Sexist humor

This incident at a Haskell Conference happens everyday everywhere in a semi-feudal society like ours.

This year’s “Future of Haskell” discussion, which traditionally ends the annual Haskell Symposium, stumbled into the question of gender equity, via the perennial question of how to increase the number of Haskell programmers. Many programmers (of all genders) find math intimidating and think that the Haskell programming language requires more mathematical skill than other popular languages. In the discussion, Doaitse Swierstra, a professor of computer science at the University of Utrecht, suggested that a good way to increase the number of Haskell programmers would be to recruit one woman for every man in the room. So far, so good: in fact, Prof. Swierstra showed creativity by introducing the problem of gender inequity at this point in the discussion. But then he went on to say that if this goal were achieved, it would make the meetings more “attractive”.

From the Geek Feminism Wikia:

lot of offensive or marginalising incidents in geek communities are, supposedly, intended as Humor. These jokes, aimed at a presumed-male audience, exclude women even when they do not explicitly insult them.

Women who complain about such jokes are usually accused of not having a sense of humor, or of being prudes.

  • “Guy jokes”: the joke relies upon the audience member being male.
  • Objectifying: the joke relies upon reducing a woman (specific or generic) to her (often sexualized or stereotyped) “value”, generally to a presumed-male audience.
  • Violent: the “punch line” is violence against a woman.
  • Excluding: the joke relies upon the idea that women are not interested in the geeky topic at hand, or are not members of the community.
  • Excluding and objectifying: “We should invite more women into our community so we can get laid” manages to simultaneously deny the presence of any women in the room, and reduce any women to decorative/sexual, rather than any other reason. This also manages to reduce the men in the room to the stereotype of the socially incompetent nerd who can’t get laid, which is further sexist (against men, this time) by implying that a man’s true worth is determined by whether he is sexually active with a woman.
  • Unprofessional: regardless of whether anyone present (of any gender) would consider the joke funny among close friends, it is not suited for a highly professional environment. Examples: jokes involving bodily functions, genitals, or sexual activity.
  • Pervasive: one joke or other incident might be able to be brushed off or excused, but it would be difficult to name, let alone report, all the variously inappropriate humor.
  • Escalating: mildly inappropriate jokes being accepted can result in people bringing their extremely inappropriate jokes.
  • Transphobic: the joke depends upon a woman having body parts or attributes typically possessed by men, such as facial hair or a penis. Often plays off a fear of having sex with someone with the “wrong” body parts, or involves violence as a resolution. Transphobic jokes may also depend on a man wearing women’s clothing or being mistaken for a woman.
  • Cruel: mocking, belittling, humiliating, etc. an actual person and deriving amusement from her distress.
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