Read This Review Everything You Wanted To Know

Oh, there is quite more to this story than meets the eye, and if you did down, it gets downright bizarre.

Just last morning I had no idea that Naomi Wu, aka Sexy Cyborg, existed. I didn’t even know about Sarah Jeong. I try to stay out of these internet blowups. But I read about Sarah Jeong in light of her controversial hire to the New York Times editorial board. And from there, I went down the rabbit hole. Oh did I go.

And just so you know this is juicy and stay for this whole bedtime story, here is a picture of the Sexy Cyborg.

So here is what happened. As I said, I was reading up on Jeong. And in that non-linear way internet research goes, I came across this Medium article by Naomi Wu.

MEDIUM: Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu: My experience with Sarah Jeong, Jason Koebler, and Vice Magazine

It looked interesting.

I sunk down on the sofa, the dog did the same, and I got to reading.

The long essay came from an aggrieved Chinese girl named Naomi Wu/Sexy Cyborg, who said she is a big Youtube personality. The editors note at the start of the piece explained that because of the difficulty in translating Naomi's strong emotions, some of the English had to be imperfect to retain the emotional poignancy.

Noami's voice was decisive, explosive, unafraid, angry. She said she was a maker (of techy stuff), the biggest Youtube personality from her Chinese province, she was an advocate for women in China. She trailblazes in important ways and works to help others. She said angrily that she stands to suffer terrible consequences if certain details of her life are exposed, specifically, details of her intimate life. This was because of the situation in China. She said that unfortunately, she couldn't give the details of why disclosing certain information is so dangerous, but that she is revealing as much as she could, given the circumstances.

While Naomi doesn't give details, this American Youtube commentator does make assumptions about what Naomi is implying. “

If a Chinese National is caught holding the wrong opinions , or if they’re seen to be doing something like, I don’t know, forming a social movement based on telling women and girls that they are equals to men, and that they deserve to thrive in male dominated tech spaces, the punishment could be much much worse…and someone, anyone, at Vice should have had the awareness to take a step back and realize that maybe in this case it would be worth changing their standards just a little in order to work with a subject

who could literally end up in prison because of a poorly written article.”

So back to the Medium piece. Naomi writes that Vice made plans to do a profile on her and she made them sign an agreement before they came to her home, to ensure they didn't disclose the sensitive content that could harm her. She included a picture of the agreement in the Medium article.

In a stream of somewhat confusing proclamations, Naomi argued that Vice broke their agreement. Again, she didn't explain how they did this, because of the sensitive nature of the topic.

When she complained about what happened, she didn't merely criticize Vice, but went straight to the heart of it, calling out the American media altogether. She said the media was reckless in their little craven hunger for another saga. That there were still a few trustworthy American media companies in China, but mostly they are all losing trust.

To this, I was very surprised. Naomi seemed to understand the American media almost unreasonably well. We here in America are used to knowing how stories get made and how journalists work and how someone controls the public perception. But it is actually very difficult to learn this. I know because I am not a native to it.

So as I write here often, I come from the Hasidic community, this insular culture where all secular media is shunned. For a few years in my twenties, I lived in the Hasidic community and plotted my exit. During this period I and many like me often got asked - through underground connections - if we wanted to speak to the media. Journalists loved our racy tales of double lives. You want dangerous? Let me give you dangerous. It was dangerous, dangerous for us to be outed. If you live a double life among Hasidim, any little slipup by a journalist could blow your cover and result in loss of custody, family, everything - for nothing. There is *a lot* at stake. Yet none of us, not one of us that I know of (and I know many of us), who spoke to the media understood how to have any control over the journalistic product or even that we could. Yet Naomi knows that you can be conniving and manipulate a narrative, something I know now, but that took me almost eight years to learn. She knows media personalities are hunting for scoops. She knows you can bargain with them in advance. I mean, do you know how intimidating journalists are to those who have no experience with them? They yield the frickin’ most giant microphone! We underground Hasidim only knew to ask the journalist use fake names, and the rest was pure trust. Our stories always made us look flat and awful, but what to do? We knew nothing about how to change the outcome.

Even though I'm no expert in Chinese culture, I found Naomi’s cross cultural know-how shocking.

Here was someone age 23 or so who pulled herself out of humble beginnings, taught herself English, tech AND all American social media platforms and learned to level the inherent power imbalance with journalists, AND she is a trailblazer for women, AND she has secrets about her private life, which is a whole other mysterious layer. How does she do it all? Just consider the amount of time these things take. I think a woman can be brilliant and beautiful both any day, but this girl isn't just beautiful, she clearly puts in many, many hours into her appearance. Shopping. Body modification. Makeup. This hair treatment. That hair treatment. Nails. Waxings. Workouts. More workouts. Eating this supplement. Shopping for that supplement. Washing clothes, matching clothes, reading about fashion. Pulling on those insane boots she always wears. So so much time on makeup. Nevermind that she added to this fashion repertoire glowing underwear! LED lights on her legs! Good for her for the lights, but come nighttime I can't even get out of my bed to turn off the light, I'm so exhausted. Where does she make the time?

I'm a trusting person. I figured there must be a logical explanation. I mean, if this was a character in a novel I would leave a one star review on Goodreads and rant that the character was unbelievable and a male fantasy, but this was truth stranger than fiction. So down the rabbit hole I went.

I watched some of her Youtube tutorials and read a bunch of Reddit threads. Then I came across these rumors. "Naomi Wu is a fake".


So I read the post detailing the allegations. I read through all of it twice and checked out every working and defunct link. I really had to get my dog out to pee but it was all too strange and crazy and I couldn’t stop myself from reading on.

In a nutshell, the author alleged that there was a white man twenty years this woman’s senior who is behind the Naomi Wu front, pulling the puppet strings. “She is a mascot for an engineer who has probably been in the industry for more years than Wu has been alive.” The brains behind her brand is her husband or boyfriend, a man who has been active in the English language online Make community for years. He went under the screen name Timaz and even once posted a picture of himself and the Cyborg, around the same time disappeared from the web, deleted all his excellent contributions. Coincidentally, Sexy Cyborg launched her online influence career.

Let me tell you, it was a harsh indictment.

There were so many disparities between what Naomi does on her Youtube channel and her posts like this one, where she seems extremely versed in tech, English and American cultural references.

I mean, I literally sat through videos like this one, where she shows how to make a light to blink on to your breasts. I have nothing against the concept, I only cannot jive the written Naomi Wu with the slow paced, sweet personality I watched here, who is not very verbose or knowledgeable and certainly not the force of nature she is in writing.

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Let me be clear, because I already think I’ll get into trouble for this post. This is all rumor. It's still just rumor. But on every post speculating the identity of Sexy Cyborg, behold, the Cyborg herself shows up to make articulate and aggressive counter arguments. If you raise doubts about her on Twitter, you get blocked. She is always one step ahead of this conversation.

You want my opinion? Why would you. I'll give it anyway. I don't believe this profile of Naomi Wu reflects a real woman. And the questions raised about her identity should be answered. They are not sexist. Don’t exploit sexism here; if this was a man, we’d all be all over it. So I think this douchebag behind her is at once exploiting the works of feminism in tech and also shutting down any detractors by crying “sexism”.


Piece of my old mind.

But back to Vice and the Broken Agreement.

Let’s see. Another close look at the agreement.

Oh, now on second read I noticed that this was not a screenshot but a picture of text. Assuming this is the full story, here is the important bit


Off limits stuff - I don’t talk about my relationship status or my sexual orientation. China is China and it’s a complex issue that is sometimes dealt with in pragmatic ways …”

Now let’s look at the Vice piece. I read it so you don’t have to. It contains ZERO content to round out her character. It is all fluffy quotes from her. Some information about Shenzhen and women in China’s tech/maker sector.

But it does reference the controversy around her authenticity. This is how:

In the past few years, she’s been forced to fend off vile and unfounded conspiracy theories on Reddit and 4chan that suggest a white man has masterminded her career. I’ve seen Wu’s speech and technical skills dissected at length in online electronics forums. Some have accused Wu of faking English proficiency, despite her being open about the fact that she receives help and proofreading with her written communication”

Sarah Emerson, the journalist on the assignment she asked Naomi for a comment on the controversy before she published.

And Naomi flipped her lid; took to Twitter and created a firestorm. Asked to see the article in advance. Was told it was against Vice editorial policy and got angrier yet. Doxxed some journalists.

But wait. They didn’t even violate the agreement.

And wait. Let’s look back to this American Youtube personality who criticized Vice for recklessly risking Naomi’s imprisonment. Let’s, for the sake of indulging absurdity, imagine that a Chinese prison involved Chinese water torture and Soviet type work. Or let’s ask the sane question: do we believe that the above paragraph by Vice, referring to a controversy about authenticity, could have led to the arrest of a Chinese national, because — um, Naomi Wu has the audacity to ask for women to be treated equally? And also - Buzzfeed covered the controversy before Vice and yet Naomi Wu has not been whisked off in Led-lit shackles by the communists.


Here is what I think:

Vice probably saw in her intriguing and controversial persona the potential for a really juicy tale. And instead of doing what real journalists should do, get some staff on the ground and dig up the whole story, they stupidly made arrangements to go to her home and let her own the story. They should never have asked her anything or been at her mercy. Ugh; for making lazy, useless, puff content they deserve this.

But they didn’t break an agreement and they didn’t endanger her and don’t bullshit me because this is all hilariously insulting to our intelligence.

Occam’s razor suggest Naomi Wu wanted to control the story. She didn’t like that Vice made references to a controversy, used our ignorance about Chinese culture to pretend this was about gender issues, and then made a big brouhaha when she didn’t get her way. She tapped into our collective hate for Vice to collect our uncritical sympathies for Naomi the Victim of Sexism.

So you ask if I’m surprised that Vice broke their agreement?


I say rather than get our mob gear on and march to the Vice headquarters, let's all hold our horses until the full story comes out. *Then* we might be surprised.

Source :

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