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Author Topic: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience  (Read 4393 times)

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Offline SethalaTopic starter

Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« on: March 30, 2013, 06:17:43 PM »
I know there's another feminism thread, but that seems to have stalled out after derailing to talk about the crusades, so I think a fresh start is in order.  (Mods, feel free to merge the threads if that's an issue.)

Anyway, recently this month was a programming convention called PyCon where there was a bit of a commotion.  While I do have some strong feelings about this, I want to first try and summarize the event in as unbiased of a tone as possible, to make sure everyone has enough factual information before I describe my own reaction.

During one of the talks at PyCon, a woman named Adria Richards overheard some other attendees talking behind her.  Nothing unusual, until one of them started to make a joke about a "big dongle".  Adria turned around, took a picture of the men talking, posted it on her Twitter account, and talked to PyCon staff about the incident.  They intervened and talked to the men; it's unclear what exactly they did after that, and I don't know if it was just a "warning" or if they were escorted from the conference.

It's important to note that both Adria and the men she was talking about were employed by companies that sponsor PyCon.  Adria works as a "developer evangelist" for SendGrid, and the two men were employed by PlayHaven, though I'm not sure what their position was.

Shortly after the convention, PlayHaven published a blog post stating that one of the men involved had been "let go".  Soon after that, SendGrid started receiving threats (including both DDOS attacks and comments from clients that stated they would be taking business elsewhere).  SendGrid responded by publicly stating they had fired Adria.

Information sources:

Adria's blog post of the event: http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking-and-dongle-jokes-dont-belong-at-tech-conferences/
PlayHaven's blog post: http://blog.playhaven.com/addressing-pycon/
SendGrid's blog post: http://blog.sendgrid.com/a-difficult-situation/

Now, on to my thoughts.  There are a few questions I want to think about, such as whether Adria was correct in posting the picture on Twitter, whether SendGrid and PlayHaven were right in firing their respective employees, and whether jokes about "big dongles" should be allowed in professional areas.  I also want to talk about the role of feminism in all of this, and whether or not it's an issue of gender as well.

First however, I want to ask whether Adria was actually offended by the comments made, and if her outcry was to stop someone from making comments, or to further her own agendas.  One detail I didn't point out (again, because I wanted to make the first part of the post as unbiased as possible) was that Adria never attempted to address them directly.  Instead, she went straight to public shaming and talking to staff.  Now, this doesn't mean she had malicious intent; it could simply be that she didn't know any better, or that she was afraid of repercussions.  I can certainly say that if she tried to ask them to stop and they continued (or worse, started making jokes directed at her), I would be far more sympathetic towards her.  However, not having the basic sense to ask the person offending you to stop does little to help her case.  (Further, as a "dev evangelist", her job involves a lot of public relations, which makes me even less likely to believe she "didn't know better".)

The other issue is that it seems Adria's not the type to be easily offended after all, at least when it comes to her own comments: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.  I know "being a hypocrite" isn't reason to write off someone's argument, but when their argument relies on a piece of information that's very subjective ("I find X offensive"), pointing out the hypocrisy of that statement does undermine their evidence.  (If anyone wants to point out that her comments aren't "in the convention", I'm going to also say that she put up a few Facebook pictures of herself playing "Cards Against Humanity", a tongue-in-chick but highly-"offensive" card game, in one of the public areas of the convention; sadly I can't find the pictures of that right now.)

I have also heard of other issues where Adria seemed to care more about making a scene than discreetly taking care of an issue, though it'll take a bit for me to find links to things.  Overall though, I don't think she was anywhere near as offended as she claims, and she doesn't seem sorry at all that the PlayHaven employee got fired (she made a statement about it some time later, though any mention of the PlayHaven employee or any regret that she did the wrong thing was noticeably absent: http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/27/adria-richards-speaks-on-women-men-and-tech-but-not-a-certain-fired-developer/).

Next, about the unnamed employee of PlayHaven that was fired.  I can think of two scenarios where this is acceptable, and one where it clearly isn't.  The first is if the employee has a past history of problems with the company.  It could very easily be that he was on his "last warning", and this pushed it over the edge and got him fired.  The second acceptable scenario is if the company let him go, but with either a very generous severance package or support for finding a new job (possibly helping to set up interviews with other companies in the field).  Essentially the "firing" is a PR move with no real desire to actually get rid of him.  What I can't find acceptable though, is if he was in good standing with the company and left out in the cold because of this.  I don't think this is a very realistic scenario however, as he could very easily turn around and sue the company; I find it much more likely that he's given a generous settlement, instead.  Regardless, there's not really enough information to go off of here, as we don't know what actually happened to him.

Now, on to Adria and SendGrid.  This is a lot more public, and a termination I'm much happier about.  For one, Adria's job is public relations.  Having a firestorm like this with her at the center of it is definitely not good for business (in contrast, the unnamed employee of PlayHaven is, as far as I can tell, only a developer and not someone that worked with the public at all, so it's much easier for him to brush things off once they settle down).  By keeping her employed, SendGrid sends a message that they tolerate the public shaming of other employees for a generally minor offense, which can make other companies less willing to work with Adria (undermining her entire position with them), and possibly less willing to work with other employees of the company.

Fiinally, does this have to do with feminism?  Well, the bare-bones story itself likely doesn't have much to do with it, but a look at Adria's blog on the issue shows that she definitely thinks it is (despite, oddly, not wanting to call herself a feminist).  Admittedly I don't have much to add here, but I have a feeling that the topic will go down this road pretty quickly anyway, so I'll wait to weigh in on this one until I hear others' replies.

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 06:22:29 PM »
I know there's another feminism thread, but that seems to have stalled out after derailing to talk about the crusades, so I think a fresh start is in order.  (Mods, feel free to merge the threads if that's an issue.)

Anyway, recently this month was a programming convention called PyCon where there was a bit of a commotion.  While I do have some strong feelings about this, I want to first try and summarize the event in as unbiased of a tone as possible, to make sure everyone has enough factual information before I describe my own reaction.

During one of the talks at PyCon, a woman named Adria Richards overheard some other attendees talking behind her.  Nothing unusual, until one of them started to make a joke about a "big dongle".  Adria turned around, took a picture of the men talking, posted it on her Twitter account, and talked to PyCon staff about the incident.  They intervened and talked to the men; it's unclear what exactly they did after that, and I don't know if it was just a "warning" or if they were escorted from the conference.

It's important to note that both Adria and the men she was talking about were employed by companies that sponsor PyCon.  Adria works as a "developer evangelist" for SendGrid, and the two men were employed by PlayHaven, though I'm not sure what their position was.

Shortly after the convention, PlayHaven published a blog post stating that one of the men involved had been "let go".  Soon after that, SendGrid started receiving threats (including both DDOS attacks and comments from clients that stated they would be taking business elsewhere).  SendGrid responded by publicly stating they had fired Adria.

Information sources:

Adria's blog post of the event: http://butyoureagirl.com/14015/forking-and-dongle-jokes-dont-belong-at-tech-conferences/
PlayHaven's blog post: http://blog.playhaven.com/addressing-pycon/
SendGrid's blog post: http://blog.sendgrid.com/a-difficult-situation/

Now, on to my thoughts.  There are a few questions I want to think about, such as whether Adria was correct in posting the picture on Twitter, whether SendGrid and PlayHaven were right in firing their respective employees, and whether jokes about "big dongles" should be allowed in professional areas.  I also want to talk about the role of feminism in all of this, and whether or not it's an issue of gender as well.

First however, I want to ask whether Adria was actually offended by the comments made, and if her outcry was to stop someone from making comments, or to further her own agendas.  One detail I didn't point out (again, because I wanted to make the first part of the post as unbiased as possible) was that Adria never attempted to address them directly.  Instead, she went straight to public shaming and talking to staff.  Now, this doesn't mean she had malicious intent; it could simply be that she didn't know any better, or that she was afraid of repercussions.  I can certainly say that if she tried to ask them to stop and they continued (or worse, started making jokes directed at her), I would be far more sympathetic towards her.  However, not having the basic sense to ask the person offending you to stop does little to help her case.  (Further, as a "dev evangelist", her job involves a lot of public relations, which makes me even less likely to believe she "didn't know better".)

The other issue is that it seems Adria's not the type to be easily offended after all, at least when it comes to her own comments: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.  I know "being a hypocrite" isn't reason to write off someone's argument, but when their argument relies on a piece of information that's very subjective ("I find X offensive"), pointing out the hypocrisy of that statement does undermine their evidence.  (If anyone wants to point out that her comments aren't "in the convention", I'm going to also say that she put up a few Facebook pictures of herself playing "Cards Against Humanity", a tongue-in-chick but highly-"offensive" card game, in one of the public areas of the convention; sadly I can't find the pictures of that right now.)

I have also heard of other issues where Adria seemed to care more about making a scene than discreetly taking care of an issue, though it'll take a bit for me to find links to things.  Overall though, I don't think she was anywhere near as offended as she claims, and she doesn't seem sorry at all that the PlayHaven employee got fired (she made a statement about it some time later, though any mention of the PlayHaven employee or any regret that she did the wrong thing was noticeably absent: http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/27/adria-richards-speaks-on-women-men-and-tech-but-not-a-certain-fired-developer/).

Next, about the unnamed employee of PlayHaven that was fired.  I can think of two scenarios where this is acceptable, and one where it clearly isn't.  The first is if the employee has a past history of problems with the company.  It could very easily be that he was on his "last warning", and this pushed it over the edge and got him fired.  The second acceptable scenario is if the company let him go, but with either a very generous severance package or support for finding a new job (possibly helping to set up interviews with other companies in the field).  Essentially the "firing" is a PR move with no real desire to actually get rid of him.  What I can't find acceptable though, is if he was in good standing with the company and left out in the cold because of this.  I don't think this is a very realistic scenario however, as he could very easily turn around and sue the company; I find it much more likely that he's given a generous settlement, instead.  Regardless, there's not really enough information to go off of here, as we don't know what actually happened to him.

Now, on to Adria and SendGrid.  This is a lot more public, and a termination I'm much happier about.  For one, Adria's job is public relations.  Having a firestorm like this with her at the center of it is definitely not good for business (in contrast, the unnamed employee of PlayHaven is, as far as I can tell, only a developer and not someone that worked with the public at all, so it's much easier for him to brush things off once they settle down).  By keeping her employed, SendGrid sends a message that they tolerate the public shaming of other employees for a generally minor offense, which can make other companies less willing to work with Adria (undermining her entire position with them), and possibly less willing to work with other employees of the company.

Fiinally, does this have to do with feminism?  Well, the bare-bones story itself likely doesn't have much to do with it, but a look at Adria's blog on the issue shows that she definitely thinks it is (despite, oddly, not wanting to call herself a feminist).  Admittedly I don't have much to add here, but I have a feeling that the topic will go down this road pretty quickly anyway, so I'll wait to weigh in on this one until I hear others' replies.

It's mainly a story of a woman doing something stupid, getting called out on it, then trying to backtrack by covering her 'stupid bullshit which got her in trouble' with 'I'm the victim! I'm a hero!'. As a lot of videos I've seen have pointed out, if she's that offended by 'dongle jokes', she wouldn't be making them on the same Twitter feed as the one she complains about them on. If she wanted to 'set an example for that little girl who'll never get into computing now, because men make jokes about penises to themselves', it certainly would have helped to show that 'public insults behind someone's back' isn't the way you do things, when you have official channels to voice your complaints, channels which she distinctly made an effort to avoid.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 06:43:59 PM »
Can I just say that my first thought was 'People still use dongles?  How quaint.' 

Probably would have been my response, too,  if I were present to hear the original comment.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 07:01:17 PM »
... jokes about forking and big dongles don't belong in a professional atmosphere with strangers. Period.

Jokes about forking and big dongles are expressly against the conference's code of conduct. "All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks." (Emphasis mine.)

It's in black and white. It doesn't matter if she was offended. It doesn't matter if she's a feminist. They're sitting there at a tech conference; if they were bored, they could have whipped out their smartphones and sent lewd text messages. They were stupid, they broke the rules, and it's utterly stupid for a company to fire an employee for speaking up about someone who is being stupid and breaking the rules.

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 07:06:57 PM »
... jokes about forking and big dongles don't belong in a professional atmosphere with strangers. Period.

Jokes about forking and big dongles are expressly against the conference's code of conduct. "All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks." (Emphasis mine.)

It's in black and white. It doesn't matter if she was offended. It doesn't matter if she's a feminist. They're sitting there at a tech conference; if they were bored, they could have whipped out their smartphones and sent lewd text messages. They were stupid, they broke the rules, and it's utterly stupid for a company to fire an employee for speaking up about someone who is being stupid and breaking the rules.

Except she didn't do this; she didn't report the problem through the proper channels set up for this sort of problem, but decided to publicly try and name and shame -then- play it off as if this was some sort of crusade against the eeeevil men who dare to joke about their penises, which stops Little Suzie Bridges getting into this line of work and how she's a -hero-. They were stupid, they broke the rules; she was then equally stupid and -ignore the rules set in place to deal with these issues- and got fired for doing so. I think it's utterly right that someone should be fired for breaking the rules, which she also did.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 07:11:30 PM »
I'm getting pretty tired of the activist feminists at the moment to be honest, it seems like for every legitimate case of discrimination, there ten others which are just women crying out because they didn't get their own way.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 07:14:38 PM »
But from the same code  there is a well-defined procedure for handling this which isn't "go straight to twitter".  I agree that the two males in question should have been disciplined, I agree their joke was utterly inappropriate regardless of who, if anyone, took offence.  The sacking of the male - well, I don't know the company's policies but I would have got scaked if I'd made a similar joke.  But, I think there is some blame for her as well for a badly handled situation.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 07:16:57 PM »
... jokes about forking and big dongles don't belong in a professional atmosphere with strangers. Period.

Jokes about forking and big dongles are expressly against the conference's code of conduct. "All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks." (Emphasis mine.)

It's in black and white. It doesn't matter if she was offended. It doesn't matter if she's a feminist. They're sitting there at a tech conference; if they were bored, they could have whipped out their smartphones and sent lewd text messages. They were stupid, they broke the rules, and it's utterly stupid for a company to fire an employee for speaking up about someone who is being stupid and breaking the rules.

If all she had done was talk to PyCon staff about the issue, I would have no problem with it.  They would have taken care of the issue quietly, possibly notified their employers, and the employers may have taken things further.  (I would have preferred if she had simply told them to quit it first and brought it to PyCon staff if they continued or got worse, but I understand some people are intimidated by things like this and would rather involve a neutral third party.)

What she did, however, was public shaming and mob justice.  That's acceptable under certain circumstances, but never as a first response in my book.  That's the main issue I have with how things happened.  I think what also bugs me about it is that she's completely unapologetic about things; she's not sorry at all about going straight to public shaming first.

As an aside, if she did do things quietly and still got fired, I would totally agree that it's stupid and they shouldn't fire her.  She was the one that took things public however, and especially since her job (and thus, her value to the company) involves dealing with the public, being the creator of such a controversy is definitely not good for her job qualifications.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 07:20:52 PM »
well, I don't know the company's policies but I would have got scaked if I'd made a similar joke.

That's interesting, actually.  Do you work in a similar industry where going to conventions is part of the job?  Currently I only work at Walmart, and I know doing something like that in front of customers when I'm currently working is likely to at least get me in trouble, but I'm also the "face" of the company when it comes to customers near me.  But when I'm off the clock, even in the store, things are a lot more lax and I can do mostly as I please (barring things that would get a customer kicked out of the store, at least).

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 07:28:39 PM »
Well, I don't have my contract to hand obviously.  But the core point is that I'm a representative of the organisation at any time when people (reasonably) think I am, not nine to five.  So if I were at a conference on behalf of my employer then I think they'd expect me to remain professional throughout, not simply during working hours - at the bar afterwards or whatever.  As my actions, words, etc, could well cause a negative image of my employer regardless of whether I'm being paid to represent them at that precise second or not.

For example, I write for a newspaper and I have to use a pen name for that to stop anyone thinking that anything I say in the newspaper - which is solely album reviews, so hardly controversial - is anything to do with my other job.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 07:31:17 PM »
Except she didn't do this; she didn't report the problem through the proper channels set up for this sort of problem, but decided to publicly try and name and shame -then- play it off as if this was some sort of crusade against the eeeevil men who dare to joke about their penises, which stops Little Suzie Bridges getting into this line of work and how she's a -hero-. They were stupid, they broke the rules; she was then equally stupid and -ignore the rules set in place to deal with these issues- and got fired for doing so. I think it's utterly right that someone should be fired for breaking the rules, which she also did.

But from the same code  there is a well-defined procedure for handling this which isn't "go straight to twitter".  I agree that the two males in question should have been disciplined, I agree their joke was utterly inappropriate regardless of who, if anyone, took offence.  The sacking of the male - well, I don't know the company's policies but I would have got scaked if I'd made a similar joke.  But, I think there is some blame for her as well for a badly handled situation.

Twitter is considered a normal medium for complaints and customer support. Companies specifically have Twitter accounts to address customer complaints. (@Netflixhelps, @Hulu_support, @Amazonhelp, etc)

Tweeting publicly about someone isn't necessarily going to name and shame them any more than blogging about them will, or posting on Facebook, or writing a comment on the Con's webpage - even if you have a fairly high following on your blog, it usually doesn't have that big an impact until/unless it goes viral within your relevant community (or viral in general, in which case everyone is all over it).

Moreover, the PyCon instructions for handling incidents ask you to submit complaints in writing, but the contact info for the Con handlers are all phone numbers - and while it's PROBABLY a safe bet that they can all receive text messages, there is no guarantee that they can. Soooo... she complained in writing. Further, she was in the middle of someone else's talk, and while it's acceptable at such talks to have a low murmur of commentary, it's really not generally acceptable to whip out your phone and start yakking on it. It's rude to the speaker, and it's rude to the people around you.

And, last but not least, I'm not sure why this is (again, sigh) being given the "well, she acted poorly so clearly she has no right to judge their behavior" treatment. The code of conduct does not mention anything about "please don't tweet about the assholes you meet", or anything of the sort. It specifically mentions sexual imagery and innuendo. Which is explicitly banned from the conference.

I... I don't even know why it's still a Thing, here. The controversy appears to boil down to "Bah, it's a joke, get over it". Well, it was an offensive joke, and it didn't belong at a professional conference. So, uh, get over it.

That's interesting, actually.  Do you work in a similar industry where going to conventions is part of the job?  Currently I only work at Walmart, and I know doing something like that in front of customers when I'm currently working is likely to at least get me in trouble, but I'm also the "face" of the company when it comes to customers near me.  But when I'm off the clock, even in the store, things are a lot more lax and I can do mostly as I please (barring things that would get a customer kicked out of the store, at least).

The thing is that conference attendance is often part of professional, developing jobs, and many attendees - especially if their company is a sponsor - very much are the face of their companies while they are in attendance. Depending on the company, it's probable they were getting paid for conference attendance, or expensing some of the costs, or possibly their job was actually paying for their travel, time, cost of attendance, lodging, etc. While attending a conference as a developer, as a scientist, as a journalist (at a journalism conference, assuming there are such things), etc - you very much are expected to act as if you are in an office atmosphere, on the clock, in uniform, etc. It's a time and a place for your professional demeanor, not your dongle jokes.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 07:56:34 PM »
Twitter is considered a normal medium for complaints and customer support. Companies specifically have Twitter accounts to address customer complaints. (@Netflixhelps, @Hulu_support, @Amazonhelp, etc)

Interesting note, and I didn't consider that.  However, while I'm possibly willing to concede that putting the picture on twitter for the PyCon staff to access may have been the best course of action after all, writing a full blog post where she glorifies her actions (in a melodramatic way of stating that she was at a point where "the future of programming was on the line" - her words, not mine) is going much further than simply having PyCon staff take care of things.  (As an aside, her blog post was on March 18th, and the blog post announcing that the developer from PlayHaven had been fired was on the 21st, long enough for her post to go viral and influence what happened at PlayHaven.)

Quote
And, last but not least, I'm not sure why this is (again, sigh) being given the "well, she acted poorly so clearly she has no right to judge their behavior" treatment. The code of conduct does not mention anything about "please don't tweet about the assholes you meet", or anything of the sort. It specifically mentions sexual imagery and innuendo. Which is explicitly banned from the conference.

My point there was that there's a likelihood that she was doing everything only for her own ego and cared nothing about whether people were actually offended.  As an aside however, one of the discussions I came across mentioned an updated CoC that also requests that people not resort to public shaming of others who break the CoC; I'm not able to track it down at the moment however.

Quote
The thing is that conference attendance is often part of professional, developing jobs, and many attendees - especially if their company is a sponsor - very much are the face of their companies while they are in attendance. Depending on the company, it's probable they were getting paid for conference attendance, or expensing some of the costs, or possibly their job was actually paying for their travel, time, cost of attendance, lodging, etc. While attending a conference as a developer, as a scientist, as a journalist (at a journalism conference, assuming there are such things), etc - you very much are expected to act as if you are in an office atmosphere, on the clock, in uniform, etc. It's a time and a place for your professional demeanor, not your dongle jokes.

Noted, and for the record I've never been to any kind of conference as part of a job, so this is mostly foreign to me.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 07:57:08 PM »
I... I don't even know why it's still a Thing, here. The controversy appears to boil down to "Bah, it's a joke, get over it". Well, it was an offensive joke, and it didn't belong at a professional conference. So, uh, get over it.

Yeah, errrm, literally noone has said that.  I mentioned I'd get fired for doing the same, VanityEvolved's point was that she didn't go through the channels set up, Sethala mentioned that he would have no issue with it had she raised it with conference staff only.

I'm not certain who you're arguing against, here.


Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 08:12:09 PM »
Twitter is considered a normal medium for complaints and customer support. Companies specifically have Twitter accounts to address customer complaints. (@Netflixhelps, @Hulu_support, @Amazonhelp, etc)

Tweeting publicly about someone isn't necessarily going to name and shame them any more than blogging about them will, or posting on Facebook, or writing a comment on the Con's webpage - even if you have a fairly high following on your blog, it usually doesn't have that big an impact until/unless it goes viral within your relevant community (or viral in general, in which case everyone is all over it).

Moreover, the PyCon instructions for handling incidents ask you to submit complaints in writing, but the contact info for the Con handlers are all phone numbers - and while it's PROBABLY a safe bet that they can all receive text messages, there is no guarantee that they can. Soooo... she complained in writing. Further, she was in the middle of someone else's talk, and while it's acceptable at such talks to have a low murmur of commentary, it's really not generally acceptable to whip out your phone and start yakking on it. It's rude to the speaker, and it's rude to the people around you.

And, last but not least, I'm not sure why this is (again, sigh) being given the "well, she acted poorly so clearly she has no right to judge their behavior" treatment. The code of conduct does not mention anything about "please don't tweet about the assholes you meet", or anything of the sort. It specifically mentions sexual imagery and innuendo. Which is explicitly banned from the conference.

I... I don't even know why it's still a Thing, here. The controversy appears to boil down to "Bah, it's a joke, get over it". Well, it was an offensive joke, and it didn't belong at a professional conference. So, uh, get over it.

The thing is that conference attendance is often part of professional, developing jobs, and many attendees - especially if their company is a sponsor - very much are the face of their companies while they are in attendance. Depending on the company, it's probable they were getting paid for conference attendance, or expensing some of the costs, or possibly their job was actually paying for their travel, time, cost of attendance, lodging, etc. While attending a conference as a developer, as a scientist, as a journalist (at a journalism conference, assuming there are such things), etc - you very much are expected to act as if you are in an office atmosphere, on the clock, in uniform, etc. It's a time and a place for your professional demeanor, not your dongle jokes.

Companies do have Twitters - however, she didn't do this. She used her own, personal account (with 13k strong followers), looking to shame a couple of guys. Not only this, but she then went on as if this was a crusade - not something which just insulted her, but setting herself up as a hero, a pariah who was fighting some evil corperate machine because 'penis jokes are the problem with this company! All the little girls won't get jobs now because of this evil world of penis jokes! Someone had to do something!'

Which makes it even more silly and laughable that her idea of 'We need to do something!' isn't to approach an official channel or actually make sure the people in charge know about the problems; she decided putting one douchy post attacking a couple of guys on a social media website. This is the equivilent of saying 'Things need to change!' and your idea of change is 'make a personal attack at some guys on my Facebook'.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 08:49:05 PM »
Interesting note, and I didn't consider that.  However, while I'm possibly willing to concede that putting the picture on twitter for the PyCon staff to access may have been the best course of action after all, writing a full blog post where she glorifies her actions (in a melodramatic way of stating that she was at a point where "the future of programming was on the line" - her words, not mine) is going much further than simply having PyCon staff take care of things.  (As an aside, her blog post was on March 18th, and the blog post announcing that the developer from PlayHaven had been fired was on the 21st, long enough for her post to go viral and influence what happened at PlayHaven.)

Okay - I'm trying to get a clear idea of what your thesis is here. I think it's that she was wrong for using controversy to self-promote? If so, that's somewhat a matter of opinion, although I would probably point out that as she is in PR and you don't go into PR without a bit of an ego and a willingness to self-promote, that's somewhat the nature of her job. I don't disagree that such tactics seem slimy - I dislike Michael Moore's persona for similar reasons - but it also doesn't excuse the actions of the developers she reported. Derp, or I could just read the next paragraph, which I originally thought was a separate thought.

My point there was that there's a likelihood that she was doing everything only for her own ego and cared nothing about whether people were actually offended.  As an aside however, one of the discussions I came across mentioned an updated CoC that also requests that people not resort to public shaming of others who break the CoC; I'm not able to track it down at the moment however.

Noted, and for the record I've never been to any kind of conference as part of a job, so this is mostly foreign to me.

Difficult to say. She said the jokes made her uncomfortable. Then she said they didn't. I'm not even sure if she even knows how the hell she felt. However, she's not some folk hero who has to be pure of heart to win the day. If anything, her foibles and faults make her more human.

I'm still not entirely sure why this is being linked to feminism specifically, by the way, since Ms. Richards specifically says she is not a feminist.

Yeah, errrm, literally noone has said that.  I mentioned I'd get fired for doing the same, VanityEvolved's point was that she didn't go through the channels set up, Sethala mentioned that he would have no issue with it had she raised it with conference staff only.

I'm not certain who you're arguing against, here.

I literally didn't attribute it to anyone here. I can probably rephrase as, "The general controversy appears [...]".

Companies do have Twitters - however, she didn't do this. She used her own, personal account (with 13k strong followers), looking to shame a couple of guys. Not only this, but she then went on as if this was a crusade - not something which just insulted her, but setting herself up as a hero, a pariah who was fighting some evil corperate machine because 'penis jokes are the problem with this company! All the little girls won't get jobs now because of this evil world of penis jokes! Someone had to do something!'

Which makes it even more silly and laughable that her idea of 'We need to do something!' isn't to approach an official channel or actually make sure the people in charge know about the problems; she decided putting one douchy post attacking a couple of guys on a social media website. This is the equivilent of saying 'Things need to change!' and your idea of change is 'make a personal attack at some guys on my Facebook'.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with Twitter, but all your tweets are made with your own account, and show up in your own feed. Your Twitter feed is a little bit like if you went into someone's Elliquiy profile and clicked "view posts" - to follow conversations, you used to have to bounce back and forth between the two (or three, or four) Twitter accounts that were involved, although at some point they put in a "view conversation" function that allows you to view peoples' responses to each other in context.

The rest of your comment... I'll just... You know, I'm not sure if you're trying on purpose to minimize the amount of marginalization that women (and minorities, including male ones) face in tech in general, or if you're just not familiar with it, or what, but you come across in this comment as passing judgement from a very uneducated position and it's mostly kinda depressing. It's difficult to describe the situation that takes place in both the science and tech fields (both of which I'm an active member and/or student) without either giving you the statistics and hoping you connect the numbers with real people or trying to humanize it by giving anecdotes. Neither of which I'm inclined to do. So that's about all I have to say about that to you.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2013, 09:06:22 PM »
Okay - I'm trying to get a clear idea of what your thesis is here. I think it's that she was wrong for using controversy to self-promote? If so, that's somewhat a matter of opinion, although I would probably point out that as she is in PR and you don't go into PR without a bit of an ego and a willingness to self-promote, that's somewhat the nature of her job. I don't disagree that such tactics seem slimy - I dislike Michael Moore's persona for similar reasons - but it also doesn't excuse the actions of the developers she reported. Derp, or I could just read the next paragraph, which I originally thought was a separate thought.

Difficult to say. She said the jokes made her uncomfortable. Then she said they didn't. I'm not even sure if she even knows how the hell she felt. However, she's not some folk hero who has to be pure of heart to win the day. If anything, her foibles and faults make her more human.

Sorry, my thoughts kinda blended together.  The point I made with the first paragraph (well, tried to make; I tend to not be as eloquent with words as I'd like to be once I actually write them down) was that posting the picture on Twitter wasn't all she did, she did other things to publicly shame the guys, so I can't brush it off as "Well, that turned out to be the right thing to do anyway".

Quote
I'm still not entirely sure why this is being linked to feminism specifically, by the way, since Ms. Richards specifically says she is not a feminist.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are it's a duck even if it swears up and down that it's not.  Richards may be rejecting the "feminist" label, but you'd be hard pressed to prove that if you read the blog post that started the whole thing and not her arguing that she's not a feminist.  That, and the discussion will almost invariably turn into one about gender roles, which is definitely related to feminism....

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2013, 09:15:16 PM »

I'm not sure how familiar you are with Twitter, but all your tweets are made with your own account, and show up in your own feed. Your Twitter feed is a little bit like if you went into someone's Elliquiy profile and clicked "view posts" - to follow conversations, you used to have to bounce back and forth between the two (or three, or four) Twitter accounts that were involved, although at some point they put in a "view conversation" function that allows you to view peoples' responses to each other in context.

The rest of your comment... I'll just... You know, I'm not sure if you're trying on purpose to minimize the amount of marginalization that women (and minorities, including male ones) face in tech in general, or if you're just not familiar with it, or what, but you come across in this comment as passing judgement from a very uneducated position and it's mostly kinda depressing. It's difficult to describe the situation that takes place in both the science and tech fields (both of which I'm an active member and/or student) without either giving you the statistics and hoping you connect the numbers with real people or trying to humanize it by giving anecdotes. Neither of which I'm inclined to do. So that's about all I have to say about that to you.

I'm not very familiar with Twitter, I do admit, and feminism isn't something I take much time to actually explore, myself; but to me, I'm quite sure that 'two guys enjoying a lewd joke between themselves' isn't a huge problem to women getting into the tech field. Especially considering said person makes dick jokes themselves on their own Twitter account. Pot, kettle.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2013, 09:32:42 PM »
I'm not very familiar with Twitter, I do admit, and feminism isn't something I take much time to actually explore, myself; but to me, I'm quite sure that 'two guys enjoying a lewd joke between themselves' isn't a huge problem to women getting into the tech field. Especially considering said person makes dick jokes themselves on their own Twitter account. Pot, kettle.
But it's not just two guys, is it? It's a constant "boys' club" environment, in which this is one of the many signs that women are not welcome, except perhaps as eye candy. And to put things in context, this was a conference with a specific policy against such things, which was specifically trying to encourage women to attend. You don't do this without making them feel comfortable first, which means getting rid of the boys' club.

As for her public shaming of the guys breaking policy: About all I have to say about this is that, if you don't want to be publicly shamed, you shouldn't do shameful things in public.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2013, 09:45:33 PM »
But it's not just two guys, is it? It's a constant "boys' club" environment, in which this is one of the many signs that women are not welcome, except perhaps as eye candy. And to put things in context, this was a conference with a specific policy against such things, which was specifically trying to encourage women to attend. You don't do this without making them feel comfortable first, which means getting rid of the boys' club.

As for her public shaming of the guys breaking policy: About all I have to say about this is that, if you don't want to be publicly shamed, you shouldn't do shameful things in public.

What if the women are making their own jokes, though?  In order for "penis jokes" to be a "boys club" thing, it has to be something that's pretty much exclusive to men, right?  But just a few days before everything, Adria had this tweet: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.

If she's comfortable making her own crude jokes, why is she offended at the jokes others make?  And not just offended, but enough to complain and publicly humiliate him - if you actually believe that her actions were due to offense alone, which I do not.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2013, 09:49:37 PM »
There is a difference there.  I don't follow her on twitter - don't actually use twitter.  But if I did and did and was offended by her comments then I'm relatively sure there's an "unfollow" button that would make it all go away.

However, sitting in a conference, you are to some extent trapped.  Getting up and moving would be disrespectful to the speaker and annoying to everyone else in the row (think about when you're in the cinema and someone has to edge past you for the toilet.)  Of course, neither of those are unsurmountable, but they are there.  The difference is context and how easy it is to avoid it.

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2013, 09:50:59 PM »
What if the women are making their own jokes, though?  In order for "penis jokes" to be a "boys club" thing, it has to be something that's pretty much exclusive to men, right?  But just a few days before everything, Adria had this tweet: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.

If she's comfortable making her own crude jokes, why is she offended at the jokes others make?  And not just offended, but enough to complain and publicly humiliate him - if you actually believe that her actions were due to offense alone, which I do not.

This. If she had such a problem with colleges joking about dick jokes, it's quite weird that she actively makes her own. I find it hard that you can be offended by dick jokes if you're someone who enjoys telling dick jokes.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2013, 09:51:15 PM »
What if the women are making their own jokes, though?  In order for "penis jokes" to be a "boys club" thing, it has to be something that's pretty much exclusive to men, right?  But just a few days before everything, Adria had this tweet: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.

If she's comfortable making her own crude jokes, why is she offended at the jokes others make?  And not just offended, but enough to complain and publicly humiliate him - if you actually believe that her actions were due to offense alone, which I do not.

I think the general field was being referred to as the boys' club, not just penis jokes.

Also, there is a huge difference between making jokes on your Twitter and making jokes in the middle of a crowd of strangers in a professional setting. Like...

Think of it as the difference between raunchy text messaging with a friend while you're sitting at work, and then actively making raunchy jokes to your coworkers. One is not necessarily inherently unprofessional (just don't let your boss read your text messages, hopefully) and one is very, very unprofessional and can in some circumstances constitute harassment. That's the difference.

--- And Kythia essentially just worded it better than I did but I'm going to post anyway because goddamnit, words. :P

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2013, 09:57:31 PM »
The two men were not enjoying a lewd joke between themselves.  The two men were enjoying a lewd joke between themselves and anyone in earshot of themselves. 

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2013, 10:09:18 PM »
What if the women are making their own jokes, though?  In order for "penis jokes" to be a "boys club" thing, it has to be something that's pretty much exclusive to men, right?  But just a few days before everything, Adria had this tweet: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425.

If she's comfortable making her own crude jokes, why is she offended at the jokes others make?  And not just offended, but enough to complain and publicly humiliate him - if you actually believe that her actions were due to offense alone, which I do not.
No, it has to be something that makes women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Penis and sexual jokes are a small subset of this. See also Kythia's comment on context.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2013, 10:10:43 PM »
There is a difference there.  I don't follow her on twitter - don't actually use twitter.  But if I did and did and was offended by her comments then I'm relatively sure there's an "unfollow" button that would make it all go away.

However, sitting in a conference, you are to some extent trapped.  Getting up and moving would be disrespectful to the speaker and annoying to everyone else in the row (think about when you're in the cinema and someone has to edge past you for the toilet.)  Of course, neither of those are unsurmountable, but they are there.  The difference is context and how easy it is to avoid it.
I think the general field was being referred to as the boys' club, not just penis jokes.

Also, there is a huge difference between making jokes on your Twitter and making jokes in the middle of a crowd of strangers in a professional setting. Like...

Think of it as the difference between raunchy text messaging with a friend while you're sitting at work, and then actively making raunchy jokes to your coworkers. One is not necessarily inherently unprofessional (just don't let your boss read your text messages, hopefully) and one is very, very unprofessional and can in some circumstances constitute harassment. That's the difference.

--- And Kythia essentially just worded it better than I did but I'm going to post anyway because goddamnit, words. :P

Sorry, I was probably unclear.  I wasn't saying she was offending anyone with her tweet, or that anyone offended by it should take measures beyond unfollowing her.  I was pointing out that claiming to be offended by dongle jokes, when publicly making her own penis jokes, is... incredibly odd, mainly, if true.  Basically, I'm trying to say she's either a hypocrite, or dishonest.

As far as stuff at the convention goes, she tweeted that she was playing Cards Against Humanity (basically, a far more crude and offensive version of Apples to Apples) at the convention in a public area.  Which, admittedly isn't in the middle of a talk, but still in public view of anyone that wanders by.