25 June 2009

Shedding some light on a recent trend

I learned that apparently the recent cases of adult images in conference talks hasn't received as much attention as I thought it had. Given that I heard about Matt Aimonetti's CouchDB talk at the Golden Gate Ruby Con in April from an old coworker, Sarah Mei of DevChix, and hypa7ia on #ubuntu-women all in the span of one day, I was under the impression it was something anyone who reads blogs or tweets or dents and is interested in software development had heard about it. My boyfriend is sitting here going "um, wasn't that horse beaten to death?" Apparently not. It seems not to have penetrated the open source blogosphere. Check out links from that Geek Feminism Wiki article on Aimonetti's talk for blog reactions to it, or just Google for "CouchDB", "Aimonetti", and "GoGaRuCo" (some combination thereof should work). And by the way, a thong doesn't make a woman's rear any less naked. Really. It doesn't exactly cover anything.

Noting that I said "cases," I should point out the one that happened just a couple weeks ago at FlashBelt. This one was even more NSFW. If you want the full account, check out the email the Geek Girls Guide received describing it. It's mind-boggling.

I really thought these events needed to be brought to the attention of those who had not yet heard about them. Hopefully, more repeats can be avoided if conference organizers are aware of the need to watch for such things. I've already suggested having a look through slides at OLF to Bethlynn.


tomas said...

The creator of CouchDB slides really needs to stop watching so much pr0n as his jokes are getting really ugly...

BTW, just remembered that some idiot posted up-skirting photo in fedora planet not so long ago ( http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Planet_Fedora_up-skirting_photo ), which also led to many negative responses...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the geekfeminism link, tomas, it was very eye-opening.

Rolandixor said...


rather unsettling. I think it's the same as putting a naked guy. We guys would not only empty our stomach contents, but we'd be offended by a woman doing that to us.

I hope no one else (especially in the FOSS world) joins this stupid trend.

seems respect and morality are dying slow, untimely deaths?

Nik said...

I (male from Europe) think that the fact that thse slides do defend people (both women and men) itself points in the direction of the real problem with this.
People who find things like this offending are often cricized for being too sensible or not laid back enough, but that is not the problem.
In my opinion the problem stems form the fact that many cultures (especially the American one) is based on religious (yeah be offended if you like) bullshit.
All of those religions are based on patriacharical principles, they support a strict role model and try to achieve this by introducing many dogmas.
Like women aren't made to be intelligent or to lead (guess why they don't allow women as priests or popes)
this is even true of religions who allow women as priests.

Another dogma introduced to support the religous view of the world is that sexuality is dirty, which leads them to the conclusion that women (who according to all christian beliefs seduce the men). You remember Eve being guilty of throwing humanity out of the paradise don't you?

And this dogma of sexuality being kind of dirty is the roout cause here because it has spread into non religous circles. It seperates the world of sexuality from the world of professionalism and work.
Sexuality is treated as a bad, supressing instinct. Instead of the normal part of life it is.
This leads to all kinds of problems, like the fact that seeing someone as a sex object is a sign for lack of respect, which it clearly is not, otherwise no one could have sex with his partner AND repect him/her at the same time. Sexiness therfore is not counted as one of the social skills like the ability to present something but as somethinbg dirty. Even though it is just as depended on a combination of genetics and training as talking in front of people is.
The difference in vieweing is the problem here. While a porn star will be thought of as stupid a top presenter will be thought of as intelligent even though neither skill set says anything about intelligence at all.
Women will feel harassed by co workers by actions that can not be considered something bad (like touching someone against his will) just because they feel being seen as an object of sexual lust is a statement about their professionality which it isn't. On the other hand the co workers doing the harassment might think that a co worker is stupid because he/she is sexy, just because they have been brought up with the same damn stupid religious dogma that sexuality is different from other parts of life.

The only way to overcome this dogma is to accept that any human is a sexual being and that this fact is NOT BAD it is an animal instinct yes, but that because WE ARE FUCKING ANIMALS AND THAT IS GOOD.
Real feminists need to fight against anti sexuality not against sexuality.

Women are opressed because long ago in the human evolution some males that didn't get laid (I'm looking at you religious bastards) figured that because women are the evolutionary gate keepers of their own sexuallity (which those men really wanted to get) it would be best for them to opress the women put burkhas on them and tell them they weren't worth it so that they could sell their doughters to their friends just as they do in the muslim world to this date.
So if women want to be free they need to be proud of their position as the biological gate keepers of sex.
If you are a women and someone makes a snarky comment you should think to yourself. "Yeah that bastard would like to get me laid, but thats my decision and mine alone, therfore I have the power and he has nothing"

Nik said...

Just to give you an emperical prove of how women can get their souverenity by accepting sexuallity as something positve and their status as it's gate keepers:


That's what happens when one doesn't accept the dogmas of our bullshit religions.

Mackenzie said...

Just because most people are sexual beings doesn't mean all are. Don't you think asexuals would hbe uncomfortable in the same way that many straight folks would be uncomfortable surrounded by gay sex or many gay folks are uncomfortable surrounded by straight sex?

Yes, the idea that women can either look good or have brains (not true of men, by the way) is a problem. Pigeonholing women into all-body-no-brains doesn't help that any though. For that you need more role models with brains.

Anonymous said...

@Nik, I think you've confused pornography with sexuality.

Sexuality is, of course, an dimension of human behavior and experience.

Pornography, however, specifically the mainstream sort produced for male consumption, is not representative of real-world sexuality. It is a depiction of women in subordinate, dehumanizing and violent scenarios, based on a view of women as tools for male pleasure.

The type of content that Mackenzie is referring to is offensive because it is pornographic, not because it relates to sexuality. It is in fact only sexualized through pornography.

Nik said...

You consider a naked butt pornography? I don't know where you come from but over here in Europe depending on the quality of the photograph this might easily considered art over here in Europe. And I really can't see "subordinate, dehumanizing and violent scenarios" there, all I see is a picture depicting something quite beatutifull no differnt than a picture depicting a flower, and yes if the photographer is good this can in my opinion also be achieved with male bodies even though I'm straight.
@Mackenzie: Well, if staright people feel uncofortable near gay people or asexual people (don't know anybody who feels uncomfortable with them) there is defintiely something totally wrong and this mus not be a reason to hide sexuality.
If somone feels uncofortable due to someone with a different sexuality than his being around he/she has a real problem with his personallity in an unacceptable way. It's nothing different from someone feeling uncomfortable with say colored people.
This should always hold true as long as everybody involved respects each others private zone, I mean nobody has to feel comfortable with somone he doesn't know touching him/her. But this private zone should really end at arms length.

Mackenzie said...

I didn't say straight people feel uncomfortable around asexuals. I said asexuals tend to feel uncomfortable around ANYTHING sexual.

And while I agree that feeling odd being *around* someone of a different orientation is a little silly, I don't think it's odd to feel uncomfortable seeing graphical depictions of other people going at it, especially if you're in public or if they're having a type of sex that you're just not into.

Anonymous said...

Rolandixor: “We guys would not only empty our stomach contents”

Heteronormativity (assuming everyone is straight) isn't helping.

I'd be surprised if the mere sight of a naked person would cause physical sickness in anyone. A spit-take is more plausible.

But I agree that those who didn't find this presentation distasteful would've done if the objectified people had been male.

They may even have accused the presenter of misandry and/or of pulling a stunt to try to make some sort of feminist point—either of which they'd've rightly considered inappropriate in this context.

Or perhaps they'd've just been confused.

Anonymous said...

@Nik, Have you looked at the content involved here? It sounds like you're making a general comment about nudity rather than the specific material being discussed.

The opening slide of Aimonetti's presentation is subtitled "Perform like a pr0n[sic] star". This is not an art piece. It is a technical presentation explicitly invoking pornographic imagery and behavior. The first slide of Hoss Gifford's Flashbelt presentation, also referenced in the article, depicts the presenter looking up at another faceless lower body, this one wearing spiked heels and underwear which read "drink me". It is not analogous to a flower.

To be frank, though, your opinion isn't relevant here, and neither does mine. The point is how this behavior affects women. Many women clearly do object to it, and the fact that it doesn't bother you (or some other men) is simply irrelevant.

P.S. Thanks for letting me know that you're straight. I wouldn't want to get the "wrong idea" from your appreciation of fine art.

Anonymous said...

As a man, I am both embarrassed and appalled at how women are often treated. On behalf of those of us who think of you as wonderful, intelligent, and capable members of society and want you to receive the respect deserved by your participation and talent rather than physical attributes, I apologize. I truly hope this conversation continues and becomes more and more fruitful.

I'm also going to post a link on my blog to the page you linked.

Mackenzie said...

fixed a typo... of course, Blogger thinks that means it should go back into RSS... grrr

Jeffrey Stedfast said...

The people defending this type of behavior in presentations at public software conferences really frustrates me.

How can anyone think that these images (not to mention what Hoss did to the woman from the audience) were acceptable? I just don't understand how anyone could.

Maybe conference organizers need to start going over the slides in presentations and any other presentation materials (drafts of the talks included) and make sure there isn't anything this obviously offensive.

(that's the thing too, it's not like any of these recent talks have been subtly offensive, they have been so far over the top it's shocking)

TheGZeus said...

For what it's worth, had I been there I would have made a scene regargless if it offended me, as I know OTHERS would be very offended.
Something akin to "You're just gonna sit here while they show this shit?? SERIOUSLY? That doesn't disgust me, I live on the internet. YOU people disgust me!" Then I'd have walked out, fingers a-blazin'.