Let me preface this by stating a few things: if you are going to tell me that girls are inherently bad at technology, programming, or are getting their panties in a twist, please fuck the fuck off. I feel confident in judging you a waste of an opportunity for a perfectly good pair of ovary and sperm.
So all I have to go on is the quotes and snippets and attempts at context. It sounds like the obviously poorly-delivered joke (I say so because it’s causing a brou-ha-ha rather than a laugh) was meant to go something like this:
- Have you ever tried to explain your muddled thinking to someone else?
- You know how it causes embarrassment when the other person gives you that quizzled look, and you realize you’re an idiot?
- As a multi-millionaire and astronaut, I find myself embarrassed trying to explain how my software works to members of the gender to which I’m attracted, even though my software is awesome.
- If my software was easy to explain—thus saving me the embarrassment of muddled thinking about design—it would also be easy for people to use.
- Mush the last few steps together: if my software is easy to use, it’s easy to explain how it works, and I can sell it (and by extension, myself) to members of the gender to which I’m attracted in social situations.
This is a logical progression, and an attempt to appeal to evolutionary processes in order to make a bunch of misfit workaholics socially useful.
Unfortunately for him, Mark Shuttleworth is a well-socialized heterosexual gentlemen from somewhere other than the suburban United States, so he’s attracted to women, and apparently isn’t aware that in the US, it’s not OK in polite company to refer to someone he’s interested in chatting up at the bar a girl. It honestly sounds like he’s trying to be cute with it, but falling on his face because some people are offended when they hear about prominent figures talking about women as girls. Either that or one advantage of being a astronaut is that your world is post-gendered.
Yes, I’m jealous of the money and space travel. I’m also young and ambitious, so not too terribly worried about it.
Regardless, part of the reaction is defense against the assertion of privilege and control: dudes don’t get mad when women talk about boys in those terms in our presence because the matriarchy hasn’t existed for thousands of years and we don’t have to worry about it. The reaction we (boys) have is either blushing or strutting a bit, because we recognize it as a sign of selection and an assertion of power.
And, of course, bad-assed women are very attractive to guys my age—so many video games, so little time… Our great-great-grandsons, however, will curse us for our blindness. 😉
Conversely, ladies may bristle when men talk about the girls, because it’s a term of endearment that is inexorably tied back to when all women, in all circumstances, were considered girls. There’s an extremely ugly legacy lurking close enough to the collective memories of both women and men when it comes to a man asserting power and showing signs of selection.
That’s, I think, why Mark’s comments are compared to RMS’s. Even though—at least in my third-hand deconstruction—they are logically to get the audience to do the right thing because of a woman’s dominance in selection situations, the language he is using is loaded enough to tell a different narrative.
Collective memories!? Narrative!? Holy pretentious fuck. Fuck this, who’s playing at the club tonight? Yeesh!
As noted by nukeedit, the release comment (in the first few minutes), has a connection to orgasm, but it was not gender specific, and had no connection to hookers at all. Now, I’ve read Emma Goldman, and claim to understand it, but iterating that precise chain of logic to anything related to sex ends up with your proscriptions effectively indistinguishable from moral traditionalists, and results matter more than intentions. To put it another way: darkmatter may be a tool, but sex is not the enemy.
On the “girls” comment… (at 36:00, slide starts at 35:00) ugh. He ends up eluding to the fact that he’s referring to “girls” as “people who don’t care about free software.” In context, the comment is actually worse than it is without context. Logically, there really isn’t a way to salvage his comments as somehow different from the “teach it to your grandma”, even though I don’t think that was actually what he was trying for.
Results do matter more than intentions. To me, as a native-born white male engineer in the US, the results are this: an otherwise engaging talk on how to make FOSS not suck, which gives voice to my own thoughts from years ago about UX and code—particularly the intimate relationship between the APIs you’re writing and the UIs that can rest atop them—is completely forgotten, and the only thing people are talking about is what a complete cobag Mark was for joking about girls.