Sunday feminist roundup (20th July 2014)

All else on another busy week with work and play.

  • See How This Feminist Artist Brings Women’s Struggles to Life (feminspire): “When I started really getting into my painting and wasn’t doing just simple still lifes, I had no idea that I was a feminist painter or that I was going to become one, even though feminist paintings are exactly what I was creating from the beginning. I had no idea that that’s what was going on, it just kind of happened,” she says, “I mean, like, what percentage of people in the world are women? There are so many of us going through similar situations. Though I want to send a message to everybody, not just women, that these things affect us, and a lot of people don’t fully realize just how difficult certain aspects of being a woman are.
  • 6 Reasons Why We Should Stop Telling Each Other it’s “OK” to Be Single (feminspire): Why aren’t there reasons for why it’s “OK” to be in a relationship as well? The implication is that being in a relationship is some kind of ideal for women, or default. And that’s simply not the case.
  • Many women scientists sexually harassed during fieldwork (nature): Working in the field sounds like a scientist’s dream, but for some, it can turn into a nightmare. The largest survey yet to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment among scientists doing field work suggests that it is an overlooked problem— and that female trainees may be disproportionately vulnerable.
  • | 6 Female Creations Attributed to Dudes by @elizabethethird (aroomofourown): Back in the day when it was pretty much unheard of for women to be recognized as producers of creative or intellectual worth (specifically the 1800s…ish) Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Magie invented a board game called The Landlord’s Game (Monopoly).
  • 6 Tips for Working in Solidarity with Muslim Women (everydayfeminism): For many, due to media portrayals, a Muslim feminist may seem like a contradiction. Media portrayals of Muslim women regularly oppress, fetishize, and politicize our bodies, and it is important to know that these portrayals of the oppressed Muslim women are often in stark contrast to our lived realities.
  • ‘All the worlds a prison’ – 19th century career girls (fwsablog): If Victorian working women are represented at all in today’s culture, it is usually an image of poor women working in factories or mills, struggling to make ends meet. (For example, the recent Channel 4 historical drama The Mill.) As Author Wanda Neff says ‘The mill women have come to stand, in popular opinion, for the Victorian working woman.’ [i] The experiences of upper and middle class women who worked to give themselves financial independence or women who dedicated their lives to philanthropy outside the home, have not been as widely portrayed.
  • Tackling the gender gap is simple: pay women more money. End of story. (theguardian): Here it is: we simply pay women more money. Whether we do this by reducing women’s tax burden, providing them with an income supplement, or allowing women to personally shake down their male colleagues until an appropriate amount of change falls from their pockets, I don’t mind. But it’s clear that sitting around furrowing our brows isn’t working, so it’s time to make some changes.
  • States Prescribe Bad Medicine for Women Seeking Abortions (msmagazine):Days before senators testified on behalf of a bill to protect women’s health services, the National Partnership for Women and Families released a report detailing just how threatened these services are. Aptly titled “Bad Medicine,” the report focuses on a specific threat to women’s healthcare: laws restricting doctors’ professional discretion and mandating how abortions are performed. Such laws require doctors to choose between adhering to a one-size-fits-all law or doing what they know is best for the individual patient.
  • Immigration is a feminist issue (msmagazine): [...] immigration laws are inherently sexist. The way the family visa system is set up, and the fact that men are still likely to earn more and have the “lead career” in a relationship, makes many women immigrants completely dependent on their husbands. This can trap women in poverty and abusive relationships. And of course if you happen to have brown skin, the system only gets more horrifically oppressive.
  • More women in cabinet means better policy but greater conflict, research shows (theconversation): Having more women in cabinet is likely to lead to issues which are important to women being further up the political agenda. Yet commentators have pointed out that many of the females appointed to the cabinet have values and interests which might be considered as antithetical to the interests of women. So perhaps in this instance, the impact will be lessened. However, the government’s opponents might take comfort in another piece of research. A systematic review of the literature shows that Conservative women tend to have more left-leaning economic policies than their male counterparts. The big question now is how this more diverse cabinet will perform, not so much in terms of ideology but as a group able to take the best decisions. We know Conservative cabinets have traditionally been dominated by old white males; what now? Evidence from studies of diverse groups suggest a more diverse cabinet is likely to have more conflict, take longer to come to a decision, but come up with better solutions. Also we should expect members of the cabinet to be less satisfied with the group process.
  • ‘I Don’t Need Feminism Because’: The Women Who Fight Equality (tokenfeminist): I have seen this happen too many times. It is a case of women refusing to acknowledge the significance of other women’s experiences, simply because they have not had similar ones. It is a blatant denial of facts and it takes away from those women any power that they had to begin with. Now, obviously I am not saying that all women need to constantly back each other up and never argue or disagree. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about individual issues, but no one is entitled to belittle the personal experiences of others or to suggest that the violence inflicted on women the world over does not matter simply because they themselves are doing fine.

Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don’t Want to Make You Our Man Slaves

Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don't Want to Make You Our Man Slaves
On feminspire:

Not once did I say feminism isn’t for everybody. In fact, I expressly said that patriarchy hurts all of us. What Mr. James and others seem to not understand is that the aim of feminism is to secure political social equality for all genders. Last time I checked, it was men who had almost complete social and political freedom. I remember very clearly that men just made the decision to regulate women’s healthcare decisions when it comes to birth control and safe access to abortion services. Don’t forget the fact that men make more money than women in almost every industry, that men still dominate politics, and when a woman runs for office, more attention is given to her wardrobe than her policies. Oh, also remember that women are repeatedly called sluts and shamed across the media when they are assaulted or raped. Feminism is for everybody, as long as this “everybody”is working towards equal rights.

Rest: Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don’t Want to Make You Our Man Slaves.

Sunday feminist roundup (13th July 2014)

All else this week.

Why We Still Can’t Erase the Gender Pay Gap

On the gender pay gap and the difficultly in closing it.

It would be fair to assume that we’re making steady, if slow, progress in equalizing pay between men and women as women become better educated and make inroads into the workforce. The gap did in fact narrow at a quick clip between the 1960s and 1990s and then kept shrinkingby 9.7 percentage points in the 1990s and by 3.1 points in the 2000s. But over the last decade, progress has slowed to a crawl: We’ve reduced the gap by just 1.7 percentage points. Today, women who work full-time, year-round make 77 percent of what men do.

So how can we earn back that momentum and erase that stubborn difference? A simple solution may still be unfeasible, at least politically: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced ahandfuloftimes, starting in 2009, but has always been blocked by Republicans. It would, most importantly, prohibit employers from telling their workers they can’t discuss pay with peers, tighten the rules for what counts as a legitimate reason for gender pay disparities, and increase the penalties for unfair pay.

Incidentally, I didn’t even know about “salary secrecy”. First step: get rid of that. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Really?

Considering such political impossibilities, it may be time to break it into bits and find other piecemeal solutions. One part of that lies with the courts, but before women can begin suing, they have to know what their co-workers make. The very first step would be to ban salary secrecythe practice that employers have of prohibiting or strongly discouraging their workers from talking about compensation with each other. About half of employees toil under such regimes. President Obama recently issued an executive order that gets rid of salary secrecy for companies that contract with the government, impacting about 22 percent of the workforce. It’s progress, but it still leaves the vast majority of workers unprotected; the Paycheck Fairness Act would extend it to all Americans.

But here’s the crux. The onus remains on women to challenge their own lower wages, with all that that entails.

While these solutions would likely help reduce the wage gap, they all still put the onus on the women who need the help. That’s a big ask. Many women may be afraid to risk their jobs, careers, and resources to make a discrimination complaint (particularly considering that such a low percentage win their suits). A totally different solution that was in vogue in the ’70s and ’80s is “pay equity”: the idea that women doing comparable yet different work to menbut not the exact same jobshould be paid the same. (Think a maid, who tends to be female, being paid the same as a janitor, who tends to be male.) There’s a real difference in pay between traditionally female jobs and traditionally male jobs. At the low-wage end, jobs that are 75 percent or more female pay nearly $150 less each week than those that are 75 percent men. At the high end, women’s work pays about $470 less.

Rest: New Republic.

From Gin Lane to Magaluf, the press has always shamed women for profit

Here’s an an excellent piece from Laurie Penny on the media shaming of “Magaluf Girl” and the intersection between class and misogyny in that shaming.

Sex sells, but sexism sells even better. Last week the Sun saw no contradiction in slut-shaming an unknown teenager on its front page for “performing sex acts” on more than 20 men in Magaluf, while featuring softcore pornography on page 3. According to witnesses, the teenage girl was promised an exotic holiday which later turned out to be the name of a cocktail. This is exploitation in anyone’s book, and yet the only story being told in the press is the story of a young girl’s shame.

This analysis is particularly accurate:

If there’s one thing the tabloid press hates more than women, it’s welfare recipients, but it saves up special stocks of loathing for people who are both. “White Dee” from the Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street has featured in much of the “Magaluf girl” coverage, for no other reason than the fact she once visited Magaluf. Readers were reminded of the precise amount White Dee claims in benefits, next to pictures of the single mother having fun on holiday, which is obviously not allowed. Poor people, and particularly poor women, are expected to be abject at all times.

The logic of misogyny is routinely used to undermine the social basis of welfare provision. The only way to ensure favourable coverage as a female in the public eye is to be young, white, rich and married to a member of the royal family. The antics of aristocrats and wealthy models, from Kate Middleton to Cara Delevingne, are covered by the same papers that profit from the sexual humiliation of working-class women – revering “good women” while demonising “bad women” and inviting readers to place themselves, their partners, relatives and friends, on that tired old scale.

Rest: theguardian.com.

Sunday feminist roundup (6th July 2014)

All else on my radar this week.

- Income is a Poor Measure of American Inequality (thesocietypages)

- Newsflash: Facebook has Always Manipulated Your Emotions (thesocietypages)

- Yarl’s Wood women win chance to have their voices heard (downsizingcriminaljustice)

- The horror of Tuam’s missing babies is not diminished by misreported details (theguardian)

- Rape and reputation (thefword)

- The “Magaluf Girl”: Consent, Alcohol and Coercion (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- ‘Lads Mags’ Now Less Sexist Than Newspapers (tokenfeminist)

- Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me: The Scourge of Mansplaining (newrepublic)

- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)

- “Papa Don’t Preach”: TED-like Talks at Malmo Nordic Women’s Forum May 2014 (feminismandreligion)

- Men’s Rights Activists are at It Again, This Time at an International Conference on Men’s Issues (bust)

- Why “like a girl” shouldn’t be an insult (feministing)

- Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me: The Scourge of Mansplaining (newrepublic)

- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)

Penned In: Letters Reveal the Lives of Transgender Women in Prison

Last August, the Army private now known as Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison. A day after the trial, Manning announced plans to undergo hormone therapy and begin public life as a woman. Her coming-out shone a light on a population that media rarely discusses: transgender women in prison.

I have a fat, accordion-style file folder—each section stuffed with mangled envelopes from across the country—full of heavy-hearted, handwritten letters from women I’ve never met. Shaylanna, Venus, Prada, and Eva: every letter flaunts the industrial, pre-stamped return address of a state prison, and every signature is a transgender woman living in a male facility.

With the help online networks that connect people to pen pals in prison, I wrote to all four women last fall, shortly after Chelsea Manning was convicted of leaking troves of classified documents to WikiLeaks and, a day later, came out as transgender. Ostracized by fellow prisoners and tarred by a system that refuses to acknowledge basic human rights, their letters spin a compelling—and woefully unsurprising—narrative.

All four women gave me permission to tell their stories. The names listed here reflect their chosen names; some self-applied during their incarceration, others chosen decades before.

Let’s start with Venus. Incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, the maximum-security facility notorious for housing true-crime superstars Richard Ramirez, Charles Manson, and Scott Peterson, she writes of a lonely, dejected routine where she endeavors, above all, to just stay out of everyone else’s way. “I eat by myself most of the time,” she told me in one letter. “I don’t like being hated by many inmates and cops, but at least I’m not hiding behind my eyes like most people seem to do.” Incarcerated since 1981, Venus is celibate and “very burnt out on mean men,” as she writes. She craves the creature comforts of the outside world—“real makeup, real nylons, real high heels, real dresses, real panties”—and longs for a loving, meaningful relationship.

On Bitch Media.

Sunday feminist roundup (29th June 2014)

I say this every week but that’s because it’s true. Another packed week at work so there’s been very little keeping up. Here’s a catch up.

- Call Robin Thicke’s #GetHerBack Campaign What It Is: Stalking (msmagazine)

- Johns are now an oppressed sexual minority (feministcurrent)

- Lana Del Rey’s “Ultra-Violence”: An Indictment of Post-Feminism (newrepublic)

- In Solidarity with Egyptian Feminists – The Feminist Wire (thefeministwire)

- It’s divisive to talk about rebranding the F word (feministtimes)

- Meet the Chinese women standing up to inequality (theguardian)

- Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- India’s Sexual Assult Epidemic- Indian PM says: “Rape… Sometimes it’s Right” (aroomofourown)

- Decapitated naked women golf tees (feministphilosophers)

- A lack of respect for women (feministphilosophers)

- 46 Plays By Women You SHOULD Be Seeing (msmagazine)

- 45 Years After Stonewall, the LGBT Movement Has a Transphobia Problem (prospect)

Sunday feminist roundup (22nd June 2014)

All else this week:

Sunday feminist roundup (15th June 2014)

And here’s what else I’ve been reading this week.

Also, the Nation has a new blog – The Curve – where feminists discuss economics (or economics are discussed through a feminist lens). It’s worth a look, though there is yet only one post (I think).

The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear

But what makes street harassment difficult to tackle in everyday life is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut way to deal with it. Other countries have tried to implement female-only train cars to curb harassment, Italy opened a women-only beach to stop the leering and catcalling and now hotels are even offering floors dedicated only to female travellers.

The message here is that women should change their behavior, not men. And what happens if women-only spaces become the norm and someone is harassed outside of one – will we blamed for not taking our designated train car? We deserve safety in public spaces, not just in segregated “safe zones”.

Jessica Valenti on The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear, theguardian.com.

Two thirds of women in the US have been street harassed

(c) stopstreetharassment.org
I’m surprised, really, that it’s as low as 65%. That could be indication of how normalised and “acceptable” street harassment has become.

From feministing:

A new study commissioned by Stop Street Harassment reveals just how common street harassment is in the US. No surprise there.

Sixty-five percent of women say they’ve experienced street harassment at some point in their lives. More than half experienced verbal harassment and 41 percent experienced physical aggression. Twenty-three percent have been sexually touched, 20 percent have been followed, 14 percent had been flashed, and 9 percent have been forced to do something sexual. A quarter of men have also been harassed. LGBT men are more likely to be harassed than other men–most commonly with homophobic or transphobic slurs. The vast majority of harassers of both genders are men. And Black and Latin@s are more likely to be harassed than whites.

Rest: Two thirds of women in the US have been street harassed.

Sunday feminist roundup (25th May 2014)

A slow week on the #quickhits (been busy at work) but here’s what else I’ve been reading.

Here’s what I want from progressives some fucking solidarity

I’ve watched my abusive ex continue to thrive in his community — join all the boards, the parent-teacher groups, spearhead community initiatives. What a guy! And hey, he didn’t abuse you, so WHO’S TO SAY. And who cares when there’s progressive work to be done! Real progressive work. Work that matters. Not just the girl shit. They’re all crazy anyway — the girls.

So keep starting your startups and having your protests and your meetings and keep writing your articles and having your very important discussions about climate change and poverty and union politics and Donald Sterling is such a racist, isn’t he. We’ll all support you, I guess, because we have no other choice. Because where do we go? Where is our community? Where is our Next Top Progressive Website? Where’s our Jacobin? When we launch it will we get profiled in The New York Times?

Oh. No. We don’t get one. We aren’t serious enough. It’s just women’s issues after all. Not Serious Politics. Oh. Because you still want your buddies and your porn and your class of women to fuck and ogle and to listen to your fucking baby-child emotions and to comfort you and support you and be there for you while you work through your fucking damage even though we had to work through ours all on our own. When is it our turn? When will you listen to us?

We’ll keep telling you our stories. Because we keep thinking you’ll care. We keep hoping that this time you’ll believe us. That this time you’ll get it.

- Meghan Murphy on Here’s what I want from progressives (some fucking solidarity)Feminist Current.

Gender language differences: women interrupted more (research)

Interesting methodology and findings. Emphasis added.

[...]

Recent research, though, suggests that the most important variable is not the sex of the person doing the talking, but that of the person being spoken to. According to a paper published Sunday in the online edition of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, both men and women are more likely to interrupt and to use dependent clauses when speaking with a woman than with a man. Adrienne Hancock, a researcher at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at George Washington University, and Benjamin Rubin, a Master’s student, recruited 20 male and 20 female volunteers and instructed them to engage in two short conversations, one with a man and one with a woman.

[...]

In contrast with previous research, Hancock and Rubin didn’t find any significant differences in the way men and women spokebut they did find that having male or female conversation partners elicited different results. “When speaking with a female, participants interrupted more and used more dependent clauses than when speaking with a male,” they wrote. Over the course of each three-minute conversation, women, on average, interrupted men just once, but interrupted other women 2.8 times. Men interrupted their male conversation partner twice, on average, and interrupted the woman 2.6 times.

From newrepublic.

No more excuses for the lack of women experts on air

Not before time. Indeed, remind me again why we’re doing this only now.

Executives from four major news providers – BBC, ITN, Channel 4 and Sky – have pledged to try to improve the number of women interviewed as experts on their programmes; and this summer will be the test of that. They made this promise at a conference at City University London where former DCMS Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell called women’s representation in broadcasting “disgraceful”.

For the past two years the ratio has stuck at four males to every one female interviewed as experts on news programmes. This has been confirmed by our research, done in the Department of Journalism at City from March 2012 to April 2014.

I started looking at this informally in 2010 when I was furious at listening to “Today” on BBC Radio 4 and not hearing a woman’s voice for about 40 minutes. Then I realised that was a good day.

Rest on theconversation.

Gender in Home Kitchens and Restaurants

The cultural understandings of women and food, combined with a workplace structure that is inhospitable to women and employees with family responsibilities, present significant obstacles to women chefs.

Very interesting piece about “professional” and domestic cooking and gender.

American women still do most of the cooking in the home. In 2012, the American Time Use Survey found that women spent over 5 hours per week preparing food, while men spent only about 2 hours per week cooking. However, women are only a small proportion of head chefs in restaurants. A 2014 Bloomberg study of major restaurant groups noted that women were 6% of executive chefs. Other studies put women at 5 to 15% of executive chefs.

Why is there such a stark gendered division between home and professional kitchens? Since women spend more than twice as much time in home kitchens than men do, it seems strange that there are so few women in professional kitchens. Many social forces, ranging from the organization of professional kitchens to cultural ideas about women and cooking, can help explain the phenomenon.

[...]

Many professional kitchens also have a culture of masculinity that is not welcoming to women. In 2011, 37% of the sexual discrimination cases that were reported to the federal government involved restaurants. In his ethnographies of professional kitchens, sociologist Gary Alan Fine explained that the male cooks and chefs frequently make obscene sexual jokes. These men often sexually tease or try to “pick up” women employees. Further, these men are concerned that women can’t “pull their weight” in a fast-paced kitchen environment that is built on teamwork and camaraderie. To prove that they are a useful part of the team, women often have to go above and beyond the required work and take on extra shifts. These behaviors and attitudes among the mostly male cooks and chefs make many women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, turning the professional kitchen into a workplace where women feel they do not fit.

Additionally, the dominant cultural understandings about women do not mesh with what people believe it takes to be a professional chef. In 2009, New York Magazine quoted chef Mario Batali as explaining that women “don’t cook to compete, they cook to feed people.” However, competition lies at the heart of the restaurant business, with chefs competing for customers and media attention. One needs to be competitive to be a successful executive chef. Batali’s comment demonstrates the strength of the idea that women are more suited to cook to feed their families—not for a salary or prestige.

On the Everyday Sociology Blog.

Feminists aren’t ‘man-haters’ – we just don’t like men who are sexist

From time to time, I’ll respond at length to comments left on my pieces here in the column. Mostly, I’ll choose substantive and thoughtful comment to address, but this first time is different. During my inaugural week here at the Guardian, I’ve noticed a bit of a theme in the comments section – there are a great lot of you who don’t like feminists! So to pay homage to the most vocal folks in comments this week, this one’s for you.

Tom M: “Why don’t you just say ‘I don’t like men’ and get it over with?” (in response to ‘Men who use nicknames for women to win fights are creepy, sexist and dumb‘)

Great question, Tom! Thanks for taking the time to call me perhaps the oldest and most tired anti-feminist insult there is: man-hater. You must feel so proud.

I’m going to sort of agree with your comment and expand on it. I think “I don’t like men who …” is a more accurate portrayal of my worldview.

I don’t like men who are sexist. I find that males who think of themselves as above me because of gender are generally unlikeable fellows. (And, for whatever strange reason, are usually terrible spellers, too.) I don’t like men who call women they don’t know “sweetie”, “honey” or cutesy nicknames – it’s obnoxious and condescending. I don’t like men who harass women on the street, making comments about their bodies or telling them to smile. I don’t like men who control women in relationships, abuse them or hurt them sexually. I don’t like men who use the social and political power they have to further discrimination against women in a desperate bid to maintain their status.

Rest: the guardian (Jessica Valenti)

 

Sunday feminist roundup (27th April 2014)

All else this week, then.

- Britain may have a sexist culture – but at least it’s British sexism, eh? (theguardian)

- Britain’s church and state should divorce: it would set them both free (theguardian)

- The 1% Wants to Ban Sleeping in Cars Because It Hurts Their ‘Quality of Life’ (alternet)

- One Girl Dares to Critique an Over Sexualized Comic Cover. Twitter Responds with Rape Threats. (bust)

- Rape and domestic violence brushed aside with eight easy words (everydayvictimblaming)

- Teaching Pretty: The Politics of Fashion for Women Instructors (aroomofourown)

- Game of Thrones: Someone explain to me what happened with Jaime and Cersei (feministe)

- It’s just not feminine: BBC buys into rape culture…again (scallopsrgreat)