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Mary is a Sydneysider, a mother, a feminist activist for women in tech, and an erstwhile computer scientist. She co-founded a women-in-tech non-profit, the Ada Initiative, where she presently works. Mary also writes for Geek Feminism, and, when there's no other suitable venue, for her own blog

26 Responses

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  1. Helen
    Helen at |


  2. Aphie
    Aphie at |

    Their Twitter account is even more “delightful”, if by delightful you take my meaning to be “offensive and full to the brim of stereotypes”. :p

  3. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Hugely disappointed by this blatant stereotyping. Poor show, EFA.

  4. geek anachronism
    geek anachronism at |

    Don’t forget to mention laundry and cooking when talking to your mother as well. That will make it even more awesome.

  5. Dave C
    Dave C at |

    OK, so I’m a long term Hoyden reader, occasional poster, etc – and I’m also on the EFA board, so this puts me in a quite difficult position.

    The campaign was created by an external agency, who used a comedian. Both agency and comedian had more creative input than EFA directly. That isn’t an excuse, of course — the board could have rejected the campaign, or voiced more concerns. I personally don’t believe in boards micro-managing creatives too much, but I do think we could have dealt with the issue much better here without losing the basic concept, and I’m not personally happy about some of the campaign follow up in particular.

    Future campaigns will have a different focus. This is our first try at a campaign like this. We need to broaden awareness of the issue beyond those who are already very well informed about the issue, like the bloggers here at HAT, and other people who already know who EFA are and our stance on the issue, and that means using more traditional media tools (and external agencies, etc). We will have to make some compromises (for a start, we can not afford to have our pick of creative partners, but have to work with those sympathetic to the issue), and we are new at this, and we will make mistakes – and I agree we have made mistakes in this campaign. We will try harder, and hopefully learn more about what we are doing.

  6. Tee
    Tee at |

    Utterly extraordinary. It was hard to pick, but this was my favourite bit:

    “What your mum isn’t aware of is that the filter won’t stop R and X rated pornography, it won’t stop people making child pornography.”

    It won’t? So mums are moral crusaders but can’t comprehend censorship 101?

  7. Sheryl
    Sheryl at |

    “even mums” !!!

    For some reason it’s the word “even” that makes me grind my teeth. Seems to imply lesser intelligence, thoughtfulness, tech-savvy-ness.

    Bad choice of words.

  8. Helen
    Helen at |

    This is the ad agency responsible.
    It’s frustrating that given it’s about a campaign the basic direction of which I agree (having made my mind up about it quite a while ago WITHOUT MY SON EXPLAINING IT TO ME (Sorry about all caps) I can’t express my anger by not buying the product!
    I’m not letting EFA off the hook, though, as they bought the message so thoroughly (Not you, Dave C, you seem to grasp what’s wrong with it.)

  9. Helen
    Helen at |

    Oh, yes, a link might have been nice. Now I suppose this’ll be taken by drive-by trolls as proof of my motherly incompetence.

  10. Kate
    Kate at |

    Wow, there are some really insecure females out there who have somehow taken a brilliant political strategy and turned it into a ‘sexist dig at woment’.

    I hate Akmal, I can’t stand the guy, and I don’t find the video the least bit funny. But I’m smart enough to realise this campaign is clearly not about ‘mum’s’, there is clearly the work of a brilliant political strategist.

    Conroy has been using ‘Mum’s’ as his pawn in the fight for the filter, and for the first time an organisation has used this against him.

    When GetUp launched their campaign last year, the Christian’s arced up, now it’s the feminsts.

    My god, are you people just plain stupid? Finally the EFA has created a mechanism for parents and people to raise awareness for those who are uninformed about the filter, and because there are a small minority of females who are educated and informed you are all taking it as a personal dig against yourselves.

    For christ’s sake. Grow up.

    Every approach that can be taken to see this filter not going ahead is a good one. Stop being petty, support the cause and perhaps try and ignite a part of your brain to function so that you can realise this campaign is a very positive and strong political strategy against the filter and against Stephen Conroy.

  11. lauredhel
    lauredhel at |

    I’d missed the very beginning of the twitter feed:

    I’m sure you’ve explained more complicated stuff to your mum before. How the DVD player works, what happened to that vase… #openinternet


    Dave C (or whoever else is reading), who’s on the other end of the twitter feed? Can they please be either rapidly re-educated, or unplugged?

  12. Restructure!
    Restructure! at |

    I’m up (or down) in Canada and childless, yet I find that shit stupidly offensive and sexist. It’s like they’ve rolled back a few decades.

    Can you add rel=”nofollow” to the It’s Time to Tell Mum link? I don’t think you should be helping its PageRank.

  13. Katherine
    Katherine at |

    “because there are a small minority of females who are educated and informed ”

    Kate, you’re part of the problem. Go away. Or come up with a better strategy to stop the filter going ahead that doesn’t erase the very large number of educated women and mothers that exist.

  14. mimbles
    mimbles at |

    @Mary Have you noticed that the defence of the campaign by Geordie Guy which is linked on the Geek Feminism wiki has been removed?

  15. geek anachronism
    geek anachronism at |

    Every approach that can be taken to see this filter not going ahead is a good one. Stop being petty, support the cause and perhaps try and ignite a part of your brain to function so that you can realise this campaign is a very positive and strong political strategy against the filter and against Stephen Conroy.

    It really isn’t. This approach alienates mothers and doesn’t actually target a specific group that has been identified as lacking knowledge (i.e. the general public) – instead it relies on outmoded and outdated stereotypes that are actually offensive while simultaneously offering pats on the back to kids patronising their mothers by being all ‘educational’ about it. It’s a negative strategy (actively accuses mothers of ignorance and actively encourages people to act on that assumption of ignorance) and it relies on some really shitty arguments. It assumes that ‘kids’ are informed about the internet filter as well, no to mention dads/grandparents/teachers/coworkers/siblings. By targeting mothers are particularly ignorant it buys into the stereotypes even as it’s attempting to mock them.

    And seriously, what the fuck do you think we’re doing when we comment on this shit? This is working against the filter, this is supporting the cause. Because I can tell you right now, patronising bullshit doesn’t win you supporters and that is something the EFA has to deal with and is something Conroy plays off.

  16. Kathryn
    Kathryn at |

    Is it really that difficult to make the jump from ‘tell mum’ as being euphemistic for everyone that you wouldn’t normally talk to about this stuff? If you are a technically savvy well-read mum – have you told your mum about it? What about your uncle that only turns the computer on once a week to see if there are any emails? Your Dad, your brother, your cousin?

    Some women are very happy and proud to be spending their Saturday taking the kids to soccer, do ask their kids to help them work the DVD, and don’t have a clue about this issue. My mum is one of them, but just because she doesn’t know anything about this issue doesn’t make her, a research academic, stupid or uneducated – and I resent your implication that she must be one of ‘those uneducated women’ because she didn’t know about this issue.

    I for one support any effort to encourage people to engage in cross-generational dialogue on any political issue. EFA is right to identify that there is a generational gap in terms of awareness of this issue, and that gap is similar to the offline/online gap between parents of 14-20 year olds (clearly being the target of this campaign). The research data I’ve seen does show that 45y.o.+ women are considerably less informed than older men on this issue, so targeting Mums rather than Dads or the far less effective ‘everyone’ is also the right move.

    The intent is good and the targeting is sound, and little bit of humour helps the message go down.

    Humor is always in the eye of the beholder, and I’ve never been a big fan of Akmal, but his jokes in this campaign are no different to what you could expect from him on any subject… I guess feminism is in the eye of the beholder too, because carrying on as though this campaign is some kind of massive affront to women to my mind severely demeans women and the feminist cause.

  17. Janet
    Janet at |

    Bingo! What have I won??

  18. John Dalton
    John Dalton at |

    Geordie’s original post is in Google’s cache – you can’t unpost things on the Internet, people!

  19. Helen
    Helen at |

    I for one never take seriously anything anyone says who begins sentences with I for one. But that’s just me.

  20. Janet
    Janet at |

    Nice fauxpology been posted. Thanks for the heads up on that, lauredhel.

  21. Lauredhel
    Lauredhel at | *

    Janet: The EFA has now clarified that what ZDNet called an apology was nothing of the sort. They were just trying to take a risk (which is well debunked in comments by Stephen Dann). Colin Jacobs concluded (after accusing Conroy of being the one not “giving mums the respect they deserve”:

    So contrary to reports elsewhere, like this piece in ZDNet, we aren’t apologising for the campaign – we’re happy with the way it turned out. Of course, we’d rather nobody was offended, and sincerely regret it. But offending nobody is only possible without any risk-taking, and a risk-free campaign is unlikely to break any new ground.

    In followups, he also remarks that the EFA is unable to win or constructively engage in a conversation about sexism, so they’re moving on.

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