28 Oct 2011 chalst   » (Master)

Feeding the backstabbers
mjg59 wrote about how his experience of talking about the Linux experience to the Linux community differed from someone else.

He cited an HN thread, Female FOSS dev quits tech industry due to harassment, and in particular this post from jxcole: I was going to start a rant about how this behavior is encouraged by the macho men online, but this was just one guy harassing her. "Due to harassment" reads as due to harassment from the community, but she gave in to one idiot. She let him win.

I answered as follows:
Well, I kind of agree with this in part, but it is often trotted out as a reason why it's the victim's fault. Let's see what's badly wrong with it by looking at things another way.

Standing up for what is right is not something that we weaker mortals should leave to the heroes. We have a breaking point, a point above which we can't take it. That does not mean we should not take risks to do what we find right. You should not be "disappointed" with the victim, but supportive, and we should be encouraging others to take these risks to do what is right as well. The more of us there are, the we achieve.

On a more general point, be aware that if you regard yourself as supportive of women in free software and on their side, but you are vocally undermining of said women when they face this sort of shit, be aware that you are a fair-weather friend and some sort of a backstabber.

Since I'm on the subject, let me plug Skud's long post, On being harassed: a little GF history and some current events.

Despite the event that lies behind this post, I'm more optimistic than I was a year or so ago that the free software community can sort itself out on this one, since the fair-weather friends do seem to sometimes be a bit more aware that there might be something wrong with their behaviour. Skud deserves special praise for her efforts that have made a positive difference, as does Matthew Garrett. who I suspect will not find himself unable to continue with free software.

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