After a lecture at LCA 2011 included some inappropriate slides there was a long discussion on several mailing lists about the issues related to this. In February 2011 I wrote a blog post debunking some of the bogus arguments in question . Of course the matter didn’t end there, at LCA 2012 I was drawn into a few debates IRL about the issues, as long as there are more than a few men who want such porny pictures used in LCA talks the issue can’t be properly resolved.
The most serious aspect of the discussion in question is that of rape apology, the bad ideas that were presented have a real impact on the way people behave, merely making public statements saying that something is OK is going to increase the incidence of it happening. The Geek Feminism Wiki has a good page summarising the issue .
Recently Valeria Aurora wrote a post for the Ada Initiaive blog about the rape apology issue and how the community needs to act to prevent such behavior . This inspired Matthew Garrett to write about the issue and state the position that “In the absence of an apology and explanation from Ted, I’ll be interacting with him to the bare minimum that I’m compelled to as a result of my job” . I agree with Matthew’s article, everything he writes is logical and I believe that it is all for the benefit of the FOSS community as a whole. I think that most guys have quietly defriended guys who are rape-positive in the past (for example when I was 12 I refused to play D&D with boys who were raping NPCs). But blogging about it, explaining the problem, and giving the offender the possibility to reform is a good idea and it’s something that should be done more often.
Sam Varghese has written about the issue for ITWire . He has taken the wrong approach to this, he specifically claims that “Matthew Garrett has kicked off what could be a damaging episode“. I think that Matthew’s approach is necessary and the situation demands it. If Matthew had been on holidays and I had read the TAI post earlier then I would probably have written a blog post which Sam could have described in a similar manner. So I don’t think that Matthew kicked anything off (I think that someone had to do it). I also don’t think that this has to be damaging – it depends on how everyone reacts.
On her personal blog Valerie says “When I first read Ts’o’s comments, I couldn’t sleep for two nights. I wanted to throw up every time I thought about it. I was furious and frightened at the same time. Every time I think about this, even now, I literally have nightmares. I can’t bear the thought of working with him even over email, much less attending the same conferences” . I don’t think that any of us who are seriously involved in the FOSS community have a way of avoiding this issue, allowing Valerie and other women who have the same understanding of the situation to go through that without any support is not a neutral action. I think we need to consider whether someone who gives other delegates and speakers nightmares should be welcome to attend a conference. Valerie’s post makes sense to me and I can understand why she doesn’t want to associated with Ted, my understanding of the issue isn’t important or even required, I merely note this because I’m sure that there are lots of readers who will ignore anything that a woman might say.
ITWire has a follow-up article with Ted’s response, Ted fails to address all the issues and seems to think that the people who disagree with him merely don’t appreciate his “nuance” . The thing is that the issue of the incidence of rape was raised in discussion to consider the probability that rape survivors would have been in the audience for the Mark Pesce talk in question. None of Ted’s claims indicate that rape could be rare enough that a crowd of 500+ random people could be expected not to have multiple rape survivors so his comments weren’t even relevant to the discussion. Ted seems unwilling to try to understand the position of all the people who disagree with him.
-  http://etbe.coker.com.au/2011/02/10/lca2011-harassment/
-  http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Rape_apology_on_LCA_mailing_list
-  http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/rape-culture-101/
-  http://adainitiative.org/2012/10/open-source-software-open-to-all/
-  http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/18505.html
-  http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/open-source/57290-garrett-slams-tso-as-rape-apologist
-  http://blog.valerieaurora.org/2012/10/29/the-linux-community-cant-remain-silent-while-leaders-make-anti-woman-comments/
-  http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/open-source/57296-tso-denies-ever-saying-rape-is-not-a-problem