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Re: Geek Feminism Wiki Re RMS

From: Moshe Goldfarb
Subject: Re: Geek Feminism Wiki Re RMS
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 15:41:07 -0400
User-agent: 40tude_Dialog/

On Thu, 16 Jul 2009 21:11:14 +0200, Alexander Terekhov wrote:

> (The page above is full of links so follow the URL.)
> -----
> Richard Stallman gave a keynote at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit in
> July 2009. A sexualized part of this talk was described by attendee
> Lefty in a blog entry A Good GCDS Beginning (with a significant
> disappointment): 
> [Stallman defined] "EMACS virgins" as "women who had not been introduced
> to EMACS" along with the advice that "relieving them of their virginity"
> was some sort of sacred duty for members of "The Church of EMACS". 
> One commenter noted that the routine is a regular part of Stallman's
> talks but that the singling out of women as 'EMACS virgins' was new.
> Matthew Garrett has provided a transcript of a previous similar
> presentation by Richard at RMS and virgins: 
> "Then if you become a hacker you can celebrate that by having a foobar
> mitzvah, a ceremony in which the new hacker stands in front of the
> assembled congregation of hackers and chants through the lines of the
> system source code. And we also have the cult of the virgin of emacs.
> The virgin of emacs is any female who has not yet learned how to use
> emacs. And in the church of emacs we believe that taking her emacs
> virginity away is a blessed act." 
> A few days later Lefty emailed Richard expressing his concerns, and
> blogged the ensuing conversation. His original email included: 
> "Your remarks gave the distinct impression that you view women as being
> in particular need of technical assistance (presumably by men, since
> there's apparently no such thing as a _male_ "EMACS virgin");
> additionally, women are quite capable of making their own decisions
> about who might relieve them of whatever sort of “virginity”. I (and
> many others) viewed these remarks as denigrating and demeaning to women,
> as well as completely out of place at what is, in essence, a technical
> conference." 
> The response claimed that the comments about women were intended as
> humour, and that the complainant was misunderstanding the joke. Richard
> refused to offer an apology. 
> "I do not believe I owe anyone an apology. I did not insult or attack
> them, but it is clear some people are attacking me. I think I am being
> criticized unjustly criticized, and I feel I have been wronged." 
> However, most of the response was about the Church of St IGNUtius and
> its potential offensiveness to religious people, rather than the issue
> Lefty was trying to raise. Lefty emailed again, reiterating the core
> points. Richard's response was that he had already dealt with them --
> which he had not. 
> Responses to this blog post have focused on Richard's right to email
> privacy -- an example of Derailment -- rather than the original issue: 
> "Does RMS think all source code should be free, or his private e-mails
> as well??" 
> "Have exactly the same question. Any further discussion of political
> correctness is pointless before this question is answered, as you cannot
> seriously request polical correctness without respecting it yourself.
> Sounds fishy." 
> Excuses
> Excuses given for RMS's behaviour include: 
> That it was not his Intent to be sexist, here 
> That it was humor -- Richard's own excuse, here 
> That it was making fun of religion, not women, here and here 
> He's just like that, here and here 
> That Richard has earned respect through his Free Software work, and his
> bad behaviour should therefore be ignored, here and here 
> That his judgement was impaired because he was worn out by arguing about
> Mono, here 
> Silencing tactics 
> Some silencing tactics have also been tried against his critics that
> don't so much excuse RMS as suggest that his critics should shut up: 
> That the joke was sexist but the fuss about it is out of all proportion
> here 
> Nobody who has not made significant contributions to Free Software
> should be allowed to comment, here 
> Only those directly affected by sexism may comment, allies may not here 
> Lefty's ally work is in itself condescending towards women, here 
> The complaint is "whiny bullshit" and "attention-seeking", here. For
> bonus points, "women should be left out in the cold, not just in the
> open source movement but in every job..." 
> The complaint about sexism is just a disingenuous attempt to achieve
> another goal: silencing RMS's criticisms of the Mono programming
> framework here and here 
> The complaint about sexism was just someone (presumably Lefty)
> disguising his offence at the jokes about Christianity as a more
> acceptable complaint about sexism here 
> Versions of this very list (Matt Zimmerman also made one in his blog)
> are "cherry-picking" and mischaracterising a real debate here 
> Versions of this very list are merely encouraging trolls, who should be
> ignored here 
> Writing about this kind of thing is a waste of time and anyone serious
> about Open Source should be writing code here 
> That the attempt to include women in open source is "nonsense" and
> "creepy", and should be ignored, here 
> Reverse sexism, here 
> Responses 
> Gran Canaria Desktop Summit 2009 by Matt Zimmerman: "This keynote was
> the least interesting of the talks I attended at GCDS... He did his
> Saint IGNUcius routine, throwing in a sexist joke for good measure." 
> Simple conference organisation suggestion by Matthew Garrett: "don't
> invite RMS to keynote at your conference without an explicit apology and
> expression of understanding beforehand. I'm seriously at the end of my
> patience with people being unwilling to call others on behaviour they
> perceive as unacceptable." 
> Richard Stallman and his fans by Livejournal user "certifiedwaif": "Do
> blog posts like this just bring out the worst commenters, or is this
> representative? They seem much more concerned about Richard Stallman's
> right to email privacy than appropriate conduct at a technical
> conference that both men and women are attending." 
> All hail the windmill tilters by Christian Schaller: "And before someone
> starts shouting at me for not realizing that sexism do exist in the open
> source world, please save yourself the energy. I am sure it exist, along
> with racism, anti-semitism, bigotry, general intolerance, gay and
> lesbian hating, supremacism, communism or whatever evil you want to come
> up with. I just don’t buy into using them as the default fallback
> whenever the reason for something needs to be explained." (In fairness,
> Christian has added a comment indicating that "a longer conversation
> with a female coworker about the issue and her relating her experiences
> is causing me to re-evaluate my stance on how much sexism there actually
> is in the community in general.") 
> Permission to suck by Abi Sutherland: "So one thing women in Open
> Source—or anyone who is a minority in a skills-based group—need is
> Permission to Suck. They need the understanding, from themselves and
> others, that any and all suckitude is to their account alone, just like
> it is for the majority." 
> Backlash: feminism considered harmful by Matt Zimmerman: "We have a
> problem in the way that women in free software are regarded and
> treated... What I want to discuss here, though, is how people are
> received when they speak up about this, for example by criticizing
> sexist behavior they have observed. Often, the problem is denied, the
> critic themselves is personally attacked, and the victims are blamed. In
> short, there is a backlash." 
> RMS and virgins by Matthew Garrett: "My point here isn't to claim that
> [RMS]'s a bad person as a result. I've got personality flaws large
> enough that you could probably drive a bus through them, but I'd be
> slightly upset if people thought I was evil because of them. My point is
> that nobody is above criticism, and if someone behaves in a way that
> offends a large subset of the community then they should to be
> criticised. Failing to do so sends the signal that we don't care about
> those who were offended, and at the same time provides no incentive for
> people to change their behaviour as a result. And yes, I think those who
> have high profile positions in the community should be held to higher
> standards than others..." 
> RMS’ emacs “virgins” by Chani: "so… I didn’t comment on this little
> incident, even though I knew I should. I mean, it’s RMS, I don’t really
> expect him to change. and it’s easier to just ignore it and pretend it
> didn’t happen. thankfully, lefty tackled the issue for us. ok,
> publishing private mail is rude, but I’m glad he did. the comments
> section makes me sad… btw, I have never heard of this “cult of the
> virgin of mary”. I interpreted RMS’ speech the same way lefty did, I was
> just too shy to speak up about it." 
> Retrieved from "";
> Category: Incidents
> -----
> regards,
> alexander.


It's no surprise that RMS picks his feet and eats the toe jam in

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