Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Dell Apologizes for Hiring 'Shut Up Bitch' Moderator (wired.com)
50 points by chris_wot 1531 days ago | hide | past | web | 71 comments | favorite



From what I can tell, Dell hired a known, misogynistic and offensive comedian called Mads Christensen to work as the event's moderator:

http://elektronista.dk/kommentar/dresscode-blue-tie-and-male...

Taken from the blog post:

[The] moderator starts to rejoice the lack of women in the room. “The IT business is one of the last frontiers that manages to keep women out. The quota of women to men in your business is sound and healthy” he says. “What are you actually doing here?” he adds to the few women who are actually present in the room.

...[He] finishes of by asking all (men) in the room to promise him that they will go home and say, “shut up bitch!”.

Goodness only knows why Dell hired him as their corporate voice. Shocking.


He wasn't a "corporate voice", he was a filler between speakers.


At a corporate event. I know PR is boring and stuff, but your fillers at corporate events represents you, the host of the event, in the general public. The fact that Dell didn't immediately apologize shows that they were either quite okay with it or didn't give the issue much thought.


Known in Denmark.

This guy is not world famous.

Should someone lose their job over this? Sure. Maybe even a few someones. /Someone/ knew who this guy is and hired him.

Should the whole of Dell be cast as misogynist for hiring someone that I bet Micheal Dell couldn't name if you asked him this morning? I don't think so.


Dell never should have hired the guy in the first place, let alone wait this long to apologize, but they get a few points for doing the right thing eventually.

Unfortunately there is still a lot of misogyny in the tech industry, and startups are no exception. It's hard to take companies seriously when they post job advertisements asking you if you "want to bro down and crush some code?" as Klout did.


>Dell never should have hired the guy in the first place,

Yes. Couldn't they hire some non-funny, sensitive guy, all-too-touchy about politically correct issues? HN is full of them!


Yeah, shouldn't everyone just lighten up? http://therealkatie.net/blog/2012/mar/21/lighten-up/


Dell shouldn't have hired the guy because it was 100% obvious they were going to have to appologize for it later and women are part of their target market (some of whom are sensitive to femist jokes).

That being said, the author of "therealkatie, lighten up" post is ridiculous as well.

I don't make femist jokes at work because doing so signify a complete lack of social skills on my part (same as the guy at Dell who selected the comedian). That being said, her (realkatie's) inability to handle those jokes also represents a complete lack of social skills.

I would guess that the guys making those jokes are probably interested in her rather than "discriminating" against her.


"That being said, her (realkatie's) inability to handle those jokes also represents a complete lack of social skills."

It never ceases to amaze me that someone can make a flip judgment about a person (even throw them under the bus!) after spending 2 minutes reading one single blog post that that person wrote.

You don't know her. It's pretty freakin' presumptuous to say she has a "complete lack of social skills", and reflects poorly on you.


I'm judging her by her writing. If I had the opportunity to meet her I may think differently. You are right, "complete lack of social skills" is probably way too extreme, but she definitely lacks some social skills if she is letting comments like she described get under her skin. People making those comments are not coming from a position of power (even if they are managers). They are the weak people in the chain and people with strong social skills deal with those people and move on. It is part of life.


"People making those comments are not coming from a position of power (even if they are managers)"

I haven't laughed this hard in a few days. Thanks for that.


Glad I could help you lighten up.


Frankly, these "jokes" (in scare quotes, because they aren't funny) are simply a form of bullying or mobbing [1].

Not enjoying bullying, especially if it goes on for months or years, does not say anything about your social skills, either good or bad. It does say a lot about your workplace if such bullies are a permanent fixture, and if the problem persists, then cutting your losses and moving on is probably the sensible thing to do.

Yes, ideally, you should stand your ground and fight, but if this kind of garbage is tolerated by management, you're fighting a losing battle.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobbing


> People making those comments are not coming from a position of power (even if they are managers).

John Scalzi: "In the role playing game known as The Real World, 'Straight White Male' is the lowest difficulty setting there is." (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-th...)


The one-before-last comment on that post's thread sums it up for me

Yes -- lighten up (non ironically).


I'd add that corporate gigs for comedians usually involve them being fed a couple anecdotes about the company which they then incorporate into their bits. This guy used "there's no women in this field" poorly.


Do you also think he was fed the line about the only technical innovation women have ever contributed is the rolling pin? Or the bit about how women are bitches who keep trying to steal power in politics, the board room and at home?


Right, because that's totally the only other option.


It's a shame it took an Internet outcry to get Dell to acknowledge they made a big mistake and needed to apologise. They should have known better to start with.


Actual link, posted yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3972491


Without seeing the actual content in question it's hard to judge, but assuming that the said comments were made in good humor, I have to ask, are they really that offensive? If comedians are allowed to crack nigger jokes and my fat momma jokes, then why can't they crack shut up bitch jokes? Or is this more about where he said than what he said.


A comedian, on stage in a comedy club, can say whatever they like.

A representative of Dell, standing in front of Dell employees, should not be telling a chunk of those employees that they are worth less because of their gender.


Devil's advocate: "I am a famous comedian well known for humour type X; Dell hired me to MC their event knowing this; which is at least tacit approval of my routine. Otherwise they obviously wouldn't have hired me"

If you have to hire someone and tell them not to use their trademark humour then why are you hiring them in the first place?


Absolutely. I don't blame the comedian for the situation - he was carrying out his job. I blame the people who booked someone without checking they were appropriate.


Yes, that's the point. Dell are the ones to blame for putting that guy on stage, and they are getting the criticism.

MC, however despicable, just did his thing as advertised.


I don't think "Dell" deserves the blame. I think whoever booked this guy is to blame.


That would be a representative of Dell, acting on behalf of Dell, arranging for payment to be made by Dell.


And hopefully punished or even fired by Dell, because they're not representing Dell very well.


I don't think anyone is saying that the comedian didn't have the right to say what he did, or even that he shouldn't have said it. The lapse in judgement is on Dell, not on the comedian.


But was he a representative of Dell? If you hire a comedian, then does it become his responsibility to stick to your sensibilities? The onus should be on Dell and not on the comedian.

Moreover, since when are we supposed to interpret what a comedian says so literally? The comment that seems to be most offensive is "Thank god there's so few women in this business, keep up the good work!" Taken sarcastically, that very statement would become an indictment of the tech industry for failing to maintain a gender balance. I am certain that if the same line had come from a lady, no one would have found it offensive.

Now, I am not saying that the comedian in question isn't misogynist. I know nothing about his personality. I am simply trying to play the devil's advocate. I just want to highlight that context and intention matter. Otherwise, Russel Peters would be in jail by now.

Also, why I am being downvoted to oblivion for raising a pretty reasonable point of discussion? In my mind, downvotes shouldn't be used as a tool for censorship, or to restrict discussion. It should be used for quality control more than anything else.


> I am certain that if the same line had come from a lady, no one would have found it offensive.

Well yes, because context matters. When you have a power disparity, comedy only goes one way - if a member of a majority group makes disparaging remarks about a minority group, that's not funny, it's straight-up bigotry.


so anyone can make a joke about asian guys, you know because there are over a billion them in this world


Don't try to interpret this logically. Interpret it as a weird expression of American culture. In the US, we consider racism/sexism to be the worst thing ever. Compare to female promiscuity in India, or perhaps being disloyal to your family (I'm guessing from your username that you might be from India).

For example, when I was working in India, I mentioned that my friend's babymomma (the mother of his child, to whom he was not married) was visiting me. The ladies in the office gave me a rather shocked and horrified reaction. In the US, you'd get the same reaction if you made a joke about Gujus.

My suggestion is that if you are in the US, play along with it and just accept it as a weird Americanism. In much the same way, Indians constantly asking me about my family is just a funny cultural thing I play along with.


It's not just in the US, and it's not a "funny cultural thing". Your whole post is extremely ignorant. It's attitudes like yours that make people think that racism and sexism is acceptable behaviour. It's not.


In India, it's hardly unusual to make sexist or racist jokes at work. It's all in good fun and no one takes it seriously. This idea that everyone must be ultra sensitive and take jokes seriously is a cultural practice of the anglosphere (and perhaps a couple of other European nations).

The jokes made about me when I worked in India were along the lines of "no American jokes - he'll sue."

It does extend a bit beyond the US, but it's not remotely universal. Similarly, my remarks about Indian perception of babymommas and family values aren't restricted to India, but are certainly representative of a big cultural gap between India and the US.

Pretty much any logical justification one could provide would be hopelessly based on other cultural practices and ideas, though I'd love to hear you try to cook one up that isn't (you might surprise me).


You're completely missing the point. Sexist and racist jokes shouldn't be acceptable anywhere, not in India, not in Europe, not in Sticksville, Stickscountry.

Acceptance is not the same as acceptability.


"Unwed mothers shouldn't be acceptable anywhere, not in India, not in Europe, not in the US."

This is simply a statement of a moral value. The fact that a certain group of people tend to agree with such a statement is a cultural thing.

You should choose your words more carefully. "Ignorant" implies a lack of knowledge, I believe "immoral" is actually the word you were looking for.


Nope, I definitely meant "ignorant". You have no idea what it's like to be a woman in technology, I'll bet, and your attitude is very indicative of this.

I didn't say anything about unwed mothers.

Once again, acceptance is not the same as acceptability. Just because sexist comments are accepted in India doesn't make such comments acceptable from a normative moral standpoint. The same thing can be said about your unwed mothers statement. Such a statement might be accepted somewhere, but shouldn't be acceptable.

I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make about cultural things - you seem to be advocating some sort of moral relativism, is that correct? If so, then okay, but then we need to look at the context for the original comments, which is at a Danish Dell professional event, not India, or anywhere else. It's an environment where sexism and racism is not generally accepted, and where it is considered unacceptable, which is a good thing, from a moral evolution standpoint.

Perhaps India and its casual acceptance of sexism and racism has something to learn from its more morally enlightened neighbours.


You have no idea what it's like to be a woman in technology, I'll bet, and your attitude is very indicative of this.

What relevant facts do you believe I am unaware of, and how do those facts invalidate my reasoning?

Note that accusations of ignorance without actually demonstrating it usually fall into the realm of ad-hominem (i.e., a logical fallacy).

I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make about cultural things - you seem to be advocating some sort of moral relativism, is that correct?

I'm not advocating any particular moral beliefs, you are.

I'm suggesting that the best way to understand these American attitudes on jokes/etc is to merely treat them as an American/western cultural/moral value rather than look for a logical basis for them. I.e., the same thing I'd suggest to Americans asking about Indian attitudes towards unwed mothers.


I thought it was a hired comedian, not a representative of Dell. Of course it was still a very bad choice.


This was theoretically a professional partner event. You wouldn't get a comedian on stage cracking racist jokes at those, so why should sexist jokes be acceptable?

Perhaps you should actually read the original report by the Danish blogger: http://elektronista.dk/kommentar/dresscode-blue-tie-and-male...

Then, perhaps, you should put yourself in women-in-tech's shoes and ask yourself why this might be offensive. We're a small minority which is, on the one hand, desperately in need of encouragement, yet, on the other hand, continually set back by the sexist, intimidating attitudes of some men in the industry.

For some other examples you might want to see http://programmersbeingdicks.tumblr.com/


That tumblr link is a blinding endichtment on everything you seem to stand for. Can you see this?

Can you see that the mountains of scorn you heap on 'men in tech' represent the very landscape of sexism you rail against?

As a 'male in tech' and a husband, and a son, and a father of two girls... as a friend and a collegue or as a boss, this shit has moved from mildly aggravating to outright hurtful.

Women in tech: it's not all men. It's some men, don't sink to their level, please lead by example instead.


Well, as a male, I'm absolutely fine with that site! The problem of sexism is patriarchy. (Why's the software industry hyper-male? And if you're from the US, ever wonder why every single president has been male? One of those funny coincidences?)

It's not just some bad male apples. I'm fine saying that I'm a privileged sexist male, because I've lived all my life in societies with bizarre preoccupations with gender roles, where one gender dominates the other.


I didn't say it was "all men". I said, deliberately, "some men". I know of many, very supportive, men in technology, who understand what it is to get this stuff right. It's a real shame that there are some who wilfully ignore the issue's existence, or who exacerbate it, or who think that women should just "lighten up" about it.

As a man in technology, you come with a whole heap of privilege, you need to understand what it's like from the other side. That tumblr rightly calls out people in tech who are dicks, particularly to women. Without sites like this, people might continue thinking that this sort of behaviour is acceptable.


>>Without sites like this, people might continue thinking that this sort of behaviour is acceptable.

Are you aware of how insulting this assertion is?

Clearly not...


Well they clearly think it's acceptable or the site wouldn't exist in the first place.

Besides, I said "might". I probably should have said "some people", but the fact that I have to defend a site that points out abhorrent behaviour towards a minority group in an industry is pretty shocking to begin with.


>This was theoretically a professional partner event. You wouldn't get a comedian on stage cracking racist jokes at those, so why should sexist jokes be acceptable?*

The question is why wouldn't it be? Racist and reverse racist jokes, jokes playing with national stereotypes in general, are the stock and trade of comedians. Same for jokes about women, marriage, mother's in law, etc.

It's fucking joke. It's not supposed to be the comedian's party line.


So you don't think it was inappropriate in a professional setting to make women, which the company goes out of its way to actually attempt to encourage into the industry (they have a specific site for encouragement of women in technology on their official site: http://content.dell.com/us/en/business/women-powering-busine... ), feel like the only thing they're good for is being the butt of jokes?

Wow. For the record, I would, as a white person, feel similarly uncomfortable and disgusted by racist jokes in any setting really. It's one thing to make fun about yourself, it's another to poke fun at others' expense in an unkind manner.


So what you mean is: "Lighten Up"?

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


He is a comedian. It's difficult to judge his show because I think he is danish or something, so no idea if he is really anti-women or in fact making parodies of that stance. I don't think the cause of women would be served if pointing to the problem would not be allowed anymore. In fact that has traditionally been the role of comedians, to say the things others dare not or may not say. Again, I can not really judge his performance, as I don't know it, so I certainly don't want to defend him. Just adding a word of caution to not judge rashly.


He's not a comedian. He's an author, motivational speaker and media pundit with a long history of making misogynistic statements, who also does the occasional stand up show at events.


That wasn't obvious from the article, thanks for clarifying. I guess he (deservedly) isn't well known outside of Denmark...


Is the "Lighten Up" posting becoming some sort of a meme now? This is the 3rd time it is posted in this discussion...


His jokes were along the lines of "Thank god there's so few women in this business, keep up the good work!"

It's hard to see when that would ever be acceptable


> If comedians are allowed to crack nigger jokes and my fat momma jokes, then why can't they crack shut up bitch jokes?

If a comedian at a Dell event had used the word 'nigger' in almost any joke context, someone would have been fired.


The guy in question isn't really a comedian, but a self-help author, motivational speaker and general loud obnoxious media personality. Of course it's often hard to separate the media persona from the 'real' person, but based on his body of work there is no evidence to assume to he doesn't genuinely believe in the views he presents, even if he does use hyperbole to present them. Basically given whom we're dealing with, and his long history of misogynistic commentary, there is no reason to assume the comments where purely in good humor.


Check this HN story 2 days ago, for an account from the audience: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3965084


Of course Dell apologises but people really need to get a grip. A comedian makes jokes, often adult jokes. If you want kids jokes hire a clown.

Everyone is well aware of the technology stereotypes. If he called all the men <insert stereotype> would Dell have to apologize?


Are you serious?! This was a professional event. There is a known issue with lack of women in tech. Dell specifically has a site dedicated to encouraging women in tech. Women have come out again and again and said that these sorts of jokes are offensive and put other women off going into tech jobs. Why would anyone in their right mind deliberately go out of their way to make women uncomfortable?


> If he called all the men <insert stereotype> would Dell have to apologize?

No, because men aren't oppressed in our society and especially our industry.

Saying stuff that contributes to an oppressive environment isn't okay, even if you package it as a joke.

If you don't understand what I just said: congratulations, you're probably pretty privileged.


"Men aren't oppressed in our society..." how did you arrive at this conclusion?

Majority of homeless: men

Majority of crime victims: men

Majority of workplace fatalities: men

Majority of prisoners: men


     men aren't oppressed in our society and 
     especially our industry
Are you sure about that? Calling people out and giving them a bad rep over silly jokes sure looks like oppression to me.

Jokes have been historically used by oppressed people to express their frustrations. Not saying it's the same thing here, but trying to ban humor, even if it is politically incorrect, is really not OK.

The world would be a much better place if we smiled more.


  Jokes have been historically used by oppressed people to express their frustrations. Not saying it's the same thing here, but trying to ban humor, even if it is politically incorrect, is really not OK.
Nobody is trying to ban edgy/dark humor. But there is a time and a place for that. A corporate event is not that place.

  The world would be a much better place if we smiled more.
http://therealkatie.net/blog/2012/mar/21/lighten-up/


would every fucking body stop linking to lighten up. it's just as condescending to link to it every fucking time.


This didn't sound like an inclusive equal-opportunity roast, which could have been funny. If it had been, he would have been making fun of men in tech as well. As it stands, it seems like he was only making fun of the (few) women present, singling them out for ridicule.

If they had hired a comedian who singled out men in tech as neckbeard virgin nerds, and played on stereotypes, I think it would be almost as unacceptable. "Unacceptable" because it's an obnoxious stereotype, "almost" because men are still the majority/power group in tech and can take it more easily than the outnumbered female minority.


1. Adult jokes are fine in a stand up comedy, not everywhere. 2. He targeted only women, if he made jokes targeted at both men and women equally, then this situation may be different.

That said, there are enough places where sexist jokes are made at men - by both men and women. Nobody complains and nobody cares. That is just the way it is :(


Adult jokes are fine with adults. I don't get why do you want some sterile "professionalism". We are humans, at work or at home. Should we put wigs on to look even more professional? And jokes about some gender stereotype are not necessarily sexist. I, for one, welcome the world where nobody complains about jokes. It scary to think that we are coming closer and closer to Orvelian "thought crime" :(


> It scary to think that we are coming closer and closer to Orvelian "thought crime" :(

Oh for fuck's sake, it's not thought when words are uttered out loud. It's also not crime when free people freely protested the free speech of a free individual who has not been punished by any government.

Godwin's Law should be updated to include Orwell's fictions because nobody seems to have a sense of perspective about them.

> I, for one, welcome the world where nobody complains about jokes.

And I would welcome a world where everyone thinks for two seconds about what it's like to be a constant target of said jokes, uses their basic human empathy to listen to said complaints, and then reasons about it for a while instead of defensively dismissing the complaints with a privileged wave of the hand.


Thank you, seriously. The slippery slope argument is just so infuriating when really all that's necessary is a little human decency.


My rage trigger is:

1) person A, using free speech, espouses some (typically ill-conceived) idea

2) person B, using free speech, criticizes said idea

3) person A compares person B to Adolf Mao Orwell scuffing their jackboots on free speech.


Nope, this is not about thought crime. I could have the filthiest, dirtiest thoughts - nobody will complain about that. Problem starts, when I give words to those thoughts.

For example, imagine a fat person (or a short person, or a ugly person, bald person etc) - is it okay to make fun of his/her fatness, shortness etc, all day long? how would that person feel?

This has nothing to do with "professionalism". It is about just being as much nice to fellow humans as possible.

And according to the article, this Christensen guy is supposed to be "motivational speaker" - what kind of motivation, I can't understand.

The worst thing out of this episode is this - there are lots of nice men in the IT industry, who genuinely want more women in the industry. They'd like to help, and do everything they can to make IT more appealing to women - then routinely, a couple of times a month, these incidents occur - and it gives the entire IT industry a bad name, undoing all the good work done by others.




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

Search: