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Controversy Over Violet Blue's Harm Reduction Talk

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the thinking-not-allowed dept.

Your Rights Online 562

Weezul writes "The Ada Initiative's Valerie Aurora got Violet Blue's Hackers As A High-Risk Population (29c3 abstract) talk on harm reduction methodology pulled from the Security BSides meeting in San Francisco by claiming it contained rape triggers [ed note: you might not want to visit the main page of the weblog as it contains a few pictures that might be considered NSFW in more conservative places]. It's frankly asinine to object to work around hacker ethics as 'off topic' at such broad hacker conference. Is Appelbaum's 29c3 keynote 'off topic' for asking hackers to work for the 'good guys' rather than military, police, their contractors, Facebook, etc.? Yes, obviously harm reduction is a psychological hack that need not involve a computer, but this holds for 'social engineering' as well. It's simply that hacking isn't nearly as specialized or inaccessible as say theoretical physics. Worse, there is no shortage of terrible technology laws like the CFAA, DMCA, etc. that exist partially because early hackers failed to communicate an ethics that seemed coherent and reasoned to outsiders." The Ada Initiative responds that such talks do more harm than good. It could also be argued that "not working for the bad guys" type talks aren't off-topic, since the hacker community has traditionally cared about things like information freedom.

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562 comments

LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024895)

I want to bust a nut in your dad 's butt.

Oh and fuck Dice.com

What? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024909)

What is a rape trigger?

Re:What? (4, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | about a year ago | (#43025089)

People who survive rape sometimes have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which includes an extreme sensitivity to anything reminding them of their experience (like a rape victim who later sees a rape scene in a movie). There's a growing consensus that, in some circumstances, warning people of potential triggers is considered polite, at least, to give them a chance to avoid it.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43025109)

There is no consensus that we should ban anything in public that might trigger this though. I don't see how this leads to banning a talk, if you think it might trigger your PTSD just don't attend.

Re:What? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43025309)

If you mean banned by the government, sure, it shouldn't be. The argument, though, is that technical conferences should, in the sense of "the Ada Initiative thinks this is a best practice to follow", minimize triggering PTSD in unnecessary ways, especially those which might also fall disproportionately on some demographic groups. The Ada Initiative is a private organization that publishes some opinions on the subject, and publishes arguments in support of their opinions.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | about a year ago | (#43025381)

Well, we didn't ban anything. The Ada Initiative takes the position that any sex content at a technical conference is out of bounds and hostile to women--and there's a good argument for that. Women at tech conferences are very much in the minority, sex is generally not a topic within the normal scope of technology, and the geek community has real problems with sexism, creeping on women at conferences, and just generally losing its shit when the topic of women comes up. So the rep from the Ada Initiative talks to the organizers, mentions this and their specific concerns that content of the talk (like use of GHB for sex) could trigger rape victims, and the organizers pull the plug because they're appropriately risk averse on this topic.

So who blew it? The Ada Initiative did by not approaching Violet Blue beforehand. Violet Blue is trained as a crisis counselor and has worked with rape victims. She knows the issues. They could have worked out a way to present the talk without triggering content and with sensitivity to the concern that discussing sex with a room full of geeks could have a negative impact on the women at the conference.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025443)

There's a difference between a governmental ban and an organizational ban. One is public policy and the other is just some dood trying to keep peace. Did he make the right call? Who knows. Did he have the mental tools at his disposal to deal with this topic (which seems fairly different from the other presentations at the conference)? Probably not.

Technical conferences should be technical. (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about a year ago | (#43025483)

There is a consensus that people attending computer security conferences should expect the focus to be on computer security, not some very weakly tangentially related subject, especially when the title of the talk isn't announced until a few hours before the talk.

It isn't just a matter of not attending the talk if you don't like the subject. The talk itself turns the attendees' focus away from technical matters and onto sexual matters in an environment where women already have a difficult time being treated professionally rather than as sexual objects. And in a crowd of socially awkward men who already find it challenging to interact with women without having sex rubbed in their face.

The talk was completely off-topic and couldn't possibly improve the environment of the conference.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025339)

By "growing consensus", you mean a large amount of tumblr users.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025353)

That's fine and all, but if you read the story, it becomes readily apparent that the "rape triggers" concern was merely a contrivance used in a premeditated plan to have the talk pulled.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#43025265)

Man, go read the post.

http://violetblue.tumblr.com/post/44107008572/what-happened-with-my-security-bsides-talk [tumblr.com]

Basically, if someone wants to shut you down, they can use anything sex-related as a weapon. And if anyone disagrees, you become the enemy.

Violet Blue got shut down because the presentation *mentioned* the sex.

And if you ever disagree with someone who claims to be sensitive to the topic (abuse survivor), then you are worse than hitler.

Outrage is called for.

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025449)

They should have shut her down for being ugly. Yeesh, why is it that all of the sexually open chicks are dogs I'd never fap to let alone touch.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025465)

you're an idiot.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025521)

I like Violet Blue and would love to hear her talk but perhaps ADA has a point. Violet Blue on sex is not what I would expect to hear at a technical conference.

Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024925)

I'm trying to read through the typos, but this story still doesn't make any sense.

Re:Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025069)

I'm glad it's not just me. I thought I caught some illness that made me unable to read English

Re:Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025163)

I just gave up; most poorly written summary I've ever read.

Rape trigger? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43024927)

WTF is a rape trigger?

Re:Rape trigger? (4, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#43024993)

Apparently a bunch of feminists in San Fransisco (but of course) are concerned that any *mention* of rape ("rape trigger") in a speech or presentation will send any former rape victims in the audience into flashbacks and convulsions, thus re-victimizing them.

Of course, the term "rape trigger" is *itself* a rape trigger. Which leads to an interesting loop.

Re:Rape trigger? (2)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about a year ago | (#43025095)

Because nobody can leave until the talk is over... This seems like a case of somebody not wanting the talk but not being honest about it. There were many more solutions that just "Don't give the talk".

Re:Rape trigger? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025101)

I find it fascinating that your post got moderated as troll. It's amazing.

Re:Rape trigger? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025285)

Of course, the term "rape trigger" is *itself* a rape trigger.

Most likely not, and to keep repeating that is kind of a load of BS. Just because some idiots abuse or otherwise use such sensitive topics for ulterior motives doesn't mean the original issue was complete BS. In other words, just because some people use the idea of rape triggers as a way to push through other things, or because some people go over board white knighting the issue, doesn't mean the concept of a rape trigger is BS and should be disregarded in all cases... just use some common sense and/or don't be an ass about things that are clearly inappropriate in some contexts.

I've had idiots claim that I am not allowed to remove comments from a blog on my own server because it violates their freedom of speech, and that the first amendment means I must allow them to post whatever they want on my web server, without any prior contract, or else they could take me to court for it. That doesn't mean I proclaim that the idea of freedom of speech is all BS being used by people trying to push their own ulterior agenda on others. I just acknowledge that the issue is real, even if different than how idiots portray it.

Re:Rape trigger? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43025421)

Of course, the term "rape trigger" is *itself* a rape trigger.

Most likely not, and to keep repeating that is kind of a load of BS.

I note that neither of you has produced a citation on this subject. Intuitively, however, I would expect the phrase "rape trigger" to be as valid a rape trigger as any other phrase. We're talking about triggering rape, why wouldn't that idea trigger negative association?

just because some people use the idea of rape triggers as a way to push through other things, or because some people go over board white knighting the issue, doesn't mean the concept of a rape trigger is BS and should be disregarded in all cases

Straw man. No one said that.

I've had idiots claim that I am not allowed to remove comments from a blog on my own server because it violates their freedom of speech

Irrelevant, offtopic. No one cares what idiots have said. That's completely orthogonal to the topic at hand.

Re:Rape trigger? (-1, Troll)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43025373)

Oh, an "in San Francisco" sarcastic comment. Are you 50 years old and a Rush Limbaugh fan? The Ada Initiative is headquartered in SF for the same reason that Wikipedia, Twitter, and many other technology organizations are.

Re:Rape trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025455)

Because their founder, Valerie Aurora, lives there?

Re:Rape trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025413)

...loop....

Sounds like The Ada Initiative is doing some poor programming of its members.

Re:Rape trigger? (1, Insightful)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#43025425)

Somewhere between your straw woman and the other bad summaries floating around is reality. He's the important part from the presenter herself:

"In the talk I do cover ‘date rape’ drugs, and I explain their actions and how they’re dangerous."

Seems like a pretty legitimate way to trigger a rape flashback to me. It's appropriate for an information security conference only in that drugging people is a pretty effective way to get secrets out of them, and one that probably isn't considered as much as it should. If someone isn't sensitive enough to realize that even approaching that discussion is tricky, due to well known concerns over the same drugs being for rape, they really shouldn't be talking about it at all in front of an audience.

Re:Rape trigger? (5, Insightful)

GT66 (2574287) | about a year ago | (#43025059)

Any comment in the public sphere that can have the effect of making a rape victim "relive" the event. So basically, anything that can have the effect of reminding a rape victim they were raped is now a censorable "offense." Basically, as feminists like to USE situations to leverage their agenda, they are using this as an excuse to violate freedom of speech. Expect to see this strategy expanded and used more often as people begin to resist feminist hegemony. From Violet Blue's blog: "I found out a few hours later that I had been targeted by a feminist organization, The Ada Initiative. I learned that the woman who smiled at me while talking to the BSides SF organizer was Valerie Aurora, from the Ada Initiative. I also learned that what happened with my talk wasn’t a case where someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as a survivor of sexual trauma or abuse, which is how it was presented to me. Instead, it was an organization that had planned to get my talk removed. I wonder, if I had offered to omit the section about GHB from my talk, which they did not know about, would the talk have been permitted by these people and the threat of problems for the organization lifted? "

Re:Rape trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025121)

Should remind you that the talk was massively off-topic to begin with and should have been pulled, but not for the reasons stated. This whole thing is just retardation.

Re:Rape trigger? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025329)

nothing is ever off topic, this isn't an international academic conference, its a scene con.

Re:Rape trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025171)

Trigger: An event, phrase, or otherwise "trap" for someone who has been in an extremely traumatizing situation to subconsciously dredge up that memory. Example: A talk about the effects of GHB in technical terms may be a trigger for someone who was raped while under the effects of GHB may cause them to remember details, thus causing them *more* problems.

now, the fix for this is to say "I GOT 99 PROBLEMS: YOUR TRIGGERS AINT ONE OF THEM. Got a problem? Find another place to spend an hour."

CAPCHA: uncouth. Fitting.

Re:Rape trigger? (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#43025185)

I think you have one in your pants.

Re:Rape trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025419)

And that's the whole fucking problem, isn't it?

Feminist LOVE to reduce men to their body parts. Just don't you dare reduce a woman to her body parts!

Fucking hypocrites.

CAPTCHA: slippage

Re:Rape trigger? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025277)

I suffer from combat related PTSD. It sucks, I get triggered all the time. I especially don't like the filled to the max hallways at defcon, I have had more then one panic attack from that. I don't like the hackers that wear leather and combat gear around thinking its funny or cool, it scares the shit out of me at cons. I know they are kids, they mean well, and no one is trying to hurt me. Unlike the drunk guy who gets in my face for no reason, their actions are not malicious.

Most of the time I am able to keep my shit together and no one knows how I feel on the inside. This is my trauma, my probleme, to think that others should change to satisfy me is pure stupidity. I am the one that needs to recover and be able to move on in my life, so I do it. Victims of crime are in the same position, if you have triggers, you need to be in weekly counselling until its resolved. Pretending that its OK and if others would just not trigger you will ruin your life. No amount of activism will ever heal the wounds you have.

Re:Rape trigger? (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about a year ago | (#43025347)

Yeah, this is a horrible summary especially considering all the useful links in the original submission are blocked at my work. However, the Ada Initiative link that the editors added explains the situation well.

The gist of it is that people attending this conference were expecting it be about computer security. One of the invited speakers decided to make their talk about drug use during sex, and didn't let anyone know about this until a few hours before they were scheduled to present. The conference organizers *asked* the Ada Initiative what they thought about this, and they told them it would make the women at the conference uncomfortable, so the conference organizers canceled the talk.

Looking past all the sociology/feminist terms, this is what it boils down to. The woman there just wanted to go to a technical conference and talk about technical things, and be treated like professionals. Putting sex on people's mind takes the focus off technical things, and onto sexual things. It does so regardless of whether the talk is pro-women or not. It will make interactions between the men and women at the conference more awkward at best. It will take what should be a comfortable professional environment, and make it less enjoyable and welcoming.

There was nothing wrong with Violet Blue's talk in general, if it was given in an appropriate setting, and people attending knew the subject of the conference. But springing it on people when they are trying to avoid people thinking of them sexually isn't cool.

Tumblr strikes again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024935)

The popular new wave of social justice crusaders is making me ill.

So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (2, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#43024943)

So, AFAICT from the summary and blogs, this was some hippie slap-fight between a bunch of feminists over "rape triggers" (a term so silly that it could only have meaning in San Fran, Austin, and Portland) in some presentation?

And isn't the term "rape trigger" ITSELF a rape trigger?

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025021)

All I know is that now I want to rape something

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#43025161)

Luckily I have a car analogy for you. First question: do you know what a tail pipe is?

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025027)

So, AFAICT from the summary and blogs, this was some hippie slap-fight between a bunch of feminists over "rape triggers" (a term so silly that it could only have meaning in San Fran, Austin, and Portland) in some presentation?

And isn't the term "rape trigger" ITSELF a rape trigger?

In Sweden, you will get jailed for mentioning a rape trigger, if you are a man.

Just look at what happened to Julian Assange. Two feminist groupies threw themselves at him, but when they found out he had sex with them both in two days, they went to the police and reported him for rape because his condom had burst open.

And yes, Sweden loves San Fran and the gay community especially. Remember, in Sweden, you will get a state-sponsored sex change if you want, and the Royal Princess herself hands out awards at the QX Gay Galas.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025077)

Instead of sounding off like an idiot, you should read the response by Ada to the controversy. Ada foundation was perfectly reasonable in making a recommendation they were ASKED to make given the limited information that was available to them.

http://adainitiative.org/2013/02/keeping-it-on-topic-the-problem-with-discussing-sex-at-technical-conferences/ [adainitiative.org]

When the talk was canceled, there was only the title to go by:

From the link:

Background

The computer security conference BSides SF (held in San Francisco on 24â"25 February 2013) invited Violet Blue [note: sexual imagery at link] to give a talk, subject to be determined. The title of the talk was listed on the conferenceâ(TM)s online schedule as âoeTBDâ until a small number of hours before the talk, when it was updated to âoesex +/- drugs: known vulns and exploitsâ

In computer security jargon âoevuln[erabilitie]s and exploitsâ are respectively weaknesses in computing and related systems, and ways to take advantage of them in order to break into or âoepenetrateâ the system. The precise meaning of the title is ambiguous, but to people familiar with the jargon, a reasonable interpretation of the title might include using drugs to exploit someone into having sex without consent (i.e., rape).

The abstract of the talk was not available until after the decision to cancel the talk, and does not reflect the same topic as the title of the talk suggests.

Or, are you a right-wing republican rapist? Yeah, your comment is just as stupid.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#43025105)

I don't say this often, but no, I'm absolutely sure I'm not the one who sounds like an idiot on this one.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (0)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43025451)

Someone ranting about "hippies", and angry about the existence of San Francisco, Austin, and Portland (which are presumably grouped together as hippie cities or something) is pretty easy to peg as an idiot.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about a year ago | (#43025239)

Ada foundation was perfectly reasonable in making a recommendation they were ASKED to make given the limited information that was available to them.

Ada Initiative confused a hacker convention -- which, as hackers are a subculture, includes cultural elements -- with a technical conference. They got upset about a planned discussion of sex and drugs in that culture [events.ccc.de].

Ada Initiative Mega-Fail.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (5, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43025351)

To summarize the Ada Initiative's argument, "You should never talk about sex, because if you do, you'll give women traumatizing rape flashbacks and turn all men in the audience into pathological rape-machines. Especially techies, because everyone knows techies are super-rape-happy already. So no talking about sex."

I hate it when I have to agree with people who think "feminist" is a dirty word, but in this case Ada's "Think of the children!"-esque rationale just seems absurd.

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (-1, Offtopic)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43025335)

Way to confirm the stereotype that nerds are a bunch of reactionary idiots. Where do you live, Alabama?

Re:So, this is some hippie slap-fight, right? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025479)

Way to dispell the stereotype that UID's are in any way proportional to intelligence.

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024951)

What in the hell is this mish-mash of a summary even telling me?

So what is this about? (2)

pavon (30274) | about a year ago | (#43024957)

Considering that the link to TFA is NSFW, and the other links are blacklisted at many sites for security reasons, it'd be nice if the summary actually explained what the presentation was about and what the objections to it were rather than jumping into their opinion of the situation and assuming we all know WTF they were talking about.

Re:So what is this about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025103)

RTFM. TFA is OK. Main page isn't.

Re:So what is this about? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025131)

You should read the link under "The Ada Initiative responds that such talks do more harm than good." It's SFW and it contains the counterpoint to this biased/revisionist submission.

Here's the text of TFA:

"
What happened with my Security BSides talk

It had been decided months ago that I would give a talk at Security BSides San Francisco. The subject of my talk was up in the air until just before the conference started, and the organizers were okay with that, but to not inconvenience or surprise the organizers, I decided to present the same talk I had given at Security BSides Las Vegas in 2012. I submitted the talk description just before the conference began, and it went on the website immediately.

This is the talk name and description:

        sex +/- drugs: known vulns and exploits

        What drugs do to sexual performance, physiological reaction and pleasure is rarely discussed in - or out of - clinical or academic settings. Yet most people have sex under the influence of something (or many somethings) at some point in their lives.

        In this underground talk, Violet Blue shares what sex-positive doctors, nurses, MFT’s, clinic workers and crisis counselors have learned and compiled about the interactions of drugs and sex from over three decades of unofficial curriculum for use in peer-to-peer (and emergency) counseling. Whether you’re curious about the effects of caffeine or street drugs on sex, or are the kind of person that keeps your fuzzy handcuffs next to a copy of The Pocket Pharmacopeia, this overview will help you engineer your sex life in our chemical soaked world. Or, it’ll at least give you great party conversation fodder.

I put this talk together for BSides LV knowing it would be seen at the same time as Defcon, which is reputed to be a con with lots of parties and wild behavior. The talk is structured with harm reduction methodology, the act of giving the talk is an act of harm reduction for the community, and also gives me another opportunity to tell the hacking/security communities about what harm reduction is.

I have presented talks about sexuality at tech conferences all over the world, and I make it clear each time that my talks are not technical and that they are about issues that affect the culture to which I am presenting.

This is the third slide in my sex +/- drugs talk:

I arrived at the Security BSides venue half an hour before my talk was set to begin, and I tracked down the main organizer to get connected with the speaker wrangler. I found him next door at DNA Pizza, where he was talking with this person. I apologized for the interruption, the organizer told me where to wait, and the woman he was talking to smiled at me. I smiled back.

The organizer came into the LockSport Lounge around 10 minutes later and asked if he could speak with me. I asked Eric Michaud to join me.

The organizer said, “So, I need to ask you: is there any rape in your talk?”

I said, “Is there any WHAT in my talk?” I was shocked.

“Well, there’s been a complaint about your talk.” He continued, “It’s from someone who is a rape survivor and they said they will be triggered by your talk if there’s any rape in it.”

“No, no, there’s no rape in my talk. I talk about human sexual systems and the effects drugs, including caffeine and alcohol, affect the performance of these systems and the dangers of mixing different things. What’s going on here?”

He replied, “Someone has said they will be triggered by your talk, and they’re a rape survivor.”

“Okay. In the talk I do cover ‘date rape’ drugs, and I explain their actions and how they’re dangerous.”

Then he said, “Do you describe how to use date rape drugs? They said that if you are going to tell people how to use date rape drugs then it’s the same as rape, and there’s going to be a problem.”

I told the organizer, “Wow, this really sucks - I know it’s not your fault. Well, how about if I shift the talk to a different room? We could put it on the smaller stage where the room has doors that close, or I could do it in the LockSport Lounge. Hell, I can even present it at the afterparty, it’s no problem. What is going to be easiest for you? It looks like you’re in a shitty position.”

“No, they’re here and they’re not leaving. They told me they’ll make it into a bigger problem if you do your talk.”

I paused for a minute. I said, “Okay. I guess I won’t give my talk, then. I don’t want this to be a problem for you, you’re in a shit position. It sounds like this person is going to make it into a bigger problem no matter what you do. It’s no big deal, don’t worry about it. Maybe I can do a video of the talk and BSides can have it as an after-con talk.”

The way the organizer looked at me, I knew that wouldn’t happen, either.

I said, “Anyway, I’m just going to hang out here and drink beer with friends.”

And that was that.

I found out a few hours later that I had been targeted by a feminist organization, The Ada Initiative. I learned that the woman who smiled at me while talking to the BSides SF organizer was Valerie Aurora, from the Ada Initiative.

I also learned that what happened with my talk wasn’t a case where someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as a survivor of sexual trauma or abuse, which is how it was presented to me. Instead, it was an organization that had planned to get my talk removed. I wonder, if I had offered to omit the section about GHB from my talk, which they did not know about, would the talk have been permitted by these people and the threat of problems for the organization lifted?

        @maradydd @tottenkoph @klingerock I’d like to see @bsidessf or @violetblue publish the complaint or details of it.
        — attrition.org (@attritionorg) February 26, 2013

I want to be absolutely clear about a few things.

This could have been solved in a positive way if the people making the complaints had simply talked to me.

What Ada Initiative has done here is the opposite of harm reduction. In addition, I want to state for the record that the so-called “creeper cards” are also the opposite of harm reduction. Both things, while seemingly not directly related, create damage to the community and offer no solutions to the very issues they trade on in order to advance the narrow agendas of the people behind them.

These women have effectively used the subjects of rape and sexual harassment to make anyone who would question them feel uncomfortable. There is an expectation that anything done under these banners will go unchallenged. And I’m not saying that’s the explicit intention – I’m sure nobody thought this part through, because people with privilege generally don’t need to.

These women are not furthering the case for women in tech, and they are not making the community a better place by finding solutions for the entire community, and they are not challenging harmful behaviors by shutting down any conversation that they do not like. What happened with my talk is especially malfeasant on their part because it takes gender out of the mix. This comes from a type of feminist thinking where if I disagree with you, then I am your enemy. Hackers, doesn’t this raise an alarm for you?

I believe what was allowed to happen here, and with people handing out ‘creeper cards’ to blame and shame individuals (when it is a behavior that is broken, not the person), is damage to hacker culture. I fear that hacker culture risks becoming disconnected from high-risk or controversial information sharing. I fear that hacker culture risks losing the fight to prove wrong the harmful idea that information equals advocacy. I fear that hacker culture risks harm to itself when people are allowed to label things as wrong or bad but not be held accountable to also explain why.

For what it’s worth, if you watch any of my talks, almost all of which can be found online, you will see that before I begin I explain in clear, specific and clinical terms that I will be talking about subjects and using language that some people may find offensive, and I indicate if and when there will be topics that trauma survivors may be triggered by. This is a video my most recent talk at 29c3 in December, which covered harm reduction, depression and suicide in hacking communities, and ways hackers can create personal systems to protect themselves and the people they care about.

It’s now apparent that Security BSides SF feels my talk was inappropriate for its conference and community. That’s disappointing, but that’s not my call to make. It would have been good to know long before all this that they agree with the Ada Initiative’s belief that the discussion of sex at tech conferences is harmful to women. I believe the opposite to be true, but now I know.

Most hackers champion the principle of sharing information openly and freely. The Ada Initiative intends to change hacker culture in a way that is in direct, even hostile, opposition to that principle.

And now everyone knows.
"

"harm reduction is a psychological hack" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024959)

sigh.

Revisionist summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024961)

The actual title of the talk was "Sex +- drugs: known vulns and exploits".

That was the entirety of the information given to the Ada Initiative. It's easy to see how such a talk would look off-topic and possibly containing rape triggers.

http://adainitiative.org/2013/02/keeping-it-on-topic-the-problem-with-discussing-sex-at-technical-conferences/

Re:Revisionist summary (1)

nicoh (149945) | about a year ago | (#43025173)

because shooting first and asking questions later is always the right thing to do.

The Ada Initiative, while its heart is in the right place in encouraging women's participation in STEM, is going to garner a lot of resentment if it is interpreted (as it looks like is happening here) as the arbiter of all content which concerns women. That's unreasonable. There are people who see the current state of the "trigger-warning" issuing "anti-oppression" culture as a bunch of a concern trolls. Which, as it turns out, is one of the best social engineering hacks.

Re:Revisionist summary (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | about a year ago | (#43025263)

> while its heart is in the right place

One of the most dangerous creatures in human society is the well-meaning idiot.

Re:Revisionist summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025389)

> is going to garner a lot of resentment if it is interpreted (as it looks like is happening here) as the arbiter of all content which concerns women

They were asked for their opinion, they gave it. The conference organizers made the final decision, not the Ada Initiative.

Re:Revisionist summary (1)

btm (160064) | about a year ago | (#43025251)

That was the entirety of the information /gathered/ by the Ada Initiative [executive director]. They were a third party and could have asked for more. Also, I don't see anywhere in their blog post that they indicate that the organization would have had a different opinion given the talk abstract.

> The Ada Initiative has, since its founding, recommended strongly against including off-topic sexual content at technical conferences.

It sounds like a pretty broad and clear policy to me.

Wrong from the get-go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43024977)

There is no such thing as a "hacker community".

rape trigger? etc (1)

CKW (409971) | about a year ago | (#43024995)

What's a "rape trigger"? ( Remember, sfw link or explanation. That's why I'm asking, I can't go read the one MAIN link that the entire story is about. )

Without a definition of this word, the entire article/post is ... hard to follow and not worth my time pondering over. Heck, most people won't even be able to guess at what "harm reduction" is, nor have any idea what the Ada Initiative is.

If you're going to use "technical terms", you need to define them. This being the internet, maybe, oh, I don't know, some kind of hyper text system?

Re:rape trigger? etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025091)

The Ada Initiative response linked at the end of the TFA summary provides a SFW answer to your question: http://adainitiative.org/2013/02/keeping-it-on-topic-the-problem-with-discussing-sex-at-technical-conferences/

Re:rape trigger? etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025151)

The Ada Initiative should stop responding to every post as AC.

Re:rape trigger? etc (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43025485)

They certainly do come off as authoritative, don't they? But that's only one side of the story. Much of the misunderstanding comes from people who don't own a dictionary [hyperlogos.org]. They are permitting the legal profession to redefine words in our language, and then crying about how they're suffering as a result of the redefinition of those words which they've caused.

Re:rape trigger? etc (2, Informative)

quietwalker (969769) | about a year ago | (#43025139)

Disclaimer: I think it's silly, but I'll try to keep my personal opinions restricted to parens.

A rape trigger is apparently anything that could cause negative feelings in a person based on their experiences with rape, or sympathy with those who have been raped. (as opposed to the norm, I guess, which is everyone is pro-rape?)

So, talking about rape is an obvious rape trigger. Talking about being powerless is a rape trigger. Talking about sex is a rape trigger. (even loving, consensual, romantic sex.). Talking about drugs, or the role of women in society, human rights violations - all rape triggers.

Like the warnings before TV shows, some groups prefix their discussions (usually men-and-sex-are-pure-evil feminist blog entries) with a list of potential rape triggers (the list, by-the-by, is also a rape trigger). In this way, the person who is sensitive to these triggers (and more likely, those who are attention whoring and overly-sensitive to those who are sensitive) may avoid the discussions.

(This post is also a rape trigger, due to it's content)

Re:rape trigger? etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025311)

(This post is also a rape trigger, due to it's content)

It's well known that complaining about rape triggers is one of the most potent rape trigger triggers.

Mwahahaha (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about a year ago | (#43025017)

From Wikipedia:

The Ada Initiative is a non-profit organization that seeks to increase women's participation in the free culture movement, open source technology and open culture.

So women's "participation" in the "free culture movement" and "open culture" is having expressions censored? How many women feel represented by this "Ada Initiative" now?

Obviously Very Traumatized by this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025391)

He's climbin in your windows
He's snatchin your people up
Tryna rape em so y'all need to

Hide your kids, Hide your wife
Hide your kids, Hide your wife
Hide your kids, Hide your wife
and hide your husband
Cuz they're rapin errbody out here

Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025023)

That description desperately needs some editing. One should know what TFA is about after reading the description.

Wait, police/military are "bad guys" these days? (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about a year ago | (#43025051)

That's a little tendentious. The police and military are ostensibly designed to protect the general population. I mean, I'll respect your concerns about police oppressing people instead of protecting them, but if you go so far as to call them "bad guys" per se I'm not convinced that you're not just bringing a pre-existing political prejudice to the table...

Re:Wait, police/military are "bad guys" these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025117)

Serious question: Did you slip in to a coma in early 2001, and just now wake back up?

language anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025061)

Does anyone know what language this article is written in?

He replied, “Someone has said they will be triggered by your talk, and they’re a rape survivor.

What the heck does that mean? Rape is serious; but how does one not survive - wouldn't it become a homicide?
Obviously those phrases are part of a culture the general populace (at least me) is not accustomed to using/hearing,
and certainly (probably) mean much more then their parallel English meanings.

I'm not trying to be funny, but I don't remember those terms/colloquialisms coming up at the last meeting...

CAPTCHA = disagree

Re:language anyone? (2)

jjohnson (62583) | about a year ago | (#43025169)

but how does one not survive

By committing suicide. The suicide rate among victims of rape jumps significantly.

Obviously those phrases are part of a culture the general populace (at least me) is not accustomed to using/hearing,

And it would be really beneficial if people like you and geeks in general were exposed to them.

Rape victims often suffer PTSD. People who suffer PTSD can suffer from things that trigger their PTSD response--like a rape victim who sees a rape scene in a movie, or a veteran who hears fireworks and relieves Fallujah. It's a common aspect of PTSD, and as we become aware of it, it's becoming common in some areas, at least, to warn people of triggers in your essay or blog entry or whatever to give them a chance to duck out.

Re:language anyone? (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | about a year ago | (#43025295)

> And it would be really beneficial if people like you and geeks in general were exposed to them.

I'd love to, but they're stupid triggers. I have PTSD from dealing with stupid people all day long. I don't need triggering. It's insensitive and hurtful.

Re:language anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025513)

Rape victims often suffer PTSD. People who suffer PTSD can suffer from things that trigger their PTSD response--like a rape victim who sees a rape scene in a movie, or a veteran who hears fireworks and relieves Fallujah.

That's just a wrong word, then. We don't call a veteran's PTSD triggers "bomb triggers", because a bomb trigger is something that triggers a bomb to explode. As bad as PTSD episodes may be, they are not as bad as bomb triggers. A "rape trigger" would be something that triggers a rape, i.e. something that causes it to happen. I can see the political shrewdness on the part of organizations such as Ada in the mislabeling.

Re:language anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025213)

It's written in hippie. Fortunately my mom was hippie and so I can understand most of it. Translated into English, it reads something like:

Radical feminists succeeded in banning a presentation at the "Security BSides" conference in San Francisco by claiming that the presentation included references to rape, which would presumably force rape victims in the audience to relive their own rapes.

I know it still doesn't make much sense, but that's what it says.

Hey hackers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025065)

Everyone who had the skills to get a real job, got one. Why don't you have these skills yet?

Incoherent Award (5, Funny)

dcollins (135727) | about a year ago | (#43025093)

This is the single most incoherent story summary that I've ever read at Slashdot. Congratulations!

Nothing will ever make them happy (4, Interesting)

borcharc (56372) | about a year ago | (#43025115)

In short the Ada folks believe "Simply put, even the world’s most pro-woman, sex-positive, pro-consent talk about sex is likely to have negative effects on women at a technical conference."

They have a complete lack of understanding of hacker culture, take one or two relatively minor, usually unreported, incidents out of a group of 10k+ people in a weekend and us it to drum up hate and a paycheck for their founder as they push their specific agenda. There concerns are not hacker specific issues that affect women, they are the same women's issues that have been out there for years. Their "initiative" is widely rejected by women who are long term attendees at cons. And that is what defcon and others are, cons, not technical conferences.

Their choice in venue (cons) has a very low rate of incidents compared to the general population. They have caused far more incidents of things that may be considered sexual harassment as backlash for their bizarre behavior. At Chaos Communications Congress 29 this group handed out "Creeper cards" to men who in their sole judgement did something offensive. The folks at the con responded with their own form of "anti-feminist" cards. Their surprise at this response reiterates that they don't understand our culture.

If there are incidents where someone is assaulted then call the police. Someone keeps proposition you at a bar? Tell them to go away, then call the bar's security, have you ever been to a bar? With defcon, the move to the more traditional strip hotels from the AP has brought in loads of Vegas trash. Pimps, bro's, etc roam the hotel and proposition every girl there for "shopping for sex" or other pimply schemes. No girl is safe in any Vegas venue from these guys, welcome to Vegas. If Vegas trash keeps hassling you, ask the passing group of hackers for help, they will solve it for you without any expectation in return, that's our culture.

Re:Nothing will ever make them happy (0)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a year ago | (#43025307)

well ... For most feminists, the simple act of you approaching one of them is already a unacceptable and threatening attitude, punishable with death. (Unless you're rich and beautiful as a film actor)

Wrong Talk (4, Insightful)

hhnerkopfabbeisser (645832) | about a year ago | (#43025127)

Violet was scheduled to speak about "sex +/- drugs: known vulns and exploits", not about "Hackers As A High-Risk Population".

While I don't agree with the cancellation, this talk was more sexually charged (hence problematic) and much less on topic at a hacker conference than her talk at 29c3 was.

Re:Wrong Talk (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year ago | (#43025367)

It is a talk about hackers as a high risk population. That is the subject matter. The title does not change that fact.

The Ada Initiative (2)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#43025137)

Did anyone else think this was a group for advancing the use of the Ada programming language?

Re:The Ada Initiative (2)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#43025301)

Well, that's the nearest thing to a reason I can think of for this garbage to be on Slashdot.

Triggers (1)

hhnerkopfabbeisser (645832) | about a year ago | (#43025257)

Triggers are not an invention of SF Hippies or Feminists.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trauma_trigger

Feel free to google "trauma trigger" or "PTSD trigger" for more.

That you've never heard of something and can't wrap your head around it immediately doesn't mean that is must be bullshit.

Re:Triggers (1)

cfalcon (779563) | about a year ago | (#43025377)

It's convenient that historically censor happy groups have finally found some fashion in which they may claim to be harmed by speech itself.

"Motif of harmful sensation" was removed from wikipedia, but now the claim is that mentioning certain topics is the equivalent of the basilisk's gaze. I'm sorry, but your right to swing your fist doesn't stop a mile away from my face because the motion triggers something in me. We can't have free speech if we assume people's psyche's are made of dust and the wind from an open mouth will cause them to blow away. Naturally, the censors have then logically produced the fact that we can no longer have free speech.

We must oppose such policies.

TL;DR Version (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025287)

Violet Blue tries to present a talk about how not to screw yourself over if you decide to mix sex and drugs, just in case someone does something like that.

Ada Initiative doesn't like sex talks at tech-related conferences, Security BSides seems to agree. Talk gets cancelled. Well and good so far.

Why it's news: BSides cancelled the talk last minute, which is bad organization. Worse, Ada Initiative might be involved (my words, but it seems fair) in some shady shenanigans invoking the word "rape" to scare people and censor discussions about sex, which ironically will probably exacerbate the problem.

Solution: men only conferences (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | about a year ago | (#43025291)

That way no wombyn can be raped, rape-triggered, demeaned, offended, creeped out or indeed involved.

Now, hush up and knit me a pie.

Ada is in good company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025303)

These Ada people are no different from the extremist Muslims who will attack you for drawing their prophet (though presumably less prone to murder). They try to force the world to conform to their comfort or neuroses, rather than deal with their problems. They have no right to not be offended, and this is censorship.

Free speech (1)

cfalcon (779563) | about a year ago | (#43025317)

Is unquestionably being threatened by such malarky as this.

We need to oppose this, stridently and unceasingly.

Wait...What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025369)

Could someone please translate this post into English???

That smiling lady was Barbra Streisand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025401)

Have your talk censored at conference or a few thousand attendees, with a maximum possible venue attendees of a few hundred.
Post a slashdot article, describing said censorship.
Have tens of thousands read talk.

That smiling lady from Ada, was Barbra Streisand. Welcome to the Streisand Effect.

Ada Initiative is Anti-Feminist and Anti-Hacker (5, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#43025411)

From the Ada Initiative's own statement [adainitiative.org] on this:

Simply put, even the world’s most pro-woman, sex-positive, pro-consent talk about sex is likely to have negative effects on women at a technical conference.

More simply put: "Any talk of sex at a technical conference is bad m'kay, because a rape survivor might get offended."

Sorry, but covering the ears and mouths of others to suppress information YOU DON'T LIKE is against feminism since it presumes that women are too fragile to handle sexuality in a positive and adult manner, is sexist to men since it presumes that the mere talk of sex, no matter the content of message of purpose will push some men to rape or "give women bad sexual experiences".

And how many of these men would attend this fabled "Conference on Sexuality" where Violet Blue's talk would be "on topic"? I predict none.
So a chance to raise awareness, engage, inform and encourage healthy debate has been lost because one group with a very clear agenda decide that no one t a "Tech Conference" should be able to be so educated and informed on subjects they feel are harmful based solely on their own ideals.

The Ada Initiative should be wholeheartedly shunned by the tech circles who value freedom of information and freedom of choice for being counter to the very principles upon which their culture is formed. This is a culture based on curiosity, exploration, boundary pushing and self-education -- we don't need Ada Initiative telling us where or how to educate ourselves or dictating what topics are "safe".

Valerie Aurora of the Ada Initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43025473)

This individual obviously has mental health issues and make you wish such people didn't support the cause.

Some great quotes (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43025497)

"Someone has said they will be triggered by your talk, and theyâ(TM)re a rape survivor."

"Do you describe how to use date rape drugs? They said that if you are going to tell people how to use date rape drugs then itâ(TM)s the same as rape, and thereâ(TM)s going to be a problem."

"No, theyâ(TM)re here and theyâ(TM)re not leaving. They told me theyâ(TM)ll make it into a bigger problem if you do your talk."

So, someone want to tell me the difference between this behavior and a bully's behavior? Oh, right, bullies don't have entire academic departments of major universities backing them up.

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