As reported here earlier, there is a kerfuffle over the revelation that Twitter’s board, investors, and almost all of its executives are male. This is playing out by the book: The initial criticisms, the defensive retorts, the anger at the defensive retorts. Now for the next phase: A woman gallantly gallops in, ready to absolve the men in her community of sexism and scold other women for being tedious feminists, thereby setting herself up as one of the “good ones,” ready to absorb the praise and adoration of the menfolk. The volunteer this time is Sarah Lacy, the editor and founder of PandoDaily.
In this entirely predictable set of events, nothing is more predictable than what the Female Scolder of the Feminists will say. There’s a very strict formula for a woman telling feminists to shut up, and it goes like this:
Suggest that the feminists don’t really care, but are just trying to get attention. Lacy: “It’s not a surprise that many of the people complaining are the people who literally wake up everyday looking for a women’s issue to be outraged about.” Attention you receive for scolding feminists doesn’t count.
Affect boredom with the whole thing. Lacy gets this out of the way at the top with, “I can’t believe this debate about whether Twitter is an awful company, simply because everyone on its board has a Y-chromosome, is still going on.” Now let me write more about it.
Emphasize that the positions held mostly or solely by men are very important and require a lot of talent that women don’t have. Of course you can’t come right out and say that men, by virtue of their gender, have most of the brains and talent in the world. That’s how Larry Summers got into trouble. So say something like, “The board is a carefully picked group that CEO Dick Costolo felt he could trust when he accepted the challenge of fixing a valuable but highly dysfunctional company.”
Having implied that women, as a rule, aren’t as smart or talented as men, note that there are exceptions to the rule. Look, you’re definitely not saying that it’s impossible for a woman to be as smart as a man. There are a few special snowflakes out there. You, for instance! Lacy is crystal clear on this point, emphasizing that her success is because she is “qualified” and accusing feminists of ignoring the handful of women who do have success because it might undermine our skepticism that the tech world is a meritocracy.
Suggest that what sexism does exist is, if anything, a good thing because it helps weed out women who aren’t tough enough to hack it. After illuminating how hard it was for her to endure “the emotional pain of being pulled between a company and kids,” Lacy lays out how she, unlike you lesser women, excelled anyway: “I feel like having to work hard to prove myself made me more resilient and more successful.” Thanks, sexism!
Deflect. “I don’t see an African American or Latino on Twitter’s board,” Lacy writes. “Why aren’t we outraged by that?” Don’t get too excited and start actually caring about racial diversity, however. That could derail the entire thing.
Position yourself as the real feminist, because you are one of the few women deemed good enough to hang with the boys. “The ones who make it long term are the ones who earn a seat at the table. Not the ones who get a seat handily doled out to them for an arbitrary reason,” Lacy explains, having made it. Long term.
So there you have it: The outline for this and any other defense offered by women for the lack of gender parity in their field. Now there is no reason to waste time reading or, dear lord, writing yet another one of these lengthy arguments the next time some industry or community is criticized for the lack of women in the ranks. Just copy/paste these seven points, accept the flowers and grateful comments from your male colleagues, and get on with your day.