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So it wasn’t Ellen Pao who fired that popular Reddit staffer after all? But the angry mob isn’t apologizing.

Reddit's Alexis Ohanian "can't comment on the specifics."
Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian “can’t comment on the specifics.”

As you may recall, the recent week of hate and abuse directed at Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, which led to her becoming ex-Reddit-CEO Ellen Pao, was triggered by the firing of a popular admin Victoria Taylor, one of the few people on Reddit’s staff who actually seemed to respond to user concerns. The firing was said to be an example of Pao’s supposed “incompetence,” a sign that she didn’t really understand Reddit or Reddit culture — and that she needed to go.

One problem with this line of argument was that there was never ever any proof that Pao was responsible for firing Taylor.

And now it seems pretty clear that she wasn’t. Over the weekend, Reddit co-founder and Chairman of the Board Alexis Ohanian seemed to admit, albeit somewhat obliquely, that he was the person responsible for the firing, commenting on Reddit that

It was my decision to change how we work with AMAs and the transition was my failure and I hope we can keep moving forward from that lesson.

Yishan Wong, who was Reddit’s CEO before Pao took over, put things a bit more bluntly, accusing Ohanian of letting Pao pay the price for his bad decision. In a comment on Reddit, he wrote

Alexis wasn’t some employee reporting to Pao, he was the Executive Chairman of the Board, i.e. Pao’s boss. He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn’t like Victoria’s role, and decided to fire her. Pao wasn’t able to do anything about it. …

Then when the hate-train started up against Pao, Alexis should have been out front and center saying very clearly “Ellen Pao did not make this decision, I did.” Instead, he just sat back and let her take the heat. That’s a stunning lack of leadership and an incredibly shitty thing to do. …

I used to respect Alexis Ohanian. After this, not quite so much.

Ohanian responded with another oblique comment, insisting that he “did report to her.” Admitting that “we didn’t handle it well,” he apologized, but said he couldn’t be any more specific than this.

A real profile in courage.

Wong acknowledged to Ohanian that “in-one-capacity you weren’t her boss,” but added

It wasn’t “we didn’t handle it well” – Ellen actually handled things very well, and with quite a bit of grace given the prejudices arrayed against her and the situation she was put in – you didn’t handle it well. There was tremendous amounts of unnecessary damage done as a result, and we are only able to say that things might turn out ok because Huffman agreed to return and take up the mantle.

Both Ohanian’s seeming admission and Wong’s accusations have caused a little bit of a stir on Reddit.

But there are no subreddits going dark to protest the fact that the person seemingly responsible for Taylor’s firing is still Reddit’s chairman of the board — after letting Pao take the hit for what seems to have been his mistake.

There is no Change.org petition with hundreds of thousands of votes calling for Ohanian to step down. There are no nasty “Chairman Ohanian” graphics going viral on Twitter. There’s no mass movement forming to apologize to Pao for wrongly targeting her.

Could it be that perhaps Taylor’s firing wasn’t the real reason so many were angry at Pao?

Could it be that her haters actually hated her not because of the firing but because she was taking small steps to curb the worst excesses of Reddit’s poisonous culture? That she was a woman standing up to some of the angry boys of Reddit?

I’m not even sure why I bother to ask these questions, as the answer is so blindingly obvious.

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Leela
Leela
6 years ago

SevonofMine –
“We socialize girls to like certain things and then we label all those things stupid and frivolous and silly.”

See: pumpkin spiced foods vs. the obsession with bacon.

weirwoodtreehugger
-“I wonder if women who have sons but not daughters are more likely to be misogynistic. “

I had a friend who had some internalized misogyny who swore up and down she only wanted to have a boy. She had a daughter and is way less misogynistic now. She also said she’d never want a female Dr. We aren’t really friends now though.

GrumpyOldSocialJusticeMangina

I think she would probably regard a gay son as a punishment, so I probably need to hope for their sake that neither of hers is gay — or at least has resources for compensating for her attitude. The basic problem is that she seems to want to MOLD them into some rather obsolete vision of the Gentleman rather than help them develop in their own way. You would think that, in this day and age, it would occur to a parent that their children might turn out to be gay — this woman seems to be assuming her sons will be hetero.
Our culture being what it is, it IS difficult to keep boys from developing noxious ideas about women and turning into Reddit scum. I don’t think raising your sons anti-feminist is the way to do it, however. It sounds like she is reinforcing a lot of bad old stereotypes.
A lot of men do discover misogyny when they have daughters — if you are male in this culture, misogyny is so prevalent that you often don’t notice it until it is pointed out to you. In the time I have been visiting WHTM, there haven’t been too many days when I haven’t been made aware of some form of misogyny that I wasn’t previously aware of. I think it is natural to want the best for your children, but it isn’t always clear what that is. As a person who was grossly over-mothered, I understand the forces that make women often treat their sons as little princes, but it is not good preparation for the real world, not today. We do not need more men who are looking for mommies rather than partners.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
6 years ago

You would think that, in this day and age, it would occur to a parent that their children might turn out to be gay — this woman seems to be assuming her sons will be hetero.

I think this is the problem – she is terrified that her son might be gay, and so is frantically taking every precaution she can, just as a mother might take precautions against her child catching an illness or taking drugs.

I can’t remember where I saw it, but someone here at WHTM once quoted a Texan anti-gay campaigner as saying “We can’t let out lesbians live next door. If they did then my daughters might see that they’re just normal people, and then it would be hard for me to convince them not to do it themselves.”

The hard part is convincing her that her son or daughter might be gay and that’s okay..

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

The “easy” women thing disgusts me. The very idea that “good” girls put up a fight and have to be overcome is rape culture at it’s smarmiest. In this catch 22 women who want sex don’t deserve respect and women who do not want sex cannot expect their “no” to be respected.
I hope that woman’s sons end up OK despite their mother being an ignorant misogynist.

…and getting a spontaneous kiss from your kids is not the same as getting one from a co-worker and it sure isn’t like getting groped on the subway or catcalled on the street. In this woman’s messed up perception of the world it is awful for women to have bodies that are not kept in a way that her son’s find pleasing but not threatening. but her sons should be able to leer or fondle women at will. She wants them in a position of power over women at all times because she imagines herself sharing that power, doting mother that she is. She gets a vicarious sense of power over her sons’ having that power over other women.
Wasn’t it Empress Maude who had her headstone inscribed with:
“Great by birth. Greater by marriage. Greater still by motherhood.”?
Women with no power of their own to wield have been using the power of fathers, husbands and sons to be movers and shakers in the patriarchy for ages. She’s kissing her boys’ asses as a way of kissing her own. She’s one of the “good” women and will teach her son’s to see “bad” women everywhere so that they will appreciate her “goodness”. She’s subservient and devoted to pleasing men because she has to. Her self worth depends on it. That’s how internalized misogyny works. “THOSE women deserve the abuse, harassment, rape they get. It’s their fault men hurt them. Men are so great and so long as I keep repeating that I’m safe from misogyny because I pretend it isn’t real. So long as I don’t slip up and deserve it too, I’m OK.”

katz
katz
6 years ago

She says she’s training her boys to do all these nice things without expecting anything back, but she does expect things, quite a lot of things.

She expects girls to give her boys a positive response whenever they show them attention, even if it’s unwanted attention. She expects girls to dress a certain way, never find boys’ behavior creepy, not raise awareness about rape, and accept that they aren’t equal and have limitations because of their gender.

Jo
Jo
6 years ago

Our culture being what it is, it IS difficult to keep boys from developing noxious ideas about women and turning into Reddit scum.

I guess. Hanging out at WHTM had made me assume there’s a lot of toxic men out there, but just recently I had an interesting experience.

I work in tech and am currently part of a temporary team, almost all of whom are cis white het men in their 30s and 40s. We don’t know each other outside work and rarely discuss politics. Recently someone made a joke about how ridiculous it was that a straight white man could feel oppressed and without hesitation everyone laughed and joined in with their own variations. I half-expected someone to out themselves as an MRA by angrily disagreeing, but everyone seemed genuinely amused. The shitheads are loud and some are dangerous, but I suspect (and hope) that most people wouldn’t give their ideas a second thought.

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