Why Mark Shuttleworth Owes FOSS-Women an Apology

Posted by jun auza On 9/30/2009
For the past few days, I've been reading several blog reactions (like here, here, here, and most recently here) against Mark Shuttleworth's controversial comments made from his keynote speech at LinuxCon, which turned into a huge sexism issue.

I refrained from immediately writing my own reaction since I'm still gathering my thoughts and have been waiting for the video of the said keynote address. And now that the video is finally up, here's what I have to say...

On Orgasm Joke

Shuttleworth said, "a release is an amazing thing. I'm not talking about the happy ending, I'm talking about a software release, the fresh meat."

I think only Linus Torvalds can get away with jokes like that one. But seriously, the Ubuntu leader needs to know when to be funny and when not to. He badly needs to learn the proper time to "release" a joke.

The Notorious Statement

..."How do we make this just awesome for end users" then we'll have less trouble explaining to girls what we actually do."

I can look at the statement in two ways:

The statement is not sexist if the word "girls" that Mr. Shuttleworth is telling us refer to some female end users who are not that interested in computers or in this case Linux and want it all easy and dumb-proof. I can understand him if that is what he meant since there are probably more men Linux users than women.

The statement is clearly sexist if the word "girls" that Mr. Shuttleworth is telling us refer to all the females in the world including women FOSS developers, advocates, and enthusiasts. If that is what he had in mind, then he should go back to space and stay there for good.

Why Mark Shuttleworth Owes FOSS-Women an Apology

From tons of blog posts and comments that I've read, majority of people think that Mr. Shuttleworth just made a sexist statement and should apologize. I don't mean to judge him or anything but I agree that he should make a sincere apology especially to all the women in FOSS. --I believe that it is the right thing to do at this stage even if he thinks that he has no fault and has no reason to say sorry. He must understand that there are girls who really love Linux and are very passionate about it who are offended by his remarks. He should take this opportunity to clarify a few things, like perhaps tell us that "grandmas" should have been the right word to say instead of "girls".

So Mr. Shuttleworth, be a gentleman, apologize, and give peace a chance.

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