Someone did something on the internet (Adria Richards)

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Someone did something on the internet (Adria Richards)

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:04 am UTC

For a summary of the issue, I'll take Amanda Blum's summary here:

https://amandablumwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/3/
* Adria Richards was an attendee at PyCon, a tech conference, as part of her job as a developer evangelist at Sendgrid, a tech company that manages emails.
* She took offense to a conversation two men, also developers for a company called Play Haven, were having behind her during the conference, in which they referenced “dongles” and “forking”. Both of these are tech terms, they were construed to be used sexually on Adria’s part.
* Without ever mentioning her offense to the men, she took their picture, posted it to twitter and asked PyCon to do something about it.
* Play Haven fired one of the developers.
* Then the internet blew up.


And the final part, Adria Richards herself has been fired from her company (Sendgrid) as well.

The story is overall interesting to me because it strikes very many veins. "The internet blew up" speaks about Adria Richard's twitter feed, where she's getting the full 4chan treatment. It has sparked many discussions on the role of gender on the internet. You've got the Python community wrapped up in 4Chan trolling and Anonymous. It unfortunately demonstrates the effectiveness of DDOS attacks and Cyberbullying, because Adria Richards has basically lost her job because of the whole thing. (Granted, Adria Richard's job is basically People Relations. And an angry crowd of people demonstrates poor PR skills in some form...). The manner of the cyberbullying has been derided as gender-charged insults, among other things.

Even the good things of this story get twisted into gender-charged flamewars. There is a very sincere apology by the guy who originally made the "dongle" joke, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5398681, and the resulting flamewar with people taking sides on "you should apologize" or "you shouldn't have apologized".

There's the official Python code of conduct at conventions changing because of this event: https://github.com/python/pycon-code-of ... dfb7ab18b1

And... basically a ton of people in the blogosphere talking about it.

http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/21/a-dong ... f-control/
http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/21/break ... n-twitter/
http://www.dailydot.com/news/adria-rich ... -backlash/

On the one hand, I'd rather dismiss this incident as simple Internet Drama and leave it at that. However, it strikes a strong cord with the internet community, perhaps because of the combination of issues wrapped up in it.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Rysto » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:47 am UTC

Complaining about somebody making an off-colour joke is a bit rich from somebody who posted this to twitter.

The misogyny that has been displayed in the wake of this is both disappointing and unsurprising. It has long boggled my mind that programmer culture can be so steeped in idiotic macho shit. I feel like asking, "Guys, remember those jocks you hated in high school? Why on earth are you acting so much like them?"

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby jestingrabbit » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:16 am UTC

Rysto wrote:Complaining about somebody making an off-colour joke is a bit rich from somebody who posted this to twitter.


There's a pretty clear difference in contexts. One, a large conference gathering, the other, social networking blather. I don't think she wants no off colour jokes ever, just none in professional contexts. That's a fairly reasonable desire imo.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby addams » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:29 am UTC

So, funny.
I don't know. People lost their jobs over a dongle joke?

How can a person use a dongle word and not have it turn into something strange?
Dongle. It is like Ungulate. It is a word that does something in the head.

A dongle ungulates, leaving no room for the other bifurcated ruminates.
Dongle. What are you people doing with a word like that?

Oh. Making trouble for one another.
(sigh.) Nothing new under the sun.

An eighty-five year old nun would make a dongle joke.
She would laugh at one.

One moment the internet is the wild-wild west.
The next moment the internet is populated by a bunch of uptight children.

It is a marketing campaign? What are they selling?
Are we buying it? Sure. With a word like Dongle how could you lose?
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby J the Ninja » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:35 am UTC

The whole thing is a massive display of idiocy and asshattery across the board. 1. Sexual jokes are not cool. 2. Twitter shaming people isn't cool either. From what I've read, there was no good behavior to be found anywhere except from maybe the pycon folks. You throw someone out on a public forum like twitter, what happens to the situation is out of your control. Everything quickly gets gender-charged, and now you need to "stand with adria" or else your a massive misogynist, but WAIT, if you do, you're clearly a femmenazi.

How about we decide the following:

-Posting pictures of people on twitter is not a productive way to resolve disputes with them
-Making high school locker room jokes at a professional conference is not terribly professional and should probably get you kicked out of the talk. Go sit in your hotel room and come back when you are ready to act like a professional adult.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Vahir » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:36 am UTC

J the Ninja wrote:The whole thing is a massive display of idiocy and asshattery across the board. 1. Sexual jokes are not cool. 2. Twitter shaming people isn't cool either. From what I've read, there was no good behavior to be found anywhere except from maybe the pycon folks. You throw someone out on a public forum like twitter, what happens to the situation is out of your control. Everything quickly gets gender-charged, and now you need to "stand with adria" or else your a massive misogynist, but WAIT, if you do, you're clearly a femmenazi.

How about we decide the following:

-Posting pictures of people on twitter is not a productive way to resolve disputes with them
-Making high school locker room jokes at a professional conference is not terribly professional and should probably get you kicked out of the talk. Go sit in your hotel room and come back when you are ready to act like a professional adult.


I haven't read the linked article itself, but the quote the OP provided indicates that they weren't actually making a sexual joke, and that it was taken out of contex by RIchards.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:47 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:One, a large conference gathering, the other, social networking blather.

One is a private conversation with friends in a crowd, the other is broadcast in writing to the whole world.

I know where I'd expect more professionalism.

. My friends and I had decided forking someone's repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said "I would fork that guys repo"


She heard what she thought was a gay guy making a sexual comment about another man and decided to fuck with his life as much as she could.

she's probably homophobic as hell or something.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Diadem » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:03 am UTC

I've always thought that sex negativism and sexism are two sides of the same coin. Societies that suppress women always also suppress sexuality in general.

There's nothing wrong with making jokes about sex among your friends. It's unprofessional to make such jokes during something work-related, but that has nothing to do with sexism or anything like that. Her response was completely over the top and unjustified. It was clearly not fueled by any concern for women's rights, but by a general negativity towards sex that unfortunately still permeates our society.

In other words: Adria Richards is the problem here, not these guys.

It now seems that these guys weren't even making sex jokes, and she just misunderstood. When I first read her blog posts I already found it curious that she was publicly accusing these guys of sexism, without actually quoting what they were supposed to have said. Accusing someone while refusing to give proof is highly dubious. It now seems that the reason she refused to give proof may be because there is none. That makes it even worse, but really, it was already pretty bad to begin with. What she did had nothing to do with women's rights, it was character assassination pure and simple. And afterwards, when they got fired, she bragged about it on her blog, which just makes her a shitty human being.

edit: Some defenders of Adria keep pointing out that she had no intention of making the guy lose his job. Perhaps that's true. But really, what do you expect will happen if you publicly nail someone like that? Besides, the fact that she bragged about it afterwards is pretty damning. She may not have planned for it, but she sure was happy about it.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:08 am UTC

Diadem wrote: It was clearly not fueled by any concern for women's rights, but by a general negativity towards sex that unfortunately still permeates our society.


No no. She can make dick jokes. only she may make dick jokes.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Elvish Pillager » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:53 am UTC

Hey. I wasn't physically there, so I don't know how sexist what they were saying is, and I'd hazard a guess that neither were any of the rest of you. We also don't know what other factors contributed to the one developer being fired.

We do know that he specifically admitted to violating the stated rules of the convention he was at. "Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks."

If PlayHaven is interested in having a gender-inclusive work environment, it seems logical to fire someone who violates a rule in a way that makes a female developer uncomfortable. It might have been appropriate to give a warning instead, but again, we don't know the circumstances - perhaps that developer had already been warned about this kind of behavior.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Rysto » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:05 pm UTC

Er, to be clear, the guy who got fired says that the "dongle" comment was sexual. He does say that the "forking" comment was not (for the non-techies in the audience, "forking" is when development of a piece of software diverges into two or more branches -- it's development metaphorically hits a branch in the road -- so that's plausible, but we have no idea what was actually said so who knows).

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:22 pm UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:We do know that he specifically admitted to violating the stated rules of the convention he was at. "Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks."

If PlayHaven is interested in having a gender-inclusive work environment, it seems logical to fire someone who violates a rule in a way that makes a female developer uncomfortable. It might have been appropriate to give a warning instead, but again, we don't know the circumstances - perhaps that developer had already been warned about this kind of behavior.


This argument is not particularly compelling. Certainly, sexual language at such an event is unprofessional (and thus liable to get people fired), but that does not automatically mean that firing a person who uses such language makes an environment more gender-inclusive, as you have assumed here. There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual language unless it references a particular person who does not wish to be referred to in such a way, or is used to exclude certain parties*. Indeed, assuming so smacks of the sex-negative attitude that several posters have already mentioned.

This is, of course, ignoring all of the 'went entirely over the event organiser's heads and shamed people publicly' nonsense that Richards is absolutely guilty of. Richards gave these people no opportunity to explain themselves or apologise for their actions before crucifying them in the forum of public opinion. She is a despicable human being.

*I doubt either of these apply to the situation at hand, since stating so would've provided significant strength to Richards' argument. Very few people indeed would be willing to publicly shame 'offenders', yet not say 'they were making sexual remarks about a person at the conference', or 'they were booming jokes to half the audience'.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:09 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:This is, of course, ignoring all of the 'went entirely over the event organiser's heads and shamed people publicly' nonsense that Richards is absolutely guilty of. Richards gave these people no opportunity to explain themselves or apologise for their actions before crucifying them in the forum of public opinion. She is a despicable human being


Or perhaps hugely ignorant of Internet Culture??

I can see someone imagining that Twitter is just a semi-private gossip channel. Its not like Richards fired Mr. Hank, his company did after reading her twitter feed. Adria Richards's mistake seems to be underestimating the reach of her twitter feed. She didn't realize that her twitter pic would cause such a big response.

I'd only call her "terrible" if she expected this. But I can imagine a situation where a person wouldn't understand the risk of Twitter.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:20 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
Torchship wrote:This is, of course, ignoring all of the 'went entirely over the event organiser's heads and shamed people publicly' nonsense that Richards is absolutely guilty of. Richards gave these people no opportunity to explain themselves or apologise for their actions before crucifying them in the forum of public opinion. She is a despicable human being


Or perhaps hugely ignorant of Internet Culture??

I can see someone imagining that Twitter is just a semi-private gossip channel. Its not like Richards fired Mr. Hank, his company did after reading her twitter feed. Adria Richards's mistake seems to be underestimating the reach of her twitter feed. She didn't realize that her twitter pic would cause such a big response.

I'd only call her "terrible" if she expected this. But I can imagine a situation where a person wouldn't understand the risk of Twitter.


I find it very difficult to believe that she somehow had no idea how Twitter works, considering that her job was in public relations. Social media advertising is a very major part of modern public relations and ignorance of how it works seems like an excellent way to get fired. Since she maintained her job in a fairly major position for quite a while, I think it's safe to discard that theory. Additionally, she has about 12k* followers on Twitter, so she can't claim that she thought her tweet would have a minor impact.

*This has probably increased a fair bit since this debacle began, but I suspect she still had a few thousand beforehand.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:30 pm UTC

J the Ninja wrote:-Making high school locker room jokes in any situation is fine; so long as you're taking proper care to share it only with your intended audience who will be amused and that it won't reach anyone who will be hurt/upset/angry


FTFY
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:16 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
J the Ninja wrote:-Making high school locker room jokes in any situation is fine; so long as you're taking proper care to share it only with your intended audience who will be amused and that it won't reach anyone who will be hurt/upset/angry


FTFY
I wrote and posted this response, but I'm not actually sure about it a few minutes later. I think I'm of multiple minds about this issue. I'm leaving the post in a spoiler, with the disclaimer that the situation and my feelings on it are more nuanced that I think I've managed to articulate.
Spoiler:
I really fail to see how adding a sexual charge to "dongles" or "forking" is actually harmful to anyone - especially in this context where it was a conversation that just happened to be overheard. It's not sexism and it's not demeaning to women - immature and inappropriate, perhaps, but not something to be proud about someone getting fired over.

This thing that happened? Until now, such a situation has been a strawperson used to argue against the idea that people should be held accountable for slurs or outright misogyny. Those arguments just became impossible to brush aside. Apparently we really do have to worry about people taking it this bloody far.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby kaley » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:58 pm UTC

What bothers me about this whole situation is the call for defending future women in tech. I seriously doubt that motive can hold water. First of all, women in traditionally-male fields do NOT need a welcoming environment from birth to retirement. Why? Because careers are not meant to be welcoming. They're meant to be work. She may have meant that statement more along the lines of us deserving a fair shot, but that's not how the words she chose read to me. We as women don't need to be coddled, we need everyone to expect us to do good work. If anything, the "good old boys' club" is the problem because there's the expectation that those people can do no wrong, even if they do no work either. Careers are difficult and they need to be fought for, and anything short of telling smart kids that they need to work for it is a severe disservice.

Another issue is crude talk is NOT unwelcoming towards women in general. It isn't about gender. It's inappropriate for an all-guy group, and all-girl group, and mixed company. And don't be fooled into thinking men can't be harassed in all-male contexts. From what I heard my brother had it MUCH worse than I did when we were growing up.

Of course, it is never, ever ok to go so far overboard that you'd celebrate the loss of a career (however appropriate being fired was, it's NOT a time for party hats). It's never, ever ok to send physical or emotional threats to someone you disagree with.

Amanda Blum's blog so far has been my favorite because it was reasonable. It showed no undeserved sympathy or emotional overreacting.

Being a female mechanical engineer (not exactly tech but definitely in a male-dominated field, and if you think IT guys are crude ... I work with factory workers ...) I think it's important for everyone to remember that the whole point is to stay calm and talk stuff out like adults.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Sourire » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:47 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:
Rysto wrote:Complaining about somebody making an off-colour joke is a bit rich from somebody who posted this to twitter.


There's a pretty clear difference in contexts. One, a large conference gathering, the other, social networking blather. I don't think she wants no off colour jokes ever, just none in professional contexts. That's a fairly reasonable desire imo.

Thank you. And more than that, let's not use a "glass houses" argument. The "dongle" comment was clearly against the guidelines of the conference (as posted before). Is there a similar set of rules one agrees to with twitter regarding comments about the TSA?

kaley wrote:What bothers me about this whole situation is the call for defending future women in tech. I seriously doubt that motive can hold water. First of all, women in traditionally-male fields do NOT need a welcoming environment from birth to retirement. Why? Because careers are not meant to be welcoming. ... Careers are difficult and they need to be fought for, and anything short of telling smart kids that they need to work for it is a severe disservice.

You seem to be using the word "work" to mean two different things here. Careers, in my opinion, are about producing stellar results to get noticed (work). They are not inherently about having to overcome an environment that you feel is hostile (work). If she felt that the situation was unwelcoming and attributes that to her gender, which is distinctly possible, then it's unreasonable to expect her to do anything but speak from where she's standing - a woman disenfranchised at an IT event when women have a history of being disenfranchised in technical professions.

kaley wrote:Another issue is crude talk is NOT unwelcoming towards women in general. It isn't about gender. It's inappropriate for an all-guy group, and all-girl group, and mixed company. And don't be fooled into thinking men can't be harassed in all-male contexts. From what I heard my brother had it MUCH worse than I did when we were growing up.

See above. It's not really up to you to decide how she views her gender.

kaley wrote:Of course, it is never, ever ok to go so far overboard that you'd celebrate the loss of a career (however appropriate being fired was, it's NOT a time for party hats). It's never, ever ok to send physical or emotional threats to someone you disagree with.

First, yes, there are plenty of times you can celebrate the loss of a career. Many Americans do it QUITE regularly when it comes to politicians, for a start. Moreover, is this relevant? I haven't seen any talk about sending threats to the men involved - most of the vitrol has been directed to the woman in question.

In short:
Gender exists whether you want it or not, and people may feel uncomfortable whether you want them to or not (even if you don't think they're justified). I think the main part of this we're collectively missing is the conversation that led to one of the men losing his job. It's not at all clear to me whether this was his first offense, if the company has a zero-tolerance policy, if it was more a matter of stepping out of line in a time when representing the company is most important, et cet. So I'd really appreciate it if we could stop framing this as "naggy woman gets man fired because she's too damn sensitive to be out in public."
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby johnny_7713 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:01 pm UTC

Sourire wrote:
jestingrabbit wrote:
Rysto wrote:Complaining about somebody making an off-colour joke is a bit rich from somebody who posted this to twitter.


There's a pretty clear difference in contexts. One, a large conference gathering, the other, social networking blather. I don't think she wants no off colour jokes ever, just none in professional contexts. That's a fairly reasonable desire imo.

Thank you. And more than that, let's not use a "glass houses" argument. The "dongle" comment was clearly against the guidelines of the conference (as posted before). Is there a similar set of rules one agrees to with twitter regarding comments about the TSA?

<snip>

In short:
Gender exists whether you want it or not, and people may feel uncomfortable whether you want them to or not (even if you don't think they're justified). I think the main part of this we're collectively missing is the conversation that led to one of the men losing his job. It's not at all clear to me whether this was his first offense, if the company has a zero-tolerance policy, if it was more a matter of stepping out of line in a time when representing the company is most important, et cet. So I'd really appreciate it if we could stop framing this as "naggy woman gets man fired because she's too damn sensitive to be out in public."


As far as I can tell from the articles these comments weren't made in any sort of official context, but were made by one guy sitting in the audience at a presentation and addressed to the person sitting next to him. Are there really official conference guidlines about what you can say to the person sitting next to you, especially if you already know them well? IMO there's a big difference between a 'semi-private'* remark made to the person next to you while in the audience and a remark made while speaking in an official capacity (i.e. presenting or asking a question during a presentation).

*Obviously the expectation of privacy while sitting surrounded by a bunch of other people should be rather low.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby kaley » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:03 pm UTC

I don't think it's a naggy woman who was too sensitive, I think it was a person who made a poor choice for how to handle the situation started by another person who was behaving unprofessionally. There is a huge difference.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby wumpus » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:13 pm UTC

kaley wrote:I don't think it's a naggy woman who was too sensitive, I think it was a person who made a poor choice for how to handle the situation started by another person who was behaving unprofessionally. There is a huge difference.


Its both. Judging from the original source of the information, whining about being offended by everything is Richard's default behavior. Also, a "poor choice" is magnified when you tell your thousands of followers on twitter "will no one handle these troublesome brogrammers?".

There are also those insisting that anon & co's insane response gives Richard's some sense of vindication through victimhood. This makes no sense as such reactions have nothing to do with silly jokes by brogrammers and everything to do with attacking amusing targets (anon doesn't defend anybody, they just enjoy hurting their "enemies"), especially those who damage other through blatant "poor choices". Being better than the anon's morally defective types is faint praise indeed.

I suspect PyCon will have to revise its professional conduct yet again. The present one was put in place after much more serious accusations of conduct were made (IRC it was essentially sexual assaults, but I'm not sure). While the present system makes sense to hammer some guidelines into socially clueless programmers, allowing those incapable of handling a society more diverse than their own microcosm to wildly attack for any reason seems to be a bit suboptimal. I just have to wonder how many attenders responsible for the latest "convention guidelines" now think they will have a license to go back to their old behavior.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Metaphysician » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:57 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:
J the Ninja wrote:-Making high school locker room jokes in any situation is fine; so long as you're taking proper care to share it only with your intended audience who will be amused and that it won't reach anyone who will be hurt/upset/angry


FTFY
I wrote and posted this response, but I'm not actually sure about it a few minutes later. I think I'm of multiple minds about this issue. I'm leaving the post in a spoiler, with the disclaimer that the situation and my feelings on it are more nuanced that I think I've managed to articulate.
Spoiler:
I really fail to see how adding a sexual charge to "dongles" or "forking" is actually harmful to anyone - especially in this context where it was a conversation that just happened to be overheard. It's not sexism and it's not demeaning to women - immature and inappropriate, perhaps, but not something to be proud about someone getting fired over.

This thing that happened? Until now, such a situation has been a strawperson used to argue against the idea that people should be held accountable for slurs or outright misogyny. Those arguments just became impossible to brush aside. Apparently we really do have to worry about people taking it this bloody far.


I think there has been way too much of a step toward the idea that any sort of language, particularly sexual language, that is primarily relatable to members of a specific gender (primarily male) is exclusionary and can therefor be categorized as oppressive. I am familiar with the sort of discomfort that can be caused by this as a male with many female friends. They start saying things and referencing things to do with female anatomy and sometimes I have no idea what they're talking about, sometimes I start to figure it out and then I have no idea what to say so I just shut up, a knee jerk reaction I am prone to because of my social anxiousness. But the bottom line is that while I may become uncomfortable in such a situation, I see no reason why I should consider it sexist. They're women making jokes between themselves about things I can't relate to as a man. That's not offensive, it doesn't hurt me in any way. I just can't see any reason why this should have been even remotely a big deal, especially considering it was a conversation that she was eavesdropping on, and not even one in which she was directly involved. Do we have to be worried now about making an immature joke with a friend in public because somebody might overhear and post our faces on the internet branding us as sexists?

Seems awfully prudish to me. Welcome to the new culture of censorship?

Some have made the point that nobody gets to decide how another person feels about their gender. But does that mean we have to constantly take into account every feeling somebody might have no matter how little sense it makes to us? This thin skinned culture is getting tiresome for me. The end result is that if somebody is going to be offended by pretty much anything I say, it takes too much energy and thought for me to take their sensitivity into account. I'm not a sexist, I'm not a bigot, I don't say sexist or racist things, and it's annoying when people go around hunting for anything they can turn into a talking point for their moral agenda.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby fifiste » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:13 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:. But really, what do you expect will happen if you publicly nail someone like that? Besides, the fact that she bragged about it afterwards is pretty damning. She may not have planned for it, but she sure was happy about it.


Well Diadem - when you say something like that to your friend sitting next to you and Adria Richards happens to hear it you can be sure that you both will be photographed. Then your photos will be published for thousands of people with a remark that you are awful human beings. :D
A private remark to a friend that contains something that may or may not somehow relate to sex* - this kind of crime could only be resolved by character assassination capable of destroying careers.


*Oh the horror! No, please, anything else but not sex as metaphor to something! We really should do try to start renaming male/female connectors and fasteners - god knows how many times have I felt violated by the these, that's why I always call them the insies and outsies.
You know like stuff you can put in others stuff, but never something that might be linked to sex. Never!
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Aikanaro » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:51 pm UTC

This whole thing is giving me Deja Vu. Didn't something almost identical to this happen like a year or two ago? I coulda sworn I've read a story just like this on these fora before, complete with the overreaction and the people getting fired over their use of terminology someone else decided to interpret as offensive. When I first saw this thread, I thought it was a necro-post, and was surprised to find it was something recent.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:29 pm UTC

http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking- ... nferences/

Having first hand sources is always important. Here's Adria Richard's initial response on her blog about the issue. It was said before she was fired.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:39 pm UTC

Yes. And also this:

http://blog.playhaven.com/addressing-pycon/
Spoiler:
It has come to our attention that a topic concerning a former PlayHaven employee has generated a passionate online debate.

There are a number of inaccuracies being reported and I would like to take this opportunity to provide some clarity.

PlayHaven had an employee who was identified as making inappropriate comments at PyCon, and as a company that is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior, we conducted a thorough investigation. The result of this investigation led to the unfortunate outcome of having to let this employee go. We value and protect the privacy of our employees, both past and present, and we will not comment on all the factors that contributed to our parting ways.

This employee was not Alex Reid, who is still with the company and a valued employee.

We believe in the importance of discussing sensitive topics such as gender and conduct and we hope to move forward with a civil dialogue based on the facts.

In that spirit, I would personally like to hear your thoughts and concerns.

Email me at ceo@playhaven.com. I will do my best to respond and encourage an active and civil dialogue.

Looks to me like they're saying that they didn't fire him for making this one joke, they fired him because, when they investigated him, they found a bunch of other misconduct in addition to this joke.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby HungryHobo » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:20 am UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:Looks to me like they're saying that they didn't fire him for making this one joke, they fired him because, when they investigated him, they found a bunch of other misconduct in addition to this joke.


Sounds to me that you're reading what you want to believe into this since they said nothing of the sort. an investigation could have been "Shit we're getting bombarded with hatemail from hundreds of women about this guy, call him in""Did you say that?" "Um, yes, we were in the crowd and talking." "Goodbye, you're a liability"

or it could have been a 100 hour investigation into every mail he's ever sent and interviews with every workmate. you're just picking the one you'd prefer to believe because they didn't give that information.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:34 am UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:Looks to me like they're saying that they didn't fire him for making this one joke, they fired him because, when they investigated him, they found a bunch of other misconduct in addition to this joke.

Emphasis mine. I didn't say they weren't lying.

I also don't think "they dumped them purely for getting negative press" holds up to scrutiny. If that was what happened, they wouldn't have publicly praised Alex Reid while firing the other one.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:05 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking-and-dongle-jokes-dont-belong-at-tech-conferences/

Having first hand sources is always important. Here's Adria Richard's initial response on her blog about the issue. It was said before she was fired.


I read that, hoping against hope for a well-formed and logical explanation for what she did; that she was not a horrible human being. Sadly, what I got was a series of poorly-connected anecdotes, a massive misunderstanding of how to respond to a situation like this and a huge dose of sex-negativity. Her skirt anecdote at the end was a legitimate example of sexism at the conference that would've warranted an official (though not public) response. Instead of quietly informing the conference organisers about this massive breach of their code, she decided to publicly shame these other two people for a much more minor 'offence'*. If she was too worn out from her earlier experiences to confront these two directly, why not contact the relevant authorities on a private number? She attempts to feebly justify herself by referring to her pet psychological theory, but it is quite obvious that she had no authority to exact this kind of vigilante justice in the first place, especially when so many other options were available.

Spectacularly stupid behaviour like Richards' here is especially frustrating to me, because of the huge amount of damage it does to movements that I agree with. Richards' and I probably agree about 99% of things, and so in the eyes of the public I, and the movements I associate with, are tainted by her idiotic crimes. You can already see large aspects of this in the way that certain sects of radical feminism (lesbian seperatists, misandrists, sex-negative-ists, etc) have ruined the reputation of feminism in general. Hence I believe that it is extremely important to condemn behaviour like Richards' in the strongest possible terms and distance her from the feminist movements that she claims to represent**.

*Not to imply that it was in any way her 'duty' to respond to these situations.
**At least, as far as this particular debacle is concerned.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Nordic Einar » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:20 pm UTC

Her... her "Crimes"? "Vigilante Justice"?

Ya'll need to tone the rhetoric down, yo. She made a scene (and got fired for it, you might note) about some dudes violating conference policy. Do I think she should've talked to conference staff privately, instead of on twitter? Yeah, sure. But Richards isn't the person who fired this kid - their company did. And she's "paid" for this just as much as they have.

The way ya'll are going on and on about this is just fucking hilarious to me. You'd think she'd staked their balls to their chairs or some shit.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:44 pm UTC

Nordic Einar wrote:Her... her "Crimes"? "Vigilante Justice"?

Ya'll need to tone the rhetoric down, yo. She made a scene (and got fired for it, you might note) about some dudes violating conference policy. Do I think she should've talked to conference staff privately, instead of on twitter? Yeah, sure. But Richards isn't the person who fired this kid - their company did. And she's "paid" for this just as much as they have.

The way ya'll are going on and on about this is just fucking hilarious to me. You'd think she'd staked their balls to their chairs or some shit.


Oh come on. If this were any other situation you'd be up in arms about it. Women having sexual conversation, man puts their photos on the internet and outs them to the conference at large, massive drama. Certainly, there's a lot of cultural baggage that makes this scenario worse than the one that actually happened, but public shaming is still wrong and still needs to be discouraged in the strongest possible terms.

I've never actually talked about any firings, because it simply doesn't matter. The damage done to these people's reputations by Richards' sex-negative bullshit is more than enough to condemn her.

[EDIT]I mean, you're essentially saying "I, personally, do not care about this issue, therefore it is not important and you should stop talking about it", which is such a shockingly ignorant and small-minded position that I never expected to hear it on this forum.
Last edited by Torchship on Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:43 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:41 am UTC

I ...see what you did there?
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:31 am UTC

I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I don't think I 'did' anything in particular there. Care to be more explicit?

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby PolakoVoador » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:33 am UTC

Torchship wrote:I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I don't think I 'did' anything in particular there. Care to be more explicit?


But not too explicit, ya know

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby rieschen » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:19 am UTC

Reacting publically was a grade A jerk-ass move. She should have reported them quietly - I'm pretty sure an email to the organisers would've been in just as easy reach as a tweet. It would have been the more professional behaviour, which she seems to be a pretty big fan of, after all.

Torchship:
Are you saying "sex positivity" is inherently connected to the right for people to make sexual jokes about an uninvolved third party who may or may not think it's cool? Do you really feel like the problem with Richards' behaviour falling back on feminism is Richards, and not the people who make that mental leap?

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby Torchship » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:20 am UTC

rieschen wrote:Torchship:
Are you saying "sex positivity" is inherently connected to the right for people to make sexual jokes about an uninvolved third party who may or may not think it's cool?


I'm not entirely sure where you got the idea that the jokes were aimed at any particular person from. As far as I can tell, Richards never says that the jokes were directed at anyone; everything she said in her blog post seems to indicate that they were somewhat childish but otherwise directionless innuendo based on humorous technical terminology. Can you point me towards the relevant quotes?

My basic point with that entire 'sex-negative' argument was that Richards did not object to the sexual discussion because it objectified someone who did not wish to be objectified, or excluded people from the discussion, or any other identifiably negative aspect of such language (I'd be quite impressed if she managed to do this, since she has not, to my knowledge, ever actually provided any evidence that the incident actually contained any of these negative aspects). Instead, she speaks as though jokes about 'big dongles' are somehow inherently damaging to women in the workplace. This is a sex-negative attitude - the idea that sex should be verboten for whatever reason - and so I call it for what it is.

rieschen wrote: Do you really feel like the problem with Richards' behaviour falling back on feminism is Richards, and not the people who make that mental leap?


I think the question is rather academic; my response to the problem would be the same either way. I accentuate the fact that Richards' views do not match the group's in this matter and strongly condemn her absurd over-reaction because these are the actions that will give the greatest positive effect. I mean, ideally people would understand that individual group members opinions and behaviours do not characterise the group, but that will never actually happen.

[EDIT]Richards actually said that she does not identify as a feminist in the comments of the blog post that KnightExemplar linked above. This doesn't really alter my argument much, however, as though she may not be a group member, she will certainly be seen as one by outsiders.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:58 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I don't think I 'did' anything in particular there. Care to be more explicit?

Nevermind, i guess there wasn't a hint of irony in
Torchship wrote:but public shaming is still wrong and still needs to be discouraged in the strongest possible terms.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby rieschen » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:08 pm UTC

Your definition of sex negative and the one I've learned and seen used are vastly different, I think.

Sex is, especially under a sex positive mindset, verboten where all parties are not on board. There is absolutely nothing sex negative about that. Sex positivity means that liking sex is okay, awesome even, and seeking pleasure is a perfectly sufficient reason for everyone who wants to do it. But nobody is saying these guys shouldn't be having more or less sex with consenting adults than they want to, and this is why I'm really confused.

Whip it out as much as you want with your friends, but keep it in your pants if you're surrounded by people who didn't choose to hang out with you. This really shouldn't be hard.

You do realise that you don't speak for the group any more than Richard does, right? I think most everyone who is at all willing to engage with the subject matter understands that feminism isn't a single, coherent creature with a unified stance on all matters. As for me, I really couldn't care less about the people who aren't willing to think even that far. There's no need to try to impress these people, because they can't be convinced.

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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby EMTP » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:38 pm UTC

From her blog post:

Yesterday the future of programming was on the line and I made myself heard.


I cannot work up any discomfort at her firing. Her blog gives the impression of a verbose, self-important, self-righteous twit. I wouldn't want her representing a sandwich cart, let alone a start-up "evangelist." (If I were firing her, the letter would say "We thank you for your contributions, but upon further research, we have discovered that we are a business and not a religious sect.")

This story calls to mind several life lessons I wish I had assimilated before I reached the shady side of 30:

* Authorities hate conflict. They rarely care very much who instigated the conflict or who is at fault. They intuitively feel, and I have to say they are often right about this, that some people attract interpersonal drama, and regardless of the rights and the wrongs, they do not want that kind of person around.

* Escalating interpersonal conflicts rarely leads you anywhere good. Even if you are the best infighter in the world, you will often find yourself in conflict with people with less to lose than you do. It's no different, really, than deciding whether to start a fistfight with an obnoxious drunk. You may be a better fighter, you may be in the right, but who is going be be more harmed by an arrest, a night in jail, and potentially a charge?

The loathsome Twitter attacks on Ms Richard doubtless involve sexism and other factors, but they are also a reflection of this phenomenon: she seized upon, escalated, and trumpeted her role in this conflict, and found herself under attack by people with much less on the line than she had and hence fewer constraints on their behavior.

* The underrun is a powerful strategy. Obviously being outspoken and confrontational when she believes she is in the right is part of Ms Richards' "brand." It may be part of how she came to earn her living as a "technology evangelist." But it's a high-risk strategy on its best day. When I look at people who are successful in institutional settings, they are, surprisingly often, a little quiet, very kind, and without a harsh word to say about anyone (at least where it can be overheard.) Some of them, especially at the highest levels, would cut your heart out for a song, but that is not how they present themselves, not how they interact with others on a day-to-day basis.

Ms. Richards obviously fancies herself as a gunslinger, righting wrongs and standing up for justice. Which is fine, but when you make fighting with people one of the centerpieces of your persona, it only takes one bad fight to get a bullet in your heart.

I'm not saying success in the professional world is the be-all and end-all. But it took me longer than it should have done to realize quiet people were not just shy, and that arguing and disputing with people at work, even if you are totally in the right, is a high-risk, and often a low-reward proposition. This case illustrates that well, I think.
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Re: Gender-charged Twitter Drama (Adria Richards)

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:47 pm UTC

rieschen wrote: There's no need to try to impress these people, because they can't be convinced.

actually Torchship was totally right to be critical.
It isn't one animal but many women within can be remarkably unwilling to side against other subsects.

sometimes even in totally stupid cases people just rally around whoever is closest to their ingroup. This can mean that women being pure assholes often appear to get some loud support from a minority of feminists and what appears to be quiet support from a majority who simply refuse to say "this woman is being an arsehole" because the "other side" is some group they dislike even more.

the contrast between some of the crap that came rolling past on my facebook feed about this which boiled down to "she's a woman, she was offended about a male, hence she must be right" from some of the people who repost every feminist issue of the week and the much more reasonable positions many have taken on this board has actually been refreshing.
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