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Why the Women in Blockchain Movement Makes Me Nauseous

Originally published on: CCN
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March 10, 2019

I’m almost completely over Netlifx. As a single mother of two, that’s a pretty sad spot to be in. Netflix was basically my social life. But all this political correctness is starting to irritate me. The tidal wave of ‘strong female leads’, and the exact proportion of people of color scattered throughout their movies is not exactly subtle. And it feels just a little bit forced–which brings me to women in blockchain.

Before you start to yell ‘fascist’, ‘racist’, or ‘sexist’, you should probably know I’m a female writer with Arabic roots–and also how irrelevant that is. I know how to appreciate great content and exceptional actors. But I can tell when they’re filling a quota.

After that human cockroach Harvey Weinstein thrust the subject of female oppression and abuse into the spotlight, the #MeToo movement gathered momentum. And like everything in life, it’s gone too far.

No one knows if they’ve ‘made it’ because they’re good or if they’re making up for centuries of repression.

We Need More Women in Blockchain-But Why?

Millions of women around the world are mistreated and suffer at the hands of men. That’s lamentable. But worse still are the many millions more that hashtagged into a movement after being felt up in a car after too many beers.

Come on. We’re so much better than that. Instead of victimizing ourselves, women in any industry from blockchain to pornography should be able to handle themselves with a little more grace.

It wasn’t long after the #MeToo movement that I was backed into a corner by an overbearing Matriarchal type in a Dublin bar after a conference.

“We need more women in tech” she proclaimed while swigging on her Guinness. I, backed against a wall and just a little bit scared of having a weight disadvantage in this fight, dutifully agreed. Until she said:

You’re a writer, we need a writer to explain blockchain to women. Can you do that for us, write us an article about blockchain in a way that women will understand?

At that point, bookie’s advantage or no, I no longer cared whether her right hook would send me into a coma or not. In fact, I involuntarily spat out my champagne. Not my proudest moment, but it seems I have an in-built reflex for repelling stupidity.

Lord help the rest of us pertaining to the ‘weaker sex’ if this is the kind of ambassador we have.

Please Let’s Not Start Filling Up Quotas

Over the years, I’ve been invited to speak, interview, write, and even pertain to several groups about women in blockchain. But that memory of the Irish bar makes me cringe. Perhaps it was the Guinness (another thing that can make you nauseous if too much is rammed down your throat). But I rather think it was more than that.

Blythe Masters, former managing director and head of JP Morgan Global Commodities was a high-profile blockchain executive not for because of her gender but her accompishments in Wall Street. | Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce CenetaAP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

So here’s the thing you’re just not supposed to say…

In the wake of International Women’s Day on Friday, which I, by the way, celebrated by waking up at 6 am, preparing my kids for school, working for nine hours, picking them up, feeding them, bathing them, making a papier-mache caterpiller, and then going back to work, find myself wondering…

Why do we need more women in blockchain?

Because the last thing we need is for blockchain to start following in Netflix’ shoes. Blockchain is neutral to gender, religion, color, location. If hundreds of women run hundreds of nodes, that is of no relevance whatsoever.

But if all of a sudden, we felt that a certain number of nodes had to be run by women, that would feel decidedly like an intervention. A centralized affair that flies in the face of Satoshi’s vision.

We Shouldn’t Force Blockchain on People

I spoke to Franklyn Richards of Litecoin a while back. I wondered why, if blockchain is for everyone, they would choose to sponsor such a male-dominated event as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

He understood what I was getting at about blockchain being inclusive, but argued that you shouldn’t fight against the market or force things on people. If they are interested they will come.

And to an extent, I agree.

Of course, you can take the other road, and say we need more education for women beginning at a grassroots level in STEM subjects. Maybe removing the deluge of pink toys and princesses and barbies would be a smart move as well.

But then again, it isn’t only women who need educating on blockchain technology.

After all, us females may lag behind in the numbers. But if new findings by the FCA are to be believed, cryptocurrency is mainly used by men aged 20 to 44 and:

‘73% of all those asked said they could not define it.’

Where Is the ‘Men in Blockchain’ Movement?

Then there’s the other sticky wicket that sprouts from the very issue of singling out successful women in blockchain. There is no ‘men in blockchain’ movement. No man has ever been hallmarked and asked what it’s like to be a male in this industry. Yet their female coworkers are fielding these brain-draining questions every day.

So, please, let’s stop bleating out that vapid phrase “we need more women in blockchain” and start asking ourselves why first.

If it’s to sex up the stands and provide testosterone-fueled male developers with some eye-candy at conferences, let’s just hire more escorts.

Because from where I’m standing, no one is actually denying women access. There’s plenty of room for women in blockchain who want to prove themselves, just as anywhere else in life. This isn’t a private gentleman’s club, even if an after-party at an event can leave you feeling that way.

While we have ambassadors for the ‘women in tech’ movement making poor females believe that their lady brains can’t assimilate information in the same way as a man, frankly, we’re doing more harm than good.

So, yes. The whole women in blockchain thing makes me nauseous.

No one should ever be denied access to anything. Unless they’re not qualified, not old enough, not prepared, or just clinically stupid.

Hopefully, the whole shakeup in Hollywood will open the doors for more minority actors and women around the world.

Just as long as they’re good at what they do and the content doesn’t start to become painful to watch.

Like blockchain, more women would be amazing if they choose to come. But if they don’t, that’s ok too.

And let’s not make them feel like aliens when they arrive.

Interviewing Elizabeth Stark or Blythe Masters, let’s ask them about their achievements and not their genitalia. Women in blockchain will get much further if we stop reminding them they have a vagina.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

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