This little sweetie is Erica Swallow, a privileged graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Business, who was lucky enough to get an internship at a Boston venture capital firm called General Catalyst. That’s actually her real name — I’m not making it up.
Unfortunately, Erica felt “left out” at the male-dominated firm — apparently forgetting that she was an intern — and decided to complain in a blog about “gender bias” there. Note that there’s no indication that she was abused: there’s no mention of bottom-pinching, come-ons, leers, or other sexual abuses from the evil men.
No, her complaint is that she was “consistently reminded of my place as a woman in a man’s world.” Horrors. She doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that she may have been experiencing what any intern might experience in a high-powered, competitive business environment.
“What message do you think I heard when I was the only woman, at a lowly intern position, sitting in on founder pitches and investment meetings? In short: VC is no place for a woman,” she wrote.
Despite being offended by being the only Ivy-League princess present, she can’t resist a little bragging: She got to “sit in on founder pitches and investment meetings.”
Alas, when her narcissistic blithering got popular attention, her superiors at the firm became upset at the bad publicity and hurt her feelings:
“The fact that all of the meetings they set up about my post that last week and beyond were with men, and that the majority of our conversations revolved around bringing this topic back to a positive perspective of what the firm and its peers are doing to solve the problem, made me feel as if the core of my post, my feelings and less-than-welcoming experience, were not valued,” Miss Swallow wrote in a first-person piece for the Wall Street Journal.
“They didn’t see that I felt left out; they saw that their firm was under attack,” she added
Gosh. Imagine that. Those insensitive cads insisted on thinking about their business’s reputation and bottom line, instead of concentrating on her feelings as they should have. And when she refused to back down, one of the male beasts actually yelled at her. It made her cry, but the brave little darling stuck to her guns:
“I stood up, tears falling from my eyes and my breath becoming uncontrollable, and said I wasn’t going to take this treatment. I hadn’t done anything wrong for speaking up about something I felt was an issue, but I was being treated like a perpetrator. I had broken their trust, they told me. And maybe I had, but I would not be silenced and belittled,” she wrote.
Maybe she did betray their trust, but she wasn’t going to listen to any criticism. So there!
Now, it’s true that self-absorbed, spoiled-rotten little princesses have been around since the dawn of civilization. But her ludicrous attitude is not what prompted me to write this post. Neither is her dewy-eyed Harlequin Romance writing style.
No, the problem is that her behavior, instead of being laughed off as it would in a rational universe, is embraced by the people who tell us what to think. Little Miss Swallow was given the opportunity to write about her tantrum in the Wall Street Journal. She’s been on television. I’d like to think that’s because hers is such a bizarre story, but apparently not. Apparently, a lot of people actually think she has a complaint.
And instead of her ridiculous antics inhibiting success in the adult world, she may very well go on to build a successful career from them. After all, look at Sandra Fluke, who came to national attention by actually complaining to the Congress that Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, wouldn’t subsidize her sexual cavorting by paying for free condoms or birth control pills. Now she’s running for Congress herself!
And people ask me why I use the term “Bizarro World.”