Monday, April 18, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret of F/OSS and How We Can Change Reality

Resistance is Useful

Hello internet. We have something to talk about, and it’s been cooking for some time.

We’re going to talk about geek culture, about misogyny, about rape culture and rape apologism, about safe-spaces and fear, harassment and assault, about growing-up-geek, about social responsibility, reckoning and resistance.[1]

We’re going to talk about my experience of this in a small Australian city, and about making a declaration of intransigence.

I would ask each of my readers to not only read this essay, but put it into practice, and also pass it along. As I said in my comment, the best way to get bullies to STOP, is to name and shame them. But it takes us bystanders to realize that we are the majority, we are the Public, and we can stop this. If we band together, and if we want to.

There is a followup at where we learn that Reality is difficult to grasp for some, and the lovely news that MikeeUSA is spewing his woman-hating barf again.


  1. The word "rape culture" surely will not increase cooperation from male geeks who are the majority as it stands. It is insulting and reminds me of the lunatic fringe of feminism which declares that "all men are rapists". Maybe in some roundabout way, you know, but such clumsy insults are rarely the start of a good discussion.
    In the case of "all men are rapists" I'd prefer something like "rape is an extreme case of common male behavior patterns", which might get me thinking. Maybe females as well, because in some corners of society aggressive behavior from males is expected and rewarded - not only by other males.

  2. "...the best way to get bullies to STOP, is to name and shame them."

    Pot, meet kettle.

  3. Andreas, if we didn't live in a rape culture, this blog post wouldn't have been necessary. Sadly, we do, and we need to change this. If you don't rape, then you aren't a rapist. If you are part of the majority, then we need YOU to help stop the rapes and other outrages which ARE happening. I'm calling myself out here, because I've been one those women avoiding the icky spaces -- which leaves the abusers free to work without my speaking out. I pledge to stop doing that, and would ask that you join me in that. Call out the bad behaviour, and support others who call out bad behavior, and soon -- we won't have much bad behavior. Simple.

  4. So, Anonymous, I'm a bully, by calling on all of us to stop bullying, rape, and other abuse?


  5. [I'm not the same anonymous as before]

    Yes you are a bully by definition. Stop being so over dramatic by claiming there is rape going on. Has there been a documented case of where sex was forced upon a, non-virtual, woman in relation to Geek culture? If show how prevalent is it? (Use parcentages). For amusement, do research on the population. By rape I'm referring to force sexual relations [not the lose "unwanted contact" definition that generates the ridicious 1/4 rape statistic]

    BTW I would bet the Geek community has a much lower percentage.

  6. Interesting. So I'm a bully because I'm against RAPE? I don't think you are a person with whom I can have a conversation.

    I do not personally know of any geek women who have been raped. Naturally, I know personally MANY women who have been raped. At least one-quarter of the women I've known through the years.

    At least we can agree on the definition of rape. And no, no one is talking about crowds cheering on actual rapes.

    To get back to the original blog post -- stand up against bullying, against abuse, against rape. If you are willing to do this, YEA! If you are not, please stop commenting here. Go on consenting to an abusive geek culture, but shut up HERE.

    And of course there are documented cases of rape. Have you done any research at ALL? I'm not doing it for you.

  7. [Another anon, who just lost a reply decrying your tired "so I'm a...?" straw-man routine and laughable "rape culture" meme to a connection failure, and finds an odd peace in the fact that that captcha was "cums".]

  8. By the way, I've just read an excellent interview with Debian Developer Meike Reichle, member of Debian Women, on Ubuntu Planet.
    There are a couple of paragraphs particularly interesting here:

    "...The question what should be done to get more women into Free Software has been around almost as long as Free Software exists, and it has been answered very well by a lot of people: Twenty years ago Ellen Spertus wrote Why are There so Few Female Computer Scientists? and most of it still holds true. Almost ten years ago Val Henson (now Aurora) wrote HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux and that also is still pretty accurate. In 2006 Floss Pols undertook extensive research to find out why there were so few women in Open Source and Free Software and how that could be changed. They also came up with a very good set of recommendations. All of these texts highlight different aspects of that question and all of them have very good points.

    "I personally have, over the years, arrived at a rather sociological, not to say holistic point of view. In fact I answered the exact same question a few days ago, and the answer I gave then was this: “After ~10 years of women in tech advocacy I’d say the ultimate and final measure to get more women into Free Software is by finally achieving a truly equal society and at the same time dramatically improving child care support in almost any country.” I’ve come to the conclusion that what really holds women back in practice is not so much a lack of skill or interest but a simple lack of opportunity. For most of us Free Software is what we do in our spare time and that’s something that women, even today, have considerably less of than men. Even in couples where both partners work full-time it is still mostly the woman who does the majority of the housework and child care duties. In most cultures men have a perceived right to their leisure time that does not to the same degree exist for women.

    "That is one major reason, the other is instilled modesty, which has kind of become my personal arch-enemy by now. I’ve talked to so many girls and women at all sorts of events about why they won’t take up Computer Science studies or join a Free Software project and the answer I hear most often is that they do not consider themselves “good enough” in one or another aspect. Sometimes they will doubt their technical skills, sometimes their language skills, sometimes their stamina. Needless to say these girls and women were not any less qualified than the people already active in Free Software."

    I can only agree that our culture needs changing -- not just FOSS culture, but our world culture. We used to, long ago, live without without walled cities, without weapons, without huge disparities between the rich and poor, without war. Of course this was not a paradise, because we are humans, after all. However, we can choose partnership over domination as our major value for human interaction.

    We each of us can live this value out in our daily life, and in our interactions in FOSS. We can also design structures which enhance partnership, both within projects, and across them. Rather than ranking, we can LINK to one another to create a better world.

    I suppose it is necessary to link here to my previous post about rape and abuse in FOSS: