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Author Topic: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience  (Read 4388 times)

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Offline Kythia

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2013, 10:13:31 PM »
Basically, I'm trying to say she's either a hypocrite, or dishonest.

And?  Even if I accepted your argument, which I actually don't, her hypocrisy or dishonesty doesn't make their jokes less inappropriate or offensive.  And you don't have to find something personally offensive to know that it is. 

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #26 on: March 30, 2013, 10:13:49 PM »
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.
Because there's no difference whatsoever between an informal medium where one has to specifically seek out her commentary, and a formal one where you're expected to behave professionally, leaving is rude, and the comments are forced on anyone in earshot. None at all.

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.
This is also unprofessional in my opinion. It is also a separate and unrelated issue, and a more minor one.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #27 on: March 30, 2013, 10:24:21 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.

Tossing a dirty (or slightly insulting) joke on twitter makes it reach thousands more people than quipping to a few buddies standing next to you in a busy conference hall, even if we'll count in people nearby who may hear it. Someone mentioned the figure 13.000 for Ms Richards' followers on twitter, and with this kind of thing - whether it's jokes, event gossip or 'tell this' tweets, it gets shared and forwarded a lot, even by people who might not support it 100%. Everyone wants feedback on social media, and fast.

The way in which she's been pushing on this, her efforts to dramatize it and to claim the moral high ground, make it clear enough that she was trying to make the shit hit the fan in public, outside of PyCon, from the start - I think the OP is right about that. Going through the channels set up for the conference or even with the firm/s those guys were from, after the event, would not have produced the effect she wanted, so she puts it on twitter instead and calls them out for being macho pigs. When you go down that path, with that kind of righteous anger, it's damaging to have made similar jokes yourself - on twitter.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 10:26:07 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline meikle

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2013, 10:25:43 PM »
I find it hard that you can be offended by dick jokes if you're someone who enjoys telling dick jokes.
Are you familiar with the concept of 'context'?

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #29 on: March 30, 2013, 10:25:47 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.
I wonder if they knew that.  Could have been either way, to be honest.  They likely didn't know, or cared that others could hear them.

Not going to comment otherwise, because frankly, all I have is one side of this conversation, Ms/Mrs. Richards.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2013, 10:27:08 PM »
Tossing a dirty (or slightly insulting) joke on twitter makes it reach thousands more people than quipping to a few buddies standing next to you in a busy conference hall. Someonone mentioned the figure 13.000 for Ms Richards' followers on twitter, and with this kind of thing - whether it's jokes, event gossip or 'tell this' tweets, it gets shared and forwarded a lot, even by people who might not support it 100%. Everyone wants feedback on social media, and fast.

The way in which she's been pushing on this, her efforts to dramatize it and to claim the moral high ground, make it clear enough that she was trying to make the shit hit the fan in public, outside of PyCon, from the start - I think the OP is right about that. Going through the channels set up for the conference or even with the firm/s those guys were from, after the event, would not have produced the effect she wanted, so she puts it on twitter instead and calls them out for being macho pigs. When you go down that path, with that kind of righteous anger, it's damaging to have made similar jokes yourself - on twitter.

Yeah, she overreacted without a doubt.  Handled it very badly in my view or borderline maliciously in yours.  Either way she shouldn't have done it.  But that doesn't negate their wrongdoing.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2013, 10:27:19 PM »
Tossing a dirty (or slightly insulting) joke on twitter makes it reach thousands more people than quipping to a few buddies standing next to you in a busy conference hall. Someonone mentioned the figure 13.000 for Ms Richards' followers on twitter, and with this kind of thing - whether it's jokes, event gossip or 'tell this' tweets, it gets shared and forwarded a lot, even by people who might not support it 100%. Everyone wants feedback on social media, and fast.

The way in which she's been pushing on this, her efforts to dramatize it and to claim the moral high ground, make it clear enough that she was trying to make the shit hit the fan in public, outside of PyCon, from the start - I think the OP is right about that. Going through the channels set up for the conference or even with the firm/s those guys were from, after the event, would not have produced the effect she wanted, so she puts it on twitter instead and calls them out for being macho pigs. When you go down that path, with that kind of righteous anger, it's damaging to have made similar jokes yourself - on twitter.
Should it be, though? Again, Twitter is not necessarily a formal and professional medium, and her comments have to be specifically sought out. Context is important. Words are tools - I'm not offended by hammers, and even use one sometimes, but I'm sure as hell offended when someone swings one at me.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #32 on: March 30, 2013, 10:35:14 PM »
Yeah, she overreacted without a doubt.  Handled it very badly in my view or borderline maliciously in yours.  Either way she shouldn't have done it.  But that doesn't negate their wrongdoing.

*nods* I agree two wrongs don't make a right, and of course it wasn't a cool joke. Just to zone in on intentions, though, I suspect that if Adria and a few buddies of hers, in the conference bar, had been cracking a few idle jokes about guys mistakenly sending pics of their private organs to the wrong people over the phone or internet, and another woman had heard it and told them it was bad style, sexist and/or unprofessional, they would have pushed her off as being frumpy or patronizing. Nobody likes to be shamed about their sense of humour.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 10:37:23 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2013, 11:39:22 PM »
I think pretty much every guy has to watch his back these days for women like this.  If I hear a woman making a wise-crack remark about men, I'll just brush it off and move on.  If it's the other way around, the man is usually screwed.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2013, 11:47:43 PM »
I think pretty much every guy has to watch his back these days for women like this.  If I hear a woman making a wise-crack remark about men, I'll just brush it off and move on.  If it's the other way around, the man is usually screwed.
...or you're a man, so you notice the occasions when men are actually called on this kind of shit, and confirmation bias does the rest. I know which possibility I'm putting my money on.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2013, 12:13:58 AM »
...or you're a man, so you notice the occasions when men are actually called on this kind of shit, and confirmation bias does the rest. I know which possibility I'm putting my money on.

I'm not trying to say anything controversial - just that men should be careful about their remarks, which are usually made harmlessly without any malicious intent at all.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2013, 12:16:52 AM »
I'm not trying to say anything controversial - just that men should be careful about their remarks, which are usually made harmlessly without any malicious intent at all.
Yes, yes you are. You are saying that there is strong sexism against men. Why are you trying to pretend otherwise?

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #37 on: March 31, 2013, 12:19:01 AM »
Yes, yes you are. You are saying that there is strong sexism against men. Why are you trying to pretend otherwise?

It is a fact that most sexual harassment cases are filed against men, thus men should be careful about what they say.  Why are you putting words into my mouth?

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2013, 12:19:49 AM »
...or you're a man, so you notice the occasions when men are actually called on this kind of shit, and confirmation bias does the rest. I know which possibility I'm putting my money on.

It's interesting, I think, to try and contrast what would happen if the genders were reversed in this story; if it was a man trying to get two girls kicked out of a convention because of some overheard innuendo.  Adria's under attack from the people who think she did something wrong, but are mostly acting rationally about it, as well as the internet trolls that are sending death and rape threats at her.  (The last bit is interesting in its own right, and I'll talk more at the end of the post.)  Meanwhile, most of her support seems to come from feminist (or at least female-sympathizers) groups that say she did the right thing to a male-dominated society.  (I'm not going to argue that it's male-dominated, though I personally don't think that makes it such a huge barrier against females, but I want to avoid that tangent right now.)

If Adria were a man instead, and the "offenders" two girls, I think the rational crowd would act the same.  (Sidenote: that likely also depends if the hypothetical female attendee would have been fired as well; I actually think she wouldn't, since firing her would have caused a significantly larger PR nightmare than firing a male employee for this, but I'll get to that in a bit.)  So there might not be as much traction, but those who still looked at it would, I feel, still agree that it was the wrong thing to do.  Feminist groups would likewise jump on him; after all, he's the shining symbol of male patriarchy in the society, and slamming him would almost be too easy.  The trolls, however, would be different.  I think a lot of the internet trolls like to send out rape threats to women because they tend to respond to them, especially women that have a feminist slant to their writing (men, conversely, tend not to feel as threatened by rape threats despite how common male rape actually is; part of the macho stereotype we often feel we have to live up to).  Rape threats tend to get a lot of shock reaction so, surprise surprise, trolls keep doing them.  They may do something with a guy, or they may ignore it completely, but I highly doubt that those sending rape and death threats to Adria would support her hypothetical male counterpart.

Now, on to the reaction to the public shaming.  I mentioned it would be a PR nightmare if PlayHaven had fired a female dev instead (or at least, it would be a PR nightmare if it became public).  I really shouldn't have to elaborate much on this, honestly.  (And admittedly, I'm getting tired to the point where I'm starting to feel incoherent, so I think I'm gonna come back to this point tomorrow.)

Overall, I think the story would have been less popular if it were reversed, largely in part because I don't think either of the women would have been fired, and because trolls tend to not jump on men as much as they do women.  But those opposing the guy would outnumber those supporting him by a much larger margin.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2013, 12:21:58 AM »
It is a fact that most sexual harassment cases are filed against men, thus men should be careful about what they say.  Why are you putting words into my mouth?

I think pretty much every guy has to watch his back these days for women like this.  If I hear a woman making a wise-crack remark about men, I'll just brush it off and move on. If it's the other way around, the man is usually screwed.
This is not "Most sexual harassment cases are filed against men." This is "Most times men say something offensive and sexist, they wind up in trouble." The latter is a much harder case to prove. Please show the slightest shred of evidence. Oh, and no, men don't have to "watch their backs". Just, y'know, not be sexist douches.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #40 on: March 31, 2013, 12:23:50 AM »
I'm not trying to say anything controversial - just that men should be careful about their remarks, which are usually made harmlessly without any malicious intent at all.
And I'm pretty sure the two guys talking about 'dongles' didn't think their remark was worthy of any attention.  It's not like they were disparaging women in the industry, they sounded like they were having some crude fun with the language of computers.

Now admittedly, a conference is not the place for such comments, but I ask myself this, how many other times did these two guys go to a con, make a similar joke and no one called them on it?

And suddenly the one time they do, someone gets upset and calls them out on it.  Then suddenly this entire storm of controversy arises with people on all sides wanting to chime in on how right or wrong it is.  People lose their jobs, the world gets shocked!

Makes you really wonder since when did we get so uptight about these things...

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #41 on: March 31, 2013, 12:26:47 AM »
This is not "Most sexual harassment cases are filed against men." This is "Most times men say something offensive and sexist, they wind up in trouble." The latter is a much harder case to prove. Please show the slightest shred of evidence. Oh, and no, men don't have to "watch their backs". Just, y'know, not be sexist douches.

Ephiral, I am not sure why you are becoming this defensive - all I said was that men should be careful about what they say.  Sometimes the most innocent of jokes can be construed as sexist, even if several women are laughing along with the guy who said it.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #42 on: March 31, 2013, 12:29:41 AM »
Ephiral, I am not sure why you are becoming this defensive - all I said was that men should be careful about what they say.  Sometimes the most innocent of jokes can be construed as sexist, even if several women are laughing along with the guy who said it.
Stop trying to shift the focus. I am not becoming defensive - rather the opposite. I am asking you to defend your frankly ridiculous assertions. You have claimed that most times men make offensive or sexist remarks, they wind up in trouble for it; I am asking you for some tiny shred of evidence that this is anything remotely approaching the case.

And no, you didn't say they need to watch what they say - that I would have agreed with. You said they need to "watch their backs for women like this", which implies something far more sinister.

EDIT: Chris, I hope I'm reading you incorrectly. From here, it looks like you're saying "They got away with it before, so despite it being a flagrant breach of the convention's policy they should continue to get away with it indefinitely." Please correct me.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 12:34:03 AM by Ephiral »

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #43 on: March 31, 2013, 12:49:27 AM »
Stop trying to shift the focus. I am not becoming defensive - rather the opposite. I am asking you to defend your frankly ridiculous assertions. You have claimed that most times men make offensive or sexist remarks, they wind up in trouble for it; I am asking you for some tiny shred of evidence that this is anything remotely approaching the case.

And no, you didn't say they need to watch what they say - that I would have agreed with. You said they need to "watch their backs for women like this", which implies something far more sinister.

EDIT: Chris, I hope I'm reading you incorrectly. From here, it looks like you're saying "They got away with it before, so despite it being a flagrant breach of the convention's policy they should continue to get away with it indefinitely." Please correct me.

Ephiral, you are assuming a lot of things that I have not at all said.

All I'm saying is, casual jokes may be accidentally misconstrued by some people.  For example, my buddy could tell me that, "I don't have the balls to do something" as a harmless joke, and I even have a female friend who goes around telling her male friends that they don't have the balls to do things.  Sure, maybe it wasn't in good taste, but it's harmless remark nonetheless.

Unfortunately, some individuals may decide to prosecute such a statement as being sexist in nature.  That is what I meant by "watching one's back." 

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #44 on: March 31, 2013, 12:54:03 AM »
Ephiral, you are assuming a lot of things that I have not at all said.

Really? You didn't say this, then?

If it's the other way around, the man is usually screwed.
Emphasis mine. Are you seriously asserting that these are not your words?

All I'm saying is, casual jokes may be accidentally misconstrued by some people.  For example, my buddy could tell me that, "I don't have the balls to do something" as a harmless joke, and I even have a female friend who goes around telling her male friends that they don't have the balls to do things.  Sure, maybe it wasn't in good taste, but it's harmless remark nonetheless.

Unfortunately, some individuals may decide to prosecute such a statement as being sexist in nature.  That is what I meant by "watching one's back."

And you have an example of a statement that mild and self-referential (as opposed to telling a woman "You can't do this because you don't have the balls, sweetheart.") actually being prosecuted as sexual harassment? Ever? Please show me, or admit that this is ridiculous hyperbole. Either one.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2013, 01:00:06 AM »
EDIT: Chris, I hope I'm reading you incorrectly. From here, it looks like you're saying "They got away with it before, so despite it being a flagrant breach of the convention's policy they should continue to get away with it indefinitely." Please correct me.

I guess I just don't see it as that big a 'breach'.  Maybe I'm too laissez faire about these things, to be honest.

Them keep getting away with it?  No, they got called out for it, good.  But there's a good chance they DID get away with it for several years.  And frankly, forgive me, but as I said, the more I think on it, the less I think it should have caused such an uproar.  Maybe some disciplinary action should have been called for, but losing their JOBS?  And in this financial climate?

People make inappropriate comments all the time, some are worse than others.  But truth be told, I'd be more upset at these guys if they were being blatantly sexist, as in making fun of women in their workplace.  But they weren't.  They were making dick jokes to each other, and I'm going to make the assumption that they didn't think that they were being that 'bad', hell they probably didn't think anyone was going to overhear them.

Conventions are pretty noisy, you hear and mishear things all the time.

Also, I've had more women tell me dick jokes than guys, over the years, so I guess my perception of this is skewed.

And the other issue I'm having right now, which is only tangentially related to this is I'm sitting here alone, and I'm saying 'Don't be a dick.'  then I go and mentally say, 'Don't be a cunt.'

But the moment I use cunt, even to myself, red flags are going up in my head, and I'm uncomfortable.  And I don't know why.  I mean, both words are being used to mean the same thing (being a jerk), and both describe the appropriate, if crude, genitalia, but for some reason cunt is somehow more offensive.  To me.

And I'm literally sitting here wondering why.

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #46 on: March 31, 2013, 01:10:12 AM »
I guess I just don't see it as that big a 'breach'.  Maybe I'm too laissez faire about these things, to be honest.
Some context: The tech industry is an environment where flagrant sexism - including, in some cases, near-constant 'jokes' of this variety - freezes women out and makes them feel uncomfortable. This conference was specifically taking measures to try to prevent that. In that context, and given that they were supposed to be in a professional setting... yes, it was noteworthy.

Them keep getting away with it?  No, they got called out for it, good.  But there's a good chance they DID get away with it for several years.  And frankly, forgive me, but as I said, the more I think on it, the less I think it should have caused such an uproar.  Maybe some disciplinary action should have been called for, but losing their JOBS?  And in this financial climate?
I think the firing (singular, AFAIK, which seems to indicate that this incident was not the sole factor) was an overreaction, barring any other justification. But why is it that his firing was out of line, while people defend her firing in response to the howling 4chan mob, all because she asked the convention to enforce its stated policy?

People make inappropriate comments all the time, some are worse than others.  But truth be told, I'd be more upset at these guys if they were being blatantly sexist, as in making fun of women in their workplace.  But they weren't.  They were making dick jokes to each other, and I'm going to make the assumption that they didn't think that they were being that 'bad', hell they probably didn't think anyone was going to overhear them.
Creating an environment in which women can't feel comfortable - for instance, making sure they can't get through a day without an unwelcome sexual remark - is still sexism.

Also, I've had more women tell me dick jokes than guys, over the years, so I guess my perception of this is skewed.
How many of these were in a professional context?

And the other issue I'm having right now, which is only tangentially related to this is I'm sitting here alone, and I'm saying 'Don't be a dick.'  then I go and mentally say, 'Don't be a cunt.'

But the moment I use cunt, even to myself, red flags are going up in my head, and I'm uncomfortable.  And I don't know why.  I mean, both words are being used to mean the same thing (being a jerk), and both describe the appropriate, if crude, genitalia, but for some reason cunt is somehow more offensive.  To me.

And I'm literally sitting here wondering why.
Because 'cunt' is, historically, used as a demeaning and hateful term toward women, used to disparage them specifically because of their sex and its associated stereotypes. Yes, it seems like a double-standard, but that's only because there's a double-standard in the historical usage of the terms.

EDIT: I do want to take a moment to thank you for expanding on your position in a thoughtful and reasonable manner. I still seem to disagree with you on some key points, but I appreciate the response to my request.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 01:13:05 AM by Ephiral »

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #47 on: March 31, 2013, 01:24:20 AM »
I think the firing (singular, AFAIK, which seems to indicate that this incident was not the sole factor) was an overreaction, barring any other justification. But why is it that his firing was out of line, while people defend her firing in response to the howling 4chan mob, all because she asked the convention to enforce its stated policy?

Only one of the men in question was fired, yes (Adria was too, to be clear), but it's worth noting that only one of them was actually saying the joke.  (As an aside, someone claiming to be the guy that was fired posting on Hacker News clarified that the "forking a repo" was entirely intended as a non-sexual compliment, akin to complimenting a brewer by saying "I'd like to have a drink with him", so the only sexual joke was the one about a "big dongle").  The other man in question was simply hearing it, which isn't something you can get in trouble for, so it makes sense that only one of them got fired.

As another aside, I did hear a few snippets on youtube comments saying that he was actually re-hired, but I couldn't find any source, so it might not be true.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #48 on: March 31, 2013, 01:27:13 AM »
...or you're a man, so you notice the occasions when men are actually called on this kind of shit, and confirmation bias does the rest. I know which possibility I'm putting my money on.

Having been called up on the carpet for being sexist and only a sterling rep and another SENIOR FEMALE superior stand up for me, it's not always confirmation bias. Had the female in question not openly stated she was going to put me and two other senior petty officers 'in our place' I'd have lost a stripe for it. 

I have to deal with both sides of the deal.  I've been accused and I had to put charges to someone. A senior petty officer who WAS being a sexist prick to my trainee. I've also had female workers to slide charges by. Just like I've had black workers acuse me of racism cause 'he's a cracker!'

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Feminism and Adria Richards's PyCon experience
« Reply #49 on: March 31, 2013, 01:37:41 AM »
Only one of the men in question was fired, yes (Adria was too, to be clear), but it's worth noting that only one of them was actually saying the joke.  (As an aside, someone claiming to be the guy that was fired posting on Hacker News clarified that the "forking a repo" was entirely intended as a non-sexual compliment, akin to complimenting a brewer by saying "I'd like to have a drink with him", so the only sexual joke was the one about a "big dongle").  The other man in question was simply hearing it, which isn't something you can get in trouble for, so it makes sense that only one of them got fired.
I am skeptical of the defense of the forking comments, but willing to accept it weakly. It is possible to use it in this way, yes. It's also certainly possible for it to be sexualized, and it's not like we've got any impartial party weighing in - or even the actual wording or context. As to the reason only one was fired... this makes sense, yes.