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The PyCon Incident (pastebin.com)
1125 points by afraidofadria on Mar 20, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 985 comments

I would also like a response from Sendgrid here. Somebody they sent to a conference, who was representing their company there, went on a personal vendetta against somebody and got them fired.

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)

as "a women in tech" (god i hate even saying it like that lol) i totally agree. i think what she did was absurd. It wasn't even a lewd or offensive joke.

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.

Indeed, I am really puzzled as to why these "jokes" are supposed to be offensive to women. They might be offensive to people raised in some cultures / subcultures, and they don't sound like they're great jokes in any culture, but nobody ever told me about the meeting where women decided knob jokes were offensive. In fact a female friend texted me one about an hour ago.

The office I work in is entirely male, myself included, and just because don how I was raised, these types of jokes make me uncomfortable. However, after I said something about the issue, my coworkers, like most human beings, made an effort to check themselves. However, until you say something, they can't do anything about it.

I agree its a decency issue and not a sexism one.

What is indecent is that Adria Richards completely invented the bit about forking being a sexual reference ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5398681 ), escalated her discomfort to the level of internet drama, got her employer SendGrid to support her, and didn't exactly go out of her way to petition PlayHaven to unfire one of the two guys involved. And she's now sticking to her guns even after profusive apologies from the offenders. All she had to do was turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes.

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:



The outcome I'd want to see is for both companies and Adria Richards to apologize.

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.

My impression is that Adria Richards is not that kind of a person to apologize.

mine to, i also get the impression she is one to overreact and then justify her actions later.

Come on, she's a women... it is in her nature to overreact :-)

This, unlike the statements made by the two gentlemen at PyCon, is plainly sexism...

Well, to be honest, I hope that the fight for feminism hasn't gone so far as to mandate that "there are no psychological and behavioral differences between men and women at all" be taught as The One Truth.

You have to appreciate the irony of punishing my sexist joke in this specific thread.

(I do anyway)

Its not irony because the incident discussed here isn't sexism, its attention whoring. What you said was blatant.

Agreed, I flagged it.

This remark is unacceptable and harmful

This isn't reddit.

I'm waiting for the T-shirts about Forking and dongles to come out. This is going to be a meme now.

Also, April 1st is around the corner. It would be classic if github removed the "fork" button in response to it being offensive.

The repo they use for demos at GitHub says something like "fork? fork you!"

You write:

> 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.

Can't we please advance women's rights without criminalizing sexuality by likening it to a racist hate crime? And also can we stop advocating this notion that women are delicate flowers whose fragile ears need to be protected from any mention of sex whatsoever?

As stated by others, sex jokes are not necessarily sexist jokes.

> 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.

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.

Tweeting a picture isn't a DEFCON 4 response. I don't really think that it's that problematic- they were breaking the rules of the conference that they had agreed to, and calling someone out publicly is a very common method of enforcing social norms. It's not necessarily the most nuanced or feel-good method, but it's not like they had an expectation of privacy while in a crowded convention room. The overreaction here came from the guy's company, and we really don't know the whole story there.

>Tweeting a picture isn't 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.

Sex jokes are not hate speech.

How do you not recognize you're conflating two entirely different things here?

Anyone can be made uncomfortable by anything, and most people will try and not make people uncomfortable, but until they know your bothered by it they can't do anything.

This was not "just anything", and all conference participants were on notice that this SPECIFIC behavior was prohibited at PyCon.

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.

Just curious - do you read every word of every EULA you come across, or do you just get the gist of it?

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?

> do you read every word of every EULA you come across, or do you just get the gist of it?

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".

So the jokes weren't sexist. They were still sexual, which was still forbidden.

Adria did not initially raise this as a "sexism" issue from what I can see -- just something the made her uncomfortable.

This makes me uncomfortable: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425

"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?

Your link is (was) 404.

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. :(

I think the majority of criticism is that she escalated things so rapidly to publicly shaming people who didn't deserve it costing a man his job over a silly dick joke that that majority of women wouldn't have batted an eye over.

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.

Adria did NOT fire this man. As far as I can tell, she never ran a campaign to get him fired. What she did was to report what occurred, including the names of those involved.

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.

What she did was to make a mountain out of a molehill by playing Internet vigilante. I could have understood her attitude if she had found herself to be the object of sex(ist) jokes, but taking offense because two guys, who apparently are paying no attention to her, are sharing a not-so-funny vaguely sexual joke, does not warrant the Internet equivalent of burning them at the stake.

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.

> Comparing her to a reporter is disingenuous.

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.

> I would encourage you to unsubscribe to Adria's blog and twitter.

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.

You yourself posted the Code of Conduct, in which it states not only that harassment is 'not appropriate' (same as sexual language), but also that "We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form" - and naming and shaming on twitter is a form of harassment.

> naming and shaming on twitter is a form of harassment

That is an interesting point and one I had not considered. I will think about it. Thank you for expanding my mind today.

the question is what is worse - making an inmature dick joke or uploading a picture of someone and expose and discredit him publicly to thousands of people. I think with that action she did herself and her company a disservice. maybe taking the feminism thing too serious? https://securecdn.disqus.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/457/3...

She clearly states on her blog that

"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".

She didn't use the exact word 'sexism', but her blog post very much made it out to be a sexism issue.

Did she? I just read the entire post, and I disagree.


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!)

Yes, she did- "this wasn't the first time that day I had to address this issue around harassment and gender."

She clearly states in her blog she felt it involved "harassment and gender", which is often referred to as sexism.

She also projects her own fantasy onto a little girl, apropos of nothing, already proclaiming the girls career in tech dead in the water.

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.

I think there are tougher but better ways to deal with the issue (like facing the two men) than to hide behind your twitter followers.

She "hid" by directly notifying the conference organizers through twitter. You can make the claim that it shouldn't have been done in public; you can't exactly also argue that she was hiding.

She was hiding in real life, while being a "badass" on the internet. I think I'm going to open a bait shop myself, and call it "Big Dongles."

So, people that are uncomfortable with direct confrontation are only allowed to 'sit down and shut up?'

No. Instead of posting someone's photo (and other's along with that) on the web confront them. If they do not apologize or shut up in shame, move to authorities. Authorities at Pycon did help her, didn't they?

  | Instead of posting someone's photo (and other's
  | along with that) on the web confront them
Your plan of action for someone "uncomfortable with direct confrontation" is to "confront them." Logic!

[ She should have just gone to (or messaged) the PyCon staff first to resolve the situation. ]

She turned around, smiled and took their photograph. She can do that and not confront them about the lewd remarks?

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?
As someone that doesn't like to be confrontational, this makes sense to me. Verbally confronting them means engaging them in conversation. Taking their photo and smiling at them is a bit more passive.

well a few years ago a team member said "oh I cant go to a social event with the team" as he was upper caste.

I did not raise a fuss and get him fired - though we where all shocked.

It wasn't offensive. I see a lot of cases of ACTUAL, OFFENSIVE sexism on HN. This isn't it.

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.

Now if that's not an ad-hominem I don't know what is. Adria got pissed at overhearing some inappropriate jokes, snapped a picture and tweeted her indignation.

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.

Nothing in the Constitution says that people have a right to not be offended. This is why the ACLU defends asshole Nazi/KKK idiots when they put up signs, perform protests, etc.

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?

What does rights have to do with anything? This isn't a matter of free speech. It's a private event, with a code of conduct (which those two did violate, however unintentionally), in a professional setting.

Thank you for so beautifully making my true point: that these issues bring a lot of deep-seated emotions to the surface that we often don't even consciously understand or are aware of and that that is the real topic we should be discussing.

I am not a person prone to hyperbole, so please understand that when I say this is one of the stupidest things I have ever read on Hacker News, I'm not saying so for the hackneyed dramatic flair. This... is one of the stupidest things I have ever read on Hacker News.

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.

I can't have a discussion with you, if you actually believe people have a right to get offended and act on those emotions above other peoples emotions.

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.


It's very simple: if you don't have the right to be offended, then you don't have freedom of thought, much less freedom of speech.

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 think you are forgetting that offending someone is a crime. And that Adria acted so that some justice system punished that crime of she being offended. Feeling offended and getting offended, is that the line that Adria crossed? She certainly did cross a line, and acted in a negative way. That she had no right to.

It's not her right to expect that something necessarily needs to be done about it.

I'm offended. Okay.....

Politically expedient faux outrage.

As assessments of body parts the men's behavior and the Sendgrid developer evangelists's tweets are more offensive to men who are being objectified based on their dongles.

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.

Come to think of it, Twisted also makes me uncomfortable. Quick, call Jesse Noller and security and escort Glyph out of the building.

To be fair to PSF Jesse Noller was not involved, and we were not escorted out of the building. Their accounting of the issue can be found here: http://pycon.blogspot.com/2013/03/pycon-response-to-inapprop...

It was a response to the grandparent who was making a point about how some things should not be tolerated and how the work place can become sexualized.

(from gp)

> 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

I am a reporter with Mother Jones magazine, and I would like to speak with you directly about the incident as reported by Adria (there's a lot of misinformation floating around, I want to get the facts straight.) Mind getting in touch? dliebelson@motherjones.com

I basically want to get this verified:

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?

Thanks, Dana


The interesting thing here is that the joke wasn't really: dongle as childish sexual innuendo. What they found funny is that they were sitting at pycon making an obviously childish joke. It's only funny because its so obviously stupid.

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.

exactly, i have female friends that make far worse joke like that, and male friends who are greatly bothered by them.

I would not have reacted as she did. I would have either ignored it or said something directly to them. But. . .I have male friends who are offended by discussions of some of the things that we females say. And when I'm around them, I'll tone it down a bit. Not completely, both sides compromise. . .I say a little less than I normally would and they tolerate a little more than they normally would.

Thats how most of I (female) and my friends would react too.

Everyone is different and to get along we all must understand and compromise.

In a professional setting, you should apply the "would I tell this joke to my mother" rule. It might not be your mother, but someone else, like your grand parent or a situation where lewd jokes are inappropriate, like a job interview or a new client.

> In fact a female friend texted me one about an hour ago.

A friend. Being female has nothing to do with it.

> 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.

> I don't think it's particularly because they're women.

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. 
The difference between the PyCon incident and your female friend texting you a joke is that she is your friend, and you have a rapport, and in your friendly relationship with her you two have a understanding that that kind of joke is okay!

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.

That "these jokes are sexist or offensive to women" was an axiom (in the logic sense) in my parents' religious household. It's incredibly confusing to see good and respectable people (like your friend) so eager to debase themselves with this humor.

It's not exactly great humor, but I'm confused as to why this is offensive to women specifically (let alone an axiom of sexism). Because it references male organs? They're not referring to females at all. Not to be too reductionist, but that leaves me thinking of two possible conclusions:

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

3. Penis Envy.

I see your point, but I'm really not clear if the joking here was sexist or mere crude humor. By 'crude' I mean body humor - jokes about farts or smelly gym socks etc. are wholly unfunny to me and generally make me want to exist the conversation ASAP. I can't say I find them offensive as such, just stupid and gross - a matter of taste rather than ethics, so to speak.

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.

How are they "debasing themselves with this humor"?

My reading of stephen's comment was that he probably recognises that it's a matter of cultural difference, rather than absolute truth. In some cultures, for a woman to tell those kinds of jokes would be debasing. In ours, not so much I guess.

I think a lot of it is generational, too.

how is it debasing if i text some stupid dick joke to my friend? i don't' get it.

(disclaimer i am female)

Gee, imagine that people come from different cultures where different behavior is considered acceptable. I imagine a lot of things that are considered bad in religious households are acceptable to other people.

Imagine this situation:

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.

> "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."

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"?

I think the comparison being made is not the two guys are rapists, but that the two guys have a high likelihood of becoming embarrassing / socially awkward / please god just let me get on with my day and stop.

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.

You're missing the point.

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.

I assure you, I'm not missing the point - I understand very well the point you're trying to make, except you've decided to make it in an incredibly offensive, homophobic way.

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.

This is rape paranoia, if you feel that's fine then good for you, as I see it it's no better than racial profiling.

Sorry, which part is rape paranoia?

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.

Most sexual assault are generally, in any country that publish statistics, committed by people who know the people they would assault, they are "friends", relatives or coworkers.

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.

Good night

I wrote both posts in hurry yesterday, now that I read your points (I read whole threads of your posts) I generally agree with you, I think that maybe elaborating my points would be a bit tedious. I also think "rape paranoia" was too harsh a world, as you made me realize, I'm almost 6.4 feet tall, I generally do not know what is to be harassed..

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.

Just clarifying, it sucks to type on tablets, world, and a couple of other spelling errors are mainly because of typing in tablets really sucks.

This is the funniest comment I've read in a while, but it's also sad. You managed to insult women, gay men and the hacker news reader at the same time. I don't know which women you're basing this on, but the ones I know don't fear for their life when they hear a penis joke, even though it's distasteful. And I don't know which gay bars you frequent, but I've never heard anything close to that. Even if it were the case that you heard something like this, you should have fear because gay men will surely rape you, right? And the average hacker news reader is not stupid enough to fall for this ridiculous comparison between talking about virgin anuses and making a penis joke. Equivalent would be if the guys in the conference were talking about how good virgin vaginas are when a woman sits down in front of them. If that was the situation you can be sure that they would have no support here.

I wasn't drawing an equivalence between the situation I described and Adira's situation.

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.

But that is exactly the point you were making: that it would somehow be reasonable to "feel threatened" when 2 gay guys are having a sexual conversation within hearing range of you. You in fact agree with everyone else that this is not a threatening situation. Given that, what does this have to do with the incident at Pycon? Your argument is heteronormative at best because it also assumes that only straight men could every be offended by gay sexual conversation.

That is more a reflection on your personal insecurities than anything else. Two men, gay or otherwise, having a private conversation, probably don't know you exist and are almost certainly not planning on raping you.

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.

I'm not personally insecure about it. Because my risk of sexual assault is tiny.

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.

Your exploitative example of walking into a gay bar is a disgrace. Assuming the record of events are true, the men in question at Pycon were making a joke about penises, not harassing a woman as stated in your analogy. They are two totally different things. Your failed attempt to appeal to homophobic tendencies does not qualify as an argument.

First, I wasn't making an analogy.

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.

Almost everyone can understand irrational fear. Phobias exist almost everywhere, and by dictionary definition, its disproportional fear to the actual dangers. In clinical psychology, its defined as a type of anxiety disorder. It belongs in the same category as people who are afraid of small rodents, small spaces, large spaces and meteors. Almost anyone with a phobia can put themselves in the shoes of someone else with a different phobia.

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.

"I was attempting to create a legitimate scenario where an average guy might feel afraid of sexual assault."

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.

I am indeed getting a feeling of discomfort, because I feel some responsibility to challenge what I perceive to be a homophobic comment. I suppose that is similar to what Adria felt at Pycon.

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.

Can we start a gay bar where people make github repo forking jokes or all the drinks are named in such a scheme? I'd love to go to this bar.

No homophobia is involved.

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.

Because anal prison rape is a fair analogy for a bad dongle joke at Pycon? In all seriousness, how do you think the situation you described is at all similar to what happened at Pycon? Are you saying that Pycon is an event of similar hostility to prison - if the attendee is a woman? Please. This is beyond ridiculous.

> Women feel that a lot.

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.

You should talk to more women about this.

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.

> You should talk to more women about this.

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.

Hi, Tom.

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.

While what you say is true, there's no reason for everyone to have to bear the burden of a few people's irrational fears. I don't know were the dividing line should be, but overheard undirected conversation doesn't seem like a reasonable threat to me.

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.

Oh piffle, the whole "why do you, as a guy" rhetoric is even worse. Although, for what it is worth, I have volunteered in a women's shelter for many years, so have a wealth of empirical information to draw on.

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.

Just FYI: There are those of us reading this who understand your comments and agree wholeheartedly. The difficulty I think you're facing here in getting this point across is that people are angry right now. Angry mob mode is very much enabled, and it's a mode which reduces people's ability to empathise and change their minds.

Kudos for trying though.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is angry and irrational. I'm very calm, but I think you're wrong. Just because someone got offended, that doesn't make it everyone else's problem. Publishing photos of people along with transcripts of their private conversation is highly intrusive, and should only be done in extreme circumstances. A dick joke does not qualify.

I wasn't talking about what Adria did. I agree with the consensus that she fucked up. I was talking about the fact that it's possible to be blinded by privilege and accidentally make remarks that really undermine the sense of belonging and safety of somebody with less privilege than you.

For some people, the fear factor factor comes from words alone. . .attitude and presence are not required. I'm a woman. Am I like that (feeling fearful from words alone)? No. Do I wish other people weren't like that? Yes. But it doesn't change the fact that for some people it is just the words - right or wrong. And no, I wouldn't have reacted as she did - I would have ignored it or spoken directly to them.

Are you seriously trying to draw a connection between two guys making a joke to each other about how the word "dongle" sounds like the word "dong"...

...to a person being sexually assaulted?

I am seriously saying that I have talked with people who have been made uncomfortable by sexual jokes in non-sexual contexts, and that they have told me that part of their discomfort came from fear. Fear that they were in a situation where sexual harassment or sexual assault was a sudden possibility.

Are you claiming that in the incident in question, a conclusion that she was in imminent danger of sexual assault is what motivated her to say these things? It seems beyond far-fetched but assume that is how she felt at the time. This does not exempt her from us thinking critically about whether or not that is a fair - much less: rational - conclusion. What in the context of the situation as it has been described would lead her into believing they were targeting her or sexually harassing her? It is irrational and seriously makes me question her low opinion of her own gender's threshold of insult.

> Are you claiming that in the incident in question, a conclusion that she was in imminent danger of sexual assault is what motivated her to say these things?

No. I am not saying that.

I am trying to say that sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context can trigger legitimate fears.

It's interesting you use the word "trigger" here. Anything can "trigger" legitimate fears if it is strongly mentally associated with the thing you are legitimately afraid of. It's not up to other people to shape their behaviour to walk on eggshells around you. You are not a gun with a hair trigger that other people must handle carefully. You're an adult. It's up to you as an adult to distinguish between things that "trigger" fears and things that are genuinely damaging or potentially damaging.

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.

"I am trying to say that sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context can trigger legitimate fears."

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?

because tech workers are known to be rapists and any women in their vicinity is at risk of sexual assault, therefore any joke by tech men should be interpreted as a danger by women nearby.

If you look into those statistics, most assaults take place within relationships and are not even considered assaults by the assaulted women ( it is the interpretation of the people conducting the studies). Outside of the home men are actually more endangered of violence than women ( not even taking violence in prisons into account).

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)

Please show me the evidence that a non-PTSD woman's sense of risk is heightened if sex is mentioned.

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 you wanted your scenario to be equivalent, you should have had the men making jokes about the size of their dicks.

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.

I wasn't trying to sketch an equivalent situation.

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.

Please learn to read more carefully.

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.

I understood that, and that is indeed the question I tried to answer.

This is, without a doubt, the worst thing I have ever read on Hacker News. And I've read a lot. You should be ashamed of yourself for writing something so hopelessly intolerant.

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.

If you're in tech and you're not actively mindful about making things better for women, you are part of the problem. Also, gay disenfranchisement is not 1,000 times more important than female disenfranchisement.

> That feeling of discomfort? The way your heart speeds up as you start wondering if you're safe? Women feel that a lot.

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?

> Then I get out of the bar.

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.

> Would you say, "If male programmers make you uncomfortable, don't learn to program"? If you would, then that is part of the problem.

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.

They talked with Adisa, so they probably did recognize that she was a woman.

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?

> They talked with Adisa, so they probably did recognize that she was a woman.

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?

> As far as I've read they talked to each other, not her.

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.

> You should read her blog, then.

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!)

Thanks for the polite reply.

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.

"Imagine you're in a room filled with thousands of hot girls and they suddenly start talking about their big boobs and hot legs"... Hey, there are many female rapists!

Regarding who she spoke to, I presume that the guy on the left made his comment on the logging session to the person in the middle, and that she turned around and talked to them as a group. He was certainly talking to somebody, but I agree it's not clear who. Given that the forking joke from the guy in the middle seemed to be related to the guy on the left mentioning forking, I think it's reasonable to see it as one conversation, especially given the angle she would have been at when she turned around.

I agree it's not totally explicit, though, so perhaps they never did notice her.

I've spent some time in gay bars, and I'm not gay. (I have friends!) I've never felt the discomfort you're theorizing, even in those rowdy establishments where jokes are occasionally told.

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.

Hi, Jess. I spend time in gay bars too. I also like them, and have never felt uncomfortable there. But elsewhere I was once hit on in a way that made me feel unsafe. It's not fun.

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'm sorry that happened to you. Even so, I wish you could see that the scenario you've described is not helpful for many people who are trying to imagine feeling unsafe in the situation the woman describes: a full auditorium, two dorky bearded dudes in a sea of dorky bearded dudes, and the sort of mindless unconscious chatter in which people engage while they're waiting for the windbag conference organizers to get to the fucking point. Had they droned on a few more hours they probably could have busted a few more neckbeards.

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 not saying she felt unsafe in the moment. I couldn't know, but I agree she probably didn't. (She may have felt unsafe about speaking to them directly about their behavior, though.)

I am saying that one reason we don't make sexual comments in professional contexts is that it can make people feel unsafe.

As a lady I can clearly say this isn't how that situation makes me feel.

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.

He didn't get a choice on the color. That's Hacker News punishing him with gray for being so poorly downvoted.

(I might have missed a joke. If so, I'm sorry.)

Wait, joking about a body part that women don't have isn't offensive but makes women feel unsafe?


I live in SF. I am immune to feeling remotely discomforted by actions/sights/conversations like that.

I live in SF as well, and I would also probably feel safe. But that's because my lifetime risk of sexual assault is very low, and San Francisco is a pretty safe place.

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 the feeling of being scared, but I don't understand why a joke about a dongle would provoke it. It seems to me that the level of threat from a room full of people who are not joking about dongles is exactly the same as the level of threat from a room full of people, two of whom are joking about dongles. I am obviously not arguing that it would be impossible to tell a joke with scary content, but I haven't seen an explanation as to why these jokes were scary.

Hi! Thanks for the civilized reply.

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.

Your invocation of some obscure situation where you would feel legitimately threatened in a sexual way has nothing to do with the reality of what happened. It's true that women can be put into sexually threatening situations. It's patently false that what happened at Pycon is an example of one.

I never said that they were.

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 think she was right to see jokes like that as being part of an environment that alienates women

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.

And now someone checks your profile, finds out where you work, and exposes you on the net as a "homophobic hater" and gets you fired.

How about THIS analogy?

so, for those keeping score: misogyny = bad, homophobia = win!

That feeling - I know exactly what you mean!

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.

Also, would this apply to the large, ridiculously buff guys, very obviously gay guys in my gym (Fitness SF Soma) who regularly leer at me and occasionally hit on me? In my experience all that happens is that when they figure out I'm not interested, they are quite friendly and I get to know more people in my new neighborhood.

Were it ok if they were instead small, wimpy guys?

Homophobic much? This is one of the most offensive comments I've seen on HN.

Straw man.


This sounds more like wishful thinking on your part, mate, to be honest.

as "a women in tech" (eeew) I also agree. It's like people don't know the difference between misogyny, which should be unacceptable, and bawdiness, which is a matter of taste. She must be really sheltered.

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.

I'm surprised by the "eeew" attached to being a woman in tech. Is there really that much stigma with saying "I am a woman"? I get that we all just want to be technologists and not "female technologists" but it's a red flag that people use this kind of mitigating speech when sharing their views.

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.

Of course physical threats and misogynic slurs just show that we are not where we should be and there are a lot of sexist jerks in our industry.

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)

your twisting our words, its not being women in tech that's eeww, its the phrase "women in tech". it sounds so... i dunno, something that i can't put my finger on. I'm a women. I'm in tech. they are two separate things. i see no need to explicitly point out that i am a "women in tech" except when silly things like this happen and i have to.

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)

I understand why you, as a woman, would hate the phrase "women in tech". It definitely has a subtext that indicates being a woman in tech is somehow a unique situation - when in reality it should be the standard. Many of my female peers also feel the same way - that they don't want to be talked about in a specific lingo - and simply want to be recognized on their personal merits, which may or may not include overcoming gender inequality. It is absolutely true that the tech industry and American industry at large are sexist and discriminatory. It is also absolutely true that cases of poor judgement like this work against this real problem of sexism in the workplace.

>your twisting our words, its not being women in tech that's eeww, its the phrase "women in tech". it sounds so... i dunno, something that i can't put my finger on.

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.

I am not keeping an eye on Twitter, but I can only imagine the tone and content of certain responses is beyond base (hence, part of the reason I actually don't really "do" Twitter). No one, ever, should be subject to the level of vitriol sometimes on display there.

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.

> Some truly horrific things are happening to her as a result of this tweet

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.

> Some truly horrific things are happening to her as a result of this tweet

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.

I agree that she doesn't deserve some of the vitriol her way. Particularly the misogynistic stuff which is particularly stupid considering the context.

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.

Really, firing the individual makes sense to me. Pycon does have a code of conduct, which includes avoiding sexualised language. I'm not into the whole big brother idea, but there is such a thing as "time and place" :) and the wrong time and place to make sexualised jokes, is when you are sat in public at a conference with a policy against such things...

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.

Fire the individual has as about as much sense, as kicking someone out of an airport because they happen to have a bottle with more than 3.4 ounce of liquid. Sure, there might be a rule or code, but there is also a thing called overreaction.

I bet he won't make the same mistake again. Perhaps we're all so used to going through the 6 month HR-slap-on-the-wrist process that we have lost touch of what it actually takes to change a person's behavior.

What mistake is it that this person should have changed?

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.

Firing seems like an extreme overreaction at the very least, although if this were part of a pattern of behavior, or if the guy were otherwise marginal, I could understand it (even in cases where I wouldn't agree with it). More severe action might also be warranted if the employer were government or some other special cases where even the hint of sexism were a problem (e.g. a rape crisis center employee or something) -- but not a shitty game monetization company.

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.

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?

I don't find that comment "gross" at all. If I fired everyone who said "gross" things at work or at conferences, we'd have no employees, but we clearly have different definitions of gross. I would however, be annoyed if someone said those things to a client.

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.

Actually, what I meant by gross was just the idea of these guys sitting around making innuendo within earshot of a public audience. Not the specific joke, do we even know what it was?

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.

"Actually, what I meant by gross was just the idea of these guys sitting around making innuendo within earshot of a public audience. Not the specific joke, do we even know what it was?"

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.

AFAICT this is all we got, from a primary source, about the joke: "began making sexual forking jokes"

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.

a) Fine, we have a second opinion on what was said. That was not even my point -- it was that it doesn't matter what the specific joke was, whether about dongles or forking (who cares?) the point is that it was lewd and public.

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.

I may be overqualified, but please review my resume...

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.

People who really harass women know exactly how to get away with it.

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.

I would like to think it's a temporary overcorrection. With the gender imbalance in higher education swinging the other way, one hopes that enough glass ceilings are eliminated that we can normalize to a state where "legitimate harassment" is four or five sigmas outside normal professional behavior.

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. :-)

Maybe its my social group but something like that would even cause any of us (more women in tech) to even bat an eye.

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.


Her post is quite good, and provides a very good argumentation for her actions. For a moment, I almost agreed with her.

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.

Wait - being treated with professional courtesy is a privilege women have? Why did nobody ever tell me?

Sex jokes have no place in the work place. Period. No matter the gender of the narrator or the audience.

I disagree. I like jokes, even sex jokes, even at the workplace.

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).

pyCon clearly set their expectations for their guests during this event. I think if the "community" has such a large issue with it, they can stop attending conferences that don't adhere to their social expectations. (pyCon would not get any smaller though)

You don't sound like much fun. I work with many women and men... We are all make horrible sex jokes throughout the day. Are you the guy sitting by yourself at lunch?

No, I happen to be the woman who actually enjoys hanging out with her current colleagues - who all strangely managed to grow up past puberty.

I respect women like youself so I will reply in the same way I would reply to any male poster on this forum. What reality do you live in? Do you honestly think it is only prepubescent teens who make jokes involving sex and reproductive organs? Do you further deny that such jokes can actually be funny? I'm not going to debate what is work appropriate. But I think you grossly mischaracterize the nature of people and humor in a very broad way.

> Do you further deny that such jokes can actually be funny?

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.

"I'm not going to debate what is work appropriate."

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.

I like how the only thing you add to the conversation is the exact thing that the person you're replying to said they weren't going to discuss...

No, but I think only pubescent teens enjoy telling those jokes to as wide an audience as possible. They might well be funny, but what's funny to one person can be hurtful to another person. Which is why you keep that kind of humor out of the workplace (and the public).

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.

Your comment about puberty is pretty offensive.

I would treat you professionally and avoid making any references to anything more controversial than toast in your presence.

But I also wouldn't invite you to any outside of work social activities either, because you sound like a buzzkill.

> 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.

There is no solution to this problem. It is simply the nature of being social. If I like talking about X, and another person doesn't, then I'm simply not going to talk with them, because they don't like talking about the things I do. Yes, X can be sexual innuendo jokes. But X can also be computers, or board games, or gardening. This is simply how being a social entity with differing world views works.

There is too a solution to this problem: be professional at work and save the blue humor for the social hour. People are trying to get paid here.

i worked at a place like that once, it was pretty boring and stale. I worked with co-wrokers.

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.

> being treated with professional courtesy is a privilege Did any of the people involved act with professional courtesy?

Quoting from the post I replied to

> 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.

> women want to be equal, but they want to keep certain privileges.

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.

There isn't an outrage because she spoke up, there's an outrage because she publicly identified and shamed them over something so minor. It should have gone no further then her contacting the event staff and how they resolved it

So, I'm wondering what world you all live in where posting a photograph of someone with no name or identity attached is "publicly shaming" them.

well i could be a smart ass and say a world with face recognition & the internets.

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.

"Alex" something? I can't read that.

And I think their company might have more than one bearded guy on staff, so it's hardly obvious.

Yeah, but I can, and I found him in 30 seconds. And that's the guy who was not fired, and who may not have anything to apologize for. As best I can tell it was the person sitting to his left that lost his job.

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.

Not to mention there is a guy in the photo who wasn't involved at all and just happened to be sitting there and allot of people are mistaking him for the guy who was fired. Sucks to be him right now.

Agreed, it's a classic example of two wrongs not making a right.

it's not an outrage she spoke up. she overheard an inappropriate comment and proceeded to publicly drag these guys' reputations through the mud. between the two actions (private, inappropriate comments in a public space, or calling out the pitchforks), her action was clearly worse, and in real terms more damaging.

She didn't drag their reputations through anything, because I don't believe they were named. She only asked the PyCon organizers to do something about them via Twitter.

She did post a picture of them, wearing their companies t-shirt, resulting in one of the individuals to be released from his job.

I'm still not seeing the part where their reputations were publicly dragged through the mud. To do that, you would have to identify them, and the only people who know them are the ones who paid for their trip in order to represent them: their employers.

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.

How many Alex's work at PlayHaven? Because both of those things are clearly visible in the photo she posted. According to LinkedIn, it's a company of 11-50 people and it took me one minute to find their profiles.

Apparently he wasn't involved. Did Adria Richards falsely accuse Alex Reid of misconduct and post his personally identifying information online?


A name isn't the only form of identification, which is proven by one of the guys getting fired.

I know. That's why I mentioned their employers in my previous comment. That still doesn't mean she publicly dragged them through the mud. She didn't release a pastebin full of their information. She never even mentioned their name.

She didn't mention their names because she didn't have to; she deliberately took the photo to show the names on their badges and specifically (even saying so in her blog post, which actually acts to incriminate her more than it does to justify her actions) because one of them was a sponsor and she wanted to get that fact on file. She set out to humiliate these men in front of her thousands of followers and make a mockery of them and their behavior. Neither of them had the means to even begin to refute her claims before they were burned at the stake, and this guy lost his job before most of us even knew this happened.

That is the very definition of dragging someone's reputation through the mud.

> 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.

This times three million.

Perhaps (some of) the women want to be spared sex jokes WHEN IN A VENUE THAT PROHIBITS THEM. Pycon has a code of conduct (https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/) which specifically prohibits sexual jokes as being inappropriate in the context of the conference.

I want to understand Richards's perspective, but that post is about 99% indignation about how important it is not to have a discouraging environment for women, and about 1% actual description of what happened. All I got out of those ~600 words was that the joke involved forking and dongles "in a sexual way".

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.

And her domain name is "butyoureagirl".

Predispositioned much?

Downvote away...

> it just screams "look at me i'ml so awesome give me some attention" My exact thought.

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.

I agree that she went too far. But. . .if guys are really extreme - in my subjective view - I can live with them not being able to totally relax. It's unfortunately, but I've worked with a handful who even made other men uncomfortable, but the other men were unwilling to say something. I was willing to allow a lot of latitude, but I did say there are some extreme lines that I'd rather you not cross. I can tune out a lot, but some things were beyond what I wanted to tolerate. So we compromised.

But you really shouldn't have to make politically incorrect jokes and references to make yourself fit in because of your gender. People who feel like they can't be themselves around you because of your gender have other hangups that are unrelated to you. If they truly believe that they can't joke around women, that's a failing of social understanding.

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.

whats your point? 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....

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.

Sorry, I wasn't being clear. My point is that the problem lies somewhere with this weird superstition around women, especially in technology fields. I believe that this weird superstition is perpetuated by sexist ideals or understandings. And I believe that it has nothing to do with you or other women that happen to see it in action like you described, but with the people on the other side. So I guess my point is that shouldn't be your responsibility to make others feel comfortable around you simply because you are a woman. That doesn't logically follow. Similar to how other minorities shouldn't need to make jokes that defame their race or sex in order to fit in with non-minorities.

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.

> So I guess my point is that shouldn't be your responsibility to make others feel comfortable around you simply because you are a woman.

> 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.

Apparently the con agreed that it was offensive behavior, and so did the employer.

The thing about PC is that even if you disagree with it, you'll still be vilified. The smart thing for an employer to do is the PC thing, even if they think it is wrong. Why risk being singled out and made an example of?

As a SendGrid customer, it concerns me that SendGrid would stand behind the initiation of a public controversy under such questionable circumstances, especially one that resulted in the firing of a developer from his job. SendGrid should be in the business of email deliverability, not public shaming.

Edit: I've tempered my phrasing above quite a bit and removed references to individuals.

If my reading of her account is correct, the person who got fired was suggestion that Adria "check out his big dongle" which is a very explicit sexual joke directed at a specific stranger (her).

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.

This was a private conversation between two friends, none of whom referenced her or even knew she was listening.

This was a private conversation between two friends, none of whom referenced her or even knew she was listening.

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.

Don't you think you're reading between the lines a bit too much here? Don't you think that if Adria really felt they were addressing her, she would have explicitly stated that as it would completely change the context of the situation?

I actually don't think that I am reading too much here. If Adria had not felt personally singled out and targeted, why would she (as described) have been blushing? The fact that she felt that does not mean that she was - but the feeling is relevant to her subsequent actions.

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.

as i understand it, he did not say to her, he said it top his friend next to him unaware she was sitting there listening to their conversation.

As she described it, he and his friend began their joking in response to her conversation to the man sitting next to them. So they were quite aware that she was there, had every reason to believe that she would be paying attention, and she had cause to believe that she was implicitly addressed.

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.)

the forking joke yea, but that was even more benign, the dongle joke occurred afterwards after i assume some time had passed.

Why do you assume that some time had passed?

I did not get that impression from her article. (But it is not specified either way, so time might have passed.)

in her article:

>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.)

yep, we weren't there so we don't' know. That is why the things like this becoming public are so damaging and wrong, people make judgments they have no information and/or right to.

Rather tangential, but may still have some bearing: Anyone who claims to feel their "/face/ getting flustered" is trying to use words they don't quite know how to use, which to me is an indication of lower credibility than if they stuck to using words they know how to use. It may not count for much, but it is a count against mz Richards in my book.

If nothing else, SOME time would HAVE to have passed, to get from one subject to the other. For one person to finish one sentence, and another person to start another.

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 cannot, in good conscience, ever do business with a company that supports that behavior.

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.

Get real.

If I understood correctly, Adria is not another employee, but has the role of developer evangelist. In that role, your twitter account is very much an extension of your job.

In that light, I do not understand how this woman is still employed.


Who exactly is she "evangelizing" for? All developers? I find that really hard to believe given her extremely public politics.

I can't imagine what an HR department would have to say about the advisability of firing such a person.

Seriously, does she really believe racism is only one sided? I had to read that tweet more than once to be sure I was reading it correctly.

This tweet is from November 2009 - over 3 years ago. Adria didn't start working as an 'evangelist' for SendGrid until March of 2012.

This is actually the academically accepted definition of racism. In that definition, only white people can be racist. This came as a complete shock to me in my race, class, and gender course. Be extension, it also means women cannot be sexist against men, as men are considered in the position of power.

Again, these are the academically accepted definitions.

It isn't "the" academically accepted definition, though. It is one definition that's accepted in some social sciences depts., usually sociology, and usually ones w/ critical theory-oriented faculties. Walk into Georgetown poli sci and tell them white people can't be racist.

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've seen a similar message crop up in EO training lately. But there they differentiate between "Systemic racism" and "Individual racism". I'd guess she's just parroting without understanding... I hope.

I second this. The person is there at the conference as a rep for her company therefore it's speaking for the company.

> In that role, your twitter account is very much an extension of your job.

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.

Maybe what you are getting at is "are we okay with jobs where your personal social media account is a job function?". I personally think no, but at this point, we can't put the "social media" genie back into the bottle, and it is only going to get worse with products like Glass.

Many journalists nowadays have a twitter account because of their work, and news websites syndicate from their personal accounts.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that there's an increasingly blurry line between someone's employment status and someone's personal views and I think that should be extremely uncomfortable for everyone involved and generally means our community will be less likely to engage in honest and forthright dialog as people with personal views.

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.

The distinction between "professional life" and "personal life" is artificial anyway. Business connections are regularly between people who are friends outside of business. The way you act at the bar may be seen by business contacts. Reputation gets around. Social media is just making it more apparent.

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.

It's also part of her branding. She consults and her primary web site is "butyoureagirl.com". It's completely appropriate for her to tweet her opinion.

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.

Having finally gotten through the DDOS-filter, I see from her account of the situation that my hopes were not enough to change reality. There is a bit of "here's an opportunity to make my point," that leverages a minor incident to reinforce her larger message about inequality.

>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.

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.

From her employer's site: http://i.imgur.com/uWc8P39.png

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.

What's more, I no longer think that PyCon behaved entirely appropriately either. These things need to be taken in the context of what is clearly acceptable in society at large.

> What's good for the goose...

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.

A tweet and a blog post that named and shamed two people, personally, in what I believe to be the biggest example of blowing something out of proportion in recent memory.

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.

They were not kicked out of the convention.

Hmm, ever hear of slippery slope arguments? Because there's clearly a limit to the situation you're describing and clearly offense is relative. So, since you didn't specify any level of severity, let's assume the joke that offended you was about harming someone or themselves. I mean, people say things like "I want to kill the guy the wrote this" or "oh god, this makes me want to kill myself" jokingly. Would it be okay then or would I still be a colossal fucking 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?

You're generalizing too much.

>Would it be okay then or would I still be a colossal fucking idiot?

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.

Right, you let two guys in private conversation snicker about the word "dongle" and the next thing you know people will be threatening to kill political figures with impunity.

I've got one word for that: Lol.

I see how you got here, but that's not what I'm arguing. The parent's post seems to imply that anyone that would react strongly to a joke is a "colossal fucking idiot." This seems to imply that the joke's content has no relation to the reaction. So I was just wondering if that really holds. As per the parent's reply, it does. I'm not even barely implying that threatening to kill political figures is the next logical step. I'm implying that there definitely is some hard limit being ignored or maybe I'm wrong.

Yeah I dunno. I get your point about relating the offense and the action. Maybe try rephrasing your argument with a less "charged" example?

Aside: Does anybody know the actual joke in question? More than it just referencing a "big dongle".

You're polluting the discussion with all these hypotheticals. Stick to what actually happened.

I'd argue that calling someone a "colossal fucking idiot of the highest caliber" because they did something you don't agree with is hyperbolic and pollutes the discussion. I'm merely teasing that logic so that other people can understand that offense is relative and thus their anecdotes about how they wouldn't be offended or understand anyone for being offended are red herrings.

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?"

> did something you don't agree with

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.

here's the point: it's not only fair. in fact, by expecting sendgrid to can adria you're implicitly supporting what the other guy's company did, at which point you really have no complaint.

Ummm, my reading of the thread is that we're not going to do business with Adria's employer because of her actions. That's a different thing.

Indeed. And if her personal actions and the resultant bad press for Sendgrid causes them to ask the person in question to step down, well, going on the logic in this thread, the employer is the bad guy, not the person acting like a jackass in public.

..In which case the decision to stop or not do business with Sendgrid would be all the more justified.

different how? you're holding them responsible for something adria did at pycon.

You don't see a difference between an employee losing her job and a company losing some business? You must be in management.

if the company were pressured into firing adria in order to get their customer base back, would you feel justice had been served?

I prefer mercy to "justice", as if the latter ever happens, as if we'd recognize it if it did. I don't want anyone to be fired for her speech, but I realize that in this world it's going to happen occasionally. I'm sure you'll misunderstand this comment, because you have systematically misunderstood every comment in this thread so far, but I mean it when say that I would have preferred that none of the parties involved be fired as a result of this incident.

you need to read this comment for context if you think i'm systematically misunderstanding the tenor of this thread. i admit it might look that way if you don't start from there.

edit: this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5411071

Get a good night's sleep and re-read that one in the morning. The very first sentence of that is about consequences for the business, and the rest of it is in response to that. Others have suggested that the SendGrid employee should be fired, but that's not what Karunamon is suggesting in the comment you link.

Nono. Please understand, that is exactly what I am suggesting.

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.

Well I'm a moron.

I guess you got your wish.

So it is now "insane" to hold a company responsible for the actions of someone who was specifically representing that company in an evangelist role at an event? I can't believe this point even passed through your head much less ended up being typed out and passed off as a logical statement, where you are actually, get this, attempting to mock someone else. wtf man...

A major factor you have to always consider when reading HN comments on stories like this -- and I'm not even kidding here -- is that a large percentage of the HN population has no idea how to convince women to have sex with them. I mean, among online forums, I would place good money that HN's readership has one of the highest ratios of adult virgins (non-elective, i.e. not by choice)

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.

>A major factor you have to always consider when reading HN comments on stories like this -- and I'm not even kidding here -- is that a large percentage of the HN population has no idea how to convince women to have sex with them. I mean, among online forums, I would place good money that HN's readership has one of the highest ratios of adult virgins (non-elective, i.e. not by choice)

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?

Well the most obvious difference would be that I'm describing an objectively verifiable condition whereas you're proposing something between a subjective assessment and a psychological diagnosis.

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.

Woah, woah, woah, woah. No.

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.

Thanks for your response. I think it's pretty obvious that my comment doesn't, and isn't intended to, apply to 100.000% of the commenting group.

I find your characterization of people who don't agree with you as somehow socially inept is childish, dismissive, and illogical.

Of course you do. This is fucking mob rule -- here's a group which disagrees violently with itself on the minutiae of silicon doping processes and whether or not to put a semicolon after Javascript statements. Yet on a story like this, where the few given facts easily support multiple valid interpretations, a cursory scan of the comments shows near unanimity in the common conclusion. A conclusion which enables the overwhelming majority of HNers to claim victimhood and persecution by outsiders.

So either:

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.

Your false dichotomy is unappealing.

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.

I don't know if we're reading the same threads then. I see a nearly unambiguous, unidirectional wave of resentment, and the downmodding of anyone expressing anything remotely dissenting. A normal HN dialogue has people showing restraint when downmodding, even on topics where there is heated disagreement and passionate opinion, say something like "Does PHP suck?"

This is a deluge of unanimity, by comparison.

"for making gross, wildly inappropriate jokes within earshot of other attendees"

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.

So, I'm gonna assume that he didn't pay his way to the conference since he was wearing a company badge with the word "sponsor" on it.

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.

They taught me this in primary school; when you're in public wearing the school uniform, you are representing the school. As such, any misbehaviour (i.e. smoking in the nearby underpass) will be punished by the school.

I am super thankful I never went to your school and I really wish we didn't inculcate kids with views like that.

Why? As a member of an organisation, you represent it, willingly or not. It's no different in the "real world", as this case highlights. What do you find so repulsive about it?

In this case, the problem is that you don't choose to be a member of a school; your parents make that choice for you. Bad behavior on the part of a child should not reflect badly on the school, because, you should assume, the child does not want to be a part of that school, and is doing anything they can to reject their status as a "member." It isn't the school's fault that there are parents who live in the area, who have a child who must, by law, attend that school, and who does not want to attend.

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...

The simplest way I can explain this to you is that for various reasons some people enjoy conforming, others don't. And, this case highlights different things about the "real world" to different people.

If you don't want to conform, don't wear a uniform identifying you with the group you don't want to conform with.

Sorry for the confusion but was just answering your question, not talking about myself. I don't wear any uniforms. Interesting view though, considering we're talking about primary through high school students. Not sure how many children have the power to choose their own school. I'd imagine most don't have that choice and therefor are identified with groups they had no hand in choosing.

edit: just noticed the another commenter already pointed this out to you.

(I didn't ask you the original question) I was referring back to the original situation, a guy at a conference representing his employer and signifying that by wearing their brand. By 'you' I meant the generic 'you', really.

> They don't want to get treated like "a girl"

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.

That picture was not covertly taken; the guy could clearly see the camera. Pictures can't be slanderous (or libelous); they're factual records. The quote was quite baseful, in that it was based on what she heard. All personal experience is non-provable in the sense you mean, but that doesn't mean that witness statements are meaningless. Indeed, they're a foundation of justice systems everywhere.

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.

Hmm, that 'teach them a lesson' part sounds like you're projecting, but I won't make any assumptions about your beliefs.

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.

Let's cool down a little here. An irresponsible tweet doesn't really constitute a "personal vendetta" (it's not even personal -- as far as I can tell she never knew their names). And while the post was (apparently, I don't know what the evidence here is) the proximate cause, you really can't say that she "got [him] fired", as she wasn't the employer nor did she advocate for his termination.

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.

Nah, I say let's turn it up a couple of notches.

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:

   *) Adria
   *) SendGrid
   *) PlayHeaven
   *) PSF
Will ultimately have damaged their reputation.

I sure hope this person has an offer on the table by now.

>The more I think about it (after a day now), the more I realize this was an opportunity for her to become famous.

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."

Personal vendetta or not. A person that reacts to a private conversation (inappropriate or not) by posting hearsay about two co-workers to 1000s of followers the way she did is NOT a person I would want to work with, even less hire. She has at the very least shown very bad judgement and should not be commended nor rewarded for it.

To nit on terminology: testifying about what you heard yourself is not "hearsay", by definition.

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.

From the comments I read thus far, it seems to me that most comment about "setting back women's right" come from women, not male geeks.

It feels uncomfortable. I think the reaction here is much more harassing than any dongle/fork/whatever jokes two guys would have made in a conference.

What's private about a conversation taking place in a busy ballroom at a convention, within full earshot of (probably) dozens of people?

Actually according to Adria's blog post (linked elsewhere in the thread) the jokes were made in response to a comment about "forking" a repo from the person sitting next to them. They were riffing off of a conversation she was part of; assuming you believe her, that's "non-private" regardless of context.

This whole thread is making me sad.

From that same post I got that the two guys where talking, SHE interjected and then the joke was made by one of those guys (to me it isn't clear if she was still part of the conversation, but that's beyond the point).

Reporting on something we've directly experienced isn't hearsay and they weren't her co-workers. As women we need to be able to speak in public forums about our experiences without this sort of extreme harassment as the result.

To me it seems the harassment (I hope you mean DDoSing her website, not this thread and the discussion it caused) is in response to the publication of the photo, not the fact that she spoke out.

You mean personal conversation. Their conversation wasn't private, it was in the middle of a conference hall.

So now we have license to police other people's conversations if we are members of a protected group?

Good news! You also can police conversations. Even when you're not a member of a protected group. That's especially true when the conference has a clear policy on the sorts of topics allowed.

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.

It's kind of hard to figure out what to do. Harassment is obviously something I would speak out against. But when we define "harassment" to be whatever a minority member in earshot finds offensive things become murky. Perhaps I should constantly poll nearby women at a conference - "ma'am, has anybody said anything recently which you find offensive?"

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.

Where I live conferences are considered a workplace so our strict equal opportunity and sex discrimination acts apply. Under these acts, crude conversation and jokes are considered to contribute to a hostile working environment. In the event the someone (male or female) is offended, intimidated, or humiliated they are at liberty to file a sexual harassment claim. The intent of the harasser is irrelevant. It can be a single incident or repeated behaviour and the victim is not required confront their harasser. The parties need not even be employed by the same entity.

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.

From this article:

"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:


From the same blog post you just quoted:

> 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.

> 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.

She says: "I agreed with him so I turned around and said so." So she interjected herself into this private conversation, and it is not clear if the other guy's allegedly sexist comments were to her in response to what she said, or if they were just directed to his friend privately.

Cross-posting my held-in-moderation comment to her post here:

"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.

Thinking before you act is a good idea. As she mentioned, she didn't feel like part of the community so it's not really her job to police the event. Her description of the organizers' reaction seems pretty OK. I don't see how she can be held responsible for a guy being fired, that seems like an overreaction by the company.

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.

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.

Am I the only one who gets a CloudFlare captcha (from two completely different German IP addresses ) when trying to access the blog?

  Your IP address based on the country, region or network has been flagged by the website owner.
  Completing the challenge above proves you are a human and gives you temporary access. You can ask the website owner to permanently whitelist you.

I also got one. I think it's just ddos right now from everywhere.

I think it's just the much lauded cloud flare showing their true colors.

Indeed -- defending a blog (effectively, and for free) against a moderate DDoS :)

I'm not so sure how effective their defense is: I get a memory error on that page now.

This gives a lot of context and was very helpful, thank you.

BS. I'm getting sick and tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions.

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.

Note where you stop in the causal chain: with the woman.

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?

"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 we need to remain eternally vigilant of the thousands of years of sexism during our day-to-day dealings? We need to be constantly thinking of the women and minorities in the room before we say anything? How is this being gender-neutral?

You should always think about the impact of what you're saying. What is the point of saying something but to have an effect on your listeners?

I don't like this train of logic. How can I read minds? What if I bring up something about my dog, and trigger someone in the room who was the victim of a dog attack?

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?

You read minds the traditional way: by asking people. And by paying attention to their reactions when you are talking.

In this case, the line was pretty visible: the conference has a code of conduct.

I believe it was you who simply did not think about the impact of your words when you compared the situation to that of 2 gay men discussing "virgin asshole". I think you need a moment of introspection on your own commentary.

I did think about it. I have thought about it since, and will think about it tomorrow. I may have gotten it wrong.

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.

It should be clear from the reaction here on HN that your comments were widely regarded as heteronormative at best.

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.

EDIT: Typo.

You don't need to be constantly thinking of women and minorities in the room before you say anything. But if you say something offensive to women or minorities, they might take offense, surprisingly enough. And yeah, this is the reason for ethnic and women studies classes in the school setting. Understanding a little bit about sexism and racism is a good way to remove them from your lifestyle and speech patterns.

> 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.

> But if you say something offensive to women or minorities, they might take offense, surprisingly enough.

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.

In my experience, refraining from scatological humor in public settings is an uncontroversial mode of behavior for the most part. I wouldn't call the incident at hand scatological, though, but maybe I'm jaded.

Standing up to a PC lynch mob is incredibly risky. I don't blame the boss, I blame the person who sent the mob.

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."

Just because a woman is to blame does not prove sexism. It is quite reasonable to say that she holds most of the responsibility in this situation by not reacting to the comments in a professional way. The jokes were hardly sexist and more anatomical and if that bothers he she could have dealt with it in a different way. But I guess I am sexist too for having the opinion that she handled the situation incorrectly right?

Probably because she is engaging in hypocritical behavior that lead to a significantly negative impact on another member of the community?

he was an idiot and said something idiotic. She was vengeful and out to get someone in trouble, publicly.

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.

I think the focus is on her because it seems like she's the one with the most power in this situation. Like telling a teacher "Tommy hit me", at that point, the authority figure has to treat it as a worst case scenario.

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.

my rage at the boss who fired him is only matched by my boggledness that more people are choosing to blame adria than are choosing to blame the person actually responsible.

> You could blame the guy for saying something inappropriate.

It wasn't inappropriate.

Isn't the guy getting fired a symmetrical example of failing to take responsibility for one's actions? Presumably (and I'll say again: there remains NO actual evidence about this termination) he was fired for making an offensive joke in public. And he works for an employer that finds that to be a termination-level offense.

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.

To point out the overlooked -- it's equally possible someone at his job tried to talk to him about the issue, and he reacted in a heavily negative way, refused to apologise, or otherwise acted in a way that triggered the actual termination.

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.

Actually there's a comment from the guy somewhere in another thread where he apologizes for his behaviour. I didn't see anything like that coming from Adria.

She has thousands of followers. She is in a powerful position and she abused it. Just because she wasn't the employer doesn't mean her goal wasn't something along these lines. Why else would you post a clear picture of their faces up to a public lynch mob?

What's the abuse? She described what happened right next to her.

Taking a picture of two people without their permission and posting it on the internet eventually causing one of them to get fired doesn't seem like abuse to you?

Why didn't she tell them to just be quiet? That's what normal people do.

As a matter of fact, if you read her blog post about all of this, she recommends the same thing:

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.

The conference organizers ask you to not handle it yourself: see https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/harassment-i..., where it says:

"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.

It does say in the code of conduct that you shouldn't handle it yourself. Also, due to "offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces" I'd agree that what these men were doing was against the code of conduct.

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.

Agreed. What she did was sub-optimal.

Please be kind and indicate where conference organizers ask you to:

1) post the picture on a world wide forum (twitter)

2) contact them via public channel (twitter)

Thank you

Other commenters here noted this before you did, without the false courtesy.

yes, report it to the conference staff, not post it to twitter for the world to see. a world of difference there.

We're all adults, there's absolutely no reason to take it to the internet when simply mustering a little courage and saying something will do.

She took the cowardly way out and a man was fired for it. And that's assuming it was even true.

Taking pictures at conferences and posting them on Twitter happens all the time. That's definitely not abuse. Quoting what people say at conferences also happens all the time. So that's not abuse. She was not involved in the firing; if that's abuse, it's not hers.

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.

Context matters what you are trying to prove is a false equivalence. She chose to post them up on her personal wall of shame that has thousands of followers with a clear picture of both their faces and without their permission. Anyone with any experience on the internet understands how potentially ruining social media can be. Look at the recent Steubenville scandal (these people actually deserved it though). If you want to use something as powerful as social media as a tool for justice you better be ready to take responsibility if you are on the wrong side.

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.

Using status to distribute pictures and quotes of conference attendees in an attempt to publicly shame them for conduct that she clearly misinterpreted as sexist, and also to force her own values onto others, is pretty much the definition of abuse (of both power and public trust).

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.

Of course she was involved in the firing. She supplied publicly searchable documentation that made the employer fatally vulnerable to every "hostile environment" lawsuit that would follow until they fired the guy. Adria Richards is professionally offended and vindictive and no space can remain safe for others after admitting her.

How is a borderline offensive joke impacting the concept of a "safe space" in any way?

Her description of events was so vague that it caused me to misidentify the person she was talking about from the photo, and I wasn't the only one.

Don't say "lynch" now! Don't you know, the word lynching implies racial overtones?!?


Adria acting as judge and jury over twitter was totally wrong. She should have contacted PyCon Staff if she felt uncomfortable.

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 should have contacted PyCon Staff if she felt uncomfortable."

She did, and tweeted that they had responded and said they handled it.

Then she should have let it end there.

Others have suggested that "vendetta" is too strong; I don't know about strong, but I think it could be better phrased as "severe overreaction."

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.

Pretty obvious they fired the wrong person here. If someone worked for me and posted inflammatory images/statements about/involving a co-worker they would be the one needing to worry about their job.

Please clarify if it is in fact the policy of the company you work at that employees should be "worrying about their job" based on the contents of their Twitter accounts.

If so, please let me know so I can ensure that I never work with you.

I would generally agree with your point. I wouldn't want my company judging me based on photos they find of me on messing around with friends on Facebook. That would be pretty low.

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?

A YouTube "partner" is an actual term in YouTube that basically means you have a special broadcaster account that shares ad revenue with you. Basically, she makes popular YouTube videos.

I think the question is about "creator". I'd take it as 'I created youtube' but maybe it's just me not being a native english speaker.

Native speaker here, and "YouTube partner and creator" definitely comes across as "I created YouTube and sit on the board of directors". Unless of course you know that YouTube has a user type called "partner", which is not common knowledge. Without a doubt, some of her followers are under the impression that she created YouTube if they didn't do any other research about it.

Her job title is "evangelist" and her work is to be the public face for developers and to promote Sendgrid to developers. Any sane developer, male or female, will now keep at least out of earshot from her and won't engage in any private communication with her.

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.

Presumably the key point is not that it was on Twitter, but rather it was said in public. The medium is unimportant: its the same as if someone posted such things as a blog post, or said it on TV or whatever.

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.

IMO: unless you're in front of a podium with your employers logo on it or representing yourself as speaking for your employer, your words are your own stupid (or hell, maybe sometimes even wise) decisions.

I am not in a position where I hire or fire people, but if so was the case I would consider her reaction to a private conversation where neither of the participants intended any harm very bad judgement.

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.

I think Adria is in the wrong here but I don't think it's her fault or fair to blame on her that his employer acted even more quickly and foolishly than she did by firing him.

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.

Look at his shirt in the picture.

Ha. Good point. Mobile games. Not my thing anyway. Easy to boycott!

So I read the post on PasteBin and also read Adria's blog post and here's what I took from it. Context matters. Dongle jokes in the presence of friends (male and female) may be fine, hilarious even, heck I'm giggling inside just typing the word "dongle". On the other hand, dongle jokes in a (not private, audible-to-others) conversation in a conference hall while representing your company are unprofessional, may be perceived by some to be sexist, and could be considered a fireable offense by your boss. Guys in tech need to realize it's not about what you think is sexist or not, it's about how your comments may make others feel. Yes, they need to be hyper aware that they're working with people with experiences wildly different from theirs; the hope is that one day such a diverse community will actually be reality.

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.

It was completely in her right to turn around and tell the guys to shut up or bring it to the attention of the organisers. However, I don't think that was her intention at all. Her intention was to gain more mileage out of this. She took an issue about a couple of guys being immature and made it a sexism issue.

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!).

>Somebody they sent to a conference, who was representing their company there, went on a personal vendetta against somebody and got them fired.

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?

And then she took their picture and posted it on Twitter.

Update: Someone has created a change.org petition to have Adria fired. I think it's only fair that she is fired, considering the fact that she put two innocent men's lives at stake.




Lives at stake? Please get a grip on your hyperbole. One man was fired, and we don't know whether or not he was already skating on thin ice before the event. Richards is guilty of hypocrisy, not reckless endangerment of life.

I'm confused? SendGrid didn't fire the guy. So, by boycotting the SendGrid, but not the company that fired the guy, the problem is being offended and speaking up, not the firing.

The problem is publicly posting a creepily-taken photograph of two friends at a conference, with entirely baseless slanderous claims of something you allegedly overheard them say to each other.

Baseless? PyCon disagrees, and apparently, so do the two friends.


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.

PyCon's response was appropriate. SendGrid's representative's response was not.

What response? Speaking up?

Speaking up to the individuals or to PyCon staff would have been very appropriate. Public shaming given the circumstances was not.

> Speaking up to the individuals or to PyCon staff would have been very appropriate.

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.

PyCon attendee procedure for handling harassment:


"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."

And she reported the incident, in writing.

Their note about public shaming, while accurate, is just that: a note.

What a bizarrely meaningless statement. "I went to the shop like you asked. That note you left me about wanting milk, 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.

> What a bizarrely meaningless statement.

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.

It has the form of a counter-argument but its content is tautalogical, as with my example - your bare-naked assertion to the contrary notwithstanding.

"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.

Why is that ironic? This incident was never about sexism.

The claims were verified after the damage was done.

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.

> 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 think if she was found to be lying, the backlash would have been on here.

I believe you are wrong. The majority reponse would have been that she was telling the truth and nobody else overheard it.

Whereas that's it's been confirmed, there is a backlash against her.

So, the key is: make the accusation and don't prove it.

No, she's being to to speak up AND handle it behind the scenes. At what point in this conversation did you forget the fact that an identifiable picture was posted publicly to her 9000 followers?

> At what point in this conversation did you forget the fact that an identifiable picture was posted publicly to her 9000 followers?

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.

Right, my personal belief from the various accounts is that what happened was so innocuous as to not warrant any reaction. I'll freely admit I'm reading between the lines and extrapolating.

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?

There is also relevant finger pointing to the company that fired his employee less than 24 hours after the incident. Now that is a company that I never want to deal with!

Psst. Do you have any information about the actual firing?

I don't see any such links in this thread, which makes it hard to judge what's going on.

Googling the incident returns all kinds of responses, including that they were both fired. I think you're right to wonder.

This is a truly astonishing incident. What does it say about our society when an innocent joke (albeit "offensive" if taken out of context, as it clearly was) between two friends can be abused to tarnish someone's reputation? The abuser in this case (gender irrelevant) should be punished, and the victims deserve just compensation for the damage that this person has done.

Well, what can they really say? Either throw her under the bus, or agree completely. So realistically we're down to one option.

>It's really sad.

I agree. This is an embarrassment through and through. What started as a grotesque overreaction has spiralled into a venomous shitstorm. Truly infuriating.

Adria tweeted that SendGrid supports her.

"Hey @mundanematt, it's clear from the last 24 hours you're a bully. @SendGrid supports me. Stop trolling."

shes dead wrong if they didnt want to be treated as girls they wouldnt call use female adjectives to describe thier talks/events shes just butthurt

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