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How Many Women Users Before Crypto Is Not Sexist?

How Many Women Users Before Crypto Is Not Sexist?A recent headline on Micky — an iconoclastic media outlet that focuses on cryptocurrency — read “Crypto Twitterstorm: ‘Creepy sexist trolling’ or just a funny meme?” The article explained, “A post making fun of Blockstream’s Samson Mow has sparked a Twitterstorm over accusations of misogyny. Was it funny or just ‘sexist garbage’?”

Also read: Rumors of Bitcoin’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Is Crypto Sexist?

The meme juxtaposed a photo of Mow embracing a Transformers toy box with an image of his romantic partner posing in gym clothes with an over-muscled male. The post was in bad taste, I believe, but it was far more anti-Mow and anti-male than sexist. The people involved in the Twitterstorm, including Mow, may or may not be sexists themselves. I don’t know. Discrimination against women is a common accusation hurled at males in crypto, however.

Here is what I do know. Everyone is equal on the blockchain; women, men, children, gays, transgendered people—all are equal. No gatekeeper slams a door shut because of a user’s race or any other secondary characteristic. Bitcoin is a protocol without prejudice or bias, with the only barriers to entry being the acquisition of knowledge and the access to a computer. In the flesh, the crypto community can be prone to the social insensitivity that comes from interacting more with technology than with people, but this is not discrimination; it is awkwardness. What seems to matter most to crypto zealots are characteristics such as competence and a willingness to learn. Contrast this with traditional payment systems for which politicians, bankers, and bureaucrats make all the rules, with entry being on their terms.

Nevertheless, when crypto users interact off the blockchain, they are often greeted by accusations of sexism—that is, they are accused if they are male. The main reason given is that there are fewer women than men within the community. This is especially obvious at conferences where women are conspicuously in the minority both as attendees and speakers. Since attendance is open to all, however, it is not clear why men are blamed for this imbalance rather than non-attending women. Or whether blame is appropriate at all.

This is the moment at which I am supposed to pause and acknowledge the severity of the issue. I won’t. It is true: If the crypto community wants to thrive, then it should try to attract as many diverse people of goodwill as possible. But no one in crypto has a personal responsibility to mentor or encourage anyone else, and being awkward or indifferent does not make someone a sexist.

A Closer Look at the Crypto Community Imbalance

The first question to ask about the woman “problem” in crypto is “how real is it?” No one really knows, partly because so much anonymity still surrounds crypto. The literature suggests that the ratio between men and women is probably 5-1, with nearly 13 million women holding crypto in the United States alone. This ratio may reflect a lesser interest in technology on the part of women. According to Statista, “female employees make up between 28 percent (Microsoft) and 42 percent (Amazon) of the total workforce at America’s largest tech companies … Looking at actual tech jobs, that percentage drops much lower, as women take up fewer than 1 in 4 technical roles at each of the companies reporting such a figure”. Whether or not these figures are accurate, the number of women in crypto has clearly increased, and substantially so, which means this “problem” could self-solve.

But what if men always outnumber women, and significantly so? Would this matter? One of the main reasons the alleged discrimination has become a hot button issue is because there is a power struggle in our society that is far broader than the crypto community. These are the glory days of social justice — a political ideology that calls for the forcible distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society, especially favoring women and minorities. Today, the worst insult to throw at a person or an organization is “sexist” or “racist”. The main power of social justice warriors lies in such words and in the self-righteousness with which they are spoken. The word “sexist” gives a speaker power over an accused who often falls over himself to prove his innocence. Or he is silenced. In short, the accusations are often a power play that creates a problem.

Of course, many people are sincere in their accusations because they believe there is only one explanation for the asymmetry in gender numbers: discrimination against women. They are so passionately committed to this specific conclusion that merely arguing against it is viewed as discriminatory. They rush to boost the profile of females through dynamics like “all women” panels at conferences. In a sad irony, such panels often increase the focus on gender dissent and differences rather than diffuse it through integration and goodwill. Connie Gallippi of BitGive suggested a better method of promoting women. Frustrated by how few of them spoke at conferences and on panels, she compiled a list of highly qualified women and provided it to organizers. Both sides benefited. Both sides made progress without setting off fireworks.

Another positive suggestion to women: stop disparaging an entire community with hateful name calling. If the true goal is to encourage respect between the sexes, then this tactic moves in the opposite direction. Start dealing with prejudiced individuals on a one-on-one basis by standing up for yourselves, firmly and without rage. This is the approach that adults take.

Moving Forward in Equality

Questions remain. If there is no systemic sexism within the crypto community, what explains the lack of women? And is it a problem that needs to be solved?

The article “Crypto-Patriarchy: The problem of Bitcoin’s male domination” by Brett Scott offered a standard social justice explanation. “This is due to our society having a lingering, systematic male bias built upon hundreds of years in which men have had the most access to job opportunities, educational opportunities, political rights, and (perhaps most importantly) cultural encouragement to actually seek those positions.” In short, Bitcoin is said to continue a narrative of oppression against women.

But Scott’s explanation does not apply to the 21st century, which is the century of crypto. In the last 50 years, the status of women has improved tremendously while that of men has declined. Western societies today are culturally biased in favor of women. Just one example: Female students far outnumber males at American universities. The Atlantic observed, “Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women — 58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s — the ratio has now almost exactly reversed.” The “solution” is not a quota system or preferential treatment for either gender; in fact, quota systems are a large part of the problem. The solution is to let individuals choose and not to artificially block their choices.

Crypto allows individuals — both men and women — to choose their own path, regardless of differences.

As a purely practical matter, however, it is intriguing to wonder about the gender disparity in crypto. Many things other than discrimination could explain it. Women may be less interested than men in crypto just as they seem less interested — as a rough generalization — in technology or science. If so, this does not reflect on women’s intelligence any more than a lack of interest in becoming a librarian reflects badly on men’s. Biological differences or cultural ones could play a part but, again, this doesn’t equate to discrimination. Or, men may dominate the upper crust of crypto for no other reason than they were there first. They created and developed crypto, which means they assumed the costs of doing so in terms of time and reputation. They shouldered the risks. Who else should benefit most and longest? But, again, this may be self-correcting as more women enter the community.

Women who deride the community because they are not sufficiently or correctly “welcomed” into it may also be reflecting their own sexist bias. Academia and much of society preaches that there is an omnipresent and overwhelming patriarchy — that is, a system by which white males oppress everyone else. This political conclusion has immense personal implications. It makes women afraid of men and angry toward them. Aggrieved males feel anger in return, and they will tend to avoid any association with their accusers. This is the wrong way to build community; it is the stuff of schisms and power plays.

Women want respect and acknowledgement, and any person who treats others well deserves it. You get what you give, however. If Gallippi had offered fury rather than a useful solution for promoting women speakers, she might have ended up on an all-woman panel dissing the very community at whose door they were all knocking for entry.

Op-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.


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Rumors of Bitcoin’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Rumors of Bitcoin’s Death Are Greatly ExaggeratedAccording to the Bitcoin Obituary Page, Bitcoin died 379 times between 2010-2019 of an astonishing array of causes. The number is undoubtedly understated since it is based on a limited sample of obituaries. Despite the glee with which the corpses of Bitcoin are contemplated, however, cryptocurrency thrives because it continues to fill the human need for privacy and financial control.

Also read: A Sea Change to Crypto Hits America, Again

The Antifragile Bitcoin

The structure of crypto is robust. The economist Nassim Taleb developed the concept of “antifragility” in his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder.” Taleb distinguished the concept from resiliency. Antifragile things “benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty … Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

Crypto on a blockchain is viewed as antifragile. In a 2018 blog post on Medium, Taleb explained why. Central banks that are “a perfect monoculture” that all operate under the same centralized model, whereas Bitcoin works in a “distributed” or decentralized manner. Taleb cited Friedrich Hayek’s defense of decentralization, which rested on the superiority of distributed knowledge. Taleb commented, “Well, it looks like we do not even need that thing called knowledge for things to work well. Nor do we need individual rationality. All we need is structure.”

The blockchain structure has no owner, no centralized authority, no need to deal with a trusted third party. The freedom from third parties gives Bitcoin a marked advantage over other private currencies, like gold. “Banks control the custodian game and governments control banks … So Bitcoin has a huge advantage over gold in transactions: clearance does not require a specific custodian. No government can control what code you have in your head.”

The distributed control of “the crowd” not only sidesteps centralized authority, it also offers the diverse innovation by which Bitcoin improves by being tested. Decentralization is its antifragility. Overconfidence would be a mistake, however. Powerful and highly motivated enemies want to destroy free-market crypto, and they should not be underestimated.

How to Kill Crypto

The state and a tech attack by bad actors are the two greatest threats to free-market crypto. The latter is the least worrisome, however. The Bitcoin blockchain is close to unhackable, and innovative development can address other technical problems that arise. By contrast, the state knows where you live, and there is sometimes no escape.

An April 24, 2018 paper by Morgen Peck in the MIT Technology Review is entitled “Let’s Destroy Bitcoin.” Option one in doing so is labeled “Government takeover” and refers to creating a national digital currency. Peck envisions a dystopian future in which taxes are paid through “an algorithm” that “automatically makes a withdrawal from your electronic wallet, in a currency called Fedcoin.” Fedcoin is a digital currency that is issued by central banks with the blockchain administered by the state or institutions under its authority.

Peck sketches the Fedcoin system. “Each bank is responsible for a chunk of addresses on the blockchain. When new transactions come through, the bank validates them in a new block and sends it to the Fed. The Fed then acts as the final arbiter, checking the entries and unifying the blocks into a master version of the blockchain that it makes public.”

To access the system, a person needs to prove their identity and establish a wallet with the Federal Reserve or an approved financial institution. At first, Fedcoins could be purchased for cash; when people become comfortable with the new currency, however, the coins can replace cash entirely. The cashless society would allow the state to tax and impose monetary policy more efficiently. New coins could be minted at will, for example. Blacklists could exclude objectionable people and organizations from participating in the only authorized financial system.

Fedcoin would kill Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of a private, decentralized currency through which individuals become self-bankers. Or would it?

Can the State Destroy Bitcoin?

Probably not.

For one thing, an effective ban on free-market crypto would require a worldwide effort that would be very difficult to coordinate. National responses to crypto vary widely. Several nations ban crypto, while others rush to embrace it as a money-making proposition. Users tend to shift their money over to the friendly venues. Global attempts to control crypto would resemble a whack-a-mole game.

For another thing, although the state can hunt down miners or users, it cannot destroy an idea. And this is what lies at Bitcoin’s core — an idea, a protocol — a well-known idea and an easily duplicated protocol. Even if Satoshi’s whitepaper had been censored in 2008, the technology could not have been suppressed. At most, it could have been delayed. When crypto inevitably did emerge, it would have an immediate advantage because coding is faster and more adaptive than legislation.

Perversely, a common consequence of censorship or bans has been to strengthen the target, not to eliminate it. There are several reasons. Outlawing things and activities often lends them a cachet or a thrill. Meanwhile, illegality usually hikes the price of an item — drugs, for example — but the item continues to be readily available. Some contraband — drugs, for example — can become more available because they are so profitable that merchants flood into the market.

Saifedean Ammous, author of “The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking,” is among those who believe attempts at suppression encourage free-market crypto. “People think that if a government were to pass a law that bans Bitcoin,” Ammous explained, “then Bitcoin goes away and they get to laugh at us and that’s the end of the story. I think it’s actually the other way around.” A ban would increase public awareness of two realities: if users are willing to risk imprisonment, then crypto must be valuable and useful; and the state is at war with financial freedom. Both insights favor crypto.

Even the severe and showcased punishment of crypto users does not necessarily discourage whatever illegal activity the state presents as justification. Ross Ulbricht —creator of the darknet marketplace, the Silk Road — is a case in point. Arrested in 2013, Ulbricht was eventually sentenced to a double life term in prison with no possibility of parole. And yet, darknets persist. The attempt at suppression of targeted offenders can backlash by making the freedom of crypto more attractive and accelerating the conversion of wealth from physical assets into digital ones.

A state’s best chance to monopolize digital currencies is a three-pronged attack.

1) Issue its own digital currency that competes vigorously by offering legal advantages to users while retaining some practical advantages of the free-market ones, such as speed of transfer.

2) Constantly demonize private cryptos as high-risk vehicles of crime and immorality. Instead of blatant censorship, the state runs a propaganda campaign.

3) Then ban or strictly regulate private crypto. Free-market crypto would become black market and so justify an ever-tightening grip by the state.

“The way for them to kill Bitcoin is for them … to offer a technology that is better than Bitcoin — that can obviate the need for Bitcoin,” according to Ammous. “Or, at least, they need to try.” Actually, the state only needs to convince people that free-market crypto is dangerous and state-issue is a safe replacement, whether or not it is true. In short, a money monopoly = safety and morality; freedom=risk and turpitude.

The state needs to convince people fast because the economy is running out of time. The “everything-bubble” — a large and simultaneous bubble in a variety of asset categories — is stretched to breaking, and the center cannot hold. A new currency and payment system could give the banks an air of efficiency and progress, while buying time for the state.

Ammous is correct. The state needs “to try” to recreate crypto as a vehicle of state power. The attempt may succeed temporarily and to some degree, but state-issued crypto will ultimately fail because it no longer benefits the users. If it did, state crypto would not require the force of law. As merely one example: the Bitcoin blockchain is designed to distribute power across a peer-to-peer system that does not allow an authority to rewrite the rules arbitrarily. This is an essential check on the system’s integrity. If a centralized authority controls the blockchain, however, it becomes a database that serves the interests of the state. The blockchain loses its free-market “use value,” which is the private and convenient transfer of money over distance. Instead, the blockchain and its coins acquire a “use disvalue,” which is their cost in terms of surveillance and taxes, including inflation.

Rumors of Bitcoin’s death are exaggerated, but they should not be ignored. Knowing how to sidestep a danger means knowing what and where it is.

Op-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.


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The post Rumors of Bitcoin’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Crypto News Updates

A Sea Change to Crypto Hits America, Again

A Sea Change to Crypto Hits America, AgainA sea change is coming to cryptocurrency in America. It is likely to hit in two separate waves: a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and draconian regulation that shuts down free-market activities, including development.

Also Read: No Backdoor on Human Rights: Why Encryption Cannot Be Compromised

The Wave of a Central Bank Digital Currency

Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal has a warning.A [U.S.] Federal Reserve created digital coin could be one of the most dangerous steps ever taken by a government agency. It would put in the hands of the government the potential to create a digital currency with the ability to track all transactions in an economy—and prohibit transactions for any reason. In terms of future individual freedom, this would be a nightmare.” If recent statements by American lawmakers and bureaucrats are an indication, however, state-issued crypto seems to be on its way.

A shift in attitude on CBDC is in the air. Consider Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard. In May 2018, she stated, “There is no compelling demonstrated need for a Fed-issued digital currency.” While acknowledging the efficiency and low cost of blockchain transfers, Brainard presented a familiar check list of objections to digital currencies. They were too volatile to be utilized as money; their anonymity protected crimes like money laundering and sex trafficking; they eluded regulation. Then Brainard added what may have been the fundamental reason for dismissing a CBDC. At the beginning of 2018, digital currencies were so small a part of the financial system that they posed no stability risk. They did not threaten the monetary status quo. Or, at least, Brainard did not perceive the threat.

In February 2020, her tune differed. “The Fed is conducting research and experimentation related to distributed ledger technologies and their potential use case for digital currencies, including the potential for a CBDC.” The main public argument for a CBDC is a perceived need to stabilize crypto by pegging it to traditional fiat, which is assumed to be less volatile. The “nightmare” of which Wenzel warned already has a name: Fedcoin.

What changed between May 2018 and February 2020?

Crypto surged in popularity and price while central banks and their fiats continued a slow implosion. Several nations — including America’s financial nemesis China — announced an intention to issue e-currencies. “We are collaborating with other central banks as we advance our understanding of central bank digital currencies,” Brainard explained, all the while “making sure” we are at the “frontier of both research and policy development.” Translation: the U.S. does not want to be left behind. Neither will it eat Facebook’s dust; Brainard claimed that Facebook’s digital currency Libra, which emerged last year, “imparted urgency” to the conversation. Digital currency was becoming a large enough part of the financial system for agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department to notice.

The Wave of Draconian Regulation

The regulation attack is surging, and it will extend far beyond the current licensing of exchanges to make them function in conformity with state law.

The IRS has stepped up crypto prosecutions and has created new rules. In his article “IRS Explains What Crypto Owners Must Know to File Taxes This Year,” Kevin Helms observed, “Among the changes to the 2019 Form 1040, the main U.S. tax form, is the addition of ‘an inquiry regarding the acquisition or disposition of any virtual currency’, the agency explained. The new crypto question appears on Form 1040’s Schedule 1, entitled ‘Additional Income and Adjustments to Income’.” This is prelude.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently revealed that the Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was preparing “significant new requirements” in order to provide transparency to crypto in a quest to prevent “crimes” such as tax avoidance. Here, transparency is a synonym for state surveillance. “We want to make sure that technology moves forward,” Mnuchin continued, “but … we want to make sure that cryptocurrencies aren’t used for the equivalent of old Swiss secret number bank accounts.” He added that FinCEN and the Treasury Department are “spending a lot of time on this.”

The Department of Justice was even more blunt, declaring bitcoin mixing to be “a crime” in and of itself. Yahoo Finance’s article “US DOJ Calls Bitcoin Mixing ‘a Crime’ in Arrest of Software Developer,” indicated how seriously the DOJ takes this alleged crime. “Larry Harmon was arrested earlier this week for allegedly participating in a money-laundering conspiracy worth more than $300 million in cryptocurrency involving darknet marketplace AlphaBay. However, the family of the Coin Ninja CEO claims he was never involved with AlphaBay. Harmon’s case raises pressing questions about developer liability in the crypto industry.” The mere development of tools has been criminalized.

The Two Waves Flood Together

As yet, Mnuchin has not supported a CBDC. He merely echoes President Trump’s loud concern that crypto is being used by bad actors, and the “abuses” must be reined in by careful state monitoring. The easiest way for this to be done is to create some form of CBDC on a blockchain protocol that the state controls, however.

The state’s pattern in monetary matters can be judged by how it handled private competition to the money it has issued in the past. Whatever the politicians say now, the same pattern is likely to hold with crypto as soon as it becomes pragmatically possible.

First, state money is issued through a central bank and free-market competitors are controlled by regulation. “To start with, I suspect it’s going to be a parallel currency,” the investment guru Doug Casey explained. “Perhaps usable just within the U.S. which, in effect, would be a form of foreign exchange controls even more effective than the inability of Americans to open up foreign bank and brokerage accounts today … I think it’s a near certainty that they’re going to do something like this and soon.” Second, the state will attempt to establish a monopoly by criminalizing the ownership of free-market crypto and, perhaps, mandating the ownership of state-issue. One manner in which a fiat has been historically mandated is by making taxes or other state fees payable only in that form of money.

Establishing a CBDC may be irresistible to Trump, not only as a way to stay competitive with rival monetary powers but also because of the extreme political power it offers. A CBDC would serve the state in at least two ways:

  • By controlling the design of the Fedcoin’s blockchain and its terms of use, the state can strip away encryption and anonymity so that every transaction is identifiable. Every user can be taxed. Every coin can be confiscated; the threat of confiscation or of being shut out of the financial system is a means to impose social control.
  • The CBDC eases people into a cashless society. States dislike cash because it offers an anonymity that blocks their ability to tax and control. If only the CBDC were permitted, however, extra “taxes” could be levied and social control asserted. If the state wanted to prevent someone from traveling, for example, it could block the person’s ability to buy a plane ticket … or ammunition for a gun.

As usual, the freedom and prosperity of individuals will be stolen in the name of a noble cause: fighting sex traffic or child pornography. In reality, it will be done to empower the state. The title of an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) article stated “In Foreshadowing Cryptocurrency Regulations, U.S. Treasury Secretary Prioritizes Law Enforcement Concerns.”

The wording of the coming regulations and probable Fedcoin are not yet known. Their purpose is clear, however; the state wants to convert cryptocurrency into a form of state fiat and a technology of financial surveillance. The latter can reveal far more than economic transactions. As EFF observed, they can point “to everything from your friend network to your sexual interests to your political affiliations.”

State-controlled e-currency means state-controlled individuals.

Op-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.

The post A Sea Change to Crypto Hits America, Again appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: Bitcoin News