coming from the PR department, or if it is then it's a rather unusual company. Besides, if the apology is made sincerely and publicly and efforts are made to prevent a recurrence then I'm not sure I CARE whether it is "genuine" -- the effect is the same either way.


I think most PR people already know the formula. So for big companies it is hard to tell when it is genuine (and when you are speaking for 10,000 people, some of it is genuine and some of it is not, employees have their own personal opinions).

But for small companies the founder's bias just comes right through. If the founder isn't really apologetic they will end up writing a half-apology, even if they know this formula. The formula really requires you to own up to the full responsibility and sometimes the founders don't want to.


Presumably only by observing a company over time: does their behaviour change? Have they kept their promises for how they're going to fix it?


I guess that would apply equally to companies who botched their statement of apology but actually took a lot of steps to improve things.

The point is that over time this makes the apology itself moot.


An excellent point... but to be honest, if every company reacted like this when they screwed up it wouldn't actually be a bad thing :-)


It would if it was just a rote statement that they hadn't thought about.

A bit like the call centers which effusively state "I'd be more than happy to help you with that" after each thing you say to them.


I don't think they can do rote statements. They have to explain what caused the problem, explain what they are going to do to prevent the issue occuring again and admit that they cocked up. Nothing really very rote about that!


It already more or less is; the idea is not new, and decent PR people will already do something very similar (if they are allowed to do so; some companies will be unwilling to admit guilt, whether through fear of liability or pride).


This is pretty close to the apology model as it was told to me via leadership/management training at one of my previous employers.

It works amazingly well in practice. Basically, people appreciate when you're honest about your mistakes because they make them too. I've had more than one of my engineers say that they respected me more by admitting fault.

And for those that don't appreciate the honesty? Well, you can't please everyone. I just don't worry about them because there are too few hours in the day to care about it.


My biggest problem is that the joke wasn't particularly funny.

I grew up on Hara-Kiri, Reiser, Vuillemin and co, and later Derek and Clive. They are all way, way more offensive, but they are really funny and also quite aware that they are going to piss people off.

What I find disturbing in both the joke and the apology is the surprise that people would get upset. Basically that's it's perfectly normal.


"They probably shouldn't quote the line that made everyone mad (it will make the readers mad all over again)."

That doesn't sound very honest, and I thought the post was about being honest while apologizing. I think quoting the offensive line shows spunk. One could easily argue that not citing it and hiding behind vague words like "something stupid and sexist" will offend people.


"We're sorry we inferred that only female tenders would be there to service you. Male tenders will be there to serve beer, also. We want you to focus on code, so whatever you need, just let us know and we'll help you get there (within reason, of course..)"



Apologies are usually self-serving.

Step one .. realise what you've done wrong. Step two .. don't do it again.


If people need a guide for an apology then I would question it's sincerity.


I don't. You can be really sorry, but have a hard time finding the words to say it.


You can also be really sorry, and have an easy time finding the wrong words to say it. It's a shame that being sincere and sounding sincere are so weakly correlated, while our monkey brains have us so convinced that they are strongly correlated.


Am I the only one that thought their comment was in good humor? Maybe my sense of humor is twisted, but having attended many hackathons, I got a good chuckle as it was obvious that many of them turn out to be sausage fests. I felt this comment poked fun at this.


I can see why someone who meant well could have said this without realizing it was offensive, but that doesn't change the fact that it genuinely was offensive.


I feel the comment contributes to an all-male, boys-club atmosphere. I don't see anything that pokes fun at that atmosphere.


And the smug "sum it up" blog posts start to appear like flies after a corpse.


I like chicks. What's the problem with chicks?

Oh right, I can't say that I like chicks.

That's sexist.


No, saying that you like chicks is not sexist. Implying that women are for getting beer is sexist. Saying that the presence of hired female staff is a "perk" is sexist.


Why? I enjoy women.


Here's a trick for finding out if something is sexist, which can also help you understand why it's sexist. Replace "women" (and "female" etc.) with "black people" and see if it suddenly sounds incredibly racist.


Haha, having black people serve beer would be incredibly racist.

Alright, fine.


If you enjoy women, why not let them do something other than get the beer?


I think you're assuming something I haven't said.




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