Hitting on Speakers (Rant-y)


I want to talk about this thing where you see someone on stage/screen presenting material about geekery, you decide you’re attracted, and you send them mail or dm hitting on them.

You must not do this.

It is rude, unprofessional, and hurtful to many people.

Stop it.

There are a lot of arguments that sound like they’re either neutral to or in favor of this behavior.

They are wrong, in detail, in logic, and in toto.

Let’s take a look.

"It might work!"

Yeah, no. When someone is presenting technical material, and you comment on non-technical issues, you are doing two things: 1) insulting them, and 2) signaling insensitiviy to context. Neither are considered desirable by anyone, not even you.

"You’re forbidding/denying attraction!"

Yeah, no. Like who you like, how you like them. Forcing a response to your attraction in a context where it doesn’t fit, short-cutting the potential process of mutual engagement, that’s not being attracted, it’s being aggressive.

"I’m just telling the truth."

Yeah, no. Unless, of course, the truth is you are indifferent to the experience of a person you’re claiming to be attracted to. If that’s the truth of you, you should probaly know that the geekery community will reject you for it.

"It’s how we do hookup culture."

Yeah, no. How we do ‘hookup culture’ isn’t relevant here, because this is ‘professional geeks sharing their insights & ideas culture’, and it is different. Later, you might find this person in a hookup culture scene. Not here and not now.

"It’s harmless."

Yeah, no. Being on stage/screen to share your content requires courage and effort. Ignoring that content in favor of your interest tremendously undermines both elements. The people who experience this behavior frequently will tell you this universally.

"It’s just flattery."

Yeah, no. The sender doesn’t get to decide what is flattering, the receiver does. When someone looks at your art but comments on your body, it is not received as flattery of your hair, but as diminishment of your art.

"This is just PC nonsense."

Yeah, no. This is people, many people, of all races, creeds, ages, genders, sexuality, and politics telling you that this behavior causes them so much pain that it prevents them from sharing their work. They’re not faking this.

In conclusion, I want you to imagine two events, both of which I hope do not happen to you or anyone you know. Both of which I hope will help you stop doing this and stop ignoring it when others do it.

1) Close your eyes, and imagine the nastiest, foulest, sickest, least attractive person you can. Now have them hit on you, at home, school, work, church, regardless of what you’re doing or why.

That sounds yucky, doesn’t it? Your dm/email isn’t that. But it’s closer to that than what you think it is.

So stop doing it and stop condoning it.

2) Close your eyes, and imagine the community of geekery closed to you. You’re snubbed, ignored when you’re not insulted, excluded both informally and even formally. You may as well not even be a geek at all, because no one is listening or talking or dealing with you.

That sounds yucky, doesn’t it?

That is how our community will respond to you if you persist in this behavior, because that behavior disqualifies you from being a part of us.

So stop doing it and stop condoning it.

Anyone can make a mistake. But we’ve had enough of this. We are willing to help you understand our values, once.

But we are a community of makers and making, and we just don’t have time to re-parent you.

This thing where you see someone on stage/screen presenting material about geekery, you decide you’re attracted, and you send them mail or dm hitting on them.

You must not do this.

It is rude, unprofessional, and hurtful to many people.

So stop it.


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