An amazing thing happened at the PyCon 2013 conference in Santa Clara, California on March 17, 2013. A woman got fired for publicly shaming men who told a “dongle” joke behind her back at the conference. The PyCon conference was for programmers in the Python computer programming language; 80% of the conference attendees being male. The fact that 20% of the conferences attendees were women was a big deal; a record high for this conference. The woman in question who got fired was Adria Richards, the creator of the scandal known as Donglegate.
This is the sequence of events that went down. While at the PyCon 2013 conference two men shared a joke between each other about “Dongles” behind Adria Richards; the innuendo referring to a part of the male anatomy. As the so called “mr-hank” relates the story; “mr-hank” being the software developer for PlayHaven who later got fired due to Richards’ malicious public shaming of him;
“I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do regret the comment and how it made Adria feel. She had every right to report me to staff, and I defend her position. However, there is another side to this story. While I did make a big dongle joke about a fictional piece [of] hardware that identified as male, no sexual jokes were made about forking. My friends and I had decided forking someone’s repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said ‘I would fork that guys repo’ The sexual context was applied by Adria, and not us.”
As Wikipedia states a Dongle is “a small piece of hardware that attaches to computer, TV, or other electronic device and enables additional functions such as copy protection, audio, video, games, data, or other services that are only available when it is attached.” Of course the word “dongle” is also ripe for sexual innuendo humor. To “fork” a guy’s “repo” means to create a computer programming fork; like a fork in the road or a new branch of computer code; to the already existing “repo” or repository of already existing computer code. In other words to “fork that guys repo” means to take the programming idea of someone else and expand upon it by adding your own programming contribution to his initial work. The phrase “fork that guys repo” might also be interpreted in a sexual way but such a sexual interpretation is not necessarily intended. “mr-hank” as he is calling himself “admits” that the dongle joke between him and his friend did indeed contain intentional sexual innuendo but he denies that the reference to “fork[ing] that guys repo” was meant in a sexual way.
After Adria Richards overheard the two men behind her sharing the “dongle” joke between themselves Richards then responded by turning around and taking a picture of the two men behind her and then tweeting the picture of these men to her 13,000 or so twitter followers with the accusatory headline “Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and ‘big’ dongles. Right behind me.” This action then lead to the man on the left getting fired. The man who got fired was married and had three children.
After news that Richards’ action got an innocent man fired for sharing an innocent joke with his friend; a joke that was very mild and not even directed towards Richards’ at all; the backlash against Richards began. In some ways the backlash against Richards is the most important part of the story. A feminist bully who sought to harm innocent men for sharing an innocent joke between themselves for the purpose of creating terror in all men so that all men would be afraid of the power of a woman’s accusation so that women would gain a power advantage over men based on the implicit threat that if the man “offends” her she might punish him through an accusation against him; such abusive behavior against men actually received push back, actually resulted in retaliatory punishment against the woman!
The hacker group Anonymous then launched a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against SendGrid, the company that employed Adria Richards. In addition to this cyber attack against Richards’ employer an online petition was also started for the purpose of getting Richards’ fired that gathered almost 1,800 signatures. The statement by Anonymous justifying its cyber attack against SendGrid states in its typically ominous style:
“Adria Richards engaged in malicious conduct to destroy the another individual’s professional career due to what she perceived as an affront to her own extremist views from a comment that was not directed at her, not meant for her to hear, and certainly not for her to provide unwarranted input on. As such, she should have her professional career destroyed just like her victim in order for justice to be rendered and balance restored to the universe. The hivemind’s judgement is final and there is no appeal. No forgiveness, no forgetting remember?”
And then finally justice was done and Adria Richards was fired. SendGrid explained the firing with these words:
“A SendGrid developer evangelist’s responsibility is to build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid.”
Thundef00t and The Amazing Atheist, two high profile atheist video bloggers, had some interesting things to say on this Donglegate controversy. In particular I like these quotes from their videos:
The Amazing Atheist
Feminism vs. Jokes – 7:22 to 8:18
“No one should have to fear that the next dick joke they tell could cost them their livelihood. No one should have to censor themselves 24/7 because people like Adria Richards have been given this de facto Grand Inquisitor status because they know they have the power to get rid of anything they don’t like simply by pointing at it and saying “I’m offended!” What about those of us who are offended that our world is being taken over by overly sensitive crybabies who exhibit extremely hypocritical behavior and treat us all like children. What about those of us who are offended by people who presume to dictate what we’re allowed to joke about? What about those of us who are offended by how bland life has become thanks to all these self-appointed thought police running around making a big show of their every indignation?”
Donglegate – 6:08 to 7:03
“You do not have the right to not be offended. Look, I’m a grown adult; I’m not a baby demanding no one ever offend me. Or that no one within earshot offends me. Or that they should be held accountable by the conference police for anything that offends me. Or anything that contradicts the way I think society should be run. Now let’s be real. What do you think the First Amendment would look like if it were written by such people? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it looks like this, that your right to say things ends where my feelings begin. [Embedded quote from Esteleth Squidly – Seriously here, I am just about a stereotypical hairy legged feminist lesbian. Every single one of those things is true. I can say all manner of words; I have the right to do that. I have freedom of speech. But my right to do that ends the second that somebody who is affected by those words hears me.]”
There is something that screams out to me about this story; and that is that this whole Donglegate business is a perverted form of Chivalry run amok. Nobody cares if a man is offended. One might even say the whole idea of a man being offended is ridiculous and regardless it wouldn’t be anything to take seriously anyways. Also notice the source of “offense” always has to be something sexual. Adria Richards is deeply offended by “dongle” jokes; it is a form of sexual harassment! It is sexism! It is oppression against her because she is a woman! In other words the offense against Richards is cast in sexual or romantic terms; it is specifically the man oppressing the woman in a sexual or romantic way. This tells you that the underlying dynamic here is Chivalry because Chivalry is specifically based on men serving women within a romantic or sexual context; the romantic aspect either being direct or associational. In other words men are supposed to defend the delicate and vulnerable Adria from “unwanted” or “offensive” sexual or romantic behaviors; this is classic Chivalry. There is one problem though in this and it is a fundamental problem. Chivalry is not under the woman’s control or based on the woman’s demand. What feminism has done is perverted the meaning of Chivalry to mean women telling men how men must perform their Chivalrous duty. This is totally wrong and it is what leads to the outrageous spectacle of Adria aggressively attacking men for telling dongle jokes totally on her own initiative with the premise being that because she claims to be offended that means the men are guilty. This then provides the aggressive easily offended woman with much mischief making capacity and great power based on her willingness to point the accusing finger at her male victims so that all men will tremble before her.
Men must get it into their heads that they are not to be dictated to by women. They must see women as being their wards where they are the guardian and the woman is the ward, the woman is under their guardianship. The only way to prevent women from running amok and pointing the finger everywhere in accusation against men to gain power over men is by establishing firmly that men collectively are the ones who decide what behavior is or is not appropriate for men to engage in. Women can of course provide feedback to men regarding how different male behaviors affect them but it is the men that must decide what are reasonable and what are unreasonable restrictions on male behavior. Women must be protected and cared for and at the same time men must be shielded from unreasonable demands being placed upon them by the party, the woman, who does not bear the cost of the restrictions imposed. The reason why men must be in control of the Chivalrous duty is because men bear the cost of the Chivalrous duty. To give control of Chivalry to women leads to the woman making excessive and ultimately outrageous demands simply because for the woman Chivalry is all benefit and no pain. The end result of female controlled Chivalry is outrages such as firing any man who makes dongle jokes.
Though in this particular saga of Donglegate I am definitely on the side of those who are condemning Adria Richards for her actions I am bothered by the egalitarian approach they take on the matter. They see Adria’s manipulativeness and cry baby tactics and false self-portrayal as a victim but their solution is always based on the idea that the woman should “man up” and take on the role of being equal to men not in need of special protection. The problem with this egalitarian approach is that it is a fantasy. Women are not the equal of men and they are in need of special protection. On the one side you have the feminists whose ploy is to falsely claim victim status and manipulate Chivalry to be something under the control of women for the benefit of women at the expense of men. On the other side you have the strict egalitarians who deny female vulnerability and male responsibility towards women and who tend towards the Men’s Rights Activist point of view. In this particular story of Donglegate I am definitely on the strict egalitarian side simply because the abuses of women making unreasonable accusations must be curbed. However overall I do not hold to the strict egalitarian viewpoint because the vulnerabilities of women must be acknowledged.
The entire egalitarian project must be scrapped. Egalitarianism cannot be achieved through the manipulation and corruption of Chivalry as is the feminist approach and neither can egalitarianism be achieved through the MRA approach of just outright denying women’s need and right to male protection. Instead egalitarianism itself is the problem and the solution is deliberately chosen inequality between men and women with men as the leaders protectors and providers and women as men’s prized possession.