Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

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:

http://sendgrid.com/contact.html

http://www.playhaven.com/contact

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:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5391667

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5399065


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.

http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking-and-dongle-jokes-dont...

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.


IT IS NOT HER RIGHT TO GET OFFENDED.

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gciegyiLYtY


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

dliebelson@motherjones.com


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

or

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?

WTF?


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:

http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/pycon-2013-and-codes-of-conduct....

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.


WHAT?


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




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: