I am appalled that this would happen at what I have for years thought of as MY conference.

I’m appalled that this would happen within the Apache Software Foundation, which, I realize, has a long way to go towards equality, but which seems largely composed of pretty good people.

I’m appalled at the huge number of people making statements that sound like it was somehow Noirin’s fault, as though being young, attractive, outgoing and vibrant are sufficient reasons to attempt to rape someone. I thought that the “she asked for it” mindset belonged to ignorant, uneducated, old-world minds, but apparently it’s still a fairly common sentiment even in the supposedly enlightened world of software engineers.

I’m appalled at the folks stepping up to defend the creep who was unable to act like a gentleman, unable to keep his libido in check even when told very firmly that she wasn’t interested. I am confident that there was no room for confusion. Noirin isn’t known for being half-hearted in expressing her opinion.

I’m deeply saddened that not only is this not the first time that this has happened to her, but that it has happened in this same kind of setting – technology conferences, where the attendees are presumably educated, intelligent people.

Noirin is a board member of the Apache Software Foundation. She is a colleague on the httpd documentation project. She is the chair of the conference committee. She is every bit as important a member of the Apache community as anyone else – more than many. And yet, somehow, certain people look at her as nothing more than a skirt.

This is completely unacceptable. And yet, I find that I don’t really know what to do to prevent it. Sure, I speak out when men (or, rather, juvenile boys) speak this way about her, or other women. But beyond that, I’m at a loss to know how to combat this kind of ignorance and self-centered piggishness.

Please, men in the Open Source world (and elsewhere, of course), I beg you to speak out, call out men who are being pigs, tell them it’s not ok to treat women like nothing more than a pin-up. This kind of thing can’t continue. Every time this happens, it demonstrates that we are, as Ray Bradbury observed, too soon from the cave, too far from the stars.

I can’t think about anything else today, and I’m sad, outraged, angry, and embarrassed.