Rectangular plain biscuit with the word 'NICE' baked into it

Cookie of the Week*: Chad Whitacre (whit537) came up with a better name

This is a guest post by Annalee. Annalee is a python programmer and general-purpose geek. She can be found on Twitter as @leeflower and Dreamwidth as annalee.

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

When Chad Whitacre announced on Twitter that he’d just released a new version of Testosterone, “the manly testing interface for Python,” a friend of his called him out, asking “what, exactly, makes it manly?”

After a brief, polite back-and fourth, Whitacre slept on it, and apologized.

Then he announced that he’s renamed his project. Here’s an excerpt:

really do want to encourage women in tech (I have three young daughters), and a project like testosterone does not do that. I remember being surprised to see a woman at PyCon 2011. I don’t have the data, but anecdotally I’m telling you there were LOTS more women at PyCon 2012. Let’s do more of that!

It is now assertEquals, “the epic testing interface for Python.”

If anyone’s wondering how to handle being called out on twitter: this right here is how you handle it.

So here’s your cookie, Mr. Whitacre:

Rectangular plain biscuit with the word 'NICE' baked into it

Image description: a rectangular shortbread cookie with scalloped edges and the word “NICE” stamped into the middle.

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly!

15 thoughts on “Cookie of the Week*: Chad Whitacre (whit537) came up with a better name

  1. Elizabeth G.

    I have to say that when ever men speak to me about their “conversions” and mention their mother/daughter/sister I have mixed feelings. I feel happy that they were able to see that women aren’t that different from them but I get little annoyed that all of a sudden they realized that their mother/daughter/sister is actually a woman just like all those other women that are not like him. He changed the name, that is good but what if he hadn’t had daughters?

    1. G

      Saying “I’m thinking of my own daughters” is a little better than “This app is so simple even your mother/grandmother could understand it!” but not much. It’s good that he arrived in the right place even though his stated motivation makes me wince.

      He does deserve that cookie for his Twitter skills. He’s way ahead of the Geeklist and OMGPOP people there.

    2. Sheila Addison

      “What if he hadn’t had daughters?”

      A fair question, and a worrisome one, but on the other hand, if evoking men’s female relatives is a way to get them to think about male privilege and sexism, I say let’s use it. (Why must we remind them they are related to women? Ay, there’s the rub…)

      I wanted to nominate John Brownlee for a cookie, for his article on the creepy stalker app “Girls Around Me,” which got enough attention that the app was pulled (not that 100 more won’t spring up in its place, or that Google and Facebook won’t keep aggregating and selling us to anyone with money in their pockets). I thought the original article was interesting in its content, but also in the process it revealed. My reading suggested that Brownlee found the app kind of disquieting but mostly funny (he admits his first editorial take on it would have been joking), until he let himself be impacted by the anxiety, revulsion, and fear it evoked in women he talked to about it. And then instead of mansplaining to them about how it’s not really that bad, or they’re over-reacting, or women who put their info on Facebook really want to be found, he listened to their worry, and used his platform to draw attention to the creepiness of the app. Yes, he suggested using the app’s existence as an object lesson, which could be seen as patronizing or patriarchal… but the reality is that Facebook etc. go to great lengths to obscure and complicate privacy protections, so I think it’s actually helpful to have someone say “here is how this could hurt you, and you should be informed about this so you can make decisions accordingly.”

      Anyway, I thought it was a nice meta-look at how a man realizes he’s blind to some of the real concerns women have in this world, and took action to use his privilege as an ally.

      1. Terri

        This sounds like a totally great excuse for a cookie. If you’re interested in having this up as a short guest post, write us a short bio, find an appropriate picture of a cookie, and toss a copy of this in the guest post submission queue!

        1. Sheila Addison

          I’d be glad to. Got to finish taxes and a pro blog post but then I’ll do this (I also have a WGW I’d like to submit on comic artist Nell Brinkley!)

      2. Rose Fox

        I’d give Brownlee half a cookie at most; his conclusion was pure victim-blaming. Public data = short skirts. Yes, Facebook and other social media sites should make it easy and simple to decide what to make public and what to keep private, but by far the most troubling thing about Girls Around Me is that men use public data to stalk women–not that the data exists or is public, but how it’s used–and he glossed right over that.

        1. Sheila Addison

          I agree, the whole “why don’t we make rape a problem for men to solve” narrative is lacking. What I think earns him a cookie, though, is that rather than the usual “women, always so hysterical and assuming every man is a stalker or rapist, if you’re not doing anything wrong than you have nothing to hide, etc. etc.” blow-off (see also the G+ #nymwars), he let himself be influenced by the reactions of women around him. As a couple therapist, I’m aware of the research that suggests that male partners refusing to “accept influence” from female partners is a major risk factor for failure of heterosexual relationships, and how much social disapproval there is for men who actually listen to women’s concerns and accept them as valid rather than mansplaining them away. So I’m not gonna throw him a party for being Male Feminist of the Year, but I’ll give him a cookie.

    3. Stella Maris

      I don’t know if I take specific issue with the way Chad invoked the wife/mother/daughter thing here (though the what if he hadn’t had daughters question is compelling), but I do definitely think it’s worth pointing out how problematic playing that card can be. My boss constantly compares me to his wife in an effort to understand my mysterious, delicate-as-a-flower lady behavior, and I can’t even begin to express how marginalized and frustrated I feel when he does it…

    4. Homa Sapiens

      I agree, it’s irritating and infuriating. But waddayagonna do? There is a significant proportion of human beings who cannot empathise with abstract human beings that they don’t know, and can only understand the issue whan it has some personal application.

      They tend to be most evident in conservative politics. And in geekery.

  2. AMM

    While I think it’s great that Chad responded so decently when called out on this, I think if I were in his situation, I would feel uncomfortable about being given a “cookie” for what IMHO is just basic civilization.

    In a way, it comes across as saying that for him not to act like an a****** goes above and beyond the call of duty and is worth a reward.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

    1. Terri

      We wanted a series to point out examples of interesting good ways of dealing with bad situations. I don’t think it’s so much about just being a good person generically, but often we want to highlight people who are able to do so even when embarrassed, under pressure or in a tight spot, which can be pretty hard.

      I think the idea of the cookie was to make it stay light and a little silly as a series, since we wanted to highlight sometimes pretty minor things, and people are more comfy being congratulated on simple stuff in silly ways. But if you want to highlight someone’s good reactions in a different way, please feel free to do a guest post that handles it differently!

  3. Kim Curry

    I like this.

    I’ve also seen John Brownlee’s “Girls Around Me” post, and I agree that’s worth a Cookie itself.

  4. JakiChan

    I suppose that I like the encouragement however doing it with a “cookie” makes it almost seem like the context is snarky, especially based on the comments here. It may not be meant that way, but it’s worth considering. (Or it might be intended to be snarky and I’m just being slow.)

Comments are closed.