breadcrumbs: a series of connected events

Shedding Light on the “Black Box of Inappropriateness”

My message to my boyfriend at the time, the night Dave came over to my apartment

From Creepy Comments to Sexual Assault

I’m shaking as I write this, not quite knowing where to start. As I’m sure Susan Fowler and Niniane, Susan & Leiti probably did, I’ve struggled long and hard over whether to come out with my own account of sexual harassment. After Sarah’s story in the NYT was published, I was quite sure I wouldn’t, because I thought I didn’t have to.  

But after reading Dave’s post “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry.,” I couldn’t help but feel compelled to tell my story. While Dave acknowledged and apologized for his “inappropriate behavior” towards multiple women, I felt it generalized his actions to inappropriate comments made in a “setting he thought was social.” It definitely didn’t address the severity of his sexual advances towards me and potentially others.

I’m now ready to tell my account of what Dave McClure inflicted on me 3 years ago, in my own apartment. It’s not just inappropriate, it’s assault.

When facts and details are not publicly disclosed, the whole matter gets lumped into one big black box of inappropriateness. Non-consensual, sexual advances are not the same as flirtatious comments from a creepy dude. The degree of harassment matters. Here’s why.

Just go onto Dave’s twitter and blog to see the swarm of comments supporting him for his authentic apology and courage in writing it. One guy even tweeted that Dave was just being Dave – he has always been, and will always be inappropriate! He’s famous for that. Big deal!

“yeah but you were always up front about it. It was your USP. why is anyone surprised? ; )”

“Dave you’re not a creep, you’re a solid dude. I sorta wish you didn’t apologize for wanting a sex life like other human beings.”

“Dave, well done; continue. Listen, yr head went on a pike but yr past behaviour is THE NORM, every industry & setting. Keep communicating.”

“ This took guts. Respect to Dave as well here a great example.”

“Jesus F*cking Christ you are a MAN and hit on a woman. That is NORMAL behavior. Don’t let people neuter you publicly for being YOU!”

“you are only human! i wish u the best“

“Read your story of self castration. Sorry you felt it necessary. Theyre still going to call you a monster foreever. Shouldnt have apologized“

“Unpin this immediately and delete that medium post. You have nothing to be ashamed of. No counseling needed. You are a f*cking MAN OWN IT“

This is why I decided to tell my story. If I don’t, it would be far too easy to condone “inappropriateness,” and far too easy to gloss over it. Dave and other men in positions of power, could still react defensively and try to rationalize their behavior, as Dave did initially. If someone has a wife and two kids and still wants to sleep with other women, that’s their choice. But if someone uses their power as a VC to make repeated sexual, physical advances on women in a professional context, that goes way beyond being a creep.

Before I continue, I want to clarify that I still believe that 500 Startups stood for and continues to stand as a bastion of inclusiveness in the industry. 500 may have been co-founded by Dave McClure and Christine Tsai in 2010, but today, 500 is made up of 100+ diverse individuals, and thousands of diverse founders. 500 plays a crucial role in early stage funding and has been a strong supporter of many female, minority, international, LGBTQ and otherwise underrepresented founders. I would like us to keep that in mind while reading this, that the misconduct is directed at one individual, not the entire firm. I believe in 500 Startups and want to find constructive ways to deal with this.

Dave has done a lot for many founders, and people (including me) are grateful for his support in many ways. What he’s done for the startup community is commendable. It’s tough for some to accept the truth that Dave abused his power for sexual gain and put women in compromising, powerless positions. But we need to acknowledge the difference between inappropriate behavior and assault. What I experienced with Dave was the latter. 

<> I just spoke to Sarah Kunst and learned from her that at least 12 other women including me, have faced sexual harassment or advances from Dave of various degrees. Some of them are portfolio company CEOs like myself. They’re afraid to come out, but some eventually will. I had doubts publishing this, but after talking to Sarah, it is clear to me now that I can’t just sit silently and trust that Dave’s behavior will stop, or that we can just file his misconduct under “Dave being Dave.” This is about protecting other women who might otherwise be subjected to his future unwanted sexual advances.

My Personal Account of Sexual Assault from Dave

3 years ago, I’d just moved from Silicon Valley to Malaysia, to take up a position as the Founding CEO of MaGIC, a government-funded innovation agency in Malaysia that was launched by President Obama and the Prime Minister of Malaysia on April 27, 2014 to spur tech startups in Malaysia and later Southeast Asia via its accelerator programs.

Given that my startup Reclip.It was previously funded by 500 Startups, and I had a good working relationship with Dave, I had already spoken to Dave about setting up an accelerator in Southeast Asia. He said he’d consider doing it if I helped him raise USD$10M for the fund, which would be managed by Khailee Ng, a fund manager of 500 Durians at the time (a microfund for Southeast Asia). I subsequently got the investments they needed secured.

On June 6, 2014, Dave flew into Malaysia to meet some of these investors and other tech players in the industry. I invited him to attend my board meeting that day as well. After the meeting, Khailee, Dave, and a few others (including two other females), decided to come over to my apartment to brainstorm about 500 Startups’ new Growth / Distribution Accelerator, Cerebro (later rebranded as Distro Dojo) and also a hashtag for MaGIC, the organization that I was leading.

What started out to be an innocent night of just jamming and hanging out at my new apartment turned into a nightmare episode that has been haunting me for the past 3 years. Dave kept pouring scotch into my glass before I finished drinking throughout the night, and hours into the night way past midnight, suddenly, everyone except Dave decided to order a cab. They all promptly left, and left Dave there with me. I was quite confused by how that happened so quickly.

I quickly asked if Dave wanted to leave like the rest of them but he said no. Perplexed, I offered him to crash on the couch or the guest room and proceeded to show him the guest room. Then I went into my own bedroom but Dave followed me there, and that’s when he first propositioned to sleep with me. I said no. I reminded Dave that he knew my then-boyfriend and that we’d just talked about him earlier that night.


My message to my boyfriend at the time, the night Dave came over to my apartment

At this point, I led him to the door and told him he needs to leave. On the way out, he pushed himself onto me to the point where I was backed into a corner, made contact to kiss me, and said something along the lines of “Just one night, please just this one time.” Then he told me how he really likes strong and smart women like me. Disgusted and outraged, I said no firmly again, pushed him away and made sure he was out my door.

Once he was gone, still in shock and in tears, I immediately called my boyfriend at the time and told him what had just happened. I couldn’t shake off thoughts of what might have happened if he had applied more force on me, or if I hadn’t been able to defend myself. The fact that I had to say no multiple times, and that he had push himself onto me and kissed me without my consent was way more than crossing the line of inappropriateness. It’s legally considered a sexual assault.

Unfortunately, I felt like I couldn’t speak up at the time, or even tell Khailee about it, because we had the Distro Dojo deal at stake and we were supposed to sign an LOI that week. I was extremely conflicted about it. On one hand, I was really upset with Dave’s individual misconduct and never wanted to work directly with him ever again, but on the other hand, if I said anything, I would most certainly kill the Distro Dojo deal. The deal wasn’t even for a personal benefit (if I were raising funds for my own startup, I wouldn’t have taken his money), but it has widespread regional impact. It was so important to Southeast Asia that Distro Dojo be established there. In hindsight, the program has indeed made a lot of positive impact to companies such as Grab, KFIT, Bukalapak, and others, and many would argue that 500 plays a fundamental role in the region’s startup ecosystem.

I just had to suck it up and put the incident behind me. Even if I spoke up, I wasn’t sure at the time if my story would be taken seriously. In fact, I felt like I had to “play nice” and avoid any sort of awkward confrontation for fear of repercussions on the deal. It’s the worst position to be in when you feel helpless about something you know was outright wrong. The point is, that I shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place.

Plus, as a new CEO of such a public organization at the time, and with a huge task ahead of me, I just couldn’t spare the emotional or mental energy to report this incident at the time, and if you knew me over those 2 years, I was barely able to come up for air. It’s not easy for women to report incidents like these, and everyone is in a very different personal situation.

It wasn’t until later in 2015 that I was able to reveal this to 3 of my close friends. I knew this was something I wouldn’t be able to keep to myself forever.

When Dave finally got around to apologizing to me, it was a half-hearted message on FB.

I was disappointed that he used words like “If that incident last year made you feel uncomfortable, I’d like to apologize,” and “if I misread things or acted inappropriately.” If? It showed me that he did not think what he did was wrong, was not remorseful, did not own up to it and it was not a sincere apology. He even didn’t apologize on his own accord.

Dave didn’t feel compelled to change his behavior until forced by others. In his recent blog post, he admitted he was defensive even when caught and tried to rationalize his behavior with Sarah. He did not addressed the severity of the advances he made on me, nor the extremely conflicted and difficult position he put me in given that we had a business deal in the works. Like Sarah’s situation, he downplayed the incident as “misreading the situation.” 

But This Wasn’t The First Time I’d Been Propositioned by Dave

On June 14, 2011 when I had successfully raised a seed round for my startup CityPockets, I hosted a networking event for entrepreneurs & investors in New York City with my friend Gary. Dave stopped by my event around midnight to congratulate me. After the event ended, I got a text message from Dave, stating his midtown hotel and room #. He asked if I wanted to “drop by his hotel room to chat” because he had a bottle of wine. Confused and unsure how to reply, I said I was tired and on my way home, no thanks. That was that.

I kept thinking to myself… this can’t be a proposition! It’s simply crazy! What balls does a VC have to send such a text that I can easily share with the press? (I’ve since lost the screenshot of the text). I still said to myself, maybe I misread it? Maybe it’s nothing and he just wants company? I brushed it off and continued on with life, but at the same time, being more wary of Dave.

Less than a year later, in March 2012, I was in Mountain View raising money for my startup when Dave pinged me to catch up at the 500 Startups office. Upon telling him about my new startup, Reclip.It, Dave offered us a spot at 500 Startups’ Batch 4 Accelerator, even though the program had already started a week ago.

A few months into the accelerator, Dave invited me to be his +1 for the Xconomy Napa Summit on June 7, 2012. I felt lucky that an unproven founder like me got to attend this prestigious event that’s limited to 100 VCs and top entrepreneurs. What an opportunity! I was beginning to feel like Dave was truly a great supporter of female entrepreneurs and generously opened doors for people like me.

That night after dinner, we all retreated to our own villas. Shortly after, I got a text from Dave, again asking if I’d come over to his room because he had a bottle of wine. I was reluctant to believe that he would be so bold as to proposition me as an investee.  I was also curious about what he wanted, so I went to his room, telling myself not to drink too much and that I could always rely on my black belt in Taekwondo if it got to that.

But I didn’t need to defend myself at all that night. We chatted all night over a bottle of wine, Dave sitting across the room from me the whole time, relating to me how he was lonely and an entrepreneur just like all of us, that nobody understands his side of the story as well as his own failures, struggles and insecurities. I felt good that he confided in me and encouraged him to share it with the world, that he doesn’t have to hide behind his tough, hardass persona. A month later on July 7, 2012, he published his “late bloomer” story on and the story went viral.

From that point, I thought OMG, I’m so silly to think that Dave had any sexual interest in me! Geez, I misjudged him. He’s a good person and is doing amazing things for female and minority entrepreneurs! He turned a cautious skeptic into a huge fan and supporter. Clearly I was wrong. I was fooled for 2 years.

The Devil Is In The Details

I was speaking to a good friend of mine earlier, and she told me of her own recent experience being propositioned by a new LP for her fund. She reported it to her manager, and her manager had taken over the relationship from that point on. Apparently, this LP met her for happy hour drinks and told her that he’s in an open relationship, and that he regrets she’s married. He proceeded to tell her that she’s sexy and asked if she’d consider an open relationship as well, as he put his hands on her back. She snapped at him and quickly left the scene. When I asked what she told her manager, she said she didn’t tell him any details and just said he was being “inappropriate” to her.

Here is where I stopped her. And myself. I realized at that point, that the devil is indeed in the details. It’s far too easy to gloss over the details and lump everything in as inappropriate, but I believe that the severity needs to be put under the spotlight.

When I probed, she explained that she didn’t feel comfortable putting in black and white what the LP had said to her because she was so shocked and panicked that she couldn’t remember the exact words he used, and she didn’t want this to be a case of “he said, she said.” She didn’t feel like she could confidently report him unless she had hard proof like a text message or an email.

How Do We Fix This?

This is where the narrative has to change. We can and have to take action to make it safe for people to report these incidents.

This is where it has to be fixed – the fact the burden of proof always falls on the person reporting the incident. That the unfortunate victim didn’t have a framework for which to report the incident and wasn’t provided training on how to identify the different degrees of harassment in the first place. An inappropriate remark is not the same as a direct sexual proposition, and is certainly not the same as a non-consensual physical approach with force.

I really like what Brittany Laughlin of LatticeVC has to say about this in her recent article about changing the model of reporting when it comes to harassment:

This model of reporting is broken. We can reduce bad behavior by having more open conversations when someone crosses the line, instead of an all-or-nothing approach. Creating smaller feedback loops will help make change faster.

I agree with Laughlin’s call to treat stories as data points, not accusations, and to put a transparent sexual harassment policy in place. I’d also like to add the following actions:

Action 1: Clearly Define the Different Levels of “Inappropriateness” in a Formal Company Harassment Policy

Level A. Verbal or Gender Harassment:

  • Inappropriate comments, remarks or suggestions have been made that makes the other party feel unsafe or uncomfortable (e.g. in the case of Sarah Kunst)
  • Generalized sexist statements and behavior that convey insulting or degrading attitudes about women (e.g. Insulting remarks, obscene jokes or humor about sex or women in general)

Level B. Direct Sexual Propositions or Seductive Behavior:

  • Unwanted, inappropriate and offensive direct propositions implying sexual advances has been made (e.g. sexual invitations like “would you consider sleeping with me or come to my hotel room, etc”, insistent requests for dinner, drinks or dates, persistent messages, phone calls and other invitations)

Level C. Sexual Bribery or Coercion:

  • Solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by promise of reward (eg funding, closing a deal, etc); the proposition may be either overt or subtle
  • Coercion of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by threat of punishment; examples include negative performance evaluations, withholding of promotions, threat of termination.

Level D. Sexual Imposition:

  • Unwanted and nonconsensual sexual imposition and physical advances (such as forceful touching, feeling, grabbing, kissing) or sexual assault

Providing a framework like this clearly defines which boundary level has been crossed to both parties and makes it easier for the victim to report the incident without fearing the need to quote the perpetrator verbatim. The perpetrator either made a comment, directly propositioned by inviting, made a threat, or made a physical move.

Firms can define their A-D levels themselves, or better yet, create a standard policy for the entire industry. This effort requires a working committee to come together and define this in a thoughtful, thorough manner. The policy should apply everywhere, even out of the office as long as work is discussed, and all incidents should be reported whether anonymously or named.

Action 2: Create a Safe Channel for Harassment Reporting

To make it safe, a special channel (like a hotline # to dial) should be created where specific harassment incidents can be reported with no repercussion. If possible, the victim should write a full account of what happened and send it to the perpetrator to make sure he’s aware of his level of inappropriateness and the victim’s full disapproval of it. (Update: I eventually did this, and Dave said he couldn’t deny any of it.)

Again, to Laughlin’s point, all firms should record the incidents as data points, not accusations. It’s very easy to discredit a story, especially if you personally know the person and stand by his character because you’ve never seen him doing it. But the purpose of recording an incident is to serve as a data point and a warning to the perpetrator, letting him know that it’s not okay. If repeated behavior is reported, the company will have to take firm action and investigate the matter more seriously.

This “hotline” has to be made highly visible and accessible, and be directly addressed by someone at the partner level (perhaps such as Christine in 500’s case) to convey how seriously the firm takes this.

Action 3: Train VCs and Founders on How to Identify and Report the Different Levels of Harassment

Creating and defining a harassment policy isn’t enough. Adequate training should be imparted by all firms, not just to every investor and staff member, but also founders and portfolio companies.

Given the prevalence of this behavior (sometimes even subconsciously) within our industry, a different kind of awareness and training needs to take place, addressing gaps in power dynamics and the abuse of power that can happen with sexual advances.

Founders and Partners of the firm need to be directly involved and speak to their own pledge against sexual harassment in the workplace. There should be a clear avenue where portfolio companies can easily be informed about the firm’s sexual harassment policies and what to do in the event that it happens to them, as well as how to report incidents without feeling compromised in any way.

Action 4: Conduct Sexual Harassment Surveys

VC firms should also conduct frequent and proactive surveys of their (male and female) founders to ask them if they’ve had any form of harassment inflicted upon them, and encourage them to report these incidents.

Separately, they should survey their own partners, associates and staff members on what behaviors they consider acceptable vs crossing boundaries and ask for admission of any wrong doings as a step to create awareness and as a reminder that there are severe consequences if they are caught violating company policy and abusing their position.

Moving Forward

If implemented correctly, these measures will raise the awareness of the issue and catch it before it becomes an unspoken norm. I hope that everyone can learn from these two weeks of a black spot in the tech industry and that we no longer have to quietly tolerate sexual harassment from here on or be conflicted about whether we should report it. With this, I also hope that we can pave the way to affect change in other industries as well, as this issue is not exclusive to tech.

I am finally tell this story now, because I’m in a much better and more secure position today, than I was 2-3 years ago. I’m not running a startup or a public company, I’m married to a supportive husband, and I don’t have any material threats holding me back from reporting this. Unfortunately, most women who suffered similar or worse, are just not able to tell their stories yet, but I hope this sparks change that some day, they’ll get relief and closure from their own harassment experiences.

With that, I want to reiterate that I sincerely believe in the work that 500 is doing and have nothing but good things to say about the rest of their team. I may be hurt by Dave, but I remain a huge supporter of 500’s work.

Since the news broke, I have been talking to Khailee and Christine about this to give constructive feedback on what can and should be done, and I’m very thankful that they fully support me in publishing this account, and in calling for Dave’s resignation this morning.

These were the actions of an individual, rather than a representation of the entire firm and rather than run away from the problem, I would like to step up and be part of the solution. Even if it means reaching out to the very firm whose founder betrayed my trust. 

I am working with the 500 management team to tackle the sexual harassment issue in our community, to come up with policies, training and proper awareness, to ensure that this never happens to another female founder again. I choose to believe that we can find a positive from all of this.

If there are others out there who had been sexually harassed or assaulted by Dave or others, I’m here to listen and offer my support. Please do not hesitate to reach me via hello @ cherylyeoh . com. I’m currently based back in the Bay Area.

174 Responses to “Shedding Light on the “Black Box of Inappropriateness””

  1. Captain Awesome

    I’m male. Yesterday in my workplace (which employs mostly women), one woman joked that her husband had “man flu”; the other women giggled. That is sexual harassment, Level A by your standard. Also yesterday, I ate lunch in a sushi bar. The two women seated to my right were having a gossip session about their boyfriends, which included such sexist phrases as “typical male ego” and “typical male behaviour”. Again, Level A sexual harassment. Twice in one day.

    If you think this is all about men making women victims, you’re very wrong. Women engage in sexual harassment just as often as men. And as far as I can see, they don’t even realise it, and think nothing of it.

    • Kasia

      Yes, women make inappropriate comments. Yes, they also harass. Yes, also men can be victims of domestic violence (before you point that one out). BUT the problem is that this behavior happens to women a lot more than it happens to men. We are the oppressed gender here. We are the ones that get sexually harassed in the workplace and make less money than our male counterparts. We are the ones that are passed for promotions because some mediocre white male gets it instead. By making comments like the one above, you’re contributing to the problem. Your point is moot – because you’ve taken it away from those who suffer the most. Please have a good hard think about this – because you’re the problem, too.

      • Captain Awesome

        Wrong in so many ways. You’re enjoying your claim to victimhood, but the facts don’t support it. “I’m a victim! How dare you question my narrative?!” Meh.

        1) Both men and women face harassment. The reported incidents show that women overwhelmingly ( face such harassment more than men, but that is based on what is reported. Harassment against both genders often goes unreported.

        2) As you raised the issue: At least 40% of domestic violence is against men:

        3) The gender pay gap is based on merit, not sex. “We are the ones that are passed for promotions…” No.

        “because you’re the problem”

        No. The problem is individuals behaving poorly at the expense of others, and groupthinkers trying to blame an entire gender when the facts disprove their claims.

      • Angelo

        Prove it happens a lot more to women than men. Oh right you can’t since there are no real stats on this. You can find men talking about being harassed but these men admit they don’t report it to anyone much less press charges or file suits.

        Considering few people take such accusations from men seriously, I’d say it’s men who are oppressed here and not women.

        Women don’t make less than male counterparts in any profession that its performance based such as jobs that mostly pay based on commission.

        Sorry for your false narrative but the wage gap has been debunked over and over.

        Good luck playing the perpetual victim. I’m sure it’ll get you really far in life.

      • Mannimarco

        The world isn’t a binary, and yet you, and all your ilk who hold this perspective consistently make these same types of claims. From the perspective of millions who exist in entry-level and non-managerial positions gender has nothing to do with the wrongs committed against them. Did you know that I, as a male, have been passed over for promotions in favour of many individuals of various gender not because of aptitude or ability, but simply because of my religious views, or that my potential was threatening?

        Instead of trying to change society for the better, you are trying to change it based on a very specific, and obviously limited view that equates more to revenge than righteousness.

        And I quote, “Please have a good hard think about this – because you’re the problem, too.”

    • Vincent

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.
      What are you hoping to accomplish with these anecdotes?
      That somehow your anecdotes negate sexual harassment experienced by women?
      They do not.

      By pointing out what you think is hypocrisy you are mistiming the power of your anecdote and making yourself sound less smart than you think.

    • Grant

      Captain, I’m sorry that either incident made you think less of yourself or that women might perceive you as lesser for sexist reasons, but I have to point out that neither of these incidents falls under Level A of the structure Cheryl laid out. From what you’ve said, you were not the intended recipient of the remarks in either case, nor are they apparently generalized in such a way as to include behavior attributable to you. Furthermore, the second incident you mention did not happen in a professional setting, and this guide seems clearly intended to create accountability in professional relationships, not to infringe on all speech that people might have. While the first incident took place in a work setting (presumably), at worst it may violate some other rule on workplace etiquette and would require a much larger pattern to be part of any anti-male discrimination, for the simple reason that you nor any other man was the intended recipient of the comments or remark and harassment requires some degree of specificity. Note that this may not apply if the comments have been repeatedly made in your presence despite reasonable requests from you to stop – it’s entirely reasonable for a co-worker to request that another not bring personal matters up to them in professional settings .I also remind you that the second clause of Level A as specified by Cheryl only mentions generalized sexism against women, and I don’t believe that’s accidental, considering no gender-specificity is made in levels B, C, or D. You may find this discriminatory in itself by not covering generalized misandry, so to speak, but the stated rule is reasonable in the view that it’s much more difficult for behavior to rise to the level of being discriminatory against a majority or privileged class, the relevant class in this case being (cis) men. It’s important that any policy on gender-based harassment address extant imbalances, so for low-level offenses like in Level A clause 2, it’s prudent to focus more on generalized misogynist behavior rather than all gender-based antagonism. Again, the higher level offenses apply equally to men and women, because the severity of those behaviors is not acceptable, regardless of gender of aggressor and recipient.

      Lastly, I should note the difference in severity between your experience and Cheryl’s is very significant. She was physically endangered and threatened; your worst story seems to involve feelings of frustration and inadequacy at comments about other men that you speculate these women may also apply to you. This is a recurring pattern I see whenever gender-based discrimination and harassment come up. Men are worried about feeling disrespected while women are worried about being assaulted. I imagine that difference in threat level plays a large part in why Cheryl organized her recommendations the way she did.

      • Captain Awesome

        “Captain, I’m sorry that either incident made you think less of yourself or that women might perceive you as lesser for sexist reasons”

        Oh, noes. Triggered.

        “but I have to point out that neither of these incidents falls under Level A of the structure Cheryl laid out”

        Specifically because her categories favour women over men, as follows (from Level A):

        “Generalized sexist statements and behavior that convey insulting or degrading attitudes about women”

        To be fair, it should say insulting or degrading attitudes about any group or category of people. Not only women. The fact that it only considers women is a tell.

        “From what you’ve said, you were not the intended recipient of the remarks in either case, nor are they apparently generalized in such a way as to include behavior attributable to you”

        They don’t need to be about me. If I observe some guy at work referring to all women as sluts or whores, even if he is not directly addressing such to a woman present, I’d consider that sexual harassment and really nasty. The same goes for women casting generalisations about men. Whether it’s about me personally is not relevant.

        “it’s much more difficult for behavior to rise to the level of being discriminatory against a majority or privileged class”

        What privileged class? Are you generalising about all males having some magical privilege beyond what is enjoyed by others?

        “the relevant class in this case being (cis) men”

        Sorry, I don’t buy into the whole cis/LGBTQIDIGD thing. I stick with science and facts.

        “Men are worried about feeling disrespected while women are worried about being assaulted.”

        1) Over 40% of domestic violence is against men. Men are concerned about being assaulted. 2) Women are concerned about money and respect, as per every study and article about gender pay gap and promotions.

      • turonatlugaw

        (1) Over 40% of domestic violence is against men. Men are concerned about being assaulted.

        Yes, domestic violence. Not violence in the workplace. Men are concerned about being assaulted at home, by their domestic partners. I wonder how many men are concerned about being assaulted in the workplace.

        2) Women are concerned about money and respect, as per every study and article about gender pay gap and promotions.

        Exactly, respect! Concerned that their co-workers and bosses will respect what they have to say, or what they do. Concerned that their co-workers and bosses will respect their rights and not overstep and NOT harass or assault them.

    • Bjorn Nitmo

      Hey, Captain…
      The big difference is that women don’t rape men. Sorry to be a bit reductionist, but sexual assault is, by in large, a male behavior directed toward women and other men…oh, and kids. The mindset that is inclined to rape has it’s genesis in degrading, “harassment”, Level A thought processes.
      When the physical intimidation that men feel in this culture begins to equate to what women feel, then you’ll have room to complain. Sorry you were so offended during your wasabi burn.

      • Jake

        This Captain guy is def a huge as*hole or a troll but I have to disagree with you about women not raping men. I am a man and it’s happened to me and a couple other guys I know.
        But overall, yes I agree that males tend to be the argressors more often.

      • Blah Blah


        Sent from myMail for iOS

        Tuesday, July 4, 2017, 11:22 PM -0400 from Breadcrumbs by Cheryl Yeoh : >Jake commented: “This Captain guy is def a huge as*hole or a troll but I have to disagree with you about women not raping men. I am a man and it’s happened to me and a couple other guys I know. But overall, yes I agree that males tend to be the argressors more often.” >

      • mannimarco6

        Quote, “When the physical intimidation that men feel in this culture begins to equate to what women feel, then you’ll have room to complain.”

        So I complain,

        I feel the risk of physical intimidation in this culture through,

        A. Being subject to a random events in which I’m confronted by an “active shooter,” terrorist attack, unbalanced law enforcement official.

        B. A fear-mongered citizen overreacting to a chance of happenstance, and prodded along by such things as the various iterations of “Stand Your Ground” type laws.

        C. The quickly arising “Shoot First” mentality projected upon the various groups that claim the “Weak and Meager” argument, and how that reactive thinking can, and has historically, bloomed into a very real problem h

        D. An unhinged government that could possibly attempt a Coup d’état on democracy, or even institute brutal martial law at any moment.

        E. Various possible foreign nationals looking to spur a war with the country.

        F. And all the more “Run of the Mill” possibilities that include muggings, car thefts, breaking and entering, road rage, jealousy, mistaken identity, grandstanding, “Dick Measuring,” and myriad of other possible threats.

        I can play victim too. Great, you have sexual assault as a possible concern, but in the grand scheme that’s a single symptom to a much bigger problem. Or, that’s life. We are subject to various threats in life TO our life. In case you didn’t notice because of the shiny facade– we don’t like in a utopia, and things aren’t perfect.

        Lot’s of terrible things that shouldn’t happen still do. I’m not trying to discredit that, but when you use such an issue to spur a revenge on an entire gender, and use it to position yourself as victim in a culture that gives victims power, then you’ve lost sight of the real problem. Your mentality is nothing but a generalization. Does that then make it fair game for me to say that women need to calm down, and stop making such a big deal about every perceived threat? Do women need to stop being such drama queens and suck it up?

        Are those fair things to say? If yes, then great, continue on with your nonsense worldview. If not, then stop trying to have it both ways because it makes the real problem much worse. We are all of us, those who are not at the top, being wronged daily by those who are. Gender has nothing to do with it.

        I am a white male. I do not rule the world. I do not enjoy white male privilege. I am poor by the standards of our world. People have attempted to walk on me, and control me my entire life. I know the people to blame, and I know the reasons they are the cause of my problems, and yours. Open your eyes, and look at how your narrow view is connected to a much bigger epidemic plaguing our society made up of all the genders.

    • Marissa Quiroz

      Sushi bar scenario: Were you and the two women from the same company or at a working lunch? Or, were they customers totally unrelated to your sphere and unknown to you? If it was the later, it’s not sexual harassment. If the comment made at your workplace made you angry, uncomfortable, self-conscious, you will need to address it to HR, to the women themselves but with a member from HR present.

      Rather than trying to make this a reverse double-standard, you need to understand that, yes, sexual harassment can happen to anyone, of any sex, of any gender identify, of any culture, etc.

      • Captain Awesome

        “Or, were they customers totally unrelated to your sphere and unknown to you? If it was the later, it’s not sexual harassment.”

        So some guys whistling at, or commenting about, women on the street is not sexual harassment?

        ” you need to understand that, yes, sexual harassment can happen to anyone, of any sex, of any gender identify, of any culture, etc.”

        That has been my point all along. The idea that men are evil and women are victims is completely wrong. It is done by both genders to both genders.

      • turonatlugaw

        “That has been my point all along. The idea that men are evil and women are victims is completely wrong. It is done by both genders to both genders.”

        In what line in this 3500 plus word article did the author give the indication that her issue was that “men are evil and women are victims”? In what line did she negate your idea that “it is done by both genders to both genders” to trigger you to offer a red herring and say ” Women engage in sexual harassment just as often as men. And as far as I can see, they don’t even realise it, and think nothing of it.”

    • lmpruitt

      Do you understand the difference between “person who has the ability to impact your job, your finances, or your career” and “random person of the opposite sex you happen to overhear” is key to this?
      Unless one of those women was your boss, invested in your company, or has the ability to make sure that your career is destroyed and you are black-listed because you said something about it? You were not harrassed.

      • Captain Awesome

        So it’s only harassment if the person doing it can exert a negative influence on your career and money? Does that mean every time guys do that stupid whistle on the street to some woman, or make lewd comments, it’s not harassment after all?

    • turonatlugaw

      Your comment is coming across as, “It happens to everyone, not just women. So what are you bitching about?”

      Her article isn’t meant to belittle the harassment you felt. I wonder why you didn’t speak up around the women who you felt was harassing you?

      • Richard Strong

        You wonder why he didn’t speak up when the women were making sexist comments?

        Imagine a man telling a woman that she should just speak up if she experiences sexist comments. He would get savaged. But the other way around is acceptable?

      • turonatlugaw

        “He would get savaged.”

        You mean like how the OP is now being savaged?

        “But the other way around is acceptable?”

        Captain America so generously shared a personal example of sexual harassment, the kind that many women today in the workplace are exposed to, even by who we think are “well-meaning” colleagues. That said, we are left with little recourse, except to be told to stay quiet or “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

        It would seem, with your comment, that you take offense with women crying sexual harassment is when any woman does not acknowledge that it happens to men to. Sort of, “It happens to us, too? So why don’t you cry foul about that?”

        The point of the last question is, it’s the victim who gets savaged, all the time. You recognized it for Captain America. Why didn’t you recognize it for the OP?

      • turonatlugaw

        “He would get savaged.”

        You mean like how the OP is now being savaged?

        “But the other way around is acceptable?”

        Captain America so generously shared a personal example of sexual harassment, the kind that many women today in the workplace are exposed to, even by who we think are “well-meaning” colleagues. That said, we are left with little recourse, except to be told to stay quiet or “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

        It would seem, with your comment, that you take offense with women crying sexual harassment when any woman does not acknowledge that it happens to men, too. Sort of, “It happens to us, too. So why don’t you cry foul about that?”

        The point of the last question is, it’s the victim who gets savaged, ALL THE TIME. You recognized it for Captain America. Why didn’t you recognize it for the OP?

      • turonatlugaw

        “I’m male. Yesterday in my workplace (which employs mostly women), one woman joked that her husband had “man flu”; the other women giggled. That is sexual harassment, Level A by your standard. Also yesterday, I ate lunch in a sushi bar. The two women seated to my right were having a gossip session about their boyfriends, which included such sexist phrases as “typical male ego” and “typical male behaviour”. Again, Level A sexual harassment. Twice in one day.

        If you think this is all about men making women victims, you’re very wrong. Women engage in sexual harassment just as often as men. And as far as I can see, they don’t even realise it, and think nothing of it.”

        Oh, you mean this:

        It isn’t about men making women victims at all. It’s about someone, who happens to be a woman, who as sexually assaulted in her own home by someone who had influence over her career and business.

        The issue isn’t about whether women engage in sexual harassment either. Again, it’s about someone, who happens to be a woman, who endured sexual assault in the hands of someone who had influence over her career and business.

    • Madeleine

      For real? Women expect sexual favours if they fund your project? Women refuse to leave your home if invited for a group work-drinks? Which article were you reading?

      • atukcu

        better call it as a sex sex no project,nonsesnse.

    • Si

      I am also a male. You have intentionally missed almost the entire point of this person’s post.

    • Brody

      There’s lots of scorn women in the tech world, not being able to cut it making these complains, sure men make passes on women even at workplaces, I do think it’s time for tech companies to implement a no policy to interorgainizational hooks up, given that accusations of misconduct could be used as blackmail anytime by a disgruntled employee, namely a scorn woman. As for Michelle, how many strikes do you get before you stop getting hired for position of privilledges playing your gender card. Your failures in your previous tenor as CEO would have been a death knell to the careers of most men, but keep playing that gender card as if being a women in a male dominated industry desperately seeking to hire more women is the brave thing to do. Women do sexually harass men, in most cases from position of power as teachers sexually abusing young boys. These are worst conducts and no one makes a big deal out of it, but when a man makes any passes at a woman he’s liable for blackmailing. How bout we have a policy to keep sex out of the boardroom, and judge women not based on her vagina and how pretty she looks, the outcome could well be far fewer women getting hired than it is today.

    • Spencer Clark

      Once, I was a driver in a courier company while attending college. We had a handsome new guy join up. Three girls in the office talked about him like wasn’t there – saying what they wanted to do to him. He avoided the office from then on and quit shortly thereafter.

      At a tech company, at a celebration at the end of a release, we went out to San Francisco for dinner. Lots of wine. My female boss sat next to me at the table. During the group convo over dinner, she pulled my hair – twice. The GM was there. The VP was there. No one made note of it. No one talked to me about it.

      The advancement by my boss was “unwanted” to be sure. I was married then. She was very drunk, or she wouldn’t have done that, at least not in front of her boss. She was later promoted to director.

    • Cause4Pause

      It is past time that all genders are taught (starting at a very young age) what is and isn’t mutually-respectful and appropriate sexual behaviour, and how to request and respond with either a clear NO, or a hearty YES, and to “CONSIDER AMBIGUITY A CAUSE FOR PAUSE!”

      In the absence of such common sense… Thank you so much Cheryl, for showing: a) that a person can and should try to defend herself, first and foremost, as more effective than seeking outside authority to “save” her, b) that we need to give women the tools to do that — both the defending in the moment and assisting in stopping the behavior for the long haul; even more importantly c) men must take equal responsibility for discerning personal from professional, and wise behaviour from unwise behaviour d) that this is a systematic problem embedded in culture, and therefore the architects of culture (HR departments, company leadership, women and men collectively) have the power to change the current dysfunctional dynamic; and finally e) that even the defensive commenters e.g. @Cap’n Awesome, etc., are in agreement with you that sexual harassment exists, is a problem, and their posts indicate understanding that all people who perceive themselves as a victim of it want and deserve to be able to speak to their experience without fear of being personally denigrated. (AHEM!)

      Regarding gender oppression as a component to overtly address… so many of these posts prove the point. Notice everyone: all the posters who say “she should have addressed it earlier,” before he became overtly coercive, and the many who say “she jumped too quick to call it assault – she should have waited until he PROVED his intent was to rape her” = always focusing on the woman’s behaviour instead of the perp’s. Do you ever see comments “he asked for it” or “stop asking for a pity party” directed at some of the few heterosexual men who publicly reveal being raped by other men? No, they have different shaming – feeling “emasculated” by others’ responses = COMPARED TO A WOMAN. I personally know several male sexual assault / abuse survivors (truly abused by people with more power, not merely offended @Cap’n Awesome), and whether abused by men or women, all of these men are feminists – they get it. We are each others’ strongest allies.

      First step, as Cheryl’s so aptly outlines, is education, so EVERYONE can feel safer about the appropriateness of their own actions as instigator and responder. The crucial question of our times = are our systems emboldening those most likely to abuse their power or empowering those most vulnerable to that abuse?? Clear, effective policies are the answer – thanks Cheryl for being a part of the solution!

  2. Captain Awesome

    I should add, the guy you discussed seems like a Grade A jerk. The type of guy whom other guys do not respect at all. The kind of creeping, sleazy rat in the dark corner who can’t achieve anything unless he’s left alone in a position wherein he can be the most physically powerful in the room, as that is his only way to even attempt to get anything he wants. The kind of guy whose professional façade is 100% a cover for a character driven entirely by base urges, which are gratified at the expense of others. No, he’s not a typical male, and he gets no respect from most of us.

    • Fuck Mansplaining

      Here comes the ‘not all men’ rubbish. Get real ‘ Captain Awesome’. You’re ridiculous. And no one asked for you mansplaining. Read it and leave.

      • Captain Awesome

        The username “Fuck mansplaining” = Verbal harassment, assault, and a microaggression.

        “mansplaining” = Sexist against an entire gender.

        “Here comes the ‘not all men’ rubbish.” = Attempt to invalidate an individual’s opinion without even addressing the contents, that’s another microaggression.

        “Get real ‘ Captain Awesome’.” = Improper use of quotation marks, a violation of the language and another microaggression.

        “You’re ridiculous.” = Verbal harassment and assault, insulting, demeaning, another microaggression.

        “And no one asked for you mansplaining.” = As above, another instance of verbal harassment and assault, and an insult to an entire gender. The tone of writing is another microaggression.

        “Read it and leave.” = Aggressive, dictatorial, one might say masculine. Another microaggression.

    • Snowflake

      Captain Awesome is a broflake and this has triggered him. It’s pretty funny to think how red he is getting.

    • Quincy Cambrel

      If what you say is true, then this would destroy his life. He would lose his wealth and his career. He won’t. Guys like this never face any major consequences.

    • dave4hellogold

      Thank you for sharing this. I have heard of similar experiences so I would like to throw something into the fire that I have shared before:

      Initially many guys may not understand what you went through because they will try to correlate it to unwanted attention from a woman, and they can’t really imagine that so let me share this :

      Many years ago, while I was a student in the UK, a male student put his hand on my thigh while we were talking in a bar and I felt damned uncomfortable. Actually I was pretty scared. This was in the seventies when gays were still scary monsters.

      Interestingly soon after that I made many gay friends. They knew I was straight. They playfully flirted with me knowing that I would not take them seriously and it was perfectly OK with me.

      Sadly it took me many years to relate this in my mind to the kind of experience that you had.

      So, the real question to ask the macho guys who tell you that it was is: how would you feel if a overtly gay venture capitalist started trying to push themselves upon you when your start-up was three weeks from running out of cash like they always seem to be?

      • Michael Kennedy

        Good call @dave4hellogold – I was harassed by a female boss and eventually reported it confidentially to the relevant (all male) committee in my workplace. They laughed their asses off and made ribald remarks. Back to being harassed. I think the kernel of truth here is that unwanted advances on males are just as unacceptable as those on females when the primary factor is power imbalance. Outside of that, there is no way to compare everyday sexist remarks and behaviour because males have – in the main – an advantage of physical intimidation and the line between assertion and aggression is blurry. Of course there are exceptions — I’ve also had very powerfully built female partners who can be physically intimidating. The key thing here is not to stereotype and look at the situation honestly without falling back on reactionary fears or politically correct responses for the sake of it.

  3. Carl Hansen

    Level B “Unwanted … direct propositions … has been made” How can one determine the unwantedness of the proposition unless the proposition has been made? Algorithm fail.

    • morninggrazer

      bool likelyobvious = boyfriend or girlfriend or married
      ans =yes
      If situation = BUSINESS Then
      case CONVERSATION work, family,
      holiday, food, random news, pets,
      end if
      If situation != BUSINESS and like = true and !likelyobvious and ans no Then
      CONVERSATION += flirting
      end if
      if Rejection or Ignored then
      ans = no
      end if
      until !coworkers

      • TheRealGregSmith

        @morninggrazer nice. @everyone .. we’ve now made this person’s post about several other sub-topics of the overarching topic of workplace harassment and assault. We’ve made it about a gender discussion when it really wasn’t meant to be. Sure maybe certain instances where “woman” was written it should be more inclusive but this was a very specific and solution oriented article. Let’s try and respond to her solutions proposed.

    • sophocles

      You will have to base it on the historical record carl. Assume that if your propositions were generally unwanted in the past that they continue to be unwanted.

  4. Sean Ellis

    Thank you for sharing the details. It shattered the false narrative that I had built in my head of what happened. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

  5. Ankit

    Great post.. I have to say its good to see someone advocating for being clear and direct on what harassment they faced. I see a lot of posts talking about sexism in the abstract and urging us to take action, but without concrete stories and names I don’t see what that action is. It just makes me feel like I’m supposed to 100% side with a victim without knowing anything about their story, or I’m a misogynist..

    Society can’t punish offenders if no one is willing to bring out their offenses into the open. Anyone can deny claims made without evidence, and I feel it is a little unfair to expect people to jump to women’s defense and essentially start lynching people on less than word of mouth.

    I’m scared to even post this for fear of being labeled a harassment apologist or misogynist or something.

    All to say I agree with everything in your post and feel it presents a fair view and clear plan of action.

  6. dershing

    U are very brave to write this and it is the right thing to do. Hopefully it will inspire other women and men who face such situations in future to confront and expose right away.

  7. will

    You should’ve just went with the program. It’s not like you’re a virgin. Plus you’re Chinese

    • Vincent

      Your troll skills are pretty lame.
      This is 2017.

      You’re going to need more subtlety and nuance to get a triggered reaction.
      Sadly, it’s probably beyond your intelligence to muster that.

    • Antimoron

      Will, you should’ve fulfill ur mom’s wish to abort you. It’s not like you’re wanted nor a planned pregnancy. Plus you’re a hybrid from beastility.

  8. Paul Hellyer

    That must have taken a lot of courage to write. You are to be greatly admired for the strength you have shown. No-one should have to experience such assault. I truly hope you have a loving circle of friends and family to support through any difficult days ahead.

  9. Richard Ross

    I can agree with your first story as being inappropriate. Dave tried what I would consider is a classic and all too common frat boy tactic to have sex with you. The widespread behavior is a cultural problem. Whoever thinks that getting someone drunk to have sex with them is ok has a problem.

    I want to make sure you understand part of the problem from a male’s perspective, at least in America. The vast majority of women expect males to make the first move. Ask yourself when was the last time you asked a man to go out on a date (for the first time), asked for their number, called them up first, sent the first text message, etc.? Do you need any evidence of this? Go on to tinder,, bumble, okcupid, and other dating sites and you will see the torrents of women who say they ‘never make the first move.’ Moreover, ask your lady friends when they have done any of the aforementioned? Finally, you will also view on these dating apps how many women state they do not respond to “hi,” “how are you doing,” or some other such query or statement.

    What does this mean? What am I saying? This means a woman can by and large sit back and watch what happens, and a man should act knowing they are competing against other men. Maybe said in another way. Many women expect men to be the aggressor and the man should do something that is “more.” Saying hello is safe, but now doing the safe thing they won’t get a response. Whether online or in person. Subsequently, what is appropriate for one person is not appropriate for another.
    Thus, this puts men in an interesting situation.

    The aggressor, which is often a male, should decide about what is or is not inappropriate. How does the person make themselves stand out from all the others? Is it not ok to ask someone to come visit my house as Dave did? What is inappropriate varies from one person to another and even with the same person it can change depending on the context of the situation.

    • Richard Ross

      So what am I saying here? What is the point of all this?

      Here is what I suggest for both men and women.

      If you’re not interested say so
      If something makes you feel uncomfortable say so immediately and explicitly

      Don’t send cutesy three monkey’s emojis, or say the equivalent. Again why? The other person is not a mind reader.
      Make the first move.

      Ask them out on a “date.” Asking someone for their number, to go to coffee, looking at them, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean you are interested in seeing them romantically. Should a man consider any woman who wants a meeting, asks for their phone number, stands next to them, etc. as someone who wants to get physical? No.
      Ghosting or not responding doesn’t mean you do not like them at first…

      Are you busy? Did you lose your phone? Did you go on a business trip and then vacation afterward? The person being left in the dust doesn’t know the difference. Thus, they may want to ‘stay in the game’ by sending successive (desperate?) messages that tries to get the other persons attention but in the end, may diminish their status in the eyes of their prospective lover because what the aggressor was thinking wasn’t happening at all. Thus, refer to 1 above.

      Take ownership in the direction of the prospective relationship

      The person doesn’t know what you think is interesting, fun, etc. and visa-versa.

      Now, I suspect 1 – 4 above isn’t the most perfect list, the only items that can be on the list, or even should be on the list. So, if anyone walks away from the rambling piece above I hope they remember 4 items: be clear in communicating your thoughts and desires; women must become ok with asking men on dates; if you are ambitious and accept an invitation from someone in the past you know has romantic interest in you communicate clearly that you are not interested in them and would love to attend; and lastly it is never acceptable to attempt to diminish someone faculties in order to try to get them to take an action you desire.

      • Heather Stark

        Good sensible guidelines, for sure! I would add “learn how to take no for an answer”.

        What cats do when rebuffed is they sit down and wash their face and pretend they weren’t doing what they were just doing that didn’t work out the way they hoped. We could try this. But for people, it is probably best to just laugh and be nice, and make sure you offer friendship if you can – or at least tolerance if you can’t.

    • Awakeinla

      Imp. If you can woo women with words and conversation and charm and must resort to “more” physical means then you are a predator not a suitor.

      • Richard Ross

        You couldn’t be more incorrect.

        You strung together some very nice words. Please describe what wooing women with words, charm and conversation look like. Does it look the same for every single woman? I’m guessing women have plenty of wonderful conversations with men that they have no desire to have a physical relationship with.

        For example in the above piece Cheryl makes it sound like she MAY have had an enjoyable conversation with Dave at the conference she went with him to. Does that mean she was physically interested?

      • Richard Ross

        In order to feel comfortable wanting you, women need to feel wanted in return. According to the Institute for Social Research, women will act sexually forward in order to see if you’ll make a move. These signals include displaying the neck and licking or biting the lips. If she suddenly starts to settle down and stops sending out the heat, it’s time to go take a cold shower.

        Key words here if “you’ll (men) will make a move. Secondly what is sexually forward? What is sexually forward to a Jane isn’t sexually forward for Jan and mike.

        be clear, be concise, and being clear and concise isn’t staring at someone for 3 seconds, smiling, listening, laughing at their jokes, etc. isn’t clear nor concise.

    • Label L

      But, your examples, and “competing against other men” are in your own words – on dating sites and for dating, where what is “inappropriate” may be ambiguous.

      The entire article by Cheryl lays out what is inappropriate in a professional setting – you can’t extrapolate a tinder experience to one at work =/

      • Richard Ross

        Label L do you really believe someones actions completely and entirely different online and offline? Are you saying that there are two sets of people? Those who we interact with face to face and then a completely separate person with their own unique motivations, etc. once they are online?

      • Richard Ross

        I want to point this out. Someones actions, motivations, and intent are incredibly difficult to understand. How do I know that? We see it in police shooting all the time. There are very few law enforcement officers who set out or intend to harm another person when their shift start yet with training and experience officers continually make ‘mistakes’ misjudgements that result in harming others. The same pattern occurs when seeking romantic interactions with others.

        Taking the first step and making a judgement call on what that first step should be whether it is made digitally or face to face is a risk. The person taking the action doesn’t know if the action would be accepted or rejected. Thus, I would guarantee you if women began taking the first step reports of harassment whether sexual or otherwise would rise dramatically. Maybe in the long run the incidence of harassment would go down because all parties would understand how difficult and precarious the first step is whether, digital, vocal, physical, made in person or not in person, or some other medium.

        Relationships happen all the time in work setting. Relationships happen all the time when the career power dynamic is asymmetric. It is not ok to ply someone with a substance that impairs their bodily function for the express purposes to get something they want.

        yet we arrive back at what is acceptable behavior for someone. What one person sees as acceptable may not be seen as ok by the the other.

        tomes can be written on this subject matter.

    • MsM

      “What is inappropriate varies from one person to another”

      What someone may take offense to may vary from one person to another. What constitutes appropriate professional conduct doesn’t. If you’ve requested a meeting about something business-related, even in an informal setting, then the context should remain professional. Ditto if you’re in a position of power and/or responsibility that might make it difficult for the other person to say “no” to you without fearing professional repercussions. This isn’t that difficult to grasp, and anyone who would rather hide behind “but it’s so haaaaard to tell when someone’s interested” than realize that’s not the point when you’re talking business with someone of the opposite sex is being deliberately obtuse. Especially when if you’re still somehow not sure, the best course of action is always to just refrain.

      • Richard Ross

        Of course what constitutes appropriate professional conduct varies from person to person, country to country, industry to industry, setting to setting (courtroom not a courtroom, and much more. I will leave it up to you to research further. What happens outside the “professional” setting? What happens after hours? Having said that I agree with a large portion of the rest of your statement.

  10. Andrei Lopatenko

    Thank you for doing it. I know many women are afraid to report inappropriate behavior or assaults as in your case. I hope your post will encourage many of them.
    Stay strong, we support you!

  11. Bill V

    This guy sounds like an enormous ass, but I don’t believe that constitutes assault.

    • polyglot

      It does, because if she wasn’t strong enough to push him out, she could have been raped. At least I’d feel that way. This wasn’t respectful its more like predator attacking prey.

  12. Angelo

    So one unwanted kiss makes you a sexual assault victim? Lol, wow. Well then there are dozens of women that need to be arrested right now for giving me unwanted kisses while drunk and out partying. Add to that list pets of friends who gave me unwanted licks on my face. Throw them in the kennels!

    And I had an aunt that would always give me kisses even though I hated her. That makes me a child victim of sexual assault! So I’ve got you beat there.

  13. Bill Williams

    how am i to feel with you when you get shit-faced drunk and talk like a truck driver, is that you womens of today right?

  14. arif4eva

    I’m sorry to hear about your predicament. Hopefully an investigation follows through and nobody has to go through what you did.

  15. Richard Chen

    Thank you for your courageous testimony. I tout, respect, and commend it most by encouraging all friends and my organizations to speak truth to power just as you have for the emotional distress and potential crime are too rife to do otherwise.

    • The Author Wanted It

      shut up you ass kisser. ya think that this will earn you brownie points with the feminists?

      And what’s up with a chink having a Western name, shouldn’t you be Ying Yang Chen or something?

      • Antimoron

        Ex-rapist mgtow stfu a.k.a ” The Author Wanted It” I’m your parole officer. You’re still under observation, inbred. You’re still under investigation for pedophilia in Indonesia …and it’s not looking good. You’re gonna be truly f***ed this time coz Indonesia do have canning for rapist n God knows what for convicted foreign pedos.

      • polyglot

        Did you momma the hillybilly name YA that? Ying and Yang are elements not first names, but what would YA know. Shouldn’t you be doing your cowboy business?

  16. Jim

    Sorry this happened to you, and thanks for the courage to go public about it.

    I’m not sure sure I’d call it sexual _assault_ though, but more like harassment. To me, “sexual assault” is rape or attempted rape, and that doesn’t seem to be what happened here (luckily). By being too eager to call things sexual assault, we cheapen it for victims of rape.

    • MsM

      And if she hadn’t been able to push him away? By dismissing unwanted contact with sexual intent as “just a kiss” or “not that bad,” we make it more difficult for victims to speak up and say “no, this is wrong” before things do get that bad, and send predators the message it’s okay to push the situation as far as they think they can get away with.

      • sophocles

        MsM: Jim wasn’t dismissing it as just a kiss. He said it’s more like harassment. If people are going to insist upon calling it sexual assault, which is a legal term of art, then they should be willing to apply a legal definition. We shouldn’t be calling it sexual assault to send a message.

    • polyglot

      If she couldn’t push him away, he would have ripped her clothes off and raped her. At least that is what comes to mind in that situation. That is scary. That’s why she called it assault. He used force on her to the point that she had to push. This would be harassment, if he kissed, she said no, he left. But reality is that she had to push him out the door. Because he was all over her and wouldn’t listen. This guys needs a psychologist, as do the trolls who are very devoted to the replies in here.

    • Dengerous

      Look up the legal definition of sexual assault. It’s any unwanted contact of a sexual nature. It doesn’t have to hurt or result in physical injury. Forcing her against a wall and kissing her is DEFINITELY sexual assault. The fact many on here think it has to be rape to constitute assault sadly shows how misinformed and callous ppl are to this problem that debilitates so many people. Unless you’ve been traumatized from being in a situation like this, and you know what the law/legal definition actually is, it’s easy to think this is “just harassment” like being on the receiving end of a catcall. It’s much more than that.

  17. mamot

    I don’t know what to say. I never heard the name Dave Mcclure until his accusations on sexual harassment and his apologetic blurb started to float on the news. But from what I understood, we are living in a world where people don’t embrace somebody’s regret and apology.

    What else can Dave do to you than saying “sorry, I take all the blames, I was wrong, I’m creep”, not mentioning that he has helped several of you in your path to success. It appears that, you don’t accept any regret, remorse or apology. You just want to see man like Dave to be crucified (I wonder if you will be fulfilled even then). You are just one of the cowards who’s unable to speak out for herself until somebody does that to you.

    My point is, expose things on time. You would have saved many victim women…and Dave himself if you wrote this article at the time of the happening.

  18. 34234234

    So you’re happy to enjoy the perks of being a pretty female (getting into 500 startups, getting into exclusive events as an “unproven founder” etc) but then feel cheated when the man who gave you these opportunities wants something in return?

    To be clear, I don’t think what Dave did is acceptable at all, but you also need to recognize that you’ve been given MANY advantages for being female than you don’t seem to appreciate / attribute to factors other than your looks.

  19. Dino

    Maybe there is a relation between values & culture in Silicon Valley-style HR, based on individuality, competitiveness, monetary motivation, distilled through 20 years of extreme male predominance in the IT sector, and what Cheryl is rightly reporting: if we don’t challenge those values, this is what we’ll continue to get.

    And no, hiring more women who score high on those same male-distilled HR criteria would not produce any relevant change. Like most girl-washed initiatives, it will just produce pride for those male organisations (“we did something about the gender issue in IT!”) while delaying real bias-challenging efforts.

    Yesterday the “perfect” business card for inappropriateness was “Movie Producer”.
    Today “VC” or “Business Angel” cards seem more practical… 😦

  20. zryan2017

    In what world is what he did, if the allegations are true, sexual assault? To call it that is an INSULT to all the women who have been assaulted.

    He is, no doubt, a creep. But women from every culture, country and profession deal with creeps on a regular basis. You gave the creep the firm “no” and threw him out. That’s what you do.

    And this incident is still causing you grief three years later? What am I missing?

    I have news for you. Try getting out of your sheltered world in Silicon Valley and living in Latin America, Southern Europe (especially Italy) or the Arab world. There are creeps everywhere. They cat call, they make appropriate comments, and yes, some creeps try to get you drunk or use their job position as leverage.

    Of course it’s wrong – but don’t wallow in self pity. Join the other 99% if your gender and give them that nasty look, tell them off as the creeps they are, and throw them out.

    But please, don’t throw a pity party.

    • turonatlugaw

      Even Wikipedia knows that was an example of sexual assault:

      And again with pity party:

      She’s not looking for pity, she’s working towards a resolution so it doesn’t happen with anyone again.

      “I am working with the 500 management team to tackle the sexual harassment issue in our community, to come up with policies, training and proper awareness, to ensure that this never happens to another female founder again. I choose to believe that we can find a positive from all of this.”

      • sophocles

        In at least one interview, and here, Cheryl indicates that Dave tried to kiss her, but did not. Under what law is the sexual assault? It might be a physical assault, but how do you get to a sexual assault if there was admittedly no sexual contact? Please be fair.

    • Jennifer F Sabatier

      It’s sexual assault because she already refused him. He laid his hands on her, touched her, without her consent and specifically after she rejected his prior advance. That is THE definition of assault. It’s your problem and your ignorance and your lack of giving a shit if YOU want to redefine it as something more traumatic to YOUR sensibilities.

  21. Karen J.

    I’m in the financial industry and honestly, seeing how Western expats act towards locals, this behavior doesn’t surprise me at all.

  22. weeyow

    Not my story to tell, but like what you said keeping quiet about it only serves the abusers and not the abused/vulnerable…

    A female colleague from confided he was sexually assaulted by ex-VP of Growth. Same story as you, the guy tried to kiss my colleague while drunk, power play reeking everywhere. Reported this to upper management but nothing happened. He never got fired and no clear policy set in place…depressing

    It’s telling of how enablers exist especially in the tech industry where a lot of people think it’s okay to be an asshole as long as your good. (Uber/Apple etc)

  23. Max Anom

    Seriously? After your first experience, you took up the offer of going to his villa alone to have wine? Were you still with your then boyfriend at that time? Either way, I think that might lead people on?? Even though nothing happened then.

    And also, please don’t imply that sleeping with other women while married is “better” than using your power to make physical advances. Both are bad, and neither is “better”.

    Also, I think you ended up getting funded despite your rejection of his advances. And based on your story, it does seem he made advances towards you potentially because you lead him on. He thought he was a powerful asshole VC, and you could have very possibly taken advantage of his ego.

    • Max Anom

      So in any event, he did not use his position of power “quid pro quo” to make advances on you. Wanted to make a point that your implied point of him using his power as a VC to make advances on you is not really valid.

  24. Equality

    Coming onto to you a) when you were inebriated b) you clearly refused his advances was wrong and Was reprehensible in his part to have done so.

    Having said that, what surprises me is that you’ve called out his attitude while not addressing how you had no qualms about accepting preferential treatment when it came to being accepted into the accelerator despite being a week too late and then again being on the guest list to the exclusive investor event you wrote about. How is this not hypocrisy?

  25. BnullB

    I started reading your post with a very typical, defensively male perspective, wanting to argue your points like, ‘it was you trading your dignity for a better business situation, etc…’ And you have to also understand I come from a blue collar, ‘daily struggle’ kind of world where we tend to look up at all this stuff as ‘rich (by comparison) successful folks who got nothin better to do than make up pain for themselves.’

    That said, I apologize for judging or even beginning to think I know the complexity of these matters. You are a soul and a viable, valuable woman who now has shown she cares enough about her fellow ‘man’ to risk. I commend you, support you and I’m in your corner, only wishing there is something I can do. I have never behaved that way but can only commit that I will honor your strength by not lazily accepting any culture that continues this pain, predominantly for women. Thank you.

  26. Sam

    Something like this happened to my sister, and I was kind of dismissive at the time, which I regret. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the factor that makes a situation like this really suck for a woman is the underlying fear that the man will simply not take no for an answer, and if so, can (likely) physically overpower the woman. Like, if you were bigger and stronger than the dude, the come-on may be totally inappropriate/unethical/implicitly-coercive, but it wouldn’t be scary as hell.

    I will put one other observation out there, for what it’s worth. I’m almost thirty, and I was struggling to think of a single instance when the woman made the move first. At least in the US, it is so totally ingrained that it’s the guy’s job to pursue/woo/annoy/try-to-kiss the girl. And then it’s the girl’s job to accept or reject. So, I’d like to encourage all women out there, for the sake of decreasing unwanted advances, try to kiss a guy you do like! Roll the dice! Who knows.

    • Jasmine

      Sam, it’s actually not just about the “physically overpowering” aspect. Even if a sexual harasser were physically weaker than the victim, it’s still very horrifying and disturbing for a victim to be touched or kissed unwillingly. I don’t know personally, but I have read others’ stories. I know that harassment makes a person feel degraded, used, like they are not human but an object. So even if there is a physically weak harasser, being harassed is emotionally difficult for the victim because of the way it can lower their self worth and make them feel used.

      • Sam

        Okay, that’s interesting. So in your mind, what makes a “sexual advance” flattering and when is it degrading?

  27. Mr. Very Sensitive after Sensitivity Training

    Without belittling in any way for form the issue at hand, there is another side to these kinds of events also.

    The other side: Back in 2000, we hired a marketing person in our company. Every day her boyfriend would pick her up after work. At the end of the second week, 2 of the guys from work were in a bar for a quick beer at about 7PM on a Friday after work before heading home. Our plan was to have an early night and get up at 4AM for the drive to Tahoe for skiing.

    We were just finishing up before heading out and the marketing person walked in the door. This is the first time any of us had seen her outside of work. We were just leaving, so chatted very briefly for a minute. Not knowing her well, conversation was limited. One of the guys asked where her boyfriend was as he always picks her up after work. I forget her response, but basically something along the lines of busy doing something else. During the course of the conversation she asked why we were all leaving so early. We told her about our plans to go to Tahoe in the morning and as a friendly courtesy invited her to come along if she was free. We also invited her boyfriend. She politely declined saying she already had plans and we all went home and got up early the next day and had a great time skiing as intended.

    On Monday, the marketing person did not show up to work. On Tuesday a lawyers letter arrived claiming sexual harassment (inviting her for a dirty weekend with the boys) and invasion of privacy (asking about her personal life with her boyfriend). Ultimately while we all knew there was no such thing, it was deemed too risky to go to court and challenge her accusations over. So the CEO opted to pay her US$50,000 based on legal advice. All management were then sent on a “Sensitivity Training” afternoon with a local law firm to show for the record that management had responded. The reality was that the lawyer spent the afternoon telling us of all the insane accusations that people made in order to make money, even when there was no actual facts supporting the accusations. Our company like many others opted to pay to make the issue go away – even when the issue was baseless. The reality is that in US courts, the “victim” nearly always wins. And even when the “offender” is not an offender, the company and the offender end up being run through the trash.

    In this case, there was never any sexual intent, there was never any sexual innuendos or advances. This was simply another scammer out with a means to make some quick cash. As it turned out, we became aware after the fact of her pulling the same stunt in 2 other companies. Based on that, I would assume that there is more.

    • hdwdlnd

      I understand your situation described as I’ve seen similar ones occur but I would argue that “victims” nearly always win in US courts is a bold statement that doesn’t account for those “victims” who don’t come forward at all due to fear/embarrassment. Women have an uphill climb seeking success already. When they finally start seeing their goals come to fruition and a situation like this comes about I can see them hesitate to publicize it for fear of risking everything they worked for. Consider a male CEO confessing or sharing sexting pictures/stories he had been a part of company wide. Or maybe sharing pictures and stories of soliciting prostitutes. These situations fall exponentially short compared to sexual harassment or worse women experience but can explain their hesitation in reporting the event in a timely manner from the time of the incident.

      • Mr. Very Sensitive after Sensitivity Training

        Whether right or not above the victims winning in court, the cases we were show by the lawyer showed it happened all too often. And in reality, just the fact that it went to court is enough to do serious damage to a company and the managements reputations. In this case, the power position is the one that is abusive for personal gain because the company knows that no matter the outcome they either lose cash or lose reputation.

        I am by no means saying the majority of cases are as I have experienced, there are many real situations where both men and women are abused and are afraid to come forward. I just wanted to show another side where the company is afraid to fight back for fear of tarnishing their or their executives reputation. This can be a death sentence when raising funds and investment, even when the accusation is totally false. As a result, many companies, like ours decided to pay the extortion fee rather than take the risk. This is not unlike someone speaking out as noted in the original post and risking funding and reputation.

  28. wellwellwe

    you are a CEO correct (or have been at least).

    I’ll ask you a simple question. has any subordinate ever hit on you without your conscious consent?

    if yes, was that as concerning for you as in the case when a man with more power than you does it, i. e. one who also controls access to power and one you cannot do something against without also hurting yourself in the line of business you are in?

    this is an issue of power and values. do you you value more your integrity and safety as a human and woman, to be free of aggressive sexual advances, or do you value more being able to acquire power and money. what are you willing to sacrifice to obtain this power?

    w/o trying to minimize your ordeal, it seems you were willing to ignore clear signs of sexual intent and unwelcome hitting for the access you needed in your career. there is nothing wrong with that. we all compromise to optimize for our desires. you did not do anything wrong, but you were somehow aware of the power dynamics and played the game the best way you knew how. you yourself more or less admitted as much and came out about this guy only after getting cover from people braver than you. in this case, the perpetrator himself, who if my assessment is correct, is a sociopath, tried to get ahead of this thing as they say, or he was told to by a pr type.

    last but not least, I congratulate you for putting this info out there. this guy’s peers can’t ignore the facts anymore. public truth does more to change societal behavior than any written rule ever will. there is a certain perversity to rules. they become an obstacle to overcome rather than their intended purpose to prevent something undesirable from happening. or, they are crafted disingenuously to benefit the rule writers. look at law. anything codified that does not follow common law (decencies and natural expectations for justice of certain people in a time and place) at best, always fails to curtail those activities, and at worst generates perverted activities.

  29. Jeremiah Donohue

    Thanks for writing this, Cheryl. Dave’s behavior in Malaysia is almost identical to something my wife experienced from an acquaintance once, and I know how awful it was (he pretended to be asleep on the couch, then tried to force his way into her bedroom when everyone left). Of course, this acquaintance didn’t have power over her career as Dave did with you.

    It’s wrong that the burden always falls on the woman, who then has to consider whether taking action will destroy her career.

    It’s also so disheartening to see men supporting Dave on twitter. He has committed assault, and I seriously question the fragile manhood of any guy who thinks he’s the one who needs support.

  30. Kyle Gilley

    All this, happening all this time to so many “women” over all these “years”, and NOW you want your attention. Doesnt seem like it meant much to you three years ago, youre only talking publicly about it now. Get over yourself little girl and act like an adult.

  31. Christij

    Wtf this is either a fluff piece to make this dude seem not to bad or this chick is trippin. The guy hit on you, they do that. Dude has a good foot in the door help people with your connects maybe get some tang in the process. Blame it on the alcohol or what ever he was shmoozing you trying to get you to open up heck he left right he didn’t over power you (how much bigger then you is he) Idk just sayin.

  32. Linda Yee

    Thank you for speaking up. Even if Dave is not an investor, it is not right for a men to force himself upon a woman. Women often feel confused when something like this happen to them, mostly out of shock. You speaking up will help women know that they are not alone when it happen to them. It is quite a distressing experience.

    • Captain Awesome

      To be clear, he didn’t force himself on anyone. He shared a drink in private with the author, attempted to snog, was refused, and left.

      • turonatlugaw

        “At this point, I led him to the door and told him he needs to leave. On the way out, he pushed himself onto me to the point where I was backed into a corner, made contact to kiss me, and said something along the lines of “Just one night, please just this one time.””

        Oh, but he did.

  33. Jason Richmond

    Ok to be honest I could only make it to the point where dude was at your apartment feeding you alcohol and pushed himself on you. Classic victim BS. No-one fed you anything you drank it. Period. If you choose to drink to a point that as you said leaves you defenseless then that is a decision you make. Stop blaming others for your irresponsibility.

    • seriously

      Are you suggesting that he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to her because of her alcohol consumption? I fear for your acquaintances.

  34. jdrch

    I really appreciate the levels you delineated and appreciate your openness coming forward. There’s only one problem I have:

    the burden of proof always falls on the person reporting the incident

    How do you reconcile this with due process, presumption of innocence, and other concepts that underpin our society? It would seem to me that implementing such a policy could be a double-edged sword in which harassers fearing incident reports could preemptively accuse harassees of a worse offense that would discredit them.

    Presumption of innocence doesn’t just protect defendants, it protects plaintiffs from retaliation via counter-accusations that are taken as fact.

    a special channel (like a hotline # to dial) should be created where specific harassment incidents can be reported with no repercussion.

    In mature organizations, this is called an Ethics Hotline. Part of the problem here appears to be that the startup world is optimized for speed, not compliance. Ethics and HR frameworks need to be considered and implemented at the outset of ventures and VC operations, not afterthoughts in response to incidents and public outcry.

    • blackrose

      > It would seem to me that implementing such a policy could be a double-edged sword in which harassers fearing incident reports could preemptively accuse harassees of a worse offense that would discredit them.

      I think you’re over-thinking this, and drawing away from the real point: anyone victimized should feel like they can come forward and be taken seriously, without feeling (as said in the earlier example) that you need “hard proof like a text message or an email.”

  35. Jasmine

    Thanks for being brave enough to share this awful story. There are tons of stories like this from other women in business. This is a widespread problem. I just don’t understand why so many men out there feel like they are entitled. Those men feel like women owe them something, like they deserve something from women. These creeps never think about how the woman feels– it’s all about themselves. Then they are surprised when a woman isn’t interested in them! Good men need to call out the creepy ones because that’s the only way this will stop. Good men, please talk to other men about this!!

    • Armen

      Jasmine, have you ever heard the stories about women sexually harassing men? Maybe you can think about this?

      • MsM

        Men sexually harassing women is bad. Women sexually harassing men is bad. Sexual harassment is bad, period. Why is it so difficult to just agree on that point and condemn it when it happens, instead of coming up with a thousand and one justifications why this incident doesn’t count or is somehow canceled out by something that happened to someone else? Can we maybe think about that?

  36. Sam

    C and D make sense. I assume A usually would too as long as it is gender neutral, not directed at men. But with B, you’re basically outlawing relationships in the workplace. It’s not always easy to figure out if a gesture is “unwanted”. That’s what flirting is about, and maybe the guy or gal doesn’t realize that the other person isn’t interested until they commit to some kind of gesture that is in reality “unwanted”. Unless you’re literally outlawing any romantic relationship between employees, which I think is unrealistic and conservative to the point of lunacy, you’re going to have to majorly redefine B.

    Also: it’s important that women be treated daily and feel safe and comfortable, but don’t make this into battle of the sexes. Women behave inappropriately too. Nor is this a contest e.g. “Who behaves more badly more often? Let’s break out the data!” No. It needn’t be a contest. Establish policies and expected codes of conduct that apply to both sexes and stop pointing fingers. When you male bash, you risk alienating the multitude of guys who are very much on your side.

  37. Luc

    Sorry about this story, this is wrong behaviour as a first no is a no . But you should have acted and wrote this promptly at that time, and not been that opportunistic somehow “if I said anything, I would most certainly kill the Distro Dojo deal”. So yes this not acceptable, but do not ever wait to disclose this, even of there is an linked opportunity, because then at that time you was somehow unfo agreeing it, even you did not. So act promptly , not years later.

  38. QC

    I read your story expecting to have compassion for what happened to you. At first, I felt really uncomfortable and then I got annoyed at people like you. You don’t seem to know where to draw the line between a business relationship and a personal one with someone of the opposite sex. There are a lot of holes in your story – ones that would make me as a woman entrepreneur uncomfortable with the why and by what logic you would put yourself into the situation. For example, the Napa Summit – he clearly texted you after what is considered appropriate work hours – after dinner. Yet, you took the bait and went to his room, telling yourself not to drink too much. That was what you were thinking to yourself was “don’t drink too much” and if all else fails and he attacks you, you can use your Taekwondo?!? Are you serious??? You weren’t thinking about “meeting him solo in his villa” was a really stupid idea??? I understand chasing after your goals and doing what it takes to make your business idea a reality, etc…but don’t you want to draw the line somewhere when it comes to your own safety? I would have ignored the text and responded in the morning at the appropriate hours to conduct business. That would be my best guess as to what most intelligent people would do. I’m so annoyed I read your story that I couldn’t even finish reading the suggestions you made which I’m sure are probably full of holes, too.

    • Some Guy

      Ahh… Classic victim blaming. Way to empower fellow female entrepreneurs.

    • twiripa

      wonder which guy gets an invitation for a chat and a glass of wine and has to think twice if this is OK…

  39. jeffrey

    inappropriate? would that mean if appropriate it would be acceptable for one night? if you invite a guy to your place or you go to his place just expect this can happen. Which cat don’t eat fish?

    you ask for it!

  40. Elena Demianenko

    As I am reading this, I can’t shake off the feeling that millennials are reinventing the wheel here. All these issues were solved in late 80es in corporate America. Solved. Done with. HR took care of it. In all US companies.
    Men were so cautious with females through the 90es, it was a pleasure working with them. What happened?

  41. Alvin

    “They all promptly left, and left Dave there with me. I was quite confused by how that happened so quickly”

    Somehow, I feel that there’s something more to this. Cheryl?

    • freddie silver

      Sure Alvin, you are right. This is not boy scout world; when Cheryl offers the bed in guest room even if she has no other views (which I do believe assuming that no normal woman would want to sleep with a sweaty, smelly liquor reeking man) she was incredibly dumb. The guy under the influence could have turned violent for example and hurt pea brain Cheryl. The police if it came to that would have been dumbfounded. Like leave the key in the door and then ask why you were robbed.

  42. warren g. harding

    pathetic the apologists and pro-harassment trolls here. ‘captain awesome’ apparently has a shitload of time, as in not being fully employed or employed at all.

  43. turonatlugaw

    “The aggressor, which is often a male, should decide about what is or is not inappropriate.”

    I suppose this is how criminals think. The aggressor, not the victim, should decide when it is appropriate to lie, cheat, and steal.

    I suppose aggressors should read Emily Post.

    “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

    If you need for it to be spelled out, the difference between appropriate and inappropriate is consent. She said no. That should’ve been enough. No matter how you rationalize it, she was explicit.

      • turonatlugaw

        “At this point, I led him to the door and told him he needs to leave. On the way out, he pushed himself onto me to the point where I was backed into a corner, made contact to kiss me, and said something along the lines of “Just one night, please just this one time.””

        I’ll be damned. I suppose gossiping about “man flu” and “typical male ego” is a form of sexual harassment, but being pushed and backed into a corner doesn’t even remotely amount to sexual harassment?

  44. Conny Lim from Singapore

    Hi Cheryl, many thanks for taking the courage to share your personal experience. I believe both gender suffer from sexual harassment. This might encourage people from all walks of life to share their experience.

  45. klieolee

    I just pray the people who are taking this scumbag’s side will never become parents. Because if one day, their daughters or granddaughters go to them complaining about being touched or kissed by a man without their consent; these parents will stand by that man and tell their daughters “That’s what a man does and you should just let it be. No big deal.”

    This is a middle-aged, educated, successful man we are talking about here. Not some kid with autism or Asperger who MAYBE has difficulty understanding personal space or what no means. Are men THAT brainless? I don’t believe so.

    Stupid comments like women harass men too DOES NOT justify ANY harassment. If women harassing men is happening rampantly, please do something about it. No one is saying that is right. This argument doesn’t even make sense. Is like saying killing a woman is ok because men get killed too.

    Tolerating such things, blaming the victim and trivialising sexual assault are plain wrong.

    You are making it harder for victims (men or women) to come forward and report the abuse. If the survivor knows that you or society blames him/ her for the abuse, s/he will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward or reporting it.

    Victim-blaming also reinforce what the abuser has been thinking all along; that it is the victim’s fault this is happening. It is NOT the victim’s fault or responsibility; it is the abuser’s own choice. You are allowing the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual assault while avoiding accountability for his/her actions.

    If you justify this man’s actions, it clearly shows you would have done the same to these women if you have the chance (or the guts). What? You won’t? Why? Because YOU CAN CHOOSE.

    If you dare say you will treat women the same as this scumbag does and it is ABSOLUTELY ok with men treating your girlfriend, wife, daughters, sisters, granddaughters, nieces etc this way, I say YOU WIN.

  46. sophocles

    I am not going to defend unwanted kissing but by calling it sexual assault you are suggesting a crime was committed. that would depend on the laws of Malaysia at the time. If you are not suggesting DM committed a crime, or you don’t want this to turn on criminal statutes, then maybe you should use different language. I was struck by your comment that using the four levels means the complainant does not have to report verbatim what was said. Are you saying the you can simply report a violation by level? the devil is in the details so i do not see why you want to encourage generalized reporting.

  47. Bachelor

    That’s why keep business and personal separate. Too many clubs to meet women. Don’t need to date women you work with.

  48. Kate Brodock

    Hey Cheryl, excellent thoughts here. So much to think about. Would you be interested in republishing your recommendations in this post on Women 2.0? We’d be happy to give this a larger voice as we work through this discussion. If yes:

  49. CJ Cornell

    >> One guy even tweeted that Dave was just being Dave – he has always been, and will always be inappropriate!

    not so fast there …

    the message of my tweet was (or was supposed to be) – “c’mon, have you ever heard or seen this guy? why is anyone surprised?” (ie… it was no surprise at all that this kind of thing came to light)… and there are probably 15 others like him, that probably wouldn’t be shocked similar revelations.

  50. Yemmy

    You were sexually assaulted BY A PSYCHOTIC! You are doing the best you can, but you have to be a rock to get rid of him if you are able.

  51. Miranda

    Cheryl, so brave of you to speak out! I hope your courage inspires others to speak up when all they want to do is keep quiet and pretend nothing happened.

  52. Casual Observer

    Has anyone considered the contribution of the hugely unbalanced lifestyles these people engage in? I mean, it’s very likely the main characters in this drama are all spending virtually all of their waking hours working on, thinking about or otherwise engaged in matters pertaining to their very important business endeavors. Free time? A real social life? Time for real relationships? Time for family? Forgetaboutit. I’ve worked with people like these for more than three decades, and the only thing they have time for is their business interests. And this creates an environment that greatly increases the potential for encounters such as those described here. It’s also an environment that increases the potential for “office romances” between consenting adults. Two sides of the same coin. Why is anyone surprised by any of this?

    • freddie silver

      Cheryl is just an immature and inexperienced dainty politically correct snowflake. I am an old man and I have always respected women because I learned it from my father respecting my mother. Need I say more?. Cheryl is also totally devoid of common sense and while she may be a big businesswoman in an artificial and ruthless (Wall Street calls it boiler room) environment she has no understanding or experience of how the game between sexes is played. She expects regulation to rule the interface (that is the right word for her computer mind) between men and women. Silly Cheryl: when everybody left and the guy stayed behind he was signalling something. When Cheryl offered the guest room she winked back but did not understand what she was doing because her corporate coded shaped brain could not conceive any outcome (not according to program). I despise the guy simply because he was only concerned by his desire for a mechanical act performed like a robot while intoxicated but poor Cheryl making millions is not smarter and deserves no sympathy, only loneliness, until she learns that sex and human feelings are not subject to HR ordinances .

      • sophocles

        freedie s: I agree that the four levels of shame raise more questions than answer, but I also think you’re being too hard on Cheryl. Based on her description of events–and that’s all we have to go on–she suggested DM call Uber, but he declined. At that point, what was she to do? Push him out the door? Offering him the guest room is not an obvious green light, or even a yellow light. Perhaps the situation was ambiguous, but that’s not the same as Cheryl ignoring the obvious. In my experience, if you’re not interested in someone, you tend to ignore the signs that might be obvious if you were interested, or perhaps you think by ignoring them the person will get the message and act accordingly.

      • MsM

        You, sir, have a very odd definition of “respect.”

    • freddie silver

      It was not “consenting adults”. The guy wanted to get something using physical strength or leverage his status. Cheryl was stupid beyond words. When everybody started leaving, she should have asked the other guests to take drunk Dave to his hotel. Isn’t that what we all do at any Xmas party when someone has had his fill? Remember the “clean driver” volunteer?
      And any beginner in the legal profession would have an easy time arguing that offering a bed in the guest room is equal to incitement. We do not live in Disneyland. I cry for your brain Cheryl while I think that Dave is a despicable character. So in my books, both of you are incredibly dumb and immature . Go get an education in the ways of life.

  53. twiripa

    Thanks for your article and sharing your story, that’s super important for all of us, women!!
    However, the fixing part of your article doesn’t cover how do we change the “sex object” to “business partner”. You seem to be “lucky” to be seen as both, but from my experience (woman in tech) I’m often categorized and not treated in a serious way – like if a had a filter or a stamp on me! They (here, VC’s) don’t even get to the business potential, don’t even dive in for the details, like if there was a “do not cross” line! Seriously, I have best UNIs in my pocket, worked around the world for the best companies, and still need to prove that I’m not just my face? #WTF!!!! And the sad thing is that when a guy gets an invitation for a chat and a glass of wine (or an invite for a great event!) he never has to think twice if this is OK.

  54. Sarah

    I saw an article on BBC and wanted to personally thank you for telling your story. As a female entrepreneur in the tech industry I have experienced similar situations, and have felt pressured to keep quiet, just deal with it, or “take it as a complement”. It is also incredibly hard to take steps to correct the situation when it could possibly put the company or your career in jeopardy. The journey to change is tough, but every story like this brings us one step closer to making a better world for us. All the best to you!

  55. ytseng

    Thank you for sharing your story. While reading your ideas for classifying, documenting, and reporting levels of harassment I was reminded of the Callisto Project which is offered as an option for reporting assault and harassment at some colleges. You may already know about it yourself, or from others who responded to your story here. I wonder if Callisto, or a version of it, might be a useful way to set up the kind of reporting and accountability among tech firms that you are suggesting. Here is the link to Callisto –

    I am not affiliated with Callisto but know about it from staff training at a college that subscribes to Callisto.
    Wish you all the best as this unfolds.

  56. Adventure or risk

    Men are in the mercy of Women. We try our luck if they like it then you will be praise(start off an adventure journey)otherwise you are dead, they turn into a female spider and eat you4 up.

  57. Ken

    Dave, tell it as it is. If you are more than halfway decent in your apology you will call a spade for what it really is. Just because one is some high profile billionaire investor doesn’t mean he can portray himself as a less horrible and sinister person for what he has done.

    You are more than a creep and you know it. Go get some real help – physically, psychologically and spiritually. And be more honest and sincere in your apology.

  58. freddie silver

    Just a simple question to ALL who have commented above: are these two weaklings, psychologically unfit characters totally un-street wise and highly unstable characters able to handle my life savings? Would I trust them with my money? Do they have the guts to fight for my making a profit? Are these the new Wall Street warriors?
    I just remembered from years ago at my first job our HR introductory speech: “If you can’t handle properly your own personal affairs how can the company expect you to handle the corporate affairs”???
    Got an answer ??.

  59. RexTillerson2

    Oh my. This is too much. To call it assault is absurd. Inappropriate, yes. Boorish, yes. But a chick scoffing scotch after scotch in her apartment and then being surprised mixed signals might be sent is beyond ridiculous. Where is her basic common sense? Sorry for the dude who married her…

  60. John

    Lame, insecure author… The guy Dave was being normal by U.S. behavior standards… Of course, culture will change and U.S. men will become like men in Sweden… Women in Sweden approach men because men rarely approach women, there.
    Go to any crowded event, women constantly make rude, assertive advances. Females, laugh about it and say that it’s the man’s fault he’s not interested, because she’s such a hot item.

  61. Laura Good (@goodlaura)

    Before we called it Silicon Valley, straight out of college–1983–I worked in Menlo Park at a Fortune 500 company. We had a large campus and often had to drive to other buildings for meetings. I was riding with an executive level manager to a meeting and he “jokingly” suggested that instead of going to the meeting, we drive to his house. It didn’t happen but at just 23 years old, I didn’t know how to handle this. I never rode alone with him in a car again. Fast forward about 7 years later, same company. They issued their first Sexual Harassment policy. My male manager joked that he was reading it to find the loopholes. Another incidence, different company–a startup in 2004. After work on Friday’s some of the team would go out for a beer. We’d often clink glasses with the first drink. My boss, the CEO of the company, clinked glasses with me and his beer foamed. He said to everyone (all men) — “Look, Laura just gave me head.” I felt very embarrassed and uncomfortable. I talked to our HR person about it (we were large enough at the time to have an HR person — about 60 people). He spoke to my boss and after that, my boss clearly no longer considered me a member of his “inner circle.” I left the company soon afterward. There are many other incidences is my 35 year career. I’m hoping the current spotlight on the unacceptableness of this type of behavior in the workplace/work world can make some lasting changes.

    And to all the men who have said things like “Dave’s just being Dave” or “Men will be men.” How would you feel if you were hit on by a man in a work/business situation? Would you be uncomfortable if a man propositioned you?

  62. Suwana Abung

    I am sorry, Cheryl, but I feel you have betrayed women’s effort in combating sexual inappropriateness. First, was that Dojo deal so important, so much so that it supersedes your dignity and principle as a woman??? I felt that you should have highlight this issue the moment it happened, not three years after !!! Had you not come across McClure’s commenters, would you have choose to keep quiet about it ???? Secondly, this happened in your own apartment. Look, as this is your own apartment, you have every right to decide who gets to stay or leave. When you politely suggested (read:insist) that McClure to leave as well, and he refused, that has already tantamount to violation of your privacy. How did you not get those signs ??? Women worked so hard to fight against sexual inappropriateness and empowering women with equal rights and dignity……..and you, of all people, just had to go and destroy it.

  63. eeness

    Thank you for posting the framework of differing levels of sexual harassment. We’re incorporating it into my company’s Code of Conduct and already it feels so much easier to discuss these issues without having to get into the unsavory weeds. I’ve no doubt it’ll help people feel more comfortable reporting any violations.

    • sophocles

      I don’t understand how that works eeness. Someone reports a Level 3 violation, and then you interview complainant and the alleged harasser without getting into the unsavory weeds? What are the discussions like and what are the outcomes? How do you fire someone for misconduct without getting into the weeds of what happened?

  64. kristen

    Thank you, Cheryl for sharing this. You are brave and courageous!

  65. jeanie

    I was once in love with someone else man, i felt guity but i can’t shake the feeling. It turns out that he was also in love with me but he was married i confused i didn’t know what to do until i encountered NAKO DAKO, he helped me through some juju stuff to get him and now we are happily married with a baby girl. If you are in the situation and you want the man to leave his current girlfriend or wife then NAKO is your guy. contact him you wouldn’t regret it.

  66. tomas849357247

    Am so happy getting my wife back with the help of Doctor Casera Zaza {} who God used to reunite my marriage. Each day of my life, i ask God to bless Dr. Casera Zaza for he has made my life complete by bringing back my wife to me and for this reason, i made a vow to my self that i will testify on the internet to let the world know that Dr. Casera Zaza is a God on Earth. Do you need any kind of help? Contact him now via email: {} or you can call me for more info on +1 (203) 702-9280 Tomas Kokyova.

  67. Tamara braxton

    First of all, Thanks to { Dr.Mack } he is a great spell caster who brought my ex husband back I want to tell everyone about my meeting with Dr.Mack who bring back my ex lover. within the period of 2days… At these moment i don’t have anything to say than to appreciate the good works of him, who you can simply reach through the internet: dr.mack201 @gmail. com…………………………….

    He fix broken relationships, marriages.



  68. Your Worst Nightmare

    I am aware that I am reading this late, but as a female, all I see is a whole load of crap in the comment section. I am not being mean nor am I being rude. I am simply stating the truth. @Captain Awesome. Honestly, people could care less about your opinion. I don’t give a damn about it. But just so you know and to everyone who reads this in the future as reference, we get it. You want to voice your opinions and the only way to state it is by giving crappy information and being such a b*tch about it. If you had a problem disagreeing, stop being such a sh*thead and get it through that people have their own opinions and that people won’t always accept. Yes, this article is talking about a major issue that we have in the world and yes, this still happens today, no matter what gender. But because people are being so stuck-up, we, as humans, cannot admit that there is some truth behind what is being said. It doesn’t matter who is behind that screen, typing away their opinions and posting it online. You could be a 15-year-old reading this for a school paper and wondering “What the heck is going on?” Or you could be a middle-aged adult, thinking that you know what you are doing and that what you say goes. Well, let me be honest with all of you. NOT EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND YOU! SO STOP BEING SO STUBBORN AND HARDHEADED AND ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU WILL BE WRONG AT TIMES!!!

    Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the world and the first comment posted was a clear depiction of the percentage of stupidity that is out there in the world. It doesn’t matter what others think about this. It is a serious issue. Men AND women are hurt, murdered, or emotionally scarred by rape/sexual harassment and to see people in the comments of an article CLEARLY EXPRESSING the thoughts of how many women feel in the presence of men makes me personally think that “Wow. This world has really become one that is ignorant and selfish.”

    I’m going to skip everything else because I’m pretty sure you all get the gist. People are people. We all have opinions. So my last words are “Stop being a pain in the ass and deal with it. Not everything is about you.”

  69. kyran

    Hi and welcome to my website . I’m Kyran Mckinney.
    I have always dreamed of being a writer but never dreamed I’d make a career of it. In college, though, I aided a fellow student who needed help. She could not stop complimenting me . Word got around and someone asked me for to help them just a week later. This time they would pay me for my work.
    During the summer, I started doing academic writing for students at the local college. It helped me have fun that summer and even funded some of my college tuition. Today, I still offer my writing skills to students.

    Writing Specialist – Kyran – Killer Papers Corp

  70. eduard

    Welcome to my blog ! I’m Eduard.
    Even though I jokingly credit my mother for my writing talent, I know that it is a ability I have fostered from childhood. Though my aunt is a writer, I also started out young.
    I’ve always had a way with words, according to my favorite educator. I was always so excited in English when we had to do a research writing assignment.
    Now, I help current pupils achieve the grades that have always come easily to me. It is my way of giving back to schools because I understand the troubles they must overcome to graduate.

    Eduard Jaramillo – Professional Writer – Tips to make remote work effective. Company

  71. Sarah Palin's Newapapers

    Let’s recall “The Virgin Birth”.

    It has nothing to do with biology.

    The christian story needs an update. Then, biology and gender can be seen more as they are, so we can behave more in harmony and accordance.


Leave a Reply to Kate Brodock Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: