Geek Feminism Wiki

Feminists have differing views on pornography. Many second-wave feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, believe that the mere existence of pornography is inherently an act of violence against women. On the other hand, sex-positive feminists such as Carol Queen and Susie Bright have defended the value of pornography that is by and for women. There are also contemporary feminists who have critiqued both second-wave feminists' hostile views towards women involved in the sex industry, and sex-positive feminists' belief that sexual pleasure is inherently a positive force. So, there is no single feminist stance on pornography.

However, the private use of pornography, and its public use as part of a talk at a professional conference, or another work-related gathering, are two totally different things. For example, Matt Aimonetti's CouchDB talk at Golden Gate Ruby Conference sparked a discussion about the function that the use of sexually explicit images serves in a technical context.

In a Reddit comment about the Ruby controversy, user catamorphism wrote:

Nobody cares whether you watch porn in the privacy of your mom's basement. But when you use sexualized images of women in a technical talk, you're doing two things:

1. You're reminding the women in your audience that you see them as sex objects, not as contributors. And yes, "sex object" and "professional" tend to be mutually exclusive. That's why "okay, I'll put naked men in my slides too next time" is not an answer: in our culture, men can be both sexy and competent. Note that I am not saying sexiness and competence are mutually exclusive, for any gender (in fact, for me, the second tends to imply the first); this is about default cultural values that we all need to work to overcome. Talks like this don't help with that.

2. You're implying that you're only interested in reaching the straight and bi men in the audience, and only a subset of those men (the ones who aren't happy to jerk off at home and apparently need tits and ass in their face all the time in order to keep their mind on a programming talk) at that. If a speaker implicitly implied you weren't part of the audience for their talk, wouldn't you get up and walk out?

This isn't about protecting women or anybody being offended or even about bad taste. There are lots of examples of bad taste, but not all of them actively contribute to a professional culture that systematically reminds women they are unwelcome.