That's awful, and I join the people I see online right now in saying that I cannot, in good conscience, ever do business with a company that supports that behavior.
--And to how far Adria has set back womens' rights here--
The common thread I've seen from the women I've worked with in tech has been that they really just wish people didn't even notice their gender. They don't want to get treated like "a girl", they just want to get treated like "a person".
What Adria has done here is made sure that people in tech are always hyper aware if they're working with one of the "outsiders" that she has cast herself as.
It's really sad.
(This comment is also worth reading: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5407884)
Maybe its my social group but something like that would even cause any of us (more women in tech) to even bat an eye. If it was bothersome in anyway it was they were so loud she was paying more attention to them and they private conversations and not the speaker. She should have asked them to simmer down or take it outside. And definitely dealt with it in a less public matter, it just screams "look at me i'ml so awesome give me some attention". It even could have been dealt with without identifying them. that was a low blow.
And you are exactly right, the biggest issues I've had wrt my gender is that some men feel like they can't just relax and be themselves, and that makes some of them (either consciousnessly or subconsciousnessly) not comfortable. Its always funny to see how relaxed and personable some people become after i make some politically incorrect jokes/references.
I agree its a decency issue and not a sexism one.
This will blow over, the guy will get a new job, but my god, it's a pretty serious defect if an immature joke about penises overheard in public can get you fired.
The best thing to do is let SendGrid and PlayHaven know your thoughts:
The only hope I have for a positive outcome here is for either company to step in and try to clean up the mess. If they don't, I'd recommend avoiding both of them. Someone that stands up for public humiliation is not somebody you want to work with.
Related submissions about this story:
I would want him to be offered his job back (but I hope he gets better offers and I wouldn't be shocked if he hasn't already. I would certainly call him up for an interview).
If public humiliation is the new modus operandi, then it seems it is a double edged sword. I think her reputation is forever tarnished.
Maybe she had good intentions (but the more I look at the situation, and her penis reference later, less likely it seems) but her execution and decision making cost a father of 3 kids to lose his job, and his face is all over Twitter.
She was a no-name before this. I had never heard of her. Have you? Now she at the top of everyone's lips. She does talking engagements and advocacy. Well you connect the dots yourself.
(I do anyway)
Also, April 1st is around the corner. It would be classic if github removed the "fork" button in response to it being offensive.
> All she had to do was turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes.
But I think one of the important points here is that women should not NEED to turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes. The need to ask (or resign oneself to putting up with the hostile environment) is itself a burden. Would it be acceptable to make "dumb nigger" jokes as long as anytime an African American asks you to stop you stop making the jokes while they're in the room?
I am not arguing that they WERE making sex jokes, or that it rose to the level of a firing offense, just that "she could have asked us to stop" is not a good argument. In fact, they WERE asked to stop (or rather, not to start), by the organizers of PyCon before the conference ever started. That is exactly what PyCon's non-harassment policy is about.
What was the appropriate response, then? I honestly think assertive and honest feedback is often the most effective way to curb unwanted behavior.
> But I think one of the important points here is that women should not NEED to turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes.
Most of the time they don't. We're talking about exception handling, here. Just because a situation is less than ideal (i.e. two guys making phallic jokes at a conference) does not automatically validate a DEFCON 4 response.
Agree to disagree. Short of legal action or physical violence, extra-public shaming (Twitter) is about as escalated a response as I can think of.
Read the code of conduct for PyCon: https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/ Not specifically the lines "Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue" and "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon."
Because of previous issues, the organizers of the conference went out of their way to make the line between what was and was not allowed quite explicit. They did this in order to avoid having participants claim they didn't know it would make someone uncomfortable.
I am not saying that this was a firing offense, or that everything which was said was intended as a sexual joke, but some of it crossed a CLEARLY marked line which had been communicated BEFORE the conference even began.
Also, "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon" doesn't appear to have anything to do with what the men said, though perhaps you quoted it for the subsequent harassment on twitter?
Fair question: I TRY to read every word, and I'd say I succeed no more than 10% of the time. If I had attended PyCon (I didn't make it this year) I would have been aware of the harassment policy but only because I remember the discussion LAST year (or was it the year before...) which led to the creation of the policy.
But if you are suggesting that it is OK to violate the policy just because not everyone reads it, then I have to object. Such an approach makes it impossible to maintain ANY policy. Perhaps the PyCon organizers should recognize that not everyone will have read the policy carefully and should therefore have a measured response... but in this case they DID have a measured response, and I have heard no one suggest that the PyCon organizers responded unreasonably.
As for the firing, well I have heard no one defending the company for their position either.
> Also, "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon" doesn't appear to have anything to do with what the men said
I quoted it only because of the explicit reference to "jokes".
"Adria: you should put something in your pants next time .. like a bunch of socks inside one...large...sock. TSA agent faint."
So apparently it's ok to be sexual/hostile in someone else's work environment, just not your own?
Anyway, I frankly don't give a damn whether Adria is a good person or not. People are criticizing her for a specific set of actions that don't seem to be in line with what actually happened. It exposes a lot of sloppy, biased thinking that is the real problem here. :(
If she didn't publicly identify him, no one would have cared.
If she had simply notified the conference staff, no one would have cared.
She took it to extremes, and now the internet is responding in kind.
If your local newspaper ran an article exposing a scandal, and the participants in the scandal got in trouble because it came to light, would you blame the newspaper?
If this was a minor offense that no one should have cared about, then reporting it is fine -- there's no harm done. If this was a major issue that justifies strong reactions, then reporting it is fine -- justice is served. I fear that the real position is "My employer thinks this is a major issue worth firing over, but I want to keep doing it anyway so you have an obligation to keep this under wraps for me." and I do not think that is a defensible position to take.
Comparing her to a reporter is disingenuous. That's hardly a fair and balanced piece she has written. More importantly, if my newspaper started behaving like the Sexual Temperance Society, I would promptly cancel my subscription.
Actually, I intended that comparison sincerely; it was not disingenuous.
> That's hardly a fair and balanced piece she has written.
Not all reporting is balanced. If it were INACCURATE, you would have a point, but presenting one side of the story is still journalism.
> if my newspaper started behaving like the Sexual Temperance Society, I would promptly cancel my subscription.
I would encourage you to unsubscribe to Adria's blog and twitter. Much like any crank with a printing press, she has absolutely no power, except that a large number of people happen to listen to her. If fewer people listen, then her ability to affect others goes down proportionately. There are many newspapers that print a highly one-sided and slanted view of the news focused heavily on scandals (The Sun, New York Post, and many others). I do not buy these, but I will defend their right to attend a conference and publish true information about things that a person said in public while there.
This would require me to subscribe in the first place :)
> I do not buy these, but I will defend their right to attend a conference and publish true information about things that a person said in public while there.
Nobody has been calling for establishing censorship. However, I wish the Sun would stop printing rubbish, just as I'd like Adria to exercise more judgment in exercising her free speech rights.
That is an interesting point and one I had not considered. I will think about it. Thank you for expanding my mind today.
"this wasn't the first time that day I had to address this issue around harassment and gender."
Generally speaking, I think "harassment and gender" going together make it fit the definition of sexism.
Regardless, she does classify it as "harassment".
It certainly exists within the context of gender issues at a tech conference, but she didn't even go so far as to label the jokes sexist -- just something that would make some women uncomfortable. (Which is obviously true, given her response!)
She clearly states in her blog she felt it involved "harassment and gender", which is often referred to as sexism.
She did the right thing by notifying conference staff and letting them handle it. She did the wrong thing by naming and shaming on twitter. The blog post reads like a mix of real event and revisionism to stem angry internetters.
Still, it's a storm in a teacup - who's to say the same guy wasn't on the verge of being let go for other reasons anyway? It's presumptuous to assuming his firing was solely because of this single event.
| Instead of posting someone's photo (and other's
| along with that) on the web confront them
[ She should have just gone to (or messaged) the PyCon staff first to resolve the situation. ]
Though, I understand that it is tough for women to confront in a massively male-dominated arena. I think this fiasco is likely to at least have men straighten their ways that they cannot make sex jokes in a public place.
| She can do that and not confront them about
| the lewd remarks?
I did not raise a fuss and get him fired - though we where all shocked.
This is an attention addict using whatever means at her disposal to get attention, without a thought as to the cost to those she uses as pawns.
We all have encountered both males and females that are real victims, and we have also all encountered people who pretend to be offended for attention.
I use to work in the deep south, and down there, the classic "always offended for attention" group are (ok, I'm stereotyping, but its true) are a subset of white, evangelical Christians. They will make a point of becoming offended at ANYTHING, just to show superiority and get attention from their chosen peer group at the same time.
It might not have been the wisest thing to do, but she didn't fire that guy; she just got offended. It's her right to get offended here and it's the other guy's right to (accidentally) offend her.
The only dicks here are
a) Playhaven unless, like I suspect, the other guy had a track record of this sort of stuff.
b) the anonymous cowards of the lynch mob that's pouring a deluge of hatred out over Adria.
And yes, Adria might be a flaming attention seeking self-centered bitch (not that I have any indication of that) but even if she were, that still doesn't warrant the lynch mob that has assembled here, which is the real issue we should be discussing.
Now you're probably wondering why I used all caps. I really don't have a good explanation for that. Because once I read your post, that's the first thing that sprung to my mind.. in Helvetica-Neu, bold 38px.
Are standards for not offending people much higher in the worksplace? Of course they are, and for good reasons. We want people to be comfortable. But lets just make this clear: if you have a zero tolerance policy at work for saying "offensive" things, and there is not a clear definition of "offensive", you are not working at a place that respects your rights. They didn't comment on her ass. They didn't harass her in any way.
The guy should'nt have said penis in public, right? It was unnecessary. And on that logic, my wife shouldn't breastfeed my son in public. It is unnecessary, she can just go to a private room. Why do those gay guys have to kiss in public. It offends me, they should have to go someplace private, this is a work event......
Do you see the slippery slope here? Evolution is offensive to a lot of people where I am from, does that mean I get fired if I say "evolve" at work in front of an idiot bible thumper?
You appear to not have given this even one iota of critical thought, or are a complete psychopath, or perhaps you are using a language superficially identical to English but semantically entirely unlike it.
I cannot think of any other reasons why someone would express the idea that people don't have a right to feelings.
No person has a right to get offended. Period.
I don't know what caused you to call me stupid here, but I can understand you felt a need to call me out on something.
It's my passionate belief that you have a right to express yourself freely. I am not going to argue with you there.
If Mr.Bean can't explain it to you. Then there is nothing I can do, and I will carry on. And I won't be offended, because I can leave it behind.
That you cite Rowan Atkinson's support of free speech as a defense is incredibly ironic. He's not saying you don't have a right to be offended or to express it, it's that you don't have a right to expect the government to act on that offense, and I'm in full agreement.
I think you're treating "I feel offended" as equivalent to "I wish to suppress someone else's speech" or even "someone is required to care that I feel offended", when they don't necessarily follow each other.
Everyone has an inalienable right to get offended. What they don't have a right to is for anyone to give a shit about it.
I hope now you can understand why my mind was boggled.
EDIT: Also, please note that I very intentionally did not call you stupid, I called your comment stupid.
I'm offended. Okay.....
The lesser issue still exists, though, of creating a 'sexual environment' where mentions of sex may make people who believe others may wish to engage them in sexual relations may feel threatened.
> The lesser issue still exists, though, of creating a 'sexual environment' where mentions of sex may make people who believe others may wish to engage them in sexual relations may feel threatened.
I was just saying that Twisted makes me feel this way ;-)
On a serious note:
There is another, more subtle issue at hand and that is that in the past PyCon has dealt with someone who was sent out over something inappropriate (and rightly so). After a that a strongly worded statement was issued about how organizers will be very sensitive to such issues in the future. I think that didn't escape Adria's attention. This year, at a moment's notice she saw an opportunity to go from 0 to 100 in terms of popularity. Given her position she will end up profiting handsomely from this.
She also made penis jokes previously on Twitter, and called you guys ass clowns in a world wide forum (twitter) -- your kids will end up seeing that picture some day. I think Jesse Noller (or whoever on the PSF side) should apologize to you. You were also PyCon attendees and sponsors and you had that happen to you. I am sorry. Twitter should remove your photo. Adria shouldn't be welcomed to PyCon anymore.
I think you should know that many in the community feel it was terribly unfair what happened. I hope you have a job offer lined up soon and maybe this will open an opportunity for you.
The best of luck.
EDIT: Spelling + clarification
Can you verify your identity as the employee let go by PlayHaven?
Can you verify that you are one of the two people pictured in Adria Richards' Tweet?
Were those jokes made as Richards described? Are there any differences between her account and what you think actually happened? (I know you've addressed this a bit already, but I'd like to hear more.)
Is Alex Reid one of these employees in the photograph, who was making a sexist joke? (It sounds like he wasn't.)
Can you confirm that you were fired because of the jokesmade at the conference?
It's a signifier between two friends that they are relaxed enough to make retarded jokes. So they weren't being childish, it's normal behavior for sophisticated people to occasionally deliberately make stupid jokes.
Everyone is different and to get along we all must understand and compromise.
> In fact a female friend texted me one about an hour ago.
A friend. Being female has nothing to do with it.
Yes, that's kind of my point. Some people obviously have a problem with these kinds of jokes, some people don't. It's a cultural thing.
This morning on Facebook, a friend posted a picture of the cover of "Cockhandler" magazine, a supposed magazine about chicken farming (as it happens, it's fake). This has so far been "liked" by six women and two men. I don't know all the women, but the three I do know are pretty hardcore feminists.
I just don't think women as a whole are bothered. For the ones who are, I don't think it's particularly because they're women.
I agree with you about sensible public conduct, in the same way that I think it's good to be aware that some cultures have taboos about eg. displaying the soles of your feet. If you think you might be among such people, it's a good idea to avoid doing that, even if it seems kind of weird.
Beautifully put. I'm going to remember how you eloquently put that. =)
> Indeed, I am really puzzled as to why these
> "jokes" are supposed to be offensive to women.
That's a lot different from a person being subjected to sexualized jokes and comments from strangers.
Your friend gets to choose what kind of friendship she has with you; a woman on a train or at a conference does not get to choose what kind of sexualized comments she hears from strangers.
Surely this is something we can all understand. A lot of guys (me included) will say really rank things to their close friends - explicitly letting their friends know when they're getting fat, jokes about sleeping with their friends' wives and mothers, and so forth. That's all totally cool (and often hilarious) but surely you can agree: it would be a completely different story if a stranger or your boss started making remarks about your weight or how many times he's slept with your wife, correct?
That's kind of what it's like for women when they hear unwanted sexualized jokes and comments from strangers, with the added factors of being minorities in their own industries and living in a largely male-dominated world. Did you know that even in America, a woman has roughly a 20% chance of being raped in her lifetime? (source: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/SV-DataSheet-a.pdf)
Here's the key thing, though: it's actually not about what you feel. Whether you don't understand, or you do understand and simply think women who feel this way are being dumb, the fact is that a lot of women feel that way. You can respect their wishes and make them feel welcome in our community, or you can choose not to. My personal opinion is that the more of us who choose the former, the better - for us and for our industry.
1. women are too delicate to handle any references to anatomy
2. the "jokes" were simply crude and, while off-putting to anyone with a developed sense of humor, nothing to write (tweet?) home about with regards to being offensive
So I can imagine sexist-seeming jokes about robots with dongles, but I can also imagine stupid ones about robots with butts or whether car exhaust counts as a robot fart. The sad thing is that we have no way to tell whether the remarks in question were sexist or just stupid, and that has encouraged a lot of folk to just project their own preconceptions onto the entire incident.
This sort of thing is exactly why I don't like using Twitter.
(disclaimer i am female)
You are walking down the street. It starts to rain, so you duck into the nearest business, a bar. You order a beer, and realize that you have stepped into a gay bar. The table behind you starts making jokes about how virgin anuses are the best. They are pretty big guys, leather daddies. You worry they're talking about you, about your anus. You worry.
That feeling of discomfort? The way your heart speeds up as you start wondering if you're safe? Women feel that a lot.
The jokes aren't what's offensive. It's when jokes sexualize a professional context in a way that makes women feel unsafe.
Only if you live in a world where gay men are, by default, rapists. Are we seriously replacing sexism with homophobia? Your analogy is far more offensive than the penis joke it's supposed to represent.
Since what crazy day did "gay men talking crudely about sex" means "my heterosexual anus is in danger"?
It seems to be a heavy handed way of putting most guys in the shoes of a woman hearing a similar conversation.
But I dont think it applies much to this sittu.
Men aren't normally afraid of sexual assault, because most sexual assault is perpetrated by men on women. If you want to the feeling of fear that a potential victim feels, you have to imagine a situation where you feel at risk of sexual assault.
If that story doesn't make you feel sufficiently uncomfortable to have empathy for women surrounded by a bunch of men when the context suddenly turns sexual, I encourage you to make up your own story.
For what it's worth, when I was imagining the story, the guys talking in the bar hadn't even noticed the straight guy in front of them.
You've committed the same injustice against homosexuals with your comment as women frequently suffer in our field (and beyond): the reinforcement of tired stereotypes and insensitive association.
In what world is is okay to so casually draw a line between homosexuals and rape? You can make your point about how men do not suffer the constant fear of assault, but you are not free to drag gays into this in a slanderous, offensive, and deeply harmful manner. People have been battling the image of the sexual deviant/predator for decades - your free-association is the sort of casual, unintentional prejudice that would be more forgivable if you weren't so defensive of it.
Let me make this clear once more: your point that men do not experience the same fear of assault as women stands, you did not need a fictional story to go along with it. More importantly, your "defense" of women came at great expense to another marginalized demographic, needlessly, thoughtlessly, and IMO repugnantly.
Making your point on the back of somebody else is not okay.
As a guy, I'm not worried about rape. It very rarely happens to adult men.
But that's the problem I'm trying to draw attention to here: a guy's intuition of what is an inoffensive sexual comment will be very different than a woman's, because they face very different risks of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Now I believe you're saying it's fine for a woman to feel threatened about sexual assault in the middle of a crowd because of dick jokes.
Well then maybe it's fine to believe that every man is a potential rapist, there was a girl who made this exact argument in a blog and called her rape paranoia Schrödinger rapist.
Here's the catch of my argument, I have many black male friends and some of them do actually said that sometimes people cross the road to the other sidewalk just to not cross with them in the middle of Manhattan in a crowded street at lunch time.
If you think safety über ales is a fine philosophy then as I said good for you, I call this paranoia, know that's an irrational behavior and just say that both are not fine.
So saying basically about it. Yes I agree with you, women have much more to lose in the situation you described, I do think your initial example was poor, and having good gay friends who suffer because of that made me reply with anger.
Sorry for that.
Joeboy said he couldn't understand why sexual comments could be a problem. One reason guys can't imagine that is that they don't see sexualized situations as risky situations. Many women do. Not always, certainly. But I know a number of women who have been raped, and I don't think I know a woman who hasn't been discomfited by unwanted sexual advances.
I invited Joeboy to put himself in the shoes of somebody who was scared. If the scenario isn't to your liking, go ahead and write a different one.
And as I've explained elsewhere: no, I don't think straight people should be generally scared of being raped by gay people.
I have lived in parts of the world where there was a high chance of being attacked and needed to be aware of my surroundings at all times. Being followed or approached late at night by a group of potentially hostile individuals makes my heart race. Some gay guys making a private joke would not.
I might even take it as a compliment (despite not being gay myself) but I do understand and accept that many men and woman would not find it appealing.
My point is not that gay people are bad: they aren't. My point is that to understand why women are uncomfortable when things suddenly turn sexual, you have to put yourself in the place of a potential victim of sexual assault.
Second, there was no harassment in my story. The person at the bar interpreted the comments as about him. But as I was writing the story, I imagine they were talking about something else entirely, and didn't notice him.
Third, I was not attempting to appeal to homophobic tendencies. I was attempting to create a legitimate scenario where an average guy might feel afraid of sexual assault. I couldn't tell the story with straight women; men rarely see women as physically threatening. And I obviously couldn't tell the story with straight men, because a straight man wouldn't feel a risk of sexual assault.
If you've got a better story to help give a guy a visceral fear of sexual assault, I'd like to read it.
It should be added that around 10% of adults has some kind of phobia. Its common, and perfect understandable. At the same time, there is not much anyone can do about it. Avoiding all possible triggers for phobias is neither a option nor is it even a good thing. Treatments for phobias often include some kind of desensitisation by exposure, so avoidance is actually decremental.
That said, crude jokes are boring. I would just had told the two guys to be quiet because the python talk is infinitive more interesting than some crude joke regarding anatomy.
Because the only time that could ever happen is at a gay bar with leather daddies? You "average guy" turns out to be a homophobe, or heteronormative at best.
"First, I wasn't making an analogy."
You've tried to justify your post by saying you were just trying to name some sort of situation where someone might feel sexually threatened. But in order to do that, you have to state a situation that is at all comparable to what happened. Otherwise it's essentially a straw man argument.
Imagine you ended up in a gay bar, and two men were making crappy double-entendres about github repos. If that's scary, you're the one with the problem.
Males are the perpetrators of most of the sexual assault in the world, so in trying to create a scenario that would make you identify with the victim, I used a male perp. You could also try imagining yourself in prison, or in the hands of dirty cops. But those are rare experiences, whereas everybody has gotten caught in the rain, so I started with that.
No, no they really don't!
Don't get me wrong, there are major gender issues within our society (not just the software industry). One of them is, this idea that ''all'' women are tender hearted souls who are ''constantly'' scared of any man that looks at them funny :)
There is a broad difference between discomfort and fear. And whilst the latter is significant, the core problem is the former.
I'm not suggesting women are scared little rabbits, running all the time.
I'm saying that they are at substantial risk of sexual assault and other predation (US lifetime chance of sexual assault: 1 in 6), and are frequently aware of situations where they might possibly be in danger. It's an entirely rational response.
I'm trying to help Joeboy see why well-meant and innocent-ish sexual jokes can sexualize a context, tripping that feeling of risk.
Here's a bit of free advice :) when you start to use this argument, consider that perhaps you've run out of good rhetoric.
You seem a decent enough guy, if a little clueless, so I'll give you more advice if I may. Making lewd comments certainly might make others feel uncomfortable (male or female), but the fear factor comes from attitude and presence, not the words.
For example; had these two guys been leering at Adria. And staring at her, deliberately raising their voices to project their jokes to her hearing.. that is the sort of behaviour that starts to become frightening.
No one has suggested this is the case. They made a joke between themselves, that made Adria uncomfortable. That is a far cry from her fearing for her physical safety.
I have talked to actual women who tell me this. Why do you, as a guy, feel qualified to invalidate their experiences?
I don't think Adira felt immediate fear for her physical safety, no. But I do think fear of sexual harassment and sexual violence are an important reason why it is very important that "harmless" sexualization of professional situations isn't harmless at all.
Adira was perfectly within her rights to complain to the conference organisers about rule breaking behaviour that was annoying her. The twitter shaming and blog post about harassment was a bit overboard though.
What you're doing, though, is taking one issue and turning into a much more "serious" one (I use that term loosely, neither sexual discomfort nor sexual violence should be taken lightly).
Yes, sexualisation of professional situations is a problem (at least, it quite often is). As I noted, this applies to both male and female top-heavy environments. But the issue isn't really about fear of sexual violence, that simply does not match up with reality.
I agree, some women are sensitive to these sorts of conversations. And they can be triggers for them which lead to fear. But more important is the much larger majority of women for whom this conversations "merely" (again, using the term loosely) degrades them as an individual.
Hence me objecting to your casting of this issue as a major problem r.e. threat of violence. 99.9999% of the people making these comments are not about to commit sexual violence, and the vast majority of women (and, yes, men) being subjected to it are not in fear for themselves. By casting it as you have, you've undermined the issue.
And you're initial phrasing itself sounded patronising and degrading (although obviously not your intention).
EDIT: p.s. it's Adria not Adira.
Kudos for trying though.
...to a person being sexually assaulted?
No. I am not saying that.
I am trying to say that sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context can trigger legitimate fears.
Sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context CAN be damaging or potentially damaging. However, I would argue that overheard jokes do not fit into this category.
The overheard jokes were bad because they were unprofessional and inappropriate, but public shaming was an inappropriate response, and this fear-pandering justification doesn't hold water.
What is it about our culture that makes everyone immediately think about sex the moment we talk about our bodies in the most generic way possible? Yes they were talking about penises. But talking about penises alone does not constitute a threat nor is it inherently sexual. It's a part of the body and to stigmatize it is wrong. If it is wrong, then it would be equally sexist for men to tell women they can't talk about breasts in the context of breastfeeding because it's "too sexual". And what at all does this have to do with gay bars and leather daddies?
Don't want to defend violence in relationships, but I think it is actually a different problem than men's tendency to rape (ie people are bad at choosing mates and conducting healthy relationships)
Fact is, a great many if not the majority of incidents of sexual assault involve alcohol. We should then I guess move to ban it from tech events. Or we could have rational guidelines actually aimed at dealing with real incidents instead of things that might lead to an incident.
If the two men at PyCon were making jokes about how virgin vaginas were the best, I don't think they would be getting the outpouring of support that they seem to be getting from the tech community.
You're very bad at crafting illuminating tales.
He said he couldn't understand why the jokes were a problem. I tried to help him understand. In particular, to viscerally understand the experience of being unsafe, and how a joke can contribute to that.
He said he didn't understand why these "jokes" are supposed to be offensive to women. He did not say why any jokes are supposed to be offensive to women.
Until now, I felt somewhat removed from this sexism-in-tech debate because I'm a man. Therefore, my opinions on it are outsiders' opinions, and it doesn't really have an impact on me directly (just indirectly). Now, though, since I'm a gay man, you've made me feel just as excluded as women in this community, so congratulations on making a bad situation several thousand times worse.
Wait, better not talk to me or be around me. I might rape you.
What a joke.
Then I get out of the bar. Or look for some nice company (maybe talk to the bar man or find a woman in the bar?). Problem solved.
> The jokes aren't what's offensive. It's when jokes sexualize a professional context in a way that makes women feel unsafe.
Feel unsafe about what? Their safety? Those guys made two harmless dick jokes while sitting in a room with countless other people. They may not even have recognized that there was a woman in front of them. Further they were making fun about a body part a woman doesn't have. So your analogy doesn't hold.
If I want to tell a blasphemous joke, do I have to take into account that someone could feel offended and fear for their safety because this joke could mean that I want to harm religious people?
I don't feel that wpie's example was the best or even a good illumination of what he/she's trying to say, but the concern is legitimate. And saying, "If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the bar" is exactly the type of response that keeps making it hard for women in tech (and other subgroups in other groups). Would you say, "If male programmers make you uncomfortable, don't learn to program"? If you would, then that is part of the problem.
> Feel unsafe about what? Their safety? Those guys made two harmless dick jokes while sitting in a room with countless other people.
It's not really about one joke. It's about reinforcing a space that makes it easier to legitimize misogynist behavior through carelessness. Like you said, "in a room with countless other people"--these guys were in a professional setting, and the joke really had no place there. Maybe they didn't deserve to get fired over it, but it definitely was not the right venue.
> If I want to tell a blasphemous joke, do I have to take into account that someone could feel offended and fear for their safety because this joke could mean that I want to harm religious people?
Is that religious person one of very few religious people in a group of non-religious people? Then yes, you do. Your one joke will not make them think you are about to hurt them, no. But it will reinforce a space that makes being religious an easy thing to ridicule, and it will increment the fear counter for any particular person in that space, and more importantly, will legitimize the attitudes of the other non-religious people around you who might have otherwise not done their part in contributing to a hostile environment. Luckily for the religious, they rarely are in a position to be uncomfortable (well, unless you're anything but Christian in America), but if one of the goals of the space you are in is to make it a welcoming place for people of talent, religious or not, then telling blasphemous jokes is (obviously, I hope) not a way to do that.
Now we're mixing scenarios. wpietri scenario was one I could not change anything because there wasn't anything to change. I don't walk into a gay bar and tell gay men to stop making jokes because they may or may not offend people. Same as I don't walk into a bad neighborhood and try to talk to shady people because I may feel offended by them dealing drugs.
What Adria did, did not help making men and women feel more comfortable working together. She made the opposite by publicly pillorying someone with the "sexism" hammer. That's a though position to be in as the receiving end.
> It's not really about one joke. It's about reinforcing a space that makes it easier to legitimize misogynist behavior through carelessness.
I don't agree at all. How do you come to that conclusion? What makes you think that someone who tells a dick joke would discriminate a woman? All those jokes about planes and towers may be childish and downright outrageous for someone that was affected by 9/11, but that does not make people suicide bombers.
> Like you said, "in a room with countless other people"--these guys were in a professional setting, and the joke really had no place there. Maybe they didn't deserve to get fired over it, but it definitely was not the right venue.
If those people made a joke like "A Mexican, a German and a French walk ..." would you post their picture to Twitter with a headline like "Those two guys behind my are xenophobes?". No, of course not. You may turn and say that those comments are not appropriate. The guy didn't deserve to get fired at all.
> But it will reinforce a space that makes being religious an easy thing to ridicule, and it will increment the fear counter for any particular person in that space, and more importantly, will legitimize the attitudes of the other non-religious people around you who might have otherwise not done their part in contributing to a hostile environment.
You know what? It is my right to ridicule you for believing stuff. Even religious ideas, because they are not different from attitudes towards anything relative (like which music sucks and which not). If you feel offended in that scenario, then say so. If I'm a jerk I'll continue making additional comments. If I'm a nice guy, I'll apologize. You'll meet all kinds of assholes in your life and you'll be offended by a lot of stuff that's going on. Making everyone shut up so no one is offended won't make anything better or solve any problems.
I am not drawing an analogy. I was trying to help Joeboy understand how jokes can sexualize a context in a way that makes people feel uncomfortable.
As a frequent teller of jokes, I always try to match the joke to the audience. If religious people in the US faced a 1 in 6 risk of physical assault for their religion, you can bet I would be very careful about telling any joke that might make them fearful. Wouldn't you?
As far as I've read they talked to each other, not her.
> As a frequent teller of jokes, I always try to match the joke to the audience. If religious people in the US faced a 1 in 6 risk of physical assault for their religion, you can bet I would be very careful about telling any joke that might make them fearful. Wouldn't you?
No, because that's not healthy at all. It's words, and they are not directed at you, but at most about something you identify yourself with. If you're offended by such words (mind, I'm not talking about personally addressed threats or repeated bullying), that's your problem. There was a time when you got killed for making harmless jokes about authorities. I want people to be able to express themselves. And when people are talking bullshit, then call 'em out for being ignorant. Laugh about them.
Also I'd like some source for that 1/6 people faces risk of physical assault for their religion. What does that even mean? The risk? From whom? Are you trying to tell me that 16% are living in fear because of their religion? In the USA?
You should read her blog, then.
> Also I'd like some source for that 1/6 people faces risk of physical assault for their religion.
No, it's 1 in 6 women who will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Note the "if" in my statement. My point is that your example doesn't really work, because in the US people don't generally risk assault just for being a particular religion.
Also, I think it's unfortunate that you are willing to make people afraid just so you can tell a joke. It's your prerogative, of course. But so is getting called out for it. Including, as with these folks, on Twitter.
So should you, since she made it fairly clear that she spoke to someone behind her and to her far left, and then the person next to him began the comments that set off this entire fiasco. I remembered that even without reopening it to read it again, just like I remember you punching all gay people in the stomach elsewhere in this thread by comparing us to rapists.
I understand that you are a self-described 'ardent feminist,' but please sit this one out. People like you are making this entire situation worse. This would be a simple moral ambiguity question ("is it moral to call someone out publicly on Twitter for a sensitive topic?") but instead we have to have the fucking sexism-in-tech fight with a sexual assault daily double and male feminists like you dropping the 1 in 6 statistic as if it has any relevancy to the topic whatsoever.
(It's pretty sad that I know to Ctrl+F for "1 in 6" in threads like these, and surprise, I found you! Thrice!)
One of the big problems in these discussions is that most guys do not understand viscerally why sexual jokes or statements are problematic. They think, "Oh, sexy discussion is fun!" Because for them it always is. They have never experienced unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. The only reason that I have some understanding is that people close to me have been victims of all of those things, and I have talked a lot about it with them and seen the impact on their lives.
I was looking for a way to help Joeboy, who said he didn't understand why it was a problem. The best I could think of was to ask him to imagine himself in a situation where he could plausibly but incorrectly feel fear of sexual assault. My goal was not to suggest anything about gay people, and as I wrote it I tried very carefully to walk that line. If I got that wrong, I'm genuinely sorry.
If you could compose a better story that achieves that goal, I would be happy to read it. It was the best I could do at the time, but I would be glad to learn how to do it better next time.
I agree it's not totally explicit, though, so perhaps they never did notice her.
I can imagine feeling unsafe in a bar, but it wouldn't be because of a romantic proposal. I can't imagine feeling unsafe in an auditorium listening to a technical presentation at a conference.
I'm glad that hasn't happened to you. But if this particular scenario doesn't help you to understand how you you might feel unsafe in a sexual context, go ahead and make up your own.
I'll stipulate that the woman was pissed off, but in no sense did she feel unsafe. When I search her post for the string 'safe', I find one mention of the dorky dudes' temporary feelings of safety and how that sort of thing leads to genocide. There is another mention of PyCon being safe in a general sense. There is no claim that she ever felt unsafe, and your focus on that adjective is unhelpful.
I am saying that one reason we don't make sexual comments in professional contexts is that it can make people feel unsafe.
Your post makes me feel ashamed though, it assumes a lot about women, that it is probably pretty offensive to homosexuals, and that it is written in an absurd and illegible color which makes me wish you more completely were unaware of how to use a computer.
(I might have missed a joke. If so, I'm sorry.)
But if you need a different story to imagine feeling unsafe because suddenly people around you are talking about sex, I'm sure you can make one up. The point was to help Joeboy understand the feeling, not the specifics of the situation.
I understand you don't get it. I'm saying that's partly because you don't have a visceral fear of sexual assault. You also probably don't have much experience with unwanted sexual advances. And you've probably never been sexually harassed. You also may not have experienced being a visibly different minority in a situation where that raises your risk of unpleasantness or violence.
I don't think the jokes themselves were scary. I doubt Adira did either. But sexualization of a professional environment can be scary. So we are finally starting to say that it's not allowed at tech conferences.
I'm trying to help Joeboy understand why sexual content can trigger legitimate fears.
Note that at this very conference, there was other inappropriate stuff going on:
So although I agree that Adira was in no immediate danger, I think she was right to see jokes like that as being part of an environment that alienates women and enables problematic behavior.
I would agree that those jokes could alienate some women and men, and therefore don't contribute to an inclusive environment. And the other stuff in the post you link to sounds crappy. I'm in favour of having a code of conduct, particularly if there's a culture of inappropriateness that needs addressing. I still think your conflation of dick jokes with sexual threat is OTT.
How about THIS analogy?
For me, it's not huge gay leather daddies but people in uniform - police etc. Maybe that's because I grew up in a communist country.
Still, I think that's my personal issue, I don't expect society to switch to jeans-and-polo-shirt cops.
But why did this person's employer fire them? I certainly wouldn't fire anyone for this reason and I would hire someone who made dick jokes for sure.
It's unfair to assume Adria is "sheltered". In fact she has dealt with a great deal more than most of us, from domestic abuse to foster care. She has overcome immense barriers.
Please don't be quick to judge people as sheltered or oversensitive. Many people, or their loved ones, have experienced violence, abuse, sexism, racism, and other hardships that most of us couldn't imagine. What is offensive to one of us may not be obvious to the rest.
Adria is being physically threatened and having racial and misogynistic slurs thrown at her over this incident.
It breaks my heart to see so many rallying against her at a time when she really needs our support. Some truly horrific things are happening to her as a result of this tweet, whose consequences she could have never intended or imagined.
You don't have to agree with her views and her actions to agree that no one in our community deserves this.
The problem is that with overreacting to some tasteless but pretty harmless joke she started the vicious circle of jerkiness.
Sexist assholes felt their world view validated and in turn validate her out of line action by making her a martyr with their immature reactions.
Thank goodness this is just the cyberspace. The same dynamic at work can be witnessed in places where it Leeds to riots and deaths.
I would not want to work at SendGrid (I contemplated applying last week) as long as Adria does not see the error of her actions, it would make me feel uncomfortable.
However I would love to see everyone threatening or slurring Adria over this incident be fired. They deserve it (as opposed to the guy who was fired over this)
I wouldn't judge her as sheltered, i know people who have gone through some horrible things who are just the same overreact at the drop of a hat. but i sure as hell judge her as oversensitive. And your right everyone is offended by different things, I'm offended by her response to his joke in the name of all women. But so what. I'm just mildly offended, it shall pass.
I've been through my own personal hell and get 'uncomfortable' (ie offended) by things no one would ever think offensive. But is it my right to impose this on everyone around me? no. I have no right to dictate other conversations that are not directed at, nor about me because who am i to say what is offensive and what is not, its bound to be different then most.
She probably does not deserve the reaction shes getting, but then she made a really poor judgement that got someone fired for something they shouldn't have been fired for. Maybe next time she will think twice and exercise some self control before doing something so wildly inappropriate. (he acted somewhat inappropriately to, but she was far far more so by posting that pic)
It sounds like a constant reminder that you're not really a part of the community because there's tech and then there's 'women in tech' - as if your plumbing has anything to do with being 'in tech'.
At least, that's why I dislike the phrase.
However, she chose to make this public. That was an overt action, and she (as a semi-public pseudo-PR person with over a thousand twitter followers) should know how the internets can operate. This is compounded by the fact that the action she took was completely unnecessary.
She has my sympathy by virtue of the fact that no one should be subject to the lowest common denominator hate mongering that sometimes rears its ugly head (in society / the internet / etc). However, based on her actions I can sincerely say I do not applaud or condone her, and quite frankly think very little of her handling of this entire situation.
I've been the subject of very public rape threats myself. That is the consequence of misogyny, which is a real problem. I fully support the fight against misogyny and would rally against that. Women should not be subject to rape or death threats ever, no matter what they do. It doesn't require me to agree with her about other things.
I said "eew" because I feel the "women in tech" community frequently does not represent the views of women who do not agree with a certain type of feminism.
I don't think these things are quite as horrific as being fired by a spineless lick-spittle employer and not knowing how to provide for your family.
> whose consequences she could have never intended or imagined.
Of course not; she compared herself to a saint (actually), and probably expected others to buy into her delusions.
However it's also true that she was the one who chose the nuclear option, and has to live with the consequences of that. If I (as a guy) had behaved as she did, I would expect long threads on HN & Reddit telling me what an asshole I am.
The problem seems to be that her moral compass is so skewed that she believes her reaction was proportionate, and will probably not learn anything from the negative reaction to this.
Reputationally, the company has a right to be both disappointed and concerned.
I don't really support Adria's approach to this (especially how she now appears to be dismissing even fair criticism as "trolling"). But the company has a reasonable argument for dismissal, whether this had splashed across the net or not.
Not to use any from of possible objectionable joke/language when talking privately with a friend but in a public setting? I guess he should never again say anything that has to do with politics, religion, sex, violence, or technical standards.
Or is it to avoid any places with people he doesn't know. Avoid all conferences, bars, cities, towns, buss stations and so on? Only ever be at places where he know he can speak freely without anyone taking "offense" if what he said is overheard.
Sorry, what? Two employees go to a conference, on paid time, wear your company's swag, and have around their necks badges which, if this is like other cons, has your company's name on it. Then they say something about big dongles and forking repos -- just gross -- at an audible volume, which has at least one person at the conference become upset to the point where she complains.
And you can't understand why a company would reconsider their employment? What's hard to understand about that?
But I bet you wouldn't even bat an eyelash if I made those jokes and sometimes I worry I have gotten into bad habits with my language because of who I am. I confess I have made the forking joke myself and everyone thought it was cute and funny because I'm a five foot tall woman. It is not a sexist joke, it might be in bad taste. Gross is totally subjective.
Frankly, I have a hard time believing your position is genuine and well-considered. On the one hand, you understand why you wouldn't want employees talking this to a client. But as a walking billboard for your company in front of a random audience whose only unifying trait is an interest in Python, you can't understand why it'd be a problem?
And the idea that you'd have no employees is, um, what? You've never worked in a place where people behave like professional, competent people who err on the side of caution when choosing whether or not to make a penis joke? Let me tell you, there are a lot of places which are able to hire and retain employees just fine.
I guess you should read about the issue you are arguing about?
"In front of a random audience," I mean come on, it's not like they were on stage. Maybe they were a little inconsiderate, I've said maybe kind of offensive things and then realized people around me could hear. You probably have too. But it's like the secret police and you can't slip up anymore I guess.
And what I meant is that gross is pretty subjective, so I don't go around rejecting people who I feel are "gross" or who do "gross" things. Misogyny is a terrible problem, being "gross" is just a social issue that I should let people know about. This whole conversation just underlines to me that this is social bullying masquerading as feminism or "professionalism."
IT is a hugely diverse field. When I worked in academia it was an environment where I could not have the jokey environment you might have at a small startup, so that's also something to be mindful of.
That doesn't tell me what the joke was, it could have been anything.
The rest of your comment is hyperbole and straw man. Secret police? Gimme a break, they're walking ads for their company and they agreed to a code of conduct before attending. It's pretty unreasonable to say that you need a second chance to act like a jackass in that situation -- if you didn't know better, you should have.
This whole conversation just underlines to me that this is social bullying masquerading as feminism or "professionalism."
Sure. That's a way more reasonable conclusion than "I have to show a little caution and discretion when talking within earshot of an audience whose boundaries and sensibilities are not completely known to me."
No. You're totally being bullied by people who expect you to have a little basic courtesy in mixed company.
> While I did make a big dongle joke about a fictional piece hardware that identified as male, no sexual jokes were made about forking. My friends and I had decided forking someone's repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said "I would fork that guys repo" The sexual context was applied by Adria, and not us.
Straight from a primary source, who all in all seems to be taking this like a champ.
>No. You're totally being bullied by people who expect you to have a little basic courtesy in mixed company.
It was bullying. Plain and simple. She could have informed the conference staff and left it at that. But she didn't, she took it to the internet and bullied them there and someone lost a job. if that's not bullying then i don't know what is.
>they're walking ads for their company and they agreed to a code of conduct before attending.
and so did she, and she broke that code by posting online and publicly shaming them. If he deserved to be fired, she does even more so.
b) if that's not bullying then i don't know what is. Well first, she didn't fire them, their employers did. Presumably after an investigation or at least an interview with the offending employee -- where he would have had a chance to say, "no I didn't make a crude joke in public, while among mixed company and acting as a representative of our organization." If, in fact, that was the truth. But no, the truth is that his behavior is exactly described thus.
Second, is this hyperbole? You don't know what bullying is if it's not someone tweeting out a picture and describing offending behavior which actually took place? There are many examples of actual bullying, and the consequences are much more severe than a meeting with an HR rep.
c) If he deserved to be fired, she does even more so. Totally irrelevant, even if it's true. Go complain to SendGrid and PyCon about how Adria Richards' behavior offended you. People don't always get what they deserve -- that doesn't mean that the people who do get what they deserve are being betrayed.
It's a poor decision, but if he was there "representing his company" (i.e., being paid while there) he probably tripped over a zero-tolerance policy on harassment.
Making a dick joke might be offensive, but it saddens my heart to even think that it might be put in the same category as some of the legitimate harassment that I and other women have experienced. Harassment that was devastating and insidious.
You're right, it's not the same as your boss implying (or stating) quid pro quo, being touched against your will, or any of the other bajillion ways people can mess with each other.
Normally, if I had an employee in his situation, I'd ask him for his side once he returned. If he confirmed the incident, the reaction would be something on the range of,"you dumbass," to "you have a documented case of being a schmuck and have exposed us to legal complaints from coworkers. Re-take the mandatory two-hour California harassment training as a refresher."
Then again, I don't allow Python on my teams because Guido is insane, so I'd obviously avoid the situation completely. :-)
My sense is that she herself didn't bat much of an eye until she decided that it was a problem. If you read her account, she acted in order to protect a photograph:
I saw a photo on main stage of a little girl who had been in the Young Coders workshop.
I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so.
The details in her account are very interesting, given the putative motivators behind her actions.
Then I realized the problem, the same one that feminists are facing more and more; women want to be equal, but they want to keep certain privileges. They want to be accepted by men in tech as equals, but be spared sex jokes (that, btw, have nothing to do with tech, but have a lot to do with men; in my group of (male) friends, they are completely normal, along with all other jokes). I don't think both are possible.
Sex jokes have no place in the work place. Period. No matter the gender of the narrator or the audience.
However, it depends on company culture and policy, which should not be changed simply because one employee feels uncomfortable, even if it's a woman (or maybe the policy dictates that in such case the culture should be changed; nevertheless, gender shouldn't matter).
I know lots of jokes about Jews or homosexuals or mad people that are very funny. I'd never tell those jokes at work, or at a conference, or in the presence of anyone who wasn't a very close friend.
As pointed out by a previous poster, I would appreciate it you took the time to understand that this was not the crux of what I was saying. Work appropriateness aside, the idea that only juveniles could possibly enjoy such a joke is ... laughable.
That's the whole point. Not that jokes like that are told. I find it sad that some of the ones being told are utterly degrading, and I'd hope people would let go of those, but as far as sex jokes in a group of friends go? Sure. Have at it. They have consented.
At work, I have not consented to be subject to those jokes, and there is no reason to tell them. That is what this is about.
But I also wouldn't invite you to any outside of work social activities either, because you sound like a buzzkill.
This is actually one of the problems with folks being able to speak up in an office environment to challenge sexist or racist "jokes". Very often said humor isn't even humor and is used by a privileged group to disparage another. If someone calls that out, they can face social exclusion from their colleges, esp. if those colleges don't think that racism or sexism is a big deal. In such a situation, the person who feels uncomfortable can say nothing and continue to be a part of the group or they can say something and suddenly find themselves on the outside of the group, which for work has big consequences like losing access to resources needed to do your job, being passed up for promotion, etc.
Now i work some place like yours! (with both other women and men) and its great. I work with friends and acquaintances now not co-workers.
> women want to be equal, but they want to keep certain privileges. They want to be accepted by men in tech as equals, but be spared sex jokes
So, according to that, being spared sex jokes is a privilege that women enjoy. It also happens to fall under professional courtesy. Hence my comment.
None of that is directly related to the people involved.
What privilege is this that she wants to keep? Women are already bombarded with sex jokes. The fact it's such an outrage she spoke up is testament to that.
Or just point out that in the photo https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/313417655879102464/...
you can clearly see both their badges (with names) and their are wearing their companies t-shirt. Also she really should have cropped it because the poor man on the left is going to be mistaken for the one of them now.
And I think their company might have more than one bearded guy on staff, so it's hardly obvious.
It's disingenuous to dismiss photos as anonymous when it's so easy to either crowdsource or reverse-engineer someone's identity. If you weren't aware of how easy it is, then I politely suggest you're a little naive.
It's a shame he got fired, but I don't necessarily blame his company. I wouldn't want someone telling dick jokes and making me look bad doing it on my dime.
That is the very definition of dragging someone's reputation through the mud.
This times three million.
That's one step removed from being asked to take your word on what happened; that's asking to accept your interpretation. For all I know (from that post), he was joking about how you'd need a huge dongle to fork anything of theirs because of how protective their are of their IP, and then Richards pattern-matched it to a common meme.
If it's important enough to broadcast, it's important enough to get the details straight and not have to rely on someone's interpretation.
Most women I know that want to be treated equal, just like blback said they just want to be treated like "a person", not any kind of special treatment for being females, they say any kind of jokes politically correct or not and really act in a way that shows that their gender does not matter.
There are no complaints about improper jokes or anything, (except some cases and even then, the problem is not any kind of sexism, just a matter of context or seriousness of the conversation), there are no demands on special treatment. And that is in my opinion the best way to contribute to equality.
It doesn't really matter if the joke was lewd or offensive or if your social group wouldn't have batted an eye. That's a non-sequitur. She thought it was personally offensive and did something to stop it. It might have been possible to deal with it without identifying them, but that's just a guess at the situation.
And that's the problem,anyone can be offended by anything. while i don't' find the jokes in question personally offensive, there are some things i do that no one could ever guess i would be offended by, and they are also rather silly. So when those things crop up, do i freak out and make a scene? no, i take responsibility for my own emotions and feelings and understand that we all have different values and (generally) mine aren't necessarily better then anyone elses.
That aside, this
> I wouldn't have to make politically incorrect jokes and references to make myself fit in if there wasn't a fear of offending me and losing their job put there by other women who call foul at the slightest indecency....
is an irrelevant conclusion to take from this event. You don't have to speak for your entire sex by being politically incorrect just to show you're not "one of those" women or that women aren't all the same. To everyone whose mind isn't stuck in the 30s, that should be pretty obvious.
Also, your argument seems to imply that she should have taken the same action you would've taken, but that is kind of unrelated. She did whatever she felt was right to do at the time because of other concerns. Using phrases like "freak out and make a scene" portray her as this basketcase who has no control over herself, but that isn't exactly what happened. What you would do and what she did are unrelated, because you are two different people with different values. Yet, I'm sure people would love to leverage your argument against hers because you are both women. That just stinks of sexism.
> is an irrelevant conclusion to take from this event. You don't have to speak for your entire sex by being politically incorrect just to show you're not "one of those" women or that women aren't all the same
Well I said that somewhat tongue in cheek, i don't think its my responsibility to make people feel more comfortable around me because i'm a women, I was mainly commenting on how there is a noticeable difference when people find out i'm not "one of those women" and relax. In fact when it comes down to it its people not being uncomfortable because i'm a women, but because i may be "one of those women" and i can't blame them, if i was, one slip up and they could lose their job. And now it seems even if you slip up in public around one you could too.
I don't try and speak for my gender, or show all women aren't they same, when i show that i am ok with and enjoy 'inappropriate' humor, that's me and who i am. no one is going to think oh gosh all women are like this. When someone does what adira did and acts all righteously thinking they speak for all women it affects us all, and not for the better.
My argument is that anyone can be offended by anything and we have to realize this and behavior accordingly. What i am ok with is going to be differently they what she is ok with. She was bothered by it, ok, but her response was disproportional and out of line yet somehow its defensible because shes female and "did it for the young girls". it does women like me a disservice because now men are going to be even more cautions and uncomfortable around us because the huge risk of possible offending someone like her and it ruining your life. No one should lose their job over a stupid dick joke. period. People need to have tougher skins and not be so easily offended otherwise its going to be a sad sad world we live in.
> portray her as this basketcase who has no control over herself
well I do think she has no control over her self, She got angry and posted a pic on twitter about them and started a vendetta when she should have simply contacted the conference staff, something i would have done if people were actually being out of line and not just making the equivalent of a 13 year old boy's joke to his friend. If that didn't work then it was time to escalate, instead she demonstrated both poor judgement and self control and jumped right into the tweeting.
Edit: I've tempered my phrasing above quite a bit and removed references to individuals.
The joke that she's making there is that her male friend should stuff socks in his pants to shock the screening TSA agent. This joke is not targeted at anyone in particular.
The comment she's replying to is a factual description of what actually happens in TSA screenings. In fact it is suspected by many that the TSA agents do this deliberately so that people will be discouraged from asking for the alternative screening.
The whole situation has a "he said, she said" feeling about it. But if everything that I just read is factually correct (not at all guaranteed), then she had something real to complain about.
Making the offence result in a firing seems to me to be an overreaction.
Are you sure? How do you know?
If my reading of her article is correct, and she was telling the truth, then she did not think so. That does not mean that she was correct. And with a he said, she said situation there is no chance of sorting things out. But your unsupported assertion of fact is not necessarily true.
Her article is at http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking-and-dongle-jokes-dont... if you want to read it to decide for yourself whether I am reading correctly.
Here is the scenario that I read from her description. She's sitting one in front. 3 guys are behind and (if she is turned) to her right. Guy #1 who is behind is talking about a presentation, she turns and agrees with him, and during their discussion he talks about forking a repository.
Guy #2 is to #1's left (on the right from her view), and begins making sexual jokes about forking with #3 riffing off of that. Then shortly after they riff off of a comment from the speaker and joke, "You can thank me" then start talking about big dongles.
Therefore their sexual jokes were based off of their overhearing HER conversation, and so they had every expectation that SHE would hear THEM in turn. Furthermore I get the impression that even though she was not looking at them, she believed that they were implicitly ADDRESSING HER. (I am not saying that this belief is correct, merely that this is my impression of the situation as she remembered and described it.)
If so, then in no way that she would have believed that this was a private conversation. Nor is it tenable that they were accidentally overheard by her. Nor is it a surprise that she took it personally.
Of course we all adjust memories of things that happened to be clearer cut than they were. There was a lot going on. I was not there - she may have misunderstood the interaction. But what she described is both a plausible scenario, and one in which her upset makes quite a bit of sense to me. And one which runs absolutely counter to the narrative that this was simply a private conversation that she accidentally overheard and overreacted to.
What makes it all even trickier is that it is wrapped up in joking. Jokes can run all the way from light playing around with language, to allowing you to say things that you'd never be allowed to say directly. Where you are on that spectrum can be hard to tell. Often even people who are present will sharply disagree on where a particular joke was on that spectrum. And that is normal people. Geeks are not known for being the best with social cues, even when you don't think about those of us with Asperger's.
Which leads me back to what I was saying. Adria seems to have felt personally targeted. Quite possibly she was. Quite possibly she was wrong. But as long as it is plausible that she was correct, I simply can't support the lynch mob here. Though - as I've said before - unless the man in question had prior history with his employer, firing him was a management mistake.
That said, I've personally encountered more "prior history" cases than managers who would make that bad management mistake. Which says that his firing suggests that there was a prior history. And if there were a prior history, then the odds that Adria was reading the situation correctly go up.
She may have misunderstood the situation, or inaccurately described it. But that was my understanding of the description that I read.
(Yes, I know that it is unfashionable to actually read what the main participants say happened and develop your own opinions. And dangerous to do so when pitchforks are out. But I am weird that way.)
I did not get that impression from her article. (But it is not specified either way, so time might have passed.)
>Jesse Noller was up on stage thanking the sponsors. The guys behind me (one off to the right) said, “You can thank me, you can thank me”. That told me they were a sponsoring company of Pycon and from the photos I took, his badge had an add-on that said, “Sponsor”.
>They started talking about “big” dongles. I could feel my face getting flustered
So it seems that from the forking thing to the dongle thing there was at least 30-60 seconds, enough time to consider the person who turned around to interject into your conversation no out of it and no longer listening to every word your saying.
My reaction in her position a minute later would be to tend to regard continued joking as a continuation of the previous conversation and react accordingly. Particularly if they had given any reason to believe that she was paying attention previously.
Depending on circumstances, this might or might not have been an accurate description of what the people joking might have been thinking. And, of course, now that it has blown up there is virtually no chance that anyone will have clear enough memories of what actually happened and what people's states of mind were to sort this out.
In other words we can't at this distance sort out the facts. She may very well have had something real to have been upset at. She may have been misunderstanding what happened. Firing the guy was an overreaction. (And with the pitchforks out, I'm sure to be downvoted into oblivion for having said anything other than the party line that has been agreed on by consensus.)
Time enough for her to turn away, and the assumption that she wasn't part of the conversation any more to be reasonable?
I don't know that it was... Any more than you know it wasn't.
I think we need to stop doing this bullshit in general. I'd much rather have our community check each other and shame each other on Twitter than having employers step in and decide that thing X or thing Y is not okay for their employees to say in their personal capacity at a conference or on Twitter. As far as I've heard, Adria never asked for these guys to be terminated and personally, I think it was probably inappropriate for them to be. But it's also inappropriate (read: fucking insane) to boycott a company because you don't like what one of their employees posts on their personal twitter account.
Who exactly is she "evangelizing" for? All developers? I find that really hard to believe given her extremely public politics.
Again, these are the academically accepted definitions.
Edit: also consider that the way Adria phrased it IS NEVER the academically accepted definition, because black people are fully capable of becoming an oppressive class vis-a-vis white people. It may not be the case at this time where Adria lives, but it certainly can be the case. So the statement that black people can NEVER be racist towards whites is less an elucidation of this definition, and more an expression of Adria's own racism.
I'm not sure I agree with you, but I think this is an interesting point in the debate and wanted to acknowledge that even though I don't have a snappy response for you at the present time. Hopefully other people engage this point. It seems worth talking about.
Many journalists nowadays have a twitter account because of their work, and news websites syndicate from their personal accounts.
And I think the extent of this is a whole big can of worms I'm not sure I'm in a great position to address as a researcher at a university with surprising levels of freedom to shoot my mouth off and not care what anyone else thinks.
While I personally know plenty of people in evangelist roles and while I consider them friends, I can't say I'm qualified to really talk about where a line should be wrt separating their personal and professional speech. I hope someone who is qualified to discuss it approaches this point, because I think it is worth discussing and increasingly important.
tl;dr: I really hope this discussion continues but I'm probably not the right person to talk about it down this particular wormhole.
Some things are different in because of it - but honestly if you care about your public image, you shouldn't share 'private ' jokes on a very public medium.
The thing I took from the photo (which I agree was a bit much) was that this woman of color was surrounded by a bunch of white dudes with corrective lenses. There was a man of color farther back, but diversity was not on display.
One of the guys even had a weak smile as if he was thinking,"ohmanagirlislookingatmeandtakingmypictureimayloveher." But I'm assuming he's straight, which is my own lens on the moment.
I hope that her goal was to portray that lack of diversity rather than to shame the two participants in the conversation.
What's good for the goose...
I.e. if it's only fair for someone to be canned based on the postings on some random's personal twitter account, it's only fair for it to work in reverse. Employers can people based on their personal lives all the time.
Also, as detailed elsewhere, this goes beyond a mere tweet.
She makes penis jokes on twitter, works at a company that makes jokes about photocopying genitals, and she gets offended when someone in the row behind her says 'dongle'. Sounds about right.
I think firing either party was a pretty daft idea for all types of poultry, or in this case, human beings.
> Employers can people based on their personal lives all the time.
Yeah, I think I'm saying I'm saying that in a lot of circumstances, that's pretty lame and we actively, as a community, saying that type of reaction is unwise. Instead, you have someone calling for it.
This is only getting to be a bigger problem as everyone's personal lives become more and more broadcasted.
Chalk it up to self-interest if you'd like, I got a bunch of shit on my twitter accounts that could get me in trouble with different types of views and people. Any employer who is interested in hiring me is going to have to be able to deal with that.
> this goes beyond a mere tweet
Her actions were a tweet and a blog post. What someone else did with that is their issue. Go get angry at them if you think those actions were inappropriate.
So if I get this right..
Someone says a joke that offends you, in earshot, but not to you, and you take this as your opportunity to photograph them, get them kicked out of a con, fired, pilloried in public? And then you take to your blog to defend yourself (not really) with an incessant repeating of "I'm in the right! I'm in the right!" (paraphrased)
Let me say this as clearly as I can: Anyone who would engage in the behavior described in the previous paragraph is a colossal fucking idiot of the highest caliber, who I would think very long and hard about hiring or retaining employment for any job that required any kind of public interaction.
I am having trouble mustering words for how angry this makes me. Time to get off the internet for a while.
You're generalizing too much.
If your response to your first example was to do what the person we're talking about did, then yes, you would be an idiot.
>Okay, how about if someone was threatening to harm a political figure as a joke?
>Or what if the joke insulted people of a different race for their cultural beliefs?
In my arrogant opinion, nothing short of lewd and obscene sexual discussion or threats of bodily harm should have led to the sequence of events we have here in front of us.
I've got one word for that: Lol.
Aside: Does anybody know the actual joke in question? More than it just referencing a "big dongle".
Unfortunately, it seems to be winning the argument here with several proposing boycotting and swearing against using SendHub in the future if they don't fire her. All the while people seem to think that the problem here is "women are sensitive and don't like dick jokes, we better watch what we say," instead of asking, "how do we fix this?"
Let's get one thing straight right now, this isn't just "behavior I don't agree with", I think this kind of crap should be a criminal matter with prison time and/or huge compensatory fines involved.
Barring that, if there is any justice in the world whatsoever, Adria will lose her job as well.
Think about it. Some jackass caused someone to lose their job for no good reason.
That's a blow that would put many of us in a very bad place.
>All the while people seem to think that the problem here is "women are sensitive and don't like dick jokes, we better watch what we say," instead of asking, "how do we fix this?"
I've seen very little of the first sentiment and a great deal of "this person overreacted". Yes, by women too. I don't think the average conventiongoer now needs to watch their back to see if any women are around before making a joke in good faith.
How we fix this? How can any person know in advance if something they're talking about is going to offend some random who might take huge and extraordinary steps to ruin your life?
I'd argue we fix this by making an example of anyone who misuses their power like this. Maybe then the people who like to call a mob to pitchforks will think twice if their target is really deserving of mob justice based on the context of a possibly insensitive fucking joke.
..In which case the decision to stop or not do business with Sendgrid would be all the more justified.
edit: this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5411071
Adria's actions unjustly caused another person to lose their employment and very possibly negatively impact their future employment opportunities.
At least in my mind, it's only fair that Sendgrid re-evaluate whether they want their "evangelist" acting in such a manner.
I guess you got your wish.
Why do I think this? Because I've worked in SV and gone to one of the CS programs which is a major feeder into the SV engineering pool (Cal). And I doubt that the engineering programs at CMU, Stanford and other schools differ so wildly in social aptitude.
These guys are so bent out of shape over simply not understanding how to do it, the frustration and resentment is as thick as concrete. Every time one of these stories pops up, this place becomes indistinguishable from /r/MensRights -- the most entitled victims you've ever heard.
I mean, if you can't understand why someone would get fired for making gross, wildly inappropriate jokes within earshot of other attendees, while wearing their employer's name on their shirt and around their neck -- well, you must have a gigantic axe to grind.
And all feminists are just angry because they're ugly and emotionally damaged. How is my statement any different from yours? How is your language somehow not worthy of being terminated while these men are offensive?
I'm proposing that there is a willful misunderstanding of a completely reasonable response inline with the HR policies of any established company, and that misunderstanding is pervasive among this crowd. Given my experience with people here, and engineer/hacker types in general who have espoused to me beliefs similar to those expressed here, I'm stating a personal observation/hypothesis:
The reason why so many people here are able to come to the same bizarre conclusion is that they have a shared set of assumptions about the world, what motivates certain people, and what's fair. In this case, the assumption is, essentially, that women are bitches who get everything in the world handed to them and have no reason/right to complain about reasonable behavior by well-intentioned, misunderstood men (with wives and kids, no less!) who were just trying to have a good time.
And this root assumption, in my opinion, is derived from a lifetime of not being able to communicate effectively with women. The culmination of that inability is, of course, sexual frustration.
I can't understand why they were fired. I think it is a gross overreaction to what is, at worst, a socially correctable situation.
And no, I'm not some non-elective male virgin. I'm a lady, and I find your characterization of people who don't agree with you as somehow socially inept is childish, dismissive, and illogical.
I find your characterization of people who don't agree with you as somehow socially inept is childish, dismissive, and illogical.
1) a situation which, on the surface, would appear to be nuanced and require calm reasoning to process and fully understand is actually binary and easily decided, or
2) this story hits a pain point common to the psyche of this group of readers, who have common background and experience, work or have worked together, work at similar companies, attend the same events, and in general belong to the milieu.
To me it's rather obvious that #2 is the case, what do you think?
And assuming #2 is the case: given my experience in the past with subsets of this group, and other non-HNers who would nonetheless be described as part of the same culture, I feel that the hypothesis I put forward has the potential to be a theory with significant explanatory power. For some commenters.
A third option (for starters) is that there are so many overreactions and mistakes in this story that there are many parties to be outraged with. The outrage isn't uniformly distributed across parties to blame but everybody feels it. This is how these threads get so long. If the community was not divided, these threads would be short simple affairs.
This is a deluge of unanimity, by comparison.
lol try being in any other industry and going to conferences. Plus try basing your argument on what actually happened. What you wrote above seems completely disconnected from reality.
If that's the case.. then he's not there in his personal capacity. He is there representing his company, on their dime.
They do, in fact, have something to lose if he cannot conduct himself in a reasonably professional manner.
And, because you can't measure the school by the individual, you can't measure the individual by the school, either. If a school has a reputation for kids behaving badly, that probably just means that a bunch of the kids who go there, who don't want to be there. Whether they wanted to be there when they arrived at the school is a separate issue, amenable to causal analysis.
...Now, similarly, a lot of people are forced to work at jobs they hate for a paycheck...
edit: just noticed the another commenter already pointed this out to you.
That's the thing. If this isn't what she wants, then she shouldn't act like such an incredibly immature child. What she did was many times more 'immature' than what the men allegedly said.
They allegedly exchanged a harmless, obviously immature joke between themselves, and should have been quieter given the setting. That's their fault.
She then responds by posting a slanderous/libelous covertly-taken picture that could only be described as a "creep shot" of these men to thousands of people (under the Sendgrid brand). And accompanies it with a baseless quote that is entirely unprovable. It doesn't matter what they said, if she has no proof then she has no right, NO RIGHT, to post such claims in a public forum.
What if she decided to 'teach them a lesson' and go even further with it? "OMG, two guys behind me talking about having sex with underage gurls! (insert creep shot here)". Why not? Clearly she doesn't feel the need to have any proof of her claims.
Sickening conduct. My company and our partners will also be boycotting Sendgrid if they do not respond in the appropriate manner.
She definitely had the legal right to do it. In her shoes, I hope wouldn't have. But then again, I'm not the one at subject to all sorts of sexual harassment. People can only take so much.
Your hypothetical is a little crazed. It makes me think your screen is flecked with spittle. The guy admitted the quotes and admitted an error. He claims the forking comment was not intended to be sexual, but looking at the wording I have a hard time believing that. Certainly one could reasonably take it as a sexual joke.
Also, your closing flounce is a lot less persuasive with a newly created anonymous account. One less generously disposed than I am might suspect your company and your partners are entirely fictional.
I'm curious though, what evidence are you looking for exactly? A signed paper where both men agree that their conduct was inappropriate and violating Pycon rules or something? A recording of them saying it? Your argument seems to be built around this idea of proof of someone's speech and I'm just wondering how exactly you would have a proved it. Because it definitely happened, maybe not exactly as she retold it, but it definitely happened.
P.S. Your example is extremely creepy and out of context, entirely. There's no logical reason to believe she would do that. But there's also no logical reason to boycott the company because they won't fire her either, so YMMV.
It's just a bad situation all around. Yes, people shouldn't be fired for bad jokes. Neither should they be pilloried by the community for losing their cool and tweeting about it.
The more I think about it (after a day now), the more I realize this was an opportunity for her to become famous. Think about what does she do -- developer advocate, her site is called "butyouregirl", she does talking engagements. She is a no-name. Have you heard of her before? Doubt it. I haven't. Does the whole tech world know her name now and who she is -- "YES". Hello speaking engagements, hello millions of visitors to her blog, hello book deals about social gender issues in post modern technology landscape.
Besides this, I am sure she is aware what happened before at PyCon (there as a guy who had a picture of a nude woman in one of the talks and he was escorted out and rightly so), then Jesse Noller et. al. made a strong statement that they are very intolerant to this kind of stuff (and rightly so). But I think there in lies a golden opportunity -- one little message + shitty deceivingly taken photo -- and bam! momentary boost to the top.
She made penis jokes herself not too long ago. If that doesn't convince you of her motivations I don't know what will.
Unfortunately public reputation, shaming and humiliation goes both ways. Tech community if anything doesn't tolerate bullshit, bureaucracy, dishonesty, and bullying. The 4 parties that played along here:
I sure hope this person has an offer on the table by now.
I think you nailed it. Her post about the incident is strangely long and melodramatic.
"I calculated my next steps." "It very much reminded me of Lord Of the Flies." "Yesterday the future of programming was on the line and I made myself heard."
I agree her judgement was bad and she shouldn't have posted the image (she has every right to post about the incident, though!).
But what I'm reading here is an awful lot of bile about this woman. She's being asked to answer for someone else's decision to fire someone (there's still no documentation or testimony about this fact, FWIW). She's being attacked for "setting back women's rights". She's basically being made the target for (what I perceive to be) a bunch of anti-feminist frustration among the male geeks. And that's... just really, really ugly; sorry.
She got pissed off and made a mistake, for which it would probably be a good idea to apologize. That's it. Everything else is on you guys.
This whole thread is making me sad.
For example, it turns out white people don't have to just sit there when somebody's being racist. They can speak up just as much as a black person can.
There is such a thing as unacceptable behavior. But the measure of that is not whether some member of a protected group was offended. Nobody has the right to never be offended in a public place.
Of course these very same laws require that the claim is filed confidentially, and the kind of public shaming we've seen here is itself considered harassment.
If PyCon had been held here the only party with their noses clean would the conference organisers.
"I saw a photo on main stage of a little girl who had been in the Young Coders workshop.
I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so."
Seems a tad melodramatic as a reaction to a private conversation. Seems to go with the Joan-of-Arc complex:
> I agreed with [the guy behind me] ... He said he would be interested in forking the repo [...] That would have been fine until the guy next to him... began making sexual forking jokes
I don't see how that constitutes a private conversation. The joke was apparently interjected into a discussion she was already part of.
Now, I still don't think the "public shaming" attempt was a good idea, and I certainly wouldn't support firing the guy (if that actually happened; again, no evidence at hand!). But I'm seeing the anti-Adria crowd here really bending over backwards to make this her fault. I think it's entirely reasonable to be offended by this, nor is it unreasonable to tweet or blog about it. That she got a little too hot-headed and posted a picture seems to be all anyone wants to talk about.
Because that's what got the guy fired. If she had just posted a tweet complaining, or just made a blog post talking about how those kinds of comments were offensive, people would have learned but nobody's life would have been ruined. Instead she choose to post their picture online AND continue to make a big deal about it. That's a personal vendetta.
"I calculated my next steps." => I'm sorry but that just feels wrong.
You actively tried to harm these guys (and succeeded). I'm pretty sure they weren't "calculating" their bad jokes to hurt your feelings.
Instead of an absurdly long post you should probably just have mentioned their bad taste, apologised for getting somebody fired and tried to resolve this issue as peacefully as possible instead of blowing it up.
No, the future of programming wasn't on the line yesterday. Yes, you made yourself heard but in way that (so far) has only done harm to this community.
I'm finding it hard to reconcile this with the idea that women as a group aren't weak and in need of white knight protectors.
It sounds more like she was personally offended yet wanted "to be a hero", where elsewhere she recognizes that "It takes three words to make a difference:“That’s not cool.”"
I can sympathize with being uncertain about how to react to a situation when people are being rude, and it's often overlooked that calm personal confrontation is actually very difficult. But I think a good heuristic would be to save the heroics for when you meet a villain--and that doesn't seem to be the case here. Most rude people are just oblivious and too comfortable to suspect that people around them aren't.
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Now I do agree with you somewhat. I doubt she saw this "joke" as an opportunity to screw someone over (at least I hope so. If she did, then all bets are off); but that doesn't excuse her wrong. Her actions caused this guy to be fired. She needs to own it. Apoligize, Offer amends and move on.
You could blame the millennia of sexism that set up the situation. You could blame the gender-imbalanced context: it's easy for humans to be insensitive to minority views. You could blame the guy's parents and teachers for not raising him right. You could blame the guy for saying something inappropriate. You could blame his friends for not reigning him in. You could blame Adria for reporting what he said in public. Or you could blame his boss, the person who actually fired him.
Ask yourself: why is she the one you chose to focus on?
You're right. The guys need to own-up for their stupidity too. Oh that's right, they never got the chance. She didn't confront them. She snapped a picture and tweeted.
And I agree about their employer. In fact, I'd love to know who the employer was?
So dick jokes are off the table, I get that. What about "your mom" jokes? Or blonde jokes? What is the invisible line that I dare not cross?
In this case, the line was pretty visible: the conference has a code of conduct.
But to be clear, as I have written circa 15 times at this point, I was not comparing the situations. I understand why people might think that, but I didn't say it. I apologize for not being explicit about that, as it has caused a great deal of distraction from my actual point.
I think in fact that people understood you were trying to "invoke a feeling of sexual threat" and that you did this by making blatantly homophobic remarks.
I also think you should realize that even if it was not your intent to analogize, there is still an inherent comparison being made between the two situations. If they are not at all comparable, then Adria Richards must be examined according to the circumstances outlined in this thread. It appears to be the consensus among both male and female posters (including yourself) that it is unlikely that the situation could have made her feel sexually threatened. That being the case, you are simply defending the fact that she could have. This is irrelevant. Is it fair for me to feel threatened by you because you made a homophobic remark which, unlike the comments made in the presence of Ms. Richards, was actually perceived by the community to be reprehensible? Frankly, no - and I think it is a failure on your part to evaluate her situation critically rather than defending people's ability to be offended by anything they deem offensive.
> How is this being gender-neutral?
These actually don't have anything to do with gender neutrality, btw. But it is pretty considerate. And if you don't think you need to be constantly considerate of diversity when speaking around a lot of people, you need to rethink that.
Possibly. Or, they could be cool with it. Or, they could refrain from passing their judgment to the rest of the world and inform me that what I said was offensive. The thing is, this is less about being aware of women and minorities and more about knowing if there are any people in the room who are easily offended by scatological humor.
From a recent wired article:
"The court of public opinion is an alternative system of justice. It’s very different from the traditional court system: This court is based on reputation, revenge, public shaming, and the whims of the crowd. Having a good story is more important than having the law on your side. Being a sympathetic underdog is more important than being fair. Facts matter, but there are no standards of accuracy. The speed of the internet exacerbates this; a good story spreads faster than a bunch of facts."
If she had reported it to the conference staff and just tweeted what she had done, without identifying them i don't think anyone would be focusing on her, and it would be a non-story.
There is a world of difference between the actions.
It could be she didn't realize how much juice she had, but with 9k followers, that seems a little far fetched.
At a guess, it appears that sexism is a specific instance of "People with power wielding it against people who don't have it, in a manner which the community finds morally questionable." Which seems to be what people are judging her for; not that she retaliated, but her escalation. Perhaps it's a good thing, the whole situation brings to mind the saying about "An armed society is a polite society."
In the end, I'd guess every party involved is going to wish this had never happened, and spend years carefully watching every word they say, and learning the first rule of InfoSec; Never Say Anything.
It wasn't inappropriate.
Now, presuming he knew that: shouldn't he, too, be "taking responsibility" for his actions instead of blaming some girl with a blog?
I just don't see where that logic goes. Everyone can be at fault here. But it seems like you (and most other men here) only want one person's head. That strikes me as distasteful.
Since we don't have the facts, we don't know, and folk are assuming the company over-reacted because it fits into the proffered narrative.
Why didn't she tell them to just be quiet? That's what normal people do.
What has to change is that everyone must take personal accountability and speak up when they hear something that isn’t ok. It takes three words to make a difference:
“That’s not cool.”
However, she appears to have not followed her own advice. I think it probably would have turned out differently if she had, though.
"Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member"
If she had asked them to quiet down, it could have turned into a pissing match. Or maybe they would have complied. You never know how it's going to play out.
However, she did report it to pycon. She tweeted about: "Can someone talk to these guys about their conduct? I'm in lightning talks, top right near stage, 10 rows back". She also says that she "began to contacting the PyCon staff via text message".
What she didn't have to do is take pictures of them without their permission and post their pictures on her public twitter feed. That is the part that steps over the line in my opinion.
1) post the picture on a world wide forum (twitter)
2) contact them via public channel (twitter)
She took the cowardly way out and a man was fired for it. And that's assuming it was even true.
She explained why she didn't just tell them to be quiet on her blog. But here's my take:
It is not her job to teach people how to behave properly in public. It is their job to behave properly. And it's the conference organizers' job to maintain a safe space, one where everybody is behaving according to conference standards. And when they heard about the problem, they jumped on it.
I also agree that the company that fired the person should also be held responsible for caving in to social pressure so easily. They are both responsible for the outcome.
By defending her and using phrases like "maintain a safe space," you make it sound like quietly speaking innocuous words is of any legitimate concern or consequence. In reality, Adria's behavior was far, far worse and did, in fact, have serious consequences that will adversely affect an individual's career.
That said, sexual comments at conventions get old really fast. Sure it's the first time you've made the tits or GTFO joke today but it's the billionth time I've heard it. Then there are the guys, total strangers, who want to quiz you on your 'nerd' qualifications. They also like to stand behind you when you are checking out a product or game demo, making smug comments like "she has no idea what that is", "I bet she can't even figure out how to shoot".
And the worst ones, the guys who are outright hostile towards women. These are few and far between but I've had men come up to me at conventions and say "No one thinks you're special because you're a girl". No idea who they are or what I did to deserve it.
The feeling that builds up for me is the exact same feeling I had when bullied at school. You let it each instance slide because individually they don't seem like such a big deal and you don't want to seem like a whiner. But at the end of the day they start to get to you and you feel less than human.
She did, and tweeted that they had responded and said they handled it.
People, not just men, make crude and stupid jokes. Yes, I think it's likely that the majority of such humor comes from us (I am male), but honestly... the part of your comment I definitely agree with is that this goes too far to be productive or rational.
I won't be boycotting SendGrid over this (aside from the fact that they haven't endorsed her actions, they provide a great service that I'd have a hard time replacing, and that's reality for you), but in line with your predicted reaction, I'll most certainly operate with an increased trepidation regarding open, casual expression around women in tech.
There's a difference between offensive speech and an innocent joke. Adria's idea about what's harmful to the community is over the top and counterproductive, and that's extremely unfortunate: Just imagine if she'd said something and PyCon hadn't done anything. Then they'd have been in the crosshairs, and I'm pretty sure they realized this, which almost certainly have influenced their reaction.
This is just sad, for all sorts of reasons.
If so, please let me know so I can ensure that I never work with you.
However, these are two different situations. It's different when she is a public face of SendGrid and her Twitter profile states "Developer Evangelist for @SendGrid". I'm not saying that this post merits her being fired for anything. I'm just saying that, in such a position, her twitter posts should not be immune from judgement and action by her company.
Edit: Off track but her Twitter profile also states "YouTube partner and creator" .. what?
Why risk your career to talk to her about the benefits of using Sendgrid? No thanks I'll talk to the reps from Mailgun/Postmark where I don't run the risk of my face getting blasted all over the internet and my career ruined over a misunderstood joke. She's in PR, by posting their faces she must or at least should have known what she was doing to those developers.
I'd have a very different opinion if she was a 22-year-old developer without much media experience who quickly tweeted the photo. But she essentially works as an evangelist (sales/promotions?) and has been featured in The Rachel Maddow Show, NPR, Computerworld, The Associate Press, Inc.com, Black Enterprise, Pioneer Press [http://www.crunchbase.com/person/adria-richards]. She works in social media and she did what she did at least partly for her own publicity.....well it worked but it cost two people their jobs.
You might like to treat Twitter like a private conversation, but when the posts are completely publicly accessible (and when the person has 1000s of followers) it is certainly not private.
Tweeting and blogging about this with images in the manner she did clearly steps over the line where it in my opinion is 'ok'.
I can absolutely guarantee that the people involved in the conversation felt absolutely ambushed by the event, and that is not a very enjoyable work environment.
This whole situation sucks but let's try to be realistic about assessing blame. I understand why the fired individual's name is being withheld but I'd really like to know who his employer is. I would boycott that company way before I boycott SendGrid.
And she didn't get the guy fired. I think she went too far posting their picture. But she wasn't the one making forking and dongle jokes while representing her company as a sponsor, he was. And she didn't make the determination that that was a fireable offense, which I can see how a PyCon-sponsoring company might see it as one.
Oh and she hasn't set women's rights back any. And women tend to have multiple perspectives on these things (what's sexist/discriminatory etc) as history has shown.
Based on her previous tweets (the now famous penis joke that she made, a picture playing cards against humanity), I find it difficult to believe she was offended by a dongle joke. I think she saw an opportunity to use this to further her online cred and that's what she did. Her blog post is the less about the incident (and indeed less about tackling sexism) and more about herself (i find the part about the girl in the picture particularly PR-ish). It was a typical PR move that got blown out of proportion.
This in no way justifies what followed on twitter, which was definitely sexist and misogynistic and very unfortunate. IMO this has pretty much pushed back much of the progress made on tackling the real sexism issues in our industry. Seeing a fellow developer get fired over something so benign (at least for most men, it would seem benign) leads to mistrust and political correctness in dealing with women in the workplace (which sucks!).
I went back and looked at Adria's comment (conveniently not quoted), and you're completely misrepresenting the situation.
She didn't have a vendetta, she didn't try to get them fired. She simply asked that someone talk to them about the language which made her uncomfortable.
For all I know, they got fired because of how they responded to that situation -- is there any specific information about that?
So, unless PyCon is lying, the claims were verified. If they had not been, you'd have a point. If she had made the claims, but never went to PyCon and resolved it properly, you'd be dead on.
Speaking up to the individuals isn't always the easiest in a situation like that. It's easy to make that suggestion sitting behind a computer screen. So, she spoke up in the best way she knew how.
In the end, the result between the 3 parties (the 2 guys, PyCon, and her) ended amicably.
> Public shaming given the circumstances was not.
Well, neither was their actions. More so, in fact. That she reacted poorly is indicative of the seriousness of their actions. Sitting comfortably at home in our chairs it's easy to dismiss this as nothing. But it's not.
"Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member - all reports are confidential...The staff is well informed on how to deal with the incident and how to further proceed with the situation...Note: Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community. PyCon does not condone nor participate in such actions out of respect."
Their note about public shaming, while accurate, is just that: a note.
It's a procedure for handling harassment. It tells you what to do and what not to do. It's clearly relevant that the procedure was deliberately and knowingly violated.
It's not meaningless, and your example is fairly piss-poor and doesn't relate at all. More importantly, the note was about how it didn't help community, and how PyCon wouldn't take part.
Regardless, I find it ironic that people are publicly shaming a woman for publicly shaming a man.
"PyCon <i>does not condone</i> nor participate in such actions"
You've just used 17 words to characterise a 22 word statement and managed to leave out the part that explicitly condemns the type of behaviour you are defending.
Furthermore, from your own link:
"PyCon values the privacy of all attendees above everything. Except in cases wherein law enforcement must or could be involved, all reports and actions taken are kept confidential by PyCon staff.
Sometimes public shaming is appropriate; sometimes it is not. PyCon seem to me to have concluded that in this woman's case, it was inappropriate. I personally believe that if it prevents this sort of thing in the future, most of the "public shaming" going on is this thread is appropriate and proportionate. Simple. No irony necessary.
My point is that at the time she decided to take this photo (seemingly just after she overheard the statement) the claims were unverified. Had they not been able to verify the claims then it would have been too late.
This is besides the point, as the claims were verified. But, I believe you are wrong. I think if she was found to be lying, the backlash would have been on here. Heck, her claims were verified, and their is still a much strong backlash from the community toward her and SendGrid.
I agree. Crying wolf is should not be encouraged. But many times before, people here on HN and elsewhere tell women time and time again to speak up when something happens.
Now, when one of them does, she's essentially told to keep quiet and handle it behind the scenes.
I believe you are wrong. The majority reponse would have been that she was telling the truth and nobody else overheard it.
So, the key is: make the accusation and don't prove it.
Never, and so what? This happens all the time at public events. Hell, the HN is generally in strong support of laws that uphold such a thing. Apparently, just when it happens to other people.
> No, she's being to to speak up AND handle it behind the scenes.
Going to address this here. Unfortunately, this isn't as easy as it sounds. It's easy to say report it, but when put into that situation, it's not always as easy to speak up. This is a very well known phenomenon. That she didn't follow the reporting procedure to a T is forgivable, just as what the guy did was forgivable.
If it did warrant a reaction I don't think there was any onus on her to literally speak up ('hey cut that st out!') and I'd have no problem if she had simply informed staff and allowed them to handle it, followed by an anonymised account.
However what she did by tweeting a publicly identifiable picture and following it up with further calumny on her blog is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the reporting procedure, which it appears she did actually follow in addition to going public. Why does she deserve forgiveness when her first public statements compounded her error and she has yet to apologise or express remorse?
I don't see any such links in this thread, which makes it hard to judge what's going on.
I agree. This is an embarrassment through and through. What started as a grotesque overreaction has spiralled into a venomous shitstorm. Truly infuriating.
"Hey @mundanematt, it's clear from the last 24 hours you're a bully. @SendGrid supports me. Stop trolling."