Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Crunchies' Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 8, 2015

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Cromwell Schubarth reports on Silicon Valley Business Journal that comedian TJ Miller won't be coming back next year as MC for The Crunchies awards following complaints about his "bitch" remark.

Miller started the show edgy and then went headlong over the edge after getting into a verbal joust with Uber founder Travis Kalanick's date, during which he called her a "bitch" more than once. Gabi Holzwarth, Kalanick's date, forgave Miller in a tweet right after the show.

Schubarth pointed to a far more troubling event in 2013 at a Techcrunch hackathon.

One of the pitches at that hackathon involved an app concept built around men staring at women's breasts. Another involved a guy simulating masturbation during his pitch.

Foremski's Take: TJ Miller played the role of a court jester, with daring spontaneity and many very funny lines. Court jesters have traditionally played a valuable role in keeping the high and mighty humble and connected with reality. 

He even told the audience he was their court jester! He mimicked an imaginary powerful VC saying, "That tubby guy in that Silicon Valley show, he can be our court jester. Bring him. Bring him!"

Court jesters are allowed to say things no one else is allowed to say.

But it takes maturity and self-awareness to appreciate the work of a court jester. Instead, we saw the thin-skinned Twitterati of Silicon Valley show-off their recently discovered sense of moral outrage against misogyny, in Miller's use of "bitch."

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Without Miller, the entire evening would have been a dull and endless experience. There was very little energy in the room or "startup" enthusiasm during the awards presentations.

Several companies such as Spotify have been around for nearly a decade and have already won prior Crunchies, yet they were still nominated for various awards as if there weren't any new startups to celebrate.

People can blame Miller for the "train crash" but he wasn't in charge of a very lackluster event, an event that he actually helped elevate with an edgy, bold, and risky performance. You'd think Silicon Valley would applaud risk.  

And the over-reaction to the momentary use of "bitch" by a comedian displayed a shocking lack of self-awareness by Silicon Valley to its own decades-long misogyny, which continues to flourish well into the digital twenty-first century.

It's high time for Silicon Valley to get off its high horse with its fake unicorn horn, and its opportunistic outrage at Miller, and join the modern world when it comes to including women in its ventures. It's ludicrous for Silicon Valley to ignore such a valuable resource --it's as if it were trying to compete on a global scale with one hand tied behind its back.

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Photos from the event at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco:

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The Crunchies co-founder Mike Arrington reluctantly banters with Om Malik of GigaOm, which pulled out as a sponsor this year.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick andTechcrunch UK Editor Mike Butcher.

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Larger than life Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff wins a well deserved "CEO of the Year" for his philanthropic work.

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Lots of people waiting to pose with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. 

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Ben Parr shows-off his hot-off-the- press book "Captivology."

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I'm with Denise Terry, co-founder and CEO of EmbraceHerHealth.com, who came up to me to express her support for my work as a journalist in Silicon Valley. This is the only kind of metrics that I pay attention to. A personal expression of support means far more to me than I can say in words and encourages me to be bold in tackling important Silicon Valley topics. Thank you Denise!

Story link | Subscribe free | Categories: A Top Story, Women in Tech




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The Holmes Report names Tom Foremski one of the top 25 Innovators of 2013.




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