Looks like Mark Shuttleworth has created a storm by uttering something which is not well received by a few Feminine Geeks. First I thought that ‘asking for apology’ is only my country’s national pastime, but probably it’s international.

The way everything is put forward, I can only say that things are blown out of proportion. Did Mark say that women are incompetent? Did he say that they are dumb or anything even faintly similar?  Quoting from Skud’s article  on geekfeminism

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to LinuxCon this year; I hear it’s a pretty good event. I’ve been listening with some interest to people’s reports of what’s going on there, and this afternoon I heard from multiple sources about your keynote, in which you referred to our work in Linux as being “hard to explain to girls”.

She was herself not on the venue and all she knows is from *multiple* sources. Sometimes words get distorted and lose their context if they get passed from person to person. LinuxCon is not a place to  vent someone’s anger, nor to abuse anyone. If Mark wanted to abuse them, he would have said it somewhere else.

It just works
It just works

The reality is that the population of girls/women in FOSS world is very marginal. I know that situation is improving, but it would not happen overnight. In my country girls are more attracted towards  medical, healthcare, product services etc. First, India’s female literacy is less than male’s. Secondly,  the percentage of girls in Indian engineering colleges is quite less. Thirdly, most of the female engineering graduates want to pursue MBA. So, hardly girls are left whom you would find interested in FOSS. Those who are really enthusiastic surely go a long way.

Shuttleworth said that Linux is hard to explain to girls. I can only say that it’s even tough to explain to guys who are not interested in technical matters. Probably Mark must have tried explaining it to girls who are not even interested in computers. Neither me nor Mark has any intention to look down upon women, but nit-picking at each and every phrase is somewhat lame. This actually does more harm to women who want to be more involved in FOSS.

For those who are still trapped up in the same array of tweets and dents related to this event, you may prefer reading Matthew Brennan Jones’s response to geekfeminism. He has written a post on his blog clearing the misconceptions. Go read it as he was physically present that time of the event.

I know am late expressing my views, but it hardly matters.

8 thoughts on “Feminism

  1. I should think multiple sources should be more reliable than a single source!

    Or are you trying to say “one person told another person who told another person who told another person who told another person who told Skud”? Because that is clearly not the same thing. And since I was present for those many separate people recounting the story, I can tell you that’s not how it happened.

    And here’s another one that was present: http://blog.printf.net/articles/2009/09/25/on-keynotes-and-apologies

    By the way: nobody’s calling him a sexist person. We’re just asking him to acknowledge a mistake he made in speech and say “I’ll try harder next time.” And it’s demeaning to refer to women as “girls” just as it’s demeaning to refer to men as “boys,” ok?

    1. I understand your point. What I am against is the stream of posts from people criticising Mark just because they too heard from someone.
      Just accusation is not enough for someone to be held guilty. The default status of everyone is “not guilty/innocent” unless proven.

      I agree with you that he should apologise if he intentionally said it. I would be deaf if Mark discloses that he intentionally said it.
      Sometimes you choose the wrong words and English being such a language, even a single character can change the context of the phrase.

      I agree it is demeaning to refer them as “girls”, but don’t you think most of the people do the same. Even Mark must have not realised what he is saying as he must be speaking like hundreds of others do.

      Thirdly, I am not attacking Skud. She also has her opinions. It would have been better if she named the sources instead of just saying “many”.

      Don’t get me wrong – I am not against girls or as such. I have so many girls as friends that people might never expect it from me. I know what they want and how they react when addressed in some particular way.
      The only thing I am against in this whole discussion is creating a mountain from a single phrase.
      Discussions anything controversial relating to Ubuntu never ends. I understand that discussing is good for such things, but isn’t there a limit? Mono thread on ubuntu lists was a classic example. People start diverting more of their time towards discussing such things which never end and forget their aim. Same happening this time on sounders. I get hell lot of replies/mails everyday related to this discussion on that list.

    1. Congrats. You really lived up to your name.

      Troll, I am really happy for ya, but Imma let ya finish, but Linux was the best OS of all time. Of all time!!

  2. Manish, I’m happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but the Kanye West meme was the lamest meme of all time. Of all time!

    Anyway…. Linux blows.

    |o_o |
    |:_/ |
    // \ \
    (| | )
    /’\_ _/`\

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