Amanda Marcotte’s still holding out her cup; still no ice cream

I’d like to add to a piece written by Paul Elam a few days ago.  His added to a video by TyphonBlue that in turn commented on a video that appeared on Tumblr.

The cartoon video Typhon lampooned purported to illustrate the MHRM.  It depicted a machine that doled out scoop after scoop of ice cream.  The male character devoured almost every scoop to come out of the machine, but occasionally the female character managed to get one.  When she did, the male character screamed “MISANDRY!”  The point being that essentially all the goodies of life go to men, rendering us spoiled brats.  When we don’t get every last bit of everything, we go into a pout.  That’s what the MHRM is, you see, a bunch of pouters.

What Typhon said and Paul expanded on was the simple idea that ice cream doesn’t fall out of the sky into the hands of greedy men.  Ice cream, being a metaphor for “stuff,” “goods,” “assets,” doesn’t pop magically out of the ether, someone has to make it.  If people don’t make it, no one gets to eat it.  The same is true of essentially everything that we consider makes life better than it otherwise might be.  So ice cream is a stand-in for, say, computers, clothing, running water, flush toilets, super markets, electricity, anti-biotics, the music of Charlie Parker, the painting of Vermeer, the scientific advances of Darwin and Einstein, etc.  The list is, for all practical purposes, endless.

None of those things fell from the sky.  They exist and make our lives easier and fuller because somebody – usually many somebodies – made them, discovered them, invented them, developed them, imagined them, refined them.  And the people who did all that and so much more didn’t just snap their fingers and – bingo! – there was modern medical science.  No, everything we rely on to make our lives abundant and good came about through long sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears.

It still does.  The food in the super market didn’t get there on its own.  The swordfish were caught by commercial fisherman, were cleaned and packaged by human beings working for little money and was trucked to market by drivers who don’t earn much more. The house or building you live in didn’t build itself.  It was built by hard work and considerable know-how out of materials that also required hard work and know-how to find their way onto your house.  All of that required a considerable degree of risk.  Commercial fishing and building construction are two of the most dangerous jobs going.

In a nutshell, that’s what Paul said in his piece, plus the fact that just about all of the “ice cream” in our lives was provided by the labor and genius of men.  More than once I’ve asked misandrists to spend just one week of their lives going without everything that was invented, discovered, developed, built, etc. by men.  Think about what your life would be like without all that.  I see animal skins and sharp sticks.  So far, no one who takes such pleasure in denigrating men has yet agreed to my little experiment.

As luck would have it, Amanda Marcotte has thoughtfully provided us more fuel for the fire the Tumblr video started.  Here she’s in full whine about this article written by Sarah Lacy, who’s the founder of PandoDaily, an online site for start-up companies, and serves as its editor.

It seems that feminists have gotten well and truly lathered up about the revelation that Twitter has no women on its Board of Directors.  Lacy defended Twitter CEO, Leo Costolo and Marcotte leapt to the barricades to attack Lacy.

And what do you think their dispute is about?  If you guessed “where ice cream comes from,” go to the head of the class.  You see Lacy, having actually raised money and started a company, knows where ice cream comes from and Marcotte, well, you can guess.

Marcotte thinks that ice cream – in this case, positions on corporate boards – falls like manna from heaven.  In her understanding, you don’t need to achieve anything to deserve ice cream.  She’s the classic spoiled child who’s used to getting whatever she wants… just because.

Now, Marcotte’s whine about Lacy really isn’t about what Lacy wrote.  That’s because she truly has no answer for Lacy’s basic point that ice cream must be earned.  So, in the tried and true feminist fashion, Marcotte pretends Lacy said or implied all sorts of things she never did.  She claims Lacy suggested that there just aren’t any women with the talent Twitter requires, but of course Lacy did no such thing.  Indeed, she listed numerous successful women in the Valley and only said that Costolo needed to be able to pick people he knows and feels he can trust in advance of the company’s IPO.

Then she claims Lacy says that sexism is a good thing because it weeds out people who can’t cut it in the corporate world.  That’s utterly false.  Lacy’s clear and simple point is that, in Silicon Valley as elsewhere, you have to prove your mettle.  If you don’t, don’t expect people to ply you with ice cream.  If you do, it’s likely because you have the requisite brains and drive. The idea that Lacy’s plumping for sexism is absurd.

An 8th-grader reporting on Lacy’s piece who turned in Marcotte’s article would get an ‘F.’ Her descriptions bear little-to-no resemblance to the article itself, but again, that’s because she’s got no honest criticism of it.  Lacy attacks feminists who are understandably nervous about successful women because their very existence contradicts cherished feminist beliefs.  According to Marcotte, Lacy and those like her can’t exist; the patriarchy won’t allow it.  But they do and they’re not content to play the oppressed little woman feminists ironically would prefer.

After all, Lacy’s entire piece can be distilled down to something like this: women can and do compete perfectly well in Silicon Valley, but, just like men, they have to work their asses off in order to do so.  Lacy’s made a good pile of ice cream herself and she’s not taking any grief from someone like Marcotte who’s never done anything except spell “patriarchy” correctly.

But you know what I also got to do the past two years? Raise millions of dollars and hire amazing talent to start the company of my dreams and give birth to two beautiful children that make me smile every day. If that balance is the ravages of our modern sexist world, bring it the fuck on. Because I’m pretty happy with how it’s all going…

Furthermore, none of this is limited to tech. There is still progress to be made, but quotas and witch hunts don’t solve the problem. And, frankly, I feel like having to work hard to prove myself made me more resilient and more successful. I do my best work when everyone expects me to fail. I’ve been doing it my whole career…

That’s the attitude a woman needs to survive in a male-dominated industry and, it just so happens, that’s precisely the attitude an entrepreneur needs to survive too. Male, female, immigrant, or minority: Building a company is brutal. White men fail all the time if they have a bad idea or execution.

Yep, it seems there’s nothing like actually doing something to make one appreciate others who’ve done things.  It makes you understand that plenty of “white men fail all the time,” for example.  See Amanda?  White men don’t succeed in life just because they’re white and male.  If the competition beats you, you lose.  Period.  The business world, like the professions, politics, STEM fields, etc. isn’t ice cream spilling out of a machine.

Lacy’s not naïve.  She understands that connections count, and some people can get a cushy post on a Board of Directors somewhere even though their qualifications are limited.  But few respect those people and none of them get very far because they don’t have anything going for them beyond their frat-boy connections.

(What Lacy doesn’t mention is that Marcotte thinks connections are grand, just as long as they benefit women and not men.  Marcotte apparently believes that Costolo should appoint women to Twitter’s board because they’re women.  Qualified women, to be sure, but Marcotte’s plaint isn’t about qualifications, it’s about the sex of Twitter’s board members.  She wouldn’t be satisfied if Costolo fired a couple of current members and replaced them with qualified men.  She’d only approve if the new hires were women, i.e. people who come to be connected by virtue of their XX chromosomes.)

Lacy isn’t addressing Marcotte personally, but she might as well be.

It’s not a surprise that many of the people complaining are the people who literally wake up every day looking for a women’s issue to be outraged about…

See, people whose media attention or careers live or die by banging the SEXISM! drum don’t know what to do when they encounter examples of women who have raised funding and started companies and seem to be doing okay as women in the Valley…

These people can’t be happy that there are many signs things are starting to change in the startup world. And as a woman in this industry, I’m sickened by the leagues of people twisting facts and jumping on convenient bandwagons to further their own careers and stay relevant, while doing nothing themselves to create jobs and opportunities for women…

Lacy names several women in Silicon Valley who’ve made successes of themselves and adds,

Note, these women aren’t the ones waking up every day and trying to manufacture some new feminist outrage. They are simply working hard to lead by example and “change the ratio” by actually building companies and hire diverse and qualified senior teams in their image.

Hmm.  “Actually building companies…”  What a concept – one that the likes of Amanda Marcotte would never dream of.  No, Amanda’s spending too much time holding her bowl out the window and wondering why it never fills up.


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