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A hell of a time

I had a hell of a time last night – in good and bad ways.

The good came first. The ApacheCon lightning talks were, as usual, hilarious. The talented Paul Fremantle brought out his tinwhistle and I danced an only-slightly off-time hornpipe. Bertrand revealed the secrets of the members@ mailing list with a speaking chorus. A crazy person with a graphing calculator and a psychedelic three-ring binder gatecrashed and spoke about no-one’s sure what. Ross, Paul and I did an “Ask Me!” talk. Leo, Rich, Shane filled their five minutes in traditional and hilarious and moving fashions. Jean-Frederic had us saying Hello World in more languages than I could count. We laughed as we counted hesitations, repetitions and deviations. It was great.

The party moved up to my room. We had beer, and beer pong, and altogether too many people crammed in. It was more egalitarian than I remember last year’s being – lots of new people, lots of people who weren’t part of the old Apache guard. A charming Southern gentleman with the most awesome belt I’ve ever seen (Carl, where did you get that!?), an excited Berliner who picked me up and whirled me around and somehow managed to avoid having me kick anyone in the head. I lay across the bed, sat on laps, generally tried to squish in to any available space and get time to talk to all the fabulous people thronging the place.

At some point, it was too late and too loud to reasonably continue. Everyone cleared out (Nick, you are a *god*, for spending the extra five minutes to clear the carnage, so that I could wake up in a room that showed no signs of what had happened the night before!), and we headed to the Irish pub next door that has become our local.

Some food, a few more beers. Squeezing everyone up so I could sit next to someone I wanted to talk to. Laughing at the events of the week, and the night.

And then I went to the loo, and as I was about to go in, Florian Leibert, who had been speaking in the Hadoop track, called me over, and asked if he could talk to me.

I’m on the board of Apache. I’m responsible for our conferences. I work on community development and mentoring. If you’re at an Apache event and you want help, information, encouragement, answers, I will always do my best to provide. So this wasn’t an unusual request, and it wasn’t one I expected to end the way it did.

He brought me in to the snug, and sat up on a stool. He grabbed me, pulled me in to him, and kissed me. I tried to push him off, and told him I wasn’t interested (I may have been less eloquent, but I don’t think I was less clear). He responded by jamming his hand into my underwear and fumbling.

I broke away, headed back to the group, and hid behind some of the bigger, burlier infra guys, while Bill sorted out all the people who’d left stuff in my room, so that I could reasonably escape. We headed back, people got their stuff, Bill stayed around, and I slept.

When Bill woke up, I pretended to still be asleep, because I couldn’t deal with speaking to anyone. I sent a mail to our planning committee to say that I’d been assaulted. Charel came to talk to me, and then I e-mailed Nick, who came up and helped me sort things out so I could get to the keynote and feel safe. Florian didn’t turn up today, and it’s probably for the best.

I had a few drinks. I was wearing a skirt of such a length that I had cycling shorts on under it to make me feel more comfortable getting up on stage and dancing. I had been flirting with a couple of other boys at the party.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, at all. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me at a tech conference. But it is the first time I’ve spoken out about it in this way, because I’m tired of the sense that some idiot can ruin my day and never have to answer for it. I’m tired of the fear. I’m tired of people who think I should wear something different. I’m tired of people who think I should avoid having a beer in case my vigilance lapses for a moment. I’m tired of people who say that guys can’t read me right and I have to read them, and avoid giving the wrong impression.

But I don’t give the wrong impression, and it’s simply not true that guys can’t read me right. I don’t want to be assaulted, and the vast majority of guys read that just fine. It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me. Dozens of guys succeeded at that job, across the week. In the pub, in the stairwell, on the MARTA, in my bedroom.

One guy failed, and it’s his fault.

ETA: My heartfelt thanks to the Atlanta police for their sensitivity and professionalism.

369 comments to A hell of a time

  • […] First, my apologies, as this isn’t strictly related to either activism or programming, but it touches on both. Recently, the programming community has been talking about anti-harassment policies in light of a recent incident. […]

  • [...] Firstly, here are the facts we know only from Noirin Shirley’s blog post: [...]

  • [...] is literally not safe for women to be present in the professional arena. When you have women being sexually assaulted at tech conferences and men presenting apps like TitStare at major tech startup industry events, it’s clear we are [...]

  • [...] Plunkett (formerly Shirley) is groped at open source conference ApacheCon by another attendee. She names her attacker on her blog after explaining that this is far from the first time she has been assaulted at a tech conference. [...]

  • [...] (where a picture was Tweeted without the “offenders” being addressed first), and something like this incident. A story that includes, “he grabbed me, pulled me in to him, and kissed me. I tried to push him [...]

  • [...] for me is what constitutes rape. A lot of my fears in writing this post stem back to this post from Norin Shirley about being attacked at a conference. Reading the comments makes my stomach turn, knowing that the [...]

  • [...] (The initial blog post referenced in the article – A Hell of A Time) [...]

  • Heather Booth

    I’m so sorry for what happened to you – and is still happening. It is terrible that this kind of thing is so common and is excused, especially in the tech community. Please don’t let the haters get to you. My ex-husband and I both have PhDs in Computer Science and my teen daughter looks like she is headed the same way, but sometimes I wonder if I should discourage her because of how the tech community often treats women.

  • [...] Shirley’s story of assault and reddit’s horrific [...]

  • Wow! What a horrible experience. What ever came of this? Was the man in question ever prosecuted?

  • I’ve always been wary of weighing in on on these discussions. As a male who fancies himself a feminist, I occupy the precarious position of supporting the right of women to have equal rights in society, but at the same time, don’t want to appear as though I’m ‘white knighting’, or vocalizing in such a way as to imply that they have no ability to stand up for themselves.

    As of late, though, I’m beginning to see that this reticence has a bit of a backlash effect, as said silence on such matters has given an implicit, passive support to those who want to dogpile on ladies just asking to have their space respected. So that said, here are a few things I believe which would apply to this situation.

    No matter the circumstance, no one, NO ONE, is entitled to sex. At no time, whatsoever. Period. If a party does not want it, is not into it, stop. You can’t cajole, force, or otherwise coerce a person into sleeping with you if they don’t want to. It has to be their free choice. I find it ridiculous that this point needs to be continually repeated.

    The assumption that men are going to react in a pre-programmed way to the way a woman is dressed or acts does a disservice to all parties. It imposes an unreasonable burden on women to maintain their behavior and appearance at all times to avoid provocation (while simultaneously having to deal with the contradictory societal expectation of the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, where you are ‘expected’ to be slutty in very particular circumstances but not anywhere else), while making the implicit assumption that men are merely preprogrammed animals who are slaves to their reproductive anatomy. On the face of it, this latter aspect sounds demeaning, and to an extent, it is, as it implies that men have no agency to curtail or channel their own sexual desires. And if men were an oppressed class, I would say that was the long and short of it. However, when factored with the male’s privileged place in society, this is twisted from a demeaning stereotype to a carte blanche excuse for any upsetting behavior a man may enact upon a woman, as long as it can be justified in this manner.

    However, this is not an assumption made by either our moral or legal system of ethics and laws, at least, in civilized societies. We don’t legally sanction people for being robbed, for example, no matter how unwise the circumstances under which it may have occurred. If I walk down an unsafe neighborhood at night and are robbed, this does not absolve my assailant in any way whatsoever. And that’s true even if I’m blatantly flashing money and iPods all over my body. Unwise, sure, but I’m not culpable, morally or legally.

    Many rape/harassment laws (and the culture at large) go out of their way to place women in impossible or VERY uncomfortable positions in the cases of sexual assault. Part of this, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast, as, without witnesses, it can sometimes be very problematic to ‘prove’ an assault. Nevertheless, that is no excuse to try and lay the burden of guilt and blame on the victim. Why are their feelings of violation invalid?

    Blame-
    Verb
    Assign responsibility for a fault or wrong: “the inquiry blamed the engineer for the accident”.

    The important part of this is the assignation of responsibility. That serves the function of assigning the social pressure to conform and act in a way more harmonious to society. What possible purpose does it serve to blame the victim of an assault instead of the assailant? Why do these perpetrators not get the same level of scorn and so much protection? Why would we want to protect such a system, and those who take advantage of it to do evil?

    There’s much more I could say, but this is getting unwieldy for a simple blog comment as it is.

  • c.g.sometimes

    What century are some of you living in? Baseless? What possible reason would anyone have of accusing someone other than experience? Noirin tends to be a target because we are all targets at these events. What, should she wear a brass bra and a chastity belt? Men need to be shamed when they behave badly. Were it a woman behaving badly (shoving her hands down someone’s pants, etc) they certainly would all gossip all over the net about her, whereas the response would be one of laughter and derision and loss of professional face permanently, yet I doubt you would hear any voices supporting such a woman. When men say such misogynistic claptrap It pisses me off, but for me, when women do so it angers me exponentially. Thanks for setting women back a hundred years.

  • [...] First, my apologies, as this isn’t strictly related to either activism or programming, but it touches on both. Recently, the programming community has been talking about anti-harassment policies in light of a recent incident. [...]

  • Israel

    “You know, I bought a big, thick gold chain, I am going to wear it in the favella in Sao Paulo, because I am tired of being careful and thinking about being robbed.
    Oh my god, I was robbed!!! I can’t believe that, I am going to make a blog about that: 199 guys didn’t robbed my, but this scum bag did, it is his fault!!!!!”….
    You know, all sarcasm aside, Florian did a stupid thing, apparently, bad for him, he should be punished, but as for you, it is very difficult to be a woman between many man, I know it, my wife is a beautiful woman in consulting, she gets hit by taxi drivers, police man, business owners, etc. all the time, she hates that, I hate that, it should change, it is _WRONG_, but do yourself a favor, do “preventing driving” to avoid car accidents….

  • Pete Burtis

    You don’t know know me, but I just wanted to add one more voice of support to counteract some of the Idiots here.

    The subhumanness of some of the comments here saddens me.

    And as an aside, telling the truth is never libelous, by definition.

  • [...] days later, a woman at a tech conference in Atlanta publicly accused a male delegate of sexual assault. And you think, is it any goddamn [...]

  • Michael T. Halligan

    @Jed, given your behavior at HostingCon this year, I wasn’t terribly surprised to see your comments here and realize that you would take the side of the assaulter.

  • Tommy

    I’d really like to stick it in her! hehehe

  • [...] In light of OSCON adopting a code of conduct and anti-harassment policy, I was wondering, and even asked today, if the Desktop Summit has adopted an anti-harassment policy. Unfortunately I’m not going to make it to the Desktop Summit this year, but I searched a bit and all I could find was Dave Neary promising that Desktop Summit would adopt one [1, 2]. [...]

  • Tyenee

    I would also like to add:

    It doesn’t matter what you wear, or how you act, you will get unwanted attention. I am a carpenter and the vast majority of men I work with are great. 9/10 guys I deal with every day can maintain a pleasant working relationship with their female co-workers.
    However, it only takes one to ruin your day or week. I cover up, I wear work clothes. That means a long sleeve high necked shirt and pants. I’ve had guys I work with write things like ‘boobs mahone’ on my car, stand behind me when I work and watch me bend over. I even had a boss who would stand within 5′ feet of me watching while I worked and make casual comments about my figure or the way i moved. I’ve had guys try to hold my hand, pretend to reach for something to touch my boobs. The list goes on. It really has NOTHING to do with how we dress or act. And just because it happened before to Noirin does not mean that she has a pattern of inviting this kind of attention from men. It DOES mean however, quite sadly, this sort of treatment is common place. Trying to blame a women for how she acted or what she wore is just a pathetic excuse from someone who doesn’t know how to develop a real connection to a women. Or how to communicate clearly to avoid an uncomfortable situation like the one Noirin had to go through.

    The ONLY time I have been successful at improving my work environment is by being aggressive and confronting the individual. My experience with such men is that they only get worse until they are called on their behavior. It sometimes takes a public display to get the point across. Believe me, subtle and respectful does NOT work with people like that.

    Also, my experience is that a good intelligent man will always take the time to know you and approach you the right way and does not make unwanted advances. Fair enough, I have known some women who were out to get attention and all I can say to the men is, well if you don’t want to get caught up in that steer clear. Its the smart thing to do anyways.

  • Tyenee

    Thumbs up to Damsel in Distress and many others who sum it up perfectly. You can’t have it both ways on this one. Also, some people have said on here that women should have figured out how to tone down their sexuality by 20. I am sorry but you’re all a little bit late on that one. Most women become fair game as soon as they show any signs of puberty. Try 12-13. Should a 12-13 year old completely understand how their developing body is driving all the men wild and its their fault? Its the message I got, and I didn’t even understand what the hell was going on at that age.

    I personally am very grateful for the women and men that went before me and paved the way for women in trades and technology. We’re not done yet though, and maybe we never will be. But its better than it was thanks to women like Noirin and the men and women who support her.

    As for naming names well, its a reasonable and fair format as far as I can tell. As much as Florian has been called out, so has Noirin put herself in the public eye. Florian is surely just as capable as Noirine in A. making his own blog with his own description of events and B. Defending his actions there and receiving both supportive and disapproving comments.

    I would say from personal experience that the ONLY way to make a change for the positive is to get this out in the open and discussed like it is here. So many great comments from obviously intelligent people. Some real food for thought. And of course some of the other comments well, makes me realize just how far we have to go yet.

  • Susi

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about the whole “sitting on laps” bit.

    Sitting on another’s lap, consensually, does not permit another person, or even the same person, to jam their hands into a woman’s underwear without consent. Especially after she rejected a kiss.

    We are allowed to share space with each other–doing so does not negate anyone’s claim to Feminism or rights to their own body. The crucial difference here is consent. And sitting on a lap or wearing a particular outfit is never consent, and it’s never “asking for it”.

    Being a “flirt” means just that. Just flirting. The fact that many of the commenters here can’t draw the distinction and feel that the slippery slope is justified, or that flirting makes anyone less of a Feminist or less interested in equal rights is downright disturbing. Join the 21st century.

  • [...] in late 2010, a mutual friend of ours was sexually assaulted at an open source conference, spoke up about it online, and received further abuse for doing so. After that, Valerie decided that simply being a role [...]

  • Whatevar

    It’s a pretty simple case of cause and effect: act like a whore and you’ll be treated like a whore. I’m not defending this guy – his silence tells me he’s probably a creep – I just think being a whore is no better than being a creep. Whereas Western systems of justice tend to punish creeps much more than whores, there are many Islamic countries where it is instead the woman who is punished when something like this happens. Clearly many of the commenters here are unable to think outside the box of Western feminist ideology they’ve been brought up in. Personally, I think the egalitarian middle road of punishing both the male and the female would be the best.

  • [...] policy by using sexual images in his talk; late last year, Apache employee Noirin Shirley was allegedly sexually assualted. These are but two of numerous incidents over the [...]

  • [...] How to Prevent Sexual Assault I recently read a blog in which a young woman (who just happens to be a technical writer for Google) told the story of how she was at a major “tech-y” conference, and after the conference her and her colleagues decided to have a good time back at her hotel room and later in a bar.  In the blog, she states that while at the bar, one of her colleagues tried to kiss her, and after she said “stop,” he proceeded to put his hand down her pants and sexually assault her.  In her blog, not only does she tell this story, but she names her perpetrator (Read her blog here). [...]

  • SAD

    oh! I see that some f3m heavy hitters are involved!!!

    Some advice to you NC: Live, learn, have fun and be awesome. but pls pls pls don’t start living according some delusional set of rules made up by others…

  • SAD

    Wow that was a “A hell of a time”

    Florian Leibert <- what a douche, and an idiot who doesn't have any self control. What he did to you was definitely "Sexual harassment"

    Noirin Shirley <- Get off your high horse before you fall off. "sat on laps"??? give me a break. Thats "Sexual harassment" also!!! teasing or flirting also considered as "Sexual harassment" also. Most of the time guys don't know when they are being Sexually harassed and even when they know they won't admit it. –You probably Sexually harassed guys in the past and you might not even know it. Also because you are a female, you get away with that every time!–

  • [...] here are the facts we know only from Noirin Shirley’s blog post: And then I went to the loo, and as I was about to go in, Florian Leibert, who had been speaking in [...]

  • Steve

    I’m so sorry to hear this happen to you. Thank you for speaking out and bring this issue to light.

    Please people… lets respect each other. No mater how a person dresses you never have the right to assault another person… NEVER! Consider if you were hearing this happened to your sister… your mother… would you still condone this act?

    We must respect each other. I’m tired of hearing the excuse that because she or he wore certain clothes that meant it was OK to assault her or him. Assault is assault. It’s never OK… NEVER!

  • curmudgeon

    I think it’s pretty clear that whatever happened that night wasn’t a big deal. The tone of the blog post is pretty light, even saying the weekend was good and bad. So much for sexual assault being traumatizing…

    The accused would be a total fool to respond to these accusations in a public forum. Just like when talking to the cops, you don’t talk yourself out of trouble – you talk yourself into trouble. I am pretty certain that noirin’s blog post will go a long way to making sure the accused is acquitted… Running your mouth, crying wolf basically, can come back to bite you when it comes to the inside of a courtroom.

  • Wouter Simons

    Noirin, I am sad to hear this happened to you. I want to start of saying that this behavior may be typical, but certainly not acceptable. The kiss I can understand as someone, misguidedly, thinking the attraction is mutual. The groping after being told no is plain wrong.

    There is something interesting happening in your post. I do not think I have ever seen a public blog post with name included about a sexual offence. I ended up here through the lwn.net site and clicked through mostly because I remember your name (we worked together at Joost if you remember). But the number of comments here and the pickup on other blogs shows a large spread through the community.

    In itself, I am not opposed to this public outcry. I understand it. Still I do see a risk to this approach. By so publicly posting a story and apparently reaching a broad public there is a risk of unwanted spin off. Perhaps the audience reading this will not be too much of the vigilante type, but what if at the next conference Florian is attacked by one of the readers of this post?

    In a way I am personally inclined to think he would have deserved it, but that is an emotional response. When I apply more reason I would say that punishment should be dealt out by a court after a fair trial. I am pretty sure you do feel the same way. And just throwing the story into the open is not enough to blame you for any actions one of your readers might choose to take.

    It is still an ethical concern. Is it acceptable to publicly accuse someone of a (sexual) offence?

  • Breaka

    Wouldn’t normally have replied but I was swayed by the arguments to dilute the flood of victim-blaming.

    I used to be one of those women who thought women who flirt and wear attractive clothing are asking for it. Over the last few years I’ve definitely changed my mind – because of people like you who are open about your experiences. This case is so clear-cut to me, and it is so obvious that you were enjoying yourself and having fun, not deliberately setting up poor misunderstood geek guys so you could tear them down later, that it boggles me that anyone could cast you in the role of villain here.

    A fumbled kiss is probably a stupid way of asking someone if they’re interested, but seriously, after you said no the excuse of “she came on to me first” utterly disappears. Thank you for being so honest and detailed.

  • Your courage gives permission to others, like me, so that speaking out is a viable option, even though we know that response is likely to be vile. We — no — *I* can live through that. I will have a career afterwards. Speaking out will not ruin my reputation with decent people. I will not be afraid to be branded one of “those” women. Next time I’m in a position like this, I will have the courage speak out, as you have. Thank you for providing a good example, and I sincerely hope you aren’t discouraged by the vitriolic response.

    I believe assaults on women in tech are increasing, and I call on decent men and women to stand against it.

  • Me

    In Noirin’s defense, this was probably a set-up to get the women in close-quarters with the men, in order to fulfill some sort of malicious ulterior motive. A man secreting a woman off somewhere to show off his computer is one of the oldest tricks in the book of douchebaggery, and women need to understand this. To quote the Mystery Method, Noirin had been “bounced” twice that night and was only putting up “token resistance.”

    Smart people tend to be sexually confident, and sexual confidence is attractive. People in close-quarters with attractive people gets them aroused. Lingering around them causes that arousal to accumulate. Some men just aren’t jealous (or willing to commit) enough to allow their arousal to be easily dissipated, especially when inhibitions are lowered.

    If men and women are to meet together as equals, they must refrain from participating in gender-specific activity, such as flirting and sitting in laps. I’m sure the feminists reading these kinds of stories already believe that assaulting women is written in the male DNA. They believe that men must restrain themselves from doing so “every six seconds,” while women must “empower” themselves by not resisting the impulse to cover up or refusing to engage in activities which hinder femininity.

    Feminists also believe that engaging in childish behavior, such as testing personal boundaries, is fun and exciting because of its irony in patriarchical society, which at times can be stiflingly formal. In actuality, however, engaging in childish, irrational behavior is part of the traditional female gender role.

    With their double standards and illogical reactions, feminists are only making it more difficult for men and women to reach a mutual understanding.

  • Jim Gagnon

    Florian Leibert’s silence on these accusations is telling, in my opinion. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior, and the scars it leaves behind hurt us all. My sister is quite insistent on leaving bars and parties at midnight; she enjoys the scene and drinking, but she’s found the consequences are oftentimes not worth it. Such is the sad state a minority of men forces on women and those really do cherish their energy, drive and insights.

  • Kim

    I’m sorry this happened to you and I hope it’s resolved in whatever way these things can ever be truly resolved. You’ve shown a lot of nerve and courage posting this in the open – you’ve effectively been assaulted again by some of the comments here. I wish I could say these comments were in any way surprising but it’s the dregs of the earth that sexually assault a woman to begin with and it’s the dregs of the earth that defend the action.

  • Mark: what the fuck is wrong with you? Your narrative is nowhere near close to what actually happened that evening. So what are you doing? You’re so wrong, and so misguided, that I fear feeding your troll-ness.

  • Mark Saunders

    This makes me feel physically sick. That a dozen guys let themselves be cock-teased for hours, while every last one of them sat there gritting their teeth and thinking “If I just keep acting like a non-threatening teddy bear, maybe she’ll choose me to finish up the night with”?

    Urgh, have some self respect. If a drunk chick bumps and grinds and giggles on your lap, maybe you’ve got a shot. Once she’s dry humped half a dozen other guys though, you can be sure that none of you are getting any. She’s only after your attention, and she doesn’t give a Goddamn about you or your feelings.

    Oh, I don’t condone what Florian did, or didn’t do, but neither do I care in the slightest. What I care about is the emasculation of men. Masculinists, rise up, and stop being afraid to say what we’re all thinking. You’re not getting any from femifuglies and teaser-tramps anyway, so what have you got to lose?

  • Richard Plana

    Good on you, Noirin, for posting about the event in such detail. I’ve often read people complain about sexual harassment in open source conferences and the IT industry in general, but no one would clearly describe what they meant. It’s hard to form an opinion when someone just says “sexual assault”.

    Given your story, I can only offer my opinion and that is I believe that the assailant was wrong in all accounts. I firmly believe that people should not do anything physically with another person who does not wish to engage in it.

    I’ve seen comments on the site stating that some women are “asking for it” with the way they carry themselves, but unless they actually ask for it (as opposed to misinterpreting some other action), I still believe that if the person says no, it’s a no.

    It’s hard for people to tell when it’s alright without actually using words. Some women feel that men should take the initiative in engaging in things like kissing. So to a certain extent, sending out feelers is acceptable. But once the person says no … get it in your head people, they don’t mean yes. Even people who play coy would not say no with finality.

  • Sima

    You’re very brave to do this and an inspiration. I’ve had my doubts about going fully public like this and to stand (alone sometimes as it seems) and defend myself for things that should not happen.
    Thanks!

  • Julie

    Well done! I’m so sorry that this happened to you, and good for you for not letting him silence you and for speaking out. I have no idea what kind of crack people are smoking to be criticizing you for naming names and speaking out — if someone had simply gotten into a drunken brawl at the conference, or stolen someone’s laptop, I don’t think the victim would have hesitated to name the culprit and received anything near as much criticism for it, right?

    I’m also a female programmer — thanks for speaking out for all those times that seem to happen way too often in a female programmer’s life — getting harassed by my math teacher at college, by my supervisor at my internship, being stalked and harassed at conferences…thanks for your courage!

  • Jonas

    NOT the first time?

    wtf wtf wtf

    This is insane. Back list these guys from ever attending a conference again. How will we ever get more women attending if this happends?

  • Josh

    I don’t have much to add, but as a guy I’d like to be yet another voice saying “Well done”. This sort of thing is a problem that needs to be dealt with and that can only be done when people like you are brave enough to talk about. Still, sorry it had to happen :(

  • [...] Gisteravond plaatste Noirin, een vrouw die zeer actief is in de Apache gemeenschap, een diep triest relaas op haar weblog. Ze beschrijft een fantastische dag op ApacheCon, een super social event, afgerond [...]

  • @curmudgeon: this post and its comments are not a “one-sided view” as you put it. All of the comments are moderated. Noirin is obviously letting through all sides of the discussion. No idea what she might be filtering out, but I bet there are many comments that are getting nixed because they don’t really add to the discussion.

    And with that said: you’re a fool for comparing her blog post and the resulting public discourse to that of a legal court. They are completely separate. The “court of public opinion” has no legal status and will not put either person into jail. And Florian has just as much right to speak up and defend himself. So far as I can tell, he has not chosen to do so.

    You state a belief in a “person’s right to a vigorous defense”. Noirin has not deprived Florian of that. The court will provide him with that. Or, since you seem to believe that social media can somehow find/prove a person guilty, then maybe he can step up a vigorous defense here and elsewhere?

    I happen to believe Noirin’s account, but more importantly, I believe that NOBODY has a right to violate another person. Nobody what the behavior of circumstance, there is never an excuse to violate them. But until a court produces a finding, then we only have beliefs.

  • Hey, look: I’m a man (a straight man, in fact, since that’s relevant here). This con was the first time I ever met Noirin. I had no trouble understanding that she was not asking me to assault her. Come to think of it, I can’t recall a single time in my entire life when any woman seemed to be inviting assault. Given that “assault” carries a built in aspect of “unwanted,” the whole notion of “inviting assault” is oxymoronic. There is no consensual assault. Sexuality without consent *is* assault. Black, meet white; white, meet black. At the language level, this just isn’t that hard.

    As for the appropriateness of “naming and shaming” … there are some arguable sides here, but we’ve been trying the other routes for some time (as Noirin points out). Maybe it is time to admit they’re not enough.

  • Hari

    I just came across this and http://valerieaurora.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/its-not-just-noirin/

    and was seriously shocked.

    I have no idea wtf people are thinking out there.

    People should accept that men and women can’t just be friends because there is always something at the back of their brains so it’s like playing with fire. Adding alcohol to the mix is an even worse idea.

    Not that that’s any excuse at all for somebody crossing such a line uninvited, but the 2 points of wisdom above remain nevertheless.

  • Eww… Disgusted.

    Damn I wish there was something we can do than being sorry for you.

  • [...]  No, not just ashamed.  Angry.  In my normal oblivious way I had originally totally missed Noirin’s post about the her sexual assault at ApacheCon and Val’s follow-up.  I struggle with Noirin’s decision to name her attacker. I [...]

  • Jen

    @Muslim guy

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    So you are insulting all Muslim men by implying that they have no self-control? That they are no better than small children or animals who have to act on every desire?

    Allah demands self-discipline, does he not? You must be an embarrassment to him.

  • Muslim Guy

    @Cailia

    It’s actually about the attitude of women. Western women are sexually assaulted at higher rates than Muslim women by BOTH Muslim men and Western men. Why?
    Because western women are girls gone wild! Muslim women are fully clothed, sober and respectful of the messages they send men. Thus they don’t entice male sexual interest like hyper-sexual acting and hyper-sexual dressing “entitled” women do.

  • [...] Schuld gegeben wird, wenn sie in einer Bar etwas trinken und dann begrabscht werden, auch wenn sie Nein sagen – ehrlich, lest die Kommentare (Trigger-Warnung) –, sondern in der die bestätigenden [...]

  • PrudentJurist

    I do hope that if the man is found not to be guilty, that you are punished severely for your accusation against him.

  • Cailia

    Thank you for doing what I never had the balls to do ages ago — Call him out. If you said no, or “uh-uh”, or shoved him, it doesn’t matter, it’s enough. In addition, if you’re going to accuse her of dressing too provocatively, please move to Saudi Arabia, where women have to cover up and there is a higher incidence of sexual assault. It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the attitude of the men.

    Good on ya.

  • Andreas

    It’s a shame harassment like this happens on tech conferences, where there’s an unfortunate gender bias to begin with. It’s even more of a shame people defend it with arguments like “she’s been flirting all evening”.

    Thanks for reminding me to introduce proper policies for our con.

  • Charles Haynes

    It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or not wearing.
    It doesn’t matter how someone acts or doesn’t act.

    You don’t get to kiss them against their wishes.
    You don’t get to touch them against their wishes.

    And especially if you try to kiss them, and they say no, you don’t get to touch them at all.

    I don’t care if they are naked dancing around you shaking their booty saying “neener neener neener” you still don’t get to touch them without permission.

  • curmudgeon

    @Loud,

    It’s brave to accuse someone of assaulting you on a blog because people might respond? Responses that you get to approve? On a site where you control the content and make sure that your side of the story is given prominence?

    If that’s all it takes to be brave then the bar is pretty low. I’d call it foolish if the goal wasn’t to provoke a response (foolish because a less public forum should have been chosen).

    A lot of people seem to be shocked that anyone would fail to believe Noirin’s claims, point out her poor judgment, point out problems with her story, etc… because it’s uncivil.

    It’s uncivil to try someone in the court of internet opinion where his ability to defend himself is extremely limited. Her claims are a legal issue which, if true, should result in imprisonment for the person she accused. When you make those kinds of claims you’ve gone outside the bounds of polite conversation. Since many people, myself included, believe in a person’s right to a vigorous defense, of course we’re going to post despite the totally lopsided forum format.

    Anyone with any experience with the criminal justice system knows that the weight of support tilts much more in support of the victims than it does the accused. Because most of us would never accuse someone of something they didn’t do we tend to assume that any accusation is true. It’s why our justice system is set up with the default assumption of innocence – most people assume that if you’ve been accused of something you’re guilty but in our system it’s up to the accuser to prove that the accused is guilty.

    So no, it wasn’t brave of Noirin to mouth off about her supposed “sexual assault” on the internet. Nor was it wise to drink, dress and behave so provocatively. Nor was it wise to “come hither” in a drunken state at an after party to a guy off in a corner by herself.

    There are times when you SHOULD blame the victim even if, in an ideal world, her rights would never be violated. We don’t live in an ideal world. You should know this by 20.

  • sheepeeh

    There sure is an appalling amount of victim blame going on in the comments. Look at the facts, people:

    1) A man kissed a woman and she expressed a clear lack of interest.
    2) The man then put his hand inside her underwear.

    That isn’t a friendly drunken ass-pat, that is shoving your hands under someone’s clothing to get at their genitals, after that person has already declined your advances. Noirin is doing a fine job of working against rape culture by posting this, and I applaud her.

  • patricia

    In your previous personal post (and I can’t believe no one has caught this with all the brouhaha):

    “The end of the night was marred by a drunken Irish idiot, who didn’t understand the basics of “no”, but Tiarnan did an absolutely impeccable job of looking after me, and really, the whole affair should not be mixed up with the absolutely fabulous weekend I enjoyed.”

    This is from the post put up just before your more recent and far more incendiary accusations. I’m sensing a theme. And I’m an actual feminist, so no slut-shaming here, but with great power comes great responsibility. Isn’t that the quote?

    Is it possible that it is you that doesn’t understand how to clearly communicate “no”? Did you actually say that word? No? I didn’t clearly hear it in your post. You may have been less eloquent? Or you may have missed saying it at all? There’s a world of difference there.

    Perhaps you could have extended this most recent gentleman the courtesy of referring to him as a “drunken Twitter idiot” instead of slandering him? When you cry wolf you do a world of harm to victims of assault and make it harder for their legitimate claims to be taken seriously.

    In essence, you silence them. That hurts all women. From one feminist to an alleged other: Lady up.

  • To anyone who has questioned Noirin’s bravery for calling this man out from the “safety of her computer” or whatever you’re gonna call it…

    …the degrading, grating, and ultimately shameful (both to yourselves and to humanity as a whole) behaviour of you and your ilk towards this person is precisely why her actions required great courage.

    Noirin, you are a very brave individual, indeed.

  • Sniper

    I’m sure u were wearing tight jeans like a porn star who will begin the scene.
    Why would you be interested in showing us that you have big tits or rounded thighs? Blame yourself and dress up properly next time.

  • Tainted

    @Zach

    Oh please. This is not about lack of self control, this is about enticement. Even a tiny little wink is a signal, so what the hell do you think a half naked woman sitting next to you should mean?

    If you actually ever had a girlfriend you would realize how much deliberation women put into clothing… or lack of clothing. Victoria’s Secret whole business is based on women sending signals via what they wear! It’s called lingerie, dude!

    Florian didn’t call Noirin over to assault her. He called her over to make out with her! And exactly why do you think he got that thought in his head?

    Women spend billion annually on items to be “attractive” and now all of a sudden in this situation what she wore and does has no significance. Stop the bullshit lies.

    Noirin keeps getting this type of male attention because she refuses to acknowledge her part in the dynamics. The moral of the story is that when you act frisky, people will get frisky with you.

  • As someone who has been falsely accused of attempted rape, I am extremely happy it happened before the time of Twitter/Facebook/Blogs.

  • Cat

    Jesus FUCKING christ these comments.

    Just wanted to add one more in support of you. You are so brave for speaking up. Thank you.

  • Good for you for speaking out, Noirin.

  • Jubal

    @Noirin: my sympathies; this should not happen.

    @Tainted: what you’re giving here is a blatant rape / sexual assault justification, and you’re describing what might trigger an assault (from you?) in much too many details; you might want to seek a professional help

    @assorted rape apologists, here’s a civility 101 for you: don’t offer rape apology as a comment in blog entry about sexual assault.

  • Zach

    Jo, why do you *not* think it’s okay to call out one’s attackers, and tell the truth about what it is not okay to do to someone?

    As to the rest: first, those screaming for “EVIDENCE”.

    I’m pretty sure a shout-out to the police here indicates there is now a public record of this assault for future reference.

    Witnesses? Dozens of guys in a bar… how many dozens of them are watching some random female and thus observe an assault? Maybe a handful of individuals at best. It’s a big conference, the regulars are busy, the visitors are chatting with each other. It is loud and crowded. What’s one more noise in the crowd? The only thing woman-related that’s going to attract enough attention to cause a riot is if a supermodel started a fistfight — and it’s clear from some of these comments that people are expecting the kind of attention that only a riot would bring.

    On TV and in movies, the camera is always focused on exactly the people who are going to be doing something. It doesn’t work that way in real life, boys. Go out and observe other men for yourself, instead of relying on what you think a TV camera would do.

    Now, those screaming for “BLAME”:

    We are not talking about the law of averages. We are not rolling dice, or taking percentages, or in any other way acting as if statistics are law. A woman may clothe or present herself in any way she sees fit. This does not mean that she is deliberately inviting someone to impose themselves on her body, unless that is the specific action she chooses to take. There can be little mistaking this act, children; it would be obvious enough to attract the attention of an entire bar full of men, not one or two who probably actually observed the assault during the minute or two of its occurrence.

    I, as an individual, can sit beside a woman wearing any amount (or none) of clothing and with any amount of alcohol or other intoxicants in her, and not fondle her. Maybe I have the self-control of a superhero… or maybe I actually respect women and haven’t been invited to attach myself like a leech to her body. We are, as Our Lord Brian has said, all individuals. Statistics be damned, can’t YOU have some self-control? Can you not condemn those who lack it?

    What a waste of potential. Get your pants on and go learn how to do it right.

  • ainge

    i’m sorry you have a bunch of people commenting here who don’t get that the guy who stuck his hands down your skirt is in the wrong, just because he stuck his hands down your skirt after you said no. there are no other details required, here.

    as for all the “OMG CHARACTER ASSASSINATION SOMEONE ALERT REDDIT” comments, let me point out that her name is also being dragged through the mud.

  • Liv

    Only just saw this now – hope you’re recovering ok. What a nightmare :(

  • Ann

    Just a voice of SUPPORT, and it is shameful how many people were brought up to blame the victim. You’d think that there’d be more intelligent people out there, but there aren’t. I always said I would feel safer with my daughter working with construction workers than with geeks. I would discourage her from working with computers, any tech field, because of the sense of entitlement the males have, the objectification of women, the completely socially inept attitude they have. Thankfully, she has other ambitions, more noble, and a lot safer.

  • Perlandria

    A party host is responsible for being social. Of COURSE she was slightly flirtatious. That is like getting mad at a salesman for smiling too much, or a frat guy for starting a ton of drink chants. Being pushed away and told no is when this should have ended, with him being shown where the line of his misunderstanding was. Hand down pants after a no? That’s assault.
    Good for you for speaking out.

  • Sure is a lot of creeps in here.

    Way I see it, I can just about understand the drunken logic behind the kiss. It was wrongheaded and Not Okay, but I can actually see the chain of thinking that led up to that (though again, I do not agree with the thinking). But at no point should someone pushing off you and saying no lead to you jamming your hand in their underwear. There’s really no room for argument here.

    A BLUH BLUH SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT BY DRESSING LIKE THAT/SITTING ON LAPS/WHATEVER – Uh no, nobody asks to be assaulted. Guess what a person can wear whatever the hell they want and no combination of clothing or undress counts as implied consent to be kissed, touched, groped, raped, whatever. And just because a woman sits on person A’s lap doesn’t mean that person B deserves equivalent – or any – intimacy. If I’m at a party and hug a friend, that doesn’t sound a little bell signaling OLLY OLLY OXEN-FREE, EVERYBODY GET YOUR HUG ON

    And I really, really don’t get the B-B-B-BUT YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO *TALK* ABOUT IT IN *PUBLIC* types – she has every right, moral and legal, to discuss what happened to her in public. The only way this would count as libel would be if she knew it to be false – at which point the courts would deal with how best to handle it, not a bunch of neckbeards on the internet. Shit like this happens because the attackers think they can get away with it. When attackers realize that they can’t get away with it anymore, then it will stop happening. She’s not only naming her attacker, she’s making it more difficult for him (and to a lesser extent, ALL potential attackers) to attack someone else. If you don’t like it, then don’t attack people and you won’t have to worry about it. If you are accused of sexual assault, or any other crime really, and you didn’t do it, THEN you can sue for libel and seek whatever damages you think you can get a judge to agree to. But trying to shame her into protecting her attacker because ‘well what if you’re lying’ is insulting to both her, and yourself. It paints her as untrustworthy, and you as an asshole.

    Don’t be an asshole.

  • OldMan

    Just want to say how your original blog has led to a major discussion on a very interesting concept.

    Should a victim remain a victim by respecting the privacy of someone who failed to respect her privacy?

    Answers still being sought.

    Goodonyachic!

  • Tainted

    @b,g,

    What a retard you are. I’ll make this simple for you.

    1. Tainted isn’t a female handle, nor would any reasonable woman assume I was even trying to impersonate a female.
    2. Feeling “violated” is not reason for another person’s incarceration.
    3. You miss my point about how EVERYBODY has a different concept of “violation” and personal space. Not EVERYBODY is OK with having someone sit on his or her laps or sitting on another’s lap. This is especially true of men sitting on other men’s laps.
    4. Any “work function” that allows bike shorts, short skirts and drinking to excess turn jeans into professional attire.

  • [...] was late in hearing about Noirín's hell of an experience at ApacheCon, but I agree totally with Rich — I am totally gobsmacked that this could happen at OUR conference. [...]

  • Jason

    If this incident happened the way Noiren describes it, there would be witnesses. Hell, dozens of them. So far no direct witnesses to the incident or its immediate aftermath have blogged, twitted, or otherwise made themselves known. In the most blog-happy community on the internet?

    The story is incomplete. There are substantial omissions and elisions. Noiren hints at context (confession of drunken flirting with a “couple” of guys, an excited Berliner picking her up and spinning her around, mentioning that she’s “tired of people who say that guys can’t read me right and I have to read them, and avoid giving the wrong impression.”) that may, at the very least, suggest mitigating circumstances for Florian Leibert, currently public enemy number one having obviously been tried and convicted by most commentors here. Noiren is virtually confessing to being an extremely flirty drunk, for one.

    The language is melodramatic and novelistic. There’s an odd divertissment into Noiren’s role on the Apache board and how Leibert’s calling her over “wasn’t an unusual request, and it wasn’t one I expected to end the way it did.” which is quite bizarre: surely Shirley does’t need to go to such lengths to provide a justification for talking to some guy who calls out her name at an industry party. It’s almost protesting too much about the fact she had a non-sexual motivation for talking to the guy.

    The timeline is unclear, the incident itself is too pat: Noiren portrays herself as weak and helpless in Florian Leibert’s arms despite giving the impression that’s she’s a strong feminist who wouldn’t take the kind of handling she alleges lying down: again, where are the witnesses, the corroboration? There’s even a hint of possible impaired memory.

    There are a whole bunch of other reasons I’m really skeptical but I don’t want to write an essay. It’s not that I don’t believe Noiren. Everything she says may be true, in which case, I apologise for doubting and it’s a disgrace. It’s just that there’s another side to this most commentators aren’t considering. It’s clear not all the facts are in and I know for a fact it is extremely dangerous to draw conclusions with only one side of an allegation like this. I’m glad the police have been called in (after no initial mention of them) and I hope they realize that since Leibert has now been named and vilified up and down the net they need to devote the resources for a full investigation.

    I’m afraid my gut feeling is the next headline we will see is “Doubts emerge over blogger sex assault claims.”

    Feel free to flame me and call me nasty names now and say I’m blaming the victim and revictimising the victim and guilty of slut-shaming and all the rest of it.

    But if you can’t see the reasons to doubt here, well, you’re not thinking.

  • Ghu, Noirín, I’m sorry to hear about this! I saw something on Twitter, but I couldn’t track it down. DrBacchus’ post finally led me here.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the snug’ (the crowd in the bar? the bog? something else?), but if there were people around I see no reason why calling attention to what’s going on in a loud voice would be inappropriate. Just holler, “Knock it off!”

    But then, I’ve never been in this kind of situation (and with my looks and at my age it ain’t gonna happen), so I can’t honestly say how I’d react or feel about the event. It doesn’t sound like it’s *you* fault, though!

    Btw, it’d be nice if people who want to use terms like ‘slander’ or ‘libel’ were clear on the distinction. :-)

  • [...] قبل هفته شوک در دنیای نرم‌افزارهای آزاد بود. نه! منظورم جریان آزار جنسی به نویسنده وبلاگ نردچیک و عضو هی…. بدون شک آن اتفاق بزرگترین و بدترین شوک ممکن در دنیای [...]

  • b,g,

    Noirin, I’m really glad you spoke up.

    “Tainted,” “Jannea,” “Tina,” “WGMOW,” or “SFgirl” are probably all dudes using female handles because they think that’ll give their bullshit cred. Not that there aren’t misogynist women, but “a real woman like me” (Jannea) is trying too hard, as is insisting that what was said was “From a female/woman’s perspective” (SFgirl/WGMOW). For “Tina.” the tell is “as girls usually do.”

    And “Tainted”‘s first comment sounds like pure male wank fantasy, both in the titillating details and the “slut got punished” vibe. Also, Tainted, you ignored Greg Stein’s comments about how EVERYBODY was sitting in one another’s laps, regardless of gender… and do you really think it would be considered professional to wear jeans to a work-related function? Quit digging that hole, you moron.

  • Marzie

    I think any woman at 20 or more understands what you are talking about. Personally I would say by experience this surely has nothing to do with your behavior, dressing, or looks. It just depends on the person mal-judging you.

    But, I would say that this issue, however disappointing and hurting can be referred from a different point of view. This assault is due to a mis-behavior from that guy. First everyone knows that this has nothing to do with his sexual needs, buy his sick mind is the main cause to this. I mean, that man is sick.. he needs help. as any other person with misbehaving, he is wrong and guilty, yet the society, his family, his situation,.. and other things may have caused this. But in today’s world, nobody things about treating sick people. just punishing… this wont do.

    the next thing is that I think we make too much of a fuss about such issues. I know how bad it is, but considering the fact that this will happen to all women, they could teach us to feel easier about our bodies. like they give too much attention to sexuality. but to be sincere any part of your body is like the other! this is how I managed to console myself…

  • Tainted

    @Greg Stein

    What the FUCK is wrong with you?

    Lots of guys would feel “VIOLATED” if another guy sat on their lap!

    And yet to them I say the same thing as should be said to Noirin… Stop being so f-ing thin-skinned! People are allowed to feel “hurt” over whatever they want, but hurt feelings shouldn’t land someone else in jail. I could easily feel violated by some drunk girl “squeezing up” on me, but that doesn’t mean Noirin should serve time!

    Your friend is an over flirt that got felt up. She says this happens regularly, which is not at all surprising given her bad attitude and low aptitude.

    Smart girl: Short skirt
    Result: Promotes random come-ons

    Smart girl’s fix: Jeans
    Result: Deters random come-ons

    Noirin: Short skirt
    Result: Promotes random come-ons

    Noirin’s Fix: Bike pants under short skirt.
    Result: Only limits visibility, still promotes random come-ons (She even got twirled around for crissakes)

    I would wager the only reason Noirin isn’t “violated” by more guys is because she is NOT hot. Many of your 30 white knights would quickly lose their armor if Noirin looked like Olivia Munn.

    The police have real victims to help.

  • shamil

    This is a disgusting situation that was described. But, i think bringing in police and lawyers would be drastically over kill. This was not a rape, nor was it a capital offense. And i’m not defending the guy in any way, i just don’t see this as a situation that would require law enforcement and the court system. But, this is a situation in which the person who did the assault should not go away unscathed from either.

    Was the man who did the kiss and grope in the wrong? Most definitely he was. Since it was a work related fellow, at a work related gathering, and since it was only a grope and a kiss…i would only take it as far as resolve the problem where it happened and with whom it happened. In this case, problem occurred at apache outing with apache people.

    I’m probably going to get flak for this, but i don’t care. There were some things that were written that i felt were very careless.

    1. “I’m tired of people who say that guys can’t read me right and I have to read them, and avoid giving the wrong impression.”

    This is imperative. If someone reads you wrong, it’s usually a good idea to give them the right impression right away.

    After all, if somebody didnt understand me, it is in fact my fault for not communicating good enough. After multiple attempts and they still don’t understand me, then it’s definitely the other persons fault and they’re stupid for not putting forth any effort. And it’s definitely a good idea to read other people to help avoid those who don’t have a good impression.

    However, this isn’t a situation of most guys not getting the right impression of you, it’s just about one who didn’t. After that, you are definitely not someone who’s hard to interpret and understand (otherwise this blog would be crappily written and poor in detail).

    2. “It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me.”

    This is akin to “it is not my job to avoid getting robbed, it is everyone else’s job to avoid robbing me”.

    It is everyone elses job, but it is also still and primarily your job. Realisticly, you will run into more people who fail at this, and you’re the first best person to count on to help avoid getting assaulted. Having friends and buddy’s around will help greatly, but it is in no way just your friends responsibility only to keep something from happening to you. It’s unrealistic; the most friends and buddies could do for you is lessen your burden by sharing some of the responsibility.

    Aside from these nitpicks of mine. I hope the situation is dealt with how it should be. With whatever is appropriate and necessary, and not with whatever is over kill and above and beyond.

    Lastly, as far as a question of dressing provocative? I would say no. What was mentioned that was worn definitely didn’t sound provocative. This was very clearly a situation of that guy just choosing to F*** up.

  • Chije

    Wow. As someone who has also been assaulted more than once, good for you for putting up this post. I was always too scared to go public. And to all of the idiots who are telling you off, I wonder what they would do if this had happened to their daughter. You have every right to go public.

  • AnObserver

    Sorry, but what this woman does is public defamation of a person who is innocent until proven guilty.
    By all means, this guy deserves the same rights that you wished you have when you were facing allegations that may or may not have a true background.

    She definitely crossed a line by making his name public. He should not be jugded by the internet community who has no more information than her side of the story.

    With this story, the reputation of this guy could be destroyed forever, guilty or not.

  • CB Saeji

    Sorry this happened to you.

    And more sorry for the comments by the idjits on here.

    I have had men misread me before, too. It’s just sad that some people will not hear you when you let them know (for example by rejecting a kiss) that they misread the situation. You are actually really lucky it didn’t get worse, lucky you were able to break away from this guy. He (I’m being generous here) wasn’t in possession of his full faculties. Things could have been much worse, and have been for so many many women over the history of time.

  • What the hell is wrong with people? Noirin, you did nothing wrong, and followed up by doing the right thing. And I’m sure you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that. And so many of the comments I’ve seen attached to this story (all that blame the victim crap) really pissed me off. I’m sorry this happened to you. And there is simply no reason it should. EVER. I don’t know why people can’t get that through their thick skulls.

  • Emma

    Hi Noirin,, I just ran into this site randomly, I’m from another part of the world and I have been assaulted numerous times, especially when I was very young and timid and too ashamed to say something. I never told about it to my parents, for example. Cause this is how this society works, seems that it’s just my own fault if I had the misfortune to be born a female. Years passed but I still remember those cases and regret so much I didn’t do something. Just wanted to say how I admire you for your post.

  • What the FUCK is wrong with you people?

    Noirin’s behavior is NOT a causal effect here. Her actions and interactions with others did not cause this to happen.

    The room party had about 30 people there. A few women, and the rest men. Did ANY of us men act wrongly? NO.

    Let me repeat: NO.

    Noirin was an awesome host, talking to everybody, hanging out, drinking beers with the rest of us. There were numerous people laying on the bed. People trying to call that out as an “invitation” are seriouly ill-informed. Sitting on laps? There were guys on guys laps. The place was packed. Maybe you want to say, “but a woman on a guy’s lap is different”. Sure. It is. But nobody in that room decided to force themselves on anybody.

    Seriously, people. How does flirtatious behavior suddenly make it RIGHT to be violated? Hmm? Really. Try to come up with an answer. It just doesn’t exist.

    And back up. “Flirting with a couple boys” does not equal “flirting with everybody”. I was THERE. Did I feel flirted with to the extent that I felt a sudden need to abuse here? Hell fuckin’ no. I RESPECT her. She is a friend. She is a colleague. No action that she takes would cause me to take advantage.

    There is NOT an answer or excuse anywhere on this planet for violation. It does not matter how one acts or behaves. There is NEVER an excuse to violate a person.

  • Miciah

    What does “[s]queezing everyone up” mean?

  • Tainted

    @no damsel in distress:

    It IS his fault that his name is out there. He got drunk and tried to pick up a psycho tease. Bad move and he now realizes it. The difference though is that us normal people are not trying to send Noirin to jail for being a crazy bitch, while you are indeed trying to send him to jail for feeling up a tease. When you follow your logic all the way through you prove “our” point.

  • Bernadette Macias

    @MarcTheEngineer

    I agree w/ your comments until you say: “The kiss wasn’t assault, …”

    Person A’s lips in bodily contact with person B against B’s will = assault.

    The other thing to keep in mind: the person **doing the action** doesn’t get to define whether or not the person on the receiving end was offended or intimidated or harmed. The recipient is often confused and filled with unease and is reluctant to admit to him/herself much less anyone else that they were assaulted. That’s what makes this post and this discussion so important: she recognized it and bravely spoke out!

    Name it and shame it, NerdChik. Bless you.

  • no damsel in distress

    This is to everybody who thinks that a perpetrator has the right to assault if the person assaulted cannot prevent it: consider that this logic gives the assaulted person the right to name the perpetrator.
    Because he cannot prevent it.
    Because he obviously gave the right signals in not respecting NO.
    Because he obviously didn’t remember that he was in contact with a person used to share their happenings on the web.
    Yeah, you guess it: transfer your arguments for justifying perpetrators against the perpetrator and see how they fit quiet well. So I think it’s his fault that his name is published, he should’ve known better.

  • MarcTheEngineer

    To all the attacking her for this –

    The guy didn’t just try to kiss her and stop when she pushed him away – He tried to force his hands down her skirt AFTER she pushed him away from the kiss.

    She may have been flirting – and if all he did was try to kiss her and she pushed him away I wouldn’t blame him (and I bet she wouldn’t either) but he went too far.

    The kiss wasn’t assault, the hand being forced down her skirt after the rejected kiss IS assault and he deserves to be punished for it.

  • AMM

    First of all, I’m really sorry that this happened to you. The guy had no excuse for what he did.

    But I’m even sorrier that you have to put up with all the rape apologists in this comments thread. I knew that they were out there, but I’m still kind of amazed: it’s been a full week since you turned over this particular rock, and the creepy-crawlies are still popping out of their holes. I was sure you would have closed the comments thread by now out of sheer disgust.

    And I appreciate that you have spoken up, and named the guy’s name in a public place. I realize that it gets you even more crap, but you are helping everyone else, both male and female (except for the assaulters and their allies) by making it harder for people to pretend that sexual assault doesn’t happen, or that it only happens to “bad girls,” or that they’re all simple misunderstandings, or whatever. One more teaspoon….

  • Raymond

    I personally approve of this post. As a father, I can not accept a world where my daughter would be subjected to such an act, regardless of her behavior prior to that point, or the clothing she was wearing that day. It terrifies me to think that she will someday go out into a world where otherwise rational people will excuse things like this as a one-time “mistake” that shouldn’t be punished in any meaningful way.

    What of the victim’s right to feel safe? What of the humiliation and shame they’ll likely feel? The violation? What recompense do they receive in this?

    Do we all have a free pass on sexual assault as long as we just do it once? Maybe if we’re drunk “enough”? What about the second time? I mean, if they didn’t get any consequence the first time, why would they think there was anything wrong with doing it again?

    If some of you commenters lament the perpetrator’s potentially lost social status, perhaps you should consider that at no point in that scenario did the perpetrator have to take the course of action he did. Was it a bad decision? Yes, and there are consequences for bad decisions. Sometimes, those consequences are very dire. Perhaps, if it worries you that you will make a decision like this at some point, you’d do well to consider those consequences, not impairing your judgment by drinking, and not making assumptions about the intentions of someone based on how they’re dressed.

    No person, regardless of your behavior, has a right to force a sexual interaction with you. There is no argument here. In order to have a liveable and safe society, we MUST enforce this rule every time we have the oppurtunity.

    Good luck to you, Noirin. Take care, and I hope that things get better for you.

  • Samatha Hat

    I’m sorry our culture is so f*cked up that you have to deal with all the idiots blaming you after what you suffered. Thank you for having the strength to speak up, and the courage to name the “man” so that others know to be careful around him.

  • Joe Flint

    If you were in uncivilized country, I would totally understand why you created this post. But US has a justice system with a due process. Why the hell didn’t you called the police right away?

    This attitude makes people wonder and expose you.

  • Kyerin

    Hi,

    I’ve just linked here from a series of other blogs so I’ve actually lost track of how I got here. I don’t normally read this blog. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this story. I’m sorry that you’re getting so much completely undeserved flak. It’s disappointing to see that in this day and age that there are still not just the odd person, but many people, who don’t get that this incident is a) wrong and b) serious. However I am very glad to see that the police treated you fairly.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully it will be part of the movement towards a day when I and other women like me don’t have to be anxious about what they wear, who they’re with, what they’re drinking and whether they can go home by themselves or not. I woiuld really like to not have that worry anymore.

  • WGMOW

    Here’s my take on this from a woman’s perspective: You were drunk and acting like a slut all night. You “…lay across the bed, sat on laps, generally tried to squish in to any available space…” You were OK with the Berliner who picked you up and spun you over his head; it was OK for him to grab various and sundry body parts during that little exhibition, right? And Mr. Leibert apparently got the message and took the next step. And this, according to you, was assault.

    I have no doubt that you’re a feminist. I have no doubt that you consider yourself strong, smart, independant and feisty. But not smart enough to speak firmly and decisively to say no, nor strong enough to belt the guy when he persisted.

    My take away is that you were at fault. You remind me of a used car with the keys in the ignition, engine running, and a big sign that says “Take me for a test drive!” When somebody does, Oh it’s assault!

    If I was you boss, I’d fire you ASAP. It sound like your self-described behavior at this party was unprofessional and out of control. And then to accuse your co-worker, on line, is reprehensible.

    By the way, what is it with you fembot girls? Are you all schizoid? One side proclaims your fierceness, and the other cries, “Of save me from the evil man.” You are all pathetic, whining, weak-minded losers – all of you.

  • Poester99

    So he ruins your day or week, and you ruin the rest of his life.

    When it comes to protecting officially equal yet obviously, completely unequal, requiring special protection “poor widdle wimminz”, proportionality goes completely out the window.

    Break his nose like a man would do (and I would do if a gay man groped me) and let that be the end of it.

  • caroline

    Dear “Tina” (yeah right)
    How the fuck do you know “what girls usually do” when they are sexually assaulted??

    It’s you that’s the “Frustated attention-whore psycho” as you are so ignorant and hateful to think that by “flirting with a couple guys” she should have expected to be assualted.

    Also dbag, get your facts straight. She mad a polic report and there has been at least one MAN who has stated he witnessed her shaken afer the assault. And publicly stating that she was assaulted and exposing herself to cowards like you doesn’t make HER a coward. It makes her brave.

  • Isaac

    Ugh :( Sorry you had to go through that Noirin.

    I can’t believe that so many people are defending what this guy did :(

  • gtruck

    I hope that this inspires females to come out about attackers. I hope that instead of being afraid, they defend themselves and then go to the cops.

    This needs to teach EVERYONE a lesson. Not just women, but men as well. Be careful of what you’re doing in the bar. Be careful of who you’re touching and how you’re touching them. Watch those who may be watching you. A person that doesn’t know you will assume things from your behavior. That’s just how it goes.

    There has been a lot of name calling and a lot of one-sided opinions. To women and men, who have been attacked, don’t be scared to come forward because of the possibility of everyone going through your pictures and saying that “they’re too ugly to be attacked”. Some adults haven’t earned that title yet.

    Regardless of all of the comments, we should all want the truth to come out and for someone to get justice.

  • Tom Mac

    I’ve read the post and a sample of the comments. What makes issues of this nature particularly difficult is that an unequivocal 100% backing against alleged attackers is a system which is open to abuse by untruthful, kniving women. However, a convention of immediate 100% backing against the alleged victim is a system open to abuse by loathsomely untruthful, scummy men.

    Was the alleged criminal sitting on his own, in an area out of sight of everyone else? In a pub? Did any struggle (forced intimacy) or sharp exchange of words go completely unnoticed in what I can only assume was a well-populated area? Intellectuals operate on an “innocent until proven guilty” principle. Without any evidence noone has the right to assume guilt or lack of on the part of the peoples involved.

    Thus exigencies such as these, which lack any solid evidence, are unfortunate microcosms of life and sadly can only be treated as such and hence never resolved. Therefore my view is that this debate only achieves widespread sadness through reader empathy. It riles peoples emotions in a negative way to no avail. Ultimately “A hell of a time” blog-post is morally and ethically wrong.

  • Maria

    Hi Noirin,

    I am so sorry this happened to you. It is a really awful experience and I respect your bravery in speaking out.

    Unfortunately though, I am not surprised to see it happen at a tech conference. I have been harrassed at a tech conference, thankfully not assaulted, by men who seem to forget that women are rightfully there as delegates, with valid research/work to discuss. It happened in the middle of the day at an industry supported event. No alcohol and no short skirts involved.

    So to anyone who thinks these are the causes or invites for assault, they are completely mistaken. Someone can be an asshole with or without encouragement, unfortunately these are just convenient excuses used to write off unacceptable behaviour.

    I hope this doesn’t stop your involvement with technology events – your work is clearly appreciated.

  • Tina

    Frustated attention-whore psycho bitch.
    You mention flirting with a couple of guys during the night, how don’t you expect this kind of things to happen ? You could just have slapped him hard in the face and yell at him, as girls usually do when this happens.
    No, you prefer silently crawling to your computer and blog about it and name the guy, with no witness to back your claims ?

  • Cara

    I’m sorry this happened to you, but I’m glad you were able to write about it and call him out on what he did. I wanted to voice my support, especially after reading many gross comments from people who just don’t get it.

  • curmudgeon

    It’s a little strange to say that it takes bravery to accuse someone of sexual assault from the comfort of your computer. What’s brave about it? It’s well beyond the range of any physical danger. It’s easy enough to skip over unsupported comments.

    It would have been brave to handle this the old school way: slap him, let one of those burly infra guys know and let him take his lumps on the spot.

    For all the talk about how “men don’t get it” most of the posts by males have been unabashedly supportive (uncritically imho). Does anyone doubt if she had screamed or let any of the other guys know at that party that they’d have immediately come to her aid?

    Some of the women posting here should learn to try not to abuse that privilege – I’ll call it the “damsel in distress privilege.” It’s no one’s fault nature made men, on average, stronger and more aggressive. Fortunately for sane men that strength and aggression is tempered by the instinct to protect the females (evolutionarily speaking you are way more valuable than us).

    Lastly, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a bit of attention-whoring involved.

  • Thanks for posting this and for having the courage to be so candid about what happened.

  • pistachio.caity

    Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for not editing out parts of it – such as what you were wearing – to ‘appease’ people who discredit what was done to you because of these details. Thank you for being so brave.

  • Go Grow A Pair

    You heard me. Go home, grow a pair and stop blaming the victim!

    You’re not even the one being accused here and already you’re blaming the victim, God have pity on the women in your life (and yes women who left malicious comments, this applies to you too).

    Take some responsibility. Yes guys have dicks, yes they tend to think w/it 90% of the time, but just like they can control it for the rest of the day, it doesn’t make it someone else’s fault that one minute they have a lapse in judgement. Do they chase down EVERY SINGLE woman that is dressed provactively? or every one who flirts with them? If they can control it SOME of the time, then why can’t they do it ALL the time? Or is that asking too much of our preciously lil boys?

  • brandi

    Erina, you’re an idiot.

    Noirin, I’m sorry this happened. Society needs to stop allowing pervs to get away with these crimes.

  • Transfinite

    Thank you for this post. I’m so sorry for all the assholes leaving asshole comments here, and I’m sorry for what happened to you, too. There’s no excuse for any of it.

  • Coz

    I could express my sympathy for you and say that I have a mom, and a gf, and a sister if I had. But I won’t.

    The solution is simple: Stop waving your tail, or just don’t complain about it. One of the bloggers wrote this is not the first time it happened to you, and this is not the first time you are giving the name out in public.

    Quoting from you: “Dozens of guys succeeded at that job, across the week. In the pub, in the stairwell, on the MARTA, in my bedroom.”. Probably some of the strangers in your bedroom shouldn’t be there, and this is the way you are expressing your regret by reflecting on to people in conferences, or should I say your colleagues.

    Don’t. Be. The. Attention… You know the rest.

  • Catherine Kehl

    I’m really sorry this happened, and I’m really glad you spoke up about it.

    I wish I could say I was surprised. I’m not. Only in part because I have also been assaulted.

    I’m appalled and horrified by the reactions of many of the comments here. Why the fuck should you feel compelled to protect this guy? It is true, I do not know what happened. That is indeed a valid reason for me not to go making accusations. However, you are in every position to know the facts of the matter and to hell with the twisted world where it is somehow a woman’s responsibility to protect a man who assaulted her.

  • Erina

    They guy is a jerk/idiot and many below have noted that fact – if we accept the story as presented, and to me, it seems quite believable. The police can now deal with the next steps.

    What seems to me flying under the radar is that Noirin herself has admitted that she “sat” on people’s laps, and I assume there are both males and females in that group of people. How does rubbing your ass, without getting permission, against someone’s dick, go completely unnoticed? Let’s be frank – how could sitting on one’s lap not include rubbing your ass on their dick, albeit separated by a tiny cover of pants? If a male walked up to Noirin and rubbed his crotch into her backside, would it be equal to trying to grope her underwear, as in the story presented? If not, then why not? Whirling and dancing and sitting on beds does not include sexual contact. Sitting on laps does. Why is this being ignored?

  • L

    Good for you for using his full name. It’s hardcore and it makes me feel tough to see you do it.

  • Sad and Sympathetic

    I am so sorry to hear that you went through this, and I’m sorry to see how vicious some people have been in their responses to you. I also admire your willingness to leave critical comments up on your blog. That takes more character and more strength than a lot of people have, especially considering the nature of many of the posts.

    It’s great that you spoke out. This is an issue that needs more attention.

    I’m also amazed at your ability to write so well right after such a traumatic experience, and you summarized it so very well at the end there, “It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job
    to avoid assaulting me.”

    I wonder, would the responses you have received here and elsewhere have been overwhelmingly supportive, and would people have focused more on the issue and on your excellent points instead of on you personally, if you had only left out two little words, the name of the accused?

  • Ochressandro Rettinger

    Tainted: If you really and truly honestly cannot tell the difference between “get[ting] interested and approach[ing] others who act in ways that indicate they are open to sexual activity” and “He grabbed me, pulled me in to him, and kissed me. I tried to push him off, and told him I wasn’t interested (I may have been less eloquent, but I don’t think I was less clear). He responded by jamming his hand into my underwear and fumbling.” then you’re a dangerous sociopath.

    Presuming that you’re not, perhaps you should reflect on the difference between the two positions, and consider whether someone who indulges in the latter activity might rightly be referred to as “a predator”.

  • Tainted

    Ochressandro Rettinger: Stop calling people “predators” who get interested and approach others who act in ways that indicate they are open to sexual activity. This kind of stuff happens to Norin (often according to her) because of the signals she sends.

    In my case I was not even aware of the signals I was sending… but that doesn’t change the fact that I was sending them. I could have easily gone the knee jerk homophobe response, but I chose reflection. And I’m glad I did. It was the mature thing to do.

  • Ochressandro Rettinger

    That’s really crappy. I wish you’d broken his nose as an immediate object lesson. (Not that I’m saying you did anything wrong by not breaking his nose.) Though the rest of this is probably just about as good, and may actually get the point across better.

    Tainted: You’re an idiot. Stop making excuses for predators.

  • Dwarkesh

    Time is chnging and people need to understand that women are not behined.. its good that you involved the police and such behaviour needs action… everyone has a self respect to protest and protect…

  • Tainted

    To Piet and her hypothetical to men.

    I HAVE had another man (actual several that night) try to kiss me and more. One Saturday several years back, I decided to hang out with a friend at a local bar. Well guess what… several drinks and hours later I was being flirted with, felt up and propositioned by various men. Did I enjoy this situation? No, but in retrospect it was obvious I had invited this. I was in a GAY bar dancing around and bringing lots of attention to myself. I later found out this place was always wild! So my choice to be there, accompany a gay friend, and act like that, even though I am straight, welcomed such interactions. Needless to say I learned a simple, but valuable lesson about my sending sexual messages to other people.

    Norin however doesn’t seem to learn. She says this isn’t the first time this has happened. Well of course it isn’t as she STILL likes to

    1. Invite strangers to her hotel room.
    2. Be picked up and whirled around (probably in a skirt)
    3. Lay across beds.
    4. Squeeze everyone up.
    5. Check out men’s ahem.. belts.
    6. Whatever else she was too drunk to remember.

    And then she acts coy…

    Aren’t us geeks supposed to be smart? Well at least as smart as Southerners who already got rid of state house Confederate Flags cause of the message it sent to Black Southerners. Some of you ladies need to open your eyes.

    WOMEN really need to start accepting responsibility for their actions. Don’t act all DTF if you have thin skin.

  • jon

    I really admire your courage — and your writing skill. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through now and I hope you are getting all the support you need. Thanks for speaking out.

  • K Robinson

    Wow, from another female engineer: I can’t imagine not speaking up (with full details) if this happened to me, and I’m so glad you did. And I’m glad the other guys with you stood by you when you needed them to. And I’m glad the majority of recent commenters agree with me.

    Really, who can you even imagine protecting someone’s privacy who’d put an unwanted hand in your underwear!? I’m all for excessive kindness, but that amount of imbalance in the privacy-respecting equation doesn’t even make sense.

  • jen

    Without a doubt, you did the right thing by involving the police. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about.

  • I’m horrified this happened. Such behaviour has no part in larger society, never mind places where people are supposed to have higher IQ’s.

    Good luck and try and ignore the crap some people are throwing at you.

  • Andres

    Hey. I am terribly sorry about what happened to you.

    Unfortunately less surprised than I would like to be. Not because you did anything wrong – in my opinion you may walk around on your hands naked without giving anybody the right to do anything like that – but because I, as a white primarily heterosexual male, find that many situations at (technical) conferences tend to have a atmosphere that’s in the least not actively against such things.
    Now, if I am, as a part of the majority producing that atmosphere, feeling uncomfortable…

    Note that I am not talking about apachecon itself – where I never have been – but tech conferences in general.

    Some other posts mention that its not a good idea to name Florian because his guilt is not determined by a court. Thats an argument (not an imperative!) for people reblogging about the issue not to name the name (most did not name names I think). But why could it be an argument *at all* for Noirin herself?

    She clearly is convinced of it, so whats the point of that frequently posted argument?

    Thanks for the blogs leading me to your blog posting.

  • [...] interesting blog blowup happening right now in the geek world. A techie woman named Noirin Shirley blogged about being assaulted at a company party, and she named the guy who did [...]

  • Catharine

    Thank you for posting this.

    I’m really surprised that people seem to have the opinion that not only do you not deserve autonomy over your personal space, but you apparently don’t deserve to be able to talk about your own life.

    You’re not a news reporter, you don’t hold a position of power in the media, so I’m pissed that people seem to think that it’s morally wrong for you to talk about your life openly.

    And it’s ridiculous that they also require you to be an objective defendant of the “rights” of this jackass who groped you. This is not something you are required to do. You are in charge of the narrative of your life, please keep resisting the efforts of others to control it.

  • Douche Bagg

    Pic or it didn’t happen.

  • [...] happened is that Noirin was sexually assaulted. And then she named the person who assaulted [...]

  • Jillian

    “But I don’t give the wrong impression, and it’s simply not true that guys can’t read me right. I don’t want to be assaulted, and the vast majority of guys read that just fine. It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me.”

    A-fucking-men! Women can get drunk, flirt, wear skimpy clothing, have fun and live their lives and still NOT DESERVE TO GET SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. I think you did the right thing posting this. I would have called him out too!

  • Jed Smith: Now I’m amused. You’ve done the same thing again. It’s my browser that’s broken, not your site. Absolutely. No uncertainty.

    I typed an entire comment and pressed submit. It works here. It works everywhere else. But on the software you use it didn’t. Therefore in your world, it’s my browser or myself that’s at fault.

    I’m willing to believe that’s possible. For all I know I accidentally hit submit. Or my network connection timed out. But you seem to believe it absolutely must not be an issue with anything on your side.

    Problem solving with you must be a fascinating experience.

  • Stuart

    What a horrible experience.

    I was sexually assaulted by a man and wish (many YEARS later) that I had named the attacker. I hope more people name their attackers, whether or not they also tell the police.

  • Dear Noirin, I very sorry this happened to you. This shouldn’t happen, never. I thank you for the courage to write this. The backlash you have to go through is simply disgusting. Fortunately many men and women in the FOSS-community are there to support you.

  • To those of you who feel it is proper to argue that she should have withheld Florian’s name, then I would very much encourage you read this deconstruction/argument around that: http://goo.gl/qvGD4

    The short answer is that the various outcomes lean towards Noirin’s naming of Florian, as an attacker, as a proper outcome of the situation.

    I was present for most of the night, my specific commentary and statements are on Quora: http://goo.gl/RinzC

    The net result is that I’ll believe Noirin. Absolutely. I support her strength, courage, and willingness to face the bullshit to do the Right Thing.

  • Kevin, I was waiting for you to accuse me of silencing those who disagree with me because I deleted your comment:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6121606/entirecomment.png

    That’s your entire comment. A sentence copied and pasted from my blog post, with a link to your site. Posterous does not summarize comments in their mail to me:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6121606/biggercomment.png

    I’m not going to approve comments from a broken browser or a broken user.

  • akgraner

    I absolutely *hate* that this happened to you! Thank you for having the courage to speak out. I hope you are doing as well as you can be and that each day gets better than the one before it. Thinking about you.

  • Mew

    @Jed Smith – I may not be the first or last to say this, but you’re not saying anything new and/ or original and it’s best that you stop before dig yourself in any deeper. Please, for the love of God, stop.

    The entire fact that you can look at this as an “argument” or an intellectual discussion is an example of your male privilege. Noirin is talking about her personal experience. She is not talking about some hypothetical, abstract experience. She is talking about something that legitimately happened to her, and my philosophy after reading Fugitivus (thanks @Dom for mentioning it) – and dealing with this sort of nonsense in my personal life – is to assume that the person coming out about this sort of experience is telling the truth, and feels it’s important enough to deal with the inevitable backlash and doubt and skepticism that comes with being in a rape culture.

    Listen, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last, dude in this world to treat a woman’s personal experience like it’s some abstract intellectual exercise. But guess what? This is reality. And diminishing the experiences of women is really fucking insulting.

    Look up the concept “Men who Explain Things” if you need to hear more. And please check your privilege. And follow Dom’s advice and read Fugitivus cover to cover (http://www.fugitivus.net)

  • KT

    I just saw this. Good for you for standing up, for getting yourself somewhere safe, and for calling him out. I’m just so sorry about the types of comments you’ve gotten here, and quite frankly I hope you don’t even read this because I do hope you’re not reading the rest of them. They’re really not worth it.

  • Sabrina

    I am so sorry to hear that!

    Though I truly hope you’re telling the truth and can prove it. Otherwise I fear that this post might get you into a lot more trouble than him. I know it’s sad, but that’s how it is.

  • Noirin,

    Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for pointing out

    “It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me.”

    Those two sentences may be the most profound thought I have ever read about these issues.

  • SFgirl

    From a female perspective:

    This could have been a misunderstanding on both of your sides. Whether true or not, a “drunk fumble” does not justify your actions which will will affect his life forever. Pathetic and unethical way of dealing with this type of situation. I hope he sues you and wins, so hopefully you will be the one under heat, and your situation will become an example of “how not to be an incredible jerk.”

  • Raven

    I’m so sorry that that happened to you, Noirin. I’m appalled at Florian’s behaviour.

    Speaking of poor behaviour, I’m unsurprised yet also appalled by some of the commenters here who seem to be more concerned about the theoretical feelings of some mythical innocent guy they made up than they are about the feelings of you the actual person. I keep hoping that we’ll have gotten further than that as a society. Good for you for naming names; people who are tempted to assault others should know that they might be called out for it. I’m glad that the Atlanta cops were good to you about it.

  • Robert

    @Rich Bowen: Wow. Are you serious? You act as though it is some sign of guilt that Florian hasn’t posted here to defend himself. This girl has filed a police report. The /last thing on earth/ he should be doing, regardless of merit, or subjectivity of claims, is post here, or anywhere, let alone offer up defences. Worst advice ever, and shame on you for implying a guilt in his not providing you satisfaction.

  • Jed Smith: She did address it. She named him and factually described what happened to her. And she stands by doing that.

    *You* don’t think she should have done that. That’s *your* opinion. She disagrees.

    I also note that unlike you, Noirin allows comments on her blogs that she disagrees with. Comments on your blog that you disagree with seem to never show up….

  • red boolean logic and vodka

    Good luck to you in amending your behavior so as to avoid such incidents going forward.

  • You did the right thing in reporting it. And you did the right thing in calling the person who assaulted you, out by name. You have the right to wear whatever you deem is reasonable and interact with people however you wish. No means no. If a person can’t control themselves around other people or when they have had too much, then they need to correct that.

    The real tragedy here is that ALL such assaults aren’t reported and the perp called out.

    It boggles the mind that ANYONE would compare getting your genitals groped to be even in the same ballpark as being sneezed on. But then again, it’s that kind of “what’s the big deal” attitude that encourages and fosters such assaults.

    People, men and women, should be able to keep their hands of off other people who don’t want that kind of attention. No means no. Stop means stop. It doesn’t mean “keep trying”.

    The issue of everyone drinking alot/etc… is a non issue. If you are having a good time with people you know and trust, getting assaulted, or raped, shouldn’t be something you have to be constantly on guard about. If it is… you have to ask yourself the question, what’s wrong with the folks I’m with that I’m worried they’ll do that.

    People should report it when they get assaulted. Being shamed/attacked by people and putting the blame on the victim is just plain stupid and disgraceful.

  • tina

    Love that you called out this guy. If you posted about a robbery or any other kind assault, everyone else would be loving it too.

    I am not sure this is really an area for law enforcement, but how anyone could tell you not to write about your own experience is beyond me. Fuck the haters.

  • [...] Accuses Twitter Engineer Of Sexual Assault, Trial By Twitter Commences," based entirely on a single blog post by a female Google geek detailing an unwelcome sexual advance from a male Twitter [...]

  • Lourdes

    Noirin, thank you so much for speaking out in the multitude of ways you have and working through the pain to report him and do what needed to be done.

    You’re totally right. It isn’t you’re responsibility to avoid assault, its everyone else’s to avoid assaulting. I don’t think it could have been put any better.

    I would also submit that this is unfortunately par for the course in alot of the industry in as much as inappropriate behaviour in general is concerned.

    My partner works through alot of things that are hugely sexist where she works in the tech industry, as she’s one of two women who work in that department. What many people don’t see when things like this happen are the calls and chats home to a loved one, to keep them together or to simply vent as a result. this kind of behaviour is just horrible on all accounts.

    Thing is, it is just a hop across that line of talk to action and I think this is another reason that the gender bias needs to be addressed in the industry, whether at the office or at conferences.

    I see talk here and there of people saying maybe you shouldn’t have talked about this on a blog, but honestly I’m glad you did, because talking is what allows people to work through their feelings, and as a woman who hears the comments and worries about if or when those comments are gonna lead to bad acts, I’m hopeful that by doing this it continues to open up awareness across the industry.

    I hope you’re working through this and know that we’ve got your back.

  • Wahiaronkwas

    I am so sorry for what you’ve gone through. Ignore the cowards leaving the abusive comments. They’re just showing what kind of people are out there.

    “The attitude inherent in your comment– your default assumption that it’s *not* okay to say what happened or name names– is EXACTLY THE REASON WHY it isn’t the first time it happened.”

    That’s why a lot of assaults on women don’t get reported.

  • [...] IncidentUpdateCancelThis topic relates to the assault alleged within Noirin's blog post at:http://blog.nerdchic.net/archive…This topic relates to the assault alleged within Noirin's blog post [...]

  • Jannea

    You are an attention whore. It’s cunts like you that make it difficult for real women like me to get anywhere in the tech industry. Please die in a fire.

  • [...] Google Technical writer Noirin Shirley was allegedly sexually assualted by Florian Leibert from Twit… He brought me in to the snug, and sat up on a stool. He grabbed me, pulled me in to him, and kissed me. I tried to push him off, and told him I wasn’t interested (I may have been less eloquent, but I don’t think I was less clear). He responded by jamming his hand into my underwear and fumbling. [...]

  • Oh, Dom.

    There is the biology of the reptilian brain and the stuff that it slideshows to us nonstop; and then there is alcohol. The result of mixing both is not pretty,

    That’s called: clouding the argument with unrelated garbage.

    but this is no excuse for what happened, enough said.

    Oh, now it’s okay that you said that! My apologies. Here’s an inflammatory, off-message statement, but now I’m going to absolve myself of writing it.

    What you wrote there is actually the exact kind of thing that Noirin doesn’t need. It’s unsupportive and, quite honestly, demonstrative of the typical male attitude to her accusation. So by calling out typical males, you’ve made one of the ‘typical male’ mistakes and made the rest of us look bad. Thanks.

    Advice to all males reading this: go read Fugitivus’ blog, now.

    After your performance earlier in the comment, I don’t think you speak for me or to me.

    *women are different*

    Yet more! Quit while you’re ahead.

    The “trial by Twitter” angle is for the peanut gallery

    A peanut gallery which you are very much a part of, need I remind you. You do not get to promote yourself above “common commenter” any more than the rest of us do. Your unsupportive comment doesn’t make you a valued contributor, it’s just yet another comment.

    (this guy deserves every bit of his reputation ruined, at least
    until he offers apologies that you would accept)

    Because you get to make that call! Who the hell are you to determine the course of another person’s life, based upon one person’s testimony? Thank you for demonstrating the entire reason I’m speaking out like I am. After reading this, you threw ‘allegedly’ out the window, drew a conclusion you are not entitled to make because you do not know the person in question, and convicted him in your own court of public opinion. This is exactly the problem and the reason I wrote what I did. You are the problem, Dom.

  • Also, this: Please don’t listen to anyone telling you that you did wrong by naming and shaming no matter how reasonable his or her argument might seem.

    Things like that are entirely why my argument is necessary. My argument is reasonable (thanks!), but dismiss it outright because of the specifics of the situation? Don’t respect a valid and important point because you’re hurt?

    I make a lot of concessions in said argument to indicate that it isn’t about the alleged assault. Naming and shaming is irresponsible, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the accusation, no matter who is involved. Just because this is an alleged sexual assault with a lot of pain does not mean we throw arguments like mine out the window.

  • [...] into controversy. This past Friday, Noirin Shirley, a technical writer at Google, wrote on her personal blog about being sexually assaulted at the ApacheCon tech conference in Atlanta: He brought me in to the [...]

  • Kevin, that’s acknowledging that there is an issue and indicating she thought about it, not addressing it.

  • Here by way of a link on Jim C. Hines’ LJ. So very sorry for your experience, and applause at your courage for speaking out.

    But I’ve gotta say — ummm… Jor-El? You are seriously equating sneezing in someone’s face with putting hands down pants!?

    At the very least, remind me never to go with you to a salad bar.

  • Dom

    So, so sorry about what my kin did to you (I’m a male). There is the biology of
    the reptilian brain and the stuff that it slideshows to us nonstop; and then
    there is alcohol. The result of mixing both is not pretty, but this is no excuse
    for what happened, enough said.

    There is more to it, though, unfortunately: Fugitivus is completely, shockingly right. I read her blog from
    cover to cover, and I must admit I couldn’t make myself believe that this
    attitude of denial towards testimony of sexual assault could happen outside of
    poor and drug-ridden neighborhoods. But the comments, in this thread, and all
    the other blogs that mention (or should I say downplay) the facts? And these are
    techie people, supposedly educated!

    Advice to all males reading this: go read Fugitivus’ blog, now. Don’t be part of
    the problem through ignorance. Don’t buy the gender theory BS that is all the
    rage this day, *women are different*. Crossing physical boundaries with them
    can hurt them badly. And their first reaction won’t be to involve the police.
    And if they do tell you, your first reaction should be to believe them; and then
    to feel honored from the trust they just demonstrated to you.

    Kudos Noirin for airing this out. The “trial by Twitter” angle is for the
    peanut gallery (this guy deserves every bit of his reputation ruined, at least
    until he offers apologies that you would accept). You decided to stand up for a
    right of yours that is being trampled upon, and making it public is what can
    make a difference. Best of luck for weathering the unfolding shit storm.

  • Gary Brown

    @Noirin: my sympathies. Thank you for airing this in the community in order to attempt to bring some positive discussion and perhaps change out of your traumatic experience.

    I have tried to live my life as a counter example for “all men are pigs.” However, if we men continue to foster, or fail to counter, this permissive environment that “boys will be boys” as exemplified by Noirin’s assailant, and the degenerate trolls that have crawled from under their rocks to post here and elsewhere, how will this abuse ever end? Noirin’s post here is just another tragic call for men to police their own behavior.
    This isn’t a legal matter. This is a matter of ethics, morality and standing up for what’s right. For the trolls, I’ll try to use small words that you should have learned in pre-school.

    1. KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF.
    2. IF YOU DON’T HAVE SOMETHING NICE TO SAY, DON’T SAY IT.

    @Kevin Marks, right on. Excellent guide.

  • Now, I don’t get out to too many tech conferences — and don’t usually drink heavily when I do — but I had no idea this kind of problem was so prevalent.

    Most cons I’ve been to are sausage fests, so when an attractive girl walks into the room, it is usually all eyes on her…But so many techies are hesitant to even *talk* to women, I just naturally assumed that none of them would ever go so far as grope them against their will.

    I understand the argument that people do stupid things when they get a few beers in them, but no matter how drunk you are, when a girl tells you no and/or resists contact, you know you should back the hell off.

    I’m sorry this happened to you, and to hear that this happens so often in the OSS community makes my blood boil.

  • Piet

    To Jor-El and many other men who think “hands down pants, what’s the big fucking deal?”… See, the problem is not just the gesture, it’s the trauma, the prison it keeps you into for the many years to follow, wondering when will be the next time a drunken jerk shoves his hands down your pants. I take it, Jor-El that you are a man, most likely a straight man. Imagine a world where half the population would be composed of very big, very tall, very hairy, occasionally drunk but always very horny gay men. And these men, once in a while when you cross one of them at a party with some friends, or walking down your neighborhood, would launch at you, shove his hands down your pants and fumble on your parts while trying to give you a big wet kiss. How would that make you feel? How free would you be to go out of your house? Would you be worryless ever again in your life? Or would you say “oh yeah, just another big drunk man and his hands down my pants, big fucking deal”…

  • Tony M

    Hi Noirin, I think you did the correct thing to raise the issue and mark other people’s card for the future. The fact that some of the commenters below think that unbelievably some men (I presume) think it ok to do anything to anyone against their will bears out the need for it to be spelt out to them. Some commenters entirely miss the point, they cite this lady sitting on laps due to lack of space as some sort of assault on her part. Hardly, for one I’m certain she didn’t leap on them from the rafters and would have leapt up in a second if asked to do so, secondly any adult male could remove her immediately if he felt uncomfortable, this is not the case in the reverse situation. For example, I was once in a pub and quite out of the blue a (very drunk) young lady attempted to grab my penis in a playful manner, being a good deal larger than her I felt no fear of her or further advances and left her company nursing sore nuts but no psychological harm – my point being was that for me and my friends that experience is just a funny story but had it happened in reverse I can imagine it can be a humiliating and life shattering event, we must treat people as individuals not as if they were you.

  • This is Edward from the GSoC Mentor’s Summit. I just found your blog, though I wish I had done so under better conditions.

    I appreciate your courage in speaking out. I know a number of women with similar tech conference experiences who have just “let it go” and stayed silent and I think this is a much more productive direction, as it puts other people on notice that this isn’t acceptable behavior.

  • Glenn

    I’m sorry this happened to you and glad you are making it public.

  • Lisa

    Norin,

    I don’t know you, nor do I know anyone else involved. Nevertheless, I applaud your bravery and support without question your right to make the choices you made in publishing this.

  • Kate

    Thanks for speaking out, raising the issue.
    But why – on this comments page/Ads by Google/ -is there a bare chested man in white underwear on this page?! INSULTING to you and what happened. 11/8/10. 10 a.m EST

  • JMS

    Good for you for speaking out, for naming names, for going to the police, and for managing to get away from the asshole. Other women in his presence should know that they’re in the presence of a sexual predator, and maybe knowing will also make a difference in how some of the men — the ones with a clue, rather than the ones in denial and the ones that think that rape culture is a good thing — interact with him too.

  • You are so brave. I’m sorry to see the comments; I can’t even stand to read most of them. You stood up for yourself and did us proud. Don’t let anyone take this away from you.

  • Jed Smith: In your post you seem very sure that Noirin has made a mistake. I point out the following comments you made:

    “[You] can step back and interrogate yourself on whether you’ve made a mistake. I’m here to tell you that you have.”

    “Please see through the hatred and scorn in this section and consider whether or not you’ve made a grave mistake. That’s all – just consider it, and maybe address it somewhere. That’s all I’m asking.”

    Back on November 6th, Noirin did address exactly this:

    “I certainly didn’t post without thinking about it, but I think speaking out is important enough that I’m willing to take that risk – along with the risks of slut-shaming and other backlash.”

    So, she already addressed your point. This makes me think that you yourself are unwilling to “step back and interrogate yourself on whether you’ve made a mistake.” Noirin stated what happened to her. She doesn’t guess Florians motives or intentions, just a factual statement of what occurred. You seem to be just as firmly stating your *opinion*, not fact, on what she wrote – and you seem very determined not interrogate yourself.

  • Here via a friend who works at BARCC.

    I wish I could say something to take away the people who don’t realize how many people this happens to, every damned year, who are told exactly to keep their mouths shut. That she indicated that she’s gone to the police on this matter should indicate some seriousness about the situation, moreso than trying to slag someone’s rep.

    And I speak from perspective. I’ve been involved in actual, real-life issues of false accusations of sexual harassment, and know how painful that can be. I, myself, as a male dancer have been sexually harassed, and would never undermine someone else’s attempts to break the very real, and very painful, silence our societies keep around this issue, esp. for women in groups that are predominantly male.

    Because the core of the situation isn’t to accuse someone of lying. Or to keep a silence. For you folks, I assure you, I’ve seen false statements, and that number — even of people who go public with such things — DWARFS in comparison to the people who, because of waves of folks like you, never, ever go public, even when the creep is put behind bars. And so, sexual harassment, even rape, is the iceburg crime, always hidden. Trying to help that along to avoid Yet Another Internet Backlash is a crap play.

    Given the pain of this crime on many levels, including what you folks are doing, I’m on her side. I know, again from experience, how people react to talking about these issues online, and it’s NEVER easy, never fun, never done as a lark or a joke. I hope more people commenting will think about this, and rework their actions to be better supporters, and less judgmental. Why? Because there are a lot more people dealing with these issues than you know, and they need your support, dammit, not your approbation and concern trolling. Your actions here do nothing to support those people — or her, initial displays of sympathy aside.

    And as for the rest of you god-damned “she brought it upon herself” crew? My disgust at that old, shameful, and worst of all wrong bromide holds no boundaries. Not only should no one have to live their lives in fear that someone will do this, no one should have to carry themselves in that way. There’s a vast and key difference between what happened here, and, say, walking down the wrong alley in the wrong city, starting with “it can, and does, happen everywhere.” Get a god-damed grip on yourselves.

  • Orual

    I was raped at a party. I was too stunned and shocked after the event that I did not do the things I should have done. All the sensible things that a person should do after a rape left my mind because it was a senseless act. An act that left me shocked emotionally and mentally paralysed. For years, I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t seek help until a decade later. That event has poisoned my life and the memory of that horror that powerlessness will always effect how I behave.

    Also, I knew two people that were accused of committing assault and their lives were not ruined by an accusation.

    Please don’t listen to anyone telling you that you did wrong by naming and shaming no matter how reasonable his or her argument might seem.

    You are brave. Don’t feel ashamed. Do seek counselling.

  • Jor-El

    @Everyone:

    I never said what allegedly happened is “ok” or “just fine”. I was trying to understand why it’s such a HUGE deal.

    My initial view is that hands down pants against the pants-wearer’s wishes is still bad, but it’s on the same level as other personal-space violations, like sneezing in one’s face, shoving, and other such space violations that do not result in personal injury but are nonetheless objectionable.

    I don’t understand why society draws this imaginary line whereby a normal personal space violation suddenly becomes infinitely worse.

    I am not arguing that Florian should get off the hook for being a jerk. I’m asking why he is being castigated for somehow being much worse than a simple jerk.

  • You know, for all the folks using words like “alleged” and “supposed” and “fabricated”, I don’t see even a single person, on any website, saying “I know Florian, and he wouldn’t do that”, and I don’t see Florian saying anything, for or against. Anyone saying that he needs “a chance to respond” are kind of running out of time to make that case. He’s had that chance.

    I know Noirin. I’ve had dinner in her home. I’ve worked with her on conferences and on technical documentation. I don’t for a moment doubt that things happened as she says. I also don’t believe for a moment that Florian could have misunderstood her intent. She’s hardly known for being shy about her opinions.

    Noirin, I’m dreadfully sorry this happened to you. I’m glad that you didn’t keep it a secret, whatever folks are saying about what you should or should not have done.

    To all of the folks that are implying that this was somehow Noirin’s fault, I have to wonder if maybe you have found yourself in a situation where you did something you regret, and are now looking for a way to pass that blame. Even if someone asks you to commit a crime, it’s still a crime. And when they ask you to stop, it remains a crime. She didn’t ask, and she did ask him to stop.

    And, once again, if Noirin says it happened this way, it happened this way. All of you strangers making accusations of what she might and might not have done – you don’t know her.

  • Bean

    “I lay across the bed, sat on laps, generally tried to squish in to any available space and get time to talk to all the fabulous people thronging the place.”

    Regarding the above statement: did you ask for permission to sit on their laps (male or female), before doing so? Although I would not know personally, some men may find this sort of unwanted attention highly inappropriate. Did you receive their consent before doing so?

  • CLP

    I should know better, because he’s probably a troll, but on the off-chance he’s not, I have to respond to Chuck:
    When a woman [dresses provocatively], it’s exactly analogous to a man using his physical strength to overpower a woman. This is because just as women usually have no defense against a stronger male, men have no or little defense against their hormones when they see certain parts of the female body exposed in front of them.

    I have to say, as a man, I am insulted by this statement. When I see an attractive woman in “provocative” dress, I don’t feel any desire to sexually assault her, let alone an overwhelming one. I certainly have had no problem defending myself from my hormones when I see “certain parts of the female body exposed in front of” me.

    If a man has overwhelming urge to have sex with women who “dress provocatively”, to the point where he can barely restrain himself from sexually assaulting them, therapy is in order. At the very least, he shouldn’t be getting drunk in settings where women are present.

  • lolwtf

    I don’t understand how this guy could even put his hands in her pants in the first place. Is he even uglier himself? Was he on strong drugs? There’s just got to be an explanation to that.

  • Tafadhali

    I’m seriously impressed by how brave you were in posting this and in naming names, especially in light of the sheer volume of idiocy and hate that’s come your way in the comments. It looks like you did talk to the police, but do people seriously not understand that women might have good reason not to press charges (the kind of vitriol in the comments being reason number one for considering not going public…)? Does the fact that I decided that I didn’t have the energy to deal with the police in what would have been a very he-said she-said sort of investigation make me less sexually assaulted?

    Anyway, kudos to you and I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

  • Deng

    I’m sorry about what happened Noirin.. I hope you’re doing well now *hugs*

  • @Jor-El: I hereby classify you as a Grade A Nitwit.

  • I have to inhale and consider what I’m doing before commenting here, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m ready for round three.

    I haven’t used this in any of my postings on the matter, but I am a relatively new committer to the ASF. As such, the actions of those with longer track records in the ASF are important to me, and I follow them closely. Everyone dismissing me as a victim-blamer should know better simply on that premise alone; I automatically have more respect for you, and I’d never blame you for your pain or attempt to minimize it in any way.

    That being said, the naming of F here was a catastrophic mistake. I wrote a followup after the Reddit thread from hell on why, and I hope you’ll read it:

    http://jedsmith.org/thoughts-on-trial-by-twitter

    Noirin, I hope you don’t buy into the gas chamber of vitriol coming from people who refuse to look at this objectively. I know you’re smarter than that, and can step back and interrogate yourself on whether you’ve made a mistake. I’m here to tell you that you have.

    Anyone attempting to refute merely naming and shaming by using misogyny, rape apology, women’s rights/liberation, or first amendment/legal basis is clouding the argument and victimizing those who take an objective look at what has happened. That’s why I almost didn’t comment here, because I know long after I leave this comment (I had rehearsal on Gawker/Valleywag), I am going to be the mortal enemy of thousands.

    Please see through the hatred and scorn in this section and consider whether or not you’ve made a grave mistake. That’s all – just consider it, and maybe address it somewhere. That’s all I’m asking.

  • Marcel

    As a techie-male, I would like to say that the douche’s that are criticizing you are retarded. Any woman should be able to wear, say, do what she wants, where she wants. An assault is ALWAYS the fault of the attacker – NO ONE ELSE!!!!

  • spzeidler

    @Jor-El
    So since Noirin managed to struggle free before it was completed rape, it’s ok?

  • lala

    I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I’m also sorry for the horrifying number of people who re-traumatize through victim blaming and minimizing. I hope you are proud of yourself for how brave you are to speak out. I just want to express my support. :-/

  • [...] On her blog, Noirin Shirley writes about an after-party at ApacheCon: And then I went to the loo, and as I was about to go in, Florian Leibert, who had been speaking in the Hadoop track, called me over, and asked if he could talk to me. [...]

  • jac

    Jor-El, what universe do you live in where it is acceptable for anyone to just put their hands inside a protesting woman’s underwear? How were they *not* violating her?

    I could go into more detail to try to work out what you think constitutes a violation, but I suspect you are deliberately trolling, because while you might, conceivably, feel that everyone is welcome to poke fingers near to *your* bodily orifices against your express wishes, that is not a cultural norm anywhere that I know of.

  • Ryan

    I’m really sorry this happened to you — thank you for blogging about it and taking action so it won’t happen again.

  • koipond

    I saw this before and didn’t comment because others already had, but I realize it never hurts to have more words of support.

    This takes a great amount of strength because I’m quite sure you were aware of the shit storm that would come from this and you did it anyway. You are amazing.

  • Sorry to hear this. I’ve not read all the posts/comments but I would like to respond to Jor-El’s “no harm not foul” comment. The short of it is, I was once pulled over in southern Mississippi on the way back from playing a gig in The Big Easy and, during the course of the incident felt up (frisked?) by the officer. This was a turning point in my life and took me down a path I can never undo. I’ve managed to never watch 2girls1cup, but I have yet to work out this cop with his hands on my crotch. Oh, and the ticket for improper equipment didn’t help much either.

  • Jor-El

    There seem to be a lot of comments here along the lines of “innocent until proven guilty”, etc. I think these comments are missing the point entirely.

    There ought to be a discussion of what Florian was “guilty” or “innocent” of in the first place.

    It should be asked: What is the problem? Hands down pants? Big deal. There is no “violence”, nor is there any “trauma”. Hands went down pants, and presumably, promptly removed. No harm, no foul.

  • Jacinta

    *hugs*

    I’m really sorry (and angry) this happened to you. I’ve been harassed, hit upon, touched way too familiarly and such at tech events; but never anything like this. I applaud your honesty, your courage and your commitment. Good on you for naming names. Protecting his reputation isn’t your responsibility!

    Take care, and I’ll see you soon.

  • Kite

    TO EVERYONE SLUT-SHAMING the author (YES YOU ARE, YOU MORALLY CRAVEN COWARDS), I hope you:

    ~DIE IN A FIRE~

  • So sorry to hear about this, and yet completely unsurprised because I’ve seen similar things. I’m careful about where I go at con’s just because of this, but as a director of one, sometimes I put that awareness second to what’s going on at that second. It’s all to easy to do.

    Respectfully,
    Erin

  • Mew

    Let’s build a critical mass of positive comments saying YOU DID THE RIGHT THING and try to dilute out the rape apologist comments here as much as possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for every tech woman out there.

    I hope this shakes up our communities for the better, and the positive comments are helping my optimistic half. In the meantime, I’m sorry for what happened to you, and even more sorry that people are just as predictable as I feared in light of your naming your attacker.

    Best

  • “But I don’t give the wrong impression, and it’s simply not true that guys can’t read me right. ”

    Impressions are interpreted

    and

    Depends on the guy.

    “I don’t want to be assaulted, and the vast majority of guys read that just fine.”

    So it is true that some guys don’t read you right ?

    /just saying.

  • Tassia W

    I was assaulted when I was younger, at a party no less. I never went to the police, and I never told my family because I was so scared and so ashamed. It’s taken almost 10 years for me to get to the point where I’m comfortable and angry, righteously so.

    I applaud you for your courage. I was in your shoes, and I was unable to be as brave as you are. You’re a credit to our gender, there are a lot of people, not just women, who are behind you 100%.

    It is never okay to invade someone’s personal space, and I say it’s about time we fought back.

  • jac

    I am sorry that this happened to you. What a shocking thing to have occur.

    I am also sorry that so many of the comments here have turned it into a bingo-card-point rich environment; oh, look! Blaming the victim! And there; suggesting it’s a false allegation! And another; hand-wringing that you might be bringing harm on yourself by mentioning it! And so forth.

    I had to boggle at the comment in which someone said you were wrong for subjecting your attacker to ‘a public lynching’ in the comment thread when to my eye, at least, it’s you who are besieged by an angry mob spewing criticism of the nastiest misogynistic kind.

    As sad as it is that this reaction is so predictable, I have to imagine you were aware that speaking out might attract negative comments and chose to do so anyway, and I applaud your courage. But this hail of misinformed vitriol … ergh. So much. It really sucks.

    Please don’t be disheartened, though. The storm of comments and linking adds to the light being shed on the unacceptability of sexual assault. I hope that people take away the message that if a person tries to force sexual attention on someone at a con in future, the odds have just gone way up that there *will* be consequences.

    I wish it were not so hard on the key individuals who act to change things, but your post is like sending up a warning flare to let everyone know that; No, women cannot be relied on to bow to social pressure and keep their attackers “dirty little secret” for them any more.

    Thank you for doing this.

  • Someone up there says:

    > However, I have no sympathy for you. You dress
    > provocatively and expect men to leave you alone.
    > When a > woman does that, it’s exactly analogous to a > man using his physical strength to overpower a woman.

    Oh, no, it is not. Think about it. How one dresses: not an invitation. Not permission.

    How one dresses: in no way equivalent to using one’s physical strength to commit an assault. Are you saying men just can’t control themselves?? That men, including smart men at a tech conference, don’t know how to ask, rather than assume?

  • Argh, dammit, I’m so sorry, Noirin, this is awful (and I’m sorry about the many….er….regrettable and clueless comments above).

  • [...] Shirley’s post A hell of a time in which she describes her sexual assault at ApacheCon on the 4th November and names her attacker [...]

  • Jodes

    Noirin, Im so sorry that you were attacked and I applaud you for speaking up, for naming your attacker and letting others know of your experience.

    To the others, who criticise Noirin’s looks and behaviour, shame on you. How about you expend more energy questioning the attacker’s behaviour?

  • Ghan Gee

    social encounters are perfect opportunity for flirting, trying and illegal acts.. the internet is perfect place to speak out and get known, the question is when a story becomes reality

  • a0

    If this guy did was he’s accused of then he should be in jail.

    The problem is that we have no idea if it’s true. Anyone can post anything on a blog. Part of the benefit of having a criminal justice system is that the jury gets a full airing of both sides up front before making a decision.

    Whether or not he did it, this guy’s life is ruined. He has absolutely no recourse. What if it turns out she was lying? What if she’s got a history of falsely accusing people? What if it turns out that other people at the party saw what happened and totally contradict her?

    If someone commited a serious crime against me blogging about it wouldn’t exactly be the first (or second or third) thing on my mind. Reporting it to the police, in the safety of a police officer’s presence would be.

    If I was having a party and someone stabbed me that’s it – parties immediately over. I’m calling the police, telling everyone what happened, making sure that the attacker is removed from the house immediately. It sounds like the blogger didn’t even send everyone home immediately or immediately call the police. That’s not consistent with having been the victim of a serious crime in her own home.

    Sexual assault is a serious crime, so much so that perpetrators get the designation of sex-offender for years (or for life) – even murderers don’t get that. You can’t argue that sexual assault is a serious crime then treat it like it’s no big deal by not reporting it to the police. It doesn’t even really matter if the person gets convicted; in the very least they’ll be a public record of someone accusing them so if they do it again prosecutors will take it much more seriously.

    If someone stole my bike, I’ve had so many bikes stolen I might not report it. I might be angry but at the end of the day it’s not that big a deal. Because it’s not that big of a deal the hassle of reporting it to the police isn’t worth it. It’s a totally different situation when it comes to an assault – you get help immediately, report it, party’s over and oh yeah get the perpetrator out of my house.

    For a serious crime it doesn’t even matter how much your life will be put under a microscope because the injustice of it, the pain of it is so big that they outweigh all other considerations. Why didn’t she at least immediately tell her husband/SO so he could find the attacker, clock him and throw him out of his house (while she immediately called the police)?

  • [...] is the story as it appeared in my Google RSS: Google technical writer Noirin Shirley wrote a post on her personal blog earlier this evening entitled “A hell of a time,” purportedly detailing [...]

  • Thank you for speaking publicly about this, and not leaving out names or details. If only more women would. More importantly, if only more of society would stop blaming the victim.

    I’m so sorry for what happened to you. :(

  • Betsy HP

    BTW, Greg Stein has posted that he saw you afterward and can speak to your state of mind.

    http://www.quora.com/Sexual-Harassment/Who-witnessed-the-Florian-Leibert-Noirin-Shirley-incident

  • Betsy HP

    I came in on this late; I saw “Google technical writer” and thought “Was this anybody I know?”. I was very sorry to hear it was you; I respect you professionally and personally. I am so sorry, and so angry, to hear about this.

    Go you for naming and shaming.

  • You Go Girl!

    Dear Noirin, you are one tough cookie. You have way more balls than most men. Hang in there. You’re doing awesome. And one more thing: THANK YOU!!!! for doing what you did. This is great. It’s powerful and inspiring! You are a hero!

  • Crane

    You did the right thing for speaking out about this.

    You are paving the way for other women who have remained silent about this kind of behavior to feel empowered to do something about it.

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through this, and that the aggression has continued in some of the disgusting comments I’ve read here.

  • First, I’m sorry it happened.

    Second, I’m glad you spoke out and named him.

    Third, I think people should take a long read through these comments. There are a lot of stupid abusive assholes in the world. Noirin named and shamed just one of them. Something more of us should do.

  • LOLWTF

    This is pretty scandalous. I’m beginning to believe what women always say about rape; that it’s about power and not sex. Because after looking up pictures of you this guy most obviously couldn’t have been in it for the sex. I just refuse to believe it. Was he completely drunk? What the heck? This guy has some serious explaining to do.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about this. You’re very brave for speaking out.

  • I'll Just Be Anonymous

    I know you’re going to get a lot of shit from people on this – I’ve already seen it in the comments on other sites.

    Please know that this tech girl thinks you are brave.

    Your experience isn’t uncommon, and the guys who protest obviously don’t have female friends who trust them because your experience is more the rule than the exception.

    It’s exhausting.

  • Noirin, I was shocked to heard this. There are bad guys always in the world .. always try to keep your good things with you and be strong !

    Thanks
    Lahiru

  • What a jerk. Hope you are alright, Noirin.

  • [...] Google tech writer recently accused Twitter engineer of sexual assault on her blog, and given the responses shot at both sides (Noirin Shirley, accuser, and Florian [...]

  • Meg

    Thank you for being willing to speak out. I am glad you had people who’d get your back after it happened.

    As for everyone else:
    Truth is defense to libel, and they have to prove you wrong. If it’s two people’s words vs each other, you didn’t commit libel. I’m so sick of people trying to force women to shut up when they name the men who assault them, who harass them, who offer quid pro quo. Until we all feel free to share our stories, names attached, these men will know they have the safety of anonymity in which to break the law.
    Being accused of sexual assault is not worse than being assaulted.
    We shouldn’t have to be afraid to step out of our house, we shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to social events that are vital for networking, men, and women, should be scared to commit assault. We need to make sure there are social consequences, even if the legal consequences are less-than-satisfactory.

  • paperbag

    You are so brave to speak out about this– I really appreciate your courage.

  • curmudgeon

    What an asshole. Doesn’t know the meaning of getting shot down – it means you leave her alone. Some people really shouldn’t drink. If drinking makes you somehow forget that stuffing your hand down someone’s skirt is wayyy out of bounds then it’s time to lay off the sauce.

    You seem like a tough girl so hopefully you’ll be able to shake this off. I sometimes worry that spending too much energy on negative shit like this is self-defeating. Assholes exist, this one should be in jail but at least his name is out there so people know to be wary around him.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for saying something; it can be hard but it’s needed.

  • Hmm.. I tried to comment and it doesn’t seem to have gone through so let me try this again.

    Sending *hugs*. I wish I could do more to help at this moment than to say that I’m supremely sorry thing happened to you. Well done, however, for speaking out. I know from experience how hard that is to do.

  • Thank you.

    Thank you for speaking up about unacceptable behaviour.

    Thank you for highlighting the culture that still exists at technical conferences.

    Thank you for putting up with the misogynist backlash apparent in the comments.

    Thank you.

  • Noirin, I’m proud to know you. Thank you for making this public.

  • [...] anyone who hasn’t already seen it, Noirin has posted a writeup of her being sexually assaulted at ApacheCon. I think what happened is absolutely horrible, it disgusts me. And i think that Noirin [...]

  • [...] misfortune Noirin Shirley, a woman I have never met and am not even an internet acquaintance of, was sexually assaulted recently. That is bad enough, but what makes it worse are the pathetic attempts at slut-shaming and [...]

  • Peter Cooper

    What happened should not have. It makes me really sad, and very glad you’ve spoken up.

    Every person deserves personal safety and bodily integrity: the people who’ve criticised your post should look deeply at themselves and think “what if it happened to me?” or “what if it happened to someone I care deeply about?”

    Strength.

  • TJ Elliot

    Guys/Gals – you forget that this still “allegedly” happened. If this indeed happen that way, alright – but let the other side say his opinion before hanging him.

    Also believe me – what you did to this guy with this blog post, the Hacker News thread and even Techcrunch (I see they came to their senses and deleted their post) pretty much ruined his personal and professional life FOREVER. His name will probably point to this page from now on forever. You still have the time to at least correct that somehow, there are very few crimes that justify this fate.

    You’ve mentioned sexual harassments before, named people, “have been flirting with a couple of guys”, “had a few drinks”, “party at private room” – I can see a lot of questions being asked from people even starting from your posts and we have not heard the other side of the story yet.

  • Noel

    It does not matter where it happened, whether there was alcohol involved, or if someone “mis-read” signs. From the point where “I tried to push him off, and told him I wasn’t interested” there is absolutely no justification, nor can there be tolerance for “jamming his hand into my underwear and fumbling.”

  • pig

    That’s not the voice of reason, that’s the voice of viciousness. If you can’t think of anything to say when someone’s hurt other than “ya musta had it coming somehow” then shut the fuck up.

    Noirin, sweetie, it hurts to know you were hurt. And it hurts even more to know that with all the supposed advances in feminism and gender equality in the last forty years, not a damn thing has changed. Not a damn thing – except your bravery in standing up and speaking out. I am so proud of you.

  • I am so sorry that this happened. There is no excuse for assault. Ever.

    I am fed up with men being able to get away with this sort of behaviour and even being able to joke and laugh about it later. It’s unacceptable.

    You did the right thing in reporting it.. I cannot even begin to imagine how much courage you had to summon in order speak out.

    Regards,

    Rob…

  • [...] you were not on Hacker News or Proggit last night you may not heard about this story about a sexual assault during ApacheCon.  What makes this story interesting—other than the [...]

  • voiceofreason

    Sorry you had a bad evening but hell, who do you think hangs out late at night in bars – church goers?

    Grow up and learn from this and apparently your other experiences.

    And bad form on naming names unless you intend to press charges.

  • Brad

    As a complete outsider to the industry in question and the people involved I can say that, while my deepest sympathies go to the victim of the assault, my interest in this matter was not initially about those directly involved. A blog made reference to a reference to this post, and here I am reading it for reasons beyond its original context.

    Writing in this way, on this subject, via this medium is a new social phenomenon. Given the context, Jo raises a point that is worthy of discussion– moral, ethical, legal, political.

    Commenters simply attacking Jo or dismissing his/her concern out of hand play into the dramatic irony that plagues public discourse; they deliver a reactionary backlash against what they mistake to be a reactionary backlash.

    Again, Noirin, I am sorry to hear of your experience. You clearly feel that you were grievously wronged by this individual. I hope the situation is resolved justly.

  • You are fabulous. Being able to put this out here in such an authentic way – brave, inspiring and overall extremely helpful.

    Well done.
    You have done something that I couldn’t do.
    I think I hear the * ding * of a someone “leveling up”, it’s like an angel getting their wings or something.

  • dg

    The tech community has a hard time understanding that these things occur because so few of them would actually do such a thing and they assume all other men feel the same way. At the same time, there are many fewer women in the community, so they’ve never heard the stories. They are shocked that such a thing would happen, but because they would never do something inappropriate, they assume all other men must not do such inappropriate things, and are suspicious. They put themselves in the man’s shoes, not the woman’s. When they do that they find the accusation suspect.

    The best way to counter that is for women to speak out when it happens to them, the way YOU did. The more women who come forward and say: yes, this happens, the less likely the men in the community will be to write it all off as a single crazy woman.

    Thank you.

  • pgarin

    It’s one thing to push someone away when they attempt a kiss. Ideally, they should have sensed if… or if not an attempted kiss was ok. The hand jamming down the pants… waay over the line. The excuse of “being drunk” for the guy, I’m sorry, doesn’t work.

    I’ve been with someone who’s been sexually assaulted for over 6 years and the memory doesn’t just “go away”. It changes someone’s life. The person has a hypersensitivity about social situations and a impaired sense of “self”.

    As for the people who saw “get over it” or “she must have been asking for it…” It just shows how shallow they are. Empathy is in short supply these days.

    I hope you regain your spirit and by “outing” this incident and individual.
    No one should have to put up with this crap be they female or male.

    To me using business/social functions for self gratification is in extremely poor taste. What’s next for this guy…”roofies”? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Julien CROUZET

    I think he should sue you in reply for your hair color

  • Chani

    wow. what the *fuck*.

    Thank you for speaking up about this. he’s a sick fuck.

    I’m so glad nothing like that has happened to me at tech conferences…

  • Jonathan Ellis

    What a horrible experience.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about this. Being female and flirting doesn’t give anyone the right to assault you. I would hope that nitwit offers a public apology.

  • Ryan

    A culture of shame and silence is definitely at the root of this problem. Sexual assault should be no different than any other kind of assault.

    If this guy had punched her or shouted at her, Noirin wouldn’t have hidden herself away, and felt shame and guilt; she would have called immediate attention to the problem and called the police.

    I hope the next time such an unfortunate thing befalls any assault victim anywhere, they don’t feel required to resort to naming names on a blog after the fact, and instead the perpetrator has to answer directly to the police.

  • An older tech woman

    You’re right that women should not be forced to restrain themselves in fun-inducing situations, as these are a core part of bonding at conferences, just because some idiot might not be able to restrain his sexual impulses. I hope your fending him off included a good, physical slap and a kick in his lower parts. If it didn’t, I have feeling this whole public episode is not doing any good to his private life, and that his next check in to the Twitter office will make for an awkward situation. Well done by going public! This guy and all others who act like this deserve the unwanted attention. As for you and all other girls, keep having fun at conferences. Mini-skirts #ftw!

  • I’m really surprised to such a behaviour is common in a country like US. But anyway – please take legal precautions – Noirin.

    Thanks
    Raja

  • Anonymous

    This is shameful. You’ve made horrific accusations, calling out the accused by name, and we have absolutely zero evidence to back this up. Has a police report been filed? Are there any witnesses? Have you even considered the possibility that after all that drinking you’re not correctly remembering the events that transpired, or the face of the person that did it if it happened? The least you can do if you’re going to vilify someone publicly like this is to have a claim on the record that it happened. If your story is true, then if nothing else you owe it to potential future victims to have the man’s actions on the record.

  • Jake

    I don’t believe there is a double standard. As a man, I was uncomfortably groped and it didn’t feel good at all. Though, socially, men are given the burden of initiating sexual and romantic relationships, it is hurtful and haunting to be touched inappropriately as a man.

    However, the problem in publicly defaming someone is this…

    What if, not in this situation, but in another almost identical one, the accuser is not being forthcoming with all of the facts. (I am giving you a hypothetical here not to make a point about you, but a point about the legal process) Lets say the accuser is actually the instigator, who decides later out of embarrassment that he/she felt violated. The accuser will almost never admit to inappropriate behavior on his/her part. The accused would thus receive social backlash and damage to his/her life and livelihood that is undeserved.

    It is important to note once more that I am not talking about your situation as I know nothing of the facts. What I’m talking about is the importance of having poise even when you are absolutely sure that you have been wronged. This is why we have a legal process. To protect both the accused and the accuser and thus find if someone crossed a legal boundary.

  • BuxomBrunette

    Good for speaking out. Not being silent makes you a survivor. Never forget that. Anyone who thinks geography makes a difference after a “No.” needs to be checked for a brain.

  • Kevin Dent

    If this happened I am really sorry.

    But if this actually happened why did you not file a report with the police?

    Sexual assault is a serious allegation and deservedly so, sex offenders once convicted generally get registered on a list which can and does prevent future assaults.

    If this happens again -if it did happen and it is not up to me to decide either way as I am not a judge and I doubt any of the commentators here are either- to another lady by the same guy, realistically I think you should take responsibility as most offenders repeat the crime over and over again if they are not convicted.

    So if it did happen and you did not report it, I personally think you are as bad as him, because you could have prevented it happening to another lady, sorry if that sounds harsh but I would not like my wife to have to go through this because someone did not report a guy that did it before.

  • [...] Read the original here: A hell of a time » [nɚdʃik] [...]

  • MikeT

    “I’m so tired of men being interested in me sexually and trying to get in my pants after I’ve been teasing them all night” *sigh*

    I know your type… You love to flirt with guys and get attention (sitting in laps) and then act offended when someone guesses that you might be up for a roll in the hay.

    YOU are the problem, trust me.

  • N.L.

    You are to be commended for speaking out.

    But this was not the place to do it. Period.

    Look at the comments here. Some are merely supportive of you, which is appropriate. However, most are ready to string Florian up. He has been judged in (some part of) the public eye. Perhaps worse, if this gets much press and/or legal action you have peed in the jury pool. (And, should they not see things your way, subjected yourself to suit for slander. The truth is an absolute defense, but only if the court agrees with your version of the truth, though I am not a lawyer so I could be wrong.)

    “Innocent until proven guilty” means just that. To those who commented before me, do not place the importance of “speaking out” above the importance of “rule of law.” Passing judgement on serious accusations is for the courtroom.

  • Noirin, that’s terrible! There just is no excuse for assault.

    I’ve met a few too many people in my life (one would be too many, really) who have been raped or abused to not get very, very angry. The silence that usually follows these incidents is a terrible thing, that absolutely must not continue. Thank you for helping break it!

  • Michael

    Wow an ugly end to a fun day. So sorry this happened to you.

    It is accurate that it has nothing to do with the fact that you were flirting and wearing bike shorts… Someone who uses that excuse is just being disingenuous.

    Really you should have gone to the police first, with witnesses and filed a complaint – and published this after that. It sounds like you had a number of witnesses to corroborate your version. The fact that you went so public first might undercut any actual punishment.

    One good thing is that if this happens again to someone else then there is a precedent. A bad outcome is if this turns into a libel situation and he is able to sue for damages.

    tl:dr I applaud the stand here – just question the timing.

  • Oleg

    Play beer pong
    Lay across bed
    Sit on laps
    Find hands in underwear

    Sounds pretty logical to me :-)

  • Local Stain

    While I am saddened by this, no one has the right to put their hands on anyone without permission, am I the only one wondering why the authorities ie; police, hotel security etc were not contacted. All this talk of libel etc would be irrelevant had due process been followed. With a police report a mug-shot and a court date legitimacy becomes a matter of public record, as opposed to a another on the long list of cases won or lost in the court of public opinion. Norin I am very sorry you “claim” you were assaulted until a police report is filed it is still only a claim. Again I am not trying to diminish you claim, its just that laws against this sort of thing are difficult to enforce if the victims choose to use the internet instead of the courts to elicit an outcome.

  • Joe Harminder

    Hi,

    I can’t seem to find your picture to determine how cute you are. Is one available online?

  • We will have an attendee & speaker policy for the Desktop Summit this year. We had a speaker policy for GUADEC last year. And we will be providing, I hope, swift & decisive reaction if the policy needs to be applied.

    To any reading this who are shocked: As a frequent conference goer, where there are often parties with lots of beer & drunkenness, I have seen inappropriate groping, unwelcome hugs & kisses, overbearing staring & lechery many times over the years. From people who knew each other, not total strangers.

    Once, I was about to intervene & tell a guy who was being particularly lecherous to back off, and the lady involved said “It’s OK, it’s just Ted, he’s always like this, we’ve known each other for years”. I admired the way she kept her calm, I don’t think I could have.

    So – rather than be shocked, let’s be aware. And the next time you see someone stepping over the line and making a woman feel uncomfortable at a conference, ask to have a word with him. Take him aside, and if you want, talk about the weather and let the poor girl escape. Or, if you’re feeling brave, tell him that he’s out of line & it might be time for him to go to bed & sleep it off. We’re never going to prevent 100% of the “one-on-one, no witness” encounters that we have here, but we can cut out a lot.

    Cheers,
    Dave.

  • bossHog

    Much saner discussion about this on reddit and tech crunch.

    It’s queer that rather than go to police,author goes online and turns it into a public lynching.

  • beyelzu

    I am sorry that you were almost raped. Sort of. Being a male who was actually raped, I have little empathy for the pass that may have been assault almost rape victims.

  • Andrew J Smith

    Posting names on the internet when this is an allegation is terrible. You should raise it with the correct authorities first and if he’s found guilty then by all means paste his name around.

    ..also I think you might look/act like a slut.

  • *hugs* I only just saw this. I’m so sorry this happened to you and even sorrier that this isn’t the first time :-( Good for you, though, on speaking out. I know it’s hard to do, but every time someone speaks out it makes it easier for the next person to speak out to do so.

  • LOL@you

    Get over it, some jerk groped you and now your whole life is ruined? You’re an attention whore who got the wrong sort of attention, that’s how it is sometimes. Calling this guy out is fine if you want but recognize that you’re clearly an idiot. There is “what’s right” and what is smart, as an adult you ought to know the difference by now you big baby. Keep waiting for the law to intervene and clear away all the jerks and pervs and you’ll live a long, sad life only to learn in the end that the cops, lawyers and politicians you think give a shit are the biggest pervs/jerks out there and will only help you to help their career. Just stop being such a drama queen/attention whore and you’ll be fine … “bicycle shorts under my skirt” …LOL. Do you realize what a social misfit you are?

  • dan

    Everyone who is accusing “Jo” of “blaming the victim” is being irrational.

    If, for whatever reason, this man is found innocent of assaulting this woman, this woman could be sued for this blog post.

    You may think the law is stupid, but it is completely rational, and not in any way condoning sexual assault, to recommend that someone wait until innocence or guilt has been decided by the law to spread the assaulter’s name around.

    While I’m sure the story posted in this blog is correct, and is symptomatic of a larger and disturbing trend, simply saying “IT’S TRUE THEREFORE IT’S NOT LIBEL!!1″ is not an argument, legal or otherwise. Nor does it protect the victim from having her case dismissed (all too common, as I’m sure most are aware) and then turned against her.

    For god’s sake, people.

  • [...] At ApahceCon this week, a member of the Apache Software Foundation’s Board, Noirin, was assaulted by another member of the community. Noirin has a post covering it on her blog, entitled “A hell of a time”. [...]

  • sunnylee

    不是吧,他居然性骚扰您?果然是酒后出西施啊!

  • Chris

    If this story is true, I’m sorry for my doubts. And honestly, I shouldn’t care because I don’t know either of you and live on the other side of the country.

    Having said that, if this is an exaggeration or even a simple case where an engineer misreads a woman (like this never happens), shame on you. Do you realize what you’re doing? You’re publicly assassinating somebody’s character. Is your ego that big? Are you sure you have the facts correct? Do you care? Social media offers a lot of benefits but potential abuse like you’re showing is one of the dark, undercurrents.

  • Chuck

    The guy who touched you is a jerk and an embarassment to the male sex.

    However, I have no sympathy for you. You dress provocatively and expect men to leave you alone. When a woman does that, it’s exactly analogous to a man using his physical strength to overpower a woman. This is because just as women usually have no defense against a stronger male, men have no or little defense against their hormones when they see certain parts of the female body exposed in front of them. Dressing as you did is unfair; it puts undue burden on the men around you by taking advantage of their weak point. You’re foolish and naive for expecting to escape the evening without incident.

  • First of let me state that I’m sorry this happened to you.

    I’m going to take you at your word that this happened and I’m not going to criticize your behavior, although, I must admit that upon reading your post, your description of your own behavior that night is nothing short of a goldmine for a defense lawyer.

    Still, that said, flirtatious or not, it doesn’t give anybody the right to do what you claim Florian did or assume they can without asking permission.

    One thing that is disturbing to me, perhaps as disturbing as what happened to you, is that you have posted this online, accusing (and please bear in mind that right now, it’s your word against his, so it is an accusation) him of sexual assault. You have named him, his company, where you work, and at no point have you mention pressing charges. At no point have you mentioned getting the authorities involved.

    If, and I cautiously say if, because I can only imagine how difficult it is to write about this stuff, but it wouldn’t be the first time someone has claimed something like this and it turned out not to be true, please, please go to the authorities.

    Quite frankly, that should have been your first step, not going back to your room and sleeping. Not continuing with the conference, and certainly NOT blogging about it until you have the authorities involved.

    I’m sorry if this sounds cruel, I don’t intend it to, but, seriously, you HAVE to take the step of getting the authorities involved or your claim holds little water.

    I hope this all works out.

  • Emma

    I’m surprised Jo is the only one concerned about the naming of this guy. Jo said “I don’t know who Florian Leibert is” but having just googled his name I now know all kinds of things about him, including the fact that his “guilt” is now being discussed across the internet.

    A potential defence against libel is indeed that it is can be proved to be the truth, but others have suggested it was the right thing to do in part because it would be so hard to prove in court.

    So maybe he will sue you for libel as the only way to clear his name. Or maybe you will file a charge against him, giving him the right of defence that even the most despicable people receive…..although I imagine the damage is already done and this will haunt him, perhaps deservedly so, for the rest of his life.

  • Noirin,

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with an assault, and the consequences thereof. I hate seeing the worst of human-kind, and events like this remind me that we’re not all good and kind.

    I commend you for speaking out, and for naming your attacker. I praise your bravery in the face of those who would call you names, who would question your reputation. I commend you for making the rest of us aware, so that we know to watch our backs.

    You are a brave, strong, upstanding woman, and we are lucky to have you.

    Many ((hugs)).

  • Sexual liberation: women give it away for free, and their judgment is so bad that often no one can tell the difference between consent and assault. Even further, men are now both sexually frustrated and rightfully scorn most women as self-involved sluts, so treat them even worse. What a good idea sexual liberation was.

  • mike

    Its a man’s world, always has been and always will be, and you can never change that, so get used to it and drop your panties already ya silly biotch!

  • BothSidesNow

    In my 30 some years on the planet, i’ve come to learn that i, as a woman, have a lot of power. i have the power to achieve, the power to succeed, the power to pursue any dream or opportunity i want. i have also realized that i have been given other powers, some that i have to be delicate with. noirin, you know this as well as i, that we can project our sexuality and power over men when we want to, but not all men can read the signals the same. the guy who assaulted you is dead wrong, no question. but i ask you to look inside yourself and ask that if you did not create a climate in which the wrong signals were being sent.

    no means no, and that is the end of the story. but you must consider whether changes in your own behavior could have avoided this situation in the first place, and in that context, was your public outing a bit extreme of a response.

  • Awful business. It’s a despicable act, and I’m ashamed for my sex.

    @Jo – don’t be so fucking stupid. it is absolutely the right thing to name the perpetrator when you know who it was.
    The alternative is for the victim to /protect/ the attacker by anonymising him? Exactly how is that just?
    Don’t bother replying by quoting laws. Fuck the law. Do what’s right – not just what’s lawful.

  • Arreyder

    I am sorry Noirin. Had I known the details of what had just transpired I would have done more than shelter you when that ass came over.

  • Jo, I’m afraid that it is you who needs to learn about the law. Truth is an absolute defense for libel, and no – there is absolutely no requirement that someone be convicted of a crime before they can be publicly accused of it, that would be ridiculous since it would prevent prosecutors from mounting a case against someone!

    I suggest you heed the adage “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.

  • I am sorry to hear that!

  • Naomi

    Noirin,

    I admire you for speaking out forthrightly and fiercely. What an awful thing to happen. So glad that there are many good and appalled people to support you; so frustrating that it takes just one person’s total disregard for a woman’s boundaries to make everyone suspect.

    -n

  • Etrigan

    I’m really worried about how quick people are to believe an allegation after hearing only one side of the story.

    Anyone with a bit of life experience knows that things always look very different after hearing the other side. You say there was a lot of drinking and that you were flirting with a number of guys.

    Not to blame you, but that there is a recipe for disaster. People ALWAYS tell stories to make themselves come off as the victim or innocent. By leaving things out or exaggerating others. The truth is usually not so black and white.

    I have no clue what happened, but wouldn’t be so quick to take sides.

  • It is unacceptable what this person (active voice) did to you. I can only imagine the courage you’ve summoned in speaking out on your own behalf. You have my respect and support.

  • sorry this happened to you :(
    And you had a right to speak about it.
    I was thinking about this last year and was thinking maybe events could advertise that they had vetted the speakers for non-discriminatory language and advertised the event as ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual harassment whereby every guest had to check a box when signing up or having to sign a form when getting your pass at the door. I can only hope that this is the last time I hear about such things in the FLOSS world.

  • Ross

    Ok, so it was at a bar, which is still separate from the actual CONFERENCE. This woman was drunk and probably ‘assaulted’ a bunch of guys at the bar in a similar fashion. Are they making a big ruckus out of it? No. Are they trying to publicly humiliate her for it? No. They are respectful of the fact that she misinterpreted their intentions and failed to avoid assaulting them. The double-standards in our society are absolutely ridiculous. Women can get away with any crap these days. It’s disgusting.

  • passerby

    The comments were an interesting study in the study of Politically Correct Culture. Very few people other than the article’s author seemed to understand her point: that without any external proof of the event, Noirin was opening herself to litigation for libel, indpendent of the truth of the situation.

    So truth is a defence to libel? Well, yes, everyone knows that. But stop and think – without any other evidence, it’d be just word vs word, and who’s to say what’s true in that case? Without proof, it becomes difficult to defend against that charge.

    And even after Jo had reclarified that she wasn’t defending the named guy in any way and sympathised with Noirin, she gets accused of ‘blaming the victim’.

    Please, folks, use your noggins and don’t just knee-jerk smother people who are asking you to use some critical thinking. Understand before responding.

    Good luck out there, Noirin, hope your next one ends on a far better note.

  • Shocked person

    This has happened to you more than once? Shit, I don’t know what to say. This is serious, and you should probably press charges. Against every one of them pigs.

  • Horse

    This comment from Reddit is bang on:

    Everyone is missing the real point of this and making it about double standards, short skirts, alcohol, and so on. That is not the real dilemma with this situation. The comments on her blog have gone there, the comments in this Reddit submission have gone there. Any discussion down those roads is completely moot.
    The real point of this is accusing someone who is very prolific in the technical community of a very serious crime on Twitter, while making absolutely no indication that authorities were involved in the slightest. Worse, she basically admits in her entry that it has happened to her before and she has completely ignored it.
    I understand the desire to out someone in the community who is like this so that other women will avoid him. That is the kind of thing that a conviction does, however. They’re both quite prolific, and hold very high positions in communities, and throwing shit around like this on Twitter is a very serious thing to do.
    This is public, media-involved character assassination of a degree that I have never seen before. We have one side of a story with potentially two, maybe more. There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t know where to begin. Making this a media event instead of a police incident is a catastrophic mistake, and foreboding for our times, and that people are buying in to this shit is even worse still. The people pointing out the error of her ways on her blog are getting called out by the people who enjoy this public humiliation.
    The issue is not whether Florian did or not, or whether Noirin was in the wrong for what she was wearing, or double standards, or any of that happy horseshit. The real issue is that we have a baseless allegation in a very public place, and once that gun is fired, there’s no pulling the bullet back. I would be disheartened indeed if this went forward and ruined Florian’s family and life, then was shown to be a vast overstatement of what actually happened. I would be equally disheartened if this was shown to be 100% true, or worse. The fact is, we don’t know, we’re taking one woman’s word for it, and it’s the word of someone who has apparently not involved the authorities on purpose on multiple occasions prior (based upon reading what she has written).
    This reflects poorly upon Noirin, period. It might also reflect poorly upon Florian, but we cannot be sure until he is given a chance to respond. There are ways to handle these things, and this isn’t one of them.

  • This kind of thing happens far too often, and talking to female geeks I hear SO MANY instances. Thank you for standing up in public and calling it out, with the knowledge that you will be making yourself a target for public slurs.
    For the commenters who have implied or said the poster brought it on herself, go and read this:
    http://falulatonks.tumblr.com/post/887405861/today-i-got-a-avoid-being-a-rape-victim-sheet-from

  • Jason Wu

    Sorry, but it’s up to a court to decide if she was actually assaulted or not. There is a legal process for this. If she posts this on a blog it either is fabricated or it happened but wasn’t a big deal to her. If it was a big deal to her she would have filed a police report. Sorry, you fail, not the guy you are accusing.

  • Jonathan

    Not only is this behavior unacceptable, it’s wrong and it’s illegal. If this ever happens to anyone geek or not, male or female, call the police.

    It’s horrible, it’s traumatic, but if this person did it to you, he’ll to it to someone else who might not be as strong or assertive.

    I’m terribly sorry this happened, btw.

  • [...] PeopleAdd QuestionAdd QuestionWhy is the "sexual assault at apachecon" blog posting down?http://blog.nerdchic.net/archive… http://webcache.googleuserconten… is a cache; it is an Apache boardmember claiming to have been [...]

  • karen

    Thanks for speaking up, and also for speaking so eloquently, your points really resonate.
    For what its worth, the conferences in my field don’t have a nasty harassment feel to them, even though they are male dominated. Maybe having a handful of women at the top helps to set the attitude.

  • Dave Neary: “… what can conference co-ordinators do, specifically, to prevent things like this from happening?”

    There are some suggestions at http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Women-friendly_events

    For anyone who would like to discuss these, please discuss at http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Talk:Women-friendly_events rather than in Noirin’s comments.

  • Jeff Brown

    *hugs*

    I am glad that you found the courage to speak up and publicly shame your aggressor. May he never do such a despicable thing to anyone ever again.

    As a community, it is important that we cultivate respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We should not mock or abuse others at their expense. We should not participate in degrading or uncharitable speech or actions. We should not tolerate in our midst those who would betray our trust. We should not ignore the problem.

  • Noirin, you certainly didn’t deserve to be treated that way. +1 for being courageous and speaking out about the incident.

  • Sorry that this happened to you, and thanks for speaking out and creating buzz. Please file a police report.

  • Lucretia Pruitt

    So very sorry to read about this. It sounds like it was an excellent con up until that bizarre departure from rational behavior.
    No one should ever tell you that you’ve got somethingnto hide here. That implies that you’ve done something wrong rather than being the victim who has had something wrong done to you.

    If the gentleman in question, is, in fact a gentleman. He should be mortified and extremely apologetic that he “misunderstood” your own intentions (or lack thereof) and physically exceeded the Boundaries of polite, gentlemanly behavior.
    A sincere PUBLIC apology and a promise not to make the same mistake again cam go a long way toward getting us all one step closer to a harrassment-free environment.

    Kudos to you for speaking up. I hope his cojones as as big and he will step up and do the right, albeit somewhat embarrassing thing on his part: own it, apologize for it, try to atone for it.

  • t

    what i wanted to say is that the conference wasnt a factor, men are idiots when drunk – period – ;)

  • t

    i feel bad for what happened to you and hope you look forward to the next tech conferences you will hopefully attend and keep in mind many times this goes way further than assaulting. also please try not to blame tech confs for what happened, there is really no link.

  • Fad

    Read this on techcrunch. Came here. I would love to punch this Flo guy in the face and kick his ass for you. Only a coward will do such things to women.

  • wow, just wow….. a sad reflection on human behavior. It does take a lot of courage to talk out like this.

  • jo's got a point

    once a classmate at the college was told to keep quiet while he was playing with his iphone. later we learned that he filed a discrimination complaint against our nicest professor, and our professor had to go to courts a quite a few times and needed our help.

    sexual assault is an awful thing, however, any woman can claim that against any man – then who will protect men from women who resort to this method when hurt/rejected/moody/unstable/mad?

    this post is published on TechCrunch, if the claim’s baseless, it will be an awful memory for Florian – he might lose his job/wife/life now.

    i don’t know noirin, florian or anyone and i wasn’t at the event.

  • a0

    There’s no excuse for sexually assault. Seems pretty clear that most people, men and women, agree.

    That being said there is something to be said for making yourself less of a target. Of course you have a right to wear whatever you want. You also have the right to hang out in dark alleys with bags full of cash. Doesn’t mean either makes a whole lot of sense in terms of making yourself less of a target.

    Consider it a female’s burden. Like it or not you’re physically vulnerable to about half the population. The more aggressive half. On the bright side you’ll never be drafted for war, will probably not die saving someone from a burning building and will find that a damsel in distress rarely wants for support.

  • Bill

    I hope for your sake this is true.

  • What did this mean:

    “He brought me into the snug”? What’s that? My fellow men, please, do not do such things unbecoming a person.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. Gal, you really showed a lotta courage in speaking out. Hell, gal… u got half the web following you, and thats exactly what you should’ve done… I really hope that your post helps others like you who have been victims of sexual assault to find the courage to come out and name the people responsible… We are all with you….

  • doh

    Every story has two sides.. I find weird that this has happened multiple times to you..

  • Kalib

    Were you asking for it? NO. Were you encouraging it? Yup.

    Men are dick-bags. Sounds like, from the comments, that you’ve been through this before. If so, you are not a victim, you are a participant.

    From what I’ve read so far, sounds like you find yourself in these positions often.

    There was no mention of contacting authorities. Why would you not contact the authorities?

    Something is amiss.

  • Jason

    Tony & Nick: Ross might used a bad example here, but this unfortunate event happened outside a conference. The quote she used “It’s not the first time it’s happened to me at a tech conference” is really misleading and possibly offensive and should be taken back.

  • a

    Hi,
    thanks for posting this story! It’s so straightforward. I’m proud of you for speaking up for yourself.

    In 1997 I was drugged and raped by a Open Source magazine publisher while doing an internship for his magazine. I was never able to tell anyone, and nothing ever happened to him. He told me he likes to pick up girls at the bus depot and do the same thing to them, so he probably did it to lots of other women as well.

    Lucky for me, this was before the invention of Viagra, so he got soft before ejaculating. Otherwise it could have been much much worse.

    So, Kudos to you for saying something!

  • I was speechless after reading this, sad too! Sexism is NOT acceptable and you are truly brave for speaking up publicly. Count on my support. Lotsa love and hugs Norin :-)

  • David W.

    This is a sensitive subject, and quite possibly you are the victim of a crime, however it is impossible to ignore that a further sin in many ways as bad as the original has been committed here, and that is to deny fair trial, which is very much what you have done here (just check some of the results for a Twitter search on @flo right now).

    I can only hope you are beyond all doubt the situation described above could not have been perceived any differently, particularly when after using language such as “told him I wasn’t interested (I may have been less eloquent, but I don’t think I was less clear”.

    Not cool (either way).

  • I’m sorry this happened, and even more sorry it’s not the first time. Thanks for speaking out.

  • Tony

    Ross,

    You are so misinformed it is quite scary. Straighten up. Back off, and shut the fuck up. It wasn’t in a private hotel room. It was in a public bar, at an after party for conference attendees.

  • Nick Burch

    Ross – please read the post. This occurred in a pub. Not a private hotel room, but in a public space in a public “public house” (pub). No matter if this was the pub that most people from the conference ended up in or not, this was an assault in a public place. This cannot be justified in any way, shape or form.

  • Lax Chi

    Noirin:

    Thank you for speaking up about this. It requires guts, and we need your kind of guts to change our sexist culture.

    How many more women would be innovating in tech if tech culture weren’t hostile to women?

    Conferences that actually care about the deeper hindrances of innovation would address the issue of sexual and gender-variant harassment.

  • @Jo:
    If someone assaulted me in a punch-up behind the pub, you bet your arse I’d name them on my blog if I recognized who they were. How is this any different?

    Noirin, there aren’t any words. Thank you for being so courageous and awesome in general.

  • Ross

    I certainly do not want to imply that what happened is not serieus, because it is, but there is a huge difference between ‘at a conference’ and ‘at an after party in a private hotel room where many beers were consumed and people were flirting’.

    The whole web is talking about a sexual abuse case at a tech conference while in reality this happened outside of the conference.

  • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} to you, Noirin. Horrifying that this happen. I applaud your courage in naming your attacker, and hope that he is dealt with appropriately. This is absolutely 100% NOT acceptable.

  • I’m appalled that this kind of thing has happened at tech conferences more than once. Bravo for having the courage to speak up.

    To your interlocutor “Jo” in the comments section:

    Your concerns are . . . strange. It happened to her. She was therefore the primary witness. Therefore, she can testify as to what happened. Therefore, she is hardly “without proof” and the statement is far from “baseless.”

    In the US, as Jim pointed out, true statements are never libel, no matter how damaging. However, that is only in the US, and not universal.

    In the UK, damaging statements may be libel even if true, but to that I would add two points:

    One, for the accused to deny it publicly and cast aspersions on her character in return (referred to as “slut shaming” above) would equally be libel, as it would in turn be damaging to her reputation. Any suit filed under those circumstances would at the very least invite an immediate countersuit.

    Two, rather than freedom of speech the UK has freedom of press, which applies to fewer people but is more absolute. This is a blog, which – depending on how a court feels about the particulars – may fall under the definition of “press.” I am not as familiar with UK law governing speech as I am with US law. If there is a real legal concern here, a qualified attorney or barrister should be consulted. But there exists the possibility that a judge would decline to hear libel suits from either side on this matter for writing about it publicly – especially if it becomes a criminal case instead.

    In any case – fear of a lawsuit should never prevent someone from speaking out when they are violated.

  • Ugh I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s a shame people think they can get away with that. I hope the community proves them wrong.

  • I’m still pretty shocked by this. And I completely lack the words, but I’m truly sorry this happen to you. You absolutely did the right thing to post this and hopefully prevent this from happening to anyone else in the future. This was my first ApacheCon so I don’t know you directly or frankly anyone at the conference, but it did appear to me (as an outsider of sorts) that there is a strong sense of community and friendship among everyone. I hope you find the support from your colleagues during this period.

  • Dave Neary

    Noirin, I was sorry to hear this happened to you. Speaking out about it is a brave thing to do – and my thoughts will be with you during the inevitable shitstorm.

    Kirrily, what can conference co-ordinators do, specifically, to prevent things like this from happening? Aside from acting swiftly & firmly when made aware of incidents (and, I suppose, providing a clear, discrete way for people to make us aware), and in general cultivating a culture where stuff like this doesn’t happen, I don’t really know what we can do. Less alcohol?

    Dave.

  • Dave

    Jo you’re blaming the victim. Stop being part of the problem.

  • Kite

    That’s fucked up and fucked you had to go though that.

    As for Jo *eyeroll* there’s always one, isn’t there?

  • Richard

    I hate it when guys do shit like this… and guys “I was drunk” is no excuse for your actions… please be thinking humans not mindless animals… youd be pissed if someone did this to your sister or mom… so why would you do it to someones sister or mom…

  • Noírín, I’m so sorry this happened. There is no excuse for this and it is never, ever your fault. Party or no party, we should be expected to treat each other with respect.

  • Carla Schroder

    Name ‘em and shame ‘em, silence only fuels the sex offenders who think it’s OK and get away with it time after time after time. This is not OK, it is not trivial, and there is no way to excuse it, though I expect excuses and denials will be offered. You are brave to speak up, and it will help other women.

  • Justin Randell

    thanks for being so brave, speaking out, naming names.

    i’m so sorry this happened to you.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you, Noirin. You’re in my thoughts.

  • Reading this made me both angry and glad. Angry that it happens, and glad that you chose to speak out about it. I did the same, recently, only it was someone I knew and considered a friend. I broke off my contact with the individual in question, and I told everyone who was a mutual friend why. I’ve definitely taken some flak for it.

    It’s worth it. It’s more than worth it. It’s as Michael said – when we stay silent, we foster the environment that allows them to continue doing such things again and again and again. Silence hurts everyone by allowing the person to have no consequences for their actions. Forget that.

    So thank you, for writing this. :)

  • Peter Krenesky

    Jo, I’m not saying she isn’t putting herself at risk for getting taken to court for libel, I agree with you on that. I’m saying its worth the risk.

    Christie — I think Jo’s point was that they could sue you even if it were a true statement. It’s all about what you can prove in court. It’s a ridiculous line of thought since the chances of a sexual predator suing you for libel probably aren’t too high.

  • Erin

    Noirin, I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I want to thank you for speaking up.

  • Yatima

    This sucks. He fails. It’s so easy to prevent sexual assault. Just don’t sexually assault people!

  • Scott

    I ought to be shocked, but sadly I’m not. I’ve seen this all too many times at conferences – and not just the geeky techie open ones, even at “professional” or academic events.

    There seems to be a culture that normal rules are suspended when you head away from home and the office for a few days, and that what happens at the conference stays at the conference.

    Recently I had to spend pretty much a whole conf making sure one of my colleagues didn’t pester female delegates. And this was at the direct request of the conf organiser, not me being some sort of martyr.

    Well I’m glad you’ve spoken out Noirin – the more women that do hopefully the less we’ll _all_ have our events screwed up by this kind of behaviour.

  • Jo

    I shall repeat this a second time for those who can’t seem to understand plain English (that means you, UGH – super mature retort, btw):

    I am not accusing Noirin of lying.

    I do not think it is ok for someone to commit a sexual assault.

    My concern was purely centred on the fact Noirin identified this man by name on a publicly accessible blog.

  • *lots of e-hugs*

    I’m sorry this happened to you :(

  • I’m so sorry you went through this, and angry that this happened. You have all my support, thank you for speaking up, it’s the only way to put a stop on this absurd.

  • Jim

    Jo,
    Truth is an absolute defense to libel.
    Noirin, I’m so sorry.
    Jim

  • Robin H Johnson (robbat2)

    *hugs*

    Not cool.

    @Jo:
    It doesn’t matter what gender identities are involved, it’s absolutely not acceptable. Unfortunately men think that they can get away with it against women more than any other combination. He’s a (form of) troll, he needs to be called out for unacceptable behaviour.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing tight pants and get my ass inappropriately groped (yes, this has happened; and I was told “(my) pants were asking for it”), or if a woman is wearing a skirt and has similar; it’s NOT acceptable, and needs to be prevented from happening.

    See the Back Up Project as well.

  • Ugh

    Jo. Please go away before I vomit on you.

  • Noirin

    Thanks to all for your support.

    Jo, thanks for pointing out the legal concern. I certainly didn’t post without thinking about it, but I think speaking out is important enough that I’m willing to take that risk – along with the risks of slut-shaming and other backlash.

  • Jo

    Reporting such attacks to the police help to protect women from such assaults. Noirin, have you reported it?

  • I’m sorry Noirin. I’m glad you spoke out.

  • emmanuel lécharny

    Maybe the ancient time when so called men grabbed women by the hairs is not that far away. I expected that thousands and thousands of years of civilization and education could have helped, but it seems that the lizard part of the brain is still vivid in many of us. And some men can’t get over it, up to a point that even a ‘no’ is not part of their vocabulary…

    What upset me the most is that it’s almost an acceptable behavior to many men : considering women as trophies.

    It’s just disgusting.

    This has to change. Now.

  • Julia

    Jo, actually you can name someone who has assaulted you (or committed any other crime). Naming one’s attacker can help protect other people in the community.

  • Yoz

    So completely horrible that this happened. Thank you, thank you for speaking up, and for making it clear who was to blame, who wasn’t, and that this shit will not stand.

  • Noirin — So sorry this happened to you. I appreciate your courage in speaking out.

    Jo — I believe libel only applies to false statements. Truthful statements, or statements made in good faith and belief that they were true don’t count, even if they are harmful.

  • You are so brave. I’m really sorry you had to go through that and any other similar experiences. You’re right – you are not to blame for the choices others make. A woman can show as much of her body as she damn well pleases: that doesn’t mean anyone’s allowed to touch it.

    Jo: It’s not for a court to decide whether or not she was assaulted. It’s for HER to decide. She was THERE. It happened TO her. You’re speaking nonsense.

  • Jo

    You should really gen up on the law surrounding this sort of thing, Peter.

  • Peter Krenesky

    Jo, This isn’t an accusation made lightly. Even if it were libel the accused still has legal recourse, it’s not like her post was anonymous. Women shouldn’t stay quiet, that’s just asking for more of these incidents to happen in our communities.

  • Jo

    I’m not sure whether I should laugh or be absolutely horrified that people think I am defending someone who allegedly committed a sexual assault.

    If you read my post again, you’ll see that my point is that you cannot go around NAMING someone you are accusing of committing a criminal act when said person has not been convicted of said act.

    By all means blog about it, report it to the police (and I hope N has!) but naming the person is potentially highly libelous and I was just pointing that out.

  • Sverre Rabbelier

    I was shocked to read this, when I’m around open source people I always feel that we are Good People (TM), to hear how something like this is very upsetting.

    I agree with Kirrily Robert, this is not OK, and we should clearly send that message. Have you filed charges with the police?

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re right to speak out about it and call out the attacker.

    Jo, yes, it is her word. I know her and I trust her word, but others might now. Why should she call him out? If he’s done this to others, maybe they’ll speak out too. Then it won’t be just her word. If she keeps silent, that can never happen. If she anonymizes it, that can never happen.

    If others have been harassed at cons and wasn’t sure if it was ok to speak about it, to name names, because it’s just their word, maybe they’ll read this and the supportive comments and speak out.

    It always starts with one person’s word against another’s. Predators strike when the victim is alone. They bank on doubt and silence to protect them. That allows them to do it again and again. The way to fight back is to not be silent, to communicate, make it known, and try to connect with other’s who have been attacked. Then it’s not just one person’s word or one isolated incident. And it’s not ok.

  • VMBrasseur

    OFFS… Wear something different? Not have a beer? Have people actually been foolish enough to make these suggestions? Would they do the same to a man?

    Newsflash, world! Grope No One Without Permission. Don’t. Just don’t.

    Really, is that so hard? It’s not even a gender-specific rule and it seems easy enough to remember and follow, but it seems some people just don’t grok it yet.

    I can understand why you haven’t made a post like this before (but not why you would have had the need; see the rule above) but am glad that you did it now. More people need to know that this bullshit happens and who the perpetrators are. The overwhelming majority of us–female and male both–have your back and support you. I suspect that had you said something afterward to the people in the bar that night the world may be one Hadoop user lighter right now, but I understand and respect why you didn’t.

    Thanks to Skud for the link. All respectable conferences should work this stuff into their policies and do so publicly. If they openly announce a zero tolerance policy for assault and harassment then perhaps jerks like this will get the clue.

  • L.

    That’s terrible! Thank you for speaking out.

    And to Jo, there is a double standard, because when men do this to women, they often gloat about it amongst themselves, naming names, and get patted on the back for it. It’s only libel if the accusation is not true, and where the burden of proof for that (and even whether it’s against the law) depends on what state you live in. IANAL, but I’m guessing neither are you.

    The problem with rape and other sexual assault is there are usually no witnesses other than the victim and the perp. Which is why so many men get away with it. Noirin knows what happened, so the accusation is not “baseless”.

  • Vixy

    Jo, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it isn’t the first time she’s posted about it because, as she said, it isn’t the first time it’s happened.

    The attitude inherent in your comment– your default assumption that it’s *not* okay to say what happened or name names– is EXACTLY THE REASON WHY it isn’t the first time it happened.

  • Julia

    Norin thank you for speaking out about this difficult awful situation.

    Jo, men assault women at tech conferences because they can get away with it. One reason they can get away with it, that when survivors do speak out they get flack for it.

  • Jo, why do men think it’s OK to assault women at tech conferences? Because they get away with it. Why do they get away with it? Because nobody’s willing to confront them or make them take responsibility for their actions.

  • Good for you for speaking out, Noirin. I’m very sorry this happened to you, but think you handled it very well. I hope it’s dealt with swiftly and usefully in the community.

  • Jo

    Please don’t think i’m accusing you of fabricating this story but it concerns me greatly that this isn’t the first time you have blogged about being sexual assaulted and named the men involved. Why do you think it is ok for you to do this?

    I don’t know who Florian Leibert is but without any proof of what happened you have essentially libeled him by making a (technically) baseless allegation of sexual assault.

  • Grrr. I am so sorry and angry that this happened. How many times do we have to go through it before conferences start actually dealing with the problem?

    I’d really like to see conferences have solid policies in place for dealing with this stuff. The Con Anti-Harassment Project has some good resources: http://www.cahp.girl-wonder.org/

  • Liz

    Oh man. That really sucks and I’m sorry that happened to you. Good for you for calling out the assaulter.

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