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Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in blogosphere, gender | 114 comments

Adria Richards did everything exactly wrong

www.gironsec.com

Adding another perspective to the conversation…

Karla Porter, my guest host on Brave Hero Radio, beat me to weighing in on the ‘Donglegate’ discussion with her post “The Match that Lit Donglegate.” For those of you who may not know the backstory of Donglegate, Karla sums it up:

A woman at a tech conference representing the company she worked for as a tech evangelist overheard men in the row behind her making what she perceived to be a sexual joke. She felt uncomfortable, stood, took their photo, and posted it to social media with comments to the attention of the conference organizers. She also wrote a blog post about it. One of the jokesters lost his job as a result. And then she too ended up losing her job.

PZ Myers, in a post titled “Ardia Richards did everything exactly right,” casts the issue as one of a woman ‘responding to sexism’ and wonders what level of response (in the case of Richards) is acceptable – “apparently no response other than silence and submission is acceptable.” Myers says the men cracking jokes “were clearly in the wrong” and that Richards’ response to the joke-cracking was “a measured response.” Myers then crafts the situation as showing women should be silent and, for whatever reason, casts the issue as one of men versus women sarcastically writing, “[t]he men can’t build a strong community if women keep speaking out publicly.”

I wonder how Richards was “responding to sexism” or “speaking out publicly.” What, exactly, was Richards “speaking out” against? Richards decided to make a joke within her earshot ‘her business’ and, instead of acting like an adult, publicly shamed a person who made a joke within her earshot by tweeting an unauthorized photograph. She could not simply tolerate a joke about dongles which is likely popular within her community, politely ask the men to be quiet, give a look of disapproval, or handle the matter in a way in which most adults behave. Apparently, the joke was so bad and ‘made her uncomfortable’ so much that she felt the need to inform conference organizers and share her photograph of the men cracking jokes before speaking with conference staff.

Had Richards tolerated the joke, spoke to the men cracking jokes expressing her disapproval, or handled it in some other way not including publicly shaming the men with a photograph via Twitter – that would have been the end of the story… but Adria, it seems, wanted to be a hero – to uncover some ‘big problem’ and show the world just how horrible it is to be a woman in the world of technology. Richards herself wrote that “the future of programming was on the line” … apparently because a simple joke threatens the future of programming. Hell, even if she informed the conference organizers and left it at that — a private matter — there would have been no story.

Might there be a ‘big problem’ women face in technology culture? Perhaps there is, but a simple joke between two men in an audience overheard by a woman in the audience is not a big problem or something which threatens the future of programming. Crafting a joke as something so bad really seems to trivialize such a problem if it exists. Is a simple joke the evidence which can be presented — something worth “speaking up” about which threatens the future of programming –to evidence an alleged problem women face in the technology community or conferences at large?

There’s been quite a deal of talk concerning ‘[anti-]harassment conference policies’ [I have written about one which was inspired by the Geek Feminism Wiki] which, according to some feminists, are required for women to feel safe because, as is implied, conferences are unsafe places which are hostile to women. Richards, rather than simply following conference policy protocol and informing conference staff about the sexual (note: not sexist) joke and how she felt so uncomfortable, photographed the men who were joking – all in, of course, her capacity as a technology evangelist representing the company she works for.

In the end, Adria Richards did everything exactly wrong. She took an unauthorized photo, unnecessarily publicly shamed people, and failed to act professionally in her capacity as a technology evangelist. She did not speak out against sexism, do anything to help the technology community (which allegedly has an uncertain future that is threatened by a simple joke), or act as a positive role model for women.

  • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

    Nice post Justin and thanks for the mention. We have a lot to discuss tonight with Justicar on Brave Hero Radio tonight at 8pm. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bravehero/2013/03/24/integralmathjusticar

  • Gary

    The thing that makes the response by people like PZ Myers and others so obtuse is that they don’t understand what this is a news story. It isn’t a news story because two guys made a sexual double entendre. It is a news story because social media was involved and the end result of two people losing their jobs is noteworthy. The story is about the use of social media. When is it appropriate to broadcast something to the world and how are lines of privacy drawn between others and employers. The story could have substituted any combination of people and any form of inappropriate action and still retained all of its newsworthiness.

    The tens of thousands of people who responded and in large part denounced Adria weren’t denouncing her as a woman or in relation to a sexual harassment issue. They were responding to the social media issue and the conclusion is that while twitter is a loud voice most people do not use it and think that people shouldn’t air every thought and event of their lives for all to see It wasn’t a sentiment against women but rather in favor of privacy. By getting caught up in confirmation bias the parties like PZ are missing the story and therefore miss the point.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      Good point. It seems the interconnectedness of social media gives it the power (and with power comes responsibility) to amplify a *relatively* innocuous social interaction into a *huge* life-changing (for several people) shitstorm. I think you’re right to point this out and make this emphasis. It doesn’t seem to get enough attention paid to it (esp. compared to all the excessive attention paid to the drama itself).

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Indeed. It is not an issue of gender.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363802909 Mercutio Celsus

    So because this woman is a class-1 moron atleast one man is unemployed, and they wonder why men don’t trust them? THIS IS WHY. You know how many conversations at work, around women that happen and I’m just like….”If I had said that, it’d be an issue”. Case in point one female supervisor calls another woman “Juggs”…all the time. If that were my ass, I doubt it wouldn’t result in a trip to HR. But I don’t snap a pic of em both and go ranting about it on Facebook, why? Because I’m not a douchebag. She made non-issue public, and then delusionally stating “the future of programming was on the line”? Didn’t they say that in “The Terminator”? Talk about being grandiose.

    • word

      amen man

    • CloverJones76

      Totally agree. Why on earth would she take this to Twitter? I know if I posted something similar re: an incident at my company, I would be subject to disciplinary action if not termination. We actually have meetings at my company about this sort of thing. Plus all the hashtags she used? She took a minor incident and turned it into a major debacle, both for herself and at least one of the men involved. Love the Terminator reference too btw!

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      See you at the party.

    • Superabound

      Adria Richards is a textbook delusional narcissist.

    • Nobody

      Solution: Men must en masse shame women for the behavior that would get them fired. Being weak is a strength. Cry when you hear something you don’t like. Convince people you felt shamed and alienated. It doesn’t matter if you have a valid point, the point isn’t to be reasonable. The point is to get what you want. Being weak and histrionic is a great way to do that.

  • libby

    The only thing you need to know about this whole situation is this: Adria Richards got rid her cat, that she’d had for 18 years, to move into a new apartment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/8198447140/in/photostream

    That is pure evil.

    • JMQuinn

      I’m speechless. She’s beyond evil. She’s a sociopath.. How can anyone do that to a pet?

      “#3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others.”

      “#7) Sociopaths are incapable of love and are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion in order to get what they want, but they don’t actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.”

      http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html#ixzz2OPqHiK3Z

      • blondein_tokyo

        You’re going to claim she’s a sociopath based on the fact that she had to give up a pet because she moved? Seriously? Show me your psych degree and your session notes from when you counseled her, and then maybe I’ll have reason to believe you know what the fuck you’re talking about.

        • Superabound

          The $5000 a month condo she moved into says “Pets Welcome”. She got rid of her cat just to avoid the deposit, or maybe just because she was tired of dealing with an elderly cat.

        • Superabound

          “Sorry honey, the landlord says No Kids Allowed, and you know mommy and daddy cant say no to beachfront property! And im sure your new foster family will love you every bit as much as we used to. Goodbye forever!”

      • Superabound

        The irony of this whole thing is that, as a definite sociopath, if Adria Richards had a penis shed probably be a serial rapist.

    • jjramsey

      The way you said that, I got the impression that she had her cat put to sleep (which wouldn’t exactly be unheard of for an old cat). Instead, it looks like she made arrangements to have the cat taken care of at a new home, which seems fairly humane to me. And she just might not have had that much choice in where to move.

      • Anon

        She moved into an apartment that rents for $5300/month and ALLOWS cats and dogs (as per the listing). She used the moving thing as a fake excuse to dump off the cat she no longer wanted.

        • jamesrustleton

          Love you anon. How are your lazors feeling this afternoon?

          • Thomas D

            Nobody knows what you’re talking about.

    • Guest

      Really. You’re gonna feel sorry for a cat, when the other fired employee has a family of three to think of?

      • hubbahumm

        WOW! That’s a ridiculous attempt at changing the subject. It’s not like the guy has to give up his kids for adoption or some immediate suffering is being inflicted on them. It’s not even about the cat per se. It’s about what kind of a person this aggressive ugly hag is. Only a sociopath parts with her pet of so many years in such a cold manner and only a sociopath chooses confrontation and public scrutiny because of an ambiguous comment of a stranger, especially if that comment was not even meant for her. She’s just proven beyond reasonable doubt that in deed she IS a sociopath and a bigot at that.

      • jamesrustleton

        Perhaps you are unaware what anons do to people who mess with cats. Check your consequenses, theyll nevar be the same.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      Yes, people can be heartless douches. I’m a huge animal lover, don’t get me wrong. But please please let’s not start a CatGate. Poor kitty, but all it would do is just add more drama which would solve nothing. In fact it would add to the problem. I prefer to go meta, talk about the causes and what we can do to change the shock and awe call-out culture.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Sorry? What does this have to do with anything? I was forced to give up three cats when I moved. I had no choice, and they went to loving homes. Why is that evil, and what does it have to do with the issue of sexism? Seems like a huge red herring to me.

      • Superabound

        She DIDNT have to give up the cat though. The $5000/mo condo she was moving into allows pets. She just didnt want to pay the deposit or deal with taking care of an elderly cat anymore. She is a narcissist with no compassion for anything other than herself.

        • blondein_tokyo

          You don’t know anything about the situation, though, do you? You’re not her friend and you haven’t spoken to her about it directly, so how can you possibly think you understand what was going though her head and why she felt she couldn’t care for the cat anymore? Since you don’t know her as a person, you cannot possibly make this kind of judgment about her.

          I don’t understand why you guys are hyperskeptical when it comes to things like sexual harassment but are quite ready to jump to conclusions without any evidence when it comes to dissing people you personally don’t like.

          You know, there are a lot of people around me that I don’t much like. But I don’t feel the need to lie and conflate and exaggerate in order to demonize them. That’s called “intellectual honesty.” Get some.

          • Superabound

            Speak to her directly? What are you, some kind of misogynist? No, id much rather take a picture of her and her cat and then report her to PETA through twitter, thank you very much.

            And no, im not hyperskeptical when it comes to sexual harassment. Im usually on the woman’s side when it comes to that. But Adria Richards was not sexually harassed, or harassed at all. In fact, according to the literal rules of the con she was attending, what she did to those people by taking their pictures was a form of harassment. Adria Richards is the exact kind of fame and attention-seeking narcissist that makes Feminists, and women in general look bad. Shes paranoid, and if she cant find something to blog about in order to increase her electronic profile, she feels the need to CREATE a situation herself. Adria Richards is not a woman oppressed, she is an opportunistic fraud exhibiting several clear signs of personality disorder. Just go read her blog on this subject, and count the number of ridiculously grandiose and messianic statements she makes. Its insane. She needs psychological help.

          • Superabound

            You can look around and find other, previous instances of her narcissistic grandiosity. Multiple examples of OTHER FEMINISTS inviting her to speak at their conventions, only for her to change the subject of the talk entirely, making it entirely about HER, and not fulfilling the terms of what she was hired to do. Thats the thing about people operating from a pathology: they cant stop. This is not, and will continue not to be, an isolated incident. You will see more incidents involving her, and they will all play out the same way: someone doing something harmless and not involving her, that she takes great umbrage to, making it about her, using it to increase her fame, and then acting like she is incapable of doing any wrong, because she is the savior of the female gender. Just wait, and watch.

    • FrillArtist

      Okay. I hate this woman as much as anybody else but it’s a bloody pet. Get a life.

    • Superabound

      She didnt even do it just so she could move in to the apartment. The ad for the ($5000 a MONTH) condo actually says very clearly “PETS WELCOME”. She got rid of her cat, which gave her 18 years of love and companionship, just so she wouldnt have to pay the pet DEPOSIT!

      Adria Richards is the worst kind of human being. A naked, soulless opportunist with no love, compassion, or empathy for any living thing that isnt her self.

  • Jane Q

    From the Myers article:

    > But this is where I lose patience every goddamned time: apparently no response other than silence and submission is acceptable.

    Nice false dichotomy. It looks like the thought process was “sometimes, people ask politely and it doesn’t work, therefore it is not an option”. Assuming that talking to the guys would have a 50% chance of working, and the conference staff a 75% chance of working, you’re looking at a near-certain (87.5%) resolution from just those two options without going public at all. Myers is welcome to dispute those numbers, but his article assumes they are both near 0%.

    Then there’s the usual conflation of trolls with an entire community. Yep, a bunch of people issuing threats and a DDoS or two means the whole tech community is just butthurt misogynists. They’re definitely not the outliers.

    Then he insults PyCon by enforcing the above false dichotomy on their words. Nice.

    Then he paints a company firing a public figure for making them look like idiots as “caving into extortion”. Cool story bro.

    It looks like he’s trying to paint the whole thing as “OMG LOOK WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMYN SPEAK OUT THEY’RE SO OPPRESSED”, which is almost entirely unrelated to the actual series of events.

    A question for Myers, if he ever reads this: if a person quietly complained about sexism or sex jokes, and the complaint was resolved, would you hear about it? I’m going to guess “probably not”.

    We don’t see the thousands of problems that are resolved behind the scenes, we see the handful that catch the attention of the media. In other words, the outliers. If you reach conclusions based solely on outliers, then you are wrong. It’s hard to believe that he thinks he’s a skeptic and a scientist.

    • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

      “But this is where I lose patience every goddamned time: apparently no response other than silence and submission is acceptable.”

      The world according to PZ, once again. Then there are those of us who think that when you overhear something that isn’t directed against you or any other individual, it really isn’t your business, and it isn’t “submission” to not jump in. It’s just not *aggression*, which jumping into a conversation uninvited most certainly is, much less posting it all over Twitter and Facebook.

      • Superabound

        The vast majority of internet feminists are nothing more than misanthropes and social rejects attempting to use some false notion of social justice to rationalize their own crippling social anxiety, textbook narcissism and major personality disorders. Get used to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

    Pharyngula horde gets everything wrong, too. Check out their backfire on dogpiling EllenBeth Wachs. She stands up to them, but they keep doubling-down repeatedly, multiplying their errors into ridiculousness. As usual. http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-1/#comment-585529

    • http://twitter.com/Unikraken Unikraken

      PZ has fallen so far in the last two years. Measured response my ass. What a fucking loser to side with her.

    • Virginia

      What is absolutely ironic is that I have seen a few people disagree with EllenBeth Wachs about so-called instances of sexism (they were basically false positives) and she treated them the exact same way she’s being treated on PZ’s blog, and she’s just as right as the people she castigated. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to her and she’ll apologize to those people. It is never a pleasant experience to be incorrectly labeled something like a sexist or an apologist for sexism.

  • DorothyP

    Read Brandeis and Warren on the right to privacy and tell me she’s a heroine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Right_to_Privacy

    • mikmik

      I would think that the guy that got fired could sue her for defamation. It’s not even a question of inappropriate overreaction, this is about extortion. She broke the law by arbitrarily deciding to publicly humiliate him in mass media.

      • DorothyP

        And two party consent state? Hmmm.

  • The thing

    I don’t like stereotypes, but women, who complain about male sexism, without being directly involved in the “assult”, are typically everything that would be considered inapropriate or even unlawfull to mention here.

    Women, like Adria Richards, should be avoided at all cost, because the world is all about them and the rest of us need to be put right. Her condition is called Antisocial Personality Disorder and she just can’t help it.

    And so I say, well done, lady! Keep pretending you’re a machine and keep evesdropping on them filthy sexist men! You’ll be loved by all sane people at a distance from now on. I cannot imagine a sane person that would want to be near you knowing what you’re capable of.

    • mikmik

      You are correct. I would think any sort of militant cause is a forum for sociopaths to act out. Good thing she wasn’t carrying a gun – that we know of, anyways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Gebert/1122931181 Michael Gebert

    Show me where in our society it says that a mild dongle joke is unforgivably horrible.

    We’re a sex-drenched society which, at the same time, chooses to occasionally enforce rules made up on the spot in which the slightest sex reference is some ghastly crime.

    We’re a supposedly equal society in which women claim both the right to be as raunchy as the guys and, at the same time, to be Victorian shrinking flowers oppressed and degraded by the slightest comment of an off-color nature.

    Other eras were at least clear about hypocrisy. Our rules change instantly to suit the person who wants to take advantage of the rule they just decided existed.

    That’s just no way for anyone to live. And as others say here, it doesn’t remotely help the cause of getting women accepted in a male-dominated field– it tells you that every woman is a potential stoolie who could get you fired. Don’t hire them, don’t discuss things around them, keep them out of where the real work gets done. Your job is on the line.

    • julia_disqus

      I would feel much more comfortable sitting in front of guys cracking sexual jokes then behind a person who takes shots of people without permission and posts on the internet.

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        Unauthorized photos are OK, it seems, on her account…but jokes about dongles are not.

        • Superabound

          Whats funny is that taking unauthorized photos is SPECIFICALLY and clearly forbidden in the rules and regulations of PyCon. Written right in them in plain English, and described as a form of harassment. Adria Richards harassed these two men.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      As Karla Porter said, “she is not paid to be a feminist.”

  • nacatak

    No offense, I thought this was a rather good article… but can you please stop ignoring all of the other shit she said?

    Completely ignoring everything that happened at Pycon and the fact that she’s a hypocrite because she made sexual jokes herself…. she was still being blatantly racist and sexist on her twitter towards anyone trying to have a discussion with her.

    Sorry, but when you end the argument and dimiss someones opinion with a “black people cannot be racist towards white people: Racism is from the oppressor”

    or: “Straight white male, easiest difficulty”

    I mean, it’s completely irrelevant that the demographic she seems to loathe is actually the one that makes up the majority of her companies potential customer base… she’s just straight up racist.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Thanks. I didn’t want to make this piece too long. though, and I mainly focused on responding to PZ Myers.

  • buttsauce

    For everyone crying about this being harassment, just imagine if it were a (male or female) Christian fundamentalist who had been offended by a joke and treated the situation the exact same way as Adria Richards. Would the same crowd defending her now be defending that theoretical fundie? Of course not. They’re cheerleading Adria because she’s a woman. It’s the same people who were calling for Ryan Perez to be fired for Twitter comments that are saying Adria Richards shouldn’t be fired for Twitter comments. They have no principles.

    • http://twitter.com/laursaurus Laura

      Well Gelato Guy comes to mind. In PZ’s upside-down world, he did everything wrong. He should have snapped the harassers picture and tweeted it to his friends. Wasn’t calling out the abusive behavior the right thing to do? Oh, wait! You don’t have the right to not be offended….unless you’re a feminist. Then by God, drag it out of the gutter and put it on display for the whole world with photos!
      This distorted version of events that he spins is a lot like the way he unleashed Elevatorgate on the world. PZ defended Watson for public humiliation of Stef Mc G for the crime of parroting misogynist thought. When people rightly condemned her brutally unjust shaming, PZ backs it all the way up by claiming all she said was “guys don’t do that.” PZ, you stupid idiot! Nobody cared about her video. It was posted over a month before she chose to make an example out of the young woman who differed with her. Stef wasn’t allowed to say that unlike Watson, she welcomed invitations for coffee and conversation from interested men. But free-thought is the biggest misnomer in all of human history. The slightest deviation from Feminism 101 indoctrination shall be severely punished so that others will submit in silence.

      • mikmik

        Well said. I can’t shake the feeling of walking on eggshells there, so I almost never comment anymore at Pharyngula. It’s sad, actually.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Well, according to these feminist conference policies jokes about religion which could be considered offensive are against conference policy. What a sad day for the atheist community. It’s a good thing people are fighting back. #bravehero

      • blondein_tokyo

        This makes no logical sense, and in addition you’re using a false equivalency. If you were in a church and made such remarks, doing so would indicate you’re purposely challenging the people around you and actively trying to start an argument. Yes? On the other hand, if you are at an atheist convention, you’re among people who generally agree with you, so such remarks would not be either surprising nor unwelcome. There is a big difference between actively challenging the people around you in an attempt to offend, and speaking to peers in a way that you both are in agreement on and consenting to.

        The reason the equivalency is false is because this took place in a workplace environment where one is generally obliged to follow a certain code of polite behavior, i.e., no sexualized humor. It would then be logical to say that people who break those codes of behavior are in the wrong, and at the very least, should apologize.

        If either of these incidents had taken place at a bar, restaurant, or other venue, then the complainer(s) would not have a leg to stand on.

    • blondein_tokyo

      False equivalency. A Christian getting offended by someone saying “I don’t believe in God” is a far cry from a woman getting offended by sexualized jokes at a professional conference. Sexism is real; god isn’t.

      • FrillArtist

        That’s not want he meant. Then again, you’re a “blonde” so I take it your IQ is rivaled only by garden tools. He’s saying if she was a Christian who got offended by the “sexual” jokes which, mind you, it wasn’t. Would the femi nazi and PC crowd support her.

        • blondein_tokyo

          What does hair color have to do with intelligence? It seems to me you’re using a this as an insult in an attempt to upset me. Is this correct, and if so, why are you doing that? Do you prefer exchanges to be vitriolic instead of pleasant? Does it make you happy to hurt people? aka, are you “trolling” me? :)

          As for our topic of conversation, I see what you mean. You feel a Christian might be offended by a sexualized joke, as we can probably safely assume, due to their religious precepts, that a Christian would find sexual innuendo to be inappropriate in any setting. Well, it’s still a false equivalency due to the fact that this is a workplace environment. Sexual innuendo is inappropriate in a workplace environment of any kind, and generally speaking, I think most supervisors who heard such a complaint would take some sort of action no matter the gender of the people involved. On the other hand, if the setting were a bar or restaurant, or even an atheist convention, neither the Christian complainer nor the “feminazi” complainer would have a leg to stand on since one isn’t obligated to follow the protocol of a workplace environment when one is not in the workplace.

      • Gene Novak

        The joke was tame and frankly it could easily appear on most television shows. This was a private joke between 2 people and she made penis jokes herself earlier that day on twitter. She’s getting crap because of how she handled this situation. BTW, I’m an atheist and from what I’ve seen from feminists they are an embarrassment to atheism. They reflect all the things that drove a lot of us to atheism. You are not religious so you are not qualified to say which statement is more offensive you just assume it is because you view the world through your own prism.

    • Superabound

      Well its also because shes Jewish, and Jews have the Victimization Industry perfected down to a science.

  • Shadow of a Doubt

    What is more irritating then anything is; the policy that all the A+theism types have been raging for over the last year was clearly in place, and Adria Richards chose to blatantly ignore it. If any of you people who clamored for that sort of policy read this, you should be raging against Adria, not her employers or the internet. She chose to ignore the very clear steps outlined therein, and acted in an extremely unprofessional manner. I would have fired her as well, had she been representing my company in a conference and acted like that.

    You can’t have it both ways, if you want a policy, you need to use it. If you want to have a free for all, then don’t complain about the lack of policy, when you’re going to ignore it anyhow.

    You can frame it in the men vs. women context if you want, but in the end, two wrongs don’t make a right. She acted unprofessionally and was treated accordingly. End of Story.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Indeed. So much for these conference policies which are “required for women to feel safe.”

      • blondein_tokyo

        That makes no sense. The fact that one person didn’t follow the correct procedure for reporting behavior she felt was offensive doesn’t mean that sexual harassment policies aren’t necessary or don’t work. If anything, it shows that if anyone abuses the policy, they won’t get away with it.

        • FrillArtist

          It wasn’t sexual harassment, you dumb cunt.

          • blondein_tokyo

            Interesting. I had heard of people using that slur to upset women, and heard that people on this blog were particularly bad about it. I came here to see if it were true, but so far, it hasn’t happened to me until now. Interesting that you chose to use it now. What is your motivation, exactly? I’m curious.

            As for our topic of conversation, I did not say it was sexual harassment. I said that she should have followed the sexual harassment POLICY, which is in place to protect both the accuser and the accused. No? That is, she didn’t properly follow the procedure for reporting. She ought to have stood up, gotten out of her seat, and walked over to the staff and told them of the problem instead of Tweeting it. I hear they are now in the process of updating the policy to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You fucking dickwad. LOL :)

  • johnathankanna

    She engaged in penis jokes on her very own feed earlier this month with a white male. Exact same kind of jokes. Adria had an agenda and now is being somewhat exposed for it. Hopefully she will never work again.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Sexualized humor is fine on Twitter; but it has no place in a professional setting. Big difference.

      • johnathankanna

        Uh, you are saying this like its true, and its NOT. Its just not true. Its a tech conference and they are friends sitting in an audience. Goofy jokes like this have been said since the beginning, and they will continue. They dont “suddenly” not have a place. Stop trying to thwart life. She acted disgusted when she wasnt disgusted. She picked a moment to make a play. We all know it.

        • blondein_tokyo

          Sorry, but I have to disagree. A conference is a workplace environment. You are there to network and to learn, not to socialize. This kind of talk wouldn’t stand in an office environment, so it shouldn’t stand there, either. Most particularly when you very well know that there are problems in the industry with sexism, and clear policies outline what is/is not acceptable language to be using.

          If this had been say, an atheist convention, she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. That’s not an environment where you are obliged to follow the same protocol as you would in an office.

          • johnathankanna

            You can disagree but you are wrong. You dont know the atmosphere, you have never been to a tech conference. And the fact that you are bringing up “sexism” in your reply solidifies it. This situation that happened here? Had NOTHING to do with sexism, unless you mean Adria misusing it by pretending to be a victim.

            These guys did absolutely nothing wrong.

          • blondein_tokyo

            1. You have no way of knowing whether I’ve ever been to a tech conference or not. Making wild assumptions based on no factual evidence leaves you open to looking very foolish.

            2. I didn’t not say “sexism”. I said “sexual harassment policy”, which is the term used to refer to those documents that spell out the rules of conduct at conferences. However, I think it’s safe to say that making sexualized jokes and sexual innuendo in the hearing of a woman could very well be construed by her as a form of sexual harassment. But I’m not the judge of that, and you aren’t the judge of that, either. Rather, the policy is the judge, as it spells out the rules of conduct that all attendees are obliged to follow. If they were in disagreement with or unwilling to follow the rules, then they should not have attended.

            The staff, who ARE the ones tasked with interpreting the policy, seemed to agree with Ms. Richards. The two gentlemen in question were reprimanded by them. Therefore, whether you personally think it was sexism or not, or if I personally felt it was sexism or not, really is irrelevant. For the record, I myself would have laughed along with those guys. I’m not particularly sensitive to sexualized language. But I’m not Ms. Richards. I haven’t had to put up with guys making penis jokes on the job for years and years. I suppose that if I were in her shoes, I might have been sick of such humor and felt irritated or offended as well. I think that she should have confronted them herself or gotten up to get the staff rather than tweeting it. That is the mistake I think she made.

            3. You seem to be saying that tech conferences are unlike other business conferences, and it is somehow okay to make sexualized jokes or sexual innuendo. This is easily disproved by the very policy that Ms. Richards cited when she called the staff to intervene. The staff agreed with her assesment and concluded that the two gentlemen had indeed violated the policy, and they were asked to stop.

            4. Yes, they did something wrong. They were unprofessional in their conduct. Shortly put, sexualized jokes and sexual innuendo do not belong in a professional environment. That’s the kind of behavior one saves for later on in the hotel bar. If you think this sort of language is acceptable in a professional environment, then you don’t understand what sexism is, and are very likely to be charged with sexual harassment in the future. Good luck with that.

          • johnathankanna

            1. you havent. dont play games, you havent.

            2. making “sexual jokes” doesnt fall under a “sexual harassment policy”. it just doesnt. its also not a guy thing or a girl thing, its a people thing. sexual harassment joke would be putting negative connotation on the female gender or male gender while telling the joke; this wasnt what was said. sexual joke could fall under inappropriate but certainly not sexual harassment.

            3. The policy she stated protects against sexual harassment, not this. She incorrectly implied sexual harassment. And actually, if you had bothered to read the policy, which you obviously hadnt, it moreover was made to protect against WHAT SHE DID.

            4. no, they did nothing wrong. making a joke that happens to discuss the act of sex isnt sexual harassment anymore than an obama joke saying “this guy sucks” is about black people. People like you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. You are a danger to this country.

          • blondein_tokyo

            1. Games are for kids. I don’t play them. What I am doing is pointing out that it is ill-advised to make blind assumptions. It makes you look petty, it makes you seem desperate and to be grasping at straws, and it makes you look foolish because it is not all that difficult for someone to prove you wrong.

            2. You are right that it’s not a “girl thing” or a “guy thing” to either enjoy or be offended by sexualized humor. It completely depends on the person. Some enjoy it; and some don’t.

            You are also right that not all sexualized humor is harassment or is meant to be degrading towards women. You are also right that context matters, and depending on the context, a sexualized joke can fall under both “funny as hell” or “inappropriate”.

            However, you are demonstrably wrong to say (if this is what you are saying) that humor cannot ever be harassment. Harassment has often been disguised as humor so that that the harasser can say what sh/e wants without repercussions. It’s a very passive aggressive style of harassment, but it happens with some frequency. Thus, the necessity of specific rules against seuxalized humor in a professional environment.

            Shortly put, when you are at work, you don’t fuck around with sex (LOL) because you are very likely to offend someone and get your ass in trouble. Sexualized humor is best left for after work when you’re hanging out with people whom you know will “get it”. Like tonight my co-worker and I had beers and were jokingly talking about how we got “too much head” at the bar, but not enough at home. That was pretty funny!! I have a potty mouth and I know it, which is why I am quite careful at work because I know profanity and sexulized humor is *unprofessional behavior*. That is why we save it for the appropriate venue, which, by the way, is NOT a conference.

            3. I did read the policy. :) https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/
            See how easy it is to prove someone wrong when they make blind assumptions? Are we learning yet?

            It says, “Be careful in the words that you choose. Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can be offensive to those around you.
            Excessive swearing and offensive jokes are not appropriate for PyCon.”

            But as I said, it’s not up to either you or me to interpret this policy, or argue about what it “might” mean. It’s up to the staff of PyCon, and they were the ones who made the decision to reprimand the two men. Obviously, they felt the policy had been violated. Obviously, the two men made a mistake, even if that mistake was not understanding or misinterpreting the policy.

            And if you STILL think you understand the policy better than the people who wrote it, by all means- feel free to call them up and complain. What you cannot do, however, is expect that anyone else take your claims of unfairness or male persecution seriously.

            Because to me, the “professional victim” is guys like you who constantly bitch about being persecuted by women. What, are you some kind of pussy man that you can’t take it when a woman calls men out on their unprofessional and inappropriate behavior? Are guys such weaklings that when a big bad woman asks that men not use such language that they cry piss and moan about being picked on instead of just saying, “Oops, sorry, my bad” and taking responsibility for their mistake?

            It was a small mistake on their part, and they did not deserve what happened to them. It was Ms. Richard’s fault for blowing things out of proportion by tweeting instead of facing them down herself. Women need to learn to be more assertive, just as guys need to learn that their “dongle” jokes aren’t funny or even interesting to everyone. And while women may need to grow some balls and stop being offended by every little joke guys make, guys need to grow some balls and stop getting their panties in a twist just because some women don’t LIKE their jokes and ask them to knock it off – particularly in a BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT where they are NOT APPROPRIATE. Big “duh” there.

            5. *I’m* what’s wrong with the world”? Yep, that logic and reason sure are bitches, aren’t they?

          • johnathankanna

            1. You are avoiding the heart of the matter – you have never been, you dont get the “vibe”.

            2. no, i never said humor could never be harassment. I said this specific situation was NOT harassment and did not fall under the code of conduct.

            3. they updated their code of conduct after this situation. Of course, I knew that because Ive been following everything here. You didnt. Which renders everything else you said mute.

            4. You keep making it a man vs woman thing here – its not – its an asshole person thing. Adria is an asshole. She hijacked a cause for personal gain. She wasnt offended as a WOMAN. She was just trying to make a name for herself. She cried wolf. She will make people look twice at cries of harassment because of her actions. She HURT that movement. Sad that you cant see that. Again, this wasnt a man vs woman situation. Adria MADE it that.

            5. Yes, you. You simply don’t get context. Since a woman said a man said an improper joke, and said woman placed in a context of male power and harassment, you thought it gave her weight. She manipulated you and others. You were duped man. She set the tone for her goofy actions by painting this picture of gloom and doom for women and placing her situation right up against it. The two arent one and the same, and the emotional outbursts towards it are foolish. I read crazy FORBES articles that blew this situation up to more than it was because of agendas. People refuse to look at the situation for what it was. Adria didnt even say what the jokes were. You know why? Because if she did, people would see she was full of shit. She was pushing a bigger narrative and what “really” happened didnt matter. Just the broad sweeping narrative of sexual harassment mattered. And emotional picture took the bait, like you. THAT is a serious problem in this world. It was big in the presidential debates, the gun debates, these sex debates, bullying debates (Adria even says she was bullied now) you name it.

            Context should matter, but it doesnt. Raw, stupid emotion rules all.

          • blondein_tokyo

            1. I haven’t been to this particular conference, no. If you have, why don’t you explain it to me so that I’ll understand? If I’m really missing something, I’d like to know what it is.

            2. I’m glad. :) I also agree that this humor doesn’t fall under the category of harassment. I’d put it in the category of “humor that some people might find offensive”, which of course is quite subjective. Some people get offended very easily, which is precisely why you really have to be be careful in situations where you are around people whom you don’t know very well. Generally speaking, people don’t want to accidentally offend others, so we all censor ourselves when we’re around people we don’t know very well. This doesn’t just mean humor, either. It applies to other controversial topics too, such as politics or religion. This is particularly true in a workplace setting, where you need to put forth a professional image. I doubt very much if people at any business conference (and I have attended some) would not hesitate to make dirty jokes or talk in a derogatory way about religion in earshot of people whom they don’t know. I mean, who wants to get into that kind of discussion with people you are trying to network with? Talk about damaging some possible business opportunities! That’s career suicide.

            3. I see. Thanks for letting me know. I followed the link on her blog just after this went down and didn’t know it had been changed so quickly. Can you tell me what it said before, so that I can better understand where you are coming from on this? I ask, because I really still don’t see your point. It was the staff’s decision, based on the policy they had *at that time*, to reprimand these guys. It seems to me that if the staff agreed with Ms. Richards, then their interpretation of the policy lead them to that decision. Further, it doesn’t matter if you personally agree with their decision or not, because it’s not up to you to make that decision. Basically, you’re second-guessing their decision based on your personal feelings about the policy.

            Let’s turn this around and look at it from another angle. Let’s say she complained, and when the staff investigated, they determined that the policy hadn’t been broken. Then they left and nothing was done to reprimand the two guys. If that had been the case, she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on and I would be in total agreement with you. But that is not what happened, is it? The very fact that these guys were reprimanded is proof positive that they violated the policy, and she was justified in complaining.

            4. I don’t think it’s a man vs woman thing. I think it’s a case of people having differing feelings towards humor. You say she wasn’t offended as a woman. What makes you think that? Do you really think that it’s impossible for someone to get upset over a penis joke? Personally, I know a lot of people who don’t like that kind of humor. There are even some men who don’t like it and might be offended by it. Humor is very subjective, and sex is a particularly sensitive topic. That’s why it’s generally smart not to mix sex and humor and joke around within earshot of people you don’t know very well.

            5. As for my personal opinion on that joke, I would likely not have been offended at all. LOL…I might have been annoyed because it was totally cheesy and silly, but I wouldn’t have been offended. At the very most I would have turned around and said, “Shhhhhh!!!”.

            But I’m not Ms. Richards. I’m not standing in her shoes, and don’t have her life experiences, so I don’t think I have the right to dictate to her what she should or shouldn’t find offensive. If she felt it was inappropriate, then it was inappropriate to HER and she had every right to say so. People get to draw their own boundaries, and let others know where the line is and ask them not to cross it. If you are a decent human being, you respect other people’s right to draw their boundaries, and you do your best to avoid violating them. If you don’t like that person’s boundaries, if you think they are overly uptight or if you think they are wrong, then you simply avoid being around those people as much as possible. Only someone who really IS an asshole would say, “I know you don’t like penis jokes, but I’m going to make them anyway because I think you’re stupid for being offended.” The right thing to do is to say, “I’m sorry, I apologize.” and then drop the subject and leave that person alone.

            It’s VERY unfortunate she chose to escalate the situation by tweeting about it. If she had felt comfortable with just shushing them this wouldn’t have blown up like it did. I do hope that women learn to be more assertive in their own right like men are, so that this sort of thing doesn’t have to happen. Unfortunately at this time, women are often intimidated or afraid to confront men directly, so I suspect this kind of misunderstanding is going to continue to happen.

            I think the best way forward is to reinforce the idea that people get to set their own boundaries, and others should be very careful of where they step so that they can do their best to avoid unintentionally stepping over the line. Likewise, if someone steps over your line, you shouldn’t immediately assume ill intent and simply politely inform the other party of where your boundary lies.

          • johnathankanna

            Basically man…not every joke about sex is putting down a gender. Not every joke about Obama is about black people. Not every joke about Romney is about rich people. THe problem is people like you have no idea what this Adria Richard is capable of. She lives for people like you who dont understand context and want to jump at the chance to be sensitive to something. KNOW THE CONTEXT MAN. This wasnt ANY form of sexual harassment, there was no negative or positive connotation towards males or females, it was just a joke about “forking repos and big dongles”. Hell, they could have been talking about gay butt sex. How in the hell is that sexual harassment towards women? ITS NOT! Say its a crude joke, but dont say its anywhere near any form of sexual harassment. Overplaying her hand the way she did will make her a joke. I’d never work with her in any form. She is an opportunist who used a respectable movement for personal gain. To hell with Adria.

          • Gene Novak

            The staff probably agreed w/her because they didn’t want the problem to escalate and it’s very easy to just apologize. I know quite a few guys in relationships that will apologize whether they feel they were in the wrong or not.

            As far as policy she wasn’t allowed to take photos like she did either. I don’t know if it’s illegal but I believe you can video record people but you can’t audio record them so she’s probably fine.

          • Gene Novak

            Tech conferences are not very formal events, especially something like PyCon. Python is an open source language which has been created and maintained by mostly volunteers not big business. It’s primary use is in open source projects (ie non-profit). Most people at PyCon are hobbyists who love programming. This is one of my biggest problem w/feminism. I have nothing against women wanting to get involved in the industry, my issue is expecting the industry to bend itself to accommodate you. You want to gain respect in the programming industry, earn it! Make a great program and speak about it at some event like PyCon. If it’s good you’ll gain a lot of respect from other programmers. I’ve looked a few times for female programmers in open source and I never see them. What I see are female tech writers who talk about open source programs but they never actually write anything themselves. Sorta like the girl in question. She didn’t write software, she was a tech translator who didn’t seem to understand what forking a repo was. There are no barriers. All they need to do is dedicate a lot of your free time into creating something good. I’ve found a lot of the best people in any field are the people who would do it for free which doesn’t speak well for female programmers.

      • http://twitter.com/thedarkerside Michael

        It was her work account. So technically Twitter was her “workplace”.

        • blondein_tokyo

          So what you are saying is, it’s okay to make jokes with someone when it’s consensual, and it’s also okay to make jokes when it’s NOT consensual.

          • http://twitter.com/thedarkerside Michael

            No, my point is that if people lambast the two jokesters for being “inappropriate in the workplace” then they should also come down on Richards for being even more so.

            How many people could have overheard those two? A dozen maybe? How many people had Richards on her Twitter account when she made her Penis joke?

          • blondein_tokyo

            Honestly, if you can’t understand the difference between someone making a penis joke on their own Twitter account, and someone making a penis joke at the office, then I have nothing more to say to you.

          • Michael

            Her Twitter account was used to do her work and promote her employer. If you don’t understand that this means her Twitter account was her office then I have nothing more to say to you but this: You should probably not be on the internet. You don’t seem to understand how it works.

  • http://ajamesantonini.com Gary

    Adria pointed out in her blog response that she had a difficult month. She felt a bunch of things and acted on her feelings and this was the result. This explains the overreaction and it is not more complicated. Guys don’t you understand?
    I used to think about putting valium into my ex-wife’s orange juice two days a month. Clearly a crime. My defense would have been self defense.

    She may be right about the future of women in technology being on the line. Why bother hiring a woman if some stupid joke could affect your job and company. What if some guys were talking about pushing a hard drive into the rear slot ? You have a woman in the office who spent the whole day thinking about sexual harassment, the whole month in fact. She is ready and brave enough to put a crimp in your hard drive, by whatever means possible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      Might want to see your doctor about that. ;-)

      Re: Having a difficult month. Taking her word for it, it’s an explanation, but it hardly matters now. Cat’s out of the bag already (or apt, as it seems). I hope she seeks professional counselling if she’s suffering from stress or anxiety or other. However, that fact is an irrelevant detail in regards to the practical consequences of her actions. Perhaps it may help people to forgive her *after the fact*, but that’s *after* the fact. It’s the fact itself that has had major unexpected consequences. If we are to learn anything from this, it’s to understand why the consequences were unexpected, and how we can prevent such needless amplifications in the future.

      Everyone talking about this issue is *part* of the issue (note, I did not say part of the ‘problem’; and, I include myself in ‘everyone’). It’s a social issue, not a personal one. This stuff will happen again and again. The incidental people involved are going to be different each time. Perhaps with some overlap, but usually it’s new, random people getting tangled up in pointless drama. And, oh, shock! How could this possibly have happened to this poor random person!? Oh, shock! How could this possibly have happened …!? ad infinitum. <<< That's! the issue, right there, not the incidental mini-story of the drama, but the spreading of the drama. If the spreading of it was kept in check, nobody would have lost their jobs, and nobody would be talking about this all over the internet.

    • http://twitter.com/thedarkerside Michael

      “I have a dongle that is too big, and it is a no laughing matter. It is a 3G USB adapter dongle made by Huawei that is so big that it blocks the adjacent usb port. I now know it is inappropriate to discuss in mixed company.”

      You just need a little dongle to plug your big dongle in, then all is fine.

  • alitrix

    I’m an old biddy and I don’t tweet or carry an iphone or ipad around so I had to translate this into my conferencing experience in caveman days. She basically stood up in the middle of a presentation and yelled for security because she overheard a sexual joke. She would have been hustled out of the room leaving lots of whispers of “crazy” in her wake. Sure she got attention but none of it is effecting a positive change. I know I would be avoiding uttering a peep in her vicinity or anyone else who identified as a feminist, not trying to make sure my language is “pure” for her sensitive ears. That’s not exactly achieving inclusiveness or eliminating sexism. .

    • blondein_tokyo

      That’s about right, I’d say. It would have been much better if she’d asked them to quiet down herself, or else quietly asked the even staff to take care if it. But sexualized jokes don’t belong in a professional setting. If you think they do, why don’t you just try that out in any random office setting and see if that flies.

  • http://twitter.com/elizabrooks elizabeth brooks

    What I do not understand about the tone of this discussion, here and elsewhere, is how so many commenters are turning this into a discussion about women. ” they wonder why men don’t trust them? THIS IS WHY.” “I wanted to put Valium in my ex-wife’s orange juice two days a month.”

    This has zero to do with women. Just because Richards’s issue was gender-related, whether perceived or real, does not make the overall issue a male vs. female discussion. It’s merely a question of actions in social media and their repercussions. If she had taken a picture of two guys who were making any other kind of offensive comment, it would be a completely different reaction. People need to stop conflating the two things: the issue she was airing and the repercussions of her calling out people publicly.

  • Me

    For anyone who wants to really understand the controversy, this dating commentary from Adria Richards was pretty instructive to me. She’s just a woman who hasn’t had much real-life experience with men, it sounds like to me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF2rq6WaC_4

  • NWOslave

    “Might there be a ‘big problem’ women face in technology culture? Perhaps there is, but a simple joke between two men in an audience overheard by a woman in the audience is not a big problem or something which threatens the future of programming.”

    What is this problem women “perhaps” face is tech fields? Is it not “woman friendly” enough? In the history of the world has any job from coal miner to CEO ever been somehow organized or built around being “man friendly?” When you see a man working on a downed power line in the freezing rain you do realize that job is cold, dirty, uncomfortable and dangerous. There is no such thing as a job that is “man friendly.” It is not, nor should it ever be the goal of a company to ensure that if a woman is employed, she should feel completely stress free and in complete comfort and never even overhear a comment that somehow slights her delicate sensibilities.

    So let’s define work. It is a place where you sell your skills for a profit. Your “emotional” feelings are irrelevant. The possibility of physical injuries are relevant. The man who works on power lines and gets injured has relevance. His injuries are real and cause physical pain. Adria’s emotional distress at hearing the word “dongle” used is tragic indeed! I suggest having Adria work in the sewers for a month or two when a flood damages the pipes, and have her swim in freezing crap while working twelve hour shifts so that all the spoiled princesses can flush their toilets without a care in the world. My guess is after she breaks a finger or two trying to free a frozen valve she’ll reevaluate her position and realize how trivial and petty she is.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Work is a place where you should be not be subjected to sexual innuendo. That’s what work is.

      • NWOslave

        Dongle. Dongle. Dongle. Now go claim victimhood.

        • blondein_tokyo

          This isn’t my workplace, and as I’m personally not effected much by this sort of sexism, sexual innuendo doesn’t bother me at all. If I worked in a male-dominated field, though, I imagine I would get pretty sick of dick jokes and might feel annoyed enough to tell people to “knock it off, already”.

          Did you really think it would bother me that you said that? Were you trying to offend me? If so, why?

  • jojofido

    blame the person that came up with the name “dongle”. how is that NOT asking for a joke to be made of it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/do.re.568 Do Re

    Even if I personally thought it was harmless, I’d agree with her if it had been a sexist joke. But a sexual one? Do women really not realise men talk about that?

    • blondein_tokyo

      But sexualized humor doesn’t belong in a professional setting. It was their mistake to drop the professional facade and lace their conversation with sexual innuendo, even if it was only one little joke. That sort of thing just doesn’t fly in this day and age. They were totally in the wrong, and they know it. It’s just too bad that her reaction was overblown and then thanks to the internet, got escalated to the point of ridiculousness.

      • http://www.facebook.com/do.re.568 Do Re

        But she was eavesdropping on their private conversation. This kind of shit just makes it harder for women to be accepted in these industries.

        • blondein_tokyo

          There’s a difference between eavesdropping and overhearing. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because if they were loud enough for someone sitting in front of them to hear, they were too loud. I also don’t think speaking up when one hears inappropriate jokes makes it harder for women to be accepted, if that is what you are saying. I think the people making the joke are the ones at fault. As for it getting blown out of proportion, yes- that indeed could be a setback. But one reason it got blown out of proportion is the internet- and that includes the people who have focused on chastising her for caring that her workplace environment remains a sexual innuendo free zone instead of focusing on chastising the guys for making inappropriate comments in a workplace environment.

          • http://www.facebook.com/do.re.568 Do Re

            I say it makes it harder because men will be less willing to work with women over fear of saying the wrong thing and getting fired. Like I said, sexist joke? He’s an asshole, no question. But sexual innuendo? Not even targeting at women (one of the dudes implied the other dude had a small dick)? I don’t think that’s worth posting a picture of them onto the Internet.

          • blondein_tokyo

            Actually, I agree that it’s not worth posting a picture on the internet. I think she handled it wrong. She should have just turned around, and said, “Shhhhh!!”.

            On the other hand, I’m a very assertive person, and unafraid of letting someone know when they say something I find offensive. I can also handle the defensive reaction some people have when they are told they’ve said something offensive. It seems to me that a lot of women can’t handle confrontations of that nature. It scares them. Can you understand that, without saying “Well, women should just be more like men, then.” It’s unhelpful to tell people they should just be more assertive. Some people just aren’t like that, and they will never, ever learn to be. Can you agree with that?

            And can I ask you an honest question? Are you really afraid of working with women because you might say something wrong and it will get you fired?

            To me, this merits two questions. Is it really that difficult to know what kind of humor is acceptable in the workplace? Particularly, do you take a look around you when you make a dirty joke just to make sure no one who will be offended is in ear shot, or do you just blurt out jokes anytime and to anyone?

            In my workplace, I’m the only woman on the five person team I work with. We know each other quite well, having worked together for five years. At first, the guys were really careful around me and limited their conversation to very general topics, and no one ever made any jokes that might be construed as offensive. After a while though, as they got to know me, they realized I have a potty mouth that is just as bad as theirs. :) Then they relaxed, and now we joke around quite a bit. But when our manager, who is a woman in her late 50′s, is nearby, we are all on our best behavior because we know she would be offended if she heard half the things we say. ;)

            That’s why I think it’s an extreme exaggeration to say that men will now be afraid to work with women lest they say something wrong. People *always* naturally censor themselves, particularly in the workplace, to make sure they won’t offend anyone that they have to work with, and this includes both men and women.

            First of all, they don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. It’s hard to make up for a bad first impression. Secondly, no one wants to make others feel uncomfortable or upset them. It’s natural to be a bit careful at first when you don’t know someone very well because it’s easy to misstep (and not just on sexualized humor, either. This also goes for things like religion or politics). And finally, we know that sexualized humor (or other possibly sensitive topics) aren’t appropriate in an office setting. We know we can get reprimanded, and we know it will look bad for us professionally, so we tend to avoid such topics.

            This is why I am on Ms. Richards side in that they were being inappropriate, and deserved to be told to shut up. I do however, disagree heartily with the way she handled it, and feel it is unfortunate that she felt she couldn’t just confront them herself. I hope that women will in time learn to be assertive in their own right just as men are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moishepipik Moishe Pipik

    The PyCon organizers next year will give every woman a whistle to blow if she feels she’s being mistreated by men.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moishepipik Moishe Pipik

    What these idiots don’t realize is that you can be more inclusive by having a NARROW focus.PyCon should be about computer programming, not women’s rights, or inclusiveness. “Ms.” Richards (who, btw, was born a man http://www.reddit.com/r/AdriaRichards/comments/1axood/is_it_true_that_adria_richards_used_to_be_a_man/ ) is not a compute programmer. Her only reason to be there was to cause trouble.

  • http://twitter.com/zerodash Gregory Shefler

    It is absolutely staggering to me that PZ even attempt to take the position he has on this. This is a man who, on video, sexually harassed a woman with jokes about her having sex with him- a woman who was an attendee of a talk he was giving. How could what he did be OK, and a private joke about a funny word be oppressive to women? This is more than a simple double standard.

  • DorothyP
  • Programmer

    Adria Richards is a bully! She attacks everyone who does not fit into her small world.

    She is one of those people who has realized that negative attention is as almost as good as positive one, maybe even better…and you can even build a career based on that.

    The fact that she never met her biological father does not give her the right to destroy lives of all men on this planet. This lady is on a mission and someone should better stop her before she, or someone else like Adria, goes too far.

    A typical example of a person who is ready to walk over dead bodies in order to be ‘successful’!

  • redhat

    Do feminists not want equal treatment? This is what computer guys do. They tell each other dongle jokes. I don’t particularly like them either, but I have two choices: just ignore them, or tell the dude to shut the hell up. Either option works. Quit crying, and deal with it.

  • jjramsey

    Whoa, people. While there’s plenty of legitimate criticism, there’s also an unfair bit of Pharyngula-style meanness. I already pointed out nonsense about the cat, and there’s also speculations about Richards being a sociopath (which is a rather heavy accusation) and someone alleging that she’s a transsexual as if that were remotely relevant. Come on, let’s be grown-ups here.

  • blondein_tokyo

    It’s obnoxious to make sexualized jokes in a professional setting, and they were in the wrong. Personally, I’d have rolled my eyes at them and asked them to keep it down. One thing women really need to work on is how to be assertive. I’m honestly tired of hearing how women can’t speak up or talk back because it’s dangerous for them to do so. I understand it can be scary to talk back to someone who is bigger than you, or when you are in a vulnerable position, but it’s entirely another when you’re sitting in a conference hall full of your peers. So what if they might have been rude back to her? All she would have had to do was be rude right back to them, or go get a staff member to take care of it. She handled it badly; it blew up in her face. She didn’t deserve what happened afterwards (the internet hatred; rape threats; getting fired) for her mistake any more than the guys deserved what they got (one was fired) for their mistake. I just hope the people watching learn something from this.

  • FrillArtist

    She is a racist and a femi nazi who likes to walk on egg shells. I had the displeasure of meeting her once when I was in New York and she is NOT a pleasant person to work with.

  • Gary

    I took a look at the PZ Myers posts and follow ups. His frustratingly poor writing is unfortunately still in tact. He was always a bit in over his head when he discussed something outside the realm of evolution and practice seems to only have made his arguments sloppier. Reading one of his articles and the comment thread is almost as frustrating as listening to creationist Wendy Wright speak.

    I did not comment but on his thread the valid assertion was made that Adria could have been correct to bring the incident to the organizer’s attention, the it wasn’t her fault he got fired, and that she didn’t deserve any of the harassment she received, but still have been irresponsible in publicly airing things via twitter. There was no room for any subtlety in the monolithic group think that treated every comment as a binary, with us or against us sentiment. PZ himself addressed the point by saying that since he had been the victim of having things publicly broadcast without his permission it was perfectly fine for others to experience the same. In essence he argued that two wrongs make a right. While he is a strict liberal it seems that rhetorical methods of Sean Hannity have infiltrated his sense of reason and attached themselves like cataracts which prevent him the ability to see his hypocrisy.

    He just in the last two days released a story bashing Ford for the ads that portray among others the Kardashian sisters tied up in cars. The ads were a rejected submission by an Indian ad agency. They were not asked for and Ford really has nothing to do with them. PZ didn’t actually research the story. He just posted whatever he saw on yahoo or the huffington post and mistook it for journalism. He hasn’t removed his accusation that Ford intentional posted a sexist ad and though he hasn’t commented the response from his peanut gallery is that because Ford is a large corporation it is ok to assume the worst and perpetuate a conspiracy theory that they created this and leaked this on purpose just to get any publicity. I don’t care for their cars but I do care about accuracy. PZ on the other hand, and his minions do not.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    Here’s what is really bothering me. This constant assertion that the tech industry is sexist really comes from the inability of geeks to stand up for themselves. We’re subject to predators. That’s what Adria was. And while we have trouble standing up for ourselves, we can still feel resentment towards our accusers. AND if you keep crying sexist enough times, we stop caring. That’s what I’m worried is going to happen, that this cycle of resentment turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy and women start getting actively excluded from tech communities. And from what I’m hearing, that’s what is going to happen.

  • http://twitter.com/gavbo101 Gavin O’Brien

    “When keeping it real goes horribly wrong…online.”

  • Superabound

    Nothing is more Feminist than begging the nearest member of the power-holding Patriarchy to come solve your interpersonal problems for you!

  • http://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/ The Tim Channel

    I thought PZ Myers would be in bankruptcy court by now. Whatever happened with this? http://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/pawning-pz-myers/ Enjoy.