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Sexism in FOSS

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Clearing My Conscience

A cowardly attempt to make myself look better

First off I would like to point you all to a few blog posts of my own which might be considered sexist, so that you people won’t have to point it out in the comments.

First one is about a porn site called Fuck For Forest. Read it and judge for yourself. In my opinion there’s nothing sexist about that, but if you feel different feel free to comment that post (not this one).

The second one has the headline “Man tits women’s tits, what’s the difference?“, which is about a demonstration for women’s right to bathe topless. I actually considered editing it, but I’ll leave it there for you. I’ts supposed to be written in a humorous tone. I can see the wording might be confusing. Some of it because I’m not a native English speaker, and some of it is intended to be humorous. I stand by that I like women’s breasts and that I have no objections against women bathing topless in public facilities. Luckily for mankind (which might be a sexist term) most men find a woman’s body sexy. The blog post continues with a short paragraph about censorship of sexual photos, and the wording might be clumsy (I don’t know if I was drunk), but I won’t edit it to make myself look better.

Now that that is off my chest I can get to the real point of this blog post. I read a few blog posts by Carla Schroder on LinuxToday which talked about sexism in FOSS. A topic I think got fueled by Richard Stallman’s clumsy religious joke about Saint Ignucius and the deflowering of Emacs-virgins. This article is my perspective on sexism, and the misunderstandings I see more and more often.

What Is Sexism

Let us start out by defining sexism. There seems to be alot of confusion about it.

sex·ism (skszm)
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

First one is obvious to most of us, but the second definition explains it a little more; Attitudes, conditions or behaviours that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

If I say to a woman “You have a nice ass”, it’s not sexism, but it could be sexual harassment or a compliment depending on the mental state of the person who receives that comment. It’s the person making the comment who has the responsibility to read if it’s appropriate or not, often a comment like that is only acceptable to wifes, girlfriends or close friends where you are both trained in reading each others body language. The reason why it in any case is not sexism is because your body is not a social role. When a man say something like that it doesn’t mean the he thinks less of women, it means he is attracted to women (he might still be a pig).

An example of sexism is if you get valued differently just because of your gender, you will never doubt when that happens. It will not necessarily be any demeaning wording, you will clearly be able to read it from the persons body language. Words are never in themselves demeaning, and that’s the hard part about sexism and other discriminations, you need to be able to read people’s intentions. It’s all psychology, how does the recipient perceive what I say and what does the sender mean with what he says. In my opinion many cases about sexism is not really sexism, it’s misunderstandings where both parties end up feeling that they have been treated wrongfully.

Many common phrases and turns use a single gender. Using them does not mean you are being sexist. Most phrases have a history and many words simply change their meaning a bit. As an example in Danish Football the goalkeeper, which is gender-neutral in English, is called (roughly translated) a goal-man in Danish, it might sound discriminatory in English, but no one thinks of it as being just a man, a female goalkeeper is called the same without hesitation and any thought to the word applying less to her than to her male colleague.

If you are in doubt weather someone is being sexist, you should always confront them politely and ask what they really meant, I’m certain that most of the time it will be a misunderstanding. Real sexism is easy to spot.

What We Can Do About Sexism

Carla is talking about phrases and words in her articles. In the case of Mark Shuttleworth I really felt he was wrongfully accused. Carla didn’t start this and I have deep respect for her, but I feel he was misunderstood by the original complainant and sadly the rest of the proud women of FOSS fell for it. Basically what he did was to use the word guys about a group of people throughout his speech, which is a casual term including both women and men. The fact that someone counted and noticed all the occurrences of the word tells me someone had an agenda. An agenda which might have been meant well, but doesn’t help women in FOSS at all.

Mark also said; “if we approach this from the perspective of saying, how do we make this just awesome for end users, then we will have less trouble explaining to girls what we actually do“. Yes, Mark is talking to men in that phrase. What he is doing is to use his own experiences (he is a man) with how difficult it is to make your wife or girlfriend understand what you spend all your time doing on the computer. It is easier to tell his wife that he is working on getting the Wireless network to work without having to configure it, than to use a lot of technical lingo no one understands. He could have said “girlfriends and boyfriends” or something similar, but just because he didn’t doesn’t mean what he said was sexist.

What I am trying to say with this is that, going after words are not worth your time. Act on the meaning of words instead, and then point it out in proper tone to help you get backing. I know it’s hard if you feel you have been wronged, but it’s more effective than a counter-attack, where you begin to look just as bad as the offender. I promise you that we are a lot of men out there who are willing to back up women, who have been wronged. In the end there will be two sides. Women and Men turning their back on Sexists (of both genders).

The amount of women involved in FOSS is not important. The important thing is that women who are involved with FOSS don’t feel alienated, but feel that they are a part of the team. Therefore I don’t believe in exclusive women communities, which are about getting women into FOSS. Working to specifically get women into Free Software is unimportant, doing that looks like a symptom that the women the FOSS community have, don’t feel they are a part of the team.


Written by gaffa

2009-09-30 at 15:56

Posted in Linux, Philosophy, Politics

Tagged with , ,

Local DNS to work around censorship

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I live in Denmark and unfortunately that’s a country where courts don’t know the laws they judge by. Which means IFPI got through with a nationwide block of the site thepiratebay.org. The Pirate Bay is basically just a huge public torrent tracker, which means many Open Source projects are using it to distribute files (fx. the game Urban Terror) and even the Danish national television were distributing some files through it. I personally used it to distribute the Creative-Commons BBC documentary The Codebreakers for IOSN (a UN Development Programme).

At first I used /etc/hosts and manually entered the IPs, because I didn’t want to use an external DNS service. I don’t trust any outsiders with all my DNS lookups, I want all lookups except the blocked domains to go to my ISP. Unfortunately a static hosts file is just not the same as doing a DNS lookup for this kind of site. Fx. tracker.thepiratebay.org does not point to one single IP, but 8 different IPs. CNAME records like vip.tracker.thepiratebay.org points to tracker.thepiratebay.org. Another problem is when TPB decides to start a new site like trial.thepiratebay.org, then I have to manually add that domain to /etc/hosts after looking it up at TPBs own nameservers.

Today I decided to try a different approach than the static hosts file. I wanted to set up at DNS proxy. I went with pdnsd, which was very easy to set up. All I had to do was to install the packages pdnsd and resolvconf (on Ubuntu 8.04) and add the two entries below to the pdnsd.conf file. The router entry redirects any lookup not pointing at thepiratebay.org and its subdomains to my router. If you’re not using a router you could enter the IPs of your ISPs DNS servers instead of the IP of your router. The tpb entry is simply an entry that looks up any request for thepiratebay.org and its subdomains and nothing else. The servers used are TPBs own name servers.

server {
    label = "router";
    ip =;
    exclude = ".thepiratebay.org";
    policy = included;
server {
    label = "tpb";
    ip =
    include = ".thepiratebay.org";
    policy = excluded;

Written by gaffa

2009-02-15 at 19:41

Posted in Copyright, Linux, Politics, Software, Ubuntu

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Great Apes Get Human Rights – In Spain

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Ape Reading A Newspaper

Great Ape Reading A Newspaper

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.

Parliament’s environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.

Source: Reuters

We have seen human rights get expanded to cover more and more people before (slaves fx.), but this is the first time we see animals gain human rights. Like humans great apes will have the right to freedom and life. If you kill a great ape or take away its freedom you will go to jail.

Although I’m not vegetarian, I can see some reason in this. It is well know that great apes have a cultural and social life which indicates a level of intelligence where I can no longer decide if they are self aware creatures or not.

If you want to know more about great apes and why they should have rights similar to human rights, you should check out The Great Ape Project.

This is just an update a year later to say that, I don’t know if the resolution was ever made in to law. If anyone does, please comment or send me an e-mail. Thank you.

Written by gaffa

2008-08-02 at 23:42

Save Earth! Watch Porn!

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I first heard about this at Roskilde Festival 2008. One of my friends Theis, who had just returned from New Zealand working for Greenpeace, told me about these Norwegian people who started a non-profit porn site to save nature, Fuck For Forest.

Now you can have that nice feeling of helping to save earth while jerking off to porn.

Fuck For Forest

Leona and Tommy from Fuck For Forrest

Visit Fuck For Forest

Sorry guys the link was wrong. Apparently I couldn’t spell forest.

Written by gaffa

2008-08-02 at 17:27

Man tits women’s tits, what’s the difference?

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Aktion for bare bryster i DGI byen

Demonstration for womens right to bathe topless. DGI Byen.

Demonstrations can be violent or peaceful… or beautiful.

Today a group of women decided to demonstrate for equal rights to bathe topless. They have my sympathy… I just can’t help it girls. It has nothing to do with women’s rights that your breasts turn me on. (So does a naked shoulder! Preferably a woman’s).

Something I am strongly against is action against taking sexual photos of women in a nurses costume. JBS, a boxershorts company, pulled their campaign after heavy pressure from the national nurses association.

Luckily I saved the wallpapers. You can get them here:


Written by gaffa

2007-12-20 at 20:43

Statistics for what they are

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Statistics is a mathematical tool for measuring probability in clean room experiments. We see a lot of statistic surveys in the news all the time, which most often influences the politics of our country. That is fine if they were taken for what they are. These statistical surveys are rarely done in clean room environments, but are being treated as if they were. Take for example something which is very controversial to opponent against – statistics of smoke induced diseases.

Monitoring smokers and determining the probability of that group getting cancer is not done in a clean room environment. If it was to be done in a clean room environment we would need 200 human clones, eating the exact same, breathing the exact same air and so on where 100 of those would be smokers and 100 of them non-smokers. We need the only difference to be the subject we are doing statistics on. If not then I could claim that smokers tend to live their lives less healthy than non-smokers and blame the general lifestyle of smokers or that smokers had an actual gene that would make them both smoke, and die younger. I would not be able to blame the chemical substances of tobacco. What the survey would tell you is that if you are the group of people who smoke you will have a higher probability of getting cancer, but it would not be able to say if tobacco was to blame.

Don’t believe statistics. Understand them.

I’m a smoker and I’m not blind to the risks of an unhealthy lifestyle. I accept them as a side effect of enjoying my life.

Written by gaffa

2007-11-24 at 14:35

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Anti-smoking laws in Denmark

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In the middle of this month new anti-smoking laws will take effect in Denmark. The new laws make smoking illegal in bars, restaurants and the like. I think this is a violation of bar and restaurant owners right to serve the costumers they want.

We need to look at the problem. The issue is second-hand smoke and non-smokers right to avoid it. That is a valid and honourable argument. The second argument is that employees should not be exposed to second hand smoking.

The government and the anti-smokers solution to this is to forbid smoking. That is an overreaction in my opinion.

Let us keep the two non-smoker arguments in mind and think of a way to solve the problem without compromising business owners right to run the kind of business they want.

A bar owner should be able to choose if he wants to allow smoking or not (remember that it is still legal to smoke). Non-smokers should stop coming to bars or restaurants where smoking is allowed which would create a market for serving non-smokers, they have the power to do that.

The solution to employees rights are almost the same. Employees should simply deny to work at a bar where smoking is allowed if they don’t want to be subjected to second hand smoke. Then the non-smoking places will have an easier time to find employees for their non-smoking bars.

The funny thing is that instead of solving the problem by taking away freedom, we can solve it by using our personal freedom and market forces.

Why do people keep insisting on taking freedom away instead of using the freedoms they have?

The same approach can be used to solve issues that take away more of our freedom, like fear of terrorism, and copyright. Taking away freedom to solve these issues is a sign of laziness and lack of respect for freedom. When a freedom you care about is taken away, who is going to stand up for you then? The people whose personal freedom you didn’t care about? You better hope they will!

Written by gaffa

2007-08-08 at 17:16

Posted in Politics