A horrific story on the web about ugly goings on in the leadership of Tinder (a dating company) is the latest in the tech industry treats women like dirt. The gist of it:
Wolfe's lawsuit, filed Monday, listed a series of alleged incidents of harassment over roughly 18 months starting in late 2012. Among the allegations: that Chief Executive Officer Sean Rad and the company's chief marketing officer, Justin Mateen, removed her title as co-founder because of her gender; and that Mateen publicly insulted her, including calling her a whore at a company party, while Rad ignored her complaints.
The article details the outrageous behavior, and it sounds like there are lots of emails to back it up. The marketing officer has been suspended, pending an investigation (but will likely find a good job when it is all over, anyway).
This is probably one of what will be a string of these incidents. As they come to light, more women will be able to come forward and say "this crap happened to me, too".
The thing that got my attention, and the thing with which I struggle is part of the story buried deeper:
The lawsuit says Wolfe became romantically involved with Mateen, her boss, who joined the company in late 2012.
"As her romance broke down, the suit says, Mateen called her “a desperate loser” ....” [more about bad post-break-up behavior on the part of Mateen].
I've had this discussion not quite a billion, but certainly more than a million, times with my GenX and Millenial female friends. In my generation, you just did not have an affair with a boss, or even someone close to being a peer. Not if you wanted to be taken seriously. If you did, you were always perceived as fucking your way to the top. It didn't matter how much it was "true love". You would be tainted in the eyes of the other (few as they were) women around.
That has changed. A clinical/researcher colleague, a female PhD Gen-X-er had an affair, and then married an older MD-researcher in the same field (they met while she did a postdoc in his dept, though not with him). I like this woman, I have mentored her, I have helped her with grantsmanship. But she is totally clueless as to why she is resented by the older women in the field. The two views: "I am free to have an affair with whomever I wish, and it is none of your business" vs. "she screwed her way to a job" and "look at all the stuff she does because she is now married to Dr. BSD". I am not defending her, or the other women. This is just a dynamic that exists. Whether she is really not as good, or whether it is internalized sexism on the part of my generation, she is not going to get a totally neutral assessment.
So when I read that the Tinder situation involved a failed romance between two high-ranking employees with some sort of power/supervisory/professional relationship, I shake my head. Would the bad situation been avoided had they not been involved? (and to be honest... the questions that my cohort would ask are: would she have had the job, the authority, the status if they had not been involved?). The world is complex, and not a ceteris paribus experiment.
My Gen-X friends say that anyone should be allowed to have affairs with whomever they please, to fall in love with whomever they please, and the world should just shut the fuck up. But the world is a complex place. And some may see their reactions as prejudices to be resisted, others believe that their perception is correct and someone has made a choice that reflects their underlying lack of seriousness about the profession. Does that mean Gen-Xers should be careful about who they sleep with? Where is the burden of responsibility here?
Everyone needs to determine their own priorities. And to do so in as full as possible knowledge of the world. And understand that there are consequences, and you either have to decide the consequences don't matter to you, or they do. What I don't want to hear is your irritation at the consequences for the choices you've made.