Action and reaction: on avoiding “offense”

I mentioned this at the Community Leadership Summit just before OSCON, in a session on women in technology, but I wanted to write about it in greater length.

I’m trying to remove the word “offense” from my vocabulary when talking about sexism, and I think it would be good if we all did. Here’s why.

When we talk about offense, we are talking about a person’s reactions:

  • “She was offended.”
  • “Some people just get offended so easily.”
  • “I think you have to be careful not to take offense at every little thing.”
  • “I’m sorry if you were offended.”

There’s a reason why Wikipedia gives that last one as the textbook example of the non-apology apology. It’s not a real apology because it focuses on the offended person’s reaction, not on the action that the first party took to cause it.

So let’s talk about action:

  • “He acted kind of creepy.”
  • “They created a hostile environment.”
  • “He implied that women can’t program.”

And, of course, a better apology would apologise for the actions: “I’m sorry I acted creepy,” not “I’m sorry you were offended.”

Like I said, this is something I’m working on, and I think it’s really helping me express myself better around some of the incidents that have occurred recently in the tech community. One of the tools I use to move from a reactive “offense” statement to an action statement is simply to replace the word “offended” in the sentence with something more specific: marginalised, belittled, stereotyped, frustrated, humiliated, threatened, patronised, silenced, intimidated, misrepresented, etc.

Let’s try it. I’ll use the CouchDB talk as a case study, since it’s so well known. Matt Aimonetti wrote in his blog post, On Engendering Strong Reactions:

It genuinely was not my intention to cause offense. People may be driven by personal choice or cultural background to take offense at any number of things, of course, but I think there is always a clear difference between trying to offend people vs people choosing to take offense. My view is that offending someone is walking up to them and saying: “You suck, your code sucks and your partner’s code sucks!”

That is not what I did in my talk. In the case of my talk, people knew what to expect, they *picked* the talk, and were warned by the organizers before I started that I would be using imagery potentially offensive to some. The topic of my talk was obvious, and I would have hoped that people who were likely to be offended would have simply chosen not to attend my talk or read my slides on the internet.

(Emphasis mine.)

So, Matt’s saying that it’s the offended people’s problem that they were offended. But let’s move away from “offense” and think about some other adjectives that could describe people’s reactions:

  • marginalised, because the talk was aimed at the majority (straight men) and ignored the presence of others outside of that group.
  • uncomfortable, because people in the room are suddenly thinking about women as sexual objects.
  • excluded from the technical community: “If you don’t like porn, you shouldn’t attend conferences” is a too-often-heard refrain.

So rather than saying, “Some people were offended,” we could do a simple adjective substitution and say, “Some people felt uncomfortable, marginalised, and excluded.” Now we’re getting somewhere. While “offense” happens largely inside someone’s head, exclusion (to take an example) is more external. So how did someone come to feel excluded? Well, because someone tried to exclude them! And who did that? Matt Aimonetti! So now we’ve got from “Some people were offended by the CouchDB talk” to “Matt Aimonetti tried to exclude some people from his CouchDB talk.” If he were to rework his blog post, instead of saying:

It genuinely was not my intention to cause offense.

he could say:

It genuinely was not my intention to marginalise or exclude anyone from my talk or from the Ruby community, nor to make them feel uncomfortable.

Sure, it’s longer, but the rest of his two paragraphs of blaming people for feeling offended can be removed entirely. The focus shifts to Matt’s actions, and — if he truly didn’t intend to do those things — how he can avoid them in future.

Another use case: we often hear that people are “just looking for excuses to be offended”. What does that mean? Does it mean that people are “just looking for excuses to be belittled, humiliated, intimidated, and misrepresented”? If we substitute more specific terms there, we suddenly see how nonsensical it is. Who the hell looks for ways to have those things happen to them? Someone performs some action which belittles, humiliates, intimidates, or misrepresents people; the fact that people notice and comment on it does not mean that they were “looking for” those actions to occur.

So let’s stop focusing on reactions, and start talking about actions instead.

34 thoughts on “Action and reaction: on avoiding “offense”

  1. I appreciate the underlying idea of what you’re saying here, but I don’t think that your example quite works as you’re still emphasizing the feelings of person reacting. Rather than saying “I felt marginalized,” isn’t the proper response, “You marginalized women in your talk.” And, indeed, describing the actions works even with regard to offense. The proper response isn’t “I was offended,” but “Your talk was offensive.”

  2. Thanks Kirrily for this blog post. I wish I would have received this advise earlier, I would have more than certainly said:
    “It genuinely was not my intention to marginalize or exclude anyone from my talk or from the Ruby community, nor to make them feel uncomfortable.”

    Hopefully my mistake will help others.

    - Matt

  3. If you are looking for the right kind of terms that the target of your education efforts can relate to, creepy is good (or LiveJournal’s criteria for when social features get too intrusive, “Stalky”) and hostile is good, but “marginalised” doesn’t carry much punch because it’s not tangible for me.

    It feels more like a hypothetical concept rather than something I care about (because I’d experienced it).

    For me at least, I think one of the keys here is that while offence is associated with feelings of annoying or hate (and isn’t necessarily a negative thing) the problem starts when you create fear in the audience.

    These can be either social fears, or (worse) physical fears. But it’s creating this reaction (making parts of your audience actually scared to be present) that I find particularly shameful (and hopefully more tangible).

  4. @Claude: perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, but the substitution of feeling-words is just a step along the way towards focusing on the action.

  5. @Matt: Thanks so much for commenting, and I’m glad I was able to help. Of course it’s never too late — you could always post again, especially now that the heat has died down a little. I think a well-phrased apology would be very well received at this point. Feel free to email me if you want to discuss further — skud@infotrope.net.

  6. @Adam: There’s definitely jargon in this field, as in any other :) I’ve mostly been trying to steer clear of it, but you’re right that “marginalised” is a word that doesn’t mean much to people who aren’t used to talking about this stuff.

    If it helps any, you can replace “marginalised” with “treated as if I wasn’t part of the group”.

    That said, I think it’s important to build our vocabs so we can communicate more effectively. Jargon helps us express concepts pithily, and saves a lot of time, as long as everyone understands it of course.

  7. Thanks for posting this article. It is a great way to start reframing the discussion in a (more?) productive way. Wish I had thought of it myself!

  8. You know… while I appreciate the general topic – ‘try not to exclude people, the community is made up of lots of folks.’ The specific topic here I feel is a step or two out of sync with reality.

    People do need to do a better job of taking responsibility for their actions, this is absolutely true. However, people need to take responsibility for their reactions as well.

    Specifically, it is unrealistic to expect that everyone else will bend their behavior and speech so as to avoid disturbing another persons world view. This is a swing too far in the other direction.

    However, I reject the rephrasing outlined above for one very simple reason. It keeps the person who was offended in the ‘recipient’ role. “He acted creepy” is still an observation about something that ‘He’ was doing to you. You are still the ‘victim’ and this is a dangerous place to live mentally.

    As long as you accept things as being done to you, you will remain the victim, this is true of everyone, male or female. When you cannot separate someone’s action from your reaction, you are enslaved. When you can make that separation, when you can process the situation and then _act_ instead of simply reacting, you become powerful.

  9. @jayk BS. I call BS on your attempt at responsibility ju-jitsu. “I reject your attempts” to diminish the responsibility of the ACTOR in order to blame those affected: “It is unrealistic to expect that everyone”… is a cute little stunt that tries to take focus off the issue: says if you can’t fix the world perfectly, go off into your corner and fix yourself instead. Way to go, defending the status quo! (Not)

    The “reality you’re out of step with” is folks starting to get through the fog of a diffuse “offended” to actual concrete objectionable actions.

    Generally interesting reference: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

  10. @claude wrote:
    Rather than saying “I felt marginalized,” isn’t the proper response, “You marginalized women in your talk.” And, indeed, describing the actions works even with regard to offense. The proper response isn’t “I was offended,” but “Your talk was offensive.”

    The problem with rewording things this way is that it puts the other person on the defensive, and that’s rarely effective.

    There’s a type of feedback known as three-step or three-part feedback (I don’t remember exact name) that goes as follows:
    “When you (X), I feel (Y), because (Z).”
    This formula takes away the “you’re a bad person” from the equation and focuses on the specific action and its consequences, helps clarify so that both people are talking about the same thing, and, assuming the “actor” cares about those consequences, you can then work together on how to move forward in resolving things. (You can read more about three-part messages at http://ozarque.livejournal.com/109401.html?thread=1573721)

    So, for example, if I were using this to address a presenter who had soft-pr0n images in their slides, I might say something like:
    “when you use images of scantily-clad women in a conference presentation, I feel unwelcome, because it reinforces the message that women are only here as decoration not as colleagues.”

  11. @D’Gou: You seem to have missed the point. Blame is not the issue.

    Matt acted unprofessionally and was socially ignorant in this instance. There is no question here.

    The problem is that you have a role in how you respond to the issue, and directing blame is irrelevant. He chose how to act, there is no question as to who decided that.

    This is an interaction between two or more people. If you accept in a situation like this that someone is ‘doing something to you’, then you are a passive participant. If you recognize that this is someone behaving like a jackass and you can decide how to respond to it, then you have the power.

    If you stop at saying ‘he was being creepy’ and the implied ‘I was creeped out by it’ then you have gained nothing, and he has learned nothing. _THIS_ is what supports the status quo.

    People lie, they act ‘objectionably’ every day in hundreds of ways. Pretending that men don’t think of women sexually is lying to yourself. Saying _OUT LOUD_ that it is unacceptable in a public forum is not. I didn’t hear that anyone walked out or stood up and said anything in the moment.

    ‘Reacting’ by being bothered by it and blogging that “he’s a jerk” and “change how you talk” is all fine and good, but it doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

    This is a meta-discussion. Here’s the reality:

    Matt gave a presentation that included sexually oriented material when it didn’t need to.

    Many people didn’t like it, and sat there being ‘offended.’

    Matt is a person. No more powerful than you are unless you let him be. He doesn’t have control over your job. There is no reprisal for saying ‘this is not ok.’ This is not a demand for sexual favors in the workplace where refusal can mean you don’t eat next week. This is a person behaving badly in public.

    Stand up and say ‘This is not ok with me.’ If you can’t find within you that much respect for yourself, do you really expect others to do so?

    To be clear, I don’t in any way support what Matt did – I think he was being at best socially retarded. I also don’t support playing with how you talk in an attempt to place blame where it belongs. That is a head-game, nothing more.

    If you really want things to change then you need to have the courage to respond _in the moment_ that this behavior is unacceptable. The only way to do that is to short-circuit the knee-jerk offense / shame reaction and decide for yourself what is going to happen next.

    If you aren’t willing to do that, then you will continue to have things ‘happen to you.’ I don’t really believe that that is what you or anyone involved in this ‘discussion’ wants.

  12. @jayk

    When one adjusts the way they say something so that their message is most accurately received, it’s simply effective communication.

    Would we be encouraging presenters to weed out female audience members by including pornographic slides in their presentations if your proposal to walk gained widespread adoption? Unfortunately, I see it as an undesired possibility. Courageous or not, no one should have to choose between education and making a point.

  13. @jayk: I just thought I’d let you know that you are currently a passive victim of being scoffed at and regarded with contempt by many who read your statements.

    Oh look! Ridicule is “happening to you” whether you like it or not. *gasp!* Who’d have thought such a thing was possible?

    What, pray, are you going to do to win back your mojo? Will you complain? I shall simply taunt you a second time. Will you flounce?

    You suggest that loudly objecting to inappropriate behaviours in the heat of the moment is the ideal way to get all proactive and stuff. I put it to you that this is not effective or even possible in the majority of such situations. Even where it is possible, such expressions of objections will indubitably be re-cast by voices such as yours such that the fault lies with the complainant. We’ve heard plenty of “Not nice enough” comments, now you bring the “too nice” argument. Variety might be a good thing in many situations, but you’re still blaming the victim (and I use the term advisedly, though I know it will make your brain explode) which is why it is important that someone points out how laughable your “advice” is.

    Anyway, go on, tell us again how walking out of tech presentations which feature porn is going to be of benefit to those few who leave.

    But give me a moment to make some popcorn…

  14. @jayk

    You severely underestimate how socially unacceptable and personally difficult it is to call men out on behaviors that are integrated into society and not physically harmful. It’s one thing to yell “rape”, it’s another thing to yell “you are objectifying the female body and by doing so excluding me from this community!” For one thing, the first is understood by everyone and doesn’t take more words to explain. For another, finding all those words at the time of the event is difficult: you are feeling attacked, you are feeling uncomfortable, you are feeling uncomfortable being there. This is not a place that makes it easy to figure out how to explain to a room full of men why you are standing up and saying “please, stop, this is not acceptable”. I’d call out your claim that standing up in public is acceptable: it very much is not.

    For example, just yesterday I was discussing the issue of “men being too friendly” with a friend. We talked about how it is one of the most uncomfortable forms of sexism to experience as a woman, but it is also the most difficult to call out. How do I say to a man “please stop, you are talking to me too much?” I’ve had repeated experiences where (strange!) men would not leave me alone in semi-public spaces until I treated them in a manner that would get me labeled as a “bitch”. And then had other men validate that man’s behaviour and deride me for being rude. These were not professional situations; I’m not in the tech community, but I imagine standing up in the middle of a conference and calling out their sexism would get a lot of people talking behind your backs about what a “stuck-up, oversensitive bitch” you were.

    Please stop overestimating the ease of vocalizing these complicated issues, especially when in the midst of them. Please stop putting the burden of proof of sexism on women. Especially, please stop demanding that women stop sexism and take some agency. It doesn’t work. It never has. It never will. We can talk and talk and talk but until men start listening and talking as well, sexism is here to stay.

  15. @jacinta:

    Re: Ridicule of me, the interesting thing here is that I don’t care. I have both a sense of humor about myself as well as the knowledge that nothing you say/do has a material effect on my life. What you do has more effect on you than it does on me.

    My point in joining the conversation was simply to suggest that you change your part in those situations and to give some advice on how to not feel powerless. I have been ridiculed and I have been outnumbered substantially by those doing it. I feel somewhat sad that you feel like you need to resort to the same behavior you criticize in order to force people into your view of things.

    Ultimately, I was trying to help other people who it seemed to me were in pain and felt somewhat out of control. When it comes down to it, it’s down to you to decide what to do next. What you choose doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I will take my own advice in those situations, as I have in the past.

    re: Walking out – there are several effects, but the two most important are A) it sends a message to the person presenting that he or she upset some of the audience. B) You remove yourself from the victim role by leaving the situation. This has an affect on YOU and your state of mind.

    Or you can sit there being shamed, and talking about blame. Your call.

    It is my hope that someone gained something from my posts here. I do not, however, intend to return as it is clear to me now that this is less about what to do in the situation, and more is simply an expression of outrage. That is a conversation I’ve no interest in taking part in.

  16. also – To make clear, I did not mean that I felt ridiculed by those here. I meant that I have been in that situation at other times in my life.

    For those who are interested, after this conversation I stumbled on this link which covers pretty well what I was referring to about choosing your response and the effects thereof.

    http://aaph.org/node/214

  17. Skud, thanks for the suggested reframing.

    It’s tough for some people to really understand that social constructions are just as real as physical ones. I think this is kind of like how some nongeeks have a hard time understanding how complicated code is, how many layers are in the stacks, how it actually takes a lot of effort and thought and coordination to change something significant in the thought-stuff (as Brooks put it I think). “It’s just words!” Geeks should know that speech is an action, that words are how we make the world.

    I’m reminded of the literalism discussion from Geek Etiquette a few years ago. Someone who acts as though all communication is ab nihilo is simply going to miss a lot of important data. When a man, making a technically oriented presentation to a group of technology enthusiasts, uses words and pictures that demean women, he’s not doing that out of nowhere. He’s doing something that lots of guys have done before. There’s a momentum behind that recurring ritual, like the momentum of a flywheel, and it takes effort to stop it.

    This is all a way of responding to the “you’re *choosing* to take offense; take ‘control’ of the situation instead!” commenter, who implies that choosing to condemn exclusionary behavior via a public platform (such as a blog) is somehow less valid, and less likely to be effective, than refusing to witness the behavior.

    Part of how we construct and change our norms is by public shaming. This is nothing new to open source. And another principle in open source is that any design that makes lots of users go through some hacky workaround (“oh, everyone just ignores that bug”) is long overdue for rewrite.

  18. Great conversation & comments. If nothing else, “offended” is bad for its sheer vagueness. Being specific is almost always a good communication principle.

    “Marginalization” really is an accurate word for the most common problem, but it is indeed jargony. “Brushed off” and “sidelined” get across most of the idea.

  19. But if you leave, you are still a “victim”. Perhaps even moreso, because instead of enduring the bad parts and still getting some value out of the talk, you suddenly really are excluded from the community. Sexism has just made it so that you can’t participate in that corner at all. Sure, that means you don’t experience that specific distress any longer, but it’s, in the end, rather more limiting.

  20. @Jayk: Re: Ridicule of me, the interesting thing here is that I don’t care. I have both a sense of humor about myself as well as the knowledge that nothing you say/do has a material effect on my life. What you do has more effect on you than it does on me.

    That’s a privilege you have that women in the open source community do not share. You are absolutely right that nothing we say has a material effect on your life–unless you choose to allow it to, that is–but that is not the case for us. It’s fallacious to assume that it is.

    I’m going to whip out some more jargon here; this time from the conflict resolution community. In negotiations, both sides have what’s called a BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. If the negotiations completely go to pot, this is what each side has left over–what they don’t have to rely on the other side for.

    In the negotiation that is “how to make the open-source community more welcoming,” a male programmer’s BATNA is “nothing changes; the community remains just as open to me as it has always been, and I don’t have to step outside my comfort zone or admit culpability for the situation. A female programmer’s BATNAs are these: 1. Putting up with sexual harassment, belittlement, threats, disrespect, and violence, or 2. Leaving the community and finding another hobby.

    We do not have the privilege of ignoring the discussion until it goes away. We tried that already. Do you really think we’d waste our time on other methods if it was working?

    What you’re missing here, in your quest to convince us that we should just grow a thicker skin, is that your BATNA is nowhere near as good as the outcome of a successful conflict process. The outcome to that, as Skud laid out in her talk, is more open-source programmers. More bugfixes. More features. More projects. More mainstream acceptance.

    Your stronger BATNA in this negotiation–your power in the open-source community–means you can do a heck of a lot more to bring that positive outcome about that we can, but not if you lower the bar to where your BATNA’s at and refuse to let go of it. And that’s what you’re doing when you refuse to see the power differential.

  21. @jayk “My point in joining the conversation was simply to suggest that you change your part in those situations and to give some advice on how to not feel powerless.”

    Yes. We know. Women call this “mansplaining.” There’s a great discussion of it here:

    http://karenhealey.livejournal.com/781085.html

    Friends don’t let friends mansplain, so as a friendly gesture I am asking you to knock it off. In your own words, this is not okay. Skud _of all people_ doesn’t need your advice on how to react when men behave in patronising and dismissive ways! She’s really very good at keeping her temper and forging ahead, much better than, for example, me.

    Instead of offering not-very-well-informed and not-very-helpful advice, it would be really great if you could try listening to the experiences women are sharing here, and thinking about ways your own behaviour may have unintentionally excluded women from participation. Or not, if you’d prefer not to; our reactions to these kinds of challenges are, as you point out, entirely up to us.

    Please don’t think we sit around feeling bad about the CouchDB presentation all the time, though. Typically when that sort of thing happens we get mad, talk about it furiously on IM and Twitter, find a way to laugh about it and then go off and do something more interesting and productive, like hacking Dreamwidth or reading a good book.

  22. Awesome follow-ups!
    Don’t have anything specific to add since its been said better than I’d’ve articulated.
    Thanks esp. to Kirrily since I bet there has been a lot more going on about this in private email. Thank you for providing (yet another :( ) forum for this discussion.

  23. Actually, If you read what I said instead of the various words put in my mouth you will see… it’s not ‘mansplaining’ or whatever convenient tag you want to put on it.

    What it is is someone (me) saying ‘That’s crap and I wouldn’t put up with it’ and ‘don’t just sit back and let it happen, or they’ll think they can get away with it again.’

    And many people saying “we can’t speak up because if we do we’ll be called a ‘bitch’ or we’ll miss out on the good stuff Matt had to share.”

    Well, adjust phrasing however you like, but that’s a choice you are making…. A judgment call that YOU made that staying in Matt’s talk is worth more to you than your ideal of being treated fairly and with respect.

    People light themselves on fire, go on hunger strikes and stand in front of tanks for their ideals. They judged their ideal to be worth the risk and the possible reprisals.

    All your emailing, IMing and Twittering means nothing to anyone but you if it remains unsaid directly to the people who did whatever it was.

    Calling up the group responsible for the conference and giving them an earful about how unacceptable this presentation was _will_ have an effect. It will if nothing else make that person think twice about letting something like that into the next one for fear of getting another call like that.

    All I’m saying is what you are doing and saying doesn’t match what you say your goal is. Re-read the comment thread for yourself and see.

    You obviously can and will think whatever you like about me and my motives. But I challenge you to ask yourself this question… What exactly is going to be different the next time someone puts half of a woman in a bikini in a slideshow? What are _you_ going to do differently?

    Is what you are doing in response to this incident going to reduce the likely-hood, even a little, that it will happen again? If not, doesn’t it warrant thinking about a change in your tactics?

  24. More to the point, jayk: the next time someone puts half a woman in a bikini in his slideshow, are you going to light yourself on fire?

  25. @jayk Did you see the second post in this thread?

    “Thanks Kirrily for this blog post. I wish I would have received this advise earlier, I would have more than certainly said:
    “It genuinely was not my intention to marginalize or exclude anyone from my talk or from the Ruby community, nor to make them feel uncomfortable.”

    Hopefully my mistake will help others.

    - Matt”

    Based on this gracious and welcome apology from the speaker concerned, I would venture to suggest that Skud’s words and actions have already reduced the likelihood that this incident will happen again.

    Since what she is doing and saying is directly achieving her goals, how (and why) do you suggest she should change her tactics?

  26. @jayk: Why, precisely, is it our job to change the OS community?

    Right now, I’ve got a novel to write, a motorcycle to tune up, a wedding to plan, a faith community to keep organized, and, oh, a day job. I don’t have to light myself on fire. I just have to go leather up and take a ride instead of volunteering with people who don’t treat me with respect.

    When we tell the OS community what it is you’re doing that’s keeping women and minorities from contributing–including, btw, telling us it’s our responsibility to call people on their porn instead of doing it yourself–we are not doing it for us. We’ve got a million other things we could be doing with our time. We’re doing it for you. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we’re telling you how to make your community bigger and more productive.

    If you don’t want a better and more productive community, or if it’s just not worth it to you if it means you have to do the work of building it (and you do have to do the work, because you’re the one with commit privileges to the social code here, not us), well, that’s your loss, not mine. I can always just go play somewhere else.

    The question isn’t what we’re going to do to change you. The question is, what are you going to do to deserve us?

  27. @Claude: I was going to point out that it’s more helpful to say “I felt Y” than “You did X”, but Anna beat me to it. As Anna said, the latter puts people on the defensive.

    @Anna: “When you mention three-part responses, I feel happy, because they are useful.”

  28. @ jayk

    Nice flounce!

    Oh wait! He’s back to reiterate that the solution to the problem of women in FOSS projects being marginalised to the point where they leave is for them to complain loudly at every transgression, (getting themselves still more marginalised) then leave!

    Oh rejoice, everyone! It’s so childishly simple! Why did nobody see this before? *facepalm*

    The fact of the matter is that there is no simple fix.

    Change can be wrought, but it takes hard, exasperating work on the part of the people who are noble and devoted enough to speak up. They know they will cop the “too rude” slings and “too nice” arrows from well meaning but inadequately informed people who imagine that they have superior insight into the matter.

    You see, as soon as one person stands up in a conference hall, points at the projected image of nearly naked and provocatively posed women on the screen and says “That’s not cool!” they make themselves a target.

    If they are a male, their “manliness” will be called into question. If they are female, they will be called over-sensitive, frigid, unreasonably angry and most likely they will be chided for “not being a good sport”. (Please bear in mind that being a “good sport” is easier when you are not the ball.)

    Anyway, I suggest that you re-read the whole thread before offering more sage advice. Genuine good will is cool. Assumptions that this is some new problem that someone can swoop in and fix are tiresome.

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  30. I dislike the word “offended.” It doesn’t really mean much to me outside of a personal context. I’ve been asked “were you offended by RMS?” The answer is “offended? No. I’d be offended if he walked up and told me I was stupid and ugly. Do I feel invisible and unwanted? Yes.” If I was there during a porny presentation, I wouldn’t be offended, I would just feel like the speaker didn’t want me there or consider me part of his community.

    And believe me, there’ve been times on IRC I’ve been quite glad to be able to say “I’m not part of this community” because the people in those channels were such jerks.

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  32. Why not try something more direct like:

    “Do that again and I’ll rip your balls of you sad little turd.”

    Transgression is often prevented by the threath of sanction.

    -s-

  33. This is awesome, I have so much to learn. I get mad, I want to beat people up, and rage in person is often effective, especially against bigger, stronger dweebs. At times looking ferocious and scorched-earth-ish has served me well :) But online it’s a different game, she who loses her cool loses.

    I feel like I have found a useful school :)

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