Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

On Work Environments And Well-Intentioned B*llshit


It’s been roughly a week since the Adria Richards story first went viral. (For those hearing about this for the first time today, read the first 200 or so words of this article, and make sure you have food and fresh coconut water in that cave you’ve obviously been hiding in.) Predictably, this story has created multiple sub-stories about the tech industry, sexism, racism, trolling, concern-trolling, sensitivity, victim-blaming, sexual harassment, patriarchy, and a dozen more of our trendiest blog buzz terms.

***My take? I think degrees of wrong matter. And, saying that Richards—who has been the subject of multiple death threats and was let go by her company—“got what she deserved” for tweeting that picture is akin to saying that if a person steps on your shoe at a club, you have the right to kill them. I think a minor wrong—the guys making the joke¹—led to another minor wrong—Richards taking and tweeting the pic (Yes, I think she was wrong for that). These minor wrongs are the social more equivalent of cutting someone off in traffic. Understandable, unnecessary, and ultimately forgettable. But, they led to a greater wrong—one of the jokesters getting fired—and this led to a chorus of increasingly greater wrongs—Richards receiving death threats and also getting fired. Basically, the equivalent of getting cut off in traffic. But, instead of it stopping there, you find the person who cut you off, follow him home, burn down his house, and sell his pet pit bull to a dog-fighting ring. This was an orgy of increasingly wrong wrongness.*** 

I’m not very interested in those aspects of the story, though. Well, lemme rephrase that. They’re interesting to me, but not as interesting as some of the questions about gendered behavior it brings up.

Before I continue, I need to point out the fact that there are people who believe that gender roles and/or behavior are unnatural and solely a product of socialization. Basically, while it’s true that (generally speaking) men tend to act/think a certain way and women tend to act/think a certain way, these differences only exist because they’ve been taught to us. If free of societal and cultural influence, the only real differences between men and women would be anatomical.

I do not agree with this. While I do agree that certain gender-based expectations are definitely the result of socialization—and can result in (at best) unreasonable expectations and (at worst) using gender-based biases to discriminate and hate—I believe that men and women have some fundamental differences that go past anatomy. These differences don’t make either gender inferior—but they do make us different. Obviously, neither men nor women are monolithic. There are inter-gender exceptions and variances found among all of us. But, saying “men tend to act/think a certain way and women tend to act/think a certain way,” while general, somewhat limiting, and kinda stereotypical, isn’t untrue.

Anyway, whether it’s a locker room, barbershop, ball court, or place of business, if you put a group of men together—and have no women within ear or eyeshot—men are probably going to act a certain way. The tongues might be a little freer, the jokes might be a little dirtier, the air might be a little mustier, and the social dynamics—and the various roles (leader, organizer, alpha, contrarian, etc) we find ourselves in—might be a little more clearly defined.  (I’m sure these types of changes also occur in environments solely populated by women. I imagine the air being a little sweeter, though. Kinda like mango salsa.) 

When you introduce women to these environments, though, behavior tends to change. Sure, you may have a few men threatened by the change who refuse to adjust, but most will eventually self-police because, well, there are woman in the room now. And men who’ve been raised right know that you should adjust your behavior accordingly when women are in the room.

And, this is where it starts to get interesting.

Men—professional men, college-aged men, men in schools, seminars, classes, and conferences—are (rightly) taught that women are just as capable, smart, resourceful, determined, and tough as men are. In a business/professional sense, you’re also taught to treat women the same way you’d treat other men. If you’re not able to do this, you face possible reprimand, you might be fired, and both you and your workplace could be sued.

But, men cannot treat women the exact same way men typically treat other men because, well, (generally speaking) if left to our own devices, we (men) are dicks to each other. So, you’re left with a dynamic where men are taught to “treat women the same way you’d treat men” but also taught to “make the environment more woman-friendly.” Basically, “gender-based differences don’t exist…but please make sure to remember that you can’t act the way you’d normally would with each other.”

There’s a scene in Django Unchained of all places that provides an example of how confusing this type of ambiguity with expected behavior can be. “Django” (Jamie Foxx) and “Schultz” (Christoph Waltz) are visiting “Big Daddy’s” (Don Johnson) plantation. When Schulz and Big Daddy plan to ahead into the house to discuss business, Big Daddy (I hate typing this so many times) instructs one of the slaves (“Betina”, played by Miriam Glover) to give Django a tour.

(Slightly paraphrasing)

Big Daddy: Django isn’t a slave. Django is a free man. You can’t treat him like you would a slave, because he’s a free man. He’s not like that. Do you understand?

Betina: So I should treat him like a White man?

Big Daddy: Heavens no. That’s not what I said.

Betina: Well, I don’t know what you want.

Big Daddy: Yea, I can see how that would be confusing.

Interestingly enough, while the concept of treating women the same as you treat men is considered progressive, if taken literally, it provides some men a justification for misogyny and even violence.

“I mean, if a man who was smaller and weaker than me insulted me like that, I’d punch him in the face. So, since women aren’t any different than men, why can’t I punch her?”

Obviously, this is a dangerous form of semantics-based cherry-picking—basically using a loophole to act out some sort of fantasy—but taking things to its most literal meaning does have a way of exposing a few cracks in a premise’s foundation.

Fortunately, most reasonable men and women seem to have figured out how to deal with these seemingly contradictory gender-based rules. Perhaps it’s because these reasonable people possess a nuanced and multi-faceted understanding of this dynamic, and this understanding allows us to treat each other with fairness. This is also known as being a f*cking professional.

Still, teaching people that we should completely overlook and ignore gender-based differences seems intentionally dishonest, and, if “being a f*cking professional” means that you need to consider “think of and treat her the exact same way you’d think of and treat a man” to be bullshit, then so be it.

¹I can’t neglect to mention that a conversation I had last week with a friend forced me to consider the wrongness of the initial joke in a different way. I thought taking offense to that “harmless” joke was just an example of someone being uber-sensitive. My friend disagreed:

“Of course you’d feel that way, because you’re a man. But…I don’t know, what if you were in her shoes—at a conference surrounded by Whites—and the men behind you were making stupid racial jokes instead of sexual jokes? Would you shrug it off as easily as you said she should have?”


—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • I think a minor wrong—the guys making the joke—led to another minor wrong—Richards taking and tweeting the pic

    While she was wrong for tweeting the pic, I could not disagree more that the joke was a “minor wrong.” Since women make such a small segment of tech, these conferences are generally described as hostile toward women. (PyCon is about 20% women – outside of all-women tech conferences, that’s a lot) As for him, you can make all the s3x jokes you want – but not at a professional conference or at work. He was representing his job and deserved to get fired.

    Finally, I hate it when there’s profanity in the URLs of VSB posts because I can’t read them at work, since my work environment filters obscenities *weeps*

    • Val

      “but not at a professional conference or at work. He was representing his job and deserved to get fired.”


    • Jay

      I’m sipping my coconut water while reading about this… for the first d*mn time.

      I think that the original offending act, while wrong, was DEFINITELY a minor wrong that he didn’t deserve to get fired for. To claim otherwise is to pretend that a grey area doesn’t exist with almost every job in existence. It sounds like you’re saying that every professional on every job should be the paragon of professionalism 100% of the time that they’re on the clock. We all joke around at work with co-workers and associates…even inappropriately. If you’re smart you don’t do it within earshot of someone who might be offended. If you screw up and UNINTENTIONALLY offend someone by a joke that WASN’T EVEN DIRECTED AT THEM… then they should bring it to your attention or to the attention of whoever is in charge and you should apologize. Dude made a joke, she overheard him… the logical next step is to AXE him right?? Nah, we’re skipping a lot of steps on the disciplinary ladder. I think that its dangerous to jump to judgement so quickly. It could lead to more firings for minor offenses… such as visiting websites with profanity in the URL. =)

      • SweetSass

        AT WILL employment is just that. You can get axed for anything and everything. You are not owed a job. That is why professional people who act professionally at work functions are less likely to be fired than people who are immature or don’t represent themselves or their company well.

        • camilleblu

          +1 – i’m in an at will state…and my company specifically states in the employee handbook that if you do something to cast the company in a bad light – even away from work – that’s grounds for termination…god forbid you get caught on the news smoking a spliff during a parliament funkadelic concert…

          • Rewind

            But…but…wasn’t that our goal for this year?

            • camilleblu

              *exhaling…slowly* sho’ you right..

              • Rewind

                Oh now you’re just showing off.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      I don’t think she was wrong for tweeting the pic given the enviornment she works in. Had she gone through the propoer channels to file a complaint, she would have gotten “We don’t beleive you, you need more people.” Her employer is pissed because she took away their leverage to say “we’ll invesitgate the matter” aka their way of sweeping it under the rug and doing nothing. It’s hard to run from the truth when it’s in your face and that’s what she wanted.

    • Your work environment filters obscenities…even when they are censored with asterisks to the point of being mildly offensive (if at all)? Does Adria now head up your IT department? :o) Be careful. She may walk by, look over your shoulder and be offended by what she sees. We all know what happens next. :o)

    • “As for him, you can make all the s3x jokes you want – but not at a professional conference or at work. He was representing his job and deserved to get fired.”

      Exactly. You are at a professional conference. Leave the off-colored jokes and inappropriate comments at the door. Even if there weren’t any women at these conferences, there is no room for that kind of disrespectful, inappropriate, UNPROFESSIONAL behavior.

    • weethomas

      Unless things changed from when you wrote your comment, there isn’t any actual profanity in the url.

  • RuthlessWonder

    It is insane that she was getting death threats and rape threats(I seriously don’t know which is worse there) for that tweet. Seems like as we progress there are still a few people clinging to the old ways despite the advances. If these guys(because I doubt there were female death/rape threats) had such an issue they should have brought it up with her company, or you know not paid her any attention. That’s part of the problem. Technology has made it so easy to respond to things that we think we have to respond to them. And yes I have the intellect to realize I’m saying this in a comment box on a blog post that I didn’t have to type in.

    But on the end of the topic I agree with you. There are some things I just don’t feel comfortable discussing when women are around. And it think it does go beyond socialization. Something innately says “Dude don’t say that.” I’m sure it goes the other way as well. It isn’t about traditionalism and gender roles its about respect for mixed company. You talk differently with family than you do strangers, or friends, or co-workers. As men its different talking around women. Just another mixed group conversation.

    • “It isn’t about traditionalism and gender roles its about respect for mixed company. You talk differently with family than you do strangers, or friends, or co-workers. As men its different talking around women. Just another mixed group conversation.”

      Yup, pretty much. Point still stands that “treat women the same way you would treat men” can’t be taken literally…thus there’s some confusion for a lot of people. I generally have no issues with this because I know how to “be a f*ckin professional”. I wouldn’t even take that chance in a work-related environment in 2013. I’m guessing they thought she couldn’t hear them or maybe they just didn’t care…

      Death and “rape threats” tho? Wow…people will say anything when they get the anonymity of the Internet as a shield. Smh the e-hate for women and other minorities or “other” groups runs REALLY deep (pause) and will p!ss u off if u give it your attention. I can’t even read the comments on many sites without them starting to get under my skin, so I don’t. It’s a shame tho

      • esa

        ~ I can’t even read the comments on many sites without them starting to get under my skin, so I don’t.

        The other day, my boy said, “I can’t think about the mentality of the people behind me.” That kinda clarity set me straight. Energy is a precious resource. I’d rather be in good company any day ~*~

  • Val

    I read some of the comments that were posted to her (Adria Richards)fb page and after reading them it’s really hard not to see this as having a major racial component.

    I’d say the majority of the comments made reference to her race, while making vile threats against her. Which makes me wonder if it was a White woman that complained and posted those pics would we even know about this incident?

    I tend to doubt it. One should never underestimate how much hate society has for Black women that’s seething just below the surface.

    • She’s half Jewish, so she got plenty of anti-Semitic threats too. It was horrible

      • Val

        The reaction to her tweets and that guy getting fired was really an indication that no matter the industry or field, many people are just waiting for the moment they can share their bigotry with the world. It then becomes hard not to be cynical about the true feelings of the person(s) sitting next to you at work.

      • Just don’t search her name in twitter, cuz

        • Val

          Yeah, wow, that bigot really covered all of his or her bases with that tweet. Meanwhile, Adria is somewhere having to deal with all of this whilst trying to find a new job.

      • I happen to think that if she were fully Jewish, she would not have gotten that type of strong, antagonistic reaction. Would she have gotten lots of criticisms? Yes. To the extent she’s gotten? No.

        • au napptural

          You mean if she was a white Jew. There are “full Jews” who are Ethiopian and otherwise fully black. But yes, if she were a white Jew that probably would’ve worked out better for her.

          • Yes, sorry, that’s what I meant. American or Ashkinezi. If she were Sephardic, Ethiopian, Mizrahi, Persian, or Syrian Jewish that’s another story.

    • Actually this is very similar to the backlash a woman who did a kickstarter named Anita Sarkeesian got for her troubles. I think her kickstarter was a ponzi scheme myself. Just like I think Richards should have handled the matter internally. But that doesn’t make me want to scrawl hatred all over their web presences.

      Some people just want to watch the world burn.

      • Val

        “Just like I think Richards should have handled the matter internally.”

        Some parts of the incident are still unclear to me. For instance, I read that Adria reported the guys to conference officials but, they did not ask them (the guys) to leave. And, this may have triggered Adria to tweet about the incident. Which, if that’s the case, I can understand her tweeting.

        • H.H.H.

          from what i’ve read, she tweeted the pic, then tweeted her disgust, then tweeted to the conference officials who escorts the 2 out of that particular discussion.

          ( – what went down)

          apparently the convo was between the 2 guys, she overheard it. while i don’t understand the exact terms, the guy that got fired explained that he wasnt using the phrase in a lewd way.
          ( – from the guy that got fired)

          i personally feel that comments shouldn’t lead to folks losing their jobs, but essentially it doesn’t matter. she felt harassed, that’s what she chose to do.

          it’s a sobering reminder to myself to watch my mouth in public areas.

          • Val

            Interesting. I keep hearing different things about the order in which things happened.

            • Apparently it was all fun and games until Playhaven(who fired the guy) was having their commitment to gender equality questioned, and Anonymous(my favorite group of people with computers) started threatening a retaliatory DoS attack on SendGrid(who fired her). Maybe if we all stop talking about it everyone could quietly get their jobs back and all we would have left at webtrolls trolling each other. Pipe Dream though that may be.

    • Charcoal Burnt Brother Lover

      *waving*!! Hiya, Val!! :)

      • Val

        Hiya, AM!



  • Malik

    Eh, this is under the presumption that men can’t treat other men better and that changes should only occur because women are there.

    • Todd

      Do you realize the rabbit hole this takes people down? Anything can be taken as offensive given enough words or even misunderstood body language. I could see a lot of different things that could go wrong her, and as a result, the most sensitive person gets to control the room.

      • Malik

        The old libertarian “they’re stealing our freedoms” argument. Except that hasn’t happened. Ever. The only people that limit freedoms are the same exact people who always had the leeway to say and do what they want.

        • Todd

          And you’re breaking out the old Marxist canard that everything can be broken down to class relations, and that if you give people one inch, next thing you know they’ll enslave everyone.

          Don’t go ad hominem on this. Just don’t.

          • Malik

            No ad hominem. One has actually been proven in human history the other has not. The point isn’t about being more sensitive. It’s that if you feel need to make class divisions within the groups that already work intimately together then you are already eroding the foundation of the work place. It’s a micro example of a systematic issue with business that people have zero desire to attempt to correct because they’re ridiculously short sighted and the process to the end goal is difficult.

            • forgot my name

              I agree.

        • Todd

          Oh, by the way, do people like you need apples to eat? Not because you need them, of course, but to keep up your strength so you can think for the animalspeople? ;)

          • Malik

            You are consistent in every conversation. One of the few here.

      • SweetSass

        Oh, overly sensitive…

        Like when you say I am ‘harassing you’ and you want to call the cops on me based on blog comments.

        Pot meet KETTLE.

        • Todd

          That somehow you have trouble understanding the differences between adults dealing with each other and adults dealing with children is telling.

          Have a good day. :)

    • SweetSass

      Right, you are still a colossal douche if you treat other men with blatant disrespect.

    • “Eh, this is under the presumption that men can’t treat other men better and that changes should only occur because women are there.”

      My thoughts exactly. Like a man can’t treat another man with respect? Geez.

      • h.h.h.

        outside of those higher ranked than us?

        uhm…you might be unpleasantly surprised. :/

        • No, I’m not surprised. I’ve seen the disrespect between males, and that’s not cool.

          • Marshal

            Same can be said for how women disrespect other women. Both genders do it to each other and within, so there is a lot of Mirror-Looking Introspection to go around

  • “Predictably, this story has created multiple sub-stories about the tech industry, sexism, racism, trolling, concern-trolling, sensitivity, victim-blaming, sexual harassment, patriarchy, and a dozen more of our trendiest blog buzz terms.”

    This is an area that I am very familiar with- and it ties into another story I mentioned earlier.

    However, I won’t say anything about it at the moment. I’m just going to wait and see how the comments are going to turn out.

    This is going to get real…really real…

    *sips tea*

  • To be honest, I am more concerned with the backlash than the actual act in question. But I’m glad twitter exists for that one reason- to irrefutably prove, with actual examples, that rape has, is and always will be about POWER, not chex. Men hurled the threat of it at her to “teach her a lesson”. To “humble” her. To “silence” her. How dare she come out her mouth. She should be raped, THAT’LL teach her not to stick her mouth where it doesn’t belong!!! Pay attention, cause it’s showing its face here. This is a teaching moment, and I hope it isn’t lost.

    • Todd

      And it shows that women just have to say mere words to get other men to do their dirty work for them, all while their hands stay clean. Not cosigning the rape remarks, but homegirl was DEAD wrong for what she did. I just wish people protested her with something resembling sense.

      • Sweet GA Brown

        Interesting. While I do believe that the two men werent professional in making those statements, I do feel that her professionalism was null and void when she felt the need to snap a pic of strangers and blast them on the internet. I dont know how that makes her more innocent than them.

        As for the backlash that followed, this is what happens when you dont handle things on the lowest level possible.

      • Homegirl was not dead wrong for what she did. I’ve read a couple of brothas here say that women fail to understand context, and I say that in this case some of you are failing to understand context. She works in a field that is still predominantly male and has to endure some form of harassment due to her gender repeatedly. Calling them out for what they did when she has to put up with it all the time is not wrong–it’s about d*mn time. No one should endure harassment.

        • Charcoal Burnt Brother Lover

          In her case, she did NOT call out ANY harrassment. She created a FICTIOUS case of harrassment, big difference. This chick is absolutely bananas, as far as this case is concerned.

      • au napptural

        How was she wrong? Let’s forget what happened and focus on the tweeting part. If she had tweeted “these guys have invented a new code to make work easier” there would be no problem. If she tweeted something positive about the situation “these guys are hilarious” there would be no problem. All she did was tweet what happened. Anyone who is butthurt over that needs help.
        I think people are mad at having to deal with the situation. Whereas if Richards had turned her head, no one would have to do anything. I think she was right. As black people, women, w/e we don’t have to take these microaggressions in a place of business. Her company was dead-wrong to fire her.

        And that dude who was fired got what he deserved. His “forking” jokes had nothing to do with the conference or business. We all know better (or should know better) than to act up at work. Save all your lewd thoughts for happy hour. And I agree with Champ’s friend- if those guys were making black jokes all the men on here would be coming to Richards’ defense, not saying she was “too sensitive.”

        • I Guess Because I Am A LADY

          WOW. good point. The converse would have been praised, particualrly at a Tech Conference.

          But that’s always the case. Public denunciation will always illicit a greater response than public accolade.

  • That Ugly Kid

    Sweet! Now that the Lebron Nut Hugging session is done with, I can post now.

    • H.H.H.

      Lebron going for that top 5 of all time ranking right now

    • veryaveragebrotha

      careful TUK…jokes about ‘nut hugging’ might get you put on blast and professionally ruined…

      • Kema

        *clutches pearls* There are ladies present!

      • Sweet GA Brown

        This screen shot will be posted to twitter instantaneously!!!!

        • That Ugly Kid

          You better not!!! Or else I’ll tell everyone what you do during work! That’s right, I know. You eat popcorn…

          …with no butter. One of the most atrocious things a human being can do.

          • Sweet GA Brown

            *deletes screenshot and pretends nothing happened…

    • Todd

      ROTFLMAO You wrong for that TUK!

  • Negro Libre

    I’m infuriated by this actually.

    As for your friend, like many people who identify with modern feminism, they are more concerned with power and comfort than they are with being moral human beings; and this applies to all people who prefer to look at themselves as legal entities rather than human beings. For starters, I don’t know how many offensive jokes I’ve heard from women on a regular basis when I worked in the psych field, sometimes a lot of the jokes had to do with the peen size of clients (in the psych field most patients are actually male, especially when dealing with trauma and aggression). I found those things in poor taste as do most regular people do, but I would never have made a complaint to corporate, because I view these women as human beings and not as oppressors, and for the most part if things were that drastic, I would have tried to reason with that person first before putting their career in jeopardy…in addition, I knew the consequence of me making a complaint about these things, would lead to them getting fired, simply because I felt uncomfortable by their use of language.

    So because someone makes jokes to his friend about dongles (d*ck) and forking (f*cking), who wasn’t even talking to you, that person deserves to have their identity put on blast and be used as a whipping boy in the never ending battle that feminists have declared on sexual harassment in the workplace; even though by legal definition harassment is the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands…which never happened, but hey who gives a f*ck, as long as we get to kick the patriarchy in the nut$ack, who cares about our intellectual dishonesty and the consequences it has on the lives of those who get sacrificed?

    However, this isn’t really about Adria Richards or the guy that got fired, that’s the reason behind why she’s received so much hatred in the first place – this is a war, and war is by it’s nature ugly and inhumane, because there is a thirst for revenge and vengeance due to losses on one side or the other. This is really about the idea that rights are subjective and change based on dynamics of privilege. Which by all means contradicts the actual meaning of rights, which are meant to be absolute and universal. This is all about tribalism when it’s all said and done, and feminism has turned being a woman into being a tribe based off the false idea that this is what men have always done…which is completely false. But once again who cares? Who cares that the cause of most civil wars in human history are based off tribal conflict? Or the most and longest lasting damaging wars to a nation or a people tend to be the civil ones? Who really cares? Let’s all just get more tribal power, till we own it all and let’s constantly victimize ourselves till we’re in control of everything. F*ck unity and f*ck humanity.

    • H.H.H.

      “So because someone makes jokes to his friend about dongles (d*ck) and forking (f*cking), who wasn’t even talking to you, that person deserves to have their identity put on blast and be used as a whipping boy”

      on company time (aka repping your company at a conference)…yeah, i guess you can. so long as you’re on the company dime on company time and you represent your brand/company…gotta watch what you say and where you say it.

      as i see it.

      • Negro Libre

        You know the meter cops who wait by your car as the timer goes down to zero so they can give you a ticket are doing every thing right legally and by their company rules as well. However, we know that is not the right “human” thing to do. When a TSA person is molesting you or your kid, under their desire to protect travelers from terrorist attacks, we all know that legally and by company policy, they are doing the right thing. However, morally, we know them to be wrong, which is why we get outraged by it.

        Morality has to do with treating others as you’d want them to treat yourself. If you were saying something someone considered offensive, would you not want them to approach you and try to reason with you, rather than put your picture on the internet and basically call you a privileged sexists?

        • H.H.H.

          morality is subjective, there are certain moral codes that stay the same throughout cultures. in western culture, men have been on top for so long, the rubber band is ‘snapping back’ so to speak.

          if i said something that someone considered offensive, it’s up to them as to whether they feel that constitutes harassment. while certain people have agendas, certain people use a nuke to handle a molehill, the deference to the ‘minority’ in the workplace exists for a reason.

          • That Ugly Kid

            it’s up to them as to whether they feel that constitutes harassment.

            But whether said assessment is true or not, is a different story. Just like I can call a congratulatory pat on the shoulder an assault. That doesn’t make it so, now does it?

            • h.h.h.

              if you feel harassed, if this creates, fosters an offensive work environment, then that can be harassment. whether or not i agree with it.

              that’s how i understand the codes to be.

          • Negro Libre

            There is nothing subjective about treating others as you would want them to treat you. It’s rather simple and straightforward. The only reason why deference to the minority is given in the workplace has absolutely nothing to do with the workplace and has everything to do with lawsuits.

            People need to separate morality from legality. Morality has to do with right and wrong and is always black or white, legal stuff is always in the gray because if it was in black or white there would be no need for lawyers.

            • camilleblu

              There is nothing subjective about treating others as you would want them to treat you. It’s rather simple and straightforward.

              i don’t know…what if i want people to be harsh and rude b/c that is what motivates me to do my best work?? does that mean that it’s ok for me to be harsh and rude to everyone else?? your statement seems to imply or assume that treating others as you want to be treated equals pleasant or nice.

              • Negro Libre

                Morality doesn’t have to do with your work it has to do with universal principles. In order for that to be moral, you would have to believe being harsh and rude is beneficial to all mankind and is right; whereas being sensitive and polite is wrong; and is detrimental to society as a whole.

                • camilleblu

                  but i didn’t say anything about morality and you still didn’t fully respond to my question.

                  • Negro Libre

                    “Morality has to do with treating others as you’d want them to treat yourself”

                    That was the context in which I made the statement that there is nothing subjective about treating others as you treat yourself. So unless, your point was to ask me an out of context question, then I believe I answered your question? Didn’t I?

                    • camilleblu

                      no smart @ss, you didn’t, but that’s ok.

                    • Negro Libre

                      lol, well I’ll answer your out of context question. The answer is it’s not okay to be rude to people, which is why the word has negative connotations in the first place, regardless of if it works for you or not.

                    • camilleblu

                      ““Morality has to do with treating others as you’d want them to treat yourself”…and just so that we’re clear…none of that was in the original statement that i was responding to you about…so maybe you’re taking your own self “out of context”

                    • Negro Libre

                      Not at all, you quoted a response I made to HHH. That comment was in the context of a back and forth I was having with him on morality. In other words, that comment was attached to other things I was talking about aka the comment was in a particular context smh.

            • Ms. Bridget

              Actually “treating others as you want to be treated” is the epitome of subjectivity as it is all based on how YOU want to be treated. This standard will change from person to person. Did I miss something?

              • Negro Libre

                Give me an example of something that is subjective and is moral at the same time?

                • Ms. Bridget

                  Ummm, no.

                  • Negro Libre

                    Okay…point taken.

                • Ms. Bridget

                  Maybe that last comment was short and rude. I didn’t say anything about morality in my prior comment…I am not interested in giving any examples of morality and it’s relation to subjectivity now.

                  • Negro Libre

                    But my whole point was based on the context of morality, so when you and camilleblu asked me questions, I assumed that they weren’t out of context.

                    • Ms. Bridget

                      Yeah, I still disagree with you; and that’s ok. I also agree with H.H.H. *shrugs shoulders*

            • h.h.h.

              “There is nothing subjective about treating others as you would want them to treat you.”

              Yes, there is. some people are excessively sensitive (example, the Ralph Tresvant VSBers and VSSers you’ve seen), some people are excessively blunt. it is what it is.

    • Aly

      I found those things in poor taste as do most regular people do, but I would never have made a complaint to corporate, because I view these women as human beings and not as oppressors

      That’s your decision. But it’s also up to the person making the crude remarks to understand their company’s sexual harassment policy and the possible consequences that come with certain behavior. People also have the right to file a complaint if they feel harassed. They’re not obligated to “reason with” the person first. Would it be nice? Sure. But again, they’re not obligated, so people making crude remarks need to realize this and adjust their behavior accordingly.

      and for the most part if things were that drastic, I would have tried to reason with that person first before putting their career in jeopardy…

      She (Adria) didn’t put their careers in jeopardy. She didn’t ask for them to be fired or punished. The company made that decision.

      • Negro Libre

        Look, I’ve said it before I’m talking from a perspective of acting like a human being or acting like a corporate entity aka an employee. She has every right to act like a robot and do what she has been programmed to do, which she did. However, you should then not be surprised that she is being dehumanized now with insults and threats from others, when she was the one who first set the precedent smh.

        Personally, like Will Smith in IRobot, I don’t like Robots who pretend they are human but they aren’t. They’re the kind of people in the workplace who smile in your face and then stab you in the back for a promotion which of course companies love, fear and distrust between peers, leads to workers who can’t unite against management. But hey who cares, right; she did the right thing and hurray for transhumanism.

        • Aly

          she did the right thing and hurray for transhumanism.

          I never wrote that she did the right thing. Personally, I don’t think that she should have tweeted the picture – it was unprofessional and immature.

          But that’s my point – it doesn’t matter what you or I PERSONALLY think. The only thing that matters is the law and your company’s policy. If you don’t like it, fine, get the law/policy changed. Until then, you have the choice to either follow the rules or don’t and face the consequences. This has nothing to do with “acting like a human.”

        • camilleblu

          so, in your mind, at what point can someone use corporate policy/procedure to address an issue and not be a robot?

          • Negro Libre

            Well, first a person is a robot not because they use corporate policy for their benefit, but rather they use the policy FIRST or only, rather than try to approach a person they have a problem with and attempt to nip in the butt that very instance. If someone tries to talk to someone, and that person doesn’t listen, or responds in a disrespectful or threatening manner, then that person is not a robot and is doing something that they “have” to do since someone chooses not to be reasonable.

            However, as Mena said, corporate policy is not for the benefit of the wage earner, it is for the benefit of the employer: the employer would use it in a second to get rid of you: it’s merely for covering their own arse, and once you use it, you are no longer in control of the consequences of what might happen, which is what Ms. Richards is sadly finding out this very moment.

            • camilleblu

              got cha…and i agree…from an hr standpoint all corporate policy is ultimately set up to protect the company first…i think we are both using the same “context” this time :)

      • forgot my name


      • forgot my name


    • SweetSass

      “Morality” is entirely subjective and your post proves it.

      Example: Hardcore Catholics/Evangelicals think that stem cell research is immoral. On the other hand, someone who is atheist probably doesn’t care or would think NOT doing stem cell research if it could save lives would be immoral.

      As to why YOUR post proves that morality is subjective… you entirely dismiss the moral obligation of the men sitting behind Adria. You dismiss their nonchalance and their disregard for her, you affirm their belief that they ‘own that space’ and can act as the please. What if they had been joking whether or not ‘n*gger dongles’ are bigger than regular dongles? And surrepticiously glanced at you while giggling like fools.

      You are just a he-man woman hater at it again. You just choose to see the parking ticket attendant doing their job as ‘out to get you’ but deny the fact that Adria and other women in tech feel that men making sexist jokes are ‘out to get them.’

      • Negro Libre

        Morality has to do with principles of what is right and what is wrong. The debate between Catholics and Atheists have to do with whether or not it is morally right to create life. Religion is not universal, unless it is believed, whereas secularism aims towards universalism despite belief. Since morality has to do with universal principles, the Atheists are morally right and the religious aren’t even qualified to be a part of the conversation. The metaphysics of religion disqualifies from it conversations about principles that apply to the human race as a whole.

        That being said, is it morally right to talk make sexual innuendos to your friends in a public setting, privately? The answer is yes. Is it morally right for you to have a racist conversation privately either – the answer is yes!…that doesn’t mean you won’t get someone offended or you might not get attacked, or conflict might not result from you being overheard, but morally you’re in the right. Are people morally obligated to not offend other people? The answer is no! Are people morally obligated not to hate other people? The answer is no!

        Corporations however are not human beings, and human beings are the only ones who can have conversations about right or wrong. Corporations are legal creations, abstract persons. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. All that matters is what they can or cannot do. They can fire people, and they fired a man with 3 kids, and they fired a woman who thought she was fighting for equality in the workplace and against sexual harassment. As far as that department is concerned, things are pretty much all set there.

        • SweetSass

          *You* say that having sexist or racist conversation is ‘right’…

          But guess what? Not everyone agrees with you.

          Some people, myself included, think that racist and sexist talk is always immoral… whether private or public or passive aggressively loudly whispered during a conference. And that the people who are sexist or racists are jerks. Jerks if they are doing it anonymously on the internet, jerks if they do it at work, jerks if they do it to their romantic partners or around their friends.

          You think that your personal beliefs are universal, that is the height of vanity.

          • Negro Libre

            I never said these things are beliefs. Murder is wrong, by nature. Killing someone who is innocent is wrong by nature. That has absolutely nothing to do with beliefs but is common sense. And that is what morality is based on, what is right or wrong based on the nature of human beings.

            Talking ill about someone or talking about discriminating someone, is not morally wrong according to nature. And morals have to do with universals, regardless of belief, opinion, experience etc. You think people who have those kind of conversations are jerks, a$$holes, douchebags etc. You hate them…which cough cough, is morally right. Just like they cough cough are morally right in hating you despite their rationale for doing so.

            • h.h.h.

              “Murder is wrong, by nature.”

              Did you do triple jump in college? because this is quite the leap?
              “By Nature”? what do you mean by that? the Animal kingdom? where they kill to eat, or kill to eliminate genetic competition?
              is there an example of one animal “murdering” another animal that doesn’t fit into those 2 areas?

              or did you mean withing human civilsation’s social contract, murder is wrong?

              i just need you to explain, flesh it out please.

            • SweetSass

              There is nothing natural about morals.

              Nature does not imbue us with morality.

              We must be taught.

              And ‘morals’ aka a code by which we conduct ourselves has to be agreed upon by groups of people and depending on that group of people those morals change.


              • esa

                ~ Nature does not imbue us with morality.

                yes, but Nature gives us a conscience. so there is a hand in glove aspect to biology and society at work here ..

                that said, poor teachings make for a mess of things. mmm yes of this i know all too well ..

                • SweetSass

                  Nature doens’t give a conscience.

                  That is also taught.

                  You need to know what to feel guilty or shamed over before you feel conscious pangs over your actions.

    • “So because someone makes jokes to his friend about dongles (d*ck) and forking (f*cking), who wasn’t even talking to you, that person deserves to have their identity put on blast and be used as a whipping boy in the never ending battle that feminists have declared on sexual harassment in the workplace;”

      So based on this, would you say that whenever I overhear my bosses making “jokes” about my religion, that I shouldn’t put them on blast merely because they weren’t talking to me? Or how about that time someone “accidentally” dropped an anti-Islamic pamphlet right next to my chair? Should I not put them on blast because they can argue that it wasn’t directed to me (even though it was dropped right next to my cubicle and I am the only Muslim in the office)? Or are you just speaking about jokes that are related to gender? I’m curious as to your thoughts. Because when you make room for one form of harassment, you set a precedence that all types of harassment are acceptable.

      • Negro Libre

        No, I’m talking universally. If someone says something that you deem offensive, you should approach them and talk to them about it. What one possibly could do is not what one actually does. If they dismiss your complaints you go to your superiors. If you can’t get justice from then, then go to the public and appeal. The fact is the higher up you go, the less control you have over the consequences of making a complaint against someone you work with but a lot of times it is necessary.

      • Marshal

        You go to the person/persons Directly FIRST, and if it persists THEN you go through the Chains of Command. THIS is how it works in All Work Settings, or else there wouldn’t be Any Reason to have Sensitivity Training in the 1st place.

        IDK why it is so hard for people to grasp this, like Libre and Rewind and others have repeated said-Everyone’s idea of Morality is Subjective; Yes, SOME have Similar Boundaries or Limits, but each Individuals’ definition is Subjective. Ethics are UNIVERSAL, not SUBJECTIVE, these apply to ALL, and so is Free Will and Common Sense; Some Use them more than others, and even those are Separate from Emotions/Feelings.

        Bottom Line, BOTH the Men and Adria Richards made Poor Choices, but Only ONE of them handled this incident the Wrong Way, despite Her Best Intentions (if she even had any, again, that’s SUNJECTIVE), and everything else is the Fallout

        • Marshal


        • It’s not hard for me to grasp. What I’m trying to say is that we don’t really know if she’s done this in the past (taken things up with her superiors first) and gotten no where and she finally had enough. CONTEXT, PEOPLE, CONTEXT! I’ve gotten that before on this site and I’m telling you that right now. We’re not wholeheartedly familiar with the context and have no idea if in the past she’s done what you deem appropriate and has gotten nowhere.

        • SweetSass

          Sensitivity training is for people who SAY offensive comments. It’s not for teaching people to confront their tormenters.

          You missed the point of sensitivity training.

          Not all people feel comfortable head-on confronting the people who offend them. Issues of safety, identity, etc.

          How many times have I stood up for what I believe in on here and directly addressed someone with what I find offensive about their comments … and been called names, accused of being a fill-in-the-blank stereotype, dismissed as ‘irrational’ even when I clearly spell out my position, and otherwise besmirched.

          BOTH of them handled things the wrong way. The men just did it first. They handled Being Professional 101 wrong and are just as at fault for what ensued.

          • Val

            “Not all people feel comfortable head-on confronting the people who offend them. Issues of safety, identity, etc.”

            Very true. Especially when it comes to strangers and on top of that strangers who make off-color comments. Which would also lead one to believe that they had issues with boundaries and appropriateness. Which would make approaching them even more intimidating.

    • Amethyst

      In reference to ur female co-workers making lewd comments about male patients, while VERY wrong…it is also VERY different. Whether we like it or not, the gender of the person making a particular ‘type’ of statement, has the ability to color said statement as either just inappropriate (sp?), or…inappropriate AND threatening. If the gender roles were reversed, I doubt any female worker could just ignore a male worker making certain remarks about female patients. The mere fact that a man can overpower most women any day any time, makes certain comments threatening, and potentially dangerous. History has shown us that women are more vulnerable and way more susceptible to danger. Is it possible that if it was a male coworker saying lewd things about a female patient, you (or anyone in ur position) might have felt the need to actually do something? Like calling him on it or reporting to a superior?

      • I Guess Because I Am A LADY

        Exactly. What makes an offensive statement actionable is its associative power.

        Black guy calling White guy cracker: The white guy is probably dismayed and a little taken aback.

        White guy calling Black guy nigger: History has shown that there is societal privilege to being not-Black in Western society that negatively affects Blacks’ socio-economic status.

        Thus the nigger is more hurtful for what it represents to someone’s livelihood.

        A woman objectifying a man: *shrugs* OR perhaps a bit uncomfortable
        A man objectifying a woman: This guy could rape me without the help of a weapon. Overpower my ass and have me left feeling like a victimized piece of “oh well she did it to herself for having boobs in public”

        So while offensive comments are bad no matter who says them. They’re weighted differently. And since we shouldn’t generalize or purport to know how someone should perceive or interpret, it’s best to play it safe in public and leave questionable humor for your homies (male or female) who you know get it.

  • Val

    I’m not sure how much feminism has to do with this or the reaction. I think that when you have to deal with any historically hierarchical power structure, as a non-member of the majority, you can and likely will have a difficult time navigating within that structure. And, when you challenge said structure you will without a doubt get some serious push-back, as Adria is getting.

    Citing feminism as the cause for the backlash is like accusing a Black person of using the ‘race card’ when they complain about being the victim of racism. Hollering ‘feminazis’ is a way of trying to silence women who deal with problems in the workplace, not of their doing.

    In other words, these sorts of incidents or the reaction to them cannot simply be blamed on feminism. This crap was going on way before there was a thing called feminism.

    • Val

      This is a reply to Negro Libre. Not sure why it didn’t show as a reply.

    • Negro Libre

      “I think that when you have to deal with any historically hierarchical power structure, as a non-member of the majority, you can and likely will have a difficult time navigating within that structure.”

      This is a concept; it’s a concept associated with social theory, which feminism is a part of. And in this particular case, when the historically heirarchal power structure in question is men, and the minority is women, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that feminism is at the source of this issue and of this conversation. It is not about what happened, but rather how what happened is being interpreted and your interpretation of this event is a feminist interpretation. It could easily be translated as a man and a woman simply having a conflict of opinion, or a woman who was offended by a man’s joke.

      • I Guess Because I Am A LADY

        I agree with you both.

        She interpreted a seemingly innocuous “sexual” joke, applicable to any gender identity, as a “sexist” comment. I’m a woman. I work in Tech. I would have probably laughed at the joke. The nuance of the joke is something I have heard between mixed, all-female, and mostly-male groups. A sexist comment to me would have been, “Women at a Tech conference. Ha.”

        But again, social structures, discomfort, interpretations, all complex. She’s older than me and has probably experienced much more institutional marginalization than I have in the industry. Thus, her reaction to the comment is a result of Val’s explanation.

        “I think that when you have to deal with any historically hierarchical power structure, as a non-member of the majority, you can and likely will have a difficult time navigating within that structure.”

        But I don’t even think that was the case here. Adria Richards comes across as hyper-conservative professionally. She would have taken offense to that if two women had said it. If you read her blog, it’s been the case before when she’s boycotted a female peer’s presentation for a relatively tame reference to porn, which objectifies all involved, but is also enjoyable across gender lines depending on its type.

        I don’t fault her. She’s certainly not someone I would want to work side by, as humor gets me through most of my day with my colleagues. We’re Chelsea Handler she’s 700 Club. Perhaps she should consider working for a Think Tank or an Advocacy Group because it is clear that’s where her interests lie 98% of the time.

  • nillalatte

    *sticks head out the cave & starts searching for water* I’m sorry … who did what where when?! I’ll, hopefully, be back tomorrow after I catch up with the world … gesh, I gotta start getting out that cave more!

    • Val

      Hiya, Nilla!



      • nillalatte

        Hi Val! Hope all is well. I’ve been a little buried — in a cave apparently. ;) Actually, my office feels like a cave and my chair a rock! Have fun!

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