TL;DR: Cryptocurrency luminary Andreas Antonopoulos expressed his outrage publicly at a conference possibly employing marketing campaign “booth babes.” Booth babes are commonplace on the circuit, dressed in logos and made up to attract attendees’ attention. Antonopoulos reignited a longtime, ongoing debate within the ecosystem, and this time it’s about women in the industry, their participation, and what kind of culture the space is building.
Andreas Antonopoulos: Booth Babes Should Be Explicitly Prohibited
The Bitcoin Association Hong Kong lamented, “Ugh, Blockchain attracts the worst people and the worst in people,” and included a promotion aimed at vendors for Blockchain Week 2019 Hong Kong. The email touted at-the-ready models for hire, evidently hoping to place aforementioned booth babes in the event.
“I was invited to this conference. This right here would have been a breach of contract if they allowed it,” Antonopoulos insisted, citing his speaker agreement forbids booth babes. “Good to know, adding the organizers to the blackest of blacklists. Speakers in blockchain: you can (should) prohibit this kind of behavior in your contract.”
The organizers, NexChange, were seemingly caught unawares. “I am the main organizer of Hong Kong Blockchain Week and we have no idea about the hiring of Russian Models,” a representative responded. “Someone out there is hijacking our event to promote false information. We make every effort to promote women and blockchain and have created content and panels to support women in technology. This is totally false and we do not condone this type of activity,” NexChange stressed.
Is This Really a Pressing Issue?
Antonopoulos doubled-down on his insistence, chiding commenters for joking about the subject. In thread responses, he explained, “It’s about the conference not establishing a code of conduct that prohibits ‘booth babe’ marketing by sponsors. My contract requires that code of conduct (adopted, published and enforced) explicitly.” He also reminded, “Organizers set the tone of a conference. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is highly unlikely this marketing angle would be attempted if they knew it would get sponsors evicted from the conference. In my conferences it will & we make a point of publicising our policy.”
A few commenters asked for Antonopoulos’ contract be made public as a way to establish such norms for those concerned with the issue, to which he agreed. To the refrain sex sells, Antonopoulos responded, “Objectification sells? But that doesn’t mean we should tolerate it or not actively work against it. We can and should demand and do better.”
Others found the concern misplaced and too strangely specific, and wished to support “sex workers” in their endeavors as something a segment of the crypto conference community desires. Booth babes, they insisted, were hardly an issue worth getting worked up about. They, instead, support tolerance for vocations others find objectionable, such as sex work and modeling, as a choice women can make on their own without preachy virtue signalers demanding their earn money a certain way.
For others, concern was raised about how banning such activity would be policed by organizers. “It starts feeling like elitist behavior to make too many rules about booth babes or escorts or models, they are honest people trying to earn too. Where to draw the line? Are low-cut shirts next? Tight pants? Make-up? It just starts getting silly eventually,” a commenter observed.
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