So KC reported her experience of being sexually harassed at Defcon.
Here’s some choice moments that she wrote about:
Let it be known that I went to Defcon with a reasonable amount of armor on already. I was reasonably aware of the frat party environment I was stepping into. I have many friends who are involved with helping make Defcon roll smoothly each year, from speakers to goons. And still, nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of bad behavior I experienced.
Like the man who drunkenly tried to lick my shoulder tattoo. Like the man who grabbed my hips while I was waiting for a drink at the EFF party. Like the man who tried to get me to show him my tits so he could punch a hole in a card that, when filled, would net him a favor from one of the official security staff (I do not have words for how slimy it is that the official security staff were in charge of what was essentially a competition to get women to show their boobs). Or lastly, the man who, without prompting, interrupted my conversation and asked me if I’d like to come back to his room for a “private pillowfight party.” “You know,” he said. “Just a bunch of girls having a pillowfight…. fun!” When I asked him how many men would be standing around in a circle recording this event, he quickly assured me that “no one would be taking video! I swear!” I’m pretty sure this is the point where my lovely partner Morgan asked him if he thought propositions like his had anything to do with contributing to women not feeling welcome at Defcon. This was a very difficult concept for this poor soul to wrap his head around.
I’ve been to several computer science related conferences. I’ve never been to DefCon, but it would be the kind of event I’d go to. In my experience its almost all men, nearly all of them socially inept. Most of them don’t have it in them to even talk to a woman. Out of the few guys that do have social skills, they are very bad at them. Every social interaction is awkward. Especially talking to women. Thats usually what you get when dealing with people who spend most of their time coding and very little time socializing in the real world.
I don’t see this woman’s account as an accurate portrayal of the normal behavior at these kinds of conferences. Maybe theres something else going on specifically at DefCon.
I’d suggest going to one of these conferences and seeing for yourself how people behave.
Ohai peterhearn! I’m socially awkward!
Okay… I have to clarify that, because if you don’t, it’s a pretty empty claim, seeing as anyone and everyone can make that claim, at least in some sense.
I am absolutely terrified of social situations. In fact, they are my main phobia. The reason for this is that I simply cannot talk to people.
I mean… okay… if the conversation happens to revolve around music (such as bands/artists/genres/styles that I like, solos [especially guitar solo], musical instruments, and so on), stand-up comedy, politics, philosophy, science, or religion, then yeah, I could talk to people for hours, even days. But small talk? Random shit? Gossip?
I’m even worse at asking questions to fish for a conversation. I just can’t do it. I can’t initiate at all. Someone else has to get the conversation started before I have enough confidence to even cough.
I find any and every excuse to avoid a party because I’m absolutely terrified of being surrounded by people.
And you are more than welcome to read my blog post on the “Ignore It” lie to understand a major part of the reason why I’m like this. I think there’s a mental component, too. I plan on being tested for something like adult ADD or Aspergers. But the main reason is my past; not something that I find very easy to forget/move on from. And it doesn’t help that I blame myself for most of it, either.
I think my “social awkwardness credentials” are well and set. So I’m quite curious on what planet licking tattoos and grabbing hips and “show me your tits so I can get some special from the security guards!” and “come back to my room for a private pillow fight” qualify as “socially awkward” actions. They seem more like sexual harassment fueled by a very blatant misogyny evident in viewing women as nothing more than sex toys.
I can tell you right now that my social awkwardness would never allow me to do anything even remotely like what those men did to KC. At best, I expect to end up in the mythical “Friend Zone”… assuming her and I even talk at all. I simply don’t have the confidence, or the lack of respect for women, to do things like this.
For the record, I wouldn’t do this even if I was a social god who could make every guy alive want to hang out with me and every girl alive want to have my babies. I have way too much respect for people in general, including women, to be this base and animalistic around them. I’m simply replying to someone who seems to think the above can be excused as “social awkwardness”.
You can hide behind that moniker all you want, but it does not give you license to treat women the way those men at Defcon treated KC.
Of course, peterhearn, you also called KC’s account into question. You admitted that you’d never been to Defcon, questioned her account, then told us that we should go there ourselves.
Have you considered taking your own advice?
I’ve never been to Defcon, either, and I’ve no interest in going, but I know men who have gone and would go, and quite frankly, I’m not at all surprised she received this treatment.
It’s not social awkwardness, peterhearn. It’s misogyny, pure and simple.