WHAT THE GOOGLE GENDER ‘MANIFESTO’ REALLY SAYS ABOUT SILICON VALLEY

Cross-posted from: White Heat
Originally published: 11.08.17
File 20170809 32154 xnrsxk
Oh the terrible irony.
Photo by Mar Hicks

 

Five years ago, Silicon Valley was rocked by a wave of “brogrammer” bad behavior, when overfunded, highly entitled, mostly white and male startup founders did things that were juvenile, out of line and just plain stupid. Most of these activities – such as putting pornography into PowerPoint slides – revolved around the explicit or implied devaluation and harassment of women and the assumption that heterosexual men’s privilege could or should define the workplace. The recent “memo” scandal out of Google shows how far we have yet to go.

It may be that more established and successful companies don’t make job applicants deal with “bikini shots” and “gangbang interviews.” But even the tech giants foster an environment where heteronormativity and male privilege is so rampant that an engineer could feel comfortable writing and distributing a screedthat effectively harassed all of his women co-workers en masse.


Read more WHAT THE GOOGLE GENDER ‘MANIFESTO’ REALLY SAYS ABOUT SILICON VALLEY

The Wifework of Empathising with Absentee Fathers’ Struggles, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 17.06.17

Perhaps it’s inevitable that, the same week the Guardian decide to publish a moving, impressive tribute to two young men publicising the toxic and predictable effects of violent masculinity, they’d also ruin all that good work by printing this piece, to destroy my ever-fragile faith in the male of the species.

(Kidding. I love men, me, and I think it’s totally important to keep saying that.)

Julian Furman, the author of the piece that so irritates me, nobly explains his history. ‘I … pressured my wife to start a family,’ he blithely explains, as if ‘pressuring’ someone to risk their health for nine months is a perfectly normal marital dynamic and not something to feel deeply ashamed of doing. But Furman seems to imagine this admission will endear him to readers, coming (as it does) hot on the heels of an overwritten depiction of how he tried to punch his father who, it seems, committed the crime of being concerned about his son’s emotional health. After a lengthy whinge about how awful it is not to be the centre of attention when you have a newborn, and how terrible it must be to actually have to do some of the childcare instead of living separately from your family and calling it ‘sacrifice’, Furman ends with an impassioned plea: men need to be heard. Silence is deadly. To begin, all that is required is for us to talk.


Read more The Wifework of Empathising with Absentee Fathers’ Struggles, by @LucyAllenFWR

The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 06.04.17

I have been thinking lately about the power of language; in particular how it can be used to silence. I’ve been a feminist all my life, my mother was a second wave activist, and I care hugely for the future of our movement.

Over centuries feminists have been labelled man-haters, family destroyers, ugly; yet still we’ve continued to raise our voices. Recently however, we’ve seen those wishing to shut us up change tack.

Last week I posted an article online about a transwoman accused of violently raping two women. I expressed concern as to the risk to female prisoners should that individual serve their sentence in a women’s prison. And I was called a bigot and compared to a white supremacist by a friend I had known twenty years.

 


Read more The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

Situating agency, by Dr Fiona Vera-Gray for @strifejournal

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife
Originally published: 20.05.16

Feminist debates on violence against women have often become polarized by conflicting ideas about women’s agency. But in her research on street harassment, Fiona Vera-Gray found that Simone de Beauvoir’s concept of ‘situation’ offered a way to move our thinking forward.

There is a growing need to revisit our conceptual frameworks for understanding men’s violence against women and girls. Recent high-profile cases have raised public awareness of the extent of sexual violence; by using digital media, feminist activists have highlighted the everyday nature of men’s intrusive behaviour. The diverse voices that give feminism as a political movement its complexity and reflexivity have undoubtedly been amplified. But the internet has also changed the way we create, take in and distribute information; often we end up speaking over rather than to one another.
Read more Situating agency, by Dr Fiona Vera-Gray for @strifejournal

MichFest: One Year Ago, by @smashesthep

Cross-posted from: Smash the P: Women's Liberationist
Originally published: 02.08.16

One year ago, I arrived at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for the first time after hearing about it for years. It was an amazing experience and it changed me forever.

At the time, I wrote about my experiences, but since they were so personal I shared them in bite sized pieces on tumblr, feeling that I wasn’t ready for them to be exposed to a wider audience and all together.

On this important anniversary, and the first year without a MichFest, I have decided to share them here. Many women are grieving this loss for what it is. But there is hope. Womyn are creative, innovative, and powerful. Amazons get shit done. This is not the last time we will gather.

Here are my words from last year, interspersed with some photos for you all.

Arriving at MichFest: Challenges and Gratitude

outside michfest

 


Read more MichFest: One Year Ago, by @smashesthep

The Thing about Toilets, at Not the News in Brief

Cross-posted from: Not the News in Brief
Originally published: 11.04.17

The thing about toilets is that it’s not just about toilets. It’s about ALL the public spaces which could present a risk to women and/or children because of factors such as confined space, being locked in, restricted escape routes and being either explicitly or potentially in a state of partial/complete undress. These spaces include public toilets (no, not your private one at home, stupid), changing rooms in shops, gymns, leisure centres etc, prisons, rape crisis centres, dormitories, shelters and more.

The reason these spaces are SEX-segregated is that men can be violent and sexually predatory towards women and children (no, not all men, and yes, women can be violent too). The stats are stark, and divide the sexes up quite neatly according to likelihood of violence and abuse. 98% of sex offenders are men. Most of the victims are women and children. It is not just the most serious sex crimes which inform this public policy of sex-segregation however: there is a whole raft of other, lesser, crimes committed where men have access to women in intimate spaces. These include indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual harassment. Added to that there are the almost exclusively male types of antisocial behaviour, such as indulging the fetish of listening to women urinate, public masturbation and peeing on the seat.
Read more The Thing about Toilets, at Not the News in Brief

How do they know who to kill?

Cross-posted from: Not a Zero Sum Game
Originally published: 17.02.17

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 09.20.22A video is doing the rounds, in which a white person with a lifetime of male socialisation behind them – in other words, someone at the apex of human privilege –  gives great fanfare to the banal observation that science is an activity rather than a phenomenon and that classification is the imposition of more-or-less imperfect linguistic concepts on a more-or-less well understood underlying physical reality. On the basis of this stoned undergrad level of profundity, this person now exhorts us to lay aside our childish attachment to the classifications “male” and “female” and admit that, given that sex is a “social construct”, then it’s just frankly not real, and our attachment to those categories is an old fashioned piece of bigotry that oppresses the minority who wish it to be known that their sex tracks their gender.


Read more How do they know who to kill?

Love, sex and no regrets for teens: a review by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 04.06.17

Sex is too intimate to compromise.

 ‘I’d already decided that teen sex was no fun, especially for girls. Too many of my friends told me about the sex they’d had and it sounded horrible. It sounded fast – insanely fast- and unpleasant. And unsatisfying. To make things worse, it seemed that as soon as it went from making out for about a minute to having sex, the boys turned into emotional zombies who got as far away from the girls as possible’.

selfieThis quote, from a new book Love, Sex and No Regrets for Today’s Teens, describes the experiences of girls I meet everywhere. Fast, expressionless, meaningless, non-intimate, care-less sex which makes them feel like a masturbatory aid. Boys who know how to give a girl a pounding but not how to make love. Girls desiring authentic intimate connection but finding de-personalisation and emotional disconnection instead.
Read more Love, sex and no regrets for teens: a review by @meltankardreist

What we’re reading: on brain sex, education, and American innocence

There’s no such thing as a ‘male brain’ or ‘female brain,’ and scientists have the scans to prove it, by Karen Kaplan

Do you have a male brain or a female brain? The answer, according to science, is no.

If you didn’t expect this to be a yes-or-no question, you’re not alone. Male brains do seem to be built differently than female brains. An analysis of more than 100 studies found that the volume of a man’s brain is 8% to 13% greater than the volume of a woman’s brain, on average. Some of the most noticeable differences were in areas of the brain that control language, memory, emotion and behavior, according to a 2014 report in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

To find out whether these structural differences translated into cognitive differences, scientists examined detailed brain scans of more than 1,400 men and women. No matter which group of people they looked at, what type of scan was used or which part of the brain was examined, the researchers consistently failed to find patterns that set men and women apart.

“Although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females,” the team wrote in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Each brain is a unique mosaic of features, some of which may be more common in females compared with males, others may be more common in males compared with females, and still others may be common in both females and males.” …

‘After sitting 28 GCSE papers in four weeks, I was left thinking, “What was the point of all that?”, by Natalie Brundle

After taking 28 exams in a four-week period, after 12 years of formal education and three years of GCSE preparation, I was left wondering: what was the point of all that?

This year’s English and maths exams are being formatted to the new grading system of levels 9-1 instead of the usual and familiar A-U. This means that our year will have two different sets of grades for their GCSEs.

Never mind the fact that no one knew what exactly the grading system was like until the beginning of Year 11, or had had sight of any specimen papers, or had been told much at all about the new GCSEs, or that because of this we had a year less to get used to how the exam format might work: most of us managed to handle that.

But that wasn’t the end of it. This year we found ourselves with the dubious pleasure of memorising a host of formula sheets for maths and science. …

Unlearning the myth of American innocence, by Suzy Hansen

My mother recently found piles of my notebooks from when I was a small child that were filled with plans for my future. I was very ambitious. I wrote out what I would do at every age: when I would get married and when I would have kids and when I would open a dance studio.

When I left my small hometown for college, this sort of planning stopped. The experience of going to a radically new place, as college was to me, upended my sense of the world and its possibilities. The same thing happened when I moved to New York after college, and a few years later when I moved to Istanbul. All change is dramatic for provincial people. But the last move was the hardest. In Turkey, the upheaval was far more unsettling: after a while, I began to feel that the entire foundation of my consciousness was a lie.

For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for one’s own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.

Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we don’t become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still don’t know myself. …

Academia and Class Politics, by @RevoltingWoman

Cross-posted from: Opinionated Planet
Originally published: 07.08.17

I’ve not felt this working class in a long time. For working class, read inferior/not up to standard/not our sort – delete as applicable.
Applying for a funded PhD is a fairly painful process at the best of times. Even applying for one that you self-fund is a trial. But without your own secret stash of cash, it can be a valuable lesson in class politics.

Class politics. You know, the social class system that doesn’t exist anymore because the Tories got rid of it and made us all equal? Or maybe it was New Labour. I forget now. I was probably cleaning toilets or doing some woman’s ironing for a shilling or something working class like that at the time. Busy making myself equal.

Anyway, why should applying for a PhD have anything to do with class politics I hear you ask.

Mek a brew, duck, an ah’ll tell ya..
Read more Academia and Class Politics, by @RevoltingWoman

Sinead O’Connor

Cross-posted from: Cheryl SELLOFF
Image from Guardian
Image from Guardian

Sinead O’Connor is reacting appropriately as she faces what happens to gifted, accomplished, generous, tireless, beautiful, courageous, honest, brilliant women as we age. She is demonstrating wild, unfiltered, righteous, completed understandable fury. Having supported everyone all of her life financially — partners, husbands, children, manager — never asking for a penny from any of them (she is currently being sued, in fact, for $450,000 by the manager who discovered her when she was an abused, traumatized kid, fresh out of one of the horrific Magdalene homes), she is now effectively abandoned by all of them, treated as an embarrassment. That alone would do anyone in; in the words of the Ani DiFranco song, “How could you take everything/and then come back for the rest?” She laid bare the entirety of her heart and soul by way of her magnificent music, offering it up to the entire world, holding nothing back, bearing up under endless criticism for her willingness to speak and rage honestly, with a beauty that forced people to listen and hear. The same artistic and intellectual giftedness which created an empire and legacy, or should have, now becomes the weapon turned against her. There is nothing mentally, emotionally or spiritually wrong with Sinead O’Connor that a world that valued the lives of women would not relieve and heal. She did make a terrible mistake in believing the world would forgive her for living authentically once she got old. It does not. The best a woman like Sinead can hope for is a forgiving eulogy once she’s passed. She is a woman betrayed and scorned and brave enough to demonstrate the way hell has no fury like this fury. I wish she recognized all of this with healing clarity, but that’s not the way she’s ever moved or confronted horror in her life. Sinead responds gut and viscera first and devil take the hindmost. As has been true all of her life, she continues to walk in her own magnificent integrity. I am in awe of her courage.

 

Cheryl SELLOFF is a 65 year old radical feminist writer and old school activist who farms 6.5 acres of women’s land in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Curvy, creepy and cringy – how not to do body positivity, by @decadentmadamez

Cross-posted from: Dirty, Sexy, Words
Originally published: 06.08.17

smug, curvy, loveEww!. I mean, really, FFS, eww! Everything about the ‘love letter‘ that’s recently gone viral makes my stomach turn. And no, that’s not because it’s wrong to adore your partner and want to tell everyone that you do: that can be quite cute (if sometimes an overshare).

First of all, it’s because this smug git clearly thinks he deserves a medal for being ‘feminist’ enough to find non-skinny women attractive. His wife is an attractive woman who works as a ‘plus size’ model – which actually means that she is an average size by most people’s standards, and that her attractiveness has already been confirmed by the model agency that hired her: she’s not some self-hating you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful wallflower – but he writes as though she’s immensely overweight only, brave, selfless manfeminist that he is,  he loves her anyway.

Then, there’s the usual ‘real women are not thin’ nonsense included, just to remind everyone that women’s body shapes and sizes are all subject to some arbitrary standards imposed by men, whether the woman in question likes it or not.

body, curvy, loverThis isn’t to say it’s a bad thing to be drawn to, or express your appreciation of, aspects of a lover’s body which are not the ones usually cited as most appealing. An honest and affectionate compliment on your cute toes, the dimples in your knees, your one crooked tooth or your hairy back can be delightful. But if you follow that compliment up with a whole load of self-praise about how perceptive, special and super-sensitive you are to have noticed this ‘fault’ in your beloved and yet find it adorable, your partner is likely to feel self-conscious rather than flattered.

It’s something to be aware of when writing erotica, as well: there are enough lame, derivative stories about the heroine who ‘thinks’ she’s ugly while describing herself in a way that makes it clear she’s nothing of the sort, therefore setting the scene for the hero to come along and convince her of her wonderfulness. This stuff is even more irritating when it comes with subtle-as-a-flying-brick misogynistic moralising about the heroine’s ‘natural’ beauty as opposed to her rivals’ slutty use of makeup, hair dye or expensive clothes. Sure, make a character curvy rather than the thinnest woman in the world who can still eat whatever she wants, but don’t make body shape or size an indication of personality, and please, no more stories where the main character’s non-mainstream body type is the whole fucking plot. Don’t be that guy…

 

Dose of Decadence : Promotion for my assorted works and views on sex, sex industry, feminism, atheism, flogging weird stuff and anything else I happen to fancy having a rant about. Twitter @decadentmadamez

‘Men, shut up for your rights!’, by @wordspinster

Cross-posted from: Language: A Guide
Originally published: 25.06.17

If you haven’t spent the last decade living on another planet, I’m sure you will recognise the following sequence of events:

  1. A powerful man says something egregiously sexist, either in a public forum or in a private conversation which is subsequently leaked.
  2. There is an outpouring of indignation on social media.
  3. The mainstream media take up the story and the criticism gets amplified.
  4. The powerful man announces that he is stepping down.
  5. His critics claim this as a victory and the media move on—until another powerful man says another egregiously sexist thing, at which point the cycle begins again.

The most recent high-profile target for this ritual shaming was David Bonderman, a billionaire venture capitalist and member of Uber’s board of directors. It’s no secret that Uber has a serious sexism problem. Following a number of discrimination and harassment claims from former employees, the company commissioned what turned out to be a damning report on its corporate culture. At a meeting called to discuss the report, Arianna Huffington (who at the time was Uber’s only female director) cited research which suggested that putting one woman on a board increased the likelihood that more women would join. At which point Bonderman interjected: ‘actually what it shows is that it’s likely to be more talking’.
Read more ‘Men, shut up for your rights!’, by @wordspinster

NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

Cross-posted from: We mixed our drinks
Originally published: 07.06.16
I was chatting to a friend on Twitter the other day about my post on the script we use when we do vulnerability online and we ended up talking about writing in general. I mentioned that these days, I worry that anything I publish will just be awful navelgazing. I joked then that actually, when I look at my navel it reminds me that there’s a story there. Even gazing at my own navel is a storytelling opportunity. See, I am a storyteller after all.
When I look at my navel, there’s a funny little line inside it and only I can really tell that it’s a little misshapen compared to how it used to be. It’s the only visible evidence of a laparoscopy I had done at the beginning of 2013; one of the three incisions the doctors made right before they removed one of my ovaries, the associated Fallopian tube and something else – something hidden.


Read more NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

healing, hope and Jesus. by @helen_a15

Cross-posted from: Helen Blogs
Originally published: 27.11.16

Its been a while since I last wrote something …

In fact over a year, and part of me has wondered over the last few months whether or not I have lost the ability to write. Or whether I’ve just lost confidence.

You can let me know after you’ve read this maybe?

I’ve been working on some thoughts for quite some time now and have never actually managed to feel like I had sorted them enough to publish for people to read – thats if I still have any readers! Anyone still out there?

And then I realised over the last few days especially, that perhaps I am never going to have them ‘sorted’.

I’ve also struggled with pressuring myself about the fact that I felt this stuff should be/needed to be ‘deep’, and theological and and and … but maybe they don’t need to be, and maybe they are just simple ideas and maybe some simple truths that don’t need over complicating right now, if ever?


Read more healing, hope and Jesus. by @helen_a15

Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps

Cross-posted from: genders, bodies, politics
Originally published: 15.03.17

Content note: this post contains reference to sexual harassment and violence.

Universities in the US, and increasingly in the UK, are finding themselves under siege. The far right is targeting academics and their social justice work, bolstered by a mainstream suspicion of ‘experts’ and ‘elites’, and a general rightward shift in politics and public opinion. With a white supremacist, alleged serial sexual harasser and abuser in the White House, a hardline English government, and a ‘new normal’ that involves overt and unrepentant sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination, we’re in for a tough few years. I have previously written about the feminist classroomas a ‘safe space’, and the need to protect our most vulnerable students. I have also thought a lot about how the neoliberal university suppresses the very capacities required to do this. I have theorised an ‘institutional economy’ of sexual violence, exploring how institutional responses (or non-responses) to violence and abuse are shaped by neoliberal rationalities. In this post, I will attempt to sketch how the market framings of sexual violence in the university interact with our contemporary political field and growing hostility to progressive work.
Read more Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps

Painted Little Princesses – A post about the sexualisation of young girls, by @jaynemanfredi

Cross-posted from: Jayne Manfredi
Originally published: 03.05.17

“A woman without paint is like food without salt.”

This quote, written by comedy playwright Titus Plautus sometime between 254-184 B.C, at first glance appears to be an archaic quip, unlikely to be at all relevant in our modern world. Written by a playwright whose work was overwhelmingly concerned with men sowing their wild oats, perhaps a bit of sexist, Roman “bantz” is to be expected, despite the fact that Shakespeare is said to have been heavily influenced by his work.  His point isn’t terribly subtle; that a bare-faced woman without makeup was somehow incomplete, perhaps a bit bland and unappetising. There’s also the crude comparison being made between women and food; women were a pleasure in life, existing only for the consumption and delectation of men, and therefore they had to be as palatable as possible. Still; good job we’re past all that nonsense nowadays, right?
Read more Painted Little Princesses – A post about the sexualisation of young girls, by @jaynemanfredi

When the hijab is forced, at Reimagining my Reality

Cross-posted from: Reimagining My Reality
Originally published: 22.12.15

Disclaimers:

1. this is my story
2. this is not the story of all Muslims
3. this is not the story of all hijabis
4. there can be more than one story

Once upon a time (about 14 years ago), in a land far away (South East England), I wore the hijab. It’s surreal looking back. I’ve spent a long time actively detaching myself from that part of my identity, so I feel almost fraudulent claiming it as my own. Even now, after 14 years of fixing myself up and reclaiming all the bits of me, I struggle to talk face to face with people about the hijab. My experience was bad, and the word and the memories still stick in my throat. This post is about how more than 5 years of forced veiling affected me.
Read more When the hijab is forced, at Reimagining my Reality

Drawn To The Propeller: The Allure of the Abusive Man on #BachelorInParadise, by @GoddessKerriLyn

Cross-posted from: FOCUS: Feminist Observations Connecting Unified Spirits
Originally published: 05.09.16

Josh and Andi 1When a rageaholic is the nation’s Prince Charming, young girls learn abuse is part of the fairy tale. Josh Murray, an emotional abuser, won 2014’s The Bachelorette when Andi Dorfman accepted his proposal. But several months later they ended their engagement. She’s since written a bookAndis Book called It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After. In it, she details Josh’s verbal abuse, calling it “the most volatile and fucked up relationship of my life.” At one point she was concerned enough for her safety to tell her friend Nikki Ferrell that if she turned up dead, Josh did it. Andi says she was “trapped in a relationship that made her feel utterly worthless and dismally defeated.” Sounds like a dream come true, right?


Read more Drawn To The Propeller: The Allure of the Abusive Man on #BachelorInParadise, by @GoddessKerriLyn

Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women

Cross-posted from: Mrs GLW
Originally published: 12.12.16

In the last week, I got my first introduction to Jon Jorgenson after stumbling across his video “Who You Are: A Message to all Women” after it found its way into my Twitter feed.  The video is well on its way to having 6 million views.  Jorgenson is a Christian spoken word poet and although this video’s title is aimed at women, the video is set in a lecture hall and seems to be seeking an audience of younger women and girls.

A white man telling girls who they are didn’t seem like a particularly liberatory model.  So I decided to have a watch.  With emotive music and short dramatic sentences, the video is designed to create a specific emotional response.  He tells girls they’re smart and precious and funny and insists we have a responsibility to set free the “world changing woman” within ourselves.  Incidentally the video is entirely produced by men.  So he doesn’t think women are actually smart enough to be involved in creating his videos with him.

After moaning about the video on Twitter, I was informed that he has also created one for men.  So I had a watch of “Who You Are: A Message to all Men”, it has close to 2 million views.  The thing that is MOST fascinating is comparing the words of the videos (and though I don’t have time to delve into them, also the tone and body language within them and soundtrack lyrics behind them).  The subtly (or not so subtly) different language devices within stories that are broadly the same.  The overarching narrative of both videos are:


Read more Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women