Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sexual abuse of Whitney Wolfe at Tinder. The norm not the exception

Whitney Wolfe
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
I just read Nick Summer’s account in Business Week’s of the situation at Tinder, an entity he describes as “The popular hookup app.”.   A former employee and female executive, Whitney Wolfe, has filed a sexual harassment suit against the company citing constant abuse and being airbrushed from the history as a co-founder of the company.

Whenever I see these young middle and upper middle class techie entrepreneurs as they call them I am not impressed.  You have to be a particular type of human being to accumulate $5, $10, $20 billion by the time your 25 or 30 assuming you never won it in the lottery.  These people and their hedge fund cousins have lost their humanity. You have to be self centered, narcissistic and see yourself as above it all.  They have been taught this all their lives; it is rooted in their class character.  Their parents told them how smart they are.  They went to expensive schools and universities and have all the connections their class background offers, though they are told they have what they have by their own merit and accomplishment alone; they pulled themselves up by their own Birkenstock straps. How can they not be brilliant, special individuals, they wouldn’t be where they are otherwise?
As Jerry said to George when he asked if his prospective blind date was smarter than him, “George, how can she be smarter than you?” 

Whitney Wolfe describes a vicious misogynistic climate at Tinder where she was a vice president for marketing before leaving the company after being called a “whore” in front of the CEO.  She was subjected to a “constant stream of sexually charged abuse” as her superiors at Tinder and its parent company “looked the other way.”. The aforementioned CEO dismissed her pleas for help as “dramatic” writes Summers.
She had dated her boss, Justin Mateen, the Chief Marketing Officer; this is always a dodgy issue for women in these positions. The abuse was systematic.  Mateen called her a “desperate loser” who “jumps from relationship to relationship” a badge of honor for the male executive.  Other adjectives described her as a “joke” a “gold digger” a “disease” and a “slut” who needed to be “watched”.

Summers writes favorably about Wolfe, accepting her claim that she was a co-founder of the company and that this “deserves to be known,”.  Wolfe claims it was she who suggested the name “Tinder” to her boss.

She was an aggressive marketer an important part in “getting an app to critical mass” which “isn’t easy” says Summers. What would humanity do without “hookup” apps I wonder?  Wolfe developed a marketing plan to attract the shallow superficial types that populate these sorority houses.  Joe Munoz, a co-worker describes how Wolfe would go to the different chapters of her sorority, organize meetings and a presentation and “have all the girls at the meetings install the app”.  After this momentous and historically significant act, she would head over to the “… fraternity----they’d open the app and see all these cute girls they knew” and “Tinder’s use base tripled” says Munoz. I guess that one has to be “cute” to be in a sorority and handsome to be in a fraternity.  But most importantly, one has to come from the correct class background and have all the connections such a background bestows.

Munoz agrees that Wolfe never got the credit due her and agrees with the article’s author that it appears she was “shunted aside” in favor her bosses’ pal.

Wolf’s world of work is one dominated by men just like society as a whole.  “Although it is tempting to describe the conduct of Timder’s senior executives as frat-like”,  Wolfe claims in her suit, “it was in fact much worse—representing the worst of the misogynist, alpha-male stereotype too often associated with technology startups.” Summers points out that he noticed that Wolf’s two bosses had posted a screenshot on to Instagram of a new urban dictionary word, “Tinderslut”, frat life does produce a creative mind it seems. Her bosses’ private Instagram feed was full of photos of scantily dressed women with captions “about bimbos” and similar insults.  It’s not that a person shouldn’t get a certain pleasure from the image of a naked woman, but it’s how they perceive women in general that is the problem, as objects, as “bimbos” 

Wolfe alleges after complaining about her treatment she was removed from her position by her superiors, and was told that having a "24year-old girl" as a co-founder made them "seem like a joke" and “devalued the company”

The whole bunch of them and their parasitic activity has little to offer humanity I reckon.  But as I read the nasty, abusive names and got a sense of the atmosphere in that place it doesn’t surprise me.  All these people, Wolfe included, have no love for the millions of people whose work creates the wealth in society.  They have nothing but contempt for the working man or woman, the man at the check stand at Safeway, the woman reading the gas meter, or operating the local buss service. If they had any smarts and drive they would be working at Tinder or creating a “Tinder” of their own; wage labor is demeaning. Living off the profit of capital is true freedom and socially respectable. It is the only honorable profession.

Wolfe wanted to be part of this world, this worthless activity.  Why not, there was money to be made.  Regardless of one’s view on this subject and the wasters that accumulate capital without doing any productive work, women in this field or any other have a right not to be discriminated against, harassed and abused in this way.  They have the right to equality in the workplace, equal treatment and the respect and opportunity they deserve.  Socialists must aggressively defend the right of all women to freedom from discrimination and harassment, including the wives and daughters of the bourgeois.  As nasty as Hilary Clinton is as an aggressive defender of the ruling class ad its exploitation of working class women, she faced blatant discrimination from the media and her political opponents during her debates with Obama during the Democratic Primaries 8 years ago.  It was blatant and cruel.

The same anti-women bias exists in the working class and damages us severely, weakens us in our struggle against capital.  I may have my own blue-collar, working class bias but I figure the higher up the wasters’ pecking order, the more power and money one has, the worse it gets, the more abuse they inflict on any person in a weaker position socially.

When workers used to ask me how or why I would defend a “guilty” co-worker or a worker that had been caught stealing. I always said that I have a weak defense in that case but my view is that the people at the top steal more in one hour than the most prolific thief on the job steals in a lifetime. Anyway, in most cases we’re only taking back what is ours not that I advocate individual acts of sabotage as a method of struggle.

“Can this culture be changed, Summers asks?”
and goes on to remind the reader that Wall Street too had to curb its sexist bias.  Thirty years ago a Smith Barney brokerage firm had a place called a Boom-Boom-Room where “female employees were habitually stalked”. Things have improved and the reason is money Summer writes as firms spent millions to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. This will have an affect on the more blatant aspects of sexual oppression in the workplace but it will not alter the situation in society as a whole and will not change mass consciousness.

As I was reading about this issue and the general nastiness of the behavior this woman appears to have been subjected to, it brought to mind the mass killings that took place in Santa Barbara recently. (see here , here and here).  The perpetrator there was a rich pretty boy who it seems felt women dissed him. He is from that type of background that expects reverence from those beneath him and women, including women of his own class, are beneath him.  His hatred of working class and poor women is probably far greater but I am sure he avoided associations with them like the plague.

I realize I am being hard on these characters and that they have creativity in them and initiative.  I recognize that they too are victims of a social system that rewards their shallow superficial existence with riches and social power beyond the reach of the average worker. In a civilized society, all human potential can be realized and used for the advancement of society as a whole. The end product will be a socially useful one.

In the last analysis conscious is rooted in the material world. I have seen in the struggle in the labor movement, on the job and in society as a whole that the war men and women (and those who don’t fit neatly in to either category) are forced to wage against capital has a strong tendency to unite us across race and gender lines.  It is this real struggle that undermines our divisions and changes consciousness and that allows us to see our commonality and humanity.

The struggle for a democratic socialist society is an honorable one.  It is what will cast terms like “sororisluts” and apps like “Titstare” in to the dustbin of history. The sexes will be free.

Society needs new managers.

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