Two Simple Observations, Regarding Women

I already made this observation over at Twitter, but it’s worth repeating here, as it has relevance to several current events:

If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.

I know. Seems obvious. And yet! Apparently it is not.

Let’s further acknowledge that the scope of this observation can be widened: If your response to anyone doing anything you don’t like is to threaten them with assault and death, they’re not the problem. But let’s also not pretend that we don’t know what the usual vector for threatening is, either.

Likewise, and related, and also with application to several current events:

If your response to a woman is indistinguishable from an angry 14-year-old boy with poor impulse control, reconsider your response. 

Again: Seems obvious. And yet.

253 thoughts on “Two Simple Observations, Regarding Women

  1. That actually reminds me of something that I have told my boys (ages 8 and 10) before: “You can’t control your anger – there are things people say and do that will make you angry, it’s just part of life. What you CAN control – and SHOULD – is your behavior when you are angry.”

    I am hoping that particular lesson sinks in before they are teenagers (and certainly before they are adults)…

  2. It’s kind of scary, going by what I see on line and elsewhere, how necessary those observations are. Thank you for making them.

  3. Well said. Seems to me that those rules apply to internet discussions, too. If a man’s well-considered and extraordinarily insightful remarks on rape or birth control or other personal subjects more female-oriented than not brings down upon you the wrath of scores of intelligent, reasonable women and men, perhaps those remarks aren’t nearly so darn insightful as a fellow might think.

    And as an OT addenda: My own opinion is that if a person is posting comments behind a false internet name, that person is not allowed to cite his/her own resume or professional certifications to back up said opinions. No true name, no resume.

  4. Once again, you’ve stated things that should be completely obvious…and yet so many people don’t get it.

    I expect this one will be going around a bit in the next few days too.

  5. If your response to anyone doing anything you don’t like is to threaten them with assault and death, they’re not the problem.

    That would seem to apply to this country as a sovereign entity, as well.

  6. Obviously, you are not talking about Texans. My Texas mom would slap the sh*t out of you if you were disrespectful to any woman. Also, you had better take that hat/cap off if you expect to eat at her table!
    You are required to open doors for all women and say “Thank you, Mam” as they pass by you.

  7. Guys, I deleted Ian Ironwood’s bit of trollage, and cleared off most of the immediate responses. Everyone who responded to him, don’t worry, you can still comment otherwise, but as a general reminder: Just because someone wants to derail a comment thread doesn’t mean you have to jump off the tracks with him.

  8. If your response to anyone doing anything you don’t like is to threaten them with assault and death

    Ugh. There are times where particular humans make me lose my faith in all humanity. I try not to stay there long, but still….

  9. If I may add, do not think that just because your response to a woman doing something you don’t like does not include threats of rape or death, it still doesn’t mean that you responded awesomely. That is just the very very minimal least you should be doing.

  10. I withheld my name because I am currently the victim of grown men acting like 4 year olds who have had a toy taken away from them. 9 months after breaking off an abusive relationship I’m being targeted not by the ex but by one of his friends WHO I HAVE NEVER MET. This has included a boast of hacking. Which was bullshit, but still.

    The most disturbing thing is that they think that, because I did not do what they wanted, that it is okay for them to digitally harass me. Thank goodness they are too far away to physically harass me otherwise I have no illusions about the discourse centering around rape and death. It boggles my mind that men I have never met would expend this much effort to try and scare me. To try to push me back into line…

    But that’s what it is. To them I’m a misbehaving woman because I left. I got “uppity,” and with that decision, in their minds, I committed a crime that condemns me to all the punishment they can dish out.

    Gentlemen, (I assume gentlemen and not cavemen read these comments) treat women like you yourself want to be treated. With respect. As a human. Even that line of “treat them like your mother or sister or daughter” can lead to some really abusive behavior because I bet these people WOULD abuse every woman they come into contact with. There is something flawed in that sort of perception.

    Sorry for the long concept. This is an idea I’ve been thinking about a lot.

  11. Pretty much makes it impossible to discuss the events prior to the death threats, because some people will simply invoke “But look! death threats!”

  12. Seems obvious. And yet…
    And yet there are a lot of idiots everywhere.
    “If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem”. Damn right. And I would add “You (the threatening dumbass) are the problem. Seek medical help right now: you probably need therapy”.
    Mr.Scalzi, your simple observations are brilliant, direct, without grey areas. As always. It’s a pity so many people woulnd’t even stop for a minute to choose their words and prefer to act like idiots or worse.

  13. @John: Well, issues with logging in to WordPress kept the screed I spent 40 minutes composing in reply to not be posted, so, I guess it’s all for the best,.

  14. @John: If obvious things wouldn’t need telling too, thousands of peoples would be out of jobs ;-).

  15. Perspective can be such a nasty thing. Especially when one loses sight of it. Amazingly, there are people so locked into their viewpoint, the concept of relating to others as one does oneself is like explaining a foggy day to a person born blind.

  16. Why bother to limit this observation to women? If your reaction to anything is to threaten death or rape then you are wrong. If someone actually physically attacks me, I won’t threaten anything, I’ll do it, anything less than that I won’t threaten or do.

    What does the gender have to do with it?

    Why are women the only ones allowed to have opinions on rape? 11-12% of reported rape victims are men, and I’ll bet whatever amount you’d like that fewer men report rape than women to begin with.

    Anyone here ever read a woman’s opinion on circumcision? Were they offended because she was a woman and couldn’t possibly understand a man’s issue?

  17. Aaah, a wild “What about the menz?!1?” post appears. It’s far less prevalent that a man stating an opinion will attract rape threats. See the woman who ran a kickstarter for a feminist video log, and the woman game programmer who got upset at all the put-downs she endured;

  18. @Woodman, I’m going to make the assumption that this post is related to the pycon thing, which you can Google, and in which apparently a bunch of men sent rape and death threats to a specific woman on Twitter. It’s sort of a weird situation and we don’t know all the details, but the point is that no matter what happened, if you’re sending rape and death threats to this person, you’re automatically more in the wrong than she is.

    Your other talking points are kind of weird and not relevant, imo.

  19. If we did not put physical prowess and might on such a pedestal, we might not be having this conversation about ‘might equals right’.

    I’m a woman, and maybe that’s why I see two men settling a dispute with their fists almost as bad as a man hitting a woman or child smaller than himself. Fighting never settles anything.

  20. “If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.”

    I’ve been haunted (in a “too many incidents remind me of it again” way, rather than a “I can’t leave my home” way) by an incident from a year or so ago wherein, due to a distribution error completely beyond the control of the author (or of the bemused publisher trying to figure out what had gone wrong), the print/paperback edition of her next book was released two weeks early. This was a MISTAKE, and the ebook edition remained on its regular release date, scheduled to go “live” at online vendors some two weeks hence.

    Because the ebook was NOT released -early-, ONLY the print book was… she was threatened with rape and death. She was denigrated as a whore, a slut, a bitch, etc. These comments were scattered around the web, as well as on the author’s website and in her email inbox.

    Note that: The female author was threatened with RAPE AND DEATH because… one edition of her book was MISTAKENLY released 2 weeks early and the other was NOT. Internet crazies (I feel it would be wholly unfair to normal fans to call these people “fans”) interpreted this as a conspiracy by the author and her publisher to FORCE them into buying the print edition–even after she explained publicly that (a) she never has anything whatsoever to do with distribution decisions and (b) this was NOT a distribution decision, it was a MISTAKE made by two major vendors, and both she and her publisher were unhappy about it, since it would skew her opening sales figures downward).

    So… due to not being able to buy the ebook edition until its long-announced official release date… these internet crazies threatened the author with RAPE AND DEATH, and called her numerous denigrating female-specific insults (whore, slut, etc.). Apparently it didn’t occur to these people they could just—oh, say, for example–grumble a little that they still had to wait 2 weeks to read a new book in their preferred format, and leave it at that. No, in their view, threatening the author with RAPE AND DEATH and cruelly maligning her was the proper response to discovering the ebook would not be distributed 2 weeks early just because the print edition was. (And, as an aside: Do these people NOT have TBR stacks to occupy them for two weeks???)

    This incident comes to mind over and over for me for many reasons, the main one being that it could happen to me (I write in the same genre for the same house–I think she and I even have the same editor) or to dozens of people whom I know (since I know a lot of women writers). I like to think that my readers are much too sane to behave that way… But maybe she thought so, too. Maybe ever writer who experiences something like this thought so before it happened…

  21. http://www.dailydot.com/society/pycon-dongle-joke-misogyny-sexism-adria-richards/

    programming conference. Two guys talking in audience make a “dongle” joke. Woman over hears and decides: “I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so,”

    She takes a picture of guy and posts it. Guy gets escorted out of conference. Guy gets fired.

    But she made a male-genitalia joke on Twitter a week earlier? And then she gets fired.

    Seems like this whole thing quickly devolved into lose-lose.

    jeebus.

  22. About a year after that, btw, Brandon Sanderson’s final book in Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME series were released, and it was announced that the ebook edition would not be released for a year. (This was a deliberate decision rather than a distributor error.) Sanderson was not threatened with rape or death. Jordan was not threatened with any any sort of posthumous equivalent of rape and death.

  23. The original comment certainly should apply to anyone.

    That said, we need to ask why women are far more likely to be the targets of such online threats. That’s really the point. The point isn’t that women are special and should have different protections. The point is that women are special in that they are much more likely to be targeted by immature fucktards.

  24. @Laura – seriously? Over a book?? (Well, threatening that over anything is inexcusable, but over something that inconsequential is staggering to me)

    Sadly I can believe it :(

  25. Woodman:

    “Why bother to limit this observation to women?”

    This suggests you didn’t bother to actually read the entry, as short as it was, otherwise you’d’ve known this was addressed directly.

    The rest of your post is you on a soapbox largely unrelated to anything that’s going on in the post, so we’re not going to have followup on any of that, in particular the issue of circumcision. I know the urge to derail a thread to talk about the things you think are important is powerful. But they’re not actually important in the context of this thread, so let’s not.

    DonCon:

    My experience is when people leave comments of dubious quality that are almost entirely unrelated to the topic at hand, they’re not doing anything in the least useful at all, and may in fact be trolling.

  26. Good points from JS and the comments in general.
    Looking at root causes, so long as people relate to each other through the lenses of gender, culture or social status, instead of simply relating as human beings, you’ll have the idiot factor. Day by day more of us are choosing to be on the wiser road but, as a species, we have miles to go.

  27. “Aaah, a wild “What about the menz?!1?” post appears” How about what about people? Or now that you’ve labelled it does it mean you don’t have to think about it any more?

    I think this whole breed of issue is a very small percentage of people on the internet (And before that mail) that no one in their right mind defends. Having read some of the news on the pycon incident. A) Men telling dirty jokes or exceedingly thin innuendo in public need to clean it up. B) Flashing a twit pic and posting it shows a massive lack of social skills.

    And, this might be mansplaining, but getting offended at a dongle joke? I mean so offended that you have to “out” the offender? Distaste, disdain, judgement, yeah, but publishing it?

    I guess I don’t understand statements like the Scalzi’s original post. 99% of the people reading statements like, “Men shouldn’t threaten rape”, will agree. The other 1% won’t give a damn no matter how you phrase it.

    Does saying something like this, that’s blindingly obvious, do anything? The target audience doesn’t listen, and everyone else agrees.

  28. Mr. Scalzi, while I appreciate the fact that I totally lost focus and rambled for the last 2/3rds of my first post. I didn’t see anything in the post you made, that I read all of, that indicated what particular incident you were referring to.

    I guess I should have just not commented because it wasn’t for me, my mistake. The post regarding pycon didn’t show up until after I posted so I should have waited and I would have been enlightened.

    Comments about “usual vector” don’t really flow on the internet. Women can be just as nasty and vindictive on the internet as men. As this woman is finding out as her fellow travelers dog pile her for “ruining it for other women” or whatever asinine excuse they are using to abuse her.

  29. Greg: She takes a picture of guy and posts it. Guy gets escorted out of conference. Guy gets fired.

    The guy(s), plural, were not escorted from the conference. They were asked to be mindful of their language.

    Afterwards of them was fired from the company they both work for. Their employer, PlayHaven, has publicly stated that there were multiple factors involved in the dismissal, a statement which is supported by the fact that the other employee kept his position.

    As far as her making a joke on twitter? Twitter’s code of conduct doesn’t ban jokes to friends about stuffing socks in their pants, which was the joke she made. PyCon does have a code of conduct asking people to be professional, and to not make jokes of a sexual nature because they might offend other attenders.

    She was offended by unprofessional behavior. She asked the conference to address it. They did.

    They were not kicked out, and she never once suggested that either man should be fired. PlayHaven made that decision on their own.

    A choice for which they’ve faced basically no backlash; meanwhile she and her friends (some of whom, full disclosure, are friends of mine) have been threatened with rape and death, Anonymous DDoSed her personal website as well as her employers’, and threatened her employer with cybercrimes until the fired her. And people are calling her gendered and racial slurs under their real names (because apparently they only think it’s cool for your employer to hold you accountable for what you say on social media if you’re a woman of color).

    All this because she asked a conference to talk to some dudes about making dick jokes.

    Which, by the way, they were doing during a talk.

  30. Sorry–hit send too fast. Last line should read:

    Which, by the way, they were doing during a talk. They were being rude not just to the rest of the audience, but also the speakers–so it was hardly out of line for the conference to ask them to stop.

  31. The whole situation is depressing. The developer didn’t deserve to lose his job, but that’s on his company, not on the blogger. The blogger didn’t deserve to lose her job either, which reflects poorly on her company too.

    But there’s no excuse for the horrific amount of abuse that’s been flung around. “Why limit this observation to women?” someone asks. Because it’s only women who get rape and death threats and other personal attacks made against them. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a man is wrong on the internet, people will attack his argument. But if a woman is wrong? People skip the argument and attack her directly instead. It’s so predictable, and so depressing. Why can’t we be better than this? Why can’t people see that’s NEVER an acceptable way to behave, regardless of who’s right or wrong? Humanity, I despair of you.

  32. Woodman: How about what about people?

    Hello there! Judging by your question, I assume today is your first day on the internet. Congratulations! And welcome to the wonders of connectivity.

    In answer to your question, people often are inspired to post something on their blog because of something specific that happened in the news recently. This specific event is often a catalyst for more generalized statements, often within the same post. This phenomenon is called “conversation”. With your recently acquired internet connectivity, you too can enjoy this thing called “conversation”.

    In the above example at the top of this page, Scalzi was responding to a specific event of a woman getting many, many death threats. In response to this, Scalzi posted: If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.

    But since this is part of that phenomenon called “conversation”, this specific statement about this specific event not surprisingly evolved into a more general statement about people in general:

    Scalzi: Let’s further acknowledge that the scope of this observation can be widened: If your response to anyone doing anything you don’t like is to threaten them with assault and death, they’re not the problem.

    I assume that your promontory abode did not expose you to this thing called “conversation” and your newly acquired access to the “internet” has caused you no end of wonder and awe. And again, Welcome! This is the wonder of the internet. Other forms of conversation might start with specific events such as a thing called “the weather”, or specific actions you or someone else may have taken in the hours prior to the question “How was your day?” is asked. The specific events lead to the specific query, and then larger generalizations usually follow soon afterwards as time permits.

    So, in summary, a specific incident at PyCon, a genitalia joke told between two men in the audience of a panel, overheard by a woman, the woman complained, the man lost his job. The woman recieved numerous death threats. This lead to the initial entry point for the “conversation” that was the original post, adn then the conversation expanded from the specific incident to the more general.

    Best wishes in enjoying your new found connectivity! And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

  33. If we did not put physical prowess and might on such a pedestal, we might not be having this conversation about ‘might equals right’.

    I’m a woman, and maybe that’s why I see two men settling a dispute with their fists almost as bad as a man hitting a woman or child smaller than himself. Fighting never settles anything.

    It seems to me that fighting, at various levels of organization, settles quite a few things, such as, whether group A can displace group B from their homes and occupy them. There is absolutely no guarantee that the winner is in the right, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a winner.

  34. ” Because it’s only women who get rape and death threats and other personal attacks made against them.”

    Really? I would not be surprised at all if the operator of this website has gotten threats. It’s pretty hard to not piss off the crazies. And that’s my point. Everyone is taken to task, because of a group of people everyone but themselves labels crazy.

    What is happening to this woman sucks. And it shouldn’t happen to anyone, regardless of the reason. I can’t think of a single thing that anyone could do that would warrant threats of rape or murder. But it happens. I don’t know how those people think.

    Just like I don’t understand people who bomb abortion clinics, or those who spike trees. I think that’s why I call them crazy, they don’t run by the same rules regular people do.

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a man is wrong on the internet, people will attack his argument.”

    Consider the source of the Gamma Rabbit shirt.

  35. Why are women the only ones allowed to have opinions on rape?

    Why are you assuming that everyone commenting on this thread and the previous one is female?

  36. Annalee: As far as her making a joke on twitter? Twitter’s code of conduct doesn’t ban jokes to friends about stuffing socks in their pants, which was the joke she made.

    I don’t think you really want to argue from the point of view of “what SHE did was OK because she didn’t break any agreed upon ‘code of conduct’ rules”.

    Much of the Steubenville thread was people asking men to stop other men from telling rape jokes even when the rape joke is told privately. So, you seem to be suggesting a slight double standard here.

  37. I notice we’ve gone from “rape and death threats and other personal attacks” to “threats” from “crazies” all in one step. And I bet (although I’m sure Our Host can say better, and I’m pretty certain he has) that that was appropriate, for that’s what happens to him. Threats from crazies. But not, say, today-snapped cellphone pictures of the front of his house, with a suggestion of what his evening was going to feel like with his legs in the air, as I know has happened in at least one other case.

    I wonder what that step was. Maybe, just maybe, it was a Y step instead of an X step?

    Oh, and nice use of judicious editing on the last quote. Context? What’s context?

  38. @ Chris: Yes, over a book. In fact, over an ebook NOT being released 2 weeks EARLY just because, through a distributor mistake, the print book was released 2 weeks early.

    It really brought home to me something Catherynne Valente had written prior to that (I paraphrase): To be a woman on the internet is to be threatened with rape and death; over a long enough timeline, the probability of your NOT being threatened with rape and death drops to zero.

  39. Note that the only part about the PyCon incident that is really applicable to John’s post is that Adria Richards got spammed with death-and-rape threats after it become public.

    The rest of that incident is a sad mess of stupidity on nearly all sides (except the PyCon people themselves) but in no sane world does her actions, nonconstructive though they were, come anywhere near excusing the rape threats she’s gotten.

    The men have gotten no such threats that I’ve heard of.

    That says nothing about the people directly involved at PyCon but does say a lot about how women in particular are targets of these threats online at the drop of a hat. Anyone who can’t see that is in massive denial.

  40. Another good post.

    @A targeted woman: I am sorry that you’d ever have to go through something like that. Any thing else I’d say just feels inadequate. Take care of yourself out there.

  41. @Woodman

    Really? I would not be surprised at all if the operator of this website has gotten threats.

    While the owner of this site does get hatemail and obnoxious comments, he has already mentioned that these sorts of violent abusive comments are not generally directed at him, or at most men on the web:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/08/31/the-sort-of-crap-i-dont-get/

    And yet, these are just the sorts of comments that women get every day in the most innocuous of situations. Whether the underlying discussion is knitting, tech, the weather, or even kittens, it doesn’t take long before mild disagreements turn to threats of rape and murder when a female dares to post something that someone somewhere finds offensive. When the offending poster is male, not so much.

    If we can’t even recognize that this is a real problem, there is no hope for finding a solution.

  42. Greg: It’s not ok to tell rape jokes because rape jokes aren’t funny, and contribute to a culture that normalizes rape. There are exceptions to that, but they’re not relevant right now because she didn’t tell a rape joke.

    And context matters. Telling a dick joke to a friend over an informal social network using a privately held account is different from telling one in the presence of strangers while representing your employer at a professional conference, in a community that has a longstanding problem with sexual harassment.

    By the same token, I can call a friend a hottie on a social network, and still find it offensive for a stranger to make lewd comments to/near me at a conference. Making a comment of a sexual nature in a particular context where one feels safe doing so is not the same as consenting to be subjected to comments of a sexual nature in every context, including potentially-hostile ones like tech conferences.

    You can unfollow/block people on twitter. You cannot unfollow the person sitting behind you who’s talking during a presentation. That’s why the codes of conduct are different, and that’s why the codes of conduct are relevant.

    ucblockhead: The men have gotten no such threats that I’ve heard of.

    PyCon organizer Jesse Noller reports that he is in fact getting threats. Which is also awful and grossly unfair.

  43. When I was seventeen, I’ve gotten rape-threats over a cartoon character I liked, so, yeah. It got bad enough I had to leave that particular internet handle behind, completly with associated email and webpage.

  44. And before they trot out the “it’s just the craaaaaazies!” excuse.

    Nope. Was from upstanding members of that community. Which, incidentially, got covered by other upstanding members with “they were just playing around, stop being so sensitive”. Their behaviour got lauded and supported as good people.

  45. Annalee “…All this because she asked a conference to talk to some dudes about making dick jokes.”

    That’s not correct. She turned around, smiled at them, took their picture and then publicly tweeted it. She did not go to a event organizer and privately ask them to talk to the guys. Also, a lame joke about dongles is barely a dick joke. Forking a repo? Again, lame but also a developer term. Let’s not pretend they were making sexually explicit dick jokes because that’s not what went on. As far as them talking during a presentation… look at that picture. There are hundreds of developers at that talk. Do you really think people all sit in rapt silence at a presentation that size?

    What should she have done? Probably said something like “Hey guys, really don’t want to hear about your dongles…” – they likely would have been embarrassed, mumbled an apology and that would have been that. Too intimidating for her? Well, let’s keep in mind that she’s a developer evangelist. Her job is to talk to developers and she had it presumably because she was decent at relating to them and talking to them. Being suddenly shy about saying something like that feels a little convenient. But if she did feel uncomfortable doing that she could have either said something to them after the talk or gone to a convention staffer.

    Final points – it’s hypocritical of her to claim offense at a lame junior high level dongle joke when she was *during that same conference* making penis jokes on Twitter to her thousands of followers (yes, thousands. Did you think she had a few dozen followers and it blew up like this? She has over 10,000 followers on Twitter).

    And finally, of COURSE all of the threats to her are incredibly out of bounds. Any intelligent person can criticize her actions here without even thinking of threats much less posting them. The people who make threats, whether serious or as a troll, are sexist asshats and should be ashamed of themselves.

    Not knowing any of the participants myself, I still find myself agreeing with this post – http://amandablumwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/3/ that we all lost in this one. The people involved lost reputation and jobs, Adria is the recipient of threats that should never be made against anyone, male or female, and the community once more descends into posturing and emotion with precious little reflection about what we could learn from this one.

  46. Annalee: And context matters.

    If I tell racist jokes in private, and then get offended when I hear someone tell the exact same joke in public, I’m a hypocrit. I don’t get to defend my hypocricy on the grounds of “context matters”. That’s crazy. I don’t like racist jokes. So I don’t tell them anywhere, public or private. The end.

  47. Woodman:

    “I would not be surprised at all if the operator of this website has gotten threats. It’s pretty hard to not piss off the crazies.”

    Lots of people have already pointed you to the “Crap I Don’t Get” piece, which generally continues to hold true. And while I piss off lots of people, the fact is the quality and intensity of their anger toward me is substantially different, in no small part because the typical avenues of intimidation (i.e., threats of sexual violence, disclosure of where I live) aren’t particularly effective in my case.

    Again, the piece notes that anyone can be an asshole to anyone. But the focus is on men being assholes to women, because that’s where I want the focus to be.

    Rickg17, Annalee:

    Not entirely sure if there’s much to be gained by Monday morning quarterbacking the precipitating event at PyCon. What we can say is that in the aftermath, the woman involved started getting threats. That’s pretty much the focus here.

  48. Another observation:

    If you insist on behaving like an angry 14 year-old with impulse control issues don’t be at all surprised if you’re treated like one and excluded from grown-up society.

  49. @rickg17, did you notice you have that backwards? “Of course the threats are awful, but we need to talk about what REALLY led up to them” — well, no, actually, we don’t; we should be talking about the fact that the reaction of “the community” when it doesn’t like what a woman said or did is to threaten rape and death, and then to descend into denial and nitpicking when that is pointed out.

  50. Scalzi: You’re right. My problem is that criticizing her actions in a discussion about how wrong it is to threaten to rape her is a form of victim-blaming–which is what I should have said in the first place instead of trying to argue the specifics of her behavior. This situation hit close to home, and I’m not as on-the-ball as I should be.

  51. mythago: did you notice you have that backwards? “Of course the threats are awful, but we need to talk about what REALLY led up to them”

    It would appear that you have it entirely backwards and upside down given that rickg never actually said that nasty bit you put in quotation marks. But it sure makes it easier to demonize him.

  52. Deep breaths, everyone. And Greg, you’ve been spun up more than usual over the last couple of days, so I want you in particular to pay attention to how you are responding to others.

  53. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a man is wrong on the internet, people will attack his argument.”

    Consider the source of the Gamma Rabbit shirt.

    Okay, lets. That guy, I think, falls well into the batshit side of the crazy scale and he did… what? There were no threats on Scalzi’s person or threats made to his family or his pets. No houses were going to be burned down. Nope. John was mocked. Mercilessly. Oh, the shame. I’m sure it was the most devastating thing that happened to him that entire morning

    One of John’s most rabidly loony-pants admirers goes nuts and it manages to be adorable. John laughs and we get posts about kittens.

    True, the argument wasn’t attacked. I’ll give you that. But the attack on John’s person(hood) was just so darned silly and pathetic that it barely registers. Now imagine if John were a woman. Oh, wait, you don’t have to imagine. Plenty of women have already said what it is like for them. And it doesn’t involve them being called “beta females”.

  54. Mythago – Perhaps I was unclear, but I was trying to talk about two different things. One thing iare the events at the conference and what happened there. Were their jokes over the line? Was she right or not to publicly call them out? What are good ways to address a situation like that? The second thing is the reaction that happened when the developer was fired and Adria started getting threats.

    I’d like to think we can talk about the actions of the two devs who were making the jokes, Adria’s actions around that incident and the reactions of the companies and the convention staff without that being considered victim blaming. I think it’s transparently obvious she shouldn’t be blamed for people making threats and that those threats are out of bounds. However if, because of the threats that happened later, we can’t talk about the actions of the participants BEFORE those threats without it being labeled victim blaming then we lose something. If, because of the threats, any criticism of what she did is going to be labeled victim blaming then we’re shutting down discussion of how someone can handle those situations. If, by pointing out that she was at least a bit hypocritical to make dick jokes then claim to be offended in a different situation the only response is “victim blaming” then we just have a contest of mobs shouting at one another.

  55. Hi there. I read a lot, but don’t usually comment. Today, however, I just felt moved to say thanks. I’ve gotten a lot of messages over the years regarding who I’m supposed to be as a woman that are simply unfair, limiting, patronizing, and sometimes very hurtful.

    What you do is very different – you confront the prejudices and structures that try to keep women “in their place.” Thank you so much for that. That makes me hopeful.

    God bless.

  56. PS: Mythago – I was going to let it go, but I really do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth by wrapping quotes around something I never said. Try not to do that.

  57. Your two observations are correct and unobjectionable, and yet…

    It is a fact of modern life that for almost any controversy that gains the attention of large numbers of people, a very small fraction of those people are going to say horrible, unacceptable things on twitter. They do it because that’s what angry, stupid, pseudo-anonymous people with poor impulse control do. There are always going to be stupid people saying horrible things on the internet about every controversy. It does not need to turn into a overblown narrative about “rape culture” or how “the community” reacted every single time. “the community” did not threaten to rape or kill anyone, individual morons did that.

  58. Really? I would not be surprised at all if the operator of this website has gotten threats.

    @Woodman: I can’t speak for our host, but pissed off some people on the internet over the years. Certainly had a fair amount of racist and homophobic smack talk thrown in my direction. And it was certainly delightful seeing holding office in the youth wing of New Zealand’s major center-right political party described in print as “morally equivalent to being a Jewish Nazi.”

    But I’ve never, ever been told that I needed to be raped, or that I really need a dick in my mouth to stop me talking so much nonsense. I’ve never ever had hardcore pornography and rape-themed “art” posted to my Facebook timeline. I’ve never ever had my home address and phone number, or the contract details of my employer, posted on line with an invitation to “teach the uppity man-hating, baby-killing bitch a lesson”. I’ve never felt the need to withdraw from all on-line activity, change my phone numbers or even move house in an attempt to stem the tide of obscene and threatening harassment and intimidation.

    All the above and worse has happened to feminists, pro-choice and anti-rape activists — and, surprise, about the only thing they have in common is they’re all women. I’m not. I don’t think those two data points are entirely unreleated, @Woodman.

  59. rickg, you are right that I should have been clearer that I was paraphrasing you. You are still missing the point, though, which is that it is going down the victim-blaming rabbit-hole to start arguing about whether the speakers were assholes or the woman who reported them was a hypocrite. So what? If they were the douchiest douchemaples ever to douche out of Upper Doucheistan, or she was the biggest hypocrite since David Vitter’s ur-clone was forged on Earth Primus – does it change ANYTHING about the real issue, which is the response to her, and more generally to Scalzi’s point?

    The problem is that even if you think these are two different things, when you bring the barely-relevant thing up in the same conversation and give it the same airspace as the actual subject, you ARE linking them, you ARE making them equally important, even if your subjective intent is not to do so.

  60. rickg17: However if, because of the threats that happened later, we can’t talk about the actions of the participants BEFORE those threats without it being labeled victim blaming then we lose something

    Yes, that’s pretty much how it works.

    Greg: Pretty much makes it impossible to discuss the events prior to the death threats, because some people will simply invoke “But look! death threats!”

  61. Lawrence D’Anna:

    “It does not need to turn into a overblown narrative about ‘rape culture'”

    So you’re tired of hearing about the rape culture?

    I’ll note I made the observations above very specific because they are about a very specific sort of person, who is, basically, an asshole. However, and independently, I’ll also note that just because those observations are about very specific sorts of people, doesn’t mean those people don’t exist in a context. I don’t know enough about the specific community that PyCon serves to comment knowledgeably, but I wouldn’t be surprised is a large percentage of people are awesome decent wonderful people, and another percentage are assbags whose cretinous ways are still very much a problem for the group as a whole, and which, you know, needs to be addressed.

    This entry wasn’t about that, but since you brought it up, that’s (briefly) what I think about that.

  62. I think I need to start whipping up a “discussions about the treatment of women on the internet” bingo card. So far we had “but what about the men?”, “lets talk about how it’s her own fault”, “it’s just isolated cases of crazies” and “this topic is soooooooooooooooo overblown”.

    I think I still need a “it’s all the feminists fault!” and or a “if they were PROPER women, it wouldn’t happen to them” for that bingo.

  63. You do have to admire* someone so unhappy about discussion of rape culture that they think it is “overblown” to talk about it in the context of actual rape threats directed at actual women.

    *by which I mean, “gape in horrified astonishment”

  64. I’d like to think we can talk about the actions of the two devs who were making the jokes, Adria’s actions around that incident and the reactions of the companies and the convention staff without that being considered victim blaming

    I wouldn’t since now your trying to twist the conversation to a different topic than what John was talking about.

    Unconsciously, you’re minimizing the threats and the sexist nature of them. And that’s part of the problem.

  65. Pretty much makes it impossible to discuss the events prior to the death threats, because some people will simply invoke “But look! death threats!”

    Well, you’re right, Greg, just not in the way you think you’re being correct – I suspect. What do you think folks who say issue death threats or say “go get raped!” are trying to do? They’re not interested in any kind of discussion, as opposed to trying to harass and intimidate into silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Again, who’s the real problem here?

  66. rickg17: I’d like to think we can talk about the actions of the two devs who were making the jokes, Adria’s actions around that incident and the reactions of the companies and the convention staff without that being considered victim blaming.

    There’s a difference between talking about the actions of the participants, and talking about the actions of the participants in the comments of a blog post that’s specifically about the threats she’s receiving.

    When someone says ‘rape threats are bad’ and you say ‘look how she behaved,’ it is difficult not to infer that you think her behavior is relevant to whether or not rape threats are bad.

    I think it’s transparently obvious she shouldn’t be blamed for people making threats and that those threats are out of bounds.

    It may seem transparently obvious to you, but it is so painfully not obvious to enough people that bringing it up in a conversation about how rape threats are bad is not helping the signal/noise ratio re: the badness of rape threats.

  67. Well, you’re right, Greg, just not in the way you think you’re being correct – I suspect. What do you think folks who say issue death threats or say “go get raped!” are trying to do? They’re not interested in any kind of discussion, as opposed to trying to harass and intimidate into silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Again, who’s the real problem here?

    I know! I know! Because they feel they can intimidate someone they see as weaker, and someone they feel, metaphorically, could never kick the shot out of me no matter how out of line ey get.

  68. mythago: when you bring the barely-relevant thing up in the same conversation and give it the same airspace as the actual subject, you ARE linking them, you ARE making them equally important,

    No, that’s your invention. I brought up what happened because I’d never heard about it till this thread and posted a link for those of us just catching up. I did a quick paraphrase of the events.

    But at no point did I say anything to the direction of this wouldn’t have happened if she had just. AT no point did I suggest advice on how women can alter their behavior to avoid death threats. At no point, anywhere, did I make a link of causation that remotely suggested she brougth this on herself. At no point did I suggest in any way that the fucktards making death threats are like passive landmines and she did something to trip or trigger their reaction.

    Which means if you assert that’s what I did, then it’s because you’re making it up. Just like you made up that quote from rickg.

    I posted a link and a quick summary of the events leading up to the death threats for context. And the only personal evaluation I made initially was that it quickly devolved into lose-lose.

  69. Even a rape joke can be funny. BUT. Depends on the circumstances, and on who’s telling it. Sarah Silverman’s version in “The Aristocrats” is funny. But it also really hurts.

    Me, I wouldn’t tell one under any circumstances.

  70. We certainly can talk about PyCon: Rashomon Edition…..in an appropriate discussion about that topic. There are no Internet Police shutting down threads actually directed to who did what at PyCon.

    But this is a discussion about women in “the community” are attacked with sexualized threats in a way their male counterparts rarely are. And so dragging in a separate issue IS derailing, and even victim-blaming when it bleeds into suggestions that the target of these threats was kind of an asshole anyway.

  71. Folks:

    Since I did already note that rehashing the events leading up to the rape and death threats was not likely to gain us much, let me suggest we table that aspect of the conversation and focus on the part about the rape and death threats. And by “suggest” I mean “dudes, take the hint.”

  72. [I’m just gonna go ahead and delete this, to reinforce the point this particular line of discussion needs to be tabled — JS]

  73. Scalzi: I don’t know enough about the specific community that PyCon serves to comment knowledgeably, but I wouldn’t be surprised is a large percentage of people are awesome decent wonderful people, and another percentage are assbags whose cretinous ways are still very much a problem for the group as a whole, and which, you know, needs to be addressed.

    Your assessment of PyCon/the Python community is fairly accurate. One of the many depressing things about all this is that story out of PyCon should be that 20% of attenders were women, and that the Python community has been making huge strides towards becoming more inclusive.

    The percentage of Python coders who are cretins is, in my experience, much smaller than the percentage who are awesome, decent, wonderful people (and yeah I added a serial comma when repeating you because serial commas forever). But it’s not as easy to separate individuals in the community from the community as a whole when those individuals have a habit of negatively impacting your involvement in the community, and the community is still working (quite hard, granted) on not tolerating that.

  74. If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.

    Agreed.

    And you’re a politician and if your response to your political opposition over a difficult debate is to label them “terrorists”, “hostage-takers”, with a “gun to the nation’s head” then they’re not the problem.

    *Cough*Obama*Cough!*

  75. So this entry is about whatever originated at PyCon? Just trying to clarify, since I couldn’t find any specific reference in the original post.

  76. John–With all due respect your initial post above frustrated me mightily. You make the statements because of recent current events and say as much. Did you assume we your readers would immediately know to what events you were referring? If so, the assumption was invalid in my case. I was clueless as to why you wrote the post. I had to waste about a quarter of an hour reading down through the comments to get some clear inkling of the current events you had in mind. I want my quarter of an hour back! I know, I know, you can write your posts here any [expletive deleted] way you please as is your right. But I respectively request that you not do this often. Some of us out here are totally not on the social networking digital world (twitter, etc) by affirmative choice–in my case too may teachers losing their jobs over posts to their social network accounts by others. Oh, for the record, you are absolutely, totally right in your observations in the post. AMEN.

  77. @Greg: I’ll just note I’ve read your lengthy response directed at me and leave it there. I believe our host is not only waving us off this line of discussion, but clearing his throat while glancing significantly at the mallet holster. My insurance doesn’t cover self-inflicted blunt force trauma. :)

  78. another percentage are assbags whose cretinous ways are still very much a problem for the group as a whole, and which, you know, needs to be addressed.

    Cretins and assbags are very much a problem for the Internet as a whole, and every community that interacts on the Internet, and yet, there aren’t a lot of ways of dealing with them. It does not seem fair to me to say, “See, look at these cretins. they are your cretins. You are responsible for the assbaggery that they have perpetrated.” (I realize you haven’t said that, but other people have, in comments here, and elsewhere) What’s the python community (or any community) supposed to do to prevent this? All you can do is acknowledge that, yes, these guys are assholes and their behavior is unacceptable, and move on.

    It seems like every time there’s a controversy like this, cretins show up, and then the conversation becomes about the cretins, instead of about whatever it was about before. Well, we knew right from the start that the cretins were going to show up. When they do show up, right on schedule, it doesn’t prove that the python community is sexist, or “rape culture” or much of anything. All it proves is that there are a lot of people on the Internet, some portion of those people are assholes, and the semi-anonymity of the Internet tends to exacerbate people’s per-existing tendency towards assholery.

  79. Gary Willis:

    The PyCon things was only one contributing factor to the post. There were others as well within the space of the week.

    Scorpius:

    Every time to you bring unrelated politics into a comment thread, a kitten goes hungry. Please think of the kittens.

  80. Smoofra:

    “All you can do is acknowledge that, yes, these guys are assholes and their behavior is unacceptable, and move on.”

    I’m not sure “move on” is all you can do, if by “move on” you mean “acknowledge it and then do nothing about it.” After all, if the behavior is unacceptable then why accept it?

    Likewise:

    “When they do show up, right on schedule, it doesn’t prove that the python community is sexist”

    On the other hand if a community simply accepts their bad behavior, then it’s perfectly reasonable to say it condones sexism, because it does nothing about it.

    You know, one way to eventually discourage the assbags from showing up it to make it clear that the community doesn’t support assbaggery and back it up not just with words but with actions. Eventually the unchangeable assbags will go away, and the ones who are assbags by osmosis will get over it. That takes more than just “moving on.”

    And it’s not impossible to do; it’s just work. This corner of the IntarWeebs is relatively assbag free because I want it to be and I work at it (and when they show up, I shut them down). If a community makes it clear in its workplaces, discussion spaces and conferences/conventions that assbaggery is not welcome, then it begins to make a difference. It’s slow work, and in the meantime those who are affected by the assbaggery have a right to complain. But slow work is better than no work.

  81. Smoofra: when you have to deal with that portion of people, in the course of your professional life, then people saying “What’s the python community (or any community) supposed to do to prevent this? All you can do is acknowledge that, yes, these guys are assholes and their behavior is unacceptable, and move on.” is frustrating.

    There’s plenty the Python community can do about it–and, for the record, there’s plenty the Python community is doing about it. 20% women at a tech conference is huge. A good percentage of speakers were also women; there were three organizations present who are dedicated to improving things for women in tech; the conference publicized and enforced an anti-harassment policy; and PyLadies managed to raise something like $10,000 for their activities–which include scholarships to get women to conferences (which is significant because there’s not just fewer of us, but we are less likely to be in positions where our employers will pay our fare).

    These jerks are not a force of nature, and I refuse to accept that we should just let their behavior go unremarked because it’s normal. It’s worth mentioning that most of them are not even hiding behind anonymity. They’re coming out and saying horrible things under their full wallet names, because the tech community is a place where a white man can call a black female colleague a n***** b**** in a public forum and not have to worry that doing so might cost him personally and professionally.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened. These are the issues we deal with every day as women in tech: the possibility that if we challenge the hostile parts of our culture, we might be stalked, threatened, hacked and harassed; our employers bullied into firing us; the entire internet picking through our history looking for evidence that it’s ok to treat us like shit.

    And they will always find some reason. Some way we didn’t handle the situation absolutely perfectly; some evidence that we’re not perfect angels so we shouldn’t call other people out.

    This is where we work. This is how we feed our families. And this is what we have to put up with to do that. Is it really so wrong of us to ask our community to do better?

  82. John,

    I used to volunteer at the humane society feeding and finding homes for adult cats during HS. And I donate every year. So it all balances out. :)

    But seriously, the first two sentences are true.

  83. Smoofra:

    “What actions do you suggest?”

    Not my circus, not my monkeys. By which I mean, it’s not my responsibility to tell a community I’m not engaged in how to solve its problems. Rumor has it, however, that the people in that particular community are not stupid; maybe they can figure it out. What I do know is that if the response is “there’s nothing to be done” then nothing will get done. In which case, the assbags will make that community continue to look bad, and those in the community don’t really have much standing to complain when they do.

  84. I’m not sure “move on” is all you can do, if by “move on” you mean “acknowledge it and then do nothing about it.” After all, if the behavior is unacceptable then why accept it?

    Quite. Also, Adria Richards posting photographs of people on social media without their consent may well cross all kinds of lines (it does with me), it doesn’t mitigate or reduce the initial jerkiness of of grown men acting like frat-boys at a kegger in public. Hell, I’ve got one hell of a potty mouth but time and place, folks. Time and place.

  85. I guess I hang out in a different part of the internet in general. Most conservative sites I frequent have several peace loving tolerant people who wish for the death and dismemberment of the less tolerant and peace loving blog host. A couple of them have been swatted, an experience I don’t think I ever want to have.

    I look at the rape and motherhood hits as people trying to get in someone’s skin. They aren’t going to tell me that they are going to rape me or that I’m a horrible mother because in their world those aren’t things men are afraid of. They are going to threaten my kids, they are going threaten my manhood, threaten to kick my ass, damage my image of myself, and anything else they would be scared of.

    As for the “It’s the crazies!” I’m not sure why that is dismissed so out of hand. Get a group of people you know together and ask them if it’s ok for them to threaten to rape a woman. Get them to get their friends together and ask them the same question. You’ll eventually find the guy who thinks he can make everything funny who tries to joke about it, and then you’ll find the guy that everyone thinks is a little off his rocker who will say it depends on what she said or did. Saying that all of society is sick because of a few sick individuals is a problem.

    These people wouldn’t post on a black man’s site calling him a honkey, they wouldn’t post on a Jewish man’s site accusing him of popery. So why is it a shock when the assholes hit women where it hurts?

    How do you stop this sort of thing? I’ve walked away from situations like this in real life, on the internet does that mean you block the assholes?

  86. the tech community is a place where a white man can call a black female colleague a n***** b**** in a public forum and not have to worry that doing so might cost him personally and professionally.

    Really? Because in the universe I live in, that’s a summary firing offense in every company in America. Your universe sounds awful.

  87. unfortunately, in the SendGrid situation, acting like a 14 year old worked.
    Hard to demand people change their behavior when they get what they want by behaving that way.

  88. Annalee:

    Again I ask, what should be done about it? It’s not like the behavior is tolerated per se. People will generally delete comments containing death threats. But the python community does not control every form of communication on the internet. To an extent, jerks are a force of nature. What more can or should be done beyond standard kinds of site moderation?

  89. Woodman:

    “How do you stop this sort of thing? I’ve walked away from situations like this in real life, on the internet does that mean you block the assholes?”

    Here I delete comments that are out of line (as defined by the site’s comment policy), and in other places if there’s a “block” function I will often use that. In the latter case it means that people here are generally polite and follow the site rules. If they don’t they don’t last very long.

  90. @Smoofra:

    The worse possible start is to say “jerks are just a force of nature, wotcha gonna do?” A human shaped asshole is not a storm front or a flood plain you’ve just got to put up with, and mitigate the damage as best you can. Whether its a blog or a con, a better place to start is have clear, explicit and rigorously enforced standards of behavour; and transparent channels of communication where concerns can be voiced, and more importantly genuinely heard.

    Like so much else in life, it’s only rocket science if you really want it to be.

  91. Again I ask, what should be done about it?

    Honestly, Smoofra, today has put me through the ringer. I’m not in a good place to walk you through the various positive measures that are being taken. The Ada Initiative is a great resource if you’re looking for information on positive action being taken to change the culture.

    It’s not like the behavior is tolerated per se.

    It is, actually. A friend of mine was sexually assaulted at a tech conference by someone who was there representing their employer. Police were involved. He wasn’t fired.

    Anonymous DDoSed Adria’s employers and rather than standing up for her, they caved to bullying and fired her.

    Women who speak to open-source organizations about bad behavior within their communities are regularly dismissed or ignored.

    Tech startups regularly engage in juvenile, sexist behavior (like hiring models to wear skimpy clothes to their events or plastering their advertising with sexualized images of women), and when called out on it, just double-down instead of apologizing and promising not to do it again.

    Speakers include naked women in their slides or make comments insinuating that women aren’t technically skilled, and they get invited to keep speaking at other events. The list goes on.

    People will generally delete comments containing death threats.

    As of a few hours ago, SendGrid wasn’t deleting them off their facebook page. Look up Adria Richards on twitter and you’ll see a steady stream of the worst sort of vitriol. A lot of tech blogs either don’t moderate comments, or don’t moderate them sufficiently.

    What more can or should be done beyond standard kinds of site moderation?

    Standard kinds of site moderation would be an excellent start. Conferences committing not to invite speakers with a history of saying racist, heterosexist, and misogynistic things is another good step. Conferences adopting and enforcing detailed anti-harassment policies are on the rise, but there are still many who don’t have them.

    And, of course, the tech community could stop acting like ‘rockstar’ behavior is a positive trait in employees, and refuse to employ people who can’t manage a basic level of professionalism and decency. There are very few industries where people can be as openly misogynistic and racist as programmers can be without expecting to hear about it from their employer.

  92. cranapia:

    Where where are all the python related blogs and cons where death threats are tolerated? People do mitigate the damage as best they can. There are standards of behavior, and they are enforced.

  93. smoofra,
    It would be nice, and also polite and respectful, if you engaged in some brainstorming and thoughtfulness on “what can my community do?” instead of just demanding that other people solve the problem and spoon feed you some answers. That would be nice.

  94. oakdilettante:

    It would be nice if people didn’t denigrate and attack entire professions and communities for the actions of individuals that they neither tolerate, condone, or accept.

  95. [Deleted because it tries to jumpstart a line of discussion I’ve already said should be closed — JS]

  96. Smoofra, are you asking because you don’t think she got death threats, or because you think the threats are coming from people outside the Python community just looking for a woman to threaten for the fun of making rape threats? If it’s the latter, does that make it better?

  97. [Deleted for responding to a deleted comment, and being a bit stabby besides. Play nice, folks — JS]

  98. There are standards of behavior, and they are enforced.
    actions of individuals that they neither tolerate, condone, or accept.

    Honestly, Smoofra, if that’s your takeaway from all this, I can only conclude that you’re not paying attention.

    Pointing out that the tech community has problems is not ‘denigrating and attacking entire professions and communities,’ especially since most of the folks pointing out these problems are programmers ourselves, and active participants in these communities. If you upscroll you will see me expressing a great deal of praise for the Python community.

    But we still have hell of a lot of work to do, and pretending that we’re already doing great at enforcing standards, and that the community doesn’t tolerate/condone/accept this behavior is both not helpful and demonstrably not true.

  99. @smoofra:

    Sorry to bust your bubble, but a woman I know (the only upper-management female outside of HR in a small manufacturing company) was told by the Executive Director of the company, in a meeting in front of the rest of the male management team, that she needed to go home and cook for her husband because she wasn’t capable of doing her job at the office. When she complained to the FEMALE head of HR she was told she needed to get over it because “that’s just what women have to deal with in this field.” This happened less than four years ago and no, the ED was not fired.

    It’s not a death threat or a threat of rape, no, but it rises from the same place–some part of that ED was convinced that that woman was less of a person than the men around her. To say that this sort of behavior is not tolerated in our society is a load of crap.

  100. Smoofra said
    It would be nice if people didn’t denigrate and attack entire professions and communities for the actions of individuals that they neither tolerate, condone, or accept.

    then don’t tolerate, condone or accept it.

  101. I think we need to put a cap on the Smoofra line of discussion, because it seems unlikely to get any further resolved at this point and additional discussion on the subject will just make people (more) cranky. It’s also gotten reasonably far away from the original thrust of the post.

  102. mike75:

    Oh I don’t doubt that she got death threats, or that they came from members of the Python community. What I’m saying is:

    Death threats are not ever ok. Those responsible should be ostracized, banned, etc.

    This is the internet, there is always a crazy person making death threats. This does not mean that the Python community is sick, or negligent. It does not mean that the previous discussion concerning pycon is now irrelevant because ZOMG DEATH THREATS.

    If you have a better idea of how to deal with trolls than banning/moderation/ignoring them, then you should go out and implement it, because there is a huge unmet demand for forums that are capable of this. However, it’s a very hard problem, and the Python community should not be blamed for not having solved the problem of civility on the Internet once and for all.

    We actually are slowly getting better at the whole civility / signal to noise problem on the Internet. For example Stack Overflow does much better job of it than similar sites that came before. But progress is slow.

  103. ===== Death threats are not ever ok. Those responsible should be ostracized, banned, etc. =====

    Actually, more than that…a lot more. Violent threats are a crime and should be treated as such. Log the conversation, Log the IP and alert the service providers and forum. Always!

  104. Oh yeah….and alert the local Law Enforcecement!!!!

    Threats of violence should never be tolerated or go unreported.

  105. Smoofra, please see the note above asking to wrap up this particular line of conversation. Thanks.

    Also: Closing up the comment thread for the night. It’ll reopen in the morning. Sleep well, everyone.

    Update: Comments back up, later than I intended. Whoops!

  106. Annalee: Tech startups regularly engage in juvenile, sexist behavior (like hiring models to wear skimpy clothes to their events or plastering their advertising with sexualized images of women), and when called out on it, just double-down instead of apologizing and promising not to do it again. Speakers include naked women in their slides or make comments insinuating that women aren’t technically skilled, and they get invited to keep speaking at other events. The list goes on.

    I’ve been in technology for… oh god I’m old… lets just say a long long time. I’ve never seen whatever company I worked for use models in skimpy clothes to push product. I’ve never seen naked women on presentation slides. I don’t recall any speaker I’ve gotten training or whatever work related information from insnuate that women aren’t technically skilled. Usually whenever I start a new job, the company has me do a bunch of training first, and that usually includes stuff like “how to fill out your time card” and anti-harassment training of some sort or another.

    On the other hand, I’ve never worked for a real and true startup company, and I think python is the devil’s handiwork.

    So, I’m not saying you didn’t see the stuff you saw. But it’s not everywhere. And it seems that the tech culture I’ve been working in at least has some kind of systemic solutions in place to fix the problem of harassment.

  107. SQUICK ALERT. although if you are reading about this topic anywhere, you are probably squicked out completely. I know I am

    When I was a young lass, I discovered in a fight with my brother Joe over something stupid that I could shut him up immediately by kicking him in the nuts.

    My mother and stepfather had a very long conversation with me about kicking nuts. Its a valuable weapon, they said, but can ONLY be used when you are in danger of death. It’s not for locking down your dibs spot on the couch or for getting the last word in a debate. Dont even threaten it, they said, as it is a terrible thing to do to a male. Dont kick guys in the nuts. Hands, feet and blunt objects off the nuts.

    I am reasonably sure that they did not have the same conversation with my brothers about rape. That is too bad. Women get talked out of even hinting that they can protect themselves by using the nutsack as a punching bag. Not so men and rape.

    I’ve been raped. Too bad that I got so many lectures about the sanctity of the nuts that it never occurred to me to kick him there, grab and pull or otherwise use the male achilles heel to save myself. I wasnt in danger of dying, although it changed my life forever.

    Its funny how it seems ok to threaten rape like rape is the go to angry retort. Hell, I’ve seen it on the internets in reference to the Stubenville rapists, “Oh, those boys will get their taste of rape in prison.”
    Rape of rapists isnt any more right than the rape they committed. That is another part of our rape culture. Oh, we kill people who kill people and we close our eyes to the rape of rapists. Neither is really anything more that revenge.

    Either we go full on eye for an eye or we try our best to be civilized and not only teach our girls to not kick nutsacks but also teach everyone that rape is the nutsack kick of everyone it happens to. (that sentence is poorly worded, but you get the picture) and that rape is completely unacceptable. for anyone by anyone. Or we move on to rapists being punished by a repeated nutsack kicking for the exact amt of time they raped.
    I dont want that, really, although the idea of kicking my rapist in the nuts over and over for 20 mins times once a month for 14 months sounds kinda good. But it is not. Men must be taught by their parents, by schools and by society that touching women against their will is the equivalent of a repeated nutsack kick that aches for the rest of your life.

  108. I’m sorry that that happened to you, Aunti Laura. Great comment though. I particularly want to highlight this bit:

    I’ve seen it on the internets in reference to the Stubenville rapists, “Oh, those boys will get their taste of rape in prison.”
    Rape of rapists isnt any more right than the rape they committed. That is another part of our rape culture. Oh, we kill people who kill people and we close our eyes to the rape of rapists. Neither is really anything more that revenge.

    I don’t have anything to add to that; I just wanted to see it again, in bold and offset.

  109. I’ve been in technology for… oh god I’m old… lets just say a long long time. I’ve never seen whatever company I worked for use models in skimpy clothes to push product. I’ve never seen naked women on presentation slides. I don’t recall any speaker I’ve gotten training or whatever work related information from insnuate that women aren’t technically skilled. Usually whenever I start a new job, the company has me do a bunch of training first, and that usually includes stuff like “how to fill out your time card” and anti-harassment training of some sort or another.

    I’ve worked for nothing other than technology startups pretty much my entire career, and I can second your observations. There is a “booth babe” for every company at pretty much every trade show on Earth. That is usually an attractive woman dressed professionally that can articulate clearly whatever it is we’re selling. I’ve also worked at companies where all the account managers were all highly qualified and also happened to be beautiful women, because they were selling primarily into a male dominated space. Point is, yes, that’s a hawt chick. She’s also got a Wharton MBA and knows more about this particular space than any five other people you know. You’ll stop because she’s attractive. You’ll buy because she’s incredibly competent.

    At the far reaches of my personal bell curve for boss competency, the best boss and the worst boss I’ve ever had, were women. I infer nothing from that. Neither of them deserve threats of rape or murder, because no one ever does.

    I think python is the devil’s handiwork.

    This is true. Had they just stuck with Perl, none of this would have happened. Perl guys are civilized people.

  110. We kill killers and we rape rapers.

    It might very well be that as long as we look at the rape of rapists in prison as some sort of weird “they had it coming” kind of justice, that it really isn’t too far of a step to look at the rape of a woman in the civilian world and believe that the first question that needs answering is “Did she have it coming?”

    As long as our culture allows for rape-as-just-punishment, it might be quite hard to make any sort of significant dent in rape culture as a whole.

  111. John:
    I appreciate your “2 Simple Observations,” but do they really need to be said? No really, did you NEED to point those things out to ANYONE except the couple of idiots that made those threats (who I’m sure don’t follow you on twitter or read this blog?) In other words, we all know that it’s wrong to threaten to kill and rape people. We also all know that idiots use twitter and message boards to say offensive things. AND IT IS BAD!

    You picked the most obvious, least interesting, really-does-not-need-to-be-said-among- anyone-with-half-human-intelligence facet of that whole PyCon, Andria Richards situation and you upbraided nobody in particular with your “water is wet” proclamation. It is just a curious approach to take. But add to that the fact that you have actively suppressed any discussion of the actual incident and its fallout, which in fact IS something that needs to be discussed and reflected on and learned from by intelligent people capable of nuanced discussion. I am genuinely curious about why you have approached this situation the way that you have.

  112. T_Egan:

    “do they really need to be said?”

    Yes.

    Next incredibly stupid, condescending, obliviously-ignoring-the-reality-of-what’s-happening, why-aren’t-you-talking-about-what-I-think-you-should-be-talking-about question?

  113. “If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.”

    Almost always. WARNING: the following paragraph will be triggering for those who were abused.

    (Scalzi — You may wish to edit or just delete this paragraph. [Yeah, I do, because noting a single, massively outlying and absolutely horrible event doesn’t do much for the tenor of the conversation here, or invalidate the concept in general — JS]

  114. “do they really need to be said?”
    Yes.

    Then explain why John. Seriously.
    Because people don’t know that already? Because you are going to inform minds and change hearts? Because by you saying it, people will do less trolling? Will rape and murder statistics dip?
    So you want to say SOMETHING about the PyCon/Andria Richards thing, but not actually address it in a substantive, constructive, nuanced way that does and real good? Okay…

  115. “you have actively suppressed any discussion of the actual incident and its fallout, which in fact IS something that needs to be discussed and reflected on and learned from by intelligent people capable of nuanced discussion. I am genuinely curious about why you have approached this situation the way that you have.”

    I’ve been assuming it’s for the same reason he didn’t relate the PyCon story when writing the original post. Once comments descended to rape and death threats, the actual incident really can’t be discussed any more. The well’s been poisoned. Even though it’s not the intent of those who want to wave off death and assault threats as just part of discourse on the web, every attempt to continue arguing she over-reached gets read as blaming a victim or excusing misogyny.

    If you want an intelligent conversation by people capable of nuanced discussion, you have to create that atmosphere, which includes repeating what seems blindingly obvious and weeding your garden as thoroughly as our host here does. If your pissed you can’t pick apart what happened at PyCon, it’s not John that spoiled your fun.

  116. So why haven’t those that tweeted and posted the vile threats been outed and fired yet? Seems like the programmer’s actions were juvenile and slightly improper, but not deserving of punishment. Seems that her actions were juvenile and slightly improper, but not deserving of punishment. Seems like the those that sent threatening tweets and denial of service hacks are the ones that are deserving of punishment, but the worst thing they get is this blog? Who are these people and why do they still have jobs when the juvenile and slightly improper actions caused two to lose their jobs?

  117. Hear, hear, mikes75. And also, while the post may have been sparked by a single incident, it’s a general rule for the general case, not a specific comment on that one incident.

  118. Seems that if the tech field really wants to change the culture, people need to be identified and called out and properly punished. What else changes anything?

  119. T_Egan:

    “Then explain why John.”

    You know, T_Egan, I’m looking real hard at my list of People Who Are The Boss Of Me, and your name is not on that list.

    It’s nice for you that you think it’s obvious. I would agree it should be. And yet. So. Reminders are apparently in order.

    “So you want to say SOMETHING about the PyCon/Andria Richards thing”

    What I want to say is what I said. This is not what you appear to think I should be saying. But again, I’m looking for you on the People Who Are the Boss of Me List, and you’re still not on it. So, ask me if I care about what you want me to talk about. This is my site and I get to address the topics I like, in the manner I choose. If you don’t like it, leave.

  120. lets not go overboard with “terroristic threats”. Charges of intimidation and harassment are just fine without bringing “terrorist” into the comparison.

  121. For the folks saying they’ve never experienced sexist incidents in tech: good, I’m glad for you. And if your employers have been serious about harassment, they’re way ahead of the curve in ways that probably are limiting sexist behavior at your workplaces.

    Here is an incomplete list of sexist incidents that have happened in tech/geek spaces; most of which have links to news articles or primary sources.

    This survey of people in open source is also relevant: note figure 3 on page 21. When asked “Regarding the FLOSS community as a whole, have you ever observed discriminatory behaviour against women?” 75% of women said yes. Roughly 80% of men said no.

    So I’m not doubting you haven’t seen it, but the fact that you haven’t seen it doesn’t necessarily indicate that it’s not pervasive. It’s easy not to notice things that don’t affect us directly.

    As far as Python vs. Perl: I’ll agree to a truce on that front if we can both agree that either is preferable to PHP.

  122. @Xopher: so why isn’t that being done? Haven’t heard of one single person being outed for making those threats. Think people in the “tech” field could figure that out… Or does that go against the whole docxing (sp) thing, if i’m using the lingo correctly.

  123. I don’t think so, Kilroy. I think making rape and death threats against a woman in this context is an attempt to intimidate not only her, but all women who might choose to speak out. The shooting of Malala Yousafzai wasn’t just to intimidate her.

    I know the government has been overusing ‘terrorism’ these decades, because it allows them to ignore the Constitution (thank you, inJustices of the SCOTUS), but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration here.

    Maybe that’s part of the disconnect with some people on this. They don’t realize that we’re not just talking about one woman and her rights here.

  124. “Once comments descended to rape and death threats, the actual incident really can’t be discussed any more.”

    That is completely untrue and ridiculous. And why let what is literally a handful of idiots dictate the terms/content of dialogue? Do you think discussing it here will result in rape and death threats to anyone on this blog? Seriously?

    People all over are discussing this incident in thoughtful, constructive ways. I came here hoping to get John’s take on it seeing that it is right in his wheelhouse and I was disappointed that he chose to handle this the way that he did- two platitudes that are tangential to the actual incident and a thread of people saying “Way to go John!” Women everywhere are very grateful…

  125. I don’t know why, Kilroy. Maybe because the Anonymouses of the world are mostly boys and would rather join the harassment than punish it.

  126. @T_Egan: because that is a different discussion that is being had in many places all over these interwebs. you can find that discussion easily. John has made this discussion about the threats after the initial actions.

  127. @Kilroy:
    It’s not being done because people tend to shrug their shoulders and say “Meh, Twitter, what’re you gonna do?” As Steubenville showed (and is continuing to show thanks to DeWine’s keeping the investigation open to look into whether further charges can be pursued), there is action that can be taken to prosecute threatening behavior over the internet, it just takes people willing to act and not treat it as part of online conversation’s “charm.”

  128. T_Egan, there are lots of reasons John might not feel like wading into that whole morass. It’s his business. He owes you nothing. Why should he write (or be willing to host discussion) on anything he doesn’t want to?

    I can think of a bunch of reasons [why he might not want to host those discussions] right off the bat. Why are you having such trouble?

    [Xopher: fixed your comment so it has the meaning you intended — JS]

  129. Wow, Kilroy makes good points :). Whatever initially happened, when one side gets rape and death threats, THAT is the issue, not anything else.

    I’ve worked in tech too, and while not terrible, the guys there really didn’t quite get what an unwelcoming environment they were making. Or I am at least willing to give the benefit of doubt.

    A few examples I rant into during my 8 month internship at a fairly large tech company: (1) my team had 2 women, roughly 12 men. All the men one day were gathered around one computer playing “lesbian tetris” (if anyone really wants to know, I’ll explain). At the time, I thought it was kinda funny. Now, 15 years later, there’s no way I’d let THAT bullshit stand. (2) About two months before that, and before I started, they had sensitivity training. They knew it was based on one woman’s complaint, and considered it a big waste of time. They clearly let me know what they thought of her. The kindest comment was that she couldn’t take a joke. (3) Was told that women in general weren’t as good as men with computers. Exactly those words. By my boss. Can’t deny there’s fewer women in tech, which seemed to be where he was drawing his main conclusion that women weren’t as good at computers. Hmmm, wonder why.

    That’s not even really getting into the “soft” exclusion of just not being included in everyday banter, when other, male, interns were. Nothing malicious there, just they were unable to identify with me.

    Even though that all happened, the guys actually seemed to like me, and respect me. It truly did seem to be somewhat of a disconnect between those above events and how they usually interacted with me. All in all, it’s one factor of why I left that industry, at least somewhat. They really didn’t to quite get what environment they were creating.

  130. T_Egan: Because you are going to inform minds and change hearts? Because by you saying it, people will do less trolling? Will rape and murder statistics dip?

    Because the biggest thing that enables rape culture is silence.

  131. Sending rapists to a prison that tolerates/encourages rape doesn’t mean they’ll get raped. It may very well mean they do more raping while behind bars. Somehow the people who tell Bubba jokes never seem to think of that.

  132. There are valid and salient points about possibly hypocrisy and the chain of events that built up the situation, but they were drowned out by the vocal minority of humanity that does not value rational discourse.

    @cranapia, unfortunately these myogenic hate-mongers are still either accepted implicitly in general society or clique together into their own self-congratulatory groups.

    @Smoofra, actions to improve society fall into two general categories: address it yourself or report it to an authority. The lady involved in this incidence took the second approach, which is valid, but a sizable percentage of the abuse directed at her was because she did not do the former, which is more effective in large groups with systematic issues. We should not counter the vitriol directly, but tackle the source perceptions and implicit acceptability. No one would tell ‘rape jokes’ if no one laughed at them.

    @Woodman, how about the Wisconsin Assembly candidate that said some underage girls “just rape easy”, but only lost his seat by 547 votes out of 27,000? Is that “a few sick individuals” or is it a society that is willing to overlook some comments/issues/actions and as a result those comments/issues/actions continue to propagate?

    What about Jim Knotts in the 2010 South Carolina Republican primary calling Nikki Haley and President Obama “ragheads”?

    What about James Hart who won the 2004 Tennessee Republican primary, who vowed if elected he would work toward keeping “less favored races” from reproducing or immigrating to the United States and that “poverty genes” threaten to turn the United States into “one big Detroit”?

    While those last two are a different topic, they connect in through their continuing existence due to the tolerance of society.

    Opinions are like assholes, just because everyone has one doesn’t mean yours doesn’t stink. If someone doesn’t address the stink, it permeates the whole room.

    @T_Egan, the alternative is to sit quietly and do nothing, which is tantamount to accepting the situation rather than changing the instances in our personal lives. At the very least, we all are thinking of the subject today, which most of us do not do on a regular basis.

  133. If this sort of thing is to stop then the asshats who perpetuate it need to be punished.

    Once people get smacked with the cold wet fish of the law regarding personal threats, or smacked with the consequences of covering up a football playing rapist, or a football coaching child molester, then maybe something will happen. But that will take someone to file those charges and not sit in the back of the bus.

    I already don’t associate or deal with people like that, so I’ve done what I can on a personal level. I don’t vote for people that make comments like the Republicans and Democrats in Colorado do, and I’ve done my best to teach my daughters that no means no, and that rape is never their fault.

    Look at all the cover ups that happen on a regular basis. Why do we hunt down the guy who covered up the financial embezzlement but not the people who hid a rape or beating?

    Considering the minors who have been accused, and convicted, of child pornography for having pictures of their willingly naked girlfriends, why isn’t anyone who forwarded anything on this latest case in Ohio already being charged? Every single one of them was an accomplice. Why weren’t more people at Penn State charged?

    Or would charging people like that have a chilling effect on the reporting?

    Otherwise everyone can just continue the circle jerk of “This shouldn’t be this way” and this sort of thing will still happen.

  134. And so we come back to the question; what can we do to prevent people from believing that threatening to rape and/or murder someone is anything other than proof of their own inadequacies as human beings?

    I do think that John is right to maintain the need to call people out for it, and to carry on calling people out for it, because anonymous threateners on the web don’t seem to be accustomed to being told that they are idiots, hence the plaintive wails of ‘not fair’ from the kittened.

    I’ve noticed that one of the excuses trotted out by trolls trying to smear filth here is that John is impinging on their rights to free speech; is this commonplace in other places on the web? Or is it just the last resort of someone who can’t think of anything else to justify his/her ongoing verbal diarrhoea?

  135. T_Egan @ 1:27 pm:

    Because people don’t know that already?

    Apparently, some people don’t know that already. If everyone knew already that you shouldn’t, under any circumstances, threaten to rape someone, then you wouldn’t see people threaten to rape people.

    Because you are going to inform minds and change hearts? Because by you saying it, people will do less trolling? Will rape and murder statistics dip?

    Communities have many mechanisms to establish, strengthen, and reinforce their values and norms, and one way is to have prominent members of the community loudly restate them. Scalzi is a prominent member of the geek community, and his adamant statement that rape threats are completely unacceptable helps establish and reinforce this norm within that community. Will Scalzi’s statement, by itself, make a huge difference? Probably not. But Scalzi’s words, in concert with the words of other people, could help clean up geek culture and make it a less hospitable place for sexism and misogyny.

    Furthermore, there are many places on the blogosphere where people are discussing the events that lead to the rape threats, e.g. here. I agree, a Scalzi-moderated discussion of this topic would be nice (mainly because Scalzi is a damn-good moderator and would keep the vile trolls under control), but I don’t feel entitled to such a discussion because it’s up to Scalzi, and not me, to decide what conversations he wants to have on his blog.

  136. HelenS, good point. People who rape and don’t think they’ve done anything wrong (like these boys) are more likely to be perps than victims. Though one can certainly be both at different times in a prison environment. I sure wish our “corrections” system were better at actually correcting people (turning them into good citizens), but as long as its primary goal is profit, that will never be true.

    Woodman, I don’t understand why that coach hasn’t been arrested. From what I hear they have a good case against him for attempted obstruction of justice, but IANAL.

  137. @Woodman, that’s a great thing to teach your daughters, but if you have sons, I hope you also tell them that yes is yes and that attemping to have sex with someone without a yes (not just waiting for a no – there IS a difference) is VERY WRONG.

  138. “Scalzi is a prominent member of the geek community, and his adamant statement that rape threats are completely unacceptable helps establish and reinforce this norm within that community.”

    So John tweeting/blogging: “If your response to a woman doing something you don’t like is to threaten her with rape and death, she’s not the problem.” will somehow establish and reinforce “norms” within the geek community and enlighten those who are on the fence about threatening to kill and rape?

    “@T_Egan, the alternative is to sit quietly and do nothing, which is tantamount to accepting the situation rather than changing the instances in our personal lives.”

    No, the alternative to platitudes is not to sit quietly and do nothing. It is to thoughtfully engage realworld situations and dialogue and enlighten. But John doesn’t want to do that and I am not the boss of him, which is totally fine but pleasepleaseplease don’t expect a slow hand clap for essentially saying, no, literally saying, “Hey guys, you shouldn’t threaten to rape and kill women.”

  139. @Mapleson
    “@Woodman, how about the Wisconsin Assembly candidate that said some underage girls “just rape easy”, but only lost his seat by 547 votes out of 27,000? Is that “a few sick individuals” or is it a society that is willing to overlook some comments/issues/actions and as a result those comments/issues/actions continue to propagate?”

    Let’s not start a “stupid crap politicians say and get elected anyway” forum here. People pulling the R or D lever and walking away likely voted this person in, or his name was farther up the alphabet.

    You want to look at society ignoring a rapist, or rape culture. Roman Polanski raped a young teenaged girl after drugging her over 30 years ago. When he was arrested three years ago the same people who have been piping in the “Rape is Bad” message did a 180 and started defending a man who raped a young girl less than a third his age. I consider the people that defended him to be sick individuals. I consider comments like Goldberg’s “It wasn’t Rape rape” to be part of the issue. Or the “Women’s bodies prevent pregnancy when they are raped” idiocy to be part of the issue. So, yes, crazy socially inept people who can’t even remember that rape is bad.

    @Karina, I don’t have sons so I can’t say that I’ve taught them that, I did teach my daughters to mean no when they say no and if they say yes to mean that as well. And if someone thinks no means yes I’ve taught them alternate methods of saying no. I can also say that the entire yes/no balance in sex is a minefield that you have to tiptoe through. But that’s a total derailment and another 200+ postings (On someone else’s blog) .

  140. Here is an incomplete list of sexist incidents that have happened in tech/geek spaces; most of which have links to news articles or primary sources.

    You can substitute pretty much any vertical market for “tech/geek” and you would find the same result. It’s farkin’ hostile out there.

    As far as Python vs. Perl: I’ll agree to a truce on that front if we can both agree that either is preferable to PHP.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. – Kautilya

  141. Laws don’t appear out of a vacuum. They don’t arise to ‘adjust’ social behavior so much as they underscore a growing consensus within society. We are the reason laws are passed (at least the lasting ones anyway). We demand it from our government, we express it to our fellow citizens. Eventually, it hits a threshold and what is essentially a societal consensus is put down as law. Peer pressure is a powerful thing.

    Laws can also be removed, if the society bound by it no longer believes in its value, or elects not to express a desire for its importance.

    With this in mind, it’s vital to express disapproval, to express censure, when one believes something is very wrong in our society. Only then will change occur, and only then will that change remain. It is a dynamic endeavor, matching an ever changing, evolving, society.

  142. CLP: there are many places on the blogosphere where people are discussing the events that lead to the rape threats, e.g. here

    Thanks for that link. Amanda (the person who wrote the page behind the link) says she had some interaction with Adria Richards in the past surrounding a tech convention Amanda was organizing. And Amanda’s description of Adria’s past behavior matches fairly closely how Adria behaved at PyCon. (in short, a bit of a bully.) There appear to be quite a few links. Will have to do some reading….

  143. Woodman: The same people? Really? Because I’m one of those people who’s been talking in the “Rape is Bad” threads, and I’ve never made excuses for Polanski. Generalization much?

  144. T_Egan:

    “pleasepleaseplease don’t expect a slow hand clap for essentially saying, no, literally saying, ‘Hey guys, you shouldn’t threaten to rape and kill women.'”

    I suspect your fundamental problem here, T_Egan, is that you appear to be under the impression I wrote what I wrote for the slow clap.

    You also appear to be under the impression that you and only you know the right course of action and that anyone who isn’t doing things the way you think they should be done isn’t doing anything useful. Well, that’s a perspective to have, I suppose. Have fun with it. I will, of course, give that opinion the consideration I believe it deserves.

  145. Will rape and murder statistics dip?

    I, for the record, am completely ok with white dudes of standing in their community testing the hypothesis that speaking up against racist and misogynistic threats won’t do anything.

    To be really scientific and thorough, of course, we’d need a large sample size. Repetitions, too. Perhaps a long-term study over the course of several years, wherein half of the white dudes of standing in their community commit to speaking up whenever they encounter racism and misogyny.

  146. There’s been a lot of debate about whether what the two developers said was over the line and whether tweeting them without details and then making similar jokes later was over the line. What no one seems terribly concerned about is both parties’ respective employers chickenshit actions. One fired their employee over a non-specific joke on the strength of a tweet. The other caved to harassment and a DDos attack. The mob mentality of social media presents a serious problem. But the solution should not be that everyone just shuts the fuck up.

    The fact that thousands of angry interneters are willing to fly off the handle for 140 characters or less is more than a little disturbing, but the idea that companies are willing to can employees over the ensuing twitstorm is even more so. As far as I’m concerned, both employers ought to give their employees back their jobs, and both employees should air their grievances in an open and moderated forum within the Python or wider tech community, and all concerned ought to show some backbone to all the giddily enraged self-righteous asshats made brave by a digital divide. Discussion, not reflexive unemployment, is the answer. Either that, or we install Nancy Grace as dictator and cut tot he chase.

  147. T_Egan: “No, the alternative to platitudes is not to sit quietly and do nothing. It is to thoughtfully engage realworld situations and dialogue and enlighten.”

    But in all your comments, I did not find a single link to any place where you’re hosting the discussion you want to have. Go ahead, and practice what you preach. Don’t do nothing. Set it up and invite people there to engage and dialogue and enlighten.

  148. “I suspect your fundamental problem here, T_Egan, is that you appear to be under the impression I wrote what I wrote for the slow clap.”

    I don’t know why you wrote what you wrote John because when I asked you why you wrote it and what you believed it actually accomplished, you said I wasn’t the boss of you.

  149. Even a small decrease would be worth a few awkward conversations and some stating the f*ing obvious PSAs. Or am I wrong here?

  150. T_Egan

    One of the details which you have overlooked is that there are quite a few places on the web where it is perfectly acceptable to threaten to rape and murder women.

    You are perfectly free to be ignorant of that, just as you are perfectly free to be ignorant of the fact that John has to moderate this blog very carefully because many people share the view that John should do what they want him to.

    Of course, what they want him to do is to allow them to argue that it’s perfectly OK to threaten women with rape and death because we deserve to be threatened since we spend our lives viciously destroying men and must therefore be raped and killed as an act of self defence.

    Since they can’t get that they would probably settle for the next best option which happens, curiously enough, to be remarkably similar to what you want; John should be denigrated for not being an alpha male who would of course immediately change the world because that’s what alpha males do.

    Frankly, I really don’t think you have the slightest interest in helping to change the world; you are just trying to behave in the way you think alpha males do, in a take-charge kind of a way. The fact that biologists have largely abandoned the thesis of the alpha male is one of those inconvenient facts which people threatening to rape and murder women edit out of their world view…

  151. “There’s been a lot of debate about whether what the two developers said was over the line and whether tweeting them without details and then making similar jokes later was over the line. What no one seems terribly concerned about is both parties’ respective employers chickenshit actions. One fired their employee over a non-specific joke on the strength of a tweet. The other caved to harassment and a DDos attack. The mob mentality of social media presents a serious problem. But the solution should not be that everyone just shuts the fuck up.”

    Could not agree more!

  152. @Cally, yes, the same people who made PSAs, or wrote an article in the Washington Times, or sat on a couch with Oprah, or starred in a movie about the evils of rape and abuse turned around and defended the Oscar winning director and said how sad it was he wasn’t able to pick up his Oscar in person (Because he raped a young woman and fled the sentencing).

    Same people doesn’t equal all people.

  153. Stevie said, “One of the details which you have overlooked is that there are quite a few places on the web where it is perfectly acceptable to threaten to rape and murder women.”

    Where? Not only where does THAT happen, but demonstrate that it is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to threaten to rape and murder women in these places. I’m very curious.

    Stevie said, “Of course, what they want him to do is to allow them to argue that it’s perfectly OK to threaten women with rape and death because we deserve to be threatened since we spend our lives viciously destroying men and must therefore be raped and killed as an act of self defence.”

    Really? You know this? Seems like a bit of a hysterical stretch. I don’t want/think that or know anybody that does but I’ll have to take your word on it…

    Stevie said, “Frankly, I really don’t think you have the slightest interest in helping to change the world; you are just trying to behave in the way you think alpha males do, in a take-charge kind of a way. The fact that biologists have largely abandoned the thesis of the alpha male is one of those inconvenient facts which people threatening to rape and murder women edit out of their world view…”

    I love how you know my thoughts/motives and project all this ‘alpha male’ bullshit (seriously wtf is wrong with you) on me. I don’t want women to be threatened with rape or murder. I volunteer at a non-profit that houses/feeds women/children that are IN HIDING from abusive men. Because I actually care about women, I don’t take kindly to empty platitudes where there could be a thoughtful discussion of gender politics. I think John took the easy way out of the PyCon situation. My opinion, I shared it.

  154. Can you provide instances of those “same people” decrying rape culture in or near the same time frame? Because otherwise it looks like you’re just assuming that they’re the same people. Having a D or an R after one’s name, or being known as liberal or as conservative, is not probative of one’s opinion on the subject of rape culture. And the reason I ask about the time frame is that I’ve known more than a couple people who were abettors of rape culture who have since realized that’s what they were doing, and now try to offset rape culture instead. Because people can learn better.

  155. T_Egan–Obviously, you’ve never had the delight of visiting some Men’s Rights sites; those are the ones that immediately spring to mind from Stevie’s description.

  156. T_Egan: go to any Men’s Rights Activist website. Read the comments there. If threatening to rape and/or murder women is not acceptable there, why is it, err, accepted?

  157. T_Egan

    Try Reddit Mans Rights; you will find plenty of examples.

    And frankly, someone who claims never to have come across it whilst simultaneously claiming to be aware of the ubiquity of rape and death threats on the web has a serious credibility gap. Sadly, I don’t think you are gamma rabbit material…

  158. Omegamom and Cally:
    Perhaps at some point I will summon the courage to actually visit said website, but let me ask you this- I am assuming that is a nutjob website full of nutjobs. Does that represent mainstream American male sensibilities toward women?

  159. Does that represent mainstream American male sensibilities toward women?

    Ooh, ooh, I know the answer to this one!

    Yes.

  160. T_Egan:

    “when I asked you why you wrote it”

    You didn’t ask me why I wrote it, in point of fact. First you asked if it need to be written, and when I said yes, you demanded I explain why, which is different from asking why. Which is why you were informed of what you were not, in terms of being the boss of me.

    The lesson from that story is that being condescending and demanding is not likely to get you good results.

    “I think John took the easy way out of the PyCon situation.”

    All this proves is that you appear to be utterly incapable of processing the simple fact that this entry is on a different subject, and none of the rest of us are responsible for your apparent inability to grasp that fact. Do you also yell at your morning yogurt for not being oatmeal?

    I have to be honest with you, T_Egan: The longer you continue to complain this article isn’t about what you think it ought to be about, the more the image of you in my mind is of a small child stomping his foot.

  161. @Stevie, I could not live in the world you live in. There are places on the internet where it is acceptable to talk about genital mutilation as foreplay, or eating children. This doesn’t mean that that’s normal, or that anyone questioning the point of declaiming the obvious wants to argue that raping women is A OK. You certainly aren’t going to find anyone on those sites calling anyone out, because that’s what they are there for, just like you aren’t seeing anyone here saying they love rape and want to see more in the world. There are monitors there too.

    The world doesn’t need changing, the people who do these things need changing. If there is anyone mainstream saying raping people is ok it’s the music and movie industry. Someone managed to get them to stop showing people smoking, but it seems like the rape scenes are getting more graphic and idealized instead of less.

    “Can you provide instances of those “same people” decrying rape culture in or near the same time frame?”
    Whoopi Goldberg, one of my original examples, on The View, defended Polanski. I don’t think it’s necessary to try to find somewhere where she says rape is wrong. The entire Hollywood Oscar committee. Awarding an Oscar to a convicted rapist out on the lamb, when Mel Gibson (Asshole Extreme) is blacklisted for anti-Jew comments, just comments, not you know, rape or anything. Do you think the Oscar committee would make a statement saying Rape is ok? It’s saying that Rape is bad, except when its someone we approve of.

    Cally, you keep adding conditions to the proof you are requiring of me. It’s confusing to me because the media treatment of rape is at least half of the problem, and failing to recognize it when it’s right in front of you is a contributor. Just because it’s not some dumb ass redneck saying it doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

  162. [And this is the place where T_Egan just becomes an assbag. Off the thread with you, T_Egan. You’ve had your fun, but now I’ve run out of patience with you. It’s time for you to play somewhere else — JS]

  163. @Elizabeth Wow.

    Really? You think the average man thinks it’s OK to threaten to rape a woman? You need to change the type of person you associate with. They are there if you look for them but wow, being surrounded by them like you are must be miserable. I happen to know dozens of men that have never raped a woman, or threatened to rape one, and would be offended and would take care of someone who did.

    If the consensus here is something along those lines no wonder I can’t fully understand the conversation. I’m starting on a totally different baseline. I assume that most people are human beings until I’m proven otherwise. Are you assuming that men are animals until they prove otherwise. I assume that everyone thinks rape is bad unless they act in a manner which indicates that they don’t. Do men that you know have to proclaim their stance on rape? Are the men in your life not mainstream males?

    On what basis do you paint an entire nation’s worth of men with that brush?

  164. Try Reddit Mans Rights; you will find plenty of examples.

    Can you link to even one?

    I’m not defending r/mensrights’ politics, but I would be very surprised if rape and death threats were acceptable there. Also, I’m sick of Reddit being used as the default punching bag in debates about internet sexism. The Pycon incident has nothing to with Reddit. If you need someone to blame, 4chan is largely responsible for the recent bullshit.

  165. Woodman: The problem is that the VERY SAME PEOPLE who say “Rape is Bad!” can also be supporting rape culture. Look at the folks in the comment threads who say, “yes rape is bad BUT she should have/should not have/why did she…”

    If one thinks of rape as “bad scary smelly unshaven inhuman man monster leaps out of the bushes and overpowers poor little virgin who was on her way to church while wearing modest clothing”, then “gets girlfriend drunk and ‘goes a little too far’ ” doesn’t look much like “rape”. Or those 15 year old boys in the story about the teacher that was linked, who said, “But how can it be rape? She was too drunk to say No.” Which kind of shows how teaching “no means no” isn’t a complete solution, now, doesn’t it?

  166. No, I don’t think the average man thinks it’s OK to threaten to rape a woman. The question is whether it “represents mainstream American male sensibilities towards women.” The answer is yes. That that viewpoint is not universally held, or not even held by the majority, does not mean that it is not a mainstream viewpoint.

  167. Sorry, John, if I was continuing a derail there; I crossposted. Feel free to delete (as if you wouldn’t anyway) if too derail-y.

  168. T_Egan: but let me ask you this- I am assuming that is a nutjob website full of nutjobs. Does that represent mainstream American male sensibilities toward women?

    Let me ask you this- Does the reason you keep asking all these questions in fact boil down to you wanting to outsource the problem and not have to do anything?

    Cause initially, nobody even asked you to do a anything. Scalzi posted what he posted and you got all worked up about it. Why are you worked up about what someone else is doing unless you were concerned that someone might ask you to start telling people making death threats that the person they’re threatening is not the problem?

    The reason rape culture exists is because the point of rape culture is to generate fear, fear generates silence, and silence enables the rape culture to continue. If you’ve ever heard someone joke around about raping someone (or someone joking something racist or homophobic or whatever), and you said nothing, then yes, you have in fact enabled rape culture to some degree or another.

    That might be making you feel a tad uncomfortable. And that discomfort might be causing you to try to disprove the entire premise, doubt it even exists, or plead ignorance of one form or another. It’s really not that hard of a concept. If you really want to know it exists, you could google it in two seconds. I assert that the issue here is you don’t want to be responsible for whatever little part you might have in allowing the culture of fear to continue, because you yourself might have been afraid to speak up when you heard someone say something nasty.

    Someone says something nasty. It generates fear. Fear generates silence. Silence enables people to get away with rape and other nasty behavior.

    You could make a small difference in just speaking up the next time you hear someone saying something nasty. But, really, no one is demanding you do that. All that’s happening is Scalzi is speaking out, and along with that comes the implication that silence==enabling, and then you become uncomfortable in your silence. At which point, you become, extremely, extremely confused on this thread.

    The thing is, people are speaking up now. You’ll either join it or you won’t. It’s entirely up to you.

    If you’re feeling confused, I would suggest it’s probably your conscience to do the right thing getting tackled by your fear of the consequences it might create.

  169. Folks, I’ve bounced T_Egan from the thread, so let’s not do any more followups on his line of conversation, please. Greg, I’m going to assume you cross-posted.

  170. “On what basis do you paint an entire nation’s worth of men with that brush?”

    I’m a little confused, because earlier you wrote:

    “It’s confusing to me because the media treatment of rape is at least half of the problem, and failing to recognize it when it’s right in front of you is a contributor. Just because it’s not some dumb ass redneck saying it doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.”

    media is a reflection of culture, if you recognize that media – including more than “dumbass rednecks” – is at times promoting a culture that blames victims and distorts our perception of rape, why would you ask why a woman would paint men with the same brush you’re holding up?

  171. Greg @ 2:21 pm: Thanks, but I really just grabbed the link at random from my Facebook news feed to illustrate that Scalzi isn’t stopping T_Egan from having the conversation he wants, not because I necessarily agree with the author of that post.

  172. Well, alone the discussion in this thread alone makes clear how friggin damn IMPORTANT it is for people to reiterate the “don’t send rape/deaththreats” messages.

    I mean, if it were that etablished, the majority people would just shrug, go “well, DUH”, maybe post a “I hear you” or a “well said!” and move on – the thread then would look more like the cat-photos one, wouldn’t it?

    Instead we’ve got hundreds of comments of discussion about this very topic, up and including attempts to silence any further discussion on this topic.

  173. [Clipped — JS]

    It seems to me that the internet used to blow up every year, then every quarter, now it’s every month. Like a spree killer, cycling faster and faster. This (PyCon) looks like an instantiation of the old saying “be careful what you ask for.” Rather than solving the problem by gently correcting the two people whose conversation she overheard (or mis-overheard), a Point Had To Be Made. Then Karma came to town with the bill, and that’s always ugly.

  174. “No, I don’t think the average man thinks it’s OK to threaten to rape a woman. The question is whether it “represents mainstream American male sensibilities towards women.” The answer is yes. That that viewpoint is not universally held, or not even held by the majority, does not mean that it is not a mainstream viewpoint.”

    Your definition of mainstream and mine differ. Unless you also include flat earthers as mainstream. I don’t think an opinion held by a small minority is part of mainstream thinking, and I don’t believe that that thinking is representative of male thinking.

    I want to disinvite those people from my party, from being included in any group I belong to. That’s part of the process here, ostracize the bad, embrace the good. You want to call them mainstream.

    Are there elements in our culture that enable rape? Yes, there are also elements that glorify violence and look down on the nobility of spirit. We’re not talking about that here, we’re talking specifically of the idea that it’s ok to threaten to rape someone, or hope that they get raped, or threaten physical harm to a woman. And in mainstream American culture that is not an acceptable belief.

  175. If the idea that it is OK to threaten women with rape or physical harm is not acceptable in mainstream American culture, then why do so many women experience such threats? And why do so many men feel comfortable making them?

  176. “media is a reflection of culture”
    Hollywood is a reflection of Hollywood culture. Look at the movies that sell the most tickets compared to the movies that get the most awards.

    People want to see people acting like heroes and defeating bad guys in a black and white world, or slasher pics. Hollywood wants to see shades of gray in every action, including rape.

    Which is more likely to show a rape in a favorable light? A boutique film that is praised to the heavens for it’s treatment of serious issues, or the US vs. the Aliens movie?

  177. You think the average man thinks it’s OK to threaten to rape a woman?

    In the course of a number of tech jobs and martial arts classes, I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard the “joke” about “What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?” Typically, one man will tell it, and another man will pipe up with the punchline. Most everyone will then chuckle. I have heard this joke from men with young daughters, men who have given shelter to battered women, men who teach women’s self-defense courses, and men who have commented on how much they wish they could see more women in the technology field. So, you will understand if I think the average man thinks that the abuse of women is a topic for comedy. The rape “jokes” are not quite as common (there are fewer standard ones out there, so the call and response pattern is absent), but they are prevalent.

    I do not typically consider these people my friends or even my close associates, but they are there. They’re there in every job, every class, every professional conference. Some jobs are better than others. Jobs and conferences that specifically call out codes of conduct are vastly better. Having someone say “This thing is not appropriate” helps. Every time I hear a joke about battered women, I call it out. And, usually, when I do, it stops. But it takes someone, like our generous host is doing here, stepping up and saying explicitly “This thing is not appropriate” for it to sink in.

  178. Rather than solving the problem by gently correcting the two people whose conversation she overheard (or mis-overheard), a Point Had To Be Made.

    You’re assuming that she didn’t “gently correct”. If you actually read the feed, she notifies the conference personnel about the men behaving improperly during a presentation by another woman. The PyCon management then spoke quietly to those men, but did not make them leave. That is a fairly “gentle” method for handling inappropriate comments from strangers.

    In the aftermath, one man was fired by his company — for reasons not made clear by that company, but apparently not related to the tweet. However, the entire backlash has made his unemployment all her fault, and attacked her employer, leading to her termination. That’s the part that’s not very gentle at all, and is once again an example of women attempting to correct inappropriate behavior, then being punished for it.

    There is no simple way for a woman to enforce basic rules in public or in private, especially in technical fields, in male-dominated fields, or when it becomes clear that the men have additional privilege like being white versus a woman of color, and so on ad nauseam.

    Demanding that she handle things “more gently” is a variation on the tone argument, which goes like this: “If only you hadn’t been so strident/bitchy/angry/demanding/unreasonable, we would have done it better/changed our ways/thanked you instead of attacking you”. If it sounds like victim-blaming, bingo! If anyone thinks Adria Richards handled it in any manner other than reasonable, I recommend you check your privilege. It’s showing.

  179. This well published incident wasn’t even the only one at PyCon this time. Here’s a writeup by a guy who got banned for being an asshole too: http://term.ie/blog/how-to-get-banned-from-pycon/ . He still doesn’t get why either.

    And for all the people microfocusing on PyCon, it’s not like this is a tech-specific problem. It’s like threats in social media against any woman who gets uppity is the thing for idiots everywhere. Steubenville, of course, and this too as an example: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/03/this_is_a_kind_of.php

  180. Woodman: That’s part of the process here, ostracize the bad, embrace the good. You want to call them mainstream.

    I think you’re looking at the wrong end of the coin. The language you keep using is to figure out who “them” are and do whatever is needed to do to get rid of “them” and then no one will ever have to deal with “them” ever again.

    I don’t think it’s really about “them”. It’s about the rest of us. You’ll never sort all the bad from the good and live in paradise, forever and ever, amen. It will always be a process. It will always be new people coming along, testing the boundaries and the question is whether anyone else will be around to enforce the boundary, to say “Don’t do that”.

    It’s not about “them” never testing the boundaries ever again.
    It’s about whether or not YOU and I and US are willing to stand for certain boundaries to be set.

    We can’t just pawn this off to the police and corporate sensitivity training. It won’t be enough. If you hear someone making a rape/racist/homophobic/hate joke, will YOU personally say something in opposition to it? The culture exists out of you not saying anything.

  181. “If the idea that it is OK to threaten women with rape or physical harm is not acceptable in mainstream American culture, then why do so many women experience such threats? And why do so many men feel comfortable making them?”

    How many men does it take to make a particular woman on the internet feel abused? I’ll go ahead and set that number at 1, because ideally it shouldn’t happen at all. But seriously, out of the 300 million people, 140 million or so men, 100million or so adult men maybe, what if it’s one tenth of one percent that feel raping a woman is the correct response to her saying something.

    That’s a hundred thousand men? And to overwhelm any individual woman online it could only be 100 men, or a couple thousand men, which would be a percentage of a percentage. And I’m sure these guys look for reasons to abuse women, whatever their criteria may be, and they get off on the reactions. Which would call more to it as time went on like blood in the water.

    Does a rapist only rape one woman? Do these men who threaten these actions only threaten one woman, or do they move from target to target? Would the fact that they roam like that make it appear that there are more men that approve of this than not?

    I’m out, I have work to do. I agree with the statement that threatening someone with death or rape is bad, and I agree that it shouldn’t have to be said, just like saying water is wet should be obvious. I disagree with people who say that it’s acceptable to act that way, or that a majority of men, or whoever, feel that it is.

    I believe that the people who do these things also know that it’s wrong, and until they are punished for their behavior they will continue. As far as I am concerned the people who are using their real names should have charges drawn up against them and be prosecuted for their threats, but that’s up to the women involved. And that’s the tough part, ask Rosa Parks.

  182. The fact that this discussion has had so much volatility is enough to validate Scalzi’s initial entry.

    Focusing on the minutiae of any one case with the intent to obscure the macro view is in itself enabling the rape culture.

  183. htom: Rather than solving the problem by gently correcting the two people whose conversation she overheard (or mis-overheard), a Point Had To Be Made. Then Karma came to town with the bill, and that’s always ugly.

    OK, so you’re back to saying she had it coming (where ‘it’ is rape and death threats) for her improper behavior at PyCon.

    Bullshit.

    Nothing justifies rape threats. Nothing justifies death threats. And the discussion of what she did at PyCon is, per John, not one we’re having here.

    It wasn’t her KARMA to receive rape and death threats. It wasn’t her karma to lose her job because of attacks on her employer. The people who did those things made a choice to punish her, and her employer made a choice to throw her out of the sleigh. THEIR karma is probably pretty well fucked, but she got much worse than was coming to her, whether or not her behavior at PyCon was less than exemplary.

  184. OK, maybe you’re right. Maybe there’s a tiny minority of men out there who spend 100% of their time scouting for women to harass, and they are totally at odds with all the rest of American culture. And they’re so good at it that they manage to get at just about any woman who takes a public stance on anything. Kind of like there must be a tiny minority of men out there who feel it’s OK to beat their wives or girlfriends, and they have somehow managed to marry or date a large percentage of American women.

    Or, maybe, there are just a lot of men out there who haven’t gotten the memo that making violent threats against women under their own names is totally unacceptable.

  185. I believe that the people who do these things also know that it’s wrong, and until they are punished for their behavior they will continue.

    But that’s why we need to establish a strong community norm against misogyny, including rape threats. When people make rape threats, or tell women they disagree with on the interent that they hope the women get raped, or engage in other forms of misogyny, the rest of us shouldn’t just ignore these cretins. We should loudly and vociferously stand up to these people and tell them they are wrong, and that this sort of behavior won’t be tolerated in our communities.

    The message that many of these men are currently getting from various geek subcultures is “You can continue to be a respected member of our community even if you engage in sexism or misogyny”. It’s time to start sending a different message.

  186. Demanding that she handle things “more gently” is a variation on the tone argument

    I disagree. I’m sort of reluctant to comment on the situation because it’s clearly garbled, but based on what we know, I don’t think she should not have made the tweet public. In my opinion, inappropriate jokes- which don’t even seem to have been particularly sexist, just crude- should be dealt with more discreetly.

    But what some people around the Internet are failing to grasp is, that’s irrelevant to both this post and the wrongness of people sending her rape and death threats. You don’t send people rape and death threats. Since apparently she is, in fact, getting rape and death threats, it’s important to reiterate that this isn’t acceptable behavior.

    We basically had this exact same discussion two days ago, in the Steubenville thread. Poor choices were plentiful that night, but none of those other poor decisions excuse or mitigate the decision two people made to rape someone. So everyone talking about how Richards is a member of the PC police, or how she overreacted, or saying “the guy has 3 kids!” are using the same logic that the Steubenville victim-blamers did. It doesn’t even matter if they’re right or not. The decision to send rape and death threats to someone is a shitty decision, and the level of shittiness isn’t relative to (your opinion of) the recipient’s character. It’s a fixed level of shittiness.

  187. @ Woodman

    The problem is not that the majority of American men think it’s okay to rape women. The problem is that the majority of Americans period take a blasé approach to rape, whether by narrowly defining it as stranger-rape, or by believing that the victim has an obligation to prevent or stop it (as opposed to a right to stop it, which they most certainly do), or by blowing women off when they speak up to make it known they’re being made uncomfortable, or by a hundred other minor dismissals of the mainstream culture’s attitude that although rape is very bad, individual incidents are frequently overblown, or it was partially the victim’s fault for not taking every precaution. If mainstream culture promoted the idea that murder is very bad, but individual incidents are frequently overblown, right-thinking folks would be appalled.

    A culture doesn’t have to advocate an evil to protect it. All it must do is shield it from the sort of frank non-acceptance that John expressed in this post. John didn’t write the post for brownie points. He wrote it because he knows it’s the bare absolute minimum anyone in his position should be doing. And many of the people thanking him know that too. It’s a sign of of how rarely a stand against these threats is taken that they do thank him for breaking the mold. They’re not saying thanks for be a great guy. They’re saying thanks for being a decent guy. All he’s doing is what Patrick Stewart asked him and anyone with a voice and a conscience to.

    For every person who thinks it is okay to rape or murder women, there are a larger minority who think its okay to threaten rape or murder – especially on social media because, to a lot of idiots, nothing online is real and empathy they might have in real life fails to engage – and an tragic majority who either can’t be bothered or don’t see the atmosphere of threats and intimidation for the evil it is until it’s aimed at someone they personally care about.

    Just look at htom’s comments. htom is a great guy who I respect and who knows full well rape and rape threats are wrong, wrong, wrong. But here he is calling it karma.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

    @ smoofra

    Yea, what you said. It’s really quite sad that two people had to lose their jobs over this idiocy.

    Just to be clear, I think the idiocy was the juvenile jokes that were told, in the conference and on twitter. I simply don’t think automatically canning anyone who draws a twitstorm is an ethical corporate policy. I also think that, irrespective of the job losses, the developers who told the joke would do well to unequivocally condemn the insults, threats and DDos attracts. Basically, the developers screwed up and the developer evangelist reacted poorly, but their companies, not their employees, are responsible for firing them, and the people harassing the developer evangelist and conference director are the only ones responsible for their actions.

  188. On can state the obvious to people who will either agree or will not change their mind since they are so far gone, self examination is simply not done or perceived accurately. One can also point out that any emotion is owned by yourself. If you are mad, angry or afraid, you choose to have that emotion. One can point out that the best course of action is to refuse to allow sub-human deviants to dictate your emotions, robbing them of any impact their impotent life may have. It is not easy and best done by those raised from a young age to own their own emotions. It is a tougher message but aimed at those who may indeed be capable of change and deserving of better tools to deal with tools.

    Cheers,
    Rod

  189. Someone wishing to do the most damage, verbally or physically, will use the knife that cuts deepest.

  190. Sadly, a large number of people don’t even recognise what rape is, which is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to make headway. As a number of posters have noted, even people who are supposed to be aware of it can make extraordinary assumptions, such as ‘ it can’t be rape if the victim is unconscious since she didn’t say no.’

    But it is not some tiny minority making threats, and it isn’t confined to people without higher education;
    this has been around for a long time.

    I do not think there is a vast difference between the people claiming a) it doesn’t happen, b) it doesn’t happen often, c) it only happens when someone has done something really bad because it’s all her fault that anyone was driven to threaten to rape her d) it’s really not that bad because nobody takes death threats seriously and besides they only made the threat because she’d been so evil in the first place.

    All of them are shuffling off any form of responsibility and in the end they are colluding with people who get off on threats of violence; the infliction of psychological violence may be worse in some cases than low grade physical violence. I think that John is absolutely right to focus on what happens to a woman who is threatened in this way because it is an assault and we should take that assault seriously.

    There are much worse assaults; there is a case in Canada at present in which a guy watched a woman beaten unconscious, and then raped her whilst she was unconscious. But human behaviour is on a spectrum; if you collude at one end then you risk tipping the scales towards worse behaviour…

  191. Actually, if you are mad, angry or afraid then you will probably survive longer than people who haven’t the sense to be mad, angry or afraid…

  192. @Ginger , @Xopher, @Gulliver — we’re off topic. A whispered “Shhh!” or “Please wait until the presentation’s over” is what I had in mind for “gentle”. Stepping up at the instant of misbehavior and calling for an immediate return to proper behavior, inviting them to exercise their own self-control, rather than involving “the community” later. I’m not back to saying “she had it coming”; I haven’t said that and i don’t think that. I think such blowups have become expectable, not deserved. Well, maybe sometimes deserved, but not this time.

  193. Posts like this might not stop a troll from saying horrible things, bit it may help the person next to them to speak up and condemn them. Even, or especially, if they’re on your ‘side’ in an argument. The enemy of my enemy might be my enemy too.

  194. I would propose the following simple test for everyone who wants to threaten someone else with rape and death:

    Do =you= intend to rape, murder, and/or cause the death this person? Not in a “wishspeak” way, but in an “yes, it’s on my calendar for tonight” way?

    If the answer is “yes,” then turn yourself in to the authorities, because you are a danger to society.

    If is “no,” then just don’t say it. Not ever. Because threatening someone with a felony isn’t cool or funny or macho or a way to release your anger or express your disapproval; it’s just a good reason for the cops to find you and question you about your stated intent to commit a felony.

    And if you want to call someone a “bitch,” slut,” “whore.” etc… Oh, come, ON. How LAME. How childish. How unimaginative. Why not give yourself a CHALLENGE? Replace every hostile schoolyard name you want to call a woman with a phrase that begins with, “The reason I don’t like your actions” or “my argument with what you’ve said is” or “what I dislike about your position on this matter is” and then finish the sentence with a substantive comment that’s devoid of sarcasm and facetiousness (because of you’re a name-caller, than these conversational techniques are WAY beyond your skill set) and completely eschews threats.

    And if you can’t do THAT… then say nothing, because you clearly have NOTHING TO SAY.

  195. @Carina
    That is not what Rod said at all. You intentionally re-interpreted what he said in the least charitable possible light, and then threw “bitch” on top for good measure.

  196. Smoofra, Carina, Rod Rubert:

    I’m officially not liking the direction you guys are going. Reset and restart, please. And try being less immediately antagonistic, if you would.

  197. I just want to thank everyone who posted links to shakesville and #IAskedPolitely. Guys, I think we all need to go read the Helpful Hints for Dudes series. Seriously.

  198. htom, MRAL: As soon as you start blaming the woman for “escalating”, for not “being gentle”, for handling things differently from the way you wish she had done — all these are perfect examples of the tone argument. In other words, she “said it wrong”. On this thread and the Steubenville thread, as well as on others that Mr. Scalzi has posted, there are multiple examples from women how this is used against them. Every time you argue that a woman said it wrong, wasn’t careful enough, could have done it differently — each and every time you say this, you are reiterating the tone argument, even if you don’t mean to. It’s an old tactic that has been used to silence women — and other minorities as well. Stop and listen to yourselves for a moment. Your privilege is still showing.

  199. One simple observation regarding shitheads.
    They need their faces licked by a big dog that is thanking them for
    what it just found in the cat’s litter box.

    A note: While I was trying to think of a word other than sh… for
    no spoilers I realized (chortle) that maybe better to not.
    BTW, IMO an ‘asshole’ is someone who has never done anything
    that doesn’t stink.
    I’m not sure what I think a ‘scheissekopf’ is. Worse than ‘arschloch’
    certainly.
    http://translate.google.com German to English, if needed.

  200. Oh, and my thanks to whoever it was that posted a link that told me what
    “rape culture” means in this venue.
    To be philosophical (Please kick me in the nuts if I ever wax ph….) that
    should be “raped doesn’t matter, take it like a man, bitch”

    And somewhere above this comment somebody said that she’d forgotten
    that balls are made for kicking.
    Probably not your Da’s fault that you forgot.
    People who are suddenly in an unexpected situation tend to forget everything
    that they know.
    For most people /any/ horrible situation is unexpected.
    IIRC, I read an overview of 911 (The USA emergency phone number)
    operator training which stressed that the caller is going to be to freaked out
    to give any useful info, and so: What’s your name? What’s your name? W….
    (The ’92 ish one? I’m sure I’m wrong.)
    .
    Don’t blame your parents for saying that you shouldn’t hit.
    Blame them for not poking your tummy until you learned to slap the finger
    away.
    Or for not beating you to give you reflexes that would have been useful.
    :
    But do blame our culture that says that the cops will protect you and so
    you don’t need to know how to protect yourself.

  201. @Ginger — I think you do not understand “escalate” in the context of conflict resolution. I am not blaming for escalating, I am saying (describing, not blaming) she did NOT escalate, which would to be to begin quietly, if that fails request loudly, then ask for neighbors to aid her, and then to go for official aid…. I understand that you seem to think that behavioral stimulus-response chain is somehow inappropriate for the situation, and that the correct procedure was followed. A bunch of people seem very upset at the results of that procedure. Taking multiple steps at once can lead to falling.

    And yes, it’s a tone argument. Tone — real tone — is very important in human relationships. You may have noticed this, it certainly comes through. Abrasive, rather than gentle.

    Karma is the cycle of cause and effect. Some here seem to confuse that with the Greek goddess Nemesis.

    Some other thread, folks.

  202. Laura Resnick @ 5:58 pm: I really would like to see some high-profile prosecutions of people who make these threats. I’d like to see some people go to jail for a few years. I don’t think it would be a waste of resources at all, given that the point of these threats is to use fear to deter women from participating in online discourse. Maybe if a few people were put behind bars for making these threats, bozos on the Internet would realize it’s not a game.

  203. Unfortunately, Shawn T, defending oneself is rather more difficult than you seem to imagine. I have used extreme physical steps defending myself; on the whole most people do not function very well when they are looking for their eyeballs, which enabled me to get out of there. The person was a stranger.

    On other occasions the attackers were people I knew, and I was certainly not as focused, at least at the outset, as I had been at the outset of the attack by a stranger; I had trusted them. The eyeball thing worked again, as did relocating a guys testicles to the vicinity of his tonsils on another occasion, but I was momentarily disarmed, simply by the fact that up until those moments I had thought that they were my friends.

    Of course, I had been taught by my father to defend myself; he had survived slavery on the Death Railway, where you didn’t survive unless you were prepared to kill if necessary, and the means you used certainly didn’t comply with the Marquess of Queensbury’s rules.

    And my first lesson with an edged blade was with a Gurkha serving with my father whom I greatly liked; the Gurkhas have a refreshing approach to people trying to kill them. They kill them first.

    So, I was well prepared to defend myself, and did, but I could have died, and certainly been raped, because of those moments that I lost; and the only possible way I could have avoided that was to have no friends at all…

  204. @htom ” I am not blaming for escalating, I am saying (describing, not blaming) she did NOT escalate, which would to be to begin quietly, if that fails request loudly, then ask for neighbors to aid her, and then to go for official aid…. ”

    @ginger ” As soon as you start blaming the woman for “escalating”, for not “being gentle”, for handling things differently from the way you wish she had done — all these are perfect examples of the tone argument”

    Htom, did you read Ginger’s comment properly? And have you even bothering to look at the hash tag #IAskedPolitely

    Because (a) you really are using the tone argument, of which every woman reading this will be wearily familiar and (b) the hashtag microstories would be more than enough evidence to demonstrate that “beginning quietly” rarely if ever has any beneficial effect whatsoever for the woman (or the GLBT individual, or person of colour etc.)

    There is no way to begin a request for decent behaviour that justifies rape threats, doxxing, death threats or anything remotely similar. A woman can ‘begin quietly’. We can be noisy. We can be strident. We can describe our complaints in private email, on a blog post, on Twitter, or just in a mixed-sex group. None of this will prevent some poor, privileged petal from getting their fee-fees all hurtified if they are so inclined (they nearly always are because being privileged brings the right to not have your feelings hurt *ever*), and when a privileged *man* gets his feelings hurt, then there is nothing for it but that they must launch the most vicious attack they can. Only such an attack will destroy and silence the woman they perceive to have perturbed their pleasant little universe.

    No matter how quietly that uppity woman began.

  205. @Stevie. Yes, most of us don’t have fathers who underwent such extremes and who taught us accordingly. And many of us (and especially women) have strong taboos around using violence. I think I’d be more likely to freeze than try to inflict pain on an attacker, and by the time I’d overcome my squeamishness, it would probably be too late.

  206. I’m heading to sleep and turning off the thread for the evening — it’ll be back up in morning. Night, everyone.

    Edit: Actually, since I kind of want a relaxing weekend where I don’t have to police a comment thread constantly, I’m going to keep this thread off through Monday morning at least. Have a great weekend!

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