If Programming Languages Were Women

Programming Languages

UPDATE: This post drew a lot of attention. Some found it amusing, others thought it offered a useful distinction between programming languages; others were offended; and some felt all of the above. Here’s my take:

We screwed up. Regardless of how you personally interpreted this content, it has no place at uTest. The purpose of our blog (and our content in general) is to educate and entertain, while elevating the level of discussion about app development and app testing. And we failed to accomplish this mission to the standard to which we hold ourselves.

When you make a mistake, it’s natural to want to defend, deflect or rationalize it. But the measure of a brand and it’s people is how they respond when they err, so let me take this opportunity to apologize sincerely. This was a failure of sensitivity; of sensibility; and of the trust we’ve built with hundreds of thousands of professionals who read our blogs. They rightly expect more from us.

We’re going to leave this post up because it’s not fair to hide from our mistakes. And apologies alone don’t make a wrong right, so I will simply say that I and every member of the uTest team is taking this experience very much to heart. We will learn from this mistake, agonize over it, and we will improve.

– Matt Johnston, uTest CMO, mattj@utest.com

– — –

A recent Quora query asked “In layman’s terms, what are the major programming languages, and what are they used for?Isaac Lewis‘ answer was so hilarious we just had to share it.

PHP is your teenage sweetheart, the girl you first awkwardly fumbled around with that one summer. Just don’t try and start a more serious relationship – this girl has serious issues.

Perl is PHP’s older sister. She might be a bit old for you, but she was pretty popular back in the 90s. In a long-term relationship with Larry Wall, so her standards have dropped, and she’s looking seriously fugly now. “I don’t care what y’all say, I still love her!”, he says. No-one else does.

Ruby is the cool kid of the scripting family. When you first saw her, she took your breath away with her beauty. She was fun, too. At the time she seemed a bit slow and ditzy – though she’s matured a lot in the last few years.

Python is Ruby’s more sensible sister. She’s elegant, classy, and sophisticated. She’s perhaps too perfect. Most guys are like “dude, how can you not like Python!?”. Sure, you like Python. You just consider her the boring version of the edgy and romantic Ruby.

Java is a successful career woman. Some people who’ve worked with feel she owes her position less to ability and more to her knack for impressing the middle-management types. You might feel that she’s the sensible type you should settle down with. Just prepare for years of “NO THAT DOESNT GO THERE GOD YOU ALWAYS USE THE WRONG TYPE INTERFACE AND YOU MISSED A SEMICOLON” nagging.

C++ is Java’s cousin. Similar to Java in many ways, the main difference being she grew up in a more innocent time and doesn’t believe in using protection. By “protection”, I mean automatic memory management, of course. What did you think I meant?

C is C++’s mom. Mention her name to some old grey beard hackers and they’re sure to reminisce with a twinkle in their eye.

Objective C is another member of the C family. She joined that weird church a while back, and won’t date anyone outside of it.

Haskell, Clojure, Scheme and their friends are those hipster, artsy, intellectual girls you probably spent a blissful college summer with a few years ago. The first girls who really challenged you. Of course, it could never have become something more serious (you tell yourself). Though you’ll always be left asking “what if?”

You might be put off C# due to her family’s reputation. But they’ve gone legit, the last few years, they tell you. Once you’re one of us, you’re one of us, you hear? You need a database? Her brother MSSQL will hook you up. Need a place to stay? Heck, her daddy will even buy you your own mansion on Azure avenue. What’s that, you’re having second thoughts about all these overly friendly relatives? No, you can never leave. You’re part of the family, now, ya hear?

Javascript - hey, wasn’t that the girl you first kissed, way before even PHP came on the scene? I wonder what she’s doing now. I hear her career’s really taken off in the last few years. Would be cool to catch up some time, if only for old time’s sake… (You catch sight of her, dressed head to toe in designer jQuery)… wow, somebody grew into a beautiful swan…e else does.

Isaac recently launched a blog dedicated to “explaining techonology in a non-technical way.” Be sure to check out The CTO Network.

And don’t forget to read the rest of the Quora answers, some are funny, some are tongue-in-cheek and some are actually helpful.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing


  1. Michael says

    If these were guys, C++ would be the dude at the gym with tiny legs and huge arms. and c would be his fit cousin who is kind of embarrassed by him, but what can he do, they are family.

  2. Christian says

    Great post and the analogies, for the most part, are spot on. I’d like to say it was refreshing to see that the majority of the comments fall on the side of common sense! Jesus christ people, can/could you imagine how boring of a world this would be if we constantly bowed to everyone’s sensitivities.

    Really dude, there’s NOTHING wrong/problematic about PHP.. that is a.. hilarious opinion.

  3. Emaly says

    I love this! You should not have apologized for writing it. It is cute, entertaining and you use good examples. If someone is offended by it, they should spoof it themselves, or merely not read it.

  4. Oliver says

    I find your grovelling apology immeasurably more toe-curling than the original post ever could have been.

  5. the king says

    I totally disagree about PHP, theres nothing problematic about it and Ruby is hardly as good. Whoever posted this is probably a bohemian ruby fanboy hipster loser with a macbook

  6. Clint Staley says

    Instead of all the PC hand-wringing, why doesn’t someone just come up with a version analogizing languages to male character types. I thought Niki’s post was a good start. I’d love to read a full version. :)

  7. says

    (Sorry for the typos above, this website doesn’t work very well in mobile browsers and I missed them.) The preview button is also broken.

  8. says

    I am saddened that so many men (and women!?!) Don’t seem to understand what is wrong with the original post. I know I’ve been lucky in life (starting with being born white, male, able bodied, and heterosexual) and I’m also thankful to all of the women I’ve known who have patiently led me to understand our cultures’ (US and technology are the ones I’m most familiar with acne it’s certainly even worse in some others) treatment of women. It’s so ingrained in our discourse that most don’t see or comprehend what things like this mean. (There are several examples of this above.)

    It’s not about being PC, it’s about understanding our individual roles in society and the implicit meaning behind our words. I have no reason to believe that the author intended anything other than “good light hearted fun” but if someone is reinforcing gender stereotypes shouldn’t that be pointed out as undesirable if we believe that women should be allowed the same opportunities as men? (I can understand why many men would prefer to maintain the status quo but I prefer capable women in the office to the mediocre men they would replace.)

    This isn’t to say that things like this can’t be funny but comparing programming languages to stereotypical archetypes of “ideal” women reinforces the idea that women are just window dressing and paints a picture for them of what they should strive to be if they’re going to be accepted by men in the workplace. One obvious change to the original would have been making it inclusive of men; poking fun at ourselves, the power structure, making caricatures of men, painting ourselves as needy and attention seeking as well would have put this post on a much more even keel.

    Yeah, it’s hard to say anything that doesn’t offend someone, especially when humor is involved. What’s the problem with being able to identify when you’re doing so and understanding what effect your words have?

  9. srcv says

    Great post. @Niki — great response! Both with a lot of good humor and creativity. Maybe I could feel offended if I were Larry Wall, otherwise I see no reason. Neither in the post nor in Niki’s comment.

  10. Don says

    I find this article very offensive and childish. The issue is not about being “Politically Correct”, it’s about respecting women. This article does not show any respect for women.

  11. Brian R says

    Smalltalk – the Latin precursor to Java, Ruby, and other OO-pretenders. If you grew up under her wing you’d be smirking at the ‘innovations’ the newcomers invented for she came up most of them with long ago. You’re still using primitive values? Don’t have real fractions? No metaclasses?

  12. Sarah C. says

    Calling women who name your sexist attitudes as such ‘over sensitive’ or calling it ‘PC’ is a demeaning & sexist response.

  13. Julie says


    What about this language then?

    Juan Del Pueblo said:
    Coldfusion is a a beautiful bitch.
    Posted on 11/28/2012 at 3:25 pm

  14. Jamie Saine says


    Your original post contained specific language that had been previously deemed inappropriate for this blog.

    We do not, as a general rule, delete comments based on their point of view.


  15. ranndino says

    I see. The comments from over sensitive ladies who get offended by everything stay yet mine giving you props for reposting something funny gets deleted. What a world we live in. I should move to some place where women aren’t so annoying & men aren’t so scared they apologize for nothing & delete comments that agree with them.

  16. jose says

    The mind is unpredictable and its behavior wen put in situations has proven to be righteous even struggling with the heackls and irritating. Comments the big picture is still a focus. Point in his or her progress

  17. Katie says

    Ummm what is sexist about this article? I read it though a few times and thought it was pretty funny. If you find this sexist or offensive that says something more about your issues rather than the article. Lighten up and laugh at yourself a little.

  18. carrie says

    Cute! I don’t think this is sexist. We live in such a PC world where people are offended easily instead of seeing the humor in things and in life. I think this can be appreciated by women too, not just men. Well done. @Nikki – well done! haha

  19. Ben says

    Node.js – A professional rally driver whom you know can kick your ass whilst making her own sandwich and fixing the TV. You like her a lot; you’re just a little scared of her. (I know I am.)

  20. Gideon says

    I’ll marry Java SE, My best man will be Java ME, My children will be Java EE & My neighbor will be Javascript!

  21. says

    If programming languages were men…

    JavaScript is that annoying, jumpy kid you kissed once back in high school. He’s friendly enough, but he’s inconsistent. One day he’s telling you everything’s cool and the next day he’s making all sorts of crazy demands on you. He doesn’t have many friends but somehow he’s at allll the parties.

    Java is rich, classy and stuck up. He’s a total type A personality and not very pleasant to work with. But sometimes he’s the one with just enough clout to get a job done.

    C++ is Java’s “bro,” and they’re always competing with one another. Half the time they compete it’s a draw, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to one-up one another all the time like a couple of Neanderthals. You’re kind of over both of them.

    C is C++’s father. It’s where C++ got most of his bad manners and outdated ideas.

    COBOL is the older gentleman who was big is his day and has it in his head that he’s still got it. He does get the occasional older woman, and once in a while you catch him leering at you from behind an old mainframe. Gross.

  22. Ruby says

    Oh I’m sure this article can be appreciated by both sexes – a sense of humour is not phenotypically-specific.

    It’s probably more sexist to assume – as a woman – that women can’t appreciate this article, than the article is per se.

  23. Anna says

    I don’t know ladies, I quite enjoyed it. It’s very possible that one of those cool hipster scripts came out of the closet at some point, or perl is actually a transsexual. Who knows?

    Unhappy with given imagery? Figure out a version for us girls. I’ve personally endeavored to learn a useful language, and would get cranking right away on an equivalent of Ryan Gosling.

  24. Charlene says

    Cute examples. I hope people don’t take this too seriously as it’s just a parody. Maybe use some examples as guys next time. Well written and creative :)

  25. Jamie Saine says

    Meghan and Idrissa,

    I shared this post because I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek way to explain programming languages. I certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone. I saw it more in the vein of exaggerated Rom-Com style comedy. I’m sorry.


  26. idrissa says

    I agree, meghan. This article is kinda sexist. Kinda funny too but this article can’t be appreciated by both sexes.

  27. says

    Awesome post. Very funny and so true. I like how all the Lisps are hipster, intellectual girls and of course how Objective C won’t date anyone outside of the church. Pretty funny stuff.

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