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PyCon Sexist joke controversy

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PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  nullnvoid on Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:21 am

I saw this the other day and had a couple of issues:

http://www.infoworld.com/t/technology-business/twitter-shaming-no-longer-just-teens-and-celebrities-214956

The story involves a couple of men making a pun within earshot of a woman. She took their photo posted it on twitter and complained to the PyCon management. They dealt with the issue, but the manner in which she reported it - putting their photo on twitter led to one of them being fired. That is one issue - a person who is supposed to be a media personality should know better than to publish a photo of someone and to then defame them. The person involved seems to have accepted his fate and admitted to making the pun.

I'm concerned that the message here seems to imply that women should be protected from puns. I've heard a few comparisons to 'elevatorgate', but I'm not buying that. While elevatorgate was blown out of proportion by the internet...at least there was a little bit of substance to that complaint - propositioning someone at 4am in an elevator is a dick move. But...making a bad pun?????

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  scott1328 on Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:36 am

This is quite disturbing. I don't understand how the overheard jokes could even be construed as sexist. The woman was not the target of the joking, she had many other options, she could have asked them to pipe down, she could have moved, she could ignore them. The fact that she found the lame puns offensive says more about her own uptightness than anything else.

I would need more information to determine if the guy was fired for this incident, however.

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  nullnvoid on Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:01 pm

One of the two guys involved claims to have been fired. This is confirmed here:

http://blog.playhaven.com/addressing-pycon/

I wasn't aware until just now, but Adria Richards (who made the initial complaint and blog post) has also been fired.

http://blog.sendgrid.com/a-difficult-situation/

Unfortunately when you work as a public face for an organisation there is little or no tolerance for behaviour that brings negative attention to the company.

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  mood2 on Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:22 pm

Yeah I've been following this, the way it escalated into people getting sacked is ridiculous. And sad.

The initial joke wasn't explicitly sexist, and to many would look completely harmless. IMO the problem is in its association with a profession which has a culture which many women find unwelcoming. People then become sensitised to things which strike others as harmless. When this sort of joke is made at a conference which I gather was about making the profession more welcoming to women it can be frustrating that either people are demonstrating they don't get the nuances of how this culture works, or demonstrating they don't give a fuck.

Then the complainer handled it very badly by trying to publically humiliate the jokers, his employer handled it very badly by sacking one of them, and her employer behaved very badly by sacking her. And another convo which should be thoughtful and nuanced results in battle lines being drawn and everything being about goodies and baddies and hyperbolic abusive responses. God it's disheartening how nobody can have a grown up conversation about these things any more.

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  nullnvoid on Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:43 pm

We're having a conversation! Smile But, I know what you mean.

As a painfully shy teen, I found participating in 'blokey' jokes challenging. This was largely a problem relating to my socialisation (I was the subject of extreme bullying), and had been hampered by a lack of masculine influences in my upbringing. Many people who find themselves in the tech industry are people who have spent a lot of time with a computer while avoiding interacting with other people in their youth. There is a high level of anti-social behaviour and a wide variety of what you might call 'quirks'. Many have actively had to seek professional help dealing with these 'quirks'. I've sought professional help myself. It requires a lot of tolerance and patience dealing with the personalities in technical groups.

That said - from observation, I would say that younger developers seem to be drawn from a wider range of personality types, including far more well rounded people. I think the prospects for women in tech is gradually on an improving trend. But it still is a profession that attracts unusual people.

In this case, the man who made the joke behaved inappropriately and his infraction was dealt with appropriately by the conference organisers. Adria appears to be a woman with a quirk of her own. She acted inappropriately by taking vigilante action against the person involved - from her blog post she felt she had behaved heroically - and I have no reason to doubt her good intent. Reading further into her blog, she appears to have issues dealing with people herself. Many people are criticising her for not approaching the people involved and having a conversation - but that was not necessarily an option for her. Even if she was able to speak to them directly, it would not be the optimal reaction. Confrontation can go badly when you are dealing with people who don't know each other - there is risk involved.

It would have been perfectly appropriate for her to email her concern to the management of the conference OR to approach a representative directly. Having an intermediary handle the interaction who is not directly involved is a much better solution.

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  mood2 on Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:53 am

We're having a conversation!

I was being a bit hyperbolic wasn't I lol. (There's more later... Cool )


I'm really sorry you had such a hard time in your youth null. For what it's worth you strike me as someone who's come out of it a very kind and thoughtful person.

I'm not familiar with the tech industry myself, tho your description of that side of it is kind of how I'd imagine it.

And I agree with your take on how this could have been handled much much better all round. People have histories and are flawed and fuck up on a regular basis, whoda thunkit.

The jumping to confrontationalism and judgementalism, and least charitable interpretations, and refusal to look at things from the other's perspective, and call out culture, and thirst for punishment, and othering, blah blah which inevitably ratchet up the ante in these situations are getting on my nerves at the mo. It's such an easy game to play on the internet, and turns people off getting involved in SJ stuff except as a blood sport.

Zero Sumism For The Lose!

/rant

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  nullnvoid on Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:23 am

Thanks for the kind words. It was a bad time...but it formed me so I can live with the consequences.

One thing worth mentioning. This incident draws attention to how elevator gate was handled much better by Ms Watson. No public humiliation of the person involved.

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  Glob the Funct on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:12 am

It would be hard to believe, except that I've also been a victim of unthinking overreaction.

Why can't we just accept that all of us are capable of stupidity, and move on?

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Re: PyCon Sexist joke controversy

Post  nullnvoid on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:03 pm

It's definitely a common human trait - that we can't!

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