The man behind one of India’s greatest startup stories just made a tone-deaf endorsement on Twitter.
On Oct. 9, Sachin Bansal, the co-founder of Flipkart, India’s biggest homegrown e-commerce brand (now owned by Walmart), recommended the Twitter account @LifeMathMoney (LMM) to his followers, advising it more strongly for some than for others. “All men” should follow the account, he said, adding, “Women can follow too, if they want.”
While sharing life-changing advice with one gender and treating the other as an extra itself may be construed as a little sexist, that was only the beginning. The red flags crop up by the dozen once you take a closer look at the endorsed account.
LMM is run by Harsh Strongman, said to be a 20-something financial consultant and chartered accountant who supposedly writes on health, business, money, personal finance, investing, social skills, body language, and self-improvement. His profile picture is that of Chanakya, the ancient Indian statesman-philosopher and royal advisor, best known for his classic Arthashastra (Economics).
Having scoured Strongman’s tweets and blog posts, one realises why Bansal was hesitant about recommending this account to women.
Crazy women out, silicon in
For starters, Strongman’s F-word is “feminism.”
First, he mercifully acknowledges that feminism boosts the economy in some ways:
- Single women consume more because they’re alone and less happy
- Feminists not only support the divorce law business, extra divorce means more weddings—also a great business
- Working women double the labour force, reducing salary outgoes
- The pet industry gets a boost too. “Cat sales, vets, cat food,” in Strongarm’s words, keeping the single crazy cat stereotype rooted in some 700-year-old myths about witches alive and kicking!
- The pharma industry is thriving on their birth control and insulin orders
- The news industry is running on their “easy clicks”
A few days on comes the deluge of shortcomings.
He belittles and bemoans feminist women constantly, implying they are freeloaders, incapable of paying their own bills. “Remember ladies, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product,” he writes. (You aren’t the only victims, though, dear feminists. Strongman shames fat men with the same panache.)
In another Twitter thread, he suggests that as testosterone levels plummet, “women become more crazy because ‘no good men’ and all the isolation hurts them more.” “More” crazy, eh?
And all this enlightened material is being received well, too.
People clearly read his tweets and blog posts “because my work adds value to their lives,” Strongman says, helpfully clarifying that he’s not “a hot girl with a low cut shirt” to command the attention of over 96,000 followers.
This “not a hot girl” makes some astute observations about the female psyche. Here’s an instance of his profundity:
Men tend to bond over their hobbies. Women do this too but to a much lesser extent. Women seem to be more interested in attention and validation…This can easily be observed with the millions of half-naked perfect makeup “candid” selfies and ass shots women post on social media, consciously or subconsciously desiring the likes and attention it brings them.
This trend isn’t going to last long, though, for the crazy feminists are on their way out in 2020, according to Strongman’s theory:
Sex dolls become more realistic and start gaining popularity. VR (virtual reality) become hyper realistic. This massively hurts feminists who can no longer find partners out of sheer numbers. I think over time, feminism will decline for this reason. Men will replace them with silicon.
A metalloid replacing an entire gender! Take a moment to slow clap 👏. But there’s more:
And this is all just in the last few weeks. If you keep scrolling down his Twitter timeline, there will probably be more such gems.
To each his own
Look, if you don’t like Strongman, you can avoid following him. Bansal did say women could follow him “if they want,” didn’t he? Later in the day, he reasserted this to-each-his-own attitude:
Quartz reached out to Bansal for comment and will update if he responds.
Sadly, though, it’s not just about Strongman and Bansal.
This unabashed misogyny has scores of influential persons hooked. As of Oct. 10 at 3pm, these were some of the prominent names among Strongman’s Twitter followers:
- Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of digital payments service Paytm
- Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of e-commerce site Snapdeal
- Kunal Shah, former founder of digital payments app Freecharge, which was bought by Axis Bank, and current founder of members-only credit card hub Cred
- Nikhil Pahwa, founder of Medianama
- Tanmay Bhatt, former founder of comedy group AIB (which was embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy in the #MeToo movement this time last year)
One Twitter user reasons that not everyone may agree with Strongman’s opinions “and that’s fine. Not everyone has to.” But his popularity is a disturbing testament.
Harsh Strongman is in all likelihood a pseudonym—befitting an internet troll—even if an interesting one. It’s a shame that Bansal, an icon of India’s startup community with over 181,000 followers on Twitter, thinks the pseudo gyaan is worth it.