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."
10% - The guys. Yea, a bit moronic to make a private adult joke that can be heard by others in a professional setting. But even in a real job setting, they'd just get a reprimand from HR and that'll straighten most of them out.
40% - Adria. It's getting evident that she went out of the way to take offense and sees herself as Joan of Arc (superiority complex?). She tries to make herself the center of the story. Extra credits for implying in her twitter feed that every criticism she's getting is from trolls.
50% - The company which fired the guy. Are you kidding me? Unless there's a backstory or a history of such behavior from the guy, it's awfully cruel to rob a guy of his livelihood without weighing all the facts. Yea, do an internal reprimand.. but FIRING?! Crazy people heading the company.
0% - PyCon organizers.
0% - Adria's employers.
I mean, PyCon had a Code Of Conduct. If you don't blame the organizers for sticking to the published code, then how does Adria get blamed for doing the same? Doesn't that strike you as getting mad at her for "tattling"?
On the other hand, if you think the Code itself is bogus, then why don't the PyCon organizers get a share of the blame for a bad policy?
As it stands, the complaint was made via a publicly posted picture on a heavily followed twitter account.
Everyone has the right to feel uncomfortable and try to alleviate that discomfort. Knowing of the Code of Conduct, Adria's decision to bring that to the PyCon Organizers attention is certainly a reasonable action. I think your parent comment thinks that regardless of how the PyCon Organizers were notified, they did the right (or at least acceptable thing). The parent comment suggests that they don't agree with Adria's method of contacting the organizers.
First – the fact that this guy's employer made a kneejerk reaction is no one's fault but the employer.
Next – let's talk about this red herring of "sexism." Making a phallus joke might be sexist depending on context. Or it might not be. Sexism is not at issue here.
The individual in question concedes that they did, in fact, make the joke.
From PyCon's code of conduct:
"All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks."
A joke about dicks? That seems to run afoul of the code of conduct the attendees agreed to. Sexist or not.
There's a discussion to be had around the best way to confront these behaviors. But regardless of your position on that, it remains the employer's decision, and therefore their mistake, to fire this person.
(Disclosure: I am acquainted with Adria and we've appeared together on a panel.)
How about you tell your friend of of those an American, a Russian and a German walk into a bar jokes, someone overhears it, snaps a picture and announces to his twitter following what a xenophobic asshole you are?
No jokes allowed unless you're wrapped in a Faraday cage filled in with sound proof material. None whatsoever.
I've been to plenty of conferences and I haven't heard of this happening, except to politicians when they forget there are microphones and news reporters around.
This is why our society does, in fact, have a separate set of privacy rules for people classified as "public figures". So the rest of us can hang out and chat in comfort by assuming in all probability the absence of a news reporter or papparazi trying to play "gotcha" with a camera and microphone.
Then there is the separate question of whether publicly shaming the person as Richards did was an acceptable response. I certainly do not think it was. But it's a separate issue.
The degree of the reaction is completely separate from the degree of the offense?
Consider Oritz vs. Swartz.
If a teenager shoplifts a stereo from a store, and a vigilante witnesses it and shoots him in the head, I think we can all still agree that the teenager was in the wrong. The fact that the vigilante was even more in the wrong doesn't change that.
Because the two offenses aren't separate in the other direction.
Teenager [commits offense], vigilante witness shoots offender in the head.
A. shoplifts stereo, vs
B. shooting store employees and preparing to shoot innocent bystanders.
So the ethics of the teenager's action (A or B) can be evaluated on its own, but the REaction of the vigilante can only be judged in the context of the teenager's action. The two actions are not mutually independent. One action is independent, but the other is dependent.
There are many things I can say to people, which they will themselves appreciate hearing, but which I would feel unsafe saying, say, on the record on a public message board. Usually, if one wants to say these things "in confidence", one doesn't find a truly private space (a closed and sealed room)--one just relies on the social-etiquette confidence of a place like a restaurant.
More exactly, had you by chance happened to listen to Radio Free Europe or made negative comments about the fact that there was no meat for sale in the stores, some of those mentioned above might have just "snitched" you to the powers that be (the Securitate in my country's case). You weren't risking that much, "just" your day job (like one of the guys in this story) and probably also the roof above your kids' heads (now if you don't have a job and you can't pay mortgage/rent you're in the same situation). Like I said, maybe it didn't seem much from the outside, but it was enough.
All this because someone might have overheard you say something that wasn't abiding to the rules of the time. Yes, I do find the power to speak freely a little bit scary.
Of course, the proper way to handle this would have been for Richards to talk to someone running the conference. They would have then gone to the people who were making the inappropriate jokes and asked them to remember that this was a professional environment, upon which apologies would have been given, and that would have been the end of it.
>If you're at my private property, am I free to kill you? It's the same thing
No, it's not even close to the same thing. I have the right to ask you to leave, regardless of whether you're on my private property. The difference is that if you're on my property, my request actually carries weight. Your being on my private property is a privilege that I can extend to you and later revoke. I cannot control what you say, but I can make your welcome at my property conditional upon what you say. And in general, you do not have a "moral right" to trespass.
I do not have the right to kill you, regardless of whether you're on my private property. They are not comparable ideas.
And yes, I think that in terms of fairness, a property owner generally has the right to ask anyone on her property to leave for just about any reason or no reason. If you come to my house and start making dick jokes that I find distasteful, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me asking you to cut it out or leave. But I don't have the right to kill you.
 There are exceptions, of course, which is why I dislike talking about general moral rights. I'm sure you can craft some clever thought experiment that will trip up this general rule, which is one of the reasons I consider myself a utilitarian.
 see above
If we're at your house, sure, of course morally I'd have to leave if you ask me to. But this isn't your house anymore when there is an entire group involved, as anyone that has ever thrown a party can confirm. Group morality is (sometimes unfortunately) the average of what the group believes it to be.
I think it's clear what this group thinks about who's wrong and who's right.
Anyways, thanks for the detailed reply :)
P.S. Yes, I do believe that morality can be made absolute and quantifiable - you have different characteristics (types of behavior) and different levels of agreement with them (say, from 0 for "YOU'RE GONNA BURN IN HELL", through 5 for "I don't care", to 10 for "I do this all the time!").
Also, as others have said, this clearly wasn't a private situation. The whole problem with these jokes, even if not told directly to someone's face, is that they create a poisonous atmosphere.
as opposed to publicly shaming someone without prior warning?
She was speaking to one of the two people. Further, judging by the description which has only been supported, it was not a "private" conversation between two people.
Indeed, if I tell a hilarious racist joke as you've mentioned around the wrong people, it is very likely there will be a commotion that will get me removed from the setting. Even more so, the same wrong people might post it to their personal feed, announcing that you are, as you portrayed yourself, a xenophobic asshole. Now, if your boss happens to read that stream and hear that codesuela is a xenophobic asshole, they might decide to terminate you.
Your argument is that it wasn't meant to offend anybody. But it did, so that's out of play. You also seem to assume that they weren't talking loudly and somehow Adria was simply eavesdropping on them, which is just speculation on your part. While I agree that how you talk to your buddy is no one's business, that doesn't mean you're now exempt from being called out because it was meant to be private.
But taking pictures (and then spreading them to your followers) is a very, very clear no go.
Yes, these kinds of jokes are immature and this conduct was ill advised.
That said, taking ambush pictures of nonconsenting parties and very publicly shaming them shouldn't be your go-to response. I'd say that response was completely disproportionate to the initial crime.
Far better to throw an (in person) "come on guys, be professional" their way and escalate from there. If that's too confrontational for your tastes, go talk to one of the PyCon volunteers and ask them to step in. I think it's kind of ridiculous that they (PyCon staff) didn't get a chance to resolve this issue discretely and had to hear about it alongside however many thousand other people.
It's not clear whether that happened before or after the photo was posted.
Edit: the code of conduct also says "Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community. PyCon does not condone nor participate in such actions out of respect."
Where is that? The only code of conduct I have found is here:
The only mention I see of photography is in this sentence.
> Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
I think you could make a reasonable that this is "harrassing photography." (I disagree, but I think it's a matter of opinion.) I don't see anything about photography requiring consent, although the code of conduct is shorter than I expected (the "Longer Version" on that page is not much longer than the "Short Version"). Is this just a summary of a longer document somewhere?
The employer made a mistake for sure, but so did your friend. Skewering someone in public on the Internet like that is immature and irresponsible. There are a million better ways she could have dealt with this.
I'm pretty sure relating and disclosing a situation that happened in a public place fully to the best of her ability shouldn't be something we call irresponsible. In fact, women who do otherwise are often asked to disclose in exactly the manner she did.
No matter how a woman chooses to address something like this, there's always someone who wants to talk about how she should have addressed it differently.
"Exactly the manner she did?" No one has ever been asked to disclose a photo with faces on Twitter to 9k followers.
The right thing to do is either deal with the person directly or escalate above them, whether you're a woman or not. Going straight to the mob is never the right answer.
Of course it isn't, but the dynamics at play that happen in these cases are relevant and erasing them as if they don't exist is some kind of "well those don't make my argument stronger so I'm going to ignore them" nonsense.
Isn't this exactly what happened though? She posted on her feed and asked if someone could speak to them and the Pycon officials saw her post and did exactly that. You're treating this as if she posted on her feed something like, "Can the people who employed these guys please fire them? Also, I want each of my followers to retweet this and make sure they get fired."
Instead, she posted a photo of some men on the Internet in order to publicly humiliate them. Are you advocating that people act this way whenever they get offended at a conference?
>Isn't this exactly what happened though?
Also, don't try to play with words, she did that and more. The sensible response would have been to tell them to stop and then if they didn't, contact one of the staff. A post on twitter saying "Conference etiquette: Sexual innuendos about forking and dongles are not cool" without a picture would have been much MUCH more tasteful.
That doesn't follow -- you're begging the question. Why is disclosing something public, if well detailed, not irresponsible when it can cause harm (as this situation did)? And why should people being previously asked to disclose such information make it a responsible action? Furthermore, do you have an example of such disclosures -- you speak as though you do?
I can't quite understand your last sentence, but if you are looking for people telling women that they are irresponsible for not speaking up, just read the comments on this recent discussion of the Steubenville rape:
There are quite a number of people there telling women that they are morally obligated to speak up when something bad happens.
The person responsible for the speech that was reported are the people speaking; the person responsible for the reportage of the speech is the person who did the reporting. The former resulted in a woman being uncomfortable while the latter lost a father of three his livelihood.
You've got a problem with apposite context and proportionality. A techie at a conference making a dongle joke is not a gay biker in a bar telling anal virginity jokes, is not the frat-boy gang rape of an unconscious teen girl.
True, they are all "bad things happening" - but that is such a large category that to act as if or argue any specific response is justified due to it belonging in that category is likely to lead to damaging over-reactions.
In the context of corporate public relations and harassment lawsuits in the workplace, which became relevant the second the tweet was sent, what she did was an extremely damaging over-reaction - which given the woman's background and role we can conclude was committed with malice aforethought. Your entire argument is based upon wildly inappropriate contextualisation.
Is she also obligated to consider that in reporting the incident to conference staff? Or mentioning it to a friend? After all, either one of those could also conceivably result in the guy losing his job.
For the record, I should say that I agree that dongle jokes are not rape, and have never said otherwise.
ii) Again, I'll point out that she did not in fact just report the incident to the conference staff. Any hypothetical scenario in which her response was not to publicise her grievance misses the main reason she deserves the harsh judgement she is receiving.
iii) You're presenting completely irrelevent scenarios as if they're relevant. Is the standard for responsible behaviour in the case of the gang rape of an unconscious teen different from the standard for responsible behaviour in the case of hearing a mildly risque joke by a guy in the row behind you at a tech conference? Is it very different? Is is very very very different? Is is perhaps so very different as to be utterly irrelevant?
Like I said, you have a problem with presenting apposite context and addressing proportionality. Try talking about what actually happened.
If the _best_ of her ability is to take a picture, put it on a public forum then tag it with an insult "ass clown" I don't know what to say. Maybe she should lose her job a "developers' advocate"
They were not removed from the conference.
If you happen to work in California, you should know that this kind of remark, if repeated and unwelcome, would constitute harassment. If the person concerned was in management at a company, that's a problem.
As for her reporting method, the conference organizers specifically say they want information in writing, and they want to be the ones handling it, not individual attendees.
I think the use of twitter could use some help, however.
True, but unwelcome is key. How do you know if a remark is unwelcome? Someone tells you so -- either the offended or HR (whom the offended told). They don't post it on Twitter or blog about it, they talk about it with people in a position to correct the problem.
I know plenty of women who wouldn't feel the least bit offended by a dongle joke -- point being, you can't say "well there's a woman in earshot, better turn on the woman filter."
Personally I believe you should make an honest effort to behave professionally, especially in the presence of folks you don't know, but different folks have different yardsticks for this. That's why you communicate.
They were really proud that 20% of attendees were female (that was on a keynote slide), Guido wore a "python is for girls" shirt (as he did last year), the Pyladies organization sponsored a ton of events (pycon after party, a mani-pedi get-together, auction ), there were at least 4 groups with a booth in the vendors section with the goal to include more women (pyladies, ladycoders, ada initiative, some other one I forget).
I mean, it's not a black and white issue and I concede that those remarks will be taken different depending on the situation. However, in this situation where everyone is celebrating the progress that's been made (and knows how much more still needs to be done), such remarks are IMO totally inappropriate.
1: Technically, the auction was supporting the pyladies group, I don't know if they ran/sponsored it, but it was all for their benefit.
That said, I don't understand how this snowballed into people getting fired from their jobs. What they did was wrong, but things really got blown out of proportion, and we the internet haven't been helping. The story should have ended with the stern talking to by the pycon staff.
In this case, the conference had an explicit policy prohibiting sexually explicit jokes. You can read the policy here: https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/
Note specifically the wording "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."
Expecting attendees of the conference to obey the conference rules in the crowded auditorium during a presentation seems quite reasonable to me. I am not sure violating it is a firing offense, but I cannot blame the person posting it for writing honestly about their own experience.
There are situations where they'd know it's not ok to make sexual jokes. They would not be making these jokes at a funeral, or at a niece's dance recital, or over dinner with their grandmothers.
Note also that they were in conversation with Adira seconds before they made the joke, so it's not entirely clear to me that they could even reasonably expect that they be ignored.
Otherwise we have an overclass who has the power to police the conduct of an underclass.
I got the impression reading Adria's blog post that she thought she was responding to sexism. Sexism is what most everyone is responding to in this event -- real or imagined.
The problem is that the way Adria responded, in part, harmed people that didn't deserve harm (and if they did deserve it, it shouldn't be up to her to mete it out -- which by taking it public she is effectively doing). She should have kept their identities anonymous unless it was necessary to do otherwise.
In a culture that strives to be politically correct (no negative connotation intended), any egalitarian issue can be wielded like a weapon. I think Adria was aware of that, and so I think she deserves a fair amount of blame for the events that followed her actions.
This is not just about PyCon that is for the whole world to see. Future employees, these guys' kids, family, friends. Is that acceptable you think?
I also think there is space here for PSF to also issue an explicit statement regarding public humiliation and posting face pictures of attendees with slanderous and insulting captions. It is about free speech and all, and maybe if she caught them in lobby without their badges on it might have been OK.
If anything this damaged PyCon's reputation. I don't want to go anymore as much. I keep my mouth shut anyway, but what if I say something wrong, or look at someone the wrong way -- now my picture with my badge and an insult is plastered over twitter. That is the definition of a hostile environment, no matter what gender, color, sexual orientation.
Exactly. Let's direct our questions first at the employer. What she did wasn't exactly the coolest thing in the world, but she wasn't the one who fired the guy -- his employer did. I also dont get the sense that she wanted to really punish the guy; rather, she wanted to call out the practice.
Wait a minute. We're talking common sense here. Simply turning your head saying "You two mind?" Probably would've settled the affair right there.
They weren't insulting her personally. Just two guys exchanging stupid childish jokes. Where they in bad taste? Certainly. And Adria obviously considered them offensive. But did they (the guys) deserve the drama that's unfolded? Certainly not.
And frankly, I find it offensive that she's pulling out all the stops in justifying her actions. She quite proud of herself, isn't she?
This. Why isn't the employer in question's name front and center here? Aside from any attempt to punish them, people should just know that they're not a safe place to work, that they'll sacrifice one of their own out of fear.
Part of being an adult is not flipping out every time you overhear someone else say something you don't like. And yes I would qualify snapping someone's picture and posting it on Twitter to launch a smear campaign against them as "flipping out".
As a quick and dirty(!) translation of this blog post: http://blog.fefe.de/?ts=afb76b8d
"The 'sexual harassment'-story at US computer conferences is escalating further. This has poisened the climate to a degree where I fear the sentiment towards women is shifting from 'great, we need more [of them]' towards 'risk, risk, stay away, better not to say anything'. Smaller cons might possibly not admit women anymore [in the future], just to avoid being subject to such risks. This is all very unfortunate [or: distressing/regrettable]. (Thanks, Michael)"
Everything in square brackets '[' & ']' serves as clarification.
What exactly do they add to the discourse on the actual technical issues being discussed?
As for the "lame double entendre", and being capable of dealing with it - I (and most women, I suppose) can deal with one. Or with two. Or three. But that's usually just the first 5 minutes of the day. It's a constant barrage of low-level "othering". (I hate the word, but it describes the process)
It's not one comment. It's the fact that the tech industry often manages to feel like a permanent gathering of 14-year old adolescent boys. At some point, yes, it does make you uncomfortable, because everything is reduced to sexual references.
Would you ask a conference organizer to remove people from the room for making bad soup jokes? "My vichyssoise has sprung a leek!"
I'm pretty OK with how she handled this situation, except for posting the issue publicly on twitter. Her complaint was calm, personal, went through proper channels, and was clearly in line with this particular conference's attitudes and culture... except the public shaming of the dudes on twitter.
I've worked in software for about 10 years, and I'll admit there are a lot of guys with a 14-year old sense of humor in the field. But I've only seen one who didn't take people's feelings into account and tone things down if anyone, especially a woman, was uncomfortable. Clearly I'm going to the wrong conferences.
Edit: Just found this quote, "You know how movies always have sex scenes and the studios say that is because sex is part of life and movies should be lifelike? So why don't movies have more soup scenes? Soup is part of life; no one was ever too tired to have soup." -Jackie Mason, The World According to Me
"Oh, man, you gotta try that new Mexican restaurant down the block, it's delicious."
"Let me tell you about this new anti-herpes product, it might help you."
I can totally imagine such statements being spoken amongst friends (not on stage, though), and nobody getting fired.
If you spoke about the cool Mexican restaurant during the presentation, I'd sure as hell call you out on it. But it's still different from the jokes in that it doesn't make anybody feel excluded. Sexual jokes do - they signal clearly to women that they are an entertainment object.
I'd equally call you out if you'd make jokes about other minorities. And honestly, nobody thinks racist jokes are appropriate - why do people still believe sexist jokes are cool?
This is what makes politics a comedy central. There's no honesty anymore and everyone's words are calculated as if you're walking on eggs, lest someone feel offended. There is nothing offensive in what I've read so far (dongles, forking) and, seriously, these complaints are beginning to sound like religious zealots complaining about how atheists are offending them by making religious jokes.
If you are a spokesperson for a company - and that's what Evangelists are - then, while you're at a professional event, your words should reflect the stance of your company, not your own. That's what you get paid for.
I wouldn't consider this a firing offense (unless it's not the first time), but I wouldn't consider it a career enhancing move either.
Do you see a difference between sexist jokes and jokes about sex, or are these categories the same for you?
This question might sound provocative, "Are you and idiot or yes?" kind of question, but it really is not. Personally, I think there is a difference, but I'm rather unique in this regard, as I don't feel discriminated/excluded/offended if someone makes a joke about anything that I might identify it. I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from.
I believe there are jokes about black people that I wouldn't consider racist (although I don't know how black people would feel about them). For example:
> A black family is enjoying summer on the beach. The kid asks his father: "Daddy, daddy, can I play with your penis?" The father answers: "Ok, just don't go too far."
I find this funny, and to be hones, I would be flattered if people would make the same joke about my race (I'm white).
It's a benign stereotype as far as that goes, but it still does. It's also a joke I'd restrain to people I know fairly well - it veers into incest territory.
None of that is to say that I'm terribly offended by it myself, but I can see the potential to offend. And as such would reserve use. That's really what all this is about - try to respect the other person at the receiving end. And if you don't know them, try to be as considerate as possible.
Not because telling one such joke per se makes you a bad person, but because it might offend somebody who is not you or not your background. And because the courteous thing would be to try not to offend.
If you told it to me as an actual joke (not as an example as here), and assuming we'd have never met, I'd probably reply with a "Dude, that's kind of not appropriate. Please don't go there". If you told it to me in a large crowd of your friends, and I'd be alone, I might choose to not respond at all, or let somebody else handle this. It's a sad fact that as a woman, calling out inappropriateness usually means you get a lot of flak, quite frequently threats. (See what's happening to Adria right now).
I'd assume that's why she opted for a public shaming. (The appropriateness of which is a whole 'nother topic. I was not comfortable with that, either.)
I certainly agree that certain types of tasteless jokes can, and often do, objectify women. But what about a dongle/dong metaphor objectifies women? That's a rather severe overreach.
You can participate in all of these activities outside of the workplace - that's not dehumanization, that's maturity and professionalism.
LOL? Is he serious here? If so I have to say he is misguided about how cons weigh of priorities. No con could get sponsors while denying admittance to all females.
Original German: Womöglich werden kleinere Cons lieber gar keine Frauen mehr reinlassen
I almost gave a tongue-in-cheek lightning talk at Pycon (mostly about python stuff, but with some tongue-in-cheek political jokes), and decided against it at the last minute. I'm glad I did, otherwise I feel like there would be HN headlines about me getting kicked out of Pycon :)
But politics & religion are a touchy subject, and all things considered, the odds that someone in a crowd of 1k+ people would take a tongue in cheek joke seriously and make a big deal out of it don't feel so low.
See for yourself: http://i.imgur.com/uWc8P39.png
And before anyone says anything, the image depicts a person photocopying their genitals. It does not show gender, but the act is quite clear. Not something you want to have on your website.
There's an agenda being pushed. Furthermore, the above PasteBin alleges the forking innuendo was pure fabrication in an attempt to paint Adria as a liar; the full story right from the source is found here.
The narrative being pushed is the same old feminism-has-gone-too-far crap where we live in a world in which men are terrorized by women who have the power to destroy lives with the snap of their fingers. Recognize this angle, ponder its absurdity, then form your own opinion.
Some other links to r/MensRights posts, in which Adria is called a "stupid twitter bitch" and a "terrorist" (yes, actually):  
I can't speak to the agenda of r/MensRights, or whether or not this is a case of feminism gone too far, but it must be said that your post is itself pushing an agenda to discredit comments posted here by implying that critical comments are Reddit plants linked to vitriolic posts you found there. After all, your Twitter feed states that you're a feminist and criticizes "gender role enforcement" on Hacker News, which suggests you're coming at this story from a predisposition. That's fine, but it means your warning may be tinted by previously held views.
To my knowledge, nobody is putting forth the worldview that men are being terrorized by women destroying lives. However, there are people who believe that losing a job over something so far removed from anything that actually matters as an overheard dick joke is step in the wrong direction for gender equality, especially when Adria made the same kind of joke herself.
As for calling her a liar, that stems from the discrepancy in accounts. The guy who was fired claimed there was no sexual innuendo in the forking comment, and that it was applied by Adria in her telling of the incident.
I got the opposite impression from the OP. To me, this post practically screamed men's rights. It's dripping with hyperbole (probably the worst of which occurs in the fifth paragraph - "now men will be looking over their shoulder every time a woman is present in the workplace or a conference because hey, she might do what Adria did"), peppered with ad hominem (calling her cowardly, etc...), and makes sexism the focus of the discussion. I read her blog post. Her problem seemed to be that the dongle guys were behaving inappropriately, not being sexist.
Regarding calling her a liar, the linked pastebin very obviously strips context from its simple assertion of lying.
Brace for sockpuppetry.
It might not have been explicitly meant in a sexual way, but it seems a little silly to not realise it would come off that way. And in fact, I'd say the only reason someone would find it funny would be the resonance it does have with sexual comments like "I'd tap that".
Many men and women alike are struggling to understand how Adria came to the determination that what she heard meant that the two men would prevent future generations of women from loving to program, as she put it, and how it warranted a public shaming that had somewhat dire consequences for one of them.
One reason this is a trending topic on HN is that gender equality in tech has been an electrically charged subject the past few years. This has the potential to do so much damage to the movement; it's really quite tragic.
I've seen a recent upswing of accounts created just to troll one-off topics making me wonder if new accounts should be read-only for the first week or some such.
Where I work we were considering between SendGrid or Mandrill and this incident practically made our choice for us. We cannot and _will not_ support a company that backs a person like this.
 - https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/314452708549603328
I also don't see an issue with having non-technical attributes being part of the equation in the criteria for selecting a vendor. Price is clearly important, as can be a business' ethics; both are not technology related but can important depending on the circumstance.
Lastly Mandrill does seem like a slightly better product for the cost, but that of course might vary based on requirements.
Posting to HN about how you think people should coordinate and send e-mails to a company's sales department about how they don't want to do business with a company because they're bothering to stand by one of their employees and not fire them. -> A personal choice and any comments disagreeing with it is "ridicule".
Posting a tweet on your twitter account. -> Public actions representing a company.
Those seem like some strange conclusions.
I really don't want to step into this... but just to clarify the tweet did say: "@SendGrid supports me. Stop trolling." so yes, that makes it a position of/by/with-the-permission of the company.
quickly runs out of thread
First let's agree on three things:
- Recently the gender/sex/sexism issue in software has grown. There are programs to try and get more women involved, which is cool. There's generally a post or two about it on the front page of HN every day. It's a major theme.
- Due to the fact that it's a major recurring theme, I'd wager that it's a big problem in tech and therefore it upsets lots of people.
- Because it's a major recurring theme for many people, any change in either direction (greater or lesser equality) is a pretty big deal.
If you're still with me, then here's where the disagreement arises. If you're of the opinion that this debacle has moved the "get more women in tech" issue backwards, then it's plenty of a reason to be upset. Likewise this works in the other direction.
So if this is an issue that you care about, and the developer evangelist (and I assume that's sort of like PR? Represents the company on a more social than technical level? Correct me if I'm wrong) has moved this movement in the wrong direction I think it's perfectly fair to not give them your money.
Maybe that's reading into it too much, but I would guess that that is the logic behind that sort of decision.
But thanks for elucidating an alternative motive. I agree that you could step through the thinking outlined (though I'm not sure I would agree with some of those pieces) and end up at that position.
But, I do not believe the motive you presented is the simplest explanation for the actual motive that leads most people to that conclusion and the more likely explanation is that this is a repeat of the same dynamic that occurs whenever a woman in tech speaks out about women in tech in a way that seriously perturbs things.
This happens a lot. I think we'd be a lot farther on the issue than we are if we could assume that everyone was viewing these types of things through the lense of "what makes this issue better or worse?"
As it is, we have a situation where someone who makes dick jokes to her friends overheard someone else making a dick joke to a friend and intentionally shamed them by posting their picture on the internet. Clearly, this action was the catalyst for one of them getting fired; it was her goal to make an example out of these two and embarrass them on an internet scale.
Her self-righteousness belies the utter insignificance of what actually occurred. Comparing herself to Joan of Arc and claiming she "did it for future generations" doesn't help. On top of angering a lot of men and women alike, her behavior struck a nerve and has the potential to leave a bruise on gender equality in tech.
One can be in favor of equality and yet have the intellectual capacity to examine situations on a case-by-case basis and determine that this was a contradictory overreaction on her part that had undeserved consequences for one of the men.
Since when is Twitter the same thing as a professional conference? Why are the majority of the commenters on HN completely missing the point?
First, she mentioned PyCon in that Twitter conversation. If she had hashtagged it, there would be a stronger argument, but either way we might say she's having an "inappropriate conversation" in the "vicinity" of the conference. People searching about conference might see this, just like people at the conference might have heard the same inappropriate joke.
If we look deeper I think "but she made similar jokes" has other merit. What's the point of having "professionalism" rules at a conference? Because everyone is there publicly representing a company, and because they don't want distractions from the purposes of the conference.
Adria is a public representative of her company, and apparently uses her Twitter account in connection with that. Why does she get to mix her personal life into a public-facing account, complete with "overhearable" unprofessional jokes, but two friends in the same room with her can't do the same?
The only good reason I can think of is "because the conference rules say so, and they all agreed to them." Any other reason for her getting to be offended about a joke quietly exchanged between two well-acquainted professionals but overhearable in public, is hypocritical, because she set up the exact same situation on Twitter. When you consider her inappropriate, overreacting, passive-aggressive response, and calling them "ass clowns" on her blog (it's at least partially profesionally-oriented, by the way), it just gets more frustrating.
I disagree entirely. The situation is one I could easily imagine myself in with my best friend. The two people in question did not curse, berate anyone or even direct their jokes to anobody.
This asshole just wanted to pick a fight and caused a father to lose his job over dumb shit (ps: I'm still waiting for the company name to crop up, he didn't deserve to get fired).
Now when actual instances of sexism in tech (and trust me - in Bolivia THERE IS TONS OF THIS) occur, people will roll their eyes. Never cry wolf.
The man who was fired used to work for PlayHaven. http://www.playhaven.com/
No. The appropriate first course of action upon being personally offended is not to passive-aggressively take a picture of perceived offenders and create a vendetta on Twitter; rather it is to turn around, confront what/who offended you, and deal with the situation like an adult.
Further this person's "shaming" was an abuse of her professional privileges and that alone warrants her firing.
To be clear, SendGrid is her employer and that's exactly who sergiotapia sent an e-mail to saying he was going to boycott and recommended that others do the same.
* Calling people out who violate PyCon's code of conduct?
* Following this up by going to PyCon and getting it resolved? (http://pycon.blogspot.com/2013/03/pycon-response-to-inapprop...)
Are we really arguing that people should keep silent when things like this happen? When a rule is violated? That they should only respond after it's taken place?
Is that what people are really asking for?
* Calling people out who violate PyCon's code of conduct
* Following this up by going to PyCon and getting it resolved
Those are the two things she did. Call people out who broke a rule. She also went to PyCon organizers to resolve it.
So, what culture is she encouraging, and why would we want to discourage it?
I think the culture that she's implicitly promoting is ultimately a suspicious and hostile one where there is no principle of charity but instead there's the inverse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity). And not by the fact that she reported it to PyCon organizers, but by the fact that she then escalated it to the public. In this instance, I think she should have kept their identities anonymous in her tweets and blog post.
There are instances where I can imagine revealing their identities would be the right thing to do, but this doesn't come close to it by my judgement (for all that's worth).
The two guys are unprofessional assholes. 100% agreed. But by my lights, she is too.
> She never directly replied to or messaged pycon staff
That's not true. At all.
What did she "get"? If you do something publicly, you are open for public criticism. That's life.
However few would debate that it is utter hubris to use social media to demand a lynchmob response to a relatively mild social faux pas (which is 100% bullying behavior. Ala "I have 9000 twitter followers so you'll see who is the boss"). I don't blame her for the guy getting fired (that's on his shitty employer that knee jerk responds to something asinine), nor should anyone else, but I think the original activities were much more egregious and socially questionable than making a dongle joke.
I'd quickly e-mail back: "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
Where does it say anything about someone's expressed permission? Doing a search on the page for several words did not bring up anything remotely close. Permission isn't even used.
This is the statement being contested:
> that very code says that you are not supposed to take a picture of someone without their express permission.
So, unless you can produce something that says this, it's a lie.
As for this:
> harassing photography or recording
It didn't happen.
"Black people CANNOT be racist against White people. Racism is a position of the oppressor who has the power"
Words fail me. (I realize that it's unrelated but it provides some insight into her mentality).
>> This accurately reflects a particular academic school of thought.
Holocaust as well accurately reflected a particular academic school of thought. Does that mean it's correct? (does this count as invocation of Godwin's law?)
Words fail you? That view is establishment orthodoxy. Were you seriously not aware of that?
Racism can kind of exist on an individual level between any two people. (X refuses to serve Y because they're from New Zealand.) But racism is only a social problem when the people with racist views have the power to enforce them. The power is key to the social dynamic; without power, what large scale effect does racism have?
Now social scientists (and a lot of other academics) care about racism only as a social problem (that's their field of study!); they define racism in a way that makes sense in that context. Racism is a set of cultural behaviors that has the effect of oppressing a particular racial group. Sexism is behavior that has the effect of oppressing women. (Note that the definition is based on effect, and not intent. From a social perspective, intent doesn't really matter.) This isn't some insane world view. It's jargon, just like the word momentum means something a bit different in the context of physics than it does in politics.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, a lot of people will argue on the internet about racism/sexism/etc without even checking whether they're using the word the same way. :( People like you maybe haven't been exposed to this other definition, but I have no idea why social justice types aren't more careful to avoid misunderstanding.
But please, don't write off the fundamental ideas behind this particular use, just because it surprises you. There are a lot of valid ideas there even if you don't like the particular set of terms associated with it.
That said, I'm sure a lot of academics do focus specifically on the US.
The real question is: who had the power in this situation, and who was powerless? They teach that people in power are straight white males but it looks like a new hierarchy is in town.
No, the photo did not get you fired, your employer's questionable policies got you fired. If indeed a phallus joke between two persons in a private conversation is not objectionable, why was this person fired?
As I see it here, the more and more "transparent" our private lives become with cell phone cameras and always-on video glasses, the more protection employees need from bone-headed employers dismissing them for reasons wholly unrelated to their competencies performing the job they were hired to do.
There's still some sorts of "it's not super cool to take pictures of specific people" vibe going on, but it's definitely no longer a "no pictures allowed" type of situation.
PyCon's code of conduct specifically says "Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community."
"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."
Hey, that's a strong claim.
This sounds like an anger management problem to me.
She writes that she's been on the road for ages. Sounds like she's exhausted, and needs a break. I used to react over-the-top to stuff like this, and used to work with others who did. I think the more politically aware you are, and the more your ideals and goals are at odds with how much of society is, the more effort you need to put into being able to deal with the inevitably strong feelings that come your way daily, unless you choose to just avoid being around stuff that triggers you, assuming that's even possible.
Talking about sex is not inherently sexist.
Making jokes about sex is not inherently sexist.
It's inappropriate in a large number of places, but that doesn't make it sexist.
I can't even use the example "What if you had to hear jokes about vaginas and breasts all the time?" since it doesn't carry the same weight for men as the opposite does for women.
I wish commenters here would realize this is supposed to be a professional convention, and these two were supposed to be representing their companies, so making jokes about their genitalia might be in bad taste. I really can't believe the comments here. Those remarks didn't happen in a vacuum. She had to deal with them multiple times beforehand. Her actions were not out of line.
A couple of dudes making stupid dick jokes to each other in hall of hundreds doesn't really seem to me to be that big an issue.
But since our society is, we have to deal with the consequences of that power imbalance. And a lot of things that should in the abstract be harmless are not in reality.
Pretending otherwise is just silly -- or defensive, in the case of a lot of folk in this thread.
And yet, that's an abstract statement in itself.
In reality, was this harmful? More specifically, was "the future of programming was on the line"? Were the comments "crushing a little kid’s dream"? Adria, PyCon, and the man's employer can draw their lines where they like, and take the actions that they see fit, but there is no reason to assume that any of them got it exactly right in some objective sense.
Pretending otherwise is just silly -- or defensive, in the case of a lot of folk in this thread.
I'm sorry, but that's wrong. Reasonable people can disagree without any of them being "silly" or "defensive". Being dismissed with those kinds of labels for not subscribing to a dogmatic interpretation of sexism drives more men into outright misogyny than away from it.
 Or prone to "sloppy, biased thinking" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5412004
a) Somehow a world with sexism can't enjoy a simple dirty joke.
b) We each have a personal duty to avoid dirty jokes due to a "power imbalance".
c) There is indeed some sort of power imbalance worth correcting which is not already being corrected.
d) Some generic abstract thing is harmless, but really it actually isn't ~-=in the real world=-~.
e) Viewpoints not in agreement with yours may be dismissed as silly or defensive.
That's cool and all--would you mind explaining your reasoning?
I don't even disagree with you on several of those points, but as presented you haven't really done anything to aid a genuine conversation.
My post is responding to this statement of yours:
>we should treat sexually explicit jokes as something not worth getting bent out of shape about
That sounds reasonable. But it ignores the fact that this isn't how sexually explicit jokes are used. They often are, in fact, specifically used in order to harass women. And historically it has been extremely difficult for women to do anything about this type of harassment, exactly because that isn't how most men perceive that type of joke. It was viewed as harmless by the people with power, because their experience hadn't exposed them to the negative aspects of it.
The reaction of someone to this type of joke exists in exactly that context. And yes, I am definitely saying it is silly to ignore that context!
Very much so. I can hardly imagine women ever getting fired for talking about vaginas. Too sexist IMO.
Who had the power in this situation? The propaganda and the reality are out of tune.
- First-offense phallus jokes should probably not be dismissable.
- Phallus jokes should probably not be made in professional, public contexts.
- It would be surprising if the guy was a valuable member of the team and fired on this basis alone.
- Adria's reaction probably didn't follow any principle of measured escalation.
It's also pretty unprofessional to wear jeans to work, and beer after 4:00pm on Friday is just a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Also the schedule that the developers keep is really unprofessional. If one of the accountants tried to show up at 11:00am, they'd be fired!
I also saw some pictures of one of our devs at Burning Man last year. He was wearing some sort of black, canvas skirt, and no shirt.
Don't even get me started on the guy who tried to start a "nerf war" at work. A WAR! Excuse me, but people DIE in wars. How on earth did he think that was okay? It's like he was saying that he wanted to kill his co workers.
In neither context are sexual jokes considered professional. Actually, generally speaking you can be held personally liable for creating a hostile work environment if one of your colleagues if offended by your jokes and you keep making them (assuming you aren't fired for the behavior first). And in case you're hoping that eventually sexual jokes will be permitted, the arrow of history is pointing the opposite direction on that one. Workplace practices and laws used to be much more permissive of sexual conduct ("misconduct" as we would call it today) than they are now.
What's professional is just meaningless uptightery. What actually matters is getting shit done, and treating others well.
Those are jokes, and totally unprofessional in a work environment where you are representing your company that is sponsoring the event, right?
But we should let that go because he was wearing shorts and t-shirt instead of a suit?
But even then that would be ignoring the fact that their joke was not targeted at any single person, or any group of people.
It's not a sexual comment any more than a fart joke is a sexual comment.
1. the work environment allows it
2. the participants agree to it
3. it's done in at the appropiate time (during a break, for example)
Games and childish behaviour are different things and, according to one of my professors, not being able to distinguish between them is a sign of immaturity.
Off-hours work friendships are not at all comparable.
I would understand if they were saying a sexist joke or saying a joke that perpetuated some stereotype but all they were doing was saying a stupid joke about dongles and forking. How could that offend anyone that wasn't looking to be offended?
Whether pycon is a professional context really depends on whose dime and at whose behest you are attending it, no? I don't know the details of this case. In any event, it's probable that PyCon has a harassment policy that could be interpreted as to bar sexual jokes around people who don't want to hear them, but I don't know for sure.
Also, although these jokes were sexual in nature, they did not have anything to do with sexualizing women, putting down anyone from any sex, or targeting anyone in particular as the butt of the joke. And seeing as how these jokes were not intended to hurt or upset anyone or where in any way threatening or disturbing I don't see how it could constitute harassment.
Women are tangibly harmed by sexist jokes.
Am I reading it right that this makes the study irrelevant? Isn't it like "for violent men, playing violent games makes them violent"?
Manners, common sense and general pleasantness seem to have been completely forgotton.
I would agree with you here. In my idealistic image of the world, she would told them to please shut up because it's not good of a joke, they would say sorry and that'd be all.
Actually I think she advocates this point on her blog, but only in aftermath
Incredibly hypocritical on her part.
People are allowed to make offensive jokes. Except when they agree not to. By attending PyCon, you are making that agreement.
In the end, the result was resolved well by all 3 parties.
The issue is that one of the parties got fired. An overreaction by his ex-employer. In part, I blame the community. The employer probably thought to quickly defuse the situation and distance themselves. It's been mostly effective, with the blame primarily being put on the woman. Most people seem to be ignoring the actual perpetrators of the real problem, the firing.
PyCon attendee procedure for handling harassment:
This little saga merely reminded me that I'm walking from computers after my next position. Gone. Before 35. I'm going to go a career that isn't completely nonsensical, like fishing. I can't imagine I'm the only one. The overcompensation and hypersensitivity to combat sexism in technology is, rather amusingly, making technology even more hostile and demoralizing.
I don't want to read the fallout from a conference any more. This PyCon was apparently so much of a shitshow that I'm glad I didn't go. The decision to ban someone for smoking pot really cracked me up, given who I smoked pot with at PyCon 2012.
This fucking industry. So many double standards and emotional children. It's like I never left high school.
I've said this elsewhere, but:
The pot smoker was a few feet from me in an informal conference late one evening. I don't think anyone complained that pot was smoked at all. They complained that it was smoked inside a crowded room.
I would've been as personally annoyed if someone lit a tobacco cigarette in the same close quarters. It stunk. Badly. I also imagine that PyCon _had_ to say and do _something_ lest they get a reputation for condoning illegal substance abuse in the middle of open sessions.
Note: I'm just a bystander, a regular attendee like everyone else. I didn't report or complain about the pot smoker even though it reeked. The reaction of everyone around me wasn't anger, but sheer disbelief that someone would be that stupid.
I was there too. They were being obnoxious by stinking up the place (it didn't help that they got louder & less funny, i.e. more obnoxious, through the evening), and that is what got people's attention.
Anything that happens on the official premises of a professional, heavily sponsored and highly scrutinized conference is to some extent the responsibility of the organizers. They _had_ to do something.
I fully intend to do the same. I'll likely always keep programming open source stuff etc. on the side, but the tech industry is so fucking weird and immature on stuff like that. (and also the fact that I don't see myself living the startup life when I have kids, at least not in the first few years of their lives)
I find this attitude really strange, as if you need to make dick jokes to write code.
Sorry to lose you, but if basic manners are an insufferable encroachment on your style and abilities, maybe we'll just have to find a way to get along without your talent.
What's next, a Web site with 'mugshots' taken by people who walk around conferences listening for inappropriate jokes? For a group of people that fears the Orwellian, some sure are applauding this action.
When did we lose, as a culture, the basic ability to open the hole that words come out of and tell someone that we're offended by them, and please stop it so I can pay attention to the talk?
Basic manners, indeed.
But this situation is really quite anomalous. Even setting aside Adria's histrionics, we still have a situation where the online response was overwhelmingly out of proportion and either nobody did much in person or it was completely resolved in person, depending on which comments above were true. This stands in sharp contrast to the other five or six of these fiascos from the last year, where in nearly every case the offended parties tried to be polite and were shrugged off, told to get a sense of humor or not take things so seriously or told they should have been approached in private rather than publicly. In other words, this is the first fiasco we've had in recent memory where the response actually was out of proportion—prior, NYC got napalmed because the bed bugs were still there after trying everything else.
I find it disingenuous to rewrite history from this single event to paint the sexism problem in our industry as being an overreaction by people who didn't speak up in person when this is really the only example of that. You must have real reasons for leaving the industry that don't have anything to do with this. I just find it hard to believe that someone could love programming and yet be so unwilling to avoid being offensive—or so afraid of being persecuted for it—that they leave the career for just this one reason.
I mean, if I were considering it with 30 units of determination and after this incident I'm considering it with 30.15 units of determination, it's certainly on the road. It wouldn't be the entire catalyst, but it's another let-down in a long line of being sad on Christmas from my chosen profession. Let's be serious, there are much worse potholes in our rear view.
I'm still not sure I agree that I'm desiring to be offensive with this line of thought, as my underlying goal. Just that I wish we'd talk to each other like, you know, adults. With words. In faces. I'm come to accept that I'm going to work with people that have terrible senses of humor. Shit, I do too. I'd rather we can work together instead of draw lines in the sand over feelings. We're all in this, learning, together. Cheesy song.
This will sound silly, but I just feel like the number of intolerable people in this industry is multiplying (sexist or otherwise; 'temperamental' is growing on my list, as is 'permanent contrarian', a couple rapid-growth archetype markets).
Thoughtful comment, thank you for replying so well.
I'm working in an office without any African American males or Hispanic American males. Does technology have a racist problem?
I also disagreed with shaming the conference that scheduled all white male speakers, as it was very likely unintentional and indicative of nothing larger except incompetence. People look for any reason to turn something into a Big Deal.
Only if the five black people were at least as competent as the five white people.
Regardless of the white person being more competent or less competent, preferring him due to color is a no-no.
As a result she has now been called a b_tch, c_nt, wh_re, n_gger, and an "affirmative action hire".
People are saying things like "someone with her sensitivity level should stay home and have babies".
People are saying she is privileged and has nothing to complain about (despite the fact that she is a victim of domestic abuse).
Is this how we should treat women when they speak out in public? Two months ago I mentioned some sexist remarks I got at a hackathon and this community told me to SPEAK OUT. Reveal the identity of the person. This tragedy is a good example of why that's scary.
It's hard enough to speak up when something makes you uncomfortable. Now it's terrifying.
No one deserves this kind of all-out character defamation because they thought a comment was inappropriate.
No one deserves to get fired for this kind of joke either.
Out of all of this I'm most shocked by how many people are OPENLY and PUBLICLY misogynistic and racist. It is a very sad day for our industry. Deep-seated resentments are being voiced loud and clear.
Look at the Reddit comments and Adria's twitter mentions if you want to see just how hateful people can be.
This is how people on the Internet treat anyone with any significant following, male or female.
She doesn't deserve the insults you describe. But she "spoke out" in a ridiculous way and does deserve to be shamed. Shamed tactfully, but still shamed.
The appropriate course of action when you run into something that offends you is to deal with it head-on. That is, rotate your neck, look at the source of your discomfort, and address the concerns that you have. It is not appropriate -- ESPECIALLY not for someone whose professional role is representing and advocating for a company's employees -- to play judge and jury yourself, starting a witch hunt without even engaging the other party in dialogue. Using the platform you've gained as a result of your professional privilege, no less.
Andria did get someone fired, by posting their picture online with partially false accusations. Check mr-hank's comments. n.
reddit/twitter/hn are anonymous mediums, anonymity causes people to be cruel.
In other words, Welcome to the Internet.
I don't have proof either way, but somehow I doubt it's the Python developers of the world who are mostly responsible for that "FLOOD of hateful, violent, racist, and misogynistic comments".
PlayHaven could have decided to be the responsible party and handle the incident constructively, but they did not want to do that. Even Adria, who still appears to think that the public shaming was a good thing to do, also thinks that PlayHaven should have not fired the person.
So please, if you think the firing was unreasonable, please let PlayHaven know that, and also how this might affect your image of PlayHaven.
I see it on social media sites, people who feel comfortable sitting on a bus and just lifting a camera up to snap someone going about their day who just happens to look different to someone else so everyone can have a l