Found Poetry From Years of Tech Conference Sexism

By Megan Garber
The first presentation at TechCrunch Disrupt's startup conference yesterday (Instagram/K Jordan)

At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference yesterday, the first presentation came from a pair of Australian hackers. The app they were demoing was called Titstare, and it was pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an app, the pair explained, "where you take photos of yourself, staring at tits" -- and then share those photos for the enjoyment of anyone who would enjoy an app named "Titstare."

"There's a lot going on here," The Wire notes of the debacle, "not the least of which is the broader context of discussions on the public alienation of women in tech." But the main thing to note is that episodes like this -- casual, juvenile objectifications of women in settings where women tend to be outnumbered -- are common. There was Donglegate. And that time that a South by Southwest presenter cautioned his audience against "gangbang interviews." And that time Squoot listed "women" among its list of hackathon attendance perks. And that time a man introduced a panel moderator, the accomplished executive Rebecca Lovell, as "a sexy married woman." And that time a presenter filled his slide deck with soft-core porn. And that other time a presenter filled his slide deck with not-so-soft-core porn. There was that time presenters at Microsoft's E3 conference made that rape joke. There was, after yesterday's Titshare presentation, another presentation -- this one involving a solo demo-er simulating masturbation. As a 9-year-old girl looked on from the audience. 

We could dismiss all this as what it is: thoughtlessness, systematized immaturity, an obvious explanation for why more women don't go into tech. But, guys: We could also make art! Or something like it! Below, on the occasion of Titstaregate, an ode to the long tradition of boob references and booth babes at tech conferences -- a found poem composed entirely of headlines about, quotes from, and sadly-true tales of the bros who help build your Internet.

Sorry for being sexist
But if you'd like to stare at tits
Have we got an app for you
It's called Titstare
It's an app where
You take photos of yourself staring at tits
Women aren't that warm to it
For obvious reasons

But don't let that stop you
Bro.

Women!
Women are the perk here
Need another beer?
Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you.

Booth babes
So many babes
Everywhere
The breast is the most titillating fun you can have
Get it?
Here are some women in bikinis, leaping
Get it?
BIG BOOBS
Dongles
Big dongles

Balls
Forking
Gangbang interviews
Are a bad idea
Just FYI

Just attract the chicks
And scare the dicks

That's what it's all about
Bro
Sexism in tech is as old as, well, tech.

We tried
To have more
Women
On our panels
On our stages
But we failed
There just weren't any
Who were qualified.

So the next time you women want to start pointing the finger at me
When discussing
The problem
Of too few women in tech
Just stop

Ladies
With your blame
Look in the mirror
Instead
The kids these days would call it a "sausage fest"
When we selected Rebecca and she said yes, she was a sexy single woman
And since that time, she’s become a sexy married woman

We merged technology and humanity
Haha
Get it?

Connection
Revolution

Anyway
Sorry if we offended some of you,
Very unintentional
Just a fun Aussie hack

Just a joke.
Just a joke.
Just a joke.

Just let it happen --
It will be over soon.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/09/found-poetry-from-years-of-tech-conference-sexism/279459/