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It's not just Open Source conferences

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 4:10 UTC (Thu) by vaurora (guest, #38407)
In reply to: It's not just Open Source conferences by jhhaller
Parent article: The dark side of open source conferences

I understand and share your daughter's anger, but it might have been better directed at the people who hired the dancers, not the dancers themselves. I feel confident that none of the (female) dancers were motivated by the desire to hurt other women; probably they just wanted to support themselves and had few other options, in part because of sexual discrimination. Blaming women for accepting jobs as exotic dancers and booth babes is approximately as sensible as blaming newly freed slaves for taking jobs as sharecroppers.

I wanted to avoid putting more responsibility on the victims of harassment, which is why I focused on convincing the people in power - conference organizers - to change.

If you'd like to learn more about this topic and at the same time read one of the top living writers in the English language, I recommend any of Margaret Atwood's novels, but especially "The Handmaiden's Tale" and "The Blind Assassin." You're welcome!


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It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 6:00 UTC (Thu) by stewart (subscriber, #50665) [Link]

Amazingly enough I go to tech conferences for tech, not for scantily clad women. If I wanted scantily clad women, I would be elsewhere, not at a tech conference.

Perhaps if people running a booth want attendees to be interested in their technology they should have people on the booth who know about their technology.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 7:57 UTC (Thu) by dambacher (subscriber, #1710) [Link]

> Perhaps if people running a booth want attendees to be interested in their
> technology they should have people on the booth who know about their
> technology.

I was at a machine tool fair a month ago. A machine manufacturer had a beautiful girl showing the machine functions to interested people. She definitely had the tech knowledge.
But they put her in a bavarian dirndl wich in a marketing sense accentuated the wrong things.

So yes we definitly need such a policy on conferences.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 13:07 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

>I feel confident that none of the (female) dancers were motivated by the desire to hurt other women; probably they just wanted to support themselves and had few other options, in part because of sexual discrimination. Blaming women for accepting jobs as exotic dancers and booth babes is approximately as sensible as blaming newly freed slaves for taking jobs as sharecroppers.

It saddens me that you appear to be so dismissive of other people's career choices as to imply that nobody would make those choices unless essentially forced to.

That kind of prejudice seems discordant with your other writing, but I suppose we all have blind spots. It seems we still have a very long way to go.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 14:02 UTC (Thu) by jackb (guest, #41909) [Link]

It saddens me that you appear to be so dismissive of other people's career choices as to imply that nobody would make those choices unless essentially forced to.
The kind of prejudice to which you are referring isn't new and its agenda is well known but otherwise rational people apparently have been too bullied by political correctness to call it it out for what it is.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 8, 2010 8:52 UTC (Wed) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

Oh hate those feminists! Hate hate hate!

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 16:16 UTC (Thu) by vaurora (guest, #38407) [Link]

Let's be clear here about what the "career choice" is. From what I know of the booth babe/showgirl/exotic dancer industry, these people have to put up with a lot of disrespect and bad treatment from both their audience and their management. I don't personally know any little girls (or grown women) who dream of their ultimate career as booth babe for a switch company. Again, it's not about being disrespectful or angry with the women who are being sexualized to sell ethernet cards, it's disagreeing with a society that leaves them with this as their best option.

If you're talking about a different kind of career that involved wearing skimpy clothing and dancing in order to sell computer parts, please be specific about what it is and how I'm blaming or disrespecting the dancer.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 17:53 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

A group of dancers hired to perform on stage at a conference is hardly an egregious example of exploitation, but what concerns me is phrases like 'I don't personally know...' and 'their best option'. The subtext being: 'this is something I wouldn't want to do, therefore nobody must want to do it, therefore anyone who does it must have been forced somehow'.

I don't personally know anyone who wants to be a sysadmin - after all it's a job that comes with high stress and very low social status - but I don't therefore assume that anyone who is has chosen it because it's their only choice.

If you are simply pointing out that a hardware or software conference is not the appropriate place for any display which sexualises women (or men for that matter) then we're in agreement, but it *appears* (and perhaps I'm misconstruing your position) that you believe a priori that no woman would ever want to be sexualised to any extent in a professional situation. A fairly short Google search can find any number of sex-positive feminists (and women who prefer not to describe themselves as feminist because they feel betrayed by feminism as a movement) who wouldn't agree and feel marginalised by that (common) viewpoint.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 4, 2010 21:51 UTC (Sat) by vaurora (guest, #38407) [Link]

I think you are confusing being sex-positive with being sexually exploited. And before you demand that I educate you on the topic, try doing some research yourself.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 17:53 UTC (Thu) by lutchann (✭ supporter ✭, #8872) [Link]

Of course, there are many women who become exotic dancers or adult models solely for the paycheck, but you could say that about nearly any field. How many little girls (or boys) dream of their ultimate career as a housekeeper or telemarketer?

On the other hand, it is a gross generalization to suggest that no woman ever chooses to be an exotic dancer. I have several friends and acquaintances--women I met through typical social channels--who have willingly chosen exotic dancing and other sex-related work as a career and truly enjoy what they do. To insist that no woman should take a job displaying or exploiting their body is its own form of sexism.

It's probably fair to say that nobody dreams about being a booth babe for a switch company. But that's how the service industry works: unless you have more inquiries than you can handle, you don't really get to pick and choose your customers. Sometimes the work is fun, sometimes it just pays the bills. I'm sure the caterer who was backstage refilling the warming tray with hot dogs wasn't living their "dream career" at the moment either.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 3, 2010 4:57 UTC (Fri) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

It's interesting how there are all these people jumping to defend women against... Valerie's comments. And yet I just searched this thread, and despite their deep concern about women's rights, those same people haven't felt the need to similarly condemn any of the events described in the original post. On the contrary, they're much more worried about how rude it is to call people out for misogyny, and discounting the special problems that women encounter in FOSS groups, and talking about how hard it would be to enforce these things.

Val suggested that none of the dancers were motivated by the desire to hurt other women, and that the reason they were up on stage at a tech conference (of all things) probably had more to do with the paycheck than anything else. She probably could have been more nuanced in her analogies, but as far as I can tell, you all specifically *agree* with these points. So is this just about scoring points or what?

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 3, 2010 5:09 UTC (Fri) by lutchann (✭ supporter ✭, #8872) [Link]

For the record, I fully support Val's goals of raising awareness of sexual harassment at tech conferences and calling for pressure to make the atmosphere at such events more supportive of female attendees. I didn't mean for my debate with her in this sub-thread, which is only tangentially related to the original issue, to suggest otherwise.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 3, 2010 5:44 UTC (Fri) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

Thank you, I'm glad to hear it.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 14:51 UTC (Thu) by jhhaller (subscriber, #56103) [Link]

It was definitely a teachable moment when she came home and told me about her experience, and about what she could do better to express herself in an effective way to encourage change. I don't blame the dancers for taking the job, but she is still young enough to see things in black and white rather than grays. However, when through employment or conventions, many of the women who are attending (and some men, obviously not all) are uncomfortable in those situations. Especially if it is employment-related, this discourages people who are uncomfortable from being in these situations. I can't imagine an employee (male or female) having to go home to their spouse and explain why they had to take their client to a strip club to keep their job.

But, as the article is about Open Source conferences, and reading that some woman (and probably some men) have stopped attending some conferences, the conferences with issues are obviously missing the voices of those who refuse to attend, and discouraging future participation. And for every person who speaks out, there are probably another ten who feel the same way, but just silently stop attending, or change professions.

Thanks for the book suggestion.

It's not just Open Source conferences

Posted Dec 3, 2010 19:48 UTC (Fri) by AdamW (subscriber, #48457) [Link]

Health warning: don't read The Handmaid's Tale without an industrial-size vat of anti-depressants and a large box of hankies on tap. It's a great book, but also quite hideously depressing...

The Blind Assassin is much cheerier. In bits, anyway. Also brilliant. :)

Handmaid, not Handmaiden

Posted Dec 3, 2010 20:56 UTC (Fri) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

The novel Valerie is thinking of is titled "The Handmaid's Tale". "Handmaid" being the name for the social niche of the main narrator in the story.

It seems to me that someone who doesn't recognise yelling at people who are doing their job as harassment and take it seriously might not be the right person to write an anti-harassment policy.

Handmaid, not Handmaiden

Posted Dec 4, 2010 20:30 UTC (Sat) by vaurora (guest, #38407) [Link]

Thanks for the correction on the book title!

Re: "yelling at people who are doing their job" - I think you may have the people and events in this thread mixed up. I was the person who suggested that "yelling at people who are doing their job" was not the right thing to do, and I am also the person who wrote the anti-harassment policy. The young woman who yelled at the people doing their job is the daughter of a commenter and was not, to my knowledge, involved in writing the policy.

Handmaid, not Handmaiden

Posted Dec 5, 2010 15:06 UTC (Sun) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

No, I have the people and events perfectly straight, and my priorities straight too. You had an opportunity to clearly and forthrightly condemn harassment and you didn't take it. Depending on the messenger, silence can be its own message. Perhaps you'd like to rectify that now?

Handmaid, not Handmaiden

Posted Dec 5, 2010 21:59 UTC (Sun) by vaurora (guest, #38407) [Link]

Really? Seriously? You're calling me to task for not being sufficiently outraged about a young woman being upset at several other women being exploited at a tech conference? Do you think maybe you might be derailing a bit?

Okay, I shouldn't feed the trolls but I'll make an exception. Yes, I clearly and forthrightly condemn yelling at women hired to create a sexualized environment at technology conference. I even more clearly and forthrightly condemn the decision to hire women to create a sexualized environment at a technology conference - something that happens rather more often and has a far greater negative effect, yet doesn't seem to bother you as much.

Now, please, after you - go straight ahead and review my article and this thread and take every "opportunity to clearly and forthrightly condemn
harassment" where you see it. Because I see a lot of opportunities you may have missed...

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 6, 2010 3:10 UTC (Mon) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

Thank you, I hope that's clear. I decline to identify every possible incidence of harassment, it lies outside my interest and expertise, and seems likely to be fruitless.

I will give you two pieces of advice though: If you're unsure whether you are being trolled, it is not a good idea to reply and accuse the person of trolling.

Secondly I suggest you read "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell, and think upon the gravity of the mistakes you can make when you assume that others see things exactly the way you do, think about them the way you do, and feel about them the same way you do.

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 6, 2010 6:23 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

"Perhaps you'd like to rectify that now?" Are you kidding?

You're so full of advice and strong words, and so hard of hearing, that I think anyone could be forgiven for smelling a troll. Maybe tone it down a notch?

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 8, 2010 8:59 UTC (Wed) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

I read the Sparrow. It's tripe.

I also know that yelling is not the same as harassment: On the way to work the other day, three cars entered an intersection when there was not enough room in the lane they wanted on the other side. The light changed. They dumbly stayed lined up blocking traffic. I was walking by and yelled "GET OUT OF THE INTERSECTION, YOU IDIOTS! PULL INTO THE OTHER LANE! ITS YOUR ERROR!" This was not harassment.


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