All Creatures are welcome

22 Sep 2018


It´s time again, the next Chaos Communication Congress (C3) starts soon. Recently, the Call for Participation for 35C3 has been published. Last year, there has been some discussion around sexist behaviour at and around the congress. So far, there has been no public statement by the organizers we know of.

Due to the topic being important and underrepresented, we want to share some thoughts with you on.

This is not about the classification of concrete events - we do not know enough about them to do so. More important for us is the discussion and a general attitude around the topic. Beforehand: As a political tech collective, we value the C3 as a get together of many different people, with and without tech affinity. Emancipatory perspectives on social, political and technological problems have a prominent place here.

Still, we live in an androcentric [1] and patriarchal reality. In it, almost all rooms and relations are dominated by heteronormative and male structures [2]. This is especially true for the tech scene, and therefore for a large percentage of the congress. too is an association in which white, male, middle european perspectives are formative. We do not want to criticize others and exclude ourselves. We understand ourselves as part of the congress and want to practice joint self-criticism.

[1] Androcentrism: to place a masculine point of view at the center of one’s world view.
[2] Heteronormativity: Dominance of the view that there are only two genders and heterosexuality is the norm or default sexual orientation.

As long as society hasn’t changed, we need to decide for other practices and the courageous commitment for spaces in which these other practices are possible. That means: safe spaces for LGBTIQ*, awareness teams, prioritized dealing with accusations of sexism, an awareness for the problems regarding the presumption of innocence in such cases, sometimes quotas at the right positions and most importantly: raising awareness through public debate.

The congress - and with it, especially the organizers - is doing a lot of good things here: For a tech conference, there are uncommon many non-male speakers, a lot more gender diversity than a couple of years back, awareness teams as a matter of course and sensible security teams. We are happy about that.

However, regarding the debates around 34C3 - and even 33C3 - we wished for a clearer public handling of this issue. This does not have to happen immediately because a conference this size does not always allow for a fast reaction or a communal statement. But we consider it dangerous and wrong that there is a new call for participation without review on the last congress. We wish for an open dealing with these issues, because the congress leaves room for improvements.

We have to accept that there are still good reasons to feel left out or hurt by sexist behavior. A place to start would be to include panels, workshops and talks surrounding these topics in the program. And by doing so opening up spaces to talk about sexism (in tech communities) openly.

We think:

  • The tech and security scene does have a problem with structural sexism. It is not worse, but not better than the mainstream society either. Assaults, rape and banal sexist behavior take place. Everywhere, world-wide, in our communities too.

  • The not-dealing with assault and rape accusations and the reference on jurisdiction in these cases create and confirm a safe space for perpetrators. In this safe space, perpetrators feel structurally vindicated and the person affected feels excluded.

  • There is a need for more debate around these issues. These discussions are tiring because they enforce self-criticism and reflection. It is even more important to admit actively to such spaces. The congress would be the right space for that. Through talks, workshops and discussion panels, we could sensibilize our scence and work on an open and considerate environment step by step, in which people affected feel supported and in good hands.

Nevertheless: We are excited about the next Chaos Communication Congress!