Bitcoin conference in Miami left a trail of persecution

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Miami Annual Fee Bitcoin fanatics started with a bull. Mayor Francis Suarez arrived to welcome the more than 25,000 attendees of the Bitcoin 2022 conference and unveil a 3,000-pound bull sculpture inspired by the Wall Street sculpture. The bull was supposed to designate the Miami location as potential crypto capital, and possibly for the manifestation of a Bitcoin bull market. The only drawback is that some conference attendees complainedconsisted in the fact that the figure seemed female: she had no phallus and testicles.

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That week, Rachel Siegel flew to Miami for a conference. Siegel makes a living profitable farming and cryptocurrency trading, and has a modest online audience under the pseudonym @CryptoFinally. At a conference, she says, “I had a great time.” She wore a Whale bracelet that gave her VIP access to certain parties and events. She mingled with other bitcoin enthusiasts and rode a mechanical bull on the show floor.

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By the end of the week, Siegel noticed her Twitter mentions skyrocketed. Someone with the username @bitcoin_fuckboi posted a picture of Siegel’s butt in an unflattering way. Hundreds of people responded to the tweet and wrote disturbing things about her body. Between the graphic insults, some men made sexual advances. “I would have smashed anyway,” wrote one of them. “Would be a pound,” wrote another.

Siegel recognized @bitcoin_fuckboi as someone she met at a conference from a selfie he posted. The photo was clearly taken at an event; everyone in it was wearing Bitcoin 2022 bracelets. Siegel reported the harassment at the Bitcoin conference using an online contact form, but no one responded. As the tweets continued, she DMed on the conference’s official Twitter account. One attendee, she wrote, “frankly bothered me with photos he took at the conference, which is now [leading] into further online harassment.” A Bitcoin 2022 spokesperson responded by introducing herself as @Chairforce and redirecting her to a contact form on the website. Frustrated by this excuse, Siegel started browsing @Chairforce’s Twitter account. There, she saw that the account liked several tweets that she reported as harassment.

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Officially, the Bitcoin conference has anti-harassment policy, which bans “offensive verbal comments about appearance” among other things. But several women, including Siegel, say the conference doesn’t go far enough to enforce its policies or actively advocate for women’s safety.

One woman told me that a man groped her breasts at a private party during the week of the Bitcoin Conference. Another woman attended a party at the home of a well-known crypto investor and later discovered that someone slipped the AirTag into my bag on the party. Both women were alarmed, but neither of them reported the incident to a conference or to the police, as they did not expect that this would solve anything. (They each also requested that their names not be used for fear of retribution in the bitcoin community.)

Two other women told me they decided not to attend this year’s bitcoin conference after learning that one of the speakers was Peter Todd, a bitcoin developer who was accused sexual harassment in 2019. (Todd denies wrongdoing.) “Whisper women in crypto are 100% real,” one of them told me. “I won’t go where other women warn me.”

Bitcoin Conference is the largest gathering devoted exclusively to bitcoin, billed as a “four-day pilgrimage for those who seek greater freedom and personal sovereignty.” The event began in 2019 in San Francisco, but its popularity skyrocketed in 2021 when it moved to Miami. Compared to last year, it doubled in size and attracted more serious sponsors such as Cash App, SoFi and MasterCard.

Its halls are filled with devotees who aspire to decentralized financial systems and, more literally, to vast wealth. Bitcoin is part of a larger crypto ecosystem, but it is the most visible, gateway to mainstream adoption. However, Bitcoin circles can be remarkably uniform. In 2021, 75% of bitcoin holders were men, according to Gemini. State of cryptography report. At events like the Bitcoin Conference, there are clearly fewer women, both as attendees and as speakers.

Even with greater legitimacy, the event retained an atmosphere of debauchery. Reporters attending Bitcoin 2022 described it as a “bacchanal” with the “free energy of a bachelor party”. Participants are also reminded over and over again that they will all become obscenely rich, which some attendees say can make conference attendees feel entitled to get whatever they want in a place where there are no rules.

“This is very different from, for example, the Linux Developers Conference,” says Elias Moose, who runs e-commerce company Web3. Moose attended Bitcoin Week for the first time this year and believes the conference’s energy could lead to inappropriate behavior. When you are constantly told how rich you will be, he says, “you feel like a king. You are on top of the world. You feel like you can have anything.” For some women, this attitude has already gone too far.

The demographic imbalance of the community is at odds with the efforts of a number of groups to protect women in space. Ladies in Bitcoin, launched earlier this year, offers events and workshops to educate women with a particular interest in bitcoin. Women in Blockchain and the Black Women’s Council on Blockchain serve women in the wider crypto space. Earlier this year, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mila Kunis hosted an event for their new crypto club called BFF. “We’ve seen a lot of these brothers get together and make a lot of money,” Paltrow said. Washington Post. “We just as much deserve to be in this space.”

Olayinka Odeniran, founder of the Black Women Blockchain Council, formed her group after attending a Bitcoin event in 2018. club. After that, Odeniran and several women interested in bitcoin decided to create a Telegram group to support each other. “It felt like enough was enough,” she told me. “If these guys don’t recognize us, we’ll forge our own path.”

Now, even though there are a number of female-focused cryptospaces, Odeniran says that women are still underrepresented. “I was in places where I was the only black person, or the only woman, or the only black woman,” she says. Odeniran says women need these spaces for participation as well as for solidarity. Places with fewer women can feel exclusive or, worse, unsafe.

After Siegel discovered that the conference organizer was involved in harassing tweets, she asked a friend to raise the issue again with an acquaintance who worked at the conference. This time she got an answer. “I apologize that this happened at our event,” wrote Justin Duchin, head of events at BTC Inc., “but without the name or email address of this person, we have no way to identify him and prevent him from attending future events.” Siegel responded that during the @bitcoin_fuckboi event, he posted several selfies on his account, including some with well-known bitcoin characters. She also remembered that he rode a mechanical bull at the conference, which narrowed it down to a few dozen possible attendees.

Meanwhile, David Bailey — the CEO of Bitcoin Inc., the organization that hosts the Bitcoin conference — reacted to the incident on Twitter. He wrote that @Chairforce received a “serious reprimand, but everyone makes mistakes and I don’t fire them for it.” Regarding the conference itself, he wrote, “26,000 people attended, don’t let a few bad guys cloud the community.” One woman responded by suggesting that women might feel more secure if they had clear information about the conference. code of conduct. “We already have it,” Bailey replied. (Bitcoin conference organizers declined to answer my questions about how they deal with harassment or violations of their harassment policy.)

There is no way for Siegel to undo the damage from the harassment she has experienced on Twitter. But she still wants the organizers to take responsibility for what happened while she was there. “People underestimate how scary it is when they tell you at a conference that if something happens, there will be no action,” she says. “The kind of misogynistic jokes you can see on Twitter takes on a whole different form when you’re standing in the same room with this man.”

After the conference ended, others started talking about normalizing misogyny in bitcoin circles. “On behalf of 100 million bitcoiners, I would like to formally apologize for the 1,000 or so high-profile bullies who think the harassment of women in real life is commendable,” one person tweeted. “These scumbags don’t represent us and we don’t like them.” Some people responded in solidarity; other responses were less encouraging. “Women are for fucking, not bullying, wtf bitcoinbros,” wrote Twitter user @insiliconot. The tweet got 21 likes.

The blog post was also circulated on Twitter calling for an end to the “glorification of rape, misogyny and sexual harassment” in the Bitcoin community. The author, Tom Maxwell, hosts a podcast about bitcoin; he says he wrote the post after hearing about what happened to Siegel at the conference. He considered her harassment unacceptable, but not surprising. “It was like here’s another example of what’s going on,” he told me. After he published his blog, some people on bitcoin twitter responded and called him “beta” or “waste of space”. One man told him to kill himself.

Maxwell and other Bitcoin proponents are adamant that the toxicity of certain groups does not reflect the entire community. But that may be enough to push some women out of space altogether. The woman who found the AirTag in her purse during Bitcoin Week has since decided to leave her job in the industry due to what she sees as toxic in the community. Siegel, who entered the crypto space in 2017, says she has been looking forward to seeing the community become more diverse in recent years. “But I’m afraid that if we continue to build on this culture, we will scare away these women who interfere,” she says. – We’re going back.


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