Reddit has long been a safe haven for users who yearn for the good old days when the internet was basically the Wild West. Whether myth or reality, many redditors believe that Reddit remains one of the few spaces on the internet where unfiltered opinion can persist unchecked, largely due to Reddit’s mechanism that permits any user to create a new subreddit on any topic. Buried within Reddit’s subreddit forums are spaces where offensive messages are not only tolerated, but often openly encouraged.
Case in point: a few years ago, one of Reddit’s most infamous (and popular) trolls, Violentacrez, was unmasked by a Gawker journalist. In that expose, Gawker reported on Violentacrez’s Reddit activities, which included creating a subreddit (r/jailbait) dedicated to posting pseudo-pornographic images of underaged girls, as well as other overtly racist subreddits; we also learned that Violentacrez’s online behaviour was essentially condoned by Reddit staff and moderators.
Earlier this week, Manuel Israel, a 20-year-old Manhattan-area purse-snatcher, was arrested and charged with 36 counts, including second-degree assault, second- and third-degree robbery and multiple assault-related hate crimes charges. All of the charges stem from a series of 6 muggings involving Chinese American female victims.
When arrested, Israel apparently said that he targeted Chinese American women because he perceived us to be “vulnerable to attack”.
Three years ago, Ellen Pao — former junior partner of Silicon Valley venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — filed a lawsuit against her former employers, citing a pattern of bias against female employees; yesterday, lawyers in her suit against Kleiner completed their closing statements with a plea for greater efforts to address gender equality in the tech industry. Pao’s suit alleges that Pao was harassed, and eventually fired, from Kleiner for challenging a culture of sexual harassment within her former company.
Throughout the Pao trial, Pao has courageously endured the usual victim-blaming, character assassination and mudslinging used to dismiss, invalidate, and insubstantiate the experiences of women. She has been tone policed. She has been slut-shamed. She has been labelled a gold digger. She has been accused of being untalented, amateurish, and unprofessional. The message Kleiner’s lawyers are trying to communicate is clear: Ellen Pao is lone voice trying to capitalize off an imagined gender problem in Silicon Valley.
The problem for Silicon Valley is that Ellen Pao is not alone.
Last week, Taiwanese American Chia “Chloe” Hong filed a civil suit against Facebook for gender discrimination. Days later, software engineer Tina Huang filed a civil suit against Twitter, also alleging gender discrimination in the company’s failure to promote women to management positions.
It should escape no one’s notice that all three of these high-profile gender bias lawsuits have been filed by Asian American women.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!