Don't you see how incredibly patronizing this discussion is towards the people it's supposedly benefiting?
Which do you think is more offensive: a comment that slightly gets under your skin, or someone questioning your ability to handle a comment that gets slightly under your skin?
Isn't the whole point of feminism that we treat women like normal fully functional adults that can stick up for themselves? I'm not a feminist, but how does shit like this help their cause?
I do understand the point you're aiming for here. But when the premise of your objection is so explicitly at odds with my actual words, it might be a good idea to ask yourself whether you really understand the point that I'm trying to make. (And not entirely succeeding in making, clearly!)
The biggest problem with your objection, to my eye, is that you're only talking about this as one isolated joke, while I'm trying to consider it as part of a broader pattern. The really frustrating part of this discussion, for me, is that I already made exactly that clarification to you (in more detail) nine hours ago in this same thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7122412). You didn't address that point then, and in writing what you have here you make it clear that it's still not something you're thinking about.
The pattern is the point. The cumulative impact of culture is the point. It's not calling women fragile to say that a lot of them get awfully sick of being peppered with these little signals of not-belonging hour after hour, day after day. Some may be fine with it, but many others clearly aren't. So why is it controversial to say "Ok, let's not do that"?
There are many ways to signal not-belonging. For example, conversations like this one send a signal of not belonging to people who are culturally lower-middle class (hypersensitive political correctness is a social signal of upper-middle class liberal types). I imagine a similar signal is sent to brogrammers.
It also sends a signal of not belonging to those who have been bullied by politically correct sorts. See Scott Alexander for further thoughts on this: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/01/12/a-response-to-apophemi-...
It is clearly impossible to shield everyone from signals they do not belong, particularly from signals as subtle and tangential as the ones you are advocating against. So why do you single out women for protection on this ground?
Note: much like women, lower-middle class people are underrepresented in computing. So underrepresentation can't be the reason.
We shouldn't tolerate ignorance, just because it's the lowest common denominator, exhibited by some people from the lower-middle class, as you put it. It's the world views behind ignorance that are most damaging, and I think the wealthier classes are probably just as guilty as the lower classes there, even if they can hide it behind gentility.
I think it's a lot different to ask people to adapt to a culture of mutual respect than to ask a woman to adapt to a locker room bro culture.
But that said, I think this argument (paraphrased: "This conversation excludes me, how is that better?") ultimately boils down to the same kind of protest that an anti-gay person often makes as a last resort: "you preach tolerance, why can't you be tolerant to my anti-gay point of view?" (Just to be clear, I am not calling anyone here anti-gay or anti-woman, it's just an analogy, which I will explain).
The overriding concern is that we take seriously people's experiences about what makes them feel excluded or unwelcome (and not just women). In other words, it's important that we are not dismissive of people's feelings or experiences. But the one thing we must be dismissive of is people's efforts to justify dismissiveness.
For anyone who thinks that being exclusive is no big deal, it is important that we stand up and be clear that it is important, because that's the only way for the group as a whole to truly be welcoming to the out-groups. Just as we must stand up to overt anti-gay intolerance, we must stand up to more subtle signaling when it is common and pervasive.
I don't believe that the people who made this program had any bad intentions, and I'm not meaning in any way to criticize or judge them. If they are made aware of the issue and don't think it matters at first, I can still find compassion because it can take a while to really become aware of why this is important. But even in feeling compassionate, it is still important that those of us who have come to appreciate this issue stand up and say why we think actions like this are harmful.
One final thought: communication "in the large" has different standards than communication with close friends or family. There would be nothing wrong with a joke like this between good friends or family, for several reasons:
1. within a close friend/family group, everyone is already part of the in-group
2. within a close friend/family group, mutual concern for each other is already established, and a person who has concerns has ways of voicing them and a reasonable expectation that those concerns will be taken seriously.
3. people within a close friend/family group know each other well enough to know how certain comments are intended; the potential for misinterpreting things is much lower.
Some of the things my close friends joke around about could sound horrifying and totally inappropriate to people outside our group, but all of us know what we mean by it and are cool with it. As long as we keep that to ourselves it doesn't matter. But with messaging that will reach a large group of people, it's a totally different story.
This is much longer than I intended or anticipated, sorry about that.
Then the question becomes whether the opinions of the superficial (masses) matters. Yes and no. For a mass market product intended for their consumption it's a bad idea to induce even righteously indignant offense, no matter how contrite. No in the more rational existential sense because it's pointless to pander to the bottomless pit of human stupidity. Que example of watering down science just because the anti-science crowd will never get it.