If you haven’t heard about what happened with the whole Adria Richards scandal, here’s a basic run down:
Adria Richards attended Pycon and during a talk, she heard two men behind her joking about ‘forking’ and ‘dongles.’ She was uncomfortable with the mens’ joking and, instead of turning around and asking them to stop, she turned around and took their picture. She then uploaded it to twitter and asked for the Pycon staff to remove the two men. They were removed from the conference and a day later, one of the two men, a father of three, lost his job due to the event. Richards then went onto her blog and bragged about what happened. The internet blew up, calling her a number of names, calling the two men a number of names, and demanding that Richards be fired and the man be given his job back. Richards continued to defend herself (in one of the most aggravating ways possible), and compared herself to Joan of Arc.
Some interesting things came out of this whole ordeal. There is too much to write about, but I encourage you to look up articles and forum posts about this. One thing in particular caught my eye, and that was the number of people talking about Richards ruining the image of women in IT.
One poster said:
All she did was show employers that women are liabilities. All it takes is mentioning dongles or forking code to set them off and now it’s time to pay out for their mental anguish because your company didn’t do enough to prevent a hostile workplace.
Other people, even women, in the same thread gave the same general comment: women like Richards are giving women in tech a bad name and are making it harder for women to get into the computer science field.
I have to ask: Why is it that if a man did something similar he would be labeled as an asshole, but when a woman does it, every other woman in the same field is compared to her?
THAT is actual misogyny that should be dealt with. This is not to say that the posters making those posts are misogynists - I actually agree with them. The thing is, women in the tech industry are being compared to Richards because of this, and it is making it harder for women. The misogyny comes in because that is something that women have to worry about, that employers will compare them to women like Richards when considering them for employment.
Making jokes about sexual organs is not what’s holding women back in computer science like Richards, and many other people, want you to believe - what’s holding women back is the idea that if one woman fucks up, every other woman is blamed too.
Instead of policing language and what can and cannot be joked about (especially in a private conversation) and passive-aggressively posting to the internet when you’re offended, perhaps we need to realize that women are individuals, just as men are, and are held to their own standards, not the standards of their gender.
As for Richards, she dealt with this situation in the most immature and passive-aggressive ways possible. She showed complete unprofessionalism, and it is a shame that other woman are being judged because of this one woman and others like her.
If I was unclear in anything, please feel free to ask me. Putting my thoughts on this matter into words is hard…