Minneapolis Flashbelt conference gets pornographic


The annual Flashbelt conference, held June 7-10 in Minneapolis, is supposed to help bring Flash developers in the community together to develop their skills. But this year one speaker has the community crying foul over a presentation that turned a little too pornographic and alienated the small percentage of women present.

Geek Girls Guide has the full run down of one the keynote speakers, Hoss Gifford, and his presentation that turned into a bunch of giant cocks having orgasms. Classy. Gifford is known for the viral "Spank the Monkey" from a few years back. How fitting.

While some attendees found the presentation highly offensive, the boys club that is the Flash community fought back, calling them prudish.

Here is what his presentation consisted of:

  • He opens his keynote with one of those "Ignite"-esque presentations -- where you have 5-minutes and 20 slides to tell a story -- and the first and last are a close-up of a woman's lower half, her legs spread (wearing stilettos, of course) and her shaved vagina visible through some see-thru panties that say "drink me," with Hoss's Photoshopped, upward-looking face placed below it.
  • He later demos a drawing tool he has created (admittedly with someone else's code) and invites a woman to come up to try it. After she sits back down, he points out that in her doodles she's drawn a "cock."
  • Then he decides he wants to give a try at using the tool to draw a "cock" (he loves this word) -- and draws a face, then a giant dick (he redraws it three times) that ultimately cums all over the face.
  • A multitude of references to penises and lots of swearing -- and also "If you are easily offended, fuck you!"
  • And then, to top it off, a self-made flash movie of an animated woman's face, positioned as if she's having sex with you, who gradually orgasms based on the speed of your mouse movement on the page.
One female attendee was outraged by the presentation, which created a stronger divide between the males and females in the community:
You know, I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded and easy-going person, but I was shocked that this was considered appropriate material for a conference about innovative developments in the world of flash and the greater creative field. And that I'd paid to see this. And that a number of people laughed at his jokes -- perhaps because probably 90-95% of the people there were male. Having been a computer science major in college and a programmer for the last 9 years, I'm using to being the minority in these sort of development environments, but this was the first time I really felt like it was a boys' club. A boys' club where "girls" could hang out, but they are ultimately considered nothing more than objects of sexual gratification.
Read her full reaction here.

The attendee also looked around Twitter to see what people were saying about it and was shocked by the people sticking up for Hoss:

  • Fonx is reading the #flashbelt rants on Hoss offending the ladies w/ a few swear words & a penis drawing - r u really that prudish & sexist?
  • livenootrac Ladies of #flashbelt , I am sorry for the Hoss preso, but in the flash community he gets a pass, kinda like Don Rickles - that's just Hoss.
  • CujoJpn @livenootrac And there were many ladies at #flashbelt who were offended by Hoss' Preso some were thick skinned and took it as is.
Dave Schroeder, the Flashbelt organizer, responded with a statement on his site about the presentation:
While I didn't see the entire presentation myself, I understand that there were several instances that attendees found offensive. I have been told that several of his images and comments created made female attendees feel uncomfortable, and essentially objectified women. My vision for Flashbelt is an environment where every attendee feels comfortable and welcome, and everyone grows together. Gender balance and equity is important to me. I consider myself a feminist and don't hesitate to say it.

When a room that is 80% men is laughing at jokes that make women feel uncomfortable, it has an effect on the atmosphere of our community. And I don't see that as a positive effect. We need to work together. It's better for everyone.

Be assured I take this seriously and I feel pretty lousy about it.

Read his full statement here.