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Piers Cawley Practices Punditry

Another conference season, another dumb sexist

Mum was often the only women [at British Leyland sales conferences]. In those days it was apparently common for presenters to slip the occasional naked lady into the slides – “just to keep everyone awake”. When this happened, there’d be slightly embarrassed laughter and a few heads would turn to look at mum. Who ignored it. It doesn’t happen so often any more

That was me writing about Women in Open Source in 2005. This is Sarah Allen writing about Matt Aimonetti’s talk, “CouchDB + Ruby: Perform like a Pr0n star” which:

If he had left it [the dodgy images] 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.

Apparently, the difference between 80s truck salesmen and Matt’s audience is that at least 80s salesmen had the grace to look embarrassed.

Published on Tue, 28 Apr 2009 18:14:00 GMT by Piers Cawley . Tags , ,

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    By Doug Tue, 28 Apr 2009 22:40:13 GMT

    When a society frees itself from the shackles of logical integrity, gross hypocrisies don’t even make people blink. “Sure, women are supremely valuable individuals, not objects. Oooh – look at this pr0n – every guy does – only an insecure girlfriend/wife would mind.”


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    By Dave Cross Wed, 29 Apr 2009 03:20:01 GMT

    Interesting to compare this with how Alias handled a similar situation a couple of years ago.

    I’m most disappointed, I think, to read the reactions from DHH . An Open Source project doesn’t need leadership like that.


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    By AL Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:22:40 GMT

    Perhaps part of the problem is there were 20 men speakers and only one woman. Why not just make this a men only event?


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    By meh. Thu, 30 Apr 2009 12:48:51 GMT

    You’re being overly sensitive, I think. Lighten up.


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    By confusedindeed Fri, 01 May 2009 00:01:45 GMT

    People who would be offended by such content should avoid talks the titles of which contain ‘pr0n’.

    Assuming that you are objecting to the act from the perspective of objective morality, it is perhaps possible to argue somewhat coherently that one should never purposely offend. But refraining from otherwise morally righteous or amoral acts in the hopes of avoiding the giving of offense is almost certainly a quintessential example of a normatively supererogative act.

    If, for the sake of discussion, we assume that there is a direct moral obligation not to offend, then this post is self-stultifying, at least in terms of assigning moral opprobrium. Note that the author calls the presenter “another dumb sexist”. But that is almost certain to give offense, and he made this post knowing such to be true. At best, the author is confused; at worst, he is a hypocrite. I’ll go the route of charity and presume the former.

    If you are making the point from the perspective of subjective morality, then who gives a flying fuck ;-)


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    By Yo Sat, 02 May 2009 10:19:56 GMT

    Both can be true. DHH and his community are a bunch of douches and I can’t take my eyes off that first slide.


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    By Aaron Sherman Tue, 08 Jun 2010 16:33:30 GMT

    Well, I have to say, I’m of two minds, here. I don’t approve of offending people just because you can, much less to grab attention (offending people because you think there’s something fundamental to question about how and why they get offended is another matter, but that clearly wasn’t going on, here — George Carlin of Ruby doesn’t seem to be the appropriate comparison, here).

    No, this is probably a third case. This is probably someone who honestly didn’t expect that “in this day and age,” anyone would be offended by porn in a presentation. I can understand that, but he’s dead wrong (as evidenced by the above).

    Still, perhaps the knob in this post was turned up a bit too high. How was the presentation? Did it actually cover useful ground?


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    By Aaron Sherman Tue, 08 Jun 2010 16:34:11 GMT

    Oops, missed that this was old. Probably moot. Nevermind.


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