In an adaptation from her new book, Brotopia, Emily Chang writes in Vanity Fair: “About once a month, on a Friday or Saturday night, the Silicon Valley Technorati gather for a drug-heavy, sex-heavy party.”
In the article, Ms Chang describes the “toxic” culture in the US tech industry, documenting exclusive sex parties, chauvinistic attitudes and breathtaking hedonism and excess.
But according to Ms Chang, while the women involved in the debauchery are willing participants, there’s a clear power imbalance in play.
“ … Guests and hosts include powerful first-round investors, well-known entrepreneurs, and top executives. Some of them are the titans of the Valley, household names,” she wrote.
“The female guests have different qualifications. If you are attractive, willing, and (usually) young, you needn’t worry about your resumé or bank account.
“In some scenarios, the ratio of women to wealthy men is roughly two to one, so the men have more than enough women to choose from.”
According to Ms Chang, invitations are discreetly extended to men by “word of mouth, Facebook, Snapchat” while “women too will spread the word among their female friends, and the expectations are hardly hidden”.
But while the debaucherous culture is widespread throughout the industry, Ms Chang claims “the vast majority of people in Silicon Valley have no idea these kinds of sex parties are happening at all”.
On the night of a party, guests will arrive before dinner and are let in by security guards with a strict list of welcome attendees — anyone not mentioned on the list will be barred from entering.
The events are either catered or guests cook dinner together, and alcohol is widely consumed, followed by drugs after the meal.
The most common drugs are “some form of MDMA, a.k.a. Ecstasy or Molly” — and some pills proudly display the logos of high-profile tech companies.
Guests then start “cuddling and making out” and guests will break off into “twosomes or threesomes or more”.
The parties last all night and the group gathers again for breakfast, “after which some may have intercourse again. Eat, drugs, sex, repeat.”
According to the article, the parties are seen as a “lifestyle choice” by many guests, with many couples in open relationships attending together.
And despite the clear power imbalance, male partygoers don’t tend to see their behaviour as “predatory”.
Instead, “when they look in the mirror, they see individuals setting a new paradigm of behaviour by pushing the boundaries of social mores and values”.
But while most guests who attend these parties know what the scene is like, some are left scarred by the experience.
One female guest told Ms Chang, “what’s not OK about this scene is that it is so money- and power-dominated”. “It’s a problem because it’s an abuse of power. I would never do it again,” the woman said.
While researching her book, Ms Chang also interviewed many wealthy male tech founders who claimed men were the real victims in Silicon Valley.
They said there was a widespread belief that there were many women whose sole aim was to trap a wealthy tech genius into marriage — and the fear is so common there’s even a term for this type of woman: “founder hounders”.
Ms Chang finishes with a bleak comment on the repercussions of participating in the sex culture for female workers.
“The problem is that weekend views of women as sex pawns and founder hounders can’t help but affect weekday views of women as colleagues, entrepreneurs and peers,” she said.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley will be published on February 6, 2018 by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group.