If last night, like many, you saw a tweet offering a generous proposal such as Barack Obama’s “I am giving back to my community. All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled,” and wondered what Obama was going on about, let’s be clear, it was a hack.
Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Apple, Uber—the list of high-profile people and companies that got their Twitter accounts hacked goes on, including leading cryptocurrency sites. The profiles were obviously targeted for their high following count in order to spread the scam as widely as possible.
Twitter announced that it had detected what it believed to be a “coordinated engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.” TechCrunch was told by a source involved in the underground hacking scene that the hacker who goes by the handle ‘Kirk’ generated over $100,000 in a matter of hours. By gaining access to Twitter’s admin tool, Kirk used it to reset email addresses of the accounts affected which made it more difficult for the rightful owners to regain control.
The source, who remains anonymous, also told TechCrunch that Kirk started out by selling stolen usernames on social media, a somewhat popular, yet very illegal business. These usernames sell from anywhere between a few hundred dollars to thousands. There is a popular forum among traders of hacked social media handles, called OGUsers, which Kirk is shown to have contacted. Screenshots of a chat between a ‘trusted member’ and the hacker were shared with TechCrunch, where he said “Send me @’s and BTC,” which refers to Twitter usernames and cryptocurrency.
The screenshots show that Kirk also had access to the internal administrative tool on Twitter’s network. It is currently unknown how exactly Kirk managed to gain access to Twitter’s internal tool, but it has been hypothesised that an employee’s account was hijacked, which then allowed Kirk into the company’s internal network.
Twitter has declared that once the company became aware of the attack, it “locked down the affected accounts and removed tweets posted by the attackers.” As a precaution, it also limited access for accounts that had been verified with a blue check.
CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that it had been a “tough day for us at Twitter.” He added, “We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
The popular Bitcoin exchange Coinbase has blocked its users from sending money to the address advertised via the affected accounts. While Twitter continues to investigate, cybersecurity experts have begun speculating on other potential sources of the breach. Twitter has stated that it is “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
The company has said that “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing.” It remains unknown who is behind the attack.
A few days ago, Grimes and Elon Musk welcomed their firstborn child named X Æ A-12. After the internet was done making memes about the newborn’s name and searching for its hidden meaning, people were quick to pick up on a significant detail about the child’s future upbringing: Grimes and Musk have decided to raise X Æ A-12 through gender-neutral parenting. What exactly is gender-neutral parenting and why should parents start considering it for their own kids?
In a live broadcast in February, Grimes explained that she and Musk wanted to adopt a gender-neutral parenting style in case their child doesn’t identify with their biological sex: “I don’t want to gender them in case that’s not how they feel in their life.” The pair is not the first celebrity couple to embrace this—Brangelina were openly supportive of their oldest child John (named Shiloh at birth) exploring their gender identity after saying they wished to be a boy. In 2017, Megan Fox was criticised by the media for allowing her two sons to wear dresses.
Although gender-neutral parenting is still frowned upon by most conservative and religious news outlets, more and more parents are ditching gender reveal parties in exchange for gender-neutral baby showers. Some countries are now allowing parents the option of labelling their children’s gender as ‘X’ on their birth certificates, and Sweden has even incorporated a gender-neutral pronoun, ‘hen’, into its vocabulary.
Gender-neutral parenting is about breaking away from the binary and allowing the youngest members of our society to explore their gender identity without any social restrictions. Because it is still new to our society, this parenting style comes in different forms. What exactly are the benefits of being a gender-neutral parent?
While ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are synonymous, they are not equivalent to one another. Sex is biological, whereas gender is social, performative and arguably, limiting. Philosopher Judith Butler first coined the term ‘gender performance’ in 1988, which defines gender as something learned and performed in our daily activities, purely based on the constructed notions of femininity or masculinity.
For instance in children, activities such as playing dress-up are seen as ‘girly’, whereas playing with toy cars is considered ‘boyish’—in the same way, the colour pink is exclusively associated with baby girls, and blue with boys.
Picking activities for your children depending on their assigned gender limits their self-expression. People who shamed Megan Fox for letting her sons wear dresses did exactly that. Many experts argue that this also negatively impacts the child’s personal growth and ability to reach their full potential later in life, as our childhood experiences and upbringing are formative to our development.
A 2016 study published in The Guardian article Gendered toys could deter girls from career in engineering, report says found that only 11 per cent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toys were listed for girls, which was directly linked to the gender gap within the tech industry heavily dominated by men. There has since been a spike in marketing STEM-related products to girls, as well as in the representation of women in STEM as role models for young girls, but it is still important for us to ensure that it does not stop at that.
Stuti Agarwal, perhaps better known as @mombae.blogger on Instagram is a Mumbai-based parent blogger who frequently talks about the importance of gender-neutral parenting on her account. The mother to a two and a half year old boy and a six month old girl was also raised in a non gender-biased household.
Speaking to Screen Shot about how she has conversations around gender equality with her son, Agarwal says: “I try to make him learn to do all the housework, which is still traditionally taken as a woman’s job. Even though he is young, I keep telling him that he has to learn all of the skills because later on in life he will face problems if he doesn’t know the general basic skills like cooking.”
At the moment, Agarwal is teaching her son how to make roti from Play-Doh and has even bought him a kitchen set he loves playing with. Speaking about how their neighbours ridiculed the kitchen set as being a ‘girly’ activity, Agarwal responded: “Please don’t say things like that because I want to teach him that cooking is not a girl’s job—not just a girl’s job.” She explains that her children are “free to do what they want to do. My son can be a chef, my daughter can be a policewoman, whatever they want to be.”
While for many parents gender-neutral parenting is about removing gender stereotypes and fighting inequality, some parents are choosing to ditch the concept of gender altogether by keeping their child’s biological sex private from the public until the child makes a decision on how they identify.
Gen Zers are most familiar with non-binary pronouns and expressions, and more and more new gens are rejecting the gender binary themselves. Raising children as gender-neutral can provide them with a safe space and allow them freedom of expression without any restrictions.