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Free Software and the New Sexism

From: Taylan Kammer
Subject: Free Software and the New Sexism
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2023 11:54:33 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:102.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/102.14.0

This list sadly seems to be used for little more than the occasional troll post 
now and then nowadays, but I have an actually serious article to share.

It is, nevertheless, about controversial topics that are a favorite of some 

Free Software and the New Sexism


Why Codes of Conduct are a total failure in addressing misogyny

No, this is not a:

- Cliche-filled "political correctness gone too far" rant

- Conspiracy theory about Evil Feminists doing "misandry"

- A call for free speech absolutism

- etc.

(Sorry to disappoint if you expected something along those lines!)

I genuinely care about sexism.  The commonly recognized kind, that targets 
For nearly 10 years now I've also been following very closely the conflict 
feminists and the transgender movement, mostly siding with the feminists.

Free Software is, as we all know, very male and white.  Sometimes this 
apparently led
to communities becoming less-than-ideal in climate for people who are not male 
white.  In recent years, some have tried to curb bad behavior in various 
by deploying "Code of Conduct" documents with good intentions at heart.

These codes of conduct, too, were written by people who are male and white for 
most part.  And it really shows itself in the way they're written and enforced.

The most popular CoC, now adopted even by Linux (the kernel), is written by a 
person who identifies as a woman.  They have correspondingly strong opinions on 
aforementioned conflict between feminist and transgender views.

Further, many free software projects are so extremely male-dominant that you 
have more active contributors who are transwomen than who are women as in born 
(I don't have actual statistics to prove this, but I'm pretty sure it's 

This leads to a situation where certain feminist positions are immediately 
branded as
"transphobic" and censored.  (It doesn't help that many women, as in female 
join in on the knee-jerk reaction, and say that any feminism not 100% 
supportive of
the transgender movement must be "fake," when in fact some of the most renowned 
long feminist activists like Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel, or Alice Schwarzer 
to name
only a few, agree with these criticisms of the transgender movement.)

As an example of such knee-jerk reactions and consequent censorship, please 
look into
the Guix mailing list archives from 2022 February and March and make up your 
own mind
on whether I deserved to be hounded out of that community after I've suggested 
CoC should include the word "sex" (as in whether a person is female or male) in 
long list of characteristics based on which a person could be facing 
It's quite astonishing to me that this was omitted in the first place.

I've also just been suspended from the Fosstodon fediverse server for sharing 
article.  I also posted it on HackerNews, where it was soon "flagged."  (I'm 
not a
regular there and don't know what exactly this "flagging" entails.)

I suspect I will be chased off from many more places where I share this, 
because of
this illogical conflation of ideological criticism with "hateful" views.

As a result of all this, I cannot in good faith recommend Free Software to most
people anymore, especially if they're feminists and don't limit their views to a
narrow interpretation of feminism that's pre-approved by liberal men.  They'll 
chased off the moment a male member of the community (whether trans or 
themselves a "trans ally") brands them as "transphobic" for caring about women's
rights in a world that mistreats people solely for being born with a female 

When I say "recommend Free Software" (capitalized), I mean actually getting 
in the communities, instead of just using the software like a consumer product. 
may still be better than using proprietary software, but it's gravely limiting 
in my opinion, not what Free Software should strive to be.

It's quite tragic, and I'm not very optimistic anymore.  I guess this is a final
attempt to pledge for more common sense before I completely give up on most Free
Software projects and just confine myself to my own hobby projects (that will, 
course, still be free software).


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