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Author Topic: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience  (Read 4397 times)

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Offline BlackestKnight

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #150 on: April 07, 2013, 01:51:49 AM »
Wait, what?

Yeah, she lost her job over a joke she made on twitter about stuffing a sock in some guys pants or something. The HR saw it and canned her too. I don't see how she's better off with these rules that Ephiral says are meant to protect her if she's out of a job. I guess it's honor before reason. If anything, this episode should serve the purpose to shine a light into the absurdity of corporate rules themselves, rather than the workers.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 01:57:31 AM by BlackestKnight »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #151 on: April 07, 2013, 01:54:05 AM »
If we're going to go by the police example. I understand in many police circles, it's an unspoken rule to target young men of an "urban element" for stop and frisk searches , while I understand it's not relevant to the topic, I wanted to make a point about rules and their overarching purpose in an organization. Let's say hypothetically that the rules of the convention endorsed the mistreatment of women and minorities and it was somehow constitutional, what do you do now? Follow the rules because they're the rules? Rules are not always benign. Personally, I don't subscribe to rules I don't believe in.  Rules are constantly under review as well. Rules are meant to be challenged, I believe. I know a dongle joke isn't as noble as civil rights but still, it's wrong. Even if you think it's appropriate that the guy lost his job over a joke given the rules of the convention, she shouldn't have been fired for the joke she made on twitter prior to all that.
Did I say it was appropriate that he lost his job? Or did I say the exact opposite? Go ahead, check the thread. What I did say is that the guy knowingly and deliberately broke the rules, helped reinforce the extremely hostile environment already experienced by women in tech in the process, and got called on it. This I have zero problem with whatsoever.

As to your ridiculously overblown example: If this were Racist Misogyny Con '13, then yes, they'd be within their rights to toss out someone who broke those rules. And I'd be calling them out for merely existing. However, this isn't the case - the actual case is that PyCon instituted rules and policies intended to mitigate the hostile work environment faced by women in tech. Standing up against that doesn't make you a noble civil rights crusader, it makes you an asshole. This guy made a dick move and suffered appropriate consequences. Then two people were unjustly fired. Then the Internet lost its shit with misogynist bullshit. The end.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #152 on: April 07, 2013, 01:55:39 AM »
Yeah, she lost her job over a joke she made on twitter about stuffing a sock in some guys pants or something. The HR saw it and canned her too. I don't see how she's better off with these rules that Ephiral says are meant to protect her if she's out of a job. I guess it's honor before reason.

No, that's not at all right, and I would very much like to know where you got that information.

She was fired after the entire blog post went live, and after there was significant internet backlash about it, enough that the company she worked for actually had several of its clients tell them it no longer wanted their business, because of what she did.  Now, I don't think she should have been fired because of the blog post itself, but her actual ability to do her job (as a PR person - "developer evangelist" is her actual job title) was compromised because of reactions to her post.

(Edited to quote the post I'm responding to.)
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 01:56:41 AM by Sethala »

Offline Bandita

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #153 on: April 07, 2013, 01:56:44 AM »

Slavery wasn't ended because slaves took their masters aside and politely asked to be freed.
Women didn't get the vote by chatting with their husbands about it over dinner.
Institutional racism and segregation didn't stop because black people asked white people "Uhh, can we talk with you for a moment?"
Gay people aren't getting the right to marry because they were quiet and polite about it.

Why the hell do you think sexism is the special case?

This is the best thing I've seen all day.  Can I quote you on it, like other than here?  (will of course leave the source out, just let people know that someone brilliant wrote it)

Offline BlackestKnight

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #154 on: April 07, 2013, 02:16:53 AM »
Did I say it was appropriate that he lost his job? Or did I say the exact opposite? Go ahead, check the thread. What I did say is that the guy knowingly and deliberately broke the rules, helped reinforce the extremely hostile environment already experienced by women in tech in the process, and got called on it. This I have zero problem with whatsoever.

As to your ridiculously overblown example: If this were Racist Misogyny Con '13, then yes, they'd be within their rights to toss out someone who broke those rules. And I'd be calling them out for merely existing. However, this isn't the case - the actual case is that PyCon instituted rules and policies intended to mitigate the hostile work environment faced by women in tech. Standing up against that doesn't make you a noble civil rights crusader, it makes you an asshole. This guy made a dick move and suffered appropriate consequences. Then two people were unjustly fired. Then the Internet lost its shit with misogynist bullshit. The end.

Ahh, my god. I completely went over your head. How do any of us know that the rules in question are even worth following? Or what exactly those rules are? You justify your reasoning by bringing up the tired old extreme hostile environment excuse but for all we know the jokes could not have even fallen under your own definition of what constitutes "extreme hostile environment". What the fuck is an extreme hostile environment? That is what I'm trying to define. To some people, it can be saying "vagina" in a classroom setting, for others it's something entirely more graphic.
 We don't know anything, we're just working off assumptions. You don't hang people based solely on testimony. The fact that she was fired over her mild twitter comments invites some serious reasonable doubt in my mind.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 02:21:04 AM by BlackestKnight »

Offline Skynet

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #155 on: April 07, 2013, 02:25:28 AM »
Ahh, my god. I completely went over your head. How do any of us know that the rules in question are even worth following? Or what exactly those rules are? You justify your reasoning by bringing up the tired old extreme hostile environment excuse but for all we know the jokes could not have even fallen under your own definition of what constitutes "extreme hostile environment". What the fuck is an extreme hostile environment? That is what I'm trying to define. To some people, it can be saying "vagina" in a classroom setting, for others it's something entirely more graphic.
 We don't know anything, we're just working off assumptions. You don't hang people based solely on testimony. The fact that she was fired over her mild twitter comments invites some serious reasonable doubt in my mind.

PyCon recently instituted a zero tolerance policy for sexual jokes at their events, and required all comers to read and agree to it.  People who make sex jokes in a forum where others can hear can reasonably be in trouble for violating the rules.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #156 on: April 07, 2013, 02:30:25 AM »
No, that's not at all right, and I would very much like to know where you got that information.

She was fired after the entire blog post went live, and after there was significant internet backlash about it, enough that the company she worked for actually had several of its clients tell them it no longer wanted their business, because of what she did.  Now, I don't think she should have been fired because of the blog post itself, but her actual ability to do her job (as a PR person - "developer evangelist" is her actual job title) was compromised because of reactions to her post.

(Edited to quote the post I'm responding to.)
Source? I hadn't heard anything about clients dropping the firm. (That said, I still don't think her getting fired was appropriate here. A solid business decision, but inappropriate - as were the actions of these clients, if this is the case.)

This is the best thing I've seen all day.  Can I quote you on it, like other than here?  (will of course leave the source out, just let people know that someone brilliant wrote it)
*blush* Err... thanks. Not my concept, but my words. Use them wherever you think they'll help.

Ahh, my god. I completely went over your head. How do any of us know that the rules in question are even worth following? Or what exactly those rules are? You justify your reasoning by bringing up the tired old extreme hostile environment excuse but for all we know the jokes could not have even fallen under your own definition of what constitutes "extreme hostile environment". What the fuck is an extreme hostile environment? That is what I'm trying to define. To some people, it can be saying "vagina" in a classroom setting, for others it's something entirely more graphic.
 We don't know anything, we're just working off assumptions. You don't hang people based solely on testimony. The fact that she was fired over her mild twitter comments invites some serious reasonable doubt in mind.
No, you didn't go over my head. You just didn't have much of a point worth making. We measure the value of a rule in its intent and how well it achieves that intent. The intent here was to make female participants feel more welcome, as evidenced by the focus on female attendance noted in several messages put out by PyCon staff. They served their purpose - a female participant felt uncomfortable, staff took appropriate action, the issue was resolved. These are good rules.

And seriously? How can we know what the rules are? Are you actually asking that? Maybe by reading them?

Oh look, the old "What's a hostile environment anyway?" argument. From this very thread, how about this shining example? Or this:
(Because I'm currently getting the highest grade in my networking and programming classes and keep being told by more than one of the compsci students - all guys, by the way; I am one of two girls in the networking class and three girls in the programming class - that they'll be happy to look over my homework for me before I turn it in, or that they can explain what object-oriented programming means in smaller words, or that they're shocked when I explain class polymorphism to the other girl in the class who didn't pick it up at first. This is not an attitude of the past, this is something that is still happening.)
This is the shit women in tech have to deal with constantly. That joke? Is part of this environment.

Offline BlackestKnight

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #157 on: April 07, 2013, 03:23:38 AM »
Source? I hadn't heard anything about clients dropping the firm. (That said, I still don't think her getting fired was appropriate here. A solid business decision, but inappropriate - as were the actions of these clients, if this is the case.)
*blush* Err... thanks. Not my concept, but my words. Use them wherever you think they'll help.
No, you didn't go over my head. You just didn't have much of a point worth making. We measure the value of a rule in its intent and how well it achieves that intent. The intent here was to make female participants feel more welcome, as evidenced by the focus on female attendance noted in several messages put out by PyCon staff. They served their purpose - a female participant felt uncomfortable, staff took appropriate action, the issue was resolved. These are good rules.

And seriously? How can we know what the rules are? Are you actually asking that? Maybe by reading them?

Oh look, the old "What's a hostile environment anyway?" argument. From this very thread, how about this shining example? Or this:This is the shit women in tech have to deal with constantly. That joke? Is part of this environment.



So what environment is the joke she made apart of apparently? People forget that for all her talk of social justice, she ended up getting fired her damn self. I didn't find her remarks offensive at all but I understand why she was fired. It's not just about the sexist male antagonist we love so much. So it's not much of a win for women, as much as it's a loss for everyone involved. All I'm saying is the system is shitty. I don't like Zero tolerance, I didn't like it in school. I don't like it in business.   You don't have to be sexist, racist or whatever to break the rules. All you have to do is say something someone doesn't like and you're gone. Your whole stance is anyone who makes any sort of comment that can be perceived as controversial should be fired based on some subjective index of comfort. I think that's a bit too extreme and that there should be some criterion other than what people perceive.

 Yes, sexism is a huge problem in the tech industry but can you explain why this particular incident is a product of any sort of boys club sexism instead of shitty zero tolerance system?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 03:32:01 AM by BlackestKnight »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #158 on: April 07, 2013, 05:09:01 AM »
Quote from: gaggedLouise
For the record, I think judging the validity of public shaming as a tactical move to gain the upper hand in a debate should not depend on whether you're on the same side as the person or media outlet using it. Just saying.

I think that shame can be a very useful tool, although I personally dislike it and probably would not use it. However, the fact that I would not use it does not make it inherently an invalid tool - it just means that it's not a tool in my personal collection.

On the other hand, I have seen it used to great effect by other people, for specific furtherance of causes that I believe worthwhile.

I see where you're coming from and I agree it matters how things are spoken of in public, language is a power tool too. But I think someone had a point earlier in this thread that it's actually hard to find good examples of when the tactic of shaming a specific individual over something they had said and spreading that quotation around, just as a quote, with a shame commentary - when that kind has been essential in the long run to a struggle for liberating a group in society (women, blacks, colonized peoples etc). Focusing on things like corrupt justice and trumped-up trials, lynchings and half-regular brutalities (yeah, rapes too, used as a means of oppression), hokey jingoism feeding into war, stereotypes and dumb rules in education (almost typed deuceucation, lol), election practices and efforts to keep some groups off the vote etc - highlighting those has been much more effective.

One good example of a viral "quote shaming moment" having been a key to changing the perception of an issue*  is when McCarthy was actually featured in a tv documentary (See It Now) and the U.S. people - those who had tv sets and the media, anyway, but by extension most people got to hear about it - could see and hear the way he questioned witnesses, see him calling the ACLU "a front for, and doing the work of" the Communist Party, accusing the Democrats (and Roosevelt) of treason against the nation and so on. That one helped swing how he, and his own story of protecting the free world, were perceived. The tv program helped create a counter-narrative and question how Joe and the HUAC were telling their story. But it did not show McCarthy in any kind of private, off-work space. The things he said in that one were not meant to have been digested by the wider public, but few of them, I think, were just private wisdom hauled out and paraded on tv.

The effect of the anti-McCarthy narrative was lasting. These days it's pretty much impossible for many of us to use the line "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" outside of an ironic frame, though when it was used at the HUAC, it was dead serious and could maul people's lives. His classic pick-up line has been shamed in retrospect!

So okay, that's a good one (though not about private or semi-private quotes), but it's not that much about protecting an underprivileged group, unless radicals, communists and liberals at the time are seen as long-term underprivileged and oppressed, and I think the effect of that candid documentary had a lot to do with many people in Washington already beginning to feel mistrustful of Joe Mccarthy and wanting to downgrade him. The timing was right.

And it's still rarer to find instances where named shaming of somebody who is pretty much unknown to the wider public, just any John Blow, has been effective and worth the effort - without creating bad fallout. With a well-known politician, official or businessman, a public personality, it can work sometimes, but with unknowns that suddenly get spun around the public news scene and now the social media, it gets very tricky. There's a built-in risk for creating a shit-slinging fight, too, because either party will likely want to get the last word and insults (even if stitched together with real arguments) are good money in a fight online.

Quote from: Trieste
The context of shaming is extremely important, and cannot really be separated from its use. After all, I think it's wrong to shame a woman into trying to be less sexual. I have no problem with shaming someone - man or woman - into being less sexist, though.

I agree context is important, but once you've spoken, or once you're in a conversation that's in any sense public - or could open to the public a little while later - you can't fully control how your remarks get read, interpreted, heard. So you get a mutual, open-ended right to be offended, and to use that sense of offendedness to push each other around. And with "less sexy" vs "less sexist" the trouble in that perspective is that what one person experiences as "asserting myself as a sexual person, claiming my own sexuality" can potenatially be, to somebody else, one with "grabbing the right to indulge in sexism about me, my kind or other people - and/or invading my privacy by pushing their sense of sexiness up into everybody's faces". Sometimes 'having the space to be sexy in yourself' and 'acting/talking sexist at others' are two sides of the same coin and I don't think it's enough to just invoke that one camp - women, female geeks, or elder men, whtever - are *always* at a disadvantage in our culture and therefore should *always* have the right to do sexist talk or actions for free and not get called out on it.

It's not that I see you taking that line personally as a set thing, but if we don't have any other yardsticks than a)"I like this kind of shaming, but not that one, those doing it" and b)"my gang has the right to shame others and be blatantly sexist about others, but your group doesn't have the right to reply in kind, hey they're always the oppressors" then the conflict logic is gonna point that way sometimes.


*edit 6 p.m. CET: a good example of the general dynamics of it, anyway. There were no one or two single quotes from that tv program that alone changed the image of Joe McCarthy, and he was not shown in private. But actually hearing the paranoid tone of his questioning and his other off-the-cuff remarks was essential, and this started a windfall in his public image.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 11:04:53 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline consortium11

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #159 on: April 07, 2013, 05:15:08 AM »
No matter where your work, people eventually drop their guard. I'm not saying we should change Tuesdays to make a casual rape joke day,  but it's rather one sided and sophistic to make these donglegate guys out to be the poster boys for big bad workplace patriarchal bullies whilst propping up Miss Richard's as some sort of Rosa Parks of workplace sexual suffrage. It's far more complex than that.

Where have I done either?

The men in question went to a professional event, broke the rules and were removed. I'm not sure how anyone has a particular issue with this; one of the men in question doesn't.

Now, as I've said earlier in this very thread. I thought Miss Richard's decision to immediately publicly shame them was poor. There were other ways (and she used them) to alert staff if she wasn't happy mentioning it to the pair directly. Instead she decided to shame them and set herself up as somewhat of a martyr ("Yesterday the future of programming was on the line and I made myself heard").

Now, the man in question losing his job may be a harsh punishment for the dongle joke, but it wasn't for the dongle joke directly. It was for publicly embarrassing his employer, who he was representing at the event. I'd imagine it was part of the terms and conditions of his employment contract that he didn't do so... I know in my employment contracts there are. The employer likely thought that having someone wearing their t-shirt having their photo plastered all over the internet as an example of the sexism that so many say is endemic in the tech industry wasn't a good idea.

As for Miss Richard's, as I understand it part of the nature of her role involves her being trusted within the tech community. Fairy or unfairly her actions meant that didn't happen and her employer suffered a backlash. As such it made the decision to terminate her employment. Again, possibly harsh but also possibly understandable.

Offline Bandita

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #160 on: April 07, 2013, 09:37:52 AM »
Ahh, my god. I completely went over your head. How do any of us know that the rules in question are even worth following? Or what exactly those rules are? You justify your reasoning by bringing up the tired old extreme hostile environment excuse but for all we know the jokes could not have even fallen under your own definition of what constitutes "extreme hostile environment". What the fuck is an extreme hostile environment? That is what I'm trying to define. To some people, it can be saying "vagina" in a classroom setting, for others it's something entirely more graphic.
 We don't know anything, we're just working off assumptions. You don't hang people based solely on testimony. The fact that she was fired over her mild twitter comments invites some serious reasonable doubt in my mind.

If you were saying "Ni**er", or making a racist joke, at a tech con,  you would get thrown out.  You would likely lose your job if your boss found out about it.

My point is, words can be harmful.  Words can be upsetting.  If you don't know whether or not something might offend someone, and you are at a conference representing your company, with the name of your company splashed in bright yellow letters across your chest... you might want to just not say it.

Women are being harassed in such huge ways on the internet right now that many of them are justifiably sensitive.  I mean, being called a 'cunt' over and over again just because not everyone agrees with you can be pretty taxing.  So if you are a male, making a joke about sex, in a room with women who are pretty much using computers all day long.... You know, women who are really likely to blog...... Just assume that they are sick of sexual innuendo and harassment.  Just my advice, I'm not dictating here, its a "for your own self interest" sort of thing, directed at tech guys.

I'm not saying that one can't make dongle jokes.... I'm saying that there is a time and place for that sort of crap, and that time and place is probably in the bar after the speech, not DURING the speech. People really should know their audience, and while someone else is speaking, they should not assume that they have an audience. They are the audience, so they should shut up.

Edit:  I guess what I'm saying here, in short, is it's not about rules.  It's about respect and common sense.  Those guys were both stupid and disrespectful. 
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 09:42:59 AM by Bandita »

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #161 on: April 07, 2013, 10:05:11 AM »
Source? I hadn't heard anything about clients dropping the firm. (That said, I still don't think her getting fired was appropriate here. A solid business decision, but inappropriate - as were the actions of these clients, if this is the case.)

Can't find it at the moment, but the blog from SendGrid made it pretty clear that the reason they were firing her was because she's no longer effective in her role.  Considering she's done similar "public shaming" stunts in the past (I linked to it earlier, don't have the time to track it down at the moment, however), it's not unreasonable to think that she may already have been on thin ice with her employer.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #162 on: April 07, 2013, 11:29:30 AM »
I tried to help you out with the source by taking a little time with Google and checking out articles on SendGrid's part. There is no mention of SendGrid getting dropped by any customers as a result of Richards' actions.

There is mention that SendGrid got attacked quite a bit by angry Internetters, including a few fine specimens of human achievement over at /b/, and the repeated service outages might have caused clients to drop them. There is no mention of whether or not that happened.

So as far as I can tell, re: clients dropping SendGrid due to 'donglegate', didn't happen.

While searching around, I did find yet another prominent example of a woman very heavily active in the tech community with very praiseworthy goals, telling the tech community to stop pretending it treats women fairly, nicely, or with any respect at all.

... I actually tried to pick out a choice quote or two as an example of what Asher Wolf wrote about in that last linked article, but I really can't. The whole article sounds so familiar it makes me want to cry. Just read it - and then please stop trying to claim that marginalization is rare, or that Richards was 'just being oversensitive', or that 'every community has its jerks'. Saying that 'every community has its jerks' is an implication that the majority of the people are nice and that jerks are the exception to the rule. The sad truth is the tech community is slowly evolving from a state where it could more accurately be described as 'having its nice guys'. In the process of attaining my science degree, I can tell you that even the communities of chemical engineering and physical chemistry are more welcoming to females than what I've experienced in tech-oriented spaces.

That is a problem.

I don't understand why there is even an attempt to pretend that there is equal footing for all genders in the techie world. I'm not saying that females are better or worse programmers - I really would prefer to be taken on my individual skills, thank you very much - but if you meet a talented programmer who is also female? Please make sure you remember that in addition to having to learn her craft, she had to deal with a lot - a lot - of people, often people with penises, who shore do like to tell little ladies to leave the code-slingin' to the menfolks.

I don't understand why there is even an attempt to pretend that this doesn't happen.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #163 on: April 07, 2013, 03:50:41 PM »
So what environment is the joke she made apart of apparently? People forget that for all her talk of social justice, she ended up getting fired her damn self. I didn't find her remarks offensive at all but I understand why she was fired. It's not just about the sexist male antagonist we love so much. So it's not much of a win for women, as much as it's a loss for everyone involved. All I'm saying is the system is shitty. I don't like Zero tolerance, I didn't like it in school. I don't like it in business.   You don't have to be sexist, racist or whatever to break the rules. All you have to do is say something someone doesn't like and you're gone.
An environment in which men are not constantly objectified, rendered invisible, talked down to, fondled, hit on, appreciated for their looks first and talents second, etc. An environment in which she was not acting on behalf of her employer. An environment in which you would have to specifically seek out her commentary. And it's worth noting that the subject of this joke was not sex, it was the invasiveness of the TSA.

Your whole stance is anyone who makes any sort of comment that can be perceived as controversial should be fired based on some subjective index of comfort. I think that's a bit too extreme and that there should be some criterion other than what people perceive.
For fuck's sake. From the post you were replying to:
Did I say it was appropriate that he lost his job? Or did I say the exact opposite? [...]This guy made a dick move and suffered appropriate consequences. Then two people were unjustly fired. Then the Internet lost its shit with misogynist bullshit. The end.
From earlier:
No. I don't think anyone should have been fired.

Lying when the evidence is right there is generally a poor way to convince people of your position.

Yes, sexism is a huge problem in the tech industry but can you explain why this particular incident is a product of any sort of boys club sexism instead of shitty zero tolerance system?
If it weren't for the boys' club mentality, it would have been accepted that this joke was not cool-despite-the-policy.

Can't find it at the moment, but the blog from SendGrid made it pretty clear that the reason they were firing her was because she's no longer effective in her role.  Considering she's done similar "public shaming" stunts in the past (I linked to it earlier, don't have the time to track it down at the moment, however), it's not unreasonable to think that she may already have been on thin ice with her employer.
Just gonna point out that this isn't even tangentally related to what I was asking for. As Trieste pointed out, this might be because the claim I was questioning is a total fabrication.