"I think this chick should lighten up personally."
It's hard for males (me included) sometimes to relate to sexism (think of all the women in tech articles we've debated) or sexual harassment because we're not on the menu. We don't experience it. We aren't the prey. It isn't until men themselves feel vulnerable and dominated that they realize what an awful feeling it is to be invaded, harassed, or threatened sexually. From "innocent" ass grabbings to brutal rape. Men aren't frightened of such events because they'll probably never experience them.
Enjoy. You'll see sexual harassment and rape in a whole new light after watching that video. Getting your ass squeezed doesn't sound so innocent now does it?
Someone actually posted that HERE, in the comments below, it got such a negative score that the comment disappeared and most people on HN won't see it unless they have "dead" comments turned on in their HN settings. I was responding to that person. Despite there not being a lot of comments like that here (you'd get downvoted into oblivion) There are lots of guys like that all over the place.
I get what you mean about it being hurtful to men. Being constantly shown as a primitive horny neanderthal with no self control makes all men look bad. It makes us feel bad to be represented that way. But it's not a "stereotype" it's a statistic, don't be in denial or run away from it.
Although I can understand if somebody wants to defend their turf (create jerk-free zones).
If the "ligthen up" comments are voted away, it seems to be a good thing? So why support the meme that "lighten up" is a standard response? You can always find people displaying any grade of sexism you desire and point to them saying "see, I told you so, sexism exists". It is just not a very useful thing to do.
Reddit illustrates the problem well; while the push for equality is out there and people are hearing it, it doesn't stop misogynist/otherwise hurtful responses to shoot up to the top, with little to no regret if it means laughs and upvotes. Until that's not the overwhelming response, it isn't getting better.
Men don't understand the problem. They haven't had to deal with it and because they see themselves and their friends as upstanding citizens, they don't think these things happen as often as they do.
It's true that from the beginning men don't understand the problem. But after a while you can learn, and occasionally you get a homosexual approach. I understand how it can be uncomfortable to be desired by a stranger. Unfortunately I think it is partly in the nature of things. Women are "the price" and hence men have to hunt after them. Men are pretty worthless biologically (simply because it takes less men than women to create lots of children).
That doesn't excuse disrespectful behavior, of course. But it is a biological reality that at least men have to do a lot of approaching, and women will not always like it (it shouldn't be groping, but I hope you get the idea).
I don't understand your issue with the voting: this is Hacker News, and the offending comment was quickly removed. If Reddit doesn't work out that way, perhaps don't hang out on Reddit? That is what I mean by avoiding jerks. Personally I probably wouldn't enjoy Reddit either because of the jerks. But you can not convert any and all environments, or at least, if you want to try, good luck! I don't think jerks can be eradicated. I can only say it works well for me: I hardly ever encounter jerks, and I don't think any of my friends would grope women in a bar. I could make my life miserable by thinking about the millions of jerks out there, but why bother?
You can't really take reddit as a good sample of men in general. 56% of reddit is age 18-25, as compared to about 7% of the overall US population.
The reason this is a problem is that young adults are much more likely than average to exhibit poor judgment, inaccurate risk perception, perceived invulnerability and egocentrism. This has been shown in countless studies. Of course it is only true statistically, not necessarily of any particular individual.
So yes, reddit is full of hurtful crap, and it gets upvoted in the default subreddits. And you can legitimately take that as evidence that young men don't understand the problem.
But, eventually, they do grow up.
Avoiding racist people didn't give blacks the freedoms and acceptance they have today. That was achieved by confrontation, education, and telling their stories from a point of view that everyone can relate to. Same with sexism and sexual harassment. Men can joke around about rape all they want because they're never really have the fear of having it happen to them. They can harass women and grab their asses all they want because they've never felt what it's like to have a bigger and taller man sexually harass them.
Yeah, she gets hit on. A lot. Mostly by drunk, smelly guys, and then proceeds to tell me how much it sucks. Her ass was grabbed several times at DEFCON events. My understand is that it's not an altogether pleasant experience for a non-totally-nerdy girl to spend any length of time at security conferences... and what with BSides and DEFCON, we were there a week.
But here's the thing: girls are going to get hit on at a drunken Black Hat party at PURE just as much as they'd get hit on at a drunken normal night party at PURE. Yes, it's hackers, and you'd maybe expect better behavior (unless you've been to a lot of these things), but is the behavior worse than any other night club? I'm not a lady, but based on what I've heard, not really. Las Vegas is a dirty, "sinful" place, and any moderately attractive woman going out to a bar or club there is going to get hit on.
Now, when we're talking about disgusting, incessant harassment, that's different. And that is the line I think we need to draw. Sure, it's difficult because many of these "hackers" are severely lacking in the "social skills" department, but walking up to a woman and grabbing her boobs is going to get you slapped and probably arrested. Anywhere. Personally, I didn't see a lot of that... just a bunch of nerdy, socially awkward guys trying (and failing) to pick up women.
If you're at a conference, you're there amongst your peers and colleagues, there is a certain level of respect and decorum that I would like to assume would be present amongst a community that aspires at least to some modicum of collegiality.
You can say that the security community (which granted isn't particularly my scene) is rough and tumble, but surely there should be some expectation of some basic human respect.
I guess put more succinctly, just because it's held at a night club, doesn't make a conference party any less a conference related function.
I would agree. The difference is that unlike, say, Black Hat or RSA, DEFCON is not a security conference. DEFCON is (and is advertised as) a hacker conference.
Sure, the speakers are generally in the industry (though not always) and there is no blatant illegal activity happening (most of the time), the target audience for DEFCON is not the infosec community. I think that leads to the problems that happen at cons like DEFCON, HOPE, and CCC vs. Black Hat (mostly), RSA, USENIX, CRYPTO, SANS training, etc.
> just because it's held at a night club, doesn't make a conference party any less a conference related function.
Totally agree with you there; I was not trying to excuse the behavior, simply indicate a possible explanation therein.
The issue is perhaps not only behavior at conferences, but the predatory behavior that is fairly common of males in that environment.
Perhaps a partial solution would be to have a track dedicated to social relations (not engineering!). Maybe include some of the finer points of a stay in Las fucking Vegas.
Again, and I can't reiterate this enough, I'm not excusing inappropriate or damaging behavior. It is important, though, that situational awareness be accounted for. In a conference for cops, of course this behavior wouldn't be expected. In a conference of mostly lonely males...
What I'm saying is that perhaps education may warrant a better outcome rather than furthering the perpetrators into a social black hole. That is if we are talking about otherwise "normal" folk in a drunken state rather than something more pathological--which I think we are. Goons can should an do deal with those others handily afaik.
Edit: here we go with the downvotes. If you feel that way, and read past the first paragraph, please expand beyond an anonymous click of the mouse.
How do you ever expect anything to progress without discussion? I may very well be far off base, and am more than happy to discuss. I'd also be more than happy to admit I'm wrong if that's the case. But please, I beg of you, let's talk about it.
I won't lay out all of the problems with identification, getting the "socially inept" into one room and educating them, making sure that whoever is teaching this (as yet undefined) social skills curriculum is a good teacher, making sure the education sticks, etc... Instead, I'm just going to share that I don't think education of socially incompetent people will significantly improve my conference experience.
Things that help include:
* An assumption on the part of conference staff, speakers and attendees that women are there to participate, not just observe or tag along
* Swift, friendly, supportive responses from staff if verbal or physical harassment is reported - often made possible by staff who are aware of an anti-harassment policy, and are trained in what to do (LCA did a great job of this in 2012)
* Allies who help stop hostile, harassing and inappropriate comments if they occur
And there's other stuff that helps too. There's some good stuff in the "what can allies do" section of the Geek Feminism wiki.
Anyway, I appreciate your willingness to converse about this issue and hope I've shed some light on why people might be down-voting your comment.
Another possibility would maybe be a page in the booklet detailing unacceptable behavior--or a request from con founder or such. I think almost all the people attending are very smart; if they were to hear/see a request from someone they look up to very highly, it might be enough to stifle bad behavior even through a drunken lens.
To your points:
1) I think this comes back to the education thing. Be it a page in a booklet, on the website, or something else--sometimes people need to actually see/hear it. It's dangerous to assume that just because people are smart, they know how to behave and how to be respectful to others.
2) I only have experience at the big 2 in Vegas, but thought the staff were trained on such... Don't know. I agree, though, that having them trained to be responsive would be a huge help.
3) Yes. I actually (unfortunately) had the opportunity to do as much this year. I know people I was with would be more than willing to step in as well. But, again, perhaps it would help for everyone to know that they can be on the lookout for this behavior and step in/get help when necessary. We can't just assume that people will do the right thing, either.
Thank you for the well though-out response. I very much hope that in the future your con experiences improve dramatically regardless of what makes that happen.
"Not at all to excuse the behavior, but..."
"I'm not excusing inappropriate or damaging behavior. It is important, though..."
Those sentences should end before you go on to give the impression that we just have to accept that sexual assault/harassment is going to happen when a room is dominated by men. There is no good reason why grown men who happen to be some of the brightest minds in computer security should be excused from treating their female peers with the same respect that they would want for themselves or their own daughters, wives, mothers, and aunts.
Your comment seems to suggest otherwise, because "In a conference of mostly lonely males..." hey what do those women expect? Apparently, they should have had more "situation awareness". It reminded me of the common victim blaming argument "she shouldn't have dressed like that if she didn't want the (bad) attention".
If I came across otherwise, I appologize.
I assume the Ada Initiative's goal, at least in part, is education. Even through this post alone they have educated part of the HN community that women get harassed at conferences. But I don't think the problem here is that men need to be educated about these behaviors - every decent human being knows its not okay to grab a womans crotch and hide in a crowd. This article wasn't about borderline cases where it wasn't clear what acceptable behavior was. It was about blatant disrespect like telling a female peer at a conference to "show her tits".
I think the men who are doing the harassment need to be made to feel this is not tolerated behavior in this community. If a few perpetrators get embarrassed about being called out and being given a colored card, thats acceptable if it helps prevent sexual assaults/harassment and alters their behavior.
Exactly. This is not just a minor annoyance, in the examples above we should be talking about sexual battery, and sexual assault charges. There should be a mechanism to identify and point out the perpetrators, call the police, get them booked in etc. For other non-criminal but just discriminatory and harassing behavior there should be a quick and easy mechanism to shame, weed out, exclude and expel perpetrators. Take a picture with a phone and post on a public board (maybe a bad idea, haven't thought this through...).
The sad part is the lack of outrage from the majority and form the organizers. This apathy indicates some complicity. And that's probably why not much happens to fix this.
> but walking up to a woman and grabbing her boobs is going to get you slapped and probably arrested. Anywhere. Personally, I didn't see a lot of that... just a bunch of nerdy, socially awkward guys trying (and failing) to pick up women.
To which I would reply that this behavior needs to change regardless of whether it's DEFCON or a "regular" night at a club. We just happen to be discussing it in context here.
So what? Other nightclubs aren't representing the hacker community. This sort of behaviour ought to be attacked anywhere anyone has the power to attack it.
If people are grabbing your fiancee's ass at events, either you or she should be talking to the conference organizers. I assume none of this happened at BSidesLV.
(Personally, I'm waiting for someone to go reaching for a female attendee's ass and brush up against her M11, due to being from OSI or whatever and attending for work. I suspect hilarity would ensue...)
Following the "homeland security" theme, a man and a woman made a couple of weak jokes about a "pat down," which I kinda laughed at, and then the woman came up to me and actually started patting me down. It was clearly a joke, but it was a violation of my personal space and it made me feel pretty uncomfortable. (At least at the airport they ask for your permission!) This was the first thing I experienced walking into an unfamiliar environment full of unfamiliar people. I was so shocked that I didn't say anything.
If this kind of thing happens to men (like me), I'm not surprised that Valerie and other women are hesitant to attend these conferences.
The last few times they asked "do you consent?"
I asked "does it matter what I say?
They answered "not really"
My response "so why bother asking? It's incredibly deceitful for a Federal employee to ask for my consent to do something when they're going to do it anyway. You're just trying to convince people they have a choice.. when we don't."
I always get the "aggressive patdown" then. ;)
If he got a pat down it wasn’t in any kind of official context. (FWIW, the attendees are pretty friendly.)
Those that have not been, let me sum up what the conference is about. It's in Las Vegas. The general attitude is that you should be drunk 24/7. Most of the attendees are horny losers who wish they could come up with talks like "hacking gender" and "cable modem hacking". The weekend becomes a blur, and you just hope you're sober enough to make your flight home. And something about security talks.
Those of you that have been, and didn't just go to talks and sit in their hotel room, know what i'm talking about. Mardi Gras for nerds, toned down a bit, with something like 5% female attendance.
If you want to combat sexism in your industry and at your conferences, you probably need more organizations like Ada Initiative. But it's not going to do a god damn bit of difference about DEF CON. This whole piece hinges on the idea that there's one "worst" offender, and if we can just get them all to play nice, feminism will reign and no woman will ever be victimized at a conference again.
Sexism is a big, big problem, all over the globe, in many different communities. I can quote you about 10 different stories of women being harassed in the general vicinity of where I live. I don't need to tell you about a woman who was groped at a bar, because quite frankly, nobody is going to do shit about it. If I wrote a blog post about that bar, still nobody would do anything about it.
Calling out one conference and making this thinly veiled assertion that all conferences are just like it is not only deceptive, it's blatantly misrepresenting the community surrounding the conferences.
Women are the most aware people about the power of sex in culture. They are born with people looking at them different, and depending on their lot in life, will experience both degradation and achievement all based on circumstance. The idea that a woman could write an article like this with no idea that occasionally a drunken man will make a pass at them is preposterous. Therefore I can only assume it's written specifically to start a kind of cultural flame war with the intent being to bring more attention and resources to their organization's cause.
In short: Using DEF CON as a model for sexism at all conferences is the most ridiculous thing i've ever read.
And you are wrong about whether DEF CON will be a hold-out of sexism. It might be the last holdout, but if and when gender equality becomes widespread across the US technical community, it's easy to see that no sexism could holdout in any popular venue. At the very least, the sponsors would run away.
> The idea that a woman could write an article like this with no idea that occasionally a drunken man will make a pass at them is preposterous. Therefore I can only assume it's written specifically to start a kind of cultural flame war with the intent being to bring more attention and resources to their organization's cause.
That is quite the accusation, with not even the flimsiest of supporting evidence.
That said, the bar example you took up is not very relevant. I could tell you about a mugging that happened, even make a blog post about it, but no one would care or do anything about it. I could talk about a car accident, even one including a drunk driver, but it would be meet with the same reaction. Common crime do not create reaction from society. Maybe if a 9 year old daughter of some politician got groped at a bar you might see some media coverage and reaction, but that would be true the same if she got mugged or was hit by a drunk driver.
Compared to Defcon 1-13, which had pretty pervasive sexual harassment. (Plus more public drunkenness and drug use, too). I was in Iraq during 14-18, so I can't really comment on those.
(This year, at an after-Defcon party on Sunday, the only obnoxiously drunk harassing person I encountered was female, too. That's probably not an improvement for society.)
I do kind of hate how people-with-kids now bring their children to Defcon, and the general push to turn it into "hacker disneyland" (with NSA recruiting there, various "Defcon kids" programs, etc.). I don't think that's related to less sexual harassment, just with the thing being bigger and a lot of participants now being old.
USENIX Security, IETF, and Nanog seem to be the best overall blend of "non-offensive atmosphere", "actual technical content", and smart/interesting people. There's probably a role for something cheaper and similar, maybe an extension of BSides, since as an individual, I'm a lot more willing to pay $100-200 for a conference than $1500-2500.
An organizer's support for kdotcdot's cards makes me want to go to DEFCON next year.
I'm thinking next year will be the year I attend conferences for fun, rather than just work. I put it on my calendar.
The 10-12 drink stage later in the night is far less productive than baseline, and probably of negative productivity (I listened to people debating the origins of the terms cryptography and steganography, circularly, for a while...went to another room, and they were still at it 2h later). But light drinking seems to be useful in social settings with many people.
So next time you read about a minority group creating something exclusive to their gender, race (like Black Girls Code), or religion, remember this thread of comments. Because I bet you're first instinct will be to say "the solution is not to divide us into separate groups!". But until you start listening, internalizing, and cultivating those minority voices rather than dismissing them or displacing them with your own, those people are going to keep dropping out, showing up small numbers, or start making their own exclusive conferences/coding groups/fill-in-the-blank.
Hackers/programers/scientists/problem solvers is also extremely, to the point of obsession, interested in identify root issues when talking about problems. To find root issues, one need to ask questions, like are there similar issues like this one? Are they caused by the same problem? What suggested fixes are there? are those proven to work? whats does the number says, do they show a trend? are there sources that back up what people experience? How can we eliminate research and political biases? are there additional factors involved like relative risk, risk assessment and risk aversion?
Denying those questions and asking the community to accept the issues as facts, immune against research and question, and just shut-up and follow any suggested fixes it gets, is wrong. Just simply wrong. Maybe that will result in people dropping out, showing up in small numbers, or who starts making their own exclusive conferences/coding groups/fill-in-the-blank. Maybe. But maybe the better way is to ask the questions and find the answers?
Well, there's your problem. From what I can tell asking those questions is considered anti-feminist and evidence of misogyny. For instance, just to pick one example, there are various studies showing that an impressive proportion of men actually admit to raping women. These get used as evidence of a rape culture in which men specifically - not just society as a whole, but men and men alone - consider it acceptable and normal to rape women. Now, since the studies in question didn't ask women whether they committed rape, they actually give you zero information about whether this is something that men do or something that everyone does. They're still used as ammunition to accuse anyone who treats rape as more gender-neutral of hating women and denying its tuge gendered nature. Meanwhile, the studies that would actually be required to test this - ones which make no up-front assumption and ask both men and women the same questions - don't exist, because even posing the question of whether women rape others in this way makes you a misogynist and is apparently a really bad career move. The same happens in a whole bunch of topics around rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, prostitution/sex work, ...
You cannot uphold anything resembling the scientific method in this climate. It's impossible.
I think you're saying that i need to understand this is a scientific crowd and they are of course going to question and apply logic. To which i would respond, why then did we end up with a majority of comments applying unchecked anecdotal evidence (which this community is usually very quick to dismiss) to subtly undermine the authors point?
I believe it is the same effect as after a random rant article about firefox/gnome/pulse audio/software licenses. Everyone has some personal opinion there, so if the article lacks all form of basic research, people will immediately start to fill that void with their own anecdotal evidence.
The quality is laughable, and in my opinion it is more of an "alternative lifestyle" conference than a "hacker" conference. The joke around my friends is "Wait....DEFCON has talks?" The best (or only good in my opinion) piece of DEFCON is CTF, though, which I would highly encourage everyone to try out. It's an incredible learning experience and a lot of fun.
Infiltrate in Miami is probably the best conference. Black Hat can be very good too. Personally I'm planning on going to DerbyCon this fall.
Frankly, I'm amazed the police aren't called more. Groping - or "sexual assault" as it's more commonly called - is very very illegal.
That said, any assault, be that a bottle to the head, first to the face, hand to the groin, or foot to the torso, should be reported.
The conference has so many different aspects, it really is better to break it into components, talks during the day, chill-out areas, CTF room, hardware/lockpicking villages, public/private night parties, hanging out at the bars all night, etc.
Here are some of my observations (for better or worse):
* If you're a woman, expect to get hit on dozens of times to varying degrees.
* Some people are drunk during the day, most people are drunk during the night.
* DEFCON attendees tend to be the personality types that make their own rules, and aren't well integrated socially.
* There are some (very few) attendees that seem to have mental problems, don't understand boundaries, and will do very inappropriate things; at least a few are usually banned or kicked out of the hotel or conference each year.
* I chatted with a cigarette girl in the Rio at one point, and asked her if she had been harassed a lot by DEFCON attendees, and she quantified it as, "Not really that badly (in comparison to other events)".
* Small private parties at night can get wildly inappropriate (these are not official DEFCON events, they are private parties hosted by attendees), you'll find naked people in pools at least a dozen times during the con, at least 2 or 3 instances of people engaging in some form of sexual intercourse, strippers, porn playing on a display in the corner, drugs, prostitutes (seemingly not having much success), etc.
This behavior is perpetrated by both male and female attendees, and in fact the average female attendee is worse than the average male attendee in my experience; although, women being in a great minority, you're much more likely to be on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior as a woman.
I had one girl tell me she comes to DEFCON just to meet guys, and said, "I get to have sex with any guy here I want".
This year alone I had female attendees I didn't know, or just met, slap me on the ass several times, had 2 drunk girls walk up and kiss my cheek, had my nipple tweaked once, had my crotch bumped/groped/etc. 3 times, and had a random assortment of other harassing behavior directed towards me (all of this was at night during the parties).
My friend was wearing a kilt, and at one point had a girl stop him to stick her head under the kilt so her friend could take a picture, and then followed it up by grabbing at his crotch while she was down there (in this instance the girls weren't DEFCON attendees, just random drunk women in a casino).
* If you avoid the late night (especially unofficial) parties, bars, and drunken events in general, you are going to avoid most of the inappropriate (and worst) behavior.
* Female attendees will get hit on multiple times by lonely nerdy guys, I really don't know what to say about this, but if you stick to the actual convention, you probably won't endure much worse than bad pickup lines.
* DEFCON has the weirdest, smartest, oddly intense mixture of people I've ever met that mostly come to go completely insane and push boundaries of all kinds... It does have negatives, but the experience is something I look forward to all year long.
Is this not the complaint - that you can't take part in your culture's events because of the behaviour of others? I would find it intolerable if all the other attendees went off to the last night parties and bars, and I couldn't because I was likely to be sexually assaulted.
And just to be clear, this is not gender specific harassment, as a male I would have preferred not to have experienced any of the following:
* Random drunk guy at a party suggesting that everyone sitting around a table playing black-jack instead play strip-poker, and being ignored until he tried to lean against a lamp and fell over with it.
* Naked people jumping into a pool, splashing me, and attempting to start a minor orgy.
* Walking into a room at a party where 2 guys and a girl were laying on a bed giggling at male/female pornography.
* Being groped by random men and women who half the time weren't actually trying to molest me, they were just too drunk to stand up straight.
* Having random women suggest that I should ask to see their breasts.
But in the end, it doesn't really bother me, and I'm glad that those people had a chance to cut loose and get crazy. I've been to Las Vegas 20 to 30 times, and I've experienced far more inappropriate behavior outside of DEFCON than I have at the convention.
I was at a dozen or so different parties over 5 nights, and excepting a few of the small room parties, things were far tamer than standard Las Vegas fare.
I don't think I've met the author of the article, but if she stormed out of DEFCON 16, I'm curious to know why she was organizing the TCP/IP Drinking Game for DEFCON 18...
There is a lot of drama that goes on at DEFCON, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out there's quite a bit more going on here.
I feel like the underlying complaint here is more along the lines of: "Some people want to go to Las Vegas, get drunk, leer at strippers, and call themselves elite. I disapprove of this type of behavior, and I am going to assert that as a woman I feel excluded, and in being excluded I am somehow being blocked from some theoretical opportunity in life that is only available under these conditions that I don't want to find myself in, I'd also like to write an article misrepresenting the issue for my amusement, and the status I may also gain from said article..."
And honestly, as long as you don't get naked and jump into a pool, you're probably pretty safe from sexual assault (as a woman at least). Women at DEFCON can generally take care of themselves, and some random groper is likely to get a beat-down from his victim.
In fact, the mysterious perpetrator at the bar disappearing into the crowd seems a little conveniently vague... and if it did indeed happen, and was at one of the Casino bars, there's a good chance it was done by a random tourist, since people see oddly dressed DEFCON attendees and think it's okay to grab their ass, etc.
In fact, the only sexual assault I saw this year was by drunk female tourists who decided it was okay to randomly grope men and women because they were wearing a kilt, had a mohawk, etc.
I'd be more concerned about the woman giggling on the bed than about the naked women jumping in the pool - assault is more common in the form of "we're already flirting and alone; I'll just take it" than in the form of "I'm going to plot how to get this stranger into a dark corner without anyone noticing." You might find it interesting to look up statistics about acquaintance rape and check out this article: http://jezebel.com/5929544/rapists-explain-themselves-on-red... (if you haven't already).
I'm a DEFCON woman who can generally take care of myself, but there's something weird that can happen in response to a lewd comment, an unwanted touch, or worse: a paralyzing wave of confusion, fear, disbelief. Even if you instantly overcome this and tell him to fuck off or punch him, you still just got a shock that can ruin your day/week/etc. Nobody should have to be subjected to this, male or female.
> I feel like the underlying complaint here is more along the lines of: "Some people want to go to Las Vegas, get drunk, leer at strippers, and call themselves elite. I disapprove of this type of behavior, and I am going to assert that as a woman I feel excluded, and in being excluded I am somehow being blocked from some theoretical opportunity in life that is only available under these conditions that I don't want to find myself in, I'd also like to write an article misrepresenting the issue for my amusement, and the status I may also gain from said article..."
I don't think anyone is complaining that guys at DEFCON get drunk and leer at strippers - if they stuck to doing that, I doubt anyone would mind. The complaints are about a pattern of disrespect toward women attendees - not just a handful of serious assaults, but a lot of small papercuts as well. Some examples from my experience:
* Men introducing themselves to a man but not the female coworker standing next to him, since they assume she's just his girlfriend. This happens repeatedly.
* A guy insisting that women are biologically unsuited to be great hackers and not listening to a woman acquaintance who is dissecting his assertions.
* Two guys attempting to practice seduction skills in the chillout lounge on a woman attendee who simply asked if they'd seen her friend.
* Men making dumb comments at women, like in this elevator: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4327399
It shouldn't be unsafe or annoying to be a woman at DEFCON. And the nice thing is that as we learn as a community to treat women attendees better, this knowledge should also help us learn to treat men attendees better - it shouldn't be unsafe or annoying to be a man at DEFCON either. Not zero sum.
Anyway, it seems like a simple cost-benefit analysis. If you stop being annoying, and stop other people from being annoying, whether by shunning the bad ones, or by whatever means you use to thin out the herd, you create a more welcoming environment.
Once you have a more welcoming environment, there may be more of us around. That's more opportunities to hang out with folks who you find pleasing.
So, if you want ANY chance to have a nice friendly chat which MIGHT go somewhere some day, you have to start with having established the basics of human decency, dignity, and respect. Otherwise, you're doomed from the get-go.
I write this speaking from a little experience. I've stopped going to certain events here in the Valley where all I wanted was to nerd out for a little while with other technical folks and it turned into a "how quickly can I hit on you" thing.
Discrimination on gender or race is something we'd take very seriously and kick people out for. If we were ever at the point we needed coloured cards I think I'd cry a little on the inside.
In my universe, and it has always been this way, whenever I go to a party the geeks and nerds end up huddled in a corner, occasionally daring to look at a woman, and whose social interaction bear such a close resemblance to the Big Bang Theory that it is quite embarrassing.
Admittedly I am not from the US (maybe things are different there), but I find this whole picture a bit hard to imagine.
It only takes a few bad apples.
EDIT: Also, being rude (a word which epically understates the kind of behavior mentioned here) is not a natural force. It's a behavior, like being polite. Which your brain controls. No matter how drunk you are.
Someone behaves inappropriately. Event organizers and/or their security designees and/or venue security request that the offender leave for whatever reason. Depending on venue, level of intoxication, threat, etc., the person may be escorted off the premises (how much force can be used depends on legal situation, too). If someone is unwilling to leave, police may be called and offender charged with trespassing. Attempting to re-enter would be trespassing, and police may be called. Attempting to assault security or event staff leads to police and ambulance being called.
It's pretty normal for conference venues to have their own security (for fire safety as well as physical security), and for conference organizers to have security (mainly for crowd control and access control, but also for responding to things like fires caused by cellphones...).
Having a conference-affiliated security person request that you leave an event is less damaging to you than having casino security formally ban you from the premises forever, and either is better than having police come and criminal trespassing charges filed.
I might call the police directly if it's something I want kept private (like, rape) which had happened already, but realistically anything which happens at a conference to an attendee will become known to the conference and venue security soon enough. Or I'd call the police if I didn't trust local security to do anything, like is sometimes the case with campus police. However, at conferences, I think most security staff would be responsive.
(edited to remove my less-less-politeness, I feel guilty using such language on HN)
Societies require enforcement mechanisms, or it is just base nature, red in tooth and claw. If you think there are problems that must be corrected, you too surely believe that there are mechanisms for coercing behavior.
Exile is one such method that's been used in many civilizations over millenia.
Edit: It's worth pointing out that your assumption that drivebyacct22 is a girl simply because he/she disagrees with you is really weird.
I have no words for you. You privileged, narrow-minded unfortunate person.
I'll pass on that world, I like my humans with at least a modicum of civility.
The cards are a hilarious way to raise awareness of the problem of brutal sexual harassment at DEFCON and similar conferences. Unfortunately, it will take more than raising awareness to make hacker conferences safe for women.
We’re waiting to hear about the first hacker conference to adopt a specific, enforceable, well-planned policy protecting women from harassment – and then we’re going to promote the hell out of it.
Did you really just get bored and stop reading when you got to the colored cards? You were already 80% through the thing!
Selfishly, I care more about getting the (admittedly very small number of) hacker females to attend and contribute to events more than unrestrained free speech by attendees. If kicking out a few obnoxious drunken guys, and convincing others to behave reasonably, is necessary, fine. That seems a lot more effective than cards handed out by attendees. Naming and shaming people who act like idiots would also be effective I suppose, but probably more potentially open to drama and consequences than quietly ejecting them for the rest of the event.
Here's an example. A few days ago I was part of a Rio elevator full of DEFCON people when it stopped at a floor where a non-attendee woman was looking to get in. There was obviously no room inside, but one of the guys hollered at her to "get in anyway - you're a cute woman - we love women - this ratio needs to be improved!" She instantly disappeared. As the elevator door closed, another guy looked at him and said "dude, yellow card." Silence the rest of the way down.
It's a small thing, but I was the one DEFCON woman in the elevator, and I appreciated that verbal yellow card - in other words, while I was in the middle of mentally processing what had just happened and whether creepy attention would shift to me, a fellow attendee had quickly and effectively reset the tone of the elevator to basic civility. This is good.
> Naming and shaming people who act like idiots would
> also be effective I suppose
(or maybe the threat of "poor impulse control" tattooed to your forehead? ;-)
Also, there aren't 10,000 men that go to DEFCON. A large percentage of the attendees are women.
Natural forces tell you that groping women is okay?
edit: Further more, if someone does manage to become so uncivilized from the amount of alcohol it takes for them to get to such a state, maybe, just maybe they shouldn't do that. In public. Around people that they can't seem to help but grope. Jesus, is this a real conversation I'm having?