The game of trying to determine "who is the guilty sexist"
is tiresome. We all say and do mildly sexist things from
time to time. I do, you do, women do. Moreover I do not care
about Mark Shuttleworth in any
capacity other than as an illustration of the
systemic bias in this community. You seem to
understand systemic bias at least as far as language use,
but you seem to think it stops there, that a little
gender-biased language isn't worth getting enraged over.
Unfortunately it doesn't stop there.
It's actually just indicative of much deeper biasing.
Look at any of the numerous threads that have come
out of incidents like this. Look at the discussion. it's 100x
worse than the initial gaffe. What starts as a matter of
language bias (or, well, in some cases uglier concerns such
as pornographic slides) rapidly descends into outright
You have men of this community
claiming women have developmental, genetic, psychological,
spiritual or otherwise innate inferiority in technical
tasks. Men insulting women's appearance, sexuality,
intelligence, sense of humor and honesty. Men threatening
women with harassment and assault.
Men cracking jokes about male domination and male privilege.
Men telling anyone who dares take issue with any of this to
shut up, go away, drop dead.
You do not get to decide via some courtroom logic whether a
statement is "ok" or not. There is no point examining the
circumstances to tease a plausibly non-biasing meaning out
of it. This
is an even more tiresome game. Those statements made --
made -- people feel another shove of bias in an
already systemically-biased environment. They make me
that. Any time I'm in the room and someone talks about
"software so simple their girlfriend could use it" and
"simple enough for Aunt Tillie", or "coding like a rockstar"
and "manning up", or any of the horrendously biased
statements made in the now-numerous threads about this topic
elsewhere. Those reinforce the bias. I feel it. Enough
people feel it to be talking about it. Deal with that fact,
don't tell us how we feel.
It doesn't matter what was intended in Shuttleworth's case.
Intention is not effect. When you intend to make
a funny joke and nobody laughs, do you try to argue your
audience into laughing? When you intend to ship an appealing
product and nobody buys it, do you try to argue your market
You do not get to argue someone out of their feeling, their
response. You might not care, that's your choice. But if
you care, the habits of
speech and conduct need to change. More than that, the
underlying attitudes revealed in the ensuing conversations
need to change. If you don't care, your
loss. Continue to lose most of the women and a chunk of the
men who are
too annoyed to stay.