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Mar 23 2013
It Ain't Even Funny Comments (8)

Adria-richardsWhen she says she's tweeting it, she's tweeting it!

Adria Richards, a SendGrid employee who considers herself a "developer evangelist," has kicked off a shitstorm in Silicon Valley, one that's ended with two people losing their jobs.

She was at a business conference and overheard two men behind her making juvenile double-entendres about the tech words "dongle" and "forking." For some reason, this so offended her that she righteously turned around and took their picture, then tweeted that and her indignation ("Not cool") to her 12,000 Twitter followers.

This, in turn, led to one of the men being fired by his company, PlayHaven. That, in turn, led to widespread outrage, and resulted in Richards being fired (probably without just cause) by SendGrid.

All of this over completely harmless joking around that would be a stretch to cover the definition of sexual harassment; at best, she could have contacted her employer and said she felt uncomfortable in the setting by way of explaining why she was leaving, and then left. (The men were not her co-workers, nor did they have any kind of power over her, nor were they speaking to or about her.) Her taking such offense to this sounds pathological to me, but it's not surprising if you watch this video of herself defining "man-splaining" from a couple of years ago:

Not funny, not insightful and uncomfortably anti-male

Clearly, there are lots of men who condescend to women. Clearly, there are lots of people who tell you things you already know. But for her, the two are the same thing, and it's apparently unimaginable that a woman would do the same thing. (FYI: They do it all the time, too.) And in her second example of man-splaining, some hapless guy who was just trying to correct her about a stage time, even if his information was wrong, is being branded some sort of know-it-all sexist.

Screen-shot-2011-08-03-at-12-36-47-pmIn 2011, Richards objected to this cartoon as sexist...for some reason???

I guess because Richards is so holier-than-thou and unpleasant, and of course because she's deprived a person of a living due to her ridiculous reaction, she has (pun intended) engendered more than her fair share of outrageously sexist hate mail over the incident. Duh, that is obviously disgusting and wrong. But it doesn't prove her original point, because I don't think for a second that two guys making dick jokes (who hasn't done that?) are necessarily sexist or would necessarily be cheered by that type of "support."

Assholes like this guy, who hates "that girl" (why isn't it "that person"? guys are assholes, too) and ends his right-wing rant with "bitch," are not helping Richards see the error of her ways

If someone is speaking in a way that is offensive to you, there's no reason you can't woman up and just turn to them with a request: "Would you mind not talking about that so loudly? It's annoying." If they become belligerent and keep it up intentionally to annoy you going forward, then you've got a legitimate reason to be righteously indignant. If someone is making blatantly bigoted comments (talking about dicks is not inherently anti-woman, by the way), of course complain to the organizers.

Unfortunately, the incident will probably only embolden Richards's view that men are pigs and women always get shafted for speaking up instead of being a wake-up call that she needs to lose the chip on her shoulder and reserve her outrage for people who have earned it.

P.S. I would sue my employer if I were the man fired or if I were Richards. Neither firing was justified in the slightest.



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