Categories
Diversity

JK Rowling is a bigot

Politico has a new story about JK Rowling and her battles with the trans community.

I liked the Harry Potter books and the Fantastic Beasts movies, but I’m not a fan of Rowling. Or that sad excuse for a human being the NY Times let write an awful piece this week.

These people are using the fight for women’s rights as a transphobic attack. They’re no longer even hiding it.

I had thought we, who have long fought for equality, would be better than this. Evidently, not.

Here are two terms for you: AFAB and AMAB.

They stand for assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth. They’re inclusive terms that can be used in debates such as those around the right to control our access to abortion, to pregnancy prevention aids, and to healthcare used to treat gender dysphoria.

If we want to include cis women, transmasculine, and non-binary in a discussion—and we do when it comes to the harm tossing Roe aside does—then AFAB will do until something better comes along.

I am a woman. I am a cis woman. I use she/her as my pronouns. Even fitting society’s stereotypical model of a ‘woman’, it is still a fight being the person who I am. I can’t even imagine how much harder it is being someone who does not identify themselves the same way, but is facing the same, or worse, healthcare restrictions. The least I can do is make sure when talking about abortion rights, we’re all included.

We’re all being hurt by the same people: those who value power over humanity. I’d be a pretty sad excuse for a human being if I allowed this.

So, sorry that Rowling gets her feels hurt. She’s a bully, and a bigot.

Categories
Diversity Technology

Robert Scoble: Tech’s Weinstein moment

Earlier today I was stunned to read about the accusations of sexual harassment against Robert Scoble.  We aren’t friends, but we have friends in common and we have interacted remotely in the past.

I had no idea, no clue, that Scoble had harassed women. There are some people you might suspect of doing so, and some people you don’t, and before today I would have listed Scoble in the latter category. It just goes to show that on the internet, people don’t always know you’re a dog.

Categories
Diversity Specs

W3C HTML WG decisions and the ARIA meltdown

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

One last decision I want to touch on, for now, was the decision related to Issue 129 on ARIA Mapping. In the decision, the co-chairs sided with the change proposal that added new role mappings for several elements. An uncomplicated change proposal that should require only some small edits to the ARIA mapping table.

However, things are never as simple as they seem.

First, the change tracking shows the addition of interesting new editorial comments related to this change:

These are issues that are known to the editor but cannot be
currently fixed because they were introduced by Sam Ruby
acting as chairman of the W3C HTML Working Group as part of
the HTML Working Group Decision Process. In theory we could
fork the WHATWG copy of the spec, but doing so would introduce
normative differences between the W3C and WHATWG specs and
these issues are not worth the hassle that this would cause.
We’ll probably be able to fix them some day, but for now we
are living with them.

In addition, evidently the changes made to the HTML5 spec didn’t agree with the change proposal, as noted by Steve Faulkner. To make a long, sad story short: a request was made to revert the changes and the editor must bring whatever changes he makes to meet the decisoin to the working group, first, before applying to the document.

I’m, personally, less bothered by the editorial errors than I am the discussion about forking. In many ways, this only demonstrates why the license discussion, which also seems to be never-ending, is essential: forking a specification is not the same as forking software. And there’s too much of a tendency among some folks in the WHATWG to want to fork, first, and then work through the issues.

I’m also concerned that these issues will continue to arise, time and again, because folks at the W3C are dancing around the edges of the problem, rather than confronting the problem directly. However, if the W3C does respond assertively, there is a very real possibility of one or more browser companies taking their marbles and quitting the game.

It’s a damnable situation.

Categories
Diversity Technology

Open Arms

Regarding the recent Golden Gate Ruby Conference…

Sara Allan

The second low point was Matt Aimonetti’s talk “CouchDB + Ruby: Perform Like a Pr0n Star.” It is unfortunate that he took this joke too far. What might have been a short, juvenille, eye-rolling bit of humor continued throughout the talk to become increasingly disturbing. Amidst this normally warm, welcoming community, I spent an uncomfortable half hour wondering if I had somehow found myself in 1975.

If he had left it at a few introductory jokes, I would be writing a very different post. Instead the porn references continued with images of scantily-clad women gratuitously splashed across technical diagrams and intro slides. As he got into code snippets, he inserted interstitial images every few slides (removed from the slides below). The first time it happened, he mentioned that he wanted to keep everyone’s attention. It had the reverse effect. This technique was distracting and disrespectful to an audience who, frankly, is turned on by code.

Audrey Eschright

Here’s another problem in this tangle: Ruby (and Rails in particular) loves the rock star image. You see it in job posts, how people talk about their work, and the way Rubyists rant on their blogs. It’s macho, it can be offputting to both genders, and it makes it easy in this kind of situation to say, “what’s your problem? I’m just busy being awesome”. It’s also a significant barrier to adoption for people who aren’t already a part of this culture, and don’t find it appealing.

Mike Gunderloy

For what it’s worth, I think the original presentation was an inappropriate and regrettable mistake. However, far more disturbing to me are the reactions to the discussion on the part of some of the Rails community.

Folks, the idea that women are disproportionately underrepresented in engineering and software in general, and open source development in particular, should not be new and controversial in 2009 – anyone who cares to look can find such things as the FLOSSpols findings, or any amount of academic literature on the subject. Anyone who cares to take the time to actually talk to the women who are a part of the open source community will have no trouble getting an earful about how challenging it can be to participate.

But unfortunately for me, in parallel to the public discussion there have been private ones. I can’t reveal details without breaking confidences, but suffice it to say that a significant number of Rails core contributors – with leadership (if that’s the right word) from DHH – apparently feel that being unwelcoming and “edgy” is not just acceptable, but laudable. The difference between their opinions and mine is so severe that I cannot in good conscience remain a public spokesman for Rails.

Victoria Wang, in comments

DHH’s attitude seems to say that the more we lower ourselves to the most base level of marketing scum in the name of entertainment, the better, even if at the end of the day there are no more women, or anyone worth knowing, in the room. It kind of makes me want to never touch Rails code again.

Rev Dan, in comments

What chaps my ass about the whole thing is that it’s doing little more but reinforce the bullshit “developers are immature, overgrown 14-year-olds” stereotype. I’m sick to death of that one, especially because I run into that type of jackass more often than I care to.

We kinda have a “chicken and egg” scenario going on here… unless there are more women who attend these things then the few women who do will always feel like outsiders… but if the few women who attend now are offended, then why will more attend?

Matt Aimonetti’s response

In the case of my talk, people knew what to expect, they *picked* the talk, and were warned by the organizers before I started that I would be using imagery potentially offensive to some. The topic of my talk was obvious, and I would have hoped that people who were likely to be offended would have simply chosen not to attend my talk or read my slides on the internet. It’s like complaining that television has too much material unsuitable for children, yet not taking steps to limit their viewing of it. You can’t have it both ways.

We can argue forever about morals, professionalism, ethics, respect, etc., though this is all a distraction from the real problem that was raised by Sarah, namely that we have very few minorities in the Ruby community, especially women. Minorities do need to be more represented!

Ryan Bigg

I fear that it will rip a community apart. A community that should be working together on getting past this issue and bettering themselves, not regressing to childish bickering. That’s what gives this community an “immature” stamp by the [insert other programming language here] groups.

All I ask for you guys is to…

Chill.

Sho Fukamachi

Other reactions include pathetic “I am being victimised” attention-seeking, lame attempts at demonstrating how much “I truly care about women” etc, hilarious “I am leaving the Ruby community and re-installing Visual Studio” threats (please do!), and every combination thereof. I cannot help but think that if Matt’s presentation has the effect of getting rid of these disingenuous wowsers then he should henceforth be invited, nay required, to present at every Rails conference.

DHH, the father of Rails



But wait…there’s more…

Alpha Male Programmers aren’t keeping Women Out

You certainly have to be mindful when you’re working near the edge of social conventions, but that doesn’t for a second lead me to the conclusion that we should step away from all the edges. Finding exactly where the line goes — and then enjoying the performance from being right on it — requires a few steps over it here and there.

update

Excellent aggregation of opinions from women in the Ruby/Rails community. Particularly liked Amy Hoy’s take in comments

If you are going to try to be edgy and push boundaries and shit, you should at least be sure you’re good at it and know how to handle that kind of content, first. Otherwise, it’s just destructive.

Categories
Diversity RDF W3C

The intent speaks louder than words

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I was thinking about taking a shot at writing my own use case or use cases for RDFa in HTML5 until I spotted the recent entry at Last Week in HTML. The site posts an excerpt from an IRC discussion related to the ongoing exchange about RDFa and HTML5.

* hsivonen is surprised to see Shelley Powers use a pharse like ” most pedantic specification ever derived by man”
hsivonen: (the “by man” part)

annevk: hsivonen, what is special about that part?

hsivonen: annevk: she has a history of pointing out sexism, and expressions like “by man” where ‘man’ means humans in general are generally frowned upon by English-language feminists

annevk: oh, didn’t know that

Rather than respond to any of the arguments and concerns expressed in several comments at Sam’s, or my own long writings on the issue of RDFa and HTML5, the only part of my writing that’s mentioned or referenced in this ongoing discussion is the fact that I used the generic “Man”, to represent humankind.

Actually most English-language feminists aren’t necessarily uptight about the use of “Man” when used in the generic sense, such as in the common phrase, “known to Man”. Or, at a minimum, the use of this common phrase isn’t one of our more pressing concerns. We’re more uptight about our work, writings, and opinions being undermined via the use of irrelevancies. To the true feminist, intent means more than words.

So, to return to the use case: I could spend a considerable amount of time trying to recap the issues related to Qnames and CURIEs, technical concerns versus biases, and generate a longer, thoughtful use case, but unless I use a Word in it, or perhaps a humorous misspelling or funny use of grammar, the work would most likely be disregarded.