What’s Wrong With Using Sex In Tech Conference Presentations?

Sex Porn does not belong in the content of technology conferences.

Folks, As a matter of principle,  it looks like I won’t be Regardless of the voting outcome on the session submission, I am going to speak at Wordcamp Boston.
w w w w w w w w w w w w w w w

“Getting the Money Shot: Making Screencasts Without Going Insane”

Danielle Morrill – Producing a useful screencast, where an online product or service is demonstrated for the user and they are introduced to the UI of your website, can increase the number of people who convert to customers. This talk will leave viewers with practical advise for creating their own screencast, including a list of tools and resources. It will also outline some of the things to avoid, the pyschology of the editor, and how thinking like a porn director will help you be sure to achieve the “”money shot””. Take 1 Mac, 1 Flipcam HD, a whole lot of coffee, and one really sleep deprived Danielle and hilarity ensues. — Ignite session

Update 1: I am changing my post title from, “What’s Wrong With Using Sex Porn To Sell Your Wordcamp Session?” because porn has no place at a technical conference. It is saying, “think like a porn director”.

Update 2: Wordcamp Boston has posted a response and I have answered.

In hindsight, I should not have shared on my live show that I was not going to attend if the presentation made it in.  That was a mistake.

I should have contacted the organizers first.  My plan was to wait and see because…if the topic didn’t get voted in, the post you’re reading right now would have never left my brain. It is interesting to see that the organizers are still holding onto the logic that the “40%” of women attendees somehow approved this topic with their tickets. I didn’t and I’m speaking up. I want to make it clear that I did not make threats against Wordcamp Boston. I planned to opt-out and not attend.

Timeline of events (all Central timezone):

6:30pm – 8pm Askadria.com show
9:47pm Email from Amanda
10:02pm Reply to Amanda
10:05pm Ooops, cc to John
10:30pm Reply from Amanda
10:57pm Reply to Amanda
11pm Email from Amanda
11:xxpm I start writing the post

What’s Wrong With Using Sex To Sell Your Wordcamp Session?

In a recent development on today’s AskAdria show, I stated that I would not be attending Wordcamp Boston if the above Ignite session made it in. It seems someone contacted the organizers so I received an email asking what was up. I explained my position via email which I will share below:

Amanda,

I am very offended by one of the Ignite sessions and mentioned on my show today that if it goes forward as one of the presentation, I will not attend Wordcamp Boston.  This all just happened today and I see voting ends Tuesday 1/12/2010 so I was going to wait to see who got selected.

The presentation is, “Getting the Money Shot: Making Screencasts Without Going Insane”

Danielle Morrill – Getting the Money Shot: Making Screencasts Without Going Insane Producing a useful screencast, where an online product or service is demonstrated for the user and they are introduced to the UI of your website, can increase the number of people who convert to customers. This talk will leave viewers with practical advise for creating their own screencast, including a list of tools and resources. It will also outline some of the things to avoid, the pyschology of the editor, and how thinking like a porn director will help you be sure to achieve the “”money shot””. Take 1 Mac, 1 Flipcam HD, a whole lot of coffee, and one really sleep deprived Danielle and hilarity ensues.

I don’t find pornography to be funny.  There are 20 year old attendees and speakers coming to these Wordcamps.  I don’t know how Techsmith or the Screenflow folks feel about pornography but I know I am not okay with referencing something that oppresses women and is truly an embarrassment to our modern day society.

I just met Laura, a 20 year old girl who wants to become a programmer.  Her dad, Brad, brought her to Wordcamp Atlanta to meet me.  He has been a regular at AskAdria.com.  I talked with her about her aspirations, provided advice and listened.  Syed Balkhi is 20 years old.  He is the founder of WPBeginner.  He attended Wordcamp NYC and just spoke at Wordcamp Atlanta.  Regardless of how either of these people feel about pornography, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have subject matter in any of the topics at a Wordcamp include pornography, how porn directors work or how to get a “Money Shot”.

I thought at first the person submitting it was a guy (assumption) then saw the name was Danielle.  Either way, it’s not okay with me who is presenting.

I’m upset this made it into the final submission list but I’m not surprised and explain why during the show.

I don’t expect the guys involved in organizing Wordcamp Boston to understand this as this submission made it through so my form of protest will be to not attend.

Now, I’m open to your thoughts and discussion this of course.  This all happened today.

Thanks,
Adria Richards
Organic Technology Consultant

I asked viewers to vote for the other Ignite session topics but that I would wait to see what happened with the results.  Voting ends tomorrow (Tuesday January 12th, 2010 at 11:59pm Eastern) so vote now if you want to affect the outcome of me speaking at Wordcamp Boston.

Amanda replied with the following and gave me an ultimatum to tell them if I was going or not. (I made sure to ask first if this correspondence should become public):

Adria,

first of all, to be clear, John Eckman and Jake Goldman would be the first to tell you, WordCamp Boston has an obnoxiously strong female leadership (me). We have a phenomenal ratio of women speakers vs other wordcamps and a mind blowing 40% of our attendees are women (40%! Usually its closer to 15-20%).  It is where the very first WP event just for women  (#wpchicks brunch) will take place, with great support from all the organizers. We will be giving a substantial amount of money to the WordPress Foundation, for the purpose of advancing women in WP. WordCamp Boston is VERY female friendly.

I’ve rarely seen a cause I can’t support, but I have to say, I think you may be overreacting on this one (but hey- more attention on #WCBos, so thanks on that!).  This talk is very obviously not about porn. “Money shot” is a pop culture term that’s widely understood, and the talk is about something that a lot of people are interested in hearing about:screencasting. I agree, I don’t like the tone of a lot of the female led talks “How to Be a Media Slut”, “I give good blog”, etc… but the flip side is: these are women owning their own sexuality, and its not forced upon them. Bottom line: I think you’re really exaggerating the offense here, and people who just READ the description will see that. It is:

Danielle Morrill – Getting the Money Shot: Making Screencasts Without Going Insane Producing a useful screencast, where an online product or service is demonstrated for the user and they are introduced to the UI of your website, can increase the number of people who convert to customers. This talk will leave viewers with practical advise for creating their own screencast, including a list of tools and resources. It will also outline some of the things to avoid, the pyschology of the editor, and how thinking like a porn director will help you be sure to achieve the “”money shot””. Take 1 Mac, 1 Flipcam HD, a whole lot of coffee, and one really sleep deprived Danielle and hilarity ensues.

I’d just like to raise the point that it might have been more effective to your goal to reach out in a far less volatile way and suggest to us, or the speaker that she consider an alternative, and even offer an alternative. To simply threaten to cause great inconvenience to use, the organizers to fill your slot (without even letting us know directly) 2 weeks before WordCamp seems counterproductive to the greater good.

#justsayin,
Amanda Blum, WordCamp Boston

What is a “Money Shot” Anyway?

Let’s take a look at what exactly constitutes a “money shot“.

Wikipedia says:

The term originates from mainstream feature filmmakers, who used the term “money shot” as slang for the image that costs the most money to produce.[3] For example, in an action thriller, an expensive special effects sequence of a dam bursting might be called the “money shot” of the film. The Simpsons showrunner Bill Oakley called the “Homer3” section of “Treehouse of Horror VI“, (where a 2d character steps into a three-dimensional CGI world) the money shot.

A money shot has also been used as another name for a cum shot in pornographic films. The shot was so named because if a male actor could not provide this shot he would not be paid. It has also been argued that this is the filmed moment the audience has paid to see. According to Stephen Ziplow, author of The Film Maker’s Guide to Pornography , “…the cum shot, or, as some refer to it, ‘the money shot’, is the most important element in the movie and that everything else (if necessary) should be sacrificed at its expense.” Linda Williams has argued that, “The money shot is thus an obvious perversion – in the literal sense of the term, as a swerving away from more “direct” forms of genital engagement – of the tactile sexual connection.”

The term has gained acceptance in pop culture and is sometimes used in conversation. Borrowing the meaning from the pornographic film industry, the term is used to refer to a highly anticipated or satisfying end, but in a non-pornographic context.

So there you have it.

I am doing what feels right to me.  I am tired of “Booth Babes” at technology events.  I am tired of being mistaken as an assistant vs the primary IT consultant on a project.  I don’t want to see young women growing up to think they’re not anything special unless they have a set of fake boobs and men find them physically attractive.

I’m pulling this up from a comment I left:

Pornography isn’t sex. It’s the scripted and usually demeaning illusion of
sex. It often includes violence against women, rape, assault and a power
imbalance between the male and female actors.

If every single person attending Wordcamp Boston was not a virgin, that
would be fine with me. It’s not about sex, sexual activity and what people
do in their free time. It’s using terms associated with pornography in a
presentation intended for a technical conference.

Back To The Software

Since the actual subject matter is screencast videos, let’s explore that. The main software providers to record, edit and produce videos of your computer screen are:

I don’t know how these companies feel about pornography.  I know I’ve never seen Techsmith use sex to sell their products.  If they started to, I would send an email promptly and express my opinion.

Alternate Sex Free Pitches

So you may be saying, “Well, it does get people’s attention.”.  I agree.

Some alternate content suggestions I thought of included focusing on how famous directors create captivating moments (Think Star Wars) or documentary folks make stories so real you pick up your phone after the movie and take action.

Why Sexy Slides at Technical Conferences Is a Bad Idea

I’ve seen a move with these “camps” to use swear words in the titles to attract attention or use “slang”.  Yes, ok.  For me, this crosses the line to think that a young person would attend this event.  We’ve all seen what can happen when no one stands up to oppose a guy drawing penises with a virtual app where a woman orgasamed at a Flash developer conference in Minneapolis.  Below is a first hand story account from Courtney Remes, an interactive media strategist who attended the conference:

Yesterday’s afternoon keynote is this guy named Hoss Gifford — I believe his major claim to fame is that viral “spank the monkey” thing that went around a few years back.  Highlights of his talk:

  • He opens his keynote with one of those “Ignite”-esque presentations — where you have 5-minutes and 20 slides to tell a story — and the first and last are a close-up of a woman’s lower half, her legs spread (wearing stilettos, of course) and her shaved vagina visible through some see-thru panties that say “drink me,” with Hoss’s Photoshopped, upward-looking face placed below it.
  • He later demos a drawing tool he has created (admittedly with someone else’s code) and invites a woman to come up to try it.  After she sits back down, he points out that in her doodles she’s drawn a “cock.”
  • Then he decides he wants to give a try at using the tool to draw a “cock” (he loves this word) — and draws a face, then a giant dick (he redraws it three times) that ultimately cums all over the face.
  • A multitude of references to penises and lots of swearing — and also “If you are easily offended, fuck you!”
  • And then, to top it off, a self-made flash movie of an animated woman’s face, positioned as if she’s having sex with you, who gradually orgasms based on the speed of your mouse movement on the page.

How to Encourage or Exclude Women From Your Technology Products and Events

For a while, I didn’t really like Jason Calacanis (he made some comment on Twitter that I replied to comparing “Internet Famous” White guys like himself and Scoble to timeless hip-hop groups like Run DMC and the Beastie Boys… oh, but that’s another blog post) but when I saw in his September 8th, 2009 newsletter, “22 Tips on How to Operate a Trade Show Booth” that he didn’t want to see booth babes at Tech Crunch 50, I made up my mind right then I would attend the next one.

15. Don’t hire booth babes or strippers
=============
Unless you work in the modeling, strip club or porn business, don’t
hire models, strippers or porn stars to work your booth–it’s
insulting to women. Now, that doesn’t mean the folks in your booth
can’t be attractive and well manicured. It just means, have some
taste. At last year’s conference, someone had a bunch of stripper
types in hot pants and absurdly tight t-shirts. It was totally cheap,
cheesy and lame. It’s 2009, people, really.

See, all it takes is just a bit of encouragement to say, “Come In. You are welcome here. We’ve made it nice just for you.”. I now respect @Jason and look forward to going to #tc50 in 2010.

As you know, I dislike DimDim for using sex to sell their webinar software.

I also fault Microsoft for trying to make it cool to surf porn on your laptop and then hide it from your wife.

I was about to make a sad face on Zendesk too but Violet, a sexologist, gave me a new perspective.

Check out HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux written by Valerie Aurora, a Linux kernal developer and consultant who has had a strong voice in LinuxChix and independently raising awareness on why women are missing from open source development projects and how to fix it.

We could also look at this as me “ruining” Wordcamp Boston by ditching out on them at the last minute after I confirmed as a speaker.  I did not change my intentions.  They changed their content and message which I cannot support if that session gets voted in. The weird thing is, I was just discussing it in my live stream and had not truly confirmed I would cancel so that means someone viewing the stream reached out to the organizers.

I had to deal with this when I submitted my entry for John Chow’s contest.  I was offering 500 free hugs for pass to Blogworld but Corree Silvera said she would give good blog for a pass.  I was concerned that her offer would win BUT I got the full access pass!

Once I got to Blogworld, I encountered this again at a party NOT sponsored by Blogworld where there were empty bathtubs with women “making out” with each other. My friend took a photo.

Update: I was mistaken about the have no idea now if The party where I saw the “bathtub babes”  Lavo was NOT sponsored by Blogworld according to Blogworld.  Stefanie was told it was according to her comment below.  It was hosted by Joseph Morin (self described internet marketing, evangelist and jetsetter) and Stefanie Michaels of Adventuregirl.com. Both have said they did not know about the ladies in the bathtubs.

Update 2: I called Lavo and they confirmed the “bathtub babes” are employees who work 10pm – 4am, Tuesday through Sunday.

Why should women attending technical conferences have to see this?
Bathtub Women at Blogworld

And if we do, where is our equal opportunity with men in hard hats, lifting bricks or men in business suits taking it all off?

I know there is a special brunch for WordPress Chix the day after the conference.  I read in Amanda’s email that 40% of attendees are women.

Just because a porn star owns her own production company and website, that doesn’t make her “empowered”.

What did I actually say?

I realize now… that I cannot say things in passing at AskAdria.com.

People are listening.

What has usually been a small gathering of technology minded folks and business people looking for help has grown.

I should have talked to the organizers of Wordcamp Boston about my concerns before saying something on the show.  Once I did that, things were out of my hands.

At 00:09:12 into the show, I begin to explain about the submission on how to make screencasts like a porn director and how this is inappropriate and even more so because there are young people attending.  I say it’s going to be a dealbreaker if it’s selected for the final round of sessions, I won’t be attending or presenting at Wordcamp Boston.

At 00:12:41 I describe meeting Laura, Brad’s daughter.  Brad has been a regular viewer at my live show at AskAdria and he wanted his daughter to meet me so she could get her questions answered about what her next steps were in development or programming.

Brad stopped in so I asked him the following question, “Would you feel comfortable sending Laura to a Wordcamp where one of the sessions had to do with pornography?”

I then read off the title and description of the session.

A father should not have to answer this.

I give my answer tomorrow today.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Graham Ballantyne

67 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With Using Sex In Tech Conference Presentations?

  1. Meghan Wilker

    As always, I respect you for vocally standing up for what you believe in. I'm just as tired of sexualized presentations as you are — whether given by men or women.

    Here's where I don't agree with what you: backing out of the conference at the last minute over this is a triple whammy of suck:

    1. The conference organizers are left in the lurch, which will give them a negative impression of you.
    2. You are losing out on the opportunity to engage with the WordPress community in Boston.
    3. Most importantly, you are denying the attendees the opportunity to see you and hear your message. This gives the content you disagree with even more prominence, because there's one less speaker. Meanwhile, you not going doesn't do anything to stop or drown out that content you disagree with (which is a 5-minute Ignite presentation as opposed to your 45-minute session!).

    My two cents? I'd rather see you go and be a living, breathing, ass-kicking example of a powerful woman in technology who doesn't need to use porn or sex to draw a crowd. “Be the change you want to see in the world” as the saying goes.

  2. Black Canseco

    Porn's a 12 Billion a year industry. It cracks me up when everyone acts all offended knowing that if you checked junk drives and harddrives of SocMedia conference attendees and random bloggers you'd find all kinds of “money shots” (and then some)

    Now do i wanna be at SXSW or WordCamp or TED and be surrounded by assorted Paul Reubens types doublicking with one hand and playing with their… “mouse” with the other? No.

    But please, folks. Save the sanctimony. If the session's informative and well-done, I'd check it out.

  3. adriarichards

    Meghan,

    Darn good points you make.

    I will think on this. How do we stop the madness? These types of topics
    are not clever or funny and companies continue to spend advertising dollars
    to stir sex into the promotion of technology products and services.

  4. adriarichards

    I know the Internet is built on porn. Especially when we look at video on
    mobile devices.

    Now you make me not want to shake hands at the next conference, ewww!

  5. Pingback: Grab Bag Monday: After The Wordcamp | AskAdria.com

  6. Mauro Toffanin

    I understand your point of view, indeed the Danielle Morrill presentation is just a rip-off of the well known “CouchDB + Ruby: Perform Like a Pr0n Star” talk ( http://www.slideshare.net/mattetti/couchdb-perf… ) that has been aired at the GoGaRuCo 2009 (short for “Golden Gate Ruby Conference”).

    The GoGaRuCo 2009 conference was a failure due to that “Porn talk” and really few women attended the event compared to the other GoGaRuCo conferences done in the past; porn talks or sexual jokes during the IT conferences are not a winner marketing strategy.

    I also remember the failure media campaign ““Online Engagement — The Key to Success in Good Times and Bad.” from FatWire with a lot of (tasteless) Playboy’s Cyber Girls showed during the Boston Web 2.0 conference in 2008; the worst part of that talk was when the FatWire CEO told an offended audience member that “SHE was wrong to be offended” (here a reference of the episode: http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/total… ).

    I dislike conferences and events with “booth girls” and I generally do not attend them because I want to meet other geeky man/women, I want to speak with them about the topics of the conference and not to watch a cheap “Las Vegas-like” strip show; I really don't need a technical conference to improve my erotic dreams.

    I guess the age-old rule of presenting still holds: know your audience.

  7. arsha

    I agree with Meghan. So how do you stop the madness? Here's my suggestion.

    Make a point to attend WP Chix Brunch and begin a dialogue which draws attention to the subject. Many of the women may not be aware of what's going on. I think you made VERY good points about reasons for not attending, but honestly that's too easy.

    Everything comes down to money and with 40% of their income demanding change, WordCamp organizers will be sure to listen.

    Stand up. Be proud. Make your voice heard. Because the women who read your blog are behind you 100%!

  8. carlhancock

    Adri,

    While I do think you are overreacting, I do respect your opinion and the conviction that you have shown about this issue. You have every right to take a stand.

    That being said, I don't agree with you using the 20 year old attendees to make your point. Not only that but you go as far as naming them by name.

    At 20 years old I was married. At 18 you are old enough to vote and die for your country. These young adults are 20. They are old enough to make up their own mind, come to their own conclusions, and speak up for themselves.

    They don't need you making decisions for them or using them to get your point across.

  9. Syed Balkhi

    I personally think that the title should not be like that because it is just not respectful to the women. Money Shot in porns are very degrading. I feel that maybe the title can be changed.

    My presentation in Atlanta on WordPress Security

    http://www.slideshare.net/wpbeginner/protecting

    Used a WordPress branded condom but that was just for a laugh and it was a tough choice for me but I chose to go ahead because I think it was not selling sex. It was for a quick laugh and that is what comes to mind when I think about protection.

    I have not seen the presentation, so I do not know if it will have more sexual stuff in it. I think there is a limit and it should not be pushed.

    WordCamp Boston should just change the title of that presentation.

  10. James Dalman

    Adria,

    I found this post through a Tweet and wanted to say good for you! I don't think the main issue is about leaving WordCamp hanging but more about your convictions and standing up for them. Obviously you are passionate about this and I only wish more people would be willing to stand up for what they believe in, regardless of the after-effect.

    There are a lot of things that I could comment on here but all I will say is thank you for being you and honoring what you believe. All the best!

  11. John Eckman

    I suppose I ought to let Danielle Morrill, who's Ignite submission this was, actually respond to this, but I just have to point out that all you've seen is the title, and you've already decided that her talk is just a rip-off of an existing presentation?

    I don't believe Danielle's intent would be to fill her presentation with pornographic or semi-pornographic images of women, but regardless let's not jump to conclusions about it without even having seen it!

  12. Kenneth Younger III

    I agree with you generally. Explicit pornographic material should never be a part of a conference (obviously unless that's WHY the people are attending :) It doesn't sound like this is explicit though.

    If someone is 18, they are an adult, and should be allowed and expected to filter the this out on their own everyday while on the web, and can do so at a conference. It says plainly on the summary what's going to be discussed. If the content really is as bad as the summary and you make it out to be, then they probably won't have much attendance or get asked to speak again.

    Under 18, different story – parents should be doing their job of screening what their kids do.

  13. O.

    If you attended, you could talk to the presenter.
    If you present, you could add a comment about such types of presentations.
    If you follow through on your commitment and are successful, you solidify your rep as the type of person people want to have present at their conferences.

    Not showing up probably won't have the effect you want it to have on the people who can change things like this now and in the future. Instead, it paints you as a prude who takes offense at the mention of pornography (even if you're not a prude).

    Go and have a real impact.

  14. cvharquail

    Adria,

    Thank you for making this an issue— because it is! Sexism, or for that matter outright misogyny, has no place at WordCamp or anywhere else. I'm impressed by the stand that you're taking, and also kindof depressed by the lack of understanding demonstrated in Amanda's reply to you. Even if we extend the most generous interpretation of her response, it is still disappointing to see a woman, or a man, actively resist the oppty to make their event less sexist. You go girl.

    I recognize the options aren't easy for you— but something I know as a diversity scholar is that when many people see discrimination happening, they stay back and wait, doing nothing, trying to figure out the perfect action. But here, the perfect TRULY is the enemy of the good…and I'm not sure if there is an action you could take that would be better. Tho, I really agree with Meghan- you are such a strong and powerful example of what women in technology should be (starting with, should be feminists)….
    And Amanda, btw, words like cl*#%$rf(&k, A&^$%#, and so many others may be common pop parlance, but that makes them neither professional nor appropriate.

  15. Mauro Toffanin

    Dear John,
    in my previous comment I was speaking about the “idea” and not the “content” of the Danielle's talk, in particular I was speaking about the metaphor of the “porn director/star” (Danielle cit.) “how thinking like a porn director will help you be sure to achieve the 'money shot'” which is (sadlying) a recurring metaphor in the IT conferences.

    Here the topic proposed by Adria is the usage of the “sex” as an excuse to make both talks (metaphors around sex/porn) and events (booth-girls and playboy-geeky-girls) more attractive; I hope that my previous comment is now more clear.

  16. JacqueBona

    Wow, way to get some talk generated, Adria! I agree with you that using sex/porn to grab attention for a presentation is demeaning. In a format that embraces more intellectual content in writing/blogging or creative design in website development, resorting to sensationalism is irritating.

    I agree with Meghan and Arsha that a positive alternative to boycotting the conference would be to go do your presentation and then bring the issue up at the brunch. I do believe it is an issue that merits further discussion.

    I must comment that I found the letter to you from Amanda Blum, WordCamp Boston, a bit rude and off-putting. She characterized herself as, ” obnoxiously strong female leadership (me).” Her response lacked tact and professionalism. I do not equate strong female leadership with being obnoxious. Ms. Blum is the one who appears to have over-reacted in the accusatory and belligerent tone of her letter.

    I second Meghan's insight that you are a great example of an effective and powerful woman in technology and could teach Amanda by example.

  17. adriarichards

    Ok, I'm officially crying from all these wonderful, thoughtful, reflective
    comments! Wow, I had no idea so many of you felt strongly about this.

    I went to the Wordcamp Boston site to grab a link and saw the Ignite
    sessions. Thought, “Hey, I should read them”. My jaw dropped as I read the
    description for this one. As many of you know, I make a lot of screencast
    videos. My primary tool has been Camtasia Studio. Before that, I tried
    using Wink. I'm now exploring Screenflow.

    Betsy Weber <http://twitter.com/betsyweber> is the Evangalist for Techsmith,
    maker of Camtasia Studio. I would read her blog posts over at the Visual
    Lounge <http://visuallounge.techsmith.com/> and though she was pretty cool.
    It wasn't until I got to meet her at BlogHer that I really knew she rocked!
    She reinforced my loyalty for Techsmith products because she was laid back,
    funny and I saw how she puts in effort to make her company shine.

    Another person I met is Tara <http://twitter.com/tarable>. She works for
    Lijit <http://lijit.com>. Now Tara is crazy fun! I met her at BlogHer as
    well while bowling. I had tried Lijit as a custom search solution for my
    blog but after meeting Tara, I changed all my sites over!

    When I think of either of these women, I think of strength, leadership,
    patience, humor, technical skill, logistics, influence and passion for
    technology.

    The session I read was in direct conflict with my passion for technology so
    I spoke up.

    Thank you so much to all of you wonderful folks for speaking up on this. It
    feels wonderful to know I'm not alone on this and that we need to keep sex,
    objectification of women and pornography out of technology conferences.

  18. adriarichards

    Maruo,

    Well said! Thank you so much for citing previous examples of this sort of
    content.

    If this were reversed, I suspect guys who pitch and sit through this sort of
    stuff would loudly object because when I mention I have menstrual cramps,
    guys on Twitter go, “Ewww!”

    I sincerely appreciate your opinion as you are not located in the US so you
    provide a global perspective.

  19. Adam

    Cool! Turning this poor guy's session around to make him look like a sexist pig so that you can get some much-needed attention. Like anyone cares if you don't attend WordCamp? I hope you're proud of what you've accomplished. You've shown us the real “money shot”.

  20. adriarichards

    Arsha,

    Good point about attending so I can participate in the discussion.

    And yes, I could then talk with the Wordcamp Boston organizers to understand
    why they approved the Ignite session into the voting round rather than
    asking Danielle to rewrite her submission.

    THANK YOU so much!!!!

  21. adriarichards

    Carl,

    I did name them (Laura, 20 year old girl who wants to be a programmer and
    Syed, 20, founder of WPBeginner) and they both have said it is okay to do
    so. Syed has left a comment below and I commend him for speaking up on
    this.

    The point is we're talking about a conference with a technology focus.

    Most of the sexual references I've encountered in technology promotions have
    been disrespectful to women or objectifying them.

    There is no reason to pay money to be be disrespected. You can get that for
    free!

    Thank you for your viewpoint on this.

  22. adriarichards

    Syed,

    You are a business owner, WordPress consultant and Wordcamp presenter. I
    would like to say thank you for speaking up on this. Congrats.

    Second as a guy in technology. Awesome!

    Third, as a person who is age 20, I truly appreciate you sharing your
    viewpoint.

    I missed your presentation at Wordcamp Atlanta (although I can't wait to
    watch the video!) so I didn't know there was an image with a condom
    displaying the WordPress logo. I used a similar image of a condom
    displaying a firefox logo because it illustrated the same point: safety and
    protection.

    WordPress is a community build on ideas, voices and volunteers. I want
    everyone to feel welcome.

    Thank you

  23. adriarichards

    James,

    Agreed. I don't want to leave WordPress or a Wordcamp hanging. I am a “see
    and do person”. I saw and since I was doing my live show, I told people my
    intents. That got passed to the Wordcamp Boston organizers and here we are.

    Thank you!!!!

  24. BlogWorld

    For the record, that photo is from a party at Lavo which was organized by Adventure Girl. It was not an official BlogWorld party and was in fact competing with our official party at Jet.

    We had nothing to do with the girls in bathtubs and would never have any such “official” activity at our event.

    In fact we are quite proud of our record: http://www.blogworldexpo.com/blog/2008/02/09/th

  25. adriarichards

    theuglyamerican1@hotmail.com

    Thank your for this note. You can put “Blogworld” as your username but
    unless you're listed on the site as an organizer or founder of Blogworld, I
    can't take your word as their voice.

    Thankfully, Jim Turner (@Genuine <http://twitter.com/genuine>), Social Media
    Director of Blogworld has been active in this discussion and I just
    tweeted<http://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/7677439878>that the
    event at Lavo was organized by
    @iamlavo <http://twitter.com/iamlavo> was organized by
    @josephmorin<http://twitter.com/josephmorin>and not Blogworld

    Efforts at diversity have nothing to do with inappropriate content in
    presentations

  26. Mauro Toffanin

    “men are the same everywhere”

    I can confirm you that sexism in IT conferences are common also in EU and I suspect that it's an habit all over the world too. Not to mention all the international fairs where car, moto, boats, services and all the products are *always* surronded by barbie-girls with fake boobs and short&sexy clothes (these girls are the real attraction of the event and not the products); here the problem is not the people who attend the event and instigate the woman objectification, but the organizers of the conference who accepted and approved all these type of contents/scenario.

    It's hard to fight against the sexism when it's so deep-rooted inside people.

    I would like to write more about this topic, but I'm on holidays and here the wi-fi sucks a lot.

    p.s.: ignore the “ewww” guys on twitter :P they never had a real relationship with a woman and so they do not know the pain of the menstrual cramps.

  27. adriarichards

    What a wonderful comment!

    Yes, just because 40% of the attendees are women, it doesn't mean they
    support the session topic, title or content. If I had been asked to vote
    before this made it into the regular voting, I would voted, “No”.

    Love the term, “Diversity Scholar”

    Yes, I thought not many people would participate in this conversation as
    it's a topic people “don't like to talk about” or say, “they're just joking”
    but after meeting that young girl who is so full of hope, I thought, “This
    just isn't right”. After hearing her dad talk about his hopes and
    aspirations for her, I couldn't just put my head down and walk forward.

    Thank you for participating and I can't wait to reconnect again at BlogHer
    2010 <http://www.blogher.com/blogher_conference/conf&gt;!

  28. benmccormack

    I appreicate your reaction to Boston's WordCamp possibly hosting a talk that uses sex to try to make a point that could be made perfectly fine otherwise. Not only is it OK for you to walk away from the conference, as a prominent member of the WordPress community, your notable absence speaks volumes that a certain level of professionalism and maturity ought to be expected at these types of gatherings.

    Is it true that you shouldn't be surprised to see a little more “edge” at a conference based on free and open-source software than you might see at, say, a Microsoft conference? Sure. But that doesn't mean we should abandon common decency when planning a conference. Your walking away says very clearly that the bar ought to be set higher. As a newer member of the WordPress community, I'm incredibly thankful for that.

  29. Ann MacKay

    Although I did not meet you at WC Atlanta, I started following you on Twitter. You have certainly raised my awareness of issues that I have not been exposed to. My career was in a female dominated field so I was not subjected to the issues you have raised. I agree with many of your points but I also agree with some of the comments that you can do more good attending and spreading your message.

    I have been a member of (AAUW ) American Association of University Women whose mission is advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research.
    One of the goals in public policy is to promote and strength science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, especially for girls and other underrepresented populations. Obviously we have a long way to go.

  30. BlogWorld

    Anything that says @BlogWorld is me (Rick CEO & Co-founder of BlogWorld). To further clarify Joe did not host or organize the party at Lavo. That was Stephanie's (@adventuregirl's) deal. Joe just listed the page on our list of parties at BlogWorld at her request.

    I am not sure if she was aware of the girls in bathtub thing.

    We hosted three evening events at BlogWorld this year. The Bank on Thursday, Jet on Friday and pool side at the Las Vegas Hilton on Saturday. We also worked with @jessberlin to provide free tickets to various Cirque du Soliel shows for any BlogWorld Attendee that wanted one. All other events were run and hosted by independent folks not affiliated with us. We listed those events on our blog as a courtesy to our attendees and the organizers of those events.

  31. Fredric Mitchell

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

    Yours is the Earth, and everything that's in it”

    keep on keepin' on, ms. richards.

  32. oldredtop

    Well Adria, I just couldn't resist chiming in after reading all of the comments… :-)

    First congratulations on raising the awareness of the Blogging community to this issue. I commend you on your call to our higher set of values, not our lower ones…

    I would only add that the for me, the test for public appropriateness is what I call the “Mom Test”. In other words…would WordCamp Boston use the kind of “colorful” language, text, titling, picture, or video that Danielle has, if any of their mothers were going to see or hear it?

    If my 79 year old Mom saw me title a presentation as Danielle did, I would NEVER make it to the presentation…and you would have to come visit me in the hospital. Nuff said… :-)

  33. getsuga tenshou

    lame…grabbing attention cause no one wanted to see you speak. And yes, if a woman owns her own production company and performs in pornographic films then yes – she is empowered. Probably making good money too.

  34. adriarichards

    Brad (RedTop),

    I love the “Mom Test”! Thank you for allowing me to share the story of you
    meeting you and your daughter Laura. I was shocked to see pornography being
    used to make a technology product interesting when by themselves,
    screencasts are already interesting.

    I made the mistake of not contacting the organizers before sharing my
    thoughts and intentions aloud on my show. I made it public. That's how the
    show works: It's a flow of ideas and solutions on a specific topic or in
    yesterday's case, a “Grab Bag” of assorted technology questions.

    I simply wanted to take a stand on this as something I don't want to see,
    shared my experiences for 2009 regarding inappropriate use of sex with
    technology products and at conferences and stated why it is important to me.

    Thank you for your support and I hope this will make a different for your
    daughter.

  35. Coree

    It looks like your article on using sex to promote yourself has turned out a great response for you. Which is exactly the point. Sex, or the innuendo behind it, attracts attention.

    I don't feel Danielle's session description is demeaning to women at all. She didn't say she was going to use any porn screenshots, but simply used the term “money shots” for the attention it would attract. What I get out of her description is a session that will teach screencasting in a way that is educational as well as entertaining. She even says that it is meant to be hilarious.

    It's not laughing at porn, but rather, the humor is in the ability to make fun of ourselves and others for our human tendency to be attracted to sex.

    There is a point where it's extreme and blatant, which would be the chicks in tight shorts at the convention, but this is just wink at the fact we all know sex sells.

    Women's rights are not going to suffer because we are able to joke with the guys about sex. Instead it puts us on the same playing field and let's them know they can't make us uncomfortable or control a situation by mentioning the word.

    As for a 20 year old at the convention, do you really believe they don't know about sex or porn? Most kids know about it by 12 or 13, but regardless, a 20 year old is an adult and can decide for themselves what they want to listen to.

    I agree with some of the others here, that you should have spoken at the event, given your point of view there and allowed the audience there to decide to agree or disagree. We are all much more comfortable voicing our opinions on our blogs where we have our loyal readers to stand behind us. To state your case at the event itself would give you a more unbiased opinion and would have given you a larger platform to survey.

    By backing out of the event at the last minute you may now have done more harm by portraying women as overly sensitive and unable to control our emotions. That is the subject men use to hold us down, not the inability to feel comfortable with s-e-x. I consider this a bigger setback than Danielle's session subject.

  36. Pingback: Marketing: Sexing It Up To Win? | Market Like A Chick

  37. Joseph Morin

    To further clarify, that photo wasn't even taken at the Lavo party because there was no budget for 'bathing beauties' and that occurred after the (unofficial) BlogWorld party was over and the general public was let in for the normal festivities of a Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

    Lavo provided 1 hour of comped Vodka beverages to attract bloggers to their restaurant and nightclub, so the actual host of the party was Lavo itself and they leveraged Stephanie Michael's (@AdventureGirl) name to promote the event. No money was spent to organize or promote the event by either AdventureGirl or myself nor did we received any monetary compensation in any way other than the comped drinks that were provided to the guests.

  38. stefaniemichaels

    Hey Rick and Blog World Folks! It's Adventure Girl- STEFANIE (with an “f”) Michaels. For the record, I was told that this was an Official Blog World Party, by both Rick and Joe Morin.

    Hey Adria-

    I was invited by Lavo, as Joe Morin mentioned, for he and I to host a party as an “after party” to the Jet party. A cocktail from 10-11 pm. Rick from Blog World was fully aware of this, and endorsed the party. We worked to schedule after the Jet party- hence the 10:00 pm start time. Maybe since there is “controversy”, other's stories have changed and they are trying to step away from these points?

    Since I worked on getting my people from the line of more than 1000 fans and friends into the club and checked off the list, I did not make it into the club till nearly 12:00 am.- by that time the party was over, celebrities had left the club, and people were moving on to the after after party. There had been Blog World attendees and celebrities who attended. There was NO sign of these girls in a bathtub (like the photo)- and the only people I saw “scantily” clad- were 3 groups of girls in cocktail dresses let in after our cocktail hour was over celebrating bachelorette parties- and again- none looked like these girls in the bathtub! I can't see why a club would have bathing girls with bachelorettes? Makes no sense. There were also no other claims of this during our party time- 10-11 pm. If it happened, it was long after our party had ended and we were long gone, which would then have nothing to do with any of us!

    I also want to clarify- I am NOT involved with porn in any way- I am a respected travel expert and journalist. I resent the claim that I had anything to do with throwing an “unauthorized” Blog World party. I did it with full permission of Rick and Joe Morin, and only hosted the party for and at the Blog World event. Thank you Joe for mentioning this.

    Adria, if you consider yourself to be a journalist/writer in any way- you must be able to report in a fair and equal manner. That means connecting with the sources you are writing about and interviewing them, and asking them questions, not making assumptions and beating at bushes to concoct a half written story to get acclaim on someone else's good reputation. It is also important to get the facts, before you make false statements and put out mis-information. After all- it ends up reflecting negatively on the person with the “pen” so to speak. And I am sure; you wouldn't want that to happen to you. If you'd ever like to actually interview me before you put out inflammatory statements about me, then please do contact me through my adventuregirl (dot)com website.

    All my best,

    Stefanie Michaels

  39. adriarichards

    Ben,

    Thank you for speaking up on this. I like this part of your comment the
    most,

    “Is it true that you shouldn't be surprised to see a little more “edge” at a
    conference based on free and open-source software than you might see at,
    say, a Microsoft conference? Sure. But that doesn't mean we should abandon
    common decency when planning a conference.”

    Sad thing is this is happening more often in the technology realm. Being
    truly clever is about bringing new ideas to the table, making everyone feel
    welcome and sending folks off with food for thought in my mind.

  40. adriarichards

    Coree,

    I talk about this issue because it continues to be an ongoing issue and
    challenge for women in technology. By saying I talk about it to benefit
    from it is like a Black person (I'm one of those too) talking about race
    issues and being called a racist.

    Expecting everyone to agree with my viewpoints isn't my goal and that's fine
    if you have a different viewpoint. Danielle had a strong topic without
    bringing in pornography. She could have also tied it to how documentaries
    are made. My friend, Nic, is presenting at Wordcamp Boston as well and is
    doing a presentation on video on your blog. He did not talk about how to
    film “Money Shots” so I know there are ways to promote topics without doing
    this.

    Pornography isn't sex. It's the scripted and usually demeaning illusion of
    sex. It often includes violence against women, rape, assault and a power
    imbalance between the male and female actors.

    If every single person attending Wordcamp Boston was not a virgin, that
    would be fine with me. It's not about sex, sexual activity and what people
    do in their free time. It's using terms associated with pornography in a
    presentation intended for a technical conference.

    I hear you on canceling. My thoughts on not going were intended for the
    audience viewing the show yesterday. Someone contacted Wordcamp Boston and
    I got an email. My reply said I would like to talk about this and I was
    given an ultimatum.

    I have kept this blog post to my thoughts, feelings and desires about
    technical conferences and technology products that use graphic and
    inappropriate images or objectify women by making them “living dolls” for no
    other use than to be looked at.

    I am comfortable voicing my opinions in person as well.

  41. adriarichards

    Joseph,

    Sounds like both you and Stefanie did not endorse, approve or have the
    chance to be aware of this issue. I updated the blog this afternoon to
    indicate this.

    The physical location for the women in the bathtub photo is
    Lavo<http://www.lavolv.com/Decor.aspx>as their tagline mentions
    Bathous Decor. In addition to the women in the
    bathtubs, there were sinks lining the hallway with water pouring out.

    Thank you for your tweets today to clarify the event.

  42. adriarichards

    Stefanie,

    Thank you for sharing your view.

    Now I don't know if this was or was not an “Official Blogworld Party” or not
    as Stefanie says she was told it was.

    Stefanie, I don't think you are involved with pornography in any way and
    feel bad if you are concerned people may think that.

    I was a blogger attending Blogworld. My understanding is this was a
    Blogworld party. The big picture here is that women attending technology
    conferences should not have to see other women objectified in bathtubs.

    I have just called Lavo <http://www.lavolv.com/Info.aspx> to find out more
    about these women in bathtubs:
    - The women are employees
    - The work the from 10pm – 4am which are the nightclub hours

    So what it looks like here is a local nightclub wanted exposure. They
    connected with some folks and offered an open bar. Their nightclub offers
    dancing bathtub ladies Tuesday – Sunday and that fell within the Blogworld
    schedule.

    Next time, people can be direct with companies/nightclubs that want to
    sponsor and say, “We need an environment that is friendly for both sexes”
    and if this conference is located in Las Vegas be EXPLICIT there are to be
    no women dancing around or rubbing up on each other.

    Cool. Problem solved.

    Stefanie, I would like to interview you offline as well if you can make time
    in the next week.

    I am a bit sleep deprived and all this has happened in 24 hours. I
    personally don't want to be a journalist. I am a blogger. I share my
    experiences and perceptions about things that relate to my life, career and
    technology. I like to read log files but don't have experience in
    journalism.

    I very much appreciate your advice. It's sound. Thank you.

  43. BlogWorld

    Ok lets clarify again,

    Joe let me know this party was happening after the fact. I objected because it competed with our “official party” at Jet. Stefanie and I had a phone call and worked it out so her party was less of a conflict with our official party and we agreed to list it on the post about parties going on during BlogWorld.

    That was the extent of our involvement. We did not contract with the venue. In fact we never spoke to them and I never attended this event because I was at the “official” party at Jet.

    To define the word “official” that includes events that we pay for, organize, or sponsor. We did none of these things with the party at Lavo.

    I was not and am not trying to put any blame on Stefanie or anyone else. Just clarifying our involvement in this event at Lavo.

    The same thing happens at SXSW with numerous people organizing their own independent events in Austin during the show.

    We try very hard to limit these unofficial events as we think they take away from the community environment of BlogWorld. Whenever we find out about them we try to stop them and get the organizers to contribute to our official calendar. When that fails we try to minimize the conflict with the official events so attendees don't have to hop all over town to enjoy their evening.

  44. Tom

    It's always strange for me to hear that pornography objectifies women. Pornography objectifies everyone. That's kind of the point.

  45. adriarichards

    Tom,

    Good point. I'm female so I speak to my own experience.

    This is similar to like how I know I have felt excluded as a Black person
    when nearly everyone else at a technical event is White. While there were a
    few guys who appeared Indian, I have never spoken on their behalf because
    maybe they don't feel excluded.

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  47. Mauro Toffanin

    Also big companies like Yahoo! used the “booth girls” to attract more audience for they Taiwan Open Hack Day 2008/2009: http://developer.yahoo.net/blog/archives/2009/1

    but almost they admit their failure and stupidity:

    “This incident is regrettable and we apologize to anyone that we have offended. Rest assured, it won’t happen again.”

  48. Rev Rich Angelos

    Mr Giggles from wordCamp ATL here.

    just want to say YOU ROCK, Loved your presentations.

    congrats for having the BALLS ( stupid objectification on male parts )
    to Continue this thread long after most ( think woman's part popularly used to indicate spinelessness or cowardice ) would have started doing the mea culpa dance

    I'm really glad an Intelligent and Articulate Person is willing to bring this topic up and make us examine the experience being engineered when we let bimboism take over tech ( or any ) trade events

    And as customer service consultants tell us for every one that speaks up there are many who don't

    And while I might want to discuss whether All porn demeans or disempowers women,

    I think your main point is right on,

    This is a great example of the inappropriate use of humor or pop culture references.

    “Getting The Perfect Shot: Think Like Steven Spielsberg” or smoething similar would in my opinion be a much more Compelling title.

    Namaste

  49. stefaniemichaels

    Thanks Adria for your input, would LOVE to chat with you, I'll e-mail you later and set up a time. I appreciate your research.

    Again, this was a private cocktail hour, if there were girls there, it would have been after our hour, as this was not a traditional “club” evening.

    As far as Blog World, which I see Rick commented back on my comments. He was aware of me throwing a party from the start, per myself and Joe Morin. There was no “negotiating” I had to do with him, and per Joe Morin everything was great and Rick was happy. Then I spoke with him not once, but twicew- he was fine and dhappy, and I was even asked to attend as a speaker BTW. I even did Blog World press on a news show the morning of the party, talking up Blog World, which again, Rick was aware of, and I was complimented on it once Rick saw the video of it. He didn't seem to take issue in the press I was bringing in for the event.

    I even heard at one point from two separate sources other than Rick, that there was talk of cutting Rick in on any sponsors that might have brought in $- which I did not have financial sponsors attached. I did not have these direct discussions with Rick however.

    Needless to say, I won't be working with Blog World again, and only wish the folks there the best of luck.

  50. adriarichards

    Rich aka Mr. Giggles,

    Thank you for your expressive, on-point and “ballsy” comment!

    While presenting at Wordcamp Atlanta, your chuckling at the points I made
    about good website development practices let me know you'd seen the same
    types of mistakes before. Loved it!

    Love your comment

    “make us examine the experience being engineered when we let bimboism take
    over tech ( or any ) trade events”

    I completely agree that focusing on directors like Steven Spielberg to draw
    attention to how to do things right is a much better idea than how low
    budget porn directors do things. (please no one argue high budget porn
    directors and their skills at creating “authentic scenes”)

    Peace to you as well.

  51. adriarichards

    Stefanie,

    Thank you for your comments. Good talking with you via phone today! I can
    tell you are passionate about bloggers and journalism.

    You have cause me to think about how I write on my blog. I understand why
    it is important to follow and understand the guidelines of journalism such
    as trying to reach sources for comment. My perception of blogging has been,
    “This is my opinion and my experience so there!”.

    Regarding the Blogworld party: Acknowledgment mismatch on if the party was
    sponsored or endorsed by Blog World. I hope things are clearer to
    organizers of parties in the future for Blog World events.

    Either way, it was entirely possible that no one knew about the Bathtub
    ladies. That's the real issue and would leave no one at “fault” for the
    photo.

  52. Salope

    There's no wrong on selling those wordcamp session when porn is being included because porn is legal but on some countries only.In fact, people must know anything about pornography because its a form of expressing sex in an art way.

  53. Salope

    There's no wrong on selling those wordcamp session when porn is being included because porn is legal but on some countries only.In fact, people must know anything about pornography because its a form of expressing sex in an art way.

  54. Iris

    many people are very much tired of this and such practices should be ended as soon as possible.
    URL:commodityconsultant.com

  55. Pingback: Does Github's "hardcore forking action" message discourage contributions by women to open-source software? - Quora

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