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Has Binance’s CEO Been Disingenuously Labeled a Sexist?

5 mins
Updated by Dani Polo
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If the cryptocurrency community thought — even for a brief minute — that its relative youth and the generationally-based socially-evolved status many of its breakout leaders can align themselves with protected them from controversy in areas like discrimination, they were wrong.
A recent Twitter exchange between some of the top minds in crypto today made this starkly apparent. The fact that each of these minds in this heated discussion on Twitter is influenced by a Y chromosome did absolutely nothing for either side. The damage was done. Remarkably, the entire conversation — which got random strangers blocked and called out a major industry CEO — appeared to be a tempest in a teapot and generally did what Twitter does best, which is to make an awkward situation even worse.

Much Ado About Nothing?

The thread above starts with crypto-influencer Peter Todd noting that commenting on essentially any social issue today is likely to generate traffic. Insiders call this click-baiting.’ In this case, his commentary on some commentary on a faux pas from a top crypto exchange executive is the context. Binance, a leading crypto exchange that has been enjoying strong success in the U.S., Europe, and particularly Asia, where the platform is expanding exponentially, published a woman-written and very women-positive blog post on December 15, 201,8 about gender equality. The overall premise of the post is to promote Binance as a top performer in the field of social justice, with over 40 percent of its leadership roles held by females. It is a very honest commentary on the progress of women in leadership across the company, despite a generally poor performance in tech in general. Binance is already known for its honesty and transparency via a recent report highlighting the exchange as one of only two top exchanges that don’t publish fake volumes and enormously inflating the market. In other words, this self-published piece on gender equality and the promotion of females in finance and tech is closely aligned with the high ethical standards that Binance is known for. Binance

What’s the rub?

Unfortunately for Binance, its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, managed to offend a lot of people by referring to his female co-executives at Binance as “girls” when promoting the blog post on Twitter. Individual (males) such as Jackson Palmer, Dogecoin creator and polarizing character within the crypto community, were quick to speak out against Zhao and his terrible use of gender terminology when addressing his 259k Twitter followers. Others, such as Dovey Wan (female), jumped to defend Zhao, stating that gender terminology is difficult to translate from Chinese to English. Wan states that non-English speakers such as Zhao, who have already established a contemporary and inclusive approach to gender roles in business, should be given a pass for inadvertencies such as these.

Media bias

A sad commentary on the true state of gender equality in modern society has been the absolute bloodbath taking place amongst male executives with long and previously untouchable histories of blatant sexual and gender discrimination. This shift in the norm has been a welcome relief for society. However, it has also resulted in a lot of innocent men feeling a bit terrified to make a mistake — like Zhao and the backlash he is now facing. Like it or not, the entertainment industry drives social progress today. And this is a bad time for anyone to even hint at gender inequality, discrimination based on gender, or sexual orientation. It is such a bad time that, while some top influencers in entertainment are crafting well-worded statements of support for female equality, others have not uttered a word out of fear of utter ruin. Without a doubt, there are both strong proponents of gender equality as well as individuals who have deeply and irrevocably discriminated against their female counterparts in both groups. It is in this climate that the above Twitter exchange took place. For the cryptocurrency community, whose leadership is somewhat grossly skewed toward males, it creates a tough and possibly impossible situation. Binance

The imbalance is real

A recent article on Medium citing the 50 most influential people in the 2018 cryptocurrency sphere cites only three females. While there is no doubt they are influential within the community, none of those three females are actual engineers, blockchain founders, developers, or in other ways innovators directly within the blockchain space. They are instead journalists, marketing executives, and media influencers. While this phenomena is easy to get up in arms about, it is also worth noting that two of the “top 50 most influential people in cryptocurrency” are not even real people. Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous, ironically cryptic cryptocurrency original who may or may not even be real, took the number one spot on the list. Also featured was the DAO hacker who, like Nakamoto, may be one person, but could just as easily be a group of co-conspirators. Regardless, he beat out guys like the Winklevoss twins on the list. Even crypto gods like Vitalik Buterin and Roger Ver barely made it above Mr. DAO. Women apparently didn’t stand a chance. Twitter is like a text messaging, in that the tone and context of people’s statements are often lost in the severely limited formatting options available to users. Even in the socially advanced state of Twitter in 2018, where the 140 character limit has been increased to a much more palatable 280 character limit, it is simply impossible for many users to avoid offending at least a few of their followers, whether that number is 220 or 220,000. Even non-Twitter users can relate to this phenomena. Anyone who has been deeply offended, or worse, inadvertently deeply offended someone via a group text knows how easy it can be for one simple word to be misconstrued. This is a one time event for many of those affected by this unfortunate error from a guy in a highly influential position at Binance, who otherwise seems to be doing a great job at least allowing gender equality to be promoted across an entire continent by way of Binance. Regardless, the odd reality is that in this day and age, where nothing stated in private or public is ever truly free of scrutiny, at times, “the truth” still somehow remains obscured. Think Zhao was out of line in his comments, or was this just a case of ESL gone wrong? Let us know in the comments below! 

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With a background in science and writing, Jon's cryptophile days started in 2011 when he first heard about Bitcoin. Since then he's been learning, investing, and writing about...
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