Quick hit: RMS at Wikimania

I’m in Buenos Aires this week for Wikimania, the annual conference for the Wikimedia community. Also in town: Richard Stallman. Today he gave a public talk at the Teatro Presidente Alvear about Free Software, and reports are that he made his virgin joke again, only this time in a non-gender-specific way. For whatever it’s worth, one woman who was present told me, unprompted, that she found it weird and uncomfortable.

Tomorrow morning he’s keynoting the conference itself. I’ll be sitting in the front left area with a bunch of other geek feminist types. If you’d like to join us and see what transpires, please do!

18 thoughts on “Quick hit: RMS at Wikimania

  1. asc

    Why feminists attack him? Richard Stallman are pro-choice and human right supporter.

      1. koipond

        I mean, don’t feminists attack everyone? pshht, for reals. lol.

        Secondary comment. Just because someone is a ‘philanthropist’ doesn’t mean they can’t be sexist d00ds.

        Tertiary comment. “Why are feminists attacking him?” would be appropriate. Same with “Why do feminists attack him?” “Why feminists attack him?” not so hot on the grammar.

      2. asc

        I see the tendencies on geekfeminism. Sorry if I choose wrong word, I know that you don’t attack him, but i hope some much, that free software feminists will not become feminazis. Good luck!

    1. Rick

      On the contrary, pointing out to someone when you think they are making a mistake is one of the great acts of a friend.


      Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults. :Socrates

      And FWIW, ‘feminazi’ is a slur word that grossly misrepresents feminists, their goals and attitudes. I’ve never met a feminist who hated on me for being a man. You might want to have a look at the Feminism 101 blog; there’s a lot of good pointers there.

      1. asc

        I know much about feminism ant most interesting feminist movements for me is only Emma Goldman’s anarcho-feminism. And about feminazis: how about Valerie Solanas?

        1. Skud Post author

          asc, this is a formal warning. You need to read our comment policy (on the “about” page linked at the top of this blog, and consider this section in particular:

          Comments that are anti-feminist, abusive, creepy, derogatory, or which add nothing to the conversation will be deleted on sight.

          The term “feminazi” is never welcome here.

        2. Rick

          Yeah, if one wants to criticize, say, mainstream Christianity, you usually don’t start out by talking about freaky backwoods cultists…at least not if you want to be taken seriously.

          We’ve drifted from the original topic here ^^;

        3. koipond

          I’m actually waiting for part 2. I’m morbidly curious as to how he’s managed to “non-gender-specific” an inherently genderfied concept “virginity” especially when it involved the “taking of” said “virginity.” Of course, by managed I do mean “failed miserably at and has still made his audience uncomfortable through a sexualized joke in a professional environment.”

          There, back on topic.

        4. gchick

          … and I have a bad feeling that “attack” sometimes means “didn’t like the joke any more than the last twenty times he told it”.

        5. Mackenzie

          Sometimes when he does the joke, he defines “EMACS virgins” as “people who haven’t used EMACS” and other times “women who haven’t used EMACS.” Non-gender-specific means he said the former.

        6. Brenda

          I’m not convinced that saying we have a duty to remove virginity from both male and female virgins actually redeems the comment completely.

          I also question why this “joke” has become part of his regular routine.

        7. Melissa

          I’m not convinced either, but it is better than the former. Certainly less grunchy for me, but you know, it’d still make me squirm uncomfortably if I was not familiar enough with the people around me to know that I had a hope in heck of getting out of a situation.

          I’m pretty sure that the wannabe joke became a regular part of the routine because he believes people have loved it for the past 15 years. Sadly, his predominantly male audience probably did (and probably do still) love it. That positive reinforcement stuff — he’s had it.

          Don’t blame it on men, or a man. Blame it on male privilege. Blame it on society for letting them get to the point at which men generally have to concentrate pretty damned hard, or have been in a situation (such as the prison system), to begin to understand what it is like to be put into a position of sexual vulnerability.

      2. Melissa

        Valerie Solanas tried to commit murder. Skud wishes to express dissatisfaction about a speech that makes her feel vulnerable. I’m failing to see how this comparison, that you made, is valid.

        Not every single person who has ever identified themselves as feminist has done the cause justice. Implying that the legacy of these people is the standard of the entire movement is beyond insulting. Stop doing it.

    2. Cyberspice

      Someone can be very charitable and still not have a clue with respect to appropriate behaviour. We’re not saying Stallman is bad (although personally I wonder if he’s living in the real world) we’re just saying that this ‘joke’ is not appropriate in a professional arena and makes people uncomfortable.

      Although I’ve not been subject to Stallman’s inappropriateness I have been in a conference and been made uncomfortable. It annoyed me enough that I didn’t look past the inappropriateness of an almost naked woman parading across the big screen rather than the technology supposedly being demonstrated. And I wasn’t the only one.

      http://jaime.hemmett.org/blog/2009/03/innappropriate-content-at-adobe-presentation

      Such content *does* make people uncomfortable and each little bit of negativity dissuades women from attending events where we are in short supply anyway.

  2. JakiChan

    Is RMS ever anything *other* than creepy? From the “it’s gotta be GNU/Linux” to the “cell phones track you for the black helicopters” to this sexist crap he’s just squicky. Or am I missing something?

    1. Asad

      JakiChan: The first one is a somewhat defensible political point, even if I am not willing to care enough about it. The second one is somewhat true, but so what? Are you going to leave modern society and communications? I feel I’ve done enough by eschewing the iPhone (ugh, Apple).

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