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GitHub removes anti-feminist satire from code repo
December 18, 2013 4:30 PM   Subscribe

In the wake of a questionable article about feminist programming languages, a group of trolls leapt on the idea to create a parodic implementation. GitHub promptly removed the code repository, as did BitBucket, but the latter restored it amid the controversy. More commentary from Slashdot and Twitter.
posted by vira (138 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I swear to god, the worst thing about being programmer is other programmers. Especially the young male ones.
posted by klanawa at 4:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [70 favorites]


I need a German word for the next level of "no-win situation" - where merely by having HEARD of the circumstances, you experience profound personal loss.
posted by Ryvar at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [58 favorites]


That reminds me of that definition of "nebbish": a person whose personality is such that, when they leave the room, you feel like someone just walked in. When something like this comes into the world you feel like something left it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


That something is "decency." Decency is what left the room.
posted by chrominance at 4:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was setting up our booth for a tradeshow many years ago and was waiting on the full complement of union electricians to show up and do all of the wiring stuff. One of them asked who we were waiting on. "Joe So-and-so," said one of the guys.

The first dude's face fell.

"Aw, man...having him on your team is like losing two good people."
posted by jquinby at 4:47 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Ugh. Basically everything wrong with the fucking 4chan/Reddit/glibertarian/brogrammer crowd in one clusterfuck. Ugh ugh ugh.
posted by kmz at 4:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


What's questionable about the original article? It's obviously a pretty quick and dirty glaze of a complicated topic, but the basic premise that gendered patterns of behavior might find a reflection in a medium of human expression as complicated as code seems worthy of consideration to me.
posted by invitapriore at 4:50 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's some phenomenally obnoxious behavior here. 20 seconds of reading from the links led me to Issue #22: Inherpreter may trigger those that have been raped in the past, which is just, wow... I was initially a bit on the whole "why does GitHub have to take it down?" bandwagon, but they've gone well past anything resembling a joke to pure obnoxiousness here. Surely these people could do something more useful, or at least less hurtful, with their time.

Honestly, I don't know what a feminist programming language is and Arielle Schlesinger's blog posts thus far haven't led me any closer to an answer, but as someone who enjoys looking at new ways to think about programming, I look forward to seeing any useful new paradigm. If using feminist logic and thought happens to help someone think about language design in a new way that might be useful to me someday, then all the more power to them. If it doesn't work out, well then they'll have lots of company among other failed academic research projects.
posted by zachlipton at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


What's questionable about the original article?

...and for once, the comments section is actually pretty interesting.
posted by klanawa at 4:53 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is so awful. The boys club of programming at it's absolute worst.

This said, I did read the original article about feminist programming languages, and couldn't figure out what the heck was sexist about existing programming languages to begin with. If someone who is smarter than me about programming, logic, and/or feminism could explain to me what "feminist logic" is (and I don't mean that in the "hurr. Feminists is dumb" sense) and how it could apply to programming, I am all ears.
posted by SansPoint at 4:54 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I stopped speaking to someone today who I had previously cut a bit of slack to over a 'haha look at this' sort of link. So--I guess it was useful in some fashion?

Because, yeah. There was some of it that could have been mild ribbing. When they got to picking on rape victims, I got to wanting to stab everybody involved in the face. I am not cutting people slack for just being trolls anymore. In 1998, the internet was a strange and different place with different social expectations. It's 2013 and this is the real world and we all know it, so if you start acting like a pack of fucking wolves you should expect to be treated like one.
posted by Sequence at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


Unrelated: I haven't been on Slashdot in years. I didn't think they could make Slashdot uglier, but somehow, they did.
posted by SansPoint at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean I know online comments can be awful, but the comments in Slashdot about this issue are truly awful. There's something truly threatening to a lot of these male programmers about the attention and notion of women feeling challenged and sometimes excluded from their club.
posted by xtine at 5:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the "questionable" article is a potentially more interesting topic for discussion than the "parody". My initial reaction on reading it was that it was also a troll -- albeit one significantly more sophisticated than what was produced by the bros. This evaluation was based in part on statements like

I think this type of logic represents the feminist idea that something can be and not be without being a contradiction, that is a system where the following statement is not explosive: (p && ¬p) == 1.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about feminist theory, but there's nothing particularly feminist (to me) about *that*. The first person I heard advocating this kind of anti-Boolean point of view was Bart Kosko, who called it "fuzzy logic" and who claimed that this was an East/West thing rather than a patriarchy/feminist thing -- and I'm pretty sure that "feminist thinking" isn't particularly common in places like Japan or China.

But as I read more of the piece -- and particularly the comments and her responses to them -- I felt like it was both quite sincere and a potentially-interesting line of questioning. I'd be very surprised if anything comes of it, but that's the nature of research: it doesn't always pan out.

As for privileged bozos not understanding the nature of their privilege -- well, that's neither interesting nor at this point very much surprising.
posted by Slothrup at 5:02 PM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Slothrup: "Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about feminist theory, but there's nothing particularly feminist (to me) about *that*. The first person I heard advocating this kind of anti-Boolean point of view was Bart Kosko, who called it "fuzzy logic" and who claimed that this was an East/West thing rather than a patriarchy/feminist thing -- and I'm pretty sure that "feminist thinking" isn't particularly common in places like Japan or China."

I think there's something to this, in the sense that propositional logic, for example, may not have a high enough resolution in the entities that it assumes and the relationships it describes between them to be able to support the claim that it owes its structure to patriarchal modes of thought, since so many other cultural behaviors could plausibly lead to the same structure (though I'm not willing to rule out the weaker claim that something like propositional logic, once established, ratifies those modes of thought). Still, logic is far from the only component of coding as practiced, and I think that practice as a whole is complex enough that it might be able to support assertions of this kind.
posted by invitapriore at 5:18 PM on December 18, 2013


Back in the 60s and 70s, people asked weird questions about how programming could be done. People asked if you could make a programming language entirely out of logical statements and their mutual implications. People asked if you could make a programming environment which consisted of little enclosed cellular units which communicated with each other using messages, like biological cells. People took their professor's entirely theoretical "programming language" he came up with for an article about math and then went ahead and implemented it. That kind of thinking gave us Prolog, Smalltalk (and all of its mostly inferior Object-Oriented descendants) and of course, great grandaddy LISP, respectively (though not in that order).

I've no idea if this "feminist programming" thing could lead anywhere useful. But whether it can? that's the kind of question people used to ask a lot, and ask very little anymore, and that's why new ideas in programming these days tend to be nothing but reiterations and variations on 40 year old ideas.

It's hard to say whether the backlash would have been worse or better back then.

But this today, this is disgusting and sad.
posted by edheil at 5:19 PM on December 18, 2013 [58 favorites]


Just because it's buried, here's the explicit response from Atlassian when they change the issue to "won't fix"

Hi everyone,
We are aware of the repository in question and have decided to not take it down based on our end user agreement.

Our end user agreement (https://www.atlassian.com/end-user-agreement) prohibits content that is "obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, harassing, pornographic, racially or ethnically offensive, that encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense or give rise to any civil liability." The repository content at issue does not fall into one of the prohibited categories.

While we want to encourage everyone (women and men) to use Bitbucket, we do not want to be arbiters of what is or is not offensive. If we take this content down, what other content will we need to take down because some find it to be offensive?

To avoid going down this slippery slope and be clear with you our users, we will remove content as required by law, meaning valid:

- DMCA takedown requests
- court orders
Thanks for you concern,

Justen Stepka -- Bitbucket product manager

Really disappointing. I expected better from them.
posted by heathkit at 5:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


heathkit: could you explain on what basis you would have them take it down? I presume it would have to be either by ignoring their EULA or under the auspices of obscenity or harassment. All three of those seem to me a stretch. Their claim that they are not interested in becoming moderators of relative offensiveness seems to me quite reasonable.
posted by pdq at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the original article:

I realized that object oriented programmed reifies normative subject object theory. This led me to wonder what a feminist programming language would look like, one that might allow you to create entanglements (Karen Barad Posthumanist Performativity).

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.
posted by shivohum at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's a stretch that this is harassment?

One doesn't want to get in the difficult business of making fine distinctions about what is and isn't offensive, like, say, making fun of rape victims?

Seriously?
posted by edheil at 5:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


What's the justification for banning things that are racially or ethnically offensive but not things that are offensive for reasons related to, say, gender or sexuality? That seems a little arbitrary.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:32 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


In terms of reactionary comedy not as funny as Jesux.
posted by steinsaltz at 5:36 PM on December 18, 2013


edheil, that is a fantastic comment.
posted by JHarris at 5:38 PM on December 18, 2013


Internet as a phone v. Internet as a magazine.

Also is this gonna be one of those 9/11 reactionary self-destruct things, where Internet Feminism gets joked on a little, then embarrasses itself much more thoroughly in its response than joking hackers ever could?

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.


WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T PARODY.

Personally I think the original article is basically in "that's so crazy it might just work" territory, like how they landed the most recent rover on Mars. I think she should definitely be going for it.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:39 PM on December 18, 2013


If it did work, it would be the best revenge.
posted by JHarris at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2013


I think a lot of people assume the dead-serious tone of feminist activism and apply it to the hardcore-academic feminism, which is at times very serious, and at times very playful and speculative. I read the original article and can't say I'm heavily invested in the concept of rolling out a real-world feminist programming language, but I am interested in her exploration of the logic of feminism and think that it's serious in an interesting way while being playful and speculative in another.

If you're offended in general by the thesis/tiny pet project model of academia you are entitled, but if you like thinking about these things for the sake of thinking about them, there's nothing wrong with this that I can see. Maybe it will lead nowhere, maybe it will be masturbatory, maybe it will yield an interesting piece of criticism. You could say that about basically any thesis proposal.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


with any luck every one of these dicks that think this shit is funny (rape LOL) will be blessed with a daughter one day.
posted by photoslob at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


First off, this is offensive, people are horrible.

BUT I'm not clear why things people find offensive should be kicked off BitBucket.

Call these folk out on it or present an opposite opinion or ignore them (afterall, some backwater repository on not even the most popular git hosting service is hardly throwing their crappy humour in peoples faces!).

Once it has been published it's hardly going to disappear forever because of internet rage. Removing it from BitBucket just makes it harder to respond to.
posted by ElliotH at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


then embarrasses itself much more thoroughly in its response than joking hackers ever could?

Feminism might embarrass itself, but at least it didn't take out its frustrated neuroses on rape victims.

To clarify my earlier comment, I don't think there's anything wrong with feminism being dead serious-- it deals with deadly serious issues-- but I just think it's bad hermeneutics to read a lot of theoretical academic feminism through the lens of activism.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bitbucket shouldn't have removed the repository. That would be like Wordpress removing a post from a random Wordpress.com blog — unless the subject matter is actively hateful or insightful, the content should be allowed to stand, and then be the object of ridicule and criticism.

I prefer parodies like this, which make explicit all of the creators' perceptions and beefs with feminism, as well as all the ways in which those perceptions are skewed, to pure hatred or dismissal without reason or logic. This kind of thing can be argued with and debated; a hundred internet commenters venting hatred at feminism without articulating their problems are a lot uglier and worse, I think. That doesn't mean I think it's "okay" in the sense of "harmless, actively funny", but it's way less awful than I was expecting it to be, and I understand the people who're pissed off at its removal.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I personally don't get this post. Aside from the uneccesary rehash of the the sexism thing and commenters on other sites being douchbags... As to the "meat" of this FPP, I'm honestly confused. I think the structure of this post is laid out quite poorly and I can't make sense out of half of what is linked as parody, satire, reality, or whatever, and I have no idea what a code repository is and why it was removed, put back, or... Fuck it. I'm going to go watch Inception.
posted by Debaser626 at 5:49 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are Atlassian connected to Objectivism in any way by any chance? Were their founders Randroids or similar?
posted by acb at 5:52 PM on December 18, 2013


This led me to wonder what a feminist programming language would look like, one that might allow you to create entanglements (Karen Barad Posthumanist Performativity).

Like INTERCAL, with its COMEFROM statement?
posted by acb at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also don't get what's "questionable" about the original article, at all, and think the third link needs a NSFW tag. And the feminist programming angle interests me more than snide, misinformed trolling - I understand little about programming, and would love to see it described within the framework of a philosophy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]



One doesn't want to get in the difficult business of making fine distinctions about what is and isn't offensive, like, say, making fun of rape victims?

Seriously?


I didn't say it wasn't distasteful in the extreme. As best I can tell, their stance is that they only want to bother with moderating when things are in legally actionable territory. Stuff related to ethnicity, for example, could in some circumstances probably be categorized as a hate crime; threats and harassment are also legally actionable in some circumstances. But stuff like the inherpreter thing, though morally offensive to a normal person, is parodying a certain kind of cautionary language that is often used. And parody is a protected right. So the idea would have to be that this should be taken down because it will violate the norms of decency of any normal person (which may be true). But once you have that precedent, suppose that tomorrow in protest there are programming languages making fun of Jews, Christians, poor people, Visigoths, Chinese people, rich people, aid workers and schoolteachers, all in similarly tasteless and offensive fashion. Which would you have them remove?

Wherever your moral boundaries are, there will be innumerable vague cases. And since everyone's boundaries are different, the cases that for X are vague but should be deemed too offensive and thus ought to be taken down to Y will seem like good fun. I don't see that Bitbucket has the obligation to take it upon themselves to moderate these sorts of questions.

Arguably the best way to deal with things of this sort is to ignore it so as not to pay attention to people trumpeting an offensive shtick. I suspect that from their perspective any publicity is good publicity, and linking to them on widely read sites like Metafilter, even if the discussion here is uniformly condemnatory, only does them favor.
posted by pdq at 5:58 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also is this gonna be one of those 9/11 reactionary self-destruct things, where Internet Feminism gets joked on a little, then embarrasses itself much more thoroughly in its response than joking hackers ever could?

I'm pretty sure what you're referring to may be classic tone arguments.

...
Women are simultaneously labeled as overly emotional at one end, and frivolous on the other. This leaves them with two disadvantageous choices: being seen as either irrational or immature in a discussion.
...

posted by sebastienbailard at 5:59 PM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


The comments on the "questionable" article are fantastic, and would be worthy of an FPP of their own.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:01 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]



I also don't get what's "questionable" about the original article, at all


Agreed with this, and that the comments on the article are interesting. People challenge the author on what she intends with this concept, and she responds thoughtfully.

I don't understand why the framing of this post is on the brogrammer dramaz nonsense, which is just really ugly and a case of different day, same oppression.
posted by sweetkid at 6:05 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somebody needs to create a counter-satire. BROBOL? "Members of a female object cannot be accessed by any male object for which the isNiceGuy() method returns true."
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:07 PM on December 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


Would it only be usable on Fedora?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Ha!

(By the way, I don't mean to suggest that creating a counter-satire is the "right" way to handle this and shaming Github into removing it is the wrong way.)
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with people? What are people like this so terrified of?

semi-rhetorical, but it really does weird me out and puzzle me, this kind of instant, vituperative response to...nothing.
posted by rtha at 6:10 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the original article:

I realized that to program in a feminist way, one would ideally want to use a feminist programming language. So what is a feminist programming language? Well I took a look at the major programming paradigms, the following are the four main groups a programming language can fall into: imperative, functional, object-oriented, and logic. I decided to explore feminist logic such that a feminist programming language could be derived.

It's quite common to classify modern programming languages this way but I think in this context an alternative (but still very mainstream) classification yields a more useful perspective.

Programming languages can be classified by generation. First and second generation languages aren't very interesting here. Of the four groups Schlesinger describes, the first three groups are third generation and the last group (logic) is fourth generation.

To make that more clear, consider that the most common logic programming language, prolog, is written in a third generation language: C.

I find it very interesting that Schlesinger then goes on the select exactly that group as a candidate for investigation. I would suggest she consider other fourth generation languages as well.

I know very little about feminism but if "reifies normative subject object theory" means what I think it means then perhaps it might be good to look into the "fuzzy" areas such as machine learning and broader AI.

So, in my view, any howling along the lines of "Java isn't anti-feminist" and "It makes no sense to make a feminist C++" misses the subtle point that she's already skipped over third generation languages.
posted by citizenoftheworld at 6:13 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow, I just read the comments on the FPP. Such intelligent, inquisitive, respectful discussion, which is playful with the concepts and conceits of feminism in a constructive way, without aimlessly making fun.

I was going to make a comment to the effect that this kind of parody is just as mean-spirited as misogynist YouTube comments, despite its cleverness, and not worth engaging with when one could use their energy toward brainstorming on a more interesting project like that of the original post, but the comments section there proved the point for me. It's just so refreshing to see an open, honest discussion like that devoid of derisiveness. Teasing is much more tolerable (and feminism doesn't have to be as grimdark) when people aren't instinctively attacking it all the time.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


What's wrong with people? What are people like this so terrified of?

semi-rhetorical, but it really does weird me out and puzzle me, this kind of instant, vituperative response to...nothing.


I want to say they're doing it for the lulz, but it seems like that has now become indistinguishable from actual misogyny. It's like that recent article about internet trolls that were so abhorrent and over-the-top that their claims of trolling just for kicks were rendered invalid by the absolutely enormous amounts of effort in coming off as racist/misogynist/homophobic/etc. At that point, you're another Howard Campbell.

I also think there's not a small bit of the techie anger at being presented with something that you can't intuitively figure out at first glance, something I know I've experienced. An article heavy on both feminist and programming terms is a double-whammy for a lot of these guys. The fact that it was intended for an audience familiar with both is lost on them, so they just spooled up the Internet Hate Machine instead.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:21 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


GitHub certainly has the right to refuse service to anyone, but there are lots of other (more powerful) parties that I'm sure would like certain crypto/DRM/etc code removed. Good luck, GitHub.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:26 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I spent some time on the pomo side of the fence, and the original article read like the word salads I'd gotten used to, which left me thinking it was a an AST--a troll article carefully crafted to fool as many as possible.

I'm sure some might have their imaginations sparked by the idea of a feminist programming language, but I'll need to see a clearer articulation of the idea to waste time on what appears to be a sui generis furor crafted by douchebags.
posted by fatbird at 6:33 PM on December 18, 2013


unless the subject matter is actively hateful

The subject matter is telling rape victims with PTSD that their responses are wrong and mock-worthy. This is not for a second any better than a project that proposed a new programming language called, I don't know, PorchMonkey, and it is in many ways worse because they are specifically targeting people who they know to have previously been traumatized.

This is what hate looks like. This is exactly what hate looks like.
posted by Sequence at 6:35 PM on December 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


The parody language seems beneath contempt, so I won't bother.

...

The original article has potential. There are ideas in there. The comment thread is more interesting.

I still have some overall issues with the project, however.

For example, I don't agree that object oriented programming languages "reify" normative subject object theory, unless we redefine "reify" to mean something other than what it already means. It would be interesting to apply a more critical approach to this question. In what senses does OOP reify "normative subject object theory"? In what senses does it not? Does a steamship "reify" Newtonian physics? How would she respond to someone who says that OOP uses the logic it does primarily out of a pragmatic concern, and not because it reflects the Truth about how the universe operates?

I also think that the idea of "a feminist logic" - as distinguished from the apparently non-feminist logic used by object oriented programming languages - is not nearly as simple, plausible, or liberatory as the author thinks it is. Again, it would be interesting to apply a more critical viewpoint here. What does it mean when the author is on the hunt for a feminist logic, in contrast to normative subject-object theory? What does it mean to design something based on a feminist logic? What does it mean when something has not been so designed?

A more critical focus would bring out the best in this kind of project. I would be interested in seeing what happens when you try to create a programming language out of something like Barad's theories. All kinds of cool things could happen.

The best way to approach the project would be to say, "what happens when we try this?" A weaker way to approach the project would be to say, "and now, finally, a programming language based on a feminist logic".
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:36 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's wrong with people? What are people like this so terrified of?
Bored angry young men with desire for power, importance, identity, and meaning that they see realized by everyone but themselves because our media is obsessed with society's victors.

They're smart enough to see the utter lack of any sort of path between where they stand and where they think they need to be in order to get the sort of luxuries (of which mates would be classified as a subcategory) they've been told they need in order to be respected, or to even possess basic agency. Combine with, typically, no clear resolution to the adolescent quest for identity and you have the makings of one very toxic stew, and a desire to spread that poisonous self-hatred as far and wide as possible.

Full disclosure: I am an actively recovering example of the type.
posted by Ryvar at 6:36 PM on December 18, 2013 [20 favorites]


Arguably the best way to deal with things of this sort is to ignore it so as not to pay attention to people trumpeting an offensive shtick. I suspect that from their perspective any publicity is good publicity, and linking to them on widely read sites like Metafilter, even if the discussion here is uniformly condemnatory, only does them favor.

I disagree. I don't like to see silencing tactics (which is what the misogynist trolls are really after) succeed.

Lindy West says it better than I can here.
posted by vira at 6:46 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


People have been implementing novel theoretical approaches to the invention of spoken and written languages for centuries. Why should programming be any different?

Extra bonus irony points if the author of that "parody" knows any Esperanto, Dothraki, Klingon, or Elvish.
posted by Ndwright at 6:47 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's telling that a google search for "normative subject object theory" yields a bunch of hits to... the original article and people mocking it, not to any academic work dealing with it.

Likewise, the author's statement in the comments "I think this type of logic represents the feminist idea that something can be and not be without being a contradiction, that is a system where the following statement is not explosive: (p && ¬p) == 1" is a lot of jargon that says nothing but "feminist logic is contradictory".

One of the best comments on the original article:
I'm female, and a feminist, and a professional software developer with years of experience in the field. I also have a very strong background in functional programming languages and programming language design.

I should be the target audience for this post, but I'm not. I haven't the foggiest idea what the author of this post is saying. Literally no idea.

Whatever thoughts are being expressed in this post read like gibberish to those of us who study computer science.
posted by fatbird at 6:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


But whether it can? that's the kind of question people used to ask a lot, and ask very little anymore, and that's why new ideas in programming these days tend to be nothing but reiterations and variations on 40 year old ideas.

edheil, if you haven't already seen it, you might enjoy The Future of Programming.
posted by ignignokt at 7:19 PM on December 18, 2013


"People have been implementing novel theoretical approaches to the invention of spoken and written languages for centuries. Why should programming be any different?"

Because the word language in "programming language" is a term of art that doesn't mean the same thing as it does in "spoken language". There is a degree to which there's a valid comparison, but that comparison is invalid in most of the ways that laypeople tend to think it's valid. Programming languages are languages in the same sense that mathematical statements are language. Do we need a "feminist mathematics"?

Schlesinger's piece is a variety of academic feminism that I'd thought had largely gone extinct in the late 90s. I rolled my eyes when I read it.

The response to it, though, is the typical misogyny that you see about such matters. Bigots of all stripes just wait for anything like this and then they pounce because they believe that if something is excessive or ridiculous that means that their bigoted and hateful hostility in response is somehow justified. It provides cover.

And, yeah, there's no reason why sexist crap that is "parody" should be any different than racist or homophobic or any similar sort of bigotry that BitBucket wouldn't allow.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Likewise, the author's statement in the comments "I think this type of logic represents the feminist idea that something can be and not be without being a contradiction, that is a system where the following statement is not explosive: (p && ¬p) == 1" is a lot of jargon that says nothing but "feminist logic is contradictory".
Actually, paraconstent logic is any logic which (generally by dropping at least one axiom of standard logic) does not have any proposition follow from a contradiction.
posted by jepler at 7:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]



One doesn't want to get in the difficult business of making fine distinctions about what is and isn't offensive, like, say, making fun of rape victims?


i'm not 100% sure, but if you're referring to "Inherpreter may trigger those that have been raped in the past" i think you're making a very misguided interpretation(i can't think of another word to use) of that joke, if you can call it that. if you click through it's clearly about poking fun at the over-analysis that can be made by people who may claim to be feminists.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:32 PM on December 18, 2013


i'm not 100% sure, but if you're referring to "Inherpreter may trigger those that have been raped in the past" i think you're making a very misguided interpretation(i can't think of another word to use) of that joke, if you can call it that. if you click through it's clearly about poking fun at the over-analysis that can be made by people who may claim to be feminists.

sorry, no, it also is making fun of rape victims
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:38 PM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Actually, paraconstent logic is any logic which (generally by dropping at least one axiom of standard logic) does not have any proposition follow from a contradiction.

Yes, and that specific idea I'm not quibbling with. It's the wrapping of some nebulous idea of "feminist logic" around it that sets off my bullshit detectors, specifically "the feminist idea that something can be and not be without being a contradiction". That's... vague nonsense, and there's nothing particularly feminist about it, even if the collected body of thought called "feminism" could be said to have something like a general position on the principle of bivalence.
posted by fatbird at 7:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have a 6 year old daughter who is loving the heck out of Blockly right now. The maniacal smile on her face when she cracked the final level of that maze and was told she was an advanced programmer was a sight for the ages. I get a little nervous reading the suggestion that a typical programming language like this is not feminist, and that by contrast a feminist system of logic should accommodate (p && ¬p) == 1.

I don't know anything about feminism as an academic research field, nor if I should expect the behaviour of a 6 year old girl to be feminist in that sense. But there sure seem to be plentiful explanations of the lack of women in CS in terms of social exclusion, bad pop culture portrayals, etc., that don't require different types of logic to be gender-coded or the study of "analysis (& metaphysics)" to be anti-feminist.
posted by ~ at 7:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


What the hell is "feminist logic"? Is it, like, different to sexist logic? Sorry, that original extremely thin article was extremely ripe for parody. But yeah, the parody we got there was pretty dreadful.
posted by Decani at 7:49 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you're interested in a programming community that is explicitly inclusive of all genders, check out the Rust programming language.
posted by Jpfed at 7:55 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is a lot of interesting discussion around "feminist logic" in the original article. It's pretty clearly not "here is my fully formed opinion about this, and also I represent all feminists" which is what the "parody" disgustingly seems to play on. It just seems to be a case of "a woman said something and used the word feminist so get 'em all."

It just frustrates me that everything about feminism has to be framed as a reflection on the patriarchy or an answer to the patriarchy. Feminism isn't quite the same thing as "anti-sexist."
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


The commit list for that BitBucket repo includes some rather unlikely looking characters: Andrea Dworkin, Rebecca Walker, Valerie Aurora, Amanda Marcotte. If BitBucket won't take it down because it's stupid and hurtful, they should at least take it down for impersonating real people.

Also, the comments on the original blog really are interesting. And here I thought one should never read the comments...
posted by vasi at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's telling that a google search for "normative subject object theory" yields a bunch of hits to... the original article and people mocking it, not to any academic work dealing with it.

Schlesinger refers to Barad's agential realism as a feminist logic. In agential realism, there are no subjects, and there are no objects. Phenomena are instead the primary ontological units.

Hence, in that sense, the logic underlying her programming language would exist in opposition to any normative theory of subjects and objects.

Where this gets funky is that the "subjects" and "objects" in programming are different kinds of things than the "subjects" and "objects" which do not exist in agential realism. I'm not just referring to "subject" and "object" as terms of art within programming. I'm referring to the very idea that there are discrete things in this universe - that there are subjects (e.g. humans) who can observe and manipulate objects (e.g. computers). The only way to say otherwise would be if Schlesinger were the one to reify the logic that underlies OOP, albeit in a naive way.

That is to say, I'm sure that even Barad herself has no problem telling her students that she will be in the classroom at such-and-such time, even though deep down inside she does not presume the separateness of any "thing". This is not because she is a hypocrite, but rather because, on a practical level, "she" "functions" "in" "the" "real" "world", and she no doubt understands that her talks on onto-epistemology operate on a different level than whether or not we get to dinner on time.

Regardless, the very zaniness of this project is also why it could be so exciting. I would be interested to see what her ensuing programming language looks like, especially if it pursued this goal to the quixotic, soggy, bitter end. What does a programming language look like when there are no things, only phenomena, and when there is no exceptionalism for humans?

...

What's interesting about paraconsistent logic is that paraconsistent logic has already been incorporated into software applications. So, since the seal's already been broken, where does she want to take that idea?
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fatbird's comment is making me wonder whether the original post might indeed not have been serious. I don't know anything about feminist critical theory of whatever kind to theory to make that call, and it kind of sounds like there aren't enough details in the post to be clear what it's really supposed to be about.

I will stand by my previous defense of the general idea of bringing previously untried perspectives to programming language & software design, a thing which isn't as common (or at least not as influential) as it once was.

Thanks for the helpful comments from people who know more about the relevant fields.
posted by edheil at 8:07 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Likewise, the author's statement in the comments "I think this type of logic represents the feminist idea that something can be and not be without being a contradiction, that is a system where the following statement is not explosive: (p && ¬p) == 1" is a lot of jargon that says nothing but "feminist logic is contradictory".

It's not saying that feminist logic is contradictory; it's saying that feminist logic can handle contradiction in a discriminatory way that standard binary predicate logic cannot. Remember that the explosiveness of contradiction is a strange consequence of the axioms needed for predicate logic to be useful, not some immutable law of nature. Paraconsistent logic has applications of interest to practical software engineers in any number of fields, and it has a fairly long and distinguished pedigree. This isn't just some nonsense the author is making up.

A commenter also explores her contrasting an object oriented paradigm with "entanglements" by noting how ill suited OOP is to handling relational data models. Surely programmers can see the value in exploring the possibility of a language that incorporates entity relationships at a fundamental level.

I agreet that the original post was problematically vague, but it's only a nascent idea. I hope it leads somewhere promising. Because, you know, it beats maintaining a crudely misogynistic joke repo as a distraction from your day job maintaining a C# Rube Goldberg machine for concatenating SQL.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:07 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


That "questionable article" link is really great. It would take a lot for me to think that logical systems can be gendered, but I'm certainly feeling the pull of some of the comments in that thread. In particular, different logical systems and programming languages can differ in terms of how elegant they are considered to be, and elegance is something that I'm willing to accept can be gendered, so....

I don't really see anything especially gendered about bivalence (and especially the law of non-contradiction; I can imagine a better case being made for the law of the excluded middle, but even that would be dicey). I can kind of see how object-oriented programming, however, could enforce standards of elegance that one might want to challenge.
posted by painquale at 8:08 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kinda think the idea that logic is gendered is sexist, and not really helping feminists.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feminism isn't quite the same thing as "anti-sexist."

Sweetkid, I take your point and was doing what you were decrying above. Certainly I may have jumped to issues of gender equality and access to the field, since they are dear to me. I'm not sure that she's proposed this research agenda in a way as divorced from these concerns as you're suggesting though. For example.

In any case. The comments really are stupendous, as are her explanatory responses. And like I needed yet another reason to go learn me some Rust. :)
posted by ~ at 8:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


...And I just noticed that one of the commenters on the first link is Steve Klabnik, an active member of the Rust community.
posted by Jpfed at 8:28 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, it's weird.

It's not that academic discussions of feminism on the internet never disappear up their own ass.* They do, with about the same frequency as academic internet discussions of any other sociopolitical theory.

What's unique about feminism is that when they do, invariably they are met with tidal waves of furious outrage. People scrambling to make sure motherfuckers are put back in their place with a quickness.

Waffle on about semiotics and the world is mostly happy to leave you to it. But if your waffling involves feminism, someone's going to expend the not-trivial effort to come up with a satirical programming language and a website for it because how the fuck dare you.

* To be clear, I do not consider Schlesinger's article an example of academic feminism on the internet disappearing up its own ass, but I see where others might.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [28 favorites]


Not so much on the non-contradictory side, but one of the projects I contribute to (the Sage computer algebra system) has implemented something akin to category theory, which is the mathematical realization that one should pay as much attention to relationships between objects as to the objects themselves.... As a programming concept, it means that many of our objects inhabit categories and have natural relationships to one another. It's a good idea that I would love to see worked into the core of a programming language in an interesting way...

...And from the department of thematically appropriate typos:
Rory said: unless the subject matter is actively hateful or insightful, the content should be allowed to stand[...]

Yeah, we wouldn't want insightful things on the internet; it's best to save that kind of stuff for books.... You know, where there won't be danger of children running into it.

posted by kaibutsu at 8:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


What really frustrates me is that the joke parts of parody language that actually have any relation to what feminists really believe, i.e. favoring composition over inheritance, idempotence over state and scripting over compilation -- these are features that make an interesting programming language.

This would suggest that a really spot-on parody would be one of the most compelling new languages in years.
posted by modernserf at 8:51 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


uuurrghghhhhhhhhhhhhhh
posted by en forme de poire at 9:23 PM on December 18, 2013


sorry, no, it also is making fun of rape victims

care to explain why?
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:33 PM on December 18, 2013


Because the word language in "programming language" is a term of art that doesn't mean the same thing as it does in "spoken language". There is a degree to which there's a valid comparison, but that comparison is invalid in most of the ways that laypeople tend to think it's valid. Programming languages are languages in the same sense that mathematical statements are language. Do we need a "feminist mathematics"?

I take your word for it that the language she describes would be functionally useless. But does a programming language necessarily have to be functional? Invented spoken and written languages are frequently functionally useless, but have artistic/aesthetic value nonetheless.

. . .and I actually would be interested in seeing "feminist mathematics" for no other reason than to explore the concept. How would that even work? Even if it can't solve a thing I see no harm in this type of creative brainstorming. Brainstorming is supposed to be fruitless most of the time, that's the point, it's exploration. She's not writing algorithms in that article, she's just exploring an idea.
posted by Ndwright at 9:36 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


If her programming language explicitly based on a feminist logic is, indeed, functionally useless, then the skies will tear apart from all the lulz and top keks coming from the various farting neckbeards.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like Sticherbeast said. Yes, brainstorming is fun and worthwhile in and of itself, but given the evident relation between feminists discussing anything at all and legions waiting to burn them alive for it, it's probably not that worthwhile to put a lot of time into "feminist mathematics" in the name of jouissance.
posted by fatbird at 9:48 PM on December 18, 2013


It's a good idea that I would love to see worked into the core of a programming language in an interesting way...

From what I understand, all the automatic proof checker programming languages are based on homotopy type theory, which is based on category theory.
posted by empath at 10:05 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


But does a programming language necessarily have to be functional?

Definitely not. Or at least, not useful.
posted by empath at 10:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Definitely not. Or at least, not useful.

See also.

An acquaintance of mine once implemented a virtual CPU with only one opcode: Subtract and jump if negative. He then proceeded to write a program for it that drew a circle. It was a fascinating exercise, even if I can't imagine any productive use for it.
posted by vira at 11:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


see also people making computers in minecraft.
posted by empath at 11:20 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you click through it's clearly about poking fun at the over-analysis that can be made by people who may claim to be feminists.

"Consent? LOL" stuff, rape jokes, and misogynist stuff in the code itself is not "poking fun at the over-analysis."
posted by bleep-blop at 11:24 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I kinda think the idea that logic is gendered is sexist, and not really helping feminists.

The definition of logic being used is fairly specialized. It may not help feminists, ultimately, since people don't bother to become acquainted with the definition, but this is pretty theoretical/speculative academic feminism, not a street-level protest against "male logic" or something. Academic feminism is not utterly divorced from reality but it does take things into a speculative realm.

If her programming language explicitly based on a feminist logic is, indeed, functionally useless, then the skies will tear apart from all the lulz and top keks coming from the various farting neckbeards.

... i.e. this is true, but sometimes it's nice to say "who the fuck cares." Speculative fiction and conlangs are very respectable indeed when it comes to male hobbies, so let's have feminism how we want it. It would be nice to be mocked as a "nerd" instead of a woman or (gasp) feminist for once.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:32 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


bleep-blop: "Consent? LOL" stuff, rape jokes, and misogynist stuff in the code itself is not "poking fun at the over-analysis."

It could be that there are multiple people working on the project. It seems depressingly likely that it could have been started by someone who knew enough to be make clever in-jokes, and then it filled up with idiots. Just a guess, though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:34 PM on December 18, 2013


PS: edheil, your comments are great, and I wouldn't worry about the "article" being fake. (The more I look at this discussion here, it's weird to call it an article or a "thin" article because it appears to be a proposal or an early abstract. Definitely not an article yet.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:36 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, yeah, there's no reason why sexist crap that is "parody" should be any different than racist or homophobic or any similar sort of bigotry that BitBucket wouldn't allow.

Feminism is a political ideology (called "sociopolitcal" above, but I don't really understand the distinction). Do you really want to mark out a political ideology as beyond parody?

Waffle on about semiotics and the world is mostly happy to leave you to it. But if your waffling involves feminism, someone's going to expend the not-trivial effort to come up with a satirical programming language and a website for it because how the fuck dare you.

True 'dat. Lots of juvenile anger here, also Issues.

New perspectives on language design? Great stuff (I'm wondering about evolved languages now... and how to evolve a language). Anonymous speech? Political speech? Parody? Bedrock of a free society. The only bit that skeeves me out is that we rely so heavily on US-based corporations for our infrastructure (and, increasingly, tools) that this stuff can effectively be taken down.

(The anti-Cloud discussion has been done to death, but so has the hateful-boys discussion. The "new approaches to languages" angle could have been genuinely interesting... it's a pity this post was written to create heat, not light).
posted by Leon at 11:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


My problem with the original article is that it doesn't sound like it's based on deep knowledge of the field, which puts it a bit in "hermeneutics of quantum gravity" territory. I do think it's a topic worth exploring, but starting from Yegge's "Execution in the Kingdom of Nouns" would be more convincing to me than starting from a lack of knowledge about the long history of research into nonstandard logics.
posted by Don't Fear the Reaper at 12:14 AM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems to have been taken down again from bitbucket. That makes the satirical bits hard to find, but most of it seems to be in the Readme and some of the the code samples.
Philosophy
==========

1. The language is to be strictly [interpreted](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreted_language) using [feminist theory](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_theory). Under no circumstances should the language be [compiled](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compiled_language), as compilation and the use of a compiler imposes an oppressive and toxic relationship between the high-level descriptive language and the low-level machine code that does all the labo(u)r. Instead, **C+=** is interpreted, which fosters communication, itself a strong female trait.
2. No constants or persistence. Rigidity is masculine; the feminine is fluid. I.e., [fluid mechanics is hard for men 'because it deals with "feminine" fluids in contrast to "masculine" rigid mechanics'](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luce_Irigaray).
3. No state. The State is The Man. 'Nuff said. Hence, the language should be purely [functional](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_language).
4. Women are better than men with natural language. Hence, the language should be English-based like HyperCard/[LiveCode](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiveCode#Examples).
5. No class hierarchy or other stigmata of [OOP](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_programming) ([objectification](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_objectification)-oriented programming). In fact, as an [intersectional](http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Intersectionality) acknowledgement of [Class Struggle](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_struggle) our language will have no classes at all.
6. On the off chance that objects do mysteriously manifest (thanks, Patriarchy!), there should be no object inheritance, as inheritance is a tool of the Patriarchy. Instead, there will be object reparations...



On 1s and 0s
============

The traditional binary foundation of 1s and 0s is deeply problematic: 1 is inherently phallic and thus misogynistic. Also, some 1s are 0s, and some 0s are 1s. It is not fair to give them immutable labels. Instead, we have 0s and Os as our fundamental binary logic gates. They symbolise/-ize the varying, natural, and beautiful differences of the female vaginal opening.

0 is to take the conventional value of 0.

O is 50% of the time 0, and 50% of the time 1. The determination of this depends on how the underlying logic *feels* at the moment...
My take is that it doesn't seem particularly offensive, but seems to be trudging through much the same spoofs of "Political Correctness" that have been around for decades. Could do with something new, but at least it doesn't seem to mention sandwiches.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:10 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's wrong with people? What are people like this so terrified of?

What I think happened here is that the original article takes aim at one of the most cherished core beliefs of a certain kind of programmer/IT nerd: the belief that their skills and expertise are universally important and that the paradigms they operate under are objectively true. Anything that even hints at the idea that these may actually be subjective, contextual derived values and that there could be different or even better ways of doing things will get their hackles up.

The idea of a feminist programming language to somebody like that is inherently laughable, because obviously programming languages are objective, rational constructs to which notions of social justice etc do not apply. But also has to be made laughable, mocked and derided because there's always the fear that maybe she had a point, that these things aren't as rational, logical, scientifical or true as they want them to be.

Even the idea that thinking about what a feminist programming language could look like is threatening that uberrational world view of that kind of programmer. That's why it needs to be mocked.

(In process proving that yes, that whole exercise has some merit.)
posted by MartinWisse at 1:56 AM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Anything that even hints at the idea that these may actually be subjective, contextual derived values and that there could be different or even better ways of doing things will get their hackles up.

I don't think you have ever actually met a programmer.
posted by empath at 2:11 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think you have ever actually met a programmer.

I don't think you actually read my comment.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:21 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of the pushback is not because programmers think that current programming languages are the necessary logical consequences of objective reality, but because they think that most programming languages are non-ideological, and they are confused by the attempt to apply social theories to what they see as basically mechanical systems. That is, that the idea of a feminist programming language is like the idea of a feminist steam engine or a feminist type of masonry.
posted by Pyry at 2:57 AM on December 19, 2013 [16 favorites]



Somebody needs to create a counter-satire. BROBOL? "Members of a female object cannot be accessed by any male object for which the isNiceGuy() method returns true."


Unprivileged (Beta) processes may only execute in the Friendzone.
posted by acb at 3:54 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a feminist and a programmer. Existing possibly-shitty parodies aside (I haven't seen them because the repos are down), the original article is ripe for parody. For example:
I realized that object oriented programmed reifies normative subject object theory.
This is really, really similar to BS like Losada's critical positivity ratio or Los Angeles banning technology that used the technical term "master/slave", and Schlesinger will have to do a lot of work if she wants the same criticisms to not apply. That said, if she produces something that actually runs and uses a novel approach to logic, cool! But similar prior projects fill me with eye-rolling instead of hope.
posted by daveliepmann at 4:07 AM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


What really frustrates me is that the joke parts of parody language that actually have any relation to what feminists really believe, i.e. favoring composition over inheritance, idempotence over state and scripting over compilation -- these are features that make an interesting programming language.

What, lol. See I believe in the "hell is other programmers" thing from the first comment, but not because other programmers do not necessarily share all of my political views, rather because of nonsense like being really impressed they hid (not got rid of) all their state by creating eleven zillion new objects etc.

The commit list for that BitBucket repo includes some rather unlikely looking characters: Andrea Dworkin, Rebecca Walker, Valerie Aurora, Amanda Marcotte. If BitBucket won't take it down because it's stupid and hurtful, they should at least take it down for impersonating real people.

LORNE MICHAELS ARRESTED; SNL SHUTTERED & BANNED

Feminism is a political ideology (called "sociopolitcal" above, but I don't really understand the distinction). Do you really want to mark out a political ideology as beyond parody?

Yah pls. inform me when it's been figured out whether the whole project is doing politics or religion, 'cause if you're doing politics it should get parodied but maybe I vote for its adherents to be on the city council, but if you're doing religion maybe parody is socially unacceptable but I don't want it in my government.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:12 AM on December 19, 2013


I think a lot of the pushback is not because programmers think that current programming languages are the necessary logical consequences of objective reality, but because they think that most programming languages are non-ideological, and they are confused by the attempt to apply social theories to what they see as basically mechanical systems. That is, that the idea of a feminist programming language is like the idea of a feminist steam engine or a feminist type of masonry.

To which the best response is to have a calm, measured back-and-forth on the topic like what happened in the comments of the original article. At the very worst, maybe some eye-rolling and back to whatever programming they prefer. Instead, they chose to do stuff like make fun of rape victims. And they spent such a relatively enormous amount of their time and energy to do it that it most likely ended up being a much larger project than the original discussion. The pat dismissal of events like this as "LOL Internet Feminism" completely ignores the idea that, when a person or collective of people is so driven to troll like this that they make it a priority to engage in this behavior, it seems like there's a point where they are no longer just a troll.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:53 AM on December 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


As far as I know, the development of paraconsistent logic has little or no connection with feminism.

The main reason that computers don't try to use three-valued logic or something else fancy is, the hardware for that would be much more complicated than hardware for good old 1s and 0s.

So the original article sounds pretty silly to me, although it's a trumpet blast of culture and rationality compared to the disgusting response here discussed.
posted by thelonius at 5:39 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Hacker News discussion on the original article has some good comments at the top, particularly on how geeks and feminists don't necessarily have conflicting world views.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:58 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The updated response from Atlassian:
After further consideration, we have decided to remove this repository. While our End User Agreement explicitly prohibits the posting of content that is "racially or ethnically offensive," we believe it is consistent with the spirit of our agreement to also prohibit content that is offensive toward a specific gender. We will update our End User Agreement to make this prohibition more explicit.
posted by vira at 6:28 AM on December 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I probably just don't know what trolling means anymore, but this is just a joke, not any trolling I recognize.

If I wanted to be a full Internet troll in this day and age, the most obvious path I see would be to troll SJWism from the inside.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:49 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


... i.e. this is true, but sometimes it's nice to say "who the fuck cares." Speculative fiction and conlangs are very respectable indeed when it comes to male hobbies, so let's have feminism how we want it. It would be nice to be mocked as a "nerd" instead of a woman or (gasp) feminist for once.

I agree that we should be generally willing to say "who the fuck cares" when it comes to experiments. However, a nonfunctional result would have problems beyond the hypothetical neckbeard reaction.

Not only is this a programming language, but this is a different sort of project than even another experimental programming language. In this case, it would be extremely important to have a functional result.

After all, Schlesinger herself says that "[t]he intent is to encourage and allow new ways of thinking about problems such that we can code using a feminist ideology". If these "new ways of thinking" do not actually allow us to "code using a feminist ideology", then she will not have achieved her goals. Likewise, if parts of her new programming language are indeed useful, but not new, then she will have nonetheless failed to achieve her goals.

A nonfunctional result would require a more critical approach. If an experimental programming language built on "a feminist logic" does not have functional use, then this shows us something about using "a feminist logic" in this way, and that somethin' ain't good. Maybe the logic itself is broken, or maybe this logic has been misunderstood and misapplied.

Further, a nonfunctional result would only further highlight Schlesinger's initial error in claiming that OOP reifies normative subject object theory, as well as her apparent misunderstanding of what it means to counter such a theory with Barad's agential realism.

To the extent that OOP employs a conventional understanding of subjects and objects, it does so because it is useful to its users. OOP does not necessarily "reify" such a theory - at least, no more than a paperweight "reifies" Newtonian physics.

Contrast this with how Schlesinger really does want to treat the abstract concepts underlying Barad's theories as being real within the context of a programming language. That is what reification...is.

Worse, if Schlesinger thought more deeply about what Barad's theories really entailed, she would realize that the "subjects" and "objects" being argued against are actually on a much larger scale than simply whether or not, say, a programming language primarily deals with phenomena or things. If her programming language deals with phenomena as opposed to things, then that could be interesting in and of itself, but that's just the tiniest tippity-top of a very big and very weird iceberg. She's not really engaging with Barad's theories if her interest doesn't go much further than that. Likewise, a programming language which incorporates paraconsistent logic would be interesting, but I'm not even sure if that's even on the iceberg at all. (Setting aside the fact that paraconsistent logic is neither new nor explicitly feminist.)

If the programming language itself is functionally useless, and if she is also unwilling (or unable) to make a good faith effort go all the way with Barad's theories, then two very bad consequences ensue, depending on one's POV.

We could say that she is still very much operating within the same "normative subject object theory" which she decries. She has shown an unwillingness or inability to operate outside of an alternative to such a theory. So, failure, then. Either this logic doesn't work, or she was unable to make it work in this context.

Or, we could say that, in order to achieve a desired result, she has created something with a human-defined set of rules that are more limited than those underlying any proposed fundamental logic of the universe. This is a common sense, pragmatic result which could have been predicted by most 12-year-olds. (Indeed, I am sure that many of those 12-year-olds are lulzing it up on 4chan as we speak.) This result puts to lie the idea that OOP reifies, well, anything. It exposes the results of her project to some pretty harsh questioning. If it has been confirmed that OOP uses the logic that it does in order to produce certain kinds of results, then what was the result here? To spark a conversation, so we can talk about it? Okay, so let's talk about how it doesn't work. That is the conversation we are having right now. When (and why) would we ever use this other logic in the real world, such as on the level of designing a programming language?

If you're willing to engage critically with that kind of result, then that's great, but it's not if you're not.

All of that is why it's important that her programming language should show some kind of utility, especially a special kind of utility that exists in contrast to what OOP offers.

...

What's more, with regard to the idea of academics engaging in speculative projects: there is no speculation without some thin silver thread connecting back to what we would call the real world. The very idea of Barad's onto-epistemological system - the very idea of having any onto-epistemological system ever - is that it actually does have relevance to how real people interact with the real world. Barad does not live in a fantasy world, nor is she some sort of naive relativist who thinks her theories are literally no better than any other. To the extent that a system of logic could be derived from her theories, it would indeed be nice that it actually work on some level or another.

There is nothing wrong with theory in and of itself. You couldn't just go up to Barad and say, "OH YEAH? WELL, PROVE IT, BUT WITHOUT ANY MUMBO-JUMBO. JUST SHOW ME HOW IT WORKS IN PRACTICE."

However, once you start making things and conducting experiments, then things change. Even if we were to pretend that Schlesinger never said that she intends her language to help us think about problems using a feminist ideology, which she very much did, she would still be unable to hide a nonfunctional result behind the idea her programming language was only ever meant to be speculative. If you didn't want to see what would happen when your programming language was actually used by humans on computers, then you shouldn't have literally made that your project. Unless, of course, your point was that such a line of inquiry would produce a nonfunctional result, i.e. the opposite of Schlesinger's stated intent.

...

Coming off of that: the best parody of this language would have been to just plain make this language, riding Barad's theories straight into the apocalypse. I'll show you a reified system of thought! I'm picturing a scorched, Ligottian landscape of unholy logics and impossible geometries. A programming language whose very boundaries are only determined by apparatuses. Agency is not limited to users, human or otherwise.
Kugelmass, unaware of this catastrophe, had his own problems. He had not been thrust into Portnoy's Complaint, or into any other novel, for that matter. He had been projected into an old textbook, Remedial Spanish, and was running for his life over a barren, rocky terrain as the word tener ("to have") - a large and hairy irregular verb - raced after him on its spindly legs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:54 AM on December 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


I probably just don't know what trolling means anymore, but this is just a joke, not any trolling I recognize.

Did you not read the *chans that basically rant about how feminism isn't equality, or about false rape accusations/triggers? And if it was "just a joke," why were so many people so eager to spend so much time to take it to the extreme? Again, at some point it stops being a joke and starts being a job.

If I wanted to be a full Internet troll in this day and age, the most obvious path I see would be to troll SJWism from the inside.

Which this was a puerile attempt at.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:58 AM on December 19, 2013


My take is that it doesn't seem particularly offensive, but seems to be trudging through much the same spoofs


Yeah, mabye it doesn't seem to be offensive to you. But maybe thats because you have corn in your eyes or you are ignorant. Let me give you some things to think about:

1. The creators knew precisely how they were feeding the trolls, and so they are fucking trolls too

2. Women are shut out of the software game by a completely bullshit legacy of male engineering dominance. Its shit like this™ that will continue to make them afraid to ever come anywhere near our stupid fucking software development penis parade manparty.

3. Just like everywhere else in life, we need women in software. More perspectives == better softare. (Its also true of building ANY kind of product.)


We should spend our time on useful things. Things like real software, or real satire that makes useful social commentary...
posted by cbecker333 at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Which this was a puerile attempt at.

I do not think the authors were even attempting to fool anyone here.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:46 AM on December 19, 2013


People talking about it on the chans specifically mention making it deceptive.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:05 AM on December 19, 2013


The traditional binary foundation of 1s and 0s is deeply problematic: 1 is inherently phallic and thus misogynistic. Also, some 1s are 0s, and some 0s are 1s. It is not fair to give them immutable labels. Instead, we have 0s and Os as our fundamental binary logic gates. They symbolise/-ize the varying, natural, and beautiful differences of the female vaginal opening.

0 is to take the conventional value of 0.

O is 50% of the time 0, and 50% of the time 1. The determination of this depends on how the underlying logic *feels* at the moment...


Sorry, y'all, but that's pretty funny. As is:
* break; == leave;
* if() == check()
* for() == check()
* while() == check()
I can't find the alleged rape jokes on feministsoftwarefoundation.org, though I see some parody of the idea of triggering. Anyone got a non-BitBucket link?
posted by 0 at 9:46 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just read some of those slashdot comments and now I have to go cry/smash things.
posted by Theta States at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah I have to say that overall the hue and cry about how horribly OFFENSIVE and just AWFUL this is just plays into and confirms the worst stereotypes of humorlessness and loss of perspective. It's a web satire of academic feminism, folks, not a sex slavery ring.

People need to either roll their eyes and walk away or do a counter-satire as someone suggested above.
posted by shivohum at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


0, how exactly can you see making fun of the notion of getting triggered as anything else in this context? That's the reason trigger warnings are a big deal. "Oh, hey, we think it's amusing that you have flashbacks when faced with descriptions of sexual assaults and would prefer not to have that happen unexpectedly" is exactly what that says. Bits of it, I don't find particularly amusing but I don't find offensive. Anything that makes fun of the traumatized for being traumatized? Not funny. Inherently, you can only parody the idea of being triggered separately from making fun of rape survivors if you don't actually believe that triggers are real.
posted by Sequence at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


0, how exactly can you see making fun of the notion of getting triggered as anything else in this context? ... Inherently, you can only parody the idea of being triggered separately from making fun of rape survivors if you don't actually believe that triggers are real.

I should have said "parody of the idea of trigger warnings" rather than "the idea of triggering". I do believe triggers are real and if someone states that some thing is triggering to them I will believe it. The need for trigger warnings in everyday discourse, however, has been exaggerated by some within the feminist internet commentariat beyond what many, including myself, consider reasonable. One can empathize with rape survivors and understand that they may react differently to a given cultural artifact than non-survivors, while still finding zealous policing of the artifact's presentation as a trigger to be ludicrous. In other words, the idea that that every thing has to accommodate the most delicate sensibilities of anyone who might come across said thing is an idea that can indeed be parodied without the parodist being necessarily a rape apologist.

The link included in this comment stopped working before I read this thread so I cannot judge its awfulness for myself, which I was I asked if anybody had an updated link. The trigger jokes I am now seeing are like this one from the REAME.md:
Catch shall not be used. Someone's raise of concern can too easily be censored with an empty catch block. Instead, complaints or trigger warnings are publicly logged with their traces and may be handled with an inspect block.
That's making a joke at the expense SJW language constructs and their intersection with programming constructs, not at the expense of rape survivors. Maybe the "Issue #22" joke was nastier (unfortunately the primary text is not stable so it's hard to say whether we are talking about the same thing) but characterizing the parody as one big rape joke is inaccurate IMO.
posted by 0 at 2:03 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah I have to say that overall the hue and cry about how horribly OFFENSIVE and just AWFUL this is just plays into and confirms the worst stereotypes of humorlessness and loss of perspective.

So what? Why do I care that someone who already thinks feminism is "reverse sexism" and that false rape accusations are driving men down thinks I'm humorless if I say jokes about triggers and rape are disgusting? I don't give a shit about winning over someone like that by being on my absolutely most diplomatic behavior.

Getting real sick of the onus being on everyone else to tamp down their valid responses lest they appear "humorless" in the eyes of craven idiots.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:17 PM on December 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


I should have said "parody of the idea of trigger warnings" rather than "the idea of triggering". I do believe triggers are real and if someone states that some thing is triggering to them I will believe it. The need for trigger warnings in everyday discourse, however, has been exaggerated by some within the feminist internet commentariat beyond what many, including myself, consider reasonable. One can empathize with rape survivors and understand that they may react differently to a given cultural artifact than non-survivors, while still finding zealous policing of the artifact's presentation as a trigger to be ludicrous. In other words, the idea that that every thing has to accommodate the most delicate sensibilities of anyone who might come across said thing is an idea that can indeed be parodied without the parodist being necessarily a rape apologist.

When the parodists are spouting nasty misogynist rhetoric on message boards and defending stuff as "oh, boys will be boys," then it's safe to say they're not making the problem worse.

That's making a joke at the expense SJW language constructs and their intersection with programming constructs, not at the expense of rape survivors. Maybe the "Issue #22" joke was nastier (unfortunately the primary text is not stable so it's hard to say whether we are talking about the same thing) but characterizing the parody as one big rape joke is inaccurate IMO.


Luckily, no one has said that, so we can dispose of that argument. But I'm disturbed at the amount of people who are just willing to dismiss this as harmless fun. Even one rape joke is really uncool (to put it mildly), and should have been the point at which reasonable people stopped being in on what had then become not a joke. The fact that this was done as a response to a relatively obscure hypothetical that sparked intelligent debate in its original form is, to me, the real nastiness. It's made even worse that the people who are being accused of being overwrought and humorless aren't the people that were so incensed by the mere kernel of an idea that they poured a significant number of man-hours into creating a website and an entire project, sprinkled nasty invective in the project, and then spent even more time spreading vile shit all over message boards to encourage others.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why do I care that someone who already thinks feminism is "reverse sexism" and that false rape accusations are driving men down thinks I'm humorless if I say jokes about triggers and rape are disgusting.

Because it also affects how "moderates" view feminism. Humorlessness and overseriousness definitely alienate people who are not necessarily reflexively anti-feminist. And this webpage while at times mean-spirited hardly merits the firestorm of oh-my-gosh outrage it's provoked. What it merits is a response in kind, which it hasn't gotten yet.
posted by shivohum at 2:39 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because it also affects how "moderates" view feminism. Humorlessness and overseriousness definitely alienate people who are not necessarily reflexively anti-feminist.

I'm gonna call bullshit on this. I hear it time and time again, that these so-called "moderates" who would be totally on board with feminism if it wasn't so , but I've never actually seen evidence of it. On the other hand, I've seen a ton of people claim this is why they have a problem with feminism, and then say some reflexively anti-feminist shit. If you've got proof that this is the case outside of a need for contrarianism, that'd be great. But until then, if someone opposes feminism because of perceived humorlessness, the evidence points to them not being on board with it in the first place.

And this webpage while at times mean-spirited hardly merits the firestorm of oh-my-gosh outrage it's provoked. What it merits is a response in kind, which it hasn't gotten yet.

It's this exact kind of "eye for an eye" nonsense that only serves to make the problem worse. I don't know if you don't get it, or just choose to ignore it, but these people aren't doing it just for the lulz. Sometimes, they just want to watch the world burn.

posted by zombieflanders at 2:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and it's also worth noting that the last time someone posted something about "responding in kind" it kicked off a nasty shitstorm where the formerly humorless were accused of being uncaring monsters. If that was how it was on the supposedly uber-PC Metafilter, I would imagine that an environment replete with actual MRAs and other misogynists would be absolutely horrid.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


But until then, if someone opposes feminism because of perceived humorlessness, the evidence points to them not being on board with it in the first place.

Well that depends on what they think feminism is. If people are asked about whether they think women should have the right to an abortion, whether domestic violence is a serious issue, and whether stopping sex trafficking should be a priority, there are a whole lot of feminists.

If people think feminism is mainly about taking offense and about stomping out all humor and thought that doesn't rigidly conform to the academic feminist conception of human nature, then there's a hell of a lot fewer feminists.

Which version of feminism do you want people to have in mind?
posted by shivohum at 3:35 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If people are asked about whether they think women should have the right to an abortion, whether domestic violence is a serious issue, and whether stopping sex trafficiking should be a priority, there are a whole lot of feminists.

The people getting all het up about a feminist programming language posted in an out-of-the-way website that chose to engage in a calm manner with their critics and then chose to devote their free time to mocking it for literally no reason at all don't fall into this category.

If people think feminism is mainly about taking offense and about stomping out all humor and thought that doesn't rigidly conform to the academic feminist conception of human nature, then there's a hell of a lot fewer feminists.

So you guys are finally admitting that it's an infinitesimal minority that you choose to focus on and blow completely out of proportion? Great!

Which version of feminism do you want people to have in mind?

The kind that already exists in the real world as opposed to the strawmen that you've conjured up, for starters.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:41 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


In other words, the idea that that every thing has to accommodate the most delicate sensibilities of anyone who might come across said thing is an idea that can indeed be parodied without the parodist being necessarily a rape apologist.

Only if you can find a way to do it in such a way that you are parodying the DEGREE of the trigger warning and not the mere fact that trigger warnings are a thing that exists. I mean, I agree that trigger warnings can get ridiculous, I do have a Tumblr account. But there is no indication here that this is a parody of "people who go too far" on a lot of the issues instead of just a parody of people who believe these things are important at all.

I mean, look. If a white person did a "parody" of black hip-hop culture written as a programming language, we'd all know damned well that it was racist and it would get pulled, even if maybe it hadn't been completely intended to be racist, just funny. If men do a "parody" of feminists written as a programming language, there's going to be an increased burden to establish that it's really not just the usual misogyny. There were a few things in this that were quite clever. There were a lot of bits that were just, "Women and feelings, amirite?" And then there were a few things that were completely offensive. If someone had posted something that was JUST the clever bits and had done anything at all to establish that they were in fact generally in favor of women being treated like human beings, this would not have been the result.
posted by Sequence at 5:14 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The existence of nerdcore would suggest the direct fucking opposite, sadly enough.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:21 PM on December 19, 2013


The very idea of Barad's onto-epistemological system - the very idea of having any onto-epistemological system ever - is that it actually does have relevance to how real people interact with the real world. Barad does not live in a fantasy world, nor is she some sort of naive relativist who thinks her theories are literally no better than any other.

I was speaking more from the perspecitve of if she fails, she fails-- why is it just a damning possibility that a feminist failed to do something she set out to do. I don't mean speculative as in completely divorced from reality-- that is the most fascinating thing to me about much of the academic feminism I keep up with, that it manages to be grounded while also venturing in such brazenly theoretical directions-- but I mean that we should stop thinking of one curious feminist student as representative of all feminism. She's clearly somewhat enchanted with the possibilities here, and it's a little annoying that we all have to hold our breath worried that she will fail because for some reason it matters what a bunch of neckbeards think, instead of thinking about the problem ourselves and what our commentary would be. Your comments, while critical, are not outright derisive for no reason, and I enjoyed them. My dream for feminism is that we can concern ourselves more with substantive criticism like yours than what a bunch of raging dickweeds on the internet think. There's no reason feminism's dialogue needs to be with the dregs of the internet.

This paragraph of yours is mostly what I mean by speculative, in the sense that questions lead to questions:

For example, I don't agree that object oriented programming languages "reify" normative subject object theory, unless we redefine "reify" to mean something other than what it already means. It would be interesting to apply a more critical approach to this question. In what senses does OOP reify "normative subject object theory"? In what senses does it not? Does a steamship "reify" Newtonian physics? How would she respond to someone who says that OOP uses the logic it does primarily out of a pragmatic concern, and not because it reflects the Truth about how the universe operates?

I don't know where she's at in her proposal process, but we should be somewhat open to the idea of people reaching ideas through their own research and speculation when it comes to students in the humanities, that's how people learn. Instead of being terrified on the internet that if you say something feminist-related you will be punished by neckbeards.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:43 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speculative fiction and conlangs are very respectable indeed when it comes to male hobbies...

when you say it would be fun to take it to the soggy end, that's what I mean here-- perhaps it's true that neckbeards would be impressed rather than derisive were the idea taken into fullness, I am not sure
posted by stoneandstar at 7:50 PM on December 19, 2013


And then there were a few things that were completely offensive.

Again, I'm interested in seeing examples from the primary materials.
posted by 0 at 3:31 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure that if someone made an actual, working language out of this, as parody or seriously, comp-sci nerds would be impressed either way.
posted by empath at 3:37 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because it also affects how "moderates" view feminism.

There is no evidence whatsoever for this assertion. It's just a weak tone argument of the sort that gets thrown at anyone talking about basic civil rights, condescendingly telling those uppity minorities to simmer down and behave lest the elusive "moderate" scamper off like a frightened squirrel. Older than the trees.

And this webpage while at times mean-spirited hardly merits the firestorm of oh-my-gosh outrage it's provoked. What it merits is a response in kind, which it hasn't gotten yet.

Well, zombieflanders already proved this one wrong, but I'd just like to add that often the people who speak loudest about those "humorless feminists" tend to be the most defensive, thin-skinned and hyperbolic sorts when the tables are turned on them. The misandrist nursery rhymes is an excellent example.

Again, I'm interested in seeing examples from the primary materials.

I'm guessing you missed this? Seems the repository is taken down again, but there you go.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:25 AM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm guessing you missed this?

I am aware of it, of course, having linked to the same comment earlier. But, yes, I never saw the content behind the link. Is "may trigger those that have been raped in the past" the offensive part or was there more to it? Is it in current repo?
posted by 0 at 4:39 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The misandrist nursery rhymes is an excellent example.

The misandrist nursery rhymes is indeed an excellent example. Those jokes centered on the murder and dismemberment of men specifically because of their gender. When presented with the misandrist nursery rhymes, MetaFilter let out a collective squee of delight and created it's own jokes in the vein. The few criticisms of the nursery rhymes offered by mefites were vociferously shouted down.

There is no such violent imagery on the feminist software foundation's site. One, non-extant, example of a "rape joke" was alluded to, but the jokes don't generally center around violence against women. Yet, in this case, the parody is characterized as horrible, with barely coherent rantings about young males, brogrammers, "these people ... you guys", and neckbeards.
posted by 0 at 4:54 AM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah, the Goldilocks Theory of Feminism. Feminists who complain about institutional sexism and misogyny are humorless harridans, but feminists who find humor in something that is (and has always been) institutionally non-existent are horrible monsters. A feminist programming language is so laughable on the face of it that it deserves to be made fun of, but complaining about the parody being an example of a long-standing method of keeping women out of the industry is a gross overreaction. Parodies of feminism should be met with "responses in kind," but the sexists and misogynists get to decide how mean it can be. It's okay to portray modern feminism by holding up an extremely tiny minority of feminists that are crypto-misandrists that have no institutional power, but pointing out policies/standards in politics and entertainment espousing MRA-style rhetoric is exaggeration and hyperbole. Women can have sexual harassment laws, but if they actually complain about, say, being told they should teach naked, they're blowing things all out of proportion. Street harassment is obviously awful, but ladies shouldn't hollaback because they're only making things worse, and white girls should be aware of the cultural signals they're misinterpreting. Sexism and misogyny isn't that big a problem, but there's too much news about sexism and misogyny.

Safe and sanitized feminism, acceptable for the "moderates" that would side with feminists if they just weren't so...feministy. Never mind that we still haven't seen any evidence of these "moderates" existing in any significant numbers, or that the acceptable response is apparently to bristle at feminism in general.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:39 AM on December 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Luckily, no one has said that, so we can dispose of that argument.
posted by 0 at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Luckily, no one has said that, so we can dispose of that argument.

Your comment right above mine supports mocking the idea of feminist programming languages while continually proclaiming innocence about any violent language despite a link in the OP to a message board organizing people to submit "hilarious" things to the project while saying things like "lescoin the coin for feminists who already know what they want" or "Egalitarian is just a fancy word for a feminist, or just a way for someone to differentiate themselves from the feminists because they actually don't support equal rights for everyone" or "Feminists are retarded" or "maybe he'll go on a spree and rape a bunch of womenz at some rally or something...would be a lol turn of events" and the gem that is "RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE." Yourself and others have continually minimized the idea of people mocking feminists in the IT industry as one of the major tactics in trying to force them away, here and elsewhere.

As for the rest of it, you can find evidence of them in a number of MeFi/MeTa threads. The concept of feminism as being run by frothing-at-the-mouth academics and misandrists is well in evidence here, and in pretty much every thread about feminism. The "Teach Naked" thread was long and contentious, with plenty of freaking out about overreaction. There have been multiple threads about harassment where people pull the "don't feed them/it's a cultural thing" line, at least one of which is still open. There have been several exasperated "but why so much feminism?" posts on MeTa, at least one of which you have participated in. So, yeah, it's been said. A lot.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


a link in the OP to a message board organizing people to submit "hilarious" things to the project == create a parodic implementation link

... Ah, thank you. I went to that link and didn't understand what I was looking at, so I didn't really read down the page much. I knew I had to be missing something, though, and there it is. Carry on.
posted by 0 at 8:47 AM on December 20, 2013


I realized that object oriented programmed reifies normative subject object theory. This led me to wonder what a feminist programming language would look like, one that might allow you to create entanglements (Karen Barad Posthumanist Performativity).

Object Oriented Programming
The Smalltalk language, which was developed at Xerox PARC in the 1970s, introduced the term object-oriented programming to represent the pervasive use of objects and messages as the basis for computation. Smalltalk creators were influenced by the ideas introduced in Simula 67, but Smalltalk was designed to be a fully dynamic system in which classes could be created and modified dynamically rather than statically as in Simula 67.[16] Smalltalk and with it OOP were introduced to a wider audience by the August 1981 issue of Byte Magazine.
One of the three designers of Smalltalk was Adele Goldberg. An unfortunate side effect of feminist criticism of the supposed patriarchal values embedded in programming languages is that by suggesting they are male creations, the major role that women played in creating them is glossed over. IMO the idea that there is such a thing as "feminist logic systems" which are flexible, inclusive and so on versus "patriarchal logic systems" that are rigid and exclusionary, also subtly contributes to gender stereotypes about women being "intuitive" and men being "rational", which can affect the kinds of roles that people think women are most suited to in the software industry (e.g. designing "intuitive UI").
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 8:33 PM on December 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


The people getting all het up about a feminist programming language posted in an out-of-the-way website that chose to engage in a calm manner with their critics and then chose to devote their free time to mocking it for literally no reason at all don't fall into this category.


i honestly don't know what "het up" means. i don't see the original mocking of the post as angry grarr energy, but lighthearted mockery. like yackov shmirnoff jusxtaposition, except replace "comunist russia" with "feminism."
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:11 PM on December 21, 2013


People engaged in "lighthearted mockery" don't put in a ton of time and energy to make a website, code repository, and a 2500-word README file, and go to the shittiest corners of the internet and well-known misogynist message boards/subreddits to encourage stuff like what I posted upthread. Even if I make the very generous assumption that the original concept was intended to be light-hearted (which requires ignoring the fact that it's the kind of thing people have been using to dissuade women/feminists from programming for years), it was impossible for them not to know what others would do with it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


you could say the same thing about the misaddress nursury rhyme post. why go through all the trouble of making a website if you don't really believe it?
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2013


You honestly can't see the difference between a short blog post of mainly adapted lyrics by a single person that doesn't appear to be an actual misandrist, and an entire coding project and website and associated documentation contributed to and promoted by actual misogynists?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:46 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


[folks, you know the drill, don't drag in arguments from other threads.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2013


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