Thank You Ellen Pao

I had an “interesting” lesson lately with Twitter haters. I always like to post thought-provoking articles on Facebook so I posted a few weeks ago an article titled : “Thank you Ellen Pao for teaching more people about sexism in the workplace.” This topic was on my mind as I learned that a friend and her several colleagues were fired right after coming back from maternity leave.

I didn’t know too much about Ellen Pao nor felt any sense of solidarity with her specifically as evidence showed that she was no saint in her conduct. Nevertheless, I reasoned that her case was putting sexism at work at the top of mind for some people so it was a good time to talk more about this issue and share examples from around the world (which the article was ultimately about).

I then tweeted this article and some stats about the lower salaries of women players in the FIFA World Cup (only 2.3 % of total paid to the men) and I was really shocked that I started getting various responses from men. They were upset with me for “supporting” Ellen Pao, and eager to share all sorts of articles about how horrible of a person she is, what an awful husband she married, how she destroyed Reddit, etc etc. On the women player salaries, I was told to “get over myself”.

When I looked at these guys’ Twitter accounts I saw that all they tweeted and retweeted had hate speech against women and attacks on anything they mapped as feminist. It was a deliberate work they did, to find women that tweet about issues and attack them personally.

I, of course, blocked those guys; they have no relevance for my life and I am not going to waste time arguing with someone who has no intention to listen. BUT, their arguments reminded me of other times in my life when I was confronted with blunt sexist comments and was told to keep my “feminist propaganda” to myself when I dared to object.

If  you want to get a better feel for what I mean – check out the #thankYouEllenPao hashtag on twitter.

Lets pause here: I don’t know what your definition of feminism is but mine is that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. (it doesn’t mean that I hate men, don’t think man are valuable or expect them to get thrown under a bus driven by some hairy and muscular woman)

I am disgusted by this type of aggression but am certainly not surprised. I am happy to say that many young men that I know are just as disgusted by this type of behavior and some of them are actually more actively “feminist” than I.

It was the overwhelming support of the entire scientific community that got Tim Hunt sacked for his derogatory comments about women scientists (claiming that they should be put in separate laboratories because they fall in love with him).

It’s therefore important that we all work together to make sure that our women don’t get discriminated or disrespected by a haters minority, which sometimes can become a majority.

By the way, I found out that one of the things that brought on the great discontent of Reddit users agains Ellen was that she wanted to close forums that promoted hated speech against fat people, women and racial minorities (they claimed she was violating freedom of speech). How ironic.

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