Much has changed since Elon Musk first announced a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion in April: Last month, around the same time experts were speculating that Musk was trying to back out of the deal, a report surfaced that he had allegedly exposed himself to a SpaceX flight attendant without consent and solicited sex from her, even promising to buy her a horse. Musk semi-denied that the report was true, his obsessive fans tweeted that they wished Musk would show them his dick, and the news cycle just moved on like nothing happened.
Then, on Monday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal reportedly emailed Twitter employees to inform them that this week, Musk will attend an all-hands meeting to field written, pre-approved questions from employees. And I just have to ask: Is any Twitter employee brave enough to ask the world’s no. 1 wealth hoarder about the sexual misconduct allegation against him? Because contrary to how it’s simply faded from the discourse, the report does matter, both on a societal level and in terms of how he would run Twitter.
We already know his warped conception of what “free speech” entails would subject women and marginalized people on the platform to virtually bottomless harassment and mistreatment. How could Musk credibly disavow behavior like this when he’s an alleged perpetrator of it, himself?
In 2016, Musk, per the report from May, allegedly exposed his erect penis to a flight attendant who was giving him a massage then offered her a horse in exchange for sex, and rubbed her leg. (It’s worth noting that Musk’s company, SpaceX, reportedly places significant pressure on flight attendants to get formal masseuse training so they can give Musk massages during flights). After she declined, she was taken off flights and scheduled shifts. She eventually sought legal representation, settled with Musk and SpaceX, and received $250,000 in exchange for signing an air-tight NDA in 2018, mere months before California enacted legislation to prohibit NDAs for sexual harassment. For a self-identified champion of free speech, Musk sure doesn’t want this one particular woman he paid off to speak!
The announcement from Agrawal about the Q&A this week also comes amid recent public fallout between Musk and the company, Musk has very publicly accused Twitter of not being transparent about bots on the platform (70 percent of Musk’s followers are reportedly bots, so this is clearly personal to him), and on May 16th, he inexplicably tweeted a poop emoji at Agrawal. Nonetheless, the deal appears to be moving forward despite Musk’s repeated threats to back out—a move that would immediately cost him $1 billion.
Surely there are a lot of questions to ask Musk, including whether he can even afford to purchase the company given the rapid devaluation of Tesla stock, which is what he used to get credit to make the offer for Twitter. (Remember: Billionaires are actually very poor and shouldn’t be taxed because none of their wealth is liquid, yet they can put up stocks to access massive amounts of credit…?) But Twitter employees have a right to hold Musk to account for his alleged mistreatment of a female employee, and the least the company can do is allow such questions. Frankly, it’s embarrassing and disturbing that neither Agrawal nor any other leaders at the company seem even vaguely concerned about handing it over to an alleged sexual predator. They’ve had nearly a month to address the allegation in some way, but all we’ve heard are crickets.
Even prior to the report about Musk’s behavior, women’s rights organizations have sounded the alarm over what his acquisition of Twitter could mean for women, people of color, LGBTQ, and other marginalized people on the platform, who already face routine mistreatment. Meanwhile, white nationalists celebrated the deal.
Under Musk’s leadership, Tesla’s factory faces numerous lawsuits for rampant racism “reminiscent of Jim Crow,” as well as endemic sexual harassment and even assault. One of the plaintiffs explicitly named Musk, saying his online “jokes” and habits have contributed to the culture of day-to-day workplace harassment that she and other female factory workers have to endure. She cited one of his 2021 tweets in particular: “Am thinking of starting new university: Texas Institute of Technology & Science,” Musk wrote. The acronym for this university would be TITS, and Musk, a 50-year-old father of eight, confirmed this was intentional in a follow-up tweet. More recently, he’s spent a good chunk of June mocking LGBTQ people and allies for celebrating Pride on social media, and, for years now, has spewed 4Chan-esque jokes about gender pronouns and trans people.
Musk’s alleged sexual misconduct is more damning than any of this—the cherry on top of years of well-documented misogyny and cruelty. Still, Twitter has done nothing to address concerns about it. So, I ask again: Are there any Twitter employees brave enough to bring him to task?? Will Twitter ever even acknowledge the allegation against Musk?? The answer to both of these questions is likely a resounding “no,” but I, personally, am happy to scream about all of this until the end of time.