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Standing with Adria

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Adria Richards, formerly of the company SendGrid, was at a tech conference this week when some dudes behind her made a series of inappropriate and sexual jokes. Annoyed by the pervasiveness of misogyny in the tech world, she snapped a photo of them and put in on Twitter with a complaint. One of the conference organizers spoke to the men and they apologized. Totally reasonable! Good response, PyCon. Later, one of the dudes got fired. Instead of getting mad at the company that made the choice to fire him, the internet hoards descended on Adria. She was on the receiving end of rape and death threats. Her address and phone number were published. Her blog and her company’s website came under DDoS attack. Oh and then her company, SendGrid, fired her (I’d be careful reading the comments on that Facebook post — there’s a whole lot of racism and sexism).

I think the firing of the dude who made a dumb “dongle” joke was ridiculous and overreaching — it appears Adria agrees. But she wasn’t the one who made the decision to fire anyone. She simply documented a thing that actually happened. The company made the (rash, harsh) decision to terminate an employee. Adria’s intent in posting the photo and the comments wasn’t to get anyone fired; I don’t even think the dude getting fired was a reasonably foreseeable consequence. Her intent was to stand up for women who always have to tolerate sexist crap at tech conferences.

For that, she’s getting brutally attacked and threatened. And then she loses her job for being a troublemaker.

SendGrid should be ashamed of itself. And so should the anonymous commentators and harassers who are attacking Adria online. You can show support with the #SupportAdria hashtag on Twitter (yeah, I know, using a hashtag isn’t exactly grade-A Activism, but it’ll at least send a message that there are a whole bunch of people behind Adria).

Even if you disagree with Adria’s blog post and her tweet, I’m not sure how SendGrid’s actions here are defensible. Yes, the jokes were relatively tame, and there’s definitely a discussion to be had about the ethics of tweeting someone’s photo and identity with a comment they made at a conference (although really, the comments were made in a public space and overheard by Adria who was also just trying to attend the conference, so I’m not sure I have tons of sympathy there). And it doesn’t seem like anyone agrees that the men (or one of the men) should be fired from their job for dumb, even vaguely sexual, remarks. Crude, sexist jokes are part of tech culture, and a lot of companies are run by young white guys who don’t seem to understand appropriate workplace behavior. As someone in charge of developer relations, Adria was going to have to interface with those dudes.

But inappropriate workplace behavior is the problem. Not the woman who documents it. And even if there’s outrage about her documenting it, firing her from her job is beyond the pale.

I’d suggest that anyone using SendGrid’s services drops them.

UPDATED to add that this post has been up for about five minutes and already we’re getting a massive troll influx. All comments are now in moderation. I’m going to be in and out over the next few days, so your comments may sit in the mod queue for several hours. Please be patient. If they are on-topic and in line with the Feministe comment policy, they will be approved as soon as possible.

UPDATED This post has been re-opened to comments, within some further constraints.

ADDENDUM (by tigtog) – signal-boosting writing on this incident elsewhere:

General ccommentary

Debunking specific claims about Adria


Speaking up and speaking out:

#IAskedPolitely is not about the validity of being polite. It’s about the futility. [Shakesville]

198 thoughts on Standing with Adria

  1. Forget Sendgrid and the workplace (well, don’t, but) – how come the outrage isn’t about the blatantly sexist and racist responses by all kinds of strangers on the internet? See: the actual death threat with her photo and contact info. On no planet is that an appropriate response, to, um, anything. ever.

    1. Because this kind of odious crap from the internet is expected. Dog bites man does not make the news.

      It is a sad state of affair indeed, but it is current reality. Is this possible to change?

    2. How come the guys doing the harassers aren’t the troublemakers, instead of the woman who complains about it? Oh, that’s right. We’re not supposed to complain about geek dudes. We’re supposed to—what, be good sports? Screw that.

      If those guys don’t want to get into trouble, they shouldn’t be asses. It’s really simply, but that’s precisely the kind of crap they’re used to getting away with. And she gets fired? Her company’s ripe for a boycott.

      1. The two men who made a innocent and in no way sexist joke between themselves were fired unjustly from this attention [seeker’s] blog posts.

        Learn basic facts before you spout bullshit like this.

        1. Of course “big dongles” is completely innocent. Much in the same way that “I’ve got a lovely pair of coconuts” is all about the fruit of the Cocos nucifera tree!

      2. If you are speaking of the 2 men in the conference then how can you call them harassers or troublemakers? If, however you are referring to the mass anonymous deluge of hate… These are the consequences of being publicly outspoken about everything you do, eventually you will get the wrong attention.

        No she doesn’t deserve what has been happening to her or the company she works for. PlayHaven fired the man. Not Adria or SenGrid. But she took radical steps to a situation that could have been handled with a word and a look.

        It’s like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. (I like that analogy.)

        1. You might want to check with regs at your job, but if you think sexist jokes are okay in a professional environment, or if they were just jokin’ between themselves, so she was wrong for evesdropping—as more than one Miss Manners troll here has already commented—-then you’re wrong.

          And your reference the ‘mass deluge of hate’ being the just desserts for her complaining about this indicates you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Those are not the ‘consequences’ of being outspoken. You need to go ask some women about how the consequences they face are so very very different from what men brush off. What women face is exponentially worse–and you just made excuses for it.

        2. You are putting words in my mouth. Things I never said. I just pointed out what is happening. I didn’t say it was just. Nothing about any of this situation is just. I also mention that is was inappropriate, but it happens.

          On male and female fronts ( you are so locked and loaded on gender I guess I will temporarily indulge you.) I hear some very offensive jokes all over from every creed, color and gender.

          There is a time and place for it. If it’s the wrong place you say something. She didn’t say anything to them. She brought down what she thought was the thunder. She then posted about it on public media. And this is the sad backlash of the situation.

          How can you run on anger? It tires me out when I do.

        3. How can you run on anger? It tires me out when I do.

          Yeah, ginamr. We’re all just sooo concerned about you. Not at all deflecting.

        4. Accusing a woman of being too angry taps into all the stereotypes of women being emotional or physically unstable (and thus emotionally unstable due to her physical frailty, so it never ends.) It’s also an attempt to make her mad enough to truly get pissed off.

          It’s a sure indicator of a troll.

  2. I’ll stand with her, because the whole situation is just outrageous (how did I just know that rape and death threats would follow?). But I am disappointed to read that Adria doesn’t consider herself a feminist (she states that fact in one of her reply comments). Why are so many women afraid of that word? (rhetorical)

    1. I don’t care if she’s a right-wing Republican. Women in tech (and women in a lot of other spaces) are routinely asked to tolerate sexism and misogyny, while industry leaders collectively wonder, “Where are all the women?” When women stand up for themselves and point out the kind of behavior that keeps other women from entering and succeeding in those spaces, they’re punished for it.

      1. I agree completely Jill! I’m just irked at the fact that she thinks & acts like a feminist but doesn’t call herself one. Which is completely her right, of course.

        And while I saw the threats coming, I didn’t predict that she’d get fired. That makes my blood boil. Can she sue?

        1. Ironically, if these douches worked for her company, and she complained to her/their bosses about their behavior and then was fired, then yes, she has a cause of action for retaliatory firing. But as it is, since her complaints went to the conference, I don’t know if there is a cause of action (anyone can sue, but she is unlikely to win assuming she does not have an employment contract).

        2. Is it clear she doesn’t have a retaliation claim? She was fired for complaining about an incident that she reasonably perceived as sexual harassment, while she was working. I don’t think it’s an element of Title VII retaliation claims that the action she reported be by her employer or coworker, just that her employer do the firing in response to her complaint. Am I wrong?

        3. Thomas, you could be right. She may have a retaliation claim. It is definitely something that I would look into if I were her. For some reason, I interpreted that concept as valid only if someone is fired after making a complaint to or about the company itself (or its employees). But I am not an employment lawyer, and definitely don’t know for sure. Perhaps if her company required her to be at this conference that would weigh in her favor with this type of claim.

        4. I don’t think it’s an element of Title VII retaliation claims that the action she reported be by her employer or coworker, just that her employer do the firing in response to her complaint.

          I guess what I am getting at is that the problem is likely not that the *action* she reported was not made by someone at her company, but that her *complaint* was not directed to someone at her company, but instead via twitter and to the conference management. However, it is possible that she did complain to her own company and I am not aware of it. And, as I said above, I could be wrong in my analysis, and she may have a claim regardless.

        5. well she is a PR person for the company, she cannot really perform her job duties any longer as she is covered in bad PR. Therefore I find it very difficult to bring suit.


        6. Her employer put her in a situation (the conference) which she felt was a toxic environment. When she responded to it, she was fired. This constitutes retaliation. A good lawyer should get millions for her. I want her to get that money. We need a strong, no-nonsense, zero-tolerance precedent for misogyny in work environments.

      2. Jokingly making a simile between “dongle” and the penis is in no way sexist. It doesn’t even have anything at all to do with the female sex.

    2. You are aware that there are a number of Women of Color (of which Adria is one) that do not identify as feminists as a matter of principle because of Feminism’s long standing record of racism and lack of support towards WoC?

      1. Indeed. Which is why terms such as “womanism” and “black feminism” came to the fore.

        Regardless, Adria doesn’t have to subscribe to any particular label in order to have my support in this matter.

      2. Yes, I do know the term womanist, and I didn’t know that Adria is a WoC. Apologies, and privilege checked.

  3. A point of clarification, because this incident has been conflated with a different incident, involving a different person, who was removed from PyCon — the person making the inappropriate conference was *not* removed from the conference. A PyCon staffer spoke to them, he apologized, that was it as far as the conference was concerned. Proportional responses, what?

      1. did his company fire him?

        At least according to the Daily Dot (1 2).

        Perhaps noteworthy: There were two people joking, but only one who was fired (well, until Adria was).

  4. There seems to be a few important pieces of information missing here
    I am a customer of sendgrid and i have been following this from the start so let me help you out. because to me, she is making us who are for the cause look bad

    1)Adria attended a pycon , so did the 2 developers. They were sitting behind her and were friendly with others.

    2)they were talking and she eavesdropped on them. They were just joking amongst themselves and IN NOW WAY SHE WAS INCLUDED IN DISCUSSION.

    3)She heard , imparted a sexist meaning to their words and this is where she should have simply asked them to stop

    4)She took their pic and posted it on her twitter, PUBLICLY HUMILIATING THEM before her over9000 followers.

    5)She then complained to the company and the guy was fired from his job.

    6)The guy, with 3 kids and a wife to support, made a statement apolozising to her on hackernews

    7)She replied to him, that she made a blogpost about her “adventure”, and she really did rant in her blog further adding injury to insult.

    8)Hackers who knew full story started DDOsing her blog and sendgrid. While I dont agree with their methods, this is what happened

    9)Sendgrid which lost most of its business made a statement , firing her, expecting the attacks to stop. thats one guess the other is she is a public relations person, and her public image is tarnished so she cannot do her job properly anymore

    This person has a history of making insensitive comments on her own twitter account. She even made a sexual joke on twitter while at the convention she was attending.

    I am sorry but I cannot support her, as she is making us look bad


    1. Yeah, I call bull on this. It’s like a troll’s guidebook on blaming the victim. Also, I’m really sick of hearing about the guy’s wife and kids and how she shouldn’t have gotten him fired. She’s not his minder. If he’s got a wife and kids he’d better act better.

      Nor do I give much of a shit as to what trolls define as sexual harassment: (sample: absolutely nothing at all.)

      I swear, I’m having flashbacks to the good old days when my mom would get told that another job applicant ‘had a family to suppport’—as if she didn’t—when in fact the guy was divorced and a deadbeat dad.

      The guy represented his company and behaved like an ass. It’s just like Steubenville all over again, the whining about how this guy’s life is ruined. Maybe he ought to act like a professional and take responsibility for his behavior.

      1. so much hate directed at the wrong person. I am all for equallity. Thats why when she makes inappropriate jokes on twitter (march 14th she made a lude joke while at the expo) then a few days later is offended by a lude joke? I am sorry I want women to be equal. and we will never be equal if we keep playing the victim and being offended at every little thing that we disagree with.


        1. Jessica, I’m not interested in the unsupported claims of someone who’s already whipping out some pretty sexist language—-i.e., ‘play the victim.’ What the hell is a lude, anyway? Quaalude?

        2. A lewd joke (or a joke about ‘ludes, either one) over Twitter is something entirely different than a lewd joke made in a professional setting, by men, towards a woman.

          Obvious troll is obvious.

        3. I have been a conferences where people are making rude comments behind one. No matter how hard you try not to listen you end up hearing everything.

          It appears that this a group pannel with lots of people in the audience; therefore, any conversation the menz behind her were having It was in public, no expectation of privacy . Anyone beside them or next them probably heard the conversation and the jokes. If they said the conversation was private than they should of held in an area where there were not so many people around them in close quarters.

  5. The man who made the ‘dongle’ joke got fired for inappropriate behavior, and Adria got fired for handling the situation in the most inappropriate manner and dragging her company’s name through the mud. It’s over. The joke was a pun about a techincial term ‘dongle’ that Adria overhead while eavesdropping in on someone else’s conversation. This is not something that you post directly to twitter about.

    The real issue here is the sexist and racist comments and threats directed at Adria. She deserved her termination of employment after behaving the way she did while representing her employer. However, threats such as these are never okay.

      1. She mishandled the situation. Her job is to promote communication from the technical side to the layman’s world. She didn’t deserve anything that happened but one thing, she deserved the termination.

        She got someone fired over a small trivial matter. A situation that could have been handled with a gentle or harsh word. She handled the situation incorrectly. The whole backlash is unfair and uncalled for. But she demonstrated an inability to handle a business situation with tact and candor. Which is why she did deserve termination but not everything before it.

        But would she have been terminated if any of that had happened? Her inability to handle communication in that situation is reflected in her job position.

  6. I think we don’t know the whole story of the guy’s termination. If the joke was isolated, then the staff telling him it was inappropriate sounds like a complete solution and firing him seems excessive. But we don’t have his employer’s side of it. There may have been some circumstance, some reason they told all employees to be particularly sensitive to behavior at conventions or to any word-related sexual references or something. I’d need to know the full context to know if the firing really was excessive.

    Meanwhile, the woman who took quite reasonable exception to an inappropriate remark in a professional environment has been canned and is receiving hate and threats … that’s wrong.

      1. Or someone was just itching to fire him due to other reasons having nothing to do with this incident.

        I do not think it is a good idea to speculate more without information. It is just throwing fuel on the raging inferno that should never have been much of a fire to start with.

    1. You know, it’s telling that, while this blog’s commentariat will happily speculate on other things that dongle-joking guy might have done, none of you are willing to consider the notion that Adria could _also_ have been fired for things unrelated to this incident, and that perhaps this was the last straw in her case as well.

      Not that I know that, either. But that’s why it’s dumb to speculate on such things, no matter what demographic the subject may be a member of.

  7. And why couldn’t she have confronted them directly rather than “smiling at them” while taking their picture?

    This wasn’t an enclosed elevator at 3 am in the morning. This was in the middle of a crowded seminar. The idea that talking to them about their allegedly inappropriate joke would put her in danger is laughable.

    Instead she not only tattled on them to Con organizers for what was at worst a mild sexual joke (and might have been misunderstood on her part anyway) but decided she was going to take their picture public underhandedly. So a private joke about dongles between two people did not stay in the con, but instead was pushed out onto the wider web.

    I’m glad she was fired.

    1. I would have much preferred that she apologize for the way she handled the situation, then contact the guys’ employer and advocate for him to get his job back. If she truly feels sorry that her actions started a chain of events that left this father of three unemployed, it seems that would have been the high road.
      However, since she did not do that, it increased the rage on the internet, it created a lot of bad PR for her company, and as a result she was considered to be a detriment to their operations. To be fair, it was a losing situation for her company either way (unless you believe that any press is good press). Keep her, fire her, in either case someone was going to be upset with them. They were already hemorrhaging customers at that point, as well as the DDoS attack that appears to have taken place, so they did what they thought was in their and their customers best interest, and personally I think they chose the better of two evils.

      1. it increased the rage on the internet, it created a lot of bad PR for her company

        Yeah, but no. How about you try and be more honest and rephrase this and say it like it is: “me and my fellow douchenozzles and neckbeards got upset because this woman would not publicly prostrate herself and beg forgiveness, so we decided to MAKE her sorry by demanding her employer fire her, by harassing the employer and harassing her.”

        What is it with all these people in this thread. >.<

    2. Why couldn’t she have handled it better? Really? You’re a guy, to go by your name. Who are you to declare that she didn’t respond to shit that you’ll never know in an appropriate way or not?

    3. Oooh, she “tattled,” did she? How inappropriate.

      Remember, girls, never publicly name anyone who harasses you, rapes you, or even makes innappropriate comments.

  8. On the scale of oppression and discrimination, a unfunny joke about big dongles isn’t exactly earth shattering sexism. I’m not even sure it is sexism, actually i’m sure no reasonable person would think it was.

    Adria decides to take a photo (without permission and post it online). What was her intent? It might not have been to get them fired but it wasn’t a charitable or civil act. It was basic bullying and pretty nasty act that violated the mens privacy and led to one of them being fired.

    Now it’s all blown up in her face, and her photos are being posted, her privacy is being violated and now she has been fired.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it looks like Karma.

    Sorry I’m not going to bite on this being anything to do with anything but huge egos.

    1. Are you the same Robert from Alas?

      And a man’s opinion on what a woman should or should not be allowed to define as sexist is really useless and arrogant at the same time. Thanks, dude, but we get to decide that, and your input does not of course stink of self interest at all.

  9. It has already been explained that the “sexist joke” was not sexist.
    Also she overheard something and took a photo without warning them,without asking them to stop or trying to speak with them.
    She crossed the limit and could also be sued for taking such photo and posting it immediately on a social network.
    Follow what is happening on the internet and stop the propaganda.
    If you delete my comment(like she did for severals on her site,which leaded to the shitstorm she is facing),we basically won.

    1. She crossed the limit and could also be sued for taking such photo and posting it immediately on a social network.

      What’s the cause of action, exactly?

    2. Robert says it’s not sexist, therefore it’s not sexist. Apparently Robert is the ultimate authority.

  10. “and a lot of companies are run by young white guys who don’t seem to understand appropriate workplace behavior. ”

    I am curious as to how you can denounce sexism and racism, and in a single breath appear to be guilty of both. If a man were to take that statement and replace ‘white guys’ with ‘black women’, would you not be up in arms?

    Also, you forgot to mention the fact that while the two men may have been violating the code of conduct for the event, taking a picture, without authorization, for the purpose of shaming the subjects is also a violation of the code of conduct. Just worth noting that, according to the letter and spirit of the rules, all parties were in violation.

    1. Black women are presumably half of the current US population of about 12% people of African-American descent. White men, despite not being the majority any longer, are overwhelmingly represented at every level of society where there is power, which in turn prevents minorities and/or women from obtaining those positions. Look at the cops, for example. They’re mostly white male. How is that actually representative of society?

      In other words, you’re whining that the most over-privileged group in society is somehow equal in deprivation to one of the most discriminated-against and oppressed groups in the country. No reasonable person would substitute black women for white men in this context because it makes no sense.

  11. I think that things were blown out of proportion on all sides. No one needed to be fired. It was totally cool of her to make it known to event organizers that she felt uncomfortable because of the joke, and that the two guys were told to can it.

    What does bother me about the situation is that she herself used the dongle joke when describing the situation to her twitter fans. That is incredibly hypocritical. She has also made racist remarks on her twitter, which makes me kind of leery about supporting her.

    1. She has also made racist remarks on her twitter, which makes me kind of leery about supporting her.

      Yeah, that is not a racist remark. That is a contestable (but probably correct) proposition about racism as a sociological phenomenon.

    2. You can’t seriously be claiming that that’s a racist statement. Bullshit. It’s a 101-level DEFINITION of racism.

      I see that the MRA trolls are out here in full force, displaying their usual level of intelligence. Lovely.

      1. Trying again: You can’t seriously be claiming that that’s a racist statement. It’s a 101-level DEFINITION of racism.

        I see that the MRA trolls are out here in full force, displaying their usual level of intelligence. Lovely.

        1. I first want to let you know that this question is being made in good faith, and that I want to understand your perspective. I think I understand this agreed upon, sociological definition of racism. I understand that Adria is correct in making this statement insofar as such a thing can be deemed “correct.” Is it possible for a minority to be prejudiced, or discriminatory towards a majority, or someone with – let’s say – a symmetrically opposed quantification of privilege? How would one describe this accurately, or is it not something that you would consider possible at all?

        2. If you could please show me where racism is defined like that it would be lovely. Shouldn’t be hard seeing as that is the basic definition of racism, but I just can’t seem to find it.

          Also you clearly forgot to address her hypocracy in her using the joke when describing the situation to her followers.

        3. t.v., anyone can be prejudiced or bigoted. But in academic discussions, and certainly in social justice circles, “racism” is usually defined as privilege + power, especially (but not exclusively) when one is talking about structural and institutional racism.

          As for Jordan, there’s no “hypocracy” (I guess you didn’t look that one up in your dictionary!) in explaining something to her “followers”; reporting does not equal adopting.

          And I’m sorry if that definition of racism isn’t in your Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but we’re not talking about dictionary definitions here; we’re talking about standard usage in the academic and progressive/social justice worlds. It’s also irrelevant, because regardless of whether her definition is valid, she wasn’t making it up, and there was nothing even arguably “racist” about her restating it.

        4. Sorry, I meant “prejudice + power,” not “privilege + power”! Typing while annoyed tends to result in a lot of typos for me.

        5. ::: Comment content deleted as further Racism-101 discussion has been directed to #spillover as off-topic for this thread ~ Mod Team :::

      2. Other post was deleted for being off topic, so I’ll restate the bit that was on topic and the mods can choose what to do with it. My original post was about being leery of who I give my support. You should think about doing the same. Your [blanket] hate of “MRA trolls” could lead you to vouch for someone that could turn out to be a truly despicable person just because of their gender. I believe that is truly sexism.

      1. Seconded (thirded?). As Donna said, it’s barely a remark as much as explaining the basic definition of racism. It’s correct and on point. I actually don’t understand why anyone would consider it racist??

        1. Anyone who considers that definition “racist” is probably one of those “reverse racism” trolls who thinks that “it’s racist to say that black people can’t be racist towards white people!!”

  12. A sexual joke is not misogynistic by default. And this one sure as hell wasn’t, no matter how you try to twist it.

    1. No, not all sexual jokes are misogynistic. But sexual jokes in a professional environment are inappropriate. Sexual jokes also have a history of creating and contributing to work environments that are uncomfortable for women, hostile to women, and result in women being excluded.

  13. Let’s all ignore the fact that she herself has made several lewd jokes herself. They were outed by a hypocrite. She was just doing it for attention. Well she got it.

    This post is not volatile or flaming in anyway. I’m still fairly certain it wont be posted because it’s in differing opinion to the monitor. If it is I will be surprised. Because I noticed so far all the posts kept are all originating to your opinion.

    1. Addendum: The lewd jokes she has made were not at the convention. Most examples have been posted, tweeted and rehashed. I shouldn’t have to do all the work.

      1. So, you’re explicitly noting that the incident Adria reported happened in a professional setting with strangers, and the jokes she made herself were with her acquaintance/colleagues in non-professional settings, and yet you call her a hypocrite?

        Are you incapable of noting the differences between apples and oranges?

        Besides, whether Adria made some errors as well or not: does this mean that she deserved rape and death threats?

    2. Of course we should just take your word for this? You describe nothing. You offer no proof, only your self righteous condemnation. Care to back it up with anything?

      1. If you don’t really keep abreast of the situation you shouldn’t retaliate with personal assault. I don’t feel like re-looking for it is all. I’m sorry you feel the need to lash out at me.

        1. No, Ginmar’s correct. You made the positive assertion, so it’s your job to provide the cites, not others’ job to attempt to prove a negative.

        2. Yeah, so I take it you’re not addressing anything I said, which pointed out the usual fallacies going on here, namely the fact that you decided for her what would be defined as offensive, and how she pretty much asked for it by not following your guidelines for women.

          1. And this is relevant, how?

            I would never ever want to imply that you were the sort of person that would hint that a woman joking around with friends has to tolerate every joke involving sex at every future point in her life, lest I make you out to be a sexist asshole. I mean, what kind of asshole has that view of sex and women?

          2. How exactly does a lewd joke with a friend on the informal medium of Twitter somehow make her a hypocrite for complaining about lewd jokes in a professional setting?

  14. I just don’t get it.

    I was not there so it is hard to judge if the jokes were that bad or if Adria’s read was wrong. But as she felt they were off base, complained to the organizers and got an apology. Sounds fair enough to me. That seems like the correct level that the incident should have been handled on.

    Why didn’t it end there? What’s with the seriously OTT reactions? How did two people get fired from their jobs due to this incident?

    1. Seeing as how she didn’t fire the guy, perhaps your questions are better directed toward the people who did.

      A guy who feels happy and safe being a sexist jerk in public is likely to try and act the same way in other settings.

      1. Seeing as how she didn’t fire the guy, perhaps your questions are better directed toward the people who did.

        I agree 100%.
        If it sounded like I blamed Adria that was not the case. If she did anything wrong it is a negligibly small component in this clusterf*k.

        The two employers (I am not forgetting Sendgrid) are the ones who have the most serious questions to answer.
        (And the trolls, but I am not really that interested in hearing more from them anyway)

      2. How are they now sexist? He made poor jokes in an inappropriate setting. Granted his venue was not the best place for his humor. You are a very angry person this is the third comment I have seen from you that is just downright vitriolic.

        1. You are a very angry person this is the third comment I have seen from you that is just downright vitriolic.

          Geez, ginmar, why so sensitive and emotional about a woman of color being fired after calling out a couple of white dudes for sexist remarks? Why do you have to get so angry?

          Just get the fuck out, dude. No one is impressed by your stale old racist and misogynist tropes.

        2. Was that directed at me? Because if it is: classic trollism, accusing a woman of anger when she is not, in fact, angry (and is in fact an attempt to piss her off), and minimizing out of existence something that the guy did that the woman gets to define. And if it’s not…the other person is not vitriolic either, so your responses are very much of the “Huh, bitchez, alwayz on the rage/hormones/emotional/what the fuck ever” type.

          Accusations of anger against a woman are a classic attempt to make her back down because anger is something women are not allowed to feel. Also, it’s meant to harken to other things sexists like to attack women with, some of which I alluded to in my first paragraph. They’re all interlinked and support and refer to one another because they’re all one of a piece. And seeing as how they’re almost always false, they’re an attempt to piss a woman off.

          Yeah. No.

        3. Accusations of anger against a woman are a classic attempt to make her back down because anger is something women are not allowed to feel

          Yes, that is why I believe Anon21 put all those words in italics. I’m pretty sure the italics note that Anon21 was being supportive of you through sarcasm.

      1. Blaming the victim. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. You do realize that she’s not the person who fired these scumbags, right?

        1. She was the catalyst. And why do you call them scumbags? The one who was fired is a father of 3 and has posted he was genuine in his apology. You are constantly provoking negative responses by your constant personal assaults on people.

          1. She was the catalyst.

            And we know this how?

            And why do you call them scumbags?

            Because they acted like it?

            The one who was fired is a father of 3 and has posted he was genuine in his apology.

            His reproductive status has nothing to do with his decency as a person. Many men have children and are appalling wastes of chromosomes.

            You are constantly provoking negative responses by your constant personal assaults on people.

            Victim blaming on top of harassment accusations,when you’re whiteknighting for these guys all over the place.

        2. She was the catalyst.

          ginmar, don’t you realize it is always the woman’s fault/responsibility? Just think of all the rape victims who have ruined their rapists lives by filing charges. /sarcasm

      2. Yes, publicly posting the photo was a bit harsh IMO.

        But she posted the photo of the guys and the text

        Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles Right behind me

        Hardly the internet attack of the century. How bad is it really? (Ok, using the genitive “repo’s” instead of the plural is not good, but that is not the point here)

    2. This is what’s puzzling me, too. If I’d read just the first half of the story, I think I would have expected that there’d be some conversation about appropriate, professional behavior at conferences (jokes about sex =/= appropriate for the workplace), a “teachable moment,” and that would be it. I do not understand why anyone was fired for this – not the guys making the jokes, not Adria (especially not Adria).

  15. the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways

    ::: Ooh, look at me! I can use social justice “buzzwords” to mock feminists, because I’m just that brilliant. LOOK AT ME! :::


  16. In any case Pycon has distanced themselves from Richards by modifying their code of conduct in regards to public shaming as a means to resolve a private matter.

    1. It’s a shame this wasn’t implemented before hand. But I feel that something like this should be common sense. Don’t go around posting things about others without ever confronting them. I’m sure everyone has read this:

      She didn’t even tell them to stop. She didn’t even bother to talk with them. She described it as a potential mob mentality which is way more sensationalized than what it would have been. The mistakes are on both sides. But it could have been ended with a simple phrase she even put in the link. ‘Not cool dude.’ All she had to do was ask.

      Bad things happen when you take extreme measures without trying other solutions first. What if all politics were like this? Instead of trying to smooth out issues everyone would go straight to war.

  17. Those men were not creating a hostile work environment. They were making a joke that, to 99% of the world who ISN’T a self-aggrandizing Joan-of-Arc-wannabe, would seem to be completely innocuous.

    What creates a hostile work environment is when everyone is edgy about every little thing they say because the femigestapo thought police and looking for things to get upset about so they can be Rosa Parks. That’s why women like Adria SHOULD get fired.

    If it was a women making this dongle joke, nothing would have happened. NOTHING. And women say men are privledged?

  18. I agree that neither should have been fired over this but Adria should’ve kept to herself about jokes being made that were not directed to her or even intended for her to hear. The way in which she publicly outed them on twitter was a mistake on her part. She could’ve said something directly to them instead of trying to get the internet on her side.

  19. i cannot find a quotation of which the guy said [(remainder of comment deleted) and you shouldn’t comment until you do find that. Links are in the OP. This bad habit is yet another reason that you are in permamod, tomek. ~ Mod Team]

  20. I’ve been keeping a really close eye on this for the past couple days, and everything about it horrifies me. It’s already *really hard* some days to be a woman in tech, especially one who speaks out and pushes for it to be an inclusive space. I struggle with burnout on a regular basis. Threats like this have a chilling effect. Nearly every woman programmer I know who is aware of the situation is some combination of angry, disgusted, and afraid.

    I don’t care how Adria handled this situation (a lot of people seem to be focusing on how she could have handled it better). Nothing she did even remotely justifies the threats, attacks, and firing that followed.

    1. All the actions that have followed were a direct result of her poor handling of the situation. I agree that none of what has happened to her should have. But she clearly fails in her position as a mediator between tech and business by not using something she should be highly skilled in. Communication.

      Again, I agree it’s all bad. But it was poorly handled and has ignited a very touchy subject. We do not live in a perfect world. But we do live in a oxymoron world. We celebrate freedom of speech but if someone has a problem with it then it’s not okay. Someone will always have a problem with something. Because we’re all human. And humans are fallible.

      1. This sounds a lot like blaming the victim here. Even if she made a poor decision (and that’s a big “if” – I think people could go round and round on it all day), that in no way justifies doxxing and death/rape threats.

        Freedom of speech isn’t freedom to say whatever you like in private spaces. A conference is a private professional event. They are allowed to set guidelines on what speech is acceptable there.

      2. We celebrate freedom of speech but if someone has a problem with it then it’s not okay.

        This is just garden-variety missing the point, whether intentional or not. There are miles of space between 1st amendment “freedom of speech” and libel, slander, hate speech and just being inappropriate. Anyone who thinks about it for five seconds can figure that out.

        You don’t get to tell someone they shouldn’t be offended by things they find offensive. You just don’t. Because we’re all human.

        1. There are miles of space between 1st amendment “freedom of speech” and libel, slander, hate speech and just being inappropriate. Anyone who thinks about it for five seconds can figure that out.

          Nope, this is full of crap. There is no ‘hate speech’ exemption to the 1st Amendment.

          The accurate response is that the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from placing sanctions on speech, not private entities.

        2. There is no ‘hate speech’ exemption to the 1st Amendment.

          And I didn’t say there was. Not really in the mood for a game of petitio principii; my point was that “freedom of speech” isn’t a completely unrestricted right. Companies can be prosecuted under Title VII if they allow hate speech at work.

          Point is there are all sorts of restrictions to speech, including hate speech, libel, slander, and just being a [arsehat] at work.

        3. Point is there are all sorts of restrictions to speech, including hate speech, libel, slander, and just being a [arsehat] at work.

          I understood your point. Your point is wrong.

          Libel and slander are exceptions to the protections of the 1st Amendment. Hate speech is not.

          Companies can be prosecuted under Title VII

          No, they can’t. A private cause of action is not the same thing as a criminal offense.

        4. No, they can’t. A private cause of action is not the same thing as a criminal offense.

          I don’t know if there’s any need to be so persnickety about use of the term “prosecute.” Indeed, I believe it’s used in some other countries to mean “pursue a civil action,” and is used in the U.S. legal system to mean something similar in certain contexts (e.g., dismissal of a case for failure to prosecute).

          And since we are being so persnickety, Title VII doesn’t just create a private cause of action; it also creates remedies that can only be enforced by EEOC or DoJ lawsuit. I believe you’re right that it creates no criminal offenses.

        5. I don’t know if there’s any need to be so persnickety about use of the term “prosecute.”

          There is, I suppose, if the goal is to derail the basic point, expressed at the very top of this silly subthread, that this is not a 1st Amendment issue. Then, persnickitiness is of the utmost importance.

        6. There is, I suppose, if the goal is to derail the basic point, expressed at the very top of this silly subthread, that this is not a 1st Amendment issue. Then, persnickitiness is of the utmost importance.

          PDA is correct – this subthread has gone way off-topic and should end now.

          Fine, but let’s meet in spillover. Misunderstanding/misconstruing fundamental constitutional protections is not ‘details.’

    2. This. A lot of people don’t seem to understand why a mildly sexual joke overheard at a conference could be a big deal, or why it isn’t always possible to have a direct conversation with the person making it if it bothers you. This kind of thing is frequent and casual. Even the kind of joke that wouldn’t bother me at all if I overheard it on the subway, when it’s happening constantly in my workplace it has a cumulative negative effect. I can object to it, but this comes with its own penalties, since the casualness means that no matter how respectfully, calmly, and grownup-like I say, “hey, not a big deal, but could you please not?” I’m still the one starting a conflict (and often, see “frequent,” above), which has a number of negative effects over time, including the gradual dilution of my credibility.

      So women in male-dominated fields can either decide to ignore it all and accept chronic injury of the first type, to turn everything into a teachable moment and accept chronic injury of the second type, or, more realistically, sustain both kinds no matter what we do. Meanwhile, when deciding how to deal with this nonsense (that actually has a real, measurable effect) we’re expected to be endlessly considerate of the people who are inflicting the injury in the first place? To consider all the possible consequences to them of HOW we deal with it, even outcomes that are as unlikely as what occurred here? Even though they likely didn’t once consider the possible consequences to others of their behavior? Ugh. I’m tired already.

  21. She was at fault not for taking action against those men, but for abusing her power and status. She reported them to event staff and had them removed. That should’ve been the end of it.

  22. Man gets fired because of isolated joke with another man, not even directed towards any one person = HOORAY GOOD JOB YOU GO GIRL

    Woman gets fired next day for her illicit responses on social media regarding the firing and for her breaking the law of uploading a photo of two people without either’s consent = That’s mean, crude, and sexist. Men are dirty pigs.

    I don’t get it. I’m all for women having equality in every situation, but I am also all for men having equality in all situations just as well. Double standards isn’t what feminism should be standing for. Feminism should be standing for the improvement of the life of a Female. I know I’m going to berated, and that’s fine, it only shows that my harassers cannot process the fact that both sexes should be considered equal in every sense of the word, not that a Man should pay for all meals, clothing, and every other expense in the world, but be seen as a pig when he decides that he would like to be with a Woman who believes that she should also pay for her meals and, at times, pay for the expenses for her Boyfriend / Husband.

    I am by no means a misogynistic person. I want equality for BOTH sexes. But I absolutely REFUSE to accept hypocrisy in any form, either it be from a Man or a Woman.

    Thank you.

    1. i’m surprised my post was actually approved, thank you for giving me the chance to equally post my views on the matter! =)

    2. The tl,dr version of this comment is

      I am by no means a misogynistic person…But (etc.)

      Don’t you just love how some people KNOW that what they are about to say clashes with their earlier professed non-bigotry, why else would they use “but”?

        1. ::: Having accused us of doing something we didn’t do, you don’t bother to apologise and you ramp up further accusations. Bye. ~ Moderator Team :::

  23. For the benefit of the many people apparently bewildered or conspiratorial about the phenomenon of their submissions going into the moderation queue, the post was updated quite some time ago now with the following information:

    UPDATED to add that this post has been up for about five minutes and already we’re getting a massive troll influx. All comments are now in moderation. I’m going to be in and out over the next few days, so your comments may sit in the mod queue for several hours. Please be patient. If they are on-topic and in line with the Feministe comment policy, they will be approved as soon as possible.

  24. I’m an engineer who works in the valley (well, the peninsula, but close enough). It’s been hard to read the threads discussing this, particularly on startup/valley centric message boards like hacker news. Currently the top rated comment [1] discussing her firing is some guy saying how he’d be afraid to be in the same room as her, I guess because dick jokes will just pop out of his mouth. The longer thread [2] is worse: the majority of commenters blame Adria. This sucks.



    1. Because the white guy hasn’t gotten rape threats, death threats, and told that he should be lynched. Now go back to your forums and whine about feminazis, son.

  25. While I don’t think EITHER Adria or “Mr. Henry” should have been fired for their actions, I do believe most of the blame falls on Adria’s head.

    Her position is one where she knows how to manipulate social media to achieve goals. She didn’t just report this incident to the PyCon people (or simply be an adult and ask them to take their joking somewhere other than behind her where she could hear them) – she took pictures of them without their permission and tweeted/shame-published them and as a result their company association to her THOUSANDS OF FOLLOWERS.

    In other words, she took a private conflict that occurred discretely enough to not be noticed by thousands of other attendees and advertised it on a public forum where thousands if not MILLIONS of people could see it and then respond.

    What’s worse?

    After “Mr. Henry” apologized to her on her own blog after being FIRED, she then gloated about it.

    Let’s not forget that dongling and forking jokes are about as offensive as similar jokes she’s made on her own twitter forum. They are JUVENILE… but even the most mature person can act childish, as she proves on her own twitter-feed.

    I’ve been to plenty of conventions, and inappropriate behavior happens – I’m in a very happy relationship and sometimes drunk women don’t respect that. The same goes for drunk men; neither gender is innocent at a conference.

    Being an adult means knowing how to maturely handle uncomfortable situations without blowing them out of proportion. Equality means that whether both parties are of the same sex or different sexes, you should treat them the same. I think its clear Adria was offended because these juvenile jokes were made by men – because clearly she has no problem with this type of humor.

    This is not a world where we have a right to not be offended. Quite frankly I’m offended by many things; but that’s MY problem. This was not sexual harassment. This was 2 people joking about funny sounding words whom she happened to overhear. She inserted herself into their conversation, and didn’t like their sense of humor. She could’ve just ignored it the same way I ignore conversations where people praise Dr. Oz…. but instead she decided to make a big deal.

    It seems to me that someone has gotten a stunning example about reaping what you sew.

    1. This is not a world where we have a right to not be offended.

      This came up a lot in the hoopla over violentacrez’s doxxing, and I never understood why anyone thinks it’s relevant. I mean, sure, being offensive and inconsiderate is perfectly legal, as are many flavors of being an asshole. But if your bar for decency is as low as, “didn’t actually break any laws,” then she’s in the clear too. This is also not a world where we have a right to not be tattled on, or to have our secret identities remain secret.

      Also, this is me being a huge dork, but your typo (sew/sow) made me immediately think, “a case of ripping what you sew?”

  26. the only victim here is the man with three children who was fired. YOU are the one blaming the victim.

    1. It may be just me, but whatever the facts in this case, I was put off by the way you phrased this. You make use of a phrase that is often used to criticize oppressive/problematic situations. The word “victim” isn’t ‘innocent’, and it’s not applicable here, not in this short kind of comment, not in this phrase, and quite generally I would emphatically recommend reconsidering the use of it in ‘what about teh menz’ type comments at all.

      Again, maybe it’s just me. I’m tired and depressed, so who knows. Maybe I’m overreacting.

    2. Why does it matter how may children he has? I mean, if there is not info that we don’t know regarding why he was fired, I agree that firing him was too harsh. But, people should be held to the same standards at work regardless of whether they “have a family to support” or not. Children are not a license to be a douchebag.

    3. HA! This made my day. “You’ll never listen to my TRUTH” is my favorite kind of troll.

      Everyone is out to get you, huh?

      *sad, serious, listening face*

  27. But inappropriate workplace behavior is the problem. Not the woman who documents it.

    Unfortunately, blaming the person who “makes an issue of it” definitely happens. I was sexually harassed at a “biglaw” firm when I was a summer associate in the form of a sexual joke made about me, behind my back, via email with the entire summer class (except me) on copy (the joker took out the group address and replaced it with all of the names minus mine). I found out when someone cluelessly forwarded me the email chain to give me an address I needed. I was very, very upset. I wrote personally to the person making the joke (a full time associate) and told him why it was not ok, hostile behavior, etc. *He* is the one who went to talk to management (I guess to get out in front of it). Then, when review time came, this incident was mentioned as something that *I* did that showed questionable judgement because I used “legal buzz words” in my email to him.

    So I stand with Adria.

  28. the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways

    ::: OMGWTFBBQ I’m so excited by the chance to diss women that I’m channeling my hero (he’s so brave and cuddly) Rush Limbaugh! nyuk nyuk nyuk :::


  29. [Comment content and link deleted on suspicion that this is unlikely to be the Tera Patrick who owns that website. If it really is you, please let us know directly via our Contact details in the sidebar. ~ Moderator Team]

    1. Are people just googling ‘Adria Richards’ and descending in force on anyone who talks about her?

      I hope they leave soon…

  30. I will stand with her against the threats and the firing, absolutely. No one should have to suffer that. But I CANNOT stand by her original actions.

    The Internet is a very powerful–and very permanent–tool. And it has caused great misery for a lot of people. If she had dealt with this in person that would be one thing, but she took a temporary, in-person interaction to the not-so-temporary, far more public venue of the Internet. That was unnecessary and bullying in its own right. Having been the victim of Internet bullying and photographic evidence of myself ending up where it shouldn’t I can say that it is a disproportional response to a LOT of things. If you post something willingly on the Internet I think it’s fine for that to be shared and shamed. But this makes me very uncomfortable and I don’t think that we, as feminists, should condone her original actions and the slippery slope they could lead to.

    The reaction she got is an entirely different story, and it is unconscionable and disgusting. I will stand with her forever against that.

    1. Yeah, that’s nice, but it’s not really gender specific.

      What we’re dealing with here is a woman getting punished for something that as yet we don’t know deserved punishment, and you’re saying she should have been aware of the huge reserve of troll boy rage out there and altered her actions accordingly? I think it’s time for some feminist rage myself. Women face a deluge of rape and murder threats among fuck only knows what else, and that itself should be condemned and fought against, not considered as if it’s almost part of an expected life.

      She had, maybe, what, sixteen or so followers>?– or some other ridiculously tiny number to blame this on. The trolls blew it up like this and that’s the real problem here. The ultimate way to avoid crap is to be professional at professional gatherings.

      These guys were not.

      Apparently her opinion and the opinion of other women just do not matter to lots of men. I’d say that’s a problem. These guys have shit tons of people standing up for them just because they’re guys. That’s the real problem here.

  31. I don’t have much to add other than that Adria’s decision to publicly air her grievances on twitter, rather than confess them to someone at the convention with the authority to handle it, really isn’t that big of a surprise, given how many people at cons (including moderators) are extremely dismissive of people who have been offended in some way. Maybe if there were more women at conventions, she’d have felt much safer dealing with the matter more “professionally”.

    1. Incidentally (and while I 100% agree with your point) I was gratified to see that in this case it seems like the conference acted really responsibly. Being aware of reports of sexism, finding the responsible parties, talking about why their actions were inappropriate and then disseminating an apology is exactly what conference organizers should do.

  32. I’m surprised that the feminist moderator is allowing dissenting views on this thread. Is there some special reason for that? Does this mean a change in policy?

    Whatever the reason I guess I applaud this change, although it is kind of weirding me out to be honest….. at least Ginmar is still Ginmar….

    1. Yes. Isn’t it great that this blog now allows a massive pile on when the victim is a Black woman? Now all comments are allowed in the name of “free speech”, especially when the Black woman in question is being disciplined for daring to be uppity towards two frat White men.

      And then people wonder why WoC don’t identify as feminists. This is why feminist solidarity and sisterhood looks like for Black women.

      1. DrivebyFeminist, on other non-feminist spaces the arguments being made here against Adria are hardly getting any pushback from feminists at all, because their voices are being drowned out by a flood of directly abusive insults. Here we have a whole cadre of feminists to pushback against those arguments visibly in a space where no outright abuse is tolerated, and as Thomas MacAuley Miller said, just look at how this thread illustrates clearly the problems with the same-old same-old tech culture arguments against the establishing and upholding of anti-harassment policies.

        No abuse of Adria or any commentor has been published on this thread. Despite our reputation, we do not delete comments just because people dissent – dissent alone does not breach the comments policy. The few comments which have been altered by moderators have been for off-topic comments from regulars and the Fluffination of utterly absurd derail attempts by drive-by trolls.

  33. The joke was not sexist, it was juvenile and inappropriate for work. So was twittering the whole thing. If it were sexist that joke would be inappropriate anywhere, mixed company or not.

    The hate directed at her for it, when it should have just been ignored, is mind boggling. This is what happens when you give publication rights to anyone.

    The two companies involved should have told everyone to fuck off, instead Playhaven decided it wanted to score points on gender equality by firing a dude over a penis joke when the real issue is why companies like Playhaven do not hire and train more women. Sendit freaked out when they felt they would be blamed for Playhaven’s actions and took it out on their employee.

    If there’s a backlash here it should be against turning gender equality into a dialog over who is more faux-offended by stuff.

    1. Ok, though, here’s the thing: whether the original decision to tweet the joke was appropriate or not isn’t the issue. If someone makes some error in judgement and the response is thousands upon thousands of vicious, misogynistic, racist attacks and threats, focusing on the original error instead of the response demonstrates seriously misplaced priorities.

      If there’s a backlash here it should be against turning gender equality into a dialog over who is more faux-offended by stuff.

      See, this is what I’m talking about. The important part of the story is the storm of racism and misogyny directed at Ms. Richards, not the original joke or her response to it (which actually sounds like it was taken care of in an adult fashion; the conference intervened, the men apologized, and that really should have been the end of it).

      If, at some other point, you want to have a dialogue on whether litigation culture has led to absurd overreactions by corporate entities, that’s fine. But not on this thread.

  34. Hey, assholes, keep talking!

    If you want to prove that tech is filled with guys who think that a sexualized and inappropriate environment that makes women uncomfortable is great and no problem, keep talking, because you’re proving you think that.

    If you want to prove that tech is filled with people who think that complaining about the inappropriate behavior is unforgivable and terrible, keep talking, because you’re proving you think that.

    If you want to prove that tech is filled with the kind of folks who threaten and bully a woman who stands up for herself, keep talking, because you’re proving that.

    If you want to prove that the reason women can’t report through formal channels is because the formal channels are likely to be filled with assholes who will predictably side with the dudebros over the women calling out the inappropriate behavior, you’re proving that.

    If you want to prove that there is a culture and atmosphere of sexism, misogyny and defensive reactions to any effort to change it in the tech sector, keep talking, because you’re proving it.

    I don’t even need to say much. You’re making yourselves look terrible all on your own.

    1. Yeah, the failure to grasp the concept of a “hostile work environment” in 2013 is what’s really depressing to me. That, and the “wife and three kids” slant (what, like Ms. Richards doesn’t have family/bills to pay?)

  35. There are no winners in this whole situation.

    The original congoer who made the bad judgement call to conduct what should have been private comments in a public setting at the convention: he may have had an expectation of privacy, but sitting in the ballroom with hundreds of other people around is *not* an environment for privacy, regardless of his expectations or intentions. According to the PyCon Code of Conduct, the comment (whether sexist or merely juvenile) wasn’t appropriate for that environment. His assumed context of privacy was *not* in-line with the actual environment. That’s an error of judgement. He did not deserve to be fired for that.

    Adria, for following the Code of Conduct and reporting the remarks to PyCon, was doing what she should do. As far as I can tell, she was under no obligation to directly confront the congoer or talk to him. Guys who think that’s how she *should* have handled it are coming from smug male privilege. I’ve watched my wife make a similar request in tech/geek society and get ignored (at best) or have the situation escalate to a direct attack. Then I step in and say something, and suddenly everyone’s cool. *THAT IS NOT RIGHT*. That is the corrosive environment we should all be trying to fix, and blaming her for not directly confronting the guy only enables this kind of behavior. However, having said that (and I really hope this doesn’t come across as victim-blaming), Ardia did make a mistake in choosing to use Twitter as the mechanism to inform PyCon. That took the conversation out of the context of PyCon’s established resolution mechanism and community, regardless of her expectations or intentions. This lapse in judgement, again, in no way should have resulted in her termination. So Ardia doesn’t win either.

    The Internet trolls are out in force on this one, once again polarizing the issue and limiting the ability to reasonably discuss the actual events without rancor or accusation. The forces of hate and sexism have a new banner. Women in IT have yet another demonstration (as if they needed one) of just how valued they aren’t. Reasonable conversation dies. We, the society of the Internet, certainly don’t win.

    Both companies that harshly overreacted — they’re going to get a groundswell of publicity. I doubt it’s the kind they want. I’m *willing* to bet long-term memory of Ardia’s supporters will be better than that of the misogynists and trolls. I doubt either of them will see long-term wins on this.

    Two errors in judgement. A whole crapstorm of results. Finger pointing and name calling and the staus quo stays right where it’s always been because everyone is determined to pick a side no matter what.

    I can support Ardia’s response to the jokes, even though I could wish that she had contacted PyCon through a more private channel. I can tell the original congoer that he should have kept his mouth shut without thinking that he’s a jerk who was deliberately engaging in sexist behavior. I can have compassion for both parties, who have both been the victims of idiotic managerial overreach. And I choose to condemn those who force me to pick one or the other.

    1. they made sexist jokes, she tweeted them, a shitstorm of support erupted toward the man, a shitstorm of threats and viciousness erupted toward her. Lots of understanding and sympathy for the “clueless” man, none at all for the woman.

      You said yourself: “I’ve watched my wife make a similar request in tech/geek society and get ignored (at best) or have the situation escalate to a direct attack.” Well, same thing, different medium.

      1. You’re not seeing the same feeds I’m seeing then. I’ve seen plenty of support for Adria and a lot of condemnation of the shitstorm. I have no sympathy or tolerance for the asshats stirring up the shitstorm. They are wrong, pure and simple.

        Then again, it’s probably easier for me to brush away the shitstorm because it doesn’t offend me on the same visceral level, no matter how odious and toxic I find it. Death threats and rape threats and graphic slurs are so far beyond the pale that as much as I intellectually understand happens, I just have a hard time grokking that yes, people who act this way have to be forcefully and unapologetically opposed. There’s a part of my brain gets to categorize them as “Internet trolls, ignore” because I don’t have to deal with them every day, and if I in any way came across as giving them even tacit legitimacy, then I apologize and repudiate that notion.

        I feel like there’s a very polarizing reaction happening around the whole #SupportAria trend on Twitter and that one is either 100% for her or 100% against her. I found a very thoughtful, nuanced post from one of Adria’s peers that I think does a very good job of identifying aspects about this whole episode that I have been uncomfortable with:

        It distresses me that what seems like productive conversation about how to keep steady progress away from these kinds of events is being quickly overrun. I agree that combatting the trolls and clueless and malicious is important, but isn’t the goal of that combat to create an ever-widening, safer space to have rational conversations as equals?

  36. We’re glad to see some more substantive conversations developing in some of the subthreads.

    At this point, some commentors who are new to Feministe have well and truly made their points and are starting to become repetitive, and other newbies are just dropping comments on the thread with no indication of having read previous comments. From this point on, if newbie’s comments rehash points already made on the thread, those comments are unlikely to be published.

  37. It pisses me off when mountain hills of trolls come in here with the bullshit argument that she shouldn’t have taken their picture and posted it with her comment on pubic media without their permission. It flat out makes me crazy, where the fuck were these guys when we discussed the disgusting facebook site where men posted little girls pics and slut shamed them? I didn’t see them all piling in there talking about how the girls could sue, how wrong it was to put them on social media, blah, blah, bullshit.

    Why weren’t they all on that thread screaming about how wrong it is to post someones pic without their permission? Because it’s not about that at all. It’s about justifying threats and racist slurs and not getting it for one minute that she’s a human who deserves to be respected.

  38. “Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost”

    This is a post by a woman who works in tech, who’s worked at many tech conventions, and is a personal acquaintance of Ms. Richards. As someone who’s not a woman and is not in tech, I put a lot of weight behind her opinion.

    While I’m in the “she shouldn’t have done that” camp after reading multiple takes on the situation, including Aria Richards’, the misogynist explosion that has followed is never, ever OK. And I hope she finds employment soon, if she’s not hired back,

  39. Most of what I’d say about Standing With Aria has already been said (Who cares if the man has a wife and three children? I’m sorry, very sorry for the death and rape threats, but I’m not surprised.)

    But nobody has really mentioned that employers have WAY too much power to terminate employment, without cause, in this economic climate. I’m sorry that I’m probably not the best educated about this specific circumstance, or these companies, but it seems to me the root of this issue is someone (now two someones) being fired from their positions.

    1. ::: [Paraphrase: Whatever you’re complaining about, it’s all feminism’s fault.] Change the record, DB. ~ Moderator Team :::

  40. If these commenters are in any way representative of Adrian Richards’ workplace colleagues, I understand why she choose to handle the situation the way she did. I tremble to imagine what she must have to put up with in her everyday work life. It looks like a workplace behavior trainer could easily make a fortune consulting in the tech industry.

    1. Yes. I think you put your finger right on the underlying reality.

      Given the mounds of stuff that’s been written lately about geek culture, its pervasive sexism, and its unwillingness to change, I’m completely unsurprised that Adria discussed this in a public way. I can imagine acting similarly if I expected that little would be done by official channels to improve a hostile environment that has persisted for years, throughout the industry, with little consequence.

      Assuming they were written by industry peers, the numerous negative, dismissive, victim-blaming comments on this thread, as you’ve observed, trees, shows visible evidence as to how messed up the working environment in the industry is.

      1. @timberwraith

        From the maybe handful of people with whom I’m acquainted who work in the tech industry (all but one being young white men), I garnered the impression that it’s deep in boyish-man, Seth-MacFarlane-communication-style, geek culture, but I had no idea it was this bad. Is there any validity to my impression?
        Pobercita, much props to women, and especially women of color, working in the tech industry.

  41. I see it more as a privacy issue. The question is where we are in public, and where we are in private. I think the relatively gutless Andy Yang, at PlayHaven deserves a lot of the blame.

    But it is bullying, if by another name, to call someone out for doing something without first alerting them that it is offending you. Adria bullied these guys.

  42. A word on so-called “private jokes”: it doesn’t matter if “it isn’t about you.” If someone is making a rude, violent and/or inappropriate joke in your presence, within earshot, making no effort to conceal it, they are making you uncomfortable on purpose. They should know better and it’s bullshit to pretend they don’t. I was in an office once with four other guys and they told these kinds of jokes several times, all with the intent of excluding me, ridiculing me and making me feel so uncomfortable I would quit. I just got mad, and learned to do my job better than my boss did. That’s what actually got me fired. He called it “insubordination” when I showed him up and got compliments from the upper brass.

  43. This comment thread has been closed for the night. We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll open it in the morning.

  44. Pingback: Politics Power Sex
  45. After a much needed break over the weekend, comments are now being reopened on this thread, within some constraints. The thread is still fully moderated, and comments this time around are open only to feminist commentors.

    Many people have written some excellent rebuttals elsewhere to many of the talking points raised in this thread. Please link to them in comments below, and at intervals the OP will be updated to include those links as a signal-boost.

    Comments may take some time to be approved. I’m about to go take one aged parent to visit the other aged parent in hospital, and the other moderators have an equally busy day planned. We will get to them as soon as we can.

    I also wish to personally take responsibility for letting through the flood of dissenting comments on Friday – I looked only at our comments policy in a strict sense and didn’t take the pile-on effect sufficiently into account. The eventual decision to decline to publish comments that repeated criticisms of Adria that had already been made should have been in place from the beginning. Moderation this time around will not repeat those omissions.

  46. Why do so few in the comments section of articles supporting Ms. Richards fail to notice that nearly every writer mentions that Ms. Richards did not have the men fired, implying, and in many instances, (such as THIS ARTICLE HERE, by Jill,) saying outright, that the company who fired the man involved was over-reacting.

    Would that any of the trolls were as charitable about SendGrid’s reaction to the tweet.

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