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An open letter on feminism in tech (modelviewculture.com)
239 points by steveklabnik on May 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 316 comments

I appreciate the authors taking the time to write this (unfortunately this HN comment page emphasizes the uphill climb ahead). But there's one thing in particular I, selfishly, appreciated them addressing:

"Does this mean we’re going to get angry at you if you try to help and get it wrong?"

This fear was something that kept me from speaking out for many years. I'm a guy in tech and I want to see change occur but I'm ignorant about these things. I don't truly understand the challenges that women face in our industry. And because I'm relatively ignorant, I worry that I might say something that was intended as supportive but winds up contributing to the problem: white-knighting, disempowering, calling attention to something that the person affected wanted to leave alone.

Personally, I've come to terms that I'm going to try my best and risk screwing up occasionally. It's scary but I think it's better than the alternative of sitting by and doing nothing. But it makes me feel a lot better to hear that I'm not alone in worrying about this.

Compare that with http://jacobian.org/writing/what-can-men-do/ , which is linked to in the OP in which he criticizes Jeff Atwood for doing it wrong. So wrong that he won't even link to him, even though he acknowledges that his intentions are good.

Edited to fix pronoun.

I assumed that was a dig at Jeff Atwood, who initially refused to link to Shanley's piece on the grounds that it was hateful.

That isn't actually what he said, and this is the sort of thing that hurts relations rather than helps them.

What he said is that he doesn't link to Shanley in general because all of her stuff is so vitriolic. He then went on to post links to twitter posts of her's showing where she has been extremely vitriolic.

He stated that his reasoning is that he does not want to send people to such a place.

He didn't simply refuse to link to "Shanley's piece", he refused to link to Shanley at all. But it should be noted that he did link to other authors who are feminist in nature. He has every right to have a problem with a specific person for non-gender reasons, and your portrayal of him otherwise is unfair and deserves to be moderated in order to preserve actual conversation.

I appreciate the clarification of Jeff's position and rationale. The only point I was making is that the non-linking struck me as a reference to Jeff not linking to Shanley.

I wasn't aware of that context. Generally, I'm not a fan of not linking to pieces you're criticizing.

the poster is misrepresenting Jeff Atwood, see my response to him.

> appropriating and refusing to acknowledge earlier works from women—specifically, appropriating Shanley’s identically-titled, incredibly-similar “What Can Men Do?,”

You mean two different human beings thought about blogging about a popular tech issue? With an obvious title? Atwood must feel ashamed. What an appropriator.

Psssst. The OP of this article who criticizes Jeff is Jacob Kaplan-Moss. ie: A male.

Well, burst my bubble and call me Slim.

I think this is fine. If you make a bad mistake, even with good intentions, it is reasonable for others to be angry at you. "I was trying" is not a universal defense.

"I was trying, I see what I did wrong, thank you for the correction and I'll try to do better next time," however, goes a long way. If Jeff acknowledges his mistakes -- supposing he is convinced they are mistakes -- and makes an honest attempt to be better, anger will likely turn into forgiveness.

Is using the same title as somebody else on a piece about the same topic as the other one really a "bad mistake"?

That is not the only thing that was criticized about what Atwood said.

This wonderful article by Julie Pagano might be of interest to you! http://juliepagano.com/blog/2014/05/03/ally-smells-fear-of-s...

One thing that no one seems to address in these discussions (of which at least one appears every week) is how will feminism actually solve these problems?

Actually, I'd like to address this paragraph:

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, and that we want to be treated as equals. Don’t let someone else pretend otherwise out of their own misguided notions.

The author(s) repeat a very common cliche, and insist on this as the one true definition of feminism. Yet in reality, feminism is splintered, divided into many schools, disagrees on fundamental issues (sex-positivity versus sex-negativity and transgender inclusion versus transgender exclusion, most notably) and is not a coherent movement. The same applies for virtually all ideologies.

Some will repeat that quote, some will say "gender equality", others will go for "women's liberation", "abolition of X concept considered problematic", "separatism" or a variety of other reasons.

Which school do we adopt? Why? How will it change things? Is feminism really that seamless of an ideology that it is the one true way to fix things?

Do you have a better solution to propose, then?

I'd propose to be more careful when throwing "feminism" in the ring - it really is an umbrella term, and it makes it so much harder to discuss things because so much time is wasted looking for where the goal posts reside today.

One potential downside is that deconstructing the umbrella also removes that feeling of speaking for a huge majority. I'd consider that a feature because it's a misleading notion.

Indeed. A good post on the shared properties and differences of feminisms: https://culturallyboundgender.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/share...

All women are different, but all women experienced girlhood, and experience male violence. Sadly most in the HN crowd don't have the proper familiarity to understand that kind of nuance.

Replace ideology with logic.

"sex-positivity versus sex-negativity and transgender inclusion versus transgender exclusion"

Presenting a biased view to an audience new to a subject is dishonest. You're using selected terms to groom the readers to the side with the "schools of thought" you agree with. I could use the terms "neoliberalism verses class analysis and genderism verses gender criticism" and we'd still be referring to the same things. Of course, I would never use those terms at HN in the way you used yours, because I value real discourse.

Your central point is of course correct: "feminism" is an umbrella term (heck that's the first sentence on the Wikipedia page). Using ignorance of that fact as an opportunity to propagandize is shameful.

He's giving "feminism" far more respect than it's due. Empirically, it is a baseless ideology on par with Astrology, but far more sinister because of its political and economic consequences.

In the real world, the study of human behavior resides within the realm of evolutionary biology, with a focus on evolutionary psychology. The empirical principles that govern human behavior are fascinating and complex, but are well understood within the coherent framework of evolutionary biology.

"Feminism", and all of its post-modern counterparts are pseudo-intellectual nonsense promulgated by fanatics.

But don't take my word for it, here's just one expert's opinion [1].

1. http://edge.org/memberbio/helena_cronin

You're incorrect. Except maybe about postmodernism being pseudo-intellectual nonsense, in which case you would be correct only by accident.

Sometimes I feel like there are people that confuse just being a jerk in general, with being a jerk specifically to women.

In this industry I've met a lot of really great people, and unfortunately a ton of arrogant, egotistical, pretentious and aggressive jerks. I've felt like crap being around those people tons of times.

Sometimes they say mean things about women, sometimes about liberals or republicans or people from India or making fun of someone's Github pull request to an open source project. I've heard things that smell of Social Darwinism. All kinds of junk. But all of it seems to come from the same jerks. It doesn't seem like there is like the "I hate women" jerk and the "Stupid people deserve poverty" etc. It seems like most hateful jerks just hate everyone.

It seems in tech, people's positions in companies are very much based on a particular skill or having a bunch of money. And very little to do with whether or not they are a jerk. So maybe this is just that we end up with a higher concentration of general jerks? Also, right now this industry is where the money is, and that always has a tendency to up the jerk ratio as well.

That's the thing, though. By promoting a more feminist, egalitarian, diverse culture for tech, we by definition eliminate the jerks. Why do we have to take as a given that we have to take the jerks along with the money?

Your implication here is that people who identify under your listed banners cannot be jerks. This is simply an outright falsehood. An ideology that insists it cannot have jerks among its ranks is one that probably needs to look in the mirror.

If you do not believe in the inherent equality and humanity of men and women (along with all other marginalized groups), then yes, it's safe to say that you are indeed a jerk.

That wasn't the responder's point. The point was that even people who do (at least by their own report) believe in the inherent equality and humanity of men and women (along with all other marginalized groups) can still be jerks. That's why we should focus on jerkitude, period.

The trouble is, most of the people who're "promoting a more feminist, egalitarian, diverse culture" are not in fact capable of grasping "the inherent equality and humanity of men and women (along with all other marginalized groups)". In fact, I've never met anyone who can full stop.

Turns out that everyone's very good at understanding the inherent equality and dignity of people who're exactly like them and hates it when people claim to respect them without putting the work in. They also want to be seen to respect others but only so long as they don't have to put the work in. The history of feminism, for example, is rather enlightening...

I absolutely agree. I was only relaying that maybe if we focus more on the jerk part, and less on the specifics of the brand of jerk we might help solve the problem of all the people who have to deal with jerks in this industry, not just one specific group.

Sure! But I guess my point is that by embracing the voices of marginalized groups, we can solve a huge chunk of that at once. If you think about it, jerks usually act the way they do because of a perceived power differential. The guy with enough insecurity to harass a woman (or POC, or LBGTQ person) is likely to try to power trip other men, too.

I think I understand your logic here. It does make some sense to use the harassment of a marginalized group as a sort of "tell" that this person is a jerk. I do worry though that it is a bit divisive. A lot of terms like "white male" and "feminist" are very loaded at this point and it feels to me like focusing on specific groups might be a distraction.

For example if I were to say that one of the most arrogant and aggressive people I've known was a self described feminist, it starts to distract from the fact the in reality this person is just a jerk and the feminist part really doesn't have anything to do with that. And any of the hateful gender specific things that person said to other people didn't really have to do with gender issues as much as this person was a total jerk to almost everyone around them.

Yeah, it's sad how those terms ("white male", "feminist") have become loaded. But again, I think it's because of perceived power differences. For some reason, the term "feminist" has come to mean, in some circles, "person who wants to take away my power". When in reality, promoting an egalitarian world benefits both women and men, since it reduces jerk behavior. Promoting equal rights for women does not take away rights from men, you know?

I feel you on the second paragraph, but I think what's really distracting is the unnecessary stigma of the labels. What if more women and men, especially those with influence, openly identified as feminist? It's like the xkcd comic about girls being bad at math (https://xkcd.com/385/). If one self-described feminist behaves poorly, you'd probably blame that on her personally, instead of writing off all feminists (and feminism, at the same time).

Personally speaking, I think feminism is a benefit to the world. I think it has helped, and will continue to help make the world more inclusive place and increase the understanding of the unique issues women face in society. I hope I am not coming off as saying that I think feminism should go away or that I'm speaking generally about the world at large. I was only using the self described feminist as an example to show that it might distract. I've met plenty of jerks, only a couple of them considered themselves feminists. ;)

I was more specifically talking about tech, especially the more app/web side of things as that is my personal zone of experience. There just seems to be a lot of jerks in general. That said, there are also a lot of inspiring, compassionate and incredibly intelligent people that I feel so lucky to have worked with and learned from. I only brought that aspect up as I wonder if maybe some of the issues with tech is that some women and other people who might typically face discrimination and harassment in other aspects of their life, do not realize that in a lot of ways its just a jerky place. That they might not realize that plenty of tech workers are made fun of, talked down to and even sometimes outright yelled at. For example all of these things I've just mentioned have happened to me personally on multiple occasions. The yelled at was only once a long time ago fortunately.

So maybe we might focus on making tech less jerky in general? Because there are plenty of people, not just a few specific groups that are treated pretty poorly in this industry.

It makes me sad to read this stuff, but a genuine question for other male readers. Have you heard of, or come into contact with any of this abhorrent behavior that's mentioned? I have never seen it anywhere I worked, or heard of that sort of thing through word of mouth, but obviously that's a terrible sample set.

My experiences related to women in tech:

* Everywhere I've worked, it's been a boys club, but we'd LOVE to hire more women. Frankly, hiring is hard in general. When women have come in to interview, I can't speak for others - but I know in the back of my head, my biggest concern is, "Make sure you interview with the same standards as anyone else, but make sure you don't have some subconscious bias because she's a she."

* There are probably good female engineers, and not so good ones. One of the few "not so good ones" I know of (doesn't mean she'll never improve, just at the time) had to be super carefully managed out over a long time. There was no unceremonious firing, that's for sure.

* Is there even a "women in tech" problem? Or is it just "women in the workforce, no matter the industry"? The kinds of ridiculous behavior women are describing in these articles sound to me like they could happen in finance, sales, marketing, HR, or anywhere.

* On any of the open source mailing lists I'm on, I've never seen anything remotely close to, "Your pull request sucks you whre, try again". Are these just the mythical basement dwelling trolls of Slashdot lore reaching out privately via email?

Most of the engineers I know in tech are decent, upstanding guys. If anything, I feel like if any of us was pulled aside by a female co-worker and she described shenanigans of the sort I read about in these articles, we'd probably jump to their defense in a heart beat, almost maybe too easily.

What have the rest of you experienced?


Edit: I left the above (my OP) in tact. After re-reading it, and some responses, it's become clear to me that it gives off an air of, "I don't believe these reports", and that's not really what I intended.

I suppose my main point was that no, I haven't experienced it, and I think that's exactly what these women are saying - Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it's not there. So really, despite getting some up votes, I think I missed the boat.

I was curious if others on my (the male) side have in fact seen it, but what does that tell us? Probably not much.

You won't see most of these incidents, because harassers do it when there are few witnesses. Ask your female colleagues for their stories. They all have them.

So how does this fit with your "Most of the engineers I know in tech are decent, upstanding guys." - it fits perfectly. Clearly you know some who aren't decent. It only takes one to harass, and he can harass a large number of women; in fact the pattern is commonly to try it on with every woman, but in a way that leaves it as he said/she said.

This is why "not all men do this" is such a weak-minded response. Don't let it slide. Your second guessing of women in your first point, and your "too easily" in the last indicate the problem too. Women who report harassment often get laid off or managed out afterwards, even when they have got the harasser fired. It is a very high risk thing for them to do, and your "not all men" attitude is a key way that harassers are sheltered.

Thanks for the links.

A question - Do you think (or have any information) on if this is particularly worse in tech, than in other industries?

Why does this even remotely matter?

We're in tech. This is our home. Let's clean it up.

I worked for less than 5 months in a non-tech industry (and in a female-majority workplace) to form any opinion on that.

@danilocampos - I think it matters for getting to a solution. If there's something inherent in tech, or its male work force that makes the problem worse, then knowing that might help get at the root of the problem a little faster.

We already understand the roots of the problem quite well... comparing to other industries won't make much difference.

1. Male-dominated environment, women are a significant minority.

2. Inexcusable tolerance of sexist behavior - not calling it out when we see it.

3. "Why are you blaming me? I'm not one of those guys. Men might listen to you if you'd just stop the blanket accusations." (extra credit: count how many comments on this thread can be reduced to that sentiment.)

"Have you stopped enabling sexism in tech?". That's what most of the replies sound like to me. Sort of like "have you stopped beating your wife?". Hard to come up with a good response without looking guilty isn't it?

it should be noted that pointing out #3 doesn't make it an invalid point, and it certainly has nothing to do with why the issue exists in the first place.

The problem, at it's root, is a set of self-reinforcing cycles, such as:

1. More men than women

2. Male harrasers feel safe to harass women

3. Women do not feel welcome

4. Women leave

5. Goto 1


1. Harassers target women in ways that are deniable and/or less visible

2. Well meaning men assume that if they if don't see it, it must not be happening very often

3. Women get tired of having their personal experiences questioned, denied, dismissed, and belittled

4. Women stay silent, or leave

5. The impression among bystander men that this must not happen that often is strengthened, emboldening harassers

6. Goto 1


Given that, it is entirely fair to say to non-harrasser men that if they are not actively part of the solution, they are still pàrt if the problem.

And after the umpteenth time of someone telling me I'm a terrible person ... I decide to be terrible by not caring about it anymore.

This is why your attitude is actively hurting you. It's driving away people like me, who actually agree with the basic premise that women should be treated equally.

Being part of of the problem (that is, tacitly consenting to bad behavior by staying silent and not confronting it directly) does not make you a terrible person, or even a bad one. It just means that you are part of the problem.

The thing is, you can't expect a cookie for not doing terrible things. Not doing terrible things is the absolute minimum that is expected of you as an adult member of society. Only doing the bare minimum doesn't make you a good person or a bad one, but it shouldn't really be surprising that the great majority of people who are merely not doing terrible things have an inertia that keeps things from improving, and are thus part of the problem.

Logically speaking, since folks with your attitude are a large part of the reason people like me don't bother, wouldn't that also make you, and your actions here, a part of the problem?

And wouldn't that imply the solution is to stop doing what you're doing?

So in essence, didn't you just admonish yourself?

Let's just say that your retort, "well I would have helped if only you didn't make such a big deal about it", is awfully convenient as an excuse to do nothing (and is very nearly the same as the 'tone argument'). Because, of course, if no one makes a big deal about something, that also provides an excuse.

And thankfully that isn't what I said, because I agree that would be a ridiculous argument.

What I said is that after getting blamed constantly for no other reason than being born with a cock I've stopped caring what the people doing the blaming think.

Another way to look at it is like this:

Men are not stupid. They know if they've been sexist or not. When you blame them for shit they know they are not involved in, it means they cannot trust you when you blame other men for shit they didn't witness.

How can I be more clear about this? You are not a terrible person, and are not to blame.

Being part of the problem, or more precisely, part of a problematic system) does not mean that the problem is your fault, or that you have a duty to fix it.

Congratulations, you have met your basic societal obligations. You are off the hook. You are free to look the other way rather than confront or condemn sexism when you encounter it, in person or online.

That's black/white thinking. Folks do a lot of things in a lot of spheres. Not doing one terrible thing doesn't imply they're doing nothing else at all.

Take off the blinders - there're a lot more issues in the world than this one. Lots of people just don't have the emotional energy to invest in all of them, or even in very many of them.

Well, sure. There are many issues on which I am still part of the problem. As I said, that doesn't make me a bad person.

Comparing the relative severity of any injustice or crime doesn't help solve it.

I only clicked on one of those links because I recognised it: https://medium.com/@geeekcore1/d96f431f4e8e

That article doesn't seem like retaliation, it seems like a response. JAH herself has responded to that article and simply said the things mentioned aren't relevant and only brought up because she was female.

Minor nitpick: I went back to find the links in the article, and it wasn't clear on the first read that the 'this is what happens...' sentence was a whole slew of individually linked words.

Noticed that you took the time to reformat the html that you initially pasted over. Thanks for taking the time to do that for us :).

I feel strongly that we shouldn't allow ourselves to forget about the "death by a thousand cuts" aspect either. Even the "decent, upstanding guys" (a cohort that we are presumably a part of) are most likely responsible for a papercut or two (I certainly am). And these papercuts are just as profound a barrier in impeding progress in this area than the readily noticeable offenses, in my opinion.

> "not all men" attitude is a key way that harassers are sheltered.

I'm not sure that this makes sense. Saying that someone's behaviour is unusual - not typical of most men - does not sound like sheltering them. Most men don't harass women, ergo the men that do are a minority whose views and behaviour are out of step with their peers. I think we need to say this more.

It makes sense, it is just nuanced. Try: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/08/laurie-penny/men-sexism

You read the story of a range of women from across the industry, said you haven't had the experience these women have had, and then explicitly asked men for their opinions. See if you can figure out the bug here.

* "We have this problem with our iOS app."

* "I use Android and have never seen this. Any other Android users encounter this?"

I came here to say something similar: that the same action or speech can/will be interpreted very differently based on a whole slew of factors, including gender, ethnicity, or just plainly being different people to begin with. What appears "okay" or "benign" or "in jest" can certainly not be the case for a colleague, whichever gender they may be [1].

In fact, I'd argue that it's hard to perceive the inappropriateness of our own actions in the moment. It's much easier to notice the possible auxiliary effects of our past actions when reflecting on them at a later time. Frankly, I can think of any number of things that I've said or done in the recent past that may have made my female friends and colleagues twitch an eyebrow, but didn't elicit an explicit response because they've learned to just deal with it and let it go, having been in a boys club for so long (one started her career in investment banking). And I'd consider myself to be fairly self-aware of these issues, and yet I've admittedly failed many times over.

edit: and frankly, how many of us voluntarily and regularly look back at our past week/month to think about the ways in which we've failed ourselves and our own principles in this area? We may review the ways in which we failed in our job capacity and reflect on how we can improve, but I think the frequency with which we do the same for our social interactions is much lower.

[1] In fact, I think "I was just kidding" is one of the lamest excuses for actions that at times clearly are not thus.

Many women ask that more men would stand up for them. I think that many men would if they actually saw something occur, but many just don't see anything.

In my own career I have only once seen anything that even looked like harassment or discrimination, and that was almost 20 years ago. It does not mean that I question these women's experiences, but I do think it means that the "bullies" know that what they do isn't accepted by their peers. And hopefully that means that speaking up more when these things occur would make a positive difference.

Woman developer here. That's the one piece of advice I give to men who ask what they can do to help. I've had way more men come to me privately after an incident to apologize for being a witness and saying nothing than have actively stepped in to stop what was going on. I wish it were the other way around.

why should they? I mean that honestly because context matters.

Why didn't you say something? Why should they be expected to step up and say something if you yourself are not willing to (was it a superior, for example?). Was there some brouhaha in which they sat silent while you had to defend yourself?

And why not ask them if you can submit their name to HR as a witness to the behavior instead of getting disappointed in them for not doing it themselves?

At the end of the day, the only person who is ultimately expected to stand up for you, is you. It's that way regardless of gender.

edit: I still don't understand why HN allows replies to some posts and not others, but to respond to the post below me.

Because it's unfair to ask a man to put themselves at risk protecting a women when she, herself, refuses to put herself at risk. This isn't about male vs female, this is about a person putting themselves at risk for another person, and the fairness of it.

This is specifically why I asked for context.

So you don't care about injustice you witness and you don't want others to either?

Women already have less power because they are in a minority. It seems as though you want them to take responsibility for all cultural change.

It sounds as though you don't think there is a problem.

I think expecting a male to put himself at personal risk for a women who won't put herself at personal risk is unfair.

We have no context, we don't know if the person in question doing the injustice was superior in the company, or not. All we know is person A did something bad to person B, and person C did nothing about it.

Why shouldn't we ask my person B did nothing either?

Because there is a power imbalance.

I don't agree with mreiland about not sticking up, but I also want to point out something important that I get the impression that many feminists miss: That men in general have more power than women in general does not mean that all men have power, or that even most of them are in a position of power.

This is true, but in a male dominated environment, there are usually men who have more power than women and if they don't use at least some of their power to support the cause of equality, they are supporting the status quo.

you think the male should put himself at risk of being fired because the female may get fired if she does it?

That's not equality, and I would defend anyone who stays quiet in such circumstances. Don't ask the random male to go to bat for you if you're not willing to do it yourself. Common sense.

You're confused about what equality means. When a group has less power, they have more to risk.

You are staunchly defending the status quo, and insisting that all change is the responsibility of women.

No, everyone else is confusing an entire gender with a person.

It is not fair to ask person A to put themselves at risk for person B when person B is not willing to put themselves at risk for themself.

This isn't about gender, if it were two men, no one would blink twice at me asking why the software dev didn't put themselves at risk. But because we have a social expectation of protecting women, even by women themselves, people expect the male software dev to put themselves at risk for the female software dev, even if the female software dev is not willing to put themselves at risk.

Anil - I'd have expected a bit less snarky of tone from someone so public, but I'll try and answer you anyway:

Yes, I asked other males what they've seen. You can't change reality. Our industry is about as male as the army. I could probably have counted the females in my computer science program back in college on one hand.

I'm just wondering if it really all is as behind closed doors/hidden as is implied, or perhaps I just haven't come across it. People talk. They meet up in bars. I hear all sorts of things from other people in the industry over FrieNDA - though I really haven't heard many stories like these.

Honestly wasn't trying to be snarky -- it may just come naturally. (Would also separately argue I'm not particularly well known on HN.)

If "our industry" is defined as the technology industry, it's actually far less male than the army; We just insist on not counting the women who frequently lead efforts around communications, corporate development, design, marketing, office management, and other essential parts of the business. And even within engineering-focused disciplines, there used to be far more women involved but the number has been going down in recent decades.

But the question all of us men have to ask ourselves is: Why do you need another source. You had a whole range of people already telling you what they saw, and you're looking for people who by definition would have less information about this topic to provide their opinions. Why do you think that's the case?

It's not a question of sources, it's a question of being able to identify the thing when it happens. Women have no problem in identifying it, because it's directed at them. Men might have a problem identifying it, for various possible reasons. I think the poster you replied to was asking for opinions from other men about what they see happening in order to understand what kind of stuff is visible to men.

I have the same problem - I can't recall seeing anything that would qualify as harassment in any of my workplaces, and I would like to know if that's because I'm failing to see it, or if there's another reason.

I edited my post (only to add, not change it.) After reflection, I think it was a little off base, even if well intentioned.

I appreciate the thought and reflection, especially given that my response could reasonably be seen as snarky.

> (Would also separately argue I'm not particularly well known on HN.)

Because you're a single-issue commenter lately. You don't miss opportunities to jump in an HN thread about gender relations.

Why should he be less snarky? After all, the tech industry supposedly loves straight-talking engineers like Linus Torvalds who don't beat around the bush and tell people bluntly why they're wrong - so much so that we even let them get away with gratuitous personal insults and misguided arguments.

Whenever a geek says how much he loves unvarnished communcation, what he means is that he loves sending it - the same people regularly hit the roof when they receive it.

There's a clear difference between a technical discussion and a social one. Do you think Linus is this way to everyone in every facet of his life?


That's not the logic. It's more: "I'm an iOS user and every time an Android device is on the network my phone crashes." * "I use Android and have never seen this. Have any other Android users seen this?"

And then someone replies with "yes, I have a co-worker who had the same issue, here's how we fixed it..."

The question is, would anyone tell them they couldn't possibly know that since they don't use IOS?

When you understand why you dismiss my viewpoint so easily, you'll understand why I dismiss yours with the same ease.

You bring up an interesting point, which is visibility. All of this stuff absolutely happens, but a _lot_ of it goes unreported. This leads to a situation where if you're 'on the inside,' you see and hear about it all the time. If you're not, then you don't.

Generally, when I say "women have informal networks where they share stories of abuse to help other women be cautious around certain actors", there are two reactions: A nodding head, or a 'what the fuck?'

There is also confirmation bias.

Also, the natural tenancy for those with an engineering mindset to subject all things to skepticism, is a problem for minorities, and partly due to the visibility problem you mentioned.

Yes, as a white male I see it constantly. I worked for what I would consider one of the best for women in tech (ThoughtWorks) and even there you see this stuff. So much more in other places.

> Most of the engineers I know in tech are decent, upstanding guys. If anything, I feel like if any of us was pulled aside by a female co-worker and she described shenanigans of the sort I read about in these articles, we'd probably jump to their defense in a heart beat, almost maybe too easily.

So here's the thing: most guys everywhere are decent, upstanding guys. Don't think that MVC is writing this to slander decent, upstanding guys. But being decent and upstanding does not make you aware of all forms of harassment and discrimination, and you can still do harm without meaning to or being aware that you're doing it. It's important to talk about the experiences of women in tech, to talk with women in tech and understand what their concerns are, not because they want to beat you over the head for being a bad person, but because you just don't see it. I can never have the experiences of a woman in tech - I'm not one. That's why it's so important to listen to what they are saying.

And reading articles like this (as much as our initial inclination may be to avoid looking at them) makes us reflect on the ways that we as decent, upstanding guys have missed the mark in the past.

I've seen/heard of harassment'ish inappropriate comments made by a colleague and let it go unreported. Didn't even talk to the guy in person in private to subtly suggest that his behavior may be making our female colleagues uncomfortable. I made various subconscious excuses to myself for being a bystander, and by doing so I was contributing to the prolongation of the problem.

Even if you place the 'me' of today in the shoes of myself back then, I'm not confident that I'd be able to stand up for my female colleagues for all the reasons that both men and women typically give for just letting things slide. I'm honestly ashamed of this fact, and hope I can slowly be more courageous in this regard.

Thanks for your honesty. It's hard to be courageous, whether you're the victim or the bystander (since it means you put yourself at risk of being the next victim, yes?). But it's not impossible, so let's all try to remember that.

a genuine question for other male readers. Have you heard of, or come into contact with any of this abhorrent behavior that's mentioned?

Why do you need a "male reader" to confirm this to you? Your question reads thus: 'I can't believe this if I only hear it from a woman-- is there a man in the audience who can confirm this?'

To turn it around a bit, why do you find these stories unbelievable & why do you need a man to confirm their veracity?

I don't find the story unbelievable. I like to believe that whom I choose to keep as my friends and colleagues is a reflection of myself, and I aspire not to be sexist or bigoted towards any minorities. Those of my friends I've spoken to about this who are women engineers haven't experienced anything to the degree I hear about in the articles (but they still acknowledge biases against them or annoyances in the conduct of their peers).

But this is an endemic problem. Are the male colleagues I have part of the problem and I am simply failing to realize it? Have I done a good job of choosing colleagues who don't behave that way? How can I know?

> Your question reads thus: 'I can't believe this if I only hear it from a woman-- is there a man in the audience who can confirm this?'

I think it's more like "I would find it odd, though not impossible, for only women to have observed these things."

The phrasing was very poor. A "Could men here share their own observations?" would have been very different, but as phrased, it's asking if male witnesses of sexist behavior even exist.

Whether intentional or not, it's a dismissal of the female point of view.

Perhaps the question is more along the lines of "Men are being called upon to act against this discrimination, but I as a man have never seen it. Other men, what about you?"

In which case the gender of the audience is important to the question. For example, while women might see it all the time, if there are no men present other than the offender, the "ordinary" men would never see it and never have the opportunity to act.

Personally I can say it can be frustrating when you are damned (as a group) for not acting, when you as an individual have never to your knowledge witnessed the event.

I never said I find them unbelievable. Quite the opposite.

Why you appear not to believe them (I can't know your beliefs I can only guess based off the text of your comment):

1. Has any man here "heard of, or come into contact with any of" any of this behavior?

2. Personally, "I have never seen it anywhere I worked, or heard of that sort of thing through word of mouth..."*

These statements suggest strong skepticism. Analogy: "Has anyone here actually experienced or come into contact with Climate Change? Personally I have not, nor have I ever heard of anyone having experienced it..." <-- this suggests the speaker doesn't believe climate change is real. This is what your comment suggests about the issues described in TFA.

*Yes I know you mentioned the "terrible sample set" but that doesn't un-ring the "I'm skeptical" bell.

It's not actually about skepticism, I think. It's more like this: some companies have so few women that there's no visible sexism! The kinds of incidents described in the OP don't happen because there are no women for them to happen to. The GP imagines that, if there were more women in his workplace, everything would continue as it is now except there would be more women. This is not an absurd expectation. But if we take the OP at face value (which I do) then we have to conclude that lots of women are facing harassment or other problems. We need to figure out if we're not seeing it because it's not there, or we're not seeing it because we have a blind spot somewhere.

The GP is asking other men how they feel that their workplaces handle these things - does it happen there, how frequent is it, what do people do about it? If you've never actually dealt with this kind of situation personally, it can be quite hard to imagine it happening - it is the sort of thing that any decent person should find abhorrent, and yet it does happen.

My perspective is kinda similar to the GP's - I've worked in male-dominated environments, I have never seen any harassment (although I have seen some obnoxious men) but this is because there are no women on my team to begin with! I have in the past pushed for specific outreach to female user/developer communities and have been disappointed by the lack of results this has produced.

I definitely have encountered men who hold overtly sexist attitudes - not many, almost certainly a minority of men I've worked with. As my career has progressed and my influence has increased, I've had to use it to counteract those opinions at times. It's just really difficult to work out how much of the problem is something I can directly control, and I think that's why the GP is asking the kinds of questions that he is.

I tend to think that skepticism is a good thing.

I tend to think a lot of things are good things that can also be abused.

How can skepticism be abused?

skepticism is a killer for minorities.

> Have you heard of, or come into contact with any of this abhorrent behavior that's mentioned?


White, privileged male.

I was attending Pycon 2013 in Santa, Clara. I had just spent the lunch hour with a good friend and his acquaintance, X. As we were leaving X decided it was an appropriate time to quietly share his views about women in tech with me. I was mortified at that moment and promptly exited the conversation without addressing X's comments to me.

I've felt terrible about that exchange ever since.

"promptly exited the conversation without addressing X's comments to me."

I understand that it can be difficult, but we all need to speak up in circumstances like these.

Thank you for your honesty. As a woman, I tend to respond to these situations in the exact same way - out of shock and mortification. But that's exactly why this behavior can continue. So together, let's speak up for ourselves, for others, and for what is right.

Yes, as a male, I see this behavior regularly.

If you're not seeing it, it's statistically highly unlikely that you're not coming into contact with it. Reading and understanding feminist perspectives can help you become more observant. Hacker News provides plenty of opportunities for practice identifying hostile-to-women comments.

If you're not hearing about it through word of mouth, then it could be that you don't talk to a lot of women in tech, or don't talk to them about these issues, or you aren't fully hearing what they're saying. It could also be that they don't feel comfortable in discussing them with you. Look at your language and behavior and think about what could be sending unintentional messages that cause people to steer clear from this discussion. How many can you spot in this post, and in your reply to Anil?

If, in posting something out of concern, and in trying to understand something better, I still am going to get chastised for "doing it wrong", then it really is an uphill battle.

It is an uphill battle to become aware of the blinders and unconscious habits we all have. I was making suggestions (not chastising) assuming that you really are trying to understand, and are willing to make the effort even if it's challenging.

This uphill battle is becoming easier and easier, as evidenced by how many men are coming forward here to share their experiences and support. If you feel chastised, it's likely because, in the face of an overwhelming amount of data and evidence, your statements read in the vein of incredulity and dismissiveness rather than 'concern' and 'understanding.'

> If you're not seeing it, it's statistically highly unlikely that you're not coming into contact with it.

May I ask on what evidence you base this assertion? Note that this is a much stronger claim than just "harassment happens"; you're claiming that, more likely than not, it is also happening in my organization.

Most women in tech I know have multiple examples of stuff like the authors describe happening to them. Multiple guys in this thread confirm that yes, it happens and is observable.

Remember that the authors weren't only talking about harassment. And of course that doesn't mean it happens in your organization, but you can also see and come into contact with it elsewhere -- conferences, networking events, online discussions, etc.

Why is them confirming that it happens more significant than the ones who confirm they don't see it happen?

Because, putting it shortly, saying "I didn't see it happen" is too close to saying "I didn't see it happen, therefore it doesn't exist".

If an overwhelming majority of observers report something happening frequently, and a relatively-small percentage report not seeing it, then what would you conclude?

That said, I'm not sure I can remember the last time a woman told me she doesn't see it happen.

> Most women in tech I know have multiple examples of stuff like the authors describe happening to them. Multiple guys in this thread confirm that yes, it happens and is observable.

To reiterate, what you've demonstrated is that there are N anecdotes of sexual harassment in the industry, for some N > 0. (Set aside M anecdotes of men and women who have not personally encountered such a thing.) You have not demonstrated that "it's statistically highly unlikely that you're not coming into contact with it."

Let's keep this discussion factual and avoid inflammatory hyperbole, please.

True, I haven't absolutely proven my point. What's your evidence disproving it?

I've worked with women my whole life in tech. I sit right next to one currently and she's an awesome talent and from what I can tell is an equal member of the team. I do see some passive things like their opinions not being heard as much and I think that has almost as much to do with how they speak (not with confidence) as it does their gender. I try to make a point to listen more carefully and help promote the ideas of my female coworkers when they are good. I've never seen nor heard of any of the more overt things mentioned in the blog post like being groped or anything of the sort. Probably the worst I've heard is the guys lamenting that there are no women on the team and commenting that they can't find women interviewees that have the skills required for the type of project we were doing.

I have left a company because they flat-out refused to consider hiring women for coding jobs, with the CEO saying that women are too fragile for critical roles.

This kind of idiocy is relatively common in UK executives, as a fairly large chunk of them went to exclusive private boys schools and so never had to really deal with women as equal peers until adulthood.

Wouldn't they get that exposure during university though? I certainly had long-held views challenged and changed during my time in college, where I was exposed to a much larger spectrum of the population compared to my predominantly Caucasian, upper-middle class upbringing.*

* I briefly attended a UK postgraduate institution.

Oxbridge still has gender segregated colleges, though (I think) they are a minority of colleges now.

Was at Cambridge. There are no male-only colleges and two (iirc) female only colleges. Can't speak for Oxford, but I suspect a similar situation.

That being said, I'm not sure what the gender ratios are at the historically all male colleges. Perhaps they are not close to 50:50 (apparently this is the case with US business schools, where the ratios are often 65:35, and often have a bro/fratty feel to them)

It makes me sad to read this stuff, but a genuine question for other male readers. Have you heard of, or come into contact with any of this abhorrent behavior that's mentioned?

I've been out of college for about 6 years now. The worst I even encountered professionally was a joke shared in a group of 3 or 4 dudes about women drivers. I remember it well because it was so incongruous with everything else I've seen. There was also a booth babe at a conference I went to, and everyone I spoke with (including staff) considered it at the very least tacky. There were blog posts about harassment at that conference, but I never witnessed any nor did anyone in my group of friends, acquaintances and colleagues attending ever speak of being uncomfortable there.

I hear about more harassment towards the women I'm friends with after any given night of drinking at bars than the total I've ever heard from them about work.

> I hear about more harassment towards the women I'm friends with after any given night of drinking at bars than the total I've ever heard from them about work.

Do you mean from men at bars in general? Or are you talking about when they're out with coworkers/other people in the industry?

I mean randoms on the way to/from/at a bar. Yeah, there are co-workers and other people in the industry around, but we also go drinking with a bunch of teachers too. They're not the problem.

I've not noticed untoward behavior in the office.

The more overtly unwelcoming behavior seems to crop up outside of the office at networking events and conferences (and IRC and twitter and the bottom of this page).

I will point out that of the various direct and second-level managers I've had since entering the industry in the early 2000s only three (out of a total of fourteen) were minorities.

I have seen it once, in one of my employees. I fired him.

I still don't like the ultra-feminist movement though. Hate doesn't achieve much good.

I feel uncomfortable that you have implicitly associated the parent article and its goals with extremism and hatred, which I don't observe.

Swombat and the founder of MVC have sparred over twitter numerous times, and he had to unfollow me because I retweet her often.

Sometimes, people just don't like each other. (I have no beef with Swombat.)

For the record (Twitter was a poor medium for explaining this) I also have no beef with you - I just unfollowed because practically, seeing Shanley's tweets in my feed just makes my life less good by rubbing in my face that such people exist and have influence in the world. I can't do anything about the fact that people choose to follow anger, hatred and fear - but I can at least opt out of seeing those followers across my path.

The mute feature isn't quite enough for this, since naturally people who follow Shanley will tend to retweet other related topics that have the same tenor. So unfortunately the best thing for my blood pressure is to simply unfollow people who have joined this movement.

Which is all a big shame, because I am a fervent believer in equality (gender or otherwise), and am just as violently opposed to people who discriminate against or insult women just because they're women as Shanley is. However, I am equally hostile to people who discriminate against or insult men just because they're men.

Yeah, no worries man.

The article itself mentions disliking engaging with moderate voices as an attempt to silence more strident voices, and I get where that's coming from, but some of the people with more strident voices are hate-filled hypocrites.

I see no harm in promoting the thoughtful stuff (like this article) and ignoring the angry noise.

I don't think anyone should be forced to listen to anything they don't want to. I'm just adding some context, not making a value judgement. I block the hell out of people on Twitter.

As an aside, Twitter's new-ish mute feature solves that problem. If someone you don't like is being retweeted by someone that you do, you can mute the person being retweeted without affecting the other content from the person you follow.

I've seen those kinds of more extreme articles (and writers) on modelviewculture before, so I think it's fair to judge a publication by what it publishes. And some of these talking points were adopted by ultra-feminists.

To clarify: it seems to me that you're using the term "ultra-feminist" to belittle and to trample the points being made.

How is this article extreme?

How about judging this article by what it says?

Somebody stating their views based on past experiences interacting with the community the authors are part of is something other readers might be interested in. See the post by "226jg5" below.

If you don't believe the article deserves the association, please elaborate on why that is the case.

One of the many problems feminism has faced is the lumping in of extremists with more moderates with all sorts of other splinter views; it's to be expected that your work may face the same criticisms.

There is no "ultra-feminist movement"; feminism is an umbrella term for a multitude of movements across time and geography. Each movement is understood within a context, and some take more time to understand than others. I would suggest the book Gender Inequality by Judith Lorber as a starting point.

Yes there is - radfem (which "ultra-feminist movement" would descrive) is a movement within third wave feminism.

Funny, I live with a college-age daughter who is an outspoken and studious third-wave feminist, and has been politically active since she was ten years old. She doesn't talk about radfem at all, or anything close to the "ultra-feminist" caricature. The third wave feminism I listen to constantly is about correcting the limitations of second wave feminism (Gloria Steinem style) and expanding our awareness and acceptance of more fluid gender roles in today's society. Nothing radical about it.

So we're back to the "all feminist movements are entirely monolithic and my anecdotal experience is the only one that matters" canard.

You're misinformed. "Radical" in "radical feminism" doesn't mean, has nothing to do with, "ultra"; it means a very specific strain of ideas, far from third-wave feminism.

Radfem is more closely aligned ideologically with second wave.

I also hate things that are made up.


Most people who feel animosity to feminists are attacking a caricature of them that can't be said to meaningfully exist. It also usually involves a misclassification of anger at a bad situation with 'hate.'

The fact that you can read something like this article and connect it to anything hateful, let alone angry (it's not either) shows why many feminists get frustrated even talking about inequality: people aren't listening to what's being said, their demonstrating faulty thinking and prejudices, often while denying they exist.

Read through https://twitter.com/shanley - give it a good hour. You'll come out thinking that you've experienced an alternate dimension, in which all men are evil, all women are victims who need to fight against the oppressor, and the only way forward is some kind of violent revolution, probably accompanied with mass executions of some sort.

It's not a caricature. Those people are real, and fairly scary. See http://squid314.livejournal.com/329561.html for why they're scary.

Yeah, and every time someone like you objects to them, moderate feminists spring forward to insist that they're "straw feminists", that you imagined the whole thing, and that even thinking such feminists exist proves you really just have an axe to grind against feminism. I've even been accused of attacking a straw feminist for (accurately) criticising the views of someone who was incredibly popular amongst that group of feminists for exactly those views. Even if only a small proportion of feminists hold fucked up views, almost all of them are part of the problem by shielding those extremists from criticism.

"Someone needed a quote for the paper so I told them all men were rapists."


Still going to insist these are straw feminists?

Anyway it is important to recognize that you can advocate for gender equal rights without labeling yourself "feminist"—or allowing feminists to force that baggage-laden label upon you against your own will.

As another guy in tech I share your experiences. I have never witnessed anything like what was described in that article and I have been working in tech for around 10 years now in a very diverse workplace.

I also know of at least 1 woman who if she was a man would have been fired long ago yet she stays on because managers are basically afraid to fire her.

I'm not saying these problems don't exist, I just find it hard to believe they are as widespread as is claimed. I know many women in tech and not one of them had a problem finding a job which is a good thing. This is my personal experience so make of it what you will.

You are responding to a bug report on one platform by saying that you cannot reproduce it on another.

A bug report with no evidence or sources making claims that cannot be verified by the readers. I could just as easily say I am being terrorized by my Female boss and shut down any women who disagree using your argument.

The article was loaded with evidence.

There were links.

Male here. Yes. Many many times. If anything, this is a very conservative report.

I'm guessing that you've seen it, too. Probably you didn't notice it, because it wasn't directed at you, and everyone in the room was also pretending it didn't happen.

Yes, I've seen this stuff, repeatedly, and passed off without comment.

More than that, I have the good sense to take my female colleagues at their word.

Why is this question only directed at men? Are women's views on this matter invalid because they're held by women?

I think you're thinking about it wrong. I believe women that this happens. I wasn't asking for "views" so much as, "what have you seen?"

My experience has been the same as yours, but:

> Make sure you interview with the same standards as anyone else

Reading these open letters, isn't that The Wrong Thing? "Promote the fuck out of diversity" (from the OP) sounds as if we should strongly prefer female programmers, with a bigger focus on a healthy team than on skills alone. (Also related: http://readwrite.com/2014/01/24/github-meritocracy-rug)

I'm genuinely curious because my experience is the same as yours (= nothing bad happened), but it dawns on me that I am now considered a part of the problem. :|

> we should strongly prefer female programmers

this sort of mentality will encourage (and validate) concerns that female programmers are hired (and retained) because of gender rather than ability.

I've seen some milder forms of it. As a team lead about 20 years ago, one of my guys started going on about the virtues of the "cheesecake" in the game we were working on. In the middle of a meeting between him, myself and our other coder who happened to be female. She got really quiet, and I said something to him along the lines of, "Oh, come on, man," and moved the meeting along. Didn't really address it beyond that; my own social skills weren't up to taking it further, and I didn't notice any more like that for the remainder of the project.

Mostly, though, the shops I've worked in haven't had these issues, at least not anywhere that I could see them. Women seem to have been well integrated into our teams when there were any.

I think that a lot of the behavior mentioned in the letter is stuff that no-one wants to work with. Guys who will act weird with a co-worker because they're (female/minority/disabled/whatever) are good people to avoid for professional reasons; it implies numerous faults in character and understanding, and no good excuse for them.

I guess I'm missing the significance of the term cheesecake?

Yes, and not only in tech. The drunken business owner who chased one of his employees around the table wasn't at a tech business.

Such a fascinating article. Let's break this post down:

- Anecdotes used for evidence (check)

- Moral outrage declared (check)

- Call to arms based on emotion (check)

- Appeal to baseless fanatical ideology (check)

- Vilification of a massive segment of the population as homogeneous villians (check)

There really appears to be a massive disconnect between very high intelligence and the ability to accurately observe the real world. Or perhaps in the age when page views reign supreme, rational empirical analysis becomes a vestigial burden from a bygone era.

For you rebels out there who still demand scientific rigor in your articles, please consider an expert's opinion on the matter at your discretion [1].

1. http://edge.org/memberbio/helena_cronin

- And how do you get evidence without anecdotes?

- If true, should we not be morally outraged?

- If true, should we not be emotional? Should there not be a call to arms?

- (expletive deleted)

- Are men truly treated homogeneously in this article?

- Is every opinion you don't like stupid and/or irrational?

My only questions is why we're making bullying a gender issue. Bullying affects boys and girls from childhood, and learning how to deal with bullies seems like a gender agnostic issue. But maybe that's my privilege speaking..

Edit: Maybe I seem dismissive of the issue, but I'm really not. I just feel like there's a core problem here that has been incubating since the recess playground. I don't think people turn into bullies over night, rather they've grown to accept their role as aggressors due to never being confronted, and consequently grow even more empowered.

What we're witnessing as adults is what we see on the school yard. Everyone can see that the bully is a jerk, but everyone passively goes along with the flow. Why? Fear of retaliation and ostracization. Maybe everyone will think you're a looser for sticking up for the other looser. You want to be in the cool club so keep your mouth shut. Anyways, that's my two cents.

this is one of the more thoughtful pieces i've read on the issue.

it's obvious to anyone really paying attention the tech industry (and probably most other industries) has been extremely unfair to women. writing like this--clear on the problem and supportive of people who want to help--is important, but it's also important to remember that we all collectively have to act to actually change things.

Seriously. There are so few women in the tech industry, how would it be obvious to notice they have been unfairly treated?

One place I worked has a newspaper article on the wall about the high numbers of women hey hired. There were still only 3 on a floor of around 100 staff. All the places I have worked they have been treated as equals.

Hey, I just wanted to say thanks to you and/or dang for un-flagging it.

"this is one of the more thoughtful pieces i've read on the issue" is bull shit. I'm male and even I can figure this out.

Do you see what you're doing here? Do you even realize? Your comment reads: "THESE women are actually thoughtful, not like those bra-burning man-hating diatribes that I've come across from those crazy women in tech. If only all women were this calm and docile when talking about this subject." Maybe that wasn't the precise thoughts behind it, but it comes off as that condescending to everyone (particularly the women) who don't fit to your standards. You are saying "if you're going to talk about gender in tech, or even gender at all, be like these women or I don't care/you're crazy."

Every "piece", whatever the tone, is written for specific reasons, and you'd rather take the lazy route and rank them as "more/less thoughtful" than actually try to understand those reasons. Hey, I agree, there are some articles and such on gender-in-tech out there that could make points more strongly, could be tailored to their audience better, etc etc. You should respond to those with honest, interested questions. Not this. Edit: from the actual article itself:

"Being nice doesn’t work. We’ve been nice. Some of us that have written down our stories here have even been paraded around by men in the industry for how nice we’ve been in trying to address the social problems in tech as a way to discredit more vocal, astutely firm feminist voices. We don’t like this, we’ve never liked it, and it needs to stop."

Parading this article as "more reasonable" is the same dynamic; don't settle for the speech that you're comfortable with. Go back and try to understand why the other, louder speech made you uncomfortable.

Disallowing people from having/expressing an opinion as to how helpful/thoughtful a piece is -- particularly a positive opinion -- seems as problematic as disallowing some pieces.

Maybe it's better to just let people express it when something resonates with them.

(And while any judgment on how thoughtful a piece is probably subjective, it seems unlikely that every piece is equivalent in how broadly it leads people think about issues in a helpful way.)

I'm not saying "don't allow men to give their opinions on feminism articles," I'm saying that "this feminism article really helped me understand things better/gave me a new perspective" is infinitely more polite and fair than "this article is good, better than those other feminism articles I've read."

You don't have to push other women down to congratulate the ones who speak in the way you like. Feminism, from what I've gathered over the years, involves working to understand the experiences of all women.

> Do you see what you're doing here? Do you even realize? Your comment reads: "THESE women are actually thoughtful, not like those bra-burning man-hating diatribes that I've come across from those crazy women in tech. If only all women were this calm and docile when talking about this subject." Maybe that wasn't the precise thoughts behind it, but it comes off as that condescending to everyone (particularly the women) who don't fit to your standards. You are saying "if you're going to talk about gender in tech, or even gender at all, be like these women or I don't care/you're crazy."

You're completely projecting here. Parent's post really doesn't read like that. You even quote words it doesn't have (unless it has been edited) like "reasonable" when it says "thoughtful", which is really not the same thing at all.

seriously? yes, I'm saying these women wrote a particularly good letter. i think its important to praise good work.

i didn't say anything about "if only all women were this calm and docile when talking about this subject"--that's all you. all i said was that this was particularly good.

Um, or it could be that this is just pretty well done, as a result of multiple voices contributing and the hard work of Shanley Kane as editor.

If OP had just said that, I wouldn't have said anything.

Just a side note this site is run by a person who thinks

"This is NOT unrelated to the fact that YCombinator built Hacker News, a platform that has consistently terrorized women in tech for years."


I remember reading through that account's tweets when pg was accused of saying teenage girls can't code or something. Thought the author was pretty despicable. No surprise there was no apology or retraction when the full context / truth of that interview was revealed a few days later.

I followed it for a few weeks/months previously. The amount of hate she attempts to stir up is insane. That's exactly why I'm not interested in participating in this discourse 99% of the time.

I've downvoted you, because I don't feel that your comment is particularly germane to the submission itself.

(And I've seen enough minority/feminism-related discussions on HN to overwhelmingly agree that the community here is often incredibly hostile to women.)

Terrorized though? I'm not sure that being critical of some blog posts rises to that level.

extremists tend to use this wording.

Nearly all journalists use that kind of wording, and I am not sure that they are all extremists. Emotionally loading a sentence to make a point is normal rhetoric.

As you should know, as it is the same technique you have just used.

Ironically I bet they would not consider that statement hateful or hyperbolic. I bet the next tweet was something like "Why don't people want to identify as Feminist?"

Even folk on 4chan have commented that hacker-news is a bit unreasonable to women.

I am going to convey my experience of reading this, in the hopes that it might be helpful. The message that I get from this essay is as follows.

"We are angry with the way we are treated as women, by men. We are angry with the way we see other women being treated by men. Even though you might not personally have treated us like this, we know that you are a man, like other men, and we hold you responsible for what has happened to us and what we have seen. You have power, and we don't. It is by your choice and negligence as men that we are powerless and demeaned. You are not innocent, even though you think you are. We aren't interested in your opinion. You don't know anything. You need to change to make us not angry."

The reason I think this might be interesting is that I know (re-reading the letter, especially) that THIS IS NOT WHAT THE LETTER SAYS. For one thing, it is far from the only thing discussed in the letter; more importantly, however, I don't think this interpretation is all that fair a reading of what the authors have actually written. I know that it's a distorted version of what they intended to convey, and it might not even represent a correct interpretation of how any of them feel.

So why is this my impression? Your own conclusions are welcome, of course. You're free to dismiss me out of hand. But for myself, I think that it has to do with the confluence of two factors. Firstly, I don't really feel that I have a lot of power over women. Actually, I feel like women have a lot of power over me. My life is inextricably entangled with the lives of women, and it would be a meaningless, barren hell were this not so. But instead, and secondly, I am being told how separate I actually am --- and always will be --- from women. I am being told that women are not being treated as people by writers who go on to talk about women, and men, and the relationship of victimization between the two, without hardly a word about people, and how people treat each other, and how some people come to treat other people differently, and what we can do about it. Instead, I feel, I am being told that I am wrong to treat people as 'women' by people who are using the power of that identity as leverage to demand my compliance.

If feminism is the radical notion that women are people, then a feminism that is not about people is radically flawed. I don't like people having power over me, either. I don't like being treated as the avatar of someone's fears, pain, and disappointment, either. I don't like not being treated as if I'm me, really a person, either.

This is all off the cuff, and I have no time to be writing it, but that's my experience, and my reaction, and thanks for reading it.

I also was worried that there was something wrong with my reading comprehension. To me, one of the most critical parts of the essay seemed the most weakly written, namely the "Encouraging greater diversity in the workspace" section. Here I am thinking "ok, here comes the concrete suggestions for what men should do"--and then I'm left with a phrase without a definition. That section talks about events thrown by women for women it seems--precisely the things companies that "only pay lip service" would point to as evidence of their feminist credentials. In other words, those places and events don't look like "workplaces" at all. They may be encouraging women to work in tech "in general" and improving their skills but they are no means directly getting the women hired into the workplaces in question.

So just so I get this right: When they say "Encourage diversity in the workplace" do they mean "all things being equal, hire the women", or do they mean "all things being not immensely unequal, hire the women"?

I think your reaction is really interesting and honest. And isn't part of the problem that we can't really solve this problem or come to real understanding by way of open letters and blog posts? Which is not to say that this article or this discussion isn't useful, but I find when you talk in person all the sort of "point-winning" and defensive reactions and misunderstandings get dispensed with extremely quickly.

And that's unfortunate because we're all so plugged in and used to doing great things and solving problems by way of posts, uploads, and comment threads. Just some off-the-cuff thoughts as well.

Precisely. This article, and all others like it just come off sounding like childish boolean logic applied to billions of people, each as different as a randomly generated hash code.

If the only observation one can make about a case is that the accused has a Y chromosome and the accuser doesn't, one clearly needs to perform deeper analysis.

>Kat has started organizing casual lightning talks featuring female speakers. The talks have now taken place in both San Francisco and New York.

I thought that attending these would help me in various ways (all the words I can come up with fail to fit my sentiments so I'm going to leave it vague like this), but the link [1] doesn't lead to any resource where I can find out about future such events (presumably they'd be held at Stripe since Kat, the host, is employed there). Does anyone know where I can find this info?

[1] https://stripe.com/events/lightningpies

> If you see someone engage in bad behavior and you do nothing, you've chosen to let that person think that what they did is okay. This leaves us feeling like we’re fighting this alone.

There is easily dozens (hundreds?) of "fights" that I could get into everyday but I don't. I'm not really a confrontational person. Please don't take it personally when this fight is also one I don't get into.

It isn't even about that, you pick and choose your fights. If you try to fight every injustice, you'll succeed at none.

You have to choose when to fight.

"Some men made statements that made us feel unwelcome in the tech industry"

We are going to respond my making generailized hate speech towards all men in the industry.

But seriously, are people expecting 100% support from all sections of society? Is that even a realistic expectation?

> We are going to respond my making generailized hate speech towards all men in the industry.

This is a large part of my problem with some of the MVC writers. If you're a male, you're guilty. If you're white and male, you're really guilty.

I am a straight white male, and I know (and am friends with) many of the MVC writers. I even sponsored the latest issue. So I can say, empirically, you're wrong.

You seem like a nice guy, but I think this is about what arguments get deployed if you are perceived not to be toeing a specific kind of feminist line. Socially, in certain circles, you are not allowed to disagree or even question and maybe not talk at all unless you have some kind of special sex/race combination. And the same facts or arguments deployed will be acceptable or despicable depending on WHO says them.

As a white male, I've never encountered this when actually interacting with, well, any feminist I've ever met.

As a white male, I have.

Wanna trade anecdotes on anything else? I've got a shiny holographic bystander-effect story that's raring to go, having read this (http://kirstensamazing.com/stop-leaning-in-put-down-your-iph...) earlier

If you don't do the things that people are writing about, then they aren't talking about you.

You should read http://bitchtopia.com/2013/07/11/not-all-men-are-like-that/.

s/men/any other group/g

s/oppressing/any other negative behavior/g

"Having to point out that not every black steals allows for robbery to continue because having to say “some blacks are thieves” gives blacks peace of mind. "

"hate speech"

You're gonna have to show your work on that one.

I wish we could leave codebabes.com out of the equation when it comes to women in tech. This is not an industry thing, and opinions on whether or not it's okay for these kind of things to exist are divided, and not across gender lines and including amongst feminists.

It falls in the same category as porn. It's a valid debate, but it's a separate debate.

This is a topic I feel very strongly about, but I have to treat like it's radioactive. Hence, this is a throwaway account and I will not be using it again.

I am a white male in my early 30s. I'm strongly libertarian and do everything in my power to make sure that people have the opportunity to work in a safe and non-threatening environment. I go out of my way to make sure that people who do not share my "type A" personality are included in group activities, and spend a good deal of energy monitoring and adjusting my body language to be inviting without being aggressive. This in particular doesn't come naturally to me, and as an introvert, is quite exhausting.

The one time I attempted to work with the the social circle that authors and maintains Model-View-Culture, I was met with the single most obvious and aggressive display of sexism I've encountered in my professional career. They used gender-based names to refer to me in a very derogatory and degrading way, and proceeded to go through my social profiles and mock my private life and family - because I had the audacity to attempt to engage them in a conversation while being male.

> Does this mean we’re going to get angry at you if you try to help and get it wrong? > This is an a fear that has come to light through side channels. Men know there is a problem, and they’re worried the women they know are on the defensive - especially when reading a direct call to action like this one.

> They want to help but they’re worried if they don’t get everything just right, someone will chastise them into oblivion.

No, I'm not worried that I'll be chastised - I'm worried that my gender will result in a situation where any action (or inaction) on my part will result in my being ostracized from the professional community to which I've devoted a large part of my adult life. Further, I base this fear on my own actual experience and the direct observation of the experiences of others.

> The people signing this document are patient when they see someone trying to make a difference.

Perhaps. To be fair, the people who lashed out at me are not listed on this document. They are members of the same social circle though, and the thought of putting my career and my family's livelihood on the line to try and solve problems that do not directly impact me is terrifying. I am supposed to trust them not to dox me, spread that information to their entire social circle, then use it to publicly shame me?


I want to help. I really do. I have a wife, daughters, and my own mother is a long-time feminist. I consider myself a feminist, though not of the radical far-left variety they practice. As much as I've been preached to about how feminism is hostile because they are not in a position of power, they've wielded that power arbitrarily and willfully when they found themselves able to do so.

The only way to win this game is not to play.

And the worst part is that not all of them are that way.

Like you, my mother was also strongly feminist. She had a very strong personality, and I grew up being a "feminist".

It wasn't until I got older and started seeing the movement as a whole that I started distancing myself from it.

Because I agree that wrongs need to be righted, and that women have every right to equality as men.

I just don't agree that means I should be ashamed of my gender, or that I'm automatically an asshole.

Thank you for making better points than I did. I feel like there is no "discussion" here, just blatant attacks on anyone who disagrees with any of the conclusions made by the authors.

Article conflates feminism with women. Not all women are Feminist or seek to be. Women are human beings and should be treated as such. Feminism is an ideology and should be treated as such. Why confuse people by taking about them like they're the same thing?

>Feminism is an ideology

This is where you're factually (yes, factually) wrong. Try: !w feminism

What are you trying to say, exactly? If you're trying to say I'm unfamiliar with feminism, you're wrong. If you're trying to say that feminism isn't an ideology, you've made the poor choice of suggesting an article that uses the word ideologies in the first sentence. If you're trying to snipe at me for using the singular instead of the plural, I shall have to say Q.E.D.

  >> We are not the 'nice feminists' of this community.
  >    Being nice doesn’t work. We’ve been nice.
In this article you were actually all nice and I read right to the bottom. I certainly do find it a lot easier to listen to and agree with people that aren't spilling hatred at me. I never want to feel like I'm giving time to somebody trying to extract some psychological harm as revenge on my gender - whether or not they have a reason to be angry with the status quo, the target market often doesn't last long enough to receive your message.

   > We are tired of our male peers pretending that because they 
   > do not participate in bad behavior, that it is not their problem
   > to solve. If you see someone engage in bad behavior and you
   > do nothing, you’ve chosen to let that person think that what they
   > did is okay. This leaves us feeling like we’re fighting this alone. 
   > We can’t work on what we can’t see, but if you’re there when it
   > happens, you can help. It is absolutely imperative that men work
   > with other men to combat bad attitudes and behavior.
This is true. Though it's not just heteronormativity or misogyny. It often seems like there might be the "bystander effect" at play, too. Not that you were arguing that and not to try to argue that this makes it okay, but just to argue that people taking responsibility when they have the power to do so are the exception and not the rule in human nature.

I agree that people should speak up if you see something wrong even if they just say something small, but I reckon it will be hard/impossible to educate all to do so. However if those that notice something is up speak up then it will be a better place for all of us. And for those that notice but are too shy to kick up a fuss, there is always more subtle signalling that can be used: tilt your body away from the aggressor, go quiet and start a conversation with somebody outside the group - disinterest, and "awkwardness" can be powerful.

   *   *   *
Going slightly off-topic here just to say something that I care about. Something that has been quite difficult for me to read in other feminist pieces/tweets is the meme "not all men" which is often quickly followed by "ALL MEN!". It might be annoying to have guys constantly interrupting to raise themselves onto a little pedestal as caring gentlemen, but this is creating a wall between two groups and we both need to work beyond the meme. @slatestarcodex made a very good point in an article [1] I read recently, which explains how both sides are affected:

   > "So the one problem is that people have a right not to have
   > unfair below-the-belt tactics used to discredit them without 
   > ever responding to their real arguments. And the other 
   > problem is that victims of non-representative members of a
   > group have the right to complain, even though those complaints
   > will unfairly rebound upon the other members of that group."
In nerd-speak what he's saying is that you have a right to be angry with people that are victimising you and need to be able to speak about this, but at the same time when you say it anybody else in that group that didn't victimise you often feels that they are collateral damage (and this is actually the case, the connotations will affect them.) I don't know a solution. I side with you but some activist somewhere will hopefully step up and find a way of talking about groups in a way that doesn't turn all men into misogynists, all germans into nazis, all whites into walking privileges, and all feminists into fat, angry, lesbians (or whatever people say to discredit you.) It clearly isn't fair to individuals.

  *   *   *
I don't think all men are out to get you. I also don't think there's a huge misogyny problem in the industry in comparison to some other industries and cultures I've mixed with. (Perhaps my bad luck.) This is my opinion from listening to the perspectives of the people around me and watching their behaviour around women.

However I do think we have a significant diversity problem and that it's altering the interactions between men and women in the tech industry in a very bad way. We're unfortunately at a point where it's probably most difficult for women. There are enough of you to talk about the problems you face, but not enough that you don't have your environment dominated by us.

I often hear tech men desperately wishing they had more women working in their company. And here is a big problem: it's not because they want to give you economic choices but because of sexual deprivation. I'm sorry if communication is nasty for you right now, I think a more diverse group would stamp out the majority of shitty interactions and we'll get there eventually. Until then some of those men are going to be acting nice trying to get close to you so they can eventually flip to their ulterior motives, while others will be running asshole PUA game on you to see what they can "get away with". Finally of course there'll be a large percentage of misogynistic or bitter (MRA) jerks that want to make you feel small so they can feel good - and unfortunately with the current diversity levels they have a voice. I can imagine it's enraging.

Sorry if I inadvertently said something that clashes with whatever feminism you all share. I just wanted to speak truthfully about how I see everything.

[1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/12/weak-men-are-superweapo...

>In this article you were actually all nice and I read right to the bottom. I certainly do find it a lot easier to listen to and agree with people that aren't spilling hatred at me. I never want to feel like I'm giving time to somebody trying to extract some psychological harm as revenge on my gender - whether or not they have a reason to be angry with the status quo, the target market often doesn't last long enough to receive your message.

This is true, yet such a delicate matter. Allow me to digress from the primary issue at hand to share an anecdote.

When I first read about the "check your privilege" controversy at my alma mater [1], my reaction was "we definitely have acute class issues, but by opening in such a confrontational way, we're taking away any possibility of having a constructive dialogue." Delivery so profoundly affects how we respond to the raising of an issue, and can be the difference between an instinctive defensiveness or a considered opening of the psychological gates.

The letter to the editor to the NYT piece puts it well:

"Most disturbing about the “check your privilege” comment to people making arguments at Princeton University is its utility in changing the subject away from their ideas, conservative or liberal. This kind of dismissive labeling needs to be called out for the ad hominem attack that it is. Recognizing it for what it is could undermine what it does, which is to sabotage debate."

It's a delicate line to walk -- being assertive and resolute, yet communicating understanding and cooperation. But if our goal is actual, gradual change for the better, rather than simply feeling good about ourselves for putting someone down or taking the pulpit for ourselves, then I feel that the means we choose must not fail to encourage our intended audience from lending us their ear.

It is so hard though, since each person's interpretation of language differs in so many subtle ways. We can see it in this very thread, where the same given post is interpreted in a wide range of intent.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/03/nyregion/at-princeton-priv...

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/opinion/a-hot-topic-at-pri...

> I don't know a solution

There is one, but it's extremely drastic: We would have to completely taboo group identification, everywhere, all the time. Everybody would have to be judged solely as an individual, on the individual merits of their case.

Unfortunately, we humans are social animals who evolved to form dominance and status hierarchies, so I strongly doubt this solution would actually be stable.

>I don't think all men are out to get you. I also don't think there's a huge misogyny problem in the industry in comparison to some other industries and cultures I've mixed with. (Perhaps my bad luck.) This is my opinion from listening to the perspectives of the people around me and watching their behaviour around women. However I do think we have a significant diversity problem and that it's altering the interactions between men and women in the tech industry in a very bad way.

I think this is a fair assessment.

> Finally of course there'll be a large percentage of misogynistic or bitter (MRA) jerks that want to make you feel small so they can feel good - and unfortunately with the current diversity levels they have a voice. I can imagine it's enraging.

This is where the wheels come off, and the bias shows.

There's a large percentage of men who are either misogynistic, and /or MRA jerks? Why aren't feminists characterized as jerks? Why are you painting MRA as jerks, but apologizing to feminists if you've accidentally offended them?

This is where those of us who really hold no bias start getting annoyed about the portrayal of the male gender. Men who care about men's rights are jerks, but women who care about women's rights get apologies if they get offended by reasonable arguments?

And this was done by a male. If the feminists were really honest they'd call this man to task for being biased towards women, and they would tell him they don't want to be held above the other gender either.

The person who posted this goes into depth about the men who have an "ulterior motive" about hiring women. What is this person's ulterior motive for pandering to women in this way?

Why do I have to be ok with being told how terrible my gender is in order to work in this industry anymore?

For the more moderate feminists, consider that. You have a lot of would be allies who get just as tired of being told how terrible they are, and just want you go to away as a result. And folks like the person who posted the above are not helping, they are pandering. A rational person can look at it and think "this isn't right either".

I'm not pandering to anybody. I actually believe what I wrote.

But I do have a bias: I have a bias towards diplomacy. We all have biases and the sooner we admit that we're fallible minds that have lived just one life, not the objective thinkers we wish to present to our audience, the sooner we can begin to respect and listen to each other.

  > There's a large percentage of men who are either misogynistic, 
  > and /or MRA jerks? Why aren't feminists characterized as jerks?
  > Why are you painting MRA as jerks, but apologizing to feminists
  > if you've accidentally offended them?
Not all MRA are jerks. Not all feminists are jerks.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that a large percentage of men were misogynists. I meant to say that it was a slightly larger percentage than is normally visible and that this was mostly because in a 50/50 male/female environment they would self-censor as well as have less reason to feel the way they do while in the current 90/10 environment (or whatever it is) they do not need to.

I think the article was unusually fair and diplomatic for a tech gender piece. I wanted to repay this by commenting on my own opinions in as careful, constructive and fair way as I know how to. If I was to have posted an inflammatory rant about how angry feminists were just as bad as misogynists and then have tried to equate them using some ridiculous objective-appearing seesaw as if I was the divine judge of a gender-war then I'd be completely arguing against what I was arguing for: diplomacy and the acceptance and understanding of each other's problems as a result of there being a lack of diversity.

I want a better way of acting together, not to win a battle.

You are absolutely entitled to your opinions but you are way too confident of the truth of what you're saying to signal rationality.

If there's one thing I've learned in my 35 years on this planet, it's that telling someone they're irrational is not diplomatic.

But it wasn't men you were talking about being diplomatic to, was it? It was women.

I wonder if that diplomacy should also include men, and if so, how do you feel about the way feminists have been vilifying men? Or the way you just did, with your comment about MRA.

Fair is fair, after all.

  > If there's one thing I've learned in my 35 years on this planet, 
  > it's that telling someone they're irrational is not diplomatic.
Well, you did it first, I just pointed out that we'd all do better by listening to each other and having less certainty of our rationality.

  > I wonder if that diplomacy should also include men, and if so, 
  > how do you feel about the way feminists have been vilifying men? 
I feel like it's a bad 'weak men' argument as stated by my two paragraphs I wrote on it referring to the article by @slatestarcodex.

  *  *  *
I also feel that some aspects of feminism in technology can be neatly framed as rent-seeking behaviour. But, I think anybody that gives their wealth over to another because they have been guilted into believing that they should not truly own it (privilege narrative) are fools who should be parted with their money.

Also, I think that many in the MRA community are just too whiney to attempt to defend men. I could barely mount an argument for men like that.

I'm not a feminist. I listened to the article because it wasn't shouted at me, and I responded saying that some of the behaviour annoys me, that the normal lack of diplomacy normally makes me stop reading after 5 seconds, and that diversity is a problem because of the social interactions it creates but there isn't much misogyny to see. There's enough shared belief to be tapped here, and I'm pretty good at not jumping in with my own strong opinions when I can see a benefit in solving an underlying problem with others.

You cannot quote me insulting you in any way, the closest you can get is the statement that a rational person can look at the pandering that happens from some men and conclude it isn't right either (yes, you are included in that group of 'some men').

It should also be noted that I'm not the one who is using diplomacy in their argument. My issue with you is the weak way in which you've pandered to feminists in general, while at the same time painting men and MRA as 'jerks'.

We are not jerks, nor is MRA about 'jerks'. It is unfortunate that you've chosen to buy that line, you should start being more proud of your gender.

If men and women are going to come to any sort of concensus on these sorts of issues, it's not going to happen by 1 side pandering to the other.

"Men's rights activism" is seldom more than bashing women and attempting to shout down and dismiss any issues they might raise. I think this is sad, because there are some interesting issues a "men's place in society" movement could address, but unfortunately whatever reasonable folk there might be under the "men's rights" label, they're drowned out by a flood of really hateful people.

"Why aren't feminists characterized as jerks?"

Are you characterizing people who identify as "feminist" as jerks here? Perhaps you should reconsider your phrasing. And consider how "hold no bias" you sound when you say something like that.

There's no such thing as the "male gender" ('male' refers to sex). You have a bias. For one thing, it's your years of socializaton as a boy and now a (young?) man. Understanding what feminists are trying to say takes work. You haven't done enough work yet. No one in 2014 is saying that it's terrible that you're male.

Not sniping on someone because they've used a definition for a word you disagree with might be a start to getting people to your side of the argument.

Just an thought.


> Depending on the context, the term may refer to biological sex (i.e. the state of being male, female or intersex) ...

> There's no such thing as the "male gender"

Maybe it's a cultural thing but here in the UK at least I think male and female are seen as genders... What word should the parent commenter have used? "man gender" is not grammatical, so I can only think of one other option; "male".

(edit: and in case I'm misunderstood, I don't mean any kind of subtext on the wider debate here, I'm just asking because I think 'male' is a gender and am confused).

(edit: right, found this: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html so basically it's the difference between sex and gender. I wasn't acutely aware that the words male vs masculine carried such an important distinction. I'm not sure if they are commonly used in that distinct way).

The poster was just trying to find something to attack.

If you read the wiki article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender

You can see the following quote: _Depending on the context, the term may refer to biological sex (i.e. the state of being male, female or intersex), ..._

LGBT has a tendency to use the term gender to mean gender roles, where the lines are a bit more obscure. I believe psychologists do as well.

But in every day vernacular, gender refers to sex for most people, and as the wiki article suggests, it's completely acceptable to use it in that manner.

I'll repeat what I said before, the poster was just looking for something to attack.

Thanks for asking, it's an important point:

In U.S. medical and feminist academics (and elsewhere,) "male/female" refers to sex: XX/XY chromosomes and the resulting organs, body type, etc, resulting in human sexual dimorphism, to which there are rare, exceptional cases, where the person is called intersex.

"man/woman" are common terms colloquially referring to male/female people (you probably know this). In the context of certain feminisms, the words refer to people born male or female, and then raised into the gender roles defined by society as appropriate for male and female people. These gender roles are what are invoked by words like "manly", "womanly", "sissy", and other "gendered" words and insults.

In other feminisms, the words refer to people who "identify" as one or the other, where this identity is either "innate" or otherwise fluid or something. Full disclosure, I sympathize with the former sort of feminism, so I'm not exactly the best person to give a comprehensive synopsis here.

Judith Lorber's "Gender Inequality" is a book that goes over individual feminist movements and waves, without necessarily pushing any of them on the reader. It's not too long, I recommend it.


> The last few weeks have been very difficult for women in tech:

> Gurbaksh Chahal - then-CEO of a startup, was allegedly video taped violently attacking a former partner 117 times in 30 mins (He was finally fired some time after this was made public)

My reaction when I first read this: "wow, the guy beat up his company partner AND a woman, at that. What an asshole." Then I clicked through (note: he's still an asshole).

If you actually click through and read this, it is completely unrelated to tech. The partner that was attacked was a girlfriend. Not a company partner at all.

I'm not condoning the behaviour, obviously, but I feel like this article is setting the stage to create a "men vs women" thing in tech. If we spell it out, a full two out of five points the authors use to make their case can be summarized as:

A guy who has a temper problem and runs a tech company attacked a girlfriend who had nothing to do with the tech company. Everyone wanted to see proof.

Why is this particular instance difficult for women in tech? Why not everywhere? Why is this not used as an example of perhaps the stresses that people are under that cause them to behave this way? Is there a link to aggression and CEOs? This would be a better set of questions to take away from that incident than "if you work in tech and you are a woman, will you get beat up on a daily basis?"

> The last thing we want is for people reading this to be put on the defensive

The last thing I want is for people who want to bend the truth this much to be on the front page of HN.

The other stuff you wrote about? All great stuff. No one wants rapey emails. Even if you are fine as hell, you should be free from getting groped or otherwise harassed.

Don't adopt tangentially related stories to create a narrative that is more dire than real life. It just makes me shut off to anything else you want to say and then I don't want to work with you at all.

> The partner that was attacked was a girlfriend. Not a company partner at all.

Many people have switched to saying 'partner' for all relationships to help demonstrate their support for gay marriage.

> Everyone wanted to see proof.

He already pled guilty.

> Why is this particular instance difficult for women in tech?

Well, it's an example of someone's incredibly personal abuse story possibly being shown to millions of people against their will.

Also, he was the CEO of a tech startup, and the tech startup media did all the reporting on it, and all his investors literally said 'congratulations, I'm glad this is behind you' after he pled guilty.

> Why not everywhere?

Something can be a problem in a certain industry, and also in general. Both statements can be true.

> Also, he was the CEO of a tech startup, and the tech startup media did all the reporting on it, and all his investors literally said 'congratulations, I'm glad this is behind you' after he pled guilty.

Still has little to do with gender bias. The investors are there for the money. I've seen companies keep known alcoholics around because they provide enough value for said company to deal with it.

The issue isn't that it happened, it's attributing it to simple gender bias. It's dishonest.

Nobody is claiming that it's cause is simply bias. It's a particular instance of the general structural issues women face.

men face the exact same issues. It's akin to women complaining that they have to purchase gasoline in order to make it to work daily. So do men, why is that something the women are rallying around?

If men and women face the same issues, and women are working towards fixing those issues, I'm not sure why you're so upset. Isn't that positive?

I think the travesty is how quickly you choose to mis-characterize me as being upset for no other reason than the idea that I disagree with you.

Can we be more honest than that?

"He already pled guilty."

Looks like someone didn't bother to click through to the meaty articles about that point. The police dropped all charges against him, and he plead to a misdemeanor with a fine.

Imagine this... You find out your partner of who knows how long, has been having unprotected sex for money for (I think the article said years). I say she deserves a beating if that was true. In my book, she's throwing dice around with his life/health. And if they have kids, she's messing with their future and well-being as well. Horrible, and just goes to show that sexism is alive and well, but not as they portray it. Because we're up in arms about a guy smacking around someone who happens to be female, because she put his life in danger.

People on the internet love being outraged. And this article is just fanning the shit around even more to further their cause. I feel for them, and there might even be true discrimination out there against women, but attention seeks like the ones in this article are doing them a disservice. If not out right mocking them by using their problems for personal PR.

> I say she deserves a beating if that was true.

Just want to emphasize that sentence there.

Because you don't have a response other than to cherry pick sentences that sound bad out of context? Go right ahead, buddy.

> Because you don't have a response other than to cherry pick sentences that sound bad out of context? Go right ahead, buddy.

You have a context that makes domestic violence acceptable? I sure didn't see it in your parent comment.

Engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners while pretending otherwise with each is akin to playing Russian Roulette... with someone else's life.

Man or woman, yes, that sort of behavior deserves a beating.

That sentence sounds bad in any context, don't try to weasel out of it.

What, because it's in reference to a woman? Everyone's so smitten and keen to come to their aide, like shining white knights. But if it comes to a man, you would have no problem about it. That is the real sexism that no one wants to talk about, and it's rife in this thread. Endangering someone else's life deserves a beating, man or woman.

> Also, he was the CEO of a tech startup, and the tech startup media did all the reporting on it, and all his investors literally said 'congratulations, I'm glad this is behind you' after he pled guilty.

Thank you for spelling it out for me. This bit with the inevstors apparently condoning the behaviour is what I was missing.

So what do you think should happen? The man pleaded guilty and paid his due, presumably.

Should his career be forever destroyed?

I'm curious.

Exactly. What's going on is that the feminists of MVC are looking at the extremes: extreme abuse, or extreme success. What they don't care about is that this is an industry where 40 hour work weeks are a luxury, and the average neckbeard sysadmin is despised by HR even as he fixes their boxes for the n'th time.

As a general rule of thumb: if women have it bad, men have it worse. But since the bottom half of men are invisible, everyone focuses on the 'poor' victimized women instead.

Roy Baumeister's "Is There Anything Good About Men?" explains this well, but they'd never read it because it's "MRA".

> As a general rule of thumb: if women have it bad, men have it worse.

Can you honestly write that and actually believe it? Even better, can you give some examples to justify it? That's a pretty big claim, and one that, at face value, seems pretty unlikely.

Here is the list (US only).

* Domestic violence (men can't be the victim in eyes of public and law).

* Divorces (70% initiated by women, child support calculated basing on one month of his highest income ever, women get the children).

* Body integrity (circumcision anyone?)

* Sexist sentencing (men get on average twice as high number of years in jail for the same crimes)

* Education (man are lagging behind women in both primary, secondary and college degrees)

* Work-place related injuries and deaths (mostly men, all of the time).

Women in US? Yeah, often meet with prejudice when it comes to evaluation of their abilities as employees and professionals. Most other often repeated problems are BS and are not supported by statistics.

You should probably read this article: http://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-t...

Specifically, this part from the bottom of the article:

Feminists do not want you to lose custody of your children. The assumption that women are naturally better caregivers is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their "traditional" marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate "nice guys." The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don't is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of any gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it's unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.

Feminists hate patriarchy. We do not hate you.

Ok, this article needs some dismantling. Huge amount of straight propaganda.

1. Or it was other way around. Women in workforce => Feminism.

3. And installed laws such as VOWA, installed Diluth Model etc etc.

5,6. More half-truths and lies. The only contraceptive that gives men power to control their reproduction is condom, which was invented long before Feminism. Pill and other forms of contraception are empowering ONLY women. "Men get abortions too" is beyond manipulation. Idea that by helping small group of LGBTQ folk Feminism is saving ALL the males is repeated few more times in this article. Ridiculous.

7. Beautiful manipulation. Indeed, this change of definition allowed persecution in cases where male is a victim. Still, it is not possible to persecute "envelopment" as rape.

10-17. Feminism also cured AIDS, send humans to the Moon and granted eternal salvation in afterlife.

18. Clearly, before Feminism women never left kitchen. /s

20. Imagine that? A Movie! Damn, Feminism is literally anti Hitler!

21. Hey, I fought against Putin's second, third and fourth term. And I failed miserably, just as Feminism in this particular case.

21. "Feminism teaches us that nothing is objective, not even science." Enough said.

Men does not need Feminism, they need their own movement. Otherwise we get such gems as this one: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Allies

And here I thought Rosa Parks was a racial issue, not a gender one.

While I agree that feminism has had some positive effects, I take issue with feminism taking credit for "anything a woman has done ... ever".

Did feminism invent programming and find the first bug ever?Or was that Ada Lovelace, because I'm starting to be unsure...

I will forever remember this dear lady when I hear any of this:


Oh good, you replied to factual statistics with a bunch of feel good nonsense from Jezebel, which we all know is a respected journal in the social sciences.

This article deserves a comic which goes like that:

a) a man is shown suffering from some injustice that targets only men

b) his attempts to alleviate the issue via normal means meet a cold denial of society

c) a Feminist appears that points out "this is Patriarchy!"

d) Nothing changes; Feminist smugly walks away. He saved the day once again!

Absolutely. Go look at the Middle East, visit Tehran. See how many 80 year old male taxi drivers there are. The men are obliged to support to women into old age, who are legally entitled to privileges. See how many 80 year old women do the same.

Of course this gets rewritten into a "woman are victims" narrative where they aren't allowed to leave the house, even though few Iranian women care to change this situation.

Women have in group bias, the Women are Wonderful effect exists, and the bottom half of the men are invisible.

If you really want to understand this as a man, start to engage in feminist discussions with a female nickname. All of a sudden, you can be hyperbolic, hypersensitive and hysterical, and people will somehow find a way to excuse such behaviour. Post the exact same comment as a man, and you will not only be dismissed, but often seen as a credible threat.

I can't even read it with a straight face.

And it's exactly this sort of visceral reaction that will keep the "women are victims" meme going long after we're all dead. It's evolutionarily beneficial, after all, we are descended from twice as many women as men. You don't think that happened purely by coincidence or as a "societal construct" did you?

It's not a visceral reaction. Those tend to be far less polite.

It's a reaction to the idea that men having their own struggles must, invariably, be parsed as a zero-sum game against women, and the toxic idea that for men to benefit, somehow women must lose.

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