This seems like a great time to subscribe my RSS !

I can’t really go on vacation without the world reminding me the day later how much I was right.

Just a few days later my dead easy 1 step proposal for Mono here it is, here we go.

So nice, really. This is not the end, and many concerns are still there, but I see it as a small step forward. And an important one.

Also, not even time to beg Linux distributions to split Mono in safe and non safe and Miguel de Icaza announced the Mono team is about to do that of its own initiative.

So everything good right ? Nu. I get home and what do I find ?

Stop sexism

Wow. And this:

Know what ? I'm more scared of jerks

Wow. Know what ? I'm more scared of jerks

The first meme being directed to Richard Stallman for citing ‘eMacs virgins’ in a speech and the other one only gods knows whom.

While the latter is just is yet another generalist campaign (like the infamous “hey, even double click is patented!”) the first is a frontal attack to Richard Stallman as a person: knives coming out all of a sudden.

Even the Canonical CTO blogged about it.

While¬† the video isn’t available yet, I have big doubts there is something even remotely offensive in such Stallman talk. It’s very easy to take feminism as an excuse, as many people (not just girls) will jump in no-matter-what without even knowing what it’s being talked about.

Curiously I haven’t read about (but I may have missed them) any reaction from women present at the conference, just from people with some level of involvement in Mono (and, after some time, some of their friends).

But there’s a good news for you Mono people, which I’d like to share:

You don’t have to be an idiot to properly develop in C#

Really! Scientific research has proven the proficiency in ECMA standardized languages to be completely unrelated from behaving like a total asshole (alcohol may). You can behave (!) and wonder what ? You won’t loose any skill. Not even packaging ones.

Further hint: the monkey Mono logo is meant to be a logo. Not an inspiration model for your behaviour in any way.

Using Feminism as a weapon

While the reasons why some female people may allow herself to embrace the campaign are totally understandable I am strongly convinced more consideration is needed.

Unsurprisingly many girls did not take part in this shameful attack. Perhaps they’re just uninterested or just unimpressed.

If I were in them though, I’d easily find a good reason to be offended. Using feminism is not ok. Because using feminism is the very same thing as using women. It’s using their past battles and personal frustration for questionable reasons.

Anybody willing to be fair (come on, just 1 time) ?

Is there any C# developer that has the guts to publicly dissociate himself from this absurd ad-hominem attack ?

I wonder if there’s any women out there that finds the happenings unfortunate and has some feelings to share.

Further reading:

Updates

Mackenzie reminds me that actually women have spoke out. And is offended by me not noticing she blogged about the issue 1 week ago. Her blog post was more about male feminists than on the RMS issue, but hey, I don’t want you to be offended.

She didn’t reply yet to my request of actual links. So I’ll just link her post (see above) and Melissa Drapper‘s.

Matt Zimmerman also claim I’m misguided:

@rickspencer3 the anonymous cowards have given way to the confident but misguided: [links to this article]

http://identi.ca/notice/6516937

He and Rick Spencer were actually present at the conference. Rick in particular feels the RMS joke was creepy. Both claim I’m uninformed, but nobody brought up any new information about the speech at the time of writing this update.

Matthew Garrett to the rescue. He was kind enough to point to a transcript of the RMS speech. It may or not may be correct, but so far it’s the more objective element we have.

Then if you become a hacker you can celebrate that by having a foobar mitzvah, a ceremony in which the new hacker stands in front of the assembled congregation of hackers and chants through the lines of the system source code. And we also have the cult of the virgin of emacs. The virgin of emacs is any female who has not yet learned how to use emacs. And in the church of emacs we believe that taking her emacs virginity away is a blessed act.

The church of emacs has certain advantages compared with with other churches I won’t mention. For instance, to be a saint in the church of emacs does not require celibacy. Although for some of us hackers we wouldn’t notice the difference. But it does require living a life of moral purity. You must exorcise whatever proprietary evil operating systems have posessed the computers [...]

I encourage the reader to read the rest to get a better understanding of the context.

Photo credits: Casey West.

21 Responses

  1. Did you see this comment on Lefty’s post? Quote:
    “I grew up wanting to design and write operating systems that did cool stuff and that everyone could use and share. Then I got involved in the local “scene” and was driven off by the rampant dismissal of female programmers and blatant, unapologetic sexism shown to me by BOTH the men and women in the industry and hobby. Being constantly objectified and treated as second-rate simply because I had breasts instead of a beard wore me down and I eventually abandoned all of the projects I was involved in to focus on security. Going to an RMS talk in the early 90s and meeting with him in person was among the worst of my experienced – I was fifteen, still obviously underage, and skipping gym class to hear him speak at a professional conference (that I’d snuck into). He actually pointed to me in the back and proclaimed, into the mic, “A GIRL!” causing the audience to turn and look. Mortifying. Then he proceeded to gesture toward me every time he referred to “EMACS Virgins.” (I cannot believe that he is still doing the same talk 10+ years later.) I was young and terrified of calling out someone that I’d previously idolized.”

    Sulamita Garcia, one of LinuxChix’s leaders, blogged saying the idiots in open source were making her burn out near the beginning of GCDS. Then she heard RMS talk. Now she’s talking about leaving altogether.

    And, if you paid any attention at all to my blog post on male feminists, you’d understand that there is a reason so few women speak up: we can’t. If we try, we are dismissed as over-sensitive, slaves to our times of the month, and hysterical. We are kept silent by the stupid stereotypes and sexism that say we don’t know our own minds. If you refuse to accept that reason, how about this one: there were very few women there, so of course they’re in the minority of witnesses and thus the minority of those speaking up!

  2. Koen

    ok? didn’t i understood in because my english sucks or that i can’t understand woman?

    don’t know, i am totaly confused what mono had to do with woman is anyway…

  3. Koen

    btw: firefox crashed when i read this. everytime i open this page

  4. Koen:
    He’s trying to accuse people of only being upset about RMS’s sexism because RMS also isn’t a fan of Mono.

  5. Stefano Forenza

    @Mackenzie: I’m not the one to share such opinion (hint, read the knives link)

    Also, while I find the 15 years old episode unfortunate, that doesn’t really proves he did anything like that again (I’m still waiting to see the video, though).

    I should add I’m not buying the overburning post. “no you don’t!” “speak for yourself”. It doesn’t seem a serious discussion. She didn’t ask to substantiate anything nor did she herself, and the answer as inflamatory as her statement.

    It’s years the emacs virgin joke is around, I have serious difficulties in believing someone is taking it seriously.

    I’m not buying the “we can’t talk” argument as well. If an issue is present you famale should talk. You can and you did. And when you did, you got support, ain’t I wrong ?

  6. Neither RMS’ “joke”, nor my blog post (linked from yours), had anything to do with Mono or C#. I think you may have confused two unrelated concerns, because RMS happened to be involved in both.

    As for what was said, I was there, and know what I heard and saw. You are welcome to doubt and demand video evidence, but I suggest having a good, long think about why it seems necessary to you. You seem to accept the first-hand accounts of his statements on Mono at face value, but for some reason, the sexism requires more proof.

    RMS said something he should not have said, he was called out, and he should apologize and stop doing it. It should be a very small matter.

    What’s astonishing is the volume and violence of the backlash in response to him being called out. That is what my post was about: the astonishing tendency of some people to reflexively deny, discredit and blame anyone who calls bullshit on this sort of thing.

  7. If you read the “knives” one you’d see I commented on it. Multiple times.

    You have multiple eye-witnesses saying they saw him do the same damn thing he did 15 years ago. What’s so hard to believe? It was offensive then, and it’s offensive now. The difference is, people are willing to say so now.

    Yes, I spoke up and so did other women. And you silenced us with a blanket statement that the women weren’t speaking out.

  8. Julian Aloofi

    I have to agree with you Stefano. That joke really can’t be used against Stallman. It’s been around for so long, and from his basic attitude I can’t think of him being sexist.
    I’ve read a terryfing thread on a, I think openBSD mailing lists, but I can’t find it anymore, if I do I’ll post it here.
    But on the other hand, it was wrong of Stallman to relate his joke only to women.
    It doesn’t prove that Stallman is a sexist, but it’s an awkward situation for all women listening. This is a nice document, and I’m really wondering why I haven’t seen any link to that yet:
    http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/

    If we’d all just follow thes rules we could save some time and get back to discussing the _really_ important topics: Why Mono sucks!!!11! ;-)

    Puh, I can’t believe I even made a comment on this topic…

  9. Stefano Forenza

    @Matt Zimmerman: perhaps I think the need of substantiating a personal attack (and a heavy one) is much higher of substantiating the association with a known technology ?

    I also encourage you to deeply think about the balance between causes (of any kind) and satire in modern society. And about why is satire needed.

    Also I don’t get why RMS apologizing should be a small matter and the matter apologized is still considered big enough to cover the planets with banner.

    It’s pretty weird you’re astonished with the volume or violence of the backslash. What would you think personal attack performed by multiple people would lead to ? Which planet are you living on ?
    The main problem here is people like you buying the entire argument that ‘anti-mono’ is BoycottNovell bullshit and side arguments which depicts mono concerned people as rude, personal attacking people, while in the facts I see the opposite to be as true if not more true.

    Marking a person, whoever he is, as sexist has deep implications in nowadays society. How come that’s okay for you ? How come you take it as lightly ? Using feminism as a bashing vehicle (Mono related or not) is just like using women and should not be accepted.

    My strong suspect is you and your friends bought a faux argument and I suggest you to call for evidence yourselves next time instead of wondering about backslashes.

  10. Er…not like he doesn’t have a history of womanizing. From what I hear, it was fairly common for him to invite undergrads at MIT to have sex in his office. There’s also that bit 15 years ago with “A GIRL!” Well jeez, if you don’t react like that we might come around more often.

  11. Stefano Forenza

    @Mackenzie: difference is, he didn’t point to any 15 years old girl this time. Not as far as we know.

    As for women opinions you’re welcome to point all the links you wish.

    I should add, that not everything a woman doesn’t like is unacceptable. I’m pretty much put off by any ‘territorial pissing’ accusation made by girls when they talk about discrimination. The difference is I think they have the right to accuse. And they’re not joking as RMS when they say that.

    I can’t see how a parody of the Virgin Mary cult can be considered that offensive, but that’s just me.

  12. Stefano Forenza

    @Mackenzie: womanizing ? Are we slipping into gossip or something like that ?
    An invite is fine as they age of consensum is reached. That’s a moral and personal opinion which nothing has to do with the topic.

    Not considering those undergrads capable to decide of they’re own sexuality is also pretty offending for the female genre as a whole.

    I suggest you to refrain to speak about that here. Rather write a blog post and suggest emarginating womanizers and “girls who want to have fun” from the open source community.

    Given you’re last comment, I think you should reflect a bit on the reasons behind your stance on the topic.

  13. I R A Darth Aggie

    Are we slipping into gossip or something like that ?

    Yes, that’s exactly where Mackenzie is going.

  14. Stefano,

    Which part of the public discourse on this issue do you feel is a personal attack? What I see is people objecting to bad behavior, and insisting that it change, which is not the same thing. I think that Richard made a mistake, and should correct it. I’m not judging whether he is a good person or a bad person.

    The fact that satire was involved is completely orthogonal to the issue. Satire does not require sexism in order to achieve its purpose. Richard was not criticized for being satirical. He was not criticized for using religion as the subject of his satire. He was criticized for a sexist remark.

    As to the “deep implications” of naming sexism, I live on a “planet” where being called out on sexism generally has few, if any, consequences. Can you think of anyone whose sexist behavior has caused them great suffering? It’s usually applauded.

    I repeat myself: this has nothing to do with Mono! I don’t care what RMS thinks about Mono. It doesn’t matter to me at all. In fact, you may have noticed the position statement we issued from the Ubuntu Technical Board affirming the use of Mono in Ubuntu. Mono is completely irrelevant to my comments on RMS’ behavior.

    I did not “buy” anyone’s “argument” either. I was there, and I have a view about what I observed. I’ve also read the backlash, and commented on what I read. I’ve spoken with over a dozen women about it, some of whom were also present at the keynote. I am, at the least, much better informed about what is going on here than you seem to be.

  15. Rick Spencer

    Anyone who wasn’t there, doesn’t have an opinion I care about. Stallman’s points about Mono and the appropriateness of his “jokes” are totally seperable issues.

    For my part, I *was* there. I thought his points about mono were interesting and valid. His “joke” about virgins was deeply creepy.

    This blog post seems irrelevant and misinformed.

    Cheers, Rick

  16. Simon Hill

    Hmm, as I recall, the last time Stallman visited Austin (not the recent 2009 visit, this was 2003 or earlier), I was present at a discussion after he left in which his hosts IIRC complained both about something that had happened involving a woman as well as his personal hygiene, for what it’s worth… Of course, that was six or more years ago and I don’t remember any details, but suffice it to say that based on that previous information, I was not at all surprised by the current controversy. It seems quite “in-character” based on previous information…

  17. Stefano Forenza

    @Matt Zimmerman: satire doesn’t require sexism/religion ? Irony is irony and should be accepted as that: irony. Satire doesn’t requires politics either, but wonder what ? A lot of it is about politics. Can you see a pattern ?

    I also don’t see any public discourse, but just publishing private emails without consent and a meme-banner campaign. And everybody knows what the banners refers to.

    It doesn’t take a genius to understand that what you posted is not related to mono, and if you read my post carefully, I didn’t ever affirm that. But I have deep concerns on the starter and the early takers of the meme.

    Also I can’t think of any occasion where sexism is applauded. So if you live on such a planet, I’m sorry for you.

    And yeah, I was *not* there, as probably many of the meme takers. So if you and rick were there, why don’t you make a good thing and inform us ?

    It’s probably normal for you to mark everyone as uninformed when backslashing a personal attack (err… a generic bad behaviour protest) and not provide information yourselves.

    Let the people know, which so creepy thing did happen ? Let’s see who should apologize to whom.

  18. Matthew Garrett

    Stefano,

    There’s a transcript at http://mjg59.livejournal.com/113408.html .

  19. Simon

    I don’t really understand how it can be called sexism to joke yelling “A GIRL!!”, given the very fact that the women proportion in software development/computer science, especially in free software, is proven to be very low.

    I hear it as a “tongue-in-cheek” fake surprise joke (as in, “there are no girls on the internet” or “what is that girl thing you talk about). Sexism is really about lower consideration of the women, while here it is just “playing dumb” and going with the general nerd stereotype and a long, long running joke.

    I can understand that women may feel uneasy when the very fact that they are a rare sight in free software and software development is the object of a joke during a conference about free software. I have been to RMS conferences (and there were women in the room), and the Church of Emacs set-up is a tradition, and he did the Emacs virgins thingy (I don’t remember he spoke of women specifically). This is like going to see your favorite rock band and they play their #1 hit. Now I wasn’t here, and probably flagging women as Emacs virgins wasn’t the best joke, but it seems to me the reaction is disproportionate and puritan. The joke seems nothing close to the Ruby conference.

    I agree that it seems that the current attack against Stallman is using this event as an excuse because he spoke against .NET on one side, and because there have been an anti-stallman feeling going for a while now and this event caused an eruption of hate.

    Stallman is a marginal, theatrical “character” the likes of which we read in books. I don’t want to hang out with him (I have the feeling having a discussion with him is tricky, and that he isn’t someone easy to be around to). I don’t care if his hygiene is sub-par (even if I’d rather not seem him do disgusting things during a conference). I recognize him as the philosopher behind the free software movement, and so far I have agreed with his views and statements, independently.

    The current movement is trying to “dethrone” him and distance him from any relevance regarding Free Software and more widely the Open Source movement. His detractor claim he lost relevance years ago, yet I find myself agreeing with his most recent statements. I think his evangelism is very important because he is a true thinker and not someone sold by a business model or a development method.

    Should we excuse him because of who he is ? Yes. I personally believe Stallman is socially inept and will not apologize because he has more important things to do than to defend himself from accusations. Requiring apologies is short-sighted.

    If the anti-Stallman movement succeeds in capturing a sufficient mindshare and lower the reach of his message, the free software movement will have lost a lot more than the recipients of a bad joke did. I will keep on supporting him as long as I agree with his ethical views regarding software, and so far I have not been disappointed.

  20. Look, I wasn’t offended by RMS because AFAIAC, he did and said nothing personal. However, I do find it offensive for you to pretend in your post that no women have spoken out against this when I *did* personally do so on my blog last week.

  21. [...] a Comment Categories: Shit Tags: feminism, mono, rms, stallman, wtf I was intrigued by some of the debate that has been going on lately about whether or not Richard Stallman is sexist. Not [...]

  22. Stefano, although I personally think that what Stallman said isn’t that bad — our comedians make ‘worse’ jokes — you should keep in mind that Americans are very easy to offend on these matters. If the audience would have consisted out of Dutch, Italian and probably other Europeans, there wouldn’t have been that much of a fuss.

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