Being a male geek/dork/nerd/outcast in school doesn't excuse behavior that causes a hostile, sexualized, or otherwise unwelcoming environment. I, a female geek, was an outcast too and participated in many of the activities you mention, yet I came out mature.
You claim that male engineers (which you referred to as neckbeards) just need to be told that their behavior isn't OK and that everything will work out fine. You know what, I've tried that approach many, many times and it always backfires. The first reaction is quite similar to what you have above. Blame the person for being oversensitive and blowing things out of proportion. Then other defensive reactions ranging from yelling to ostracizing the female from the group follow. Rarely, after lots of back and forth emails and other draining communications (where I have to do tons of research in order to educate them about male privilege and other concepts), the issue is resolved. This successful resolution has happened maybe three times in my career.
Guys, if you are faced with a complaint that something was sexist, not cool, etc., please, don't let your first reaction be the defensive reaction we see all the time. Take time, think it over, ask for more information so that you can understand her position. You might just find an opportunity to grow as a person.
I'm glad you take the time to re-educate those around you. It's probably the hardest thing to do, but ultimately the best way forward for everyone. Maybe I'm overly optimistic on the ability of education though.
What I find really suspect is her feeling like and calling herself a hero. Her reference to herself as "Joan of Arc". Also going public immediately.
I have been, more than once in my previous career, in a situation where a female engineer was actually in a real, abusive situation. I handled these situations "by the book". At one point I was asked by HR if I wanted to know the outcome. Of course I said "NO, but please let me know when she is doing better." I can't imagine feeling like a "hero". These were absolutely terrible experiences for me. I never sought out back slapping. I did seek out re-assurance from my father (also one of these god-awful male engineer chauvinistic pigs), and he was supportive. I can't even imagine going public with something like this. Something just strikes me as completely wrong.
And if you're going to complain about offensive public comments, don't post publicly offensive pictures with racial overtones. Sorry, it is relevant. It demonstrates a double standard.
It's hard to understand the "hero" feeling unless you've been quiet and avoided speaking out on similar (and often bigger) events. It feels good to stand up for your fellow females and community, even if you get negative public attention for it. I think more things big and small should be addressed so that it never leads to a "real" abusive environment again (As an aside, you don't get to decide what is a "real, abusive situation").
This woman publicly humiliated someone and lost them their job for doing absolutely nothing wrong. That is fucked up.
FWIW, I'm not sure where I fall on all of this – but my hunch says there's a bunch to be unhappy about all around. Having said that, I'll throw this out:
In my experience, men (I am one) tend to be more okay with a small amount of sexualization in conversation. Women tend not to be. (extreme generalization, but a real distinction, I believe).
Say what you will about which is right or wrong, but I think that the important point is the general difference between the way men and women see things. That difference is real, regardless what any one of us would want one side or the other to be.
So, the question becomes, how do we deal with it and how do we minimize conflict?
Okay, but how does this apply to a "dongle" joke? If the joke referred to female anatomy rather than male, would it have been more offensive or less (to someone in Adria's position)?
Having a discussion with folks like you requires tiring surgical precision with rhetoric. It's interesting that given the two possible interpretations, you picked the most offensive. You should be careful with that - not everyone out there is oblivious and unsympathetic to the problems facing women and underlying currents of a male-dominated society.
However, your claim of my looking for offense is incorrect. My comment was an aside, a point for reflection on the power of naming something as important or not.
Any internet communication requires surgical rhetoric. The English language has a myriad of ways to express things and it's not always clear what is meant when communications lack human interaction (e.g. tone of voice, body language).
It is tiring to translate thoughts, experiences, and feelings into a digestible and understandable format.
This is a very telling statement-- it's also somewhat ironic, given that one could easily interpret this as a passive aggressive jab at OP's "inability" to communicate. One could ALSO interpret this as a general sentiment about the importance of vocabulary. So either you did not communicate this point precisely enough, or you intentionally left it vague as some intelligent ploy to poke at the flaws in your own argument. I'll go with the latter cause it sounds more meta.
The actual issue is that it isn't about difficulty. It's actually impossible to translate thoughts in a predictable manner across racial, gender, and cultural lines. We are not machines, and so people interpret statements, and, in some cases, jokes, in the way that they are brought up to interpret them. In a victim-culture, jokes are usually interpreted as malicious devices. The problem here is that while some call for equality and understanding of other cultures/genders/races, this usually only applies to the cultures that are victimized. Equality is a two-way street, and understanding semantics is an important step to equality, because in order to respect, you must first understand. Just because culture/gender X makes a dongle joke, does not mean that culture/gender X meant the dongle joke as some insult to culture/gender Y, even though culture/gender Y might interpret it that way. We (all) have to put effort to understand things in the right contexts, so a dick joke between two guys (with no assumption that women are eavesdropping) is just that-- a dick joke between two guys-- it is not an assault on women (especially given the fact that it seems like it wasn't even meant to be heard by anybody else). Some leeway ought to be given to the interpretation of words, just as you should be reading the OP's text as it was intended, not simply as the words aligned on the page.
That said, I actually love how this very statement ties back to the original issue at hand so perfectly, even though it was some tangential argument about semantics, so thank you for pointing this out.
Which still wouldn't be acceptable, except they weren't actually saying anything offensive per se. Your charge is that they're creating an environment where women feel unwelcome, one in which they feel uncomfortable because it is implied that the audience is male (I'm assuming you agree with the article you linked). But the thing is, the entire audience was composed of males because the entire audience was limited to the one person each man was talking to. It's impossible to make the claim that they're alienating people by creating an implied homogeneous culture when they're speaking privately.
Think about a comparable situation. If a man is reading in a break room with two women talking to each other about how periods suck, are they alienating him? Are they creating an environment in which in which one has to be a biologically typical female under the age of 45 to feel accepted? Or are they just talking about issues which affect them and not worrying about who might be eavesdropping? It should be obvious that it is the latter. The case in which Adria is involved is no different. "Addressing" the situation as she did does nothing but create a polarized, vitriolic atmosphere and makes people less likely to get involved when there actually is real sexism present.
I wasn't making any comment or judgment on his action or inaction in a particular past situation. If he helped someone fight abuse, I'm all for that!
My aside was about the danger and power of bystanders picking and choosing what is real abuse. In this case it was obvious that something needed to be done. Great.
However, if it isn't obvious or seems insignificant to a bystander, that doesn't make it less real for the victim. There was an implied judgment that this situation couldn't constitute "real abuse."
Admittedly, you don't want to actually show porn or something. That'd be unprofessional. But I don't think attraction to ladies (which is probably a majority interest in the predominantly male tech crowd) ought to be some sort of heavily taboo subject just to protect female feelings. Tech people also tend to like things like video games and comics, should we not mention those either? There are plenty of women who like those things, even if they're traditionally a "male" hobby.
Perhaps you should try being less insufferable.
The reason why no one should ever give in to this women in tech nonsense is that because the complaints are mostly just a projection of the complainer's own social awkwardness -it is easier to blame other people, and to join causes that attribute your (social) difficulties to things other than yourself. If one complaint is resolved, they will just dream up another -because the content of the complaint is not important to them, it is the act of complaining that sustains them.
This is classic derailing: "You Just Enjoy Being Offended"
P.S. It always warms my heart to hear phrases like "women in tech nonsense."
"You, person who told me to lighten up, saw one little thing. It didn't seem like a big deal, did it? One little line! One joke! One comment! But it's not just one thing to me: it's one of thousands that I've had to endure since I was old enough to be told that 'X is for boys!' It's probably not even the first thing I've had to deal with that day, unless you've gotten to me pretty early.
That's the main problem with subtle discrimination. It leaves those that it affects the most powerless against it, quietly discouraging them. If they speak up, they're treated to eye rolls at the least, and at the worst, are called oppressors themselves. We're accused of not wanting equal rights, but of wanting tyranny."
Postfeminism is "sex-positive" in the sense that it's all about how awesome it is to be girly and how gross and narsty those annoying feminists are; girls should go wild! according to this kind of postfeminist attitude. If a woman wants to stay home and raise her kids, well, darn it, postfeminism says there's nothing wrong with that, and it's the dirty stupid "you can have it all" feminists who want to kill the American family! Or who want to shame the women who don't aspire to the things that 2nd wave feminism said women should aspire to. If a man makes a joke that degrades women, the postfeminist says "LAUGH AT IT!!! because it's FUNNY!! why are you so sensitive?!?!" The postfeminist is dtf and she's fun as hell...until you criticize her in some way that she thinks is trying to shame her for just being a woman. And then she's not so much fun.
3rd wave feminism isn't so well defined and I don't think that "wave" has quite crested yet. I see you linked to a wiki page on it, but I'd be surprised to see it offering some kind of cohesive definition. In lots of ways, postfeminism wants to be called 3rd wave feminism...but it lacks credibility since it mostly seems geared towards calling female activists bitches and telling them to stfu about gender-based oppression already.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex-positive_movement -- "sex-positive" is a term describing a movement meant to embrace rather than repress sexuality. The play on words of "sex-negative" refers to the opposite of sex-positive, ie., sexual repression.
OP is saying that you are sexually repressed because sex jokes make you uncomfortable. This is a good point, because dongle jokes are actually not "sexist", they are simply sexual. Men hold no exclusive territory over dick jokes, or sex jokes in general. Women can tell dick jokes too. They can also joke about vaginas (Sarah Silverman much?) and both genders can appreciate the humour EQUALLY (yay equality!). Those who don't find it funny are NOT victims of sexism-- they are victims of a shitty sense of humour.
I like sex, I just happen to prefer my work/professional environments without sexual overtones.