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In sort of a hopeful note, I have only once been asked about my family plans (I didn't take the job). But I am quite conscious that I am walking a few years behind you and your sisters, in the middle of the wake.

I have been working in tech for 10 years, and even in that time, I have ceased to be a woman!surprise! and replaceable by the secretary (that was a bad job), and become valuable-geek-translator.

Maybe I've just been lucky, but maybe it is starting to work.


This was awesome.

I have one thing to say about the subject of men dressing up. If I dress outside of my usual daily attire -- t-shirts or polo shirts -- people are likely to notice and comment on it. And if I were, for no reason whatsoever, wear a suit, people would practically freak out. If you dress up in a "serious" way everyone asks you in a half-joking way if you are interviewing for another job.

In any case, I'd wager that few men -- including myself -- are secure enough to draw attention to themselves in this way out of a sense of fun. Ironically, they would agree with the proposition "It shouldn't matter what I wear," but for an entirely different reason: not because they wish to wear stuff that draws attention to themselves, but for the opposite reason.

More importantly, about the speaking up when someone says something messed up: A while back there were little bull sessions in the main aisle at my workplace during which there would be a certain amount of totally sexist humor. I was astonished by it but I didn't feel I had the right to say anything because I was a contractor and the newest person in the office back then. I would simply walk away when it started. (The most interesting thing is how it stopped when one guy in particular left the company. I had never identified him as the instigator and in fact he seemed like a sweet, mild-mannered guy. But after he left, the sexist jokes stopped.)

Next time I will speak up, I promise.


once again, badger, i don't know how you do it. but you do. every time. we need you as a facilitator big time; i would have shot him.

John Koetsier

Sheesh, how do I say this properly ...

I'm not going to comment on what Dave said in particular, nor on what you said above.

However, I feel there is a new double standard in public discourse: women can be and say whatever they want; men need to be ultra-careful and steer delicately through very poorly defined lanes.

So, for instance, it's OK for a woman be be sexy, feel sexy, and even act sexy. But it's not OK for a man to notice or comment.

Who gets to decide if statement X is sexist or derogator? Is it sexist or derogatory if one person feels it is? Or does it have to be a substantial fraction ... or a majority? These are silly questions.

At some level, we just have to say: we're different, we see things differently, we experience things differently.

Which does not mean that at other levels, we need to get up on our high horses and loudly state our disagreement.

Where's the line? I'm not sure.


When I read the bit about wanting gender-neutral spaces, I started ranting about how in the patriarchy gender-neutral means men get all the time in the sun. Rage-honing material there.


Hey John K, I can sympathize that it is really hard to know where the lines are and why. It's hard work for men, and I respect that.

Somebody's got to say something about it! I can't stand it when as a woman I hear other women talking about anger and rolling their eyes about stuff that they will not express directly to men in a situation! A little outspoken gadfly-ness can be useful. Don't shoot the messenger.

Racial politics often have similar dynamics so believe me John, I have my own position of privilege to deal with as an upper class white girl and it has been a lot of learning to do. I think that privilege means I didn't *have* to see various things or think about race. But once you start thinking about it a lot - and I mean a lot - and listening & learning w/out being personally defensive - then the poorly defined pathways become more clear. & you start to see things everywhere. & be less clueless, which is always pleasant and will make you a lot of new friends.

What I am trying to say is that I acknowledge that it is difficult, it's okay to screw it up, no one is going to shoot anyone, and it's worth it to pay attention to stuff you don't have to, to learn something that there is no easy uncomplicated answer for.

Class was another huge disconnect at the conference. Because Blogher was so successful at getting some people who aren't rich, there was actually a lot of tension around class and I hope there will be some productive discussions there too. I liked when my friend N. said he was not poor by the standards of the people he knows, and yet he couldn't bring his (ancient) laptop to the conference because if it broke or was stolen there was absolutely no way to replace it. So to him a lot of the people all around seemed obscenely wealthy.

Again... this is so long but I'm trying to answer you seriously... if indirectly... If you actually WANT diversity... then you have to listen to stuff that is outside of your comfort level. The reason you don't have diversity is that your scene is outside of other people's comfort level... And that is very hard to explain from the outsider position.

Can I make this more clear... I am not oppressed in any way by Dave saying that the women of BlogHer are damn sexy. I am not fighting Dave or any other individual (unless they are clearly horrible and evil and directly violent) - I'm fighting patriarchy. Likewise it is not me personally and my strident, shrill, bitchy mouth making it problematic for men to comment on women's looks.



wow. just wow. i'm in awe of you. every single day.


The more I get to see you in action and read your brilliance my fangirl worship just grows ;-)

Thank you.


Dave Winer is an asshole.


<token shallow girl statement>
"Was there a BlogHer backchannel where we compared the men's looks, and bodies, and winning smiles, and how cute they are when they cock their head to the side and giggle, and gossip about their qualities as ex-boyfriends of one or the other women in tech?"

er, there was no need and no reason. the men at blogher? on the whole, not attractive.

</token shallow girl statement>

Ian Betteridge

It's interesting that, so far as I know, the only critics that he's responded to have been male (ie - me). He doesn't seem to be interested in engaging women in discourse, which indicates to me how seriously he really takes women's opinions.

John K, you're right that it's tough knowing what's appropriate and what isn't. The context is everything. I'm happy to tell my friends and close associates that they're looking damn sexy in the right context. But in the context of a report about a tech conference devoted to women, it is pretty obviously inappropriate to spend so much of your words concentrating on appearance, like it's the most important thing.

Tara 'Miss Rogue' Hunt


You are so diplomatic. I have no idea why Dave has taken such an issue with your post. This is fun and light and, I think, too nice.

Personally, I take great offense to being called 'sexy' or 'cute' or 'pretty' in the context of a technology or professional situation. My boyfriend calling me those things is essential, my professional peers? It's dismissive.

To concentrate on my appearance while I am trying to make a mark in the area of intellect is insulting. It says to me that one can't look beyond my body and/or face to listen to my thoughts.

Traditional dichotomies put women and men in these columns:

| Women | Men |
| | |
| Body | Mind |
| Emotion | Intellect |

We talk about our baby girls as pretty and our baby boys as strong and smart. That's what is wrong with these commentaries. You are so right to point out that we don't go to Gnomedex and say, 'Man there are so many hunky guys there'. We say, 'Great presentations. Learnt a great deal. Good networking.'

Though...I've been talking with Chris about doing a calendar of the hunks of Web 2.0. It sounds like 'reverse sexism', but because of the chart above, it is actually subverting gender stereotypes rather than reinforcing them.

That's the difference here.

We should stop feeling angst and get real.

tim from Radio Clash

Yeah I knew what you meant as soon as I read Dave's post - it was sweet and well meaning but in a 'look they're not a bunch of bulldykes! They won't eat you!' kind of way...the subtext is annoying, as is others I picked up (recent threads I've read about Lance Bass for instance, oh-so-humourous, like, NOT. The old prejudices come out...).

It does need to be pointed out.

One thing I've been asked quite a lot in interviews about family/marriage - usually cos they want to send me away or judge my suitability, I don't know. It gets rather sticky when I say something along the lines of 'I can't get married' and correct the gender of the pronouns from She to he - I tend to use the gender neutral partner as a bit of a trap to see if they fall into it. LOL I'm so evil.

Oh and the sexist humour? Have been privy to it, but now make sure I'm out so I tend to get left out of the boys jokes, thankfully...cos usually the gay jokes are next - and have confronted people over this.

Anyway this is a long winded way of saying I agree with you - it's endemic, but also happens other places too, where the straight/white male world collides with other ppl...

I agreed with his gender neutral call though, somewhere where people can drop the BS and just be themselves and learn from each other - male/female, straight or lgbt, black, white or whatever. Those spaces do happen but they are rare and usually organic (I've experienced a bit of that in small clubs and spaces, and special interest type groups). Ho hum.


I just want to point something out regarding gender at tech companies. I don't know what the situation is like most places, but as a recent new hire at Microsoft, I can say that at least through the mid-levels on the Redmond, campus, the staff is roughly 50/50 gender-wise, with women in a very similar proportion to men in supervisory positions.

There are different propotions in different roles though, with slightly more men in dev roles, and more women in program management & test roles (with the former a little higher-paid and the latter a little lower).

I'm sure this doesn't carry through all the way to upper executive management, but there may be many demographic reasons for this aside from sexism in current practice at the company, including the possibility that women having been excluded in the past, have on average not been able to gain as much experience at very high levels as men.

Anyway the point I really wanted to make is that as I understand it, Microsoft has one of the better gender-equality reps in the industry, even when it comes to things like same-sex benefits and parental leave. Apple, so I hear, is similar. Sure this may not carry over to lots of other tech firms, but one can't really make sweeping generalizatons about companies and expect to make a positive diference, any more than one can about a gender or a race.

Liz Ditz Not Liz Henry

I just wanted to point out that Dave Winer does not respond to Liz directly, here, but does at Chris Boese's weblog, here:


Like I said, it is rude to ignore you, but to talk to someone else about what you said.

Dave Winer

John, it's not a new double-standard, it's an old one.

Liz Ditz, I saw Liz Henry's comments for the first time on Chris's site, so I pointed there. I think you're really stretching to take offense, but at least you used your real name, which shows a little more courage than the other supposedly outraged people posting on both sites. Much ado about nothing.

Why don't you pick another fight with someone who really is a sexist, you guys really look silly, imho.

And Tara, I sure as hell wasn't saying you're sexy. What an offensive idea to suggest that I was.


Oh people... calmly now! I like Dave, I appreciate his style... and gave him major props for being a superfeminist revolutionary by inviting not just a couple of token women chosen by him to his (very cool) Bloggercon, but inviting Blogher to bring a posse. I think we do have a misunderstanding or talking cross-purposes in that I thought I was poking fun at some things Dave said, in a friendly but not entirely uncritical way. But he had his feelings really hurt by it and didn't get what I was trying to say. I don't think suggesting to shoot him is going to help!

Dave, as far as what I said & believe, I don't think that there is a black/white either/or about whether someone is "a sexist" or not. I think we are all trapped by sexism or patriarchy in various ways. For example, I find myself thinking of situations, talking, or describing people in ways that I consider sexist - all the time.

I just called *myself* as well as other excellent, smart feminists on that issue, which was an extension (the flip side - the hate side) of the same "remarks about appearance" issue I was calling you on (the "I like you because you're cute and pretty side). Two facets of the same thing. I assumed Dave knew the word "hegemony" in the sense I would use it and would not take what I said as a personal dismissal... so far from my intention.

I am sincerely trying to be helpful and point out stuff that people might not be seeing by writing the "regendering" post and the aesthetics and hateration one.

So, no Dave I don't think you're "a sexist" in some special awful way. I also don't think I'm "not a sexist". I knew you were a bit unnerved by being around & approaching feminist ideas and I'm sorry that my critique of your praise of BlogHer made you feel bad... Compared to my usual mean-assed ranting and ass-kicking, that was like getting sprinkled gently with holy water.

I think that one thing to learn from this is that, feminists do call you to task sometimes, and different ones will do it on different issues. It isn't the end of the world imho. It is to be expected and ... actually should be an honor... and can be productive. I also, in turn, expect some defensiveness and freak-out in response from men. (I just in this case didn't expect it to get to Dave as much as it did - honest to god... and then was not sure how to respond yet.) So, about defensiveness, I think it is NOT productive for me to respond to it by getting mad (even if that's what happens sometimes.) Instead I am reading This excellent post on defensiveness by Liz of Granny Gets a Vibrator. I've mentioned it before - and it's quite excellent. So, if you are Dave, I hope it does not compound the insult for me to suggest it as reading. (I find it helpful with thinking about my own racism.) If you are not Dave, I would suggest that you also read it and think about feminist rage (while quite excellent and reasonable ) not quite being the thing to encourage more dialogue. And since I opened the dialogue with good intentions that anger is not somewhere I want to go.

Next year we can have a Men of BlogHer BOF where I bet some really cool processing and bonding would take place.

It was cool of Dave to come to Blogher and to even bother to read what some random Internet Chick (me) has to say about techie environments and gender.

Dave Winer

Thanks Liz.

We should continue this discussion, but without the name-calling, at least for a while. I really tune out when that happens, because it's not balanced. I couldn't tease you that way, not even close, without sparking a very ugly response. Teasing is okay as long as everyone can "give as good as they get." There are a lot of angry people around here, and lot of people poised to attack at any perceived point of weakness or vulnerability.

That's why I was so afraid to come to BlogHer, and then afraid to say anything. You doubted me at BloggerCon, maybe now you've got a taste of how little tolerance there is in our environment for men to speak on gender. And I didn't really say anything all taht controversial, and certainly nothing that wasn't said by women who were at BlogHer, yet as far as I can see, none of the women were called "asshole" or "sexist" -- even in (supposed) good humor. None of them were ridiculed for being too old, and even I wasn't ridiculed for being white (likely because almost everyone at BlogHer, male or female, young or old, was white).

You're damned right that flipping gender is a great way to see how sexist you are being, you should try it some time. ;->

Read Halley Suitt's How to Be an Alpha Male if you want a taste. Would you like me to write a series of essays on how to be a Sexy Woman. (No thanks, I prefer to leave that to women.) No man would dare to do it.

Liz, I doubt if you'll find any volunteers to be at the Men of BlogHer BOF, not next year, maybe the year after, but first we have to learn how to listen without name-calling, and bend over backwards to be more tolerant. In this area, I'm pretty sure the women have some catching up to do. Men tremble when faced with these issues, and women charge in and act without thinking. Men will attack other men (as we've seen in ths thread) but I've never see them attack women.

Here's something to think about -- on the Internet our bodies are the same size. Men, who in the physical world have a size and strength advantage certainly don't have that advantage on the net. And in the real world of the 21st century, women have compensating strengths whcih they don't give up in the virtual world. I think we'll need to find a new balance which means women will have to be more careful using their power, if you want men to participate in the gender discussion, as I do.

Please don't pick this apart as if it were drafted by a committee and passed by the U.N. Security Council. I'm writing this late at night, and off the top of my head, but these are thoughts I've been discussing offline with friends for many years. I appreciate that you've given me some cover here Liz, I like you too, even though we haven't spent much time talking, and I think you've been unfair to me here, and in your post-BloggerCon post, I like where we're going.

I'm going to get together for a lunch later this month with Elisa and Jory, and I really want to keep this discussion going. It's important.


BadgerBag wrote in http://badgerbag.typepad.com/badgerbag/2006/07/regendering_dav.html
... they make sure to let me know that even my empowerment and anger, to them, is a sexual commodity.

I'm going to agree with you but clarify what I think is really going on. First of all, you would expect that these men/boys are good at communication since this happened at a blogging conference. Not so. They are good at a certain kind of communication, where you clearly tell others about your opinions and ideas. Being able to do this does not guarantee any ability to listen to others or understand and acknowledge ideas that challenge their world view. Being a blogger is a rather self-centered thing to be. (He notes in his blog entry, looking around to see if anyone is watching. No one? Good. On with the rant show.) Secondly, you might expect a blogger to be introspective. This is true in the limited sense that a blogger is introspective about the topic(s) she wants to examine. For example, BagerBag seldom discusses who is killing whom overseas, while I am more interested in writing about art than sexism. So bloggers are not necessarily good at social interaction or being challenged. After all, is this not the joy of blogging? I can say my ideas, fully, without interruption, and find my audience who loves me and showers me with admiration. (For some reason, the second part is not going so well for me. Suggestions appreciated.)

I think you are encountering typical male culture which is admittedly sexist. However, most males do not know how to talk. Period. They can't talk to women and truly they can't talk to other men either. However, since most other men can't talk back, grunting and pointing is considered "conversation." The chatter/babble about female BloggerCon attendee looks* is actually what passes for male conversation. Think of it as the "pointing and grunting" channel. Men who can actually have give and take conversations, where they listen to the other people and consider their words, are considered "femmy" and shunned.

So, they let you know that your empowerment and anger is, to them, a sexual commodity. Really, what they were saying is that they can only think of women as sexual commodities. It really doesn't matter who/what you are, the only mental construct they have for women is sex object. Usually broken down into four categories of unattainable, whore, madonna, and undesirable. By their words, they are letting you know that they consider you in the unattainable category which is as much respect as they can give a woman.

Is this all rather sad? Yes it is. Do I wish it were different? I certainly do. Then I'd have more people to talk with. But in their own limited way, the boys were trying to give you respect.

* I can't help but wonder how they got links to pictures of those women in their underwear. Certainly those women did not freely of their own will pose for those pictures, nor post them in their blogs. And if they did, was it out of a deep feminist respect for and pride in their appearance or are they tools or the patriarchy? I do understand that by using the pictures the way those boys did was objectifying the women. Why don't more men post sexy pictures of themselves and why don't women have a channel to talk about them?

Posted at:

Madeline F

Hey, Dave, it's good that you recognize "sexist" is a bad thing to be. I think if you read Liz's comment in the light of morning you'd find a lot of comfort in it. See, you seem to think that being called sexist is being called a name, when in fact it's descriptive. You wrote in a sexist way: for that post, you were a sexist. But Liz is telling you that she's also sexist, and that no one's unsexist all the time. It's not a toggle. We're all continuously struggling upwards together.

If you'd like to man up and accept that you're not perfect, you need to apologize for twisting her words and playing the distraught victim, and apologize for focusing on how sexy women are to the detriment of the point of the conference, and move forward.


hear hear Madeline! I lik ewhat you say.

Dave appears to be focusing on attacking Badger and not listening to her at all. i think Badger's post was very sensitive, rational and maybe a little flip. but it can pay to be a little bit lighthearted about a serious subject.

it would be helpful if Dave would respond to the content of Badger's post and not, instead, focus on the tone he percieves as antagonistic. it's called an avoidance tactic and is not all that conducive to good productive conversation.


You know so little about men.

"...the butcher I dressed in tech, and the more serious I acted, the more misogynist jokes I was subject to hearing - I was expected to participate in them to prove I was one of the guys."

Let me clue you in. Straight guys don't like butchy dykes like yourself.

Trying to dress and act like a guy is not the way to find inclusion, but rather just the opposite. It looks rediculous for a woman to dress and act like a man. Men like lipstick lesbians, not dykes.


so what you're saying Gary is that no matter what women in tech do... they can't be accepted as anything other than a person that looks like someone you want to fuck?


No. You are missing the point. Try to turn it around for a second. Lets assume the occupation is magazine editor for any one of the hundreds of womans magazines. What would you think of a man (regardless of sexual orientation) who showed up dressed like a woman. Do you think he would be more or less welcomed into the group as an equal?

I work in high tech (with a degree in Elec. Engineering) and we have numerous women here who are very capable and highly regarded for their contributions. None of them show up to work looking like men and they are not treated like sex objects. They are respected contributors despite the fact that there are many who are considered very attractive.

Dressing like a bull dyke is not the way to gain acceptance.

It sounds like the host has a femi-nazi chip on her shoulder that gets in her way. I think its part of her gender identity "issues".


"Despite the fact" that they're considered attractive... Well, that's interesting!

It's a fine line between bimbo and bulldyke, isn't it, Gary?

What about friendliness and smiling, isn't that important too?


"despite the fact" was in response to the original (false)premise that you have to dress like a men to be accepted by men in male dominate industry.

Being an attractive (to men) woman does not mean will you cannot garner professional respect from men.

I don't see your point regarding a fine line between bimbo and bulldyke.

Now, friendliness is another matter. My other point was about just that. Badger's chip on her shoulder is probably the reason she gets the reaction that pisses her off so much. Lose it and I bet her tune would change...and forget about "butching it up".


hey Badger, did you know that men are actually dressed like bull dykes? sheesh, can't men get their own damn style and leave those nice bull dykes out of it?

cheers! engineer boots all 'round!


I guess being flippant is your way of admitting your argument was weak and unfounded.

I guess we all have names like bulldykes too? It s hilarious to meet a woman who introduces herself as "Steve" or "Kevin".



And when I worked in IT, and had to crawl under desks, and through ceiling panels, Gary? The walkie talkie and the Fluke and the Leatherman don't hang well off a dress... Maybe a utilikilt? 8-P

Plus, when someone would walk into our office for help with a computer problem... would they go to the "me" in the lipstick and office lady clothes? Or the guy in jeans and a cisco polo shirt? What do you think? What made them feel confident they were talking to a "real" computer geek? And who would they assume was the receptionist? Do you think this is insignificant?

It was often very much like when I was disabled and ordering coffee. From the wheelchair, I'd say "I'd like a double latte..." and the counter person would then speak to whoever was with me... "Would she like a large or a small?" Working in any tech area was like that. There was a threshold of discomfort or being "thrown" by my girlness, that the clients had to get over. There was an extra barrier and time it took for me to prove my technical competence, almost every time. Once people would get used to it they could speak to me and ask me their tech questions and get my help. But there was a barrier.

What do you think of the way women in the military and police dress? I'd like to see you go on about bulldykes to some of the cops I saw today in the courthouse... heh!

That does not really address the question of praising women's "attractiveness" or qualities perceieved as feminine, that are not relevant to their work and their performance in a professional context and their competence and their interesting and useful ideas.

Can you see the other side too, that praising a woman in that context for her appearance and demeanor, is giving the message that NOT being that conventionally attractive/feminine woman is not okay? And the ways it feeds into the general cultural beauty myth, and the way it creates a pattern of disempowerment for women - because the women men pay attention to are the young, cute, and inexperienced ones - and the older women with more time in the field aren't paid attention to? How about if you're kick ass hacker and tech woman and sys admin, a leader in your field, and yet you are fat? How do you feel about that, Gary? (Dear Troll. ) I am not putting down the kick-assitude of younger women - but it is a general problem that contributes to women's invisibility to each other & a lack of role models.

As far as my own past jobs - I got along very well with co-workers and clients, unless I was actively sexually harrassed, and when that happened, I spoke up every time, although there were always negative repercussions for speaking up in that way. I continue my lifelong commitment to that path.

As Dave has pointed out, sometimes I get lectury or condescending. This is generally true for me and I'll do it about the history of the Civil War or the shades of meaning of a word in Spanish in different countries; I'm old enough to know my personal flaws, and annoying pedantry, condescension, ranting, a quick temper, being flippant, and being on my high horse are definitely in the mix.

Speaking of personality quirks, Gary, it's funny you should mention having a man's name.

Lauren, of Feministe, mentioned her recent foray into political blogging under a male identity in male-dominated forums. The main difference she noted was that men give other men permission to be angry. Men can react, and name-call, and exhibit their own personality quirks or flaws; this does not prevent other men (or women) from arguing with their core arguments, their key points, and their politics. When women speak, focus is on how they spoke, whether they did it nicely enough, in the correct tone, politely, etc. The focus is on the woman herself, and she can be very easily crazy-bitchified, or feminazi-ed, or lesbified, which is seen as invalidation of her argument. As a man, Lauren could say exactly what she says as a woman, but men would listen to her. I have also found this to be the case online.

As for my own gender identity "issues" - yes, I have them. Gary, I would also say that you have gender identity issues; the difference between us is that you have the privilege of not having to be aware of them because no one else puts them in your face all the time.


I will dress in full bull dyke regalia for the CPSR party tonight in honor of the Internets and Trolls Everywhere. In San Francisco, 70s hippie sys admin dudes with big hairy beards love to hang out with bull dykes, as their masculinity is not threatened by us.

There's that "flippant" thing going outta control again...

I will give this all a serious answer soon, probably after anyone has ceased to care. It does all deserve serious answers, and I will try (as always) to provide them as best I can. But I need some time to respond in a considered thoughtful way. There is lots more work to be done here, but I can't do it right now.


It was a good essay on gender issues.

You admit the you "want to pick on Dave a little"

You state "It is not like Dave is an especially awful example of sexism" which he reads as name calling.

And you close with the assumption that "he can take it."

Oops. Those assumptions can really give you grief. Hundreds of other bloggers have learned in a similar pattern that Dave can't handle even the slightest criticism on some topics.

Read the collected wisdom of Dave on gender issues and you'll learn that he's deeply troubled by women and gender issues:

site:scripting.com + women

It's fascinating reading. It might help us all understand Dave better. Hopefully, the discussion moves off of you in particular and back onto gender issues. You don't seem to deserve the attention that is starting to show up here in your comment section.

If you feel the need to shut it down that might be appropriate. Too much attention can be worse than being ignored if it triggers the name calling that's starting to surface here. Names that are far more injurious than "an example of sexism".

Someone deserves an apology from someone else for loosing their cool.

Madeline F

Wow, this "Gary" guy seems really humorless! I guess he never really got over the blow when high schools stopped requiring women to wear skirts, in the late 60s? All he has to look forward to is a couple of decades declining to death, and, poor fellow, the gravediggers will probably be female.

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