Jan 4, 2006

You're not bad...for a girl...

In response to http://news.php.net/php.internals/21374 I offered up a fairly simple extension dubbed "callable" (note, I never wound up dropping this in PECL) which overrides the builtin is_callable() function to call $object->__callable($methodname) in order to determine if a __call() overloaded object is actually capable of calling a particular method.

Those who wanted the funcitonality were happy to have the code and it brought the already-too-long discussion to a close saving list traffic for more important topics.

That same day, one of the list lurkers sent me an email which included the following.....quizzical paragraph:

Not to sound chauvinistic or anything and not meant to be, but you are a woman, I'm very impressed with the code, it's direct and too the point, not what I would expect from someone of your gender as most female programmers I've come across are into a lot of fluff and eye-candy and not so much in pure functionality.

Now, I'm about 95% certain that he did, in fact mean it as a compliment. And while I appreciate the....hrmmm praise isn't quite the right word...good wishes, I'm not really really clear on just how appreciative I should be. It's a little like what I would expect hearing "You're remarkably well spoken for a black person*." would be like... Or something.... How do you successfully answer a comment like that? Is it even possible?

*Not the cliche'd expression, but my liberal-guilt won't let me use it, even as an example of poor taste.


  1. Wow. Not sure what's going on recently. This, the PHP-ness tshirts, and the Oscars... Did the meteorite that hit Russia set the brain frequency of some back to the 50s?

    1. Note the date: 7 years ago.

      Not to say that it's not still an issue. This was just a particularly naked form of it. The rest... who can be bothered?

  2. I had to ask a PHP.net maintainer to remove a gratuitious reference to violent rape from the official PHP documentation pages last summer. Not new.

  3. If all the black people you interact with talk in slang, then you come across a professional that happens to be black. then "You're remarkably well spoken for a black person" is clearly a compliment. There isn't enough context to know if the persion is rasist or not.

    I would take it as a compliment and be happy that you are a great example that women can care about pure functionality.

    1. In reasoning terms there is no distinction on gender. What you suggest as 'being happy to be a woman that cares about pure functionality' is like suggesting to be a 'white man that cares about good music', and I'd like to point out that those superficial factors are completely irrelevant for the developing of the aforementioned mental skills.

    2. But it does matter; coming from a different background clearly puts one into an environment that facilitates those developments differently, unless the 'superficial factors' are not what I thought they are.

      I too find the above paragraph to be very acceptable, or should at least be tolerated without more context. Like Chris said, the person could have been commenting on an observed fact; though apparently the "fluff and eye-candy" is very subjective, and I think the person sending the email certainly failed at supporting his argument in a nicer way.

      If he had been commenting on a more quantifiable fact, would this have been acceptable? Or, should he have had supported his claim with rigorous study and statistics? It is certainly unrealistic.

  4. When I see stuff like this, this video comes to my mind http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s (Morgan Freeman on black history month). It's called positive discrimination, and as the term says, still discrimination. I'm completely agree with Morgan.


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