08:19 AM

Final thoughts on Sierra and net misogyny

I wrote this piece for my local alternative weekly, The Bohemian, about Kathy Sierra and Tim O'Reilly's code of conduct. They headlined it You've Got Hate Mail.

Tara Hunt, a blogger who was an earlier target of the same people who threatened Sierra, emphasized in an IM conversation that misogyny on the web and in tech circles goes deeper than such obvious brutality. She points to an online video for startup company Ning, in which CEO Gina Bianchini--a very attractive woman in her 30s--demos the company's service. Among the user comments: "David: That is one sexy CEO/Demo. She can Ning me anytime!!" "Ed: I thought this was well-done, informative demo."

Hunt asks, "Is it misogyny? Or just the fact that the technology industry is still so young and clueless about how these comments damage a woman's ability to function in this space? And these comments further go towards making it 'OK' to push women to the edge of this space."

Final word on the code proposal to sex-positive writer Violet Blue:

Whatever the good intentions of O'Reilly's proposal, Blue adds, "There's no add-water instant solution until our wider media culture, including mainstream media, changes its attitudes toward women. We can lead a change to the wider culture, but there's no magic button."