Apr 13 2007

Asswad World

I have just learned, via Amanda at Pandagon, there exists a category of writer called “user interface bloggers.” I don’t know what a user interface is, but apparently they’re wildly popular.

Anyway, one of these widely-read user interface bloggers is Kathy Sierra. She is a woman in a dudely profession who expresses what are considered non-mainstream views on user interfaces. As a woman who dares to have a public life, it is only natural that she should expect death threats from jerkwads in her professional community, and that these death threats should force her to cancel speaking engagements and ditch her blog, and that misogynist liberal gasbags like Kos would dismiss her as a nut because it’s only natural that male dudes always have the canniest insights into what is or isn’t offensive or threatening to women, and therefore should always be called upon to assess the danger to user interface bloggers of “so-called ‘death-threat’ thing[s].”

That is, it’s only natural in Asswad World, a society that unquestioningly accepts as good ideas binary sex roles, the dominance of one sex over the other, and the humiliating-smackdown-as-inevitable-consequence-of-insubordination.

Fucking knobs.


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  1. vera

    I received a similar, though less frightening, treatment when I started blogging about technical writing. In fact, it was right after withstanding a verbal battering that I first searched for feminist bloggers, and found a link titled, “iblamethepatriarchy.com.” I clicked, and found shelter.

  2. Orange

    It ain’t quite as horrific as a death threat, no, but yesterday a guy at a crossword site I frequent felt compelled not only to mention Don Imus, but also to mention a TV weatherman who got canned 30 years ago for saying–on the heels of a news story about child rape–that “If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.” (Such a welcome citation, and completely expected where crossword puzzles are discussed, no?) His take-home message: “Broadcasters need to watch what they say.”

    Yes. Only broadcasters should take care not to say offensive things while on the microphone. Regular guys, have at it! Repeat the deplorable, lest the deplorable fall from view. Must keep rape humor in the forefront where it belongs. The womenfolk could always use a reminder just in case they were forgetting.

    (And yes, I called bullshit. That guy hasn’t responded, but another asswad–who declares that he is a feminist–rallied to his defense. Of course.)

  3. Feminist Avatar

    The thing that has annoyed me most about the coverage of this issue on several blogs including the comments in the one cited is the need to discuss the issue in terms of whether the threat was genuine. This often breaks down into men saying ‘overeaction- they’re trolls- ignore them’ and women responding ‘actually these threats may be real’. Now I am definitely sympathetic to the latter, but what about our basic human right not to be threatened.

    What, are we only allowed to get angry at threats of rape and violence if they have validity? Kathy Sierra had every right to be angry and it was not an overeaction. Cause even if every female blogger suffers from these threats, it does not make it right. Yes, we can press delete, but until we get angry its going keep happening.

    So right on Twisty- I Blame the Patriarchy!

  4. redwards

    ugh, kos, dude’s just not cool.

  5. jessant

    Quick!!! She’s having the vapors!!!!! That’s what it sounded like to me. Utterly dismissive. I should photoshop his head onto a horse’s ass.

  6. Scratchy888

    It’s interesting how the constant pressures of the patriarchy can be interpreted as a demand that women be all-powerful, flame-resistant, life-resistant, fearless superwomen all of the time. Actually, very interesting it is, and ironic as well, that the pressures on women under the patriarchy demand that women supercede men in these regards, and that they supercede them in almost all human senses, in order to earn their right just to survive. Under the patriarchy, it is the women alone who need to be supertough and powerful as only superheros in comic strips can be. The men can be as intellectually and physically flimsy as hell. The constant pressures of the patriarchy (and by this I mean, above all, its hypocrisy about gender roles and what they actually mean in practical terms, as opposed to fantasy terms) portends a total turning of the tables of gender. What used to be considered as the characteristics defining masculinity — the ability to perceive reality clearly, the ability to make sound and logical judgments, the ability to cope with various intellectual and emotional assaults and survive — all of these will soon become exclusively the provence of the female.

  7. thebewilderness

    Follow up from Chris Clark, could go in the FAQ for men.


  8. Pinko Punko

    Words do not exist in our dimension that fully contain what total cobags these shitheads are…*

    *Pinko has just thrown a blood clot. This is all for now.

  9. stekatz

    I thought the tipping point for Kathy was that the asswipes who were making the threats actually cited personal information about her leading her to believe they could find her in the real world and actually do her harm. If so, the discussion about whether online threats are “real” is moot at that point. If someone knows things like where you live and the names of your children, it’s as good as receiving a threatening phone call. Something for which you can make a police report about. To me she assessed everything rationally showed very good judgement about the whole situation. Not something on which she deserves to be taken to task.

  10. Pony

    It happens to rad fem blogs all the time. This is old news. Biting Beaver: gone, Sparkle*Matrix: sandbagging, Amananta: threatened but now back; Dead Men Don’t Rape, silent for a time now back, Laurelin, Stormcloud, Heart stalked, impersonated, and the villain supported by other bloggers; some of rad fem commenters razed across the blogosphere with open hatred and lies. All the above women bloggers with hundreds of threatening hate-filled, abusive, misogynistic unpublished posts because they blog radical feminist.

  11. MikeWC

    …it’s only natural that male dudes always have the canniest insights into what is or isn’t offensive or threatening to women…

    No, he’s claiming to have uncanny insight into what is or isn’t offensive or threatening to humans.


    They’re just the rantings of a lunatic. For my part, I’ve gotten my fair share of such vile emails. Some of them have threatened my children. One or two actually crossed the line into “death threat” territory. But so what? It’s not as if those cowards will actually act on their threats. For better or for worse, this isn’t a country in which media figures — even hugely controversial ones — are routinely attacked by anything more dangerous than a cream pie.

    Maybe he’s completely wrong about the threats to Kathy Sierra; I doubt he has all the facts in hand. But to label him as misogynist for daring to think that his own experience with death threats might enable him to comment on death threats levelled at another is just plain old wrongheaded. If a male blogger used the same logic you just did to criticize a female, isn’t it a sure bet he’d be your next headline?

  12. thebewilderness

    Well Mike,
    The first thing he said was that he didn’t know anything about it, but that didn’t prevent him from bloviating.
    Markos has a long history of dismissing any issue raised by the special interest group that constitutes half the population.
    This is just another example of Markos sexist asshattery on display for all to see. He has a long history of sexist asshattery. In fact, some years ago, he ordered the women who argued against his asshattery to depart his blog and find a better one. Many of us did.

  13. lucizoe

    You know what I decided today? I am through reading blog comments, except here. I cannot take the Liberal Dudes on Pandagon and Feministe and Feministing taking women to task for daring to speak about our experiences outside the Established Liberal Dude World. Why is it so damn threatening to these tiny little people that women use their own voices in the way they want?

    It’s like there is nowhere for me to go where I won’t feel stomped on, like they are taking my heart and grinding it under their feet, then laughing at me for being so weak. I am sick of it, I am sick of feeling silenced, of reading comments defending rape, of reading comments defending misogyny, of being told over and over by the Holy Arbiters of Important that “Women’s Issues” are not as important as electing Democrat corporate whores instead of the party that is just more honest about their hatred and motivations.

    I’ve spent my entire life paralyzingly depressed, and I’m only recently realizing that a large part of that depression is due to patriarchy, due to all my many experiences of men tearing me down, one way or another, making sure I understood that I do not matter, that I am good for only one thing, and that I should just shut up. I’m angry that I let them silence me, and now I don’t know how to speak up.

    I realize I’m rambling, but I am just so damn sick of it. Why the hell do these mollusk-brained nitwits hate women so much? I feel so blessed for the exactly three men in my life whom I can truly love and trust; the rest of them can go choke on a dick.

  14. Inverarity

    No, he’s claiming to have uncanny insight into what is or isn’t offensive or threatening to humans.

    Based on his own personal experiences, which he assumes extend to all humans (including women). I.e., “I’ve received death threats and no one actually tried to kill me, so Kathy Sierra is being a silly girl taking death threats seriously.”

    Ya think maybe men and women might have different experiences about what constitutes a “serious” threat? I’m betting, Mike, that if some guy on the street gives you a hard stare as you’re walking past, you stare back and think “What’s your problem, buddy?” And maybe you’re a little bit wary as you continue on, just in case the guy is nuts and going to start something, but as soon as you’re out of line of sight, you’ll forget about it.

    A woman, on the other hand, has to think seriously about whether or not this guy is a rapist acquiring a target lock on his next victim. She can’t assume the danger is minimal, and gone once she’s out of sight.

    But guys can judge what threats women should take seriously based on their own experiences, right?

  15. Ron Sullivan

    Yeah, Chris did good over there at Pandagon. I’ll buy him a beer when he repents not drinking.

    What had me snickering was the number of people — come to think of it, the number of male people who Just Had To Mention that maybe Markosboy was just all fatigued and addlepated because he had a new baybee in the house. Yeah, all that lactating he’s doing must be exhausting.

  16. Pinko Punko

    Also, I would wager people don’t go on at great length about raping and molesting Kos, and then posting all of his personal info. Hello? It is not that difficult to get, and even if anyone did, there isn’t quite the history of guys actually getting raped and murdered. GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

  17. kathy a

    heh, ron!

  18. Ana CL

    I hate liberal men. I’d rather be with a conservative at this point, because… well, both groups hate women just as much. The difference is, liberals do it from an “enlightened” perspective.

    So.. you know, it’s ok.


    And poor woman. How dare they make light of her situation? What the hell do they know about how she feels? Privileged bastards.

  19. Catherine Martell


    But to label him as misogynist for daring to think that his own experience with death threats might enable him to comment on death threats levelled at another is just plain old wrongheaded.

    OK, let’s look at this in gender-neutral terms, insofar as that’s possible.

    Kos writes about politics, something that he himself describes as “controversial shit”, and gets an unpleasant, but obviously bonkers, email from a homophobic wingnut telling him he is poor, has a small penis and will die of AIDS.

    Kathy Sierra blogs about user interfaces: mostly topics such as designing web applications. This is not, by any yardstick, “controversial shit”. She gets deadly serious emails quoting her home address and telling her that the writers are coming round to her house to rape, torture and murder her.

    Do you see the difference?

    Furthermore, you can’t dismiss the fact that threats are of a different nature and seriousness depending on to whom you address them. It is horrible to tell anyone that they are going to be raped. But, in a world where an estimated 91% of rape victims are female and 100% of rapists are male, it’s not that surprising that women take such threats seriously, nor that some men make them seriously.

    Now, run along and read the Chris Clarke piece that thebewilderness posted above.

    Meanwhile, lucizoe: I don’t think you’re rambling. I think you’ve put it extremely well. I feel like having that rant on a daily basis.

  20. vee

    This is only slightly related to the topic at hand. Anyway, in Australia the soapie Neighbours (which I’m guessing you probably don’t get in the US?) hasn’t been rating well. So for over a week they have been playing the same promo (with violent overtones) of a husband trapping his wife in a small room. The storyline, mind you, hasn’t developed at all and has just been slowly leading up to this scene. The scene in the promo was Friday night’s cliffhanger, of course. Plus, they’ve added an additional promo where a young woman who has been stalked for the last week or so (either by an ex-boyfriend or the ex-boyfriend’s mum, I don’t keep up) is blindfolded and wearing a low-cut, cleavage a-plenty top.

    To tie in with the post: I guess threats of violence are not only trivial but titilatting and great for ratings too!

    Last night I wrote about the newest case of homemade rape porn to emerge (I think somebody mentioned a couple of days ago) and I used the word “jerkwad” to describe the offenders. I must’ve been channelling Twisty – unless Twisty was channelling ME when she wrote this!

  21. Feminist Avatar

    Scratchy888: ‘It’s interesting how the constant pressures of the patriarchy can be interpreted as a demand that women be all-powerful, flame-resistant, life-resistant, fearless superwomen all of the time’.

    Historically women seem to have frequently been give the responsibility for ensuring the smooth-running of the patriarchy. Advice manuals used to advise wives that through their own good behaviour they good make up for the faults of a bad husband. An aggressive/violent husband could be overcome by a soft, submissive wife; a spendthrift could be compensated for by a woman who was frugal etc. (Indeed its not that long ago- I think Men are from Mars actually spouted crap pretty close to this story). This discourse meant that women were not only responsible for ensuring their own behaviour met the expectations of a patriarchal society but that of male behaviour did too.

    No wonder rape threats aren’t taken seriously- its our own fault for not sufficiently adapting our behaviour to compensate for the men.

    Lucizoe- no wonder your depressed, I am exhausted.

  22. Scratchy888

    No wonder rape threats aren’t taken seriously- its our own fault for not sufficiently adapting our behaviour to compensate for the men.

    Yes, indeed. Good explication.

    What I am proposing is that very soon, women will start to adapt their behaviour to adjust to the bad behaviour of men. Only it won’t be in the sense of appeasement any more. Quite the opposite in fact! We will take our tinted goggles off.

  23. B. Dagger Lee

    Threats of rape and violence are the propaganda-tools that extend the reach of the patriarchy. It’s terrorism, pure and simple. Real violence, directed at women all over the world, looms behind the threats of it, and makes those threats powerful, effective.

    yrs, BDL

  24. Serpent's Choice

    What strikes me about this situation is how almost everyone has been wrong, on all sides.

    When faced with death threats, or rape threats, or even package-deal threats complete with online address postings, there are two fundamental things a victim (irrespective of gender) can do about it: 1) ignore it or 2) do something about it.

    Markos’s position is that everyone should vote for option 1, beceause that’s what he’s done, and it worked for him. Markos is wrong because that option isn’t one size fits all. Not all threats are created equal, nor are all threatened people.

    Kathy chose option 2. The funny thing about option 2, though, is that once you’ve decided to do something, you’re opened to a huge array of possible somethings TO do. Kathy chose to very publically back away from the things that apparently got her threatened to begin with. I don’t blame her for backing down in the face of what she found to be a credible threat; as stated above, not everyone can or should be a superhero, especially when their family’s lives are in danger. But I do think she was wrong in the very public way she went about it. Admitting that she was intimidated by sexual threats into taking a frenzy of back-pedalling action is not likely the best course of action in hindsight.

    It teaches the kind of people who make these threats that their way wins. Comparing this situation to actual rape victims (as done above), I see this as the difference between people who report their rapes (which should be commended and encouraged or the sick fucks will never be stopped) and the people who report how their rapes have destroyed their life and hope and future. Rape, as I am acutely aware, is a horrible crime. The first response combats it. The second response pigeonholes women as “victims” rather than people, and ultimately helps to empower the very predators it seeks to combat.

  25. B. Dagger Lee

    Serpent’s Choice:

    So, in the interest of image, don’t tell the truth?

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  26. Mel

    Go on, Lucizoe! Yeah!

  27. Serpent's Choice

    I can see how that could be read into what I wrote.

    There is an important distinction between being a victim and allowing yourself to be defined by the victimization. My problem isn’t that Kathy was honestly intimidated. By all accounts, she had good reason. My problem isn’t that she chose to withdraw. Again, understandable.

    My problem is the execution — the suddenness of her shuttering of her blog and her engagements and the conclusive link she herself made between her actions and the threats.

    The people — men, almost assuredly — making those threats looked at what happened and thought, “I did that. Threatening to rape and kill that woman got me exactly what I wanted.” Others who might be inclinded to behave in the same way learned the same lesson, and its a terrible lesson to watch being learned. Would I rather she lied to save image? No. But I’d rather that she had given at least some thought to image while telling the truth, because image is the currency of minds and media (and of the patriarchy as a whole).

  28. OlderWiserFuckAlltoShowForIt

    Oh, Lucizoe, tell it. One of THE most depressing things in the world to do is read the “liberal” menz talking about (pick one, pick any) Don Imus, Kathy, Jill’s experience with the law school message board (can’t remember, something like AAOOXX).

    And concern trolls and the ones that just ask for a little calm and reasoned discussion, ’cause you know we’re just the least little bit hysterical at times. Gaaah.

    I still love so many of the commenters, I just try to avoid any that go over 100. If a thread gets really long it’s usually infested.

  29. B. Dagger Lee

    Serpent’s Choice:

    No, violence is the currency of the patriarchy. Threats are the promise to give you some.

    She told the truth about what happened to her and what she did in response, which is take precautions. You say appeasements, I say precautions.

    But why are we discussing her behavior? “She shouldn’t have been out that late.” “Wearing that, what would she expect?” “Why was she alone?” “Didn’t she cooperate?”

    She didn’t do anything wrong. The threat-makers and threat-ignorers did. Their behavior needs to be examined, not hers.

    yrs, BDL

  30. zofia

    I don’t know about Kos but I live in a country in which women are routinely raped and murdered by, “psycho losers” who are “cowards” but ” will actually act on their threats”. The awful case in Atlanta last week highlights the all too common scenario of an angry man who punishes a non-compliant woman; by shooting her point blank in the head at her place of work. Two days before, a woman was shot and killed at the University of Washington in Seattle by an ex-boyfriend on whom she had sought a restraining order. I would call that much more “dangerous than a cream pie”. Here in Boston in the neighborhood surrounding BU there has been a string of assaults on women in the past week. Not humans,MikeWC, women. Now, women cannot walk home from work, or the library without an escort (the attacks were between 7-9 pm) and are rightly fearful and feel like prisoners in their apartments. I guess if they can’t handle a little heat on the street they have no place in the city or at college and should go home. Right. Makes perfect sense. If women don’t want to be threatened with rape and murder they shouldn’t write a tech blog, what do they expect? sheesh Men have historically used violence and threats of violence to ‘teach women a lesson about their rightful place’ and it is one of the most insidious tools of the patriarchy. For any man to claim, in light of the well documented history of this practice, that a threat against him holds the same weight is completely disingenuous and exhibits a willful ignorance on to which men desperately cling when the reality of their privilege is revealed. I work in a male dominated field and I don’t think that men understand that more and more, WE ARE NOT GOING TO PLAY BY YOUR RULES. I am no longer obliged to ‘do it your way’. You say that threats are okay…so fucking what. I say they’re not and the fact that the men in this situation consider their view normative (even though it is sick and twisted) shows why women must not kowtow to this paradigm.

  31. Muffy's Blog for Random Parenthood

    well you know itsnot like Kos has a pervious history of like misogyny or anything does not to mention everyoneelse who I wont mention

  32. Muffy's Blog for Random Parenthood

    Sorry I made a typo in my address, but really Im justwanting Markos tocome by and go pat pat pat on meihtout even asking and telling me notto worry my prettylittle head about it that alwaysmakes me feel so much better.

  33. Pony

    Kathy is also a mother and while Kos apparently has a child, he’s not a “parent” the way Kathy and his child’s mother are. And he never will be.

  34. Liz

    Sing it, Lucizoe. You’re not babbling, and I agree with everything you’ve said.

  35. thebewilderness

    Over the years the patriarchy has codified into law those who may be threatened with impunity and those who may not be threatened. For example, Presidents and airline passengers may not be threatened, on penalty of arrest. Women are required to go through the report, dismissed, restraining order, ignored, publicly shot, process before a crime is determined to have been committed. Then comes the chant of you should have known better and avoided existing so you wouldn’t attract the attention of men who are entitled to kill women.

    I doubt that it made much of an impression on many of the men, but I think the parade of men, black, white, and hispanic, on the news every day discussing how the men feel about the men calling the women whores, and what the men think should be done, was a wake up for some women. Nothing like rubbing your nose in it to get your attention.

  36. redhead

    Lucizoe, that was right on. I’ve struggled with depression for awhile, as have many of the women I am close to. I think most of it is due to the constant degradations and devaluations we get from the patriarchy. What pisses me off is that I think that, in a lot of people’s minds, the fact that so many women deal with depression signifies that women are weaker and more emotional, and can’t handle competition in schools or the job market – nevermind that this ‘competition’ often takes the form of humiliation and/or harassment. Obviously things would be better if we were just housewives and didn’t have to deal with the big bad world! Again, the popular idea, unfortunately echoed in these comments, that if women are upset by something, they should be the ones to change.

    Zofia – thanks for mentioning the women who was shot at UW in Seattle. I go to school there in a different department, and I was even more upset by the reaction to what happened. I’m in a women’s group, and a woman sent out an email to the listserve that, I shit you not, proposed, in reaction to the murder, that we should learn how to identify abusers sooner. Right. Because the woman who was killed would have been fine if she had just identified her abuser – it’s not like she had a restraining order against him, had changed her address, phone and email, her routes to work, shown his picture to her coworkers, family, and friends and told them that he was stalking her, etc. (she had done all of these things). But hey, let’s put the onus on women to identify the abusers, because if we only identified them, they would just go away! sheesh.

  37. lucizoe

    Thanks y’all for the support. It’s been so hard and exhausting and I know you all understand. And thanks Twisty, again, for sharing your space.

  38. Sandy D.

    You know, every time I read the word ‘patriarchy’ from now on, I’m going to hear ‘asswad world’ instead. Even though I don’t always agree with you (especially when it comes to food, music and science fiction), I will always read your blog for these incredible inventive vocabulary nuggets. And the blaming’s good, too.

  39. smmo

    No wonder Kos is so damn popular. Nothing like a little misogyny to reassure the readers and advertisers. Fuck you, Kos.

    redhead and Zofia: Yeah. The UW shooting. I went there, Mr. smmo works there. I’ve had a crazy ex or two in my day. It hit close to home. Someone I know said “well the problem is these women don’t want to press charges.” I’m afraid I raised my voice in response “No, the FUCKING problem is that this ASSHOLE thought he was entitled to fuck her and if not that then kill her.” And she did press charges; she did everything right and is dead. Because “everything right” is what the patriarchy requires that you be a clean and proper victim, it doesn’t keep you safe.

    The only good thing the fucker did was off himself. Oh, and he was an illegal from England. But he stayed here year after year, despite arrests for drunk driving and beating up women. But the real problem is poor Mexicans coming here to do our dirty work. You know who I blame.

  40. mearl

    “Over the years the patriarchy has codified into law those who may be threatened with impunity and those who may not be threatened. For example, Presidents and airline passengers may not be threatened, on penalty of arrest. Women are required to go through the report, dismissed, restraining order, ignored, publicly shot, process before a crime is determined to have been committed. Then comes the chant of you should have known better and avoided existing so you wouldn’t attract the attention of men who are entitled to kill women.”

    Too right, thebewilderness. You are so bang on about the fact that each man is equally a participant in the misogynist threatening class and the lawmaking, gun-toting, verdict-handing “protection” class. Because men are not ever able to experience what we experience as women, it makes NO sense that men should be the ones dictating what is important and not important in society, what is a concern, what should be acceptable and what should be immediate reason for arrest and detention when rape and violence and threats come into play. I would love to participate, with the radfems of the blogosphere, in a post to draw up a manifesto of the way things SHOULD be in society.

  41. TP

    Laws against men threatening women with sexual abuse or bodily harm. It might help. Women would be able to bypass the whole useless restraining order process and put men in jail for threatening them.

    Since it so often results in real bodily harm, and since it’s something nobody should be able to do anyway, why not? I can see the men, now, the very idea of losing their precious freedom to intimidate women: You can’t do that to us!

    I think it’s a great step towards weakening the Patriarchy, and, sadly, more realistic than banning pornography.

  42. slownews

    Yes, yes, to all of the above, in my own lousy inarticulate way. And lucizoe, welcome to the club. You are so not alone.

    It’s not even the violence, threats, etc, that are so upsetting (they are), it’s also any ONE human trying to tell another HUMAN what the proper repsonse is. I mean, who am I to say how anyone SHOULD react to anything? Whose business is it, besides the acted-upon/victim/survivor? NOBODY’s. I think this is at the root of the whole problem. It leads directly to the “women aren’t human” concept.

  43. Miller

    Quick comment: a liberal dude at Feministe attacked me when I expressed shock that he found the glamorized photos of brutally tortured and massacred women models on America’s Next Top Model sexually appealing (breasts chopped off, strangulations, knife wounds, etc.). I mean the shit was EXTREME (imagine a black man being lynched or a Jew being gassed glamorized) to and he said he didn’t need my permission to find murder erotic, but he seemed to ignore the fact that if such violent extremism is normalized it forces his views (Bleed, bitch, bleed!) onto all women and girls, threatening very lives.

  44. Pony

    Ahh well. Feministe. It’s a haven for that kind of thinking.

  45. TinaH

    Jessant said:

    I should photoshop his head onto a horse’s ass.

    That would be redundant.

  46. Trout

    First, I agree that Kos is an ass. Unfortunately, he’s also the owner of a very political blog where he has to deal with the threat of censorship implied by O’Reilly’s idea of a “blogger coder of ethics.” Why he was dumb enough (and obnoxious enough) to tie the Kathy Sierra business into his post on O’Reilly is beyond me. How fucking dumb can you get?

    Second, I agree with the earlier posters that Sierra was very foolish to admit publicly that she was shutting her blog down due to harassment. Something along the lines of “I’ll be very busy on a project for the next several months” would have been much less likely to reward her harassers.

    That being said, IMHO, the truly appropriate blog post would have read like this:

    “As some of you know, I’m being harassed and threatened by some very sick people, who know my address and have threatened to rape and murder me and my children. In reponse to these threats, I have bought a shotgun for home defense, and a high-caliber handgun which I carry with me at all times. I have gotten professional instruction in using these weapons. I have also begun taking self-defense classes, and other preparations, which I cannot discuss, have been made. It’s safe to say that if I think, even for a second, that you’re planning to hurt me or my children, your chances of dying are very, very good.

    In addition, click here for the information I have on the people who are threatening me. If any of my readers can help to identify these scum, I will pay a reward of up to ten thousand dollars depending on the quality of your information.”

    I believe that people who are being threatened have not just the right, but the obligation to defend themselves. My philosophical dislike for violence comes to a reality-based halt when there is a serious threat to my family or myself. The right of a woman to defend herself and her family with deadly force should be central to feminist principals. And yes, I understand that making and backing up the proclamation I recommend is not easy, but would your rather be afraid to leave your yard?

  47. LouisaMayAlcott

    Trout, what you say makes a lot of sense.

  48. CLD

    So many just don’t get it. It’s tiring having to explain over and over again to some dude who thinks we should just “let it go” and “get over it” — to “move on”. Fuck off.

    You do what you have to. I don’t blame Kathy Sierra one bit for retreating. It’s what she felt she needed to do in order to survive; whether physically or emotionally, it’s what she needed.

    With the stupid Imus thing and now this, it’s getting ridiculous. We need a batch of feminist flash cards for the terminally willful ignorant set.

  49. Sylvanite

    Ya know, since the internet is relatively anonymous, maybe an interesting experiment that men could try would be to post as a female. Maintain a blog as a female. Maybe after a few months of posting in various places as a women might be sufficiently illuminating that we won’t have to hear any more about this sort of b.s. I think BitchPhD cited a figure that women are harrassed online at a rate about 25 times greater than men. I haven’t seen the study, but find it all too plausible.

    So, seriously, men. Go out into the interweb and present yourselves as female everywhere you go. Then you can come back to us and tell us how much fun it was.

  50. Trout

    CLD, I do understand that Kathy wasn’t able to be more aggressive. My idea of how she should have handled the situation is my own personal ideal, but I do understand that not everyone is up for a major confrontation.

  51. LMYC

    Sylvanite, I remember reading a news story about a man in the Middle East — rampantly, openly sexist culture as opposed to here, where they keep it shamefully undergruond where it belongs — who was transgender. So he claimed. And I’m using that HE for a reason, because I’d slug this bastard if I ever met him.

    He thought it would be all romantic and fairy tale, living in the harem, getting deferred to by men, being taken care of, all that shit that makes us laugh our asses off because, hoo boy pal, if that’s what you think a woman’s life is like in a patriarchy, you’ve got some learning to do.

    Well, he did it. He had the operation. And he found out precisely what a woman’s life was — getting shoved aside, screamed at, beaten up by the cops for letting a wrist show, crammed to the end of the line, elbowed, shouted down, ignored, treated like ambulatory garbage. Gosh! He didn’t know it was like THAT!

    That’s about the time he decided this “I Feel Pretty” schtick he thought he’d signed up for wasn’t so much fun as he’d thought, and he wanted his dick back.

    Like the Internet sex change, but without the tiresome irreversibility.

  52. Sylvanite

    LMYC, gah! I sort of end up feeling that no one should really have to learn the lesson in a way that’s quite that hard. Of course, women are forced by reality to learn the lesson the hard way. Over and over again.

  53. LMYC

    Sylvanite, I just shake my head that anyone can be so stupid as to not realize this when they are surrounded by it. I mean, I’m not omniscient despite my best efforts. But I can at least buy and see the plausibility of what a lot of black people tell me about what they go through. It makes sense, hangs together, and if I were in their shoes, I have no doubt that I’d see what they see and feel exactly the same way. I can also admit that I have and in instances still do behave in a racist fashion — everyone in this world does. I don’t like admitting it, but I like doing it less, and rooting it out of my brain requires admitting its existence.

    So what the fuck is men’s problem? White people can at least use the excuse that “they don’t know many black people” or whatever to excuse ignorance. But MEN AND WOMEN? Excuse me, but we live in the same fucking houses! How STUPID do you have to be to be that ignorant of people who have surrounded you since birth?

    And this guy just pissed me off. His whole attitude seemed to be that he was perfectly willing to cast himself as TG until he realized how shitty things were, then it was, “Hey, you can’t do this to me! I’m really a man!” along with being gobsmacked that it happened at all. Push came to shove, he didn’t want to give up his privilege. He (had that “she” really mattered) could have felt sympathy and compassion for other women, could have banded together with them, could have (as so many TG activists are) become a real partner in Middle Eastern feminism. Could have been another woman standing shoulder to shoulder with her comrades.

    Instead, he bemoaned the loss of his privilege, that he wouldn’t have admitted existed beforehand. And in doing so, he spat on other TG folks who really are willing to go through tremendous shit to live as who they truly are, instead of just backing off and not wanting to play dress-up once he realized what it was truly about. I know one woman who was a damned highly paid high-tech salesman who has gotten (last I heard) no work at all in the lucrative profession she was trained in and experienced in for years. She’s selling cellphones. This woman raked in six figures as a man, and as a woman?

    But is SHE backing out? Is SHE whining about hwo tough it is and I guess I don’t really want to be a woman after all? No — because she IS a woman, and she knows it, and that’s true to herself. It’s not something she decided she wanted to be, like a game that she didn’t take seriously. She is a woman as much as I am.

    Sorry. I think I really went off in left field from your comment, and I highly doubt you were implying all that. But to see someone treat both the whole concept of TG and the incredible burden of being a woman in the patriarchy as bagatelles that they can toss around and abandon when they tire of them just ticked me OFF.

    I’m rambling at this point, ignore me …

  54. Sylvanite

    Heh. No, I was just issuing an easy challenge to the boys. I wanted to see if they’d put their money where their mouths are. Because to face what women face on the internet would be an easy thing to do. Do they even have that much courage?

    Obviously, transgender people have tremendous amounts of courage to go through everything they do to be true to themselves.

  55. Professor Zero

    I suspect white U.S. straight men may worry less about death threats because they feel people unlikely to carry out these threats on *them*.

    Lucizoe: “I’ve spent my entire life paralyzingly depressed, and I’m only recently realizing that a large part of that depression is due to patriarchy, due to all my many experiences of men tearing me down, one way or another, making sure I understood that I do not matter, that I am good for only one thing, and that I should just shut up. I’m angry that I let them silence me, and now I don’t know how to speak up.”

    I can relate, although fortunately for me, it hasn’t been my entire life – but it has been enough of it. And I am convinced that a very great deal of women’s depression is caused by this, not by any mysterious organic problem.

  56. Sylvanite

    I see from Chris Clarke’s post at Pandagon, that he has in fact done just what I’ve suggested, and got schooled.

  57. mAndrea

    TP’s: “Laws against men threatening women with sexual abuse or bodily harm.”

    Yes! But aren’t there laws against that already? The trouble seems to be that most people don’t make the connection between any atmosphere which promotes and accepts misogyny, and the violence which just happens to occur to women. Many rape studies make the point indirectly that Belief preceeds Action. Young boys see men saying shit and getting away with it, and they realize it’s acceptable – both to think that way, and then to commit random acts of misogyny.

    And in case anybody missed the study posted at http://www.echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/

    From a “person” who didn’t say a word:

    • female names received 100 malicious private messages a day,
    •neutral names received 25 malicious private messages a day,
    •males names received 3.7 malicious private messages a day,

    Assessing the Attack Threat due to IRC Channels
    Robert Meyer and Michel Cukier

  58. Artemis

    Late to post this thought, but I’ve been cogitating.

    I’ve worked for a long time in Kathy Sierra’s field and we share very similar professional experiences. I’m not attempting to speak for her, I’m just making a comment overall from my own experience.

    It’s somewhat easy to convince oneself that the IT world is a gender-blind meritocracy – especially if you’ve gotten the degrees, worked the jobs, and had the chance to speak at conferences, et cetera. When your ideas seem to be taken seriously by the power boys, illusions form and evidence to the contrary goes unnoticed.

    Then one day you’re the victim of an outpouring of the hate that has formerly been disguised. The attack is bad enough. The slow realization of what it means is fully horrifying. Facing the fact that men hate us – really, truly hate us – makes us aware that violence is possible anytime, anywhere.

    I think it’s possible that someone in Kathy Sierra’s professional position could be opening her eyes to the truth of this for the first time and understandably shocked and terrified at what she saw.

    Opening your eyes and seeing that you are surrounded by men who hate you is an experience I can’t really describe, even though I’ve had it. Getting out of that situation with your life, your sense of self, and your sanity is all that matters.

  59. DeadMan

    “So, seriously, men. Go out into the interweb and present yourselves as female everywhere you go. Then you can come back to us and tell us how much fun it was.”

    The problem with that is the kind of men who would actually learn anything from this kind of exercise aren’t gonna become rad feminist women on the net, they’ll become patriarchy approved sex-bots (aka they’ll become the women they want). They won’t get death threats; they’ll get a cookie for being the “right” kind of women. (Unless of course they actually try and act like men while “dressed” as women … then the threats and beat downs would come faster than a monkey on fire)

  60. Sylvanite

    Evidently, Mr. Clarke went out as an entirely neutral, non-controversial sort of “woman” and starting receiving sexually-tinged threats almost immediately. Everywhere he went on the internet. Regardless of the subject. I don’t know if presenting yourself as a sexbot will even prevent it. Apparently, one does not have to present as a feminist at all to attract a great amount of animosity.

    My own personal experience with the internet thus far has been benign, but then I seldom post anywhere but here, and have no gender-identification markers in my tag. I did attract a ton of immediately hostile commentary on rottentomatoes the one time I made the mistake of mentioning that my ex was not a particularly great guy, and gave examples. Saying that one man, whom none of the commenters knew, was sort of a jerk, brought forth a ton of anger and attack. It’s not like I was talking about men in general, or speaking to his friends. Simply saying that one man could possibly be sort of a loser, speaking about my personal experience with that one man, was apparently verboten.

  61. Ben Dover

    Kathy Sierra blatantly lied about being threatened. End of story. She is a professional victim.

  62. Johanna

    Since some random guy comes in here to this radical feminist blog and tells us that Kathy Sierra totally lied, I will now completely change my mind. You are so right, manly man!

  63. Ben Dover

    [Comment deleted by Twisty on grounds of poor spelling, undocumented claims, redundancy, and moron screen name.]

  64. Johanna

    Cute nickname, by the way.

  65. ramou

    Her views are mainstream, if you’re a Software Engineer (or in a directly related field, which is to say not comp. sci.-troglodyte). She presented, as a keynote speaker, at an undergrad conference I attend (yay Montreal! Yay CUSEC). She was absolutely one of the highlights of the conference! She was pleasant, articulate, and not at all inflammatory. More importantly, she was an inspiration to my students.

    Having actually spoken to her in person and seen her lively and feisty nature in action, I consider it a huge blow to the world at large that this has happened to her.

    Here’s the audio of her presentation at that conference:

    … now I have to refrain from starting to complain about that conference’s founder, whom I have a long standing feud with due to the fact that he’s a sexist pig.

  66. Artemis

    Not to pick nits, but, well, I will. Not because nits need picking per se, but because there seems to be a trend in public rape discussion about the behavior, dress, and attitude of the victims. We’ve been over this all for the last million years. No one deserves to be threatened with bodily injury, period. That’s why there’s a whole category of criminal law related to “assault” in this country that is differentiated from “battery.”

    While it’s a perfectly nice compliment, the fact that Sierra “was pleasant, articulate, and not at all inflammatory” has nothing whatsoever to do with her being threatened.

    If Kathy Sierra was a belching, smelly, inarticulate, and inflammatory nincompoop, it’s still wrong to threaten her.

  67. ramou

    Point well taken.

    I do question the “non-mainstream” nature of her postings, which I’ve heard put less politely and in a manner implying inappropriateness. So let’s call it scumbags who make up lies to justify their scumbag behavior, when no amount of lying could ever justify it.

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