Judging women writers by their looks

One writer deals with sexist "dicks" on tech blog Slashdot.


Sarah Elizabeth Richards
April 13, 2006 1:13AM (UTC)

It was Annalee Newitz's dream to get "Slashdotted" -- that is, until she read the reader letters. Newitz is a tech writer, whose work was recently linked to on the "news for nerds" website Slashdot. Hoping to have ignited a thoughtful dialogue about technology and social justice, she was shocked to click on the comments section and instead find a thread debating whether she was too fat, Newitz writes in today's AlterNet. "At that point, I vowed to stop reading Slashdot," she says. "Why should I give a shit about those morons?"

But over time, Newitz missed her Slashdot fix and retuned to the "blog of record for techies." Then the site spotlighted her work again, prompting a reader to describe her as a "gorgeous nerd" ("rather than a journalist or writer or columnist or even just plain 'nerd'", she writes) and a new discussion started on whether she was indeed a hottie. But this time, Newitz chose to fight back.

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She read the letters a bit more carefully and noticed that readers were actually debating among themselves about whether it was cool to comment on her looks. "For every sexist dick, there was at least one feminist dick talking back to him," she writes. She realized she was witnessing a slow cultural evolution. "I don't want to run away. I want women to get excited by all the cool articles on Slashdot and not get driven away by a community that values them for their bodies instead of their thoughts," she writes.

We at Broadsheet couldn't agree more. So to all female techies out there: please don't take your keyboards and go home. How else are the sexist dicks going to learn to become feminist dicks?


Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at sarah@saraherichards.com.

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