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Sexual Harassment at DefCon (and Other Hacker Cons) (schneier.com)
166 points by selenamarie on Aug 15, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 259 comments



I wasn't sure what to think of the red/yellow cards when I first heard about them, but the suggestion that it should be bystanders them giving out is awesome. Everything we know about human psychology suggests that a disapproving peer group is a strong behavioral deterrent.


One of the reasons it's such a strong deterrent is that it is so difficult to confront someone in your peer group for doing something wrong. Because of that, peer disapproval already is not working in this environment; peers simply aren't disapproving. Maybe the card system will get people motivated enough to start disapproving, but I doubt it.


Because of that, peer disapproval already is not working in this environment; peers simply aren't disapproving.

Yes, they are. Its just that any one isolated indecent of disapproval doesn't get much attention compared to incidents of scum. I'm not saying the levels of scum are acceptable, just that there is a disparity in which encounters get shared.

The disapproval needs more mindshare, and thats why I think it was a smart move that defcon staff embraced the red/yellow cards. Nobody is really going to walk around telling everyone about the time they saw a guy tell another guy to knock it off. The cards on the other hand, they had plenty of people talking.

On the whole though, we tend to look out for our own. Stories like this: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3043545&cid=4096... and this: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3043545&cid=4096... tend to be much of my 1st hand experience, the worst I know of first hand are people that don't known any better than to stare at someones tits.


> Yes, they are. Its just that any one isolated indecent of disapproval doesn't get much attention compared to incidents of scum. I'm not saying the levels of scum are acceptable, just that there is a disparity in which encounters get shared.

We know that people have reported their first hand accounts of receiving harassment at multiple cons and multiple times per con. These incidents are not isolated. There is a strong chance that if you are a woman and you attend hacker conferences you will be harassed at least once. Computer circles at large have a problem with sexism and as an overall community does not disapprove of sexist behavior, attitudes, and actions.

Other people may not experience harassment at conventions. That is their experience and that is legit. However, that does not in any way negate other people's experience of harassment at those venues nor does it excuse those incidents. Conferences need to take a firmer stance against this kind of behavior, more so than just having cards, but rather with a well defined and clear harassment policy that is actually enforced.


I'd like to ask that you re-read my post. You're talking past me.

Given the subject matter I made a poor choice of words using "any one isolated" instead of "any individual", the later phrase is not associated with marginalizing harassment/assault and I should have used that instead.

However, even with the poor choice of words I'm not trying to imply that the number of incidents is low enough to be swept aside, in fact I say that in the very next sentence.

I never said harassment wasn't a problem, I was trying to address the parent post on the topic of peer disapproval. I was trying to articulate that perception of the level of peer disapproval is a very important factor in addition to peer disapproval proper. Only the perception of disapproval can "stop it before it starts", and these cards seem to be a good way to spread that perception.

Sharing incidents where someone is called out on the spot are necessary so that the peer disapproval can spread. Publicizing only the incidents where the harasser gets away with it, that serves to reinforce a perception that can very easily lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.


The reason why people are reporting incidents where a harasser gets away with it is because most of the time they are getting away with it. Conferences are organized in a way that doesn't allow people to get help and stop this kind of behavior when it happens. As the article mentions, often there is no clear policy against harassment and security may even be in on the harassing behavior. Coupled with a lack of peers calling people out, its not a surprise that we see people relating their experiences of assault and harassment and explaining why they won't be going back to particular conferences.

I totally agree with you that as a community we need to call out our peers firmly and clearly when we feel safe to do so. As of right now that isn't happening and hacker conferences are not safe spaces for women. We are not creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of harassment by letting people share their experiences of those incidents. The only way we can combat the problem is to acknowledge its existence and listen to the experiences of those who suffered such behavior and attitudes. People should be absolutely free to relate their stories of calling people out and addressing such behavior, but let's not kid ourselves about the reality of what is going on at these conferences for women.


I would use these things in a fucking heartbeat. I'd bet others would too.

One of the problems isn't lack of disapproval. It's being instantly prepared to confront the situation in a way that's helpful and effective. When I'm just going about my business, seeing something egregiously wrong often leaves me speechless for a bit. It'd be great to have these in my wallet to whip out and say, "Dude, yellow card!"


You say that, but we here on HN all know that what people say and what they actually do are rarely correlated. Maybe they could A/B test this at different conferences and find out.


Do you really think someone that doesn't have the guts to walk up to another and say "cut that out" would have the guts to walk up and hand them a card effectively saying the same thing in text?

Personally I find the "just say something to them" approach to be far _less_ confrontational, you can do it discretely and one on one or perhaps just the small local group hears it. Handing someone a bright red/yellow card in what is likely a crowded area creates a spectacle. Many others know what is occurring, lots of pointing and whispering occurs, etc. This puts the receiver in a much more confrontational mindset especially if the receiver feels they did nothing wrong, now they don't have to defend themselves to you alone but to anyone within vision of the hand off, how would the receiver do that without really causing a scene?


"Do you really think someone that doesn't have the guts to walk up to another and say "cut that out" would have the guts to walk up and hand them a card effectively saying the same thing in text?"

Of course. An agreed structure around confrontation reduces the barriers and makes the whole thing easier. That's true of most interactions, not just confrontation.


Does red get you kicked out of the con or something? If not, this would turn into a game of who can collect the most harassment cards. If so, then people could simple kick out people they don't like.


Many cons are putting together anti-harassment policies that include sanctions up to and including lifetime bans.

I'm sure some trolls would be excited by the challenge. But I think these will often serve the purpose of letting somebody know that they have very clearly crossed a line and causing to think about their behavior.


Honestly, I find the cards incredibly weird. I can imagine a class of 10-year-olds using them, but adults?


When adults are acting like 10-year-olds, maybe it's the perfect solution.


I think that's true only for a small minority...


It's only ever a small minority that needs the correction.


The card system is like dropping a nuclear bomb on Baghdad just to kill Saddam :)


Social sanctions are generally used on children, however are in some cases even more effective on adults, who aren't used to be treated like children.


I like how this implies that soccer players are 10-year-olds.


Concern: if the peer group does not have a critical mass of people who do disapprove and are willing to vocalize it, could this backfire. I sadly can see a situation where a group of the worst offenders that buddy around together in an otherwise indifferent environment decide to just all hand red cards to every woman who tells them off, doesn't reciprocate/comply, whatever, essentially using these as a weapon of shame and terror. :(


Not specific to hacker culture, but I always felt there was a bit of a double standard when it comes to alpha male behavior. Women are attracted to aggressive men. Women like men who take charge. Women like men who are the initiators. Now obviously there is a line that crosses over into sexual harassment, but the fact is that men who behave aggressively are the ones who succeed in sexual pursuits most often. It's almost as if when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment. I wish it weren't like this because I, personally, am not very aggressive.

I'm not trying to defend the behavior described in the article, I'm just saying that men act like that because it works.


Never take advice from someone who thinks it's meaningful to talk in terms of "what women want", as if there's this undifferentiated mass with a unanimous set of values.

If you haven't noticed that different women want different things, and are attracted to different kinds of guys, that might explain why you have trouble telling the difference between flirtatious give-and-take, and one-sided harassment. Or for that matter, the difference between assertive but respectful self-confidence, and blind aggression.

"when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment"

How about if we correct that to: "when the girl responds positively to the guy, and he keeps going, it's flirting, but when she responds negatively (or tries to avoid him) and he keeps going anyway, it's creepy/sexual harassment".


Never take advice from someone who thinks it's meaningful to talk in terms of "what women want", as if there's this undifferentiated mass with a unanimous set of values.

Never underestimate the power of generalization. Women are shorter than men. Women are slower than men. Women are physically weaker than men. These generalizations allow for individual exceptions, of course, but they are true in an important statistical sense. They allow us to predict that, for example, most top basketball players, powerlifters, and sprinters will be men. Indeed, it's no coincidence that the recently completed Olympics had separate competitions not only for physically disabled athletes (the Paralympics), but also for women. They could not in general compete otherwise.

Returning to your point, I doubt you really believe that it's meaningless to talk in terms of "what women want". Despite variation in individual tastes, in general women are attracted to charming, confident men. Moreover, I'm sure you could add a few more adjectives to that list. QED.

How about if we correct that to: "when the girl responds positively to the guy, and he keeps going, it's flirting, but when she responds negatively (or tries to avoid him) and he keeps going anyway, it's creepy/sexual harassment".

I wish you were right. Much of the time, men have no slack in this regard—in today's hypersensitive environment, it's often "one strike and you're out". The costs of being accused of sexual harassment are high, while the costs of making false accusations are low; this leads to predictable results.


Statistics provides a wonderful set of tool for summarizing the opinions of a large group of people, but if you use it to determine your interactions with one individual instead of looking at the reactions of the person in front of you, You're Doing It Wrong.

"Men have no slack in this regard"? Really? I've never had anyone accuse me of harassment. I've only ever met one person who claimed to have beeen accused of harassment; based on the other tall tales he told (going 130mph on a dirt bike while being chased by a police helicopter, killing people with his bare hands in the Marines, and more), it's entirely possible that he made the whole thing up, or equally possible that he was actually guilty of harassment (he claimed the jury found in his favor).

The cases I've read about recently involved women clearly telling their harassers to stop, that the attention was unwanted, and the harassers refusing to heed those repeated requests. Rather than "one strike", it was more like "3 strikes, and still swinging".


There was a time when I would've been the one writing that comment, so I know what you mean. It is frustrating for meek guys (I count myself as one too) to feel like we're being called out along with harassers. But ultimately I don't think what you're saying is accurate.

It took me a long time to realize this because I didn't have very good data to work from--I didn't have a large set of observations of interactions between men and women, and out of those I did have there were very few instances of harassment. It seemed to me that based on the complaints of harassment vs. the small number of cases I'd witnessed, the problem must be that women were choosing to call normal behavior harassment when it was unwelcome. Which I think is your argument. But I've realized that that's not the case. The kinds of harassment being complained of are not borderline cases. In most of the recent cases I've read about (Readercon, etc) the harasser was explicitly told to stop at least once. That is not ambiguous, and it's not based on the perception of the person being harassed.

I guess what I want to say really is, 'stop feeling threatened by this.' If you are a person with even a barely-functioning social instinct, and recognize and respect when someone feels uncomfortable in a situation, there is only a microscopic chance that anything you do will be misinterpreted as harassment. And if you do say something that someone interprets as sexist, the first response will simply be to call you out on it. That's a conversation it's ok to have if you're confused, 'I'm sorry; I didn't mean to offend you. Could you tell me what about what I said bothered you?' Again, if you're a person with a basic social instinct, you will prefer to modify your behavior in small ways to make the people around you comfortable. If you truly feel someone is being unreasonable, just avoid them.


In this thread we find relationship advice from geeks (average HN reader I presume). It is funny because I speak as one and HN is the last place I expect to read such comments. But saying "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to offend you. Could you tell me what about what I said bothered you?" is the most technical and least pro-flirty (is that even a word?) thing I have read in this thread. As a more technical person myself, one part of me says it is appropriate to get feedback so that we can perform better next time. But the normal person inside of me screams in horror after reading it because somehow it kinds of seals the deal for it. That seems like one thing i should never say if I am interested in initiating a relationship of any kind. It just instinctively feels wrong. But hat could be just me.


At the point someone has called you out for being sexist, the relationship you should be focused on pursuing is the one with the next person, because your shot with this one is gone.


Yes! And if you're so worried about how "technical" you'll sound when asking for feedback (which you may or may not get - nobody's entitled to give it), you also miss out on the potential to get some data points to refine your approach in the future. Sounds like a good opportunity to repeat that same old mistake all over again and write it off as "I just wasn't flirty enough." Not the problem, never was the problem.


Behavior like grabbing a strangers crotch from behind and disappearing before she has a chance to turn around "works"?

No, it most certainly does not. There is a big difference between being confident and showing leadership, and groping strangers in public.

And the "agressive, alpha male" (which is a term that I hate, by the way) persona doesn't work for everyone, either. I know plenty of women for whom that's a huge turn off.

> It's almost as if when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment.

It's creepy and harassment if it's creepy and harassment. You can flirt without grabbing someone's crotch, without trying to lick them without permission. There are also more appropriate venues for flirting, and less appropriate venues. At a hacker conference, people are generally more interested in talking about hacking and less about flirting; and in particular, there are many women there who will already feel a little ill at ease and marginalized due to how few of them there are relative to the men, who might not take kindly to many people treating them more as a potential date than a peer. At a singles bar? Flirting is probably more appropriate.

And yes, there is a certain degree to which some behavior will be interpreted as flirtation by some people and creepy by others. To avoid that, it's good to try to cultivate a certain sense of self-awareness, and when in doubt, err on the side of not being creepy.


> At a hacker conference, people are generally more interested in talking about hacking and less about flirting;

Even if I were trying to pick someone up at a conference, I'd talk about hacking, engage their interests, ask them what they are working on, etc. Intellectual flattery.

Physically, I'd be cool. If, after some time, the woman initiated some innocuous physical contact (shoulder & arm touching, for example), I would not reciprocate in kind. No, I would reciprocate with more platonic interest. This might be slightly disappointing at first, but it would build trust. Physical reciprocity only later, like a long-delayed echo.

Really, the physical stuff is entirely dispensable in the courtship phase. So is any kind of sexual innuendo. Keep it cerebral, boys. Ask questions, listen.

But, I'm not looking to pick anyone up.


"If, after some time, the woman initiated some innocuous physical contact (shoulder & arm touching, for example), I would not reciprocate in kind. No, I would reciprocate with more platonic interest. This might be slightly disappointing at first, but it would build trust. Physical reciprocity only later, like a long-delayed echo."

At which point she would think you aren't interested in her and then move on mentally and physically to someone else.


I commented heavily in the original HN thread because of comments like this. You're not defending the behavior... you're just saying women are literally asking for it.

Theres this myth that men who are assholes succeed with women. I suppose they do technically succeed - in getting women with low self esteem to sleep with them through manipulation and "pickup artist" techniques. But how successful do you think they are at finding a truly fulfilling and meaningful relationships? How successful do you think they are with bright, intelligent, worthwhile women who have their act together. You really think those women are walking away from defcon wishing they met some guy who "negged" them, and physically forced himself on them?

As someone said already, theres a huge difference between being an aggressive asshole and being assertive. The asshole licks a random womans tattoo to start a conversation. The asshole grabs a womans crotch and hides in a crowd. The assertive guy decides to start a conversation with a woman he thinks is interesting, and if hes at all socially aware he knows when shes uninterested in continuing to talk and he moves on.

The line that shouldn't be crossed is being an asshole that sexually assaults women, its really not that blurry.


"I suppose they do technically succeed - in getting women with low self esteem to sleep with them through manipulation and "pickup artist" techniques."

"How successful do you think they are with bright, intelligent, worthwhile women who have their act together."

This trope is bullshit. People who respond to methods that you disapprove of are somehow less worthy people? Where's your evidence for this? This sort of insult shouldn't be any more welcome than the behavior this thread is supposed to be about.


They aren't less worthy as human beings, they aren't "sluts" or whatever you thought i meant. In my experience women who are attracted to assholes simply aren't worthwhile in the context of being pursuing romantically - i dont have much to offer them. They are adults and can do what they please. But someone who responds positively to being treated like shit is going to be a waste of time and effort for me. In my experience, it was always because of immaturity or a lack of self esteem that they allowed themselves to be treated poorly.

Yes this is all anecdotal, you caught me, i don't have any studies on the dating habits of women and assholes. I think saying my comments are worse than sexual assault is tad bit hyperbolic.


"Theres this myth that men who are assholes succeed with women. I suppose they do technically succeed - in getting women with low self esteem to sleep with them through manipulation and "pickup artist" techniques. But how successful do you think they are at finding a truly fulfilling and meaningful relationships?"

Here's the thing, plenty of the guys lamenting don't know what a fulfilling and meaningful relationship IS, therefore they conflate an abusive one they can't have with what they should have.


It's almost as if when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment.

Yep, and that makes it incredibly hard to be a guy. You're almost "damned if you do, damned if you don't" when it comes to flirting and initiating things. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to know - in advance - how someone is going to react.

That said, there is a line somewhere, of behavior that is never appropriate towards someone that you don't already have an established relationship with. Asking a random female (or male, for that matter) to "come up to my room for a pillowfight" is just stupid in almost every conceivable context.


I think you should realize your comment - in a thread about counteracting sexual harassment towards women at conferences - is about how incredibly difficult it is to be a man. Nevermind how difficult it must feel to try to fit in as a minority group at a conference only to find yourself sexually harassed by a stranger.

Appreciate how privileged you are when your worry isn't "i hope some random man doesn't try to grab my ass" but instead "how am i supposed to know if this random woman wants me to grab her ass?". Is it really that difficult to be a guy? Is the line of sexual harassment (especially in the context of the articles examples) really that hard to figure out?


I think you should realize your comment - in a thread about counteracting sexual harassment towards women at conferences - is about how incredibly difficult it is to be a man.

Yes, I'm fully aware of that. I believe that part of solving the larger problem here involves both sexes having a better understanding of the position of the other. This is not as simple as "guys suck, you all need to change."

Nevermind how difficult it must feel to try to fit in as a minority group at a conference only to find yourself sexually harassed by a stranger.

Sexual harassment sucks whether you're a minority or not. I'm very sympathetic to the plight of women at conferences (and elsewhere) but not going to sit here and apologize for being male either.

Appreciate how privileged you are when your worry isn't "i hope some random man doesn't try to grab my ass" but instead "how am i supposed to know if this random woman wants me to grab her ass?".

Meh. We all have our own crosses to bear.

Is it really that difficult to be a guy?

Absolutely.

Is the line of sexual harassment (especially in the context of the articles examples) really that hard to figure out?

In the context of the examples cited in this article, I'd say "no." Which, if you read my original comment, I'd already made that point. In the more general sense, the absolutely is pretty much "it depends." Men have absolutely been accused of "harassment" for behavior that other people (including other women) would shake their heads at and go "WTF? That's not harassment at all." There's definitely an element of subjectivity in all this.


Compared to being a woman, it is not difficult to be a guy. I'm not sure how you can look at this article about how so many women get sexually assaulted or harassed at tech conventions and think, "It's so tough being a guy."

Not all women are looking for a hookup every time they leave their house. If you hit on a girl at a convention, and she thinks you're creepy, it's your fault. You shouldn't be hitting on her.

You might come back with, "But what about all those girls who say it's creepy for one guy to hit on them but it's attractive for another? How am I supposed to know if I'm the creepy guy or not?"

To which I would reply... How many times has that happened to you? How many times have you been called creepy by a gal at a bar only to have her run off with another, more attractive guy who gave her the same exact line? I'd guess that happens pretty rarely, right? Maybe never?


Compared to being a woman, it is not difficult to be a guy.

I don't know about you, but I'm not trying to make any such comparison. Nor do I find it to be relevant. This isn't about "is it harder to be a guy or a girl," it's about the fact that it's tough to be a guy OR a girl. IOW, women aren't the only ones who have challenges when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. And I don't believe it makes sense to look at the challenges that either sex has, in a vacuum. We're all in this together. We need more shared understanding that goes in both directions, not more antagonism.


No dude, it’s fucking easy being a guy, twice so if you’re white, three times so if you’re straight. In fact, that’s so true it has come to be known as The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-th...

You cannot argue that “it’s tough being a guy” and then say you weren’t comparing it to being a woman. What the hell else were you comparing it to, being a Tyrannosaurus? However tough you may think your position in life is, chances are pretty high you’re living it on The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.


You cannot argue that “it’s tough being a guy” and then say you weren’t comparing it to being a woman.

Actually, I just did.

What the hell else were you comparing it to, being a Tyrannosaurus?

I wasn't comparing it to anything.

However tough you may think your position in life is, chances are pretty high you’re living it on The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.

Great, that's not something I can control, now is it? Of course I have empathy for people on all the other difficulty levels, and want to help make things better for them. But I still have my own problems regardless of how easy anyone else thinks my life is.

Of course, none of this is really relevant to the conversation that started all this, and I'll probably regret replying to this comment later.

Again, to reiterate what I said before... what we need is more shared understanding, that goes both ways, and less antagonism.


You may not have intended to compare it to anything, but you were. The words “incredibly tough” cannot be used without being in comparison to something, because without the comparison they _lose all meaning completely_. So however you want to spin it, whatever, but your words were words of comparison.

1) A skyscraper is really small. A skyscraper is really big. 2) A skyscraper is really squishy. A skyscraper is really cuddly.

All of the above are implicit comparisons, but the ones in 2) are really dumb and make no sense. Are you suggesting you really meant to fit category 2 despite pretty clearly using terminology befitting category 1? It's really better for you to just own up and admit you made a small mistake, than to dig your heels in deeper and show your reluctance to listening, to being receptive to learning anything new.

Everyone has their own problems in life. The issue at hand is women suffering from problems caused by the very same people who repeatedly attempt to diminish the severity of their (women’s) problems and try to make it about men, instead. Again.

“what we need is more shared understanding, that goes both ways”

There is plenty of understanding of your position already. It's not a hard one to figure out. We're calling out the sense of entitlement, privilege, and refusal to stop whining about your problems every time we're trying to have a conversation about _someone else's_ problems.


If you aren't trying to make such a comparison, why did you state that in the first place? It's meaningless to state everyone has it difficult when talking about how a specific group has it a bit more difficult.

Yes, men have problems too, but we're not talking about them right now. This is about how women are treated in tech.


Every single example in the article was out of line and simply never appropriate.

I'm willing to believe that maybe some of these men simply do not understand the difference between confidence and assertiveness and straight-up sexual harassment. If the guys are truly ignorant to the rudeness of their actions, the red/yellow/green card should have a very positive effect.


The line is going to vary depending on the personality of the person you're trying to flirt with and how attractive they find you. That's just the way it is. This is why you flirt in a civilized manner first, and look for signs that they are or are not interested. And if you're paying attention you ought to notice if you make them uncomfortable, and apologize.


This is why you flirt in a civilized manner first, and look for signs that they are or are not interested.

Yeah, it's easy enough to simply be polite, throw out some very casual flirting, and the see if the other person responds in kind. If they don't, don't try to escalate the encounter. Somehow this seems to escape an awful lot of people for some reason...


Yup. Geeks (male and female) can be dense about flirting at times, though. I'd like to think that I'm more perceptive nowadays, but when I was a sophomore in college I was asked out and taken on a date without realizing it, for instance. So be aware that they might just be really enjoying the conversation and not realizing that you're trying to flirt. Which doesn't even mean they wouldn't be happy to flirt back if they realized how things were! So again, just always be willing to revise your assumptions about the situation, and always be polite and be ready to back out if you misread things.


"And if you're paying attention you ought to notice if you make them uncomfortable, and apologize."

I don't think you need to apologize. Their uncomfortable demeanor could be brought on by lack of attraction rather than offensive behavior (assault/harassment), in which case their negative reaction will be a clear sign to get out.


Really..."damned if you do, damned if you don't"? There are easy ways to approach women without worrying if you've crossed the line on your initial remarks. While you might have to be a mind-reader, at times, to know if they like you, you certainly don't have to be psychic to know if your remarks are offensive or rude.


Agreed. I was generalizing out of haste, since I didn't (and don't) have time to write a manifesto. :-)


Or your understanding is limited to hasty generalizations.


It's even worse to start invading someone's personal space.

That said, not all women will automatically assume you are creepy just because they are not attracted to you.


Most people will not find you creepy because they are not attracted to you. Most people will not find it creepy if you flirt and they are not attracted. They will find it creepy if they don't respond to the flirting and you continue to do so. They will also find it creepy if you start from a position that doesn't leave them an option to politely disengage from flirtation (e.g. starting with "want to fuck?" is creepy because it gives no chance to the other person to participate in what should be a mutual escalation of attraction - that you have already decided their level of comfort with the notion is a personal boundary violation).


I have never seen one women who, after a smile and eye contact, was offended or disgusted by an invitation to a drink. No matter if she was interested or not - the only point after that is accepting a "no thank you".

It is not hard to be a man if you just act polite but still purposive <sarcasm>just don't try to fondle her before you said "hi".</sarcasm>

I know it is neither easy nor fun, especially if there are social phobias involved, but it is definitely not hard to be a guy trying to flirt with a women. Maybe uncomfortable, but rumors are, that women who try to flirt with a man have the exact same problems.


Holy moly. I think you need to take a good look at this blog post, and all the blog posts it links:

http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/11/the-c-word/

Hopefully this read will clear some stuff up. You need to lose the victim complex.


Hopefully this read will clear some stuff up. You need to lose the victim complex.

LOL... based on that alone, I don't think I'm going to waste any of my time on the link you posted. Pointing out that both sexes have their own set of challenges, and refusing to toe the "women are good, men are bad" line is hardly having a "victim complex."


Oh sure, all sexes have their challenges. However, the particular case you bring up has been thoroughly debunked time and time again. It is annoyingly pervasive.


Sometime it comes very close to being that when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment.

That's because it's a personal, relationship kind of thing. Your behavior depends partly on the other person. There is no single set of rules that will cover all people, all circumstances, all the time. (For "polite company" or formal gatherings there are of course protocols. But at a party, it's much more individual and personal.)


Absolutely. So you'd agree that what's over the line in one circumstance could be interpreted as harmless flirting in another. And that much of the time, the guy must guess where that line is and that he'll be wrong sometimes.


'what's over the line in one circumstance could be interpreted as harmless flirting in another.'

Yes. You're allowed to greet your friends by hugging them if that's the kind of relationship you have with them. You are not allowed to greet a bank teller that way, or a canvasser, or most of the other people you encounter. The fact that what's appropriate in one situation is inappropriate in another situation is tangential, because...

"the guy must guess where that line is and that he'll be wrong sometimes."

is not really true. First of all, understanding how another human feels in a situation is not 'guessing.' As social animals, humans are excellent at reading cues from body language, facial expressions, etc. to understand how other humans feel.

Second, as a previous reply said, paying attention in your interactions with other humans is actually your responsibility. If you are the least bit perceptive, you are extremely unlikely to be wrong about 'where the line is.' And to go a little further in the you-really-shouldn't-feel-threatened-by-this vein, if you're one of the people who worries about crossing the line unintentionally, you've probably never been near it.


if you're one of the people who worries about crossing the line unintentionally, you've probably never been near it.

QFT. I was very intimidated by these discussions until I realized this point.


> humans are excellent at reading cues from body language, facial expressions, etc. to understand how other humans feel.

For most people, yes. For some of the geekiest among us, I'm not sure that always holds.


Fortunately this skill can be learned by most of us for whom this is unintuitive. I have had to actively learn about body language cues for all sorts of situations. I can now do it reasonably well, but I have to pay attention a bit and do it consciously. Some people can't learn this, but they are pretty rare, and it is pretty obvious that they have problems with it, and as such, a wider leeway is given by most people out of compassion.


It's an interaction, not a one-way thing. The only thing that I think makes a difference is consideration for the other person. Acting with no regard for them is jerky behavior. On the other hand just being willing to back off or even apologize if you've crossed the line can be an improvement.


> And that much of the time, the guy must guess where that line is and that he'll be wrong sometimes.

Violating someone's personal space or verbally harassing them isn't flirting, its harassment and assault. There is no conflation of the two, and those that do try to relate them are doing so to enable and excuse their harassing behavior. In cases where you don't know what is acceptable, honest and polite communication always works, and of course you could always DO NOTHING and stop worrying about it.


No.

Women (and men) are attracted to assertive behavior, not aggressive behavior. Huge difference.


I'd venture to say that for a shy person the difference isn't necessarily that large, I can understand missing social cues when you are constantly ignoring warning signs just because you are out of your comfort zone.

(that said I will never understand nor defend the scenarios depicted in the article)


I'd venture to say that for a blind non-participant the difference isn't necessarily that large.

Meanwhile, aggression covers a lot of ground, which includes clubbing someone over the head, and generally being a jerk. But the fact that someone uses this word with two "g"s and two "s"s to describe some part of the process of building a happy family does not mean that other people are going to automatically know how to build a happy family after having read the paragraph that uses those words...


Women are attracted to aggressive men. Women like men who take charge.

Broad, broad strokes.

I won't say that you're wrong, because I have absolutely no evidence to back it up, but I know that it isn't true 100% of the time. So, if you behave that way, you run the very real risk of offending x% of women that are not attracted to aggressive men. It is most definitely not a universal rule, and I've had success with women by talking to them like a normal person, and attempting (probably failing, perhaps endearingly so) to be charming and funny. It just seems like a better option.

There's also the other issue of hitting on people at professional conferences, which seems like it's a terrible idea.


Ugh.. the last thing we need is to turn this into a general sexual attraction discussion about what (we think) works and what doesn't. It's a way more complex and controversial topic that we don't have to solve in order to address the "women in IT" problem when there is a much simpler solution:

DON'T TRY TO HIT ON WOMEN AT CONFERENCES OR OTHER BUSINESS/PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTS AT ALL. PERIOD.

There is no shortage of more appropriate times and places we can test our theories about alpha male behavior, aggressiveness or what have you. Hell, some venues are specifically intended for such endeavors! Use them!


"DON'T TRY TO HIT ON WOMEN AT CONFERENCES OR OTHER BUSINESS/PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTS AT ALL. PERIOD."

But that is in itself IS a generalization. I have family members and best friends who met their SO's at conferences or in professional environments. Or you can look at famous people who met their SO's working on the same project.


You can meet a person and develop a relationship with them without hitting on them.


The point is, there isn't a sharp delineation. Thats what allows any uncertainty into the discussion, there isn't a hard and fast rule on what behavior is acceptable.

The real rule, is to start off completely polite, and judge your behavior based on your reception. You start talking about an interesting exploit, impress each other, and the next thing you know you're talking about more personal stuff. Or, someone gives you the cold shoulder, talk is awkward, and you move on instead of forcing things into a sexual context.


Like... the bar at a Vegas hotel where people go to chill between talks and at the end of the day?


Do you also think it's weird that if my boss called me the "worst programmer ever" in a formal review I'd be unhappy but that I'm perfectly OK with hearing it from a colleague in the pub?

The vast, vast majority of the time people react differently to the same actions depending on the source of the actions. You do it, I do it, everyone you know does it. Why is it only a "double standard" when women do it?


it isn't like this, you're assessment is fallacious.

There's nothing wrong with flirting with women, if they aren't interested then they can be quite clear about it - the problem is that some peoples idea of flirting is creepy and borders on harassment.

Try not making sweeping statements about what women do and don't like, and work from there. PS, it's not all about sex.


If it is just flirty, no it is not creepy. I am flirty, assertive and generally "a type" in a lot of social settings. I get rejected plenty. I've never been labeled as a creeper for this. I have become platonic friends with the women who I met by flirting with them, but weren't interested in my advances.

The creepy label is not about "some guy who isn't attractive to me is flirting with me". It is about "some guy keeps flirting/making advances even though I am not interested". And before the standard replies start cropping up:

* I am not a particularly attractive male

* I am not a mind reader

* I am not some sort of atypical nerd with "great natural social skills too"

* I am not just ignorant of what is said behind my back.

Basically, if you want to flirt without risking creepy, keep a few things in mind:

* Learn to understand non-verbal communication, it is 90% of flirting.

* Never (at first anyway) be overly direct. This is a 2 person mutual decision/consent game. At no point should you make the other person feel they have no input into the direction of interaction. Always start flirting subtle, because it respects the other person's right to reciprocate or disengage without confrontation or needing to defend them-self.

* It is ok if they aren't interested. It doesn't make you a creep in their mind, you being a creep makes that happen. Just back off as soon as you are aware of disinterest (see first bullet), continued flirtation after disinterest is communicated is what gets people the creep label.

* There are appropriate times and places for flirtation. Outside of that, creep label is a high probability. Learn these :)

I guess all of this is to say: being creepy isn't about flirting when a woman isn't attracted, it's about not following the socially OK norms of flirting and not respecting the rejection)

Final note: some women do just label guys who flirt creeps, just as some men label all women outside of church as "whores". They are not the norm, and don't worry about it, some people are just different, or hurt, or whatever, but it doesn't make their reality your reality.


It's almost as if when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment.

I've heard this line many times, and it makes sense on the surface, but "flirting" isn't a singular act. Even if a girl isn't into a guy, a guy can introduce himself and start a conversation without coming off as creepy. If she's into him, then maybe things will progress to flirting, but if she's not, that's when the guy should get the signal to not be creepy and push something that is unwelcome.


A lot of things "work" with women. But creeps act like they do because they're horny losers, not because they're having so much success with it.

Anyway, the whole alpha male debate is besides the point. Also, I think you're confusing aggressiveness with not being a complete wimp. I often see women being attracted to dominant, strong, self-confident guys. Aggressive ones? Not so much.

"It's almost as if when the girl is attracted to the guy, it's flirting, but when she isn't, it's creepy/sexual harassment."

Almost? Oh really?


It's sad that these people pose such little concern about the women so much as jealousy that they can't be hostile towards women and "get away with it".


I have to say your comment hits home for me. It's my personal opinion/observation that

> the fact is that men who behave aggressively are the ones who succeed in sexual pursuits most often.

I have myself seen the so called "bad boy" attitude succeed in a number of situations in real life. This just gives wrong signal to other men. The so called double standard has no easy solution. Or an easy way to recognize it either. It's one of those things that exist and no one either knows about it or doesn't talk about it.

I hate sexual harassment as much as the next guy/girl. But the line between sexual harassment and being aggressive is vary blurry. It's not black and white, it's rather subjective. What may be harassment for one person may not necessarily be so for others. I believe it is not intentional all of the time. What people need to know is to know the boundaries. Understand what is not apparent/obvious.


"I have myself seen the so called "bad boy" attitude succeed in a number of situations in real life."

Those "bad boys" are interesting in ways that you are not.

Still, who cares if you get the girl? You're not entitled to date any/every woman. You do not get to because you want to.


Yea, i did say i have seen it work, but that does not mean i envy them. I just meant that people are usually expected to adhere to rules that are not clearly defined and change from person to person.


Thanks for the clarification.

Shouldn't the concept of who a person wants to date change from person to person? There are suggested behaviors, but solid "rules" are generally dictated by people trying to sell a book of questionable value, not people legitimately trying to help you succeed in your dating life :)


Indeed, the concept of who a person wants to date should change from person to person. --- (1)

But a case of harassment/flirting is not black and white because (1).


Downvoted because your posts are unnecessarily hostile to people who are posting innocent questions/observations.


Hostile I am, but constructively so. They should not feel so entitled to have everyone fall for them, simply because they "deserve" to be loved.

They (being anyone who thinks "women love jerks" is an acceptable thing to say undigested) need to step way back and think about why they find themselves in this position without blaming women for not wanting them as they are.


I have said this in another comment. [edit: I see you are the same person :)] I did say I have seen it work, but that does not mean I envy them. I am not saying weather something is right or wrong. I am just putting forward what I have seen and trying to make sense of it.

They need to step way back and think about why they find themselves in this position without blaming women for not wanting them as they are.

The point I was trying to make is that people are expected to adhere to "rules" that either don't exist or not well defined and hence subject to change from person to person. Generalizing is not an option because such thing are usually complicated and the accused might not have don't it intentionally. It is sometimes simply not clear where to draw the line.


Sure, at a night club... maybe. But not at a professional conference.


It was a hotel bar in Vegas. It happened to be the same hotel the hacker conference was at.


DEF CON is not a professional conference. It's hacker spring break.


This is true, most women do like men who take charge. But I'm not sure if women who come to hacker conferences are looking forward to flirt with men. In that case it is unwanted attention. In any case when you are flirting with a girl, especially in tech events where they won't be expecting such a behavior, take charge but gauge the reaction and back off if she's getting uncomfortable.


Your comment is pretty aggressive in its assertions.


Considering the sheer number of married or otherwise partnered non-aggressive men I know, you're full of shit.

If it worked, why did any of the women complain? Why didn't they swoon and drop their pants and beg to be taken on the spot? Because it doesn't work.


People like interesting, dynamic partners.

Not being an awkward schlump is attractive. Being an asshole is not so much.

http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/niceguys.sht...


"I'm just saying that men act like that because it works."

Interesting thought. I'm wondering if there has every been a study or even one of those TV shows to prove out that point.

It would seem to be fairly easy to setup with some "honeypots" and a group of males to see what happens with each behavior. Or simply a group of women with male actors playing the role of aggressive males.

Of course it all depends on the parties involved. But I know they've done similar non-scientific things even with hair color and found blond woman asking questions in central park in NYC get more attention than brunettes.


This is merely an issue of reciprocity. Reciprocal interest takes time to develop. Don't get ahead of yourself, and don't use the alpha male as your personal frame of reference--they are outliers.


People like people that are confident, and that is all there is to it. Aggression does not "work" unless you prey on someone's self-doubt.


Seriously?


Many women are attracted to aggressive behavior, but that's hardly a universal. It's probably true that the most aggressive guy might get laid fastest, but if that comes at the cost of the respect of your peers why are you at a professional conference instead of a singles bar?


Ahhh...the good guy / jog myth.


Why not "aggressively" try to pay genuine attention, or make her laugh? Yes, be bold if you like someone, sure. And don't suck up too much either, nobody likes that, male or female.

Showing someone you like them and then gauging their reaction takes balls -- but showing someone you like them, and then ignoring their rejection, is rather weak. Needy even. That those brutes delude themselves into thinking that's top notch alpha male behaviour is one thing -- but if you're shy yourself, don't buy into it. Some women like assholes; most don't. Being bold and maybe even cheeky is one thing, but only the weak seek outright dominance. (Which goes for females who like to play games, too; same cause, different course of action).


SNL had a good training video to help you. Google "Tom Brady sexual harassment"


Nerds (and I say this as one) have problems dismissing their anti-social members, because nerds have been dismissed from other social circles, and hated it. They don't want to be the bully. And so real asshole behavior is allowed to continue far longer than it ought to.

The computer security industry has its own special problems. There is a very significant segment of the population that has "do whatever you can get away with" as their mantra and have built up significant antibodies against any criticism thanks to a large crowd of enablers.

Who was the last person who was shunned from the community for his behavior and/or actions?


http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

"GSF1 is one of the most common fallacies, and one of the most deeply held. Many geeks have had horrible, humiliating, and formative experiences with ostracism, and the notion of being on the other side of the transaction is repugnant to them."



"Many geeks have had horrible, humiliating, and formative experiences with ostracism, and the notion of being on the other side of the transaction is repugnant to them"

If you think being bullied and abused removes the possibility of them feeling comfortable being bullies and abusers, you have issues with reality.


Actions in what regard?

Adrian Lamo's reputation has certainly taken a hit.


That seems more like he committed a perceived betrayal by attacking a status symbol within the community (wikileaks). Even the most socially-awkward group will reject a member who they see as directly attacking the group.


It sounds like a lot of this stuff happens at bars during events, not at the events themselves.

How common is this behavior at bars in general, independent from a hacker con?

Also: some of the girls that I know who are hackers are offended at the idea of red/yellow cards. The implication there seems to be that they're helpless, and need somebody to swoop in and save them.

That, at least to some of my girl friends, is utter bullshit, and is blatantly sexist against women.

--

And to be completely honest, the red/yellow card thing has already become a flirtatious joke among people.


From a feminist perspective, it's not very empowering to a woman to have to resort to props and other crazy schemes to get unscrupulous men to fuck off. Men don't have to do it, why should women.

I think it'd be helpful to identify why this problem exists in the tech field. Is there a chicken and egg situation where more women in tech would solve these problems, but something about tech prevents more women getting involved?


From a feminist perspective, it's not very empowering to a woman to have to resort to props and other crazy schemes to get unscrupulous men to fuck off.

People who already have power do not need props and schemes, because, well, they have power. I know that if I grab my boss’s crotch during a meeting and he says ”you have thirty seconds to convince me not to fire your sorry ass right now”, every witness to the event and everybody above him in the corporate hierarchy will back him up.

A man tempted to do the same thing to a woman less powerful than himself does not have the same assurance that he will suffer consequences for his bad behavior, and you can’t just create that sense of assurance by fiat. (As the Readercon debacle indicated, even written policies are no guarantee.) So people of good will are still trying to figure out how to hack the social environment to achieve a better culture, and until the rules of that culture become second nature to us all, then those social hacks will seem like, well, hacks.


So well said. When people don't take you seriously, clever hacks are the next best solution. The "What She Really Said" IRC bot story reminds me of this as well.


No they're not. The cards thing establishes the premise that women are incapable of holding social status.

They're not.

The cards enforce the very thing they're trying to prevent.


The cards are a reflection of reality, not an endorsement of the current state of things.

Your tactic of putting your hands over your eyes and ears has been tried, at length in the past. It hasn't ever worked wherever it's been tried.


"From a feminist perspective, it's not very empowering to a woman to have to resort to props and other crazy schemes to get unscrupulous men to fuck off. Men don't have to do it, why should women."

Like Hollaback, this is a very imperfect, but apparently effective solution. I appreciate your appeals to straw Feminism, but "women should react the same as men to every situation to 'prove' they are strong" is not it, it's a mess of privileged assumptions.


It's not that they "should react the same", it's that - ideally - they shouldn't have to act differently to be treated equally.

I'll concede that imperfect but effective solutions are probably necessary to help foster this sort of equality in the long run, though, and the more people who step up and take responsibility for pushing the change (regardless of gender), the better.


"It's not that they "should react the same", it's that - ideally - they shouldn't have to act differently to be treated equally."

Totally. Putting your hands over your ears and eyes isn't going to get us to that point.


If a woman acts inappropriately towards a man, he rarely has any option to make her fuck off. "Men don't have to do it"? They can't. It's only that it happens less often (I guess). Seems to me that women have a lot more power in this regard.


When 1 in 4 men get sexually assaulted during their lives, I will start giving one iota of care about poor poor dis-empowered men.


How very sexist.

I don't doubt that worldwide, men suffer sexual and physical assault from the opposite sex at a lower rate than women.

However, in developed countries, I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer than we collectively think. Here is an informative article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/07/feminism... Men are probably less likely to report incidents due to humiliation or rather, lack of action. Checkout comments on stories when boys get sexually molested by female teachers. Oh yeah, the boy is supposed to love it because he's a boy! Very different when the genders are reversed. Castrate the man! Execute him! Or how about physical assault? Did Elin Nordgren serve any time or get lambasted by feminists for assaulting Tiger Woods? Nope. In fact, she got a tidy settlement.


Is there something about these cards that prevents them from being used regardless of the gender of the participants?


No. These are just a bunch of guys predictably derailing the discussion of how women are harassed at tech conferences with, "But sometimes it's a guy, too! Ergo, we shouldn't get anywhere in this discussion!"


If a person effectively says, "whatever, when men endure what women have to, then we'll talk," you bet I'll respond to that as it implies whatever men go through is less important. I don't have a downvote button so the only recourse is responding.


I was responding to the flippant statement: "When 1 in 4 men get sexually assaulted during their lives, I will start giving one iota of care about poor poor dis-empowered men," as if somehow men who are sexually assaulted are less important.


edit: I give up.

Who was I to think that the fact 1-in6 men are sexually abused while underage was a quick and easy response to a remark that men are not sexually assaulted in any real numbers.

I should have looked up the statistics on all demographics, because apparently that sexual abuse isn't good enough sexual abuse to refute the weight the parent poster was giving to the 1-in-4 women statistic.

Thanks sethg, I see clearly now.


Right, but that’s during childhood, not as an adult going to work and attending technical conferences. I can think of only one person I’ve met since turning 18 who was, umm, skeevy to me in a sexual way, and that person was male.

(He didn’t actually assault me, but I later learned that one MIT fraternity had nicknamed him “the NAMBLA man”, and a while after that there was an article in the school paper reporting that he had just done time for rape.)


Yeap, judging from the downvotes in all sibling posts, the "think of the women" PC brigade is on witchhunt tonight. God forbid someone brings up an area where men are less pampered. Oh well.


When 1 in N women get drafted and killed during a war, I will start giving one iota of care about poor poor dis-empowered women.


Your comment should get downvoted to oblivion for its sheer lack of originality, panache, and basic human empathy, but let me humor you with a response:

When 1 in N women can serve in the military without being raped by their fellow servicemen, then we can talk.

And then can we have the conversation wherein you attempt to defend your apparent belief that people dying in service of their country is superior to people being RAPED BY THEIR OWN COUNTRYMEN in service of their country.


The fact that you consider involuntary sexual intercourse as worse fate than death speaks volume of your lame political correctness.


I don't regard rape as a fate worse than death. It should be regarded as a crime worthy of prosecution to the fullest extent of the law, and right now it isn't.

If people in the armed forces were killed by their fellow soldiers at the rate women in the armed forces are assaulted and/or raped (which would mean a Fort Hood massacre every _week_), it would get a lot of attention, and the perpetrators would actually be prosecuted instead of shielded from consequence. But when a victim of assault reports it in the military, the consequences usually fall on the victim and the perp gets to walk. I think any rational human would find that sickening.

I also take umbrage with your sugarcoated characterization of rape as "involuntary sexual intercourse," as if it could happen by accident. There is no such thing as "involuntary" sexual intercourse. Sex requires consent. If consent is not given or is revoked, it immediately becomes assault and/or rape, and the person who disregards that becomes an assailant and/or rapist. Your use of dismissive, diminishing rhetoric to describe (or even excuse) the traumatizing act of sexual assault/rape is a lame and misguided attempt of political correctness of your own preference. Which is a nice way of saying that you're propping up rape culture.

I don't know you, but based on your comments you seem to have very little to no empathy for victims of assault. I would implore you to examine why that is.


It's possible to refuse to serve and end up in prison rather than dead, you know.


When did they reinstate the draft?


December 1st, 1969


"From a feminist perspective, it's not very empowering to a woman to have to resort to props and other crazy schemes to get unscrupulous men to fuck off. Men don't have to do it, why should women."

I agree that the props idea is stupid, but men do have things differently. Men don't have to resort to using crazy schemes largely because women overwhelmingly don't approach men. And men who are sexually or physically assaulted by women have a significant fear of being ridiculed by society for not fighting back (or in the case of sexual assault, enjoying it).


I'm curious if this is a unique problem for tech workers. I'm sure if you look at conferences from any field there will be incidents of sexual harassment. Is this a problem unique to tech or a general problem of idiot men working with women?

I've worked mostly in corporate environments. If I had to characterize a type that was in need of sensitivity training, it usually wasn't the tech guys, it was the "business" type (marketing, finance). Of course that's just my experience.


THIS is what prevents more women from going into tech fields. From academia to the workplace, IT/CS has been built into a self-reinforcing boys club. Until on a large scale it is no longer socially acceptable for geeks to treat women like shit, there won't be many women in technical fields.


Proof? Some research suggests women are turned off from the "hard" sciences before they reach high school.

It's likely a factor but you're putting the cart before the horse.


I think what agpen is trying to say is, "Statements like this are offputting to some people [women] who want to participate in tech." That's going to vary by the individual, but acknowledging that these statements have an offputting effect is proof in itself. Most people reading those statements aren't going to step in and say "this makes me not want to participate," because they know they won't be taken seriously. So instead they just leave.


Your statement is more sensible and on the fence. She's implying men are the root of women's problems in tech. That there is a conspiracy to marginalize.

Women have broken into countless so-called "boys clubs". Doctors, lawyers, marketing, etc... How is tech an exceptionally hostile environment towards women?


You're making a lot of assumptions that may not be correct in your reading, because they certainly weren't explicitly stated: in particular, that agpen is a woman (not a given from the comment in question), and two, that "men are the root of women's problems in tech."

agpen is criticizing boys' clubs, a term that encapsulates a certain culture, behaviors, and set of beliefs. The gender of those participating in that culture is typically male, but women can and do perpetuate boys' club cultures on their own, often because that's the only way they can gain admission. It's fairer to see criticism of boys' clubs as a criticism of that culture and set of behaviors, and the idea that one must participate in those behaviors in order to be accepted, not of men in particular.

How is tech an exceptionally hostile environment towards women? http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_incidents - Schneier links to this in the OP. If your response to that is "sexism happens everywhere," well, I'd like it to stop happening everywhere, and I'll start with my home turf.


>agpen is criticizing boys' clubs, a term that encapsulates a certain culture, behaviors, and set of beliefs.

What are these cultures, behaviors, and beliefs exactly?

To me, boy's club is another rhetorically nebulous term like patriarchy created by the girl's club. As long as we're speaking of generalizations, let me tell you about the girl's club. I used to date a girl that went to an all women's college. Every time I visited her in the dorms it was customary for everyone to yell out, "alert, man on board". When we ate at the cafeteria, five girls(FIVE), walked up to her and informed her there is no need for her to be dating a man. Without any consideration to my presence. Despite this unwelcoming atmosphere many were eager to inform me of the boy's club, patriarchy, and male privilege like they were reading a script of political talking points. These are women that are socialized to be hateful towards men and are blinded by this hate. They are socialized to feel like victims even though they go to a fancy school the average male couldn't afford.

Yes, there are gender centered problems that need to be addressed. But there is a lot of non-sense rhetorical noise out there created by the girl's club. It's like the girl who cried wolf.


Citations provided: http://blog.bethcodes.com/is-the-internet-convincing-women-n...

The includes links to studies (like Sapna Cheryan, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Saenam Kim, Classrooms matter: The design of virtual classrooms influences gender disparities in computer science classes, Computers &amp; Education, Volume 57, Issue 2, September 2011, Pages 1825-1835, ISSN 0360-1315,) that show a "lack of ambient belonging", that is being alienated by other group members, was the primary cause, and another that interacting with sexist male engineers lowered women's performance ( http://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~billvh/LWSIvHB.JPSP.09.pdf)

Few people seem willing to accept that the lack of women in tech has something to do with men, but it does. Included the "high school girls" who aren't interested: the Girl Scout's study found that the biggest thing keeping them out was expecting to face sexism if they chose those professions.


"Some research suggests women are turned off from the "hard" sciences before they reach high school"

This is not unrelated to how they're turned off further after and into their careers.


Honestly, I don't care how common it is at bars generally. If it's my community, then I want this shit stopped.

Do you think some of those women would be willing to post here? There's nothing that says that women can't hand out these cards. Or that they can't be handed out to dudes harassing dudes.


The cards could be given for any non-appropriate behavior, not just sexual harassment of women. Keep in mind that there are also some sexist women that can't behave themselves.

EDIT: The cards don't seem to be gender specific, though it is implied that they will be mainly used by females.


"It sounds like a lot of this stuff happens at bars during events, not at the events themselves. How common is this behavior at bars in general, independent from a hacker con?"

This. Very much this. The formula is simple: Get a bunch of people drunk, and the lecherous ones will come out of the woodwork. This is not a problem unique to any particular field. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is a non-problem. If you can't deal with it, then stop choosing to hang out in bars.

Often, it is the women who cry the loudest, that crave and seek out the kind of negative attention described here, so that they can boast about their own attractiveness to other females, while pretending to be disgusted.

There are many more severe forms of oppression, that deserve our attention more than this.


Please go read the original post and pay special attention to the bit where con security gives out awards for people who run around demanding that women show their tits.


I'd like to see some evidence before believing such a tale. If such punch cards did exist, then I'm sure that there would be a picture of one online. In other words: Screenshot, or it didn't happen.


I’d like to give you a yellow card for your tired and sexist casual and nonsensical dismissal of a claim made by a woman about an actual experience she had.

With all the shit women get whenever they raise their voice on these matters, they truly have near-zero incentive to conjure up lies.

Worse, her example of the cards is hardly the worst, most inconceivable thing to be suggested as something that really does happen. Rape and assault really do happen, it's far less difficult to imagine that some guys don't understand how a bingo card with "get a woman to flash her tits at you" is a massive problem and not “just a bit of fun.”


Who says the guy didn't just make stuff up? Do you honestly think that is beyond someone who walks around asking women to show their breasts? In other words: he didn't say she didn't experience it he doubts the veracity of the mans account. As usual that much thought didn't occur to some white knight with his shiny 'sexist' club.


Actually, yes he _did_ say he didn’t believe her account of it: “If such punch cards exist…”


What you're saying is this is how men behave and women should either put up with it and stop complaining, or stay home?


If we're talking about being hit on, then yes: at a bar, no one has the right to not be hit on. If one cannot handle having to fend off unwanted advances in environments where it is appropriate to make your attraction known, then you should stay out of that environment. However, one does have a right to not be harassed. If someone doesn't take no for an answer then they should be handled appropriately.


> at a bar, no one has the right to not be hit on.

Sometimes, people like to go to bars to hang out with their friends or significant others. Believe it or not, entering a bar does not give you the right to run around groping people.

The sexual assault apology in this thread is unbelievable.


I made sure to qualify the context of my comment to make my points as clear as possible. These strawman arguments that inevitably get trotted out get incredibly tired. You're not going to find too many people around here to fall for that argumentation tactic.

Hitting on != groping people and you damn well know it.


The original article was talking about a woman who was groped and assaulted.

To quote the parent:

> It sounds like a lot of this stuff happens at bars during events, not at the events themselves.

No one started talking about specifically being hit on until you brought it up, so either you were talking about what the woman went through and mistakingly called it "hitting on", which is what I assumed, or you're talking about something unrelated to this discussion, which is apparently what happened. Don't get upset when someone tries to bring your unrelated argument back on topic.

Either way, people don't always go to bars with the intent to get some. Assuming everyone is there for that reason is ridiculous.


Rereading the conversation chain I admit to misunderstanding the context of this thread. Reading through a bunch of comments I'm sure context bled between threads in my head (HN's pythonesque block comment structure doesn't help matters). Although I qualified my statements very specifically as I anticipated possibly misreading or missing something along the way.


It's fine. I apologize for coming off so aggressively. I'm just tired of people literally defending sexual assault, and because of that, I end up making all my replies snappy.


Whoa whoa whoa hold it. 'Hitting on' is not groping or sexual assault. I'm sure you didn't strawman that on purpose but it's still a strawman.


It's pretty clear that the issue at hand is harassment, not merely being hit on.


I thought the context was established to be hitting on, as one might do in a bar. The problem with framing it as being about "harassment" is that the term is prone to equivocation in these types of discussions. Some would argue that any attention of a sexual nature would be harassment. This is probably true in professional settings, but the grandparent established the context of discussion as a bar setting. This is what I was replying to.

How to handle actual harassment and assault is obvious: you call the fucking cops. I'm not sure why that warrants a discussion at all.


No, what I am saying is this is how drunk people act, and if one finds it too offensive, then the logical conclusion is to remove one's self from the equation, rather than demanding that the world change. You can't boil the ocean.


There are plenty of bars where, if that's how drunk people act, and the bar staff has any sense, then the drunk people get kicked out. The drunk people get kicked out because it's bad for business, i.e. if people are made to feel unsafe (and I think that's a far better term to use than "are offended") and their only option is to leave, the bar loses the business of many people opting out in favor of one or more drunk assholes. There are some obvious parallels here that, IMHO, only help the argument that bad behavior should be called out and corrected, not seen as a fact of life.


Asking the world to change/ boiling the ocean... Plenty of people get drunk without sticking their hands up women's skirts. The "logical conclusion" is not to remove the women from the equation.


I'd like you to consider just how dubious the utility of the "that's just how things are" argument is when it comes to women's issues.


Instead of the red card if someone touches you inappropriately why not slap them in the face - hard.


Escalating to physical violence looks a lot riskier if you're smaller than the person you're striking. And you can't know that the escalation will end with your hitting them: they may hit back, and they may not stop. Moreover, assault is a crime: you may feel justified, but if you can't prove the other guy hit first, you can be stuck.

Finally, women in our society are socialized to be nice, to not make waves, to get along. Maybe you don't like that, but you can't just make decades of socialization that millions of people have undergone disappear because you don't like it.


Because you're legitimately afraid that your assaulter could seriously injure you in a fight?

Because you just want to get out of there as fast as possible and escalating into violence is likely just going to draw it out?

Because you're afraid bystanders will take his side and you'll be seen as the aggressor?

Because there's a lot of cultural pressure for women to ignore sexual harassment and you don't want to "rock the boat" that badly?

Or how about because these are grown men and women in an at least semi-professional environment and the idea that they should have to resort to violence to solve their problems is completely fucking absurd?


This is exactly the consensus that all but one of my hacker friends, including the women, have come to.

No. If you assault me, guess what's happening? I'm going to hit you in the fucking face, and most of the people here, since we're, you know, a community are going to physically remove you from the area.

Edit: if this wasn't clear, the "I" in this story is would be my female friends.


But hitting someone in the face is not an act of self-defense, it is an escalation. If someone hits you and you can't get away, hitting them back is justified. But if they grope you, hitting them back is not legally justified, because a groping is not the same thing as an attack.

Just because the groper deserves to get his ass kicked doesn't mean that doing so is legal.


>No. If you assault me, guess what's happening? I'm going to hit you in the fucking face

Have fun explaining that to the cops (and the jury).

"After I touched her inappropriately she slapped me, so fearing for my life, I punched her in the face, breaking her nose"

Hell, if you do that you're likely to get punched in the face by a random passerby.


The slapped puncher is not going to say that. He’s going to say something like “I was in a crowded bar and some crazy bitch hauled off and slapped me, and I don’t know about you, but when someone up and hits me, my first impulse is to hit them back. Now she says I ’touched her inappropriately’ before she slapped me. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Maybe my hand brushed against her accidentally or something, but really, if she’s so hypersensitive she should keep the hell out of crowded bars.”


When the cops show up, and there's a crying women with a broken bloody nose or a black eye next to a guy with a faded pink hand print on his cheek, who do you think is going to jail?

There is a concept of escalation in most states' self defense statutes.

If a 110 pound woman slaps you in the face and you react with a force that could cause death or serious injury, you'd be hard pressed to make anyone believe that you reasonably feared for your life (or serious injury).


Um. What?

"Somebody began physically assaulting me so I responded by defending myself."

Find me a jury that will convict somebody for that.


Yes, because slapping someone in the face is exactly equivalent to giving them a brutal beating resulting in lasting physical harm.

WHY does this topic come up so much in hacker/geek culture? Seriously, I'm starting to believe there are guys walking around who WANT to be slapped, just so they can finally live out their "equal rights mean equal lefts" fantasy.

Regardless, I don't like the idea of slapping someone. I think we can come up with a better idea, like the cards.


"Defending myself" implies the need to be defended. If she slaps you across the cheek due to you groping her, hitting her would not be justified. She wasn't continuously attacking you; she was responding to your assault.


My post was confusing. It was meant to say that my female friends' reaction was that if somebody assaulted them, they're not going to give them a red card, they're going to physically defend themselves.


Ah, understood.

I would like to see some sort of experiment between using these cards and slapping someone— although, slapping is pretty rare. What happens most of the time is the woman feels incredibly unsafe and awkward while she tries to understand the reason all those people are just watching her get assaulted.

So really, if you see this behavior, please step in. Tell the asshole he needs to get out. Make it known his behavior isn't appropriate.


If the "somebody" is a woman and the "I" is a man? Rrright.


assault is harmful or offensive contact. The assault happened with the first inappropriate touch.


Devil's advocate: Prove a grope occurred. It's a light, soft-tissue touch. A slap is a violent strike with an open palm, and a punch is a violent strike with a closed fist.


>A slap is a violent strike with an open palm, and a punch is a violent strike with a closed fist.

A slap from a 110 pound woman (just a hypothetical weight) is not equal to a punch from a 160 pound man.

A punch from the man can easily cause lasting harm--broken nose, broken jaw--an open-handed slap across the cheek from the woman cannot (barring some crazy edge case).

>Prove a grope occurred.

She's not going to have to. The cop who arrests you is going to believe the crying bleeding woman over the man with barley a scratch on him--and eventually the prosecutor and the jury will too.

It's best just not to punch someone much physically weaker than you are unless you actually fear for your safety, e.g., she's holding a knife.


If you haven't thought up any of the many good reasons why that might be dangerous/impossible, you haven't put much effort into it.

- Toucher is an 800-pound gorilla.

- Toucher is your boss.

- Toucher is more important to the venue than you are.

- Toucher is going to be believed, and you are going to be disbelieved.

- Toucher is going to be supported, and you're going to be shamed for "making a fuss".

- Toucher is someone you have to live with.

And so forth.


yeah, hardly a good approach in a world of lawyers and lets face it, there will be alot of geeks there who would gladly like to be red carded and I suspect somebody will make up some teashirts saying "red carding welcome".

Still I'm sure some people will abuse this system like any system and lets face it the audience will not exactly be angels in not abusing any form of system. Lets face it, in Football it's not exactly perfect. Unless all events are video'd to death and can be verified then it is abusable. That said how long until somebody does a erect nipple/penis video recognition system, scary thoughts on many levels.

Today red cards, tomorrow video survalence and full location tracking with all your comminications monitored so you can be at a event were people complain about privacy.

   There again I thought sexual harrasment was a against the law and that carries more weight than any token scoring system that trivialises the offence.


>There again I thought sexual harrasment was a against the law and that carries more weight than any token scoring system that trivialises the offence.

Was that a quote, because sexual harassment is not against the law--it's a civil matter that only applies in certain very specific situations.

Sure there are other laws you could break in the process of sexually harassing someone, but "sexual harassment" is not something you can be charged with.


Why not both?


I think there is a real disconnect between what hackers think of their community and what it actually is.

We often claim to be one of the purest of meritocracies, since our primary interactions only allow us to interact with each other's work and emails/posts, but clearly we aren't quite as capable of this meritocracy as is commonly stated. I wonder how much differently these women are treated online as opposed to in person when interacting with the same people.

If the yellow-red card system does catch on, I would prefer to see the green card avoided. I don't know if it really adds anything to the system, and I worry that it would detract from people understanding what they did wrong. "I got a green card, but also a yellow card. I'm still good to women though, that second chick was just a crazy bitch." It seems like it gives people a way to justify their bad deeds with other good deeds.

However people attempt to do it, it would be lovely to see this kind of behavior weeded out, as it provides both a point of hypocrisy and isolation that benefits no one.


>Like the man who drunkenly tried to lick my shoulder tattoo. Like the man who grabbed my hips while I was waiting for a drink at the EFF party. Like the man who tried to get me to show him my tits so he could punch a hole in a card that, when filled, would net him a favor from one of the official security staff (...) Or lastly, the man who, without prompting, interrupted my conversation and asked me if I'd like to come back to his room for a "private pillowfight party."

Ugh! Words fail me.


When such "women in IT" posts make it to the front page I'm usually rolling my eyes and think it's yet another PC guy/gal who chooses to be offended way too easily and made a mountain out of a molehill because some presentation slide alluded to porn or somesuch.

This on the other hand... wow, just wow. It's sexual harassment, no question about it, and should be dealt with and punished as such.


Based on your other comments in this thread, it's hardly surprising that you are quick to dismiss women's issues. Your attitude needs adjusting.


Did you not read the second paragraph of the comment?


That's some pretty disgusting stuff. It definitely goes beyond hacker culture. Look for it in your non-hacker friends, family, co-workers, etc. Teach respect whenever you get the chance because it comes down to the individual.


Science-fiction author (and SFWA president) John Scalzi covers this kind of thing pretty well in the context of sci-fi/comics/anime conventions (where creepy asshats are also an ongoing problem). Seems equally applicable here:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/08/09/an-incomplete-guide-to...


From one of the comments: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/sexual_harassm... > Who I really wish would grow up at DEFCON is the EFF. Once again they have a fund raiser in which one of the prizes is a picture with one of the strippers DEF CON hires every year.

Seriously?


They're not strippers, and they're not hired. They're volunteers, and it was their idea. http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/sexual_harassm... and http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/sexual_harassm...


Even so, it still reflects badly on the EFF. It might not have been their idea originally but they accepted the suggestion and gave it their approval.


Maybe in other contexts, but I'm not sure that Def Con was a bad place for it.


The slut shaming is very ironic.


From a distance, it's not easy to tell the difference.


If this is true (I have no idea, but trust Schneier), can you see why people are complaining about how endemic sexism is in tech?


Lots of my peers who don't get this stuff don't get it because to them not physically assaulting the opposite sex comes naturally. They don't realise that others are very aggressive with it.

You just have to remember with advances that when in doubt, take a step back. You wouldn't grab someone you weren't attracted to from behind right? If your planned chat up didn't work, so what? You came for the tech not the women right?

And blokes, lets please keep out of "its so hard for men too". Sure, men get sexually assaulted, it's a real problem. In my city its nearly as likely for men as women, but here's the key. Do you feel safe at conferences? I do, but it seems lots of women don't.

Let's make everyone feel safe and valued at all our events.


Are there problems that actually occur AT the defcon conference? Sounds like most of the anecdotes are from parties, where alcohol is a factor. Is defcon a conference or a party?


>Is defcon a conference or a party?

Its a party with technical talks to listen to while you pre-game.

Once the talks are over there are defcon sponsored concerts, a handful of events at the conference venue, and events aimed at defcon attendees all over town.


There's been an ongoing semi-related discussion about whether conference parties should be treated as parties or as "work" events. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3841975


Wherever that discussion shakes out, anybody who has ever been knows that DEFCON isn't exactly a conference.

Sure there are talks, but kids don't run away from home to attend Black Hat Briefings.


Defcon is a party. You should definitely go.


"where alcohol is a factor"

So that changes the situation where some people don't want to be grabbed/touched/propositioned?


I didn't say that nor imply it.

I'm just asking if the problem is the conference, or the parties, or if they're indistinguishable. The OP says that this boorish and unacceptable behavior is stopping women from attending the conference. And that it doesn't happen at other hacker conferences.


According to this comment:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/sexual_harassm...

DefCon is a party.


Honest question: As an observer, when should I feel comfortable interjecting? Things like "if the afflicted party looks uncomfortable" seems rather vague, and just because I am offended doesn't mean the person receiving it is offended (I've known this to be the case). I'm honestly interested in knowing the best way to gauge when I should act without insulting people that are offended. I'm referring to the non-obvious cases, of course. Unwanted groping is fairly obvious, for example. However, agressive flirting without a clear sign?


Approaching strangers can be difficult or awkward but here's a clear step at least:

Step in when it's one of your friends doing the harassing. Let them know they're being immature and inappropriate. People respond a lot more when it's someone in their peer group.

I'm sure a lot of people have let a lot of stuff like the above slide because "Oh that's just FooBar. He's always like that".


"As an observer, when should I feel comfortable interjecting? "

When someones health, life or well being is on the line. I have seen too many women starting / acting scenes just to make some white knight to intervene. There was research where in public woman was being assaulted/abused by man and everyone intervened. Then they switched it around - NOONE CARED.

Besides, feminism was claiming how strong and able to defend themselves women are. So by interjecting you are being SEXIST.


To the startup founders who are defending this behavior (if any of them do indeed run one or are attempting to start one): http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-sex.html

Next, imagine your sister/mother/fiance was the girl at the bar who got licked or had her crotch grabbed. How would that make you feel?

I'll never understand how anyone can defend this sort of behavior... I used to volunteer at the women's center on my college campus... if you heard half the experiences most of these women go through on a regular basis maybe you'd learn some empathy.

How would you feel if some guy started cat calling you as you walked home at night? How about while you walk to the store? Now imagine this happening on a regular basis.


I strongly agree with the need for professionalism and social etiquete in all public and professional situations and I'm glad that is a running theme as of late and that sexual harrasment is being targeted. I think that the cards idea is absurd, though; awarding immature behavior a red card and rewarding 'good behavior' in any way - as opposed to simply treating adults like adults - is itself innapropriate.

I think the correct way to deal with harrasment is those who partake are either simply banned from the con or dealt with more severely depending on the conduct, and those who behave simply continue enjoying the benefits of conferencing with like-minded individuals of all genders and backgrounds.


Sexual Harassment is a problem, but I am not convinced that a card system is the way to solve it. If a woman is being a jerk at a conference does that mean I can card her? I was just reading of a top official (a women)in the US government who is accused of sexual harassment of her subordinates. Any sort of rules that favor one sex over another will be used to do just that. I am a big fan of codes of conduct at conferences. If someone violates them (be male or female) they are tossed out, period.


There's nothing gender-specific about the cards. http://singlevoice.net/redyellow-card-project/


DefCon or 5 million college bars across the country?

You could have replaced those two terms and ended up with the same article. Perhaps the problem isn't just a nerd demographic issue.


Does that mean that we shouldn't tackle it? No, this is our culture too, and we should fix it.


I completely agree! I just wanted to point out that the problem goes far deeper than a specific demographic. It's a societal issue on a national scale, possibly (probably) even more broad.


If you had any idea about this issues, you'd realize that we've been tackling them on a global scale.

But pronouncements from on high can only do so much, especially in an age when authority is so easily controverted; to suggest that tackling it inside hacker culture is somehow missing the big picture is missing the fact that it's part of the global effort, rather than incidental to it.


DEFCON: No better than college bars.


Rape-culture and patriarchy are definitely major society-wide issues but they undeniably find a special welcoming home within geek culture.

A culture which supposedly prides itself on merit and intelligence at first glance ought to be most receptive to actually picking up a book and studying social issues, but the reality is instead that we get a social group full of men's right's advocates and evopsych true-believers and other terrible terrible people.


> Rape-culture and patriarchy are definitely major society-wide issues but they undeniably find a special welcoming home within geek culture.

Please cite your statistics. edit: Statistics that the geek culture provides a "more welcoming home" than society at large. I'm not disagreeing with the fact there are society-wide issues, I'd just like you to back up that particular assertion about geek culture.

>A culture which supposedly prides itself on merit and intelligence at first

This is a hacker convention. Not a thing-PG-recontextualized-hacker-as convention.

>the reality is instead that we get a social group full of men's right's advocates and evopsych true-believers and other terrible terrible people.

The broad brushes with which you paint are not helping. Laying inaccurate generalizations like this on the very people in positions to help solve the problem disenchants and disinterests them.


> Please cite your statistics.

Rape culture seeks to describe why rape occurs and is promoted within a society. As per usual, Wikipedia has the overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture.

EDIT: Another good resource I use for this same convo that happen inevitably someone mentions sexism in a male space like Hacker News: http://www.shakesville.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

> This is a hacker convention. Not a thing-PG-recontextualized-hacker-as convention.

I didn't realize considering yourself a hacker was a license to violate other people.

> The broad brushes with which you paint are not helping. Laying inaccurate generalizations like this on the very people in positions to help solve the problem disenchants and disinterests them.

That women are not in positions to solve this issue or be empowered to not have to deal with these situations is the problem in the first place. If someone can't be interested in being a basic human being that provides a safe space for a conference, perhaps they should re-evaluate what they are doing and stop.


Are you just looking to pick a fight?

I don't disagree with the parent post's point. I disagree with the way they are arguing it.

I can fully, 1000% get behind the statement that "Rape-culture and patriarchy are definitely major society-wide issues", but if they want to make the casual accusation that "they undeniably find a special welcoming home within geek culture", I'm going to fucking call you on it unless you can bring some proof.

Again, I'm not disagreeing that there is a problem, I'm disagreeing with the assertation that the hacker community "prides itself on merit and intelligence at first". That's it.

Again, I'm not saying that assault at defcon isn't a problem, what I am saying is that labeling a huge swath of people as "men's right's advocates and evopsych true-believers and other terrible terrible people", is in fact counter-productive. I was at defcon and wasn't even aware that sexual conduct there was a problem until I talked with a goon that saturday night. Does that make me a men's right advocate? Or a evopsych?

I see that you're just looking to pick a fight, I should have never taken the bait.


An attack on culture is not an attack on community. You're part of the community by default, but you can be better than the failings of its culture.

No one is baiting anyone here except the people who feel the need to poke holes in a call for decency.


* No one is baiting anyone here except the people who feel the need to poke holes in a call for decency.*

Am I supposed to sit back and just let ends I happen to agree with justify means that I don't? Why?


No, because I don't get to tell you what to do. All I get to do is tell you what I think, and I think you cried "Troll!" at someone's honest attempt to participate in a discussion.

By all means, disagree. Just try not to freak out when other people disagree with your disagreement.


Do you really exist in such a vacuum that you haven't seen the problems geek culture has with women? Nobody here's going to do your reading for you. Head over to Google, type in "the problem with geek culture", and get reading.

There's also a great bunch of geek feminist blogs, which work to educate on problems in the community. Two particularly fantastic ones are Captain Awkward (http://captainawkward.com/) and Pervocracy (http://pervocracy.blogspot.ca/). You say you don't just want a fight, well here's your homework.


Do you really exist in such a vacuum that you haven't seen the problems geek culture has with women?

No, I can see it. Off the top of my head I can paint with broad strokes that many are stuck in their shell and terrified of them, or have no social tact and act wildly inappropriate in conversation. They can't stop staring at ladies' chests either.

But "rape-culture and patriarchy [...] find a special welcoming home within geek culture"? OK, I'll read your links, but I'm expecting to see comparative analysis between society-at-large and geek culture.

The first one does not inspire confidence, "the problem with geek culture" just got me to an opinion piece full of image macros that got passed around. So far all I've discovered is that you can cherry-pick images of ladies to make misleading insinuation about the way they are portrayed in geek-pop-culture in either direction. I hope your other links have something more to say than point out that the purposefully-off-color id of 4chan is off-color, and don't make the casual amalgamation between 4chan macros and "geek culture" at large, if that is even a thing.


Hmm, well if you're looking for more comparative analysis type stuff, usually a good starting point is the classic Five Geek Social Fallacies:

http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

Also, if you follow the rabbit hole of what geeks think about the term "creepy", you start to find all sorts of stuff. The Captain Awkward blog is a good resource for that.


DefCon should follow the advice of the characters from Bizet's Carmen:

    Quand il s'agit de tromperie,
    de duperie,
    de volerie,
    il est toujours bon, sur ma foi,
    d'avoir les femmes avec soi.
    Et sans elles,
    mes toutes belles,
    on ne fait jamais rien de bien!
In its day, it was probably a bit of socially accepted misogyny, but I think we can re-contextualize it here. If one engaging in strip club antics has no women as friends or colleagues, one should ask if the bacchanal is just a form of overcompensation.

EDIT: That is overcompensation for a lonely sausage-fest life. This is why gay engineer's lives are better than yours:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1927#c...


  When it comes to cheating, duping, to thievery,
  It is always good, upon my  word
  To have women with you.
  And without them, the very lovely ones,
  One never does anything right!


Any translation for the uncultured among us?


No excuses here, but who would have thought that male hormones and alcohol would lead to such behavior.


Everyone has hormones, most people have sex drives, and a lot of people drink. It's only the douchebags that attribute their awful behavior to the mysterious power of physiology and depressants that doesn't seem to bring out the inner creepers of anyone else. Indeed, the douchebags would claim that everyone else is a douchebag, they're just hiding it. A charming lot.


OK, I'll bite.

I've flirted at one of the evening events after the talks - after hanging around the person for several hours and spending some time one-on-one. And I had no intention of doing so when I first met them. No way would I do that under any other circumstances.

If you're interested in someone you meet at a conference, you need to be extremely cautious and not expect that the other person shares your interest. Probably it is best to offer personal contact information in addition to professional and see what comes of it rather than pursuing the matter at the conference itself. Let them decide how to contact you.

Hitting on someone at a party or bar during the conference might be in bad taste but as long as the pursuer takes no for an answer it's not what I would call sexual harassment. However if it happened repeatedly from multiple people I would get fed up and leave.

Hitting on someone at the conference proper when the focus should be technical is insulting and completely inappropriate. +1 on calling the pursuer a pervert.

And the conference organizers and presenters need to be held to a higher standard. They should not encourage or engage in sexual behavior even if it's a social event.

Intentional, uninvited physical contact is right out and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The instigator should be kicked out no matter what.


Previous discussion on the article he's talking about: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4326647


From the comments http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/sexual_harassm...

I have been attending DefCon since DCIV and I've had my share of confrontations with drunk idiots who think their flirting methods are acceptable. A well worded put-down almost always keeps these guys at bay. A well placed arm-bar or knee typically takes care of the rest. I played Vanna Vinyl at Hacker Jeopardy for three years (and Beer Betty once). I had hordes of guys asking me for photo-ops when I was all dolled-up for HJ. 99% of them didn't recognise me during the day when I was in shorts and a tshirt w/no make-up.

I love DefCon and have no intention on not attending until DT calls it quits. It's the one week out of the year that I get to spend with my friends and adopted from all over the world. DefCon has never been a "professional" conference. It's a hacker convention/weekend long, cut-loose party with talks. (There are talks at DefCon? ;) If you want professionalism, attend the BH conference the week prior.


How about we let women attend these conferences for free? Like a form of affirmative action to help balance the sex ratio. Would that help?


While we're at it, can we have the same offering to African America men and Latino men?


Is that a serious question? 'Cause I can think of enough ways women are made to feel unwelcome at these events without the added bonuses of envy and/or resentment.


idiots. Most of the fucks who pull this shit are no-value skiddies.


Like Richard Stallman? He's pretty well known to be incredibly awkward around women.

He's a total skiddie, though, so what you're saying makes sense.


I've not yet heard of an instance where rms has allegedly sexually assaulted anyone or said anything that could be seen as blatantly sexist or misogynist. He may be awkward around women, I'd also argue he can be awkward around everyone - the man is not renown for having the best social skills.


I don't go to bars that often (at all) but isn't this typical behaviour at bars?

However they deal with it at bars is how they should deal with it here.


Women want equal right but can't deal with such stuff and thus cries for help? If you can't deal with what you experience there - DON'T GO THERE. Simple. After all you go there just for fun. I was harassed by women and I learned to deal with that. Time women stopped crying and learned to take care of themselves if they want "equal" rights.


Because women should put up with crotch-grabbing and being licked by strangers? Yuck.

I know lots of really interesting people, male and female, who would stay home rather than put up with that treatment. Let's keep the interesting people, and revoke the badges of the weirdo predators who can't keep their tongues to themselves.


Warning: This is not the most productive comment I've ever made on Hacker News. That said –

This is one of the stupidest and wrong-headed comments I've ever seen in my life. I'd like to understand more about how someone arrives at such a polluted worldview.

Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing, friendships and romantic relationships? I'd like to understand why a few women being mean to you means that 50% of humanity should go fuck itself and tolerate intolerable behavior.

Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide.


Harrassed for being a disturbed creep != having someone grope and put their mouth on you without your permission.


"Harrassed for being a disturbed creep" did you call me "disturbed creep" without knowing how and why I was harassed? Lets say you meant something else.

And by the way, if that was woman groping some man and putting her mouth on on him without permission - noone would care. Simply speaking - sexism works both ways.


Because being sexually harassed in the same manner as women do, regularly would give you some understanding and sympathy, not a point of pride to brag about as you are here.


"not a point of pride to brag about as you are here"

Bragging? Really? Pointing out obvious thing that you all knights on high moral horses forgot - woman is not always victim. And if she is perpetrator she more often than not goes free (woman drugs husband, cuts off his penis - not guilty.)

And I am "bragging" here BECAUSE "would give you some understanding and sympathy". I know how women fake their harassment to get attention I feel "understanding and sympathy" for men that was harassed that way.


I think you have no idea what harassment sexual or otherwise is like for a woman. Once you have experienced being physically different to a man, then come back, bit harassement that you received is in no way the same or even similar.


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