So before I get into a very, very short opinion piece about the recent events surrounding Adria Richards, I want to get some some meta-blog discussion out of the way. An appetizer, if you will.
Yes, I know we haven’t been updating regularly. Yes, I know it has been over a month since the last post has been published. But soon we’ll get into the swing of things and readers of this blog will be convinced that we, the authors, are horny rabbits that give birth to blog posts rather than, you know, other smaller rabbits.
On to the main course!
By now, you may have heard of a story going around about an Adria Richards. TechCrunch put up a pretty good summary of the events. What happened is this: Adria Richards was sitting in front of some guys at a tech conference (PyCon to be precise) and she overheard them make some lewd jokes about “forking repo’s” and “big dongles”. Basically some jokes about genitalia and fucking that not everyone would feel comfortable with. She tweeted about her experience, asking for something to be done regarding these guy’s conduct, and a little later wrote this blog post about it.
The internet went into a frenzy, like it usually does, and one of the guys she overheard was fired from his job. Anonymous got upset about the situation and started using their hacking magic against SendGrid, the company that Adria Richards worked for. Now, you may have noticed I used the past tense to describe Adria’s affiliation with SendGrid. That’s because they fired her for her actions.
To quote Andria’s blog post:
“Women in technology need consistant[sic] messaging from birth through retirement they are welcome, competent and valued in the industry.”
I put this up to explicitly show she believed there was sexism and misogyny at play. She felt that those sorts of jokes make women feel unwelcome.
I already mentioned that my commentary on this story will be short. Why? Because based on her descriptions of the jokes, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest any sexism. Male genitalia and sex are not equivalent to misogyny. Sorry, no matter how much you try to make it seem like they are, they just aren’t. Any adult of any gender could find these jokes to be distasteful and inappropriate in a professional work environment. It has fuck-all to do with making women feel “welcome, competent and valued in the industry.”
The reasonable response would have been to tell them that their language was inappropriate for their current surroundings or directly speak to PyCon about it. Implying that they are sexist pigs and announcing that to world was utterly ridiculous.
Her is-this-misogyny meter is so sensitive that it jumped to 11 the moment a dick was even mentioned. It’s an illogical train of thought, but she is not the only person who thinks this way. We (as a society) need to define sexism more thoroughly and not just rely on our gut reactions and feelings.