> First, calling someone else sexist because *you* can't imagine replacing "her" with "his" in a joke is just baffling.
Uh. Then I suppose you're glad I didn't call anyone sexist...?
Bruce claimed that the reason RMS talked about women was a simple reflection of user statistics -- that it had nothing to do with the sexual/gendered overtones of "virginity", and indeed, that those overtones didn't even exist in context of the joke.
I'm skeptical. Note that this is not "I think Bruce is sexist", or even "I think RMS is sexist". It's "I'm skeptical of Bruce's claim that I was replying to". I think that's a pretty unremarkable sort of stance to take in LWN comments.
One way I tried to express that was by appealing to people's intuition for cultural rules about sex -- AFAICT, around here (here being America, more or less) it's much more okay for a guy to joke about taking a women's virginity than to joke about participating in homosexual sex. If you then try to imagine RMS taking guy's emacs virginity and your brain goes "whoa whoa what?", then that suggests that yeah, "emacs virginity" *is* pulling up all those sexual/gendered stereotypes. Sorry Bruce.
But maybe you don't share that intuition, and that's fine. Cultural rules are messy, variable, and hard to articulate; maybe you're coming from somewhere else, maybe I just got it wrong, it happens. But that doesn't mean they don't exist, or don't matter, or that "*I*" cannot talk about them on the basis of my own knowledge. I'd rather try and get it wrong occasionally that pretend they don't exist.
And as for hinting at rape... well. Here's the quote again: "we believe that taking her emacs virginity away is a blessed act." Does that call on men to go out and rape women? Absolutely not. But when I take my lunch out of the fridge, the lunch doesn't have any say in the matter. I decide to take it, it doesn't make a decision. It's just some apples and lasagna and stuff, decision-making isn't what it does. I certainly wouldn't ask it if it minded being taken. That's the metaphor he chose to use; women are like my lunch. Whether women lose their virginity/learn emacs is something for a man to decide and implement, with no place for her to have an opinion on the matter.
One more time, before people rise up with pitchforks: I'm not saying that anyone who uses that sort of language is an evil misogynist who hates women and wants to rape them. This stuff is subconscious and out there in the culture; it's easy to miss. (Esp. for men, who don't spend their lives with the spectre of real rape hanging over them.) But you know, one could just as easily talk about helping women relieve their own virginity, or just offer to answer their questions about emacs. When we choose not to, then yeah, that has something to do with our nasty cultural models about power and sex and agency.