Monday, September 9, 2013

Misogyny in Tech Part II: TechCrunch Disrupt

EDITS:
-Corrected 44% figure in first paragraph. 44% of the age 16-30 workforce are female, but 46% of the 16+ workforce are female.

Hello, and welcome to part two of this multi-part analysis of misogyny in the tech community.

Last time I addressed the question of whether or not the under-representation of women in tech was 1. real and 2. important. I concluded that the commonly cited "25%" figure was a low-end estimate at best. I also pointed out that there are many examples of industries with a much, much lower female/male ratio than what we see in tech, as well as many industries in which women outnumber men more than men outnumber women in tech. Finally I ask everyone to remember that women make up only 46% of the workforce, as only about 57% of women choose to work compared to about 70% of men, and that therefore an "even split" would actually be 46/54, not 50/50.

Today I'm going to explore the theory that women avoid the tech sector due to misogyny by analyzing two recent occurrences labeled "misogynistic" by the media and the tech community itself. The question of whether or not an actual misogynistic community would willingly admit to and police its own misogyny is one I leave for another day.

It is certainly true that more men than women choose tech. I find it telling that this state of affairs is immediately rephrased as "women avoid tech." Is it women avoiding, or is it men flocking? Picking one side over the other before analysis even begins is a bona fide example of question-begging.


Regardless, we can evaluate this claim pretty easily. If misogyny is keeping women out, it's doing so in two possible ways: companies are not hiring women because they hate women (remember this is the definition of misogyny) or women are not applying because they sense they are hated by tech culture. We know the first one isn't happening, because sex discrimination in hiring is illegal. By now we'd see rampant lawsuits going after all that Google money if employers were refusing to hire women, and we simply don't see that. So what's happening, if anything, must be self-selection by women in a response to perceived misogyny in tech culture.


But certainly there are plenty of folks ready to leap forward with examples of misogyny. In fact I received one without even having to ask via my Facebook feed today:
http://valleywag.gawker.com/techcrunch-disrupt-kicks-off-with-titstare-app-and-fa-1274394925

Wow, two instances of blatant misogyny in a single tech event! I guess I may as well pack it in and go home.

But wait, where exactly is the misogyny? Start with the second instance (watch the video rather than relying on the article's description of the video, please). A developer who has less than a minute to make an impression demonstrates his product in a suggestive manner. Impression successfully made, dude. Well done.

Oh wait, angry feminists on the horizon! Congratulations, you've now been banned from all further conferences for your "misogyny."

Just take a second to consider the absurdity of the claim that a parody of male masturbation is misogynist. Jesus, I mean, for all you know, that guy's gay! How is making fun of an activity that literally involves only a man and his man-parts, all by himself, in any way offensive to women? Oh, right, because he's a man. I remember now.

Eeek, a penis!
 Also note the skeevy tactic common to those who hate male sexuality employed here: the sideways accusation of pedophilia by mentioning the presence of a 9-year-old girl. You know, I really don't think the 9-year-old got the reference, and if she did, that means someone else already introduced her to the fact that sometimes when a grown man loves himself very much he gives himself a special handshake. What about this is traumatizing? Would we say the same thing if a female presenter mentioned vibrators or Sex and the City?

Recall that these are the feature attraction in a children's movie.
Ok, now watch the first video, and tell me honestly: what is so offensive here, really? Based on the name of the fake app and the offense it gave the author of this crappy article, I thought "titstare" was going to involve photographing women without their consent or at the very least a catalog of pictures of vulgar boobs. But no, it's for pictures of men looking like dorks while staring at boobs. Also: it's a fucking joke. So men are made to look like idiots, but it's women who get offended. Again.

All of the photos shown in the presentation are either selfies or show the woman clearly smiling at the camera. Women take and post pictures of their boobs all the fucking time. That's why they do that weird shoulder thing when posing for pictures. That's why that down-the-shirt selfie angle exists. That's how these dudes got the images for their presentation in the first place! Women fucking love showing off their tits. The dudes even toned the pics down substantially, putting a bar across the first one and generally showing closeups of only moderate cleavage.

Again misogyny is hating women. If you like their boobs, you probably don't hate them.

The subject of the humor in this presentation is "men like to stare at boobs." The object of the humor is "men who stare at boobs." The whole fucking thing is a couple of men making fun of themselves and other men for being exactly what feminist dickheads like the author of this article say men are: sex-obsessed beasts. But somehow this is offensive to women.

And this example of that horrible, horrible misogyny that is being- gasp!- looked at by a man is actually very clever in the way it addresses a gender disparity that should bother any decent human being more than tits at tech conferences: the fact that male life expectancy- already over 6% lower -is falling further behind female life expectancy every year. 

Please kill me before I have to go through this again with another example.

As a woman who enjoys- and writes- raunchy humor, I'm offended at the notion that "gender inclusivity" requires obfuscating if not outright demonizing male sexuality. I can't think of anything less sex-positive. The argument for banning sexual humor in professional contexts should not depend on the ridiculous notion that male sexuality is inherently offensive or threatening to women.

And now some pictures of boobs:


You're welcome,

S. Misanthrope

7 comments:

  1. A preview of things to come:
    Take a look at this actual app (http://company.onlulu.com/) and ask yourself whether a similar app where men rate women like restaurants on Yelp! would ever, ever get a response like this: http://mobilefomo.com/2013/09/tragic-news-from-lulu-app-hits-techcrunch/

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  2. Thank you for writing the most balanced and sensible article on this topic yet.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. You're very welcome, Anon! Although I can't claim to be a very "balanced" person.

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  3. the one in the first pic(BOOBS)
    thats a prostitute
    we had sex in my car.
    She was so sexy i could'nt stand it
    she said its only for a 100 bucks so i said yes

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