Welcome to Boycott “Boycott Novell!”

Two terrible tastes that go great together?

There’s a weird consistency with which the most publicly vocal partisans of the position that Microsoft is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hell also seem to regularly express the opinion that there’s really no problem, or at least no problem worth talking about, with women in the open source software community.

  • 2009 has been a pretty hair-raising year from the standpoint of women’s involvement in open source development.
  • Coming in, we knew that the level of participation by women in our projects is around 1.5%, versus a level close to twenty times that in the proprietary software world. And we’ve seen

A heavily sexualized presentation by Matt Aimonetti at the Golden Gate Ruby Conference
An even more heavily sexualized presentation (NSFW) by Hoss Gifford at Flashbelt
A bit of “harmless fun” from Richard Stallman at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit involving his “holy duty” to “relieve” specifically female “EMACS virgins” of their “virginity”
Most recently, a keynote from Mark Shuttleworth at LinuxCon, containing, in the space of less than an hour, a hooker joke, a comment about how difficult printing is to explain to “your mom or your grandmom”, and another on how much trouble “we” have explaining what “we” do to “girls”

What’s interesting here is to note who’s taking the position that there really isn’t an issue worth talking about here. In Carla Schroder’s recent columns on “Sexism in the FOSS Community”, among the voices wondering what all the fuss is about are anonymo-nauts such as “GreyGeek”, “twitter” and “Jose_X”, all Boycott Novell regulars.


During the fracas over GCDS, Roy Schestowitz was one of the first to attempt the moronic diversion of claiming that it was “really all about Mono”. As though even if it were, somehow, “about Mono” (which it’s not, don’t get excited), that makes it okay, in some way, for the president of the FSF to make clearly sexist jokes about nonconsensually deflowering the female members of the audience, in a context where they’re outnumbered at a ratio of about thirty-to-one.

Schestowitz found himself obliged to issue an apology and a full retraction. Schestowitz was equally quick to blow off Shuttleworth’s poor idea of humor: “Instead of ‘Mark Shuttleworth’, that remark which rubbed Susan the wrong way could just as well come from ‘Steve Ballmer‘ or ‘Steve Jobs‘.”

Except that it didn’t. It’s difficult to know whether Schestowitz finds these inanities persuasive; if so, that’s rather sad. It’s no surprise that nowhere in his equivocations does Schestowitz display any familiarity with the concept of an “apology”.

We see a similar pattern with Sam Varghese around Mark Shuttleworth’s recent unfortunate statements and Richard Stallman’s earlier ones. Varghese (who once devoted four full pages to brutalizing and bullying a 20-year-old college student over a blog posting) likes to remind everyone that he reported on the DebianChix fracas a while back as credentials, but he seems pretty content to rest on his laurels now.