Friday, May 25, 2007

Sexism Still A Problem In Tech

From the comments:

given all the discussion on diversity and the issues we've had with sexism and cyber stalking this year, I really don't see how this is funny at all.

If the web community takes a stand against this sort of behaviour, which it clearly did in Kathy Sierra's case, it should be obvious that it's not an accepted form of humour. And hello, it's 2007, not 1977...

Of course there's a pretty compelling argument that Kathy Sierra's stalkers weren't sexually motivated - but instead, just very unpleasant people who need to learn to stop using sex as a weapon - and the really bad news is that those people won. Creating Passionate Users is gone.


  1. Sexism isn't about sex, it's about male privilege and the sense of entitlement that goes with it. The language and images used against Kathy were a way of reducing her to something less than human, a mere receptacle to be used and thrown away.

    Frankly, words cannot begin to express my contempt for those people.

  2. Pat Maddox posted a comment which I had to edit for rudeness. (Sorry Pat.)

    Here's the rest of it:

    people like sex, even geeks. This doesn't compare on any level to Kathy Sierra's stalkers. Their intent was to harm her emotionally and professionally, and perhaps physically at some point. Karl Dawson's intent is to get people jazzed about a conference, and he's just playing on the common belief that hacking/technology is somewhere on the same level as sex, at least for geeks.

  3. @Censored Pat - I think you're describing the situation accurately, but missing the point. saying that publicly is rude to any and all women who hear it or see it. it implies that women would only participate as objects acted upon rather than as actual people. that kind of comparison made privately to a group of guys, that would be fine, but saying it publicly in an ad for a conference is disrespectful to any and all women in the industry. it's unprofessional, inappropriate, and kind of sleazy.

  4. It implies that women would only participate as objects acted upon rather than as actual people

    The only thing it implies is that the conference is an exceptionally enjoyable, rare occurrence that should be appreciated.

    it's unprofessional, inappropriate, and kind of sleazy
    Absolutely. And the promoters exercised terrible judgment in using that blurb to hype their next conference. I don't think it's sexist though, and certainly not something people should be angry about.

    Sorry for being rude, I'll play nice from now on.

  5. If it were in an ad for a conference in the UK, I'd assume it was a reference to the Swiss Tony character in The Fast Show, an odious car salesman who compares simply everything to 'making love to a beautiful woman'.

    Use the phrase and you're as good as saying "this is meaningless". Well, that or "I'm an idiot who doesn't understand irony." Tone of voice is vital.

    But, as the conference is in San Francisco, I think I vote for the straightforward "Idiot".

  6. I think it is actually a direct reference to The Fast Show, but it's still kinda bad taste. a year ago I wouldn't have even cared, but come on, Creating Passionate Users doesn't even exist any more. that was the best blog on the Internet in my opinion. the only thing I checked more often was boing boing, and that only because boing boing was updated so much more frequently.

    I mean, come on. everybody knows that the most important part of making a joke is your timing. the timing is beyond tasteless.

    (pat, thanks for being cool about the censorship.)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.