The buzz at the moment is the foofarah over Adria Richards and her behavior at a tech conference. What is interesting is not that a woman took offense at something a man said in her hearing and found a way to turn that against him and get some publicity for herself. That kind of thing is bird-in-the-backyard stuff, been going on for centuries.
I’m not going to waste your time repeating the details of this affairs. The whole thing is all over the internet.
The big news is the reaction. I don’t mean that ferocity that has been lobbed at Adria Richards. That kind of thing is also not news. And by the way, when you are the cause of someone, in this case two people, losing their jobs, in a climate where this kind of thing has happened enough that fear of it is general (see also Sexual Harassment policies, guidelines and enforcement actions just about anywhere) you have no reason to be surprised when the reaction across the community is vitriolic.
The reaction I am talking about is from women in the tech industry. SilencingNarrative on Reddit MensRights has a self-reddit up saying that he sees a turning point here, not just for himself I feeling he can trust women in that field more because of their response to the incident. He sees it as a turning point in the gynonorming trend in male-dominated fields and the workplace in general.
Women are losing no time in condemning Richards and often in quite blunt and harsh terms. Amanda Blum had quite a bit to say by way of background on Adria Richards and none of it was in her favor. She cuts to the bone on this, she says that Richards’ behavior has harmed women in the industry materially, undoing years and years of struggle on the part of women in the industry to be accepted as team members.
Amanda says Richards has painted women in the tech industry a irrational bitches no one can work with. SilencingNarrative says that the response of women in the industry has done more than reverse that harm, at least for him. Well done, Amanda Blum.
And look at this post at a blog called “….a whisper of dark wings”. It goes further in explaining the harm Richards caused, and in the process proving how adult and reasonable these women in the tech industry can be.
The misogyny underlying the assumptions that inform Richards’ actions are not lost on these women either.
And here’s a thread on Hacker News, starting with an apology from one of the guys involved, with most commenters telling him he’s not the one who should be apologizing.
Back when women started to enter the corporate world and the workplace in general, back in the 60s, people thought there would be a natural process of accomodation, but they were ignoring a feature of the gender system that constructs femininity so that women are the Moral Guardians of society.
This happens because women have an outsized role in child-rearing and socialization in our society. This gynonormativity s so entrenched in the culture that when women go into male spaces and find it not in effect, they call the situation sexist and misogynist – in other words a setting that is not female dominated, at least in its norms, is unacceptable to them.
And in the context of the tech industry, an industry staffed mainly with men who have issues with women because of the way women treat and have treated them, this gynonormativity and the tech industry culture were a combustible mixture. Adria Richards may have touched off a cleansing fire that may spread beyond the tech industry.