So there’s a depressing (but very much a must-read) piece over on Yahoo News at the moment chronicling how a lawsuit by Men’s Rights activists (allegedly) led to the demise of Chic CEO, a small company offering support and advice for women entrepreneurs in the male-dominated tech world.
As Yahoo Tech writer Alyssa Bereznak explains, the whole debacle started when two men decided that they needed to be part of a Chic CEO networking event. Because, clearly, men need a leg up in the tech world.
So here’s a new perspective on the whole “should we allow women to take over the tech industry or any other industry” question, courtesy of the Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Technology blog. Yes, women, if you want to run a business or an industry you apparently have to check with the dudes at the Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Technology blog first.
Over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, the lovely IHaveALargePenis explains that it’s not sexism holding back women in science and technology. No way! It’s just that women are inferior at science and technology. No sexism involved at all!
Maybe IHaveALArgePenis should have taken an English class or two and learned what “irony” is.
Also, uh, how exactly are security cameras supposed to guard against sexism? This is a new one to me.
Wow. The vitriol directed at Adria Richards by the angry dudes of Reddit was so extreme it even had Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian feeling a bit embarrassed by the monster he helped to create. In a blog post earlier this week, Ohanian chided the
(otherwise reasonable-seeming) people I saw who were comfortable and self-righteous in calling a woman a bitch/cunt/etc from their Twitter, Hacker News, or, yes, reddit account. …
The comments (and support for them) I’ve seen over the past few days have really disappointed me … This isn’t “political correctness,” this is you having the courage to use your words to create an environment that promotes an open exchange of ideas — not alienate people and certainly not terrorize them.
He reminded the “not-poor straight white men” who dominate the tech world that many of them were once the victims of bullies themselves.
Growing up, we typically weren’t picked first for sports, but were first on the Quake II server. Few people really understood our peculiar hobbies or how amazing it was to see “Hello, world” for the first time. Plenty of us got used to being ignored. Many of us were bullied. But what did we learn from it — empathy or hate?
We need to know the answer, because suddenly we are the cool kids. They’re making movies about us. We’re “rock stars.” Holy shit, the rest of the world is finally realizing how awesome we are. The geek has inherited the earth. And now that we’re the powerful ones, we need to remember: with great power comes great responsibility. It’s irresponsible to continue to act as though we are victims.
Now, there are more than a few problems with Ohanian’s plea for tolerance, up to and including all that self-aggrandizing crap at the end. On Buzzfeed, John Herrman describes Ohanian’s post as a “strategic response to a real problem.” As Herrman notes, the blog post
distances Ohanian from the site he helped create. Here, he is a commentator, not a leader. It’s a baldly political move: By identifying as a geek and then criticizing geek culture, he joins an ongoing conversation about tolerance in tech; but by minimizing Reddit’s role in driving the backlash against Adria Richards (its /r/mensrights community is raising money for the “vicims” of Richards), and characterizing the site’s actions as a reflection of a larger problem rather than a possible cause, Ohanian exonerates himself.
Technically, it was the Red Pill subreddit that started that laughable Feminist Victims Fund, but it’s certainly the case that Men’s Rights Redditors have been some of the loudest Adria Richards haters on the Internet.
Despite Herrman’s criticism, which I think is generally on the mark, Ohanian’s post is still quite striking. Apparently one of the architects of Reddit is beginning not only to realize but to publicly acknowledge just how toxic the culture on Reddit can be.
The big question now is whether or not the powers-that-be at Reddit will do anything about it.