Musk's Misogyny

As women's rights take center stage, is Elon Musk equipped to lead “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”?

Musk's Misogyny

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As long as they remain active in business, certain titans are inextricably linked with the reputation and business practices of the companies they run.

It was true for Steve Jobs at Apple. It’s true for Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg at Meta.

More than ever, it’s true for Elon Musk at Tesla, SpaceX and also—if his now Saudi-, Qatar- and Ellison-backed acquisition deal closes—Twitter too.

In my last post, I wrote about how Musk used his own Twitter account in much the same way as President Pussygrabber Donald Trump, a so-called business person whose name is also inextricably linked with the reputation and practices of his much smaller, less successful and irredeemably criminal company.

Today I want to compare the similarities between Trump and Musk in business—specifically in terms of racism, rule-breaking, attacks on critics and, especially in light of the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, treatment of women.


Before the 2016 campaign, reality TV star Trump’s “old white guy” racism largely flew under the radar. (Reports early in the campaign that his kids were asking him to tone down the racist rhetoric were later confirmed by Michael Cohen.) But as soon as Trump showed his true colors, he was embraced by the alt-right, white nationalists and people looking for an excuse to commit hate crimes and mass shootings.

Those studying his business history more closely, though, found numerous examples of racism in all its forms, including being sued by the DOJ in 1973 for housing discrimination, campaigning for the execution of wrongly accused teens known as the Central Park Five in 1989, and whole lot more.

Trump’s age—he was born in 1946—doesn’t give him a pass when it comes to racism. He has clearly leaned into those views and willfully chosen not to update his hard drive on issues of systemic racism and social justice. But the era in which he was born, his history of privilege and his parental influences should at least be considered when answering the question as to where Trump’s racist worldview originated.

Today, people are asking the same thing about Elon Musk, born 25 years later in apartheid-era South Africa.

The New York Times is currently facing backlash from right-wing media for tweeting that Musk “grew up in elite white communities in South Africa, detached from apartheid’s atrocities and surrounded by anti-Black propaganda.”

But, even if did grow up in a racist system, Musk has also had plenty of opportunity to update his own hard drive.

So far, it appears, that hasn’t happened.

Musk has been accused of creating a “culture of racism” at Tesla, in which Black workers were frequently abused with the N-word, segregated into separate areas and routinely denied promotions.

According to The Los Angeles Times:

Workers called Tesla’s factory “the plantation,” and “the slave ship,” not just for the brutal work pace that everyone experienced, but especially because Black workers were routinely segregated into a corner of the factory that lacked air conditioning and work conditions were most crowded.

The LA Times also includes one detail with specific echoes of Donald Trump:

Tesla’s billionaire chief executive, Elon Musk, would come through the front of the factory “with his entourage,” Monica Chatman said. “They didn’t want a Black face up there” she said, adding that Latino colleagues were left up front while Black workers were moved to the back.

See also: Mother Jones, August 2015: “Black Employees at a Trump Casino Were Reportedly Removed Whenever the Donald Arrived.”


Musk and Trump also display a similar attitude when it comes to bending rules and breaking laws. The crimes of Donald Trump are long established and well documented. Musk, meanwhile, has not only tweeted stock-market-manipulating lies that forced him to agree with the SEC to step down as Tesla chairman. He also began flouting that agreement with Trump-like impunity as soon as the ink was dry.

In terms of being a danger to public health, no one compares to Trump, whose shithole establishments put diners at risk of food borne illness for years before his reckless and incompetent handling of Covid put America on the fast track to one million dead.

But Musk also took a reckless approach to Covid, daring authorities to arrest him in 2020 for restarting production at a northern California plant in defiance of shelter-in-place ordinances. The Washington Post reported in June 2020 that “multiple workers” had been infected in May 2020, contributing to community spread in the early days of the pandemic. It appears that Musk failed to report those infections as required, putting more lives at risk. By the end of December 2020, at least 450 workers at the plant had been infected.

Like Trump, Musk is also willing to tweet defamatory insults at critics that could potentially lead to violence, even as he tries to dig up dirt on those who speak out against him. As Buzzfeed reported in September 2019:

Elon Musk paid a private investigator more than $50,000 to search for compromising information on a British cave explorer that he called “a pedo guy” on Twitter last year after the man criticized the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s involvement in the highly publicized rescue of a boys soccer team from a network of Thailand caves.

He later claimed in court documents:

“Pedo guy” is a “common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up… It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of acts of pedophilia.”

Wow. So even Elon admits the way he acts and the words he uses are influenced by his South African upbringing!

I’ll just have to wait for his mom to apologize to The New York Times and for The Daily Mail to issue a correction.


If the “pedo guy” tweet wasn’t enough, Musk also has boob jokes.

As Ananya Bhattacharya wrote in Quartz in November 2021:

The world’s richest man’s poor sense of humor is exposing how much of a boys’ club tech still is.

In an Oct. 29 tweet, Musk proposed opening a school called the Texas Institute of Technology and Science. In a thread, he added, “it will have epic merch, universally admired.” When someone earnestly suggested swapping “technology” and “science” so the latter came first (on the premise that “technological breakthroughs almost always follow scientific breakthroughs”), Musk shot back, “Nope, T is def first.”

As gender bias expert Amy Diehl, Ph.D. noted on Twitter, Musk’s suggestion that he might create a university just to sell “TITS” merch wasn’t just a random off-color joke. Random off-color jokes are the price women must pay for working at Musk-led companies:

Tesla, where just 1 in 5 of the 70,000+ employees are women, has been criticized for being a hostile workplace. Women are subject to “inappropriate language, whistling & catcalls,” per a 2017 lawsuit. At SpaceX just 14% of employees are women.

As sexual harassment lawsuits against both Tesla and SpaceX mount, Protocol notes:

Former and current workers… say the companies’ hard-charging cultures ignore and foster sexual and racial harassment and discrimination, and many of the workers who have filed complaints also blame Musk for contributing to the cultural problems…. public records obtained by Protocol show that more than 100 workers have been granted the right to sue the company from 2018 to mid-2021. A former SpaceX employee shared stories of similar experiences of alleged harassment… and she also blamed Musk for fostering a culture that permitted the behavior.

Given this backdrop, the fact that Musk has just announced that his takeover of Twitter will be backed by investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar—two countries where women face systemic oppression and abuse—is not reassuring.

And neither is Musk’s own recent tweeting.

After the exchange posted above, AOC tweeted and deleted a reply that read “I was talking about Zuckerberg but ok.”

Nevertheless, Musk’s testicle-tanning fanboys were quick to get #AOCLovesElon trending on Twitter.

Last December, Musk also sent off a string of misogynistic tweets against Elizabeth Warren after she had the temerity to suggest he pay more taxes.

Then on Monday 2 May, as Elon Musk attended the Met Gala with his mom, Politico broke the news that the Supreme Court had decided to overturn Roe v. Wade

… Because of email limits, this article was sent in two parts. Read Part 2 here.

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← Musk v. Women, Part 2
Twitter's New Trump →

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