Linux Journal: the Last Idiot's Club

by Carla Schroder

I dropped my subscription to Linux Journal a couple of years ago because I got tired of their stubborn refusal to admit women into their gearhead club. Sure, you'll find the very occasional women author, but not many. What I did see a lot of was pages of ads that insulted women in every stereotyped way- brainless ornamental boy toys. God forbid we should ever be portrayed as IT professionals and actual humans.

Fast-forward a year or two, and what happens? Does LJ wise up? Why, no! Not at all! Instead they take a huge step backwards and run a full-page ad that insults both women and men:

Way to go, Linux Journal! When can we expect your sincere, very public apology? When are you going to wise up?

Some more links:

Linux Journal contacts page:

Part 2 "Dear Linux Journal: News Flash- Women Are People"

I changed the title from "Idiot-Boy's Club" because it was unfair and mean.


2007-08-16 19:00:32
It's deja-vu all over again. I recall a similar ad by the same company running in the magazine some years ago, and they apologized and said they would not do that again. What a great ad, it says women are only good for sex, and men in IT will never get sex. That's a lot to pack into a single ad.
Scott Ruecker
2007-08-16 19:12:59
I couldn't agree more Carla, I opened up the latest issue just a couple of days ago and when I came across that advertisement I was insulted and saddened. At first I couldn't believe my eyes were seeing something that belonged in a "skin mag" in LJ.

I have lost a lot of (if not all) respect for their publication. I do not plan on renewing my subscription.

Loye Young
2007-08-16 19:51:37
Whatever. The ad was a clever use of the language, and targeted for the demographic. It's not about you.

Loye Young
Isaac & Young Computer Company
Laredo, Texas

2007-08-16 20:09:12
I'm sorry, but it made me laugh. Heartily. And then I read all the rants against it ... and laughed again at all the comments about men not wanting to go down on women. What kind of "man" wouldn't wanna do that? Hell, that's half the fun! :P
2007-08-16 20:27:41
Wow. This is like something you'd see from Michael on The Office. I can't imagine any company having their name anywhere near an ad like that, and I can't imagine a magazine (at least a professional magazine) actually printing it. It is hard to believe that they were serious. Maybe it was a lame joke among a couple members on the marketing crew and it accidentally got stuck in with the real ad.
2007-08-16 20:34:25
@ Loye Young

You obviously know nothing about running a business. You have the judgment of a 19-year old college freshman.

@ Henaway

Get out of the dorm once in a while. It would do you some good to realize that there's a whole big world out there. You might even see a real, live woman once in a while. Childish comments like yours reveal a lot.

2007-08-16 20:43:25
OMG ! You don't read the linux journal .. GET OUT! Such a respected magazine .. probably don't read ALL the threads on Slashdot either.. SHUT UP sister. Oh wait .. out of all of the internet you manage to find one ad and then see fit to write a piece on it? I guess you don't read the bile blog either, I highly recommend it. Man some days I hate having Oreilly on my google home page.
pc (a male)
2007-08-16 21:16:55
I agree with you Carla. This kind of advertising makes me feel like we're regressing to some Neanderthal era. I made a mental note not to do any business with these idiots.
Caitlyn Martin
2007-08-16 22:57:49
I also am saddened and disgusted. I disagree with you on one thing, Carla. Since Linux Journal clearly is a good 'ol boy's club your original title wasn't unfair or mean. It was accurate.

My subscription to LJ ran out last October. I, too, was sick and tired of it.

Jaco G
2007-08-17 00:15:32
Loye Young: And what is the "demographic" exactly? Are you saying that all IT people are male? And if your next argument is going to be that statistically it is mostly so... then I will argue that it is only so because the ignorant boys' club is working so hard to keep it that way and exclude the other "demographic". Technology is for everyone.

Slui: Your writing is atrocious and you sound like a 12-year old who thinks he's cool because he reads a) b) or c) and belongs to club l).

And yet it's so common for technology-based businesses to be entirely dismissive about women. I have never seen a buff bare-chested male on the cover of T3 magazine. The puerile boys that seem to run the gaming industry are the same -- female characters in games are scantily clad and generally uninteresting. It's like it's just assumed the target audience is male.

It's stupid though, because if you're going to alienate one group of people, then of course that group will not buy your product. They're creating their own truths in a way.

Aladdin Sane
2007-08-17 00:42:35
Create an ad that alienates a segment of your potential customers.

Create a software product that only runs on one proprietary OS.

I detect a parallel here.

2007-08-17 10:11:31
I certainly don't agree with the Ad, but it's funny looking at the LJ jobs it appears the Advertising folks aer women...
Carla Schroder
2007-08-17 11:08:42
Anonymous, I noticed that too. Which I suppose goes to show that good judgment is not a gender-linked trait.
2007-08-17 12:38:16
I also recently dropped LJ for a number of reasons. That ad was certainly part of it.
2007-08-17 22:33:10
This was a useless post. Not many share your opinion, so this post seems to come out of nowhere.
2007-08-18 02:25:36
Not only sexist. Downright unprofessional. Inappropriate for Corporations and the home.
2007-08-18 05:33:41
I can see why people are offended. I can see more why tLJ ad board should 'know better'. I can also envision that a lot of people who WOULDN'T be offended by this, might be more uncomfortable if the ad portrayed different stereotypes such as race/color... and some more people who will only partly agree, or say that that would be 'different'.

I saw this ad on another blog, and thought is was kind of 80's sexist. You usually do not see this sort of thing, except maybe in Playboy.

On the other hand, if anyone gets 'hysterical' about this, it will be fodder for the people who want to bash this commentary. Good to not have kept this as "Idiot-Boys club" (although not everyone would believe you were referring to all men either)

My perspective is, I wouldn't unsubscribe from a magazine if I found it sufficiently valuable to overcome the perceived insult. It would perhaps be better to have got a lot of people pressuring tLJ to apologize (and unsubscribe if they did not). For tLJ, the storm has probably passed.

Young is correct - the ad was targeted for the demographic: there's a high percentage of IT that fall into two groups that would appreciate this:

1) geeks into computers to the extent of less people interaction (netvandals and kids growing up on 80's 16-color 320x240 lesbian porn). These type may 'get' the insult, and are smart enough to remember their younger days being the victim of stereotypes themselves, and being bullied by jocks/frat boys (but they still collect porn LOL).
2) 'Management type' good old boys with corporate haircuts every 3 weeks. By this I mean the type of IT that took a couple of Visual Basic courses during his MBA degree. These people are like Young, and are hostile if you point out the insult, which is understandable because they WERE the sexist jock/frat-boy.

2007-08-18 06:17:12
Carla, have you ever come across a business run and dominated by women, whose culture is not conducive to men participating or working there? Even antagonistic to men?

Companies that do not employ a cross-section of society tend to develop a culture that is not healthy for the minority members of the company. This advertisement is a sign of an unhealthy corporate culture. There are better first steps to confronting this issue than a pubic blog.

As an aside, sexual objectification of women is not an insult to women. Most men understand that women are "actual human beings." Sexual objectification is a natural assessment of general attractiveness (by a given society's standards). It is a complement to those that are, and a turns out to be a divisive sore point for those that aren't.

2007-08-18 06:40:38
Oh come on... Where is your sense of humor? Gone with hate against men? It is a funny AD and made me laugh. More funny ADs please!

I have never to this day seen a woman complain about comparebale ads featuring men, I have also never seen a woman complain about ads that makes men look stupid. Till that day I will take ANY comment being sexist against women as a signal that men are being considered as a lower form of life from feminist. Feminist have never had justice for men and women as a goal. feminist goals are all about giving women advantages on behalf of mens freedom. Peace...

2007-08-18 06:41:00
Carla, why does this have to be sexism? Couldn't it just be a clever and entertaining way to present information? Your reaction (and that's what it is, a hasty reaction not a thought-out response) to this Gnull and Voyd thing clearly demonstrates some serious insecurities within yourself. I think you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions.
David F. Skoll
2007-08-18 06:52:23
I agree; the ad is tasteless and demeaning to both men and women (women because they're treated as objects and men because they're treated as sex-fiends with no sexual appeal.)

I complained to both LJ and QSol and would encourage everyone to do the same.

2007-08-18 07:11:29
On point and well done as usual Carla. Thank you...and that thank you comes from the father of a 14 year old girl who, seemingly, has been "branded" a techie. I've tried hard to prepare her for the real world and her abilities at the command line | grep are proof positive. The problems haven't shown themselves socially where you would expect them. No, they come from the Government cookie-cutter school system here in Austin Texas.

Verbatim from a CompSci teacher at her school:

"You might think about getting her into some more traditonal classes for her freshman year. This shedule is going to cubbyhole her with the social misfits and I'm not sure she can undo that harm in 4 years."

(comments made during a discussion about adding her as a late enrollee in Beginning Computer Language).


2007-08-18 07:43:41
Well spotted. I dropped my subscription about a year ago, after I realized that Editor in Chief, Nick Petreley was doing everything he could to drive readers away. When I refused to renew my subscription there was no attempt to make me change my mind. The new leadership seemed only too happy to get rid of another reader. This is combined with the intentional downgrading of the quality of the journal which at some point featured up to 3 (three) self-congratulatory columns of Jon "Maddog" Hall.

I'm pretty sure the ad was placed to drive the female readership away, and the such an insult will have the desired effect. R.I.P. Linux Journal and my congratulations to Nick for a job well done.

2007-08-18 08:17:21
If it had been a male face, would this discussion still have centered about ads catering to women in IT?
2007-08-18 08:33:27
The ad is not real (on a number of levels) and that is what makes it funny. I suppose the people who are offended only see the surface; or, expect that they are so superior, everyone else only sees the surface - which, makes this all even funnier.

Laugh at people. When they are laughed at they truly expose themselves; their character shows.

You can laugh at me, if you think I'm funny.

2007-08-18 08:54:00
It was a great ad. You feminazi's will never get a real man because you have no sense of humor. I showed this to my wife and she absolutely cracked up. Some people get it, some are just looking for an opportunity to be offended by something.
2007-08-18 09:36:08
Maybe we all need to just lighten up a little. It's an add. The purpose of ads is to get attention. I would say it worked.
2007-08-18 10:20:09
How do you know that the ad isn't meant to appeal to female server admins who might also enjoy fellatio, especially as performed on them by another female? I know at least So, it's really a matter of context and perception. You let this truly ambiguous ad play into, and confirm, your own suspicions which are all based on your subjective understanding of the world around you. Your argument is contrived and unsustainable.
David F. Skoll
2007-08-18 10:51:24
Vicki wrote:

"How do you know that the ad isn't meant to appeal to female server admins who might also enjoy fellatio, especially as performed on them by another female? I know at least"

If you are a female who enjoys fellatio performed on you... wow. That's all I can say.


Robuka Kenderle
2007-08-18 10:55:31
It made me smile and remember the name of QSOL so it did its job.
Do I represent the majority or minority in IT? Its up to debate but considering the response it got this week in our department, I would say majority.
The ad is reminiscent of one of the funniest Family Guy bits which was the the diamond ring ad:

I also spend almost half the year in europe so I might be jaded as well.

Lighten up.
If you can come up with a clever pun about making sure we 'keep our drives hard' or such, feel free. Chances are most guys will laugh along with the joke as well.

Robuka Kenderle
2007-08-18 11:02:03
Ahahahaha, you crack me up. ;-)
I followed your contact link for LJ, that are responsible for this horrible insult to women (especially those who dont appreciate fellatio)

# General Manager: Rebecca Cassity
# Publisher: Carlie Fairchild
# Executive Editor: Jill Franklin

Seems like these three cool 'chicks' arent above a good blowjob double entendre.

I think this is falls under the category of blacks comics being allowed to do do niggah jokes and whites not. LJ is probably the only publication who CAN pull this off BECAUSE they are led by women.

Your whole premise just went 'whoooooosh'.

Carla Schroder
2007-08-18 11:31:40
Robuka, it doesn't matter if a sexist, tasteless, insulting ad comes from women or men. It's still sexist, tasteless, and insulting. What on earth do blowjobs have to do with computers anyway? If that's
the world you live in, you can have it.
Carla Schroder
2007-08-18 11:52:56
"If it had been a male face, would this discussion still have centered about ads catering to women in IT?"

Anonymous, your comment is #2 on the List of Predictable Responses. Sheesh, at least try to be original. Every single time someone speaks up about some crummy behavior directed at women, some whiner pipes up with "but what about the men?" Well, what about the men? If you see a problem, then speak up yourself, instead of shooting down other people who are trying to address a different set of problems.

Anyway your reading comprehension is severely lacking- this ad is crappy to both women and men, and I said so.

2007-08-18 12:29:42
I Saw the ad, I did not like what it said about men, women, geeks, hipsters, the "cool", the "uncool" or anyone else, and turned the page.

I will remember the existence of the ad and its tone of condescension about IT workers, I remember where I saw the ad and will keep that fact in mind when my subscription is up for renewal, but I don't recall the name of the company that that was advertised within...

Jared Spurbeck
2007-08-18 12:52:29
I can't say I'm outraged, but I do try to avoid people who are insulting to others and who objectify women. Many thanks for the warning.
Richard Steven Hack
2007-08-18 13:15:33
Got to agree with you on this one, Carla. I saw that ad and, while I'm not a rabid feminist, and while the ad might be in some respects amusing, it was clearly inappropriate.

And I'm not a PC (politically correct) person by any means. But this ad was just dumb,

If I were you, though, I'd spend less time complaining about the magazine - I mean, they run ads for the revenue and money trumps PC every time - but rather with the ad agency and the company who hired that ad agency.

Richard Steven Hack
2007-08-18 13:26:02
I just sent an email to QSOL about this ad, suggesting they dump the ad agency that suggested this and make a public announcement about it and an apology to the female IT community - and the nerd IT community.

Suggest everybody else here who doesn't like the ad do the same. Just email They get a few hundred critical emails, they'll pull the ad in case they were thinking of running it again.

Robuka Kenderle
2007-08-18 16:31:24
So you Ricard are going to tell

# General Manager: Rebecca Cassity
# Publisher: Carlie Fairchild
# Executive Editor: Jill Franklin

that they are sexist?

Boy, youve been well toilet trained.

David F. Skoll
2007-08-18 18:02:09
There's a tangential issue: In, the CEO of QSOL:

[...] has issued an apology and promises not to run it again

Quite apart from how you feel about the ad, I'm not sure I'd want to do business with a company whose CEO breaks promises like that.

David F. Skoll
2007-08-18 18:05:00
To Robuka:

It's not a matter of telling Rebecca Cassity, Carlie Fairchild or Jill Franklin that they're sexist. It's just that they show a serious lack of judgement by publishing a "haw-haw" eighth-grade-humor ad that just make you feel slightly sorry for the clowns at QSOL.

2007-08-18 20:52:59
you were offended by a face? of a woman who won't go down?
why? Cause they didn't offer you the spot? cause you tried
and they turned your mug away? I'm not insulted and I'm a
man. Couldn't you worry about more important things if you
aren't going to blog on technical topics? Why not worry about
little bush burning our money and boys in the middle east?
At least then your outrage would be warranted.
Caitlyn Martin
2007-08-18 21:32:01
I look at the comments and I see precisely what I expected.

1. I see some, both men and women, but mostly men, who clearly GET IT. They understand why this is unprofessional and why some, both men and women, would be offended.

2. I see some men who want to tell us uppity women what to feel, why we shouldn't be offended, why Carla shouldn't have blogged about this, why the ad is funny or effective or generally no big deal. The don't GET IT. They don't get that offending women, who happen to be just over half of the human race and a significant minority of IT decision makers, is just plain bad business. They don't get, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that men are offended too. If they don't see the problem it just doesn't exist. They are part of the problem.

3. We have a few, thankfully very few, who have the immature mentality typically seen on Slashdot whenever gender comes up. The usual attack on feminism is thrown in. CLUE: "Feminism is the radical idea that women are people too." It's about equality and equal treatment, nothing more.

One even resorts to the Rosh Limbaugh "feminazi" name calling. That post is even more offensive that the ad, not just because I'm a woman and a feminist. It bothers me most as the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. The Nazis committed genocide, murdering 12 million people, including 6 million Jews and 3 million Romani (gypsies) in death camps. The term "feminazi" either equates the struggle for women's rights with genocide (I don't seriously think anyone believes that) or else it trivializes the Holocaust. Either way it's incredibly offensive and yet it's used to tell me I'm wrong for being offended.

HUGE CLUE: You can't tell Carla or me or any other human being how we should feel or react to something. We are entitled to our own feelings and our own free speech. You have a right to feel differently, of course. You don't have a right to silence us. Oh, and since Carla was kind enough to provide multiple links to people who also were offended and since so many commenters to Carla's post agreed with her I think it's safe to say that the ad offended a LOT of people.

Finally, to those that say that IT is predominantly male and that the Linux community is even more so. That was certainly true once. It isn't nearly as true today. Take a look at the bloggers for the O'ReillyNet Linux Dev Center: 4 women, 3 men.

2007-08-19 04:27:41
The only thing people want is to be offended these days. But there are two ways to look at the ad. The less obvious (to many, it seems) is to suppose the woman is saying "I'm not a sex object, so, don't expect what you probably can't get." I thought the ad was pretty funny. If anything, it insults geeks who have a very hard time even interacting with women. From the frustrated geek's perspective, the ad would have been more effective if the model had been Asian.

Actually, the copy would have been even funnier if the woman was saying, "Can your personal appliance match the uptime of our corporate servers?"

As H.M. McLuhan knew, good advertising manifests on many levels.

2007-08-19 05:30:49
When I saw that they had run this ad again, I immediately contacted them to drop my subscription. So far they have ignored all attempts to contact them.
2007-08-19 08:28:00
I really don't blame you.
I'm *this* close to stop using Digg cause I'm sick of the sexist,horny yet misogynist males at Digg posting "sexy Linux chicks" etc ....
Jesper, Sweden
2007-08-19 16:26:20
Seriously, the feminazi arguments are indeed very true. For me, it often seems like feminists are really in for the complaint itself rather than attacking an actual issue. This ad, immature or not, is after all a JOKE. Women make sexist jokes about men and vice versa, so what? The etmyology of the word 'feminist' also gives a hint of feminist views as it clearly emphasizes on the feminine side. Wouldn't 'egalitarian' be more correct for someone truly striving for equality?

And, would this discussion ever have happened if the ad had featured a man? NO, because 'objectified females and oppression of women' is what is politically correct to discuss. Proven that LJ is run by women too, this article is just impressively silly. Nah, you leftist whiners, lighten up and have a laugh some time, will you? Has it ever occured to you that the lack of female writers might be just that, a lack of female writers. I doubt that the female heads of LJ would systematically be oppressing women? Stupidest thing I've read in years, I hope for a lengthy response from M(r?)s. Schroeder. ramoniac [at] - open 24/7 for the whiners that want to bash me for being a masculinist pig :)

2007-08-19 19:42:54
"As an aside, sexual objectification of women is not an insult to women. Most men understand that women are "actual human beings." Sexual objectification is a natural assessment of general attractiveness (by a given society's standards). It is a complement to those that are, and a turns out to be a divisive sore point for those that aren't."

You know, sometimes those of us receiving that "complement" [sic] see it less as a compliment and more as our looks being valued more highly than our brains.

Carla Schroder
2007-08-19 23:19:15
So, for all you who think I'm wrong to make a fuss- is this picture an improvement?
New QSOL ad
Jesper, Sweden
2007-08-20 04:58:06
Carla, I'm disappointed to see you haven't yet responded to my comment :D
2007-08-20 05:13:04
Well, as a 'bloke' (Australian-English), I often feel that people can be prissy, gender-neutering, lame and overly-sensitive.

After having a quick look, I can say that I have to agree with the Carla. As a bloke, I'm embarrassed.

Some things can be passed off as ironic humour...'fraid not in this case.

A professional journal ought to have no space, room, or time for such mindless stupidity.