“It’s sad I can’t take my kid”

Someone sent me an email with regard to the timeline I had put together of harassment reports in the secular / skeptical / atheist communities, and it came at a very good moment for me. Just when I was feeling the strain of the sisyphean task of combatting harassment in a community that would rather we have a “big tent” that includes the harassers, this email came to bolster my spirits.

I got permission to republish excerpts in hopes that it helps you too.

I wanted to say thank you for the work you’re doing, because no matter what I say, I will never be taken seriously when I talk about sexual harassment in geek space- because I’m a woman. It’s doubly hard for me now, because my daughter is old enough to start being interested in going to various conventions in geek culture.

The second I say anything, no matter how mild, I’m instantly going to be viciously attacked. I’m moderately used to the nastyness, but I’m completely unwilling to subject my 13 year old child to that sort of crap.

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A Dynasty Falls

And good riddance.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality television show, recently did an interview in GQ — yes, Gentlemen’s Quarterly — wherein he described how his evangelical Christian beliefs come into conflict with the idea that some people might be gay in an absolutely offensive display of what many Christians really do believe. His TV show on A&E about his family of conservative rednecks — who became rich after he built an empire on the Duck Commander duck lures — now faces the terrible wrath of public opinion.

When my sister heard the news that he’d given his interview in GQ, and that GLAAD had publicly denounced his words, she posted a link on her Facebook wall. One of her friends — an ex co-worker apparently — swanned in to drop this steaming pile of opinion on her wall about how terrible it was… that anyone was asking A&E to reconsider hosting this douchenozzle’s opinion.
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The line between “acting like an asshole” and “being an asshole”

It turns out Elan Gale was making the whole thing up.

To catch you up: Elan Gale posted on his Twitter account that someone was being rude on an airplane, and proceeded to detail with screenshots how he harassed her (of course it was a her, wearing mom jeans) in retribution for “not being nice” on Thanksgiving. He gained 70-ish thousand followers over the affair, and sparked a firestorm of dudebros defending their inalienable right to tell rude moms to eat a dick, everyplace the story was covered. He’s been hailed as a hero, completely took in Buzzfeed and thus went viral as all hell, and those few of us who decried the assholish behaviour (myself and way more especially, Ophelia) are presently enjoying the lovely booby-prize of having skepticaler-than-thou skeptics tell us that we were insufficiently skeptical of the whole affair.
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5th Doctor, Peter Davison: “The Doctor must never be a woman”

I know a number of people for whom this particular bit of news is a betrayal, because Davison is “their Doctor”. According to Peter Davison, fifth Doctor on the venerable British sci-fi series Doctor Who, the character of The Doctor should never be a woman.

Doctor Who legend Peter Davison risks being exterminated by fuming female fans after declaring: “Doctor Who must always be a man” reports the Sunday People.

Speaking on the eve of the cult show’s 50th anniversary, Peter, 62 – Doc No.5 from 1981 to 1984 – insisted: “If you suddenly make the Doctor a woman you’ve effectively just said, ‘Well let’s give you a sex change’, and I don’t think that works.

“To me it would be a rather odd thing. To have a female Time Lord would be like having a female James Bond.”

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There can be no Khitomer Accord

There has been a stirring as of late in the blogosphere. Lee Moore, the host of a podcast co-hosted by Reap Paden, has taken it upon himself to attempt to broker a peace treaty, a ceasefire, a breaking of bread and a healing of the divide between the two sides of the Great Rift — between the feminists on the one side, and the antifeminists (and those claiming the name “feminist” for their libertarian laissez-faire cargo cult “equity feminism”) on the other. A sort of Khitomer Accord, if you will indulge the Star Trek reference. Of course, this would depend on either “side” being a cohesive unit, with leaders or any ability to encourage conformity among its self-identified members. In a leaderless movement such as ours, a movement where leaders viewed with awe and reverence by some are equally eyed with suspicion by others, such a gambit is doomed to fail.

But what really strikes me as misguided about the whole effort is that, from the outset of this conversation, everyone is using terms differently. And not just terms of art — we’re all working with different definitions on just about everything of substance! We talk of attacks, of slurs, of in-fighting, of trolls and witch-hunts and censorship and co-opting of movements. We talk of inclusiveness and privilege and exclusiveness and tribalism. And every one of these words means something completely different to one another.

But let’s start with the core term at issue here: what exactly constitutes “in-fighting” to both sides in this argument?
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How to get more women in STEM? Stop telling them they don’t belong

Sometimes it takes someone saying something so gobsmackingly obvious that it makes people ashamed they didn’t realize it before, to clue people in that there might actually be a problem, and how to address it. This post, I truly hope, is one of those times.

Sometimes, men talk about the gender disparity in tech communities as if there’s some big mystery. I have to conclude that these guys haven’t talked to women who currently work in computer science academia and the tech industry, or who did and then left. As someone who was perceived as a girl or woman doing computer science for 12 years, my solution to the lack of women in tech is:

Stop telling women that they aren’t welcome and don’t belong.

Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, you’d think. But read on to see what counts as telling them they don’t belong. A tip — it’s not just making the blatantly sexist comment, like Prof. Doaitse Swierstra’s saying that more women in Haskell’s programming school would make the program “more attractive”.

When I watched the video, what I heard after Prof. Swierstra’s comment about attractiveness was laughter. No one called him out; the discussion moved on. I might be wrong here, but the laughter didn’t sound like the nervous laughter of people who have recognized that they’ve just heard something terrible, but don’t know quite what to do about it, either (though I’m sure that was the reaction of some attendees). It sounded like the laughter of people who were amused by something funny.

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Shame In Your Game

An absolutely pitch perfect rant-slash-analysis from Emily Gordon detailing sexism in the video gaming community. It must be read, especially by those of us who see this shit happening in our community but don’t have any insight into the nearly-identical fight going on in the gaming world.

I’m a female with a podcast about video games, so I am frequently asked tough questions: “How do I get my girlfriend to like video games?” “Are you a ‘real’ nerd?” “How do we fix sexism in the gaming world?”

My answers to those questions are, in order: “Start with two-player platformers,” “What?” and “I wish I knew.”

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Microsoft adds “Big Boobs” to Linux; apologizes

There are a number of relatively new phenomena in the server world that Microsoft has been rather slow to catch up on. Server virtualization is one of them. Where companies like VMWare and Sun (now Oracle) had pretty much already built the defining server virtualization software, with a robust hypervisor (software that lets you run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server) in ESXi, and a great general-purpose software-based virtual machine in VirtualBox, Microsoft made their own hypervisor.

And in traditional Microsoft style, their server virtualization implementation required modifying the Linux kernel to get it to play nice. Rather than emulating the system hardware in such a way that the Hypervisor does all the heavy lifting, they chose to use OS-level drivers to “get the most out of” the hypervisor’s features.

This isn’t generally a bad decision, honestly. VMWare requires guest OS tools to be installed in order to do some stuff too. Microsoft’s actual failing, in this case, was in employing juvenile dudebro programmers who submitted kernel code that included a constant for the upper limit for virtual server guest IDs defined as 0xB16B00B5.
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The Horsewomen of the Feminist Apocalypse

Commenter Pteryxx observed on the guest post by Jacqueline S. Homan a few days ago that there were a total of four identified targets of misogynist sentiment in the original guest post and my in-line observation, and that they could therefore be the four horsewomen of the feminist skeptical apocalypse. Of course, there are much more than four women on the forefront of this fourth-wave feminism, even if you restrict yourself to the secular/atheist movements — there were at least eight identified in those comments at last count, and I could probably rattle off a half dozen more.

The comment thread did what comment threads do, and it eventually became a list of feminist women in the secular movement, and which My Little Pony character they’d be riding into battle astride.

Then embertine decided to draw them.
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The DJ Grothe quote that sticks in my craw.

At the end of this comment, DJ Grothe said the following about the “rumors” of harassment at skeptical conferences:

So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

Emphasis mine.

I know everyone else has taken him to task over this quote already. I just want to present a hypothetical in case DJ reads this. It’s entirely fictional, and as far as I know has never actually happened to anyone at any conference.

Let’s say, DJ, that someone — a stranger with whom you’ve had no previous interactions, but perhaps someone you know from the community in a vague and distant sort of way, perhaps because they were a speaker at some other convention or a member of a forum you frequent or are ostensibly responsible for — approached you at a convention. So you have a pretty good idea they have some idea who YOU are, even if you’re not really familiar with them.
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