A friend who works in IT brought this discussion to my attention. It relates to the removal of a line of code which some of the (seemingly all male?) community found to be sexist. The code made reference to the phrase “not your fathers’ [x]“. I know quite a few men who work in tech, and although they are fabulous individuals, I don’t have to be convinced of the sexism and misogyny which are generally still very prevalent within IT circles. Women are stil very under-represented within the industry, and misogynist attitudes within IT are certainly a contributing factor to this.
The discussion on Github about this line of code and whether it should be removed gets quite heated. It seems that many people are convinced that the phrase “not your fathers’ [x]” is actually quite sexist. The origin of the phrase, an Oldsmobile ad, was quite sexist, in the way that many ads are, particularly of that era. But I hadn’t ever seen that ad, and the phrase to me has a very different meaning. As someone who has certifiable “dad issues” I can say that the phrase means little other than something new/better/improved/different than that which has come before it. Obviously, I can’t speak for ‘all women’ or any other group I might be a part of, and I’m not a women who works in tech. Maybe that line of code is offensive to some women.
The real issue is that the developer community over at Github are trying, it seems, to counter the anti-women culture which tech circles so often cultivate. That’s great. But I’m not sure that this particular line of code is something that required so much time and energy. Conducting small scale censorship doesn’t seem particularly worthwhile at this point. If only such effort could be channeled into other things to affect cultural change within tech. Confronting issues like sexual harassment at conferences and the broad issue of under-representation of women, by supporting those who are already doing it would be great ways to achieve this.
[Edit: Appears I may have viewed an alternative/different ad, not the original Oldsmobile ad. The original isn't particularly sexist.]