Courtney Remes. Who’s that?
Nancy Lyons? Hmmm… Nope.
Meghan Wilker? Sorry, still nothing.
Is my lack of awareness of who these people are evidence of a ‘boys club’ in the Flash community? I don’t think so. I think it’s evidence of a meritocracy in action; a community where excellence of any relevant kind will rise to the top. That’s not suggesting that the people named above are in any way lacking, just that they have yet to reach that point perhaps (if in fact that is their goal of course..).
Hoss Gifford did this years ago though. He’s never been the most fluent of public speakers and for me at least this has convinced me that he’s someone very worth listening to. His language can be colourful no doubt, but it doesn’t affect the content of the presentation which has always been one of the most applause-worthy sessions of any conference I’ve spoken at or attended. His continued high profile work is another testament to this quality.
I think it’s unfortunate that an individual was offended at Hoss’ recent talk at Flashbelt. It was definitely worthy of a discussion with him where I have no doubt he would have really taken on board any comments given to him. Or a complaint to the organizers in the same vein? But that wasn’t only what happened. The complaint was made in public too, with several allegations leveled at Hoss which have subsequently been pulled apart elsewhere. Few of them seem to have stood up to this examination and yet the deluge of condemnation has continued. Not surprising perhaps given the sensationalist nature of the whole thing, but given the substance of the complaint it’s probably taking a fairly terrible toll on Hoss himself.
I think there has been some amazingly blatant and wholesale manipulation of this situation in order to force conversations about things that are just not an issue (now or ever, in our part of the industry). The fact is that people are coming across as afraid of speaking out in case they are also labelled as women-haters or even just sexist. People keep telling me how difficult the situation is for everyone involved but really, is it? If the original complainant has experienced any kind of sexism when competing for work or within a work environment then I am appalled, but I nevertheless propound that it is more isolated then perhaps they think.
Here’s how things normally happen in the real world. Someone makes a complaint about something. The relevant authorities examine the complaint and either uphold it or dismiss it. Coming from the UK, with the most aggressive press known for scandal I think it’s fair to say that any public disclosure of a ‘crime’, serious or not, never ends well. In this situation though, it seems that the Geek Girl blog has indeed taken the form of a tabloid newspaper and published some sensational claims that would not have, perhaps, stood up to an official complaint procedure. Or maybe just not delivered the response that was desired by the complainant in the first place. It’s pretty hard to tell really…
I think the original complaint was issued in the wrong way assuming that the complainant really wanted her concerns to be taken on board by the actual people involved.
I think that the organizers initial public response was hasty and without doubt tipped the whole saga from allegation to fact in the reader’s consciousness. It gave credence to the allegation before it had been examined correctly.
I think the organizers responded in this way because they feared being accused of the same crimes as Hoss had been. For me, given the very serious nature of the accusation, this is no excuse.
Update: I notice that there are now disclaimers on some of the blogs listed above saying how they are unable to ‘control the conversation’ and how this level of vitriol was never their intention. Jeez, give me a break… I have no doubt that it was not their intention, but I also think that it does not take too huge a leap of logic to think that publishing such claims could not result in high levels of emotional polarization.
Ultimately though, the price is Hoss’ to pay, no?