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This Feminist's DEF CON 24

Yes, there were still strippers at Hacker Jeopardy. No, I'm not upset about anything I saw at DEF CON this year.

Equal rights organizations were featured, diversity events were promoted, and I had countless conversations with brilliant, supportive people. 

(Sure those conversations also involved shouting "WHAT?!" over the music, and I sorta lost my voice, but it was totally worth it.)

There's always room to improve, but I'd like to highlight the progress that has been made with a controversial event...

Hacker Jeopardy in the Past

The first time I went to Hacker Jeopardy, I discovered that strippers stood on stage, ready to remove articles of clothing when Daily Doubles were answered correctly.

The contestants were not doing super great, so the strippers were fully clothed, and the crowd shouted "Take it off!" in between chanting "You f***ed it up!"

At the time, I was turned off by the drunken crowd that was angry because a woman still wore clothing.

However, I ended up at Hacker Jeopardy again this year to support a friend and was pleasantly surprised.

An Alternative to Stripping

Contestants now have the option to donate to EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) rather than demanding an article of clothing from anyone.

While I watched the finals, there was only one instance of a contestant choosing to "see more of the ladies," and not only was he booed, he was also overruled.

Before he could target a woman, another contestant made a show of donating $100 of his own money, and the referee took off his own pants and draped them over the disappointed guy's neck.

There was much rejoicing.

Closing the Gap

The underrepresentation of women on teams and the overrepresentation of women as strippers has been a problem, but there was improvement here too.

In the finals, there were female contestants, including a woman on the winning team who received a shoulder rub from a male stripper that looked quite relaxing.

The Jokes

Hacker Jeopardy has taken heat for dirty jokes, but there is a difference between a dirty joke and a demeaning one.

For instance, take the following two joke categories:

  1. Crude (dick and fart) jokes
  2. Sexist jokes (like "women can't drive haha" and "women belong in the kitchen har-dee-har-har")

This year's event was full of Type 1 jokes, and while I recognize the offensiveness, I don't believe that those jokes did actual harm to views on gender.

I do believe that Type 2 jokes can harm views on gender, so I was pleased that those jokes were avoided.

Bottom Line

Let's celebrate the progress that has made this event more inclusive, so it can be even better next year!

<3 Mel

P.S. If you'd like to get more involved, here are some organizations represented at Black Hat and DEF CON:

Cybersecurity Diversity Foundation

Executive Women's Forum

Women in Security and Privacy

Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu