Why Feminism Is Still Necessary

Because when women speak up and voice their opinions, men feel entitled to do things like this (serious trigger warnings).

The threat of violence, particularly sexualized violence, is a favorite tool for insecure men, usually safely anonymous themselves, for trying to push women out of the public sphere. Women targeted by AutoAdmit found themselves wondering which of the men they knew were posting updates on their locations and making rape threats; last year, Jill missed several days of classes. Melissa McEwan dropped out of the Edwards campaign after receiving increasingly credible threats. Amanda Marcotte’s been threatened. Pretty much every feminist blogger has, at one time or another — and you should see some of the stuff that turns up in our moderation queue.

And if there are complaints, there’s always someone who accuses the targets of being oversensitive, imagining things, not having a sense of humor, not being tough enough to take it in the blogosphere.

In Kathy Sierra’s case, threats of sexualized violence, not only at her blog but at tech blogs run by people she respected, led to her withdrawal from a workshop she was scheduled to give at the ETech conference in San Diego. Not to mention disgust with a blogosphere that condones the kind of posting even as it wonders why women don’t participate more in the tech world:

I do not want to be part of a culture–the Blogosphere–where this is considered acceptable. Where the price for being a blogger is kevlar-coated skin and daughters who are tough enough to not have their “widdy biddy sensibilities offended” when they see their own mother Photoshopped into nothing more than an objectified sexual orifice, possibly suffocated as part of some sexual fetish. (And of course all coming on the heels of more explicit threats)

I do not want to be part of a culture where this is done not by some random person, but by some of the most respected people in the tech blogging world. People linked to by A-listers like Doc Searls, a co-author of Chris Locke. I do not want to be part of a culture of such hypocrisy where Jeneane Sessum can be a prominent member of blogher, a speaker at industry conferences, an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and at the same time celebrate and encourage a site like meankids — where objectification of women is taken to a level that makes plain old porn seem quaintly sweet.

(Of course, Frank and Jeneane are among the people who make outraged posts about the lack of female speakers at tech conferences. If THIS is what a woman has to put up with for having visibility in the tech world…)

And as we know, it doesn’t even take threats of violence to push women to the margins. All it takes is refusing to let them participate in substantive discussions, whether by discussing their fuckability, or shouting over them, or asking disingenuous questions, or demanding that their concerns be addressed before anything else is discussed.

Dr. Violet Socks has more. As Violet says, I’m not sure that there’s much we can do other than leave a supportive comment at Kathy’s blog. But if anyone more plugged into the tech world has any further ideas, they’re more than welcome.

H/T Lindsay, and Stephanie in comments.

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66 comments for “Why Feminism Is Still Necessary

  1. March 26, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    I’ve been in tech for 30 years. I have been associated with computer scientists, engineers, analysts, developers, knowledge workers and management in both large and small companies.

    This type of behavior is new to me. For one, it places the company that allows it, explicitly or implicitly, under threat of litigation. Misogyny is not a job requirement for computer and information technology professionals. Problem solving skills and domain knowledge are the prerequisites for those jobs. In my career, almost everyone I have worked with has been easy going and open-minded. Technology is male-dominated, I agree, but the teams and companies I have worked in have as often as not had women at the top.

    There is almost no barrier to entry where blogging is concerned. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, a little HTML knowledge and an account on any one of a dozen free blog sites. If you want your own domain, you can set up a domain and a web site for under $100. I don’t think it makes sense to think that this has to do with technology or technologists. I think it has more to do with individuals who are out of control.

    This behavior constitutes a hate crime. What is needed is one or two high-profile prosecutions to set a precedent.

  2. March 27, 2007 at 1:00 am

    That is nothing short of horrific. Any human being should be able to see that for the vile and disgusting garbage that it is. Her reaction is nothing but fair and frankly its heart breaking that she or anyone else would be subjected to such behavior. All the worse that this kind of thing goes unchecked all too often.

    A few years back, I was part of an active online activism community. Some opposing individuals started a website that was basically about what horrible people we all were. On three ocassions in the first week, the discussion turned to violent fantasies about activists, myself being one. Now, no one made specific threats. As in, no one said “I’m going to kill such and such”. Instead, the coversation was more in fantasizing about our deaths and celebrating our imagined demises. This is a distinction that does little to absolve the behavior, but it was the crucial point used to minimize the offense and defend the perpetrators. Being offended by it was dismissed as being oversensative. I was repeatedly assailed by my allies for thinking that this behavior was well past the line. There were no threats, I was told. I was litterally laughed at by the people who agreed with me. I was dumb-founded, and I’m all the more-so here where the behavior was so much more persistant and graphic. “I hope” is not a line which makes someone innocent. There is little meaningful difference between someone saying “I hope someone kills you” and “I’m going to kill you”. The difference is superficial and frankly merely proof of a more thoughtful tormentor who thinks that by merely suggesting your demise they will be blameless for their violent and hateful thoughts. I knew these people were unlikely to act upon their hopes for my death or the deaths of the others involved. Hardly matters. I was outraged and the fact that so few of my allies saw fit to condemn this behavior (indeed, many quietly ignored it while “reaching out” to those who carried it out). It caused me to withdraw from a cause I felt very deeply in. As an internet community, we must not stand for this. We cannot allow the discource to be manipulated by those who have little interest beyond inspiring fear to score points. This is unacceptable and we must acknowledge it. What I witnessed pales in comparison to Kathy Sierra’s experience. I almost feel bad drawing the comparison, but I feel a lot of this kind of abuse flourishes because no lines are drawn early on so things spiral worse and worse. People are given an inch to dehumanize and terrorize, and surely they will take a mile. I shouldn’t be lucky to have merely had my death publicly fantasized about. What have we come to when I feel like that is an inadequate experience to offer because it genuinely is so less frightening that what we see here?

    But I did recognize one thing as this was happening to me. There were 3 people who were subjects for these violent fantasies. Myself, and two women. Far and away, what was said about me was tame in comparison to what was said about the women. Women are seen as especially deserving of such verbal assaults, and especially vulnerable to highly graphic and detailed fantasies and threats. And that’s something men need to understand. The men of the blogsphere who have been threatened may feel some solidarity, but we also need to understand that what is routinely done to women who voice their opinions is genuinely far worse. We need to understand that there are those out there who feel entitled to subject women to a special level of grotesque and threatening behavior. Damn right this is why Feminism is still necessary. This kind of threatening behavior isn’t meant to just intimidate women. Its meant to dehumanize them and marginalize them in ways men will never have to deal with. The threat of misogyny is all too real and I wish more men got that and got how the motivations here are formed.

  3. March 27, 2007 at 1:06 am

    Michael, unless I misread you badly, you’re male. I have to tell you that the experiences of women in tech may be an eensy bit different from yours, ditto their perception of the level of misogyny.

  4. Miller
    March 27, 2007 at 1:08 am

    The only crybabies are the bigots who feel that “hurt feelings” justify terrorist threats. Lynching is quite rare yet if they made such a threat no one would dismiss it so casually, yet rape is extremely common and somehow males have the audacity to mock women, the targets of such violence, as being paranoid. I wish someone would turn that hyper-sensitivity excuse around on them. Seriously, when you think of what could justify members of a dominant group who not only possess a physical advantage over another gender entirely, and hold a universal grip on power at every level in society, the only possible answer is hurt feelings. That’s it! The cry of “sensitivity” hurled at those who fight back is projection at its worst.
    There is no excuse for bigotry, let alone hate-fueled violence.

  5. Miller
    March 27, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Excuse my grammar mistakes: I meant to write “…what could justify members of a dominant group exploiting bigotry, who not only possess….” There’s more, I’m afraid. Long day.
    Keep us informed over how this pans out.

  6. Cecily
    March 27, 2007 at 1:34 am

    I was wondering when the feminist blogs would weigh in on this :(

    I heard some tech bloggers are having a week of silence in solidarity or something, but I’m not very plugged in to that part of the blogging world.

  7. March 27, 2007 at 2:27 am

    I have been trying to think of creative communal measures against this type of abuse. I have a bunch of half-baked ideas, no winners, more brainstorming.

    1) A Blog Carnival supporting controversial or targeted bloggers in some way. Example: a “Kathy Sierra” day at the blog carnival where bloggers either show support for what the blogger cares about, uses his/her ideas in a new and creative way to new situations, explores a theme of that blogger, etc. This creates a wall of community which empowers the blogger, gets friendly bloggers some exposure, inflicts embarrassment on the torturer (e.g. 100 synonyms for lives in mama’s basement, etc.)

    2) A link button against misogynist (or other) abuse of bloggers. Call it “Clear Voice” or “Strong Voice.” Those who have it agree not only to exclude that type of abuse of fellow bloggers, but to engage in secondary or tertiary boycotts of those who do tolerate it – apropos of this situation.

    3) Some bloggers will not be comfortable with a site button that says “I smile when I flip online harassers to the FBI.” But some will. Just a thought.

    4) LInk button that says “I read/respect/support/defend Kathy Sierra”.

    5) Perhaps a site called “Severe Online Loser” where misogynist comments go to die in a Potter’s Field. Replete with a Loser of the Week, the Palme d’Hair award, Inbredus Minimus, where they get ranked -1 (lame) to -5 (parents should never have met, since they were cousins.)

  8. March 27, 2007 at 2:33 am

    Misogyny is not a job requirement for computer and information technology professionals.

    No, but it sure seems to be on the “nice-to-have” list for a lot of them.

    This story scares the shit out of me. I’m not high-profile (yet), but I’m female and I work in IT. I’m primarily a technical writer, but I do some QA/UA testing, and I’m helping to redesign the interface on the project I’m currently working on. I have a long-term plan to start publishing regularly in the trade magazines of the various industries where my specialties are. So I could be her in, say, five years.

    I have certainly encountered enough rank misogyny in the profession to rankle anyone. The canonical example seems to be some clueless git asking me if I can install my own software, or if I need help. *facepalm*

    Despite being keenly enough interested in computers to have taught myself about them practically from nothing (I learned HTML, then Linux, then some basic C programming, and did a Linux install before I ever installed Windows on anything), it took me about five years to break into technical writing because of “occupational steering.” According to all those HR drones, I would be so much happier doing marketing writing, you know. (Never mind that in reality, marketing writing makes me crazed.) And don’t let anyone tell you that someone steering you into marketing when you want to be a technical writer isn’t gender-biased, even though software technical writing seems to be female-dominated, paradoxically.

    Not to mention that a lot of guys in the IT profession seem to regard women as either some weird alien species that happens to be good for sex, or, in the case of women in IT, novel curiosity pieces that inspire either awe or disparagement. I’m damn tired of male IT geeks not taking female IT geeks seriously, frankly. (That’s one reason why I have a gender-neutral handle. I started out on Slashdot, and it’s parlous to be openly female there.)

  9. Steven
    March 27, 2007 at 4:48 am

    Just today, I was at Barnes & Noble reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time. The man lived in constant fear of death, but continued to be actively fighting for civil rights. Though I’m white, and he didn’t view whites in a positive manner (understandbly), I found what I read to be quite inspirational. He had one line that I’m sure we have all heard: “by any means possible”. Do whatever necessary to overcome the obstacles in attaining civil rights. Good stuff.

    I think the blogging feminists should continue to power it out.

  10. March 27, 2007 at 6:49 am

    No offense, Steven, but your advice – “I think the blogging feminists should continue to power it out.” – strikes me as a little facile.

    If you received threats that someone wanted to rape and murder you, would you really appreciate encouragement to “power it out”?

  11. galnoir
    March 27, 2007 at 6:51 am

    My introduction to Kathy’s blog came with this post titled Code Like a Girl. I’m still very much an amateur Web developer, but I love the way she writes. This intersection of two blogging worlds that I follow—tech and feminism—has floored me. FWIW, even the BBC has gotten wind of this story.

  12. March 27, 2007 at 8:33 am

    I’m seriously about to vomit all over my damn keyboard.

  13. R. Mildred
    March 27, 2007 at 9:08 am

    and he didn’t view whites in a positive manner

    He was just angry at us for, you know, threatening his life.

    He didn’t want to dislike us, we just made it really really really hard to do otherwise.

    And then he was killed, by a white person.

  14. March 27, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Sometimes I hate the goddamned internet.

  15. the15th
    March 27, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Check out the great thread on Metafilter about how she’s “overreacting” because “part of the price that you pay for putting ideas out there is being attacked” and “maybe it’s because I’m a guy and thus less threatened by sexualized violence, but it seemed like she went well over the top in her reaction.”

  16. Kim
    March 27, 2007 at 10:10 am

    I think the blogging feminists should continue to power it out.

    Ummm, right, especially since Malcolm X was eventually KILLED? I’m thinking she did the right thing by staying home.

  17. DDay
    March 27, 2007 at 10:18 am

    I think Kathy should do whatever she thinks is best. We can support her and send messages of solidarity if you will, but judging her for her reaction is completely counterproductive and just wrong.

  18. March 27, 2007 at 11:32 am

    This is how you fight sexism: you don’t stand around and say, “Well, women just need to accept this shit when they put ideas out there.” No, you need to go after the guys who make these threats. Telling women to toughen up or deal with it is no different from telling women to avoid being raped.

  19. March 27, 2007 at 11:34 am

    If you received threats that someone wanted to rape and murder you, would you really appreciate encouragement to “power it out”?

    I got the same kind of comments last year — I suspended my blog briefly after someone threatened my dog.

    They are NOT helpful. Except for later use in figuring out who the basement warriors are.

  20. Steven
    March 27, 2007 at 11:46 am

    I have to apologize for expressing that opinion. I should have kept it to myself. I’m not going to attempt to justify it.

  21. March 27, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Michael, unless I misread you badly, you’re male. I have to tell you that the experiences of women in tech may be an eensy bit different from yours, ditto their perception of the level of misogyny.

    Yes, I’m male. I’ve seen flame wars of every sort on social networking sites. But, I’ve never seen this behavior in the workplace. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the places I’ve worked, just one of these comments would have landed you your last pay check. Maybe that’s the distinction I should be making. But I don’t see how you could land a technology conference gig with that kind of behavior either.

    I just hate that kind of evil, dark hearted shit.

  22. hp
    March 27, 2007 at 11:53 am

    even though software technical writing seems to be female-dominated, paradoxically.

    I don’t find that odd. I find it frustrating. It’s still part of the “push” of women out of tech: once we’ve pushed, pushed, pushed to have our skills acknowledged and gotten those software engineering jobs, we’re subtly pushed toward the technical writing tasks (thus, “pushing” us out again). Most of the women I know doing technical writing have software engineering skills and history that is not being taken advantage of because they’ve been shuffled off onto the side rail of technical writing.

  23. March 27, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Ummm, right, especially since Malcolm X was eventually KILLED?

    Thank you!

    Look, I hope most people who are treated like this are able to continue speaking out, but that I doesn’t mean I’m going to transfer responsibility from those making the threats to stop onto those receiving the threats to “power it out”. Nor will I judge anyone for finding it difficult or impossible to proceed. I will place no moral judgement on either the decision to continue or the decision to halt. The individual’s decision in this instance demands respect and requires respect, whatever it may be. It is heartbreaking that such efforts to silence people might work, but the problems lies not with the silenced but with those who acted out first.

    Being the subject of violent and sexualized fantasies is not the price of having an opinion. We may never prevent all assholes, but we can sure show them all what the community thinks of their behavior. There should never be a price for speaking out, a price for wearing the wrong cloths, a price for walking down the wrong street. Responsibility lies with the perpetrator, not with the victim.

  24. mom_of_2
    March 27, 2007 at 11:56 am

    First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you win.

    The fighting part is not pleasant but it comes right before the winning part.

    With notoriety comes a need for security (which is of course available at taxpayer expense.)

    The pathetic creeps who posted the threats are chuckling in their parents’ basements. They managed to change someone’s schedule! They had an actual impact in the real world! Why hand them a victory like that? Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to act in the face of fear.

  25. March 27, 2007 at 11:57 am

    It’s not just metafilter–there are already some blog reactions that overlook the threats, or just kind of shrug them off. While calling for calm, of course. No calls for calm when Kathy was being threatened, though. Telling. Very telling.

  26. March 27, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    This is something that’s bugged me a long time.

    I mean, on the one hand, you can’t control assholes. Free speech, and all that, and there’s always going to be an ISP that wants money more than it wants to be a good netizen.

    On the other hand, while that’s true, there’s too many people who then blow off the problem. They don’t condemn it. They don’t point out that such folks are assholes. They don’t speak about those people as being as disgusting as something you’d scrape off your shoe, and then throw away the scraper, and then, after thinking carefully, sigh mournfully and throw away the shoes as well.

    In short, they can’t stop it, but, you know, they’re not even really trying to reduce it. They treat it like it is, essentially, ordinary.

    And then it becomes more and more ordinary.

  27. zuzu
    March 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Yes, I’m male. I’ve seen flame wars of every sort on social networking sites. But, I’ve never seen this behavior in the workplace. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the places I’ve worked, just one of these comments would have landed you your last pay check. Maybe that’s the distinction I should be making. But I don’t see how you could land a technology conference gig with that kind of behavior either.

    These blogs aren’t workplaces, and these guys are safely anonymous. They’re saying all the things they wish they could say at work and get away with.

    Kinda like how the things that the AutoAdmit creeps said would never fly in a law firm, but are rampant on a board when these guys know they’re never going to be found out.

  28. R. Mildred
    March 27, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    I got the same kind of comments last year

    Oh I remember that guy, he was all “OMG I am das Uberprotester! I would never bow down to the whims of dog botherers!”

    They all tend to be people who are spending slightly more time telling people to suck it up and take the licks than actually doing anything productive.

    In short, they can’t stop it, but, you know, they’re not even really trying to reduce it.

    They’re enabling and encouraging it actually, once you start pretending that death threats aren’t a big deal, and then go on to point out how someone is at fault for reacting to them – you’re absolving the threateners of responsibility and placing the left overs onto their targets.

    Anyone who does that is not in the right, couldn’t possibly be in the right.

  29. zuzu
    March 27, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Oh I remember that guy, he was all “OMG I am das Uberprotester! I would never bow down to the whims of dog botherers!”

    They all tend to be people who are spending slightly more time telling people to suck it up and take the licks than actually doing anything productive.

    A lot of the same people said I wasn’t sufficiently committed to The Cause because I wasn’t willing to write under my own name. Called me crazy, too, as I recall.

    Pooh-poohed my concerns that writing under my own name might bring crazy people into my real space.

    Yeah, this all has a very familiar ring to it.

  30. mustelid
    March 27, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Would it be overly naive to push for some sort of public unmasking of these anonymous assholes? Y’know, track ’em back to Mommy’s basement, then publish something along the lines of, “J. Blow posted the following repulsive comment on These Sites. He currently resides somewhere in Blank City of this state.” Make it available to the general public, as well as having the relevant authorities drop in for a chat, and prosecution if so warranted. Maybe the sight of a few dozen losers crying about how their lives were ruined once people found out what scum they were might dissuade a good chunk of the rest.

  31. March 27, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    The Dr. Violet Socks link is broken, BTW.

  32. zuzu
    March 27, 2007 at 1:12 pm


  33. March 27, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    zuzu: you don’t do trackbacks?

    I linked you from my post

    I don’t know if I add all that much to the discussion of how wrong this shit is but rather than repeat it here, I will recommend my post for suggesting things we can DO toward decreasing such attacks. its not much but ya gotta start some place.

  34. Erika
    March 27, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    He was just angry at us for, you know, threatening his life…And then he was killed, by a white person.

    Malcolm X received numerous death threats from members of the Nation of Islam, not just from whites. Three black men were convicted of his murder. I’m aware that there are a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, but there it is.

  35. March 27, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    “I’ve been in tech for 30 years.”

    Michael, no offense, but I have been in the tech world for almost ten years now, and this does not surprise me one bit. No, death threats are not common, but treating ideas from woman as suspect, giving more weight to comments from males, pushing the doc writing onto the females in the department, sexists jokes and imagery, etc. have been present during almost all of that time. Some men in IT seem to have a visceral hatred of the notion that woman can be geeks.

  36. twf
    March 27, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    This woman writes a tech blog. I haven’t read more than two posts now, but it really doesn’t seem like anything she does is in the least controversial. Shit like this makes it obvious that we are being threatened with rape and murder for the crime of existing while female.

    I’m an administrator at Wikipedia. My identity there isn’t too hard to figure out. I write mostly on topics related to my technical field, with the occasional foray into biographies of scientists and inventors, especially women, and other random eclectic interests of mine. There is a man who sends misogynist e-mails to any administrator who can be identified as female. There is one that he full-blown stalks. He calls her parents and her employer several times a week, and writes bizarre public fantasies about her. He only writes me once in a while, mostly complaining about his ex-wife, but he has made it very clear he knows my identity and my home and work addresses. He once wrote about who the “good” women administrators were; I was one of them. His criteria was that we didn’t take extreme measures to hide our identities. Geez, asshole, what do you think causes women to make attempts to hide their identities online? When the owner of Wikipedia warned him away from his harassment, he wrote a bizarre Wikipedia-style “biography” of the owner’s 5-year-old daughter as a 21-year-old, including all sorts of sexual exploits.

    Sorry that’s so long. I was just trying to illustrate that there are men out there who want to hurt us, scare us, shove us out of the public sphere, no matter what we do.

  37. March 27, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    twf, yep, that’s why I chose a gender-neutral handle, and why I’ll never, ever reveal my sex on a Slashdot front-page comment thread. It isn’t worth the hassle and harassment of some slimebucket posting something about how he thinks I look like Tubgirl, or how he wants to rape me or something.

    hp, the problem with that is that I haven’t been “pushed out” of software engineering; I fought really hard to become a technical writer in the first place. I’m a damn good one, I think, and I love my job. I’m pretty much exactly where I want to be. Shoving documentation off on the programmers — male or female — annoys the crap out of me professionally in the first place because most programmers can’t document their way out of a wet paper bag, and even if they can, they don’t enjoy it like I do. It happens a lot, and I’m constantly fighting with people who do that to their programmers, because I figure they could hire me instead, and get better documentation and happier programmers.

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a programmer, although I intend to take up studying it again tonight, since that’s the only rational response I can make to this situation.

  38. March 27, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Some men in IT seem to have a visceral hatred of the notion that woman can be geeks. – Kevin

    Maybe you’re right. I know how men can be, both to women and to other men. Maybe I shouldn’t try to extrapolate my personal experience to such broad categories as women and men in IT. All I can say is that my first real job after college was as an urban planner where we did a lot of stats, computer simulations and operations research. My supervisor was a woman. After that, I managed IT operations and IT curriculum for a group of technical colleges and again my boss, the owner, was a woman. Finally, I had the opportunity to work as a direct report to several senior executives in one of the world’s largest express transportation companies where I found myself reporting to and working with executive managers who were women. In that job, I once remarked, “I didn’t know this company had so many nerds.” The SVP of Global Logistics, a woman, replied, “We love our nerds, they’ve made us what we are.” I’ve worked around some maximum geeks, many of whom were women. They were very good at their jobs. There was never a question of respect or technical ability.

    I guess I’ve been lucky.

  39. March 27, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Surely, there must be some way to publish/ban the IP addresses of these perps throughout the “willing” blogosphere… leaving them access only to like-minded sites, where they could bash only each other.

    I see this story as a parallel with the under-the-radar story about women being abused in the military. The statistics on how many women are affected are shocking. And, of course, the numbers of women who suffer similar or other abuse at work are also great, in spite of the law. None of the BigMedia outlets want to write about the women in the military, though. And if they wrote about this story, it would probably only be to say how uncivil the blogosphere is, including the women.

    And then there’s also the similar emphasis on hyper-masculinity in this story that there is in the story of the key-boarding chickenhawks and pundits who talked and wrote us into this war. But knowing that it’s over-compensation is NO comfort to the person being attacked, whether it’s someone like Kathy Sierra, who should be getting recognition for being at the top of her game, or a woman in Iraq– American or Iraqi– who is being attacked by a soldier because boy-men like Bill Kristol have to prove themselves with other people’s lives on the line.

    Misogyny is always about protecting men’s egos and virility at the expense of whoever might be threatening them. The military still has problems with gays in the military, but not so much with women, even though the stats are so frightening for women. Why would that be? I think it’s because men project their own violent potential onto other men, including gay men. Thus, gay men and their (out-of-control) libidos are a threat to the military and its need for stability within the unit, but women, who are more likely to be victims than perpetrators, are not. Protect the (male) soldiers, whatever cost. Please.

    This story has brought back how upsetting it has been to see serious news stories about the gay/military issue, without ANY mention of the large numbers of women who are currently being abused.

    Yes, guys, Misogyny really does still exist.

    Perhaps you can think of some technical or other solutions to police your ranks. Women shouldn’t be having to do the dirty work after being wronged. That’s just too pathetic.

    [I had to quit using even just my first name and initial on another site and go to initials only, where some clown highjacked my identity and wrote something offensive and humiliating as if it were from me. I emailed the blog’s author to complain, but to no avail, complained in the comments. Nothing. Finally, I had to do a post about it on my own blog. And it was nothing compared to a death threat. Finally, one of the other regulars acknowledged what happened, but that was it. How pathetic! Mostly grown men, too.]

  40. hp
    March 27, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Interrobang–I think we’re seeing the similar situations here ;)

    I was mainly responding to your observation that software tech writers tend to be female–there’s a reason for that. And it’s often not a good reason.

    In general, it stinks to have technical documentation pushed off on programmers. It really stinks when those programmers are getting those documentation projects pushed off on them because they are female and it is a way to sideline them. There are people out there, like you, who enjoy these tasks and are far better suited to doing them.

    Ironically, I see it because I’ve tried running at the field from two different directions. I spent several years trying to break into software technical writing, based on my technical knowledge and my writing abilities. I finally threw up my hands and went full-steam ahead into software engineering (getting my MS in computer science) only to find that there are some who want me side tracked into the jobs I could have done without spending that 50K on my MS. (The MS was mainly about affirming what I already knew–I’d done a minor in computer science during undergrad, while my major was in English.)

    There’s this odd line I have to walk–I enjoy documentation, but I need to keep my hand in designing and coding, or I’m going to be left behind career-wise. I don’t think anyone at my current company wants to leave me behind career-wise, but who knows.

  41. Arianna
    March 27, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    I’m a little late to the party, but check it out, she’s made the BBC news.

  42. March 27, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    I just saw your “name” on shakespeare’s sister, and had to check it out. I only follow a few blogs; I just don’t have the time, and I’m more interested (obsessed) in more directly political stuff. Anyway I have a bird named ZuZu, a longish explanation why, and I’m also a lawyer. So I had to say: HI! I did add Feminste to my favorites and will look sometimes, of course. Thanks. FV

  43. March 27, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    One unartistic blogger’s response. Steal at will, or improve it at will. She deserves community support.

  44. March 27, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Sorry, would not take my code. Here is a link to a post of mine with a pro-Kathy Sierra button on it.

  45. Phoenician in a time of Romans
    March 28, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Would it be overly naive to push for some sort of public unmasking of these anonymous assholes? Y’know, track ‘em back to Mommy’s basement, then publish something along the lines of, “J. Blow posted the following repulsive comment on These Sites.

    The problem is where do you stop? If the liberal side justifies this by the repulsiveness of these actions, what’s to stop the precedent being cited the next time someone is critical of President Bush?

    Perhaps a better solution would be to put pressure on the hosts of the blogs, and to enforce it by banning access from those sites to other places. What would happen if every user from one of those sites linking to a high-traffic blog got a webpage that said “Sorry, but your site is banned while your host supports misogynists.blog.com. Please contact your webmaster and ask them to change their policy if you wish access restored.”?

  46. March 28, 2007 at 7:29 am

    R. Mildred, I believe both the men convicted of killing Malcolm X and the men who those men claim actually killed him were african-american members of the NOI – is there something I’m missing?

  47. R. Mildred
    March 28, 2007 at 8:46 am

    what’s to stop the precedent being cited the next time someone is critical of President Bush?

    They don’t need an excuse, they advocate throwing liberals into gas chambers on national TV – they don’t need an excuse to Bartow anonymous liberals – they’ve already gotten into a bad habit of publishing the home addresses of liberals to enable these haters, so we’d actually be using their precedent to justify our more tasteful version of it.

    R. Mildred, I believe both the men convicted of killing Malcolm X and the men who those men claim actually killed him were african-american members of the NOI – is there something I’m missing?

    that was me flashing my ignorance in a public place basically – I assumed that Malcolm was killed by white people because I wasn’t aware that NOI jumped the shark so early and I really need to get educated on stuff.

  48. March 28, 2007 at 10:46 am


    I didn’t mean to imply that things are always terrible everywhere or that all companies have sexist policies by default. the one I work for now actually does a very good job of not letting that kind of attitude take root. But that attitude is certianly out there and it is certianly a factor not only in interpersonal relationships in companies and IT departments but in the various places tech conversations take place. Interrobang, I believe, pointed out just how vicious places like slashdot can be to females. I have seen the same dynamic at various places of work, at conferences, in school, and on the internet. I have no doubt, especially considering the overtly sexually degrading nature of some of the threats, that a noticeable amount of the hatred Ms. Sierra engenders is becasue of the fact that she is, indeed, a Ms.

  49. March 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Awsome post zuzu. You Rock. Carry on.

  50. Suze
    March 28, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    What really frightens me is that these people didn’t just spring to life with the invention of blogs. They’ve been there all along, walking down the streets with us, working with us, thinking this way. But where there were just anonymous single assholes before, now they’re forming online gangs and convincing each other that this is okay, egging each other on into more aggressive speech and behavior than they ever would have considered alone. And I think anonymity is getting to be less important to them since they have support for their ideas. I have no idea what the answer is, but I don’t blame Kathy for being frightened.

  51. March 28, 2007 at 5:15 pm


    I’m no Pollyanna. I’m more like Cassandra (actually, Harvey Pekar is a better comparison).

    One thing I know from experience. It only takes three people to make one of them an outsider, or just one person if you suffer from multiple personality disorder.

    People do things with their anonymous identities that they would never do with their real identities exposed. A lot of people who would never scream in your face toe-to-toe in public are more than happy to use an alias to flame mail you non-stop in front of god and everybody.

    One thing we can all do is to never let it simmer or slide. When we see or hear major bullshit, we should call it on the spot. One of the most interesting things about assholes is how quickly the self-appointed jokers can be made into jokees by simply pointing out how unfunny they actually are.

  52. mythago
    March 28, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    The problem is where do you stop?

    You stop at issuing death threats, telling people where their kids go to school, posting their phone numbers and encouraging people to call and harass them…

  53. Christine
    March 29, 2007 at 12:32 am

    No, you stop it long before that…if you don’t, there may be no way of stopping short of some type of horrendous tragedy that could have been avoided. Case in point…

    In the 1990’s I defended women’s clinics in Birmingham, Alabama. The cops, the legislature, and the governor bent over backwards to “ensure” the Right to Life crowd could demonstrate, harass, spit on,physically assault, stalk, torch houses and cars not only of clinic defenders, but also patients on what had to be one of the most traumatic days of their life. and justified it in the name of “free speech”…That summer, doctors were murdered, clinics shut down and a clinic s bombed injuring 2 nurses…at that point, the feds finally stepped in to enforce the law.

    It seems to be human nature to push the bounds of civility, decency, and morality until finally someone steps in and says enough. But who plays that role…The government or the society as a whole?

    We are at a tipping point where bloggers and other web citizens have to decide… Do we self police and set a standard of behavior that we enforce as a community or do we surrender that power to some sort of “government.”. And who decides the penalties for less than acceptable behavior, or are there no penalties, no punishment, no deterrent, no reason to change unacceptable behavior short of does this make or lose me money, street cred,friends etc.

    Kathy decided to make a stand…that she would not cover up, that she would not “let this thing go” quietly, that she would not be a “good little girl” and “put on her big girl panties and deal with it”. Kathy decided to use the power of the blogsphere to make the web a better place. Unlike her critics who not only hosted, but participated in unacceptable behavior that threatened Kathy’s economic, social, and domestic life…

    Uppity Women Unite…

  54. March 30, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I know no one will like what I’m going to say but the victim behaved in a way that probably pleased whoever was doing the harrassing.

    I’m not suggesting that I would be stronger or braver than she, just that this type of threat works and many/most women back off (and stay home and lock their doors).

    If one is going to be terrified while staying home, what about going ahead with the presentation. Why not be terrified while doing what you want to do instead of still being terrified hiding at home?

    Now everyone can tell me how much I just don’t understand!

  55. March 30, 2007 at 11:49 am

    …and then if something did happen to her, we would all sit around wondering why she was so irresponsible as to leave her house after receiving threats. Can’t win.

  56. gail
    March 30, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    And what will we say if something happens to her at home.

    When did Americans become so sure they must be protected where ever they and are from everything that can possibly happen to them?

  57. March 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Well, right, that’s kind of my point. She’s damned either way. Her decision to stay home is making her feel safer, and that’s what matters.

  58. gail
    March 30, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    If that is what matters to her then that’s what matters, I suppose …

    Emphathy and sympathy is nice but there is not much feminism showing. Just some good ol’ put them in their place and it worked.

    Not in the same class, but in the early 60’s a service garage owner (male, of course) deliberately spilled coffee on me to scare me away (A car he worked on backed into our car because the brakes failed just after the owner got it back from the garage). When I went to that garage to get a check to cover the amount of the damage (which was supposed to have been agreed to with my insurance agent) the owner exibited threateing posture and 2 or 3 other men were standing around smiling enjoying the ‘game’ of scaring off a very young woman. I left without the check but went back after I made sure others knew what had happened and that he knew they knew. This situation is different, I know. I’m sure my life was not threatened but my diginity and the right to even transact the business by myself without my husband present was. I went back AND I was scared at the time.

    What I would do in her situation, I do not know.

  59. March 30, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    What I would do in her situation, I do not know.

    Um, yeah, exactly.

    How is it constructive to tell her to toughen up when none of us know what we’d do in the same situation?

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