Your Nasty, Nerdy Sexism Isn’t Cute

There are two (yes two!) women working at Gizmodo now. One of them has a few tips for some of their readers.

Some of you seem to be under the misguided impression that sexual favors are the only way a woman could possibly end up writing for a tech blog—wrong. And you know what? It’s not just wrong, it’s rude.

It’s rude to come into our posts and say that the only reason we have the jobs that we do is because Gizmodo needed to fulfill some imagined gender quota. It’s fucking rude to say that we’re only writing for Gizmodo because we “lipstick shampooed” some guy’s “jock” to “get our job.” (Your over-evolved metaphor only further proves your immaturity; just say “blow job”!) But either way, if you say these things, you can bet your cowardly, juvenile ass you’re going to get dismissed from the discussion.

It’s rude to say they’re there only to fill a quota? Well dang, who knew! I thought that was just totally normal reasoned discussion.

Since I began at Gizmodo, I’ve written several pieces about the pink-washed gender constructs so present in the tech and gadgets we see today. Pink smartphones. Birchbox’s strange, strict notions of what woman enjoy versus what men want. Some of you seem to think I should let it go. That I’ve said my piece and it’s time to move on. Nope.

While I’m working, this is my playground. I will bring you news, ideally as often as there is news to report. But, when I have the time and space and wherewithal, I will also bring you commentary and opinion. If this is displeasing to you, I don’t really care.

It’s important to acknowledge the cultural climate of an industry. It is so important.

If you disagree or find this boring, read a different post, or a different site! Because, if you truly think such subjects do not matter, then you probably don’t have anything of value to contribute to the conversation anyway.

It’s important to acknowledge the cultural climate, period. If you disagree – there are a lot of other blogs out there.


  1. says

    The sexists are slowly losing. They make plenty of noise on the Internet, but they are getting increasingly publicly criticized by atheist conventions, video game journalists, tech sites and even humor sites. They are angry because they know they are relics. Of course, they can still do plenty of damage on the way out.

  2. GordonWillis says

    Some of you seem to be under the misguided impression that sexual favors are the only way a woman could possibly end up writing for a tech blog—wrong. And you know what? It’s not just wrong, it’s rude.

    And you know what else? It’s not just rude it’s outrageously insulting. It’s a pity the religious and the multiculturalists have hijacked the whole debate about insults because otherwise we might be able to make some rational laws against it.

  3. Pteryxx says

    ugh… thanks (I think) for that article, mildlymagnificent.

    It is most common on the open mic circuit where young comedians play for nothing and you can, if you wish, hear 20 comedians telling 20 rape jokes in one night. The comic Nick Page says: “It is getting worse because of the volume of people trying to enter the comedy industry without the life experience to create good jokes and good stories.” Page was due to appear at an Edinburgh showcase last week, but he left after watching “three comics in a row doing rape or violence material. They were damaging comedy. But with the death of feminism in mainstream culture more and more people are prepared to put up with it.”

  4. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    And what pray tell would constitute “rational laws” against insulting people, GordonWillis?

  5. Emu Sam says

    Repeated insults to a person who has asked you to leave them alone can constitute harassment, depending on the forum. Is it possible to harass, in a legal sense, an entire group? There’s certainly a relationship between that and the concept of – (I can’t remember the term and I’m not having much luck looking it up. What is it when a group is historically unprivileged and the judiciary uses that fact to interpret the impact of laws?)

    Threats of violence and death are also already legislated against to a degree. It thence becomes a matter of enforcement. I am glad people are very cautious about enforcing such laws, but there is plenty of room for fine-tuning.

  6. mildlymagnificent says

    pteryxx, one good image to come from that depressing article.

    My husband suggested that he’d like to be a fly on the wall when Billy Connolly bawled out Russell Brand. (Mainly because he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end himself.)

  7. Fin says

    I personally don’t think anything is off-limits in comedy, including jokes about horrible things, but there’s a certain kind of laziness with a lot of the jokes about rape and violence against women which means that the joke doesn’t actually achieve anything. They tend simply reinforce stereotypes and as such these jokes fail to do what really good comedy should do, which is surprise you.

    You can spot this, by looking at someone who parodies these jokes, for example Al Murray. Al Murray’s whole act is the Pub Landlord, a guy who pretty much inhabits that realm of prejudice, and says things that racists, sexists and whoever really say, the comedy side of things comes along when – for the punchline – he will generally point out the absolute idiocy of what he just said really quickly. As such, it’s often quite difficult to predict the punch lines in his act, which is what, in my mind, makes it funny.

    The other time think jokes of this sort are good is when they’re taking horrible things and, by mocking them, turning them into something that is slightly less scary. A good example of that approach would be the Producers: by relentlessly mocking Hitler, and the bad things the Nazis did, suddenly they’re not as terrifying and not as powerful in our minds. So, I’ve seen female comedians make jokes about times they were raped (or nearly raped), I’ve seen black comedians make jokes about their experiences of racism, and my personal favourite, Francesca Martinez, frequently makes jokes about having cerebral palsy and what it’s like to be a “mong” (her take on Mong-gate – the argument between Richard Herring and Ricky Gervais over Gervais’ use of the word as an insult – was quite possibly one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve read in years).

    So I don’t think there should be any limits on what comedians can or should make jokes on, simply because on these dark topics, comedians can and do challenge our perception and push boundaries.

    With all that said, it’s a very tricky area of humour, which is incredibly easy to fuck up, which is why in my own attempts at stand up, I’ve avoided it, and most of my comic friends have avoided it.

    To return to the original post, though, I think this is related to that other post about how us guys in the nerdy internet realms need to really step up to the plate and isolate, ignore and shun anyone who exhibits that sort of behaviour. It’s a failing on our part, because, to be blunt, these sexist pricks will never listen to a woman, however articulate and correct she is, simply because she’s a woman, so it is incumbent on us guys to enforce this stuff and teach these fuckos how to respect other human beings.

  8. 'Tis Himself says

    A really talented comedian, for instance George Carlin, might be able to tell a funny rape joke. A mediocre comedian like Russell Brand or an unfunny comedian like Daniel Tosh cannot tell a funny rape joke (Tosh has trouble telling any kind of funny joke).

  9. says

    Emu Sam – strict scrutiny. Google it with 14th amendment, if you’re interested. (Worked for me. I was going “special scrutiny? heightened scrutiny?”)

  10. says

    Her comments about pink washed tech reminded me of these “pink” toolkits and power tools that I used to see at Lowes and Home Depot and the hardware departments of places like Wal-Mart.

    The hand tools were smaller and lighter (they weren’t precision tools tho, just small “regular” tools). The power tools had smaller batteries and lower wattages. And the whole thing just pissed me off. They were useless. I saw no reason to buy them, even though “x percentage of the profits” were supposed to go to breast cancer funding. I’d rather just donate straight to a charity.

    Honestly, they were the kind of tools you’d buy a child. I mean, what does that say to the person you buy it for? “Here honey, I got this so you can look cute while you pretend to help me fix the shed”?

  11. says

    Pink tools piss me off. Maybe it’s because I’m an engineer, but I go with the Tool Time Tim creed and always get the baddest, biggest tools they make.

    And I can use them.

  12. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Now I want to start a company that makes the baddest, biggest tools possible – but ONLY in pink.

  13. Onamission5 says

    @Nathaniel #13:

    I actually wanted one of those pink tool kits for a long time. Reasons being– A) I could almost guarantee that my tools would not be pilfered/disappeared from my house by my male relatives if they were hot pink, which was a real problem, and B) I am physically strong but have tiny hands and tendonitis, so most tools are just too unweildy for me to use for any effective time period. My spouse’s power drill I can’t even hold still, because I can’t wrap my whole hand around the handle. A kid sized power drill (battery issues aside) appeals to me in the same way that kid’s bowling balls do when I want to go bowling. It’s something I can use!

    I also wanted the pinkified power tools not because pink appeals to my womanz brainz, but precisely because it *wouldn’t* appeal to those particular male relatives of mine who were prone to taking my stuff without asking (presumably because somewhere in the back of their minds they thought I, as a SAHM, didn’t really need tools of my own. Which I do, because I’m usually the one who fixes broken stuff around here, not my spouse!).

  14. F says

    Oh. Now I have reasons to have a look again at reading Gizmodo. At least for Molly Oswaks’ commentary pieces.

  15. Pteryxx says

    …but for expensive tech toys like phones and computers, smaller is ego-boosting. *headshake*

    With power tools though, it’s a circular problem. Tools were designed originally for average-to-big male hands, because manly, thus the standard designs still don’t fit smaller hands, so they’d need to change the designs because the designs were sexist in the first place, QED. Never mind that women and even smaller men (such as many of Asian descent) can’t comfortably use the tools required for certain careers, which contributes to keeping women and insufficiently buff men out of those careers, and makes them more prone to injury when they do stay in. It’d be trivial to make, say, interchangeable grips. (I’d LIKE to see proper sized tools be considered a required accommodation under nondiscrimination law, but first things first…)

  16. Godless Heathen says


    I don’t use tools often, but lots and lots of things are set up for the average sized man, which means that a large percentage of women have trouble using things or have to deal with uncomfort and whatnot.

    Like, when the peep holes in hotel doors are tall enough for a 5’10” person (the average man) to see through them, but are too high for a 5’4″ (the average woman) to use them.

    Or how seat belts always sat uncomfortably across my neck before car companies started making adjustable seat belts.

    @dysomniak – ooh! Maybe you can start a line of tools in a wide variety of colors! I love having things in colors, but it seems like most things come in black and red and maybe dark green or dark blue.

  17. 'Tis Himself says

    Onamission5 #15

    my tools would not be pilfered/disappeared from my house by my male relatives if they were hot pink

    I can see Uncle Bob saying: “It would be an affront to my macho, virile manliness if I were seen using pink tools. I’ll leave these alone.”

  18. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    @Godless Heathen But then no one would buy the pink ones. The whole point would be having manly-man construction doodz using fuscia drivers.

  19. Pteryxx says

    Ooh! Color-code the interchangeable handles! Then just make the biggest, manly-man-sized ones fuschia. *nodnod*

  20. says


    I definitely see where you’re coming from. The fact that the tools would get pilfered pisses me off, because I grew up (and worked in) an environment that respected another person’s tools.

    I respect the fact that these may be the only tools you can use, in fact I’m actually glad that they have found (or would have found) a productive niche.

    Still, I feel that there’s a very big difference between “I’m using these smaller tools because I have small hands and tendinitis” (a very real and legitimate reason) and “I’m buying my wife these tools cuz they’re smaller than mine and they’re pink. And also cuz she’s a girl and can’t handle a man’s tools.” Which is bullshit. I worked with a number of women installing office furniture, and none of them had any problem handling the same tools the guys did.

    The main problem to me is how they were advertised. They showed women in sexy “carpenter” gear on ladders and at sawhorses doing “carpenter” stuff. But these tools simply aren’t made for that kind of work. A 12v drill isn’t going to put together a solid wood deck. That tack hammer simply won’t nail together a good shed.

  21. Pteryxx says

    They showed women in sexy “carpenter” gear …

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

    Because GUY tools totally are about how sexy they look bent over. ARRRGH

  22. Godless Heathen says

    @Pteryxx-good idea!

    @Nathaniel-the stupid sexist assumptions and condescension from that tool company and society and general about women doing that kind of work are bullshit.

    But there’s still the problem of tools and other things in general being made to fit the average-sized or big man, but not made to fit the average sized or smaller woman or smaller men.

  23. says

    But there’s still the problem of tools and other things in general being made to fit the average-sized or big man, but not made to fit the average sized or smaller woman or smaller men.

    I absolutely agree that, for example, my DeWalt or Bosch drills can afford to narrow their grips, but my Bosch drill is heavy because it’s innards are entirely metal, something that I specifically purchased the drill for and has contributed to the fact that it’s lasted me almost ten years and is still going strong.

    A heavy deadblow mallet will deliver more force to whatever I’m whacking. A heavier hammer will sink nails faster. A bigger drill can deliver more torque and ram in decking screws faster. A bigger tool allows many jobs to be done more efficiently, or even at all.

    I’m all for interchangeable grips. But with the larger types of tools, especially where the grip is part of the structure of the tool, I’m not so sure it’s as simple as smaller or interchangeable grips.

    I’m also not sure I have a problem with jobs where physical capabilities are part of the job description. We have no problem requiring people be capable of mental skills. How is it any different saying “you need to have the physical strength to control this jackhammer” or saying “you need the manual dexterity and memorization skills to type 60wpm on MS Word”?

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