• http://URL Steven

    I’d just like to point out that this story is really about three people behaving like children. Two little boys make a few crude jokes, and a little girl overhears them and tells the teacher. As a result, one of the little boys parents grounds him for misbehaving, and the little girls parents ground her for being a tattletale.

    The backlash afterwords may have evolved into a civil rights issue, but the way it started was silly. Would anyone applaud someone being kicked out of pyCon for making a fart joke?

    • NotBlogger

      I agree with you that it was essentially 3 people handling the entire situation badly exactly how you describe it. Where we disagree is that it sounds like you think she was out of line for complaining in the first place.

      As I mention, being a woman in a technological field I *know* that this sort of joking happens all the time, and I *know* that there are women who dislike it. Calling her a tattletale isn’t exactly fair – is she not entitled to speak up for her gender? How many young women feel unwelcome in tech fields because of language and jokes like these?

    • http://URL Steven

      So, what you’re saying is that crude humor is exclusive to males, and it offends women’s sensibilities? That women are above potty humor, so males should cut down on it to make young women feel more welcome?

      • NotBlogger

        No, I’m not saying it’s exclusive to males – I actually mention that I find it funny! It’s not that women are above it either…it’s that often times dick jokes make women uncomfortable, and yes – men AND women in tech should consider toning it down if we want to be more welcoming to other women in the tech community.

    • http://URL joe

      “So, what you’re saying is that crude humor is exclusive to males, and it offends women’s sensibilities?”

      I think Steven summed up my reaction nicely. This story would read very differently if the guys had been making misogynists jokes, or discussing how big the speaker’s boobs were or something.

      I don’t see what this has to do with feminism.

  • http://URL Dale

    I think the core problem here is the increasingly social and public nature of the world. The men thought they were making a private inappropriate joke but chose to do so at the wrong place and the wrong time. Rather than try to resolve the matter privately Ms. Richards escalated the situation by taking it to the masses and hoping social justice would handle it.

    I do believe that the men hadn’t intended it to be offensive but that was out of their control once they did it in public. They were wrong. Plain and simple. But there’s a big difference between being privately and publicly wrong. The lesson to be learned here is to be more aware of your surroundings if not necessarily to be more aware of your conduct.

    That said, Ms. Richards used the opportunity to make an example of them. As you pointed out, she had options that could have been taken that could have had the same result. Instead she chose to call them out publicly. While that was certainly her choice and I can see value in trying to shine a spotlight on the misogyny in technology public debate is rarely civil; especially in the age of the Internet. Calling that sort of attention to yourself can have consequences as well no matter how well-intentioned.

    Both sides made mistakes. Both sides had valid points. It’s unfortunate that the anonymity of the Internet empowers people to take disagreement to absurd levels.

  • http://37g.tv Michael

    As persons familiar with this site will know, I recently wrote on a similar topic regarding sexism within skepticism, and I think I draw the same conclusion here as I did there. Namely, had Richards made a constructive attempt to voice her opinion then it would be much more difficult for people to justify bashing her (not that many wouldn’t still try). By publicly shaming these two man, with the end result that one of them lost his job, it is difficult to sympathize with her situation. I agree with Joe’s comment above: had the comments been directed at someone else, or had they been misogynistic in character, I would understand her feelings.
    It’s not that she did not have a right to address the situation; it’s that the way she did it was completely unacceptable. Even if she did not feel comfortable directly confronting the two men, she could have personally contacted the PyCon staff during the event and had them take it up with these two guys privately. No one loses their job, she doesn’t come off as over reacting, and the issue is addressed appropriately.
    In the words of the legendary Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly.” I don’t think the man who made the dongle joke deserved to be fired. I also don’t think that Richards necessarily deserved to be fired, but I do think her actions – actions which dragged her companies name into an uncomfortable spotlight – warranted her being fired more so than dongle-dude.
    I understand the need to not be exclusive via the culture of a group. No one deserves to feel they don’t or can’t belong to the “boy’s club”, but I think this situation shows that many people feel there is a point where enough is enough. As an adult, minor things like this should not generally be a problem. At some point, people can say you are being too sensitive, or perhaps that your being sensitive is not something the group at large has to accommodate. This is a matter of trying to find where that line is, and I commend anyone willing to participate in the discussion. I only wish Richards had not Tweeted her response to the situation, because she might have then been effective in making a change without polarizing a large swath of the tech community around an issue that should be important to everyone had she handled it like an adult. There’s a reason no one likes a tattler and that we teach our kids not to be such.

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