Dear Adria Richards

Dear Adria Richards,

Sometimes the march towards progress and equality must be spurred on by the sacrifices of martyrs who boldly lay down their careers, their statuses within the community, or even their lives on the alter of social justice.

You, however, were not one of these bold individuals.

When I first heard about the Dongle Debacle, I struggled to see the sexism. I peered at the story closely. I inspected. I pondered. I even hypothesized conditions under which it would have been sexist. Now I'm no Susan B. Anthony, but I took a few gender studies courses in college, and I like to think that I can spot sexism and gender-based discrimination, at the very least after it's been pointed out to me.

But even after reading multiple articles multiple times, all I could see were two juvenile trouble makers sitting in the back row of a school assembly making dick jokes. Inappropriate, yes. Crude, perhaps. Sex-ual, definitely; but the sex-ist element continued to fail me, because the jokes were not directed at you, nor were they intended to intimidate or bother you in any way.

And then I saw it. You were the sexist element in the story.

After conflating sexual with sexist, you went on to reveal your own stereotypes of the female gender. In your own words, you,
"...saw a photo on main stage of a little girl who had been in the Young Coders workshop. 
I realized 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."
Well, you have a good point. It's a well-known fact that women cannot abide much less thrive in an environment in which poo or wee-wee jokes are told, because those are filthy, vile, perverted things, and women are chaste, cloistered founts of virginal purity whose honor and virtuous, wide-eyed, Bambi-like innocence need to be constantly guarded. Spiritual, vulnerable, untainted women would only be corrupted in such a worldly environment. Oh wait, no. That's just one of the crippling stereotypes men thought about women two hundred years ago. It's actually not the case at all. In reality women are just regular people, some of whom even like to indulge in scatological humor themselves (gasp). In fact, having worked as a nurse in a unit in which every one of my co-workers was female, I can assure you that many women practice the dark arts of anatomical (even dick) jokes.

What transpired at PyCon wasn't a bold stand for women's rights, it was you being a prude, and then stereotyping all women with your own puritan sensibilities. You have more in common with Ann Coulter's ultra-conservative, moral majority, stop-the-godless-heathens-from-corrupting-our-children-with-their-evolution-condoms-and-sex-ed ideology than you do with anything resembling feminism. Like Ann Coulter, you're a feminist Uncle Tom, and you went on to prove it in your blog article-
"Women in technology need consistant [sic] messaging from birth through retirement they are welcome, competent and valued in the industry."
A well-intended sentiment, Adria, but one that ultimately reveals your own out-dated, stereotypical preconceptions of the female gender. First off, it's categorically, demonstrably untrue that women need to be coddled, flattered, or otherwise condescended to in order to enter or remain in any industry. Nursing and teaching are two industries dominated by women, and the women aren't there because the nursing or teaching industries go out of their way to pet women on the head and tell them they're super duper and really special and doing an extra-excellent, A+ job. The women who work in those female-dominated industries are hard-working, hard-nosed, highly-trained professionals who learned a trade and work long, hard, thankless hours every fucking day.

The reason they went to school for nursing instead of computer science is because our society doesn't consider science and math to be very feminine. If you were half the feminist you claim to be, you'd be fighting against that cultural stereotype of math and science, not demanding that women be condescended to in a way that implies you don't think women are strong enough to work in an industry unless they get a special, personal invite and are lavished with constant praise as if they were Golden Retriever puppies who start whimpering and wet the floor if you leave them alone too long.

Women are not children with the memory of a goldfish.

Despite how you may view yourself, you are actually part of the problem, not the solution. You are a perpetuator and an Uncle Tom in disguise, not a civil rights activist. Civil rights activists are bad asses. You are not a bad ass. You are an uptight prude who gets offended while eavesdropping on 3rd-grade-level jokes being made neither to you nor about you. That has nothing to do with gender. I know some over-sensitive, nosy, bible-thumping men with sticks up their asses who would have done the same thing.

So chill the fuck out, stop being a sexist, sexually-repressed, anachronistic prude, and watch this video from a woman who owns her sexuality instead of conflating sexuality with sexism and then ratting on people who make the kind of mildly inappropriate jokes that you'd hear at a PG-13 movie:

Sebastian Braff


Popular Posts