“I’m not sexist, I’m an asshole”

I saw a post over at the Daily Dot about a Computer Engineer Barbie book, one that’s totally sexist and doesn’t even pretend to be empowering or to portray Barbie as a capable being.

That’s horrible enough. The comments were another source of grief. In the story, Barbie enlists the help of more experienced developers, who are both male and who insist that they can do the work Barbie is trying to do faster. The story’s reviewer said that that smacked of every time one of her male colleagues talked over her or was otherwise dismissive of her abilities. One commenter, Brandon DuBois, responded:

This part shouldn’t be considered sexism, get over yourself and realize that programmers in general are conceited assholes who think their code is always better than yours (because honestly, after the fact anyone can write something better – if they can’t then nobody learned anything). This happens to all of us :p We also make fun of each others weights, joke about sexual preferences, and ridicule each other in plenty of other ways like making memes or photoshopping pictures each other posts on facebook – doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman in this industry, that’s just how most of us act.

Well. DuBois is certainly a conceited asshole. If I were his manager, I’d be sending him to HR on a weekly basis.

This is a common defense. My behavior’s not sexist/racist/classist/ableist; I’m equally shitty to everyone! Except that’s probably not true. DuBois probably treats his female colleagues as if they were less capable and less experienced than his male colleagues. That’s beyond consensual mockery. The fact that his verbal assholery extends to men doesn’t make the content less sexist, homophobic, or fat-phobic, and it doesn’t reassure his colleagues that are female, homosexual, or overweight that he really doesn’t care about those attributes. Quite the opposite.

This is a problem in tech. These people are the problem. They don’t think they’re a problem. They probably don’t care if they are a problem as long as they aren’t getting flak about it. And we need them gone.

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