First, a huge thank-you to all the folks who have commented on my post (whether they agree with it or not) and who have followed up on Perlmonks to say "well, I think this might be correct" - or not, as long as it's not about me, but about the topic. I think it's important to talk about what happened, even if no one's mind is directly changed.
I'm afraid that at least one of the participants feels singled out, which was not my intention. I am truly sorry that this person feels attacked. This was totally not what I wanted or was trying to do.
To try to clarify this social thing for folks who normally ignore it or don't see the point, I'm going to invoke an extended metaphor here.
All I wanted to do, to go all technical about it, was to issue a social diagnostic: a warning, not an error message, that said "I think Perkmonks needs to be inclusive, and sexualizing software doesn't do that".
At no time did I want to say or imply anyone was a bad person, nor did I want anyone else to say so (If you did, please follow along here to see what I was really after). Nor did I want to say, "this social interaction, large and small-scale, cannot proceed unless this changes."
That's not what warnings are for. They are meant to inform - to communicate that there were perhaps unintended consequences. They are not telling you "you are a terrible, terrible programmer and should now walk away and start digging ditches". They are meant to say, "you've made a choice that may have consequences other than you planned, and you should consider correcting this," and "when you run this, it may not do exactly what you intend it to do."
I believe, that originally, the impulse was to share something that brought lightness to the original poster's day. It ran on his internal mental architecture and made him smile or laugh. Running on his internal mental processor, there was no diagnostic that said "this may have unintended consequences on other architectures". The idea is to internalize that other architectures exist, and that you may need to adjust code released ostensibly to run on all of them.
It's the difference between getting an OS-X-only diagnostic and saying, "oh, right, I should change that so it runs properly there" and saying "well, you ought to be running a decent OS and then you wouldn't have this problem". Or even saying, "I really don't have a way to make that work on a Mac. I should consider whether that feature should go in to the main release - or if I should release it in a way that Mac users know it's not for them".
We have been guilty, to a certain extent, of dismissing Windows in the Perl community. Having that attitude doesn't make Windows folks say, "my heavens, you're right - I have seen the light and shall abandon this OS and the years of investment in it right away!" Instead, it makes them say, "man, what a bunch of prejudiced, blinkered idiots! Why am I bothering with this?"
A social diagnostic is meant to provide information. You can decide that it's not worth bothering with and ignore it, or take it to heart and try to make a change. Attacking the source of the diagnostic is counter-productive. If you get a warning that you've reused a 'my' variable, you don't say, "well, this verion of Perl is complete garbage, because I want to do that, and therefore it should change to allow me to do so."
You either tell the compiler "I know that I'm doing this and I want to; please turn off that diagnostic here", or you look at the code and say, "Hm, okay, I can change that".
You don't, however, complain "the Perl interpreter isn't accepting and running this perfectly good Python code; there must be something wrong with the compiler that it would tell me that it thinks my program shouldn't run here". You can either fix it so the Perl interpreter can run it, or you go use the Python compiler for that particular bit of code. (If that was too esoteric a parallel: there are places where posting that cartoon wouldn't have offended anyone in that place, and if you want to hang out in those places, I'm not going to say you shouldn't. I may think so, but I don't have the right to tell you where you can go and who you should hang out with. I will tell you if you do something that i dislike; it is up to you to decide if you want to not do it where I can see it - and if you want to keep doing it at all once I've mentioned it.)
There has been quite a bit of black-and-whiting in this discussion: "oh, you obviously think you're perfect and that I'm terrible". As I said on Perlmonks, I screw social things up all the time - even with close friends. Maybe especially with close friends.
I badly hurt a close friend this weekend because I didn't think it through before I said something (not in a gender-related discussion, though). I am totally not saying "I know better about what all women think than you do." Women whom I know and admire - and who are very accepting people, and whose ability to think in a straight line I deeply respect - have said to me, "someone posted this? Seriously?". So I transmit the diagnostic because I'm there, and playing on the lowest difficulty setting and am therefore sufficiently sure of myself in the community that a bad reaction isn't going to make me think, "jeez, do I really belong here at all?".
Again, I'm sorry it got and felt personal. It was never intended to be, beyond saying, "here's a place where by saying, 'whoops, I guess that wasn't as appropriate as I thought', you personally can do something to help Perl's image as a boy's club, and I would admire you a lot for doing so, though I admit I'll be disappointed if you don't."