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Because it needs to be said (blogjustine.wordpress.com)
393 points by milesf 1467 days ago | hide | past | web | 612 comments | favorite



My ex-girlfriend wrote a blog post similar to this one, accusing me of sexual assault. I volunteered to take a police polygraph test, hired a lawyer and initiated a libel suit. Fortunately, I didn’t need to go further because she suddenly changed my name & her story. But the experience was still stressful and scary. Many commenters vilified me because they assumed her information was true.

Prior to being falsely accused, I didn’t believe in false accusations. I couldn’t believe that anyone would tell a lie so insulting to victims. I still do believe that the vast majority of accusations are true, but I always reserve judgement because I know how it feels to be vilified in a blog post.

I applaud the author for sharing her experiences. This post is eloquent and courageous. Having said that, a blog post is not the right place to seek justice. In fact, the information here may interfere with a trial. I encourage her to delete this post and initiate a criminal trial in order to hold the perpetrator accountable.


> I applaud the author for sharing her experiences. This post is eloquent and courageous. Having said that, a blog post is not the right place to seek justice. In fact, the information here may interfere with a trial. I encourage her to delete this post and initiate a criminal trial in order to hold the perpetrator accountable.

It's pretty clear to me that the author is not interested in seeking justice and is more interested in letting people know what the heck happened to her. She's not obligated to press charges, no matter how much you think she should. It is absolutely not your call.

> I volunteered to take a police polygraph test, hired a lawyer and initiated a libel suit.

Unless the woman involved was lying about having two supportive eyewitnesses (and those guys are lying about BEING eyewitnesses on their blogs) this is woefully beside the point. I'm sorry for what happened to you but I wonder why you brought it up.


> It's pretty clear to me that the author is not interested in seeking justice and is more interested in letting people know what the heck happened to her.

For those playing along at home, Justine raised this issue almost two weeks ago, but the deluge of people saying "I need more details before I believe you" forced her to actually post this. She didn't even want to be this explicit about it, but the community made her.

She refers to this at the end of the post:

> I’m extremely upset I had to write this post. That it wasn’t simply enough to finally, after 10 months have the courage to say Joe O’Brien sexually assaulted me. But if this is what has to happen this is what happens.


Thanks. That's sad.


She has pressed charges via the internet. Many of the people on here have accepted judgement and this will stick with Joe for ever. Yes Joe made a very bad choice and was he being malicious by moving forward in his advance KNOWING Justine did not want any part of it. The looks to be a hard argument to honestly make. I am not convinced by her own account. Intent matters and I doubt Joe intended to sexually assault one of his own employees in front of his other employees in a bar. That is the real question here.


posting your personal account of someone's crimes against you in a blog is not a fair or reasonable way to deal with what is clearly a very serious matter. it sounds like what happened was awful and these types of incidents are common in many predominantly male professions, e.g. law, finance.

i was recently seriously harassed and more-or-less sexually assaulted by an acquaintance's wife at a wedding in a swimming pool. as a man, i doubt that any police department would take me seriously if i wanted to press charges. this does not mean that i am going to take to the internet and post my account of it. nobody wins by doing this.

this trend of women posting their account of a sexual assault online is alarming because of what hawkharris describes: it could be false and then is plastered all over the net, irrevocably damaging the reputation of the accused.


> this trend of women posting their account of a sexual assault online is alarming because of what hawkharris describes: it could be false and then is plastered all over the net, irrevocably damaging the reputation of the accused.

Here is something I find curious: you are one of many commenters here literally ignoring the fact that Justine has witnesses to what happened and bringing up the hypothetical, irrelevant possibility that such an accusation could be made falsely. What gives?


Both of the witnesses' testimonies seem to be subjective: "It was getting creepy, but Justine didn't move, or slap him. She was laughing..."[1]; "The executive's posture and actions aggressive; "no" was not a possibility."[2]

Their stories also don't corroborate: "Fast forward to (from what I remember), around 1am. "[1]; "It was slightly before midnight..."[2]

I think it is good that there are witnesses but it is not as simple as saying that because there are, Justine's version of events is correct. We don't know exactly what they saw and heard, how much of their versions are based on actual events or the aftermath or their relationships with the involved. That is why it is still important to maintain innocence of the accused until proven guilty.

"Here is something I find curious: you are one of many commenters here...bringing up the hypothetical, irrelevant possibility that such an accusation could be made falsely"

It certainly isn't irrelevant to the accused. His reputation and in fact his entire life is at stake. A few blog posts do not constitute proof.

[1] - http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer

[2] - http://theotherzach.com/writes/2013/10/9/events


Testimony from a witness is always subjective, and this isn't a criminal trial.

Given the amount of alcohol consumed I expect that the more detailed an account one demanded of Justine or some of the others, the less accurate it would be. That doesn't lead to some kind of Rashomon outcome where we'll never know the nature of what happened. That 1am / midnight shit... really?


"Testimony from a witness is always subjective..."

I guess what i am trying to say is that they are drawing conclusions of what they saw, not just stating the facts of what they saw.

"...this isn't a criminal trial"

This is my point, we have no right to judge his guilt or innocence without a proper investigation and a trial based on this investigation.

"That 1am / midnight shit... really?"

I think it just shows that witnesses aren't necessarily a reliable form of evidence.

My point is that presumed innocence until proven otherwise is important. These kind of blog posts can help create awareness and allow us to discuss such situations but with regards to the actual event, we should refrain from judgment, as difficult as that is, because anything could have happened or not happened. Trial by social media is not okay.


> we have no right to judge his guilt or innocence

We have no real standing to judge, no need to judge, but I have the right to do whatever I want, thank you. :)

> because anything could have happened or not happened

This is a little silly if read literally. I think you can tease out a couple of things that very certainly happened by reading the three available accounts.

> Trial by social media is not okay.

So much could be said about that topic. It's fairly horrifying in some instances. On the other hand, if this was cathartic or necessary for this woman, good for her.


I'd say 0 blog posts doesn't constitute a very good defense. But it is interesting we will still give him this huge benefit of the doubt.


Some people live their lives online, others don't.

I won't comment on how much benefit of the doubt he deserves, but whether he defends himself on the internet or not should be totally irrelevant to that decision. 99.9% of us are by-standers who have no right to demand any justifications from any participants.


And here is one of those eyewitnesses accounts - http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer


"Women who are assaulted should keep quiet about it because I can't tell if they're lying or not." Is that about right?

Instead of saying she shouldn't post because "it could be false," how about you recognize that she knows whether it's true or not? For God's sake, the fact that some people are liars does not mean that truth-tellers should keep their mouths shut.


I don't know about you but I'm a believer in innocent until proven guilty. In fact, I really don't care about the gender of the actors in this story at all. Every story has three sides, my side, your side and the facts. Right now, we have a blog post that describe a retroactive account of what happened to the author a long time ago and all the misfortunes of their life since then, attributed to that one incident long ago. This is hardly a balanced account. We don't have the side of the counter-party to this incident nor do we have eye witness accounts of what happened. So insofar as you, I and the rest of the Internet are concerned, none of us have any business passing judgement on the author, the counter-party or those present at the incident. As such I'd say, that the author shouldn't post this publicly, unless they are open to and comfortable with the idea that the counter-party and all others involved may now post additional details about what happened that evening in an effort to help us, the audience, ascertain the facts. That is hardly the path towards psychological healing.

I for one am pretty certain that there are elements of truthiness and untruthiness in the original posting. I'd expect similar elements of truthiness and untruthiness in a rebuttal by the counter-party as well. Both were drinking and both will be advocates of their recollection of what happened. Such is the nature of points of view and interpretation of past events


> the fact that some people are liars does not mean that truth-tellers should keep their mouths shut.

He's not saying that. He's lamenting the fact that in the mind of those like him that have been abused, the idea of posting stuff to a blog rather than going through official channels to get results is disturbing.

If anything, he's saying "truth-tellers" shouldn't have to resort to feelings as if blogs are their only realistic option. That if that does become the accepted venue, everyone suffers.


>how about you recognize that she knows whether it's true or not

In this case, yes, sounds very clear. But there are cases where it's not clear. The waters get so muddy that there are rapists that don't even know they've raped anyone. And lack of clarity only serves to compound the other problems.

Basically I'm trying to say that it's not as simple as truth vs. lies in many cases.


Posting the truth is never problematic. If what she wrote is indeed true then I cannot for the life of me see why writing that is in any way wrong.

If you want to say what she did is problematic then you have to argue that she is lying. Plain and simple. Do you do that?

It is obviously not an option to demand of victims to shut up about what happened to them. But that is in essence what you are demanding. Sure, if what she is telling is not the truth it’s quite obvious and kind of self-evident that she shouldn’t have posted it but if she is indeed a victim you would apparently tell her exactly the same. That seems quite insane to me.


> If you want to say what she did is problematic then you have to argue that she is lying. Plain and simple. Do you do that?

Can we stop having these black or white discussions?

After more then half a year, there is no such thing as the truth. Even if the whole thing was on tape we cannot piece together what was going on in their heads at the time.

It seems that every time some case of harassment hits the news people partaking in the discussion are either branded as blaming the victim or branded as destroying someone's life by defaming the accused. Can't we find some middle ground?

As dissatisfying as it may be, by the very nature of the topic there will never be the one truth to the story, but at least as many views as people were there during the event. We need to find a way to accept this ambiguity lest we will never stop shouting at each other.


So, you are saying she is supposed to shut up or what? Or what is the point you are trying to make? You want to muffle her voice? That’s your point, right?


Please calm down. Neither have I said that, nor do I believe it.

For unrelated reasons - namely that I don't believe naming and shaming is a working justice system and that it diverts from the underlying social issues - I would prefer to leave names out of such blog entries.

But the reason for my post is that I found the quoted passage to be one of the many oversimplifications that crop up again and again in these discussions.

[Edit: Rewording and fixing stupid grammar mistakes]


Naming and shaming? What the hell are you on about? You want victims of crime to shut up. That’s what this boils down to. Plain and simple. Very black and white.


I'm sorry, but do you actually read what I am writing?

"For unrelated reasons [...] I would prefer to leave names out of such blog entries"

First of all, I did not say anything about shutting up in that sentence. Second, even if you interpret "leaving out names" as "shutting up" I wrote "prefer" and not "must" or "have to".


> posting your personal account of someone's crimes against you in a blog is not a fair or reasonable way to deal with what is clearly a very serious matter.

Publishing the truth is always fair and appropriate.


    Publishing your recollection of an incident is always fair
    and appropriate.
FTFY.


If you think about what you just said for a few more seconds, you will agree that it's demonstrably false.


Unfortunately, private citizens cannot initiate criminal trials, and most police do not take reports of sexual assault very seriously, if indeed they do anything at all.


That's right. I didn't mean to imply that citizens can initiate it on their own, but the author should at least try to press charges. The definition of sexual assault / rape varies by state.

In any case, I don't think vigilante justice by blog post is an appropriate solution.


steveklabnik, When someone publishes your name in a blog post concerning sexual assault, scores of people harass you in comments, emails and sometimes phone calls.

They take it into their own hands to administer justice. You become concerned that employers, friends and family members will see the accusation if they search for your name.

So, if you're angry at someone, you can achieve a form of vigilante justice by publishing negative information about them and sharing it with many people - even if your account appears to be factual and not sensational.

You'll see people attempting to take justice into their own hands if you look at the comments below the author's post.


Those who have been long-time HN news commentators may remember that I myself was on the receiving end of a Hacker News and Reddit 'lynch mob' for a mistake I made. It was terrible for me. Yet, I also made someone else feel terrible. Mistakes get made. I have to deal with remembering that for the rest of my life. I think about it often.

Yet, equivocating "harass you in comments, emails, and sometimes phone calls" with being sexually assaulted is... yeah.

Note that Joe has specifically said that he's radio silence on this issue. No apologies, no rebuttal, no his side of the story.


> Yet, equivocating "harass you in comments, emails, and sometimes phone calls" with being sexually assaulted is... yeah.

Except if the person being harassed is female, in which case of course they're equivalent and you're a rape apologist if you disagree.


When someone publishes your name in a blog post concerning sexual assault, scores of people harass you in comments, emails and sometimes phone calls.

You mean like what happens to women when they talk about sexism in our industry? You mean like what people are doing to Justine right now?

Yes, that would be bad.


I think ideally the community as a whole should simply ignore stories like this until they are proven or disproved in a court of law. All they do is get the community in an uproar and don't actually solve anything except making the life of both people worse. Until that both people should be given the benefit of the doubt


Can you explain to me how posting a factual account of a situation is 'vigilante justice'?


The post accuses someone by name with some fairly emotive acts. Enough to have repurcussions on the other person's life. That seems like an attempt at amateur justice to me. In my country, the post would be grounds for libel if she can't prove it in court.


In mine, it would be grounds for libel most likely even if she can prove it in court, as far as I understand law. Or rather, the point is that she can't prove it fast enough for it not be libel (proof has to be produced within ten days, and in this case, proof would be a judgement against the guy).

And I have to say that seems perfectly reasonable to me, as public accusations outside the justice system are something I really disapprove of.


In the US if she's telling the truth, there is no case for libel.


Imagine if the United States adopted the legal structure around the reporting of accusations in Britain. Nancy Grace would be out of a job overnight, and perhaps we'd see more successful libel verdicts.

To explain: the media cannot report on an accusation until the accused is convicted, as I understand it, though I'm not British and not familiar with the very probable nuances that exist.


Factual, are we 100% certain? If you are going to attached these type of title to this person, we had better be damn certain. This is why we have a legal system and not mob rule based on emotions. If he is guilty then so be it but until we know for sure, we should hold judgement. Also she mentions at the beginning that she is just writing this to get it out there, sounds rushed.


Two witnesses corroborate her story, and Joe says he refuses to talk about it.


And yet frighteningly effective; here's an anecdote that includes a thought exercise to consider, and let me preface the thought exercise by making clear that I am not accusing anyone of lying in the situation linked here and intentionally have no opinion on it, for reasons that shall become clear. (In fact, I wish I hadn't read it.)

Let's introduce Bob (not his real name). Bob is a mid-level engineering manager. Single, handsome, mid-30s. Bob is a friend of mine from school and I've known him for 17 years. At work, he has a handful of direct reports, all developers. One of these reports is Ashley (not her real name). The entire time Ashley has reported to Bob, she never made any display of personal affectation, never so much as having a cigarette with Bob on a break.

Early this year, Ashley and Bob represented the company at a conference. Bob was having a drink at the hotel bar when Ashley materialized and asked to join him. Bob agreed, and they were alone in a dark corner of the bar for more than a couple hours. Bob tells me that the conversation was light, cheerful, and fun. At the end of the evening, Bob walked Ashley back to her room, said good night, and went back to his room. That's what Bob told me happened. I pressed him; "are you being truthful with me?" He indicated that he was, and I believe him because I've known him for the better part of my adult life. If he needed to maintain a lie publicly, he would have confided it to me. He has no reason to lie to me and I can safely say that he never has.

Ashley isn't the best employee and knew it. Bob was, in fact, preparing to hit Ashley with negative performance, which would have prevented transfer and a bunch of whole other terrible things. It just so happens that this conference was two weeks before her annual review, which is salient because Ashley attempted to blackmail Bob. She showed him a Tumblr draft that claimed that Bob had attempted to rape her when he walked her back to her hotel room, in enough detail to sell the story. The implication was clear: be good to me on my review or I publish this.

Bob confided this to me because he had no fucking idea of what to do. He had no proof either way, and as the alleged victim would be a report, things would look bad if he attempted to terminate her. And then, if he did, she'd potentially revise the draft to make it look like Bob fired her to cover up his alleged misdeeds. This happened in the last six months, and I am legally prohibited from knowing how it resolved. Bob cannot tell me, but he still has his job and a career, so the shoe hasn't dropped yet.

Clearly, Ashley is quite aware that when stories like this are published on Hacker News or other media, a sweeping majority of the audience will immediately interpret what is presented as hard fact. In this case, there are two witnesses, but in others there have not been. Bob's ordeal gave me a thought exercise and made me think of all the times I've been alone with people at conferences: if someone wrote this exact post and substituted all the details for me, instead, what recourse would I have as the accused? The answer is none. Even walking away with the lesson of "don't be alone with someone" doesn't really help, because by the time witnesses step forward to defend you and say a blog post is completely fabricated, it's already bounced off the moon and come back.

And yes, I realize sociopaths like Ashley are rare. But given how demonstrably effective blogging like this is, do you really think they will remain rare in the long-term?

The only solution to this is to be suspicious of everything you read that is one-sided. Be suspicious of my anecdote, even; I could be making it up, for all you know. The thought underlying it, that the Internet's talent for rushing to conclusions on one side of a story is extremely dangerous (Sunil Tripathi, anyone?), is the important part of the story that I want to convey. Imagine if this blog post appeared on the Internet with your name and a conference you've been to substituted in. As Twain said, how long would it take you to get your boots on? Would you ever recover from that kind of damage?

We can't foster this environment in our industry, and I'm saddened that it just continues to get worse. It's going to get worse because time after time after time, the Internet makes clear that understanding both sides of a story is a historical artifact, and events of the future will be determined by who blogs about them first. Scary shit. Imagine sharing a name with the accused, even! My mom just got denied an apartment because a woman of a different race shares her name and has a felony conviction. And that's a government system, not a social network.

A pile of folks have made clear, too, especially some well-known names in the industry that are already all over this thread, that if you express the opinion that I just did you are enabling rapists to completely gut our industry, blaming and/or silencing victims, and so forth. I made the mistake once of sharing this opinion in another high-visibility disclosure similar to this one, the thrust of which was "let's not blog about someone's guilt or innocence on any topic until they've been convicted of something regardless of gender or offense," and I was directly accused of being a rape apologist because of the context. The only reason I'm even sharing this opinion is because I'm on a throwaway, but my identity is fairly deducible if you follow my history. Another commenter was right: there is really no talking about this. It really chills me on the industry, to be entirely honest, and I've had exiting the industry on my mind since the PyCon incident involving dongles.


The fact that there are bad actors that game the system does not mean we should not publicize reports of bad behavior.

Rape is, at present, more of a problem to our society than false rape accusations.

Perhaps that will change in the future. I hope it does.


    Rape is, at present, more of a problem to our society than 
    false rape accusations.
Citation needed. Do the statistics this statement is based on also include prison rape numbers?


I really don't want to get pulled into an argument on this because I've said what I mean to say, but your second sentence is really bold.


There is a lot of conflicting research on this, but many reports show that false rape accusations are no more common than false accusations of any other kind of crime.

It's a very difficult topic to study.


There are many reports showing that false rape accusations to the police are no more common than false accusations of any other kind of crime. She didn't go to the police. There could be a vast number of accusations of rape like hers that are, in fact, totally made up and they wouldn't count as accusations for the purposes of those reports.

Which still wouldn't be worth worrying about, especially compared to all the actual rape that is happening, except there's a lot of pressure from certain groups to shun any man who's accused of rape regardless of the merits of the accusation. There's a very vocal school of thought that says if you employ or are friends with one of those men you're a rape apologist.

Though in this case it does sound very much like she was raped and can prove it.


The fact that you think that statement is bold says a lot about how far we are from solving it and helping people.


Rape creates victims. False accusations create victims. Before you say "not the same!" they both often end in suicide.

So, knowing that and knowing how difficult of a topic false accusations are to study and how little we know about the bad side of human beings, I would hope that anybody who is reasonable would read "rape is a bigger deal than false accusations of rape" and say whoa, nelly, partner, do you know something that the rest of us don't or are you acting on your gut feeling? Or are rape victims just the team you happen to root for in the "victims I need to give a shit about" World Series?

The fact that you don't think it's bold reinforces my entire point about concluding things too soon. And I'm intentionally discussing this on a deliberate action that demonstrates that false accusations are easier than ever, given the Internet's (a) reach, (b) accessibility, and (c) slow erosion of doubt in most folks, who make up their minds rather readily on the first thing they see.


It's a bigger deal because of frequency. There are orders of magnitude more rapes than rape accusations, even including legitimate ones.

Rape is endemic in our society.

If you are comparing them 1:1, we can have a discussion, but I am speaking in aggregate.


And yet I worry about both because I realize that all victims deserve my sympathy and attention, regardless of how they were made a victim or whether there is enough of them to justify me giving them a second thought. And I'm saying that the blogging response to the one you do care about might be having unintentional consequences for the other that you don't care about, and advising caution on an obviously explosive subject for the sake of both problems.

Look, it's your prerogative to dismiss victims of false accusation. It's even your prerogative to condescendingly dismiss me from the discussion as you are doing here. It's my prerogative to care about the things you don't, and by dismissing a problem due to frequency, you are no better than the people that dismiss rape in the industry. Can you really not see that?

I already made clear that I do not want to argue about this. I'm simply uninterested in your opinion on false accusation victimhood because based on how dismissive you are of it, you haven't been paying attention and you haven't had it hit close to home. I've been in a similar situation that resulted in my life being threatened at a conference. I know how victims of rape feel, having to sit on HN and keep reminding people that rape really is a problem and shouldn't be dismissed, because here I am debating false accusation victimhood with some random on HN.


In what you are arguing, you fail to realize that there is only one victim. And while that might be the accused, in this case where we have 3 accounts supporting the accuser... well... it's not wrong to side with either of them, but you can't really call out supporting her side as biased in any way.


You missed the part where I said I had no opinion on the specific incident that resulted in my comment. Go back and read that part; I read someone's entire comment before replying and hope for the same respect in return.

In particular, I lamented that I was aware of this incident at all and pivoted into my larger point.


I've floated this question in two other places, but I'll try again here.

> False accusations create victims.

This is almost certainly not a false accusation since Justine has multiple eyewitnesses, two of whom have confirmed her story on their blogs.

Why are you bringing up the problem of false accusations?

edit: I really am interested in your answer, more so now that you responded but failed to answer. Rereading the post I think you're referring to didn't really help.


I can count on one hand the number of times you need to click "parent" to read my original thesis that made this point. I didn't make the point until the latter half, and I appreciate that it is revealing the folks that pick what they want out of a comment.


    Imagine sharing a name with the accused, even! My mom just 
    got denied an apartment because a woman of a different 
    race shares her name and has a felony conviction. And 
    that's a government system, not a social network.
Strangely, I can completely relate because something like this happened tonight. This evening I checked my Twitter mentions and came across this tweet with a racist remark and a hyphen and my twitter handle at the end, so it appeared as if he was quoting me:

https://twitter.com/pianoman265/status/387725741573799936

I was like "WTF?" because I don't know the guy who tweeted it and while perusing his followers list I realized what happened. He has a friend who is also named Andrew J de Andrade, but uses a different handle, @ajayyd, which is totally odd because there are probably only a half dozen or so Andrew de Andrade's in the world.

https://twitter.com/ajayyyd


If some people lie about assault and cause needless pain, the solution is not "don't talk about assault." It's "don't tell lies."


...or "don't assault?" Also, my point is in no way exclusive to sexual assault. I'd make the same point if this were an accusation of anything.


The only way is to wear GoPro-alike all the time while interacting with other people or record everything on your cellphone (at least audio). Equivalent to Russian dash cams. Perhaps some use for the glass.

There are some really nasty people out there.


In most legal systems there is also a civil procedure against sexual (or any other) assault


I'm glad this is out there. It's a tragedy that it happened at all, but it would be an even bigger tragedy if nobody else knew the consequences. I think everyone experiences that moment sometimes where you think "is this okay? should I say something?" And after you waver for a second, your decision reinforces itself and you end up doing nothing at all. Maybe you can even convince yourself that it was all okay in the end. After all, the consequences are invisible. Well, not this time.

I found two other perspectives on the story:

http://theotherzach.com/writes/2013/10/9/events http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer

I'm particularly heartened by Zach's account. The police can prosecute assaults, absolutely, but they can't stop them before they happen. The community can. By setting clearer expectations of behaviour, recognising potentially dangerous situations and taking steps to ameliorate the risk, and by being willing to step in before anything goes off the rails, the community can stop this from happening again.

And, thanks to Justine, maybe they will.


Let's keep some perspective. A second ship in one week carrying desperate, impoverished African migrants sunk of the coast of Italy yesterday. Many drowned. That is a tragedy.

This is just one of those bad things that happens in life that one has to move on from. While I agree in helping others, people need to help themselves. Everything you wrote about the community needs to be done by the individual, too. Also, one must not let their life go entirely off the rails in the face of an adverse event.


Let's keep some perspective. A second ship in one week carrying desperate, impoverished African migrants sunk of the coast of Italy yesterday. Many drowned. That is a tragedy.

You wrote this under a throwaway account, so I think you understand my point before I make it, but I'll say it anyway.

A situation like this doesn't call for debates or intellectual analysis. Winning debate points when the subject is sexual assault doesn't move the topic forward, it just makes you look insensitive and begs a flame war to begin.

I wrote a top-level comment stating this point already on this thread, but it's very important this is understood. It's not your place to judge what another human being's tragedy is. I'm not trying to white-knight you, it's just something that really needs to sink in. You cannot minimize another individual's experiences just because some distant collective suffers more according to a standard of utilitarian rigor.

If you want to help, don't debate the point. This subject is too close to heart for that to do anything but alienate people. Empathize and show support instead. Send Justine a kind email if you find that agreeable.

This is just one of those bad things that happens in life that one has to move on from. While I agree in helping others, people need to help themselves. Everything you wrote about the community needs to be done by the individual, too. Also, one must not let their life go entirely off the rails in the face of an adverse event.

I don't know your personal history, but looking back on the most painful experience in your life, would you say this in regards to yourself? No human exists as an island. What you are saying is tantamount to blaming someone for being inert when they're depressed, instead of treating it is something that is out of their control to begin with.


I wrote a longer response, but I can pare it down to this:

This is just one side to a situation that I have no first person knowledge of.

Even taking everything she wrote at face value, I think she has made decisions that will make her own recovery more difficult than necessary.

Bad things happen to everyone. Often much worse than this. It is the nature of life, and underscores just how little we all really control. What we do control is how we handle ourselves in the face this adversity.

Language is always important. It is crystallized thought, and bad language creates bad thinking.


> A situation like this doesn't call for debates or intellectual analysis.

I would wholeheartedly agree with you, except that with the way attention is focused on the web and on the news in general I feel like there is no other time this topic is debated except after such personal tragedy. So when is the time for intellectual analysis?


I agree, that is a tragedy. There are a lot of bad things in the world, although thankfully less each year because of the efforts of good people who want things to improve.

The Italian government has volunteered to hold a state funeral for those who died, and has asked its fellow EU members for support. In response, the European Commission allocated 30 million Euro towards helping refugees.

I hope we can also help those who unjustly suffer in our community, and find our own ways to make things better.


The vast majority of people are good, honourable though often less vocal on the internet.

We outnumber the bastards out there. We just need to learn to step up and stop evil when we see it. That's the leson I take from Zach's account.

If we can be just as quick in doing that as others are in posting judgemental comments on board then a lot of horrible experiences will be averted.

How horrible the effect evil has on people is what I learned from Justine's account. The stakes couldn't be higher.


"All that's needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."


We, as a community, are simply incapable of discussing this subject responsibly.[1] Similar stories have been posted before. Some people are outraged at the incident. Others are outraged that the author publicized the incident. Others question the author's account. Others are outraged at the outrage of the second group and/or the skepticism of the third group. Et cetera.

The ultimate result is this: Endless angry comments. Everyone feels rage. All parties mentioned by name (and some unlucky enough to have the same name) wake up to inboxes full of hate mail. Careers are harmed, sometimes permanently.

If you had never read this story, how would the world be different? You would feel slightly happier, and you would have likely spent your time doing something more pleasant. In other words: not different at all outside your own mind.

Unless, of course, you actually did something to help. Even a token gesture would be better than posting an angry comment. Send an email with some nice words in it. Heck, maybe even do something in the real world to help. And instead of jumping on the rage train and telling everyone how angry you are, tell everyone what you did to try to make things better.

1. To be fair, the same is true for almost all online communities.

Edit: It's been an hour since I wrote this comment. So far, nobody has followed my suggestion and said how they've helped this situation. I guess I'll be the first. I sent a short email to Justine. Hopefully her day is a little better because of it.


Not true. There have been issues at conferences that have been talked about on places like HN, and now many conferences are adopting anti-harassment policies, like at the Cascadia Ruby Conference http://cascadiaruby.com/policies

It's a mess, yes, but change does happen.

There are many people who are very skilled at talking about tough issues like this one who simply need to be given an opportunity to address the community. I for one hope the Ruby community steps up and changes, for the better, because of this one.


Lest we mention PyCon...


What about it?


At a recent PyCon a couple of attendees made a weak joke about forking a repository that came off as sexual humor (I don't know if it was intended that way or not). Someone was offended by it and tweeted a picture of them rather than approach the conference organizers. Things escalated from there.

As I recall it, by the end of everything, the jokesters had been asked to leave the conference and subsequently lost their jobs, and the community blowback after that resulted in the originally offended person also losing her job because the controversy would have made it basically impossible for her to act as a developer community liason.

There were no winners, but PyCon apparently does now make procedures for handling sexual harassment, etc. much more clear in conference materials.

edit: though clearly my recollection was flawed in some ways - among other things, only 2 lost jobs and I was incorrect about them being asked to leave the conference.


This is inaccurate. The individuals making comments were not ejected from the conference, they were informed that their words were having effects they might not be intending, they apologized, and returned to the conference.

I can in no way speak for anyone's employer, but it's worth noting that only one of the individuals lost their job.

I currently serve as the co-chair for the PyCon Program Committee, and as a director of the Python Software Foundation.


I think I'd already noted part of this (that there were 2 job losses not 3), but Adria Richards' job certainly counts as part of the fallout from the whole thing as well.

Thanks for what you do for Python.


Probably worth mentioning that Adria Richard's probably lost her job because she dragged(drug?) her employer into the fray on twitter.



I'm familiar with the incident (I current serve as the co-chair of the PyCon Program Committee, as well as a board member for the Python Software Foundation). I'm just curious if the OP was implying that anything would have been better without a CoC?


Things would have been better if everyone in the situation acted like adults. No matter how detailed and specific the Code of Conduct, Adria probably would have done what she did anyway.

Rather than worrying about the effects of shaming people publicly, conferences are basically putting up "no glass in pool area" and announcing their triumph at conquering this problem.


The world is full of evil.

Not talking about it allows it to continue unimpeded.

Most people are not angry at the person shining the light on evil, just a tiny and vocal minority.


I apologize to the world for this thread. There are clearly topics that an open forum, or at least this one, can't be trusted with, and this seems to be one of them.

We have some ideas for new moderation features that we hope will make comment threads more civil. I don't know if they would have helped in this case though.

The one thing that did work here is the flamewar detector. This story dropped off the frontpage extra fast, after which the only people seeing this discussion were people who sought it out.


I hope when you say you will make comment thread "more civil" you're not just talking about commenters calling each other names but are also considering the comments here in favor of sexual assault as unacceptable.


Nice, let's fix the problem by hiding it, good thinking out there.


I was one of those people. I apologise if I brought more heat than light.


You did an admirable job of responding to piles of comments that needed Consent 101.

(Civility isn't even the main problem here - so many of people's comments were superficially civil but callous and misinformed. HN needs empathy, compassion, willingness to listen. It's not impossible to shift culture - Metafilter has improved a lot, but doing that required human effort from its leaders and not just software.)


I am a happy member and longtime reader of MetaFilter but I wouldn't look to it as a positive example.

MetaFilter has several full-time moderators who, because they feel they need to be doing something, are stifling discussion and deleting a lot of threads. Many long-time, valuable members have left the site because of staff decisions.

Meanwhile, a group of noisy, low-value users are mostly allowed to bully others, mock people different than them and even write death threats from time to time.

MetaFilter prides itself on being a place that knows all about Consent™ etc. and maybe that is worth everything else, but it's not a place where people can get together and have a civil discussion.


I think a number of my comments were somewhat regrettable. I stand by most of them, but I could do better.


thank you pg.


Thank you.


The assault was evil enough, but the vilification of Justine in the comments by some makes my blood boil.

The best antidote to fight darkness is to bring it out into the light. Thank you, Justine, for your ongoing courage to speak out. I cannot say I understand what you're going through, but I'm sure there are (too many) others out there who do. Surround yourself with friends and supporters who will stand with you.

You are not alone.


The comments are... odd. I can understand leaving comments open as an illustration of the backlash that results from trying to talk about these matters, but at some point, banning particular people makes sense: the majority of the comments there are vile primarily because the majority of comments have been made by one apparently obsessed person making utterly ridiculous comments in a deranged tone.

I fear that the shock of those comments hides what I consider the more important, problematic vilification going on in the comments, which is the argument made by a few sane people that talking about this, rather than keeping it a private matter, is not appropriate, and that Justine should have stayed silent and only gone to the police. This is perhaps more harmful, as it comes from people who aren't obviously deranged or trolling.


Consider that the person who would be doing the banning is the victim, which means that she would have to read all of those shitty comments, continually, in order to determine who to ban.


I cringed when I saw that comments were enabled _at all_ on that post.


Justine explicitly said that she's leaving them on in order to show everyone what happens when someone reports a sexual assault.


Ah. I didn't see that mentioned in the post itself anywhere. Thanks for the info.



"Erin" sounds like "she" has an axe to grind with Justine.


Erin == Joe O'Brien ? (rien/erin...?)


Speculation like this isn't particularly productive. It's just as likely that someone else thought of the same association as you and chose the name to impersonate.


> It's just as likely that someone else thought of the same association as you and chose the name to impersonate.

And by doing this they achieve what? Tarnishing Joe's already-tarnished reputation? They could have also pretended to be Joe O'Brien directly. Is there a gain from trying to hint at a potential association?

Even if the name similarities are pure coincidence, it's not entirely unlikely that this commenter is in fact Joe O'Brien or someone close to him. Of course it's pure speculation, and perhaps you're right and it's not productive to make such speculation. I didn't have any ill intent.


There's absolutely no excuse for such behaviour - the man should be prosecuted. I wish Justine a lot of luck getting her life back on track.

It's worth mentioning (since the volume of comments doesn't make it obvious) that it appears to be a single commenter doing the vilifying.


> it appears to be a single commenter doing the vilifying.

It may appear to be that way, but many people have stated various things. If you haven't been following this on Twitter for the last few weeks, it can look different.

It is certainly not just one person.


Ah, fair enough - I only looked at the web page. That's incredibly disappointing :-(


Her boss should not have even attempted to have a fling with her - that exposes the company to liability, and he was rightly fired. It's pretty obvious that she didn't feel that this was enough punishment for his behavior, and has now publicly named him in an attempt to extract her idea of justice out of the situation. It would be interesting to see if he responds with any kind of legal action, as I imagine that he has a side to the story as well. From her own description of the incident, she was voluntarily allowing intimate conduct until she told him to stop, at which point he did. Assuming the blog post is the same story she would have given to police, this certainly wouldn't have made for a criminal case even if she had filed a report.

She certainly has a right to feel violated, and to publish an accurate description of what happened if she so chooses. I just have a feeling that the guy involved is going to take some form of legal action and that he may indeed have a case for libel - however unfair that may be in the eyes of herself or others. It's just a bad situation all around, which is why bosses should avoid such encounters with their employees at all costs.


Given her (and the two other) accounts, this absolutely was sexual battery. A drunk, intimidated, or otherwise incapacitated victim does not give an attacker free reign to do whatever they feel like doing. Drunkenness on the attacker's part is not a defense.

If you start touching someone like this, it is not their job to stop you. It is your job to be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, positive that the touch is welcomed. If you are a grabby drunk, don't get drunk.

This is common sense. It is also the law.

I cannot even fathom how he could possibly have a case for libel. We have three accounts, largely the same, as to the facts of the matter. Her account must be a lie (substantially, not in details) for libel to even be a possibility.

Nor can I understand the sentiment that his lost job is somehow recompense for the act. It is just a job, not jail time.

It is so terrible that this happened. To heap these sorts of reactions on top of it all is very deeply disappointing.


If this is indeed the law, its scary. I for one take some Time to realize that someone is not into it. In fact I always put in extra effort to put someone in the mood if they are feeling frigid. I thought this is normal male behavior - a little bit of persistence. I see this in movies all the time. Maybe we need to mark most of the american movies as R.


I strongly urge you to reconsider what you are doing! Not only are you putting yourself at risk of a rape claim, but you really could assault someone. What he says is true. It is the law - the onus is on the party who initiates the activity to gain clear consent.

If that involves specifically asking, then so be it.

I see you've been downvoted to oblivion, which I hope gives you some idea as to how dangerous what you are saying is and how dimly most people are viewing it.


Assuming the blog post is the same story she would have given to police, this certainly wouldn't have made for a criminal case even if she had filed a report.

He penetrated her. It sure as hell IS sexual assault!


How many times have you penetrated someone without explicitly asking for consent? Many, many times, I'm willing to bet (assuming that you're male).


I'll just leave this here

http://consentsus.org/groan-zone

which is an accessible little zine looking at consent as a complicated and beautiful process, considerably more complicated than just "no means no" /or/ "yes means yes". It is negotiated on on an unequal playing field within already existing power structures, relies on verbal and nonverbal communication, can shift over the course of an evening or a relationship, etc etc


Then you would be wrong. Never.


Then you have a rather broad definition of "explicitly asking for consent", or very strange relationships.


Either you are trolling me, or you are judging me (what a strange and pitiable man!), or you have no idea what you are talking about. Given you know nothing about me, I'd say a bit of each.


Nope, I was just trying to be witty and to make my point implicitly. I did not really mean it to be personal. My bad. So let's make this an explicit discussion, shall we?

What I was trying to say is that contrary to your original statement not every penetration is sexual assault, nor are (in general) sexual acts without explicit consent.

Why? Because in Western society, consent is more often than not implicit. People very rarely ask "do you want to have sex with me?" or "May I kiss you?". Instead, they rely on body language, suggestive statements or simply the knowledge that they're in a relationship of which sex is an expected part.

Now it is certainly possible that there are societies where this is different and any sexual act must be preceded by explicitly asking for consent. It is possible you live in such a society. That would be very strange to me - which is not a judgement.

However, it seems to me more likely that you live in the (mostly same) Western society I do and we're merely having different interpretations of how "explicit consent" can be given.


I understand, sorry I took it the wrong way. I understand what you are saying, and I don't necessarily disagree. It's possible I wasn't clear. When this Joe character penetrated her with his fingers, he did it surrounded by people at a bar. He was drunk. I think in this case it's clear he didn't have consent, at least one other account (by the gentleman who stopped it going further) said the situation looked out of control, and it didn't look like consent was given.

For the record, where I got a little upset with your comment was when you said I must have a strange relationship. As it turns out, I'm a very happily married man with two kids. I actually do ask my wife if she's in the mood. Different couples communicate differently I guess.


Even without the two witnesses corroborating, this is most certainly sexual assault.


I am fairly certain that the events that Monday in January ruined me for the rest of my life

Is this typical? I've read a fair amount of stories from rape victims, and yet here we are to understand this woman's life has come completely unhinged and ruined for good by something... I don't know, somewhat less dramatic than a rape. If I hadn't read the story of the event itself, I'd have honestly thought it was about a brutal, violent rape.

I realize I probably sound like a jerk, but as I've never had personal involvement with this sort of thing I have no first-hand experience, and after reading this story I suddenly find myself shocked & confused as I think of the other stories I have read in the past. All I can do is ask for input. Please treat this as an honest question.


Different brains respond very differently to various types of severe emotional trauma.

I was fairly surprised by this data when I first experienced it, too. It's incredibly fascinating how the human mind works.


Yes. The relevant concept, as much as I _hate_ to link to wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_trauma

As well as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_trauma_syndrome


To be clear, I understand & am familiar with those concepts. I'm just... I don't want to put it in terms of comparison, but that's all I've got- shocked & confused that an event that I would expect to be less traumatic than rape, is seeming to impact the victim in ways much more dramatic than any recounting from a rape victim I can remember.

Again, I hate to put it in terms of comparison. There's no competition here. I'm just trying to adjust my understanding to fit.


From the outside, it may not seem to be as bad as rape. But the crime, psychologically, is fundamentally the same: it's about having autonomy over your body. The only difference is degree.

> than any recounting from a rape victim I can remember.

I don't know you, but consider that you probably don't know a representative sample of rape and/or sexual assault victims, and therefore, your experiences may not reflect overall reality.

Furthermore, humans are incredibly different. To make an almost non-sequitur comparison, I don't particularly feel tattoos hurt a lot. I know some people who scream and cry after ten minutes. Everyone will react to some kind of trauma in a different fashion.


Different people are affected differently. I don't think this just applies to rape and sexual assault; aren't there supposedly some soldiers who get PTSD despite remaining on a secure base for the length of their service, whilst others watch their colleagues get blown up and have relatively few long-term issues?

(Also, by some reasonable definitions this is rape; I think the laws in some juristictions may even see it that way.)


Completely beside the larger point of assault, I am just frankly amazed at the seemingly unanimous defense (in the three blog writeups) of the level of drinking that happens in these atmospheres. It really does read as if people are saying, look, people should be able to get shitfaced drunk every night at a professional conference without having to worry. And... well gosh maybe that's true in theory, but... isn't that an earthshakingly huge "but"?

my god. So. much. alcohol.

I am not blaming the events on the alcohol, because I get that the root cause of events like these are far deeper. But it sure does seem like the alcohol serves as something of a counterfactual; if the alcohol hadn't been flowing as freely, none of this might have happened. What on earth is the deal with the culture of these conferences? I'm a programmer, and I have friends, and I go out, and I'm not a prude, but I swear, I haven't gotten buzzed for six months and I rarely have more than one drink in an outing. With this kind of picture painted, I feel like I'd be a complete alien at a Ruby conference, and it feels like a disincentive to get more involved with that community.


> What on earth is the deal with the culture of these conferences?

It's not just the conferences. I have visited startups that have beer on tap or in the fridge, and some companies even inject alcohol into the interview process[1].

Mixing work and alcohol is a bad idea. Period. There's just too much that can go wrong. Sadly, in some industries, and at some companies, and in much of society at large, alcohol consumption is so strongly encouraged and expected that many individuals who would like to opt out feel uneasy about whether they can do so without consequence.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6518763


Brogrammers are legion. It gets marginally better outside of the ruby/js/node scenes.


Please read "After the shot" again. If im not mistaken kissing forheads and rubbing is commen place with your male friends. You mention multiple coworkers. He hand grabs your butt and you dont immediatly pull away????? Why not take responsibility for your actions as well. Ive been to bars and seen drunken mistakes but to vilify the person like this and not take any resposibilty for your actions is pathetic and immature. Yes he crossed the line but maybe we should hear that from you too.


Exactly.

She had opportunity to stop things before it progressed to "down the front of the pants."

Do people not understand what's involved in putting a hand down a girl's front? It's actually not that easy to do... it can't be done "casually" in a public bar without both parties allowing it to happen.

Not to mention "forcibly kissing me with his tongue"... How is that even possible unless the other person opens their mouth and lets your tongue in?

If a girl doesn't want your tongue in her mouth at a public bar, guess what? Your tongue is not going in her mouth! That's how kissing works in case any readers here are rusty on the subject! :-)

Go ahead, downvote. But please don't kid yourself that this girl isn't playing the "victim of alcohol-fueled tech industry sleaze" game.


I wonder if part of it isn't the "landmine mode" that minorities have to be in to succeed in the workplace. As a woman you have to be hypervigilant about how you are perceived amongst your coworkers. There are very small runways of acceptable behavior between pushover and bitch, between slut and ice queen, etc. There is the pressure to fit in and "go with the flow" but then there you know that when shit hits the fan (as it did here) your every move will be scrutinized and every opportunity to blame you for your misfortune will be taken.

As a result, I think minorities in the work place have a constant running double, triple, quadruple-checking loop for their behavior. Everything they want to say need to be run by a bunch of checks to make sure it meets the "safe for a male-dominated workplace" test.

As a result you're much slower to react to thing. As a majority member it's much easier to just blurt out your first thought, or to act out your first reaction... since you're the norm, it's reasonable to assume that your first instinct will be acceptable to the group.

But as a minority, you learn to second-guess yourself. Therefore even as someone is forcibly kissing you, you are second guessing what your options really are.


One thing we can all do:

Start asking before you touch in situations where you know you don't have to.

I know it's awkward. But the reason people like Joe think they can put their hands down someone's pants is because we don't have a cultural practice of "ask first". They see you put your arms around that friend of yours who doesn't mind at all, and they think "Ah, cool... so you can just sense if she's cool with it and then go for it".

Of course you're not a scumbag, so you'd never put your hands down someone's pants without asking, but that's the thing... scumbags can't tell the difference. They don't see the difference between you rubbing your friend's back because she's having a bad day--your friend who is happy to have a little contact from you--they don't see the difference between that and them taking a body shot off of their employee without asking. In both cases they just see someone making their best guess at what someone else wants, without asking, and going for it. That's the cultural standard, that's your standard, so that's what they hold themselves to.

Basically, right now we try to draw the line between ask/don't ask as close to the ok/not ok line as we possibly can. But in a world where people make mistakes that means there are lots of "accidents". The only way to prevent those accidents is to move the ask/don't ask line further into "ok" territory.

Sexual assault might seem like an issue between individuals, but as long as we see it that way it will continue happening. If we're serious about changing it, it's something we have to collectively take responsibility for.

If hundreds of times a week these people see the rest of us asking our wives, asking our friends, asking everyone "do you want a backrub?" and "can I kiss you?" and "is this ok?" then their expectations change. They'll start to feel weird not asking. And maybe some of these assaults can turn into near-assaults.


The problem with "ask first" is that it is a self-defeating behaviour in current culture: Touching is an integral part of flirting and also common in interactions that don't involve sexual or romantic interest. And the current social norm is to start with light touching at a non-intimate place, and see if the other person reciprocates. Doing so is associated with confidence. "Can I touch the outside of your arm?" would be perceived as creepy for two reasons: It will be considered a sign of insecurity, and people often aren't explicitly aware of the implicit rules on touching, and would thus find the request strange.

Asking first already works well in some sexual subcultures as well as some professional settings: For example, in some armies, a superior will ask a soldier whether they may touch them before fixing something that's wrong about the way they are wearing their uniform. That's a very professional way of dealing with having to touch somebody who is reporting to you. The hard question is how one can engineer this cultural change in society in general. I would love to see that happening in my lifetime


"Ask first" works just fine when the question is "can I stick my hand down your pants?". It really isn't the social norm to do that without asking.


Agreed, and it's way beyond the social norm to do it at all in public and in front of other people(!) :-)

I can wrap my head around someone thinking a quick kiss in an informal setting without explicit permission could be brushed off, but sticking a hand down the pants of even one's significant other in a public context is way beyond any social norm I'm aware of except perhaps at an orgy.


What are you talking about? Among the subset of the population who participates in hands-down-pants, roughly zero percent of these interactions begin with one of them asking for permission first. It simply doesn't happen.


Well, lawnchair larry, I have asked, and have been asked, permission to do this very thing. It's really not that uncommon nor unwise to do so.


I assure you then, you're a rounding error. I'm surprised if you actually think most people do that.


I can assure you that my method means I do not rape people and your method means you might. And that's regardless of how many people employ my very reasonable and clear method of determining consent. Has the thought ever occurred to you that the fact that people believe ambiguous signals to be consent may actually CONTRIBUTE to the fact that 1 in 5 women experiences rape in their lifetime?


I think a much more workable solution would be to collectively attempt to abandon the shitty American brand of alcohol culture that seems to be a fairly common contributing factor in a lot of these stories about rape and assault.

Alcohol makes one stupid, not cool. I have no idea why it is held in such high esteem in the US tech industry.


I'm so with you. After reading this (and a lot of similar) account, I knew, that I would never(!) enter any conference like that, regardless, where it is held.

An drug-induced culture like that is just hurtful/unhealthy. Regardless of the drug they put into their bodies, I have an internal policy never to mix with druggies.

I am really shocked, that it seems so normal to drink that much booze. Hey, I really like a glas of wine here or there, a glas of good scotch once in a while. But I am not 15 (coming from Germany) anymore. I do not have to be dumb playing cool drinking booze.

So I really hope for the OP, as I really hope for the american tech-conference culture. For the first: I wish her the utmost and very best. For the second: Grow up!


> An drug-induced culture like that is just hurtful/unhealthy. Regardless of the drug they put into their bodies, I have an internal policy never to mix with druggies.

Caffeine culture suffers no such problems.


OK, I am with you on that one. ;-)

But I really feeld the withdrawl symptoms in the afternoon at work, if I do not at least drink two cups of coffee till 2pm.

That is why I try to reduce my caffein-intake gradually.


The part of that culture that is, IMHO, the worst is the idea that alcohol is to blame for our behaviour.

Pigs are going to be pigs. They don't get to say "but I was drunk" Real men don't have it in them to treat others they way pigs do - alcohol or no.

I just don't blame the substance. Blame the man who thinks of his immediate satisfaction without regard to the cost he inflicts on others.


> Pigs are going to be pigs. They don't get to say "but I was drunk" Real men don't have it in them to treat others they way pigs do - alcohol or no.

You'd be surprised.

Of course, "real men" who know they turn into pigs when drinking choose not to drink.


No, the problem with American alcohol culture is that they treat it as a "big bad monster", rather than a part of life.

Result: people not knowing their limits.

Public drinking is allowed in Germany, however, funny as it seems it's not a barbaric (ahem) hellhole. Nor you see a lot of people "losing it"

That's maturity.


> Public drinking is allowed in Germany, however, funny as it seems it's not a barbaric (ahem) hellhole. Nor you see a lot of people "losing it"

Oh yes you will.


"A lot of". Of course I've seen it ;)

Curiously enough, I've heard some stories about Oktoberfest. Needless to say it's way more popular with tourists than with locals. And the mess (including train stations, hostel vicinities, etc), well, doesn't need explaining.


My guess is that it's closely related to the collegiate alcohol culture, which is just as shitty and pretty much ubiquitous, and which many younger devs were a part of before graduating into industry.


What is different about non-American alcohol culture?


[deleted]


There seems to be this growing idea that isn't helpful to the women's movement, or if not then to feminism. Being propagated in stories like this, which is that women are for some reason less capable of dealing with situations as they are occurring.

As men we are expected that if a situation is going somewhere we don't like, to assert that we don't like it. Why isn't the same true for women? "I draw the line at the shot being done by my direct superior, it would be unprofessional." or "Don't touch me anymore please." It isn't even like this was tried, she supposedly assumed that was impossible.

Then laments afterwards for months? I mean... it's asking for babysitting. Everyone else is to change their behaviour so that there isn't the possibility of mentally scarring someone who doesn't assert themselves.

Then for people to claim that police or authority figures don't take sexual assault seriously when every time one of these stories comes up it always ends in the guy being dealt with swiftly and without mercy. Always. In this case he lost his job and apparently that's not even enough. I can only assume the author wants him on a sex offenders registry.


Totally agree. This line in the original story was also evidence of the expectation of guardianship/protection:

    I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two 
    male bartenders hoping someone would help me.
I don't know about you, but I can think of exactly one time in my life when I felt like a deer in headlights and that was in 2002 when I had an M16 in my face and a 9mm pointed at my temple. Long story.


Consenting to a body shot does not mean you consent to being sexually assaulted afterwards.


Start asking before you touch in situations where you know you don't have to.

I think this is based on incorrect understanding of the real cause of the problem. The problem was not the lack of knowledge about the fact that she was not consenting - it was clearly apparent to everybody else, she did not need to verbalize it. The problem was that he was not able to perceive her obvious signals or did not care about them or was not able to control himself. Therefore we need men who have empathy, respect for other people and self-control. Men like that do not need to ruin intimate moments asking weird questions. Men who are not like that ignore even clear no, verbal or nonverbal. That's the problem - the lack of empathy, respect, self-control. Not getting hammered might be important part of solving that. The rest is more complicated - how can society support personal growth and maturity?


All of the above is true.

But it also needs to be said, that a technical conference isn't the right place for heavy drinking or "body shots". It's just unprofessional.

I think what we need to change is not only attitudes towards sexual harassment, but also towards professional behavior at conferences. Which means drawing the line much earlier. Nobody should ever feel they need to do heavy drinking or "body shots" in order to be "accepted" into the community or "bond" better. That includes both sexes, I know men who do not like to drink, but do so in order to "bond" with the community.

Disclaimer: I am not explaining or justyfing anyone's behavior here. What was described in the original article was unacceptable by any means. So please don't go off with a knee-jerk reaction to this post, but think about what I really mean.


I wasn't there so I don't know, but were her signals only obvious at a distance of a few feet. From the description of the events they were physically close and from what I read she only implied only two non-verbal clues and one verbal clue:

(1) Expression on her face as she looked at two male bartenders waiting for them to help.

(2) Not reciprocating in the kiss

(3) Mentioning that Joe has a wife and children to which he replied “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”.

The first one would have been completely missed by Joe because he was caressing her back and kissing her forehead. So that one doesn't count as obvious. The second is difficult to say whether it was obvious or not without being party to the kiss. Only Joe and Justine can fairly assess the obviousness of that non-verbal clue. Drunk people tend to kiss pretty poorly, even consenting adults, so I'd say that's a pretty shitty clue as well. Lastly, the third clue is ambiguous because it is not about what she wants or does not want but what he should or should not be doing. With that statement, she in a way put responsibility to continue or not in Joe's hands. If he does in fact have an open relationship with his wife where they can seek out other sexual partners, then to Joe its entirely possible that her sentence could have been misinterpreted as "I'd like to, but you have something good in your life and I don't want you to make a mistake". That sentence was not about her decision but about his.

That all being said, I was definitely inappropriate for Joe to do what he did because of their professional relationship, with him as her superior and her as his subordinate. For that reason, I definitely agree that its a firing-worthy HR violation. However, she is as responsible for unprofessional behavior. In what US country would the following ever be acceptable common workplace conduct:

    began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let 
    me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I 
    consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a 
    lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)
Overall, it's black and white case of sexual misconduct from an HR perspective, but based on her recollection of the events, its pretty far from a convincing claim that she effectively communicated that she wasn't consenting to the only person in the story that matters, Joe. They were two drunk adults who made poor decisions. Both are responsible.


I think think that's a great solution, but I think it will work best in conjunction with what I'm proposing.

The trouble is that there will always be a wide range in people (it doesn't have to be men) in terms of empathy, respect, and self-control. Even if you succeed in totally changing the culture around empathy, there will still be individuals who are empathetically challenged, just based on physiology.

What I'm suggesting is that we need an "ask first" culture in order to create a buffer. I'm basically advocating a redundancy solution.


I hear what you are saying and it sound reasonable... but I just cannot imagine myself asking that question in that situation. Wine, candles, excitement of 'the first time with her' and tenderness... and suddenly I hear myself saying 'can I stick my hand into your panties?'

Talk about a mood-killer. Please try to imagine it. If your proposal gets traction I will probably never have sex again. It's a good thing I do not live in the US - I am afraid they will need signed contracts for that. I am sorry but I really think we are solving the wrong problem here - this is not going to save the victims but it might ruin something very precious. Am I being over-sensitive?


If you haven't, in a soft voice, in a comfortable place, in a responsible way ever asked someone if they would like help taking off their pants... you are missing out. It's not that hard. Really. There are lots of reasonable questions that also act as good communication that I really don't want to teach you. Hey! There's a good question to ask next time!


Apples and oranges. It's one thing to ask because you feel like it. It's another thing to have to ask because it's mandatory.


"because you feel like it" ... this is a terrible thing to conclude. Let's just all 'feel like' getting consent, alright?


"because you feel like it" ... this is a terrible thing to conclude. Let's just all 'feel like' getting consent, alright?

Please do not pretend that I am saying something terrible that I never said. It is obvious from what I said in this thread that I am all for 'getting consent' - I just do not think that problem of lack of respect for women can be solved by mandating verbal consent instead of non-verbal. I think your latest response is intellectually dishonest because it takes my "because you feel like it" quote out of context in such a way which implies that I would be OK with no consent at all... that is something I would never say.


Exactly how would you ask that questions? (I'm honestly asking, I grew up in a country where personal space are quite strongly respect - even hugging between close friends are almost nonexistent.)


http://www.consentissexy.org/ discusses this topic in depth, including how to explicitly ask.


I'm disgusted by this whole thing. Here's a lot of people jumping to conclusions based on the one-sided account of one person's blog post. Hasn't it occurred to you people that she might be lying? I'm not saying she is, but there is a possibility. We have legal processes for a reason.

Based on her account alone, I can say this: 1. She's very emotionally unstable and needs to seek professional help, for her own sake as well as everyone else's 2. She believes she was sexually assaulted, and consequently needs to report this to the police 3. Making a blog post about it was a big mistake if she has any hopes of the legal system punishing the man that sexually assaulted her

Finally, we live in a society where the man is supposed to "take initiative" and be "assertive and confident". You may say that it sucks, and I won't argue against you, but that's just the way it is. So men will do try to do things that women will not always appreciate. Consequently women _need_ to learn how to say "NO". This is really fucking important, for their own sake.

I imagine things would've played out a lot differently if Justine had taken responsibility for herself -- that she was in a bad situation with a man, but a situation that she, being a grown woman, could get out of by loudly saying "NO". Instead she asked the guy about his wife and kids. Instead she stood there passively until a knight in shining armor saved her -- too late.

Women are not children. They need to learn, or be taught, to stand up for themselves. There won't always be someone there to defend them. Dealing with this fact is part of growing up.


> based on the one-sided account of one person's blog post.

... as well as corroboration by two other witnesses.


Can you point me to this please. I would like to read their corroboration of this event. It would help my opinion much more. This situation is so grey area that another perspective would help. Please link, thank you so much.


I'm on mobile, so I'll paste this comment which had both links: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6538644

I don't agree with the comment, but they're both there.


I haven't been to a programming conference before, and I always assumed it was kinda prudish of the people who said that the atmosphere at such events should be toned down. They reminded me of the people on my freshman hall who would give me dirty glances when I stumbled in late and tipsy: who are you to tell me what's wrong?

What's the harm? I like whiskey. It's tasty, and makes me more sociable.

Now I get it. I'm not saying that's the main takeaway from this article, but a norm dictating that industry conferences should have an average BAC higher than half of my college parties is never going to help the situation.


I've been to a couple of insurance conferences and they have this problem too. One of my coworkers witnessed an assault take place in a bar everyone was at.


This is a body shot for those who don't know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBPT6AUnUnI | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKP99wrx6Sc | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBbz6hhoKbg

Open-Minded Alternative-Understanding Scenario time:

You're a male with your male gay friends at a gay bar. They're taller than you as they are gays of the muscle bear variety. You're the only one who's straight but you want to show them you're one of the gang too. You agree to a body shot or a pole dance to show them "hey look I'm not homophobic, I can roll with you guys I can go along with the joke, I'm comfortable around you". One of the muscle bears (beefy, dominant, taller and stronger than you) starts kissing you, sticks his hands down your pants, grabs & squeezes your testicles and fingers your ass. How would you react?

Did you make a bad decision?

Were you asking for anything?

Was it your fault or the muscle bears fault?

Who went too far?

What were your and others' expectations of the situation?

This scenario is specifically designed to help people understand that while Justine did agree to a body-shot, nothing warranted taking things further. The "look but don't touch" rule applies at all times. Then again body shots are impossible to do without someone sucking juice out of your belly button with their mouth. I'm trying to see this from both parties' points of view. On Joe's end, I think a lot of men are trained by society, dating advice, hormones, movies, films, and even other girlfriends, that a man's purpose is to take what he wants, make the first move, initiate dominance and not ask for permission.

From Justine's point of view.... I understand what you were going for. Trying to earn their admiration... I feel bad for you. A body shot, pole dance, strip tease, doesn't warrant kissing, groping, or fingering, period. But honestly, body shots with co-workers is a bit.........unprofessional. Don't ever put yourself in a submissive position emotionally or physically around drunk men to try to prove yourself to them. Men do not respect submission. How is letting them do body shots off you make you one of them? Do they do body shots off each other?


"You agree to a body shot or a pole dance to show them "hey look I'm not homophobic, I can roll with you guys I can go along with the joke, I'm comfortable around you". "

As a straight person, I can't imagine allowing a drunk 'muscle bear gay' to do a body shot (I had to look 'body shot' up- I'm not American) on me just to show a gay crowd that I can "roll with you guys"(!!). Licking salt off someone's body seems (to me) to have sexual overtones, but this maybe different in US culture. Honest question: Do straight men/women take body shots off one another? (which should happen if this were a non sexual thing).

Seems like a very overstretched scenario, but I'm not sure if this is ok in some cultures (again, not an American, though I've lived in the USA, and so could be missing cultural nuance).

I have no comment on the original event, and I appreciate your attempt to create a scenario straight men would understand. Just saying(fwiw) that your analogy seems to be fairly unrealistic, and may end up conveying (to straight men) that this is a fairly unrealistic scenario in the first place, which would be precisely the opposite of what you intended.

Has any straight person here actually done things like this? (again, just curiosity, not arguing about the rightness of various parties' actions in the reported event).

That said, I totally agree with your (well made) "don't make sexual moves unless you have confirmation that they would be well received" point.

Personally, I wouldn't want to have a sexual relationship with anyone who works with or for me. Yes, I know it is a little bit extreme, but (imo) not worth the hassle if/when things go wrong.


You can simultaneously think that what Joe is claimed to have done is totally and utterly wrong and that doing body shots and allowing back rubbing and head kissing with coworkers, let alone supervisors, is incredibly stupid.


I've been in a similar situation as you describe many times (20+ probably) when hanging out with my younger brother who is gay and his friends. Every time that I have been approached and groped sexually I have firmly, politely and unambiguously expressed my disinterest. I don't take it personally and neither do they. I also don't get bent out of shape over it. Advances like those I received are within the social norms that I expect when I am a guest in that subculture. I would be an asshole to vilify them for acting in a way that is generally acceptable in those environments and among that subculture.

Now that being said, a tech conference with your co-workers is different. That's a professional setting and sexual conduct between superiors and subordinates is unacceptable. However, it seems like there may have been prior signaling by the author that some touching was not only acceptable, but accepted[0], making it harder to place as harsh a judgement on what happened.

[0] began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)


That's gotta be the WORST analogy I've ever read. I can't imagine a heterosexual man doing a body shot or a pole dance in a gay bar. That's the most unrealistic situation I could ever imagine. As for the fingering any woman in a bar (!?), even if it was with consent, it'd be utterly disgusting.


So she voluntarily lied down on a bar with her and men around her intoxicated by alcohol, hormones amplified and expecting nothing out of the usual to happen? Get real, please. Of course it is horrible but don't make it look like it was unexpected.


I don't know about you, but I do not want to live in a society where women cannot go to a bar without an expectation of being sexually assaulted. Sounds like a bug.


In the society I breathe daily, women generally do not get sexually assaulted when they go to a bar (I don't know the statistics). However, I quote:

"At some point, it was suggested that I do a body shot. I’ve never done one in my life but at the insistence of many people, attendees and bartenders I decided to lay on the bar."

this is an invitation to sexual behavior. "A body shot is a shot of alcohol (such as tequila) that is consumed from a person's body, usually from erogenous zones such as the navel or the breasts."[0]

How possibly did she not fathom that this could result in her being approached with a sexual tone? She even voluntarily lifted her shirt ("Someone who was up for anything." [...] "and lifted my shirt as far as I was comfortable") Could it have been the alcohol which intoxicated her body and disabled her anxiety? Made her forget that she was with other men also under influence of the effects of alcohol and she was one of the few if not only woman offering her body to be licked?

In which off all the possible outcomes did she expect that she would have get the drink removed from her body and be done with it? Have you guys even thought about this?

It is really sad how everything evolved and what kind of person she became due to these actions but please look at the circumstances and how it was her who initiated everything.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_play#Alcohol


Consent to a body shot is consent to a body shot. Let's not even bring up the coercive aspect here.

Consent to a body shot is not consent to sex afterward.


huh ? They didn't have sex. Did you read the article or do you know something we don't.


So, forced kiss and fingering in public is no big deal, huh?


Entering your fingers into a woman's vagina is generally considered to be a sexual act. Did you really think he was a gynocologist doing an examination?


Blaming the victim eh? "She totally asked for it! Everyone knows that body shots have to be followed by forced public fingering"...

Get a grip man.


can you acknowledge that pearjuice opened with "voluntarily lied down on a bar" (as part of agreeing to someone drinking alcohol out of her navel), and not simply "go to a bar"?

that's some fox news level intellectual dishonesty


And body shots? really?


We have a culture of alcohol being involved in most team interactions outside of work. Those mostly take place in the evening, a time when, usually, private socializing, including mate seeking behaviour, happens. That alone would be quite a fertile ground for sexual harassment, if you add a few females to a group mostly consisting of men. Then add companies where people work long hours and have little life outside of work. And now consider conferences, where people are away from their regular social circle for extended periods of time.

I would not want to be a young, attractive female working in this environment.


I really don't think it's about alcohol or about men and women working in close quarters for long hours.

This is about a small number of pigs that care more about their desire than any thought of consent or mutual interest. Real men, the vast majority, would never consider inflicting this sort of evil on another. Drunk or not. It's not about sex, it's about power and abuse.


The white knight.


Agreed. Years ago, I might not have been able to sympathize with her very well, but I have daughters of my own now, and I cringe at the thoughts of things the future males in their lives will do. It's easy to see women as sex objects, but having daughters really opens your eyes to their humanity; that their hopes and dreams mean just at much as ours.


It seems strange to me that one would need to have daughters to realize women have hopes and dreams as meaningful as a man's...


Reading the comments here makes me think I am in bizarro world. Is expecting women to say "No!" already too much personal responsibility for them these days?

Calling this "sexual assault" is just crazy. There was no force, she never told him to stop. This would be thrown out in court without question in any half-way sane country.


Consent is not defined by the absence of a no, but a presence of a yes.

The situation described falls within the definition of sexual assault in the United States, at least. I am not a lawyer. Decide for yourself: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2907.03


> Consent is not defined by the absence of a no, but a presence of a yes.

As nice as that sounds, there isn't a shred of truth to it in the real world. Pre-emptively asking a female before making a move will get you shut down every time. You're supposed to read the situation, pick up on signals, and often be a little bit psychic. Show me a female who wants you to explicitly ask permission before every action and I'll show you a liar.


And if you are wrong in your 'psychic' ability, that's sexual assault. The ends never justify the means when you don't get consent. A woman (can we call them women instead of females?) may not care for explicit permission, but that's irrelevant since no woman wants to be sexually assaulted.


Pre-emptively asking someone before borrowing their car gets you shut down every time.

That's not a reason to not do do so.


I'm not arguing for or against anything in particular, I'm just saying how humans mate away from their keyboards.

A process which has no relation whatsoever to that of borrowing a vehicle, I might add.

If you want to go reductio ad absurdum on me, you can twist what I said to imply that I'm suggesting it's fine to go around raping people first and asking questions later, but I trust that a rational reader won't have issues understanding what my actual message was (even if they disagree with it (wrongly)).


Sorry, I can counter your antidote with ones of my own. I have, in fact, pre-emptively asked a woman these kinds of things and had success.


'a presence of a yes and the lack of coercion,' since sexual assault is generally defined by this. Him being her employer, and thus responsible for her career, can certainly be asserted as possible coercion, even if there is any implied 'yes', which I don't think there was at any rate.


Yes, thank you. Coercion is an incredibly important part of this.


By your definition, there's countless rapes in movies. Can we change the hollywood movies from here on to always ask 'may i have sex with you?' before they start making out? If they don't ask, I want these movies to be rated R since they are showing rape and possibly sexual assault.


Yeah, that's right. Comparing Hollywood to actions in real life. Very helpful.


She did tell him to stop, however she told him because "he had a wife and kids" and not because she was uncomfortable(?).

I agree, this can hardly be marked as assault. From her account, she barely made an effort to let him know that his advances were unwelcome.

If she doesn't have the ability to stop him and walk away from the situation, which she was perfectly capable of, then maybe she shouldn't be out in the adult world.


His hand was down her pants in public... we are way passed the fuzzy moral lines. This is certainly sexual assault and I'm not sure how one can argue that she is responsible for making it clear by some unwritten protocol that all people understand rather than have it be understood that you have the burden and responsibility to not sexually harass people.


This is sad. I don't want to be the devil advocate but I don't think we can judge here...So I will imagine the defense of Joe ;

I understand that Justine doesn't want to enter in details. But without all informations, it does seem to me that Joe could have just misunderstood Justine behavior.

"- Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends." => Joe certainly believed that it was unique between Her and Him. He doesn't have the same pov as Justine

"- Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass." => Shouldn't she stop him there ?

"- Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating." => Joe is drunk. He certainly does not remark that.

"- Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me." => He certainly have gone to far there. But why does he wasn't stopped before and during that operation (not easy) !

"- I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”" => That unfortunate, in one side (Justine), it seems to be the smartest thing to say to calm him down, in the other side (Joe), it seems like a girl who know it is wrong but wanted it if he is certain would said.

As for what we have here, it doesn't seem to me that Joe is specially an asshole (but maybe I'm wrong.), but more that this could be the results of peers pressure and mis-communication.

[Again, I don't want to judge here, just to give another pov]

It's however clear that Joe should have think about how his work relation [the fact that he is her boss...] influence that relation.

Maybe this is what the victims of assault don't tell the police. They fear that the case will be drop because of lack of details...

"- Finally Matt Darby approached me and asked if I want to go out for a smoke (I smoke, he does’t smoke, and I knew that he was trying to help) I agreed." That's a smart move. Bravo Matt.

In another subject, I'm surprised (and sad ?) that HN doesn't give any tips, tools for all the possible victims.


> without all informations

Which more information would you need? There are two other people that corroborate her story, and Joe says he's not saying anything.


The defense of Joe ? The fact that he is not saying anything on the Internet is not a proof of anything...

And again, I don't say that her story is false. Just that it could have been viewed in an another way from Joe pov.

People seem eager to judge other people. Especially on the internet...


I've also noticed that people on the internet usually react to a woman's claim of assault or rape with skepticism and disbelief.

Even in this thread, there seems to be a lot of empathy for the alleged attacker -- whose story we haven't heard -- and far too little for the victim. We know what she says happened, we know it's been corroborated by two witnesses, and we know the resulting trauma it's caused her, so why are so many people feeling sorry him and not her?


Where is this, I would like to read the other two accounts.



Thanks !


Not a very substantial defense. You've quoted 1 of 3 accounts suggesting a crime, and there aren't any accounts of a defense. The only defense so far is a bunch of rather ridiculous hearsay by a bunch of internet people who weren't there.


Well, I'm not an advocate :P

I am more in the mitigating circumstances than in a total defense.

"The only defense so far is a bunch of rather ridiculous hearsay by a bunch of internet people who weren't there." That the whole goal of this post. How can you judge without a defense ?


As an aside, why is alcohol such a big part of things like tech meetups, etc? I've been to a few and there is always alcohol being served and people drinking it. As a Muslim, I've never touched alcohol and never will, and I don't understand the need to "alcoholize" everything. Why can't there be a culture of having just good clean fun, no alcohol, no drugs, no sexualizing? And what place does alcohol even have at tech events?


There's a long history of alcohol being used as a 'social lubricant' in European cultures. It reduces inhibitions, initially to a point where everyone's having a better time than if they were stone cold sober, but with increased consumption, to a point where Bad Things™ are almost guaranteed to happen.

As a fellow fan of 'good clean fun' but as someone who can also tolerate a pint, I totally see your point and think good clean fun is more appropriate for professionally-aligned events.

The thing is, there are levels of drinking. There's having a few beers in a group to get the laughs rolling (which is still reasonably clean fun and many non-drinkers are OK in this environment).. and then there's the raunchy American style "party" drinking (i.e. doing lots of shots, beer pong, getting drunk as fast as possible). Non-drinkers will not fit into that sort of environment at all.

The drinking in the story here sounds more like the latter and IMHO is rarely appropriate, especially at a professionally-aligned event.


As a non-believer, I've never touched a sacred book and never will, and I don't understand the need to "indoctrinate" everything. Why can't there be a culture of having just good clean fun, no religion, no wars, no oppression in the name of a virtual god?

(point being: blame the perpetrator, not the substance)


Religion and alcohol are not the same. Are trying to say that religion is like a rapist? But even if I continue with your horribly broken and anti-religionist analogy, I could say: I don't bring religion into my work/meetings so why bring alcohol into it?


Then why mention your religion here? How is it in any way relevant?


Umm, because that's the reason for me abstaining from alcohol. I made that quite clear when I started my sentence with "As a Muslim".


Because, as a Muslim, I assume he doesn't drink. He was asking a fairly legitimate question, which is why is alcohol so closely associated with the tech scene?

My answer to him is that alcohol often helps folks loosen up. It's great, and fun, but only when you take it in reasonable moderation.


Alcohol is a big part of many social gatherings. However in tech especially this is more common because of the typical founding story of many startups.

Most startups are founded by 2-3 men who are usually close friends both professionally and personally. This means that they probably have a history of working together, coding together, eating together and drinking together. Since professionalism in our career is based largely on what you consistently deliver and this is directly and unambiguously observable, indirect proxies for professionalism like dressing in a suit and tie or abstaining from alcohol are not paid lip service. It's this very uncommon, but perfectly rational definition of professionalism that makes our career more accessible to people based on their skills and less dependent on their social class, social skills and social network. Yes, those three things matter, but they matter a lot less in tech than in other industries.

With that in mind, we don't automatically put drinking alcohol while producing our work product in the list of things that are taboo and unprofessional. These norms stick with a company as they add on new employees, including eventually women in the case of startups founded by men.

If you've never been on the founding side of the equation, then its easy to be dismissive of these norms within a company when you join as a latecomer. From the perspective of the founders, there is an element of a faustian bargain in growing your company. On one hand you are succeeding, but on the other hand you end up having to forfeit people for processes and forfeit much of your company culture for a small subset of your cultural norms. It starts feeling less like a family and more like a bunch of people who cooperate for their financial well being. It's perfectly natural for those in tech companies early on to lament the loss of many aspects of fun as a company matures.

Just as the founders doing the recruiting need to be sensitive to the needs and expectations of new recruits, people joining later need to be sensitive to the fact that the founders and early employees are giving up things they hold dear to them to accommodate the needs of later hires.


In moderation, alcohol allows people to loosen up and enjoy themselves more in social situations. Since one of the primary purposes of conferences is networking, and thus socialising, a lot of people enjoy drinking at them. The problem here is the culture of drinking to excess, not the availability of alcohol alone.


As a counterpoint - there are plenty of Muslims who drink, so that has nothing to do with anything at all.


Islam forbids alcoholic drinks which is why most Muslims, including myself, do not consume them. I mentioned that I am Muslim by way of explanation as to why I don't drink, so it actually has everything to do with this.


I think there's a deeper cultural problem here: that the behavior of Joe had that much of an impact on Justine's life in the first place. There are women that would experience the same thing, but would not retreat into themselves in this extreme way. There are even women that would shrug it off. However, the response of Justine matches ancient societal expectations: if a woman has been violated, she loses all value.

Why would anyone still believe that in our modern society? Because like the vilification of gay people ('gay' and 'faggot' are still a word used by virtually everyone to put things down as 'unmanly' or generally 'shameworthy') it has has entered the undertow of culture, where it is less apparent, but just as strong.

When someone is raped, we say we understand that her life is shattered, that she will never recover. It's part of a general acceptance that certain events mean someone's life is 'over' (death of a child, significant other) and that they may never recover. This acceptance implies expectation. Stronger women are questioned, seemingly admiringly, but actually judgingly: 'How can you just continue living after this?' with a hidden 'you are supposed to have broken!'.

It's easy to say that being raped should be like breaking a leg: an unfortunate event that can happen during a lifetime in human society with all its strange and from which you can recover after some pain and trouble. The difference is of course that one was inflicted on purpose by someone in your social group, while the other is usually self-inflicted or at least accidental. That this makes a difference is actually part of the same problem: that if you've been bested by another in your social group, you lose status and value. This also has ancient origins and as a result has deep roots in our minds. A chimpanzee with a broken leg doesn't lose status if humans take care of its leg. It only loses status if it loses a fight.

What is the way out of this? Make a conscious effort not to believe these things anymore. Raise your children not to believe these things. Don't participate in them and scold everyone that does them. Teach them it doesn't matter if someone has asserted dominance over them and that their lives are no less valuable as a result of it.

Justine, please seek professional help. Find a therapist that will work on changing the beliefs that have caused you to experience this event so strongly and caused it to have such an influence. There are lots of women on whom a similar experience had a weaker effect. This is not because you are weaker: it is because of what you were taught during your life, because of your beliefs. It is hard to change beliefs. There are many emotions connected to them, which makes you recoil from touching them. A professional therapists will enable this process, after which I hope you will look back and think "why on earth did I believe those things so strongly that a single event could have such a strong influence on my life?!"


This is a difficult point to make. I'm surprised you didn't use a throwaway account.

I've been assaulted by peers. I've had drugs slipped into my drink. One time, someone put a gun to my head and robbed me.

After these experiences, I had nightmares, phobias, and insecurities. But surprisingly quickly, I recovered. Without social expectations of permanent trauma, the mind seems to be quite resilient. Thank you for making this point so much more eloquently than I could have.


I'm glad that you've suffered no lasting harm, but please do not overgeneralize to a claim as strong as saying that without social expectations others would respond similarly, because this can lead to people thinking that those with persistent problems after an isolated trauma are how somehow perpetuating their own problems through their attitudes. This is contrary to everything we understand about how humans respond to stress and trauma on a lifetime scale, and in particular contradicts the glaringly strong evidence from the CDC's Adverse Childhood Experience dataset that lifelong resilience in the face of stress is dramatically reduced by early traumas.


Sounds like you might know the literature - can you link to some good jumping-in points?


Unfortunately, my experience is more first hand (survived a nearly fatal accident as a toddler that has had lasting impact on my life). But I recall the CDC's page on the study having some good jumping off points, and I think I first ran into it via this series of articles: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-ellen-stevens/the-adverse...



Powerful stuff.

Being victimized by others is not a choice. Abiding in a victim identity is a choice.

That's why so many rape survivors choose that word - because it is more powerful than victim. Perhaps there are even more powerful names - thriver, for example.


This comes dangerously close to victim-blaming.

Let me tell you that what Justine is feeling is absolutely not some social construct built exclusively on archaic misogyny. I have known more than one gay man who was raped and felt exactly the same way.

You might consider that at least some of the women who appear to deal better with being assaulted are actually just putting on a brave front to avoid being pitied and condescended to.


I think it would be best to de-emphasize the question of blame altogether and have an unprejudiced discussion about how such incidents can be prevented in the future (and great kudos to Justine for trying just that).

The terrifying thing about this is that in the area of sexuality the difference between an exciting, enjoyable experience and a terrifying, traumatizing one can be entirely in the mind of one party and not necessarity noticeable to the other party while it's happening. Especially if both are drunk.

And most women fully expect men to be bold and take the initiative while they themselves give vague signals that are easy to misinterpret. And all of this is pretty much expected to happen while everyone involved is drunk because that removes inhibitions and that's what everyone wants.

A recipe for disasters like this, really.


Especially if both are drunk.

I think a large part of the problem is the social acceptance of alcohol and being drunk. Objectively speaking, getting drunk is similar to getting wasted on other (illegal) drugs. Alcohol is a drug which due to an accident of history is legal. The negative consequences of alcohol consumption are ubiquitous. More people die from alcohol than from all illicit drugs combined. If it is wrong to take drugs, it is wrong to drink alcohol, especially to the point of debilitation.

Being drunk should not be an extenuating circumstance for bad behavior, it should be an aggravating circumstance. When people choose to drink something which makes them less able to behave in a socially acceptable way, they should be prepared to accept the consequences.


If the other party didn't bother to ask or pay attention, they shouldn't be having sex. It's like driving with your eyes closed: when you hit someone, the blame is entirely on you.


My intention was society-blaming, not victim-blaming. See elsewhere in this thread for my response to that point.

Bringing up that men can also be raped and will feel 'the exact same way' is a good point, but I believe a red herring. A central point of my argument is that all people do not feel 'the same way'. It's exactly the fact that some people feel differently that makes clear that the consequences for Justine's life could have been far less if she had had different beliefs. And I bring this up because I believe it can reduce the consequences for future Justines and perhaps is useful to future Justine.


People react differently to difficult events.

Some children who are abused recover quickly. Others are messed up for many many years.

We agree so far.

But so what? Are you suggesting that she is wrong to feel so distraught? Or that society is doing something to encourage her to feel this distraught?

Because from I read I see a lot of society blaming her for what happened and telling her to get over it.


But so what? Are you suggesting that she is wrong to feel so distraught? Or that society is doing something to encourage her to feel this distraught?

Because from I read I see a lot of society blaming her for what happened and telling her to get over it.

I agree. I can't believe some of the comments. The top rated post at the moment is from someone who feels sympathy with the abuser and who believes it was the fault of the victim. Who then edited his comment to say that her DUI charges were unforgivable, as if this somehow caused her to be assaulted.

Other commentators are basically saying similar things - she fell apart, what's with that, why can't she jut get over it? Another comment says that the language she used about her assault is ambiguous and can't have been all that bad. Yet others are implying or stating baldly that she did consent to being groped in public by her boss! Frankly, it sickens me to read the comments these fools are making.


Who then edited his comment to say that her DUI charges were unforgivable

I avoided that part of the post, but a DUI is something you bring on yourself and not something I can easily forgive. People driving drunk kill people. You don't get to say, "Yes I could have murdered people but don't you see I was distraught". "Oh, ok, it's fine then"


>walls of text everywhere trying to examine the situation and blame those involved

You guys have to deal with it that she voluntarily lied down on a bar, induced by alcohol with other men around her and OFFERED her body to be licked. In which universe did she saw an expected outcome of not being approached with a sexual tone? They were drinking the entire night and all those geeky guys normally filled with anxiety completely loose up with one of the other sex they have been around with for quite some time and then all of a sudden this woman lies down on a bar, peels her shirt up and pours a drink on her body whilst having a boy friend?

She must have at least expected something, no? She was not raped or "sexually assaulted", she had intimate contact which she knowingly was building up to the entire night and she could have very well contracted her back muscles and got off that bar when she saw her boss approaching. In fact, why did she even get on that bar when she was fully aware of the context? A body shot, really?


> She must have at least expected something, no?

No. A body shot is not an invitation for anything. A body shot taken from a girl with a boyfriend is not an invitation for anything. A body shot taken from a girl with a boyfriend, while hanging out in a bar with 'geeky guys' that just 'loosened up' is not an invitation for anything. If you think it is, you have a problem.

To answer your question again: no. Just no. No, no, no, NOOOOOOO!

I was talking about societal expectations earlier. I don't know what subculture you belong to, but it seems one that goes against the grain on this. And we have the law on our side.


So you regularly see body shots in a non-sexual content? When could she expect it, then? What would have made the difference between this body shot and a "normal" body shot? I am not saying it was an invitation. It might not be but she cannot possibly do a body shot without expecting a fully grown alpha male to take his chances. Even if she didn't, she could have easily denied him the opportunity when things started getting too close.


Of course body shots occur in, and contribute to, a sexualized context. That doesn't mean you may expect "a fully grown alpha male to take his chances" in the way it happened here.

As someone's boss, you don't french-kiss someone then-and-there, on the bar, in front of colleagues and peers. That's not just taking chances, that's a display of dominance over both her and the colleagues and peers. It's true ape-like behavior and most people aren't prepared for that anymore, in any context. No matter how drunk they were, most present would still have gone: "WTF is happening here?" when that happened in front of them.

Now bypassing that, accepting that this has happened, then the following is still baffling. She isn't reciprocating. You cannot not notice that and you should back down at that point.

Bypassing that, accepting that he didn't notice or severely misjudged, then you still don't engage in sexual behavior right then-and-there, in the open. There are only few persons in few circumstances that enjoy such public displays of sexual behavior. Most people wouldn't ever, in any state of mind, with any girl, perform this behavior. They wouldn't do it if the girl was naked and asking for it. Let alone if she was clothed and her feelings towards such behavior were entirely unknown.

> she could have easily denied him the opportunity

In your abstraction of what happened and an abstraction of human beings, she could have. In the actual situation, with actual people and all their idiosynchrasies and their history together: no, she couldn't. She didn't. And in the end that still boils down to this: the fact that she didn't resist does not mean she is guilty and he is innocent. He behaved like an asshole, whether she resisted or not. He shouldn't have behaved like that, whether she resisted or not. Most people would never in their right or drunken minds behave like that or wish others to behave like that. He was wrong.


You wrote:

> she could have easily denied him the opportunity when things started getting too close.

That's garbage. She said she froze up "like a deer in the headlights". She sounded terrified, so no - it wasn't easy at all.


Two words: Personal Responsibility. The fact she admit she froze up would in my mind maybe give the person the benefit of the doubt that he was not trying to be purposely malicious. That is the real issue here when we want to throw around terms like "sexual assault". What matters is the intent of the person when they commit these acts not that technical some sexual contact was made that was not invited when two adults in a bar that are drunk are engaging in personal contact. Nothing in this article tells us the Joe intended to assault her, only that he made a very bad decision in making a move like that before being invited to. Maybe he felt that was were it was leading from the fact that she never pulled away during 3 personal contacts that were progressive. Maybe she froze or maybe she was just too drunk to be fully aware. You have to evaluate both sides to see if the evidence points to specific motives. That is the real issue here.


What was Joe's personal responsibility? Why do people insist on bringing Justine's personal responsibility into this equation but not Joe's?

He was in a position of power over her which most firms with an HR department are very specific about.

Two words: Rape Culture. Rape culture exists when we continue to question the motives of the victim. The fact that many of you continue to excuse his behavior and question hers, leads me to believe that we're going to see way too many cases of this in our lifetimes. It's no fucking wonder these things continue to happen. The sexual assault apologists in this thread is really disheartening and frankly, appalling.


Not to mention there seems to be this ridiculous misconception that if you didn't know you were assaulting someone it's not sexual assault.

That's so very, very wrong. Anyone who argues this in court has a bad lawyer, or isn't listening to their good lawyer. Sexual assault can occur even if you don't know you are doing it. It is your responsibility, as the initiator, to know whether consent has been given or not!

Groping someone in a drunken stupor is very likely to get you into a LOT of trouble. The sooner this misconception is cleared up, the better. Both for those poor unfortunates that encounter the one with the misconception, and for the person with the misconception themselves, otherwise they might find themselves in jail!


So now Joe is responsible? For her? When did she shift from being a strong independent woman who needs no man to having someone be responsible for her? I thought she was a grown up woman able to make her own choices and stand for her own actions but now she isn't responsible? I know her writing doesn't really lie about the quality of that responsibility (pouring yourself drunk in a work week, que) but she IS responsible for her own actions and everything which is achieved by this blog post is due to her own actions.

Please don't tell me that her not ever able to obtain a job is Joe's fault. Look at what she writes and smears on the Internet for the public view. Unless she goes to work at some feminist induced Ruby startup where this is accepted and even stimulated, this trail of shit smearing will haunt the search engine index pages for years.


Yeah, as the boss he does have some responsibility. And he sure as hell is responsible for his own actions.

You just don't get it, do you? If you don't ask for explicit consent, and rely on mixed signals to evaluate consent, if you get I wrong then you are still responsible. That's the personal responsibilty of the one initiating the unwanted sexual advances.

I don't care if she stripped down naked and paraded up and down the bar. This doe s not give any man the right to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Full stop. A court of law would find the same, and in fact there are quite a few surprised men who have found this out, to their cost.


Why did they ask her to do a bodyshot? They didn't ask any of the guys to do it. She clearly points out the desire to be accepted by a male-dominated group, and she did what they asked because of that.

Now. I can't speak to that. As a white male I've never been in a situation like that in my life. And I'd bet a lot of money that you haven't, either. So you know what? We should probably both avoid talking as if we know what it feels like.


I think that a person who agrees to a body shot expects that somebody drink a shot from their body, and then they get up, and then nothing directly happens as a result and they get to choose what happens next. I reject the notion that consenting to a body shot is equivalent to foreplay.


pearjuice, after reading your other comments in this thread and the justifications you're using for the sexual assault that occurred, I would be seriously concerned with those around you, should you ever partake in drinking with them.

You mention "why" a lot in some of your posts. "Why did she not get off that bar?", "Why did she even get on that bar?". Let us be clear about one thing. Justine suffered a sexual assault. Asking victim-centric questions about the assault is blaming the victim. What followed the encounter from her HR department is disgraceful and unnerving, but not surprising considering your attitude toward the whole thing...


So any contact by a man on woman which has not explicitly said "Yes, I am okay with this" is sexual assault? Rape? Shouldn't the victim have responsibilities? Know what is at stake?


> So any contact by a man on woman which has not explicitly said "Yes, I am okay with this" is sexual assault? Rape?

Yes. It really is very simple: when you're with someone who has been drinking, or who you are the boss of, or both, you need to get explicit consent for sexual activity.

"Are you okay with this?"

> Shouldn't the victim have responsibilities? Know what is at stake?

"She was wearing a short skirt" wasn't particularly acceptable in the 1980s and, as can be seen from this thread, is not acceptable today.

Why is it so hard to understand that people initiating sexual contact need to be the ones to take responsibility? Especially if they're in a position of power over the other person?


I'll oblige you with a response.

This wasn't just "any contact". Did you read where he jammed his tongue down her throat? Did you read where he groped her ass? Did you read the part about penetrating her with his finger?

Quit trying to frame this as just "any contact" because it wasn't.


Without wading into this pointless debate, the fact that this part of the story was in the shape of bullet points does not help lift the ambiguity...

The bullet points seem to cover several minutes at least, if not a good half hour or longer. At all times she could have said "please stop now". Did she? Perhaps she did. We don't know, though. At one point she expressed surprise that her boss would do this even though he was married. Was that "please stop, you're married!" Or was it "aren't you married?"

Could be either, from this report... So the ambiguity is enough to give space to all these pointlessly angry debates.

Edit: the following links remove some ambiguity, but not a whole lot: http://theotherzach.com/writes/2013/10/9/events http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer


The lack of resistance is not a consent.


Thank you for those links.


Seeing as you are an expert on the matter: whenever I am presented in such a situation; at which point do I ask the woman for consent? Is it when she jumps on the bar and lifts her shirt or when I lick her belly button (which was why she jumped on the bar)? Before I wrap my hands around her of after I kiss her forehead?


If you are her boss, you don't do those things at all.


If you are an employee, you don't do those things near your boss.


I don't disagree, but it's hardly the point. It is far, far worse for an employer to do this sort of thing than it was for the employee to have done something inappropriate in front of her boss.

Their is a power imbalance in the employee/employer relationship, and it is almost always skewed to the employer. That's why there are unions, and workplace relations laws.


Why did she not pull away after the kiss and be done with it. It takes some time to kiss someone, reach around grab their butt then go down the pants which were likely tight fitting jeans. Just time it yourself and ask yourself if there is enough time for someone to pull away. I am not sure how you "jam" you tongue down someones throat and not have them pull away if they did not want that from you. Check your emotions for a second and read through and document all the facts and weigh them before you start making judgements.


> Did you read where he jammed his tongue down her throat?

No.

> Did you read where he groped her ass?

Yes.

> Did you read the part about penetrating her with his finger?

No.

Quit trying to sensationalize the story.


So on top of a lack of reading comprehension, we have people blaming the victim? Is it any wonder women find it hard to exist in the tech world?


You exaggerated with 1. 2 was explicitly stated. For 3, fingering does not imply penetration. What was that again about reading comprehension?

Are you implying that I blamed the victim? What was that again about reading comprehension?


He stuck his hand down the front of her pants and started fingering her. That is penetration. I don't see how you could interpret it differently.

He didn't exaggerate about him forcibly sticking his tongue down her throat. That's what she wrote. You clearly do have a reading comprehension problem!


He didn't exaggerate? You and he must have awfully long tongues! Believe me, I've tried.

Fingering may or may not involve penetration. I can't make it any clearer without being explicit.

Or, maybe I have a reading comprehension problem.


sexual penetration Sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of the victim's, defendant's, or any other person's body; emission of semen is not required.


You have a reading comprehension problem. I'd suggest you stop digging that hole any deeper.


I'll stop. I tried fingering some thick skulls. I could not penetrate.


I think I speak for many that your comment just made us all feel more stupid.


um. well. basic anatomy: fingering does imply penetration. and it is clearly sexual assault regardless.


Try reading. Here is the text you somehow entirely issued:

Following the shot:

- Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)

- Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass.

- Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating.

- Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me. I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two male bartenders hoping someone would help me.


Those all existed in her account.


"She was not raped or "sexually assaulted"..."

Did you miss the part where he penetrated her with his finger in front of everybody?


I wasn't there and can't speak of how Justine was lying on the bar (whether she was enjoying that moment) but I can read:

>Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)

So this is not uncommon. She was OK at this point. She occasionally let men kiss her forehead. Opinions may vary on the sexual implication at this point (as for her it is a social greeting).

>Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass.

Here she implies that wearing a thong allows for ass grabbing? I am uncertain whether she is okay with it due the usage of the word "thus". Seeing she had a boyfriend at that point, it should be a red flag but I don't know her standards in relationships. Could be a major red flag but could also be playing around.

>Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating.

Okay red flag all raised. She was getting kissed. Not liking it. He already had her hands on her lower section. Why did she not get off that bar? Why did she even get on that bar? Why was she still on the bar when he groped her ass? How can he possibly know her limit when she DOES allow ass grabbing and forehead kissing but DOES NOT allow full-frontal kissing?

>Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me. I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two male bartenders hoping someone would help me.

She can come up with all sorts of analogies and somehow expects people to help her out. She is not okay with the current situation. Why does she not stand up already?

>I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”

Can't you think about that before you offer your belly button to him? That you have a relationship yourself as well? You can talk but not stand up? Was he actually pushing you down?

I am not sure which part I missed. Or she. Or he. Or all of us. But I can see (read: read) what she did, expected and lived through and how it could have been easily avoided every major and minor step which can only make me say that it was her fault. Note that this has nothing to do with how she handled her experience and what it made of her, but rather how being raped or not and who's fault it is.


The parts you missed? Hmmm, how about the part where it would have been rather obvious to him that his advances were unwanted right around the part he tried to kiss her with tongue if not earlier. What about the part where it's rather difficult to get off a bar when you're drunk and there's a guy leaning over you. Then there's the part where women are under social pressure not to kick up a big fuss about this kind of thing at the time because gee "it was only a bit of fun" and they're "overreacting".

If she had some pushed him away and got off the bar, I can pretty much guarantee you we'd be seeing comments just like yours about how she was freaking out over nothing.


Let's also not forget about abuse of power. That was her boss, two levels up in the hierarchy of the company. She was shocked, and I'm sure most people can understand how awkward it is for her to have had to demand her boss stop groping her.


Can someone tell me how you put your hand down to grab someone's butt while they are laying on their back on a bar? That seems kind of difficult. I just tried it and it took me rolling someone on their side then doing it and then rolling them back to put my hand down their pants. I am just recounting the information presented to fairly run through this situation. We need to be fair to both parties if were are going to be passing judgement on people we don't know and were not at this event. We are only hearing one side of the story so that means we need to scrutinize it even more.


> Here she implies that wearing a thong allows for ass grabbing? I am uncertain whether she is okay with it due the usage of the word "thus".

You are misreading this. It doesn't mean it makes acceptable ass grabbing. It was there to make the point that my putting his hand down her pants in that manner, he was touching skin. A thong does not offer an extra layer of protection.


Just because she consented to the shot part does NOT mean she was offering anything else.

Die in a fucking fire, you victim blaming moronic waste of fucking skin. Or at the very least get the fuck out of my fucking industry so you stop giving those of us with a penis and a clue a bad name.

Fuck you.


That's a lot of ad hominem we got there. You may want to slow down a bit and take things easy.

>Just because she consented to the shot part does NOT mean she was offering anything else

"A body shot is a shot of alcohol (such as tequila) that is consumed from a person's body, usually from erogenous zones such as the navel or the breasts." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_play#Alcohol)

Reading further:

"An erogenous zone (from Greek ἔρως eros "love" and English -genous "producing" from Greek -γενής -genes "born") is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erogenous_zone)

Please take note of the part involving "sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm". She peeled her shirt up in a submissive position on a bar with lots of alcohol involved. Which part are you missing?


Your definitions are tangential to the argument. A body shot is risque, but they are not an open invitation to groping and fingering. Your point amounts to "her skirt was too short."

Before you cry out straw-man, don't. Nowhere on wikipedia does it say body shots guarantee consent to groping and fingering. The fact it occurred on her navel doesn't mean 'yes'.

By all accounts she was at least tipsy, if not outright drunk. Further, Joe was her boss at the time (i.e. position of authority). The responsibility was squarely on his shoulders to be 110% positive that his advances were welcomed. Whether he was unable to do that because he was too drunk, too excited, or didn't care does not matter. He failed in that responsibility and it is nobody's fault but his own.


So what women need to start doing is carrying guns? If a man starts touching you without your consent you shoot them, simple, right?

At any point she could have screamed, said "No" or simply stand up. Being tipsy doesn't paralyze your muscles. You can still speak and resist. If was she actively resisting anyone would have gotten between her and him much earlier and the police report would be in her favor immediately.

It is not until she feels penetrating contact, she begs him to think about his wife. In no instance before that (ass grabbing, facial kissing, tongue-to-tongue contact) she even pointed out possible resistance. How is it not her responsibility to not climb on that bar when her boss is around? To not lift her shirt in front of her boss?


pearjuice, you continue to take your arguments to ridiculous conclusions in order to justify what happened to Justine. Just fucking stop.

We aren't talking about brushing up against someone at the bar. Her fucking boss took the body shot as an invitation to sexually assault her. What's so fucking difficult to understand about that?


Maybe you can try to understand pearjuice's comments and fucking think for a while.


I think he does understand pearjuice's comments. He seems pretty appalled by them, which is pretty understandable really.


[deleted]


I'm not missing the point of pearjuice' argument. In each of his/her posts, he shifts the blame from the perpetrator (Joe) to the victim (Justine) and follows up by taking it to some weird extremes "So what women need to start doing is carrying guns? If a man starts touching you without your consent you shoot them, simple, right?" and using Wikipedia to define body shots and erogenous zones.

You do it in your post with, "why didn't she remove herself from the situation". Neither one of you question Joe's behavior...just Justine's. If you can't see that as victim blaming, then I'm not sure what else to say.


> Apparently I've reached the maximum thread depth and don't have a "reply" option to your post.

There is a built-in time limit to prevent rapid replies when threads get deep.

You can either wait a few minutes, or work out how to get the reply box.


I hope you never get accused of rape.


Same here. But it seems that it will be unlikely, given they have shown pretty clearly they understand that a. if you are the boss, don't make advances on underlings, and b. they are unlikely to make an advance until they are sure thy have communicated clearly with the other person.


Which only asserts that these guys have never been intimate with a woman. These things develop and often it is very vague when things should progress or not. When you as male are allowed to drink alcohol from a belly and allowed to kiss the fore head and wrap your arms around the suspect, at which point should you communicate? In a blink the momentum could be lost and all is left will be uncomfortable positions (she laying on the bar, Joe half on top) and awkward silence. He was passionate, she invited him because she did not actively took measures to let him know he is not welcome. It would have taken one word. "Stop". But she, intoxicated as she were, threw all her responsibilities away and expected the male in question to regulate access to her own body.

Which brings me to my final observation: at any point in time women seem to be able to give, not give but also revoke consent. For the latter: even after actions by both parties have taken place.


I'm going to repeat this yet again, in the hope it gets through to you, or someone else who might be under the strange misconception that unwanted sexual advances by a man to a woman is the personal responsibility of the woman:

If you do not have explicit consent, and you misunderstand the signals given by the woman, no matter what the perceived provocation: it is your responsibility as to what happens. Your failure to understand you've stepped over the line into the realms of sexual assault has nothing to do with the woman.

If a man gets it wrong, he cannot say that it is the fault of the woman. The woman may have given out some mixed signals, but it was the man who initiated the contact, and it was the man's responsibility and duty to ensure that the woman was ok with what is happening.


Let's set aside the fact that you've just decided to do a body shot off a colleague.

> I cannot explain to men how hard it is being a woman trying to play it cool in an industry of men. I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules. Regardless I got on the bar and lifted my shirt as far as I was comfortable.

You cite Wikipedia like it was a boolean logic kind of situation where just taking part means an invitation to anything a drunk brain can come up with.

Being drunk is not an excuse.

Sincerely, a dude who likes women


If being drunk is not an excuse why did she throw all of her responsibilities out of the window and decided to climb on that bar, lift her shirt in front of colleagues and other professionals in her field?

>I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules.

followed by "Regardless" says a lot about her sense of responsibility and ability to see what exactly she was doing, implying and portraying by lying down on that bar. Or was it the alcohol? Because certainly nobody lifted her on that bar, right? Nobody pushed her down when her boss groped her? Nobody held her mouth open when her boss sticked his tongue in? Nobody told her "your boss has all right to touch you, Justine. Stay flat, your boyfriend will never know"?


Jesus christ.

Lying down on bar - doing body shot != permission to sexually assault.


I disagree. I have never heard the term body shot before but from all wikipedia tells me, I would conside it acceptable for a man to grab a womaons ass if the woman was in a body shot. If the woman screams no that's a different this g but it didnt happen here.


I disagree

So you believe that if you do a body shot of off someone, you then have permission to sexually assault them? Wow..


People in this world do just grab peoples asses, kiss them, etc. all the time without explicit consent. Even without doing body shots.


Exactly. If someone goes as far as a body shot , I consider something like kissing very minor detail. Maybe its a cultural thing.

I see this in movies all the time. Now you guys are telling me its sexual assault.


Indeed, we are.


We call this "rape culture."


My girlfriend put her hand in my pants without asking this morning, so she's part of 'rape culture'?


I have plenty of personal interaction, thanks.

A couple is different than a married CEO and his employees. I don't feel you're arguing in good faith, so I'll leave it at that.


That's a pretty sick position to take. You think it is ok to sexually assault someone if they allow body shots on a bar?


If her complaint was that the bodyshot itself constituted sexual assault, sure. Otherwise your argument is literally no different than "she was wearing a short skirt and therefore deserved it."


I'm sitting here, toiling away on HN, happy in the fact that I'd seen it all. Then I read your comment.

You couldn't possibly be using Wikipedia as a justification for sexual assault, could you?


She agreed to the body shot and nothing else. There's no consent for other things. Body shot is not a 'gateway drug' to sexual assaults.


Consent is almost always just implied, not explicit.

I'm in no way defending him or his actions, but it's understandable how an intoxicated guy (therefore less able to read subtle body language signals) could think an act of foreplay like licking alcohol from her body was a way of consenting to further sexual advances.


I could maybe accept this argument if he tried to advance things, and stopped when it was clear she wasn't reciprocating. There's a sexual element to a body shot, and there's really no use denying that fact.

But when you kiss someone, and they fail to reciprocate, and certainly when someone tells you to stop, you've clearly crossed a line. In my mind, there's absolutely no room for grey area in this from the point she said "stop".


Her post is light on details, so it's hard to decipher how Joe perceived the situation.

> But when you kiss someone, and they fail to reciprocate...

It's likely that he didn't notice her not reciprocating the kiss. He might also have though she was just a bit shy or simply a bad kisser.

> In my mind, there's absolutely no room for grey area in this from the point she said "stop".

Agreed, no doubt about it. However, this is what she wrote:

"I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”"

There's a massive difference between "Stop, I don't want this" and "Stop, we shouldn't do this because you have a wife and kids". It seems to me like Joe though she meant it the second way.

This whole story seems like a tragic case of serious miscommunication between two intoxicated people, not a vile act of evil.


Exactly, I does not look to be a vile act but still a bad decision on Joe's part. If someone said no by referencing wife and kids, that would "imply" they actual would do it but that have a moral objection to the person's relationship status. NO MEANS NO when you say NO or STOP. Many of you are being self-righteous by vilifying this person and then when anyone brings up reasonable doubt, you attack the person or worse then addressing reasonable questions like why didn't she just walk away or clearly say STOP or NO. Instead I see people absolving Justine from any PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for her ACTIONS or LACK THEREOF.


I don't see why it should matter what justification she gives for why he should stop, someone saying "stop" is clearly unhappy and uncomfortable with the situation. Saying that it's ok that he 'misunderstood' her because she gave a reason that meant nothing to him denies her agency.

Ignoring that she was clearly uncomfortable with everything about the situation, even if she were merely uncomfortable with making out with a married man this would be more than enough reason for her to say stop and expect him to not continue.

The fundamental problem with this kind of equivocation, though, is that in a scary as fuck situation people do what they can to get out and sometimes they can't figure out the right thing to do in the split second between someone kissing them and shoving their finger in their genitals.


Aside from the fact he was married, drunk and her boss...

The problem with not getting explicit consent is that the other party may not be comfortable with your advances. If you misinterpret the signals, well, I'm sorry - that's your issue, not the other parties. If you mix up the signals as you haven't communicated sufficiently with the other party, then I'm afraid you are still responsible for your actions.

Personally, I've never been bold enough to be so forthright to a woman. Now I'm married, I'm glad I never was! This sort of situation seems to me to be an absolute minefield and you are highly at risk of getting it wrong!

I honestly feel no sympathy for this Joe fellow. He should never have placed himself in this situation, and he should never have attempted the things he did until he had the chance to properly know whether he got consent or not. You are NOT going to find that out clearly at a rowdy bar surrounded by colleagues and party-goers.


A body shot is not a foreplay to anything. If you need reference, go ask any university party goers.


You're forgetting that they pressured her to do it. So, socially pressure someone into doing something sexually submissive = she's fair game to go further?

Yeah. That's sick.


She should of just gotten up from the bar. From how the story reads, I don't think she was laying down at that point so she had the opportunity to walk away. 4 separate acts happened and by her account 3 were unwanted. How many does it take for someone to just remove themselves from the situation? How many?


They physically assaulted her and pinned her down on the bar? What I have read translates to her being an independent woman who voluntarily rolled her shirt up and decided to climb on the bar.


> Just because she consented to the shot part does NOT mean she was offering anything else.

This part a lot of people can agree with, myself included. The rest, not so much. I understand and I share the sense that pearjuice's opinion is aggravating, but this reaction is not acceptable and, worse, it sabotages your (valid) point.

By the way, if you really want to hate someone, go search the comments of the article for "Peter Habicht".


Words to the effect of "she was asking for it" are uncivilised and to my mind an uncivil response is at that point not just acceptable but important.

I had two points there - the first was that pearjuice was plain wrong. The second was that pearjuice's attitude does not belong in civilised society and that anybody holding such an attitude should be defenestrated with extreme prejudice.

I respect your opinion that my chosen means of attempting to make the second point were suboptimal, but I am happy to stand by my words with the possible exception of 'moronic', which might have been better replaced by 'abhorrent'.


I don't think anyone is suggesting that she was asking for it. However, from the report it is ambiguous whether she clearly stated "no" at any point (reminding him he's married may have been a clear no statement, but we don't know for sure). Unfortunately this ambiguity is giving rise to the arguments above.

I am civilised. I think that your attitude (suggesting that someone whose opinion differs from yours should be killed by throwing them out of a window) is far less suitable to civilised society than pearjuice's, who is arguing a contentious and sensitive point, and may be wrong, but is at least willing to do so without calling people names or threatening to harm them physically.

Your behaviour, however, is completely unacceptable. What's your excuse for it? Do you also beat up things and people around you physically when you get upset, or does your violence remain verbal only?


The sort of victim blaming attitude shown by their comments helps to perpetuate social constructs that enable a substantial amount of physical harm.

Additionally, "they hadn't said no" is not a justification for putting your hand inside somebody's trousers.

Trying to paint an obvious failure of basic consent as ambiguous is, to my mind, at the very least "maybe she was asking for it", which I find no less unpleasant.

As such, I think perhaps our definitions of "civilised" differ.


It's easy to be civil with those you agree with. A gentleman is a gentleman even in the gutter. It's when faced with those whose opinion is abhorrent to you that you get to show that you're civilised.


> I had two points there - the first was that pearjuice was plain wrong. The second was that pearjuice's attitude does not belong in civilised society and that anybody holding such an attitude should be defenestrated with extreme prejudice.

I agree with you completely on that point. People like pearjuice do not belong in our civilised society. Seeing pearjuice victim blame is disgusting, and he should be taught a lesson in humility and empathy.

I suggest we make him sew a yellow pear on his clothes, and send him to a empathy training camp.


Ad hominem is really a problematic point on HN and it seems to be rewarded by these inner social circles. It is truly demotivating.


this.


Unmitigated bullshit.

> However, the response of Justine matches ancient societal expectations: if a woman has been violated, she loses all value.

"The response of Justine matches" (be more pretentious) the response of someone who has experienced extreme violation of trust by a close friend who was also an authority figure. If you like, invent a hypothetical scenario that involves public humiliation and violation of trust and all the rest and no sexuality whatsoever and a person might be equally traumatized.

It's interesting that you recommended she see a therapist. As with all the well intentioned advice she's getting as a result of posting this, it's certainly a possibility that has occurred to her and has been recommended by those close to her.


This is why many reasonable people simply do not like to talk about sexual assault, on here or in real life. It seems to cause people to default to a position where you must adopt one view (i.e. theirs) to the exclusion of all others. If you talk about the effects societal norms have on victims, or on strategies to navigate a misogynistic world, people will accuse you of "victim blaming". On the other hand there are people (like antirez, in this baffling post that went highly upvoted on HN a while back: http://oldblog.antirez.com/post/different-take-sexism-it.htm...) who think trying to understand the precarious position women in tech--or other boys' clubs--or heck, the whole world--live in is, in and of itself, misogynist. Talking in a reasonable, realistic, yet understanding way becomes impossible, and people are afraid of taking the slightest ideological risk lest they slotted in on some "side" belonging to one of many unreasonable positions. For many people this is uncomfortable even if they are on the "right" side! And they won't tell you how they feel either because that's just as dangerous. So the topvoted discussion is, invariably, angry nerds misrepresenting each other with a lot of insults thrown in.

Eventually one exclusive view gets upvoted to the top, and the thread is forgotten and life goes on, then another thread happens and maybe the same view dominates or maybe a different one does. How unenlightening. It's why I never take a position in these threads except maybe to offer pretentious meta-analysis, like I'm doing right now.


The two of you are doing two things at the same time.

First, you're having an intellectually legitimate debate that's probably revealing some good counter points and offering valid, alternative perspectives on the broader issue.

Second, you're continuing a cold argument devoid of any (productive) empathy in lieu of passionate, scientific rigor.

This is not what this post needs. Let it go, guys. Neither of you is going to convince anyone meaningfully. The issue is polarizing enough as it is. This is a situation that calls for empathy and support, and the interchange of ideas that won't put other people off of listening to each other in an open way.

I don't mean to be self-righteous, but this is a community somewhat known for entering into page-length tangential debates -- that would be detrimental to the subject at hand.


* This is a situation that calls for empathy and support, and the interchange of ideas that won't put other people off of listening to each other in an open way.*

... and HN is the place for that to happen! ;)


My comment wasn't in the spirit of cold argument at all. I found Confusion's comment genuinely offensive. And yes, overly intellectualizing.

edit: I don't care about cynicalkane's comment enough to puzzle out what he means. No offense to cynicalkane intended. :)


You now perpetuate the myth that what happened to Justine should necessarily have such an extreme influence on her life. I say: no, this is not the "response of someone who has experienced extreme violation of trust". This is a "response of someone who has experienced extreme violation of trust". It is only the response of someone with a certain nature and nurture. It is an understandable response and Justine is not to blame for it at all. That doesn't mean it can't be changed. If it can be changed, that doesn't mean she was being overdramatic in the first place, or some such nonsense. Those kinds of thoughts are exactly the kinds of implicit beliefs I'm pointing to and the kinds of thoughts that e.g. prevent someone from searching help: they are afraid that when they are helped, they are exposed for the frauds they feel like.

You don't wonder why such an event would have one effect on one person, another effect on another person and whether perhaps things could be changed so Justine suffers less? I suggest that this strongly depends on what the person believes and that this can be changed, so her life changes for the better.

I suggest a therapist because I have firsthand experience with needing help to change my beliefs about the world.


Although I respect the point you're trying to make, it's only a part of the problem, by far not the entire problem.

And what I find borderline offensive is that you completely ignore the fact that the company pretty much swept the whole incident under the rug.

This in my opinion has had a much more immediate effect on the victim's sense of self worth than any deeper cultural issue.

Basically she was given to believe that what happened to her wasn't that big a deal, and since she clearly experienced it very differently, indirectly she was told she didn't have much value.


You can't address every possible point from every possible opinion in every post.

I find it borderline offensive that you find it borderline offensive that the GP missed out on the point you wanted to make while making other valid points. Respectfully, of course.


To me, it seems an order of magnitude more important to fire the person than to publicly acknowledge his wrongdoing. I would be extremely upset if they had done it the other way around, so I don't think this counts as sweeping it under the rug.

Do you think the public acknowledgement is more important than the firing? Is the problem that they were only 80% behind her instead of 100%? Is it something else? I really want to understand your position.


False dichotomy. Not either-or. Both.


They fired him.

They appear to have provided support to her.

She could go to the police and file a report. It's traumatic, and unlikely to have any effect.

But it is not possible for the firm to say "We sacked Bob because he sexually assaulted one of our staff".


"But it is not possible for the firm to say "We sacked Bob because he sexually assaulted one of our staff"."

Why not? The event in question happened in a public setting, while her boss was acting in something of an official capacity (it was a work related event). To me, that demands a public acknowledgement and treatment of what happened.


They leave themselves open to law suits. He hasn't been questioned by police, nor arrested, nor tried, nor convicted.

Innocent until proven guilty is a firm principle.

Accusing someone of a sex crime will have very serious consequences for that person.

She has said that she doesn't want to involve legal processes. When the company publicly says that he assaulted her they force the legal processes to start - either he sues for defamation or police get involved.


I didn't make a false dichotomy. Read my post again. I think the firing was about 90% of what they should have done. Do you disagree with that?

'Swept under the rug', to me, sounds like doing close to 0%.


Just re-read your comment and you're right, you didn't make a false dichotomy. But it is easy for a moron (like me) to take your comment and turn it into false dichotomy. Sorry about that.

I will say, though, that I really don't like assigning percentages because I think they fit the situation poorly.

In my opinion, the company should have done two discreet things: fire the guy and address why he was fired (see my comment to other responder for why they should address the firing). Assigning percentages to these to represent their respective importance is not very useful; they are both past the threshold of Very Important. Therefore, they should both get done.


And she had to return to that job without any reason to believe that they would offer any support.


I can appreciate your sentiment, and we absolutely do not want to encourage the 'fragile women' meme. It certainly plays a role. However, it's only one component, and I think you may be putting a bit too much weight on it. A loss of bodily autonomy is psychologically harmful, regardless of societal expectations.


Yes, it is psychologically harmful regardless of societal expectations, like a punch in the face is physically harmful. However, I read your emphasis on this as implying agreement with the common idea that it is irreparable and should have lasting consequences for someones mind, which is something I strongly disagree with.

I'm putting much weight on it because of two reasons. The first is that the only way Justine is going to be happy again is by dealing with what happened in a different way. The current way obviously isn't working: she's being selfdestructive. The only way I've seen work is having people change their assumptions and beliefs, generally taking up beliefs not shared by 'society'. I'm strongly channeling Nietzsche here: society has a vested interest in making the individual feel weak, powerless, insignificant and it is ruthless and cruel in the ways in which it achieves it. The second is that I believe preventing these things from happening is hard and that they will keep happening for a long time to come, no matter how hard we try. The 'prevent this' angle is covered well by many others, but the 'prevent these things from having such a strong impact' isn't. I believe it is a damn waste that so many people are made to believe they are weak, worthless, insignificant, guilty, for whatever reason, due to whatever history. I believe Justine is a prime example of what is wrong on this front. One incident had enough power to completely change who she feels she is, how she should behave, what she represents. This one incident has taken over everything. Why can it have this power? Because we allow it to have this power. And we are responsible for taking that power away!


Amen. It's something most of us here (to generalise) as straight middle class males will likely never experience. I struggled with how to help when my ex-girlfriend was assaulted. I still am unsure on the "right" thing to do, other than support and empathise.


No, that is not a deeper problem. It may be a problem, but it is minor compared to the fact that there are vast numbers of people who think that sexually assaulting people is okay.

Different brains respond to severe emotional trauma in different ways.

I urge you to spend some time with smart people with PTSD. Collect some data and evolve your beliefs.


> sexually assaulting people

The problem is that what is considered "sexually assaulting people" is relative to one's culture, education, religion, etc.

In ancient China just the bare foot of a girl was the most intimate thing you could imagine, something a husband will never get from his wife. In Tang dynasty apparently showing breasts was considered normal.

Right now in France saying "my dear" (ma chérie) when addressing to a colleague is a bit borderline but "you look pretty today" is ok (while not 100% innocent). Maybe it is the opposite in the US?

There is also this story (is it true?) of African students coming to France in the 70ties and raping girls who accepted to come to their room: in their original culture a girl who accept to go the room of a boy already accepted to make love, and the "no! please, no!" thing is a gameplay.

Not to talk about how things are in Japan...

I am not sure the current most common definition of the limit between laughing together and "sexual assault" in the USA is the best one and should be used as a worldwide norm. I would bet against it actually.


> The problem is that what is considered "sexually assaulting people" is relative to one's culture, education, religion, etc.

This is why we have laws. And the assault didn't happen 'worldwide,' it happened in the USA. So the definition is not really ambiguous.


But laws, while necessary, are very inefficient at avoiding bad behaviors. If I don't steal my neighbors or assault girls, it is not chiefly because it is forbidden by laws, it is because I would feel ashamed of myself.

Edit: what I mean is that using the self esteem, sense of honor, education, all these old things might prove more efficient than laws, and maybe especially in problems related to disrespect of women.


Agreed, I only mean that 'yeah but how do you define sexual assault?' has a clear answer.


Not to mention, the offender lives in the same culture that defines what he did as sexual assault. The argument, to my mind is a little specious.


Calling complete bullshit on you for "vast numbers of people who thing sexually assaulting people is okay". Either your definition of sexual assault is much different that standard usage, or you hang out with deplorable people.

Edit: What did you hope to accomplish in your response?

Edit 2: Also, perhaps instead you could educate us what it is we could learn by hanging out with smart people with PTSD. Since not all of us have the opportunity to meet people in that situation, maybe you could share a bit about the experience and what you learned.



A bit.ly link to a Let Me Google That For You for rape statistics in the U.S.? That's your contribution? Seriously?


He said:

> Either your definition of sexual assault is much different that standard usage, or you hang out with deplorable people.

I was demonstrating that he was wrong.


Try demonstrating differently next time. Incidentally, if you want the definition of sexual assault, then searching for sexual assault statistics seems to be an unusual search criteria.


I don't think it is a given that brains simply are different and that emotional trauma, once contracted, is unchangeable. Humans have the capacity to change the function of their brains (even the physical layout of their brains, as recovery after brain damage shows), both to reduce the chance of developing PTSD and to address PTSD after getting it. Although the second is most relevant here, what I described may have more influence on the first.

Take a look at the list of factors that influence whether you will develop PTSD [1]. Take the 1st factor: why does being female increase the chance of developing PTSD? Because of physical differences in the brain? Surely, but certainly also because of the different beliefs females grow up to hold. What it means to be female is not just a question of physiology (according to some, physiology doesn't even enter into it). One way in which people with PTSD are counselled, is by changing the way they perceive themselves, which includes what it means to be 'female'. Take the 4th factor: having other mental health problems. Why does a person have those in the first place? Again, there are undoubtedly genetic factors, but at least an equal amount is due to 'nurture', which can be addressed by further nurture.

Reducing the number of people who commit sexual assault is the only way to get rid of the problem at all. However, I don't have high hopes for that in the short run, because you're appealing to empathic and rational thought, while sexual assault happens in circumstances in which those kinds of thought are put on the backburner by the perpetrator (because of alcohol or simply because he's a opath). I'm a pragmatist: I agree people shouldn't be sexually assaulted, but given that people are* being sexually assaulted and will keep being sexually assaulted for decades to come, I think we should also focus on helping victims in better ways. And the best help for them is to have a set of beliefs that cause you not to be devastated by such an event in the first place.

I admit all my knowledge of PTSD is third hand. I hope it stays that way. Nevertheless, I don't think I'm disqualified from making statements about things with which I do have first hand experience, such as changing your beliefs contrary to societal expectations, to increase your happiness in life.

What data concerning 'smart people with PTSD' do you believe I am missing?

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disor...


I can't believe I'm reading this here. What if some other assault happened, you got kicked in the guts by your boss while everyone around you just stood there and didn't do anything about it? I know I'd be quite upset. That man had absolutely no right to do what he did and you can't blame the victim for getting upset about it.


I'm blaming society for the victim being upset to the extent she currently is and I'm suggesting a way to change it. I'm not blaming her for being upset at all, I'm merely suggesting a way for her to become less upset.

If someone breaks your leg, but you don't go to a doctor and complain about the extreme pain it causes you, am I then blaming you for the broken leg if I tell you that you I think you could suffer less by having it set and cast?


When someone is raped, we say we understand that her life is shattered, that she will never recover. It's part of a general acceptance that certain events mean someone's life is 'over' (death of a child, significant other) and that they may never recover. This acceptance implies expectation. Stronger women are questioned, seemingly admiringly, but actually judgingly: 'How can you just continue living after this?' with a hidden 'you are supposed to have broken!'.

Psychological research does suggest that self-talk and future expectation has an enormous influence on experienced outcomes.

In other words, it is extremely unhelpful for a person who experienced an adverse event to anticipate trauma and my life will never be the same and suffering.

Trauma may happen. It may not. Time will tell.


Sorry, but this post is 100% baseless supposition. If you haven't studied the causes of PTSD or the results of sexual assault you're not really in a position to comment on it. I see this kind of post all the time on tech websites, where people think that the causes of human (or animal) behaviour is simple, because they haven't exposed themselves to enough information to know any better.

I think you should probably delete this post, I can see it doing more harm than anything.


> 'gay' and 'faggot' are still a word used by virtually everyone to put things down as 'unmanly' or generally 'shameworthy'

The fact you think "virtually everyone" does that certainly says a lot about you and the type of people you spend time with.


You're trying to blame the victim, which is troublingly common when someone has been raped or sexually harassed but it is never the right response. It is traumatising when these things happen, it is personally demeaning and it is never acceptable.

Justine is brave for coming forward and we should encourage everyone in a similar situation to do the same and support them when they do.

The deeper cultural problem here is that your comment has been voted to the top.


I don't see how you can interpret my post as blaming the victim. I'm blaming society for the extreme damage the crime has done to her and I propose ways to mitigate some of the damage.

I'm not addressing the perpetrator at all, because he's obviously guilty of a crime. That doesn't change anything about the fact that we can mitigate the results of the crime.


It's absolutely still victim blaming, though thinly veiled under the guise of societal expectations being the reason for her supposedly blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Even if you pretend to be blaming society as the main culprit, your argument still essentially boils down to "it's not that bad, deal with it" and there is no denying this. I'm not saying there isn't any validity to your original argument, but don't back off and act like you're not saying that it's her failure to psychologically cope and deal with it that is causing all of this suffering. I've never had any person close to me experience sexual assault, but to argue that it's a societal problem and to imply that it's less psychologically traumatizing than it actually is is a dangerous argument to make without any kind of experience or knowledge of the actual psychological impact.

The solution isn't to make society believe that it's not a big deal, and that people are expected to make a timely recovery. I feel like this would lead to even more victim blaming and even more self hatred for those who don't meet the societal expectations of quick recovery. The proper message isn't "you should get over it quickly", but instead "you CAN get your life back"... and unless I'm mistaken, I believe this is what people helping those with rape try to teach the victims to believe.


Its easy to interpret it that way when do not read the comment.


I am unable to understand how a long post about how "societal expectations makes the suffering of the victims even worse than it might otherwise be" is anything except sympathetic towards the victim.

If you're seeing blaming in it, please do explain why since I'm as confused as the OP was.


We blame the victim all the time. Many alcoholic, drunk driver, bad-at-their-job people would rather not be like that but they're suffering some kind of severe emotional trouble and don't have the willpower to overcome it, much like this girl. They still get fired and charged with DUI regardless.


"Blaming the victim" means suggesting that the victim of a crime perpetrated by another was not the fault of the person who committed the crime, but rather their fault is somehow absolved by the actions of the victim. This is considered a terrible thing to do because it completely removes the victim's right to NOT be a victim.


If the victim actually, definitely and factually is partly to be blamed, why cannot the victim be blamed? Or do you disallow facts to be said? (This comment is general and doesn't make claims about this particular case).


Because then they are no longer the victim?


Very good post, right on. I'm a woman, dealt with a number of more unpleasant situations, but wouldn't accept my life shuttered because somebody told me so. It's only beneficial for drama queens/kings, while naive people are thrown into the state of helplessness and hysteria without even realizing it. It's totally the opposite to the women empowerment, the one we want.

I would add 2 things - according to his (now removed, but still available in wayback machine) blog http://web.archive.org/web/20130923014010/http://objo.com/ Joe O'Brian wrote that he was looking for professional help with mental issues or such in June 2013 (substance abuse? a rehab?). So, now the internet is lynching a sick person who already realized a problem and was seeking help? How nice. While the other side blames her drinking problems on the society and "male industry" (how childish).

Second, having dealt with drunk men myself (no drugs or guns involved, just alcohol - like in the story). A slap in the face usually works very well to help him keep his hands to himself. If it still doesn't work, a good smash in the face and moving away works even better. Unless, a lady gets so plastered that she can't move or use her brain, or she's a damsel in distress type. Then her life was ruined long before somebody put a hand into her pants.


to everything bad that happens - the most beneficial thing to do is say "big deal, life moves on". On the case of sexual assault, it is politically incorrect to say it, and you will be considered a pro-rape chovinist ape.


Some, wrong, people say "she" (not always a woman, mind you) had her life shattered. Other people talk about the potential harm while balancing it against resilience and community support in the face of unconscionable violence, without diminishing nor further victimizing the survivor.

It not okay to tell rape survivors that they are weak or wrong for having experienced their assault, their great betrayal in public as a negative and traumatic event. Instead, we need to blame rapists, over and over again, and dismantle rape myths, and offer survivors the support they ask for, not the support you decide they need.


Yes, my first impression is that she's very fragile and passive. "Assault" is a too strong word if the guy let her go when she left for a smoke. And why didn't she punch the aggressor? Friends can be punched too. Saying "no" isn't enough to claim she resisted. If someone uses his physical force against us, we're not supposed to just say "please stop" as if the guy were respectful enough to obey. And she went back to work for him? The girl doesn't know how to survive in a tough world.


I am very sad to read this comment. Instead of writing ten paragraphs, I'll just try to write a little story:

Imagine you are in a building that has suddenly started to shake violently - and in slow motion you realize that this is your first earthquake, you are in a place without good building codes, and this area is capable of intensely destructive earthquakes - you may panic, feel a huge wave of paralyzing confusion, feel your brain flood with adrenaline, forget all your rational thoughts and fall down in shock as shattered glass falls on you and hurts you. Then a friend (who was in a stronger part of the building and didn't panic) finds you and helps you out of the shaking building. Later a person asks - why didn't you just duck under the table? Only idiots get hurt in earthquakes.

Here is also an article that addresses the long list of problems with "why didn't she punch him": http://adainitiative.org/2013/08/why-dont-you-just-hit-him-t...


Ideally we'd have a world in which everything happened in the same way up until the moment he french-kissed her. Then she would indeed have punched him and said "you crossed the line". He would say "sorry, my alcohol-infused mind judged the situation wrongly, I should not have done that and will not do it next time". In this ideal world, he'd mean that. Everyone would accept the miscalculation and everyone would get on with their lives, without anyone holding anything against anyone else.

You know why the world isn't like that? Because of beliefs and expectations.

You are judging this situation in the abstract and in hindsight. That is pointless and leads to callous conclusions that do not do justice to the complexity of these situations. It lacks empathy and respect for the complexity of the situation and differences between people. Try to imagine the scene, the days leading up to it, put yourself in the shoes of a woman, imagine the beliefs she has about how she should behave, how others will behave, about what is expected of her. The situation becomes complex, muddy: so many variables to consider! As someone else said: put yourself in a gay bar, with a score of gay colleagues, including your boss, and this happens to you. What if you worked in a larger company? What if the company was in bad weather and perhaps people need to be let go? So many variables!


> And why didn't she punch the aggressor?

She was in shock.

> Saying "no" isn't enough to claim she resisted.

Why does it matter if she resisted? Is it not rape if you don't resist?


It was totally an aggression. My point is that she hadn't learn to live in a world where aggressions happen (capitalism maintains most of humanity in poverty, how surprising is it that this world is tough?). She shouldn't have been in shock, she should totally have resisted physically (in this context, sometimes resisting is dangerous) and she should have felt nothing but anger afterwards. Instead we had the story of a little bird who went out of her parent's nest for the first time and got hurt. You can't afford to be fragile and passive if you were born in a battlefield. Children shouldn't just be protected from the violence, they should be trained to survive it. Maybe schools should teach martial arts instead of volleyball.


easy for you to say


Regardless of shock or not, it was her responsibility to pull away and not let it go any further. Maybe she was really drunk and it didn't hit her that this was happening. Yes unwanted sexual contact happened but to make her as a pure victim is passing judgement on Joe with even asking him his side or any of the witnesses. Yes bad things happened but it is not this clear cut and one-sided. Sorry to break it to you.


Why are you talking about rape? I thought rape required penetrative sex, this is a sexual assault isn't it?


> Is it not rape if you don't resist?

It's not rape if the other person has no way of telling that you want them to stop.


So if someone starts fingering a random girl in public and she freezes in shock and fear, it's not sexual assault because she couldn't gather her wits in time to resist? Because that's what happened.


I know we're all programmers here but stop trying to build rules and logic around this. We all (should) have the common sense to understand when something is rape and when something is not. There is no trigger, there is no conditional, there is no callback, it just is and people who fail to understand this make me sick.

A number of people's lives have been forever changed by the recently surfaced actions and instead of focusing on the "what ifs" and the hypothetical situations we focus on fixing the underlying problems within our community.


There is an extremely simple logical construct surrounding this: consent is not the default state of the other party.

What is not easy to understand is how people don't understand this. :\


It's not rape if the other person has no way of telling that you want them to stop.

The fact that you committed this sentence to HN boggles my mind.


This would condone drugging your victim and is obviously and dangerously wrong.


Yes, obviously that is an important exception, which doesn't change the fact that the statement is generally correct.


I think you've forgotten that alcohol is such a drug that makes it harder to resist. It doesn't matter why the drug is in your system. So this situation goes back to the rape category.


No, it highlights the fact that what you have said is not correct, and a court of law would show you to be wrong.


It highlights the fact that you are being far too general about when rape is allowed.


Or the fact that you are being far too general about what is rape.


Guess which of us that makes more likely to be morally right about this issue. I'll save you the trouble; it's me. If you are wrong about what is not rape, you've raped somebody. It's not hard to get clear consent.


Ah, that's all that matters here, isn't it? that you are morally right and have no doubts about it. It's nice if one can make the world so simple.


Yes, actually, I don't have any doubts about it. I'm removing the capacity for doubt by being responsibly cautious. That's my responsibility. That's our responsibility. It's not even remotely fantasy to consider this.


No, it's still rape.


> Saying "no" isn't enough to claim she resisted.

Yes it is. In fact, not saying "yes" is enough.


> not saying "yes" is enough.

No, it's not.


...yes, it is. Of course it's not as simple as saying "yes" or "no" in real life, but the point is that if a person is communicating something less than an obvious yes - for example, if a person is unusually quiet, has closed-off body language, isn't reciprocating, is hesitant, or seems uncomfortable - then the other person needs to stop and check in to find out what's going on. The uncomfortable person doesn't need to verbally say "no".

This article has a reasonably helpful explanation of consent and "yes" and "no": http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/03/enthusiastic-consent/


That article makes some good points but ultimately describes a fantasy world (that I would like to live in!) in which women are not hesitant to unambiguously initiate romantic relationships and sex and then unilaterally places the burden on men to act as if that were the world we live in and risk being called rapists if they don't.

It really a lot like victim blaming.


That article's explanation of consent easily supports a world where a lot of women hesitate to unambiguously initiate romantic relationships and sex. For example, the partner can listen to her hints, ask to confirm that his guess is correct, proceed when she gives him a reasonably clear confirmation, and keep his eyes open for signs that he made a mistake. It's about paying attention.

And the article explains that the burden isn't unilaterally on men - that men also benefit from partners who care about consent:

> Consent is not just about what you aren’t willing to do, it’s about being willing to talk, to communicate openly and without reservation with your partner about how they feel and how you feel. It can be intimidating, especially for guys, to take ownership of their feelings about sex, especially if they don’t want to have it. Many men feel that they have to have sex, even when they’re not comfortable with it, because they’re men and that’s what men do so they have to suck it up. There will be times that men will feel pressured, even coerced, just as women do.


If she'd punched her aggressor, people would instead be complaining about how she overreacted, and how their first impressions are that she's very hostile and aggressive, and she should just have said no again more firmly (I can remember this happening before). Female rape and sexual assault victims basically can't win no matter what they do.


How about a compromise, walk away. Pull away. Or clearly say Stop it or No. All those would of worked just fine. What I am saying is that a victim usually has no alternatives when they are victimized. From her own account, she had the ability to exercise any of the items listed above to remove herself from this situation.


Here's a compromise. Don't sexually assault people.


I'd be ok with that but he was her employer. She's in a really tough position. If it was a co-worker, it'd be a different conversation imo.


> Saying "no" isn't enough to claim she resisted.

Actually yes, yes it is enough you sick, perverted fuck. "No means no" isn't just a slogan, and it isn't "No, along with some physical resistance means no".


This point wouldn't be made if there wasn't an underlying feeling that she shouldn't be making such a big deal out of it.

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