DBAD: Don't Be A Dick
OTOH, many "geeky" types have faced a lot of rejection -- at least, in my generation. It is perhaps not entirely unexpected to encounter negative reaction when presenting oneself in a fashion that they have been conditioned to read as communicating/implying, or just being -- whether or not the message is intended, "You can't have this."
You may think it's unfair. But step away from yourself, for a second, and look at the reality.
(And, if it makes you feel any better, "pretty boys" can and do encounter similar animosity from male geeks.)
Female or male, I think many end up resenting those who are fawned over for their appearance and the resulting advantages they accumulate.
(If you're still unclear on the male side of this, consider perceptions of tall, type A "football" types.)
The negative reaction is sometimes a well-conditioned defense mechanism. And those don't tend to exist in a vacuum, i.e. like them or not, they have some validity -- some real reason for their existence.
That said, we can all learn to act and react better. But denying the underlying basis is not a good point from which to start.
P.S. Physical attraction is also just -- fundamentally, biologically -- distracting. And many people at... "geeky" conferences are not their to be distracted by or communicate with others distracted by a lot of what they consider to be off-topic activity and, erm, "presentation".
We are very concerned about the harassment described in the original post. The Ada Initiative does not condone harassing women about their appearance for any reason. We believe that women should be treated with respect no matter what they are wearing, or how they look. In fact, many of our advisors dress in a way similar to that described in this post, as do our directors.
We dont control members of Geek Feminism, but we will review the example anti-harassment policy used as a source for many conference policies and see if we can make this point more clearly, since it isn’t obvious to some people that criticizing women on their appearance is also harassment.
This comment says that members and board members of the Ada Initiative have engaged in similar behavior at OSCON and conferences like it. Could you be more specific about what this behavior was and who was doing it so we can address this inside our organization? Note that the Ada Initiative does not have members, only a board of directors and a board of advisors.
You are welcome to email me privately at valerie at adainitiative dot org with a guarantee of anonymity if you’d prefer not to report this publicly. I have personally not been to OSCON for several years, so I’m unlikely to be the person who behaved in this manner. You can also email another person you trust on our 20 person advisors board asking for anonymity.
Thanks for letting us know about this behavior and I hope we can get more details so we can address this.
Valerie Aurora, Executive Director of Ada Initiative
Unfortunately for women they often feel as alienated from feminism as they do from the open source community leaving them nowhere to go.
I recently spoke at a careers event in my local middle school (kids are about 11, getting ready to go to high school) about working in video games. Everyone loved it, everyone wanted to work in video games but in the back of my mind I knew a disproportionate number of the girls would lose interest along the way because of the overwhelmingly negative reaction they will get from the 'community'.
As a father of two girls it is a constant battle to give them the tools to deal with it.
I'm also at a loss to understand how such events are apparently not about software at all.