Women face hostility in cryptocurrency spaces, but they’re fighting back
Wednesday, August 1, 2018/
Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I began investing in cryptocurrency, and why it’s so attractive for women. The article explained that only five percent of cryptocurrency investors are women, and why this means women may be missing out on excellent financial opportunities.
What I didn’t explain fully was why so few women are involved. Some reasons are obvious: women have traditionally been discouraged from participation in tech fields; women have been taught to lack confidence with maths, money and electronics; and women have been persuaded to leave their finances to men.
But there’s another reason women don’t invest — or, at least, why they don’t hang around for long enough to benefit. And this is that many men in cryptocurrency spaces are actively hostile and sexist to women.
When I first started investing, I joined social media groups in an attempt to learn as much as possible. Yet before long, I had retreated from most, and remained only in women’s groups such as this one. As an activist working mainly in women’s empowerment, I have antennae finely tuned to notice sexism, and many mixed-gender crypto groups are an absolute pigswill of misogyny. To say I was gobsmacked by this would be an understatement. I quickly came to realise in many crypto spaces it’s still 1955. Or maybe even 1855.
In contrast, the women’s groups are fabulous. They are supportive, friendly and informative, and full of women wanting no bullshit but lots of learning and community. I enjoyed their company so much I joined a group of crypto women who even meet in person. Out of curiosity, some weeks ago I asked these women for stories about interacting with men in crypto. They knocked me over in the rush to tell their experiences. And although I guessed what they’d say, I was still astounded at how extreme the sexism was.
These are just a few responses.
- A man put up a joke meme about a new token (all cryptocurrency assets are coins or tokens and there are thousands; some brilliant and some worthless) to be called “Female Token”, asking other men to describe it. Responses included: it would be moody, unpredictable and volatile; it would take half when you sold it; it would spike in price once a month and bleed monthly; it would nag incessantly; it would give its owners the silent treatment; and it would be called the #MeToo coin. That’s just the comments fit to relate, and there were dozens commenting, with none objecting.
- Attractive women were constantly bombarded with kisses and love hearts and “show us your tits” comments, and with private messages looking for dates or hook-ups. Many received unsolicited dick pics.
- Older women and those not considered conventionally beautiful endured disparaging comments or were told to make sandwiches, get back in the kitchen, or leave investing to their husbands.
- Women were consistently laughed at and told they were stupid, and when they put up posts looking for or giving information, these were routinely ignored by men.
- Many groups used male pronouns exclusively in posts, and group header pics were gendered (such as pics of suits and ties as group logos).
- There was constant “blokey” talk about women, cars, gaming and body parts. Gendered slurs were common — women were called bitches, sluts, whores and cows, and openly told they’re “too emotional” to be good investors.
- Women who posted content men disagreed with were openly threatened. One woman tried to warn others about a scam operation, and men involved with that scam openly said they’d “destroy her” or find her in real life. Men were never threatened in the same way.
The women giving me these examples hadn’t let the behaviour stop them investing. On the contrary, it made them more determined not to be scared away. They simply did what I did, which was to leave, and find like-minded women. But there must be many women who quietly creep away in horror and never return.
Apart from everything else wrong with this, it makes no practical sense. The value of cryptocurrency rises when more people invest, so sidelining half the population is bizarre. Yet so many men don’t seem to be able to stop harassing, ignoring or openly attacking women who dare to enter what they see as their turf.
Who are these men? Not surprisingly, they tend to be quite young. Generally aged between 20 and 30, they’re often heavily involved in tech, including online gaming. This is where information about cryptocurrencies spreads like wildfire and it’s why these men have been the early adopters of this new technology. And just as gaming and related fields are heavily misogynistic, so are the kinds of men who flow through to be crypto investors.
Of course, it’s not all men! Crypto trading expert Craig Cobb speaks openly about the need to increase numbers of women in crypto. As he told me last week: “My company Trader Cobb employs roughly 50% women — it might be more now actually — and we also have a strong focus on female guests on the Trader Cobb Crypto Show. I’ve also created podcasts calling for the audience to be inclusive and to bring this amazing technology to the eyes of women. We have a truly amazing opportunity here to mould the next wave of innovation: a new world within the internet. Do we really want to do that without an even representation of men and women? I certainly don’t think so.”
As I said in my last piece, the sexism in crypto shouldn’t stop women getting involved. There are ways to circumvent it and find people of both genders who abhor the poor treatment of women and are working to get more women involved. Women just need to find them and use them! And childish men need to grow up.
There’s no way I would allow a bunch of boorish, immature men stop me taking hold of this tremendous investment opportunity. Why should they have all the opportunities, and all the fun?
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