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I thought "gender inclusivity" meant more apps about boobies?
September 9, 2013 10:14 AM   Subscribe

TechCrunch Disrupt Kicks Off with "Titstare" App and Fake Masturbation

From Amy Gray at The Guardian: Over the weekend at the Techcrunch Disrupt hackathon in San Francisco, Australian duo Jethro Botts and David Boulton jumped on stage to present Titstare, an app that lets you "stare at tits". As they presented their project in under 60 seconds, the audience laughed at the numerous tit-related puns.

Later, software developer Kangmo Kim jumped on stage to show CircleShake, a game app that measures how much someone can shake a phone within 10 seconds. The best way to display this was to simulate masturbation. The audience found it hilarious. “We merged technology and humanity”, Kim told the audience after groaning.


TechCrunch's editors responded: "Today’s issues resulted from a failure to properly screen our hackathons for inappropriate content ahead of time and establish clear guidelines for these submissions." However, as Gray points out, the Circle Shake pitch video makes it very clear what it is.

There is a long, long history of blatant sexism and harassment of women at tech conferences (and the tech industry as a whole). Each incident engenders a new round of handwringing but little seems to change -- a fact that TechCrunch's editors inadvertently illustrated in their post. "Sexism is a major problem in the tech industry, and we’ve worked hard to counteract it in our coverage and in our own hiring," they wrote. Their link is to a story about women leaving the sciences that's five years old.
posted by not_the_water (219 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Disclosure: I previously worked at a tech news site that is a competitor of TechCrunch.
posted by not_the_water at 10:16 AM on September 9, 2013


"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by AOL."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


As usual, the apps are not available for my Windows Phone....
posted by Doohickie at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


CircleShake was pretty disgusting.

TitStare was even worse. My understanding (entirely Twitter-based) is that TC called them on it immediately after. What's inexcusable to me, though, is the raucous applause their presentation got. It's not just a few isolated bros here and there -- it's a cultural problem.

It also sucks that all of this bullshit is overshadowing a successful presentation from a 9 year old girl. Which in itself would show a lot of progress within the industry, within the culture, within TC's demographics, except that then the poor kid had to sit through those two presentations.
posted by olinerd at 10:27 AM on September 9, 2013 [48 favorites]


Apparently Adria Richards was present on stage for one of them, which is a staggering and unfortunate coincidence.
posted by boo_radley at 10:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the presentation.

They claim "titstare.com" but it reads as parked by GoDaddy.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:28 AM on September 9, 2013


Update: TechCrunch tells me no one at the Disrupt hackathon on Sunday had paid for a ticket to attend that portion of the conference in particular.

That's a relief. Because the real outrage would be if someone paid to see offensive apps from offensive people.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rather than giving more attention to a bunch of guys who clearly didn't think through their presentations, why not give some positive attention to someone like Alexandra Jordan, who not only coded at an app at 9 years old, but had the guts to get up and give a presentation about it to a bunch of adults?

No one's mind is going to be changed by yet another hand-wringing session, but it could be changed by making programming something every kid can do, not just something boys can do.
posted by madajb at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


TitStare was even worse. My understanding (entirely Twitter-based) is that TC called them on it immediately after. What's inexcusable to me, though, is the raucous applause their presentation got. It's not just a few isolated bros here and there -- it's a cultural problem.

I think you're misunderstanding the situation. They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness. Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, why spend time coding an app when you can just look at porn? Or pretend to masturbate? Is there not enough tit-specific porn for them? I ask because I really, really don't want to spend time looking up information or watching videos about these apps.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


They claim "titstare.com" but it reads as parked by GoDaddy.

Never have a domain and a host so deserved each other.
posted by olinerd at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2013 [51 favorites]


Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

I know, right, what happened to the good old days when there were no women in the workplace to complain about all the men at the workplace staring at tits on their phones? /hamburger

Your comment seems willfully obtuse.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2013 [101 favorites]


They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness.

guys I think my sarcasm detector just bluescreened
posted by trunk muffins at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2013 [61 favorites]


Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

Smothering victorianism? Because you can't stare at tits or pretend to masturbate? Wow, y'all live in a different world than I do. Because there's plenty of porn for all. In my world, there is not the porn shortage that others are experiencing.

Also, I think that staring at tits in public, or pretending to masturbate in public, is gross and inappropriate, and *gasp* I'm a hetero dude.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: " They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness."

if you're making that argument here, I'd be curious how you can separate the political incorrectness people were cheering from the concrete app, which was misogynistic.
posted by boo_radley at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think you're misunderstanding the situation. They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness. Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

PC backlash and misogyny are not mutually exclusive.
posted by olinerd at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [28 favorites]


Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash.

Yeah, there's no such thing as racism either, it's just another form of backlash to political correctness. Behind every thoughtless asshole is a genuinely good guy who's just tired of being smothered.
posted by leopard at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


We should probably, as a culture, just give up on "tech" conferences all together and stop having them until someone has something important to say that doesn't involve masturbation.

Lets give it like 10 years without a tech conference, humanity, what do you say ?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


It should be clear at this point that people in the tech industry should not be allowed to run tech industry conferences. Or speak in public. Or interact with other human beings.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see I'm slow on a response there. Oh well.
posted by boo_radley at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2013


Or maybe start having tech conferences with, you know, some tech.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


We're living in a word where people proudly, unironically use the word "brogrammer" to describe themselves. Of course stuff like Titstare exists. It's all just a great big industry circlejerk, or circleshake, whatever, of tech folks proudly, consciously not getting it, drawing the ranks closer to create the world they want to create, reinforcing it at every turn.
posted by naju at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


C'mon, tech without pron? That's a mirage.
posted by Mblue at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2013


There's a reason that "backlash against political correctness" and "disgusting bigotry and harassment" are completely indistinguishable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2013 [59 favorites]


Tech is a big tent. There's room for porn, off in the corner, behind a tasteful curtain.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm laughing, but I'm not sure at whom/how bad I should feel about it.
posted by dudemanlives at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2013


It's tragic that Super Fun Kid Time has been completely overshadowed by yet another "'bro-gate' at a dev conference" situation.

Edit: Also, probably my favorite app name ever.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"...behind a tasteful curtain" with a big TechCrunch logo on the front.
posted by not_the_water at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


BigHeartedGuy: It's tragic that Super Fun Kid Time has been completely overshadowed by yet another "'bro-gate' at a dev conference" situation.

Outrage generates more clicks (and then the defense of the topic of the outrage generates even more, which generates responses to the defense, generating even more clicks) than heartwarming stories of kids doing good things.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boy, I sure am glad that sexism is a thing of the past, and sexual harassment doesn't exist, and there's no longer any need to speak publicly about misogyny and sexual harassment or educate people about the problems of misogyny and sexual harassment! Because otherwise this kind of thing sure would be worrying.
posted by medusa at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

Great. Between this and the "rehoming your unwanted adoptee" post that's also on the front page, I really, REALLY don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by palomar at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Later, software developer Kangmo Kim jumped on stage to show CircleShake, a game app that measures how much someone can shake a phone within 10 seconds. The best way to display this was to simulate masturbation. The audience found it hilarious. “We merged technology and humanity”, Kim told the audience after groaning.

WTF? Is there thought to be a large market of people who enjoy masturbating entirely for the repetitive motion of hand and wrist, but who are currently finding that joyful repetition spoiled by the unfortunate sensations coming from their genitals? And somehow need an app to solve this?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2013 [39 favorites]


Good to see that the TC editors would have totally screened this out, had they only known! This is obvious because they also gave an award to someone who wrote that women who speak out against harassment must be doxed and punished.
posted by mikepop at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Geez, I was grossed out and pissed off by this before I watched the actual titstare presentation, and now I realize that my reaction was far too charitable. I was (vaguely) imagining some sort of app that facilitated, well, staring at tits (as it were), in what I had assumed was a softcore clearinghouse or something? But, no, the presentation makes clear that what it is is actually a way to facilitate and, indeed, gamify the sexualization of unwilling participants! Awesome. Great work, dudes.

I am sure Alexandra Jordan got a lot out of the titstare presentation. Regardless of your accomplishments you will always be evaluated on your tits.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: " I think you're misunderstanding the situation. They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness. Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash."

They were cheering misogyny. Misogyny has become "politically incorrect" because (among other reasons) many of us men have decided that being sexist towards women and diminishing their worth to their tits is the mark of an asshole.

I'm sorry that you consider that "smothering victorianism." Some of us think of it as a fucking victory in what has been a long and difficult decades-long fight for women to be treated as equal to men in Western culture.
posted by zarq at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2013 [110 favorites]


The best way to display this was to simulate masturbation.

I'd say a simulated masturbation gesture probably describes the whole conference pretty well.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


We're living in the Tosh.0 era of tech culture.
posted by naju at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "Outrage generates more clicks (and then the defense of the topic of the outrage generates even more, which generates responses to the defense, generating even more clicks) than heartwarming stories of kids doing good things."

I understand why that happened, and it isn't (sadly) surprising. I was just trying to make the point that an interesting/fun/important story was (once again) being overshadowed by a story we keep having to tell.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:59 AM on September 9, 2013


palomar: Between this and the "rehoming your unwanted adoptee" post that's also on the front page, I really, REALLY don't want to live on this planet anymore.

The planet (and the 'Filter) is a big, crazy place. You get those things, and you also get a documentary about Lil' Bub, "the most amazing cat on the planet." Embrace the good, fight (or ignore) the bad.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


BigHeartedGuy, I appreciate your point, and I apologize for the mini-rant in response to your comment.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2013


I'm just going to bookmark this for the next time a local blog is discussing the effect of tech on gentrification and rent prices in the bay area, because any criticism or analysis of Silicon Valley's little brogrammer darlings is usually met with "but they are doing god's work, building the next great American industry."
posted by bradbane at 11:05 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You may not be a feminist, but you still have to capitalize Queen Victoria's name
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:06 AM on September 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think you're misunderstanding the situation. They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness. Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

It's rare to find a comment so incredibly wrongheaded it achieves a kind of awesome perfection.
posted by kmz at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


They were cheering misogyny. Misogyny has become "politically incorrect" because (among other reasons) many of us men have decided that being sexist towards women and diminishing their worth to their tits is the mark of an asshole.

Work with me here. There's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies, and probably the best way of summarizing it is this: "I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one." It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom.

"First they came for the bigots and sexists..."

If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.

Political correctness is a form of thought policing, and people get punished for being politically incorrect. So when some techies get up in front of a conference like this and make a presentation that the techies in the audience know is going to cause spluttering and outrage from our betters, naturally the techies are going to cheer.

I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


kmz: " It's rare to find a comment so incredibly wrongheaded it achieves a kind of awesome perfection."

I wouldn't call it "awesome."
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Less than an hour from post to Godwinning comment about how harassment is freedom of speech.

Brav-fuckin'-o.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


I think you're misunderstanding the situation. They weren't cheering misogyny. They were cheering political incorrectness. Modern political correctness has become a smothering victorianism, and there's backlash. This is an example of that backlash.

I think you're misunderstanding the situation. This wasn't a frat party, nor was it a bar. This was a technical conference, in which people were making pitches about aps they were trying to develop. Society today has gone off the rails when it comes to loosening the standards of professional behavior, and legitimized immaturity. This is an example of that immaturity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2013 [40 favorites]


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

1) They still would be misogynistic assholes, and 2) that doesn't mean anyone should laugh along with them.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2013 [50 favorites]


So when some techies get up in front of a conference like this and make a presentation that the techies in the audience know is going to cause spluttering and outrage from our betters, naturally the techies are going to cheer.

So, you're arguing that if someone got up in front of this conference and showed an app that connected you with known child porn providers and showed you some of their sample vidoes of naked six year olds, the crowd would have cheered, because they knew that that would cause spluttering and outrage. Or if you think they wouldn't have cheered that because ew, then you're saying that they cheered this because they don't see anything wrong with the underlying misogyny, even if there is a side of 'fuck PCism'. So they're not just cheering anti-PC-fuckwits, they're actively cheering misogyny.
posted by jacalata at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2013 [32 favorites]


There's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies, and probably the best way of summarizing it is this: "I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one." It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom.

Why do so many libertarians equate "the right to do something" with "the right to do something free from criticism"? They have the former, not the latter.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2013 [130 favorites]


If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.

You are, at least in the US, free to say, think, and do pretty much anything you want to do. You are not free to do so without dealing with the consequences of those actions. If you say certain things, you may be criticized for doing so. That does not infringe upon your freedom to say those things. Freedom of speech =/= freedom from being thought an asshole.
posted by olinerd at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2013 [40 favorites]


If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.

Valid criticism =/= dystopian censorship.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Gah. This is what makes working to actively fix the atrocious gender imbalance in tech so difficult. There are people actively fighting against it at every turn, the dominant culture reacts with shock and outrage whenever someone challenges it, and then there's the regular occurrence of events like this.

I mean, what am I supposed to tell someone when they ask about getting into software development? Yes, the culture is largely toxic, and your skills will be questioned at every turn, and wanting anything that hints of 'family' or 'work-life balance' will be met with indifference at best; but some of us are trying?

This is something which I believe incredibly strongly in fixing, but really, I can't blame anyone for taking one look at this and going "Maybe I'll work in a less sexist field. Biology or physics, maybe".
posted by CrystalDave at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


HOLY CRAP THIS 9 YEAR OLD KID IS GREAT! I think at the age of 9 I was still confusing left and right, and this kid is pitching awesome apps and coding in Ruby.

HELL YEAH, ALEXANDRA JORDAN!
posted by rmd1023 at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


I understand people's desire to be able to speak their mind without an external filter like "political correctness." But that term has been bashed as an over-reaction to people's feelings by a largely privileged class. So it can be hard to stand back from your privilege and realize that your casual jokes are demeaning in a way that the recipient of the joke has trouble brushing off.

In this particular case, the app makers and the laughing audience is A-OK with staring at breasts. Great. Except that demeans women, casting them as simple objects to desire, no longer complete people.

Oh, but my lusty gaze hurts no one! Right, you didn't grab her tits and say "honk honk," but you're still treating a person as an accumulation of parts to be ogled.

It seems like a tough mental exercise for certain people to understand anything but physical abuse can be harassment. Because if this wasn't under question, then the "freedom" to ogle and demean women wouldn't be so easily shrugged off.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


"It's rare to find a comment so incredibly wrongheaded it achieves a kind of awesome perfection."

I wouldn't call it "awesome."

I read that not as awesome as in"cool" or "fun," but rather in the older sense of a feeling of amazement or fear tinged with reverence, implying a a sort of platonic incorrectness to which most other comments are but shadowy wisps of inaccuracy.

Which isn't to say that I would call it that either, because using less common meanings invites misunderstandings; still, it's a perfectly cromulent construction.
posted by cjelli at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just want to high five Alexandra Jordan. And also maybe make those other presenters apologize to humanity, because if I were a brilliant child doing a major presentation of a thing I made before a professional crowd, and then I got followed by that, it would've made me cry.

(The presentations themselves are also very lame. They're just not impressive; they both feel like awkward jokes that fell flat and probably shouldn't have been made by adults.)
posted by byanyothername at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Political correctness is a form of thought policing

Wow. No. "Political correctness" is a term used by people who don't like being challenged to treat all people with a modicum of respect. You are free to be an asshole in your head, but when you do or say something that makes other people feel bad, then people are going to comment on that. We all still have the right to behave like jerks, and we all also have the right to tell people when they are acting like jerks. No "thought policing" required.
posted by ambrosia at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2013 [38 favorites]


When people talk about being 'smothered' by political correctness, I feel the same way I do when a corporation talks about how safety regulations/workers rights are ALSO a stifling affront to freedom.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


HOLY CRAP THIS 9 YEAR OLD KID IS GREAT! I think at the age of 9 I was still confusing left and right, and this kid is pitching awesome apps and coding in Ruby.

To be fair, she is probably ALSO confusing left and right. Making/pitching apps and being a 9 year old are not mutually exclusive.
(dyslexia is a lot more common in males though..)
posted by Chuckles at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2013


In addition to the misogyny, a lot of men in tech are terrified of appearing unmanly. It explains the libertarianism: it's not so much the philosophy, it's harsh and macho (read: stupid) and empathy is weak and soft. So when something odious like "titstare" comes out, they cheer because not only do they get to reinforce the boy's club, if they don't cheer, they're not much of a man, are they? (In their own heads.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Work with me here. There's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies, and probably the best way of summarizing it is this: "I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one." It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom.


Wait, so they don't intend to be misogynists, but they're doing so because society says it's unacceptable and thus striking a blow for freedom?

Why do these libertarian heroes always strike this particular blow, then? There are so many things that society says are unacceptable, like smearing your own shit on your face, or jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. When are they going to champion these other repressed behaviours?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2013 [45 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: Why do so many libertarians equate "the right to do something" with "the right to do something free from criticism"? They have the former, not the latter.

Most people are remarkably free, but the consequences often keep them from acting out their thoughts in full. I'm kind of thirsty, and that guy has a hot cup of coffee, which I could just take and drink. But I don't, not because of The Man, but because that particular man might punch me.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected."

As a woman in tech, I don't give a flying flip if they're "actual" misogynists or "pretend/ironic" misogynists. If you make a (professional!!!!) presentation about staring at tits, even if it's as some metacommentary rebelling against puritanical censorship, you're sending a message. That message is that you don't care if you make women uncomfortable. You're creating an environment where a group of people (women) don't want to go, because even if it's some kind of comedy routine, that kind of shit gets old fast. "But it's just a joke" only gets you so far.

So now you've got a technical conference that women feel unwelcome at, so they stop going. Then there are fewer women at tech conferences, so you feel more comfortable making jokes about tits because hey, fewer people to offend. And eventually you achieve perfect brogrammer nirvana, No Girls Allowed.

I'm all for free speech. But does it seriously have to come at my expense?
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2013 [105 favorites]


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

And I'd venture to say that a bunch of women who were planning to go into programming or some other STEM field saw that presentation are deciding that they're not allowed to be treated as valid members of that community. Because these guys are doing exactly what they expect to encounter.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


(Yes, sorry, I meant awesome in the original holy shit WTF sense.)
posted by kmz at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why does it always have to be the Australians?
posted by acb at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]



If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.


You* are free to think and say and do whatever things you'd like. But you are not free from criticism when you express your thoughts and say or do things that are outrageous, offensive, whatever. That's the beauty of the right to free speech -- I have it, too, and it means I can listen to the things you say and observe the things you do and say, "Christ, what an asshole."



*"You" here = plural use, not specific use.
posted by palomar at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Political Correctness" is the outrageous and totally newfangled idea that words have meaning, are powerful and constitute a public action on behalf of the speaker of those words.

Seriously, you are free to say whatever the fuck you want, however, the rest of us are free to consider you an asshole for saying it. That's what political correctness is.
posted by Freen at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. You're free to say misogynist bullshit outloud all you like - and those around are ALSO free to say you're talking a load of misogynist bullshit.

Freedom of speech means you won't get locked up for saying it, not that others won't use their freedom to judge you a sexist or a racist or whatever.

What libertarians ACTUALLY want is their own freedom to do as they please, while denying others the same liberty.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


I'm not even sure that we need to be debating political correctness here. It's not really a useful measure against a deliberate troll.

There's a line between using colorful language to speak your mind, and being a deliberate and unapologetic asshole for the sake of being a deliberate and unapologetic asshole.

These guys aren't standing even remotely close to that line.

We can talk about political correctness in the context of accidentally offending some group. In cases where it's deliberate, I don't see it as being particularly relevant.

There are some (IMHO) valid criticisms against those who see political correctness as an end in and of itself. It's the rhetorical equivalent of design-by-committee, and leads to a bland lowest-common-denominator. In the end, the world is a pretty big place, and you'll probably end up accidentally offending somebody anyway. Similarly, many PC purists seem to be huge fans of fight-y meta-outrage, ie. "I'm offended because someone else might be offended," rather than the more sensible and data-driven "I'm offended because someone else is offended."

This is not one of those cases. We are being trolled, and these assholes don't deserve our attention.
posted by schmod at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to accept that smothering Victorianism is a thing (because you haven't lived until you've heard someone express "concern" about the names of pipe fittings) and I can imagine two guys presenting an app called "Titstare" that might actually cast a witty light upon the phenomenon. However, in my version the two guys aren't actually pushing a real live fully coded app, the punchline is something other than "Look, BOOBIES!" and one of them is a US senator. This is so much not that thing.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


So if these guys are just edgy status-quo fighters doing the right thing for freedom and justice, I'm sure everyone at the conference would've been down with showing some really hardcore gay porn or something else not in their usual wheelhouse, right? They'd have been cheering that I'm sure, since it's really about freedom from thought policing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "Work with me here. There's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies, and probably the best way of summarizing it is this: "I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one." It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom.

I feel like Josh Lyman on the West Wing yelling "CAN WE HAVE A CIVILIZATION?!"

We live in one. We live in a society. And when a person becomes part of such a thing, if they aren't total sociopaths, they need to (they MUST) take into consideration the impact their actions may have on the people around them, in all sorts of social situations. And when they don't, there may be repercussions.

"First they came for the bigots and sexists..."

Yeah, so I'm actually totally okay with bigots and sexists being marginalized until their attitudes are wiped out. Bigotry and sexism (or racism) shouldn't denote a protected class.

If I'm only free to think and say and do things no one else finds outrageous, I am not free at all.

So? You're not free. No one is.

In my experience, many (not all) Libertarians seem to cling to the myth that civilization = freedom. It's not. It never has been. Civilization is in many ways a collection of strictures that allows large numbers of people to live together and work together towards common goals. We have certain freedoms guaranteed to us as members of a Western civilization, but it's not unlimited.

Unlimited freedom is anarchy. And even that's not free. Not really.

And Libertarians benefit from civilization as much as anyone else in our society. One of the wonderful advantages to having a civilization is that people with minority viewpoints can make themselves heard and express their views. And the rest of us are free to speak truth to power, and tell misogynists when we think they're acting like assholes.

Political correctness is a form of thought policing

It's "thought policing" when people are trying to say you can't think something inside your own head. When someone expresses bigotry and other people say, "Hey, that's not okay," that's not "thought policing." It's rejection. There's a difference.

and people get punished for being politically incorrect.

Again, it depends on the circumstance. If a guy is having a beer with his friends at a bar and says something obnoxious to them, it's perhaps unlikely they'll punish him. If he says the same obnoxious thing on stage to a diverse audience at a tech conference, then yeah, people may respond and tell them how they feel about it. Shit happens.

So when some techies get up in front of a conference like this and make a presentation that the techies in the audience know is going to cause spluttering and outrage from our betters, naturally the techies are going to cheer.

A question: Were any of them women?

One can take a stand for freedom over things that don't objectify or demean women. But doing the latter is misogynistic.

I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected."

Hopefully they'd learn something instead.
posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on September 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

Oh, okay, so since a bunch of emotionally and socially stunted menchildren are amused by the fact that I think they are small and insignificant human tragedies, I should, what, stop thinking they are misogynist assholes? Because freedom?

i think that you might be a little bit ridiculous
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 AM on September 9, 2013 [80 favorites]


Also it is endlessly hilarious to me how "Victorian" has become a synonym for "sexually repressed" as there were some notably kinky motherfuckers back then I tell you what.
posted by elizardbits at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2013 [50 favorites]


It wasn't even clever trolling of political correctness. If you're gonna flout societal expectations, do it in a funny way. That was just lame.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


From enough distance it's almost sad or funny, because you'd think actual grown people, especially those who define themselves by their professional competencies, would have long since internalized the notion that the way you define your intentions doesn't matter, but the effects, social meanings, and contexts of your actions do matter.

Except, you know, they are thinking about the impacts and contexts and social meanings of their action. They know precisely what they are doing, and it's not defending their free expression. "Political incorrectness" is not about the right to freedom of speech, it's about the privilege to find amusement and take personal power in diminishing, dehumanizing, and categorizing other people.

If you're not like the assholes making the remarks or floating the apps or making the unwanted physical contact, you're the butt of the joke, or just the butt, or the breasts, or whatever body part, just the object of enjoyment. And the object, by definition, doesn't get to be perceived as human.

Railing against "PC" or whining about this as if it comes anywhere near a meaningful definition of "rights" is a load of horseshit. It's the demand that everyone else -- and especially those who are its targets, those who get to be imagined as a little or a lot less than human -- had better sanction their dehmanization, that they shouldn't dare challenge it or oppose it, that such would be an infringement of the rights of humans. It's the old "tolerate my intolerance" dodge.

So, no, it's not about rights or self-expression, except insofar as these are tools in the hands of a select group for establishing a hierarchy of dominance. You're a person with rights; they're not, not in your head and not in your words and not in your gestures and the things you want to do.
posted by kewb at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Part of me is shocked that the phrases "political correctness" and "thought police" are being used in conversation, wholly without irony, in the year 2013 C.E.

I mean, someone tell me if there are any better phrases to signify an incoming screed on the (unearned) victimhood of the people in charge, and the cruel and unusual punishment of having to have the slightest consideration for anyone who doesn't agree to their philosophy.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


kmz: "(Yes, sorry, I meant awesome in the original holy shit WTF sense.)"

Truly sorry. I should have taken a breath and read it more closely before complaining.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2013


They're such obvious dogwhistles at this point that they belong on the list with "urban youths" as the mark of a smirking bigot.
posted by elizardbits at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


"First they came for the bigots and sexists..."

Dude, you know that the poem that you're pastiching is about how quickly the marginalization of minority groups can escalate into truly scary shit, because most people will shrug it off as "not a big deal"? The bigots and the sexists are the "they" in that poem.
posted by kagredon at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2013 [62 favorites]


Work with me here.

I'd rather not; your workplace seems kinda toxic.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


This essay, just linked in the recent PAX post, does a good job of pointing out some of the stupidity of claiming that people complaining about rude behavior are somehow the real oppressors.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also it is endlessly hilarious to me how "Victorian" has become a synonym for "sexually repressed" as there were some notably kinky motherfuckers back then I tell you what.

Not only that, it was actually Victoria's subjects that were among the most bawdy. Most of those anecdotes about prudes covering the legs of their chairs and pianos because it was "indecent" were about the people from the supposedly liberty-lovin', plain-talkin', rude-and-crude US of A.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've long felt that complaining about "political correctness" is basically shorthand for "I'm an asshole".
posted by kmz at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


Anyway my experience with the Silicon Valley/Reddit libertarians is they want broscial justice, which is to say anything involving more freedom for them (LEGALIZE WEED!) and more freedom to do what they want without consequences (LEGALIZE WEED! Don't thought police me!) rather than actual liberty for actual everyone.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


Part of me is shocked that the phrases "political correctness" and "thought police" are being used in conversation, wholly without irony, in the year 2013 C.E.

I have been hearing about this 90s nostalgia thing happening, so this feels right in that context.
posted by ndfine at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Only on MetaFilter could reasonable objection to an app called "Titstare" be called PC. Only on MetaFilter could the rest of that trollish comment spawn a discussion of Victorian-era sexual expression.

Tell me more of these kinky Victorian motherfuckers, I beseech thee.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


broscial justice

DO WE HAVE A PRIZE WHEEL BECAUSE IT NEEDS TO BE SPUN RIGHT THE FUCK NOW
posted by griphus at 11:48 AM on September 9, 2013 [44 favorites]


broscial justice

Speaking of 90s flashbacks, that neologism sounds a little 90s-era P.J. O'Rourke. (And dead on based on my experiences as a tech writer.)
posted by immlass at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


braux-outrage
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


> It should be clear at this point that people in the tech industry should not be allowed to run tech industry conferences. Or speak in public. Or interact with other human beings.

The app being discussed seems intended to address that last point.
posted by ardgedee at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell me more of these kinky Victorian motherfuckers, I beseech thee.

Yeah, the first thing I thought is "Smothering Victorianism? That's like $180 an hour down at Madame Thistlethwaite's Chastisement Academy and Corset-Parlour."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


jennaratrix: "Only on MetaFilter could reasonable objection to an app called "Titstare" be called PC. Only on MetaFilter could the rest of that trollish comment spawn a discussion of Victorian-era sexual expression.

Tell me more of these kinky Victorian motherfuckers, I beseech thee.
"

A voice whispers in your ear: "the violet wand".
posted by boo_radley at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2013


Tell me more of these kinky Victorian motherfuckers, I beseech thee.

Try the full collection of The Pearl, A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading (NSFW, obvs) and prepare for some naughty bustle and waistcoat action. And it's not vanilla, either. 50 Shades of Grey ain't got nothing on the real shit.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


"First they came for the bigots and sexists..."

Yes, people who yell at jerks for perpetuating misogyny and racism are exactly like the Nazis. This is not at all a horrifyingly offensive comparison.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


figging is 5 quid more
posted by elizardbits at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one." It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom.

Freedom, eh? Freedom from oppression, right? From repression? Misogyny (and very generally Being an Asshole) is oppressive, perhaps repressive behavior. By exercising one's 'freedom' to act oppressively and/or repressively you deny someone else's freedom from same. They can think that all they want, those assholes, but I pray they don't think of it as being about freedom.
posted by carsonb at 12:02 PM on September 9, 2013


Actually, I feel like this app itself is more emblematic of some sort of sexual repression. I mean seriously, if you have a smart phone you have access to literally billions of images and videos and whatnot of people fucking. (And as per rule 34 pretty much anything else).

So an app like this one which is a sidelong reference to sex without being explicit about sex seems like a way to uncomfortably look at sex directly. Like looking at clothed people in sexually arousing fashion somehow put one above the unclean business of actual sexual impulses.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:03 PM on September 9, 2013


I'm just trying to find the app that lets me see Queen Victoria's bum.
posted by planetesimal at 12:04 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


sexy victorians
posted by elizardbits at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have to admit, I read the description above and thought "Oh my god, that titstare thing sounds awful, but the masturbation joke sounds like a mistake, but really not worth being brought up in the same thread as something call titstare".

Then I watched the video of a dude giving the demo, and... well... I take it all back.
posted by aspo at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2013


Chocolate Pickle: " It's not that they actually intend to be, but rather that they don't want other people telling them what they can and can't say, and think, and feel. It's about freedom."

It's also pretty impolite to strip down and smear your own body with feces. Weird that "libertarian engineer types" champion freedom juuuust enough to be shitty to other people. At least G.G. Allin had some fukken skin in the game.


Chocolate Pickle: "I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected."

Fuck what they think.
posted by boo_radley at 12:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


Naughty Victorians.
posted by Mister_A at 12:09 PM on September 9, 2013




"I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected."

Fuck what they think.


Also, if they just want to be assholes, they're being assholes when they're cheering and being assholes when they're laughing their heads off in this thread. Their asshole train will roll on no matter what, so I don't see why that means people shouldn't criticize their actions.

Like yeah, we should sit down and shut up when we see misogyny, lest assholes laugh?
posted by sweetkid at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


zombieflanders, your link is to 404: The Movie.
posted by Mister_A at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2013


elizardbits: "menchildren "

Ghostride The Whip: "broscial "

bradbane: "brogrammer "

Look. I know that I'm speaking from a position of immense privilege here, and that these phrases aren't remotely as offensive or harmful to me as the equivalent ones are to you.... But, could you please not do this?

At this point, I'm pretty sure that the misogynists want this to turn into an all-out fight. Let's denounce them, but not respond directly to their taunts. Name-calling is only going to prolong the fight, drag everyone down to a childish level of discourse, and offend a lot of people who are on your side. There are plenty of gender-neutral pejoratives that we can use to describe these guys....

Furthermore, the "manchild" and "dudebro" things seems to be transforming into self-reinforcing stereotypes. Let's try not to perpetuate those either, if only because there are so fucking few positive male archetypes for young men/boys to aspire to.
posted by schmod at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am told by people who use 'brogrammer' to refer to themselves that it is actually a completely gender inclusive term for people who are trying to reach peak physical and mental performance while maintaining a healthy social life and not indicative of childishness or misogyny at all.
posted by jacalata at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2013


zombieflanders, your link is to 404: The Movie.

Does this work?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2013


Try the full collection of The Pearl, A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading (NSFW, obvs) and prepare for some naughty bustle and waistcoat action.

Also, a lot of female ejaculation, for some reason. But, oh, those repressed Victorians, influencing modern politics with their fun-hating ways.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2013


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

That's because they're anti-social, infantile, misogynist jackasses. And hey, guess what? Just like we don't have the right not to be offended, they don't have the right not to be called anti-social, misogynist, jackasses when they do things only an anti-social, infantile, misogynist jackass would do.

I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one.

How old are you?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


The undercurrent of brocoders is definitely one of the reasosns I'm thinking of getting the fuck out out of the biz. It is such a sausage fest.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:21 PM on September 9, 2013


It's interesting how "being free to be an asshole" always seems to become "be sort of bullying to women and minorities."

Hey, you freedom fighters, you assholes for justice, why not take your fight to the people who fuck up society, rather than the people who are fucked over by society?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:23 PM on September 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


Assholes For Justice would be a great name for a band. I'm just saying.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Name-calling is only going to prolong the fight, drag everyone down to a childish level of discourse, and offend a lot of people who are on your side.

On the other hand, an inability to distinguish between arenas in which one is meant to strive to elevate and maintain a higher level of discourse, and an arena where speaking in less considerate terms is acceptable is causing a lot of these problems in the first place.

I'm not saying the world doesn't provide enough venues for these jackasses to Laugh About Tits, but there's something to be said about a forum where you can actually have a decent discussion about such matters and complain about man-children (in those terms) without the conversation immediately devolving into finger pointing about watching the watchmen.
posted by griphus at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, you freedom fighters, you assholes for justice, why not take your fight to the people who fuck up society, rather than the people who are fucked over by society?

There's a reason Libertarianism is huge among MRAs and white supremacists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


I'm not saying the world doesn't provide enough venues for these jackasses to Laugh About Tits, but there's something to be said about a forum where you can actually have a decent discussion about such matters and complain about man-children (in those terms) without the conversation immediately devolving into finger pointing about watching the watchmen.

I agree, but that assumes that people would come into a venue like that with the intent to actually discuss it reasonably and disagree respectfully. But that's not usually what happens. I would be all for a rational discussion of why Titstare isn't a horrible stain on the soul of humanity. I'd be willing to listen and respond to a respectful discourse on the perceived repression of expression and why people should be allowed to design Titstare and how it actually de-commodifies women by turning objectification into a joke that we can all laugh at, which then strips the power from it.* Instead we get "Gawd, fuck this PC noise."

*I don't actually believe any of that myself, it was just a for instance.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:33 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

Easily the most tiresome thing about guys like this are their half assed attempts at confrontation followed by this kind of statement. They are so full of their convictions they can't get the phrase " I was just joking. I didn't do anything wrong. I have lots of friends and they think I'm ok." out fast enough.
posted by fshgrl at 12:36 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If only they could indicate that they were "jokes" by making them, you know, *funny*.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is a long, long history of blatant sexism and harassment of women at tech conferences (and the tech industry as a whole).

That's true, but those "previouslies" aren't even a drop in the ocean.

Non-comprehensive timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities, dating back to 1973

Tell me more about how you're dedicated to eradicating sexism, tech community. Really. Give me details.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Let's denounce them, but not respond directly to their taunts.

Oh, come on — the fact that this kind of nonsense is greeted with a flood of derisive mockery is just about the best available sign that there's been some progress over the course of recent history. It's 2013; the douchebros of the tech industry don't need a goddamn Letter from Birmingham Jail, they just need to learn to behave like grownups. Finger-pointing mockery is pretty much the only appropriate rhetorical technique for the occasion.
posted by RogerB at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd venture to say that if the guys who made that presentation saw this MeFi thread, they'd be laughing their heads off. Because y'all are doing exactly what they expected.

Yes, and that's why they are assholes who deserved to be shamed and ostracized.

Only on MetaFilter could reasonable objection to an app called "Titstare" be called PC.

Buh? Have you seen the rest of the internet? MetaFilter is one of the few places where such a tiny percentage of comments would be taking the "this is Political Correctness run amok!" stance.
posted by straight at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are so full of their convictions they can't get the phrase " I was just joking. I didn't do anything wrong. I have lots of friends and they think I'm ok." out fast enough.

Oh, I don't know if it's "conviction" so much as they're getting out an excuse to keep from getting in trouble. I mean, "I was just kidding, can't you take a joke?" was what the bullies who were picking on me said whenever I started getting visibly upset and was about to do something to stop them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


straight: Hyperbole to set up the joke. The rest of the internet is worse.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2013


It's about freedom.

They can say and think and make apps about whatever they want. They do not get to make them, have them, or announce them without other people saying what *they* think of their app and their announced desire to stare at tits. Freedom runs in a lot of different directions simultaneously.
posted by rtha at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one.

You know what else gets me about this attitude? These are the same people who complain that Kids These Days are coddled and not criticized enough because of self-esteem. Now you want to do whatever you want and you don't want to be criticized. You don't want to be criticized? Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you spray-painted boobs on.

And after telling the rest of us that we don't have a right to a job and that only government can oppress, they're the first to scream "Oppression!" when their employer rightfully punishes them for being anti-social assholes. Fucking hypocrites.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:17 PM on September 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


Wow. I'm not linking because I don't want to give them the click-thrus, but Forbes blogger Tim Worstall put up a column today saying people offended by this need to just grow up and get over it.

Fuck that noise.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Forbes seems to have turned into the Buzzfeed of the business world, except Buzzfeed does real investigative journalism from time to time.

O brave new world...
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. I'm not linking because I don't want to give them the click-thrus, but Forbes blogger Tim Worstall put up a column today saying people offended by this need to just grow up and get over it.

I thought that named sounded familiar and then I remembered it's the same dumbass who penned "The Banking Commission Gets it Wrong: We Need Fewer Women Traders, Not More."
posted by kmz at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have some pretty impressive programmer-librotarian credentials. Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator, has written me multiple personal emails. Tucker Max, renowned author of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, gave me two beers while we were chilling on his tour bus. Camille Paglia, patron saint of anybody who wants to dislike feminists while claiming an aura of academia about themselves, is my former professor. I taught high school classes on Ayn Rand (for my English teacher, who hated Rand—I loved her) and have been debating rewriting Atlas Shrugged to prove that if you take Rand's Objectivism to its utmost extreme, you wind up with a form of socialism. TechCrunch's M. G. Siegler followed me on FriendFeed, and if you don't know what FriendFeed is you honestly have no place pretending you know shit about this world. To quote one of our generation's most famous fictional libertarians: stay out of my territory.

Oh, and I'm also Jewish, which means I know a whole lot about that "First they came for the X" poem. Funny story! Did you know that people are still kind of bigoted against Jews? I rarely experience this firsthand, since I both don't look like I'm Jewish and am an atheist, but that means I get to hear a lot about what people think about Jews! It turns out that the sort of "other-ing" that defines bigotry still happens to the group that was most famously 1/3rd-exterminated thanks to that exact process! Zomg! Bigotry caused Nazis! That's why they wrote that fucking poem!

Anyway, I am not a woman, but I happen to know a lot of them. Women, I mean. They are really cool and we should try not to obsess over their boobs. One time in college I was hanging out with a bunch of women and they were all talking about some other dude's dick, and it made me feel very alienated to hear my gender reduced down to their reproductive organs. And those women weren't even on a stage! I bet if there was a tech conference where women made up for the majority of speakers and all the presentations were geared towards treating men like sexual objects, men would get that strange feeling that women get all the time, which is, "Hey! I actually came here to talk about programming and things, and it's cool if you like my various limbs and organs and stuff but I'd rather not be talked about like a piece of trendy taxonomy." Which I mean, considering it's theoretically a programming conference, okay I guess! I think it makes sense to totally do that!

I think we should all get on our knees and clasp our hands and thank Capitalism and Michael Arrington that the marketplace has allowed competitive forces like Women Existing to disrupt our paradigm of being total assholes to half the human race. It is an exciting time to live in an era where even basic fundamentals of our society and workplace like Sexist Hoohah can be challenged, and where entire marketplaces and labor pools might be created by way of Acting Like Women Are People, I Mean Actually Acting Like It, By Listening To Them When They Speak And Using Their Constructive Feedback To Act Slightly Less Like Animal-Minded Mammals. I for one intend to take this opportunity to revolutionize industries and change the face of the world, by, like, being not-sexist when usually people are just sexist. It's a Brave New World, and now it comes in mixed-gender!
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


Misogyny (and very generally Being an Asshole) is oppressive, perhaps repressive behavior. By exercising one's 'freedom' to act oppressively and/or repressively you deny someone else's freedom from same.

Wierd...it's almost like unthinking libertarianism is completely incoherent.
posted by goethean at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Was Forbes ever not-awful? I don't think it ever has been anything other than tripe in my lifetime.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2013


nicebookrack: Non-comprehensive timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities, dating back to 1973

I'm embarrassed to say I worked in tech news for three years and had no idea that timeline existed. Thanks for the link
posted by not_the_water at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if they just want to be assholes, they're being assholes when they're cheering and being assholes when they're laughing their heads off in this thread. Their asshole train will roll on no matter what

*Looks at Take the A train with fresh eyes.
posted by ersatz at 1:33 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(because you haven't lived until you've heard someone express "concern" about the names of pipe fittings

OK, those examples were ridiculous, but I can't be the only one who thinks that calling double headed connectors Siamese connections is kind of not cool.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tit Stare
posted by pipeski at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Non-comprehensive timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities, dating back to 1973

Whoa! I just found my name on there, unexpectedly. Weird!
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:53 PM on September 9, 2013


I have some pretty impressive programmer-librotarian credentials. Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator, has written me multiple personal emails. Tucker Max, renowned author of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, gave me two beers while we were chilling on his tour bus. Camille Paglia, patron saint of anybody who wants to dislike feminists while claiming an aura of academia about themselves, is my former professor. I taught high school classes on Ayn Rand (for my English teacher, who hated Rand—I loved her) and have been debating rewriting Atlas Shrugged to prove that if you take Rand's Objectivism to its utmost extreme, you wind up with a form of socialism. TechCrunch's M. G. Siegler followed me on FriendFeed

Just what the hell kind of fascination machine ARE you, Rory?
posted by sweetkid at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


"I have a right to be an asshole. I don't want anyone telling me I can't be one."

I really think we all want the same thing here. The menchildren want to be assholes and everyone else wants to call them assholes. Therefore, comity!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the amazing things about this place is how a hackneyed, throwaway troll argument can elicit a dozen beautiful, passionate heartfelt refutations/explanations of how things really are or should be.

Thanks, Chocolate Pickle! Every garden needs fertilizer.
posted by emjaybee at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


"We should probably, as a culture, just give up on "tech" conferences all together..."

"It should be clear at this point that people in the tech industry should not be allowed to run tech industry conferences. Or speak in public. Or interact with other human beings."


The criticism should be brutal, but Ima motion a "let's not do this" on this kind of baby&bathwater dumping, because:
1. It implies that bad behavior is the price of tech, which implies that if we want one of those things, we must accept both. That's giving up.
2. Not all black people are criminals. Stereotyping isn't helping.
3. We are social animals strongly influenced by the expectations of us held by the people around us. No expectations of doing it well means no failure, no shame, no change, no rise.
posted by anonymisc at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: "Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator, has written me multiple personal emails"

"dear rory, i write to you again as i have written to you previously: please stop emailing me. Your messages make me nervous and fretful."

(I kid because I love)
posted by boo_radley at 2:14 PM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


Just what the hell kind of fascination machine ARE you, Rory?

It takes two hands to handle the Manwich.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:24 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pipeski, I came in to say that I could see pitching an app called titstare (it could even have boobies) that had all kinds of sexy sexy ooh naughty marketing and then bricked people's phones if they complained about it not having actual breasts. That would be disruptive AND could make money.
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


klangklangston and Pikeski, I up your antes with my Silicon Valley experience. Here's how this shit rolls:

Free app called Titstare, with a big red button that says SHOW ADULT CONTENT.

$.99 to unlock that red button, which, of course, gives you older birds to look at. And then you get a new red button that says, SERIOUSLY, I WANT NSFW CONTENT. Which costs you another $1.99 to unlock.

If you pay the money, you get an exclusive X-rated community for sharing photos of birds regurgitating food into each other's mouths. With a new red button that says, STOP DICKING WITH ME, I WANT SOME PROPER SHOCKING DIRTY SHIT. $5.99.

Pay that, and you get a picture of a scrambled egg. You now have access to a Customer Service button, which takes you to a random porn site if clicked.

You make some money off the poor misogynist saps. You make a lot more money off the ironic market, which is enormous. And finally, you make yet more over the savvy high school nerd market that knows this app will eventually show them boobs, but also knows that their parents won't know that. By making the porn four clicks away, you've guaranteed that psychologically speaking old people will never discover your dirty secrets.

Boom. That's what Steve Jobs called a motherfucking win.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


Shit, I guess I better get cracking on my pitch for TitsTare, which uses a combination of accelerometer and light-scattering data to determine the optimum amount, distribution and material of support for custom-made bras.
posted by kagredon at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel that most of these hack-a-thons / tech conferences are enourmous circle jerks. The idea that someone actually presented an app called CircleJerk that was created at TCD, that's satire of the highest order. A guy standing on stage basically jerking off would also summarize Jack Dorsey's keynote. I think the titstare app was lame and not worth discussing.
posted by humanfont at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: ... you assholes for justice ...

I'm imagining "assholes for justice" as some weird indie comic take on all the capes, circa 1986.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a right to be an asshole.

Your right to be an asshole does not preclude everyone else's right to point and you and say "that guy is an asshole."

Nor does it supersede other peoples' right to go through life without being harrassed by assholes.

Hopefully you see the paradox here, and you also see that the only way to resolve it is to stop being an asshole.
posted by Foosnark at 3:20 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Pipeski, I came in to say that I could see pitching an app called titstare (it could even have boobies)

So, no kidding, yesterday in the cab to the hotel (I'm in New Orleans right now) I said how great it would be if there was a location-based birding app where you could also sort by bird type. You'd be able to click the app and tell it that you're in New Orleans and want to see boobies! Birders would buy the heck out of this app!
posted by rtha at 3:21 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was actually having the same thought the other day, and I'm not even a birder. There were just a bunch of awesome, uh, I think they were actually tits or something similar, and I wanted an app that would let me see pictures of what birds were local, and give me info on how to go to areas where other birds had been seen.
posted by klangklangston at 3:37 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


In California, we have bushtits. We also have oak titmice. I think that's all the tits we have. Unlike the UK, we do not have greater and lesser tits.
posted by rtha at 3:43 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(From looking 'em up, I think they were actually Nuthatches or Juncos, in case anyone was left on a cliffhanger about the kind of birds I saw.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:44 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fortunately the adults in the industry understand that TechCrunch is a joke of an outfit, doubly so in the post-Arrington era. And that "Hackathons" and "Disrupts" and the like are mostly wastes of time. So the boymen get to make their immature jokes and generally be stupid, and the meantime the real people are doing real work somewhere else.
posted by Nelson at 4:02 PM on September 9, 2013



Shit, I guess I better get cracking on my pitch for TitsTare, which uses a combination of accelerometer and light-scattering data to determine the optimum amount, distribution and material of support for custom-made bras.


Approved by Otto von Titzling!
posted by acb at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was actually having the same thought the other day, and I'm not even a birder. There were just a bunch of awesome, uh, I think they were actually tits or something similar, and I wanted an app that would let me see pictures of what birds were local, and give me info on how to go to areas where other birds had been seen.

This sounds like a scene from a hypothetical Austin Powers sequel.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies ...

So I've worked in tech for fifteen years now and have known like three libertarians in that world. Maybe it's because I live in the hotbed of radical leftism known as Western Pennsylvania but I think that's bullshit. If anything, I've seen more leftist sentiment amount co-workers and classmates than anything else. Obviously, my observations are completely anecdotal but that's more than you given us to prove your assertion.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]




Wait, anildash actually managed to get him to go on a cocoa date or something to call him an asshole? What is going on is this guy for real is it some sort of arch parody I don't understand
posted by kagredon at 4:43 PM on September 9, 2013


As someone who was there (officially involved, but not speaking for TC, I'm just doing pictures), I find this post's framing a bit hostile and misleading... this was an open event where anyone could submit a project they worked on, and these guys, *2* projects out of *262* that were submitted (all in a row, and I had to photograph every single one), did not in any way indicate that they would be doing something like this. It was very much an unpleasant surprise and very much the exception to an otherwise ordinary bunch of mashed-together ideas and hacks.

That said, it was pretty sad that the audience received it so well. The allegations of systemic sexism in the tech industry are right on target, but I would like to defend the people running the event, who had nothing to do with this stuff except incidentally providing them a stage on which to make fools of themselves.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:44 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I happen to know a lot of them. Women, I mean. They are really cool

Golly, thanks ever so much for the pat on the head. May I have a lollipop as well?
posted by nacho fries at 5:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


If TechCrunch want to be seen as not approving of this crap, then they probably needed to react by getting on stage and apologising to the crowd when it happened - ideally even getting on stage and throwing the presenters off, although with a presentation 30 seconds long it might be hard to react that fast. As it is, it looks like "stupid stuff at TechCrunch, reported everywhere, TechCrunch writes an apology on their blog 17 internet-years later". I can see how you might not have a plan for 'what do we do if someone gets on stage and is wildly inappropriate', but if I were running a hackathon in the future I'd certainly put it on the list of things to prepare for - especially something as high profile as TechCrunch.

(I'm assuming they didn't get on stage and do anything or I would have heard of it)
posted by jacalata at 5:13 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


They did apologize on stage shortly afterwards, actually. I took pictures.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:17 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]



They did apologize on stage shortly afterwards, actually. I took pictures.


I would like to see them. Not in an "I don't believe you" way but in a "That would make me feel better" way.
posted by jessamyn at 5:20 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edit overlap there, sorry - you can see how mad Alexia was/remains.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:21 PM on September 9, 2013


ideally even getting on stage and throwing the presenters off

Don't most events vet presenters first? When speakers give presentations at my job we usually know what the presentation will be before it's given. (Which won't stop anyone from getting up and shouting "Tits!" if they're determined to but does tend to cut down on that sort of thing.)
posted by octobersurprise at 5:30 PM on September 9, 2013


BlackLeotardFront - good to know! Wouldn't hurt to advertise that a little more - is there a video/transcript of what they said?
posted by jacalata at 5:45 PM on September 9, 2013


octobersurprise, you probably missed my post above - it's a very informal, public event where teams share thrown-together apps in a rapid-fire format. It's pretty hard to police, and although we've had a few juvenile presentations in the past years, they haven't been really ugly like this one, just silly (fart jokes, that sort of thing), and as the idea of the event is just raw coders and kids having fun, we never objected. Although obviously (and, for the record, as I've been suggesting for a long time) there will be a bit more oversight from now on (I'm not privy to any details, it's just a natural consequence).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is video of both the editors and presenters addressing the issue, pretty strongly iirc, but it's buried in about 6 hours of video. I'll ask the video team if they can find it, but we're running a conference at the mo (i'm writing this between shots) so it may be a bit.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:13 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


BlackLeotardFront: It was meant to be critical, not hostile. Could Alexia and Eric really only find a five-year-old article to illustrate the problem of sexism in the industry? Has no one else written about it since? Is that old trope "you expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves" really all that TC has to say about this?

I've worked with and/or know several of the writers and editors at TechCrunch. They're people who care deeply about sexism; I don't know Alexia or Eric but I'm sure they're same. And as heads of what remains one of the most dominant forces in tech news, they have a responsibility to hold the Valley accountable. Which I think is reflected in the comments on this post. People aren't outraged at TC, they're outraged at those who would apologize for, or make excuses for, or through complacency or laziness or accident turn a blind eye to the trolls who are so intent on turning tech conferences into cesspools.
posted by not_the_water at 7:42 PM on September 9, 2013


This happened yesterday, on the same day they were throwing a major event. Seriously I know the internet has trained as all to be now now now, but giving people a few days to respond to shit they were blindsided with is probably reasonable.
posted by aspo at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have had a question for the app makers in question, who no doubt labored all night or whatever, hackathons being what they are: why couldn't you demur, just say you didn't come up with anything? Were the rules of participation such that all hackathoners were required to present what they had spent their time on?
posted by rhizome at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2013


They did apologize on stage shortly afterwards, actually. I took pictures.

Nice! "SMILE, PLAYA!"

Of course the man is the one talking.
posted by rhizome at 9:00 PM on September 9, 2013


That said, it was pretty sad that the audience received it so well.

On the upside, that's market research on the part of TC and the organizers which is exceedingly difficult to buy. Try getting that kind of demographic feedback out of a Survey Monkey link.
posted by rhizome at 9:05 PM on September 9, 2013


Without comment, an apology from the principals themselves.
posted by rhizome at 9:09 PM on September 9, 2013


Don't read the comments on that link rhizome posted, even moreso than usual.
posted by immlass at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I can add not dealing with these kinds of people as another advantage to avoiding the startup/techcrunch side of the tech industry. I don't see these kinds of attitudes at work, and there are far more liberals than libertarians. I would say TC is not very well regarded by a large segment of the tech community and is more part of a certain subcommunity.
posted by wildcrdj at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2013


You are free to be an asshole in your head, but when you do or say something that makes other people feel bad, then people are going to comment on that.

One who makes another, "feel bad" isn't necessarily an arsehole. I subscribe to the incredibly unpopular belief that, to some extent, we're each responsible for our own feelings and reactions because, the reality is, sometimes people interpret otherwise innocuous comments negatively - even too by conscious choice in order to create controversy or further a particular agenda. Ultimately, arseholes come in every colour, creed, social status, and sex.
posted by Nibiru at 10:36 PM on September 9, 2013


One who makes another, "feel bad" isn't necessarily an arsehole.

You're correct--only those who do so by punching down are assholes.
posted by maxwelton at 11:14 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


If we were all sitting here discussing it as a socio-economical backlash amidst a certain level of disenfranchisement wrought by incessant wars and instability and the changing face of work, family and emotion, or if we were discussing how acts like this form a layer of sexism that has hardened into an entire glass infrastructure that discourages women's participation, we'd cop flack for the lack of humour and our prudishness and our general hoity-toitiness. Make a mean-spirited joke? Then by God, we're as bad as they are, or close enough that we need to be informed of our inability to participate at a high enough level to gain consideration from the same people who hoot and holler over a game about boobs.

Forgive me if I add this to the file of "no response is ever appropriate so fuck your stupid fucking rules about appropriate discourse".
posted by geek anachronism at 11:18 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The funny thing is I actually got an email from these guys this morning asking for PR help. My morning started with the phrase "Please google titstare and you will see the news"
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Don't read the comments on that link rhizome posted

Hah, yikes! It doesn't show comments until you're logged in, so if you want to just read the apology, for whatever reason, log out first.
posted by rhizome at 12:27 AM on September 10, 2013


Political correctness is a form of thought policing, and people get punished for being politically incorrect.

yes but we need thought police because some thought crimes hurt people
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:59 AM on September 10, 2013


Why does it always have to be the Australians?

On behalf of Australia, I apologise. (and I do. I heard the accents and I cringed, even if I got the "joke").

But, WE LEARNED IT FROM YOU, SILICON VALLEY!
posted by Mezentian at 4:03 AM on September 10, 2013


On behalf of Australia, I apologise. (and I do. I heard the accents and I cringed, even if I got the "joke").

But, WE LEARNED IT FROM YOU, SILICON VALLEY!


Speaking as someone who learned about Australian culture quite young from Barry Humphries' The Adventures of Barry McKenzie: No, you didn't.
posted by Grangousier at 5:40 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


OrangeDrink: "The funny thing is I actually got an email from these guys this morning asking for PR help. My morning started with the phrase "Please google titstare and you will see the news""

♪ ♫ The best part of waking up... ♫ ♬

How do you handle that as a PR firm?
posted by boo_radley at 7:54 AM on September 10, 2013


Don't read the comments on that link rhizome posted

It's almost like David Boulton and Jethro Batts posted an apology, then deleted all the comments except the ones that say "hey you didn't do anything wrong really".

Tangentially related: To my daughter's high school programming teacher, a heartbreaking story of a parent's disappointment in her daughter's experience as the only girl in a high school programming class. "I spent 16 years raising a daughter who had all the tools and encouragement she needed to explore computer programming as a career. In one short semester, you and her classmates undid all of my years of encouragement."
posted by Nelson at 7:58 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Already being discussed here.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2013


boo_radley: " How do you handle that as a PR firm?"

Depends on their goals. Do they want to apologize or double down?
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The funny thing is I actually got an email from these guys this morning asking for PR help.

I am dying to know what you told them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Quite the week. Sexism du jour: CTO of Business Insider is fired for sexist, racist tweets (OK, Business Insider, I know ...). In the course of last night, he challenged "mefi"s own" Anil Dash to some kind of macho we work in the same bldg, come say that to my face thing.

He apparently has a chequered Twitter past as per Public Shaming blog.

As a senior manager with hiring authority, he was a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. Two gems:

“Tech managers spend as much time worrying about how to hire talented female developers as they do worrying about how to hire a unicorn”

“This election will be decided by single women. It's an epic battle between ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Daddy Issues’."
posted by madamjujujive at 1:58 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


madamjujujive: " Sexism du jour"

After reading his back and forth with Anil, I would have sworn he was a made up dude.

... does he have a labret piercing? Huh.
posted by boo_radley at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, he got fired? I was not expecting anything at all to happen there, that's a nice surprise.
posted by jacalata at 2:13 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


laffo:
Pax Dickinson
‏@paxdickinson
Hey guess who has two thumbs and is today's Emmanuel Goldstein? #ThisGuy
posted by boo_radley at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2013


No, douchecanoe, Emmanuel Goldstein is today's Emmanuel Goldstein.
posted by Errant at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the course of last night, he challenged "mefi"s own" Anil Dash to some kind of macho we work in the same bldg, come say that to my face thing.

This is always a mistake because anildash will take you up on that shit and by the end of the day you're apologizing, writing a check to his water charity and hiring more women and people of color at your organization.
posted by jessamyn at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2013 [25 favorites]


jessamyn: "This is always a mistake because anildash will take you up on that shit and by the end of the day you're apologizing, writing a check to his water charity and hiring more women and people of color at your organization."

Plus he will straight up buy you a cocoa.
posted by boo_radley at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, douchecanoe, Emmanuel Goldstein is today's Emmanuel Goldstein.

I thought the exact same thing.

Maybe he can be today's half-hearted Andrew Dice Clay pastiche in one of those literary fiction novels that's "funny" but not funny.
posted by griphus at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2013


How do you handle that as a PR firm?

You don't - they were trying to hire us. You pretend you never got the email and make a hundred jokes about how terrible people are and make up fake products like twitstare.

I will tell you though, they were not panicking - they weren't looking for crisis communications. They're pretty happy with how things have gone.
posted by OrangeDrink at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I disagree with Dash's tweet that
I will still meet @paxdickinson & urge those piling on to reflect. Only difference between his sexism/racism & mine (or yours) is degree.
That's like "all politicians are alike" — simply not true. There is a difference between, on one hand, somebody who considers being an ally a process and when criticized tries to respond by actually listening to and comprehending what the critics are saying, and, on the other hand, somebody like Pax Dickinson whose response to being called out is to dig his heels in, amplify what he's saying, and blame the people saying "hey, not cool" as being the ones causing problems.
posted by Lexica at 3:18 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only difference between his sexism/racism & mine (or yours) is degree.

Yeah, no. I try not to broadcast mine like it's something to be proud of. I try to reflect and change when I've said something that is sexist or racist or homophobic or classist or all of the above. I don't use it as a cudgel. I mean what the fuck, anil.
posted by rtha at 3:42 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, making shitty statements that are racist, sexist, etc. does not make you some kind of paradigm-disrupting iconclast who is fighting the PC police. It makes you an asshole.
posted by rtha at 3:45 PM on September 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


In the course of last night, he challenged "mefi"s own" Anil Dash to some kind of macho we work in the same bldg, come say that to my face thing.

You can tell Anil's a class act because he didn't later tweet "Well I guess we don't work in the same building anymore, huh?" like I would have been tempted to.
posted by mikepop at 4:17 PM on September 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Speaking as someone who learned about Australian culture quite young from Barry Humphries' The Adventures of Barry McKenzie: No, you didn't.

Things were different in the 1970s. It was all Carry On and Show Tits.

We're more mature now. I hope.
*looks at election results*
*a single tear.....*
posted by Mezentian at 5:53 AM on September 11, 2013


“Tech managers spend as much time worrying about how to hire talented female developers as they do worrying about how to hire a unicorn”

It's rare I see something like this phrased so baldly, but it usually makes me think of a good friend of mine (seriously one of the smartest and most talented people I know, hands-down, and I work in a place where everyone either has or is getting a PhD - way smarter than me for sure) and how she was still having trouble on the academic job market. Meanwhile, this meconium smear was, until today, a C-suite executive? Fuck this to shit.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:11 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah - I get the point Anil Dash is making, I think - that the existence of obnoxious, unapologetic and very visible sexism should not blind us to the fact that we share a sexist culture, and should not stop examining our own attitudes.

However, I think this is not just a question of degree - it's about the presence in an executive position (with hiring responsibility) of someone whose views were calculated to offend, shared on a public forum and presumably known to his coworkers. Which is paradoxically one of the dangers of the propagation of the "PC thought policing" meme for misogynists; if one of his colleagues had told him explicitly that this would possiby get him fired, rather than just blocking him on Twitter and ignoring it, he would probably have kept his job.

A bit of tough love might even have begun his journey to enlightenment - who knows?

If nobody on the inside is willing to have that conversation, lest they be tarred with the brush of being a politically correct killjoy, then the risk of something the rogue employee does or says being broadcast more widely, and causing a backlash, grows towards 1.

(Of course, it's possible that nobody within BI saw this as even a potential problem - but that's a disconnect that could be fixed, again, by engaging with the outside world.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:49 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


dashes.com: My Meeting With Pax
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:09 AM on September 14, 2013


He offered up a pretty boringly conventional defense of male privilege, and when I described the role of actual satire and comedy in punching up instead of punching down, he revealed that he sees attacking feminists and equality activists as punching up.

[...]

And there was a philosophical underpinning to his provocation, that Pax is trying to broaden the definition of what constitutes acceptable debate or discussion.

Uh huh. Because acceptable debate must include using derogatory name-calling to keep those powerful women and people of color down. Because there's such a long history of women and people of color having All the Power, man!

I pointed out that his words were bullying because he was aiming at those who have less power than Pax does, and he said, with great animation:

"But you guys are winning! The progressives and feminists are winning in everything, in politics and media!"


Poor, poor Pax. Can't call women bitches and sluts anymore! Can't use the n-word on a public forum and expect to keep a job or get funding for his startup! It is to weep!
posted by rtha at 9:34 AM on September 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


"But you guys are winning! The progressives and feminists are winning in everything, in politics and media!"

Yes because like most bigots he sees "moving towards equality" as "winning"
posted by sweetkid at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2013


"But you guys are winning! The progressives and feminists are winning in everything, in politics and media!"

There's always a huge undercurrent of perceived victim-hood in these guys. They really seem to think that they're "telling truth to power". It's related to their assumption that everyone else secretly agrees with them but is too scared by the PC police to admit it.
posted by octothorpe at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would still like to see Business Insider's management explain how they're structurally addressing their failures that allow a toxic culture to thrive for years with no accountability.
Yes, please. Does anybody have a sense of whether BI is getting an appropriate level of criticism over their role in this, or is all the attention focusing on the "Anil Dash called out Pax Dickinson" diversion?
posted by Lexica at 9:53 AM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lexica, that's my concern as well. I do intend to take it up with Blodget.
posted by anildash at 9:17 PM on September 15, 2013


I would imagine that any woman who applied there while Pax was hiring who didn't get the job would have a pretty decent discrimination suit right about now.
posted by klangklangston at 9:20 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that any woman who applied there while Pax was hiring who didn't get the job would have a pretty decent discrimination suit right about now.

I honest to God just started bouncing faintly in my chair and saying "ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


If any mefites are in California (lookin' at you especially, klang), we are currently experiencing an unusual number of boobies - there have been at least six blue-footed boobies sighted in LA, and sightings have been reported as far north as Point Reyes.

So if you want to see boobies, look up.
posted by rtha at 9:52 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


summarized in comic form: "Change the Brogram" by Jen Sorensen
posted by mikepop at 8:25 AM on September 17, 2013


"Tech Bros are Losing"
posted by hydrophonic at 4:39 AM on September 24, 2013


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