Rails is awesome … too bad the creater and much of the community are total dickwads.

Posted on May 5, 2009

In a moment of genuine unintended irony, I decided to start learning Rails at the exact moment that a huge uproar happened over a conference presentation that contained pornographic images and the following “don’t hamper my freedom from expression/to look at naked chicks” response from much of the Rails community. Worse yet, DHH, creator of Rails and partner in 37 Signals, condoned the talk.

Honestly, I’ve mostly been avoiding going in depth into it because I know how much it would piss me the fuck off and turn me off from Rails and feeling safe and comfortable asking questions and just generally participating in the community. {:thought_bubble => ‘fuckers’ }

But recently there was some discussion on Systers (thank goodness for Systers!). I still am not really ready to formulate thoughts on this … partly because I don’t really feel like I’m part of the Rails Community at all (fyi – this didn’t help and doesn’t really give me much hope that I ever will be). Instead I’ll just link to other people’s thoughts on it.

Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen – one of the first posts I saw on the subject

The ladies respond …
http://www.sarahmei.com/blog/?p=46 (contains slides and DHH’s comments)
http://www.ultrasaurus.com/sarahblog/2009/04/gender-and-sex-at-gogaruco/ (read the comments – she has some good stuff to say about women adopting ruby)
http://dyepot-teapot.com/2009/04/25/dear-fellow-rubyists/ (really great thoughts on negotiating gender and sexuality in a male-dominated field)*
http://lizkeogh.com/2009/04/29/i-am-not-a-pr0n-star-avoiding-unavoidable-associations/ (really good thoughts on the affects of associations – subconscious or otherwise)**
http://www.blogher.com/tipping-point-women-tech-heres-hoping (good summary)
http://hackety.org/2009/04/29/aSelectionOfThoughtsFromActualWomen.html (summary of women’s thoughts. my fav “What about a presentation about writing code on deadline: ‘Delivering Like a Birth Mom.'”)

On both the up and down side, Mike Gunderloy resigned from Rails Activists. On the one hand, I’m really happy that there is an important male figure in the Rails community who thinks this is serious. On the other hand, I can only imagine the kind of private conversations he had with other members of the community causing him to believe that “the difference between their opinions and mine is so severe that I cannot in good conscience remain a public spokesman for Rails.” On another up side, the comments on this post were really supportive and understanding.

Last but not least, DHH has a post on getting more women into Rails. I agree that ” simply refraining from having saucy pictures of pole dancers is going to do the trick”. But let’s not pretend that it won’t help.

Ok. I can’t help. I’m commenting:
* A commentor said this:

“Ruby, like most/all (?) current software projects is male dominated. This may or may not be because of an essential difference in the interests/motivations of the sexes – but this isn’t important – the only factor is the competence and passion of the individual.

Open-source projects, in particular because of their distributed nature, have values based around contributions. If you’re able to make good contributions, then regardless of your identity, you’ll do well.

This has always been my experience – coders listen to people whose code they respect.”

As much as I wish I could, I know I will never ever be able to convince some dude who believes that just how fucking wrong they are. The fact is priviledge is really really hard to see and until you have coded something awesome and gotten no credit or had a guy you worked with get/be given all the credit or say something in a meeting only to be totally ignored until some guys says the exact same thing and everyone is like ‘totally that’s such an incredibly brillant idea’, you won’t get it. But maybe, if you’re one of those people who believe that your coding is all that matters (not to mention the barriers to entry to be any kind of coder let alone a good one), you could just try really hard to pay attention to how you are treated vs how the women in the room are treated.

** I’ve seen in a couple places Matt (the presenter’s) response was: “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”. The extent to which that is un-fucking-acceptable kills me. Who is most likely to be offended by this talk? Could it be the people whose gender is naked in half the slides? So I shouldn’t get a chance to learn a technology (that itself isn’t offensive) at a conference I’ve paid to go to to learn, because you’re a frat-boy who doesn’t know how to behave appropriatley in public? Again, this is just another example of the ways in which things like this discourage women from technology.

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