Original URL: http://asherwolf.com/dear-hacker-community-we-need-to-talk/101/

Dear Hacker Community – We Need To Talk.

Some parts of this article deal with misogyny, sexism, and harassment, while other aspects of it respond to experiences of down-right douche-baggery. It doesn’t apply to all of you, but a number of you engage in it and many of you are bystanders.

I know a lot the community doesn’t want to talk about this stuff. I know I didn’t personally try to build a bridge between wannabe-crypto-users and hackers so I could deal with shitful sexism, misogyny and down-right crappy behavior.

I know most people would rather just delete a sexist webpage or image, apologize for the offensive comment, or shitty behavior and move on. Again.

But things aren’t changing for the better. And pasting anti-harassment rules on conference wikis doesn’t seem to be making a dent in obviously unacceptable behavior of some arseholes.

Yes, of course, there are arseholes in all communities. But some communities make sexists, misogynists, harassers and general arseholes truly unwelcome.

Unfortunately, the hacker community seems to flounder at making progress in the area of human relations.

"We’re trying!"

Yeah, I hear you, but it’s not good enough. Not good enough by far.

Inequality doesn’t just spring up without a context. And women don’t just opt out of hacking and hacker communities because of the tired rhetoric "maths and hacking is boys’ business."

No, women stay the hell away from hacker-spaces, conferences and tech initiatives because of on-going experiences of misogyny, abuse, threats, put downs, belittlement, harassment, rape.

Last infosec conference I went to – there was six females and over 1000 males in attendance. My female friend roped me into pretending I was her lesbian lover, simply to get a guy to let-the-fuck-go of her hand.

"Oh, I’ve never experienced misogyny at a hacker conference", says someone.

Well great for you. Many of us have. Including myself.

So much, that last night, I quit as an organizer of Cryptoparty.

It was an initiative I cared about and was deeply involved with setting up.

And yes, after I quit I said "fuck" a whole lot, and cried an ocean, then packed my son the toddler off to my mother’s house for the night and got profoundly drunk.

And now I’m ready to talk about the arse-hattery that basically broke me over the last few months.

I’m not some wall-flower or "pearl-clutching" provoker of needless moral outrage.

As a teenager I lived in youth refuges and on the streets. I’m unwilling to put up with bullshit

I have no problem fighting back. I’m not scared of speaking up either.

So what went wrong?

Cryptoparty was created one very boring evening, in a very open and inclusive conversation on Twitter, a little over four months ago.

I thought if the gap between cryptographers, hackers and users could be bridged, perhaps some activists would have a chance at scaling back aspects of surveillance. If we could teach people how to use crypto – we could maybe begin to organize without surveillance.

I paid a friend to set up a wiki and Cryptoparty was born. Decentralised, DIY, psuedo-leadership. All the catchy keywords. It felt exciting. It took off. People were drawn to the concept. Beer, chips, party.

And it seemed so easy to set up a Cryptoparty. The only requirement was a venue, and people willing to learn.

My rule was "counter negative criticism with unbearably nice optimism." Anyone who whinged about something was asked to fix it themselves. A "do-ocracy" supposedly.

As soon as the Cryptoparty wiki went online I asked that an anti-harassment statement be included, much to the expressed chagrin of some men. They said it wasn’t necessary. They said they’d help deal with harassment personally, if it happened (by the way – they didn’t.)

Later on, it was one of those same men who’d been so resistant to the idea of an anti-harassment declaration on the wiki – who participated in bullying and talking down to me.

Meanwhile, Cryptoparties were springing up around the world faster than I could keep track.

Anyway, at some point I broke – something in me broke or something broke me.

There were lots of little things, piling on me day by day. But let me try to explain the events of the last four months a little for the readers at home.

Here goes…

A number of Cyptoparty organizers regularly talked down to me when I questioned their choices, suggested I wasn’t qualified to comment on their actions.

And then they left me to face public scrutiny when the shit hit the fan over their stupid, unilateral decisions:

Some examples:

"We’re writing a Cryptoparty manual, it’ll be crowd-sourced by a limited group over four days…"
(What? When were they planning to run the peer review before publication? Never?)

"Ohai, I’m running a Cryptoparty at Google and Mozilla."
(Cryptoparty is supposedly commercially non-affiliated and non-profit. Allowing it to be hosted at Google and Mozilla raised a number of issues that were never addressed.)

"Our Cryptoparty has a "no-laptop" rule, to keep users safe."
(Great, fabulous, and how were you planning to help new-comers learn to install crypto-tools?)

"We ran a Cryptoparty with @OpenISP in Tunisia with a real-name policy, funded by USAID."
(What the holy fuck!? @*#*@$&*!!!!!!!!)

You get the picture?

When I communicated about concerns and issues – as well as complaints from Cryptoparty participants peeved with out-of-touch crypto-lecturers who wanted to teach command lines to crypto-newcomers – I got put downs, got brushed off, ignored, told "oh don’t worry, we’ll look after it, it won’t be a problem", "don’t worry your head about it", or aggravatingly – told that I wasn’t qualified to judge their choices as I wasn’t a crypto-expert or a hacker.

And I got told to quit. Quite a bit, actually.

And then I got emails telling me to stick to motherhood and tweeting.

When I criticised @RT_Com for airing a segment on Cryptoparty that promoted CryptoCat (an insecure host-based security tool, not a core tool taught at Cryptoparties) – Cryptocat’s founder, Nadim Kobeissi responded:

I think I may have told him to go bite me.

Eventually we both apologized for niceties sake, but damage done.

I also copped flack for the technically inaccurate aspects of the Cryptoparty manual, despite not having worked on the technical aspects of the book and having suggested to the book’s organizers that the project’s time-frame was too short.

When the issue of technical flaws in the Cryptoparty Manual took off on the LiberationTech email-list I responded: "I didn’t work on the technical aspects of the book. I can’t. I don’t have the right skill set."

Jacob Appelbaum responded:

"I believe that you are totally able to learn and I think that it is very demoralizing when people say they are *unable* or *unwilling* to learn."

Jacob continued: "That isn’t to say that you will become a developer of cryptographic protocols."

Appelbaum’s charming treatise finished with a flourish: "It is to say that many people will need to make choices about security and trusting a vanguard is dangerous. We’re always trusting someone and I realize that reality. I didn’t write my own compiler to compile my email client before sending this email with hand crafted electrons… However the high level view of most of this stuff is well within the grasp of each person – it just requires an interest and *educational resources* that empowers *all people* to learn."

My response:

"Wait, I’m just trying to remember when I last slept more than 4 hours in a night while trying to educate myself.
I’ve gone from being a Facebook user to running OTR, PGP and Tor all in under a month. Note: I’m a sole parent, without access to child support, no childcare and trying to support myself, my son, put myself through postgraduate studies and contribute to social movements."

I should point out, Jacob was invited to speak at the first Cryptoparty. He asked me to use PrivateGSM, which I found impossible to install on my phone. 48 hours without sleep, and finally I managed to get it working on a friend’s phone. Hours before the Cryptoparty, Jacob let me know he had yet to install it himself. And then a couple hours later, he messaged to pullout entirely.

Yes, I’m sure he was very busy.

The idea behind Cryptoparty had always been about building a bridge between the crypto-community and new-comers, but increasingly I felt locked-out.

Multiple Cryptoparty IRC channels were created and the people creating them didn’t inform the general public about them, and didn’t add them to the wiki. Some of the servers they placed the IRC channels for Cryptoparties on were almost impossible to access.

One day I made it into one of the Cryptoparty IRC rooms – under a different handle than usual – and watched.

I watched a bunch of male Cryptoparty organisers talking about me – about how I knew nothing about crypto (well, that much was true, but the point had always been to build an educational bridge) and that "real hackers" should be the face of Cryptoparty, not a "mommy-type."

Mommy-type. As if having a uterus made me ineligible. But I said nothing. I let it slide, for the sake of keeping the peace. I was trying to be "nice." But I should have said something at the time.

Instead, I decided to drop back a bit from organising Cryptoparties, focus on getting a personal website set up instead.

An organizer from a Cryptoparty in London offered to make me a website, said it’d cost $700. Said it’d only take weeks. I was foolish, I handed the money over, emailed him the links I wanted uploaded and waited. And waited…

When my "web-developer" got in contact next it was to tell me he’d gone on holidays and had presented Cryptoparty at the European Commission’s "No Disconnect" meeting. He hadn’t discussed it with me before-hand. I still have no idea what representations he made to the E.C. about Cryptoparty. He never reported his talk with the E.C. to the Cryptoparty wiki.

When I tried to discuss how the issue, he /rage-quit the conversation.

Oh, and he *still* hadn’t done any work on the website either…

(Thanks to @selfagency for creating this website voluntarily and free of charge – it’s appreciated.)

Eventually, a number of friends encouraged me to apply to speak at 29c3 about Cryptoparty. My family offered childcare, on the sole condition I gained a speaker spot at 29c3.

At AUS$3k for a return flight to Europe, affording an airfare would have required me to do some serious crowd-funding – an idea I hated – but was willing to do for the sake of the chance to visit 29c3. It would have been my first holiday since 2008.

In the background of my application to speak at 29c3 was the fact a Sydney-based male Cryptoparty organiser had already posted in an application to speak at 29c3…

In an attempt to bridge the issue, I invited the 29c3 application to be crowd-sourced and agreed to make the talk into a panel – including the individual who had originally put in an application. He sat in on the crowd-sourced process of writing of the application, contributing nothing except criticism to anything I wrote for hours.

He didn’t actually contribute any text himself.

Later, he texted to say he thought he may have a "bit of an ego issue."

29c3 got in contact, asked if I was willing to take some people off the application for the panel. I felt unable to, under pressure to yield to everyone. The application for a Cryptoparty panel at 29c3 was rejected.

Rejection always sucks, but what really rubbed my nose in it was knowing a group of guys who had treated me like crap, who put me down, talked down to me, criticized and belittled me for months… were heading off to 29c3 and running a Cryptoparty workshop – as opposed to the panel I’d applied for – without me.

And so finally, the last few days…

Watching Jacob Appelbaum on stage talking about the fight against the surveillance state via a glitchy live-stream.

Watching the guy who spent hours criticizing a compromised, crowd-sourced application to 29c3 tweet about how he was on his way to the conference – oh boy!

And watching the person I paid $700 to create a website *months* ago tweet he’d be at 29c3… and how he was looking forward to hanging out with the guy who criticised the Cryptoparty 29c3 application non-stop too (wheeee!)

And no, the "web-developer" still hasn’t built me a website or paid me back.

So by the time 29c3 properly got underway, my nose was more than a little out of joint.

And I stopped sleeping properly.

I reached peak rage as the ‘Creeper Card’ issue unfolded at 29c3. You might have read about the cards, if you were watching the 29c3 twitter stream.

The ‘Creeper Cards’ (http://singlevoice.net/redyellow-card-project/) originated at DefCon in 2011.

Red cards supposedly represented unacceptable behavior.

At 29C3, someone took a bunch of the ‘Creeper Cards’ and made them into a statement all of their own. An image of a headless female body.

The ‘Creeper Cards’ were ripe for send-up. Let’s face it: the hacker community has begun to rely upon ouiji board-style methods often utilized by individuals with profound communication impairment.

The headless ‘Creeper Card’ female body image is one hell of a statement. It’s implied message: creeps will exist, where-ever and when-ever and despite the initiatives you take, your efforts will be subverted, and all your efforts will be subjugated to place the focus back on your body, your gender…

And I’m sure, if it wasn’t for the fact I was incredibly pissed off about how I’ve been treated by some elements of the hacker community, then maybe I would have found some aspect of the ‘Creeper Card’ image funny. Maybe.

I didn’t.

Instead, when I saw the Headless Female ‘Creeper Card’ image I blacked out with pure rage for more than a few seconds.

And then I publicly railed, in unholy unrestrained outrage for all the ways I had lost my faith in members of the hacker community over the last few months.

I quit Cryptoparty publicly, live on twitter, raging against the slimedom I’d encountered over the last four months.

And then I watched as twitter-users pounded me for the "drama" I’d "caused", for being a potential "lolcow" for having an emotion, rather than just sweetly tweeting the news like a respectable automation.

Journalist Quinn Norton, responding to my decision to quit Cryptoparty wrote: "You know who is worse than hacker culture and really really doesn’t give a shit? The people we need to use crypto against."

If the hacker community truly has no respect for the values flushed away by regimes who seek to crack crypto – and no will to fight harassment, discrimination and douchebaggery – then frankly we might as well give up and join the storm-troopers.

I didn’t create Cryptoparty just so a bunch of privileged white boys could exclusively hang out together, slurping down ClubMate while trying to figure out how to anonymously use BitCoin to buy Aderall off SilkRoad.

You shouldn’t need a red card wagged in your face to let you know your behavior is shitful.

Yes, it’s all so very well-meaning, but ultimately "Creeper Cards" are like all other responses so far in most parts of geek community – bullshit tokenism.

For the most part, the study of human relations within hacker culture is marginalised (except of course, the realm of social engineering and scholarly endeavours.)

Human relations issues such as discrimination and harassment are relegated to informal talks, given no space on the main stage – and anti-harassment statements are tacked-on, ignored on most conference websites.

After I quit Cryptoparty people responded I had to stay, had to take responsibility for changing the culture of the community.

I was beyond tact. I howled "fuck you" back at them repeatedly. I was sick to death of being constantly requested to fix other people’s shitty behavior.

I tried to build bridges and at the end of the day was left with the mockery of an option to flap little pieces of red fucking card in the air – and my public howl in despair at the absolute wankery I’d experienced over the last few months.

So you still want an solution to the issue of douchebaggery in hacker-spaces? Really?

Ok. Start by talking about it physically, formally in public spaces. Not just online, on wikis and in small working-groups or in informal talks run by feminists.

In workplaces around the world, human relations departments trot their workforces off to anti-discrimination workshops on a regular basis.

Human Relations departments do it because they know the cost of not formally addressing harassment and discrimination impacts upon the workplace, both in terms of productivity and culture.

I’m not suggesting we send the global hacker community off to a H.R. anti-discrimination/anti-harassment training session (though it probably wouldn’t hurt.)

But if you’re serious about dealing with discrimination and harassment – put it as a topic on the main-stage. I really mean it.

Put the anti-harassment policy as an opening statement at your hacker or infosec conference. Chose a "thought leader" to open the conference each year who will be willing to engage the topic of community standards, even for a few minutes.

Would 10 minutes at the start of a conference explaining anti-discrimination policy and acceptable conduct really infringe on anyone’s "fun"?

It won’t change the culture of asshattery over-night, but it will begin a conversation that’s needed – far more necessary than another article or blog post like this, or more red-card waving in the wind.

Is it selfish for me to quit Cryptoparty? Probably. But I believe Cryptoparty will survive without me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find another way to get my message across that the culture has to change without walking away, at least for now.

And it is also self-preservation. I couldn’t stand another second of the crap I went through over the last 4 months.

So many of you are fucking bystanders, and my respect for you has gone down the toilet over the last few months. You knew what I went through. And you said nothing. Go to hell.

You’ll drink Club-Mate in your hackerspaces and tinker with stuff.

I’ll go back to child-rearing and tweeting in the lull while the toddler is occupied and amused…for now.

We’ll see what the future brings.

Comments

85 Comments

  1. JohnO
    December 29, 2012

    Good for you. Sounds like you absolutely made the right choice. Fuck the privileged white men who only know what they know because their privilege allowed them that possibility.

  2. December 29, 2012

    butthurd!?

  3. Marén
    December 29, 2012

    Kudos!

  4. tweet snipe
    December 29, 2012

    Damn! I am also a woman in the computer/business community faced same shit. But isn’t this shit some of the behavior anonymous is fighting against? Fuck those guys, start a womens only CryptoParty. Women are smarter, work better in a team environment and are tougher than these douche pussies.

  5. Agapevitae
    December 29, 2012

    I’m so sorry for all this crap. I never participated in any crypto-events, my brain sucks at that sort of thing. Regardless, I’ve been a-twittering for a few years & although I don’t know you your avatar has always been a most welcome one in a sea of ppl that come and go, complain while going bandwagon-ity. I’m not pulling any goofy consolation pity here…honestly, the opposite. I knew the hacker-crypto was spawn from puerile angry-nerdness, was under false impression most of the boys had grown up, or learned to hide their shitty disposition. Trying to keep my anger in check…ooo, alright, FUCK EM.
    You have honor. They’re bad peoples.

  6. karwalski
    December 29, 2012

    Well said

    “We need more Asher Wolf’s in the World” ~ Thomas Drake at 29c3

  7. December 29, 2012

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been avoiding the crypto scene for months precisely because of this behavior, and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t work in this space anymore. I didn’t know of all of the harassment you’ve faced recently; I’m sorry you had to go through all of this. Unfortunately I don’t know how to change the behavior of today’s developers; I only hope we can encourage better behavior in the upcoming generations. And while I am all for open, public discussion of crypto in theory, in practice these discussions tend to degenerate into horrible situations of harassment based on gender, sex, or knowledge. Perhaps, then, what is need is a tactical move of closed, safe sub-communities, at least until the rest of the community has matured enough to have discussions without harassment.

  8. eldon
    December 29, 2012

    thanks for writing all this up – and sorry to hear that all this has come down on your head. many men tell me that sexism no longer exists. ahh, walk a mile in my shoes, i want to tell them. why, women are now allowed to wear whatever they want for example, low-cut dresses, short-cut shorts. great! strut your stuff baby. etc. that’s liberation for you.
    even when ppl cannot see what you are wearing tho, the treatment one gets online is always undermining in some way – as soon as the guys find out you are female… mostly, it’s just ignorance. and i mean, one’s opinions are merely ignored, if not the other meaning of misunderstood.

    i attended 2 sydney crypto-parties. there were other women there, they kept quiet – except at the second one i attended (the third one) one of the women presented. it was good, it was for the newbies, but it was content-full. the guys there running the show were knowledgeable and spoke well. one of them seems to be someone sympatico… in every respect, not an ego-burdened person at all. my advice (in life) is to seek out such ppl..

    and, i joined the pirate party au as a mark of solidarity, but sorry to say, party politics there seems like another version of a boys’ club again. OK, i will pay my dues, but i cannot participate – since i am not a hacker myself. and i hope that is really the only prejudicial thing – if women spent most of their time poring over manuals and trying to write code, i hope they’d be able to gain some sort of respect. but it’s a long road. not just for individuals, but for the community in general.
    i hope you regain the strength to keep walking it.
    best wishes.

  9. @lovexanon
    December 29, 2012

    (twitter @LovexAnn) As a fellow female, we both know how hard it is, in Every aspect. Either its we’re expected to play June Cleaver bc we have tits, to giving into our mens expectations bc we don’t wanna hurt der wittle feewings. But to you, an accomplished woman who got the oppertunity to learn comp language? I say Buck up & Buck out! Yes it’ll be hard, but legends are MADE, not simply born. You’re right on the edge, my darlin! I say #opCreepCard, female geek-speakers unite & show these sexist fucktards that this isn’t the past where maybe it was true that women didn’t get involved w comps, but that this is the here & now where we can be better than they! Polish up your balls ladies, we have a date w destiny!

  10. Bobo_PK
    December 29, 2012

    I don’t know if that might help to change your feelings but the creepercards in the first instance were used to build a penis. Then someone added the female body. Childish, inapropriate but both genders could/should be pissed. I shot this picture at night 0. http://i.imagebanana.com/img/eu2mnkew/DSC00099.JPG

  11. NubsPeace
    December 29, 2012

    I wasn’t aware of all this happening…but i am aware you are a much welcome and needed member of any/all social movements or the like. <3 :)

  12. December 29, 2012

    Dear Asher,

    I’m sorry to hear that this happens at crypto parties, too. I normally don’t go to conferences for my own reasons (I wont talk about those), so I only know how feministic positions are attacked online. And that can be quite heavyhanded.

    And yes, let’s call it feminism. There are many people who don’t want to hear that word. They think “gender” or “post-gender” sounds better. But the reality is, that women are the ones who face problems at the places where people want “post-gender”. And in a world where women earn much less money when doing the same work as men, feminism and not gender-foo is still the main fight.

    I did not find out yet, why that strikes back more and more. Maybe I just see it more and more. I don’t know. But I have the feeling that attacking feministic positions became more and more mainstream over the last few years. Just as “politically correct” came under attack. And people stand with strong emotions behind their attacks – emotions I can’t fully understand, but which make it very hard for me to deal with them.

    Maybe the feministic consensus in political communication (“naturally women must have the same rights”) made feministic groups dissolve, because people thought the goal had been reached, when public media had stopped being openly discriminating. Or had just failed at finding new people, because the problems were now addressed by official policy, so no one had to become active personally anymore.

    For some reason the same old kinds of assholes who don’t want to care about feelings of others managed to get into representative positions again. And that costs us momentum we need to fight against rich bastards who want to oppress all people…

    So thank you for speaking up!

    I don’t know how much that will change right away, but it is a push to stronger awareness. And it shocked me into not only redenting the link, but actually blogging about it.

    That’s still not public speaking, since as I said I don’t go to hacker meetings, but it is more than I did the last two times I read about harassment of women at hacker meetings. So at least on me, you had an effect. And maybe I can help a little, that more others realize the problem, too. Maybe some who do go to conferences and can make a difference there.

    Best wishes,
    Arne

  13. anon
    December 29, 2012

    Hi,

    I am beginning to have vision problems. I wanted to read your site, but the enormous contrast, and what appears to be gradients is playing havoc with my eyesight.

    I would say that in what I read of your post (up to the cryptocat portion) you have not connected your experiences to “the hacker community”, and I take offense at your doing so, without providing any evidence this was a problem of the wider hacker community, and not a problem of the people you associate with.

    You also state many claims that I wonder about. Do you have metrics to show the problem is getting worse? If not, on what basis do you make that claim?

    Thank you, and please consider creating a design for your blog that is more welcoming to people with failing eyes.

  14. December 29, 2012

    To call this a good post would not do justice; not only was it gut wrenching and angering, but it made me think deeply about the way I perceive interactions. The example you gave of the defcon creeper cards was astounding, seeing that construction, I fear I would have laughed it off or merely attributed it to bad taste, I hope in the future I have the bravery to rip such displays of shittiness down.

    Thanks for telling your story, the more we boys hear, the more we may bridge the gender gap.

  15. lotus
    December 29, 2012

    After reading all that, you know what it says to me?

    It says that you created something that outgrew your ability to micromanage every facet of it (welcome to the real world, where herding cats is as good as it gets), got incredibly, outwardly frustrated at that and took it personally when people tried to tell you to chill out before you burn out, and then, after seeing someone quite rightly and publicly showing up those creeper card things to be the ridiculous and insulting misandrist bullshit that they are, you just decided to officially pull the old misogyny card and rage quite cryptoparty in a blaze of glory whilst doing as much damage to the movements’ reputation as you possibly can with this blogpost, attempting to destroy your OWN CREATION on the way out. For what? Spite? They guy who said that more level heads are needed was right. You did such an incredible thing and then pulled this……..tantrum, because you dont get to be the queen of it all any more, or at least not recognised as such?

    Feminism has so, so much to answer for. It has looped right the fuck around and now holds women back, unfortunately. You want people to see you as a strong independent and resourceful woman, when you should be aiming for people to see you as a strong independent and resourceful person. Fuck, they might indeed do that if youd just let them, without pulling the I HAVE A VAGINA AND A KID GIVE ME SLACK card.

    The kicker to this post that might just blow your mind given the fragile state you appear to be in right now? Believe it or not, whatever, but im female. Youve just gone ahead and assumed this is written by a guy up until now, amirite? But more than that, im a person. I identify as a person, a human being first, and a female after that. What respect i receive (and i do) from the people in my life, male or female, i earned by being an overall worthwhile person, not received by default just because i have a vagina. And the ones that dont respect me for the person i am, i pay far, far less mind to them than you do to those you feel dont respect you. Especially the few that have something against me just for being female, when i happen across those people they barely register in my concious mind. Because the mind is good at filtering out unimportant things.

    Im not a feminist, im a humanist and an egalitarian. If you try it some time you might be surprised at how people respond to you. Right now id bet many men are awkward as fuck around you because maybe theyre thinking “shit what if she one of those women that hand out those red fucking cards…….”

  16. December 29, 2012

    The creeper cards, the “mommy-type” talk – that sounds so awful! I really feel ashamed for the hacker community, I do. I hope that you will not give up on us and eventually come back to get involved to some degree (however much you want). While I try to think about ways women might feel awkward and unwelcome in my community and prevent that, I’m afraid the real way out of this is getting to the critical mass of woman participation; my hope is that if we are learning about the issues more and more often, it might mean that hackers aren’t growing more mysoginic but that more women are participating and hopefully the tide will turn, sooner or later. I just pray none of the stories takes any really tragic turn.

    I think you would get your point across much better if you separated the sexism and other inter-personal issues in the cryptoparty community, though. I understand that you are hurt, and I have had my share of issues, disagreements, disappointments in communities like this, so maybe at least a little I know how angry and disappointed you must feel. Maybe gender issues are part of the trouble, but it does not come across like that in your writeup. So the feedback of many of my friends on this article is rather negative, because in regards to most of the issues described, they seem as something that could happen to any (or most) men as well.

  17. December 29, 2012

    I like the recommendation for each hacker conference to begin with a call for gender equality & diversity, much like the tradition of a ‘welcome to country’ in Aus – also having a recognised leader in the community push forward recommendations to help balance the developer community is a great one. Highlight the action points in your post, the rant is great, but the recommendations are the gems. Many thanks. Also for other great recommendations and practical steps see: http://www.ncwit.org/

  18. david
    December 29, 2012

    Dear Asher,
    I am a man, and a hacker, and though I was not at this particular party, I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed that you had to deal with it. Men suck. Not all men, I know. And even some of us who have sucked really hard in the past (maybe I’ll see you some time in the future and tell you about that, but I will have to work up some real bravery) but are working our asses off to change still suck sometimes.

    I’m sorry. I apologize for any part I may have had by not speaking out before. I apologize for not speaking out in public about how truly evil this is. Makes me ashamed to be a man, and ashamed to be a hacker. I promise, I will speak up.

    Thanks.

  19. Tom
    December 29, 2012

    ” I didn’t create Cryptoparty just so a bunch of privileged white boys could..”

    Why bring race into this?

    People of any race can be arse holes, why discriminate against one?

  20. December 29, 2012

    @anon: requiring metrics and complaining about unrelated stuff¹ is part of the problem. You get a story of personal experience and you want metrics? If you can’t accept personal experience, go and get the metrics yourself.

    ¹: If you can’t read the blog, then just copy the text into a text editor. Or open the page in w3m or lynx. Yes, it renders correctly in w3m. And in lynx. Without any problems.

  21. john
    December 29, 2012

    how comes i wouldn’t feel offended by a girl making jokes about men, posting nude male pics, reducing men to their d*cks? how comes my gf doesn’t feel offended about what you describe as harassment of women? maybe as it tells more about how you see your own sexuality. in the end human life is about sex, it only exists because of sex. it’s time to accept this, no matter what peer group you may belong to.

    i wonder whether you have the guts to post my comment.

  22. @johnnycannuk
    December 29, 2012

    $700 is a lot of money. Name and shame. Taking your money without producing results is fraud and theft. I’ll be happy to help get it back.

  23. rosettenbert
    December 29, 2012

    > Information activist, disruptive journalist, citizen technologist, blogger, and internaut

    oh god

  24. Kim
    December 29, 2012

    You shouldn’t need a red card wagged in your face to let you know your behavior is shitful.

    The world would certainly be a better place if people knew when they behaved shitfully. But in reality they usually don’t.

    When it comes to sexism there will always be that handful of assholes that tries to hurt people on purpose. In my experience, most men don’t sense sexist behaviour because they just don’t have the required mindset.

    Although it only makes little difference for the women affected whether sexist actions are indeed carried out intentionally, I think it makes a lot of difference when trying to improve the situation. Most men would probably be willing to alter their own behaviour if they were able to empathize.

    A friend of mine compared the gender / feminism debate to discussions about the Middle East. And I think there is some truth about it. Many people have been hurt and it sometimes seems impossible to conduct an objective debate about gender discrimination. And terms like “rape culture” – although fitting in some way – are not helping at all.

    I think the creeper cards at 29c3 are an interesting idea to raise conscience about discrimination. But they won’t change a thing if we don’t try to make the “offenders” understand what part of their behaviour made it sexist. Because most men don’t behave in a sexist way on purpose. Publicly shoving a red card into a persons face is a pretty harsh form of communication. So if you can, don’t use a card. Talk to the offending person. Or, if you feel you can’t, ask someone else to do it for you.

    I know it’s hard so stay cool-headed sometimes. Especially if you have experienced abuse. But there are a lot of nice people that will help if they are asked to.

    Thanks for speaking up and stay strong!

  25. Griffin Boyce
    December 29, 2012

    While I agree with the overall sentiment that things need to improve in the hacker community, I think you were wrong to talk bad about Nadim, who is not sexist at all. Your behavior that lead to that tweet was inappropriate, and your gender had nothing to do with his response.

    And, while we’re on the subject of misdirected anger, has it occurred to you that some people might just be jerks? Not every asshole is also misogynist. It’s really hard for me to think of someone that ioerror hasn’t been kind of a dick to at some point. Doesn’t mean he’s sexist, just means he’s kind of a dick sometimes.

    There are lots of misogynists in every community. Hacking is no different. We have a lot of work to do to make everyone feel welcome, and to celebrate the contributions of everyone.

    Lady Ada faced a lot of sexism in hardware hacking, but she persevered and set an incredible example for *everyone* to follow.

    Quitting just lets the assholes win. So those are your choices: persevere or let assholes win.

  26. Mickael
    December 29, 2012

    I think you were right to put your self preservation as a priority. Having done the same ( for others reasons, on others communities quite unrelated ), this took me a few months before being able to do back something useful, but I had plenty of time to recover. As you still have a work and a son to care of, it may take longer, but just try to focus on you for a while. The cryptoparty idea wasgreat, it somehow managed to get out of control, but just keep in mind that’s how you measure success, some people will repeat without doing it exactly the same way.

    I hope you will get well soon and be able to find sleep again. Without sleep, the rest of your day will likely be fucked up, and so your life quality will decrease, so just focus on that. The rest can be done later.

  27. J
    December 29, 2012

    Thank you for writing this … addressed a few of many issues

    Good luck to you.
    -another mother

  28. Tamara
    December 29, 2012

    I am in the electronics industry and old. I was hoping things had changed but not surprised they have not. Sorry you had to go through it. It is not something anyone should experiance. That said I know we do and it makes me sad angry and mad all in the same breath. Take care.

    Tamara

  29. December 29, 2012

    Dearest Asher,

    Wish you had come to me to discuss what was going on. Not that I could change the situation, though could have at least tried and supported you. Unfortunately, I have also experienced several of the things you have gone through ie giving $ towards a project and instead getting scammed (actually more $ than you ). Asshats abound! Sorry you have had such a negative experience from having made the vision of Cryptoparties a reality.

    Your suggestions are excellent, especially regarding the need of conference organizers take a more pro-active role in encouraging participants to have personal integrity and respect towards ALL people attending. It is not much to ask at all. It would be a good place to start. In addition, older more mature hacktivists need to start setting a better example and telling the 13 year old boys to fucking stop with their moronic behavior.

    Whether the hacktivist community or other activist communities, they fail when they leave out and disrespect women. There are not enough good activists in the world, especially those that volunteer their time and money. “We need to be brilliant to each other” is what Stephen Urbach stated in #Telecomix. This is so true. Obviously, sometimes even the good guys slip and forget to remind each other how awesome they are.

    So often people ask how we can better stop surveillance and surveillance vendors. One thing for sure is that we will never be successful if our own community is unable to be respectul and supportive of each other. Even though some projects are not suppose to have a “leader.” we all know that the people who created or keep it alive are often de-facto “leaders.” Anyone that knows anything about the Cryptoparty movement, knows you are the founder that put life into making it a reality. Whoever the guy is that applied to #29c3 before you did cannot do a better job that you would have. Your idea for a panel would have been better.

    Asher Wolf you are loved and respected by many men in the hacktivist community. I have witnessed this. Many times I have felt like quitting the Telecomix Blue Cabinet Wiki Project. Many times I have felt talked down to by some of the mate drinking bunch hehe or that the project is not important enough for them to participate, instead of just lurk. What keeps me going are not only the awesome guys that do support the project in some way, it is also my own believe that the project is vital to educating people about surveillance tech and companies. I do it because I find the data interesting to read and learn about. Burnout happens. No doubt you have experienced more than burnout :(

    You do whatever you feel you need to do. Thank you for all the awesome work you do. Thank you for having given life to Cryptoparty. It often takes a woman to not only give birth to a project, it is often takes a woman to love a project to help to grow <3

  30. Kelly Cunningham
    December 29, 2012

    Thank you for this and very sorry you had to endure the sexism and harassment. As a human being with a uterus, I applaud your strength, intelligence, and bravery.

  31. Kelly Cunningham
    December 29, 2012

    Thank you for this and very sorry you had to endure the sexism and harassment. As a human being with a uterus, I applaud your strength, intelligence, and bravery.

  32. CryptoBr0 3 Million
    December 29, 2012

    I’ve said and heard people say some pretty mean stuff about you. Keep in mind however this is just due to your lack of intelligence, understanding, skill and knowledge.

    We have said bad things about males for the same reason and will continue to do so, please don’t feel persecuted due to your sex. It is who you are as a person we have a problem with, nothing to do with gender.

  33. inara
    December 29, 2012

    I have a uterus and kids.

    I’ve been active in a/the hacker community for about 3 years. My background is Engineering, majoring in DSP and telecoms (I think we had a ratio of 6:110 women to men when I did my engineering degree). I ported my knowledge of telecom networks to IT networks to move closer to my family. This led to an interest in security.

    I’ve never had an issue. If you love and are interested in the topics being discussed at hacker confs and meetups, who cares about the gender of the people around you. I think my gender isn’t an issue to me, therefore, its not an issue to the people around me.

  34. Jeg
    December 29, 2012

    Hi Asher,

    wow… a lot of pouring out here and although I am not one of your followers I saw your efforts when you started cryptoparty… all ‘overnight’… I give you lots of credit for your creation and yes, I learned a bit via the manual.

    It was a huge task that needed lots of planning. Through the Sydney group I found that lots of skills were needed to develop the program, although I never attended a meeting due to hours and locations.

    I saw lots of ‘know it all’ and hardly any support, whether there was any support behind the twits I don’t know, all I know is that the project needed a massive effort from different skills to keep it alive.

    Yes, cryptoparty could survive without you but… it is your baby and something might have come out of it, take a break, then after a good relaxing time off sit and think if you want it back, but now, you know the most important thing to create a project is to “surround yourself with the best”.

    Jacob noticed it, and he is right, it is people’s responsibility to want to learn, we simply cannot force them to do what we want. He is too busy but Jacob must have lots of people that can guide you, just ask if you need or place a post asking for support and the type needed.

    And, you do not need to throw money away to create webpages, a blog could had been sufficient, easy to handle and most of all it is FREE.

    There is a bit of personal on your outpour but I prefer to leave it as that ‘personal’.

    You want a change you can create that change, if someone wants to be part of that change they will join you.

    Pour your energies into your creativity, your time is important, let the others do whatever makes them happy, it has nothing to do with you.

    Best wishes to you, enjoy the short holiday… :)

  35. Whiskey
    December 29, 2012

    Good for you! I admire your strength and wish you good luck!

  36. batgirl
    December 29, 2012

    Yep! Just read some tweets from #29c3 https://twitter.com/i0n1c/status/284855936433127425

  37. freakOnature1
    December 29, 2012

    I haven’t got a clue about what a crypto party is, but it sounds like something that you get a group of people together and learn about technology. Kinda sounds like haveing a weekend with like minded friends ( much better with alcohol so you can relax!) Any ways I am a guy and I’ve always respected any women that’s in any computer related field. I’ve always viewed a woman in this field as a fricking awsome person because it is an area dominated by men and I would hire a woman over the most qualified man just to get them in the field because we need more women. Women and men see thing differently.
    I’ve read about half of your page and what it sounds like is that the people in this field are just dicks I know that if I was more knowledgable about this area and you wanted to learn and improve yourself I would support you 110%. I would poke and make fun of you along the way, but only because that is what I do and it would have nothing to do with your gender.
    Don’t let a few dicks ruin you view of all us computer geeks/dorks/nerds/gamers/professionals! ( I hope this has a more button cuz it’s long as heck)

  38. djvjgrrl
    December 29, 2012

    bless you for putting into words the endless litany of petty crap we are expected to take, deal with, and “rise above”.

    i’m here to create people’s media, not to call out others ridiculous behavior, and it pisses me off to no end to have to bring this topic up too, not to mention that i even have to deal with the, as you so eloquently phrase it, “arse-hattery” in the first place. nobody want’s to have “that” conversation. thank you for motivating me start it…again.

    solidarity

  39. #Mudgutz
    December 29, 2012

    Asher,

    It is with such sorrow that I hear that you are quitting the CryptoParty movement.
    I cannot add to the above comments except to say that I can understand you motives but please don’t do something that you may regret latter on down the track.
    You, to me, will always be the “Mother of the #CryptoParty” forever. I know, not a good term in the middle of a misogyny discussion but hey.
    May I impart some of old Mud’s wisdom’s on you, have a rest, seek some advice from those around you that you look up to, maybe your Grandfather or others.
    Think.
    And think some more.
    Only then will you know what is the right thing to do.
    In the meantime, stick it up to those that piss you off. Get it out of your system.
    Let em see that you don’t mess with an angry ranga.
    A few more well placed “Fuck You’s” too.
    Oh and don’t stop doing what you do well, you and YAN are my only reliable news sources, oh and you too Bernard.

    Mudgutz

  40. LRN
    December 29, 2012

    > I didn’t create Cryptoparty just so a bunch of privileged white boys could exclusively hang out together, slurping down ClubMate while trying to figure out how to anonymously use BitCoin to buy Aderall off SilkRoad.

    So you are a bitch to people and are surprised when they do their best to be bitches back? ^.~

    > No, women stay the hell away from hacker-spaces, conferences and tech initiatives because of on-going experiences of misogyny, abuse, threats, put downs, belittlement, harassment, rape.

    These experiences, to be honest, do seem to be mostly imaginary. That is just how it is.

  41. S.
    December 29, 2012

    Thanks for telling your story. Im only afraid, the bunch of privileged white boys are too bussy talking about theyr 1. world problems, to take a minute and think about what your telling us.

    Good luck to you and best wishes

  42. Andrew Longhurst
    December 29, 2012

    Asher: Way to “Destroy the Joint”! Good on ya! :)

  43. Jonah Takalua
    December 29, 2012

    You got your period, miss?

  44. PinkJellyfish
    December 29, 2012

    @Asher_Wolf it’s simple: organise some cryptoparties for girls only (or for girls & transgenders).

  45. December 29, 2012

    @Clytie

    I have a uterus, kids and grandkids. I date back to punch-cards.

    Asher is describing the death-of-a-thousand-cuts women experience all through their lives, the patronizing, the belittling, the exclusion, the leering, groping and sleazing. You endure it. You battle for credibility. Sometimes, as in P.M. Gillard’s speech or Asher’s post above, it’s just the last damn straw.

    What she describes is genuine. Don’t doubt that.

    I am one of many women in computing who have received death threats, simply for being a member of a women-in-computing group. Yes, that’s pretty much the crust on the crazy sandwich, but we’re all part of the loaf. Every time we tolerate someone belittling or abusing another, we implicitly support that behaviour. Our acceptance fuels its exacerbation.

    A lack of social skills is no excuse. However socially awkward you might be (and that is an area where so many of us genetically disposed to computing have much to learn), you only patronize, belittle or abuse someone if you _believe_ they are inferior and that you are entitled to harm them. This is not a lack of social skills. It is deliberate ignorance and self-indulgence.

    We can do much better. If we don’t, we risk losing the strength of true community, of the crowd-sourcing an effectively inclusive network can do. We will have been divided and conquered, not even by the governments and corporations who wish to control us, but by our own ignorance, selfishness and apathy.

    Will you allow that to happen?

  46. December 29, 2012

    Hi Asher,
    I clicked this URL pasted in Freenode #bitcoin-otc but I’m not a conference-goer of any kind (unless you count the 2003 Siebel week in San Diego, where I worked as a trade show temp badge checker), and barely skilled at crypto.

    You’d mentioned USAID, OpenISP, European Commission, Google and Mozilla. Am I reading too much into things, or are too many already joining the stormtroopers? I might call them greenhat jackboots (those who go wherever the money is, even if it is tyrants’), at least in the U.S., your main money color may vary.

  47. teorog
    December 29, 2012

    Every time this happens it’s the same: a woman enters a male-dominated space and shit hits the fan. Men are pigs! Men can’t keep their hands to themselves! Men make crude jokes!

    What bullshit. I’m gay, and because of it, I get to hear women talk about guys the way straight guys never hear. And in general, women are just as objectifying and sexist as the men. They just tend to use the feathery language of women’s magazines to do so.

    Male dominated spaces are meritocracies. People will belittle you and try to hurt their feelings when you try and get shit done, because they feel threatened. If you care less about your feelings than they do about theirs, you come out on top. Simple as that.

    This is something geek woman after geek woman refuses to see. The fact that she’s treated like shit has nothing to do with who she is in the slightest, yet somehow it becomes all about her. After all, she is used to being important and visible. Nobody would call her a creep for talking to a stranger on the bus, nobody would scream “rapist” if she uses the men’s washroom because the women’s is out, nobody calls her a pedophile because she talks to a child in public.

    The difference is that every woman is considered valuable, unlike the men, so when a woman is offended and belittled, it’s a crime against humanity that must be shouted off the rooftops and addressed. Meanwhile men are expected to man up, even as they’re told they’re privileged.

    Here’s a tip: you are responsible for your own mental state. If people call you an idiot, stop giving a shit about what they think. I’ve published controversial stuff online. They question your expertise, your credentials, your honesty, your smarts, and everything in between. Someone even said I should be shot.

    I didn’t go online and write a big sob story, nor could I: nobody would’ve paid me any attention, as they do when it happens to a woman. I simply ignored them and proved them wrong, as I still do, every day.

  48. theimperialklifc
    December 29, 2012

    The CryptoCommunity is the Privileged? I don’t understand the gripe is about – do you want to change the culture and be part of it? Or the culture must change to accept women?

  49. SJC
    December 29, 2012

    sad…

    Im a kind of low hacker from a poor, corrupted and macho-matriarchal country with a mixed ethnic population, and my best IT and exact sciences professors were mostly women
    Maybe thats the main reason that makes me hard to comprehend how can still happen that kind of things, specially between people with so many resources, great colleges and supposedly high intellect

    But here is something else, what I see here (with my horrible genderless point of view), is a terrible form of arrogance
    Maybe the sexist part of it can be solved or patched, but the arrogance itself will take another form and dont know how that can be fixed (linux distro communities suffered that for a long time, and still exists)
    Arrogants lost the humility and maybe the empathy too, things that hard to recover

    So, I dont know if (or dont believe that) exists a inmediate solution to this swarm of idiots (Ill like to leave them isolated until they realize how idiots really are, but that may take eons)

    Well, I hope to see you again some day with a project like cryptoparty (something more slow paced, a cryptodate, a cryptodinner?), also you can try to mix a bit with CCommons people if want to change from a sick community but dont want to change much the subject.
    The world is big…
    Wherever you go, enjoy the trip

    Saludos

  50. anon
    December 29, 2012

    Here are some website accessibility guidelines to help you make your website accessible to people with disabilities.

    http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/

    Your current design is very ableist which dehumanizes those of us with disabilities that would like to participate, have the right to participate in these conversations.

    Thank you for your attention to this.

  51. December 29, 2012

    I actually read every word of this. With all due respect, you seem to be completely missing the point. “Thorns should not prick me, ever” does not seem like a reasonable position to take. In much the same vein it does not seem reasonable to expect that “the hacker community” is going to en masse engage in civil behavior. The whole point of “the hacker community” is to engage in various types of civil disobedience (usually, pathologically so). Often times in flagrant ignorance of any “Other” involved. “I love playing with wolves but I wish they wouldn’t try to rip my arms off and eat them” I could make these up for days. Yes, of course the hacker community is filled with privileged white males who have a plethora of social dysfunctions. Who else has the time or motivation to spend 36 hours looking at hex? or compile LFS, etc etc. Your quotes from Jacob Appelbaum seemed rather benign, I am not sure what about them was upsetting to you. Ironically, you are displaying the same inability to process the behaviors and situations of others that you are complaining about. In many regards you seem like a good fit for the hacker community.

    Cheers.

  52. Messgorough Ulaire
    December 29, 2012

    It’s such a shame that this promising idea floundered in an area that the internet should flourish. Ultimate inclusionism is supposed to be the absolute goal for the internet with everyone being able the access and find a place.

    This should have been another shining example of the internet coming together like the Raspberry Pi project to give everyone a £30 computer. Who ultimately loses out though is the community at large which is the biggest regret of all.

    Where I like in the UK we don’t have this gift and in my county running Linux is generally considered witchcraft. How dare those who freely abuse this knowledge and gift have the snobbery to turn others away from it?

    Young lady I wholeheartedly salute and beg you will continue teaching your obvious skills in some form to those who wish to learn.

    You are an inspiration, never stop fighting.

  53. Anonymous3
    December 29, 2012

    LOL BUTTHURT

  54. Saigo
    December 29, 2012

    In the last 5 years I haven’t met even ONE woman I could talk to, technical and social. Every woman I met at camps, congresses etcpp. was there as a wifey/girlfriend or social media whatever. If I want to talk about technical stuff I have to talk to men… it sucks, for several reasons. I’m pissed off by both men and women. By men because they tend to treat women like little dumb girls and by women, because they behave that way.

    You want a website… learn html, xhtml and css. You have a problem with your computer/os/application, take them apart, learn how they are working, educate yourself. All the knowledge, especially regarding free software is at your fingertips, use it. Don’t do the damsel in distress act, when network or computers behave strangely, take it apart, analyze it, fix it.

    As someone with a ‘high’ technical skill set I never experienced harassment at any conference or congress I took part in and I think it was because the men knew exactly what I could do, that it never was an issue at all.

    When I have to wait another 5years for meeting a woman I can finally talk to on a certain level… it will be too long. I’m 34, a single mother of an 11year, working as a devop in the industry and I really wish for female company who does more than knitting and social media/politics at the 30c3 .

  55. hax
    December 29, 2012

    Somewhat alarmist, I’d say, to lead with accusations of rape without then any further reference.

    Incongruous also to start a “DIY” technology outfit and then complain that you couldn’t get someone else to build a website.

    The hacker community should be about hackers, not women or men. If a person wants in, hack. No ifs, buts or excuses – hack first. Thats the entry fee.

    I sympathise wholly with the unpleasant manner in which some have comminicated. I must agree that an intent and desire to learn is essential, and this article offers no evidence that you demonstrated this.

  56. Patternguru714
    December 29, 2012

    Very well-said and apropos. Your experiences not only reveal gender-bias, but an organizational irony. If such small groups are fraught with the same issues as the corporate or bureaucratic agencies they criticize, perhaps crowd-based/hive-based cultures have some thinking to do. That aside, you should know many support your drive and respect your experience, even those of us “watching from the wings.” I hope you don’t allow ad hominem insults to detract from your victimization. Keep up the good work in whatever path you choose, you’re an amazing person.

    PG714

  57. December 29, 2012

    Wow I know exactly how it feels when people in your community and people outside of it that you hoped were on board with your values turn out to really disappoint you.

    EXACTLY.

    BTW, trying to bring crypto to the masses is something I have worked on since 2008 and failed at. Yes it’s very hard to get people who are not much into nuts and bolts to go out of their way to encrypt stuff. You’d have to build it into the mouse clicks to make sure they did it every time. Of course my UI development skills suck to all hell and that was no help. Might as well batch script OpenSSL commands and then go have a beer.

    In the end, seeing how nobody can get under one banner (that would be liberty, BTW) and everybody wants to pick and choose what’s important to them, I can understand Asher’s comment about joining the stormtroopers. If nothing is going to keep the boot off our neck, then comes the decision to be the one wearing the boot.

    Seeing people cherry-pick liberty (as I have seen Asher do, hackers do, web activists do, etc) means that there will be plenty of boots on necks, and plenty to fill. Thomas Jefferson warned us about this.

    And that, at the end of the day, is heartbreaking. You see, when you watch old films of people being lined up in front of trenches, and executed (usually Holocaust stuff), and they sit there and wait for it, you can wonder “why the hell do they sit there and wait to be executed?”. Well, nobody is, at this very moment, going to be dragged out of their house to be put before a firing line without a fight. But those people you see in those old films, THEY ALREADY LOST ALL HOPE, FRIENDS, FAMILY, FUTURE and that comes in the form of betrayal, selling out, and abandonment.
    Anybody would patiently wait to be executed and dropped in the trench under those circumstances.

    I’ve already done my crying. But it’s nice to see that reality and consequences can drive a point home faster and deeper than anything else.

    Asher, Sorry things didn’t work out for you. Sorry that you have to learn the lessons that I have to learn, over and over. I loved the idea of crypto parties, BTW.

    It happens.

    Better luck next time.

  58. Tomcat
    December 29, 2012

    I find it shocking how some people behave.

    I’m not involved with a lot of hackers, but I’m a member of the Pirate Party, and we have similar issues. Thanks for your post, as it is again a dreadful report on what I have to watch out for to keep our groups accessible for women.

    Continue your good work in whatever you do in the future.

  59. December 29, 2012

    Thank you for the blog, Asherwolf.

    I have a Master’s degree in maths, and I have worked professionally on a ‘Cold War’ cryptography project back in 1983. I have followed the theory behind PGP, and am always willing to explain this to people but it would still take a few hours.

    I have attended some student hacker groups in the 2000s and as an older person I
    found it hard to understand the jargon, and also the glib self confidence shown by the hackers, many of who were running WiFi enabled computers while I was unable to even
    afford an internet connection.

    These experts think it nothing to install a souped up version of Linux in 20 minutes,
    but in practice I have found installing Linux takes several days.

    There are too many ‘experts’ who forget how hard things were when they were beginners. Experts must take into account that things are always getting harder for beginners: in the late 70s and early 80s many computers came with programming manuals. These days are well and truly over. The emphasis of the capitalist system is the production of devices where user programming is impossible, and certainly invalidates any guarantee on the product. Same goes with installation of software that
    seeks to evade things like compulsory content filtering, as advocated by certain pressure groups in the UK.

    There is a lot of pressure on computer users to accept software updates even when it takes time to learn how to use the old system. Even Zukerberg’s sister has has fallen foul of Facebook changes. Sometimes update of one part of the system requires updates to other parts of the system. What this means is that the only people expected to do creative things with computers are manufacturers rather than end users.

  60. shady
    December 29, 2012

    i’d be nice to find the person who designed those creeper cards, and do something like this:

    “you designed this ? i give you this creeper card for this creeper card”
    optional: “are you insane ? how should women here feel?”

  61. john
    December 30, 2012

    “Ultimate inclusionism is supposed to be the absolute goal for the internet with everyone being able the access and find a place.”

    that’s not a vision, it’s utopia. the reason is simple: costs. individuals and hence the society (or the societies) align their resources with expected egoistic benefits.

    it’s also the reason why most people care much about the security of their off- and online banks and not so much about encrypting their e-mail or anonymous internet browsing.

    it’s tough times for minorities (unless you’re part of a minority with lots of power i.e. money), but it’s the way it is. sorry for destroying your dreams.

    that said, women in tech are a minority indeed (as are men in e.g. childcare professions), though women per se aren’t.