I agree its a decency issue and not a sexism one.
This will blow over, the guy will get a new job, but my god, it's a pretty serious defect if an immature joke about penises overheard in public can get you fired.
The best thing to do is let SendGrid and PlayHaven know your thoughts:
The only hope I have for a positive outcome here is for either company to step in and try to clean up the mess. If they don't, I'd recommend avoiding both of them. Someone that stands up for public humiliation is not somebody you want to work with.
Related submissions about this story:
I would want him to be offered his job back (but I hope he gets better offers and I wouldn't be shocked if he hasn't already. I would certainly call him up for an interview).
If public humiliation is the new modus operandi, then it seems it is a double edged sword. I think her reputation is forever tarnished.
Maybe she had good intentions (but the more I look at the situation, and her penis reference later, less likely it seems) but her execution and decision making cost a father of 3 kids to lose his job, and his face is all over Twitter.
She was a no-name before this. I had never heard of her. Have you? Now she at the top of everyone's lips. She does talking engagements and advocacy. Well you connect the dots yourself.
(I do anyway)
Also, April 1st is around the corner. It would be classic if github removed the "fork" button in response to it being offensive.
> All she had to do was turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes.
But I think one of the important points here is that women should not NEED to turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes. The need to ask (or resign oneself to putting up with the hostile environment) is itself a burden. Would it be acceptable to make "dumb nigger" jokes as long as anytime an African American asks you to stop you stop making the jokes while they're in the room?
I am not arguing that they WERE making sex jokes, or that it rose to the level of a firing offense, just that "she could have asked us to stop" is not a good argument. In fact, they WERE asked to stop (or rather, not to start), by the organizers of PyCon before the conference ever started. That is exactly what PyCon's non-harassment policy is about.
What was the appropriate response, then? I honestly think assertive and honest feedback is often the most effective way to curb unwanted behavior.
> But I think one of the important points here is that women should not NEED to turn around and ask the guys to stop making sex jokes.
Most of the time they don't. We're talking about exception handling, here. Just because a situation is less than ideal (i.e. two guys making phallic jokes at a conference) does not automatically validate a DEFCON 4 response.
Agree to disagree. Short of legal action or physical violence, extra-public shaming (Twitter) is about as escalated a response as I can think of.
Read the code of conduct for PyCon: https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/ Not specifically the lines "Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue" and "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon."
Because of previous issues, the organizers of the conference went out of their way to make the line between what was and was not allowed quite explicit. They did this in order to avoid having participants claim they didn't know it would make someone uncomfortable.
I am not saying that this was a firing offense, or that everything which was said was intended as a sexual joke, but some of it crossed a CLEARLY marked line which had been communicated BEFORE the conference even began.
Also, "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon" doesn't appear to have anything to do with what the men said, though perhaps you quoted it for the subsequent harassment on twitter?
Fair question: I TRY to read every word, and I'd say I succeed no more than 10% of the time. If I had attended PyCon (I didn't make it this year) I would have been aware of the harassment policy but only because I remember the discussion LAST year (or was it the year before...) which led to the creation of the policy.
But if you are suggesting that it is OK to violate the policy just because not everyone reads it, then I have to object. Such an approach makes it impossible to maintain ANY policy. Perhaps the PyCon organizers should recognize that not everyone will have read the policy carefully and should therefore have a measured response... but in this case they DID have a measured response, and I have heard no one suggest that the PyCon organizers responded unreasonably.
As for the firing, well I have heard no one defending the company for their position either.
> Also, "Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for PyCon" doesn't appear to have anything to do with what the men said
I quoted it only because of the explicit reference to "jokes".
"Adria: you should put something in your pants next time .. like a bunch of socks inside one...large...sock. TSA agent faint."
So apparently it's ok to be sexual/hostile in someone else's work environment, just not your own?
Anyway, I frankly don't give a damn whether Adria is a good person or not. People are criticizing her for a specific set of actions that don't seem to be in line with what actually happened. It exposes a lot of sloppy, biased thinking that is the real problem here. :(
If she didn't publicly identify him, no one would have cared.
If she had simply notified the conference staff, no one would have cared.
She took it to extremes, and now the internet is responding in kind.
If your local newspaper ran an article exposing a scandal, and the participants in the scandal got in trouble because it came to light, would you blame the newspaper?
If this was a minor offense that no one should have cared about, then reporting it is fine -- there's no harm done. If this was a major issue that justifies strong reactions, then reporting it is fine -- justice is served. I fear that the real position is "My employer thinks this is a major issue worth firing over, but I want to keep doing it anyway so you have an obligation to keep this under wraps for me." and I do not think that is a defensible position to take.
Comparing her to a reporter is disingenuous. That's hardly a fair and balanced piece she has written. More importantly, if my newspaper started behaving like the Sexual Temperance Society, I would promptly cancel my subscription.
Actually, I intended that comparison sincerely; it was not disingenuous.
> That's hardly a fair and balanced piece she has written.
Not all reporting is balanced. If it were INACCURATE, you would have a point, but presenting one side of the story is still journalism.
> if my newspaper started behaving like the Sexual Temperance Society, I would promptly cancel my subscription.
I would encourage you to unsubscribe to Adria's blog and twitter. Much like any crank with a printing press, she has absolutely no power, except that a large number of people happen to listen to her. If fewer people listen, then her ability to affect others goes down proportionately. There are many newspapers that print a highly one-sided and slanted view of the news focused heavily on scandals (The Sun, New York Post, and many others). I do not buy these, but I will defend their right to attend a conference and publish true information about things that a person said in public while there.
This would require me to subscribe in the first place :)
> I do not buy these, but I will defend their right to attend a conference and publish true information about things that a person said in public while there.
Nobody has been calling for establishing censorship. However, I wish the Sun would stop printing rubbish, just as I'd like Adria to exercise more judgment in exercising her free speech rights.
That is an interesting point and one I had not considered. I will think about it. Thank you for expanding my mind today.
"this wasn't the first time that day I had to address this issue around harassment and gender."
Generally speaking, I think "harassment and gender" going together make it fit the definition of sexism.
Regardless, she does classify it as "harassment".
It certainly exists within the context of gender issues at a tech conference, but she didn't even go so far as to label the jokes sexist -- just something that would make some women uncomfortable. (Which is obviously true, given her response!)
She clearly states in her blog she felt it involved "harassment and gender", which is often referred to as sexism.
She did the right thing by notifying conference staff and letting them handle it. She did the wrong thing by naming and shaming on twitter. The blog post reads like a mix of real event and revisionism to stem angry internetters.
Still, it's a storm in a teacup - who's to say the same guy wasn't on the verge of being let go for other reasons anyway? It's presumptuous to assuming his firing was solely because of this single event.
| Instead of posting someone's photo (and other's
| along with that) on the web confront them
[ She should have just gone to (or messaged) the PyCon staff first to resolve the situation. ]
Though, I understand that it is tough for women to confront in a massively male-dominated arena. I think this fiasco is likely to at least have men straighten their ways that they cannot make sex jokes in a public place.
| She can do that and not confront them about
| the lewd remarks?
I did not raise a fuss and get him fired - though we where all shocked.
This is an attention addict using whatever means at her disposal to get attention, without a thought as to the cost to those she uses as pawns.
We all have encountered both males and females that are real victims, and we have also all encountered people who pretend to be offended for attention.
I use to work in the deep south, and down there, the classic "always offended for attention" group are (ok, I'm stereotyping, but its true) are a subset of white, evangelical Christians. They will make a point of becoming offended at ANYTHING, just to show superiority and get attention from their chosen peer group at the same time.
It might not have been the wisest thing to do, but she didn't fire that guy; she just got offended. It's her right to get offended here and it's the other guy's right to (accidentally) offend her.
The only dicks here are
a) Playhaven unless, like I suspect, the other guy had a track record of this sort of stuff.
b) the anonymous cowards of the lynch mob that's pouring a deluge of hatred out over Adria.
And yes, Adria might be a flaming attention seeking self-centered bitch (not that I have any indication of that) but even if she were, that still doesn't warrant the lynch mob that has assembled here, which is the real issue we should be discussing.
Now you're probably wondering why I used all caps. I really don't have a good explanation for that. Because once I read your post, that's the first thing that sprung to my mind.. in Helvetica-Neu, bold 38px.
Are standards for not offending people much higher in the worksplace? Of course they are, and for good reasons. We want people to be comfortable. But lets just make this clear: if you have a zero tolerance policy at work for saying "offensive" things, and there is not a clear definition of "offensive", you are not working at a place that respects your rights. They didn't comment on her ass. They didn't harass her in any way.
The guy should'nt have said penis in public, right? It was unnecessary. And on that logic, my wife shouldn't breastfeed my son in public. It is unnecessary, she can just go to a private room. Why do those gay guys have to kiss in public. It offends me, they should have to go someplace private, this is a work event......
Do you see the slippery slope here? Evolution is offensive to a lot of people where I am from, does that mean I get fired if I say "evolve" at work in front of an idiot bible thumper?
You appear to not have given this even one iota of critical thought, or are a complete psychopath, or perhaps you are using a language superficially identical to English but semantically entirely unlike it.
I cannot think of any other reasons why someone would express the idea that people don't have a right to feelings.
No person has a right to get offended. Period.
I don't know what caused you to call me stupid here, but I can understand you felt a need to call me out on something.
It's my passionate belief that you have a right to express yourself freely. I am not going to argue with you there.
If Mr.Bean can't explain it to you. Then there is nothing I can do, and I will carry on. And I won't be offended, because I can leave it behind.
That you cite Rowan Atkinson's support of free speech as a defense is incredibly ironic. He's not saying you don't have a right to be offended or to express it, it's that you don't have a right to expect the government to act on that offense, and I'm in full agreement.
I think you're treating "I feel offended" as equivalent to "I wish to suppress someone else's speech" or even "someone is required to care that I feel offended", when they don't necessarily follow each other.
Everyone has an inalienable right to get offended. What they don't have a right to is for anyone to give a shit about it.
I hope now you can understand why my mind was boggled.
EDIT: Also, please note that I very intentionally did not call you stupid, I called your comment stupid.
I'm offended. Okay.....
The lesser issue still exists, though, of creating a 'sexual environment' where mentions of sex may make people who believe others may wish to engage them in sexual relations may feel threatened.
> The lesser issue still exists, though, of creating a 'sexual environment' where mentions of sex may make people who believe others may wish to engage them in sexual relations may feel threatened.
I was just saying that Twisted makes me feel this way ;-)
On a serious note:
There is another, more subtle issue at hand and that is that in the past PyCon has dealt with someone who was sent out over something inappropriate (and rightly so). After a that a strongly worded statement was issued about how organizers will be very sensitive to such issues in the future. I think that didn't escape Adria's attention. This year, at a moment's notice she saw an opportunity to go from 0 to 100 in terms of popularity. Given her position she will end up profiting handsomely from this.
She also made penis jokes previously on Twitter, and called you guys ass clowns in a world wide forum (twitter) -- your kids will end up seeing that picture some day. I think Jesse Noller (or whoever on the PSF side) should apologize to you. You were also PyCon attendees and sponsors and you had that happen to you. I am sorry. Twitter should remove your photo. Adria shouldn't be welcomed to PyCon anymore.
I think you should know that many in the community feel it was terribly unfair what happened. I hope you have a job offer lined up soon and maybe this will open an opportunity for you.
The best of luck.
EDIT: Spelling + clarification
Can you verify your identity as the employee let go by PlayHaven?
Can you verify that you are one of the two people pictured in Adria Richards' Tweet?
Were those jokes made as Richards described? Are there any differences between her account and what you think actually happened? (I know you've addressed this a bit already, but I'd like to hear more.)
Is Alex Reid one of these employees in the photograph, who was making a sexist joke? (It sounds like he wasn't.)
Can you confirm that you were fired because of the jokesmade at the conference?
It's a signifier between two friends that they are relaxed enough to make retarded jokes. So they weren't being childish, it's normal behavior for sophisticated people to occasionally deliberately make stupid jokes.
Everyone is different and to get along we all must understand and compromise.
> In fact a female friend texted me one about an hour ago.
A friend. Being female has nothing to do with it.
Yes, that's kind of my point. Some people obviously have a problem with these kinds of jokes, some people don't. It's a cultural thing.
This morning on Facebook, a friend posted a picture of the cover of "Cockhandler" magazine, a supposed magazine about chicken farming (as it happens, it's fake). This has so far been "liked" by six women and two men. I don't know all the women, but the three I do know are pretty hardcore feminists.
I just don't think women as a whole are bothered. For the ones who are, I don't think it's particularly because they're women.
I agree with you about sensible public conduct, in the same way that I think it's good to be aware that some cultures have taboos about eg. displaying the soles of your feet. If you think you might be among such people, it's a good idea to avoid doing that, even if it seems kind of weird.
Beautifully put. I'm going to remember how you eloquently put that. =)
> Indeed, I am really puzzled as to why these
> "jokes" are supposed to be offensive to women.
That's a lot different from a person being subjected to sexualized jokes and comments from strangers.
Your friend gets to choose what kind of friendship she has with you; a woman on a train or at a conference does not get to choose what kind of sexualized comments she hears from strangers.
Surely this is something we can all understand. A lot of guys (me included) will say really rank things to their close friends - explicitly letting their friends know when they're getting fat, jokes about sleeping with their friends' wives and mothers, and so forth. That's all totally cool (and often hilarious) but surely you can agree: it would be a completely different story if a stranger or your boss started making remarks about your weight or how many times he's slept with your wife, correct?
That's kind of what it's like for women when they hear unwanted sexualized jokes and comments from strangers, with the added factors of being minorities in their own industries and living in a largely male-dominated world. Did you know that even in America, a woman has roughly a 20% chance of being raped in her lifetime? (source: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/SV-DataSheet-a.pdf)
Here's the key thing, though: it's actually not about what you feel. Whether you don't understand, or you do understand and simply think women who feel this way are being dumb, the fact is that a lot of women feel that way. You can respect their wishes and make them feel welcome in our community, or you can choose not to. My personal opinion is that the more of us who choose the former, the better - for us and for our industry.
1. women are too delicate to handle any references to anatomy
2. the "jokes" were simply crude and, while off-putting to anyone with a developed sense of humor, nothing to write (tweet?) home about with regards to being offensive
So I can imagine sexist-seeming jokes about robots with dongles, but I can also imagine stupid ones about robots with butts or whether car exhaust counts as a robot fart. The sad thing is that we have no way to tell whether the remarks in question were sexist or just stupid, and that has encouraged a lot of folk to just project their own preconceptions onto the entire incident.
This sort of thing is exactly why I don't like using Twitter.
(disclaimer i am female)
You are walking down the street. It starts to rain, so you duck into the nearest business, a bar. You order a beer, and realize that you have stepped into a gay bar. The table behind you starts making jokes about how virgin anuses are the best. They are pretty big guys, leather daddies. You worry they're talking about you, about your anus. You worry.
That feeling of discomfort? The way your heart speeds up as you start wondering if you're safe? Women feel that a lot.
The jokes aren't what's offensive. It's when jokes sexualize a professional context in a way that makes women feel unsafe.
Only if you live in a world where gay men are, by default, rapists. Are we seriously replacing sexism with homophobia? Your analogy is far more offensive than the penis joke it's supposed to represent.
Since what crazy day did "gay men talking crudely about sex" means "my heterosexual anus is in danger"?
It seems to be a heavy handed way of putting most guys in the shoes of a woman hearing a similar conversation.
But I dont think it applies much to this sittu.
Men aren't normally afraid of sexual assault, because most sexual assault is perpetrated by men on women. If you want to the feeling of fear that a potential victim feels, you have to imagine a situation where you feel at risk of sexual assault.
If that story doesn't make you feel sufficiently uncomfortable to have empathy for women surrounded by a bunch of men when the context suddenly turns sexual, I encourage you to make up your own story.
For what it's worth, when I was imagining the story, the guys talking in the bar hadn't even noticed the straight guy in front of them.
You've committed the same injustice against homosexuals with your comment as women frequently suffer in our field (and beyond): the reinforcement of tired stereotypes and insensitive association.
In what world is is okay to so casually draw a line between homosexuals and rape? You can make your point about how men do not suffer the constant fear of assault, but you are not free to drag gays into this in a slanderous, offensive, and deeply harmful manner. People have been battling the image of the sexual deviant/predator for decades - your free-association is the sort of casual, unintentional prejudice that would be more forgivable if you weren't so defensive of it.
Let me make this clear once more: your point that men do not experience the same fear of assault as women stands, you did not need a fictional story to go along with it. More importantly, your "defense" of women came at great expense to another marginalized demographic, needlessly, thoughtlessly, and IMO repugnantly.
Making your point on the back of somebody else is not okay.
As a guy, I'm not worried about rape. It very rarely happens to adult men.
But that's the problem I'm trying to draw attention to here: a guy's intuition of what is an inoffensive sexual comment will be very different than a woman's, because they face very different risks of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Now I believe you're saying it's fine for a woman to feel threatened about sexual assault in the middle of a crowd because of dick jokes.
Well then maybe it's fine to believe that every man is a potential rapist, there was a girl who made this exact argument in a blog and called her rape paranoia Schrödinger rapist.
Here's the catch of my argument, I have many black male friends and some of them do actually said that sometimes people cross the road to the other sidewalk just to not cross with them in the middle of Manhattan in a crowded street at lunch time.
If you think safety über ales is a fine philosophy then as I said good for you, I call this paranoia, know that's an irrational behavior and just say that both are not fine.
So saying basically about it. Yes I agree with you, women have much more to lose in the situation you described, I do think your initial example was poor, and having good gay friends who suffer because of that made me reply with anger.
Sorry for that.
Joeboy said he couldn't understand why sexual comments could be a problem. One reason guys can't imagine that is that they don't see sexualized situations as risky situations. Many women do. Not always, certainly. But I know a number of women who have been raped, and I don't think I know a woman who hasn't been discomfited by unwanted sexual advances.
I invited Joeboy to put himself in the shoes of somebody who was scared. If the scenario isn't to your liking, go ahead and write a different one.
And as I've explained elsewhere: no, I don't think straight people should be generally scared of being raped by gay people.
I have lived in parts of the world where there was a high chance of being attacked and needed to be aware of my surroundings at all times. Being followed or approached late at night by a group of potentially hostile individuals makes my heart race. Some gay guys making a private joke would not.
I might even take it as a compliment (despite not being gay myself) but I do understand and accept that many men and woman would not find it appealing.
My point is not that gay people are bad: they aren't. My point is that to understand why women are uncomfortable when things suddenly turn sexual, you have to put yourself in the place of a potential victim of sexual assault.
Second, there was no harassment in my story. The person at the bar interpreted the comments as about him. But as I was writing the story, I imagine they were talking about something else entirely, and didn't notice him.
Third, I was not attempting to appeal to homophobic tendencies. I was attempting to create a legitimate scenario where an average guy might feel afraid of sexual assault. I couldn't tell the story with straight women; men rarely see women as physically threatening. And I obviously couldn't tell the story with straight men, because a straight man wouldn't feel a risk of sexual assault.
If you've got a better story to help give a guy a visceral fear of sexual assault, I'd like to read it.
It should be added that around 10% of adults has some kind of phobia. Its common, and perfect understandable. At the same time, there is not much anyone can do about it. Avoiding all possible triggers for phobias is neither a option nor is it even a good thing. Treatments for phobias often include some kind of desensitisation by exposure, so avoidance is actually decremental.
That said, crude jokes are boring. I would just had told the two guys to be quiet because the python talk is infinitive more interesting than some crude joke regarding anatomy.
Because the only time that could ever happen is at a gay bar with leather daddies? You "average guy" turns out to be a homophobe, or heteronormative at best.
"First, I wasn't making an analogy."
You've tried to justify your post by saying you were just trying to name some sort of situation where someone might feel sexually threatened. But in order to do that, you have to state a situation that is at all comparable to what happened. Otherwise it's essentially a straw man argument.
Imagine you ended up in a gay bar, and two men were making crappy double-entendres about github repos. If that's scary, you're the one with the problem.
Males are the perpetrators of most of the sexual assault in the world, so in trying to create a scenario that would make you identify with the victim, I used a male perp. You could also try imagining yourself in prison, or in the hands of dirty cops. But those are rare experiences, whereas everybody has gotten caught in the rain, so I started with that.
No, no they really don't!
Don't get me wrong, there are major gender issues within our society (not just the software industry). One of them is, this idea that ''all'' women are tender hearted souls who are ''constantly'' scared of any man that looks at them funny :)
There is a broad difference between discomfort and fear. And whilst the latter is significant, the core problem is the former.
I'm not suggesting women are scared little rabbits, running all the time.
I'm saying that they are at substantial risk of sexual assault and other predation (US lifetime chance of sexual assault: 1 in 6), and are frequently aware of situations where they might possibly be in danger. It's an entirely rational response.
I'm trying to help Joeboy see why well-meant and innocent-ish sexual jokes can sexualize a context, tripping that feeling of risk.
Here's a bit of free advice :) when you start to use this argument, consider that perhaps you've run out of good rhetoric.
You seem a decent enough guy, if a little clueless, so I'll give you more advice if I may. Making lewd comments certainly might make others feel uncomfortable (male or female), but the fear factor comes from attitude and presence, not the words.
For example; had these two guys been leering at Adria. And staring at her, deliberately raising their voices to project their jokes to her hearing.. that is the sort of behaviour that starts to become frightening.
No one has suggested this is the case. They made a joke between themselves, that made Adria uncomfortable. That is a far cry from her fearing for her physical safety.
I have talked to actual women who tell me this. Why do you, as a guy, feel qualified to invalidate their experiences?
I don't think Adira felt immediate fear for her physical safety, no. But I do think fear of sexual harassment and sexual violence are an important reason why it is very important that "harmless" sexualization of professional situations isn't harmless at all.
Adira was perfectly within her rights to complain to the conference organisers about rule breaking behaviour that was annoying her. The twitter shaming and blog post about harassment was a bit overboard though.
What you're doing, though, is taking one issue and turning into a much more "serious" one (I use that term loosely, neither sexual discomfort nor sexual violence should be taken lightly).
Yes, sexualisation of professional situations is a problem (at least, it quite often is). As I noted, this applies to both male and female top-heavy environments. But the issue isn't really about fear of sexual violence, that simply does not match up with reality.
I agree, some women are sensitive to these sorts of conversations. And they can be triggers for them which lead to fear. But more important is the much larger majority of women for whom this conversations "merely" (again, using the term loosely) degrades them as an individual.
Hence me objecting to your casting of this issue as a major problem r.e. threat of violence. 99.9999% of the people making these comments are not about to commit sexual violence, and the vast majority of women (and, yes, men) being subjected to it are not in fear for themselves. By casting it as you have, you've undermined the issue.
And you're initial phrasing itself sounded patronising and degrading (although obviously not your intention).
EDIT: p.s. it's Adria not Adira.
Kudos for trying though.
...to a person being sexually assaulted?
No. I am not saying that.
I am trying to say that sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context can trigger legitimate fears.
Sexualizing a professional, non-sexual context CAN be damaging or potentially damaging. However, I would argue that overheard jokes do not fit into this category.
The overheard jokes were bad because they were unprofessional and inappropriate, but public shaming was an inappropriate response, and this fear-pandering justification doesn't hold water.
What is it about our culture that makes everyone immediately think about sex the moment we talk about our bodies in the most generic way possible? Yes they were talking about penises. But talking about penises alone does not constitute a threat nor is it inherently sexual. It's a part of the body and to stigmatize it is wrong. If it is wrong, then it would be equally sexist for men to tell women they can't talk about breasts in the context of breastfeeding because it's "too sexual". And what at all does this have to do with gay bars and leather daddies?
Don't want to defend violence in relationships, but I think it is actually a different problem than men's tendency to rape (ie people are bad at choosing mates and conducting healthy relationships)
Fact is, a great many if not the majority of incidents of sexual assault involve alcohol. We should then I guess move to ban it from tech events. Or we could have rational guidelines actually aimed at dealing with real incidents instead of things that might lead to an incident.
If the two men at PyCon were making jokes about how virgin vaginas were the best, I don't think they would be getting the outpouring of support that they seem to be getting from the tech community.
You're very bad at crafting illuminating tales.
He said he couldn't understand why the jokes were a problem. I tried to help him understand. In particular, to viscerally understand the experience of being unsafe, and how a joke can contribute to that.
He said he didn't understand why these "jokes" are supposed to be offensive to women. He did not say why any jokes are supposed to be offensive to women.
Until now, I felt somewhat removed from this sexism-in-tech debate because I'm a man. Therefore, my opinions on it are outsiders' opinions, and it doesn't really have an impact on me directly (just indirectly). Now, though, since I'm a gay man, you've made me feel just as excluded as women in this community, so congratulations on making a bad situation several thousand times worse.
Wait, better not talk to me or be around me. I might rape you.
What a joke.
Then I get out of the bar. Or look for some nice company (maybe talk to the bar man or find a woman in the bar?). Problem solved.
> The jokes aren't what's offensive. It's when jokes sexualize a professional context in a way that makes women feel unsafe.
Feel unsafe about what? Their safety? Those guys made two harmless dick jokes while sitting in a room with countless other people. They may not even have recognized that there was a woman in front of them. Further they were making fun about a body part a woman doesn't have. So your analogy doesn't hold.
If I want to tell a blasphemous joke, do I have to take into account that someone could feel offended and fear for their safety because this joke could mean that I want to harm religious people?
I don't feel that wpie's example was the best or even a good illumination of what he/she's trying to say, but the concern is legitimate. And saying, "If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the bar" is exactly the type of response that keeps making it hard for women in tech (and other subgroups in other groups). Would you say, "If male programmers make you uncomfortable, don't learn to program"? If you would, then that is part of the problem.
> Feel unsafe about what? Their safety? Those guys made two harmless dick jokes while sitting in a room with countless other people.
It's not really about one joke. It's about reinforcing a space that makes it easier to legitimize misogynist behavior through carelessness. Like you said, "in a room with countless other people"--these guys were in a professional setting, and the joke really had no place there. Maybe they didn't deserve to get fired over it, but it definitely was not the right venue.
> If I want to tell a blasphemous joke, do I have to take into account that someone could feel offended and fear for their safety because this joke could mean that I want to harm religious people?
Is that religious person one of very few religious people in a group of non-religious people? Then yes, you do. Your one joke will not make them think you are about to hurt them, no. But it will reinforce a space that makes being religious an easy thing to ridicule, and it will increment the fear counter for any particular person in that space, and more importantly, will legitimize the attitudes of the other non-religious people around you who might have otherwise not done their part in contributing to a hostile environment. Luckily for the religious, they rarely are in a position to be uncomfortable (well, unless you're anything but Christian in America), but if one of the goals of the space you are in is to make it a welcoming place for people of talent, religious or not, then telling blasphemous jokes is (obviously, I hope) not a way to do that.
Now we're mixing scenarios. wpietri scenario was one I could not change anything because there wasn't anything to change. I don't walk into a gay bar and tell gay men to stop making jokes because they may or may not offend people. Same as I don't walk into a bad neighborhood and try to talk to shady people because I may feel offended by them dealing drugs.
What Adria did, did not help making men and women feel more comfortable working together. She made the opposite by publicly pillorying someone with the "sexism" hammer. That's a though position to be in as the receiving end.
> It's not really about one joke. It's about reinforcing a space that makes it easier to legitimize misogynist behavior through carelessness.
I don't agree at all. How do you come to that conclusion? What makes you think that someone who tells a dick joke would discriminate a woman? All those jokes about planes and towers may be childish and downright outrageous for someone that was affected by 9/11, but that does not make people suicide bombers.
> Like you said, "in a room with countless other people"--these guys were in a professional setting, and the joke really had no place there. Maybe they didn't deserve to get fired over it, but it definitely was not the right venue.
If those people made a joke like "A Mexican, a German and a French walk ..." would you post their picture to Twitter with a headline like "Those two guys behind my are xenophobes?". No, of course not. You may turn and say that those comments are not appropriate. The guy didn't deserve to get fired at all.
> But it will reinforce a space that makes being religious an easy thing to ridicule, and it will increment the fear counter for any particular person in that space, and more importantly, will legitimize the attitudes of the other non-religious people around you who might have otherwise not done their part in contributing to a hostile environment.
You know what? It is my right to ridicule you for believing stuff. Even religious ideas, because they are not different from attitudes towards anything relative (like which music sucks and which not). If you feel offended in that scenario, then say so. If I'm a jerk I'll continue making additional comments. If I'm a nice guy, I'll apologize. You'll meet all kinds of assholes in your life and you'll be offended by a lot of stuff that's going on. Making everyone shut up so no one is offended won't make anything better or solve any problems.
I am not drawing an analogy. I was trying to help Joeboy understand how jokes can sexualize a context in a way that makes people feel uncomfortable.
As a frequent teller of jokes, I always try to match the joke to the audience. If religious people in the US faced a 1 in 6 risk of physical assault for their religion, you can bet I would be very careful about telling any joke that might make them fearful. Wouldn't you?
As far as I've read they talked to each other, not her.
> As a frequent teller of jokes, I always try to match the joke to the audience. If religious people in the US faced a 1 in 6 risk of physical assault for their religion, you can bet I would be very careful about telling any joke that might make them fearful. Wouldn't you?
No, because that's not healthy at all. It's words, and they are not directed at you, but at most about something you identify yourself with. If you're offended by such words (mind, I'm not talking about personally addressed threats or repeated bullying), that's your problem. There was a time when you got killed for making harmless jokes about authorities. I want people to be able to express themselves. And when people are talking bullshit, then call 'em out for being ignorant. Laugh about them.
Also I'd like some source for that 1/6 people faces risk of physical assault for their religion. What does that even mean? The risk? From whom? Are you trying to tell me that 16% are living in fear because of their religion? In the USA?
You should read her blog, then.
> Also I'd like some source for that 1/6 people faces risk of physical assault for their religion.
No, it's 1 in 6 women who will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Note the "if" in my statement. My point is that your example doesn't really work, because in the US people don't generally risk assault just for being a particular religion.
Also, I think it's unfortunate that you are willing to make people afraid just so you can tell a joke. It's your prerogative, of course. But so is getting called out for it. Including, as with these folks, on Twitter.
So should you, since she made it fairly clear that she spoke to someone behind her and to her far left, and then the person next to him began the comments that set off this entire fiasco. I remembered that even without reopening it to read it again, just like I remember you punching all gay people in the stomach elsewhere in this thread by comparing us to rapists.
I understand that you are a self-described 'ardent feminist,' but please sit this one out. People like you are making this entire situation worse. This would be a simple moral ambiguity question ("is it moral to call someone out publicly on Twitter for a sensitive topic?") but instead we have to have the fucking sexism-in-tech fight with a sexual assault daily double and male feminists like you dropping the 1 in 6 statistic as if it has any relevancy to the topic whatsoever.
(It's pretty sad that I know to Ctrl+F for "1 in 6" in threads like these, and surprise, I found you! Thrice!)
One of the big problems in these discussions is that most guys do not understand viscerally why sexual jokes or statements are problematic. They think, "Oh, sexy discussion is fun!" Because for them it always is. They have never experienced unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. The only reason that I have some understanding is that people close to me have been victims of all of those things, and I have talked a lot about it with them and seen the impact on their lives.
I was looking for a way to help Joeboy, who said he didn't understand why it was a problem. The best I could think of was to ask him to imagine himself in a situation where he could plausibly but incorrectly feel fear of sexual assault. My goal was not to suggest anything about gay people, and as I wrote it I tried very carefully to walk that line. If I got that wrong, I'm genuinely sorry.
If you could compose a better story that achieves that goal, I would be happy to read it. It was the best I could do at the time, but I would be glad to learn how to do it better next time.
I agree it's not totally explicit, though, so perhaps they never did notice her.
I can imagine feeling unsafe in a bar, but it wouldn't be because of a romantic proposal. I can't imagine feeling unsafe in an auditorium listening to a technical presentation at a conference.
I'm glad that hasn't happened to you. But if this particular scenario doesn't help you to understand how you you might feel unsafe in a sexual context, go ahead and make up your own.
I'll stipulate that the woman was pissed off, but in no sense did she feel unsafe. When I search her post for the string 'safe', I find one mention of the dorky dudes' temporary feelings of safety and how that sort of thing leads to genocide. There is another mention of PyCon being safe in a general sense. There is no claim that she ever felt unsafe, and your focus on that adjective is unhelpful.
I am saying that one reason we don't make sexual comments in professional contexts is that it can make people feel unsafe.
Your post makes me feel ashamed though, it assumes a lot about women, that it is probably pretty offensive to homosexuals, and that it is written in an absurd and illegible color which makes me wish you more completely were unaware of how to use a computer.
(I might have missed a joke. If so, I'm sorry.)
But if you need a different story to imagine feeling unsafe because suddenly people around you are talking about sex, I'm sure you can make one up. The point was to help Joeboy understand the feeling, not the specifics of the situation.
I understand you don't get it. I'm saying that's partly because you don't have a visceral fear of sexual assault. You also probably don't have much experience with unwanted sexual advances. And you've probably never been sexually harassed. You also may not have experienced being a visibly different minority in a situation where that raises your risk of unpleasantness or violence.
I don't think the jokes themselves were scary. I doubt Adira did either. But sexualization of a professional environment can be scary. So we are finally starting to say that it's not allowed at tech conferences.
I'm trying to help Joeboy understand why sexual content can trigger legitimate fears.
Note that at this very conference, there was other inappropriate stuff going on:
So although I agree that Adira was in no immediate danger, I think she was right to see jokes like that as being part of an environment that alienates women and enables problematic behavior.
I would agree that those jokes could alienate some women and men, and therefore don't contribute to an inclusive environment. And the other stuff in the post you link to sounds crappy. I'm in favour of having a code of conduct, particularly if there's a culture of inappropriateness that needs addressing. I still think your conflation of dick jokes with sexual threat is OTT.
How about THIS analogy?
For me, it's not huge gay leather daddies but people in uniform - police etc. Maybe that's because I grew up in a communist country.
Still, I think that's my personal issue, I don't expect society to switch to jeans-and-polo-shirt cops.