We can already hear the giggles now. Apparently, as reported by NetworkWorld’s Buzzblog, the phrase “big boobs” — or at least a geek’s coded version of the phrase — was slipped into some code by someone from Microsoft.

Maybe they can blame it on whoever was behind that Norwegian dance routine.

Take a moment to collect yourselves now.

Forever, it’s been rumored that Disney filmmakers always slip something rather adult into their children’s flicks. Consider this the high-tech version. The phrase “0xB16B00B5,” a.k.a., “big boobs,” has been caught in “software code that connects the Linux kernel to Microsoft’s HyperV virtualization product,” as Buzzblog reports. (Note: I have no idea what this means.) Microsoft reportedly jumped on the problem, apologized and fixed it right away.

The Buzzblog column goes on to deride the coder as a sexist monster and says this kind of behavior should never be tolerated!

As a woman, with boobs, I would like to ask everyone to take it down a level.

First: At work, in work, for your workplace, you should never pull such, as comments call it on Buzzblog, “frat house” type antics. It’s just never OK to put sexist or derogatory or degrading stuff into your work about anyone. And, as several women who work in such environments have pointed out, it’s still very much an Old Boy’s Club in these places. Which, again, as a woman, I get. And it sucks. And these antics are not helping us be considered as equals, get promotions or paid equally. And if you, male coders, had to endure probably one week as a woman in these places, you’d change your tune fast about what you deem acceptable behavior.

That said, it’s just boobs, people. I imagine the person who did this is a socially awkward, pleated khakis, cellphone-to-the-belt-wearing 37-year-old virgin who still lives with his mother. Or a stupid ex-frat boy who hates his boring-ass suburban life. It’s juvenile. It’s stupid. But it’s still just boobs.

Perhaps, may I say, if we embraced the breasts and their importance in society, instead of treating women’s bodies like a dirty joke, these kinds of things wouldn’t be that funny. Then again, adulthood really is just like high school, with better bank accounts, so perhaps that’s asking a bit much.

For a start, perhaps human resources at Microsoft should get everyone a copy of the new outstanding book, “Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History” by Florence Williams?

Photo via Bigstock

Molly Brown is a writer and editor who comes from an arts and culture background, including stints at Billboard Magazine and Kirkus Reviews. An avid blogger on all-things culture, she covers a wide range of fun, geeky topics on GeekWire's Geek Life beat.
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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/theiphone Heather Graham

    only frat.boys can joke about boobs? honestly the women qho freak out and make assumptions like this just prove why there is sexism. get over it and stop being so dramatic your all pathetic. atleast that guy did something what have you women done?

  • William

    When did the U.S. become a nation of Puritans? References to anatomy in a non-sexual context — in no context at all, honestly — are perfectly benign.

  • guest

    Not excusing it, because it was juvenile. But let’s not extrapolate from one moron to all male coders or worse MS’s employee population generally. And I think most men in 2012 understand that this and other sexist behavior is inappropriate.

  • guest

    My guess is this MS employee gets hunted down and fired, while the ones who lost $6 billion on aQuantive, including Ballmer, get to stay.

  • seandr

    “Big boobs” may be juvenile and stupid, but 0xB16B00B5 as an error code is pretty funny.

  • arcana112

    Linux geeks were pissed because they are not getting any (“big boobs” that is….)…

    Sad but true….

    • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr MHazell

      Linus Torvalds is the creator of Linux, and is pretty much a tech guru. He has kids.

      …so take that :)

  • Peter H

    First the piece on Flash mobs, now this — I am starting to really like your op-eds, Molly Brown.
    I will say it’s odd to hear you say most software houses are still old boys clubs. In 20 years I’ve never seen one. In fact I’d say me and my fellow men have had fear of sexual harassment scared into us so hard we don’t even dare say “you look nice”, much less comment on boobs. Maybe you interpret that coldness as an old boys club; to me it’s defense.

  • balls187

    The issue really isn’t about sexism, boobs, or whatever. It’s really just about professionalism.

    Engineering is a tough job. Have fun doing it, but be professional. As a large company, MSFT has to apologize. And while it’s probably a minor incident, not being professional with your work caused this to happen.

  • Jack Whack

    So, is it OK for a female coder to insert 0xB16COCK5?

    • Jefferson

      No, it’s not.

      Chances are, a female coder would be too mature to do something like that.

  • http://twitter.com/GairdinDawn Dawn

    Don’t look at anything I have coded. Programmers add stuff like this to keep themselves amused all the time.

  • Jefferson

    I don’t understand this article at all.
    In one paragraph, the author claims that “it’s never ok to put sexist or derogatory or degrading stuff into your work about anyone.” Next, she writes, “That said, it’s just boobs, people.” It’s never ok, but under certain circumstances, it is ok? The fact that the joke was coded by a socially awkward man or an ex-frat boy makes it excusable?The author implies that sexual discrimination is not that serious of an issue. If the hex value spelled out a derogatory word for a black person, or a Jewish person, or an overweight person, you better believe that this controversy would be a highly publicized PR nightmare for Microsoft and would be generating major headlines.
    The sad reality is that dismissing this behavior will perpetuate the sexism that the author wants changed.

  • Anon

    With all due respect, if you don’t know what a hypervisor is, you can go and blog on a non-tech website, something more your level. Maybe I should blog on a feminist website?

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