Sex parties, drugs and Silicon Valley: Upcoming book sheds light on ‘MeToo’ woes

  • TECH
  • Friday, 05 Jan 2018

Just how bad is it for women who work in Silicon Valley, the land of disruption and the tech capital of the world? 

Think sex parties at mansions and chateaus where there are two women for every man in attendance, with alcohol aplenty and drugs "moulded into the logos of some of the hottest tech companies." Or "cuddle puddles" that later lead to more than just cuddling. 

In Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley, a book by Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang that's scheduled to come out next month, Chang gives us a glimpse into the sex parties based on interviews with nearly two dozen (mostly anonymous) people, according to an excerpt in Vanity Fair. 

The book, which will be released Feb 6, isn't the first we've heard about sex practices and drug use in Silicon Valley. (In fact, naked hot-tub parties weren't unheard of during the birth of this high-tech region.) 

But the book's release comes in the wake of #MeToo – as the tech world is grappling with sexual harassment scandals, plus lawsuits alleging systemic gender pay gaps and as all the talk about diversifying the valley's workforce yields little or no progress. 

It's no wonder progress has been slow. After all, according to Chang's reporting, the "tech bros" who put on and go to such sex parties feel special and entitled. Sometimes they're late bloomers who feel they're entitled to catch up on the sex they didn't get back in the day. 

"Their behaviour at these high-end parties is an extension of the progressiveness and open-mindedness – the audacity, if you will – that make founders think they can change the world," Chang writes. 

It also makes some of the men think that their behaviour is not predatory, and that some of the women are actually taking advantage of them because they're wealthy, according to the excerpt. They call those kinds of women "founder hounders," Chang writes. 

So what's wrong with lavish parties where Molly/Ecstasy tablets help strip away inhibitions, as long as women are choosing to attend? 

"Men actually get business done at sex parties and strip clubs," Chang writes. "But when women put themselves in these situations, they risk losing credibility and respect." 

And if women are invited and don't attend, one female entrepreneur tells Chang, they risk being left out of important, business-related decisions. 

"It's very hard to create a personal connection with a male investor, and if you succeed, they become attracted to you," the unnamed entrepreneur said to Chang. "They think you're part of their inner circle, [and] in San Francisco that means you're invited to some kind of orgy. I couldn't escape it here." So she moved to New York. 

In the wake of Ellen Pao's sexual-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Susan Fowler's blog post that led to the exposure of Uber's toxic workplace culture and James Damore's memo attacking Google's diversity efforts, this additional look at Silicon Valley culture further illustrates the tech world's attitude toward women. And it explains a lot. — San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Service

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