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Jessamyn Smith: Fighting sexist jokes with a Python bot (geekchick77.dreamwidth.org)
505 points by dpritchett on Mar 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 349 comments



"It has been fascinating to watch the ongoing reactions. There have been complaints that we have too many bots in the channel now. There have been complaints about it spamming the channel. There were several “Make them shut up!” responses. These are not reactions I have seen the other bots elicit, certainly not with such intensity. One person even complained about the name being too long, though to his credit he realized right after he said that that several other people in the channel also have very long handles. To me, all of this seems like typical geek behaviour: something is making them uncomfortable, and so they attack it on “rational” grounds. Most likely, they aren’t even aware of the gut reaction fueling their logic."

This is excellently picked out: most of the disagreements over the term "sexism" hinge around this point. Stuff that doesn't bother you (that another poster here describes as being "tuned-out"), as a man, because your gender plays no part in your job, is experienced differently by your female colleagues, because their gender does. Their experience of seeing "that's what SHE said" (and the death by a thousand cuts of other gender policing) is just as distracting and annoying as the "that's what she really said" bot. If your reaction to this post is "the first one seems harmless but the second is really overstepping the line", please take a few minutes to consider how you would feel if everyone's reaction to that (and everything else you objected to) was "just lighten up".


What I find the most fascinating is that she did everything exactly right and people still feel like she did something wrong.

She didn't go to her supervisor and she didn't turn it into a drama. Instead she fought the problem in its own arena by making a IRC-bot to combat the problem, and not only that: the IRC-bot is only selectively used in the exact situation that is seen as problematic and it does so by writing enlightening quotes! In mathematical terms: the function has the exact same range and its value is consistently higher in the absolute majority of all cases.

I honestly can't think of a better way to tackle this particular problem, and yet there's all this criticism to her approach. Really? What more do you want her to do? Her quote at the end of the article rings even more true after reading some comments here:

To me, all of this seems like typical geek behaviour: something is making them uncomfortable, and so they attack it on “rational” grounds. Most likely, they aren’t even aware of the gut reaction fueling their logic. Interestingly, the intensity of emotion seemed to carry over into subsequent discussions, including one about women in the Python community.


Really? What do you want?

We want women to shut up and stop telling us that there's a problem with how we behave, because it's rude to tell people there's something innately wrong with their behavior. Also it takes so much time and effort on our parts to try and behave like better people that it hardly seems like we should bother.

The problem, for many people, is not that the issue is being handled indelicately. It's that the issue is being brought up at all. Aren't there already systems that are supposed to handle discrimination, in private, so that we don't have to witness it being discussed firsthand? Why are people so self-centered that they have to make every innocent joke about politics or gender or society? I just thought it was funny that Dave said something that sounds like sex talk, and wanted all of you to know! And don't you know that men are discriminated against just as much as women?

As you can see I've got perfectly rational explanations for why I'm so irritated by women calling out sexist behaviors. I want them to stop calling things sexist so that I can stop worrying about their feelings.


> We want women to shut up and stop telling us that there's a problem with how we behave...

> As you can see I've got perfectly rational explanations for why I'm so irritated by women calling out sexist behaviors.

> I want them to stop calling things sexist so that I can stop worrying about their feelings.

> I just thought it was funny that Dave said something that sounds like sex talk, and wanted all of you to know! And don't you know that men are discriminated against just as much as women?

I honestly can't tell if you are being serious or just being very convincing at acting like an immature brat. Considering you're on HN, I'll make the assumption that you are in fact more mature than this, and suggest you update your comment to make it a tad more clear that you are in fact just mocking people that actually think this way.

That being said, it's sad that I could actually see someone really believing this.


I was worried about people thinking I meant what I said when I wrote it. Then I decided that maybe the fact that people could theoretically take it seriously was a good reason to keep it how it was.


It certainly made me think - I'll even admit that for a moment my cursor was hovering over the down vote arrow.

It's sad, but it made me think BECAUSE there are people who think like this (and I've seen similar serious responses here on HN.)


Oh shutup.


Lighten up!


Case in point?


> I was worried about people thinking I meant what I said when I wrote it.

"Calling Out" is a pretty recognizable piece of social-justice cant. I think other social-justice types will probably pick up on it immediately.


I thought you meant it. Then I realized I was on HN, and I got confused. Thank you for clarifying, anyway. ;)


No, I agree. I'm glad I assumed correctly. Still, I was more concerned the message would get lost in downvotes.

What caught me was the specific wording used. Specifically, this caught my attention:

> I'm so irritated by women calling out sexist behaviors

For obvious reasons, this stands out.

All things considered, good job.


That being said, it's sad that I could actually see someone really believing this.

That being said, and this being the internet, do you realize how silly you look to other cultures that don't give a flying duck about those so-called issues, and can take a joke?

(And it's not like people from those other cultures don't worry about the larger issues re: equality, sexism etc, it's that "that's what she said" it's NOT where they are at all).

You wanna do something positive? How about doing something for the millions of homeless people in your own country? --now, THAT's a discrimination if I ever saw one. How come I see people tirelessly blogging about those non issues and never about those kind of things?

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide as of January 2009. Additionally, about 1.56 million people used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program during the 12-month period between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.

A random joke (say, a picture of a girl in bikini is some presentation) is "sexism" and "prevents more women from going to programming conferences"?

Well, not having a bloody house is social exclusion, and prevents homeless people for getting shelter, proper rest, care, running water, electricity, reduces chances of getting a job, and also prevents them from going to programming conferences. Men AND women.

(Not that I take any offense with the woman writing the bot. She seems like she can take a joke fine, and she did a joke in response -- it's all those other people blowing non-issues out of proportion that get me).

Prudes...


Yet another common trope in gender discussions is this idea that people shouldn't complain about sexism because there are more important things to worry about.

We are complex machines that are capable of worrying about multiple cultural issues at a time. This is an issue. If there are things you'd rather us focus on, write a blog post, start a thread, make something. Don't try and derail this one, because it's relevant to many, many people, and it's a serious issue in this industry.


> Yet another common trope in gender discussions is this idea that people shouldn't complain about sexism because there are more important things to worry about.

But Batista is complaining about (what he at least suggests to be) sexism, just in another area with more serious consequences.


More serious to who? Sometimes it's the little things that hit the worst.


>Yet another common trope in gender discussions is this idea that people shouldn't complain about sexism because there are more important things to worry about.

Haven't thought of it that way, but sounds like a reasonable general guideline: don't worry about minor things when there are important things that mess with your life and your society.

Oh, and I see what you did there --by adding "sexism"--, whereas my comment was about issues like the "That's what she said" in the story and such, which I'd hardly call sexist at all.

It's not like I said we don't have to worry about men and women not receiving equal pay, or about rape, or freedom of choice, etc, which would be REAL sexist issues to worry about.

>We are complex machines that are capable of worrying about multiple cultural issues at a time.

Really? That must be way every fifth post is about how to focus, how the "get things done", etc. Well, if we are "capable", we sure don't seem like it. Check those kinds of blogs: people that post on such things rarely post on more important issues.

Besides, even if you are "capable of worrying about multiple cultural issues", by worrying about both trivial and important things at the same time, you confuse your priorities or get paralyzed.

>Don't try and derail this one, because it's relevant to many, many people, and it's a serious issue in this industry.

It's only a "serious issue" in that it's being discussed a lot. It's not a serious issue in its manifestation or it's consequences at all.

As for women in IT, well, ever considered they just don't like it that much? It's not like being a man or a woman only affects your tastes towards some industry due to the sexism (or "sexism") in it.

Besides possible differences in inherent tastes (due to evolutionary traits), society also shapes men and women differently. For example, women being given barbie dolls and men Lego by their parents might be a much more important reason for them not liking IT, than any sexism in the IT industry.

When students pick up a university course, for example, they hardly have any idea about how the industry is. In my country at least, they don't have any idea at all --almost no one works as an internet or similar anywhere before graduating from university. Still, that doesn't prevent women/men applying to study IT in university being around 20:80. Other fields are Math, Medicine and Physics, which are like 50:50, and Biology, with is like 60:40. You think any of these has anything to do with the sexism in each industry? Like, male doctors are less sexist or something?


> don't worry about minor things when there are important things that mess with your life and your society

Important things like women making less money than men, being more subjected to media objectification, being the target of laws that want to deny them rights because we still have a problem accepting that women are exactly equal to us? Important things like us dismissing their complaints about this shit without it occurring to us that perhaps our dismissal is exactly the problem?

> Really? That must be way every fifth post is about how to focus, how the "get things done", etc. Well, if we are "capable", we sure don't seem like it. Check those kinds of blogs: people that post on such things rarely post on more important issues.

Learning how to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish, that's important. Learning what's wrong with our culture and how we can help fix the problem, that's important too. There are people who write about both subjects at the same time, but I see nothing wrong with people finding their niche. In any event, the focus of Hacker News is discussing relevant issues, and this is a doozy of a relevant issue.

> It's not a serious issue in its manifestation or it's consequences at all.

Countless women who have been affected by this would disagree with you. Countless men too.

> As for women in IT, well, ever considered they just don't like it that much?

Ever considered they don't like it because people like you see no problem with treating them this way?

> society also shapes men and women differently.

Exactly!

> For example, women being given barbie dolls and men Lego by their parents might be a much more important reason for them not liking IT, than any sexism in the IT industry.

Err... not exactly! Or rather, gross oversimplification!

There's a problem with women being conditioned not to think of themselves the same way that men do. But there's also a problem with men being conditioned to think of women the wrong way. Ads that tell women they need to look pretty to attract men also tell men that it's okay to think of women this way.

Even if the problem was as simple as "women don't like IT because they're given Barbies," the solution is not to shrug your shoulders and say "it's society, nothing we can do about it," because we are society. The solution is to listen to women when they complain about things and realize that the reasons they give for not liking this bullshit are very, very, very, very, very good reasons. That yes, we were conditioned to behave in shitty ways, and that we should stop behaving so shittily.


(Yes, quick quick, down-vote the heretic -- we haven't progressed much from Salem, have we?)

>Important things like women making less money than men, being more subjected to media objectification, being the target of laws that want to deny them rights because we still have a problem accepting that women are exactly equal to us?

Funny how you seem to have the missed the part where I SPECIFICALLY write: "It's not like I said we don't have to worry about men and women not receiving equal pay, or about rape, or freedom of choice, etc, which would be REAL sexist issues to worry about".

I.e, what I wrote is that THOSE are important issues, and "sexism AS IN "that's what she said" jokes and in "conference slides with some bikini-clad woman" IS NOT.

>Ever considered they don't like it because people like you see no problem with treating them this way?

No, because I have counter-examples, of women picking professions where they are treated the same or even worse, in much larger percentages.

Consider this: is every profession that women generally avoid a sexist one? Or do women also avoid some professions for other reasons?

Also consider this: could there also be some feminine and masculine side? (At least psychologists seem to agree). We know that hormones, for example, have a large influence on our behavior, re violence, introspection, sexual interest, etc, acting as regulators.

So could women also be more inclined towards some types of professions as women?

Can you get 5 year old girls interest in Star Wars as easily as 5 year old boys? (In general, not outliers). I don't think so --judging from the children I know, including mine, they already have their preferences re: cartoons. So, why wouldn't they also have re: professions?

Are those things never considered? If so, why? Because they are a "forbidden thought" since we must consider everyone the same? Well, being equal (a social ideal) is not the same as necessarily being the same. Well, I like empirical thinking, I don't care about "thought crimes".

>Even if the problem was as simple as "women don't like IT because they're given Barbies," the solution is not to shrug your shoulders and say "it's society, nothing we can do about it," because we are society.

I didn't said that, though. What I said was that "if the problem was as simple as 'women don't like IT because they're given Barbies'" then we shouldn't address non-problems, like "that's what she said jokes".


> down-vote the heretic

> "forbidden thought"

> I don't care about "thought crimes".

Bad news: you're not the brave thinker that you seem to think you are (in fact your "forbidden thought" is probably more common than the alternative that we're presenting!).

People aren't disagreeing with you because they think it's morally wrong to think the way you do, they disagree because they think you're wrong.


No, you are disagreeing solely because you have been trained to do so in college. Unlike batista you are not reasoning from first principles (which start with the brute fact of XX and XY), you are instead simply siding with those who have the most power among the elites.

There are a lot more feminist Harvard grads than Harvard grads who explicitly endorse Larry Summers' conclusions. Thus if you want to advance your career you mouth the right platitudes and downvote the heretics. But the thing is that men and women are indeed genetically and behaviorally different, and most cultures over most time periods (including the Chinese culture which is going to supplant the modern West) have acknowledged that rather than trying to futilely fight nature.


Those are some pretty wild assumptions you've got there.


>Bad news: you're not the brave thinker that you seem to think you are (in fact your "forbidden thought" is probably more common than the alternative that we're presenting!).

The forbidden-ess has nothing to do with the general popularity of the thought. (In other places of the world for example --and I'm not talking about misogynistic backwoods--, nobody gives a flying duck for the "alternative you're presenting").

It's forbidden in the context of a certain US population group, in the context of HN, etc.

>People aren't disagreeing with you because they think it's morally wrong to think the way you do, they disagree because they think you're wrong.

Only when it's a moral issue, those two options are not different at all. You can't just be wrong on a moral issue --we're not talking about measuring things here--, only morally wrong.

Anyway, most people "disagree" with me because they have been conditioned to disagree. Those same people would upvote me to the sky if it was the seventies, and probably for the same wrong reasons they downvote now, i.e no independent thinking.


Your deciding what is and isn't important for women to care about is a perfect example of privilege. When somebody says they care about something, the right response is to take note of why they care, and try not to repeat the mistakes on display here. Responding with arguments about why we shouldn't care about this is furthering the problem.


>Your deciding what is and isn't important for women to care about is a perfect example of privilege.

What privilege exactly? The privilege of sharing my opinion on HN and getting down-voted for it? I thought "privilege" was a concept related to power, what happened to that notion?

Women, like men, also care about BS. Non-issues, stupid issues, moral non-issues, religious hard-lines, the latest celeb gossip, some fad, etc.

One can decide for himself what he considers important for other people to care about, like I did, and tell those other people his opinion. Like I did. And apparently, like you did.

Free speech, is a bitch. You don't only get people complaining about sexism in "that's what she said jokes". You also get people complaining about meta-sexism, ie, whether the first kind of complaining is important or stupid.

>When somebody says they care about something, the right response is to take note of why they care, and try not to repeat the mistakes on display here. Responding with arguments about why we shouldn't care about this is furthering the problem.

If there IS a problem in the first place.

Because, sometimes the problem is "caring about something", itself. For example, when you are a hypochondriac, the problem is not the diseases, rather the problem is that you consider them a problem in the first place.


One thing that bothers me about any and all up-vote/down-vote systems is exactly what has happened to Batista. He expresses an opinion that is contrary to what other people are saying and he gets down-voted into oblivion. This just feeds into the creation of a culture bubble and never lets anyone in the communities views get challenged.

As a side note, I would like to clarify that my view on the issue is: A) Not relevant to the point I'm bringing up; and B) Not the same as Batista's. However, nor is it the same as anyone else’s in this discussion. (It's worrying that I have to clarify this for fear of being down-voted like him. I should not have to sit here and worry that I will get branded a sexist for not just mindlessly hitting down-vote on him. This is a horrible trend that needs to stop.)

I'll be down-voted myself anyway for even daring to defend someone’s right to express their opinion however. You get given a down-vote at a high karma so that you can use it against spammers and not just to use it on people you disagree with.

So god damn it learn to argue with people properly instead of just trying to silence them.

Edit: Also, down-voting people as you disagree with them verbally is like gagging them whilst you debate them. It doesn't convince anyone, it just angers them and sets them in their ways more.


Batista is not being downvoted because they're expressing a differing opinion. They're being downvoted because they're not taking the time to fully consider the issues and engage in reasonable debate.

As an example, from their first post, they suggest that it's not legitimate to worry about this sort of problem because larger problems exist. This form of argument is not only blindly hypocritical (that is, if the arguer believed it, they would not be engaging in the subdebate but rather be working to resolve the larger problem) but intrinsically ridiculous -- it supposes that it's not legitimate to discuss any issue while "worse" problems persist. It's a self-defeating argument on a specialized forum like HN, and utilizing it indicates that someone isn't actually arguing the topic at hand (in a sense, it's a "universal" argument, and thus like nonfalsifiable theories, completely irrelevant).

They then literally compare their own downvoting to the Salem witch trials (the irony of which is beyond belief, and further calls into question their sincerity), and additionally claim that proportion of women in tech is "not a serious issue in its manifestation or it's consequences at all", and when pressed that many people disagree, compare people who care about workplace sexism to hypochondriacs in order to marginalize their beliefs (this is particularly poisonous and a clear indicator that they're not interested in the viewpoints of others). They also fall into a really standard "I'm just expressing my opinion" backtrack, which is particularly ironic given that their initial complaint was that people were expressing their opinion on this topic rather than doing something more worthwhile.

Regardless of their viewpoint, they're not participating in reasonable intellectual discourse. We're not obligated to argue with someone who's plainly not interested in having an actual argument, and the up/down-voting is working as it should in this instance (I'm certainly not saying it works as it should in all instances, but this is pretty clear).


>As an example, from their first post, they suggest that it's not legitimate to worry about this sort of problem because larger problems exist. This form of argument is not only blindly hypocritical (that is, if the arguer believed it, they would not be engaging in the subdebate but rather be working to resolve the larger problem)

Which I am. I have a somewhat popular blog in my language on the "larger problems", and am member of several political groups on those issues. I also comment on HN on larger issues, when the topic warrants it.

What strikes me as idiotic is seeing people blogging about the "horrible problem of sexism" (what's more with examples like some programming convention where some presenter has a scantily clad girl in the slides, or the "that's what she said" jokes, or some poster on some hackathon that mentioned pretty waitresses --i.e bs--), whereas the same people and blogs never seem to mention any problem of more importance.

>but intrinsically ridiculous -- it supposes that it's not legitimate to discuss any issue while "worse" problems persist.

If your house was on fire, it would be ridiculous to discuss the fading color of the fence or that you have to mow the lawn. Without priorities, discussing problems by itself is idiotic. This very notion of yours gave rise to the concept of "first world problem", I concept with which I fully agree.

>They then literally compare their own downvoting to the Salem witch trials (the irony of which is beyond belief, and further calls into question their sincerity)

I fail to see the irony. Is it because the victims of the witch trials were women, and I (according to your reading) said something against women? I thought the message from the Salem witch trials was: "do not burn/beat/abuse/downvote people about how they conduct themselves and think" ("[the first accused] was described as not living a puritan lifestyle for she wore black clothing and odd costumes which was against the puritan code").

>and additionally claim that proportion of women in tech is "not a serious issue in its manifestation or it's consequences at all"

Am I not allowed to think that? Or is it only that I'm not allowed to make that claim?

What are the serious repercussions of less women in tech? Are there also serious repercussions of less women in the myriads of jobs there are less women? Or of less men in the myriads of jobs where there are less men?

Most women are not fascinated with shiny blinking gadgets and Star Trek, so they don't tend to choose a career path with the same criteria as men. Women took the smart path and chose biology --where the future big money are--, instead of sweating it coding mongo clients in node.js for 14 hours a day to maybe win the startup lottery.

I'd be much more worried about people who WANT and CANT be in tech (like the homeless, the poor, etc), rather than people that have the option and chose not to.

You have this a-priory theory based on ideals (and not empirical evidence) that women must necessarily be equally inclined to select an IT BSc, so you have to blow things like "sexism in IT" out of proportion to justify it not being so. As if, men and women in high school applying for college already know how it is working in an IT shop or in a startup, and that it includes sexism.

>They also fall into a really standard "I'm just expressing my opinion" backtrack, which is particularly ironic given that their initial complaint was that people were expressing their opinion on this topic rather than doing something more worthwhile.

Now, my initial complaint was that people were expressing their opinion on this topic rather than EXPRESSING THEIR OPINION on something more worthwhile. But even if it was what you mention, I still fail to see the irony.

You could be right or wrong in doing so, but there's absolutely no irony in trying to get people to stop complaining about what you consider a non-issue and doing something more worthwhile instead. For, as you see it:

Complaining about non issue: no benefit to society. Complaining about people complaining about non issue: the benefit of getting people back to real issues.

>Regardless of their viewpoint, they're not participating in reasonable intellectual discourse. We're not obligated to argue with someone who's plainly not interested in having an actual argument, and the up/down-voting is working as it should in this instance (I'm certainly not saying it works as it should in all instances, but this is pretty clear).

Actually you're just taking the easy way out and misread my arguments with prejudice. On top, it's you who are not interested in conversation. Noticed how ALL of your arguments are about my argumentation as argumentation (i.e meta) and NONE OF THEM is about my argumentation as substance? I.e you nitpick my argumentation style, but you never add a counter-claim. Probably because you already think what you believe on the matter to be some sort of immutable physical law.

That is, I gave several arguments, talked about nurture, statistical preferences for other fields, how (any) sexism in the workplace is not known to those applying for college IT, and still women are less there, etc. What have YOU counter-argued on the matter?


Just to address a single issue in your post here.

Your "priorities" excuse is exactly the same as other peoples "first world problems" excuse. Saying nobody can ever have a problem because someone somewhere is dying of something. It's just ridiculous to assume that everyone should stop caring about everything because there is a much bigger problem somewhere. If that was the case nothing would ever get done/changed.

Little things matter to people. You can't just ignore them. Even if you think someone is overreacting when they come complaining to you. If you're their boss and it's about a workplace issue then it's your responsibility to make things better for everyone. Otherwise you're just going to be left with unproductive, resentful workers. And that ignores the possibility that you might listen and understand why they are concerned. (Which you know, you should do...)


> He expresses an opinion that is contrary to what other people are saying and he gets down-voted into oblivion.

He's being downvoted not because of his opinion, but because of the way he chose to present it. And, he's whining about downvotes. Read what he's writing. It's downright rude.

> I'll be down-voted myself anyway for even daring to defend someone’s right to express their opinion however.

No, and suggesting such is fairly dramatic. However, the fact that you spend 2 paragraphs on the "plight" of your posts' voting trend is pointless.

> So god damn it learn to argue with people properly instead of just trying to silence them.

Learn to discuss matters like an adult, and you won't have this issue.

> Also, down-voting people as you disagree with them verbally is like gagging them whilst you debate them.

IIRC, your vote doesn't count if the person is responding to you, or you are replying to them. So, enhance your calm.


>Read what he's writing. It's downright rude.

Can you point to the rude parts? Or is that too much to ask?

>Learn to discuss matters like an adult, and you won't have this issue.

Actually most of the discussion on the issue is like that of touchy 20 year olds.

Adults dont "down-vote" on disagreement.


> Can you point to the rude parts? Or is that too much to ask?

Any of his comments in this thread are rude. Practically each on seethed with immaturity and rudeness for the other people in the thread. Any particular part? Yeah, the parts where he was commenting.

Rude is obviously subjective, but tied to social norms. It's like me calling a woman a "fucking bitch" is rude based on social norms, not because "fucking bitch" itself is rude. So, just consider that before you try to suggest that "what he said was clearly not rude or immature." We can obviously go back and forth all day long and get no where.

> Actually most of the discussion on the issue is like that of touchy 20 year olds. Adults dont "down-vote" on disagreement.

Well, I'm fairly confused now. First, I'm under the impression that a 20-year old is an adult. Secondly, I agree that adults don't down-vote on disagreement. I'm confused because if most of the discussion is like that of adults, and adults don't down-vote on mere disagreement, what's the issue? I sincerely think you were making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Yes, there will be people who down-vote because they disagree. There are also people, like me, who will see that and correct it should we feel the down-votes are not necessary, even if we disagree. It's self correcting that way. Hell, people up-vote even when they do disagree, if only because the comment is thoughtful.

I think the issue isn't people disagreeing on a subject. I think it's people disagreeing on what constitutes having a mature conversation. You obviously disagree with others' assessments.


>>Can you point to the rude parts? Or is that too much to ask? > Any of his comments in this thread are rude. Practically each on seethed with immaturity and rudeness for the other people in the thread. Any particular part? Yeah, the parts where he was commenting.

So, you accuse the other guy of being rude, but when asked to give a specific example, you resort to platitudes and generalities. Thanks for the mature contribution.


> So, you accuse the other guy of being rude

You

> but when asked to give a specific example, you resort to platitudes and generalities.

You first reply was littered with immaturity and insults. Everyone after that is combative, abrasive, and immature.

Considering your contribution up to this point, I've put in far too much effort already.

> Thanks for the mature contribution.

You're welcome. At the very least, you can recognize maturity in others, and that's a starting point. =)

Edit: I just realized your complaining about people complaining about sexism when there are "more important" things like homelessness. The irony is quite funny.


> You first reply was littered with immaturity and insults.

Sorry, I tried to verify that, but it looks like it is your comment, the one mentioning an immature brat, that sounds at least very arrogant and condescending, if not rude. I honestly fail to notice such qualities or insults in batista's comments down the thread after yours (although complaints about being downvoted he certainly could omit). Though it might be my insufficient understanding of language or culture, so I'd be grateful if you point out the offending parts.


The interface design problem here is that people are trying to express two things with one button: A) I disagree strongly, and B) that is a poor contribution to the discussion.

Personally, I'm going with both A and B for Batista. Some people come to a sexism discussion like fundies come to an evolution discussion. The point isn't to learn something and perhaps come away with a new view. It's to argue until the other people go find something better to do, so that the arguer can feel victorious and avoid having their bubble punctured.

When Batista jumped in with a standard technique for derailing the discussion, I suspected he was not interested in actual discussion. From his further replies, I'm sure of it. Life's too short to waste time talking with people like that. And if he's not at a discussion site to have an actual discussion, downvoting seems entirely reasonable to me.


>Some people come to a sexism discussion like fundies come to an evolution discussion. The point isn't to learn something and perhaps come away with a new view.

Noticed how you equate the issue of sexism with evolution theory?

To imply, of course, that those that happen to disagree about the importance of sexism are NUTS, and that the importance of sexism in keeping women away from IT is as indisputable as a scientific theory.

So much for YOU coming here "to learn something and perhaps come away with a new view".

So, when you say that the ideal is for one to come to a discussion "to learn something and perhaps come away with a new view", you only mean it for those with opposing views.

Because YOUR view is a priori as irrefutable as evolution --your simile--.

>When Batista jumped in with a standard technique for derailing the discussion, I suspected he was not interested in actual discussion.

Let me see.

1) I come in the discussion with an opposing view.

2) You held that I'm akin to someone coming to an evolution discussion with an opposing view --i.e a nutjob arguing against science.

3) I provide several arguments, mention some logical explanations about how things could not be so, etc.

4) Instead of replying in specifics, you resort to ad-hominens. Batista this, and Batista that.

5) Notice how all your message above is devoice of specifics, even on the meta-level of discussing my comments:

= = = = =

"Personally, I'm going with both A and B for Batista."

No mentioning why.

"Some people come to a sexism discussion like fundies come to an evolution discussion. The point isn't to learn something and perhaps come away with a new view. It's to argue until the other people go find something better to do, so that the arguer can feel victorious and avoid having their bubble punctured."

No mention of how that applies to Batista, plus the vulgar comparison of anyone disagreeing with the current topic to someone disagreeing with evolution/science.

"When Batista jumped in with a standard technique for derailing the discussion, I suspected he was not interested in actual discussion."

No mention of what that technique was. Saying something besides what everybody else says?

"From his further replies, I'm sure of it."

Again, no mention of specifics.

"Life's too short to waste time talking with people like that."

Again, no specifics as to what is "that".

= = = = =

And you have the nerve to say that it's me that "I'm not interested in conversation"?

Talk about blame the victim.

You're true on one thing, though: "life's too short to waste time talking with people like that".


I am indeed saying that you are acting like a nutjob. Well recognized. And nice work confirming that with a rambling 25-paragraph reply.


>I am indeed saying that you are acting like a nutjob. Well recognized. And nice work confirming that with a rambling 25-paragraph reply

Let's see: another ad-hominen insult, and still no specifics or counterarguments. Oh, and you managed to miss all of my arguments. And the problem is the length of my reply.

Yes, I can see how I am the nutjob for expressing an unpopular opinion (with arguments), and not being satisfied with just being called names for it. Nothing like the internet to give so considering, well spoken, and intellectually stimulating discussion partners such as you.

Since you took the liberty of calling me a nutjob, may I add an ad-hominen too? You are acting like an idiotic, PC, middle class American white man-boy. I'd take "nutjob" any day...


I have no obligation to respond to a raft of talking points from somebody I don't perceive as sincerely interested in having a discussion. I have better things to do.

If you'd like to know my particular positions on this issue, I've commented plenty in this and related threads. If you have some particular sincere question (that is, a non-rhetorical question) about some view I have expressed, feel free to ask.


One one hand, down-voting someone because (you think) they're wrong is counterproductive to a healthy discussion, but batista is doing the equivalent of walking into a technical discussion about, let's say, improving Django performance and saying "look, just use Rails, duh!" - there's nothing insightful about that position (which just seems to mirror normative culture), and the posts have a slight tin-foil-hat tone. There are some statements that are just not worth arguing against and are tangential to the point of distraction. Would you agree that those kinds of comments are worth downvoting (even if you don't agree that batista's comments fall into that category)?


>One one hand, down-voting someone because (you think) they're wrong is counterproductive to a healthy discussion, but batista is doing the equivalent of walking into a technical discussion about, let's say, improving Django performance and saying "look, just use Rails, duh!"

That would be "being off topic".

But what I did was being counter-general-HN-sentiment, which is different.

I replied on the same topic, added counter arguments (which few of my commenters did --instead, they kept it on the personal level, Batista this and Batista that, like here)

>- there's nothing insightful about that position (which just seems to mirror normative culture)

So, normative culture has nothing insightful to offer? Hundreds of millions of people beg to differ.

I'd rather say that it's the prevalent position that can be described as de facto normative, and the prevalent position on the thread happens to be the opposite of mine.

So, could a counter-position be insightful? Or is just nodding in agreement and adding another argument in favor of the prevalent thread position insightful?

>There are some statements that are just not worth arguing against and are tangential to the point of distraction.

And, as always, people fail to mention which. Or argue against them, since, as they claim, it's so "easy".


Re Lockyy - the trend of people downvoting and then continuing to argue with someone is annoying. Sometimes the font is so small I literally cannot read what has upset people

is this a technically solvable problem - if you downvote doyou then get your reply link taken away? Is this actually a problem or are downvoters different people to those who keep on arguing?


It seems minor to you.


You don't say?!

Isn't this true for any statement one makes, that it seems that way to him? Isn't it also obvious that for other people, it might not seem so?

What you say is essentially: "other people disagree with that assertion". Well, you can find people that disagree with any assertion. That's not an argument pro or against the assertion.


I'm trying to provide perspective without wading into a quagmire. Basically, you're deciding for someone else what is and is not minor to them, and then holding it against them that they're concerned about something minor.


Not really. There's a big practical difference between "X is minor" vs "I believe X is minor."

With the former, you're suggesting that anything else is false; with the latter, you're leaving room for other possibilities. Statements like the former often lead people astray, which is why some people suggest avoiding them entirely.

If you don't get the difference, try speaking in E-Prime for a month. I did, and it was really educational:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_prime


> As for women in IT, well, ever considered they just don't like it that much?

Did you miss all the recent posts from women in IT who say they love their jobs but have been forced out because of sexism etc?


LOL - this is my fav comment on this thread. I feel like I have seen a shift in the comments on women in tech related articles on HN over the past few weeks. 2 weeks ago I had a really hard time reading the comments because they seemed either hate-filled or ignorant (like the comment above is mocking) but I feel like lately the discussion has become more intelligent. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?


It is better, but I am still disappointed.

What the author did was clever and interesting, and the reaction of this highest-ranked thread has been to steal the discussion from, say, the general application of a female hacker's idea and instead to focus on the psychological contusions of a group of guys we don't know, scarcely care about, and will probably never meet. And yet we are not even talking about how to convince them not to react like this: we have all established that their reaction is problematic, would someone mind suggesting a way to change it?

At least the problem is no longer sexism but laziness: changing people is hard, complaining about them is easy. Back to work! Jeez.


Good point. I was aiming, with my comment, to pre-empt a lot of the responses which usually show up in a discussion like this. I don't think what I said was a derail: The biggest obstacle in these discussions is simply that people don't realize this is a problem. Nobody wants to be sexist, and nobody responds well to suggestions that their behaviors were unintentionally sexist, especially if they don't immediately see the connection to sexism themselves.

What we need is transparency and awareness. The more people realize that their actions might have unintentional and unpleasant consequences, the better they'll be at checking their behavior and making adjustments. It was an incredible series of community discussions on MetaFilter that made me reconsider my own behavior – just two years ago, I'd be the one arguing that this sort of reaction was unnecessary – so I know firsthand how useful simply talking about these issues can be.

Those threads, by the way, are http://metatalk.metafilter.com/15281/Discussion-Point and http://www.metafilter.com/85667/Hi-Whatcha-reading, and each branches out into a thread or two more. They're very long – I spent a good week reading them – but they're fascinating conversations that took place in a community quite similar to this one, in which every possible argument is brought up and some incredibly eloquent comments are made by women who are affected personally by issues like this. (The first thread takes a little while to steer towards that conversation, but that was the one which enthralled me.)


>Nobody wants to be sexist, and nobody responds well to suggestions that their behaviors were unintentionally sexist

Maybe some of Jay Smooth's TED Talk on racism (http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxHampshireCollege-Jay-Smoo... apply to sexism.


> I feel like lately the discussion has become more intelligent. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

Knock on wood. (THAT'S WHAT SHE SAoh god damn)


Oh, well played. (",)


How is it okay for you to respond to every comment in this thread decrying men for being unaware of the horrifying effect these comments have on women, and also make the exact same joke that caused the original complaint?


That's not the same joke. The interruption and reaction makes it a metajoke.


Like most people caught out doing something wrong, now you are trying to make "rational" arguments against it.


Er, the poster who replied to you (wpietri) is a different account from the one you replied to (unalone).

Also, now you're engaging in vacuous sophistry - you've made an assertion of wrongdoing without backing it up, and yet neither of them could reply here to defend themselves without seeming to dig deeper into the hole you insist they're in, because "oh look more 'rational' arguments".


I think the technical term for this is a "fully general counterargument": one that can argue equally well for true and false ideas.


I thought my joke was lighthearted enough, and metatextual enough, that it wouldn't offend anybody or make anybody feel uncomfortable. If my joke made anyone feel like their voice wasn't welcome in this conversation, then I apologize, and I'd like you to tell me so that I don't make this mistake in the future.

My apology does not extend to you, eaten_by_a_grue, because you're not complaining about my joke, you're calling me a hypocrite. I neither apologize for my thinking "that's what she said" jokes are potentially offensive nor for trying to make a funny, inoffensive variation.


Not only are you a hypocrite for earlier claiming that all such instances of the joke are inherently objectifying women;

> Remember that sexism is about the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes, rather than being just about gross bigotry or discrimination. What's sexist is that people assume, in a workplace, that jokes about what women say in bed are acceptable. Those jokes make me a little uncomfortable even in a casual environment; it's kind of gross that people are okay with them at work. The sexism isn't one person consciously thinking "Oh man let's women the butt of jokes about sex!", it's that women-as-sex-objects is such a pervasive trope that we don't notice it unless somebody like Jessamyn points it out to us.

What was it you said, again? Oh, right;

> "that's what she said" will always be a joke the brunt of which is the faceless fuck-object woman.

So if it's so heinous a joke, what is your meta-joke? Oh I thought about thinking about a faceless fuck-object woman? And you consider that harmless?

And you sure do feel free to address anyone that dissents with you as trivializing the issue or telling women to "lighten up." Once a woman has decided something referring to women is sexist we cannot say otherwise lest we be branded sexist ourselves? I agree that TWSS is a stupid joke and I wouldn't want to see it at work and Jessamyn was all of more mature, rationally trying to solve her complaint, and clever. But I will never agree that it is inherently sexist.

You imagining the joke in the way you want to and then claiming that everyone else feels the same. But then when you feel free to re-use it in a slightly different manner you are unequivocally being a hypocrite.


If you wish to engage in civil debate, you need to add the ability to identify and understand the concepts of context, nuance, and satire to your social toolbox. As it is, you are simply lashing out angrily at what you don't understand, contributing nothing of value.


That's an excellent argument. Using it you can win any discussion and prove anybody wrong, whatever is the issue - just declare anything rational the opponent says from this point on is said because he knows he's wrong and tries to rationalize it - and kaboom! you win. Nicely done.


I have a neuro-atypicality that makes it very hard to tell when people do not literally mean what they say. That atypicality is shared by many programmers.

I hope that you do not receive many mistaken down votes from people who mis-understand your comments!


Ha, no worries! It's just Internet points. :)


Perfect example of Poe's Law :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law


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Yes! Also, what's up with Miss Manners suggesting other ways for people to be polite? Why is she keeping me down with her "chew with your mouth closed" and "use the toilet paper, not the hand towels" bullshit! No one can police me! The constitution say so! I DO WHAT I WANT!

Or, and I'm just thinking out loud here, we could recognize that, especially in professional contexts, we actually want to behave towards our colleagues in ways that are polite and respectful. And maybe we could also recognize that our society has finally been reducing institutional sexism over the last century or so, and that there's still some work left to do.


There is a difference -- you can ignore miss manners if you want (at your peril) in this case you have the room equivalent of a screaming maniac yell at you (politely) each time you do something wrong.

And yes if you had that in real life, it would be considered rude.


Not quite getting your point. As you acknowledge, there's peril in being impolite. It's the peril of getting called out or shunned. The only thing that's different now from 30 years ago is that things have shifted enough that saying something sexist is rude.

Also, we may disagree on what's rude. If I throw a party and somebody is sufficiently offensive, I'll show them the door. If they see that as rude, then it's only for the same reason they were acting offensively: they were too clueless to understand the harm they were causing.

I agree that some people take it too far and are rude in return. But given that they were provoked, I'm more inclined to forgive that. And given that those links are perfectly useful guides to discussing these topics, I don't think bringing them up is rude.


My point is this:

It was the company culture to have fun with a joke aimed at nobody in particular (sex is not sexistic). A bad, unfunny joke but a joke nontheless.

One person decieded she did like it and ruined it for everybody.

If you show up to a frat house party and don't like it, do you demand that the others change their behavior to something that isn't rude or do you leave?

She essentially demanded that everybody else acted a new way just to please her and when she was refused forced them to.


A) That you can't see the sexism in something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. That's this logical fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

B) As she explained, she was not the only co-worker who didn't like it.

C) If I walk into a frat party and see something abusive, unsafe, non-consensual, or illegal, you bet I'll speak up. Because hi, I'm a citizen, and that's not the kind of country I want.

D) If I merely don't like the frat party, I will indeed walk right back out. Total time invested: 60 seconds. Harm to my professional reputation: zero. Can you see that's different than forcing somebody out of a job?

E) She made no demands and did not force anybody to do anything. They put up a bot; she put up a bot.


Did you just compare a workplace to a frat house party? Unreal...


Its an analogy, not a comparison. Different workplaces have different cultures and different standards of behavior. Startups in particular are known for having unique work environments, and how well you fit into the culture of any business is an important part of determining if you should be hired there. e.g. http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2010/09/how-t...


Another difference, of course, is that when you casually walk into a frat house, there is no contract between you and the frat. There is an appropriate time to discover a cultural mismatch: the job interview. Once there is an employment contract, the law is involved and the law in this country is rather precise about what may not constitute part of your workplace culture.

I have never worked at a company in which the workplace culture really achieved anything like the kind of professionalism my peers in other fields seem to have, but that's irrelevant to the law. If your workplace is perceived hostile, the onus is on the employer to fix it, or face legal repercussions. If you and your two friends form a startup and make life hard on your first employee, that means you--there is no "oh, but if you're a software startup, then your culture is more important" clause.

I think we should endeavor to appreciate the broadness of this protection rather than complain about having to grow up just because in our particular industry, we haven't had to yet. If you still need an outlet for your "culture," form a private club (analogous to a frat) and invite your buddies from work, but keep it out of the workplace.


How is an analogy not a comparison? E.g.:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/analogy

Also, startups may have unique cultural requirements, but putting up with a hostile work environment is not one of them. Not under US law, anyhow.


I meant definition 5, which apparently is not as popular as I thought.

e.g. Peanuts are to elephants as bananas are to monkeys. Peanuts are not being compared to bananas, and elephants are not being compared to monkeys.

The workplace was not being compared to a frat house. What's being compared is the decision a person would make about those environments: if you don't like it, don't join.


I'm not sure that helps.

If the comparison is between my reaction to some behavior in a frat house I just walked into versus my reaction to some behavior at my company, then my reaction/decision process falls out of the equation. Then the plausible comparisons I can see are: A) frat house party <-> workplace, B) some random place <-> place I am committed to, or C) private club <-> place of employment.

I'm pretty sure he meant A, as B and C don't make much sense for his argument.


Thirty years ago all nerds were shunned and nobody cared, so we formed a kind of semi-aspie ghetto. What we're seeing now is an influx of ordinary people chasing paychecks who brought very different expectations about interpersonal tact and its relevance.


I agree in part, but that's a little unfair. Many of those people coming in actually like the field. I don't care about the clock-punchers; it's the ones who really like programming that I am rooting for here.

I also think the nature of the work has changed a lot. When my dad started programming, most code didn't really have a user interface. At least not one more complicated than a fan-fold printout for the CFO. These days, a lot of code has direct human implications, both for individual users and for society at large. Programming is also a much more collaborative activity than it used to be. E.g., github.

I got into computers because I like hiding in my basement. But those days are fading. It may indeed have been a semi-aspie ghetto in the past, but that's not the future.


You can ignore miss manners, but you cannot ignore the guy in the room constantly making sexist jokes. If that guy finds an opposite response of equal magnitude annoying, well that's some shoe on the other foot shit right there.


"bot quoting a notable woman" == "the room equivalent of a screaming maniac yell at you (politely)"

That's quite the assertion you are making.


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Yes! Also, what's up with Miss Manners suggesting other ways for people to be polite? Why is she keeping me down with her "chew with your mouth closed" and "use the toilet paper, not the hand towels" bullshit! No one can police me! The constitution say so! I DO WHAT I WANT!

We have started to monitor your account and will shut it down if you continue to use this type of language. Please read the following guidelines that explain how to correctly discuss and think about these issues:

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We hope we will not have to contact you again about further violations.

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How do you define sexist?

Do you define sexist to mean the belief that one gender should be able to violate the rights of the other? That one gender is better than the other?

That one gender is different from the other?

Under your definition, why is sexism bad?


How does this satiric post help at all? We all know what bigots sound like. We don't need a demonstration. You haven't pointed out anything profound. You haven't suggested any way to fix the situation. You have only distracted people who couldn't tell whether or not you were serious and wasted readers' time.


I realize this is just a startup, and many things that wouldn't fly at a large company are considered fun, however, the founders should really think twice about even having a TWSS bot.

They are basically providing documented proof in writing of a hostile work environment. Sure, this employee handled it well and had a little fun with it, but there are many more litigious employees that will take your company to the cleaners with just a couple printed chat logs.

The fact that she's complained about it and her concerns were shrugged by male employees and supervisors makes it even more egregious. This kind of story makes ambulance chasers salivate...


It bears mentioning that the TWSS bot itself is probably meant ironically - it's satirizing the fact that some people almost mechanically tags on TWSS to anything remotely relevant by actually doing it mechanically.

https://github.com/bvandenbos/twss


It was meant ironically but offended anyway, and they didn't fix it when she complained. "We were being ironic!" is a lousy defense when all they had to do was turn it off when she asked.


http://fuckyeahdisingenuousliberal.tumblr.com/post/180255328...

*Yes, people are so sick of "but I'm being ironic" there's Tumblr memes about it.


"People" are so tired of "i'm being ironic" that they made a tumbler full of "ironic" racism and sexism. Gotcha.

I disagree with the assertion in the linked blog post that it's not possible to satirize -isms - in fact, I firmly believe it's necessary to expose the utter ridiculousness of these beliefs. Which, incidentally, is what the OP did with her anti-bot.


Yes, but satire has to be done well to work (see unalone's "We want" comment for an example). Auto-responding "that's what she says" isn't.


Agreed. But the blog post in the tumbler post you linked does not like satire:

As hipster racism has become more widespread, it’s also crept into more general society. Racist content appears in films and television shows, disguised as “satire,” it’s on the cover of major magazines, it’s in the pages of respectable newspapers. While explicit racism is viewed as socially unacceptable, racism disguised as irony or satire is evidently perfectly acceptable, especially if it comes from middle class white people with trust funds.

In fact, it's an awful article. Full of conjecture, strawmen and self-righteousness.

As for the bot, the ironic part is the creation and publication of it, not in the actual functionality. Sexism aside, I can't comprehend why someone would want zero-value-added noise added to a professional communications channel (I don't consider banter and joking zero value in this regard). Especially since this invited further noise, and now they're locked in: it's going to be hard to go and say "enough fun for now" and turn both bots of now without appearing sexist.


I kind of wondered why this bot survived the first day. I think it's moderately funny first 2-3 times (not hilarious, but slightly entertaining due to the irony) but after that it gets stale exponentially fast. I must admit I never really encountered a person that actually used a TWSS joke, though I can see how it can be funny used once. Repeated joke is just annoyance (at best). Repeated irony is revolting. The (first) bot should have died on day 2, and that should be it.


Yeah, unfortunately, if there is a gender stereotype to these kinds of conversations, it's that invariably there will be a response from a man saying "you did it wrong", regardless of the particular action the woman took. c.f. "She should have talked to her supervisor" here to "she should have made a witty come-back to the guy directly" to the guy with a low-cut sense of appropriateness.


Is the difference between those solutions really just because she's a woman? I'd like to believe that they are just differences of opinion on the best way to deal with issues. Some people prefer to appeal to authority, while others feel it's better handled by routing around authority and 'handling it yourself.' Depending on what she did, she would be criticized by one group or the other.

On the other hand, since this is an issue of sexism, I think that people put on their 'this is a serious discussion' hats which tend to make them more hypercritical than at other times.


We'd all like to think that. Unfortunately, there's a pretty widespread tendency to tell people who bring -ism issues to attention that they're Doing It Wrong, You Should Do It This Way That Wouldn't Upset Me Instead.

So while they might be reacting with their opinion of a better solution, there's a lot of form of using that exact form of argument to attempt to silence.

Also, she was the one in the situation; perhaps she's got good reasons to do it this way, rather than whatever way is being suggested? And isn't it kinda arrogant to think you (the group you, not pyre) know better?


This sort of bikeshedding shows up all over HN and on all sorts of non-ism issues. For example, infinite scrolling vs pagination:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3759101


Yes, but it's not just about the banal critique, it's about the subtle (or not so subtle) invalidation of the offense, the cephalic burial in sand over the problem, discussing the particulars of a single instance of a problem that's seemingly all over the place.


You really think the "you did it wrong" response has something to do with gender? It's a standard response to pretty much anybody doing anything notable. There's always somebody on the internet that thinks he (or she, in most cases one has no idea) could do better and must express this fact publicly. Most of the comments threads have a grain of that, and some are made of it 100%. I know there are gender stereotypes and other issues, but this is not an instance of that, it's a common thing.


She really should write a bot that replies with passive aggressive "lighten up", or "its only a joke" to any instance of complaints.


"... something is making them uncomfortable, and so they attack it on 'rational' grounds. Most likely, they aren’t even aware of the gut reaction fueling their logic." <--- The most important words in the whole essay.

Twenty years after writing Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson, the Arbiter of Badassness, wrote in Reamde:

"It was then that she cut him off in midsentence and said that it was over. She said it with a certainty and a conviction in her voice and her face that left him fascinated and awed. Because guys, at least of his age, didn't have the confidence to make major decisions from their gut like that. They had to build a superstructure of rational thought on top of it. But not Zula. She didn't have to decide. She just had to pass on the news."

I've noticed this in myself and other guys: even if our guts or our hearts tell us we did wrong, we tend to rationalize and defend our actions instead of simply apologizing.


At least partially that might well be because society perpetuates the stereotype that gut-reactions are a female thing, guys are really bad at listening to their heart, and in general emotionally stunted. At some point, it becomes internalized - and you see men simply ignoring emotions and feelings that they're well aware of.

Sure, it's dressed in sugar coating ("guys are rational!"), but it's still affecting behavior. That's the thing with gender stereotypes - they actually hurt both sides, just in different ways.


Ignoring your gut or your heart is a behavior that can be unlearned through various means, including meditation. Being mindful of your emotions has nothing to do with society and stereotypes, and everything to do with your own habits of the mind and experiencing reality as is.


And society and prevalent stereotypes shape your habits and how you experience reality in the first place. Nobody is saying you can never get rid of this behavior - just that we're all being indoctrinated from a very early age, and that it takes lots of work to break that conditioning.


"If your reaction to this post is "the first one seems harmless but the second is really overstepping the line", please take a few minutes to consider how you would feel if everyone's reaction to that (and everything else you objected to) was "just lighten up"."

The first one does seem harmless to me, perhaps a bit annoying. The second one though.. is TOTALLY AWESOME.


> Stuff that doesn't bother you (that another poster here describes as being "tuned-out"), as a man, because your gender plays no part in your job, is experienced differently by your female colleagues

This is an insightful observation. Guys often like to think that they're much better at taking sexist jokes directed their way. "I have no problem when a commercial makes fun of a guy's inability to do housework!" they say. It's easy to "lighten up" about things that don't actually affect your life. I wonder how guys would react to women constantly making jokes about legitimately sore subjects for men. The stereotypes of men as rapists and child molesters, for example. Men don't seem to "lighten up" so easily when those subjects are brought up.


> The stereotypes of men as rapists and child molesters

Whoa. It's obvious when you say it, but I've never even thought about it before-- I can't think of a single joke about that. Lots of jokes about rapists and child molesters, of course, but none about "men" who are implicitly the above. Can you think of any examples at all?

Coming up with a few examples that actually hit (white, cis) men where it hurts could be a nice silver bullet against the "it's just a joke" dodge.


From my group of friends:

I have a friend who (jokingly) characterizes her boyfriend's amorous advances when he's drunk as "rape-y."

When my male friend mentioned Emma Watson was hot in the most recent Harry Potter movies (when she was 18+), our female friends ribbed him about being attracted to children.

When an awkward guy tries too hard to hit on a girl, we might joke that his advances are "kinda rape-y."

My female friend absolutely hates being tickled. When threatened with tickles, she might say "if you tickle me I'll cry rape god dammit!"

My girlfriend is a bit clumsy and also leaves kitchen cabinets open. She once gave herself a black eye with one, and told all our friends I was physically abusing her.


Interesting, but not really what I'm talking about-- I don't mean mocking a person in particular, but the sort of jokes one might tell about men which are funny because all men are child molesters (but it's not offensive because of course I know all men aren't child molesters).


The jokes I mentioned are funny because it alludes to men being rapists and child molesters. E.g. the joke about me abusing my girlfriend wouldn't be funny if there wasn't the stereotype of men as abusers.


I get that, but I don't think you see the distinction I'm making, and it's pretty important.

The defining characteristic of privilege is not necessarily that you are judged more favorably, but that you are judged on the basis of your behavior, rather than on the basis of your group membership.

The situations you point out are about mocking behavior, not groups. Your friend said something about a young girl, so you make fun of him for being a pedophile. Your girlfriend happens to have a black eye, so you get jokingly accused of abusing her. The humor is rooted in your specific circumstance rather than in prejudice. Yes, they are only funny because the stereotypes exist, but they are still jokes about the individual rather than the stereotype.

Contrast this with a "joke" like, just off the top of my head:

  Q: What do you call a man who hasn't raped anyone?
  A: A virgin.
...which is more the sort of thing I'm talking about.


> The defining characteristic of privilege is not necessarily that you are judged more favorably, but that you are judged on the basis of your behavior, rather than on the basis of your group membership.

That's a good point.

> The situations you point out are about mocking behavior, not groups. Your friend said something about a young girl, so you make fun of him for being a pedophile. Your girlfriend happens to have a black eye, so you get jokingly accused of abusing her.

I think there are elements of both. For example, if a female friend had said something about Harry, it wouldn't have the same impact, humor-wise, to imply she was a pedophile. The joke depends heavily on making the connection between innocuous individual behavior and the stereotypical behavior of the group. I suppose the equivalent for women would be "that time of the month" jokes. They're usually making fun of an individual, but rely on connecting individual behavior to the stereotypical behavior of the group.

That said, I think there is a spectrum of purity in such jokes. "Duke guys are rapists" jokes, for example, focus less on individual behavior and more on group membership, at two levels (Duke student, man).


It's strange; I feel like I would be offended by that joke if anybody whose opinion I care about took it seriously, but since they don't, I'm just puzzled by how pointlessly counterfactual it seems.


I'm not seeing it yet. I think "most abusers of women are men" is very different than "most men are abusers of women".


The jokes don't rely on the fact or imply that most men are abusers of women. The jokes rely on the listener associating the behavior in question with the stereotypical behavior of the group.

E.g. most Catholics do not have dozens of children, but the behavior is associated with that group enough such that a joke can rely on the listener making that association.


I think stereotypes imply the characteristic to be common. In your example, I think the stereotype is that Catholics have large families (which I believe was true at one point), and the dozens is exaggeration for effect.


The characteristic need not be common, just easily associated.

See the study here for rape and sexual abuse statistics: http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/campus_assault.... Even if we limit "rape" to situations involving violence and the threats of violence,[1] the study found about 1.3% of the college students questioned admitted to acts that met the definition of rape, and 1.1% admitted to acts that met the definition of sexual abuse of a child.

Now, for example, are even 1% of muslims terrorists? Almost certainly not, but the behavior is common enough that it is easily associated with the group, and readily supports many jokes relying on that association.

The relevant behavior does not need to be common, just common enough such that it is readily conjured up in the mind of the listener in response to the joke.

[1] If you include people who answered "yes" to the question of whether they had sex with someone who was "too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)" the number skyrockets to 6.4%.


If you include people who answered "yes" to the question of whether they had sex with someone who was "too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)" the number skyrockets to 6.4%.

Sadly, this study did not ask the question of what happens to that number if you reverse the genders. I have multiple male friends who meet the definition of rape victim -- but wouldn't dream of reporting it as such because they're in long term (and aside from the occasional misunderstanding, entirely consensual) relationships with their rapists.


You might want to tell your girlfriend that joking about domestic violence is very dangerous to you as a male.


It's just a joke. Lighten up.


The irony of this being downvoted is palpable.


Feminism is pretty much the opposite joke here.

edit: Both behaviour models breed in my view from insecurity of the opposite sex.

Also why this discussion is very biased: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u9DdVoV4VU


?


This is human nature, not specific to geeks or men. If you call somebody on their bullshit you have to expect some blowback, even if you do it as tactfully as Jessamyn did in this case.

What's sad is that one of the guys on the team could have fixed this with much less awkwardness, but apparently none of them stepped up.


In modern American society there are no intermediates for male and female roles.

Either women are told to act like a man (become programmers, fight like Uma Thurman and Keira Knightley!) or they are told to become a caricature of a female (a pornstar, a hiphop video girl, a superficial Sex and the City-style consumer). Men similarly are told to either act effeminately (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, getting in touch with your emotions) or they are shown brutish caricatures of men (rap stars and UFC fighters).

Ben Horowitz, great as he is in many ways, is the apotheosis of this phenomenon. Punctilious in his text about using the "she" pronoun, he nevertheless quotes rappers like the Geto Boys at the beginning of every essay.

Now the Geto Boys, or Dr Dre, or Snoop Dogg, or Fifty Cent...that's misogyny. But they are allowed to make millions and never ever forced to apologize. Indeed, I will guarantee that many of the women complaining about about the sexism in computer science have listened to hiphop, attended concerts, and danced to it at parties without blinking an eye.

By any measure Snoop Dogg and Jay Z are more misogynistic than a lowly programmer. Yet the powerful endorse them (recall the New York Times' ad campaign with Jay Z, "Mingle with Moguls") while complaining about the far weaker tea that is sexism in IT.

Something is going on here and it's not based upon rational prioritization of targets, going after the loudest and most powerful purveyors of misogyny. It's quite the opposite: going after the weakest.


> Something is going on here and it's not based upon rational prioritization of targets, going after the loudest and most powerful purveyors of misogyny. It's quite the opposite: going after the weakest.

It seems rational to me. I don't know Jessamyn Smith, but I personally don't listen to rap, I don't meet rap stars, and none of my friends like rap. I don't hear rap.

Co-workers? An IRC bot on a channel she's logged on to every work day? A rational response would be to target the things that are affecting you, constantly.

On a larger, societal scale, sure, stopping to misogyny in rap would help more. And it contributes to a culture where it's okay to create an TWSS bot. But it wouldn't help that situation in the short term.


Is it okay if we object to her behavior based on the "Two rights don't make a wrong" rule, or is that somehow also hypocritical.


It's not okay because it (1) assumes a false equivalence - the actual counts are more like "a wrong versus a hundred million wrongs" (2) it puts a burden on the victim of sexism to be perfect, while putting no such burden on the sexists (3) it's a variation on victim-blaming.


I knew when I posted that comment that it would get downvoted, but I honestly don't know when or how "They're bugging me so I'm going to 'take the high road' and bug them back" became acceptable behavior.

If it was something my daughter had done, she'd be in trouble for it, but because she has somehow appealed to the vigilante in everyone, while trumpeting the almighty PC agenda of sexism, she's apparently justified in being just as much an asshole as her tormentors.

The irony of course being that of course people would treat her as having done "the right thing", because she was "the victim". Just the same as people root for the guy who hacked Sony, or for whatever random "little guy" stands up for whatever negatively though of "big baddie."

It still doesn't make it right, and we're supposed to have learned that lesson by the second grade.


Every time a TWSS joke went by, I noticed, and it bothered me a little. It seemed to me that it was easier for at least some of the guys to ignore it as background noise. What I was hoping for was to make the joke visible, something people noticed and thought about. - Jessamyn

P.S. And it worked really well, in the sense that we were able to have the conversation I tried to have in the first place but nobody was interested at the time.


So if I understand your argument correctly, you're saying that a bot posting feminist quotes is as offensive to guys as a bot posting sexist jokes is to women?


In particular, what I'm saying is that "fighting fire with fire" is a far cry from "taking the high road."

In another comment, oskarth posits that she "did everything right" by not going to her supervisor, so as to avoid "turning it into drama".

How does this not turn it into drama? Isn't that what supervisors are for? I understand the inclination to avoid being the snitch, but all this does is set her up for equally serious rebukement by management if and when it does get escalated there, and prevents her from having a leg to stand on.

Whether or not it is as offensive as the other, I think we all know that it was intended to be at least as annoying.

What she's effectively done is the digital equivalent to "I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you." while holding her finger one inch from the face of her co-workers. That's fine and dandy, but she doesn't get to respond like a two year old and also expect me to think highly of her actions.


Right. By calling them both "fire" you're drawing an equivalence between a bot posting sexist jokes and a bot posting feminist quotes. Or more simply, an equivalence between sexist and non-sexist behavior. See the problem?


Honestly, no.

They're both, in and of themselves, wrong. I therefore look down on both parties almost equally. I'm not saying that what she did is any more wrong than the actions that prompted it, however, it certainly isn't right, and that's why I don't consider it appropriate.

Regardless of equating it to 'fire', which I certainly didn't intend for anyone to take literally as it is an idiom, I'd think my synopsis at least appropriately defined the situation.

She knowingly tried to out-annoy her co-workers to get them to resolve the issue, and expects that to somehow smooth things over?

Perhaps it's a stupid thing to be arguing about, but you'll have to forgive me if I save my applause for someone not seeking the most annoying way toward peaceful resolution.


What do you think is wrong about writing an IRC bot that responds to "that's what she said" with quotes from famous women?

I'm curious. Because the only answers I can imagine are (a) you think writing IRC bots is wrong, (b) you think that displaying quotes from famous women is wrong, or (c) engaging in public discourse that politely and indirectly calls attention to sexist behavior is wrong.

I'll wait. I'd really love to hear more of your opinion on this.


Regardless of what is said out loud, I believe the author's intent was to annoy her tormentors into submission.

I do not think that writing IRC bots is wrong (though I would consider them irritating), I do not think quotes from famous women is necessarily wrong (though one could suppose a non-curated list could potentially go awry).

I don't have a problem with polite discourse, but I don't think that's what this was. I assume that she was polite when she brought it up before, when she was ignored. Had she stopped there, or gone to a superior, or an HR department, then I believe she would have been in the right.

Again, I'm not saying that what she did was offensive. Just that it wasn't the high road. It isn't the right thing to do.

She isn't Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus, she's just trying to turn their own antics against them. As a prank, I'd applaud it. As a means of peacably resolving an uncomfortable situation, I consider it a failure, at best.


You've said at least a few times that you think the bot was designed to annoy, but I'm still curious as to what you think was or was intended to be annoying (let alone impolite) about it. Is there a way, in your eyes, that she could have been more polite without saying nothing at all?


Well, the intent to annoy is an impolite notion.

Aside from handling it with management instead of escalating the prank war, I don't see a lot of terribly polite ways above and beyond what she'd already done.

As for why I think it was intended to annoy, I suppose from my perspective at least, that's the obvious conclusion.

A bot annoyed her, so she wrote her own. From the text in the blog post, she seems to take pleasure in the annoyed reactions of her co-workers. That she got the annoyed reaction, and then sought to find a way to daemonize the script so that she could annoy them more thoroughly.

Those to me indicate a person who is being malicious, but is trying not to sound like they are.

Regardless, if there's anything I take umbrage with, it's that she thinks that this will help solve her issue, in any small way.

It's hard to look pragmatically at what might seem like justice, but looking for a similar analogy, if you've seen or read "The Help", the actions done to that poor pie were the result of a vengeful woman.

I'm not saying either woman didn't have cause to be upset, or angry, or that they might not have been driven to vengeful acts.

What I am saying though, is what I started off saying. Two rights don't make a wrong. I understand people sympathizing with her. She was done wrong. I get it. As a people though, we're supposed to be better than that.


Oh, wow. You are the false equivalency master.

The problem here is not that the bot is annoying, the problem is that the bot is sexist. Responding to sexist remarks with something that signifies that those remarks are sexist is not the same as making sexist remarks. Whether or not those two bots are annoying is a different issue that is now used as an excuse to rationalize hating on the second bot.

How can you be so blind to that? I’m sitting here in disbelief.


It's not that I'm blind to that, it's that I don't consider it a good enough excuse to go around pestering one's co-workers.

The other thing is that there are more than two parties in this situation. There is the guy who put the TWSS bot in place, and there's this person, who put the anti-TWSS bot in place.

Let's assume you're the third person (or fourth, fifth, whatever). You didn't put any bots in place. You're just going to work every day trying to turn your startup into a profit center. You're head's down, nose to the grindstone, and you would like to have used the IRC channel as an effective means of communicating with your co-workers so that you can be efficient.

Sure, you maybe considered the TWSS bot a distraction. Now, you've got an IRC channel that's half as useful as it was.

You didn't do anything wrong, but now you're suffering the effects of pranks from both parties.


If I were the third, fourth, or fifth person, I wouldn't want my co-workers to feel like they were working in a place where they weren't welcome. Because it's by having great co-workers and a collegial environment that I expect to make my startup work.

Also, you're putting your thumb heavily on the scale here. Adding a bot that responds to "TWSS" jokes hardly makes an IRC channel "half as useful as it was".


I'm not the person above, but I have an analogy that might help understand the point he's trying to make. Suppose that you are a software developer that sits in a communal area along with other developers. One day, someone decides to hook up a siren to the continuous integration server to make a siren sound whenever someone breaks the build. Most people think it's funny, but I think the sound is annoying and don't like it. To solve this, what I do is make something that triggers off the siren going off, and turn off the house lights and have a disco ball spin round while the siren is going off.

I think the principle thing is that the trigger condition is the thing that you don't like that is the "wrong" thing in this situation, regardless of the fact that the end result is a quote that is harmless and might even spark good conversation. I think it is a matter of "the ends don't justify the means". The reality is that any kind of bot like this is going to be noise in the channel, even if they are "fun".


You realize that this analogy misses the key point, which is sexism in the workplace, right? Her problem was not that there was a bot. Her problem was that there was a bot that made jokes she found sexist, and that her coworkers ignored her requests to take it down.


And my point is that the sexism in the workplace doesn't matter at all for what the analogy was saying. Ideally what would have happened is that they made the bot, then she asked for them to stop, and then they would have stopped. I mean, if someone emails the entire company an anti-semitic joke, that's bad. The response shouldn't be to send the entire company an email about the plight of the Jews in the holocaust. If a group of people are watching the sports illustrated swimsuit model thing in the break room, the appropriate response isn't to turn on a documentary of the women's civil rights movement up to the same volume in the same room to drown it out. My whole point is that while the original thing is wrong because it's offensive to people, the response is wrong too because it's childish.


I'd say that when comparing sexist and non-sexist behavior, only one of them is necessarily wrong. That being the former in case you're missing it.

Indeed, by posting feminist quotes rather than something equally but oppositely sexist, I'd say she de-escalated the situation. So she in fact did not take the most annoying way out.


What makes you think it was intended to be, or is, annoying?


Then what does it intend to be that she hopes to use such property to fight back at TWSS bot?


How about interesting, informative, illustrative, or perhaps enlightening?


What a great idea.

I find it's too easy to be ignorant of injustices when you see yourself as principled and everyone else as ignorant brutes. I've been guilty of this. It's the kind of thinking that leads you to conclude that TWS-like bots are just a bit of light-hearted humor. It's the kind of thinking that allows sexism to fly under your radar. You don't participate because you want to live in a world where sexism doesn't exist. It's a noble ideal but it is ignorant.

Truth is that even what you don't say has an impact on the people around you. If other people make sexist jokes at the office and you don't say anything about it (especially if it actually does bother you) then you're encouraging the people making sexist jokes.

I admire the author for taking a stand. And such a clever way to do it too.


So how can I write a bot to fight the sexism in Microsoft's TV ads? You know the ones... where the husband is the bumbling idiot and the wife is the smart capable one who shuts down his plea to play golf on Sundays.

I would love to set that bot loose on all TV shows and ads. So often, a flipped situation would cause outrage of being sexist, whereas if the man is put down, it's "funny."

It really bothers me, especially with the "mancession" still going on (outside of IT) and widespread anti-male laws (in family court and other places).


Oh come on. The "mansession" was a temporary phenomenon, largely due to the decline in higher paying jobs that are historically held by men.

Today, men's and women's unemployment rates are roughly the same:

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/06/two-years-of-econo...

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/mancession-to-h...

http://www.nwlc.org/resource/modest-recovery-beginning-women

http://www.thenation.com/article/166468/one-mancession-later...

Generally, I find complaints about mancession more than a little skewed. The victim card only works if you cherry-pick your numbers, narrow them down to exact months, and ignore key metrics such as compensation, benefits, etc.


Yes, ads (etc.) that portray people as bad based on their gender are wrong. However men are still in an advantageous position.

widespread anti-male laws

They are small in number compared to the widespread anti-female laws and customs.


Can you give an example? In almost all states, if the wife gets pregnant by another man, the man is still on the hook for child support for the next 18+ years... even if she divorces him and marries her lover.

I can't think of an equivalent anti-female law with such devastating long-term impact on the woman.

I know this message might be off tangent for the HN board. But if we're discussing anti-female sexist culture and try to erase every incident of women being treated unfairly even in the slightest way, I think it should be allowed to point out that in today's culture, men are also often treated extremely unfairly... and you don't see scores of women jumping to their defense (like the men did in the "Lighten up" thread).


Your argument says "since (unfair child support laws) then (men treated unfairly) thus not(sexist anti-women culture)"

The problem with your argument is that you are not espousing a widely held belief about child support laws being "unfair to men." Thus, a discussion about your argument is likely to devolve into long exchanges about children's rights and anecdotes about ridiculous edge case judgments on both sides.

Which is fine, but I think it would be two steps removed from what you're trying to establish, namely that the unfair sexism is somehow balanced. If you're going to construct an argument of the form A -> B -> C, I suggest you pick an "A" that is beyond dispute so we can focus on the validity of A -> B and B -> C.


I actually think that "A" is beyond dispute. Your married partner cheats on you, divorces you, marries the biological father of the child, and you are still on the hook for child support? I can't imagine someone NOT thinking with every moral fiber of their being that this is wrong.

Regardless, I think my point is already self-evident in the answers. Which is: we accept without second thought that (A) our society is sexist and women are oppressed and objectified. So A -> B -> C: when a woman claims sexism, we all have to focus on eradicating that sexism immediately (i.e. reign men in). No thought is given to the possibility that the pendulum has possibly already swung too much in the opposite direction, and it is actually the men who are treated unfairly in most cases whenever gender issues come up. Just see e.g. the topic on reddit's front page this morning "I called the cops on my GF after an argument we had got violent, the cops come and arrest ME".

I think any discussion that is about treating both genders equally and fairly that does not take into account current anti-male inequality misses the point. We need to question ALL social conditioning to reach a point where everyone is treated fairly.


Is it really the case that someone has to pay child support for a child that is proven to be not theirs?

I did some superficial googling and found the case of one man who has to pay child support even though a DNA test proved he is not the father, because he missed all the deadlines for challenging the ruling. That seems like an unfortunate edge case to me, not some general pattern one has to be worried about.

I think you might be mistaken about the legal situation, but I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.


It depends on your definition of "not theirs". The law doesn't look at biology only. (Same gender parents, adoptive parents, grandparents as primary caregivers, etc).

If you accept a child as your own for several years, the law is likely to look at them as yours regardless of DNA. I think that in the majority of cases, this probably works out for the better.


Well, that makes perfect sense. I do not understand what’s “anti-male” about it.

When it comes to child support, who matters first and foremost is the child. That’s who it’s all about.


You wrote:

I actually think that "A" is beyond dispute.

But you forget that I said:

you are not espousing a widely held belief about child support laws being "unfair to men." Thus, a discussion about your argument is likely to devolve into long exchanges about children's rights and anecdotes about ridiculous edge case judgments on both sides.

I was careful not to discuss the validity of your belief, but merely to point out that your belief—whether true or false—is not WIDELY HELD. And as you can see, at least one other person disagrees with you, and the resulting exchange is getting further and further away from discussing the original point.

When I use the words “beyond dispute,” I mean that people accept it as true, or a at least such a sufficiently large proportion of people that anyone disputing it is immediately understood to be ignorant or a crank. The Earth revolving around the Sun is beyond dispute. Although I personally believe that the evidence shows that punitive laws around marijuana possession are unhelpful, it isn’t “beyond dispute,” lots of people dispute that opinion every day.

I stand by my assertion that if you say A -> B -> C and you choose an A that is not widely held to be true, you are going to spend a lot of time arguing about A even though your original intention was to try to convince other people of C. It doesn’t matter how certain you are of the truth of A, what matters when trying to convince people is whether they believe it to be true.

If they don’t, you either have to find a forum where people are discussing “A,” and talk about that, or pick another argument that is going to have a high signal-to-noise ration when discussing “C."


> I can't think of an equivalent anti-female law with such devastating long-term impact on the woman.

Child support law in the United States doesn't discriminate. The office that handles child support may, as may the judge (I've heard stories of women given more leeway with payments than men), but both genders are able to be the obligor.

> in today's culture, men are also often treated extremely unfairly...

No, they are not, comparatively. It's not even on the same scale. There may be a handful of instances of men being treated unfairly, but pointing to a commercial where a man is portrayed as bumbling and equating that with the institutionalized sexism women face is ridiculous.

In fact, most of the instances of men being treated unfairly (child support, custody) are actually byproducts of sexism against women. Society places the woman in the role of the caretaker automatically.


I understand why you would see the particular law you are describing as "anti-male" - however most laws related to children are the way they are because they are not about the welfare of the adults at all.

The law is thinking something along the lines of: children need to be taken care of; the government doesn't have the money; whoever happens to be sitting on the musical chairs the first several years of the child's life, pays. The buck has to stop somewhere.

(On the flip side of the same law, a non-biological father would be awarded custody if they have formed a parental bond with the child).

Some more things to consider before you call the law "anti-male". One, if it were not the custodial parents, it would have to be the even more random taxpayers. Two, non-biological mothers pay too. Three, these laws are flawed for historical reasons, and these same reasons have impoverished women far longer than men.

There are bona fide inequalities, of course. For example, men tend to pay significantly more child support than women. However, given how men make more in general, even that still leaves men better off on average. For example, average income for non-custodial mothers is $15k/year, average income for non-custodial fathers is $40k/year.


I dislike people using the child-support laws as an example of a law that is completely biased against men. One which is completely absurd, insane and over-the-top favoring women over men is in the rights a man has around the establishment of paternity.

Take the following situation: Married woman gets pregnant. Lists arbitrary non-husband X as the parent. At this point, neither male has any ability to compel a paternity test. The law recognizes the arbitrary person listed on the birth certificate as the father (however, at this point he does not have to pay child support). The only way a paternity test can be compelled is if the male is 'accused' of being the father AND the mother attempts to collect child support. In the given scenario, the husband cannot ever know if the child is his unless it is found to be someone elses (he knows it is not) or he gets a divorce and his previous wife requests child support for the child.

This has nothing to do with the welfare of the child. The woman could even list unknown as the father of the child and then immediately give the child up for adoption, preventing the male from ever being able to be involved in the decision and is permanently removed from the life of the child.


I can't think of an equivalent anti-female law with such devastating long-term impact on the woman.

* (In the USA) Have someone stick a thing up your vagina if you want a abortion (some sonogram laws)

* Raped? Some police officers (y'know people who should be prosecuting the people who raped you) think you shouldn't dress like sluts (and hence if you do dress like a slut, you were asking for it, so clearly can't have been raped) ( http://www.excal.on.ca/news/dont-dress-like-a-slut-toronto-c... which spawn the SlutWalk demostrations )

* Want to work in tech? Some tech promotional events will list "Perks: Women".


It seems natural that very little attention is being placed on mans issues.

I think just selectively pointing out gender issues will not prove that the specific gender has it worse. I think instead of always assuming that woman has it worse we should also look at mens issues along with womans issues. This is difficult because humans have a tendency of protecting woman and not worrying much about men. Here is a video about this http://youtu.be/TBzx-SMSwGE and a paper (which I haven't got a chance to read completely) http://adamjones.freeservers.com/globe.htm

I can't find a good list of mans issues but here is a OK list. http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/the-top-10-issues-of...

This list does not contain issues like the rape of man by woman and other man, incarceration issues, man having a much higher death rate in the work place (more man at dangerous jobs), higher suicide rate of man, less men graduating college then woman, crazy rape laws like drink + sex = rape of woman but not man, tricky asking for consent = coercion = rape (at some colleges), draft only applies to man, millions of mostly male veterans committing suicide, male sexual mutilation & forced circumcision, domestic violence against man, legal paternal surrender/financial abortion, man are more likely to be assaulted and mugged then woman (even criminals tend to protect woman, see what happens to rapist in prison), in average man live less time then woman etc...

Note. Criticism of feminism is not necessarily anti-woman or anti-womans rights. I support womans rights like rights to chose.


Men's issues are feminist issues, and are best advanced by working with and as feminists.


> In almost all states, if the wife gets pregnant by another man, the man is still on the hook for child support for the next 18+ years... even if she divorces him and marries her lover.

This is a complex situation; it's not an anti-male law, but an attempt at a pro-child, and pro-relationship, law. Read this article for a discussion of some of the difficulties: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22Paternity-t.htm... . The issue is that when a man has started raising a child, and treating him or her as his own child, he has an obligation to that child. Even if the parents end up divorcing, he has still committed to raising that child. In some cases, he can end his obligation if he also ends his relationship with the child. But in many cases the (non-biological) fathers don't want to do that; they want to have their cake and eat it too, still acting as the father while not being financially obligated to support the child.

Part of the issue is that the law is just outdated. As the article above points out, it is based on the common-law assumption that a child born in wedlock is the husband's unless he's impotent, sterile, or "beyond the four seas" when the child is conceived. Now that we have better methods of determining paternity, we can do a more accurate job, but you still need to take into account the impact on the child and their relationships with their parents if you suddenly declare that the man who raised them is suddenly no longer their father.

And yes, this is pretty off-tangent here. Just because there is a different sort of injustice elsewhere, doesn't mean that an on-topic, relevant injustice is invalid or should be ignored. We are discussing sexist behavior in the workplace among programmers, a relevant topic, which doesn't really have anything to do with paternity laws.


Are you seriously saying that it's anti-male to expect parents to support their children until the children are adults?


There's no need to dismiss CompiledCode's point. The things he is pointing out are very real problems which affect men as a gender, without regard to the specific person. There is real sex discrimination against men going on, particularly in the US (I'm from Europe).

The best response to sexism isn't to turn the discussion into an antagonistic debate with men vs. women. Both sides have legitimate issues which need to be addressed if we are ever going to have real gender equality.

So my response would be that, yes, these things are all problems. And we need to address them separately, without dismissing any legitimate complaints from either side.


> Both sides have legitimate issues which need to be addressed if we are ever going to have real gender equality.

They do not need to be addressed at the same time as one another. You do not need to bring up sexism against men every single time an article about sexism against women appears on the front page.


I’m honestly curious, what are your reasons for writing this comment? It seems off-topic.


When a child who has all the toys is told they have to share, some children will throw a hissy fit. This is an apt metaphore for a "men's rights" movement which rares it's head when people talking about giving women as much power as men.


Men are as likely to be raped, but their (prison) rapes are considered funny in our society, whereas female rapes are considered a grave crime. Men are generally considered more disposable in dangerous situations ("let the women and children go"). Stereotypes and gender roles regarding men are much more rigid, and challenging them has much less cultural buy-in than challenging gender roles with women. Men are much more likely to be assaulted. I told my very feminist sister a story about a guy who punched the guy his girlfriend was cheating on him with. At first she misheard me and thought he punched the girl, which was considered horrible. When I clarified that it was the guy, she immediately made a comment that it was less serious. She has internalized the sexism that it's much less serious to assault a male.

I could go on and on, but you're so brainwashed by the feminist agenda that you have internalized it and don't even see the blatant sexism in our society. It's so ironic that so many feminists/liberals are so guilty of what they accuse others of - being unaware of their own prejudices.


Yes you're right. These are all terrible things. It's terrible that rape of men is used as jokes, or even by police as threat to encourage people to confess.

There are a lot of strict gender roles for men, men are laughed at if they want to wear a dress, but a woman can wear a trousers without any problem. Being the receptive sexual partner is viewed as OK for women, but shameful or wrong for men. It's not fair and it's not right.

There are a lot of issues at play. There are a lot of things wrong with gender, and there's people who've been fighting for gender equality for a long time. We're all on the same side here.


I agree with everything you said but the liberals part... I think we should be careful to assume that all liberals are feminists. This can turn off the liberals that have noticed the misandry in feminism and are trying to learn more.


The primary people fighting prison rape is feminists (and both prison rape and rape of drunk girls are treated as jokes in our culture). The primary people fighting stereotypes and gender roles, supporting stay-at-home fathers, supporting the importance of gender-flexibility for men, are feminists. The primary people fighting men's violence directed at each other are feminists. Feminists fought the draft and continue to protest wars around the world.

Your examples are feminist. You are a feminist, whether you choose to use the label or not. The only question is whether you realize this is a loose-loose situation and support other feminists as well as those focusing on your issues.


Men are as likely to be raped, but their (prison) rapes are considered funny in our society, whereas female rapes are considered a grave crime. Men are generally considered more disposable in dangerous situations ("let the women and children go"). Stereotypes and gender roles regarding men are much more rigid, and challenging them has much less cultural buy-in than challenging gender roles with women. Men are much more likely to be assaulted. I told my very feminist sister a story about a guy who punched another guy that his girlfriend was cheating on him with. At first she misheard me and thought he punched the girl, which was considered horrible. When I clarified that it was the guy he hit, she immediately made a comment that indicating that it was less serious. She has internalized the sexism that it's much less serious to assault a male.

I could go on and on, but you're so brainwashed by a movement that has overall very good intentions (empower women in a society that disempowers them) that you have internalized it and don't even see the blatant sexism on the other side of the coin. Even this piece contains so many generalizations about men, geeks, tech workplaces that are blatantly unfair.

It's so ironic that so many feminists/liberals are so guilty of what they accuse others of - being unaware of their own prejudices.


What's your source for the first claim? I've never heard it before - Wikipedia cites[0] a 2006 investigation that found 2,205 allegations, 262 of which were substantiated. The FBI collected[1] 92,455 allegations of forcible rape - i.e. excluding other kinds of rape - in the same year - even if just 1% of those were proved, that's still nearly an order of magnitude disparity.

(Please don't take my comment as dismissing your other points - sexism hurts men and women. I'm just curious about that specific claim.)

  [0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_rape_in_the_United_States
  [1] http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/offenses/violent_crime/forcible_rape.html


Wow. I would argue that you have quite a bit more than "relatively few moments of 'brogrammer' culture" there. A TWSS bot? I can't imagine that ever being okay on any dev team I've ever worked on, including my present team which includes no women. Good on you for fighting back in a way which really speaks to those who needed to hear it most.


sex·ist [sek-sist] adjective 1. pertaining to, involving, or fostering sexism: a sexist remark; sexist advertising.

sex·ism [sek-siz-uhm] noun 1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles. 2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.

I don't think the bot is exactly sexist. It's stupid, immature, and beats a dead horse, but actually sexist?

While you should probably have a talk with the supervisor, not the general office, about this issue, maybe polluting the chat space with yet another stupid bot isn't the greatest idea? "Annoying" your coworkers into compliance isn't a good strategy, as it will grow resentment towards you and mask the real problem.


> 1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles [...] devaluation based on a person's sex

Here're the categories you could argue the bot falls into. The point of the "that's what she said" is to point out when phrases sound like something a woman might have said in bed or during some sort of sexual activity, furthering the already staggeringly vast perception our society has of women as primarily sexual objects. It's not what I'd call "grossly" sexist, but if somebody's objecting to it, she absolutely has a reason to feel uncomfortable about it.

I disagree that the supervisor is necessary here. First off, that's making an appeal to authority and such appeals can be pretty irritating; second off, that's trying to solve the problem privately rather than in public space. By making this bot, Jessamyn says that her voice is as valuable as anybody else's voice. If somebody else wants to make a bot that makes crude sex jokes, she can make a bot that quotes notable women. And rather than making a bot that's irritating or one-note, it sounds like she made a bot that has a variety of colorful responses, to the point where one of her coworkers told her how much he appreciates it.

Remember that sexism is about the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes, rather than being just about gross bigotry or discrimination. What's sexist is that people assume, in a workplace, that jokes about what women say in bed are acceptable. Those jokes make me a little uncomfortable even in a casual environment; it's kind of gross that people are okay with them at work. The sexism isn't one person consciously thinking "Oh man let's women the butt of jokes about sex!", it's that women-as-sex-objects is such a pervasive trope that we don't notice it unless somebody like Jessamyn points it out to us.


Most slang words for penis (and other slang words describing men) are also normal words. (wood, hard, sausage, pork, balls) This is not the case with slang words for the female anatomy, which usually have no place in daily conversation. Google "slang for penis" and "slang for vagina" if you don't believe me/don't know very many slang words.

Consequently, something a women would say in bed is more likely to crop up in general conversation than something a guy would say in bed.

I really don't see this joke as being sexist at all, and it doesn't objectify women. Who cares if a woman might say that in bed? The fact that the woman is the one talking seems to indicate that she is less of a sexual object, not more of one.


That's a little bit hetero normative.

About the sexism: She didn't make a big fuss. She just coded a neat funny bot that only talks when triggered by a certain joke. She's highlighting how tiresome some jokes are when repeated too often.

She's not say "Toxic Environment because of constant sexist remarks"; she isn't calling for anyone to be disciplined or sacked. She's just talking to people.


I'm not calling her out for making a big fuss. I was just pointing out that, as far as I can tell, this joke really doesn't have its root in sexism.

Other people are saying the joke is sexist, I'm saying it's not. That's all.


You just made an important logical error. You went from "I can't see X" to "X does not exist".

As a fellow guy, let me tell you: it is much harder to see something when it benefits you than when it hurts you. You may never notice two steps up to enter a building -- unless you're in a wheelchair. So you should never assume that sexism doesn't exist just because you haven't noticed it yet.


And your qualifications for being able to make this decision for us all are?

They wouldn't stop using the bot when she asked them to because it made her uncomfortable. It's been pointed out in these comments that she could have sued this company into a hole in the ground with a chat log and that fact. I think "Judge will probably say it is" says it's sexist.


That's not how logic works... I don't mean to be condescending but, when a word has a specific definition, it's pretty straightforward to determine whether or not it accurately describes a situation. Consider it like a mathematical proof: credentials, judges, and everything else are irrelevant if you've shown the word doesn't apply.


Whose definition, though?

"It is argued that sexual objectification is a form of sexism" - http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Sexism


Fair enough, I was assuming the definition provided in the comment earlier but I think the psychology one may be equally fitting.


TWSS isn't a case of objectification, though. Objects don't talk.


The case is lost. You don't find many who would even bother to think about what you are saying, you will be just down-voted by knee-jerkers, who cannot be bothered by contemplating what is sexism, what isn't. They just know what's not acceptable and act accordingly. HN is humor free zone, no matter what kind of humor that is.


I'm looking back through my comment history and most of my jokes are upvoted pretty highly. Like I said above, maybe you're just not very funny.


The fact that the woman is only talking because she's in bed is what makes her a sexual object. The shes of this world say a whole lot more than cheesy bedroom euphemisms, you know. But the joke is situated on the premise that it's cool to brag about what a man's made a woman say while fucking her, or, its opposite, that it's embarrassing and unmanly if a woman's been disappointed by a man in the bedroom. In either case, the woman is reduced to the thing that is fucked; her only value is that she can tell the man how well he's fucking her, or how poorly.

I know plenty of slang words, thank you, because I'm more than twelve years old. And a part of the gender/sexism discussion revolves precisely around how male-gendered slang is used differently than female-gendered slang; think about how men insult men by saying they don't have balls, or that they're a pussy; the suggestion is that womanhood corresponds to weakness. The ways in which we learn to speak to one another is a key issue.

"The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina. Yes, they don't like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson."


>"The fact that the woman is only talking because she's in bed" Maybe that joke is told differently where you're from, but I can't imagine how one could take that away from "that's what she said." Ignoring that both of our fictional characters in this scenario are in bed, the idea behind the joke is to make fun of innocent phrases that could be considered sexual. Not that it's cool to brag about what a man's made a woman say or any of that other nonsense. To me, a younger guy in my 20's, your analysis (I don't mean this personally either, however I think yours is indicative of what a lot may thing) seems to be a case of older folk far over-analyzing a silly, immature joke that stopped being funny years ago.


The fact that the subtexts weren't intended doesn't mean they aren't there, though.


The thing is: Women are the fuckees. The man is the one doing the fucking. That's just how nature works.


I think trying to read more in to this than "there are many cylindrical and spherical items in this world of ours" is reaching a little...


> jokes about what women say in bed are acceptable

If they're actually funny (most of the "That's what she said" jokes are not), why not?

I can also totally imagine the following situation:

Coworker: Did I come too early? Another coworker: That's what he said!

Come to think of it, men are also under a lot of pressure in bed, so such jokes are just as in/appropriate as jokes about women in bed.


> If they're actually funny (most of the "That's what she said" jokes are not), why not?

It depends on the audience. I think that sexist jokes are in as poor taste in a workplace as racist jokes would be. I'd also be against black jokes or Mexican jokes or Jewish jokes or jokes about Catholic pedophilia. Even if the extent of the joke was something like "I'm not going to the pub with you all, I'm such a Jew", I'd feel uncomfortable; if somebody wrote a bot that was designed to repeatedly make those jokes, I'd be upset.

As Jessamyn says:

> Now, I admit to having made this joke myself, at times. Once in a while, I even find it funny. What I don’t find funny is a bot we have in our general IRC channel at work, that has some basic AI devoted to determining when to interject TWSS into the conversation.

And the joke is not that women say funny things while in bed. The joke is, "Oh, that thing you just said reminded me of fucking a woman." It's funny in high school when everybody's a virgin, and I've found that as my college friends have gotten themselves laid, it's ceased to become very amusing. The same way I haven't heard a black or Mexican joke in a few years that managed to rise above its racism to become even remotely amusing.

Jokes about people having sex can be funny; "that's what she said" will always be a joke the brunt of which is the faceless fuck-object woman. Maybe that's fine in moderation, especially if "that's what he said" jokes are mixed in, but I think we all agree that if somebody's feeling upset by the jokes, it's not a huge loss to our comedic palettes to have to find another source of humor, right? We're all capable of rising beyond that?


And in the end there will be no jokes.

  > I think we all agree that if somebody's feeling upset by
  > the jokes, it's not a huge loss to our comedic palettes
  > to have to find another source of humor, right?
No. I strongly strongly disagree. I don't want a thermal dead of society, I don't want knee-jerk reaction to anything I say because I just mentioned some forbidden word, no matter with what intention and what context. We are slipping toward the concept thought-crime, and I surely don't want what. Neither do I want to live in the world where all must pretend, that genders don't exist.

You ar offended but what I say? To quote Stephen Fry: "So fucking what?".

To think that it is impossible to tell and be entertained by non-PC jokes is as moronic as thinking that you cannot write (or enjoy) crime fiction without being a murderer.


At the end, there will only be actually-amusing jokes, instead of cheap shots that are only found funny by people that think group X is enlightened normal people and everyone else deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed.

I think you can't make or enjoy snuff films without being at least really creepy. Crime fiction is far removed from the crimes it depicts: jokes are a vibrant part of the ongoing process that creates social norms.


I'm going to quote what I thought was an excellent idea on another (heated) thread.

"To think that it is impossible to tell and be entertained by non-PC jokes is as moronic as thinking that you cannot write (or enjoy) crime fiction without being a murderer."

What would make you change your mind about this statement? Would you be convinced if I presented peer-reviewed research that said that presenting sexist situations did affect people's view of the competence of the other sex, and more research that showed the opposite was true for more serious crimes?


> And in the end there will be no jokes.

Not at all. This like saying "If we can't say anything hurtful, what is there left to say?"

You can be funny without being an asshole. And in a professional context, you shouldn't be an asshole at all.


This is a start-up. Start-up. Not a suit company. People get jobs in start-ups because of no the no bullshit attitude.

And I challenge to provide a joke nobody can object to.


As the cofounder of a startup, I agree that a no-bullshit attitude is important. However, respect for one's coworkers is definitely not bullshit. Startups are hard and they're a team sport. If you aren't continuously looking out for your colleagues, they company's probably fucked.

The point isn't "nobody can object". It's that nobody gets hurt. We laugh a lot at work, but it shouldn't ever be at the expense of somebody's feelings. Sexism is a real, actual problem. Reinforcing it, even accidentally, can be hurtful.

As for examples of better sorts of humor, consider Bill Bryson. Most of his funniest material is about himself. Or consider the show Archer. They work with a lot of edgy material, including some obviously sexist and racist bits. But they use that to call out and deflate the sexism and racism. Or watch Louis CK's bit on being white:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY


What's brown and sticky? A stick!

What's green, four-legged, and would kill you if it hit you falling out of a tree? A pool table!

Where does a general keep his armies? Up his sleevies!


Why do programmers confuse Halloween and Christmas? Because Oct 31 = Dec 25!

Q: What's sour, yellow, and equivalent to the axiom of choice? A: Zorn's lemon

Do you know any good jokes about sodium? Na!


what's yellow and infinitely differentiable? A bananalytic function!


> To quote Stephen Fry: "So fucking what?".

Fry was saying that in response to people who were offended by his being gay. I hope you find at least a little humor in the fact that you've taken a quote from a man trying to fight bigotry and used it to defend bigotry? No?

It's not thought-crime to say, "Hey, women are people too, and women are way more interesting when they're treated like people, not like sex toys." It's not gender-invisibility to say that there's more to a woman than her vagina, or even that there are funnier things about a vagina than your bragging about being in it. It's not political correctness to say, "When the things you say make women – not just a single anecdotal woman, but women plural, many women – uncomfortable, then probably you can find a better way to get laughs than through their uncomfortableness."

Humor is at its finest when it's used to prod those in a position of power. Satire, farce, bawdiness have all been used as tools to make the oppressed in society feel better about themselves, to make people who don't notice oppression realize that it's there, but to laugh at their own uncomfortableness. Humor's at its lowest when it's used to kick people who're already down. When it's used not to help humanity rise above itself, but to remind the lowly of their lowliness.

The great comedian Louis CK, of whom you've doubtless heard, has a routine where he goes after white people who get pissy about not being allowed to say the word "nigger". Like, it's racist that black people can use it, but not white people. And his response is: Dude, does it really matter that fucking much to you that you don't get to use a word? Is your being asked not to say "nigger" really as unjust as the fact that, fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement, we still have to have a conversation about why a word associated with lynchings and segregation is maybe not a word to be used lightly?

After decades of women fighting for equality, we still live in a society whose pop culture revolves around the sexualization and objectification of women. Where women make 81 cents to every man's dollar (source: narrowthegapp.com, made by Hacker News's favorite Gina Trapini). Where our government is primarily male, and its two highest positions have never been occupied by a woman. Where these male-dominated governments try to pass laws that deny women control over their own bodies. Where nearly every Fortune 500 company is headed by a man. Women have it better now than they had it, say, a hundred years ago, but that's not saying fucking much.

Do you really care so much about "that's what she said" that this is where you feel like making a stand? Buddy, it's a stupid joke, it exists only to make men feel manly for bragging about their penis, and it's not even very funny. Want funny? Watch Bridesmaids. There's a hilarious movie written by and starring some very funny women. They even make jokes about sex and vaginas! OMG so un-PC!

George Carlin once said, "Have you noticed that most of the women who are against abortion are women you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place?" I'm going to paraphrase him: Have you noticed that most of the people who defend idiotic sexist jokes are people who aren't actually funny?


While I wholly agree with 95% of your post, especially your liberal use of comedians as references, I think the whole basis of this "that's what she said" is grossly misunderstood by those opposing it. It's a phrase that highlights innocent phrases that could have a sexual meaning. Generally, they would be something a woman could say, however I've heard many a "that's what he said" as well. It's a stupid, immature joke that I'm shocked would be propagated by anyone over 17 but let's not ascribe some deep Freudian meaning to something a 15 year old came up with.


Oh definitely! It's a silly grade-school joke. Which is one of the reasons, I think, why this conversation is so difficult: nobody's thinking "Let me go out and reinforce the patriarchy", twirling their evil mustaches, they're just making a silly joke that incidentally revolves around treating women like objects, TOTALLY UNINTENTIONALLY. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have an effect on society.

Part of my undergraduate thesis, which I'm currently working on, revolves around this idea that when systems break, it's rarely due to anything malicious. It's because life is really weird and complicated and it's hard to design bug-free social structures. But that's why we have to be aware that such bugs exist, and develop ways to fix them when they pop up.


Ah I wasn't aware the effect was so pronounced, although I can definitely see how that would happen. Out of curiosity, what's the consensus on how an overtly sexist or racist joke told among friends in a non-serious way affects social dynamics? I'm sure we're all familiar with this type of humor and I would hope that the joke would serve to make fun of the stereotype and not reinforce it but I'm not sure.


This is a comment to print out and keep handy to staple to people-who-don't-get-it's foreheads. Thanks.


Asking you to think about the makeup of your audience and to take their feelings into account is such an onerous task?

We're not asking for Thought Police, we're looking for some bloody _politeness_.

I, for one, advocate innovation in humour. (",)


>Maybe that's fine in moderation, especially if "that's what he said" jokes are mixed in,

What, so we can have a bot that makes fun of women and sexual orientation at the same time?


> Come to think of it, men are also under a lot of pressure in bed, so such jokes are just as in/appropriate as jokes about women in bed.

You're assuming that just because it's the same subject it has the same implications to both genders. There is no basis for making that assumption. Take, for example, the statement "X is a slut." Does that have the same implication for both genders? No. Because of our societal attitudes, it has much graver implications for a woman than for a man. Now, consider the statement "X acts kind of rapey." Does that have the same implications for both gender? Again, no. A woman can shrug that off easily. A man, meanwhile, would be legitimately upset about that statement.


Look up programming jargon in whichever dictionary you found this definition. Something with a common meaning, like 'domain', 'array', or 'tree'. How well does it apply?

Words like "sexist", "sexism", "homophobia", and "racism" are jargon for the folks studying gender, psychology, sociology. The common usage, the descriptive usage you see in dictionaries, is not appropriate and will only confuse things.


IANA sociologist, but I'd consider TWSS (or the much rarer TWHS) one of those "undertones" types of biases like always asking the female co-worker to take notes or the male co-worker to help you move your desk.

Anyways, I think her response was a good one. I would hope that simply asking whoever was running it to shut it down would be sufficient, but I think writing a bot was a good way of making your point in a group of developers as a respectful way of saying "I'm part of this group and I have something to say".


Undertones? You mean the classical 'you are guilty and won't admit it'?

As for when it should be shot down -- when a majority don't think it is funny. It is called company culture and unless you believe females should have special protection because they are an inferior sex they will properly have to get used to it.

And the reason we ask a male to move the desk is because they tend to be physically stronger (with exceptions, I couldn't lift myself of the floor). I haven't asked any females to write notes since grade school.


"company culture" is what she was trying to fix. If someone has a TWSS bot, I'm guessing there are some more serious bias issues, perhaps like the author said, that people aren't even aware of.

"because they tend to be" is the type of excuse/rationalization that starts these problems. Of course men, on average, are stronger, but 99% of the time a woman can help you just as well. Making a decision based on someone's gender is sexism whether there is scientific data or not.

We're in a field that has the potential to be the most meritocratic field out there, and we do a disservice to everyone involved not to embrace that.


One day I needed someone to help me move a heavy server. It took me about 15 minutes to find someone who hadn't blown out their back recently (or at least, claimed to have), and she was the one woman woman on the floor. Most of the men probably injured themselves assuming upper body strength came with their gender, rather than were the product of actually exercising occasionally.


You say fix, I say she tried to destroy it. They had fun, what right does she have to ruin it?


Where do you, personally, draw the line between "company culture" and "unacceptable working practices"? Serious question.


Huh, it had never occurred to me that some women would be offended by that joke. In my mind, it was sometimes somewhat amusing because it turns the statement your friend just made into one about a penis.

I was going to say that now I'll be on the lookout for statement about clams, things that are wet, and so on, in order to bust out a TWHS, but it seems to me that it could be construed as just as offensive to women, because again it reinforces the idea, apparently, that men just think of women as sexual objects. Lose-lose.

Personally, I don't think either TWSS/TWHS is "sexist", but they're certainly not appropriate for a work environment.


"omg i'm offended ur heteronormative comment its fucking disgusting take down now"

Seriously, after seeing Basho Troll raise such hell last week, I've been quite unsympathetic to anyone who might seem like they're working themselves up to win 15 minutes of fame from the PC flash mob.

But this bot is an awesome hack, and exactly the kind of thing people need to do to empower themselves in the face of quiescent low-level offensiveness. It fights the battle in the lighthearted realm of wits, and like all games of wit, whomever caves to forceful methods (say crying to management about too many bots) loses by default.


I have noticed an interesting double standard on HN: while working in porn is perfectly fine, saying TWSS jokes is sexist because it objectivizes women as sexual objects.


There's a lot of disagreement as to whether porn is "anti-feminist". The school of thought that says it isn't stresses the importance of female agency (that it's up to the porn actors to decide where they work). I don't see any agency in appearing in a "that's what she said" joke, so I'm afraid I don't see the double standard.


As if there is agreement that "sexist" jokes (or people telling them) are antifeminist.


Among feminists there is. Heck, there's science: "exposure to sexist humor can lead to toleration of hostile feelings and discrimination against women" http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071106083038.ht...

The only people trying to argue "lighten up" are anti-feminists.


See, that link should be nearer the top of this thread. That's food for thought right there.

On the other hand, "The only people trying to argue "lighten up" are anti-feminists" is a nasty false generalisation -- it ignores apath-feminists (damn, that doesn't work nearly as well as 'apatheists'); those who are thinking "can't we all just get along?", with absolutely no motive to stymie feminism; those who've never done the research, who think feminism's all well-and-good, but tell themselves they're too busy worrying about other things; exactly the sort of people who would find that article insightful, and who might be pushed toward feminism by it.

I fear you risk scaring them off by lumping them in with 'anti-feminists' and its implications of misogyny, and may taint that link by association.


The trouble is that the default setting, the do-nothing, don't-care follow-the-norm setting, is anti-feminist. It's the "double standard" in dating. It's women as decoration. It's compulsory sexuality. It's misogynist porn. And, as here, it's sexist jokes. This is why feminism says we live in a patriarchy still.


I see where you're coming from, and agree wholly, when I put a feminist hat on. The thing is, when I then put an 'indiffeminist' (thanks zem) hat on, I feel like you're throwing insults, saying "Oh, you're not a feminist activist? Then you're a misogynist pig."

I think it boils down to the technical meaning in feminist theory of 'anti-feminist' (anything that holds back feminism) not really matching up with what the layperson seeing the word for the first time would take it to mean -- 'anti-feminist' intuitively sounds like it only applies to active, concious opposition to the ideals of feminism; misogyny, denial of female autonomy, Rush Limbaugh, that kinda thing. Laypeople may not think to also consider apathy that unwittingly enables the sexist status quo as part of anti-feminism.

I'm definitely not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying you risk alienating your target audience by... well, to be flippant, by using big fancy words they may not understand ;)


"indiffeminists"


Now that, I like. I'm going to remember that one for future conversations.


I just wanted to point out that being anti-feminist does not necessarily mean anti woman or anti womans rights.

I do agree that sexist jokes are a bad thing and not only when done against woman.


I'd accept that from a womanist who feels white women's feminism has failed her, or a lesbian or trans woman fed up of being ostracised, or a poor woman annoyed at middle-class feminism's priorities.

But most groups who say "I'm not anti woman, just anti feminism" are flat out patriarchal, whether the flavour is religious or "men's rights", it's the same garbage.

And I won't accept it from a man at all.


>But most groups who say "I'm not anti woman, just anti feminism" are flat out patriarchal, whether the flavour is religious or "men's rights", it's the same garbage.

Unfortunately my perception is similar to yours. I have seen enough nut case traditionalists and misogyny to not want to get involved with mans rights movement. Traditionalist ideology hurts MRM and I feel they are shooting themselves on the foot by allowing this sort of thing.

This is why I can't see my self associating with MRM or Feminists. Both groups can be pretty extreme although both have some (in my opinion) good goals like womans rights to choose & legal paternal surrender.

Thank you for your comment.

edit: I must say that I have seen MRM people against traditional patriarchy. Their idea is that a patriarchy does not allow men to be free.


Yeah, patriarchy does hurt men. Gender policing, compulsory sexuality, enforced emotional shallowness, the breadwinner/nurturer split and its side effects in family law, even the classic apologia for the the glass ceiling uses the fact that women demand work/life balance - implying men can be overworked. But I can't see the MRM having an easy time admitting that while patriarchy does hurt men, it hurts women worse.

If they admitted that, they'd be feminists.


To clarify, I was referring to the technical people working in the porn industry, not the performers per se.


Are you saying that porn only objectify woman?

I see the sexual objectification concept often used as a way to demonise natural human sexual attraction. If man and woman ignored physical appearance and resourcefulness we would probably be extinct by now.


The difference is that working in porn is a choice to make yourself a sex-object, while objectifying women with sexist jokes is not a choice by the people affected (women). To retain the same context, it would be the difference between choosing to work in porn vs. that choice being made for you.


So if the woman in the jokes was assumed to be a specific woman that said she was OK with it, then the jokes would be all good?

"Don't worry, these jokes/pictures/movies don't apply to you specifically. They don't affect my atitudes or emotions towards you at all."

Really?


Perhaps I missed the part where our local representatives of the porn industry wrote a bot that clumsily interjects talk about porn in the middle of unrelated HN conversations, and left it turned on even after people politely asked them to stop?

I'm not actually sure I've met that many people in porn (I've met some aspirants, but does that really count?), precisely because it doesn't always come up in casual conversation.


What a BRILLIANT social hack. Jessamyn Smith, I am thoroughly impressed.


Absolutely. It's also a fantastic resume piece. Two of the things I look for in a resume are a) contributions to an open source project, and b) ability to take a problem and solve it from beginning to end. As a bonus, she's clearly aware of workplace culture and committed to making it better. All good signs, especially for the startup context.


I think this would never happen where I live. Honestly this seems like its the same thing as you guys in the US not being able to say merry christmas because it might offend someone. What's so wrong with being offended anyway? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHMoDt3nSHs&t=3m30s

I think people over there just take everything to seriously.


Basically you're saying "Lighten up".

There is a problem of gender representation in tech. We need to do something about it.


Basically he's saying that definitions of sexism vary across cultures, and that where he lives (and where I live), this would not be considered sexist. "Two countries separated by a common language"


http://therealkatie.net/blog/2012/mar/21/lighten-up/

Lighten up, I didn't mean it, I didn't intend to upset you, so it must be ok!


What I said is that where I live its not like this. Girls wouldn't make a fuss about this, and would probably make more sexual jokes then guys actually. So yes maybe in comparison you guys need to lighten up as a society or something.


Making/enjoying sexual jokes in the right context and finding other sexual jokes sexist are not mutually exclusive.


(article forwarded to well-dressed coder-girlfriend)


I can't take you seriously when you link to a white, male comedian telling people not to get offended.


You've posted your comment on a community forum that is heavily US-centric. You clearly like the culture, or you wouldn't be here. Perhaps you could then allow that "our" values are worthy of more consideration than your comment seems to suggest? Just a thought.


Honestly this seems like its the same thing as you guys in the US not being able to say merry christmas because it might offend someone.

Is this a common perception of those outside the US about what goes on inside the US?


Yes. I find it extremely funny/awkward that you say police person instead of policeman/woman, flight attendant instead of steward/stewardess, horizontally challenged instead of fat, can't say fuck on TV (but it's ok to carry guns and kill millions of innocent Afghans and support Israel's invasion of Palestine), that you can't drink under 18/21 (I don't know which one) not even if your parents are around (and you call your country "the land of the free"), that you can't watch certain movies in the cinema but there are action/murder movies on TV all the time, that you say African American when you actually mean all black people, in general that you put so much emphasis on the form but so little on the actual content.

Btw, I would never say flight attendant/horizontally challenged/... instead of the alternative, simply because it's longer, and I'm lazy.


I live in the US. I think most of those things happen a lot less than you think. To take what I think is the most extreme example, in the ~35 years that I've been parsing speech successfully, I don't think I've ever heard someone refer to a fat person as "horizontally challenged."

Maybe this stuff just happens on TV?

One exception: not saying "fuck" on TV. That's accurate and fucking insane.


It's also insane the amount of gore and violence allowed on TV and in movies, but show a little skin and you get fined.

The reason Family Guy has so many fight scenes is to prove how stupid the FCC's regulations on violence are compared to nudity.


For a while (a few decades back), ads for airlines were really sexist and promoted their stewardesses as sex objects. So replacing "stewardess" with "flight attendant" is for airlines to distance themselves from an actual, offensive practice.


It is a common perception that Americans are prudish and easily offended. In the UK at least.

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