Suits & Spooks, Sexism and Sabu: Part 2

It’s been months now since I wrote part 1, and I am still blocked by Jeffrey Carr. This makes me think that he doesn’t get it… get the whole “don’t do all-male panels,” and don’t “speak so disrespectfully about (and to) women in the community” thing.

And this isn’t just about how he treated Jamie — immediately after my blog post, on Twitter Carr questioned my professionalism, implied I was crazy, told me how to do my job and how to blog. And then blocked me.

I didn’t want to write about his ineptitude at finding speakers for his controversial panel for an outlet, because, frankly, I am not a big fan of the whole shaming industry that exists online these days. I was hoping a silly, relatively low-key personal blog post pointing out how problematic his behavior was would be enough. There is something to be said about how clearly out of touch he is with the community he was looking for speakers in, but again, coverage like that is not really my style.

After I posted part 1, I had a few women — professionals — tell me in private their issues with Carr. This made me feel a little better about my blog post, but the silence that resonated from the rest of the women in the industry was really disheartening. I tried to justify their silence with thoughts like …maybe their silence was because Jaime, who is a goddamn legend in that scene, is also a known troll? And the people who came to her defense (and mine) were also trolls and satirists? But if you’re not a troll in infosec, or understand them, then you don’t understand infosec. (Troll here is not to be misconstrued with cyberbully or stalker.)

And then I thought… maybe it is because with trolls, and Anonymous, you have to take anything they say with a grain of salt. Trolls and Anonymous like to manipulate the press for their own agenda, and while I saw some of that in the initial outcry, the intentions were valid and sincere. Even YAN came to Jaime’s defense.

Maybe it is because Carr has been in the scene for what looks like decades, and has worked with the US government and is therefore too big to criticize? Or is it a combination of all three?

I tried to find reasons for this silence, and it made me question myself, until I remembered this is a pattern in this particular community. When that man accused another man of raping his wife, and purchased the domain name of the accused where he posted his plea to the community, there was very little outcry, and no press about it. When that favorite academic was accused of sexual misconduct with his student last year, the community also responded atrociously. The same men who helped organize those Anonymous anti-rape ops spread the name of the victim, and if that wasn’t bad enough, sent threats to the literally 3 women that called out their hypocritical behavior. These women got rape threats too. The most vocal one had semi-nude photos of her shared online to shame her. It was disgusting.

The “sexism in tech” discussion has been raging online for years now, with the mainstream focus on Silicon Valley and the video game community.  Both those sectors have vibrant and active women trying to make those industries better for women and minorities, and have made some substantial strides (even just in terms of public perception) in just a few years. The same could be said for the science community. And the men in those industries are actively listening, and trying.

But this community? Many don’t even want to hear it.