Helen Lewis: The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism (The Atlantic)
Pandemics affect men and women differently.
A pandemic magnifies all existing inequalities (even as politicians insist this is not the time to talk about anything other than the immediate crisis). Working from home in a white-collar job is easier; employees with salaries and benefits will be better protected; self-isolation is less taxing in a spacious house than a cramped apartment. But one of the most striking effects of the coronavirus will be to send many couples back to the 1950s. Across the world, women’s independence will be a silent victim of the pandemic.
Viewed from one angle, the rise of get-girls-to-code initiatives is progressive and feminist. Many people involved in the movement are certainly progressive feminists themselves, and many women have benefited from these initiatives. But there are other ways to look at it too. Women are generally cheaper, to other workers’ dismay. “Introducing women into a discipline can be seen as empowerment for women,” says Ensmenger. “But it is often seen by men as a reduction of their status. Because, historically speaking, the more women in a profession, the lower-paid it is.”
Hicks, the computing historian, can’t stand it when people tout coding camps as a solution to technology’s gender problem. “I think these initiatives are well-meaning, but they totally misunderstand the problem. The pipeline is not the problem; the meritocracy is the problem. The idea that we’ll just stuff people into the pipeline assumes a meritocracy that does not exist.”
Ironically, says Hicks, these coding initiatives are, consciously or not, betting on their graduates’ failure. If boot camp graduates succeed, they’ll flood the market, devaluing the entire profession. “If you can be the exception who becomes successful, then you can take advantage of all the gatekeeping mechanisms,” says Hicks. “But if you aren’t the exception, and the gatekeeping starts to fall away, then the profession becomes less prestigious.”
Understanding Non-Binary People (National Center for Transgender Equality)
People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.
Sam Duncan: A veteran and historian responds to Nate Powell’s “About Face” (Popula)
Powell’s ultimate conclusions regarding the malignancy of a “military style,” appropriated along hyper-masculine, hyper-nationalist, and highly commodified lines in American civil society, are correct. But Powell’s analysis erroneously refers to the same cultural zeitgeist to explain both military conventions, and the civilian appropriation of the “military style.” Treating both as manifestations of the same overarching culture effectively ignores the material concerns that distinguish the military’s appearance and design standards from the “future fascist paramilitary participants” Powell rightly warns us about.
There are many service members and veterans, myself included, who are uncomfortable with the various ways that civil society has been militarized, from the entanglements between sports and the military to the weapons of war found in American streets. Their voices are important in our discourse because they carry the weight of credibility. They are difficult to dismiss, especially for those who fetishize the military. Yet, criticisms of the “military style” that mischaracterize the military create a space for people to flippantly dismiss valid criticisms of militarization as just more political posturing, even when those criticisms come from military veterans.
Robin James: Toned down for what? How 'chill' turned toxic
Like its ancestor cool, chill does double duty as a prestige marker. On the one hand, in the post-#MeToo era, chill masculinity seems infinitely preferable to so-called “toxic masculinity”, which is predatory and self-destructive. But even though Sheeran’s tame romanticism may feel less toxic than the slightly skeevy masculinity of bro-step, chill is less a step towards equality and more an update on gender and race stereotypes.
Leigh Honeywell: The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment
It’s simple: people who engage in sexual harassment or assault are also likely to steal, plagiarize, embezzle, engage in overt racism, or otherwise harm their business. (Of course, sexual harassment and assault harms a business – and even entire fields of endeavor – but in ways that are often discounted or ignored.) Ask around about the person who gets handsy with the receptionist, or makes sex jokes when they get drunk, and you’ll often find out that they also violated the company expense policy, or exaggerated on their résumé, or took credit for a colleague’s project. More than likely, they’ve engaged in sexual misconduct multiple times, and a little research (such as calling previous employers) will show this, as we saw in the case of former Uber and Google employee Amit Singhal.
I can’t imagine how I might have conceived of myself and my possibilities if, in my formative years, I had moved through a city where most things were named after women and many or most of the monuments were of powerful, successful, honored women.
We all participate in the propagation of gendered ideas in one way or another. Even ignoring your assigned gender and being an eclectic mix of traits that you don’t see as gendered can serve as a point of reference to people around you. Every aspect of a person can serve as a source of inspiration for others that helps unlock a part of themselves they weren’t aware of before, or it can serve as an example of what they are not. Every instance of identification is also an instance of a meme reproducing.
Transgender is an umbrella word that is used to describe a very large and diverse group of people. "Transgender" can refer to transsexual people; to genderqueer and gender-variant people; to crossdressers; even to feminine men who still call themselves men, and masculine women who still call themselves women.
If someone says "I am a woman," or "I am a man," or "I am ____," please take that person seriously. Our cultural framework tends to tell us that their bodies may contradict their statements — that there's no way you could be a guy with XX chromosomes, or a genderless person with an obvious beard. But the trans person is the one who's right, and the simplistic framework is the model that's wrong. Gender is not dependent on physical appearances, or on the word of doctors, friends, family. The individuals are the ones who get to assert their own identity.
In every case, these AIs are designed to seamlessly take care of things for you: to answer questions, schedule meetings, provide directions, refill the milk in the fridge, and so on. So in addition to frightening ramifications for privacy and information discovery, they also reinforce gendered stereotypes about women as servants. The neutral politeness that infects them all furthers that convention: women should be utilitarian, performing their duties on command without fuss or flourish. This is a vile, harmful, and dreadfully boring fantasy; not the least because there is so much extraordinary art around AI that both deconstructs and subverts these stereotypes. It takes a massive failure of imagination to commit yourself to building an artificial intelligence and then name it “Amy.”
Alex Dally McFarlane: Translating Gender: Ancillary Justice in Five Languages
On translation Ann Leckie's ‘Imperial Radch’ series:
What is clear in all of these responses is that by examining the notions of ‘neutral’ and ‘feminine’ in grammar and gender through the lens of translation, we reveal their complexity – and some of their possible futures in languages, in both literature and speech.
Jess Zimmerman: "Where's My Cut?": On Unpaid Emotional Labor (The Toast)
Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts.
Divya Manian: We Can Finally Talk About Sexism in Tech–So Let’s Be Honest (TIME)
Ultimately, Spiegel’s emails reveal more about the tech culture that embraces such behavior. These emails are not revelations from a silly incident 20 years ago but rather happened a mere five years ago, when Snapchat was being created. It reveals how Silicon Valley’s fascination with self-obsessed youth has led us down a treacherous path that is unsafe for women and people of color. There’s an urgent need to provide safe spaces for women and people of color online. On the whole, I’m witnessing consistent conversation about discrimination and diversity. My hope is that these conversations lead to significant changes in team culture, demographics and how VCs choose to fund startups.
Ann Friedman: When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It (The Cut)
Women want sex, and in particular, they want sex with people who really want them. But socially, many straight men still find it a turnoff when women are sexual aggressors. Which means that, for women, aggressively pursuing the thing they want actually leads to them not getting it. I suspect this is the source of much sexual dissatisfaction of the modern single lady, who's so horny she's running across the street to Walgreens to buy more batteries twice a week, but is unable to pick up men despite social conventions that men are "easy" to bed and women have to be coaxed into casual sex. The thing women are told they can access any time is, maddeningly, often just out of reach.
Whitney Phillips: What an Academic Who Wrote Her Dissertation on Trolls Thinks of Violentacrez (The Atlantic)
I would challenge the idea that trolls, and trolls alone, are why we can't have nice things online. There is no doubt that trolls are disruptive, and there is no doubt that trolls can make life very difficult. That said, trolling behaviors signify much more than individual pathology. They are directly reflective of the culture out of which they emerge, immediately complicating knee-jerk condemnations of the entire behavioral category. Until the conversation is directed towards the institutional incubators out of which trolling emerges -- as opposed to just the trolls themselves -- no ground will be gained, and no solutions reached.
Rebecca Solnit: The Problem With Men Explaining Things (Mother Jones)
Most of my life, I would have doubted myself and backed down. Having public standing as a writer of history helped me stand my ground, but few women get that boost, and billions of women must be out there on this 6-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it's part of the same archipelago of arrogance.
Tiger Beatdown: People in Glass Closets: Anderson Cooper and Straight Responses to Coming Out
When someone like Anderson Cooper comes out, it changes things, just a little bit. There’s one less glass closet in this world, one more tiny shift in the public sphere. So as a queer woman, I find cynicism and snark from heterosexual people who’ve never experienced the pressure of either the closet or outness just a little much. It’s not the sign of your comfort with queer culture that you might think it is, and it’s not particularly supportive. We still face immense pressure, and that requires your empathy and compassion, not your judgment.
The world *is* full of terrible things, including rape, and it *is* okay to joke about them. But the best comics use their art to call bullshit on those terrible parts of life and make them better, not worse. The key—unless you want to be called a garbage-flavored dick on the internet by me and other humans with souls and brains—is to be a responsible person when you construct your jokes. Since the nuances of personal responsibility seem to escape so many people, let's go through it. Let's figure out rape jokes.
Lindsay Zoladz: Not Every Girl Is a Riot Grrrl (Pitchfork)
Many musicians express a complex relationship with the term 'riot grrrl'--
a reverence for the movement's origins but also frustrations about the difficulty of escaping the limits of gendered language.
Mark Richardson: Resonant Frequency: You Masculine You (Pitchfork)
On Bill Callahan and Grimes.
Letting the hero die might mean opening yourself to new experiences. Finding more to identify with. Noticing the commonalities that point to the one, along with the differences point to the many, and identifying with songs from the inside and outside at the same time.
On one hand, it’s great that she’s this new hot blog thing, because she is a woman who creates her own beats in a space that historically is not that friendly to non-males. On the other hand, her elevation been a case study in the values people consign to the music they love — in this case, thin representations of ideas, that people have praised her for her “naive” and “elf-like” qualities, as though by filtering her voice into wispiness to the point that she’s almost a specter (as she does), she becomes more admirable, a negation of herself.