Red/Yellow Card project

Here is everything you ever needed to know about my Red/Yellow Card project!

Background

This project has its roots in Defcon 2011. Defcon, if you’re not aware, is the worlds largest hacker conference. It takes place every summer in Las Vegas. It is a place for hackers of all types to come together for a bit of fun, learning, and partying. Unfortunately it can also be a frustrating place for women, who are often the target of harassment. This can range from mildy squick-worthy comments (one longtime female attendee who is in her fourth year of also presenting was asked last year why she was wearing her husband’s speaker badge) to full on unsolicited groping (something I personally experienced last year). There’s been a lot of interesting discussion about about why these issues are so prevalent. I highly recommend checking out GeekFeminism’s “Issues” category on their wiki, and would suggest the specific entries on tech conferences and harassment as especially relevant to the Defcon discussion. It is also a good time to remind readers that the harassment that women face at Defcon does not exist in a vacuum.

While I don’t think Defcon itself is “broken,” it seemed like there needed to be a better way of engaging with harassment at this specific conference. When a friend of a friend suggested the idea of being able to hand out red and yellow cards to offenders, I kind of jumped on it. I wrote about this idea and the response I’ve gotten in two previous blog posts.

The cards

Here are the resulting cards:

They are slightly bigger than a business card and carry the same message on each side. There is also a green “thank you for being respectful” card, which I posted a picture of here. While I originally wanted to make Defcon-specific cards, there was enough interest from non-Defcon folk to persuade me to make somewhat generic cards.

Use of the cards

While you can use these cards however you see fit, I feel like I must point out that these were meant to be a non-confrontational way of engaging with harassment. If you are planning on handing out these cards, I recommend keeping a couple in your pocket or purse. If the opportunity arises to hand one out, simply chose which one you feel is appropriate, pull one out, and hand it to the perpetrator. At this point I recommend calmly walking away. You have said what you need to say and are under no obligation to discuss anything further. Congratulations! You’ve just carded someone!

The text of the cards is licensed CC Zero.

Where can I get these cards?

These cards were available from me, in person at Defcon 2012. For a long time I also distributed them, for free, to anyone who emailed me. After a few months, 7,500 cards printed, and so so so many cards put into the mail, have reached the point where I no longer have enough cards to provide to everyone who is interested in my project. I’m also at the point where the money I initially raised for printing and shipping costs has run out. I have just started the last semester of my undergraduate degree, and I simply do not have the free time to organize fundraising for another printing run (or the time it takes to mail out all the subsequent packages!).

However, I do have a consolation prize for those who might be interested in printing out cards on their own. I am more than happy to provide high resolution jpgs of the red, yellow, and green cards. Additionally, I have been working with the fine people over at Moo.com to offer discounted printing for anyone who wants to use their service to print up my cards! They have given me a whole slew of codes for a 25% discount for me to distribute to people who want to print my cards. If you would like a copy of the high resolution images along with a unique discount code (good until the end of 2013), please email me at consentcards@gmail.com and I will be happy to hook you up! Part of the Moo deal means that I can’t post the codes publicly, but I’m good at responding to emails within a couple days.
I’d also like to take this chance to thank the people over at Moo for helping me connect people who want cards with a viable, economic printing method. You guys are awesome and your support means a lot, as does the support of every single person who has sent kind words and requests for cards. I couldn’t have done this without you!

As of July 2013, I’ve pretty much entirely moved on from this project. If you want some red or yellow cards, I encourage you to make your own :)

  1. Andi
    July 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm | #1

    I am incredibly proud of you. Love, Mom

  2. dkjfhdlf
    July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm | #3

    I think the idea behind your mission is good, but I fear that it may be a little misdirected.
    I don’t know how many times you’ve been to defcon, but a lot of people who are very much part of the whole thing are men with alternative sexuality, strong women, and generally more ‘enlightened’ men. I know last year some of the newer kids (who most were glad showed) were a little obnoxious, and the goons were a little silly with the mardi gras style requests (although some of the girl goons seemed to be the most incourageble, but I (personally, and of course I don’t expect you to agree) feel that there really is a difference between real, harmful harassment and good fun. (I’ve experienced pretty extreme case of the former, so I’m sympathetic.
    I feel like the difference is more than just intent, but where the power is, if there is a real threat. The guys (or should I say more aggressive people to avoid unnecessary gender differentiation) may be the majority, but it’s the strong feminine types that hold all the real power.
    I think (again not trying to say I’m right, or anything) with this crowd a good come back, or seeing if they can take what they dish out would get you a lot farther (I guarantee that a higher percentage of the guys there have more body issues than the girls…)
    I fear that with this particular group you may have created a collectors item and the outcome may be quite the opposite of what you desired… (kinda like chik flix, if you remember those)

    Any way, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. and I’m sure that you’ll disregard my opinion, and likely should (I hope to be proved wrong), but for some reason I felt the need to put in my two cents

    have a great con!!

    P.S. I’d love a set of those for uber sleazy guys at clubs- only I’ll put in a bunch if big words to keep them confused- ha!
    mind if I kinda steal your idea?

  3. August 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm | #4

    dkjfhdlf – Until harassment doesn’t happen *at all*, this is *totally* properly directed.

    Nobody should get sexually harassed by anybody, no matter their sex, gender, religion, newness, or gooniness.

    “Good fun” is code for “I dismiss the fact that you feel harassed by saying it’s a joke – which leaves me free to blame you for my offensive behavior”. “Seeing if you can take what I can dish out” is perfectly fine between two people on an equal social power level – but that isn’t at all the case here.

    If someone grabs someone else’s crotch, male, female, or other, they’d better be a damn good friend in an appropriate venue, or they’d better expect to be called out on it.

    Consider the cards the logical equivalent of pepper spray that can be deployed in a crowd. Nobody but the harasser gets “hurt”, and it’s a lot better than punching them out. I’m sorry I wasn’t present when the crotch grab occurred, because I would have made sure that there was an Educational Moment: you get to deal with the consequences of physically harassing someone by being publicly shamed.

    I’d like to encourage *men* to carry these too, and yellow card/red card anyone in their peer group who engages in creepy behavior. I certainly will at my next convention.

    I suggest a look at https://github.com/petdance/jerkcode/blob/master/expressions.md, and serious soul-searching if you use these expressions.

  4. August 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm | #5

    I run the Backup Ribbon Project (http://backupribbonproject.wordpress.com), which distributes Backup badge ribbons to con attendees to signify that they are willing to step in to back up other attendees.

    I love your concept, and I must say that you are incredibly brave to do this. Rock on with your bad self!

  5. Cedders
    August 2, 2012 at 3:05 am | #6

    Never having been to Defcon, I am surprised supposedly “intelligent” people can behave so badly. With luck, being physically presented with a yellow card might bring someone up short and make them think about the consequences of what they said or did. However, reading it described as metaphorical “pepper spray” makes me wonder it would really get to the heart of the problem of sexist attitudes. People have to want to change.

    The “jerkcode” is only the most obvious example of trying to demean others or escape responsibility by the way you talk. I’d ask you to check out concepts from “nonviolent communication”, which rather than label someone a creep, might suggest saying very specifically and objectively what happened, what you feel, what your needs are, and how you want someone to behave.

  6. joemcmahon000
    August 2, 2012 at 9:19 am | #7

    Cedders, well put. I find such behavior really intolerable and it makes me angry. Let me pull back a bit.

    The cards themselves are well-balanced between shaming and education, if that makes sense, but you can’t have one text that covers everything from “you’re following me around, please stop that” to “no, grabbing my ass is not an introduction”. It has to be cross the power divide in a strong enough way that the recipient is jolted out of their standard patterns of response and thinking – hence my overwrought metaphor. Does that make more sense?

    Ideally, someone on the same side of the power divide as the harasser would speak up and say, “dude, that behavior’s not acceptable, here or anywhere,” but that’s not always the case in a situation where bad behavior is endemic.

  7. Ms. Smith
    August 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | #8

    Ah, “good clean fun.” Nobody wants to ban that. But is it “good clean fun” if one person feels like she’s being molested and is not having any fun at all? That sounds like harassment to me.

    I love the card idea. I went to a Defcon a long time ago and it was relentless harassment from the men (who probably thought they were being flattering by hitting on a geek girl). Never went back, left the field shortly thereafter. I just could not deal with it and it felt like I had no allies. My (male) colleagues just kind of shrugged and said I had to toughen up to work in a man’s world, like that made it OK. I even had one guy harass me at work afterwards because he thought I needed to lighten up. That just pushed me over the edge.

    Just having some people present who think unwanted touching is bad, harassment is not OK, and the cards are a good idea can change the tone a lot. I also like how they don’t involve having to come up with the right words or interact with your harasser more than the act of handing over the card. More than once I’ve had to argue that my feelings about who gets to touch my body are the only feelings that matter at all. It’s kind of shocking that people who grew post-third-wave-feminism can actually not understand that to be a simple truth.

    Sorry for the semi-anonymous Name field, but this is still a super-touchy issue for me both personally and professionally.

  8. August 3, 2012 at 1:35 am | #9

    Joe – yes, what you say about a strong enough response to change behaviour makes sense. I also agree it’s not just up to the “victim” to raise the issue: she or he needs to be listened to when speaking for herself or himself, but colleagues and others will usually also ask for everyone to be treated with respect and equality. Valerie Aurora suggests at https://adainitiative.org/2012/08/defcon-why-conference-harassment-matters/ that a set of clear rules and sanctions covering harassment by convention organisers is needed. So my suggestion of conflict resolution like “nonviolent communication” (NVC) to something triggering major hurt or offence might seem a bit inadequate or lax, but I’ve found it useful in asserting human needs like respect and equality. I can see that the cards will also be a useful way to help people, who may feel angry but simultaneously anxious or intimidated or shocked, to react and assert their rights.

  9. Barbara
    August 3, 2012 at 4:54 am | #10

    I think this is a great idea. What about a DIY PDF? The cards could be printed on a color printer or colored paper.

    • Just Kelly
      August 13, 2012 at 8:59 am | #11

      Yeah, second the PDF idea. Copyleft that sucker or something. If you don’t want to for legal reasons that’s copasetic, but if you’re cool with it, that would be awesome.

  10. August 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm | #12

    Wow. This is one of the best ideas EVER to educate men, especially geeky men, about what utter creeps they are being (intentionally, cluelessly, whatever).

    Way to educate them in a creative way that plays on a masculine trope!

    • Hax Haxxor
      September 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm | #13

      Women: “Equal Rights means special treatment for me!”

      • September 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm | #14

        If you think that not being harassed equals “special treatment,” I feel very, very sorry for the people who have to interact with you each day.

  11. Molly
    August 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm | #15

    You’re not allowed to “punch someone in the face” whether you like what they say or not. It’s called assault and threatening to do it isn’t cute, even if it’s on a card and you’re full of angry Grrrrl power righteous indignation.

    • Maria
      August 18, 2012 at 6:49 am | #16

      You’re missing the point, Molly. The card giver has chosen NOT to assault, but to educate. The recipient should be aware that their behavior has consequences, and not everyone will choose to respond to harassment in a calm, civil way. The card giver may not punch their lights out, but the next person the card recipient pulls their behavior on MIGHT.

  12. August 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm | #17

    I like your cards, I think they should be more strongly worded.

  13. August 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm | #18

    This is all fine and good, but can you be fair and address situations where a creepy card is handed out unfairly? These cards are attempting to perfect men’s creepy behavior. I think that there should be an explicit statement among those here who think it’s a good idea to hand them out about scenarios in which these cards are improperly used.

    • August 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm | #19

      Who gets to judge whether or not it is “fair” to hand out a card? I would say that responsibility lies squarely in the hand in the cardholder. I don’t think that you, or I, get to judge what is “fair” use.

      • Josh.U.Are
        August 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm | #20

        kdotcdot :
        Who gets to judge whether or not it is “fair” to hand out a card? I would say that responsibility lies squarely in the hand in the cardholder. I don’t think that you, or I, get to judge what is “fair” use.

        Maybe I’m just slow or don’t get the point as english is not my first language.This might just be an anomaly but I would like to bring forward something that happened to me.I was at a party and not long after I got there there was this girl who started telling other people I was creepy and she felt threatened by my presense.Mind you I had not interacted with her in any way other than to say hello and a few pleasentries.I only later found out from another party goer the reason she probably felt that way was because her sister was assaulted whilst they were on a family holiday in South Africa and I being from that country have a very strong accent.

        So I ask would it have been FAIR for her to give me a red card based on the fact that I’m African and she FELT creeped out by my speaking voice.I’m sorry for what happened to her sister but at the same time I felt her concluding me to be creepy was based on racist bigotry.Im sorry but I think there are situations where we should judge what is and isn’t fair use, even if they are in the minority

  14. August 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm | #21

    So I have a silly idea:

    Why not hand out the red and yellow cards to anyone who wants them, and hand out the green cards only to women?

    When I first heard of the ‘creeper cards’ I thought it was totally rad. Then I worried (like dkjfhdlf above) that guys might want to ‘start a collection,’ and engage in creepy behavior just to collect the different types of card. By making the red and yellow ones free and common and handing them to anyone, it makes them have no value. To hand out the green ones only to women incentivizes the men to want to collect green cards, since they are a scarce resource. It’s a silly sort of scarce resource, but it might be amusing to try. I for one would love to brag by showing off a big collection of green cards (and besides, green is my favorite color).

    Just a thought from a hopefully not-creepy dude.

  15. Matthew Walker
    August 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm | #22

    If you gave me one of these passive-aggressive little puritan sphincter cards, I would laugh so damn hard, and then I would tell you to make me a sandwich. No self-respecting, confident man takes women seriously. That’s what attractive male confidence IS. The men who won’t simply laugh at you when you try to boss them around are socially inept men. Men below you in status. That’s why you’re bullying them: You have more status. But you feel insecure about it. Right? Don’t tell me. Ask yourself.

    Neurotic head-case? Status anxiety? Yep.

    Here’s a tip: If you want people to respect you and be forgiving of your foibles and your occasional lapses in social skills (this post is a fairly spectacular example of staggeringly inapropriate behavior), try being respectful and tolerant first. Women like you often don’t respond well to respect and tolerance, but most men do. You’ll be surprised at how nice people are, when you dial down the hostility a bit. And you already know which men don’t respond well to that, no need to go into embarrassing detail.

    • August 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm | #23

      Wait, so when I am faced with aggressive, insulting, demeaning, and harassment… I’m supposed to be the “respectful and tolerant” one?

      Troll harder.

    • August 21, 2012 at 9:07 am | #24

      Normally, they say “don’t feed the trolls”. But there’s also the necessity of pointing out that there are people in the world – and male people too, thanks very much – who think this has to be called out as crap. Today, that’s me.

      Matthew Walker, that is the most inept attempt I have ever seen to pretend that your privilege doesn’t exist. Certainly one of the most ham-handed “blame the victim” tries I’ve ever seen. Let us explain this for those following along at home.

      In the specific situations we’re talking about here, Mr. Walker, where these cards might be needed, there is an entrenched attitude that women “don’t belong” and “have to be as tough as the guys”. So let’s take that to its logical conclusion. You seem to think this kind of behaviour is fine. This means that everyone should expect it. You’d be perfectly willing for me to grab your crotch and expect you to laugh it off. You’d accept crude remarks about your ass or your looks or speculation about the size of your dick as okay, or even compliments, “just part of the conference”. It’d be perfectly okay for people to make insulting remarks about your clothes, or hair, or weight, or skin color to your face and then act like you were in the wrong for being insulted. It’d be funny if someone told you you don’t actually belong at the conference and should instead be a body-servant. (Given your attitude, actually, I think it would, but I digress.) Should you complain that this makes you feel uncomfortable, upset, or angry, everyone else says to you, explicitly or implicitly, “I don’t see what your problem is. You’re being treated with respect and tolerance.”

      Would you feel respected and tolerated, Matthew?

      Seriously, would you say crap like this to a male co-worker? You’d insult me by telling me that I don’t belong and can’t do the work because of some intrinsic quality not related to my ability to code. You’d blame *me* for lacking social skills when *you* crudely harass me? You’d deliberately invade my physical space in ways that I find offensive? You’d make sure to blame me for pointing out that you have said or done something that I didn’t like and that I’d like you to stop?

      Does this sound like something you think is a good thing at work? Would you like it to happen to you? Would you like it if you just had to put up with it?

      I’m glad you’re making sure to get it down in Googleable black and white: Matthew Walker thinks that sexual harassment is A-OK. It makes it a lot easier to say to myself, “well, this resume looks OK, but those remarks of his about women at conferences, especially the ‘make me a sandwich’ deal — this is not somebody I’d want to work with.” I’m sure it makes this a lot easier for many, many other people too.

      And yes, Matthew Walker, I’ve made sure to mention your name multiple times in a post discussing your remarks about women in technology. Since you wanted to get your opinions that it’s all bullshit out there in public, I thought I’d help out in making sure it was easy to find them.

      I’m done with you. Any followup beyond, “holy crap, what was I thinking?” will be roundly ignored.

  16. August 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm | #25

    For my fellow men, we should create “You’re a slut!” and “You’re fat. Lose some weight.” cards.

    Just to keep things equal. Right, feminists? :)

    • August 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm | #26

      The patriarchy does a fine enough things keeping things equal without making antagonistic counter-cards.

      • August 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm | #27

        Yes, you keep convincing yourself there’s a patriarchy “oppressing you wimminz.”

        Feminists make me laugh, always.

      • August 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | #28

        If you had read any the previous entries on this topic, you might have picked up on the fact that I don’t self identify as a feminist.

        Keep trying!

    • August 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm | #29

      Who would you hand them out to?

      • August 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm | #30

        Judging the general population of American women, I’d say at least 60% would receive “You’re fat! Lose some weight” cards and 70% would receive “You’re a slut” cards.

        In other words, we’re better start printing these cards faster than the Federal Reserve can print faux US dollars.

  17. Amanda Hugginkiss
    August 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm | #31

    This is the most passive-agressive load of fucking bullshit, I’ve ever seen

    • August 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm | #32

      I could say the same of your comment, ye’ spineless anon commenter!

  18. August 21, 2012 at 5:31 am | #33

    Dont worry, you will soon be in your forties. Then none will “harash” you anymore. Ever
    You girls are lying through your teeth. I’ve been to countless events on this type, and never EVER witnessed any harashment towards women.
    Are you in all seriousness complanining that men constantly grope you, wistle and make creepy remarks to the point that a stupid thing like this is neccessary ? to me seems like your just having your daily manhate/attentionwhore fix.
    Fuck you.

    • August 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | #34

      Yes, because clearly I am just doing this because I hate men / need attention.

      Approving this comment for posterity and as an example of the pedantic, immature responses that women who speak out about sexism have to face.

      • Mike
        August 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | #35

        Well you are clearly lying. What you say you say solely to make men look bad, and yourself look like a victim. Classic attention whoring.
        There’s no harashment taking place. Your a feminazy, your job is to hate on men. So yes, THAT IS only reason your making this up.

      • August 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | #36

        1. If all I was seeking was attention, I can think of many better ways to do that without opening myself up for insults and personal attacks.

        2. I am not lying about the harassment I experienced.

        3. I am not interested in being a victim, or hating men. I am simply interested in calling out bad behavior when I see it. Really. It’s that simple.

        4. Troll harder.

  19. zenmooncow
    August 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | #37

    “All or Nothin’
    Love is war
    Take everything you want and more

    Ebb and flow, steady beat
    No surrender, no retreat”

    -Sam Roberts , I feel you

    I would not want to spend my time around people so lacking in emotional intelligence that they need a fucking card to tell them I’m not interested , but that’s me.

    I would also want them to know exactly what they did to earn my ire, no guessing games. “Something inappropriate”

    You did something me no likey…
    What ?
    If you don’t know me no telling you.

    • August 21, 2012 at 10:37 am | #38

      From the feedback I’ve gotten, many people who handed out cards did take the time to explain what the “something inappropriate” was. The wording was left non-specific so they could be used in a variety of situations.

      • Cedders
        August 21, 2012 at 11:12 am | #39

        Good to hear.

    • August 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm | #40

      “I would not want to spend my time around people so lacking in emotional intelligence that they need a fucking card to tell them I’m not interested , but that’s me. ”

      That’s how a lot of women feel, actually, and that’s why so few women show up at the tech cons…

  20. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 10:34 am | #41

    Im not denying that on rare occasions harashment can take place. That can happen everywhere.Problem is your exaggerating the problem to the extreme.
    This is really a provocation to men. It’s all it is. You want to somehow prove how bad and creepy majority of men are. To rchieve this you twist the truth, if not downright lying.
    You are the real creep here.

    • August 21, 2012 at 10:40 am | #42

      You’re projecting a lot of assumptions here. I have no interest in proving that the majority of men are creeps since, well, I don’t believe that the majority of men -in any situation- are creeps.

  21. nobuyuki
    August 21, 2012 at 10:50 am | #43

    sorry to leave an off-topic response, and there is no need to approve this comment, but I hope you take the concerns in my previous post into consideration. If you’re only going to respond to the rude posters and ignore any valid criticism, there’s only going to be the illusion of an open discussion going on here.

    I’m hoping I’m not the only reasonable person who believes these things don’t promote a healthy social environment, but the only person who knows how many people are trying to post these concerns up is you, since there is no open discussion on the matter. My philosophy is that two wrongs don’t make a right, and this is especially in the case of the green card, where someone who [i]hasn’t done anything wrong[/i] is given something which promotes this idea that they are in a hostile environment where sexual harassment is everywhere and is condescending to them to boot.

    Once again, are these ones supposed to be given out to people who the giver has already deemed to be a creeper on first impressions alone, but exhibited behavior which you believe warrants some sort of pavlovian positive reinforcement? It presumes that their expected behavior, without any previous knowledge of their actions or personality, would trend towards something anti-social. This presumptuousness in itself is a form of antisocial behavior.

    This is not a system of positive reinforcement, in my opinion. It is a “feel better about yourself” system, something I view as either well-intentioned but completely misguided, or — hopefully not — a passive-aggressive way to enable people with victimization complexes to promote their view of an always-hostile social environment. You have taken the responsibility of trying to inform people who perform social faux-pas that their behavior is unappreciated — I believe that if you do this, you cannot abdicate your responsibility to do so in a manner that doesn’t create more victims.

    Geeks are not always the most socially well-adjusted bunch — they need honest, non-threatening straight talk about when, where, and most importantly WHY certain things aren’t socially acceptable. Many have fragile egos, and some will compensate for when those egos get bruised by lashing out. If you consider yourself one of them, and want to try and teach people valuable life lessons, then you need to be above those stereotypes yourself, or the point will be lost. Sometimes these people make mistakes; the best thing you can do to help so that they aren’t repeated is to try and be understanding. Explain it in a calm, clear manner, and put your foot down when you have to, but not to take it personally. Let’s make these kinds of social interactions a more friendly environment through better, non-threatening understanding, and not vindictive lashings-out against each other.

    • August 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | #44

      There has been limited discussion because honestly, I am fucking tired of discussing this at length on my personal blog. I have a life, and it doesn’t revolve around giving the time of day to commenters who are largely dismissive, aggressive, insulting, and stubborn. That said, I’ll address a few of your points.

      1) On a “healthy social environment.” It’s a demonstratively unfriendly environment for women already. So, I’m not terribly concerned with maintaining. I’m sorry that you feel that the cards create a “unhealthy social environment,” but we weren’t really working within a healthy one to begin this. This is also not something that is up for discussion, since I think many other people have already made the solid case that unhealthy attitudes toward women in the tech industry DO exist and DO have a negative impact.

      2) “are these ones supposed to be given out to people who the giver has already deemed to be a creeper on first impressions alone…” That is not how I’d choose to give them out.

      3) “This is not a system of positive reinforcement.” Nope. And I never intended it to be.

      4) “You have taken the responsibility of trying to inform people who perform social faux-pas that their behavior is unappreciated — I believe that if you do this, you cannot abdicate your responsibility to do so in a manner that doesn’t create more victims.” Again, I do not believe that calling out bad behavior is something that turns you into a victim. In fact, I think being an advocate for yourself is the OPPOSITE of turning yourself into a victim. I have survived abuse much worse than what happened to me at Defcon. Even then, I resented being painted as a “victim.” The last thing I would want to do is to put that label on anyone else.

      5) On the “social awkwardness” excuse – https://natehevens.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/ohai-im-socially-awkward/

      6) I resent the idea that women, when faced with harassment, are supposed to be the calm, patient, compassionate educators. I’m happy to provide straight talk about boundaries and respect. However, you are not going to earn yourself the privilege of a gentle explanation after you aggressively tell me I should show you my tits. Sorry, but no.

      • joemcmahon000
        August 21, 2012 at 11:56 am | #45

        KC, do let me know if my attempting to school some of these folks is causing you a problem. If so, I’ll move on.

    • Cedders
      August 21, 2012 at 11:59 am | #46

      Nobuyuki – I think I understand those concerns. However, I don’t think you’re suggesting that behaviour that might be thought to demean or intimidate or harass should go unchallenged. The question is as to the form of the challenge. To me the value of something like this would be that it gives people a bit more confidence to raise the subject; the drawback being that there’s no corresponding form of response by the accused (hopefully “please forgive me” is all that’s needed). And isn’t the idea of a “victimisation complex” as bad an idea to invoke as a hostile environment, as it’s a diagnosis or label that can invalidate someone else? Surely these things should be looked at case-by-case.

      Also there are some indications of a hostile environment on this page (not sure I’d want to allow a flamewar on my blog). I’m pretty sure “Matthew Walker’s” first paragraph is not genuinely held but is intended just to be provocative, but trolls can be good at tapping into currents, including some fears of both men and women. I don’t think there is any such thing as “male confidence” any more than there is “brown-eyed confidence”. There may be such a thing as “sexual confidence”, which would mean, after gently propositioning someone you’ve been getting to know, taking “no” as an answer and moving on. A sexually confident person would not try to get kicks from a non-sexual response (if that is what’s going on). And while people clearly do get it on at conventions sometimes, it’s always going to be a world away from a “meat market” nightclub.

      But I really wanted to point out that there is confusion over “social ineptitude”. I don’t think that people who are trying to understand behaviour with this phrase (not excuse it), are referring to things like shyness or autism as has been interpreted elsewhere, but rather to “poor socialisation”. I have done a fair share of stupid things in my youth, just because of not knowing any better, said “well, just tell me what’s OK and not” and then been told it should be a dialogue. I mean not understanding the offence as something that can really happen, and allegations of which don’t have any ulterior motive, does seem to correlate with for example not even being able to spell either the chosen term of abuse or “harass” (unless I’m missing something and “harash” is a word). Which leads one to think there’s an argument that there should be an educative role. Maybe we can all benefit from understanding and practising assertiveness? By the way, other accoutrements used by referees include a whistle and a little notepad…

      Among other comments, this seemed sensible: http://geekfeminism.org/2010/12/07/why-dont-you-just-hit-him/

  22. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 11:18 am | #47

    “I have a life, and it doesn’t revolve around giving the time of day to commenters who are largely dismissive, aggressive, insulting, and stubborn. ”
    IF you dont want to discuss this why are u even posting it then ?
    People respond negatively to negativity and this whole thing is very negative, thanks to you.

    • August 21, 2012 at 11:29 am | #48

      Why am I posting this? Because it is my blog. Posting things is what I do here.

      • Mike
        August 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm | #49

        If you post, be prepared for people to counter post. Dont complain about it after.

    • joemcmahon000
      August 21, 2012 at 11:54 am | #50

      Mike, it’s a negative situation. What’s needed is not “holy shit, you’re an asshole because you mentioned this,” but “holy shit, people who pull this are assholes. I need to be watching for it and calling it out”. Because this stuff doesn’t go away unless we make it go away.

      (In case you’re wondering, I have never met the blogger, and have never been to any of these conferences. I do, however, have friends who have had to deal with this. And no sir, I don’t like it.)

      • Mike
        August 21, 2012 at 11:58 am | #51

        Its bullshit. She claims this happens in such a massive scale that a stupid redcard system is necessary. Any normal human being with a brain knows that it DOESNT. Its a provocation and should be dealt with as such.

  23. joemcmahon000
    August 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm | #52

    Mike :
    Well you are clearly lying. What you say you say solely to make men look bad, and yourself look like a victim. Classic attention whoring.
    There’s no harashment taking place. Your a
    feminazy, your job is to hate on men. So yes, THAT IS only reason your making this up.

    Mike. Let us reason together. (Oh, and spellchecker. Look into it. Incoherency detracts from your believability.)

    Have you had anything to say here other than “I’m uncomfortable now so I blame you”?

    If you are intending to engage in actual dialog here, the highlighted terms are not ones you use. Let me attempt to translate.

    “I hear what you’re saying and it makes me feel bad and uncomfortable. I want you to stop saying it, because otherwise either I’m a dick who does this and I don’t want to have to acknowledge I am, or I realize I ought to be doing something to keep computer conferences from being a White Boys Club and I’m not and I feel bad about that.”

    In either case, you actually *should* feel bad. That means you have an operational conscience, that is saying, “a bad thing is happening”. Listen to it. Want to prove KC wrong? Then make sure that this kind of thing really never does happen – never can happen – at a conference.

    I’ll settle for social change for selfish reasons.

    • joemcmahon000
      August 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm | #53

      Sorry about the unclosed tag there.

      • Cedders
        August 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm | #54

        Fixed? Otherwise it looks like everyone’s shouting. :)

    • Mike
      August 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm | #55

      These things do not happen at any conference. She didnt provide us with any evidence, just “he said she said” stuff. Not acceptable.
      Next step is women pass these card out to anyone in public that they find “creepy” or “look scary”. Im not into any dialog here, because we are not discussing something real. Its not a real problem. She says this because she wants to demonize men.The bad thing is, she WANT us to believe that. She had you fooled I see.

      • August 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm | #56

        It’s funny to me that you are so terrified of receiving a colored card. What horrible, horrible thing to have happen!
        And you didn’t even grope a woman in an elevator!

        Gosh, those women sure are mean.

    • Mike
      August 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm | #57

      Stop being the spell police. It takes the focus away and no one gives a shit anyway. English is not my first language. I dare you to even just spell one sentence correctly in my own language.
      And oh, spellchecker would not catch “lying” because its correctly spelled, just the wrong word. Capish ?

  24. joemcmahon000
    August 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm | #58

    Mike :
    Its bullshit. She claims this happens in such a massive scale that a stupid redcard system is necessary. Any normal human being with a brain knows that it DOESNT. Its a provocation and should be dealt with as such.

    To quote Wikipedia, “citation needed”. You have proof it never happened? I am agog. Links please.

    • Mike
      August 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm | #59

      The burden on evidence is on her. She cant just pull stuff out her arse without any kind of backup. Have you ever, at any conference, seen men groping, catcalling, whistling etc ?
      ESPECIALLY at a conference.

  25. joemcmahon000
    August 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm | #60

    Dude, read your blog. Sorry you’ve had a tough time. Putting someone else down doesn’t seem to be a good recovery strategy though.

    • Mike
      August 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm | #61

      Are you trying to insult me now ? I disagree with this shit. It angers me. Its my right. Youre the one who should feel bad about your feeble attempt of white knighting.

      • Cedders
        August 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | #62

        Yes, I see you’re angry. What exactly about the cards or the discussion are you thinking about when you get angry, or is it about something else? What does your anger mean, what is it about you that you might want acknowledged, and what would you want someone to do?

        I apologise for my own comments about your spelling, but I think if you go to cons, you may be precisely the “other side” of this story. By the way, I don’t think you’ll persuade Joe to feel bad especially when he posted a link criticising the term “white knighting” (not to mention criticism of “verbing” in general).

  26. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm | #63

    ” since I think many other people have already made the solid case that unhealthy attitudes toward women in the tech industry DO exist and DO have a negative impact.”
    Sources please. Quotation please. Statements please.
    You just keep pulling stuff out your arse dont you ?
    I work in the tech industry, and the few women there are treated equally to everyone else..Not anyones fault that there aint many women there, they chose difference trades !
    This is so dumb. If you want to be taken seriously, at least take the time to write a decent, documented article. But oh I forgot, you dont have to, you get instant validation from the white knights and your herd of girlfriends.

  27. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm | #64

    Im angry because I dont think she is not being truthful and she does it to get some kind of cheap thrill out of the attention. She even goes on and on about the hostile environment towards women in the tech industry, which is not true (Ive been working in tech industry last 15 years).
    Also it angers me that people like you simply accept everything she says without thinking for himself.

  28. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm | #65

    And finally. nothing angers me more than White Knights. And do you know what ? Nothing angers WOMEN more than White Knights. So you can forget about that reward pssy. :)

    • joemcmahon000
      August 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm | #66

      Heh. Little do you know pal, little do you know. Oh and: https://github.com/petdance/jerkcode/blob/master/expressions.md Suggested reading.

    • joemcmahon000
      August 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm | #67

      By the way, I am wildly offended at your implication that I act like a decent human being for any other reason that it’s the right thing to do. There are so many things wrong with your calling sex a “reward” I’m unable to enumerate them all without descending to incoherent vulgarity. You are obviously uninterested in considering anything other than your own myopic mindset. Feel free to fulminate at your leisure and call me anything you like; it’s obvious that I shouldn’t be attempting to contact any intelligence on your mental planet, nd I won’t be bothering to read or reply to anything else you have to say.

      If those words were too hard: I’m done with you.

  29. SheTech
    August 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm | #68

    I will gladly step forward and say that the tech industry is indeed hostile to women in more ways than bad behavior of this sort at conferences. Citation needed? I have seen it, I have experienced it, I would like to see it transformed into real respect for human beings and their diverse skills and abilities separate from their gender.

    The fact that you (and there are more than one of you here) are in such vehement denial may be an indication that you still 1) entertain a hostile view of women and/or 2) carry out that sort of behavior yourself (“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”–and by lady I mean Mike) and this is an attempt to rationalize your own unacceptable behavior and attitude.

    I applaud Joe and other men like him who understand what true respect and honor is.

    You, Mike, show no honor. None whatsoever.

    • Mike
      August 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm | #69

      I have no respect for you. Thats why. All you do is whine day in and day out about how you are being treated unfairly, when in reality, you get all you point your greedy fingers at.
      I don’t have a hostile view on women. Only women like you.

      • joemcmahon000
        August 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm | #70

        Mike, you know what would work for you here? Saying, “well, I’m afraid I can’t agree” and walking away. I’d really suggest it at this point. You’ve moved on to insulting someone else you don’t know either, and making unsubstantiated claims there too. (I can guarantee in this case, because SheTech is someone I happen to know, that you are just. Flat. Fucking. Wrong. about “you get all you point your greedy fingers at”.)

        You’re doing a great job of looking stupid. Was that your goal here? I sense that you’ve perhaps had a problem in your life related to this; I’m sorry that happened to you, as it appears to have hurt you badly, but you do know that not trying to understand what happened and lashing out at everyone else similar to the person you had a problem with is not going to make that better, right?

  30. August 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm | #71

    [/b]Well, Mike, I’m imagining that part of the reason that White Knights anger you is because they intervene when you are behaving badly. I, for one, applaud Joe for speaking up. Thank you, Joe. My hero.

    As for citations, statements about the tech industry being hostile to women? I will make a statement: the tech industry is still indeed hostile to women. As with any situation, there are laudable exceptions, but overall, women with deep technical knowledge and skill are still treated with profound disrespect. I have seen it, I have been on the receiving end of such disrespect. You say “I work in the tech industry, and the few women there are treated equally to everyone else… they choose different trades !”

    Ever wonder why, Mike? Perhaps it’s because dishonorable males such as yourself make it nearly impossible at worst and excruciatingly uncomfortable at the very least to choose anything in a tech field.

    Women are not objects to please your (questionable) manhood. For that, I recommend you purchase a blow-up doll. You can heap all the abuse you want onto that. For if you behave like that toward someone like me, and you laugh if she hands you a red card (and I’m certain the card would be red in your case), you can count on being HURT.

  31. August 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm | #72

    Sorry, you NVC folks, I know that’s not very NVC of me. ;-)

  32. August 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm | #73

    Oh, my lord, what a bunch of self-righteous wankers, trying to tell you that since they haven’t perceived any harassment (or “harashment” in one case) it MUST NOT EXIST. I completely support this idea. I think it’s unique, artistically creative, and no more of an attack on someone or “policing” than anything else that women try to do to subvert stupid patriarchal socializations. You know, like THE WHOLE REST OF THE WORLD. We have ONE instance where we can make our feelings about some behaviour known in a cute, creative way…and all kinds of dumbass guys jump on it saying they feel attacked? How do they think we feel?

  33. Alice Jane
    August 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm | #74

    Although I think this is a brilliant idea think that there may be some social situations in which this plan could backfire, especially if the attendees to said social events are immature.
    Have you considered the fact that if these cards were used at events with large amounts of immature and inappropriately acting people, these people may choose to make a game out of it to see who can get the most red or yellow cards?

  34. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm | #75

    Well ive said what I wanted to say, theres no reason to give this pseudo problem and the attention whore behind it anymore of my time. Have fun White Knights and her queen.

    • drewkitty
      August 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm | #76

      And yet, just five minutes later, you post a trolling comment about women having smaller brains than men and stating that women have a “herd mentality.” In the meantime, you have no idea how to spell or how to coherently state an idea.

      Have I seen men behaving badly at a conference? Oh my God yes. I attend events where the equivalent of three red cards results in losing your membership to the event — and I have seen attendees expelled by the convention staff and even on occasion arrested by the police, because we just don’t put up with criminal behavior such as stalking, harassing, battery and sexual battery.

      A person who hands out a “red card” in reaction to such behavior is being tactful, subtle and polite in the face of strong provocation — strong enough under the California Criminal Jury Instructions to justify using force in self defense! (And for those who don’t get it — cornering a woman in the corner of an elevator isn’t a dating technique, it’s false imprisonment, and the resulting sucker punch in the nads was fully justified.)

      Mike, English may not be your first language, but there is one form of communication that needs neither translation nor explication, and it certainly is not a red card. I’ll leave it for you to figure out what I’m talking about. Hint: it might be in the previous paragraph.

      I’d like to thank you for being an excellent demonstration of The Problem.

  35. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm | #77

    “Ever wonder why, Mike? Perhaps it’s because dishonorable males such as yourself make it nearly impossible at worst and excruciatingly uncomfortable at the very least to choose anything in a tech fiel”
    One last word. Yes, tech industry is too difficult for the average woman (yes women HAS smaller brains than men, look it up). PLUS women usually are being held back by their friends if these dont like their career choice. Women try to be like each other, not to be themselves..which is why they all work in the same fields. Herd mentality.
    Thats not the subject of this, but you asked for it.

  36. Mike
    August 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm | #78

    Rebekkah Hilgraves :
    [/b]Well, Mike, I’m imagining that part of the reason that White Knights anger you is because they intervene when you are behaving badly. I, for one, applaud Joe for speaking up. Thank you, Joe. My hero.
    As for citations, statements about the tech industry being hostile to women? I will make a statement: the tech industry is still indeed hostile to women. As with any situation, there are laudable exceptions, but overall, women with deep technical knowledge and skill are still treated with profound disrespect. I have seen it, I have been on the receiving end of such disrespect. You say “I work in the tech industry, and the few women there are treated equally to everyone else… they choose different trades !”
    Ever wonder why, Mike? Perhaps it’s because dishonorable males such as yourself make it nearly impossible at worst and excruciatingly uncomfortable at the very least to choose anything in a tech field.
    Women are not objects to please your (questionable) manhood. For that, I recommend you purchase a blow-up doll. You can heap all the abuse you want onto that. For if you behave like that toward someone like me, and you laugh if she hands you a red card (and I’m certain the card would be red in your case), you can count on being HURT.

    Dont think I would ever get a red card. I dont harass people ,just call out their bullshit…sorry you cant handle that and have to resort to threats instead. Wonder who was going to carry out that threat anyway.

  37. August 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm | #79

    In this case, size doesn’t matter. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/45/14265.full

    And now, like Joe, I’m done, because apparently you’re not interested in having any kind of intelligent discourse, only heaping further vitriol. Have a nice life.

  38. August 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm | #80

    The best thing I’ve done is to just avoid American/feminist women.

    The western world is less than 10% of the world’s population, while the rest of the world has plenty of beautiful, feminine, not fat women. Just outsource your love life like how American companies outsource their labor.

    I’m abroad right now and I can’t imagine myself ever having a serious relationship with a typical American woman. She just isn’t worth it. She usually expects a lot, yet offers and gives so little.

    I love Latin, Asian, and European women!

  39. brindle
    August 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm | #81

    NICE!

  40. August 29, 2012 at 12:37 am | #82

    Mike :
    Its bullshit. She claims this happens in such a massive scale that a stupid redcard system is necessary. Any normal human being with a brain knows that it DOESNT. Its a provocation and should be dealt with as such.

    well, you make it pretty obvious right here why no woman would ever tell you about it happening to her, that’s for certain.

  41. Be
    September 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm | #83

    You know what a guy who gets the red card after a groping incident will think? “Huh, plenty of girls I do this with like it and respond in a positive manner. I wonder why most of them don’t. They’re probably just not into me.”

    They wouldn’t pull shit like that if it didn’t work with someone. Shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you REALLY want guys to stop this shit you have to reach the women who reward “creepiness” with pussy.

    Let the shitstorm begin.

    • September 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | #84

      Yeah, I really don’t think you know how this works.

  42. September 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm | #85

    Joe: You are awesome. Thank you.

    Mike: “yes women HAS smaller brains than men, look it up.” Yes, so was Einstein’s (http://phys.org/news159536686.html), who is typically regarded as intelligent, to say the least. Women use brains differently then men do. (Take a Biological Psychology class, any college.) It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it. :)

    All: A lot of the focus has been on the IT industry and DefCon. I am not in that field, nor have I been to DefCon, though I have friends and family that have been going since it began, and they have not been harassed. However, that does not mean that the blogger or other women were not harassed, just as many women never see harassment at any work place, and yet many others do experience harassment. Taking it to social extremes: out of how many dates, how many turn into date-rapes? They do happen, but not to everyone. To say that it doesn’t happen because you haven’t seen it personally is to say that no woman (or man) has ever been date-raped.

    Further, you do not need to be in the IT field or a geek to be a socially-awkward creeper. I have a friend who can be a really bad creeper, and I think that these cards would work beautifully on him, if simply to call his attention to how his actions are perceived by others. More than that, however, is the point that someone has to actually tell people like him that he is coming off as creepy, aided by a card or not. (Yes, I’m guilty of holding my tongue… but maybe having an aid of something like a card would help me actually confront him about his behavior.)

  43. Chris
    September 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm | #86

    These are demeaning.
    Not just to men, to anyone who recieves them. Even the green card.

    Life isnt like kindergarten. If you feel the need to passive-agressively tell people you dont want attention from them, at least have the decency to tell it to their face rather than through a blatantly insulting card.
    “they wont listen when I tell them no”
    oh, but they’ll listen to a card?

    • September 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm | #87

      You know what’s demeaning? Having to be accommodating and polite in the face of harassment. It gets very old, very quickly. I am very sorry to those who feel blatantly insulted and feel treated passive aggressively upon receiving one of these cards. I have assembled an orchestra of tiny violins as a consolation.

  44. September 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | #88

    Congrats, to the asshole who just left a (not-going-to-be-approved) comment that ended with:

    “You’re designed to produce babies, let other handle the rocket science.”

    …you have now caused me to close comments on this post. Let that stand as an example of what women so speak out against harassment have to face. Take your arguments and discussions elsewhere, I’m tired of hosting this as a forum where misogynistic, victim blaming assholes think it’s OK to air garbage like that.

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