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Yahoo's 'Dirty Old Man' Shareholders Remind Marissa Mayer She's a Woman (theatlanticwire.com)
23 points by rpm4321 1635 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments



This entire article is an exercise in idiocy, full of loaded comments. This is what actually happens:

Man tells woman she is attractive ... Another woman interprets this as sexism

It might be an inappropriate time to say it, but this is rudeness, not sexism. How often is it that you are talking to someone, anyone, they comment on how attractive you are and you are sorely offended? Never? Because I know from my personal experiences (as a highly privileged cis male of course) that I love being complimented.

If we are to interpret every single unrequested compliment as sexism that feminists will soon find that they are unable to find a boyfriend.

If you want an example of sexism, then here is one, from the very fingers of the feminist news reporter herself: "that she looks like a woman but acts like a man." Why should any woman need to act like a man? In this day and age do we still believe in these traditional gender roles, that only a man can be effective in a leadership position?

And then some victim blaming: "Mayer didn't [...] [goad] the "dirty old man" with some low-cut top or skimpy outfit [...] But, of course, you weren't even wondering that, were you?" No, as a matter of fact, I wasn't. That comment was an unnecessary attempt to read the mind of the reader. At no point did I assume that this respected member of her community would be sat in her shareholders meeting wearing a bikini or a v-neck down to her stomach.

Propaganda, the lot of it.


I skipped the article and went straight to the video. The investor's comment isn't rude. It's sexist.

Sexism isn't about saying something "inappropriate". Sexism is about power and the abuse of gender to assert said power.

Let me break the dynamic down for you:

1. This investor is in a weak position. He is not on the panel and he is a small time shareholder. He's a little nervous.

2. The investor gets his chance to ask a question. He makes a "joke" which reduces the stature of the person to whom he is speaking and elevates his sense of dominance.

3. The laughter in the room adds a little more juice to his ego. That's what this kind of "joke" does.

4. Then, he asks his actual question from a more powerful position.

My guess is that he probably "jokes" with lots of people in this sort of way. Little so-called jokes.

What makes it sexist is that the comments are gender based and really quite offensive if you think it all the way through. What makes it really sad is that this sort of thing happens all the time and women are expected to just "laugh it off".


Sexism is about power and the abuse of gender to assert said power.

The definition I found is: "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.". Institutionalized sexism would be necessary in order to be able to assert power via gender, but I don't think this necessarily makes them the same thing?

2. [...] He makes a "joke" which reduces the stature of the person to whom he is speaking and elevates his sense of dominance.

I would have thought it would reduce his own stature ("dirty old man" is not a good thing). Which is something that nervous speakers do seem to do for some reason.


The definition I found is : "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex."

Dig down another level and take a look at the root of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. You'll find all three are about assertion of power over another person or group of people on the basis of certain criteria (race, gender, ethnicity, etc).

I would have thought it would reduce his own stature, which is something that nervous speakers do seem to do for some reason.

That's the trick of self-deprecating humor. It's very effective in deflecting criticism from others. After all, once you've said something outrageous about yourself what else can someone do to you? However, it can also be used to soften or excuse what's likely to be a controversial statement. The investor's opening prattle works pretty much the same way.

I should point out that it is highly unlikely the investor planned these remarks. It is more a learned action, practiced over time, which has become institutionalized in his behavior and the behavior of those like him.


You're ignoring the basic fact that 99% of communication is context. "Hey you're hot" conveys an entirely different message in a bar than it does in a shareholder meeting. In the latter context, it's equivalent to saying: "you might be a high powered executive, but you're still just eye candy to me."


Really? I'm not sure about eye candy but I find high powered executives intrinsically "hot". Apparently, it's an evolutionary thing...


I like this comment on the blog post:

"Well, if you were a woman at a shareholders meeting, would you comment on the looks (good or bad) of any men on the board, when addressing the board? Pro Tip: These types of comments are inappropriate in that setting."

There is a thing such as "color-blind racism", that is IIRC dismissing race playing a factor when it actually does, either out of lack of awareness or harboured racism. I postulate there is such a thing as "gender-blind sexism", too.

I do think it's scummy, and I do not think putting scummy in quotes is okay, unless it's actually a quote. I furthermore know it is the tip of an iceberg (I don't mean the guy, whom I don't know, I mean society). Therefore I do not feel comfortable about anything other than being blunt, direct, humour- and relentless when it comes to this. This is not just a "remark", and the internet reactions to such topics are not all just trolls, it's indicator of work ahead of us.


A comment doesn't have to cause offence in order to be sexist, just as much as causing offence doesn't make a comment sexist.

The comment is sexist, by "I have 2000 Yahoo shares", he means "I have power over you", and "I'm a dirty old man and you look attractive", could be interpreted as "I don't respect your power over me, you're just a woman and all you can do is be pretty", which is an attempt at debasement.


The comment is sexist, by "I have 2000 Yahoo shares", he means "I have power over you"

But what does this have to do with gender?

"I'm a dirty old man and you look attractive", could be interpreted as "I don't respect your power over me, you're just a woman and all you can do is be pretty", which is an attempt at debasement.

could be interpreted

One could interpret anything as anything...


> But what does this have to do with gender?

a MAN asks the question of a WOMAN.

It really couldn't be any fucking clearer.


a MAN asks the question of a WOMAN.

A man asking a woman a question is not by definition sexist. A sexist question needs to prove "power over" based on gender, not shares owned in a company.


cis male

cis male? Am I the only one who has no idea what this is?


I did not have a clue, so I searched on Google... It is apparently the politically or academically correct way to refer to a male who identifies with the male gender identity; see 'cisgender'.


Not just males; it's used for females as well.


"Cis" means you identify as the gender you are biologically.

i.e. Pre-op transsexuals would not be "cis".

Cis can refer to both men and women.


It's a term commonly used by feminists and transgender people to describe straight white males.


What about the other ethnicities?


It tends to be used as a way to describe what is considered the most privileged group of people by certain rights activists groups (and also a few bigots, as with every group, there are bad eggs.) White people are considered more privileged than say, black people, because of studies showing that more black people tend to be brought up in poverty or that Mexican people tend to be brought up in worse neighbourhoods. (These are generalizations which I don't support by the way, I'm describing an external viewpoint, not my own.)


Uh, no, it's not used to describe what is considered the most privileged group, nor does it have anything to do with being white; if it did, the common expression "white cis male" would be redundant.

Cis is the antonym of trans, so cisgender is a term to refer to non-transgender people.


Don't hide behind the concept of "speaking for other people". If you do, provide citations.

I've never heard cis used this way, and it is not the definition, by any stretch.


It might be an inappropriate time to say it, but this is rudeness, not sexism. How often is it that you are talking to someone, anyone, they comment on how attractive you are and you are sorely offended?

While pointing out they have power/money, while the other party has the looks?

That happens a lot, and only ever [edit: usually, 99% like] one way. Even older rich women who hit on me do it more like a young girl would than this dude would.

So, no. If you want idiocy or propaganda, try your own post.


It sounded like his comments followed the format of <why I'm (allowed to be) here> <interesting tidbits about me> <what I wanted to talk about>. The 2000 shares is the first part (which doesn't count as having power/money given how many shares yahoo has); the inappropriate comments are the second part; whatever he goes on to say after (there is something, but I didn't pay attention) is the third part.

I would think that format is typical for public (or semi-public) meetings where anyone who wants to is allowed to present to the group.


I would think that format is typical for public (or semi-public) meetings where anyone who wants to is allowed to present to the group.

Yes. and?

Calling such a remark a "tidbit about himself" sounds like a tolerance for sexism on the side I don't have. For all you know, the part he "really wanted to talk" about could just be a pretext to drop that particular turd err I mean tidbit into her lap.


Yes. and?

I would dispute the "pointing out they have power/money" part. Both because he doesn't, and because I would assume that information is expected from anyone who talks.

Calling such a remark a "tidbit about himself" sounds like a tolerance for sexism on the side I don't have.

And I assume calling it "inappropriate" does as well?


Well, then whatever is your point is in telling me his comments were following the correct format, unless you replied to the wrong post or something? That it could have been worse, that he could have said it in the elevator? Sure.

To me the story isn't that guy, he's probably fine, and if he's not I don't care. The mixture between genuinely thinking that's cool and polite laughter is what annoys me more, just like the reaction here did more than the story. Not that I'm saying cancel the meeting and tar the guy, but at least let her respond on her own terms instead of already deciding it was "just a joke"?

Or even just saying "feminists" like it was a disease or at least some hardcore bias. It's being called a member of modern civilization, which is kind of this shadow culture utterly lost on those not part of it. HN should understand that, right?


I don't understand why asking for a favorite football team is a "gender based question". Women clearly watch football, and TBH, calling that a gender based question is more demeaning to women than the actual question.


It depends on the context. Questions like that can be used to remind people that they don't have the same background as the other people in the group. For example, a group full of rich people might as someone from a low-income background: "where do you summer?" If you don't think that kind of signaling takes place in the board room, I suggest you read this article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-13/the-ironman-....

That said, I don't think that particular question is sexist. Football (particularly in the midwest where Mayer hails from), is pretty broadly popular across gender lines to the point where it's not uncommon enough for women to like football that it would be effective in exclusion signaling.


Good points, but still ... how can anyone escape the trap you mention in your first paragraph if our charges of 'sexism!' always reinforce the existing stereotypes?


I thought this was ironic too. This assumption that only a man would be interested in football, is like a woman going to buy a car and only being shown the vanity mirror, because clearly only a man would interested in the rest of car.


Imagine you're the CEO of a tech startup, in a meeting with some Wall Street people. You look like Mark Zuckerberg, they're the "captain of the crew team" type Wall Street likes to hire. They ask you: so, what sport did you play in college?

Sometimes questions like that are an attempt at signaling exclusion. The purpose is to remind you that you're different from the group. It's really irrelevant to the quality of the question whether you were actually the school's star track athlete, or instead spent all your time hacking on your computer. It's even irrelevant whether the stereotype is actually true (I don't know if people at tech startups are less likely to have played sports in college than people at investment banks). All that needs to exist is a clear stereotype and for both sides to be aware of the appeal to that stereotype.


A very poorly written article. Unfortunate because until now I have enjoyed a lot of The Atlantic's content.

Dude, not even the President of the United States can get away with that kind of thing.

Not to mention it was written to be as link-baity and "controversial" as possible, while making sexist remarks clearly without knowing it.


"Like any good woman in power [...] she looks like a woman but acts like a man."

Rebecca Greenfield was _so close_ to praising Mayer on her career without completely debasing all female leaders in the world.


I read that as "Marissa Mayer has been forced to prove, by answering questions about sports, that she is manly enough to run a company. And this is a problem other female leaders have to go through".

I agree that this article is lousy and poorly written.


Old guy tells Marissa she is attractive, feminist writes article about sexism. Nothing to see here, move on.


Sexism is waved away with euphemisms, which is exciting and stimulating.

Also, if you're not a feminist by 2013, what are you? This stuff was a no-brainer the second it was came up with.


you may be confusing feminism with the equal rights for women movement. While there's a large crossover and the former certainly tries to pretend to be the latter, there's also an element of male-targeted sexism within the feminist community that would always prevent me from identifying with them. I'm not saying at all that feminism = sexism, but I wouldn't want to back a community that doesn't seem to address these issues.


I couldn't agree more.

We should all be egalitarian: characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people, rather than feminist: defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.


The point is they so vastly don't have it, and it's so deeply ingrained, and Stockholm Syndrome runs so deep, that solidarity and kicking continued ass is really called for here.

There is a reason John Lennon wrote a song called "woman is the nigger of the world". I haven't met a sane smart man who felt threatened by feminism. Not one. Scoffing at the excesses, sure. But not calling it out like some warning sign.

Do you accuse a group working for the ethical treatment of prisoners of not wanting everyone to be treated ethically? No.

You see, that's how much I pay attention.


No sane man is threatened by feminism?

So when feminists pass bills that implement mandatory arrest policies for the male in any domestic violence calls.... a man would have to be insane to be threatened by that?

Or when a feminist twists the definition of rape so that over 1 million male victims of rape are ignored every single year (which then allows them to come to some nice fancy conclusiosn like "95% of all rape victims are female")... I'm insane for being threatened by that too?

And then we have NoW, the biggest feminist organization in the entire world... I must clearly be insane to be opposed to the fact that they constantly rally against any group or bill that tried to remove the bias from custody trials (in which mothers get custody 90+% of the time).

And this is only scratching the surface...

I suggest you stop being so ignorant of the many legitimate reasons why people have a problem with feminism.


"I haven't met a sane smart man who felt threatened by feminism."

Talk to any male who has dealt with a female stalker. All the legal 'protections' put in place and advocated by feminist organizations don't apply to men. If anything they will be the tools used to further abuse.

Sure no one is threatened by the dictionary definition. It's the polices advocated by feminist organizations.


you may be confusing feminism with the equal rights for women movement

That's because that's the definition. Wikipedia: "Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women"

While there's a large crossover and the former certainly tries to pretend to be the latter, there's also an element of male-targeted sexism within the feminist community that would always prevent me from identifying with them.

Why let the jerks take over the term? Call it female chauvinism, done. Anyone who is still confused is trying hard to be, IMHO.

People talk a lot, but my intuitive guess is that their lack of empathy and/or awareness of the world around them prevents them from "identifying with feminism" despite the bad apples. Don't take that too personally, but that explains my allergic reaction to sloppyness around this subject.

I support so many things that are also abused, and so do you. Source: we're having this conversation on the internet :P


I could totally get on board with what you're saying if it weren't for the fact that some of the most prominent figures of modern feminism were massive sexists. I've attached some quotes below from some prominent radical feminists, and these women certainly aren't on the fringe of feminist thought.

Andrea Dworkin: "I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig." "Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice."

Robin Morgan: "I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them."

Marilyn French: "All men are rapists and that’s all they are"

Catherine McKinnon: "In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent."

[edit/note] I can't post a full rebuttal of what you've written right now as I'm at work, but if you're still on this once I've gone home I'll be happy to debate this point with you.


You just repeated in more detail something I already addressed as far as I can tell? I acknowledge the bad apples, I consider them a red herring in this context. But sure, feel free to elaborate.


well no, I was emphasising that these aren't just "some jerks" in the feminist community; these are quotes from central figures who have affected feminist doctrine in a direct way.


What is "feminist doctrine"? Feminism is women not taking shit anymore, and men supporting them in that. That's as good a plan as any you could mention, it applies to a whole range of people including many who never heard the word "feminism", so excuse me for thinking those "central figures" mostly affect feminism in the way they gave ammo to its opponents.

If you disagree, show me how this applies here. Show me how the fact that the blogger "is a feminist" matters at all. She provides full source material, she doesn't diss men in general -- so what, exactly, is it? Guilty by association, the association not being that she actually mingles with the kind of bigots you mentioned, but that she gets associated with them?

I would feel guilty for contributing to this red herring if I didn't also think it's good to talk about just how much we resemble birds on an oily beach thinking we're wearing tuxedos.


Ok here we go.

Feminism as taken from an encyclopedia is basically equated with the equal rights movement for women. I am in 100% support of this side of feminism and the idea that all people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and so many other dimensions should live as equals.

The feminism I am against is that which seems to have strongly influenced gender politics in recent years in such areas as domestic violence convictions, accusations of rape, how divorces are perceived and handled and so many other important issues. This is the feminism that says men are inherently sexist and that the whole system of life and governance (the "patriarchy") is designed for the systematic rape, enslavement and degradation of women.

However, this isn't the point you've raised in this most recent comment so I'll try to address that instead. You say that the fact that the blogger is a feminist doesn't matter, and you're completely correct. However, seeing some self-professed "dirty old man" make a comment about how Marissa Mayer looks attractive and jumping straight onto "he's being sexist!" is a classic feminist move and is what's being criticised here. Sure, the comment was inappropriate in a professional environment, but it's not like the guy was saying "how do you expect us to take you seriously, you're a woman". The fact of the matter is men are physiologically built to recognise and look for beauty in women, and there's nothing sexist about that. Mislabelling everything as being sexist against women is how said feminists seem to be able to hide blatant sexism against men as if it were a perfectly normal belief to hold, and I will happily attempt to neutralise any such statement if only to try to minimise some of the extreme views that can grow from it.

Anyway, I'm reading too deeply into this now so all I can do is suggest you watch some videos and read some posts by Karen Straughan aka girlwriteswhat. She very succintly covers the issues with modern (some would say radical) feminism while at the same time advocating for equal rights, and hopefully from taking in some of her points you'll be able to understand why I've reacted so strongly to your suggestion that feminism is "a no-brainer".


Well if it makes you feel any better, here's a quote from Mayer herself that seems to echo some of the sentiments you've expressed:

I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that, I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so, in a lot of different dimensions. But I don’t, I think, have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think feminism has become, in many ways, a more negative word. [1]

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/marissa-mayer-criticizes-femi...


Additionally, if you're anti-slavery you're by definition a Republican. If you don't identify as republican you're automatically pro-slavery. It's 2013, if you're not a republican by now what are you?


"Also, if you're not a feminist by 2013, what are you?"

I'm an egalitarian, because I believe in equal rights for all people, not just one biological sex.

Unless you're a cis female, feminism is very hostile to you. Since I am GLBT, I find egalitarianism much more appealing for this reason as well.


I'm an egalitarian

This makes you, among other things, a feminist.

It also makes you, for example, an opponent of the case system in India, regardless some people deeply involved in that issue committing bad acts under its cloak (not saying there are those people, I have no idea, that's not the point).

Unless you're a cis female, feminism is very hostile to you.

I'll be the judge of that.


This makes you, among other things, a feminist.

1. You do not get to decide for me who and what I am or what I identify as. What the hell makes you think that you have the right and the might to tell me who I'm supposed to be?

You can say that--according to your definition of it--Christianity is about being kind to others. Ok. Whatever. That doesn't make me a Christian. And you definitely don't get the right to call me one. (I'm an atheist.)

2. It's funny you mention India. Feminists lobbied heavily (and successfully) for only one biological sex to be legally able to be booked for rape. Spoilers: it wasn't women.

I'll be the judge of that.

Wow, ego. Do you also tell trans people to go kill themselves?


I disagree. There was another picture of Marissa Mayer to see.


This story was nearly a year old the day it was posted.

I want to hear about if the dirty old men have shut the hell up or not since then.


And as a shareholder he's effectively on the committee that is her boss. Take two steps forward and one step back.


Meh. 2000 shares would be about... $50k or 1.8e-4%. Somehow I doubt that's enough to really matter.




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