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Is Sexual Harassment Part of Hacker Culture? 1127

owenferguson writes "Valerie Aurora, Linux kernel file systems expert, takes DEFCON to task for poor sexual harassment policing. A nice followup piece to the recent Readercon fiasco."
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Is Sexual Harassment Part of Hacker Culture?

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  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#40967435)
    I'm an average geek. I have to say that when I find myself surrounded by really hardcore geeks, I feel put off. It's like they are in a feeding frenzy, looking for a chance to be king of the hill. I am not surprised at all that they'd act in totally horrible ways towards women. Clearly, part of the game there was to do so (to get the hole punched).
    I think in the general area of business software, the stereotype of the hardcore geek is mostly gone. People who write business applications are generally pretty mainstream by geek standards. Perhaps such a concentration of extremely tech-focused geeks like at the conference in question is the last place we see this kind of stereotype, and possibly, for that reason they are all the more poorly behaved.
  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#40967453)

    Is this real sexual harassment or just one of the insanely vocal parish that categorise "rape" as "some guy glancing askance at my bubs", who in the process harm actual rape victims by trivialising it?

    Grabbing a woman by the crotch in a crowded room and running away definitely counts as "sexual harassment". Except, oh wait. It's ASSAULT. Much better.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:09PM (#40967567)
    It's true they harassment is IN PART defined by the attention being unwelcome. But if you take a case to court it is defined by a "reasonable person" standard. The jury must find that a reasonable person would have understood the behavior to be harrassing or contributed to a hostile working environment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:18PM (#40967657)

    Crotch grab, tit grab, unwanted sexual contact both are considered. At best its a battery charge in most of the US, and most likely its a sexual battery charge in most of the US. Assault (for some weird legal reason) is all the yelling and screaming, threatening gestures etc that go on before or after unwanted physical contact.

    This was a felony. The guy who did it, even if he was drunk, in a place he expected such behavior was accepted, etc (and it IS Las Vegas, they adopted a don't ask, don't tell policy as their tourist motto) should be facing prison time for this under US law as well as permanent (oh yeah its forever and ever here in the US) listing on the sexual offenders list.

  • Re:One incident.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldepeche ( 854916 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:40PM (#40967829)

    One man was apparently out of order, it wasn't a group effort by an entire community. The creep didn't do anything bad enough to get himself arrested and was banned for life for his actions, can't that be an end to it?

    No one is blaming everyone for the harassment itself, they're blaming the board for not enforcing their own policy. The lifetime ban came only in response to the outcry (which in turn came because the written policy said that lifetime bans would be issued to harassers, but the board only banned the harasser in question for two years.) There are also larger issues (Was the man given lenience because he holds a position of some minor prominence in the SF community? How can other cons and organizations learn from this and prevent harassment in the future? &c)

    Or are we still running with the assumption that all white males are fundamentally evil and everything they do is sexist and/or racist.

    Fuck you.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:41PM (#40967837) Journal

    Maybe I missed the /. thread on the ReaderCon fiasco, but here's the original complaint []

  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:57PM (#40967981)

    We're talking about people sticking fingers where they shouldn't be in public, and in my secondhand experience literally whispering that he'd like to rape her if there weren't so many people around. Yes, really, in those words. That's not "confused about how to engage women" or "just ignorant of social etiquette"; it's ABSOLUTELY assault.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:58PM (#40967991)

    People who write business applications are generally pretty mainstream by geek standards

    I have to agree - I work for a software company that writes business apps and this largely describes our culture. I think it also helps that our office has many women - Granted, they mostly work in marketing, sales, finance etc, but they're around. Interestingly though, we do have a few hardcore geeks - And they work in IT, not writing code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @08:00PM (#40967999)

    You're not a hacker, you're a dick.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @08:25PM (#40968177)

    Nobody thinks anything of frat-boys acting like frat-boys, jocks acting like jobs, MBAs acting like MBAs, VCs acting like VCs, dudes acting like dudes, but suddenly you say "they're gamers/hackers/technology guys" and all of a sudden "OH NOES IT'S EVIL SEXIST MISOGYNISTIC ASSAULT AND EVERY MALE IS TWELVE YEARS OLD AND WANTS TO RAPE EVERY WOMAN THEY ENCOUNTER!".

    So, frankly, fuck you and fuck your double standards, you self-promoting cunt-weasels (of all genders).

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @08:37PM (#40968279)


    Defcon just needs to enforce sensible policies that provide a deterrent against sexual harassment. Anything behavior that goes beyond sexual harassment and ventures into assault and/or battery is dealt with by the authorities with cooperation by people attending Defcon.

    Moving Defcon does nothing and only provides a flimsy excuse for inexcusable behavior. That excuse being, "Las Vegas made us do it".

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:59PM (#40968857) Homepage Journal

    hink of all the women you know. One in four will be raped at least once in her lifetime

    That stat is not 1/4 of all women, it's 1/4 of women who attend college will survive a rape or attempted rape. In addition, it only takes a quick google search to see that this 1 in 4 number isn't without considerable controversy of its own.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FsG ( 648587 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:20PM (#40968973)

    One in four will be raped at least once in her lifetime.

    I've heard this before, and it's complete nonsense perpetuated by feminists. The "one in four" myth began with a famous survey given to college students, in which the girls were told that if they had a sexual situation where they weren't completely comfortable, regretted it afterwards, or the guy didn't *specifically* ask for consent (even if consent was strongly implied by her actions), they should count that as rape.

    In most American cities, typical rates for violent crimes (including rape) are a couple dozen per 100,000 people per year. In more hellhole-ish countries, it's maybe an order of magnitude higher. If we believe your "one in four" claim, then American college campuses would be more dangerous than the most dangerous hellholes in the world! See wikipedia's page on rape statistics for more.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:35PM (#40969075)

    To be clear, the behavior described is wrong and should not continue.

    To be honest, as a woman, you don't have to go to a hackerspace to get this kind of abuse, it's widely available.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:38PM (#40969465) Homepage

    First off, that's not the stat I'm referring to (see my post above); that's a totally different one. And secondly, that should be even more concerning, as college is just a few years of one's life; to amass such a high odds of rape or attempted rape in just a couple years is even more disturbing.

    And yes, anything having to do with rape is controversial, and there's no shortage of people trying to downplay it. But want to know the little bit of selection bias that makes it hard for you guys to understand how common rape is? Because the women you know in your life aren't just going to come up to you and tell you that they've been victims of rape or attempted rape. Maybe if you got really close to one and the timing is right. But your casual acquaintances aren't just going to say it to you. It's something that even women don't often talk about with each other unless the right topic comes up and people feel comfortable enough talking about it. After I got the courage to tell my little sister what happened to me, for example, only then did I learn that she's apparently the only woman in my immediate family who hasn't been raped. I've hosted four women in my house over the years as low-rent / rent-free guests. One had been the victim of a violent rape and has flashbacks, one had significant sexual abuse at various points in her life and it's really messed her up in relationships, and I never raised the topic with the other two. Let's pick another selection criteria - I've dated approximately equal numbers of men and women over the years. Of the women, two I don't know their pasts (it was a long time ago, we were young), another one was a victim of an attempted rape, another one had been raped twice (once at knifepoint, once with drugs), and one had never been raped but had for a long time been in a situation where she felt compelled to have sex with an old boyfriend whether she wanted to or not because he was stronger than her and demanding, and she didn't want a fight out of it.

    I could start adding friends to the list if you want.

    It's this sort of personal experience that makes it obvious that the numbers for rape are *at least* as high as cited. But most of the guys reading this will never learn about most of the rapes or other forms of sexual abuse in the lives of most of the women that they know.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:44PM (#40969511) Homepage

    Wait, are you really citing police conviction statistics here? I mean, really? You do realize that most rapes go unreported, right? And that most reported rapes lack sufficient evidence to prosecute?

    Secondly, I'm not citing college statistics (see above). Although Wikipedia has a pretty impressive list of studies []. Care to discount them all? Actually the college numbers are the most disturbing aspect, with most studies showing a 3-5% rate of rape *per academic year*, 95% of which go unreported.

  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:53PM (#40969581) Homepage Journal
    <quote>Rape fantasy and its elder brother the S&M subculture both need to be, if not actively stamped out, at least actively despised by as many people as possible, on a permanent basis.</quote>
    No comment on "rape fantasy" per se, but as someone with extensive exposure to (though minimal involvement in) the BDSM community, I can testify that they are if anything some of the <em>most</em> proactive about making very explicitly sure that everything is consensual, specifically because if they weren't, there would be so much more room for unfortunate confusion than usual. BDSM activities are full of all kinds of rules and safeties and explicit negotiations about what is or isn't OK ahead of time, making everything that follows far more clear than two strangers drunk off their asses who wake up the next morning unable to remember who stuck what into whose where.
  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by FsG ( 648587 ) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:18AM (#40969709)

    Those studies, mainly the famous CDC 1995 college survey that is often cited, are pretty interesting. What's most interesting is how many liberal blogs quote the results "20% of college students were raped!" without saying exactly which questions were asked or what counted as rape. I haven't actually been able to find the list of questions, but I'd be curious to see what it is. As I said in my last post, they typically include things like "did not get explicit verbal consent" (the sloppy makeout and grabbing at each others clothes is apparently not enough), and the biggest gotcha of all: alcohol.

    If she had anything to drink, the way most of those surveys are worded, it's automatically rape. If the man was drunk too, then a logical person would conclude that they raped each other, but the feminist worldview doesn't operate that way. Men can only be aggressors and women only victims, right?

    It's true that many rapes are not reported, but we also know that many reports turn out to be false (that wikipedia page cites some studies to that effect). Also, nearly all district prosecutors have an explicit policy of not prosecuting women whose rape reports are later proven to be lies. I'm not talking about the guy being acquitted, I'm talking about *provable* lies, where she says "Joe raped me at 7:55pm on Tuesday" and later they find security camera footage of Joe sitting in a restaurant at that time. This creates a huge incentive to lie without repercussions, destroying the lives of men as you go.

  • by malv ( 882285 ) on Monday August 13, 2012 @01:25AM (#40970063)

    Here's her webpage: []

    with links to the white male privilege checklist: []

    And here is here in her scantily clad attire at DEFCON designed to bait desperate sexless men into acts to further her feminist bullshit: []

    She's an ideological provocateur whose only relevance comes from her nutty feminist nonsense . You can read more her BS at her blog: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:17AM (#40971771)

    What to one woman is sexual harrassment, is to another, very attractive male behavior. I've met women who felt sexually harassed when told by the opposite sex that they look good, and I've met other women who feel let down if there is not a feeding-frenzy of men hitting on them and constantly vying for their attention and making physical moves/gestures demonstrating such. My first female friend in high school told me she would never consider dating me, because at one point when we were out (as friends), I did not grab her and push her against the wall and make out with her. As I considered her a friend (whom I was certainly attracted to), I did not feel I could do such a thing, and it never crossed my mind to make a physical move on her without first verbally asking for permission.... because of this, she considered me to be a meek loser.

    The women who tend to make a big stink about sexual harassment are those who generally don't get much male attention, or who are quite conservative. For the average geek, having to worry about accusations of sexual harassement, and on the other hand having to worry about not being 'aggressive' enough as a man, it can be very confusing.

    In my opinion, if a women feels offended that I am interested in her and wanting to get to know her better, thats her problem, not mine. If she asks me to leave her alone, I certainly will. As a man, it is generally our job to approach the women first. If she's not interested, she can say so, and thats the end of that. If she takes the initial approach as sexual harassment, oh well...

  • Re:It's brogrammers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:02AM (#40973181)

    However some ruby on rails rockstar douche bag is almost required to be grabbing ass and treating women like shit in between going to the gym and downing red bull. But brogrammers aren't just a pita to women, real programmers hate them too. They're a cancer on our culture.

    A buddy of mine is active in the local Rails community, and I've gone to some Ruby events just for the heck of it (I hate Rails). I have to say that have never seen any inappropriate sexual behavior at all from this group. Nerd warfare? Sure. But mostly over various extreme programming models and Ruby interpreters that I decided not to care about.

I just asked myself... what would John DeLorean do? -- Raoul Duke