Ashton Kutcher is known for many things. From his acting career to his various investments in startups and his organization that works to combat child pornography and the sexual exploitation of kids, he's in the spotlight a lot. But this time around, he found himself in a bit of hot water for some sexist questions that were meant to discuss gender equality in the workplace.
On June 6, Kutcher announced that he would be hosting a live, open dialog on the topic. The discussion was held this morning with Effie Epstein, his Sound Ventures partner.
In his original LinkedIn post about the social conversation, Kutcher also included a number of questions he planned on posing during the live stream.
Yikes. These are definitely *not* the right questions. Most rely on flawed assumptions and perpetuate problematic myths. pic.twitter.com/vUF1CVBcOt— Joelle Emerson (@joelle_emerson) July 7, 2017
Twitter and Linkedin members had a field day with them. The first few questions show just how uninformed Kutcher was.
"What are the rules for dating in the workplace? Flirting?"
"What are the clear red lines?"
What? These questions, if anything, appeared to solidify the assumption that women are incapable of going about their day without thinking about finding a partner. Did he even know what sexism in tech looked like?
In response to Ashton’s final question, "Are these the right questions," critics responded with a definite "no." Social media users called the questions "horrible."
They're shockingly not the right questions. All the stuff about workplace flirting: gross.— Joelle Emerson (@joelle_emerson) July 7, 2017
"This is pretty offensive to me — I'm not easily offended," wrote one LinkedIn user in the comments according to the Daily News. "The premise some of these questions are based on seems to be coming from someone with a superiority complex."
Kutcher’s LinkedIn posts come after numerous women came forward alleging misconduct as well as sexual harassment by some top investors in Silicon Valley. Most notably, Dave McClure, 500 Startups founder apologized for making "advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate," according to CNBC.
To his credit, Kutcher took the criticism in stride. "Thank you everyone for the feedback on the questions I posted on LinkedIn. Good and bad. Already a learning experience," he tweeted July 7. "I've already offended some folks by asking the wrong questions. I'm certain given the sensitivity of the topic I will say other things wrong." However, it does feel discouraging that in 2017 such an apparent display of sexism still needs to be called out.
thank you everyone for the feedback on the questions I posted on LinkedIn. Good and bad. Already a learning experience.— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) July 7, 2017
I've already offended some folks by asking the wrong questions. I'm certain given the sensitivity of the topic I will say other things wrong— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) July 7, 2017
He added these two tweets before totally moving on from the backlash.
Hope we can find space to be wrong in the pursuit of getting it right.— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) July 7, 2017
We have centuries of ground to make up in a short order & I don't want the basics to be off limits. some clearly don't yet get the basics.— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) July 7, 2017
The discussion took place during a live stream this morning. You can watch the entire video below: