I do not think “strong community management” means what you think it means.

(Or maybe it does, in which case: fuck “strong community management.”)

SxSW canceled a panel on overcoming harassment in gaming because of harassment and threats of violence, because: of course they did. Then, they said this by way of explanation:

“Over the years, we are proud of the healthy community of digital innovators that has formed around SXSW. On occasions such as this one, this community necessitates strong management to survive. Maintaining civil and respectful dialogue within the big tent is more important than any particular session.”

Perhaps it is my stridency clouding my interpretation — after all, I haven’t shaved my legs in over 10 years, and as we all know, women’s leg hair growth has an inversely proportional relationship to our reading comprehension, especially when the subject matter involves dudely dude-itude — but here’s what those high-falutin’ words sound like when I read them:

“Free speech for digital innovators is more important than figuring out ways to ensure women’s bodily safety, and clearing the way for hassle-free panels on self-driving cars is more important than making space for a panel on one of the most significant issues in tech.” (Leaving aside for the moment the point that the women who would have been on this panel are also digital innovators with a corresponding claim to participate in this larger dialogue.)

I mean, the “big tent” includes sessions on such critical contemporary issues as “Beyond the Listicle,” “Comic Sans Exists for a Reason,” and “The Hipsterfication of Chain Restaurants.”* Heaven forfend a groundbreaking workshop like “Converting SEO into ROI” be negatively impacted in some way.

If I were being less charitable, my interpretation would probably be more like, “Caring about women was cramping our style, so fuck ’em,” but I am nothing if not charitable at all times.

Well-handled, SxSW. Slow clap.

*All real!


  1. The same, sad old story. Women aren’t supposed to be allowed into the boys’ world of gaming – computers are for men, didn’t you know? Weird, as the men I know don’t hold prejudice against women for enjoying tech.
    And very weird, that an organisation so involved in developing the future has views so welded to the distant past.


  2. Free speech for digital innovators is more important than figuring out ways to ensure women’s bodily safety,

    Balancing legitimate free speech with safety is always difficult, but in this particular case I believe SxSW got it wrong. Terribly Wrong. Irredeemably Wrong. Not least because the so-called speech they are protecting isn’t legitimate by any stretch of the imagination [see Schenck v United States].


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