Does crypto have a misogyny problem? #hearsay sushi, models, and Copper Technologies

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Picture a dimly lit red-lacquered room in a fancy hotel. A group of men in hoodies, some in business suits, others in sunglasses, stands ominously around a table not with energy drinks or laptops but with women used as serving platters for sushi. 

Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author and do not represent the views and opinions of crypto.news’ editorial.

Every week, crypto.news brings you #hashtag hearsay, a gossip column of scoops and stories shaping the crypto world. If you have a tip, email Dorian Batycka at [email protected]

No, this is not a Hollywood Weinstein-era casting call in the 1990s, but another episode of #hearsay, my weekly gossip column looking into the sultry underbelly of crypto. 

In this week’s episode, we take you behind the story of Copper’s sushi model kerfuffle after the digital asset manager was busted by Financial Times using scantily clad models as serving platters for sushi during the company’s Digital Asset Summit afterparty.

The backstory? Of course it happened at the Mandrake Hotel, one of seediest in London, owned by the eponymous Lebanese party boy turned hotel entrepreneur Rami Fustok. Welcome to the world of underground crypto ‘bro’ culture, where cringe-core hotels serve as the backdrop for degen deals and misogyny gone amuck.

Copper Technologies, the digital asset company hosting the party, is no activist social justice enterprise either. The company has reputed links to weapons dealers and sanctioned bankers from Russia. In 2023 and 2024, both Jonatan Zimenkov and Mikhail Klyukin were found to have made transactions with the company in excess of $4.8 million and £15 million (approx. $18,9 million), respectively, both of whom are sanctioned by UK and US authorities.

Let’s be honest, though—crypto is a total sausage fest, a testosterone-fueled echo chamber where women are as rare as a Bitcoin in a bear market. Worse, they are often also the target of outright abuse.

In 2018, famed cryptocurrency journalist and host of the “Unchained” podcast Laura Shin wrote about her experiences with online harassment and threats from individuals within the crypto community. Over the years, she has documented specific instances of misogynistic comments and derogatory messages directed towards her on social media platforms such as X and Reddit. On March 24, the crypto influencer Jeremy Cahen (Pauly0x) called Shin a “whore” in an X space after she canceled (later postponed) an interview she had planned with the Porkcoin bro. Cahen himself is no stranger to controversy, having been found guilty alongside Ryder Ripps of fraudulently profiting from and defaming Yuga Labs, known as one of the greasiest crypto bros in the game.

Tron (TRX), a token launched in 2018, faced waves of criticism after its launch featured a prominent partnership with a blockchain-based porn platform. Since crypto’s inception, it seems, women have fared as mere side pieces, mantles to be objectified rather than listened to. 

Walk through any conference from Singapore to Miami: it’s no surprise that there are mostly men. Companies within the industry should do more or face criticism for their lack of gender diversity in executive teams and boardrooms, with names and statistics readily available in public reports. It’s all in the open; this is what decentralized governance can and should be about—greater equality and more equilibrium in markets and participants.

That’s not to say women are entirely excluded from crypto altogether. In fact, just last weekend, I attended DeSci in London, which featured an all-female panel including representatives from AthenaDAO, AsteriskDAO, and HairDAO. In London, there are women in web3-focused events, presumably because the men in London only want to meet at the Mandrake Hotel for female-plated sushi. One of my best friends in the industry, Aleksandra Artamonovskaja, is a crypto industry veteran with a penchant for digital art who studied at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

My boss at Crypto.news, Catherine Mychka reminds me at least once a week that my EU shift is dominated by male writers. The evidence is, fellow men, right in our faces. While there are women in the industry, they remain the minority, thanks —I think—to the toxic male culture that tends to permeate our industry like a stinky fart. 

What’s more, it’s hard to make it in crypto in less you are handed many structural conditions at birth: access to regular internet, not to mention food and shelter, schools for maths and coding, etc. But when keynote speaking engagements for marquee industry events feel dominated by self-proclaimed industry evangelists full of Christ-like white boys, the problem becomes that these Lamo-espousing industry figures permeate the industry like a foul-smelling bad body odor. I get it. You want to look like a baller, but please, crypto bros—chill! 

Back when I first got into crypto, it felt like I was partaking in some new utopian vision and hope for a world empowered by decentralization. Instead, that promise seems foregone, replaced by some Kafkaesque caricature of an industry cannibalizing itself with greed and toxicity. Effective altruists whose only pursuit seems to be a twisted Silicon Valley 2.0 logic personified by white men feels, well, a bit boring to me. The thing with diversity is that it breeds innovation. Having more voices, more perspectives, and more ideas breeds those very forms exponentially.

As I finish my regularly plated sushi, a cautionary note. For one to condemn the crypto ‘bro’ culture I feel ashamed and apart of would be amiss to the fact I myself both a man and white. Dipping my sushi roll into its bath of soy and wasabi, I wondered: am I apart of the problem? Or could the future of crypto, a world where greed and misogyny seem to go hand in hand, be replaced with one where we’re talking about SushiSwaps instead of sushi rolls?


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