Bitcoin conference in Miami leaves trail of harassment

Now, despite the many women-centric crypto spaces, Odeniran says women are still underrepresented. “I’ve been in the space where I’m the only black man, or the only woman, or the only black woman,” she said. Women need these spaces to participate, but also solidarity, Odeniran said. Spaces with large numbers of women can feel xenophobic, or worse: unsafe.

After Siegel discovered Learning that the conference organizer had engaged in harassing tweets, she asked friends to raise the issue again with acquaintances who worked for the conference. This time, she got a response. “I’m sorry this happened at our event,” wrote Justin Doochin, head of events at BTC Inc., “but without the person’s name or email, we can’t identify them and prevent them from participating. Future event.” Siegel wrote back that @bitcoin_fuckboi posted a number of selfies on his account during the event, including famous Bitcoin celebrities. She also remembered him riding a mechanical bull at a meeting, which would have narrowed the meeting down to just a few dozen possible attendees.

Meanwhile, David Bailey, CEO of Bitcoin Corporation, the organization that hosts the Bitcoin conference, responded to the incident on Twitter. He wrote that @Chairforce “was severely reprimanded, but everyone makes mistakes and I’m not going to fire them for it.” As for the conference itself, he wrote, “26,000 attendees, don’t give a few bad apples to the community Color.” One woman responded that they might feel safer if they had a clear understanding of what the meeting was about. code of Conduct. “We already have,” Bailey responded. (The organizers of the Bitcoin conference declined to answer my questions about how it handles harassment or violates its harassment policy.)

For Siegel, the damage she suffered from the harassment on Twitter was irreparable. But she still wants organizers to be held accountable for what happened while she was there. “People underestimate how horrible it is to have a meeting to tell you that if something happens, you won’t take action,” she said. “When you’re in the same room as that man, that’s what you probably see on Twitter. A misogynistic joke would take a completely different form.”

After the meeting, others started talking about the normalization of misogyny in Bitcoin circles. “In the name of 100 million bitcoin users, I want to formally apologize to the thousands or so of loud bullies who feel harassing women IRL deserves credit,” one person tweeted. “Those minions don’t represent us, and we don’t like them.” Some expressed solidarity; other replies were less encouraging. A Twitter user named @insiliconot wrote: “Women are for fucking irl, not bullying, wtf bitcoinbros.” The tweet garnered 21 likes.

A blog post also circulated on Twitter calling for an end to “rape glorification, misogyny and sexual harassment” within the Bitcoin community. Author Tom Maxwell hosts a podcast about Bitcoin; he says he wrote this article after hearing about what happened to Siegel at the conference. He thought her harassment was unacceptable, but not surprising. “Like, this is another example of this happening,” he told me. After his blog post, some people on Bitcoin Twitter responded by calling him a “beta” or a “waste of space.” One man told him to kill himself.

Maxwell and other Bitcoin proponents insist that the toxicity of certain groups is not representative of the entire community. But it was enough to drive some women out of space entirely. The woman who discovered the AirTag in her wallet during Bitcoin Week has since decided to leave her job in the industry because of what she sees as toxicity in the community. Siegel, who entered the crypto space in 2017, said she had been expecting the community to become more diverse in recent years. “But I worry that if we continue to lean toward this culture, we’re going to scare away these women who are involved,” she said. “We’re going back.”

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