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Why didn't you back me up? (plus.google.com)
307 points by myko on Mar 7, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 416 comments



If you (man or woman) work somewhere where the culture is harassing/hostile to women (or to anyone), you should take it seriously and either work elsewhere or try to stop it.

It's surprising how far some men will go if the behavior is tolerated. Often socially dominant men or those who have some kind of position of authority will get worse and worse. They will often not address the comments at anyone in particular but will just say lewd things and talk about sexual topics when doing so is not invited or warranted, often mixed with humor.

When a joke is told by a person with some authority, the response is typically laughter, even if the joke was inappropriate. Even those who might otherwise disapprove tend not to say anything.

Many women are just ambitious enough to ignore it, thinking that such behavior is in their best career interest (and it may be).

Some people have a knee-jerk negative reaction to feminism, but the important thing to realize is that when you are a woman you have to constantly turn down sex and sexual interest from males. This is true 100x for attractive women. When coupled with organizational power dynamics this is a very serious issue because it causes the victims extra stress and is bullying and unfair.

To generalize, don't ever hire or work with anyone you'd characterize as a bully.


Standing up to something in the moment, individually...is really hard and can actually be rather embarrassing. If you found you kept your mouth shut or laughed along at something so as to avoid social awkwardness, that doesn't mean you failed. You still have the opportunity to right things. Reach out to an colleague for moral support.

To quote pervocracy:

""" When I worked on an ambulance (this is my personal "one time in band camp"), we were at a nursing home, dropping a patient off after a routine transport, when we saw something disturbing. A nurse was giving liquid medication to another patient who was clearly choking on it. The patient was gagging horribly, the nurse was holding his head in place and forcing the oral syringe down his throat even as he was thrashing and making drowning noises, and after she finished she walked away even though he was coughing up medication all over his pillow.

My work partner and I saw this, and, with that creeped out feeling of "did I just see what I think I saw?" and "something's not right," we... left and took another call and went off to the hospital. Then we grabbed some lunch. Then one of us--I don't even remember which one--blurted it out.

"That thing at the nursing home... you saw that too, right? That was kind of fucked up, right?"

Those two sentences started the chain of events that lead to us filing a formal elder abuse report.

"""

http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/07/just-one-ally.html?m=...


Exactly. If enough people do something small it can make a big difference, it's not necessary to vocally confront anyone or even do anything publicly (though if you do all the better).


doing the right thing is hard. we need to encourage it more...


> If you work somewhere where the culture is harassing/hostile to women (or to anyone), you should take it seriously and either work elsewhere or try to stop it.

A thousand times this. We all have a responsibility to stop workplace harassment. As a manager, it would infuriate me to learn that a member of my team had been treated this way.

It saddens me to think that for most people, incidents like these won't reduce people's interest in working for Google.


The description of Vic Gundotra, if true, is disappointing. One would think that someone so polished and smart would have the sense to realize that such behavior is over the line.


You mean this tweet?

> After hours, having drinks with Vic and the gang. Vic talking about how G+ was promoting Sasha Grey. Starts talking about how hot she is.

I may be entirely clueless, but is this not considered an acceptable topic for after hours drinks?

-

Edit: I found another Vic tweet that you were more likely referring to:

> "You look amazing in that bathing suit, like a rock star." -Vic Gundotra, to me, when I was a junior engineer at Google. In Maui.


Talking with a subordinate about how hot a porn star is doesn't seem even slightly sketchy to you? Even if you think he was just really excited to have someone using Google+ can you imagine how someone whose career is substantially in your control might wonder about whether there's some other expectation or even whether they can say “I'm not comfortable having this conversation” without consequences?

In any case https://twitter.com/justkelly_ok/status/574268362051584001 makes it clear that there was more to it:

> "You look amazing in that bathing suit, like a rock star." -Vic Gundotra, to me, when I was a junior engineer at Google. In Maui.

> Vic G to Matt S within earshot of me, on a boat in Maui: "doesn't Kelly look amazing heh heh"

… and it's looking like this wasn't just an isolated misunderstanding:

> anyone who has worked with Vic knows he constantly makes comments about women's appearances.

https://twitter.com/jasonpjason/status/574267705714339840


None of Vic's compliments, which by the way happened outside the office, constitute sexual harassment. By vilifying innocent remarks, you're only further making men not want to work with women, while promoting a culture of oversensitivity and political correctness. Who wants to work in an environment where they can't make a simple compliment without being publicly ousted as a mysogynist offender? I sure as hell don't.


> None of Vic's compliments, which by the way happened outside the office, constitute sexual harassment.

In or out of the office doesn't matter if it's a work event – and off-site retreats, conferences, etc. certainly qualify. Even if it's not, a manager still has to be responsible for what they say to a subordinate and make it clear that this is unofficial and not connected to their job.

> By vilifying innocent remarks, you're only further making men not want to work with women, while promoting a culture of oversensitivity and political correctness. Who wants to work in an environment where they can't make a simple compliment without being publicly ousted as a mysogynist offender? I sure as hell don't.

I'm a man and I don't have a problem working with women. The difference is that I know my job isn't a singles bar and in no case would I want someone to think that there would be professional consequences for not reacting favorably to something they didn't like. That doesn't mean that you can't be friendly with people you work with, only that you have to pay more attention to what you say than you might with a group of close friends, because your friends have already given you more of an idea for what's okay or not and, critically, if it ceases to be fun they can leave with no professional or financial consequences.

Finally, you're very quick to use loaded language which implies knowledge that Vic's actual intention was completely innocent. Using terms like “simple compliment”, “innocent remarks” says that you know more about what he meant than someone who was actually there or the coworkers who've voiced support for her interpretation. Given that the most common reaction seems to be “That sounds bad – Google better do something” and not “Off with his head”, I'm not sure you should be criticizing anyone for oversensitivity.


I think that's mainly a consequence of the work climate in the US. Unfortunately people have to act as if they were asexual. Or, at least pretend they completely uninterested in sex. It's a shame to think that one of the greatest preoccupations in people's minds has to be subjugated and buried. I think that's a bit unhealthy for society.

Don't read that as saying harassment is okay. Harassment is not okay. However, talking about sexual topics bringing them up, etc., is not sexual harassment, prima facie. But this is where we are, unlike Europe. I dare say in Europe there is less sexual harassment in the workplace, but simultaneously there is more open talk about sex at the workplace; people don't have a puritanical knee-jerk reaction to sex. Talking about sex and complimenting people in the workplace is not some weird taboo. They understand people are sexual creatures and don't try to pretend they are not.

Again, it's reprehensible and bad to sexually harass people. I think any normal person would agree --but I would have to disagree with saying that to combat sexual harassment it's necessary to extirpate sex from people's conversations at work. It's unnatural. What's next, sing a contract explicitly allowing consensual sexual talk at work to ensure correctness?

To put this another way, women also like to talk about sex in the workplace. What they don't like is talking about sex turning into an invitation to sex. It's not. Sometimes people just want to talk. And it's not as if women are sexless beings without impulse. As men, women too have sexual thoughts about people at work but they don't typically act on them in a repulsive way, where as men don't control their impulses as well (plus tend to have the power imbalance in their favor).


It isn't that you have to pretend to be asexual.

Just don't sexually harass people who work under you as subordinates; that's abusing your position.


I don't think you even remotely understand the problem. The problem isn't the place human sexuality plays in conversation, but the fact that women in Silicon Valley work in male-dominated environments that have been getting increasingly hostile towards women over the last two decades, and people working in such environments quickly sublimate the power structure. It's not that talking about sex makes the atmosphere hostile, but the other way around: women (and men) don't feel comfortable where they don't feel safe. If all employees felt safe, secure, and respected, they -- including women -- will be happy to talk about many subjects, including sex.


No, I get it. My issue is that they get conflated in the media and in discussion. Combating sexism and harassment is good, no two ways about it -it is a problem? Yes, I know of women who have to turn down repeated requests for dates, from the same people over and over and over. Myself I remember some guy asking me out repeatedly --knowing very well I'm not into guys. But, it's a shame that there is no nuance and any semblance of sexuality is automatically seen as treading the very thin ice of harassment.

People aren't sure any more if a compliment is going to be interpreted as harassment. Harassment meanwhile goes unabated, and as you conclude, may be getting worse.


But the harassment, in this case, is only a symptom of the sexism that is making its way into the very core of SV workplaces. Everything gets amplified when the perpetrator enjoys more power and the support of the boy club. This case is just one more demonstration that the problem is not the limits of propriety, but a very unfair distribution of power.

If someone hurts you, whether or not you will experience the offense as a dangerous threat depends very much on whether the offender makes the offense knowing they enjoy the protection of power, which allows them to harm people who don't.


It can't be a symptom of sexism, else I could not ever be accused of harassing a man. Yet, could be capable of harassing a man, or a man harass me. Or one woman another. And power amplifies it, or squelches it (one rarely sees a superior get sexually harassed, but it's not because a potential harasser does not exist). Harassment is to me, more a disorder, at least that's how I have experienced it.


This particular harassment -- and the great distress it has caused -- is a symptom of sexism.


Who wants to work with creeps always making comments re: a co-worker's rumpus? Not me.


> which by the way happened outside the office

The proximity to the office is irrelevant according to NY and CA law.

> you're only further making men not want to work with women

I hadn't realized this sentiment existed.

> while promoting a culture of oversensitivity and political correctness

There is a big difference between oversensitivity and a reasonable response to being treated differently because of one's looks/gender. Imagine if you walked into work every day and an executive said "Nice legs" or "nice blouse" to you. By your definition that is harmless.


Then give up your job and go home. You don't have a right to a job, and you don't have a right to make inappropriate comments.


It's not a simple compliment. At best it's a complicated compliment.


> None of Vic's compliments, which by the way happened outside the office, constitute sexual harassment.

1. "Outside the office," is irrelevant (it's ALWAYS wrong to make inappropriate remarks about a colleague or—worse—subordinate), and since the remarks were made at a company offsite they can be considered in a "work environment."

2. You're way off base. Commenting on a colleague's personal appearance to other colleagues is totally inappropriate. Commenting on a colleague's appearance in a bathing suit is totally inappropriate.

> By vilifying innocent remarks, you're only further making men not want to work with women

I hope men like you feel uncomfortable enough to get the fuck out of this industry. I don't want to work with you, and I'm male! Get lost!

> while promoting a culture of oversensitivity and political correctness

The problem is that the offenders in these situations aren't AT ALL sensitive to the feelings of others. There are a plethora of examples of men alienating women with their shitty and insensitive comment and attitudes. Reactions to this are not about "oversensitivity" but rather a plea for ANY KIND OF SENSITIVITY AT ALL PLEASE.

> Who wants to work in an environment where they can't make a simple compliment without being publicly ousted as a mysogynist offender?

If you think these remarks are appropriate and non-sexual then you should probably just keep your mouth shut.


I am curious if you believe that there is a standard for human sexual behavior that is safe and never inappropriate.

I think it is quite likely that Gundotra is a sleazy slimeball and Google has covered its ass by trying its best to ignore the complaint. He should probably be fired and Google should never be allowed to pretend it doesn't have a sexist culture.

However: I do not think that things are as simple as declaring the rules of a "work environment" and enforcing them.

After-hours events or company vacations can be considered work environments, but they're also deliberate attempts to escape the work environment. If you extend the logic of standardizing all work environments, what you might find is that it's simply inappropriate to be around coworkers in sexualized situations. (And if you don't think bathing suits are designed to sexualize bodies, I'm not sure where you're drawing the line.)

Edit: Perhaps I should make it clear that I find nothing inconsistent in demanding that work events be completely professional, that all corporate interaction be sterile, and that's basically what I expect from my employer. No booze cruises. No getaways to beach locations. No employee dating whatsoever, not even a hint of acceptability for that kind of relationship.

I just don't know that this is a realistic expectation, and I don't trust anyone that is certain of a solution. Sometimes problems cannot be solved and we can only punish who we can punish and move on.


> He should probably be fired

Gundotra left Google many months ago.


During the whole Real Names debate, VG's standard example of a name he didn't want on G+ was "dogfart". That example was named repeatedly, becoming a trope. Google's top many results for that term are ALL for a porn company.


You know, when you are as high up in a company as he is (and as highly compensated) you should probably assume that you are the face of that company 24/7. Anytime you're chatting with anyone you don't know intimately, in a setting outside of your home or that of a friend, maybe just keep it to polite topics. That's why they're called polite topics. Rightly or wrongly, people are liable to interpret you as representing your company and its culture.


I think I read that he said something like "bla bla Sacha Grey is hot"... That is fine.. But then he allegedly goes on to say "Has anyone seen any of her movies?" This is crossing the line. At this point he's asking coworkers to share details of their sexual life with him. Like you wanna know what kinda porn I jerk off to? Get some common sense.


It's casual conversation, stop overanalyzing it.


Saying these things to strangers on a cruise ship would make you pretty much a creepy greaseball, unless you already had a good idea this kind of discussion was welcomed by your audience. Even just thinking about it, I want to cringe and feel embarrassed at how socially inept and inappropriate it is.

Being a creepy greaseball is not illegal, we have social ways of dealing with that. But this wasn't that situation, it was a more serious one, because these were subordinates he had control over; in that position it's just not ethical to push people to talk about porn and to accept your announcement that you want to grope them. And it's bad business when we are talking about people who were not hired as prostitutes but as long-term assets for the company.


Talking about porn makes you a creepy greaseball? I guess that makes me one.


Talking about porn in the presence of people who's attitudes towards porn you are not sure of, yeah, that makes you a creepy greaseball. Talking about porn socially with people who's attitudes you know? That's not creepy at all. Talking about porn with a subordinate of <appropriate gender>? Never OK.

The thing here is understanding context and the way other people's feelings need to be respected.


It's casual conversation with a close friend or intimate partner. It's not a "group discussion" topic for coworkers with varied backgrounds. I come from a very liberal, non-christian European background and the experience of discussing what kind of pornos I watch in my private time with a boss is getting frighteningly close to a circle jerk.

EDIT: then again circle jerks are more common in some places than others.


I've talked about porn with my bosses and co-workers. It's not really a big deal.


Actually it sort of is. It sounds like you might be a problem.


You're imposing your personal conservative standards on others. What if I told you that you can't talk about rap music because it offends me? That'd be incredibly arrogant. I think the problem is you.


Not all issues are equal. Porn, in particular, has a lot of history of abuse of its participants and objectification of a large class of people.

Rap music is a genre. If you said "rap music that talks about running around murdering police officers", despite the fact that no police officers were murdered in the making of that song, it would probably also be offensive.


What if I told you that you can't talk about rap music because it offends me?

Do you mean ever, or do you just mean to you (or in a group conversation in which you are taking part)? Because the latter would be absolutely fine. You don't want to talk about that, no worries. I won't bring it up. What's the problem with that?


Seeing how down-voted you are makes me scared of the US work environment. Looks like the only way to avoid any potential trouble is to act like a robot not just at work but also at company outings.


[deleted]


Women are typically judged/evaluated excessively on the basis of their looks, so his assertion basically says "yep I/Google evaluate women on the basis of their looks".


We are all judged/evaluated excessively on the basis of our looks.


Maybe we're all judged excessively compared to some imaginary meritocratic utopia, but the in this world women are judged by their looks much more than men are.


Compared to an imaginary meritocratic utopia? Hardly. Here in the real world ugly men are judged quite harshly, right alongside ugly women. Fat, bald, puny, nerdy, zit-faced, short, weakling, dork, creep, loser... humans are strongly attracted and hardwired to follow the beautiful and shun the ugly. It's beyond naive to think women only judge men based on their brains and men only judge women based on their figure.

My point is that at some point the crusaders on both sides of this should step back and realize that most of us actually have dealt discrimination and harassment to some degree, and I think the best solutions actually don't involve putting women up on pedestals or men in gags and blindfolds.

I think your belief that women are judged more superficially than men is driven more from mass media than scientific fact.


> I think your belief that women are judged more superficially than men is driven more from mass media than scientific fact.

Uh-huh. If you want to start talking about scientific evidence, where's yours?


The phrase "what is beautiful is good", a.k.a. "lookism", was coined by Dion, Bercheid, and Walster in 1972. Of course there are also many studies since both supporting and refuting the theory.

A excerpt from a meta-analysis of the topic by Eagly, Ashore, Marhijani, Longo from 1991;

  Whether physical attractiveness is more important to per-
  ceivers of one sex than the other is not entirely clear. In view of
  Feingold's (1990a) meta-analysis showing that men place greater
  value  on  physical attractiveness  than  women do,  especially
  when romantic attraction  is considered, it is possible to argue
  that physical attractiveness could be a more powerful  dimen-
  sion  in  men's than women's implicit  theories  of personality.
  However, the research we review on the physical attractiveness
  stereotype was not carried out in the context of romantic rela-
  tionships. Moreover, the question addressed in research on the
  physical attractiveness stereotype pertains to the meaning in-
  ferred from attractiveness cues, not the importance of attractive-
  ness. Men and women may differ in the importance they ac-
  cord to attractiveness even though they infer similar meaning
  (e.g., social competence) from attractiveness cues. Particularly
  in  view  of evidence  that  the  content  of gender  stereotypes
  differs little for male and female subjects (e.g., Deaux & Lewis,
  1983,1984; Eagly & Steffen, 1984), we suspect that the physical
  attractiveness stereotype is widely shared in American culture
  and is therefore little affected by variation in subject character-
  istics, including subject sex.
For lighter reading, "Blink" (Gladwell) is salient but not exactly scientific.


All that says is that Feingold 1990a wasn't conclusive. You're trying to prove a positive with a potentially false negative. You're smart enough to know that's a mistake.

Yes, men are judged on their appearance. Yes, 10% of anorexics are men (disproportionately gay men) and all of those people feel real pain. Nobody should dismiss that.

Nor should anyone dismiss the fact that the remaining 90% of anorexics are women. Is that because women are somehow weaker than men? No, it isn't.


I think the seminal 1972 paper was "conclusive", I quoted the meta-analysis specifically because I appreciate that there are also open questions and room for further study. I'm not trying to prove something (my original statement was ambiguous enough I think to defy proof). Rather I'm trying to nudge the discussion a bit toward a path which I personally think will be more successful overall.

The extensive back-and-forth downthread between me and @camgunz I think illustrates the difficulty in having these conversations. Till this very story I've always avoided these discussions for fear of being unfairly characterized, or cast as somehow supporting harassment (e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9171403)

My whole point is I don't want to dismiss anyone, least of all 50% of the population! I am curious about better ways to recruit a much larger percentage of the population in actively working against harassment. Part of recruitment is making everyone think there's something they personally could gain from participating. E.g. this isn't about making the world a better place for women, this is about making the world a better place, period.

Part of it is also dampening some of the overreach (like the idea you can't pay an honest complement to a female coworker). Everyone should strongly condemn harassment, but I think many people also have a vehement reaction to anything that smells like prior restraint of personal freedoms, and unfortunately sometimes zealous attempts to "protect" women can feel, indeed are, too much of the later.

I think it's really important to mediate against this, and some strategies I've adopted; make sure we're not casting this as men vs women, to cut out the man bashing (because most men are awesome husbands, fathers, and coworkers), and perhaps the hardest, trust men enough to not feel like we have to restrain them, but rather recruit them to help battle harassment.

Such a complex and delicate topic, so rife for misunderstanding and personal attacks.... I'm probably going to check out of this particular story now. Maybe one day I will work up the courage to blog on it.


> ...room for further study.

And if people's belief was based on that study then you might not be wasting your time trying to cast doubt on it. As things stand, it isn't, so you are.

Without actual evidence you can't hope to sway opinion because there's SO much evidence that indicates to the contrary. How do you explain that anorexia and bulimia are massively swung towards people who target male sexual partners? How do you explain the massive difference in the amount of time and money spent on clothes and grooming? How do you explain the fact that ugly/pretty couples are massively swung towards m/f rather than f/m. It's data. The hypothesis needs to fit the data. Yours doesn't.

> Rather I'm trying to nudge the discussion a bit toward a path which I personally think will be more successful overall.

Hang on... so you're trying to divert people away from, y'know, an idea that fits the evidence, so you can change the narrative to what you personally think would be "more successful"? And we should let you do that based on, what, blind faith that you know best? Have I got that right? If so, dude, you're way off the reservation on this.

> My whole point is I don't want to dismiss anyone, least of all 50% of the population!

Assume you don't see the irony there. By trying to protect men you're denying women, because the evidence overwhelmingly points to this being a problem that affects women. How you can you deal with a problem when you deny the evidence for it? It's like #NotAllMen all over again.

Dude, I'm sure your pain is real. I sympathise, I really do. Everyone has shit to deal with. Doesn't make you right.

Denying the facts makes it harder to solve the underlying problem, not easier.

> I'm probably going to check out of this particular story now

Uh-huh.


Is there a link with a collection of all of the comments?


I scrolled through more of the tweets.


* Edit: The comment I was replying to a few posts up was edited, which affected what it looked like I was trying to say, so I deleted my reply.

--------------------------------------------

Your parent comment doesn't make any sense regarding the Sasha Grey remark. I assume you're talking about

>"You look amazing in that bathing suit, like a rock star." -Vic Gundotra, to me, when I was a junior engineer at Google. In Maui.

I agree that may be an inappropriate remark depending on the context, but "yep I/Google evaluate women on the basis of their looks" is complete hyperbole.


Yes that is the comment I was referring to. I am a guy and so I'm not necessarily the best judge of whether that comment would make women feel uncomfortable. But imagine you're sitting there with a bunch of female executives and they are talking about some actor's muscular shoulders and you realize that many of the higher-up males do have muscular shoulders and that they clearly really like that.

How will that make you feel if you don't have muscular shoulders. You might feel pressure to go to the gym more, or that your prospects at the company are limited in a way compared to if you did have them. You might even feel a bit insulted if your shoulders were clearly far from muscular, and this is a characteristic that you could actually change by working out. Looks in general are much more a lottery/luck kind of thing.

So while looks are definitely part of life and most people are average looking, the expectations that women face regarding looks are different than those faced by men. This just means that they have more pressure to look a certain way and to be judged positively or harshly on the basis of their looks.


>How will that make you feel if you don't have muscular shoulders. You might feel pressure to go to the gym more, or that your prospects at the company are limited in a way compared to if you did have them. You might even feel a bit insulted if your shoulders were clearly far from muscular.

I would not feel insulted (I'm not attractive at all, but someone talking about an actor's physical traits would not bother me), but I suppose someone else might. If this is an "after work drinking" occasion, things like that are par for the course. If the comments aren't directed towards you in any way I think it's kind of ridiculous to feel offended or harassed. The bathing suit comment is different because it was directed only at her, though I think that's just more an inappropriate remark that would make one feel uncomfortable, not evidence that "I represent Google and I judge women based on their looks."


Insulted is not the feeling I'm concerned about. Generally people only feel insulted by something that is personal.

It's only relevant because women are typically judged on the basis of their looks. I'm not saying that comment is alone indicting, but in the context of the other comments it appears that Vic is more of a man's man who has fairly traditional ideas of men, women, beauty, and workplace conduct.


Everybody is judged on the basis of their looks. Men too.


> If you (man or woman) work somewhere where the culture is harassing/hostile to women (or to anyone), you should take it seriously and either work elsewhere or try to stop it.

This is true. However, this incident - by itself - isn't evidence of a "culture that is harassing/hostile to women" at Google. All I see in this incident is evidence of a single employee, making a single inappropriate comment, with an over-the-top, attention seeking reaction by its recipient. This is a matter for HR - not for Twitter/Google+.

On the bright side, this is probably the most action that Google+ has seen in quite a while.


If you actually read through it all, you'll see that she poured her drink on him after that ridiculous comment, then he reported her to HR for that. She got reprimanded, he got promoted.

At least that is what is being alleged. Your comment is pretty insensitive in that context.


>Your comment is pretty insensitive in that context.

I'm not sure how. He made an an inexcusable comment to her. If she felt this strongly about it, she should have taken her drink with her to HR - immediately (or as soon as practical thereafter). She would have been in a much stronger position at that point. He acted inappropriately, and she responded inappropriately.

My comment was not intended to deny the possibility of a hostile culture at Google. My point was that this incident, by itself, doesn't stand up as evidence of such a culture. Too many people read a single headline and interpret it as the rule, not the exception.


Members of HR do not come with us to team offsites. Maybe they should, but they wouldn't have been around then.


It's insensitive in that your are making a false balance fallacy by equating his actions with her reaction by saying something like "He acted inappropriately, and she responded inappropriately". She was sexually harrassed, her reaction is pretty minor in this discussion.


>her reaction is pretty minor in this discussion

Let me be clear that I believe this guy to be a jackass - not only for making the comment, but then having the nerve to officially complain about the drink. I likely would have terminated him. But by reacting the way she did, she took away any leverage that she had, and that was reflected in the outcome.

So, no, her reaction isn't "pretty minor in this discussion". It actually had a huge impact on the negative outcome.


It's not minor, it's borderline assault. Whether you're offended or not, you don't get the right to go around assaulting people like that.

Now, don't get me wrong, the guy was a dick, and it sounds like it was sexual harassment. And it should be dealt with swiftly by HR, but that should be the end of it.


And congrats, you are the problem.

Either

1 - you didn't read her claims; or

2 - you don't see the problem in a supervisor making such a comment, necessitating the employee's career advancement stop so she wouldn't report directly to him. So it's not just a single employee, but other people involved making sure she doesn't report to him. The instant he made that comment Google had to choose, and they chose him over her.

And claiming she needs a reprimand... I don't even.


[deleted]


She doesn't work for that company anymore.


She pinned a single quote, but she alleges much more: a pattern of behavior, and willful ignorance or worse by HR.

See: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9163769


3 statements, one of which seemed to be made under the influence, and the other 2 which where simple quick compliments (and in no way harassment), made offsite, and years apart, is not a pattern. It's dots.

Her further allegations of being pigeon holed or moved out because of this are not proven, and might not be true at all.


If you mean that we shouldn't destroy a man's or a company's reputation based solely on these allegations, I absolutely agree.


"this incident isn't evidence of a "culture that is harassing/hostile to women" at Google."

Bad apple or a culture of making bad apples? The standard you walk past is that standard you accept ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaqpoeVgr8U


I don't know about you but I would not under any circumstances WANT this kind of attention, let alone go seeking for it. Who in their right mind would?

If it were just a "single employee" as you say, then that "single employee" would've been dealt with swiftly and removed for his comments. That didn't happen. Instead, this individual was protected, and moved up in the company, preventing the recipient from doing the same.

And it's not just one situation. This person was brave enough to speak up about it. Would you be able to? I certainly wouldn't. I imagine many others also aren't, and I hope some of them feel more comfortable going forward.


If one employee sexually harasses another employee in a one-off incident, maybe it's an exception and not a culture of sexism.

If it's one executive, that executive is contributing to a culture of sexism - though it's possible he's just the bad apple spoiling the barrel, and maybe there is no broader problem, and the problem can still be easily nipped in the bud.

The smoking gun lies in Google's response to the incident. When HR backs up sexual harassment of employees by their bosses, that makes a strong case that there is a systemic cultural problem that goes beyond the influence of one executive, and won't be fixed just by firing one executive.

That's the real story here. Not even the incident, not really the executive, and certainly not the employee, but Google's response. When HR's own response isn't appropriate, that does become an issue for the public.


I agree very much with all of this, except, women aren't responsible for fixing male violence and objectification, we men are. So I would concur with the first sentence if "you" is aimed at men.


That's akin to saying we non-murderers aren't responsible for fixing murders, only murderers are. Anyone can help fix this. You're right that ultimately it comes down to men's attitude and actions but anyone can help achieve the changes necessary.


I agree that everyone can help.

However, I disagree that claiming that men should take primary responsibility is wrong and I think your analogy is a bit off: unless you're claiming that all men are harassers, which would be pretty hyperbolic.

For better or worse, the men who do this kind of stuff listen to other men a lot more than they listen to women, probably largely because you probably don't respect women if you're harassing them. A clear message that harassment isn't acceptable, coming from other men, is much more likely to reach these people than if only or primarily women are saying it. This kind of behavior thrives when the person taking part in it can rationalize it as normal or OK--and making it clear that isn't the case goes a long way.


Men can try (and take their lumps along with the women trying to do something about these problems). But there are some fundamental cultural splits across which men certainly don't listen to each other. For many, it matters much less whether I am male and much more what religion I observe.

In some subcultures, and cultures, it really is considered the woman's fault if a man feels inclined to harass her (or rape her, as the case may be). I can't sympathetically reach people who stick firmly to these views and are reinforced by large numbers of other people who reject all my arguments and fundamentally reject me, because they just don't share any part of my worldview, we have completely different values. They have me encoded as a threat to tradition, or a nonbeliever, or as not a real man, or as a cultural imperialist, and they just don't want to hear anything I have to say about this.

I can confront these people, and that may carry a certain amount of satisfaction for me, but that sort of confrontation rarely convinces anybody.

In that case maybe we need to stop thinking we are always going to get people to listen to us. What is a rational response to that realization?


I never said that women can't help or change things, I said it is not their responsibility. If it were, even by a tiny degree, and men continue to hurt women, we could say that women just didn't do a good enough job changing men. "Why didn't you leave the company? Why didn't you talk to all the men about appropriate behavior before one of them attacked you?"


I really don't see how responsibility enters into it. The only people responsible are the people actively harrassing - and expecting them to self-police without anyone calling them out on it is unrealistic. Saying that men as a gender are responsible makes the assumption that all or most men are like the people portrayed in the OP.

I agree with the comment above that the sorts of men who harass are the types that won't listen to complaints from women - so it's necessary for men to speak out about it. In addition to that though, the culture won't change until we shine a light on the abuses that do happen, and given that these are often private conversations, we need women to speak out when they're harassed as well, if we hope to accomplish anything.

It isn't a question of responsibility. It's about all of us, men and women working towards creating a better workplace culture, where this kind of shit doesn't fly.


> Saying that men as a gender are responsible makes the assumption that all or most men are like the people portrayed in the OP.

No, that's not what it assumes. It assumes that only men are capable of fixing the "boys club" attitudes. And that is spot on. A big part of the problem—and the part that is most easily addressed—is what happens when women are not around. Men need to take responsibility for fixing that.


I addressed this later in my post. I'm 100% in agreement that men need to call out this behaviour when they see it, not only because it's said when women are not around, but also because the type of men disrespectful enough to harass women are likely to not listen to women. But by the same token, posts like this one highlighting specific incidents of harassment have so much more power than just whispered murmurings, so to solve this problem, women need to call out incidents of harassment, since men aren't always around to witness it.

The language of "responsibility" isn't the correct way to frame it though. I'm not "responsible" for corporations that pollute heavily, but I'm still going to argue against it in order to improve the world for future generations. I don't see how this is all that different.


>expecting [harassers] to self-police without anyone calling them out on it is unrealistic

Yes, that is why I charge all of us men with "policing" each other. The non-violent of us should be trying to get the violent of us unlearn the ideologies that justify the violence. It is men who maintain the culture and benefit from it, and it is women who lose, every time.


Harassment often happens in private. You may know harassers without realizing it. It's really necessary that women speak out about this.


Women do speak out, and they have been for hundreds of years.

The problem is that when a man is accused of harassment, assault, or rape, that man is usually in a position of power and defended, while the woman is usually blamed, discredited, or otherwise attacked. Many women choose not to speak out because of the negative effect it can have on their career and their peer group, to say nothing of the onslaught of harassment that usually follows. It's much more necessary for society to change its thinking about women who report these actions than it is for women to report them, at this point. Women have been doing it, largely against their own self interest, from the beginning.


Doesn't this thread highlight how useful specific examples can be though? Discussions about a nebulous sexist atmosphere at tech companies don't generate the type of attention that specific examples like this one does.

I'm not implying that women have been derelict in calling things out. I'm just saying that we should continue to encourage women to come forward with these types of abuses.


Encouraging women to come forward and supporting them when they do is one thing. Arguing implicitly (not that you're doing this, but grandparents are) that women bear any responsibility for workplace harassment because they're not vocal enough is victim blaming.

It's also not strictly necessary for women to report harassment in order to fight against it. Men can create a culture where harassment is unacceptable. Instead of joking about how hot Sasha Grey is, or how you want to fork a repo with a big dongle, we can talk about how fucked up it is that women are constantly groped and belittled. We can look for patterns of violent, misogynistic behavior in our peers and call them out on it. If we ourselves see harassment or sexism happening, we can step in appropriately. We can take women seriously when they do report it (something like 1% of rape accusations are false, for example). Harassment occurs because men have the power in society, and it's therefore incumbent on us to use that power to stop it.

Many men are good at this, but many more deny that there's even a problem. This thread is great evidence. Take a look at which comments are grey and which ones are still black; it's pretty clear how SV thinks about these issues. If you need more proof, find an Ellen Pao thread, same story there.


Are people that make sexual remarks more likely to be violent?


Violence is a spectrum, on which harassment sits. If we were not talking about "sexual" harassment and violence, this would be uncontroversial as an implicit assumption.


Well said, I salute you!


I don't see why it's massively more the responsibility of men that don't harass than women that don't harass. It really is a societal problem, involving everybody, like the murder rate.

>could say that

People will use anything as excuses. Don't give in to them, and don't use their conclusions to make arguments about the premises.


You use the word "societal". But how are women, who make up more of any human "society" than men, contributing at all to the "problem"? Can you give any examples, or a general idea?

I'm not "giving in" to anything, why is this about me? Do you know what I meant by the word "we"?


You're giving in to the (abstract but real) person that says "If it were, even by a tiny degree, and men continue to hurt women, we could say that women just didn't do a good enough job changing men." That person is wrong and terrible. That person will demonstrate that a particular woman has the smallest iota of responsibility and then blame them 100%. Don't listen to that person. Don't use their flawed argument to support your argument.

>But how are women, who make up more of any human "society" than men, contributing at all to the "problem"? Can you give any examples, or a general idea?

Non-abusing women and non-abusing men both sometimes act as enablers for abusers. By not speaking out. By not firing bad actors. Etc. The abusers are directly to blame, and everyone is indirectly to blame. There is no sane way to conclude that all men but only men are to blame.


I'm not saying that they are right, I am saying their argument would work; in fact there is rich historical documentation of that exact argument working, in all of the common situations of male violence against women: rape, domestic abuse, etc. We can find court records including the attire of women as relevant facts to the violence of the man. We can see how many female victims of male domestic violence are asked "why didn't you leave" "why didn't you try to deescalate?"


If that argument was blocked, they would come up with a different argument.

Don't deny women agency in the interests of logically proving bigots wrong. They don't care. They make up excuses.

Anyone that's been in a position of power where they could have stopped harassment without much risk, and didn't, is a part of the problem. This includes many men, and many women. It is important to shame harassers as much as possible.


You don't understand how often women experience harassment. My ex-girlfriend used to walk to work from where we lived. It was about a 15 minute walk. She experienced street harassment an average of 3 times every time she walked to or from her job. Is she supposed to cross the street and have a long talk with someone every time that happens?

EDIT:

Since I can't reply below (submitting too fast, somehow...), I'll reply here:

I'm using her experience as an example. Every woman in a position of power experiences a steady stream of harassment and microaggressions pretty much her entire life, because she's a woman. It's hard for men to believe (it certainly was for me) because our experience is so different. No one yells at me out in public. No one. No one follows me down the street and into a coffee shop just to leer at me.

You're arguing that a woman in a position of power is obligated to shame harassers. I'm saying it happens so often that women often have to choose whether to be the sexual harassment police, or work in the career of choosing. Whatever their decision, you can't condemn them either way. You certainly don't get to make that choice for them.


I don't think she's in a position of power with no threat of retribution there.

Edit to your edit: They're no more obligated to do it than all the men passively letting harassment happen. And I can lightly condemn society as a whole if I want to.

Also, the amount of harassment a person faces isn't really connected to my argument, because I'm talking about harassment people are in a good position to stop, which is almost always harassment of others. (Because if there are no drawbacks to stopping harassment of yourself, you'd already have done it.)


> Anyone that's been in a position of power where they could have stopped harassment without much risk, and didn't, is a part of the problem.

You don't get to tell victims they have an obligation to work against victimization. It doesn't matter what they're a victim of, it doesn't matter what position they're in, and it doesn't matter how easy it would be for them to do. Victimization is not the victim's fault, it's the perpetrator's.

Amount of harassment is relevant, because the amount is enormous. There are huge drawbacks to spending all of your time addressing harassment in the workplace. Most women don't aim for professional success so they can spend all their time calling out bad male behavior.

Fundamentally, our difference is that you are equating women in positions of power with men. Their experiences are vastly different; women must overcome far more obstacles than men in order to achieve the same success. You can't then say they're equally obligated to fight against bad male behavior. They've been doing it their whole life. It's up to men and the male community to fix our own behavior, and to make it right. Women simply have no obligation here, no matter how powerful they are or how easy it would be for them to act.


You're not replying to what I said. I'm not talking about victims.

The obligation might not be quite equal for various reasons, but I think it's ridiculous to suggest that suffering you face in situation X removes your moral obligations in unrelated situation Y. If there is an obligation for empowered bystanders to help, it applies to everyone.


I'll endeavor to reply directly to what you said.

Let's use a hypothetical (I love these). There's a female CEO of a company, and one of her female employees is sexually harassed by one of her male employees. Is there an obligation for the company to have a sexual harassment policy and for it to be carried out? Absolutely. Is the female CEO ultimately responsible for this? Yes. If this process fails is she ultimately responsible? Of course. This is the law in the US.

My argument is that you're focusing entirely on the wrong thing. There's not some kind of crazy problem where women in power are overlooking sexual harassment. The problem is that there's an epidemic of men sexually harassing women. In that context, focusing on the female CEO's obligations is deliberately missing the point. It's the same thing as when there's a discussion about sexual harassment, to remind everyone that something like 5% of workplace sexual harassment claims are made by males. Sure, that's a problem, but it's not a problem that holds back an entire class of people, it isn't rooted in centuries of discrimination and oppression, and it isn't pervasive in every institution from schools to courthouses. The problem is with male behavior. I don't know how many times I have to say it, but I'll keep saying it.

===

I'll try and crystallize it even further.

> Anyone that's been in a position of power where they could have stopped harassment without much risk, and didn't, is a part of the problem

No. Oftentimes women who stand up against harassment are harshly punished for it. So even when they are in positions where they can, "without much risk" stop harassment, they won't, because they remember how it went last time. They're victims. Promotions and positioning don't change that at all.

But it's important to say again that many women are impressively brave, and even in the face of consequences speak truth to power. But again, that's always their choice, and you don't get to condemn them because you don't understand the concept of victimization.

EDIT:

I just saw this article: https://medium.com/@katylevinson/sexism-in-tech-don-t-ask-me.... You, and everyone else should read it. It's fucked up.


> The problem is with male behavior.

I agree with that, I think. But those men do not automatically drag in all other men and only men as far as obligation to fix the problem.

> Oftentimes women who stand up against harassment are harshly punished for it. So even when they are in positions where they can, "without much risk" stop harassment, they won't, because they remember how it went last time.

Nothing in that sentence is particular to women. Remember that I'm only talking about speaking up about the harassment of other people.


> But those men do not automatically drag in all other men as far as obligation to fix the problem.

If not them then who? Or do you not agree that women aren't obligated to fix male problems? OR, are you going non-gender binary on me?

> Nothing in that sentence is particular to women.

Men are rarely punished for speaking up about harassment. Men are also rarely harassed, and there isn't an institutional, cultural, societal epidemic of men being sexually harassed in the workplace. I thought we were talking about men harassing women in the workplace re: the topic of the thread.

This is a "but what about the men" comment that, again, deliberately misses the point. Men aren't victims of systemic sexism. Yeah sometimes they're sexually harassed or raped, and that's all horrible and ought to be dealt with. But those events are separate from the institution of sexism that has oppressed women since the inception of the US. We're talking about a huge, entrenched social problem that disadvantages women, not about isolated incidents where men are victims.

> Remember that I'm only talking about speaking up about the harassment of other people.

"Other people" doesn't make a difference. I don't see why you think it would.


>If not them then who? Or do you not agree that women aren't obligated to fix male problems? OR, are you going non-gender binary on me?

I think there are two reasonable answers.

1. The people that do the abusing are the only ones responsible.

2. The people that set society's expectations are partially responsible.

Group 1 is a subset of men. Group 2 is 99% of adults, though men have more responsibility because of how the patriarchy works.

I do not see any reasonable way to declare all men responsible and zero women responsible.

>Men are rarely punished for speaking up about harassment.

I'm going to have to ask for statistics about men and women speaking up about the harassment of third-party women.

>"but what about the men"

It's not meant to be. I'm not trying to ask for any sympathy for men. I'm completely ignoring any men that get harassed, because that's not the problem we're focusing on here.

>"Other people" doesn't make a difference. I don't see why you think it would.

I have no idea what you mean. I will assume my sentence was unclear and restate it. I am talking about a situation where Man A harasses Woman B, and then person C, who has significant resources they can use to help, does something about it. I think if person C has an obligation to help, they have it regardless of their gender.

Edit: Also the answer to "if not them but who" would be the police. (In an ideal world)


> I think there are two reasonable answers.

> 1. The people that do the abusing are the only ones responsible.

> 2. The people that set society's expectations are partially responsible.

Men are responsible for nearly all workplace harassment, and white men have set society's expectations. The standard of beauty in our society is set by what white men find attractive. The standard of dress, hygiene, speech, appearance and behavior is as well. Notice how all the "workplace appropriate" hairstyles are traditionally white hairstyles, for example. Try getting a job with dreadlocks, or if you don't speak the white dialect of English, or if you can't afford a suit.

It's up to members of the patriarchy to acknowledge our privilege, and speak out about these issues that exist in our own community. You can feel indignant about having never harassed a woman and yet still being responsible for the bad behavior of other men. But it's nothing like the harassment women face, and to continually focus on it is entitled.

Or in your own terms:

1. The people who do the abusing (harassment) are likely not the best actors to fix the problem of harassment

2. White men are the ones who set society's expectations

> I do not see any reasonable way to declare all men responsible and zero women responsible.

I feel like you've ignored practically all of my responses to you.

Are you talking about a hypothetical female CEO (or something similar)? Already addressed.

Are you talking about addressing street or workplace harassment of a third-party, like a bystander? Already addressed by my example of my ex-girlfriend experiencing street harassment. The reason she doesn't engage in these things is that she's been physically stalked by groups of men, multiple times, after calling them out. She didn't expect that to happen. There's no way for her to rationally gauge whether or not she "could have stopped harassment without much risk", because the last time she did that, she was put in a situation where she unexpectedly feared for her life. Many, many women have similar stories. Sometimes when women speak up about harassment, they get shot. There is no way to rationally gauge risk in these circumstances. Harassment is violent behavior.

Speaking up for a third-party woman makes no difference in this situation, which is why I keep saying third-party doesn't matter.

> I'm going to have to ask for statistics about men and women speaking up about the harassment of third-party women.

Third-party doesn't matter. But I will point you to the EEOC's charge statistics: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm

You have to make a leap to get there though; the vast majority of sex discrimination charges are filed by women, and you can't file a retaliation charge unless you've first alleged sex discrimination. I admit the data isn't perfect, but to deny it would be disingenuous.

But I'll also ask you: do you think men are frequently retaliated against for speaking up about the harassment of women? Is this really something I should have to find evidence to dispel?

> I think if person C has an obligation to help, they have it regardless of their gender.

I understand the hypothetical you're making completely. If person C is a woman, she has no obligation whatsoever. It doesn't matter what her job is or what resources she has. She has no way of ascertaining risk in that situation. She also has no obligation to report the incident after the fact. Women are punished heavily for reporting harassment, as the EEOC charge statistics show. Women are forced out of school and their jobs for reporting harassment. Often times third-party women themselves are harassed by the person they reported, to say nothing of the onslaught of harassment they can experience from third parties. Filing sexual harassment complaints in Silicon Valley can get you blacklisted. The mythical situation you're conjuring where a woman can stop harassment when she sees it without risk to herself or others simply doesn't exist. It's an elaborate strawman.

===

Police can't bring about cultural and social change. They can punish harassment, but they can't stop it from happening. If this were how law enforcement worked, the US wouldn't lead the west in incarceration.


>I feel like you've ignored practically all of my responses to you.

Sort of. I'm ignoring the parts that are building on others. The problem is we disagree on fundamental principles.

As best I understand it, the basis of your argument is that white men have set society's expectations, so they have all the responsibility.

As best I understand it, the basis of my argument is that everyone in society (unevenly) sets society's expectations, so they all (unevenly) share responsibility.

There's no way to reconcile those two.

----------

If you want comments on specific points I'll make some, but please realize everything after this line is much less important than what's above it.

>Are you talking about a hypothetical female CEO (or something similar)? Already addressed.

Sorry, I got confused by your CEO argument because you suddenly mentioned harassment by women, that was me reading too fast, sorry. But now I'm more confused. You say the female CEO is responsible, then you keep repeating that no women are responsible.

When it comes to a woman walking down the street, I keep largely ignoring it because someone walking down the street has no particular power. A non-harassing man calling them out is also at risk of being stalked and jumped.

>But I'll also ask you: do you think men are frequently retaliated against for speaking up about the harassment of women? Is this really something I should have to find evidence to dispel?

Probably not, but that's because nobody reports the harassment of others to the extent that they should. The victims have to file, and then they get retaliated against.

Victims get punished for reporting harassment, and that's terrible, and that's mostly women, but it has absolutely nothing to do with a discussion of how everyone around the harassment should act. Because in a group of 20 people, even if all the women get harassed once, they're the bystander 90% of the time.

>Women are punished heavily for reporting harassment, as the EEOC charge statistics show.

I don't think you have shown sufficient evidence that women reporting the harassment of others are punished heavily, and also that they are disproportionately punished compared to men.

I seriously have no idea if men are punished as much. I want to know. I would expect a slight bias but for all I know men are 50x as able to report harassment without being retaliated against. But it needs evidence.


> As best I understand it, the basis of your argument is that white men have set society's expectations, so they have all the responsibility.

> As best I understand it, the basis of my argument is that everyone in society (unevenly) sets society's expectations, so they all (unevenly) share responsibility.

> There's no way to reconcile those two.

Sure there is: one of us is wrong :). I'm happy to focus on this part if you like, but I'll do so at the end.

===

> "CEO Stuff"

There are different levels of responsibility and accountability. A CEO, male or female, has legal obligations. Your argument is that women with means have a moral obligation to stop harassment if there is little or no risk to them, otherwise they're complicit. Moral obligations are different than legal obligations for many reasons, but specifically in our discussion, a moral obligation implies responsibility for the situation. I think you agree because you argue that women who don't stop harassment in these cases are "part of the problem". I disagree entirely. Nothing a woman could do would make them "part of the problem", because the problem is male behavior. By definition, women are excluded.

>> But I'll also ask you: do you think men are frequently retaliated against for speaking up about the harassment of women? Is this really something I should have to find evidence to dispel?

> Probably not, but that's because nobody reports the harassment of others to the extent that they should. The victims have to file, and then they get retaliated against.

> I don't think you have shown sufficient evidence that women reporting the harassment of others are punished heavily, and also that they are disproportionately punished compared to men.

> I seriously have no idea if men are punished as much. I want to know. I would expect a slight bias but for all I know men are 50x as able to report harassment without being retaliated against. But it needs evidence.

There is tons and tons of evidence showing that sexual harassment is primarily a problem with men sexually harassing women. This article is well cited: http://www.nwlc.org/resource/fatima-goss-graves-testifies-ee.... Some choice bits:

* Women account for over 82% of sexual harassment charges that make it to the EEOC

* 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace (at least once).

* Of those 18 million women, 70% of them did not report it.

* In contrast, 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

* Two-thirds of [low-wage] women workers felt they would face negative repercussions if they complained about or reported sexual harassment from management.

* 46 percent [low-wage] felt there would be negative repercussions if they complained about or reported sexual harassment from co-workers.

* 70 percent [low-wage] felt there would be negative repercussions if they complained about or reported sexual harassment from customers.

* A significant majority of women workers felt they would experience negative consequences, including financial loss, public humiliation, or job termination if they tried to report sexual harassment from management and customers.

Additionally, although not perfectly topical, this article finds that "62 percent of [military] women who reported an assault said they experienced retaliation": http://www.nwlc.org/press-release/dod-report-shows-continued...

Granted these aren't stats about men or women experiencing retaliation in your cooked up, mythical scenario. But if you're going to ignore all these statistics because your friendly neighborhood feminist ally (that's me) couldn't dig up exactly the stat you wanted, you're planting your head firmly and deeply in the sand.

===

> Victims get punished for reporting harassment, and that's terrible, and that's mostly women, but it has absolutely nothing to do with a discussion of how everyone around the harassment should act. Because in a group of 20 people, even if all the women get harassed once, they're the bystander 90% of the time.

I feel like this is the crux of our argument. You believe "bystanders", male or not, are obligated to step in and stop harassment according to their relative power. They're not; women are not obligated to do this. It's not their fault someone is being harassed, they're not responsible for the patriarchy. Women are retaliated against heavily, and they already start at a disadvantage. They are under no obligation to subject themselves to further, disproportionate hardship to fix a problem they have nothing to do with.

I've made several points in that paragraph, and I'm interested which ones you disagree with:

* Do you disagree that it's not women's fault someone is being harassed?

* Do you disagree that women are not responsible for the patriarchy?

* Do you disagree that women are far more likely to suffer the effects of retaliation compared to men, because they're far more likely to experience harassment?

* Do you disagree that women start from a point of disadvantage compared to men, and therefore are not obligated to spend their hard-won resources fixing a problem that isn't their fault and that has already disadvantaged them, especially when they can't guarantee that something bad won't happen to them?

I might be biased, but I find it hard to disagree with any of those points.

===

OK, now I'm ready to talk about even vs. uneven responsibility.

Your argument hinges on the idea that if you can do something, anything, about a problem, at little to no risk to yourself, you have a moral obligation to do so. In this instance, even though women may not be able to do as much as men about harassment, the fact that they can do something morally obligates them. I have multiple counterarguments.

1. Having the means to solve a problem in no way morally obligates you to do something about it. I have something like $5,000 in a savings account. With that money, I could buy a lot of soup for hungry people. I am under no moral obligation to do this. Very few people in society think this, because while hunger persists, almost everyone else has savings. There are multiple problems I can work on with this money. Why should I spend it on soup when I could donate it to mosquito nets? Why should women use their resources against sexual harassment when they could put it towards reproductive rights, or a new set of tires for their car, or whatever they want because it's their money?

2. No one is morally obligated to solve a problem for which they are not responsible. I am not obligated to try and stop ISIS, for example. I bear no responsibility for ISIS' actions. Could I do something? Sure. I could donate to a charity. I could fly to Baghdad and sign up as a resistance fighter (would they say no? I don't know). The fact that I am doing nothing does not make me "part of the problem". Why does bad behavior on ISIS' part constitute some kind of obligation to stop them on mine? Why am I a part of the ISIS problem in your eyes because I'm not on a plane to Baghdad right now?

3. You can never fully ascertain risk, especially in these circumstances. We're not talking about a moon landing here, we're talking about volatile, unpredictable human behavior. This isn't hypothetical; women sometimes experience violent repercussions when confronting harassment. Therefore, a major pillar of your argument ("at little to no risk to yourself") falls.

4. It is grossly entitled for a system that oppresses women to ask women for support so it can stop oppressing them, labeling them as "part of the problem" if they refuse.

5. Given the current situation, which simplified could be characterized as men having $10,000 to solve a problem and Women have $7,500 to solve a problem because the problem has already cost women $2,500, why are women obligated to spend any money at all to fix the problem? Hasn't the problem cost them enough already?


>There is tons and tons of evidence showing that sexual harassment is primarily a problem with men sexually harassing women.

Yep, never disagreed with that.

>Granted these aren't stats about men or women experiencing retaliation in your cooked up, mythical scenario.

What??? My scenario is "men harasses woman, someone else sees". Your stats are impeccable, but they are about victims reporting, and that is totally unrelated to my argument.

===

I'll leave the middle part for last.

===

> 1. Having the means to solve a problem in no way morally obligates you to do something about it. I have something like $5,000 in a savings account.

This is a reasonable point. I may or may not accept it entirely, but it's entirely valid.

>2. No one is morally obligated to solve a problem for which they are not responsible.

Yep, I agree here, the question is about how to define 'responsible'.

>3. You can never fully ascertain risk, especially in these circumstances.

Agreed that you can never be sure. This applies to everyone so it doesn't change my argument at all. It just changes where you draw lines, not if you draw lines.

>4. It is grossly entitled for a system that oppresses women to ask women for support so it can stop oppressing them, labeling them as "part of the problem" if they refuse.

It's entitled to do this to anyone who is not a harasser, but someone's gotta explain that it's not okay.

>5. Given the current situation, which simplified could be characterized as men having $10,000 to solve a problem and Women have $7,500 to solve a problem because the problem has already cost women $2,500, why are women obligated to spend any money at all to fix the problem? Hasn't the problem cost them enough already?

This hits right at the core of how you and I disagree. I don't think unfair treatment should come before moral obligations. Moral obligations are there no matter how you've been treated.

But perhaps you say the obligation is for the rich to help first. That is totally valid! White straight guy has to help the most, because he had it easy. I can get behind that! But then Man Z, who only has $300 because life screwed him over, I don't think he's more obligated to help than the woman with $7,500 is.

===

Now your bullet points.

* Do you disagree that it's not women's fault someone is being harassed?

Depends on what 'fault' means. They have no direct fault, they share in societal fault.

* Do you disagree that women are not responsible for the patriarchy?

Women are partially responsible for the patriarchy. They are not slave caste. They are mistreated and much of their rightful power is stolen from them, but not all of it.

* Do you disagree that women are far more likely to suffer the effects of retaliation compared to men, because they're far more likely to experience harassment?

I agree that women are far more likely to suffer retaliation because they experience more harassment. However I am not convinced about retaliation unrelated to self-reporting. In particular I am not convinced that women trying to fix societal flaws are far more likely to suffer retaliation than men.

In other words, I'm not sure the problem goes beyond "people are really shitty to victims".

* Do you disagree that women start from a point of disadvantage compared to men, and therefore are not obligated to spend their hard-won resources fixing a problem that isn't their fault and that has already disadvantaged them, especially when they can't guarantee that something bad won't happen to them?

Hoo boy. I'm going to split this one up.

> women start from a point of disadvantage compared to men

Yes.

> therefore are not obligated

Disagree.

>a problem that isn't their fault

Same for non-harassing men.

>and that has already disadvantaged them

This is true, this sucks.

>especially when they can't guarantee that something bad won't happen to them

For trying to change society's standards? This is technically correct, but this applies to men too, and is totally unrelated to the retaliation inflicted upon victims.

===

So in summary:

Some men harass women.

These men and only these men are directly responsible.

In a broader sense, the patriarchy is indirectly responsible.

The patriarchy gives disproportionate power to men, but it is made of up men and women. It is the current form of society. Everyone contributes.

There are many reasons men have more blame. But they do not have all of it.

Men do not directly pass on the secrets of harassment to other men, out of sight of women. It is a problem that is owned by the entire patriarchy, and the entire patriarchy is owned by everyone.


>> Granted these aren't stats about men or women experiencing retaliation in your cooked up, mythical scenario.

> What??? My scenario is "men harasses woman, someone else sees". Your stats are impeccable, but they are about victims reporting, and that is totally unrelated to my argument.

You've yet to explain why the third-party thing is important.

=== I'll leave the middle part for last. ===

>> 2. No one is morally obligated to solve a problem for which they are not responsible.

> Yep, I agree here, the question is about how to define 'responsible'.

Well google dictionary defines responsible as: "being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it".

>> 3. You can never fully ascertain risk, especially in these circumstances.

> Agreed that you can never be sure. This applies to everyone so it doesn't change my argument at all. It just changes where you draw lines, not if you draw lines.

This isn't merely a theoretical argument. When a woman steps in to stop harassment, there is a real threat of violence. There's no way to reasonably determine what the amount of risk is. Even if the woman reports the episode after the fact, there is always a chance of retaliation, either by the harasser or by the reporting woman's boss, or by prospective employers because she's been blacklisted. It's critical to understand that because of this, your scenario does not exist.

>> 4. It is grossly entitled for a system that oppresses women to ask women for support so it can stop oppressing them, labeling them as "part of the problem" if they refuse.

> It's entitled to do this to anyone who is not a harasser, but someone's gotta explain that it's not okay.

There are two issues with the argument you're making here:

1. The system oppresses women so it's unfair. The system doesn't oppress men (OK you can make a gender roles argument, but let's stipulate for now), in fact, white men built this system, so it's fair.

2. The issue with your argument that you make here is your phrase "to do". Women don't control the patriarchy, they can't direct society to force white men to police themselves. They obviously can't, because it's not happening. You're implying equality between white men and women when you say, "it's entitled to do this to anyone". It isn't, because women aren't responsible for the patriarchy, rape culture, and so on.

>> 5. Given the current situation, which simplified could be characterized as men having $10,000 to solve a problem and Women have $7,500 to solve a problem because the problem has already cost women $2,500, why are women obligated to spend any money at all to fix the problem? Hasn't the problem cost them enough already?

> This hits right at the core of how you and I disagree. I don't think unfair treatment should come before moral obligations. Moral obligations are there no matter how you've been treated.

I vehemently disagree with this. I have no obligation to treat someone who beats me with respect, for example. Or if I'm married and my partner cheats on me, my moral obligations change significantly. Do you disagree?

> But perhaps you say the obligation is for the rich to help first. That is totally valid! White straight guy has to help the most, because he had it easy. I can get behind that! But then Man Z, who only has $300 because life screwed him over, I don't think he's more obligated to help than the woman with $7,500 is.

This is where the analogy, like all analogies, breaks down. In the patriarchy, we deal in the currency of privilege, and privilege is relative. If a man has $300, there's a comparable woman with $225.

===

Now your bullet points.

>> * Do you disagree that it's not women's fault someone is being harassed?

> Depends on what 'fault' means. They have no direct fault, they share in societal fault.

I more or less mean "responsibility", which again is "being the primary cause of something". Therefore, even if I buy into the idea of societal fault (which I don't), women clearly have no responsibility for this. They're obviously not the primary cause of the patriarchy.

>> * Do you disagree that women are not responsible for the patriarchy?

> Women are partially responsible for the patriarchy. They are not slave-caste.

I actually feel like this is the root of our disagreement. Let's use actual slaves as an analogy. There were free blacks in the US during slavery. Did they bear any responsibility for slavery? Your argument says that they did, even if it's a small amount, because they had at least some power. But, of course, this is ridiculous. They didn't create slavery, and given its druthers, slavery would oppress them (if it hadn't already). Same thing goes for the patriarchy.

The oppressed are never responsible for the system that oppresses them. How could that even be the case?

It seems like you're implying that the patriarchy is a problem that affects us all and we're all in it together to dismantle it. But that's incorrect. The patriarchy was created by white men, and it benefits 1/3 of the population while oppressing the rest. The oppressed are not responsible for the system that oppresses them, therefore it's morally incumbent on those who benefit from the oppressive system to fix it.

>> * Do you disagree that women are far more likely to suffer the effects of retaliation compared to men, because they're far more likely to experience harassment?

> I agree that women are far more likely to suffer retaliation because they experience more harassment. However I am not convinced about retaliation unrelated to self-reporting. In particular I am not convinced that women trying to fix societal flaws are far more likely to suffer retaliation than men.

Again you've yet to explain why third-party is important. I will also clarify and say that regardless on the retaliation risk to men and women, men bear responsibility because it's our system, and because we know for a fact that women experience high levels of retaliation.

===

I'm not gonna quote all the junk for the last point and the final section, because HN isn't really equipped for these kinds of discussions. What I will say is that it boils down to this:

Women are not members of the patriarchy, any more than blacks were members of slavery, or any other oppressed group is a member of the system that oppresses them. Even if you argue that contemporary white men did not create the patriarchy, white men are the only ones that benefit from it. You cannot morally obligate the oppressed to fix the system that oppresses them. The only group left is the group unoppressed, and that's white men. This is why all men are responsible, and no women are responsible.


"If that argument was blocked, they would come up with a different argument." And? What difference does it make? If we disarmed and abolished nuclear weapons, we'd use non-nuclear weapons, but that says nothing about the legitimacy of disarmament campaigns. I don't think you are engaging honestly and genuinely.


But you're the one letting the nuclear argument go uncorrected. You're trying to block it not by saying that the logic is incorrect but that the very idea that women share in creating all of society's roles is flawed. I agree, kill the nuclear argument. But kill it by pointing out that it is wrong, not by denying women agency. Realize that you can't compromise while fighting that argument, because they have a hundred more.

I don't know how I can convince you I'm being genuine...


Because those things are usually irrelevant, have been tried to no effect or will make the situation worse. Women get raped wearing tracksuit pants and a hoodie, and leaving a domestic violence situation is often the trigger for more violence (including murder) when the abuser catches up.


Because it's male behavior.


It's also white behavior, black behavior, human behavior, woman behavior...


(Full disclosure: I'm a white male) Statistics overwhelmingly document sexual violence (and all violence, by the way) as male behavior and historical record shows that the ideological and individual defenses of it is also overwhelmingly male. Your sentence is non-sequitur in this context.


The patriarchy is white, male, and oppresses members of other groups (black men, white women, etc.) Can women sexually harass other women? Absolutely. Is there a huge societal problem where women value other women based solely on their appearance and ability to please men, reducing their opportunities for education, employment, earning, and general success? No. White men hold the cards in US society, and it's the case wherever you look: JDs and MBAs granted, PhDs granted, wages earned, wealth accumulated, income from small and large businesses, statehouses, Congress, the presidency, the board room, Hollywood, etc. etc. etc. You really just can't equate one woman sexually harassing another with an entire institution putting bricks on the heads of half its population from birth.


>The patriarchy is white, male, and oppresses members of other groups (black men, white women, etc.)

And yet you grouped all races together for some reason.

Edit: To elaborate: The current power structure is bad, but it's not a simple male vs. female thing.


> And yet you grouped all races together for some reason.

Oh you mean when I said "male behavior" instead of "white male behavior".

Social issues in the US are complicated. Can black men benefit from the patriarchy, do they have some privilege because they're male, even though they're black? Yes. Do white women have some privilege solely because they are white? Yes. Are black men or white women part of the patriarchy? No. The patriarchy is a white, male institution that oppresses anyone that isn't.

White women can be racist against minorities, but they can't be sexist against men. Black men can be sexist towards women, but they can't be racist against minorities. This is because racism and sexism are cultural and institutional. They can be rude, they can be discriminatory, but they can't bring cultural and institutional pressures to bear on members of the oppressing group. That power is reserved solely for members of the oppressing group.

> woman behavior...

Sexual harassment is almost entirely male behavior, white, black, etc. It's up to men to stop it. Women have no obligation here. The incidence of women sexually harassing each other is so low, it has practically no social consequences. Therefore, it's not a societal problem we have to fix, and this suggestion is a strawman.


Harasser implies male. Male does not imply harasser.

If you want to talk about the people that decide to harass, use "harassers". Harassers have an obligation to stop.

If you want to talk about how society influences people, use "society". Everyone influences what is seen as acceptable.

Men do not have special control over other men. Saying the fix is "up to men" is inaccurate no matter what you mean. It's either insulting by implying that all men are harassers, or it's insulting by implying that women have no power in shaping society.

So if you want to talk about how men have somewhat more obligation in shaping behavior because of power structures, that sounds like a very interesting conversation. If you want to tell me women have no power/responsibility at all, that's just obnoxious.


> Harasser implies male. Male does not imply harasser.

Sexual harassment is a problem in the male community. It is perpetrated almost entirely by males. Women have no responsibility to solve male problems. Our behavior is in no way their fault.

> Everyone influences what is seen as acceptable.

No, in our society the patriarchy has decided what is acceptable. In the 18th and 19th centuries, we had laws governing women's dress so they physically couldn't do male labor. We also prohibited them from standing up in stage coaches. There's a long list. You can say, "that's the past", but it's our societal history, like it or not. FWIW, it persists to this day, with different dress codes for male and female high school students, and with men allowed to be shirtless and not women.

> Men do not have special control over other men. Saying the fix is "up to men" is inaccurate no matter what you mean.

I'm not saying men have special control over other men. I'm saying women have no obligation to solve a behavior problem in the male community, especially when they're the victims of that behavior. And if we eliminate women, we're left with... men.

> It's either insulting by implying that all men are harassers

This is a non sequitur, and a strawman. Just because I don't personally harass women doesn't mean I don't have an obligation to stand up to my peers when they do. People are often the best advocates inside their own communities, so for my white male peers, my voice, for better or worse, carries more weight than that of people of color or women. Look up Tim Wise some time.

> or it's insulting by implying that women have no power in shaping society.

Women do have power, but if it were sufficient, there wouldn't be a wage gap. There would be 220 congresswomen instead of 84, and 51 women senators instead of 20. There wouldn't be a war on their reproductive rights. Women fought for 150 years for the right to vote. American male slaves got the right to vote before women did. Marital rape wasn't considered a crime until the 1980s. Women were passed over as estate executors in favor of distant male relatives for decades.

> If you want to tell me women have no power/responsibility at all, that's just obnoxious.

Women fight harassment, sexism, misogyny, and disadvantage every day, even if they're not aware of it. Women pay more for health care. They pay higher mortgage rates and they pay more for cars. They get paid less at work. They're less likely to be hired and less likely to be promoted. When they take initiative in the workplace, they're likely to be penalized, as women are still evaluated on the basis of "likeability". They're basically the sole victims of sexual harassment, and outside the prison system (where the perpetrators of rape are still overwhelmingly male), they're far, far more likely to be the victims of rape. I'm struggling to come up with an area where women have it better than men, and I really can't come up with one.

And after taking stock of all the shit women deal with every day, I think it's wildly, shamefully entitled to argue that on top of all of it, they still have more obligations. To their credit, many women do work hard against sexism, even when it's not their job. But that's their choice, and you don't get to decide for them.


I don't think we're going to reach an agreement on this.

Women have it harder, it sucks. But I don't think all that shit they deal with affects their basic moral obligations. I think moral obligations are tied into the level of power people have, and women have nonzero power so they have nonzero obligations.

Talking about a "male community" to argue they have the obligation and nobody else is a false grouping. You could just as easily lump "abusive men" and "women that know spanish" and start saying the responsibility lies on mexico to stop the abusers.

There is no male-only cabal with 3 billion members. There is a fucked-up patriarchy where men have more power but not all of the power.


When you say that women have some level of moral obligation, you're assigning them responsibility for the current state of affairs. They've had nothing to do with setting up the current social/cultural/institutional system that oppresses them. Not a single thing. They do, however, make tough decisions to try and survive and thrive in it. Our society in the US is not a woman's society. It's a white male society and it's up to white males to fix it, by listening to women and minorities and doing our best to acknowledge and respond to their experiences.

If you like terrible analogies, here's another. What you're arguing is that an inmate falsely imprisoned is obligated to keep others from being falsely imprisoned if they have significant resources and there is little to no risk to them. Stipulating for now that there's a way to objectively quantify risk and that there are situations that are definitely low or no risk (which is a tenuous claim), the former prisoner owes society nothing. They were oppressed. They're trying to get her their life together, and even if they can deem a given situation low/no risk, and even if they somehow clawed their way out from under a felony into success, they're under no obligation to use their hard-won resources to fix society's fucked up "justice" system. They'd go broke in 10 minutes, for one thing.

You've argued that amount of harassment isn't an issue, but it absolutely is. If every woman in a position of power were obligated to spend their resources fighting harassment, that's all they'd do (or, according to you, they'd be part of the problem). This is an unfair responsibility you're assigning to women, who are in no way responsible for the current mess.

> women have nonzero power so they have nonzero obligations

They also have nonzero risk and aren't responsible for society's oppression of them. They also have less power as a result of the patriarchy; you can't tell someone who just got robbed that they'll have to pay some money to catch the thief. They just got robbed! You can't tell women to spend their resources to fight the patriarchy, the patriarchy saps their resources every chance it gets.


No, you're a little off. If we accept your example, then you're arguing that murder victims are responsible for fixing murders.

There are plenty of differences between murder and sexism (you can only murder a single person and once, sexism has oppressed multiple people multiple times for centuries... millennia?, sexism is a social/cultural phenomenon perpetuated by the patriarchy, murder isn't). The analogy really just doesn't fit.

The responsibility for fixing a problem is never with the victim.


Just to clarify, you was aimed at men and women equally. We all have to act to fix it.


Women don't have do, do they? "Have" implies responsibility. See my reply to esgoto.


I don't think it implies responsibility beyond just being partly responsible for the overall corporate culture and being willing to do something about it when something is harming it.


I think what we are dealing with is male culture, not any sort of corporate culture. If we're talking about a corporate culture of not being able to hold people accountable for mistakes in general, then I would agree.


I've observed that some women buy into it and seem to like/admire those who do some of that behavior.


"Some women" believe that women are meant to serve their husband's every command, but this is not consequential to the responsibility of the men in these subcultures (like those often within religious communities, for example). You note that women "buy", but what is the merchant?


Not sure how to respond to this. I don't think responsibility matters in this case, it's more of a pragmatic question of how can those of us who do care about it make a positive impact in a world where many people don't care to (for one reason or another).


That's good, I agree that there are avenues pretty much anyone can take to make change in the world.


Women are free to do that, because they're the oppressed group. They aren't members of the patriarchy, they're oppressed by it. Whether or not they're behaving that way due to internalized sexism or personal preference is irrelevant to the point that this is a pattern of male sexual aggression.


Thanks, this is what I was trying to say, but without words like "oppressed" and "patriarchy" because most of my fellow men don't understand what these words mean or deny the reality the that they refer to.


Yeah I feel like whenever "patriarchy" gets into my posts, I get 500 downvotes. I'm a white male too, fwiw. Go team.

EDIT: Aaaaaaand there we go. Finally.


I'm a man who happens to not participate in that culture.

You think I have any responsibility with regards to this issue? You think that, despite me not making lewd comments, encouraging lewd comments or behaviour, I am partly responsible for the fact that this happens? No. You don't get to put a collective blame on me just because I happen to have a penis.


I'm not responsible for violence either, even though I'm not a woman. Only the perpetrators themselves are responsible for the violence.


[flagged]


> Fuck off.

That is totally out of line. Please re-read the rules and follow them.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This needs to be investigated quickly. We don't know the details. She forced their hand and they'll have to respond publicly about this. It sounds like a last resort type action after stonewalling and lack of support.

If this is true, it is very sickening. Often this is talked about in general terms -- there is sexism, harassment, comments, jokes, etc. out there -- in the "industry". But in this case there is particular person and particular incident that took place. Hopefully this is not ignored.

We just recently talked about Adria Richards again (the Pycon incident from a few years back). And one point I was trying to make regarding that incident was that it should have been separated from harassment and discrimination discourse. It was about PR and about a personal agenda. The reason for it, is because if it is isn't, it hurts and diminishes other future sexual harassment allegations -- it reduces them to "she is just probably pulling an Adria on us". Besides the harm caused to all the parties in that controversy, there was a much larger harm, and that is a future harm to cause of preventing and rooting out these horrible things.

I have a daughter, and it sickens me that one day should have choose to persue a career with these companies she would have to deal with this kind stuff. And if this is true, I somehow didn't expect this from Google. I could see this happening at an investment firm, at a hospital, at a legal firm but not with Google, which seemingly go out of their way to tell the world how inclusive, and non-discriminantory and not evil they are.


It's a pretty nuclear step, this. Not just because it forces the employers hand, but because for standing up and shouting about this she's going to be a target for a tirade of misogynist abuse from the trogolodytes of the net.


You don't even have to say anything to incur the wrath of the misogynists and trogolodytes. Recently: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/curt-schil...

I'm glad that she made a big deal out of it. The more attention that's brought to these situations, the more likely more people will stand up against this type of behavior.


> I could see this happening an investment firm, at a hospital, at a legal firm but not with Google

Less than 5% of senior VCs, and 5% of F500 CEOs, are women, while more than 20% of F500 general counsel are. Some people are immune, of course, by virtue of their status, but for most people, it's an environment where you don't want to develop a reputation. Especially if you're young--1/3 of new large law firm partners are women in recent years.

I would imagine the situation is similar for medicine too. I can have an easier time picturing this sort of comment at an investment bank, but these days even Wall Street is more drug tests than it is hookers and blow.

My experience in both fields is why I think that the gender disparity needs to be addressed directly, because it is self-perpetuating. An environment where 90% of your bosses and 80% of your coworkers are all men is conducive to a culture that keeps those skewed ratios in place.


Also just the fact that once you hit 53,000 people, you can't really say "I didn't expect this from X company" as if the company is a single person whose character is automatically imbued into every employee.


I think, in general, people aren't that upset that Rod Chavez harassed her. Based on her claims, he's an asshole, but if you pick 50k people from the general population, you're gonna get some assholes. I'd bet the majority of upset people are upset because of Google's response. The response of the company -- ending her career, likely managing her out, leaving Rod alone -- is what is correctly attributed to google.


I say it vis-a-vis the public image that company is presenting. Google for years reaped the benefits, so to speak, from presenting themselves as ethically and morally a better entity than others. But now they also have to reap the criticism due to their perceived hypocrisy.


It's all about perception I guess. Even if you have fewer occurrences of it per X employees (not saying they do - I don't know) and you actually are better, it's easier to talk about it like it's the new norm.


>Wall Street is more drug tests

Really? That's surprising. I can't imagine any tech company testing for drugs (maybe testing the drugs themselves though). Are there regulations on that for finance? What's in it for the employer? Is drug use negatively correlated with performance?


Once you deal with other people's money, you want to keep risk factors out of it. Since few drugs are legal, drugs are a risk because their users have to interact with the more shady parts of society.


> It was about PR and about a personal agenda

You say this like it's a fact. Did I miss some detail of this incident that came out later?


> You say this like it's a fact. Did I miss some detail of this incident that came out later?

Yes, the part from the Esquire article revealed a few more things that was disappointing to hear, such as that she notified Hank's (not his real name I understand) employer wanting them to force Hank to remove the part of the HN comment where he said he lost his job. That is significant because it reveals her intentions of turning this into a PR campaign presenting herself as a victim. (Nevermind other references to herself of Joan of Arc). She shouldn't have cared about that part of the comment, but she zoomed in on it, because she realized her game was up -- she wasn't the public victim anymore, people will start sympathizing with Hank from that point on.


Wow, I hadn't seen this, so thanks for the pointer. From the Esquire article[0]:

> “The next day,” Hank said, “Adria Richards called my company asking them to ask me to remove the portion of my apology that stated I lost my job as a result of her tweet."

Has Richards commented on this claim?

[0] http://www.esquire.co.uk/culture/books/7933/exclusive-extrac...


I don't really see how this is a big revelation. If somebody publicly apologized to me for, say, driving drunk and hitting my car, but then went on to play up how they'd lost their job because of it I would call that a bad-faith apology.

While I don't personally read "Hank"'s apology as "bad-faith", I can easily see how she might see it that way.


Your analogy doesn't include contacting the drunk driver's former employer and asking them to ask him to change his apology.

She can feel whatever she wants to about whether it was in good faith. But it feels a little underhanded to allegedly try to secretly get him to modify specific statements she doesn't like (possibly with intentional extra leverage by including the former employer.)

I say secretly, because another option would be including the request to modify his comment in her own comment[0], and removing it from her own if he did. Yes, that would look silly and be easily discovered, which is probably why she allegedly tried to do it non-publicly. (To her credit, contacting the employer may have been just because it was the only means she had to privately contact him.)

I wonder if she immediately saw the tidal wave coming for her when he posted he'd lost his job. If so, it's hard to blame her for trying almost anything to avoid it. Still, it fits into the original comment above, that this was a person deliberately trying to control a narrative to suit her agenda, that being transparent was less important.

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


> Your analogy doesn't include contacting the drunk driver's former employer and asking them to ask him to change his apology.

Sorry, I thought it was implied by the context that I believe that would be an appropriate way of responding to a "bad faith" public apology.

> Still, it fits into the original comment above

Sure, it fits. But there are plenty of other interpretations that fit the information. I'd propose that the reason this narrative is winning is that it's the one that challenges people the least, not because it's the one that fits the facts the best.


Fair enough. I guess for me, reacting that way (trying to modify the apology) to a "bad faith" public apology wouldn't occur to me as an option, so I didn't realize they were directly connected for you.

I agree there are multiple interpretations, mitigating factors, biased accounts, etc. I've already "picked sides" and I doubt much would change that. I don't know that there really is a way to "fit the facts", because all the "facts" we have are colored by two emotionally invested adversaries, probably both speaking from a calculated PR mindset. At this point they're both also speaking through journalists, who may be adding their own spin.


All I was objecting to was OP presenting the opinion that she was only concerned with "PR and a personal agenda" as a fact and not an opinion.


From everything I've read, now including the Esquire article, I disagree with your interpretation. But if you believe that her actions were about "PR and a personal agenda" then I think you'd also have to agree that "Hank"'s apology was just as much about "PR and a personal agenda".

Esquire article: http://www.esquire.co.uk/culture/books/7933/exclusive-extrac...


I don't understand how it can't be for personal agenda and PR when her response to two adults making juvenile jokes to themselves is to publicly shame them.

Since kindergarten children are taught to politely ask somebody to stop as their first step, and escalate from there -- not go nuclear right from the get-go.

Or maybe I'm out of the loop on this -- I could be. I really only read about this the other night -- I get a healthy enough dose of drama just in my own life without having to read about somebody else's :-)


We don't really need to speculate why she did it. She details it quite articulately on her blog http://butyoureagirl.com/2013/03/18/forking-and-dongle-jokes...

<lots of context snipped>

> I decided to do things differently this time and didn’t say anything to them directly. I was a guest in the Python community and as such, I wanted to give PyCon the opportunity to address this.

<more context snipped>

So if "personal agenda" includes being fed up with tech industry sexism, then yeah it was very obviously because of a personal agenda. PR? Sure, she was trying to manage how her story was received by the public. Wouldn't you?


The line is crossed when she wants to obscure the truth in her image's favor.


Like how you're using a throwaway to obscure the truth in your image's favor?


...I really don't know what you even intend to mean with this. The truth is that this is a forum that allows anonymous discourse, and I'm not pretending my participation is anything more than that.

I hope you explain yourself, because from what I can tell, you're attempting something ugly.


People try to control how their stories are told, how their stories are received. You are doing so by using a throwaway.

As I said in this comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9164064, I don't think Adria Richards did anything out of line in asking for an apology to be modified. You're allowed to be anonymous in this context, you are allowed to try to control how your story is told.


That is a fatuous, petty equivalence. I am not a subject of a story being told in the public eye. I am not being asked by anyone to modify the telling of my story to please their agenda.

Asking someone to bear false witness is not comparable to posting as a throwaway.

And in any case, your logic of narrative control is contradictory: Adria was trying to override Hank's control over how his story was told. She didn't ask him publicly, she went through back channels to his previous employer for social leverage.

Hank is allowed to try to control how his story was told. Adria tried to interfere with that right.


Not contradictory. Everyone's allowed to TRY to control how their story is told. She tried to get him to modify his apology to be less muddy. He tried to mitigate the damage of being called out by playing for sympathy. I see no contradiction, and I see no foul play in either of those actions.

> She didn't ask him publicly, she went through back channels to his previous employer for social leverage.

I'm sure going public would have resulted in people accusing her of "going nuclear", or adding insult to injury, etc. Considering this guy was recently fired, I wouldn't want to speak directly to him if I were her. That leaves going via his former employer. You can choose to see that as using "social leverage" but there's no real way to know. If that was the point, it wasn't enough leverage, because he didn't change it.

Facing down this king of online scrutiny and doubt of your motives is exactly why women tend to keep quite about this kind of stuff, and then things don't change because nobody's talking about the problems.


I suppose you're correct that Adria's actions are within the rules of the game ('anything goes!'), but what I'm saying is she played the game poorly by trying to prevent people from knowing she got someone fired.

>Considering this guy was recently fired, I wouldn't want to speak directly to him if I were her.

Did you know that she responded directly to his comment on HN? (See here)[https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5399047].

Adria portrays herself as a fearless crusader against injustice. She has failed in this portrayal in several ways and appeared opportunistic and hypocritical.

Would you be willing to admit there's 'no foul play' in that failure? I don't know if I'd go that far, because my point is more about the nature of the court of public opinion than it is trying to assign blame.

>Facing down this king of online scrutiny and doubt of your motives is exactly why women tend to keep quite about this kind of stuff

It's a problem, sure, but the court of public opinion is extremely volatile and doesn't like being misled, which is part of why it's considered a 'nuclear option'. Adria deliberately used that option and it backfired. This is not doubt of her motives, it's a plain reading of her account of events.

How can you protect someone that chooses to engage in a game of social russian roulette? How can you protect someone that then pulls the trigger six times? You can't, and now Adria is jobless while Hank has a new job. And it's sad and really unfortunate that things have worked out that way for her.

I haven't been trying to make a point like "Adria deserved it" though you probably heard that, and there's an "unfair" amount of that going around (though it's not foul by the rules of the story-telling game you're describing, right?).

There simply isn't anything to be done about mob justice except be aware that it will betray you for the slightest infraction.

...I've been tracing back through the beginning of this conversation, because I was focusing on where exactly I think Adria made a significant mistake "in the eyes of the court" and I wanted to make sure we were still topical.

>>But if you believe that her actions were about "PR and a personal agenda" then I think you'd also have to agree that "Hank"'s apology was just as much about "PR and a personal agenda".

I don't disagree actually with that statement in isolation, but I think you're missing the point here. When they say things are about "PR and a personal agenda," what they mean is there's a sense of dishonesty detected. You can shape the narrative, but get caught distorting it and the mob pounces.


Thanks for pointing this out; people will often believe that because someone is telling a story on Twitter, we need not take it seriously. What if the most used internet forums are the only place where some women can air the truth, after trying all other avenues?


For those who don't recall the Adria Richards / Pycon incident, here's the HN discussion, including a comment from the guy who got fired and a response from Adria:

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


Please don't take this as an excuse for sexual harassment, but:

As a manager, I wouldn't go on a beach/bikini/swimsuit trip with my team, and certainly not one with large amounts of alcohol (which wasn't necessarily part of the story posted). So many reasons:

* I don't WANT the people who report to me to see my pale un-muscled body. Or the people above me!

* I don't want to accidentally glance at someone and make them feel uncomfortable.

* I don't want to get so loose and comfortable (cue alcohol) around my team that I forget the role I must play as a leader.

I recently declined the opportunity to go on a boat beer bash, just to maintain the proper professional relationship (and these were peers in the org).


There is an excellent argument to be made that the prevalence of alcohol in American work culture is weird and stupid. Partly because it fuels sexual harassment, partly because it pressures people who don't or can't drink, and partly because really, the purpose of alcohol in a social context is to suspend your self-control at least a little bit, why would you want that at work?

Relatedly, see also https://medium.com/@betsythemuffin/drinkups-are-rape-culture...


Not saying you're right or wrong, but aren't there dozens of cultures across the world where where alcohol plays a much, much bigger role in work culture? The UK and Japan, for example.


Yeah, "US" is just what I'm familiar with and what the topic of the story is. I wanted to be precise (because people do rightly criticize folks who complain about US-only culture problems as if they're universal) but was too precise. :)


Australia and New Zealand. The US just happens to be the country where the occasional sexually motivated comment generated by mixing bathing suites, bikinis, alcohol, and men and women is shocking.


I hear in finish work culture going to the sauna (obviously naked and sex mixed) and getting wasted together are somewhat common. Haven't heart much that this leads to harassment.

I all come down to weather people are assholes or not, not weather they drink.


I think a large group of people would really like their workplace to be more social.


I agree. I would have removed myself from the situation.


Quite a long thread but holy crap, this behavior and what is described on Kelly's twitter feed (https://twitter.com/justkelly_ok) are sickening.

Quite shocked that this is considered acceptable at such high levels at Google.


Yonatan Zunger's comment on the G+ post is illuminating:

"Damned straight, I wouldn't. But at this point numerous legal issues kick in so I can't say anything further in public, including any of the obscenities I'm thinking right now."

My read on that is that he doesn't consider it acceptable, but any public show of support or acknowledgment that the incidents in question occurred would be construed as an admission of guilt by Google, which would open them up to a sexual harassment lawsuit. So ironically, the same laws that are designed to protect women in the workforce strip them of support from anyone who is a high-ranking official in the company that employs them.

I wouldn't be surprised if the eng director in question got a private reprimand, but doing anything career-affecting (like removing him from a management chain, or firing him) requires significant documentation of a pattern of behavior...which is hard to generate when his accusers (quite understandably) leave the company.


What would be the consequences to Zunger if he did elaborate? Why must he protect Google from a lawsuit?


He doesn't have to on a personal level, but on a professional level, he is an agent of the company and must act in the company's best interests. If he doesn't, he's not doing his job and can be fired.

The irony is that if you escalated to Larry I bet he'd think that the quotes documented here are appalling - and his hands would still be tied. Because he has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders of Google Inc, and it is not in their interests to get sued by an employee. Which again goes to show how dumb the idea of "maximizing shareholder value" is, but then, it's the environment we live under.


I really doubt that anyone's hands are actually tied. He could say whatever he wants, like how it's totally unacceptable and anyone acting like that should be dismissed. He could easily say it's in the company's interest because it shows Google stands up for women, which is good for Google's image and talent recruiting.

That's why when people pull out "maximizing shareholder value", I think they're quite exaggerating on what that entails. I'd be surprised if any laws or penalties apply to normal operating judgements. It's gotta be more for scenarios like a company selling a subsidiary at below-market price, or obviously negative-financial stuff like that.


Thanks, this is exactly what I was getting at. I don't know why every hour and day he delays is not an indictment on his character; maybe he is tied in ways I don't know, but if not, why isn't he acting?


I think you are wrong here.

It is empirically possible for a CEO to take a stand. Consider the recent case where Tim Cook told an activist shareholder to "get out of the stock" if he didn't recognize certain imperatives beyond ROI (http://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-versus-a-conservativ...).


I question whether his hands would be tied.

He would be accountable to the board, and whether or not it was fiducially responsible to accept the risk of exposing Google to a civil suit would certainly be a topic for discussion. However, strategic decisions are within his purview. This is a endemic human resources issue that affects the well-being of the company. It would be entirely and justifiably within his discretionary power to react however he saw fit, unlike a more junior office holder who would have a specific job description, a clear set of powers and responsibility, and less political power within the organization.

I am not arguing that speaking out would be the correct decision at this time. In fact, as angry as the incident may make him, it might well be counter-productive to address it directly. However, I am not sure that it would correct to say that his hands would be tied.

I am speaking from reason rather than experience, and I have no real knowledge of Google's governing structure. I am adding this disclaimer because I am trying to kick the habit of seeming to know more than I do.


IIUC, Larry, Sergey and Eric control >50% of shareholder voting rights thanks to the GOOG stock split in 2014. So Larry can do anything he wants with Google as long as Sergey and Eric support him.


According to your analysis then, he is currently protecting himself. Even though, from how I see it, if action were taken against him, it would generate a lot of publicity and support for him and he would not necessarily sacrifice his lifestyle and living means (this is arguable, but I think it's an important argument as to what extent it matters)


It isn't that he must protect Google from a sexual harassment lawsuit, but rather he needs to wait until a proper investigation is done to prevent publishing anything that might be considered libel on the part of himself or his employer.


That makes sense, though I'm not sure that it makes up the whole of what nostrademons was talking about.


I think it's more than that. Yonatan said "multiple" legal issues - my guess is that there's a legal issue around a potential sexual harassment suit from Kelly; there is a legal issue about a potential libel suit from Kelly, Rod, or Vic; there is a legal issue about a potential wrongful termination suit from Rod if they fire him; and there may be others I haven't even thought of.

When you have a complex situation involving the rights of multiple parties, the best thing you can do is stay silent until you have all the facts. This is usually infuriating to the people involved and seems apathetic to bystanders, but you end up doing everybody a disservice if you don't. That's probably the reason for the "multiple obscenities" that Yonatan is thinking; he is in a situation where doing the right thing means being crucified by many people, some of whom are even right according to the information they have available to them, until he can actually ascertain the facts and weigh the rights of each party.



[flagged]


I'm not a fan of saying we should "take whatever she says with a grain of salt". It's casually dismissive of the entire situation.

If you want to accuse her of having fabricated the entire story, do that and try to find evidence for it. From the limited evidence provided surrounding this incident, there seems to be a fair amount of evidence supporting her.

Declaring oneself "bitchy" and wanting to "smash the patriarchy" does not mean you are inclined to quit your job and falsely call out several members of your former team.


However, wanting to "smash the patriarchy" might indicate that one subscribes to third wave radical feminism, whose definition of sexual harassment includes talking to a woman without her explicit permission.

As such, yes, I would give the accused the benefit of the doubt, at the very least until I'd heard the other side of the story.

Edit: Took me a while to find any of the actual, concrete accusations in that monster of a thread, it seems that Vic "said a number of throughout the years" which is pretty much exactly what I expected, and Rod, on at least one occasion, said something that does sound pretty damn horrible out of context. I apologize if I seemed dismissive, but I'd still like to hear the other side, such as it were.

At the end of the day, I'm mostly worried that getting the Internet at large involved in this will lead to another witch hunt in the style Donglegate.


> whose definition of sexual harassment includes talking to a woman without her explicit permission.

That's inaccurate. "Third wave radical feminism" is not a monolithic belief structure, and it certainly doesn't prescribe "talking to a woman without her explicit permission". I consider myself on board with radical feminism, and I consider that an absurd definition of harassment.

I think there should be a fair investigation into the incident, but I don't think it's helpful to make dismissive remarks about feminism or the potential validity of this claim.

All the evidence that currently exists about this evidence is a quote she posted on twitter and some supporting comments from other coworkers. Attempts to determine her stance on radical feminism have no bearing on deciding whether or not her supervisor made an inappropriate remark.


The story she relates doesn't strike me as stretching for a harassment definition. If true, and I have absolutely no reason to doubt it, it is pretty clear that this Director is nowhere near any kind of fuzzy line of harassment. This is clearly harassment and no matter what brand of radical ideas she subscribes to, if any, the Director is egregiously wrong to have said this to any employee.


The oxymoron phrase "third wave radical feminism" immediately betrays an uninformed and ahistorical position on feminist movements; it's not just oxymoron as in contradictory but also as in "silly to the point of humor". I recommend Judith Lorber's "Gender Inequality" as a start to educating yourself about the subject that you are trying to discuss.

Maybe I'm wrong about the recorded histories of third-wave feminism and radical feminism; can anyone care to inform me otherwise?


On one hand, yes, I believe third wave feminism and radical feminism are divergent (third wave being an inclusionary branch), but according to Wikipedia, anyone who recognizes and opposes the patriarchy is a radical feminist, so one could reasonably consider third-wave to be a sub-type of radical feminism. (I think if you used the term "radfem", that would be more clearly distinct from third wave feminism--that term seems used along with terms like "terf".)

Disclaimer: I'm not very well educated on this at all.


It's very telling that you claim to want to "give the accused the benefit of doubt" and immediately begin accusing someone of being a liar and having ulterior motives.

I guess the benefit of the doubt only extends to men.


I definitely don't think she's lying about this, but someone with such a strongly-worded bio is definitely more likely to exaggerate or be over-sensitive to perceived sexual harassment. (Think Adria Richards)


I appreciate the perspective that we should make sure to be on the look-out for bias, but I don't think it's helpful in this particular instance.

When your first response to a claim of harassment is "let's consider the bias of the accuser", it casts doubt on the legitimacy of the claim. I'm not saying we should jump to assuming she is telling the truth, and a real investigation should be followed to determine the legitimacy of the claim.

But regardless of the resulting investigation, I'd rather bias the initial reaction to "thank you for sharing this, sexual harassment is a problem in the workforce", instead of using her Twitter profile to cast doubt on her claim.


It isn't really your place to call a someone else "over-sensitive to perceived sexual harassment," especially when they're on the side that has traditionally been recipient of most of it.

It is your place to listen and try to understand the world they live in, those traditional recipients of sexual harassment.


Her story is quite a bit different from Adria Richards.


I would hope that everyone would be "sensitive" to sexual harassment, in that they would be ready to identify when it is happening to them and others. How can a perosn "exaggerate" quotes?



What do you think I am quoting out of context? Be specific


detcader: How can a perosn "exaggerate" quotes?

I gave you examples where people can exaggerate quotes.

edit: please drop the attitude...


You should take everything on twitter with a grain of salt, no offense to particular people.


Fair enough, but it seems her tweet is being supported by others' perspectives, which I think gives it weight.

Twitter and Google+ seem like reasonable places to post a complaint you want to take public.


I'd describe myself as that too, if I'd quit Google last year after being sexually harassed and watching my company turn against me.


I wouldn't describe myself as bitchy but I am a software engineer who thinks the patriarchy needs smashing.


Thank you for saying this.


There is nothing wrong with that tagline. She is stating that she is a feminist.

I took Google's ethics training and it seems clear that their policy is to have a very large tent where diverse people can feel comfortable working together.

If her accusations are true, then it sounds like there is a bad apple in the barrel in upper management.


Have you considered that she might have written that bio after these events forced her to leave Google?


The fact you can post this after reading that twitter feed only makes me believe it harder


"bitchy software engineer. doing what i can to smash the patriarchy."

Doesn't HR vet self-proclaimed troublemakers anymore, or is it OK to hire anti-establishment people as long as they're of the right flavor?

If I had "asshole software engineer. doing what I can to smash the matriacrchy" in my twitter bio, I would be figuratively destroyed.


Depends on what the hell you mean by "matriarchy". The problem there isn't political views, it's when your wording implies you're so blinded by bigotry you've lost touch with reality.

You can favor this or that party but don't tell me you're disappointed in the korean takeover of alabama.


The word "matriarchy" is an accurate characterization of our society to the same extent that "patriarchy" is. The former conveys how men are overrepresented at the bottom of society while failing to address their overrepresentation at the top, while the latter does the opposite.


I thought we're all disruptors here. So if a company's trying to disrupt things, its HR should be hiring self-proclaimed troublemakers.


You would be "figuratively destroyed"? What does this mean and how do you come to this conclusion? I don't think the quoted bio describes a "troublemaker", could you explain this?


Why do you think that?


Ad hominem.

EDIT: Really? Sometimes, HN makes me sad.

"Abusive ad hominem usually involves attacking the traits of an opponent as a means to invalidate their arguments. Equating someone's character with the soundness of their argument is a logical fallacy." [1]

"Arguments of this kind focus not on the evidence for a view but on the character of the person advancing it; they seek to discredit positions by discrediting those who hold them." [2]

"It is irrelevant, however, to call into question the reliability or morality or anything else about a person when the issue is whether that person's reasons for making a claim are good enough reasons to support the claim." [3]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem#Abusive

[2]: http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/ad-hominem/

[3]: http://www.skepdic.com/adhominem.html


The woman making the claim isn't, as far as I can tell, making an argument on this point. She's making a statement. In statements the credibility of the person making the claim is important. Like if I lied every single time I spoke, and you knew me to do so, and I said that I definitely was going to give you £100, you would be right to be sceptical of me.

Nost arguments have two parts: Factual claims that may or may not align with how the world actually is, and a logical structure. If X then Y, X therefore Y. Would be an example of one such structure (modus ponens being the underlying rule.) Another example would be If X then Y, not Y therefore not X (modus tollens.)

Something where the structure is an example of a way of reasoning that preserves truth values is called 'valid,' and something where the structure does so and the claims that are made using that structure are true is called 'sound.'

Now if I, being an always-liar in the original assumption, used one of those structures, my character would have no bearing on the validity of the underlying logic. The example of logical form would either be a valid way to argue; preserving the truth states of my predicates; or it wouldn't. And one can lie within the constraints of a logical form or not. 'Logic is true of any world, so it doesn't tell you where you happen to be.'

Likewise, it is incorrect to say that when someone just lies a lot that their character absolutely means that what they're saying will always be a lie. So you can't directly state that because someone's character is low that when they use a logical form they are, of necessity, expressing something false.

In these latter two senses it would be a mistake to equate - on a 1-1 basis - the soundness of someone's argument with the content of their character. However in the latter of those two senses, it is only a fallacy to state that someone's argument is equated on a 1-1 basis. It is not a fallacy to say that someone, for example, lies a lot so the claims in their argument are less likely to be true.

So, someone comes along and makes a fairly direct claim and someone challenges their credibility, saying that they'd take it with a pinch of salt because the claim favours what they take to the claimant's previously expressed political interests. That's not a fallacy. If they said that she was obviously lying, then that would be more than is warranted by the evidence, but the form of the statement they're making isn't an example of an ad hominem fallacy.


> she describes herself as "bitchy software engineer. doing what i can to smash the patriarchy."

I lost respect of her immediately after reading this.


Why? If you don't actually elaborate, why does this matter to anyone else?


Well, honestly, I don't care to keep 'bitchy' people around me, regardless of who/what they/it is.


That's completely unprofessional and demonstrates a poor lack of understanding. This illusion of a "patriarchy" is silly.

That shouldn't require that kind of elaboration to the common individual.

There's a reason why this article is trending downward on HN, think about it.


"Silly" "unprofessional" and such is all relative. I think identification and resistance to the social condition called patriarchy is legitimate, demonstrates a clear understanding, and would reflect neutrally if not positively on a person's ability to conduct themselves profressionally. Hey look, we are nowhere new than where we were before asserting these things at each other.

I've thought about "it", don't worry.


> "Silly" "unprofessional" and such is all relative.

To some extent, but in a technical field such as this being unable to determine that such a tag line as "bitchy software engineer. doing what i can to smash the patriarchy." being unprofessional demonstrates a deep, deep failure to understand the social implications.

> I think identification and resistance to the social condition called patriarchy is legitimate

It actually isn't at all, given females have been given more and more options in the workplace. This is 2015, not late 1800's. Thinking as such again demonstrates a failed understanding.

> I've thought about "it", don't worry.

Yeah I don't think so at all, and given that this article has fallen off the frontpage and [flagkilled] confirms my claim.

I can lead a horse to water, but I can't get you to drink. Nevertheless, I can't waste anymore time on your flawed understanding of reality.


> It actually isn't at all, given females have been given more and more options in the workplace.

Women still hold a tiny, tiny percentage of leadership positions. Maybe they're inferior, maybe they don't want leadership positions, or maybe the system is stacked against them.

Having spoken to multiple women in my day, I'm fairly confident the first two options aren't it. Moreover, numerous scientific studies have found the last one to definitely be the case, random Internet opinions notwithstanding.


Seriously, lol. Just wow.


So you're saying she's a liar?


No, that's not what I said. Don't misconstrue my words.

I'm saying that we shouldn't be so quick to take her words as an unbiased, unexaggerated account of what happened


Hmm. In retrospect, my phrasing was confrontational. Sorry about that.

It still seems as if you're calling her a liar, though, if you're saying her account was exaggerated and biased.


>I'd take whatever she says with a grain of salt.

If you mean this universally, then you are not in favor of law enforcement, at least how it is carried out in the modern world.


What? I certainly hope we don't convict people based on hearsay evidence


Do you have any reason to disbelieve the woman? Does she have a history of telling lies?

It seems awfully dismissive to call it "hearsay evidence".

Also, it doesn't look like the law is involved, so I don't think any conviction is taking place.

My take on it: yet another creepy dude in power in a tech company. There's still a little of the "circle the wagons" attitude, but thankfully a lot less than I was expecting.


Just a couple of links and quotes from the EEOC. TLDR: Harassment at a work retreat is still harassment. One inappropriate comment is usually not enough from a legal point of view. She is protected from retaliation.

http://eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm

"Harassment outside of the workplace may also be illegal if there is a link with the workplace. For example, if a supervisor harasses an employee while driving the employee to a meeting."

http://eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

"Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted)."

http://eeoc.gov/laws/types/retaliation.cfm

All of the laws we enforce make it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise “retaliate” against people (applicants or employees) because they filed a charge of discrimination, because they complained to their employer or other covered entity about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).


She was reprimanded for accusing the person directly, in front of other employees. Huge difference and I can't see the EEOC covering that.


I'm glad that Kelly Ellis chose to include a direct quote from Rod Chavez. Without any additional context, it definitely looks very harassing, and he should be fired for it. That said, some of the stuff she's written in the past is over-the-top radical (from https://medium.com/@kellyellis/commuting-by-myself-714e6dc47...):

If you are a strange man trying to talk to me on my way to or from work, when I am commuting alone, you are a harasser, pure and simple. You are threatening. And you need to leave me the fuck alone.

I hope this isn't another Adria Richards, Virginia Tech, or Duke Lacrosse situation. I wouldn't necessarily characterize what Vic Gundotra said as harassing, either the compliment or the Sasha Grey comment. Sasha Grey was absolutely hot-as-in-buzz, which would be relevant to someone working on Google+. I'd like to hear the other side of the story before stoning these guys, given the propensity some women have for playing up their victim status to self-promote in the media. That Kelly characterizes herself as a "bitch software engineer, doing what I can to smash the patriarcy", really drives this home. It would be a shame if these men's careers are destroyed for anything less than a whole-truth. Kelly certainly seems predisposed to view any slight as the result of her gender, and any comment that could be construed inappropriate as inappropriate. It would be a true tragedy if men disengaged from female peers and reports out of a fear of career destruction, even from the smallest gaffe, in the same way that many have shied away from interacting with children.


If you are a strange man trying to talk to me on my way to or from work, when I am commuting alone, you are a harasser, pure and simple. You are threatening. And you need to leave me the fuck alone.

That's hardly "over-the-top radical." If you're a young-ish woman pretty much anywhere, that strange man getting in your face on your way to work is not a nice fellow but a creep. Every woman I know has described this experience.

Also, to say that Adria Richards "[played] up her victim status to self-promote" is pretty hilarious looking at how things worked out for her.

There's no "tragedy" if men are a little worried about what they say to women. Caution is probably a good idea if your social skills need help. Systemic widespread harassment of women is the real tragedy, happening every single day.


When I first read the quote I thought: Of course this is way over the top! Then I read the article. If I'd experienced what she describes, I would probably haven an even more extreme stance.


I don't think a desire to be left alone is radical. Most women desire this, they don't want strangers coming up and talking to them when they're stuck on a train/bus where there's no option to leave. A simple "hi" is the limit of social interaction you should try to push on a stranger in this situation.


A desire to be left alone is perfectly fine. Automatically describing people as harassers if they try to strike up a conversation, with no qualifiers, is over the top and comes up against the fact that a lot of people (including women) welcome social contact in the same context.

Now let me be clear that I am speaking in general. I don't think it is justified to judge her, or her harassment claim, on the basis of that. It is that it is very understandable to see being approached as negative based on her specific experiences with it.

E.g. I've seen this in the past with female friends, who have in very general terms denounced being approached in public, and when I've pointed out that they've previously gushed over approached by guys they found nice (and ended up going out with in some cases), I've gotten the reply of "but that's different because ....".

Often what such statements boils down to is that they don't want to be approached in creepy ways by creepy people. They just can't (and most of us can't) clearly delineate, what makes an approach creepy and what doesn't.


I've heard women complaining for the exact opposite. Men not brave enough to engage with them casually. I guess it depends if the man looks like George Clooney.


That's pretty much it. It's creepy and harassment if a regular guy approaches them. It's what they want if the guy is attractive and she's in the right location. There's no way to know if they find you attractive so it's always harassment from the guy's perspective.


This seems pretty damn unacceptable.

I'm sick of working with overgrown children in our industry, who can't behave like reasonable human beings around women. It's just wrong.

I'm also sick of all-male teams put together by male managers who have decided women can't do this work.

Grow up. Drop the prejudice. We'll all be better off.


Those seem like pretty large generalizations for someone telling others to drop prejudice.


I've worked in a dozen or so places in three countries. In my experience it's commonplace. Hence why I expressed that I am sick of it. If you haven't come across this at all then IMHO you're very lucky and perhaps you'd like to share the names of your enlightened employers?


What is the common factor in all these destructive relationships with co-workers over so many different companies and environments?


I read the parent post three times. I didn't see any generalizations in its text at all.


Assessing a culture involves "generalizations", and thank goodness we can assess cultural climates. Without "generalizations" we could say nothing about how whites treated blacks post-slavery, as the laws and lynchings would be isolated incidents.


>Without "generalizations" we could say nothing about how whites treated blacks post-slavery

Any negative generalization about a non-white group would be characterized as racist, yet you think it's okay to make generalizations about whites.


Historical record shows many different groups to be acting in self-interest, even if those actions are "negative" -- for an example most people, including yourself hopefully, already understands completely, we can point to the Nazis. I don't believe you are engaging genuinely and honestly.

(Full disclosure: I'm a white man)


I suspect the issue is that many people in the computer industry never had the opportunity to develop a proper social skillset and thus frequently end up behaving in ways that are socially unacceptable. Add to that the prevalence of Aspergers in the industry, and you have a pretty explosive mix.

If I had a magic wand I'd make people take training on how to relate to others, especially the opposite sex, how to develop emotional intelligence which so many of us lack. Just because you're not born with it, doesn't matter you shouldn't learn it.


No, Asperger's doesn't make you more likely to behave like an asshole or a misogynist. Please read up on the subject of autism spectrum disorders before making such prejudiced and completely false remarks!

That said, in my experience, the biggest jerks and assholes have also had excellent social skills. Therefore training people to become more socially capable to reduce the number of jerks completely misses the point.


Why, when someone behaves like an asshole, do we so quickly reach for some pathology to explain it?

"He's behaved like an asshole" isn't enough, it has to be "he behaved like an asshole; he's probably got Asperger's".


Calling someone an asshole doesn't help you diagnose the problem, it just lets you vent and confirms your personal biases.

If you want to get to the root cause of this, you need to understand why that is happening. I strongly suspect that in most cases it's lack of emotional/social intelligence, and also frequently (how much is unclear) due to pathologies.

Sure, sometimes you know that what you're about to say is totally inappropriate, and you do it anyway, but I'm willing to bet that's a serious minority of cases.


This is probably the Linda Problem -- the conjunction fallacy.

"Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.

Kahneman and Tversky stripped the quiz down and tried again. They had students read the same profile of Linda. But then they simply asked whether it is more likely that Linda is (a) a bank teller or (b) a bank teller who is active in the feminist movement?"

Most people say (b) because they feel the need to explain Linda's social conscience.


> Calling someone an asshole doesn't help you diagnose the problem, it just lets you vent and confirms your personal biases.

In order to diagnose the problem you also need to have the relevant qualifications.

Do you?


I don't claim to be an expert, but I know that name calling will not get me an inch closer to understanding the situation.


Ignorantly ascribing poor behaviour to neuro-atypicality, with no evidence of such, is worse.

You do nothing to understandthat actual behaviour and you stigmatise people who are neuro-atypical.

Sometimes assholes are just assholes.


This feels like making excuses and really doesn't explain much. Much of the stuff I've seen comes from people who were in management. Some of them were married. This is not nervous-geek-can't-relate territory, it's bad attitudes.


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