Tag Archives: Jezebel

On that Jezebel–>Gawker memo

This week, the staffers at Jezebel published an open letter to their parent company, Gawker Media, taking them to task for failing to protect the employees and readers from violent, rape-themed imagery posted by a rogue commenter. By failing to take the technological steps to prevent this from continuing, or changing the commenting policy site-wide, Gawker has created a hostile work environment for Jezebel staffers. As they say in their letter, if this happened anywhere else, they’d report on it, so why would their own organization be immune?

For Role/Reboot I wrote a bit about company values and that tricky space where the rubber meets the road, i.e. when resources are required to make values-on-paper values-in-reality:

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Related Post: Criticizing Jezebel’s unscientific science writing.

Related Post: A few times I’ve been on Jezebel

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Filed under Gender, Media, Republished!

Happy 80th Gloria!

Gloria Steinem turned 80 today and is still killing it all over town. Gail Collins wrote a particularly excellent birthday card at the New York Times, but I also committed my thoughts on Gloria to paper (er…screen? We have got to get some new idioms) for Role/Reboot.

Screenshot_3_25_14_12_23_PM-2I was recently talking to my mom about how segmented the “movements” are these days. Where are the great thinkers? She said, Where are the great leaders pushing us forward to be better? The Martins? The Glorias? She’s right, I think, that there really aren’t singular “public faces” to movements anymore. Maybe Sheryl Sandberg comes the closest, but even her momentum and appeal is limited to certain demographic wedges. Individuals become flash points, like Sandra Fluke, or Trayvon Martin, but their influence doesn’t sustain over decades.

The way we consume media has become so fractured and specific that for one person to try to galvanize a large swath of the public is rarely feasible anymore. We’ll change the channel to one of the 900 others, or close the browser and open a new one. There are pockets now, specific strains of ism or anti-ism, that we choose subscribe to based on our politics and affiliations. When Tina Fey skewered Jezebel on 30 Rock, which side did you fall on? When Ta-Nehisi Coates berates the President, who do you think is right?

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we have these sub-affiliations, I think it’s just an indication of how fucking complicated these issues are. I just finished Lynn Povich’s The Good Girls Revoltabout the 1970 sex discrimination lawsuit at Newsweek. In the recollections of some of the participants was a certain reluctance to admit that, actually, they hadn’t wanted the jobs they were suing for. Most of them certainly did (and  they all deserved the opportunity to compete for them), but some felt that the movement was so all-encompassing that to opt-out or question any part of it was to undermine it. They didn’t want to jeopardize the group to protect themselves, even though their interests didn’t always line up 100%.

It was an interesting angle that I wasn’t expecting Povich to address. It’s not all rah-rah. One person or committee or caucus can never speak for everyone, so the goal has to be about creating options, not dictating how we utilize them.

Related Post: Raunch humor and feminism.

Related Post: When celebrities talk about feminism, the good, bad, and ugly.

 

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Filed under Gender, Media, Politics, Republished!

Watch This: Lindy West Explains Away the Trolls

It will get sad before it gets better, but man it’s so good.

Lindy West is one of my faves on Jezebel these days, and to her point, I had no idea what she looked like until this video. Who gives a shit, right?

Related Post: Anita Sarkeesian and a story I’ve been avoiding.

Related Post: The worst of all Facebook pages.

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Filed under Body Image, Media

You Guessed It, I’m a Privileged White Girl

In case you missed it, yesterday, Jezebel reposted my Role/Reboot piece on the “12 Year Old Sluts” Facebook page. This is my third time on the mothership roller coaster, and I learn a little more about temporary mega exposure each time. It’s a pretty cool feeling, not going to lie, to get a bunch of messages from your friends and acquaintances pretending, for a moment, that you’re internet famous. Also, blog traffic, whatttupppp.

And then you start reading the comments, and the helium drains just a little from the pride balloon. 

I’m not new to internet commenters. It’s a different thing, however, to get spammy, illiterate hate mail from Men’s Rights Activists who think you’re a cunt just for daring to address issues of gender and sex in public than to see your article picked apart by the very audience with whom you’re most excited to share it.

For the record, there are many positive comments and they all made me feel warm and fuzzy. The ones that stick, though, are the accusations of elitism. This is my favorite:

All classics – keep ’em coming Jezzie:

“Ten years ago, when I was 14, I went to Sweden with my soccer team.”

“Many women-especially those of us with a top-notch education, strong role models, and a stellar support group”

“Though “sexual capital” isn’t a phrase she will run across until her gender studies classes 10 years later,”

Oops, you caught me, I’m a privileged white girl. I mean, duh, I have time to blog on the regular and refresh Jezebel every ten seconds to check the new readership, of course I’m  privileged. Women with three jobs don’t have time for this shit. Single moms don’t have time for this shit.

I guess I’m not clear on what my privilege has to do with this particular article. If I’d left out the location of my soccer trip, or even the fact that I played at all, if I’d left out references to my education, would the message be different? Would the content be more palatable?

I called out my education because I credit it (and the people I met during it) with giving me the tools and theories that form the core of my feminism and my points of view on media, gender, and sexuality. Just because I worked hard while I was there doesn’t mean that I wasn’t extremely lucky to be able to go. I’d be an idiot to think otherwise. The fact that I was born to parents with advanced degrees, in a town with great public schools, with access to club soccer doesn’t invalidate the content of my argument.

Some people are born with a very lucky hand of cards, and while I’m not religious, I try to be grateful every day for the opportunities the location and circumstances of my birth have allowed. Are people with privilege not allowed to comment on the world? Should we stick to being grateful and guilty? Not sure what I’m supposed to do here, guys, so help me out.

Thinking about the context of what we read, the how/when/by whom it was written, is the basics of critical thinking (one of those fun things I learned in college), so I’m glad that folks are applying that to my writing, I guess. Kinda stings nonetheless.

Related Post: Maslow and Feminist Privilege

Related Post: Caitlin Moran is my hero

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Middle Income

This is no longer the political story du jour thanks to Mitt Romney’s 47% speech, but it’s the topic on which I’ve been ruminating, so here are my ruminations after the fact.

Last week, on Good Morning America, Romney was asked by George Stephanopoulos what he meant by the phrase “middle income.”

Stephanopoulos: ‘‘Is $100,000 middle income?” 

Romney: ‘‘No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.”

What was the Jezebel headline? “Mitt Romney Thinks Middle Income Is Between $200K and $250K.” Sigh. No, that’s not what he said at all, and you are willfully misinterpreting his words to make them sound worse than they are. Prepositions matter, okay? “Between” is not the same as “or less”. He couldn’t remember the exact ceiling (either $200K or $250K) but that and less, was what he considered middle income. The incorrect headline feigns outrage over something he didn’t say, instead of substantiating outrage at what he actually says and means. Claiming that $200K is still middle income is problematic enough without twisting words.

So what should “middle income” mean anyway? As a non-economist, non-sociologist, I would say that middle income would be the middle 50% of American households. According to the Census, the median household income is just over $50,000. Less than 2% of households make over $250,000 a year. Wait, what? So we’re saying “middle income” is the bottom 98%? I’m no mathematician but that makes very little sense.

What I find more interesting is the middle class mindset. To me, that’s when you can cover the basics, rent, food, clothes, but the big things, health care, dentistry, car maintenance, education, always keep you a little worried. You feel good about your finances, unless something unexpected happens, and unexpected things usually happen. For the middle class mindset, as opposed to the hard numbers, context matters. In a town full of millionaires, the $250K household feels like they’re falling behind. In a town with 40% unemployment, the guy making $19K is doing pretty well.

Everyone likes to think they’re middle class. It’s how we sleep at night knowing that 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. Thinking we are just on the other side of it, or at least not that far from it, makes it easier to spend money on luxuries and feel okay about it. I think it every time I spend $20 on a manicure, I’m middle class and this is just the occasional, ahem weekly, treat…But if we really wrap our heads around what average American families survive on, many of us have to admit that we live comfortably on the far side of middle income. That’s not to minimize the struggles of the $100K households–shit is expensive, y’all–but perspective is important.

Related Post: 99% or what? Why I don’t identify with OWS.

Related Post: Why people with college loans aren’t lazy.

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Sunday Scraps 64

1. WEIGHT: Super stellar essay from my recent Jezebel favorite, Lindy West, on the intricacies of talking to pre-teens about fitness, nutrition, weight, and body image.

2. ART: Ahhh, this short comic by Chelsea Martin, “Heavy-handed Acne”  is just so beautiful and poignant and I love it (via The Rumpus).

3. PRIDE: Buzzfeed collected 32 images from Pride that will probably make you cry… in the good way.

4. WORDS: Basic but superbly addictive word game from Shy Gypsy. Make word associations across the map to keep the game branching out (i.e. Cow and Horse share the word Cowboy).

5. TECH: Fabulous, fascinating interview with Genevieve Bell, the director of interaction and experience research at Intel,  about the contents of our cars and the life cycle of technology (Slate).

6. CAREER: The unbeatable Jessica Hagy (of This Is Indexed) has contributed a series of her trademark line graphs, on the subject of finding a career path, to Forbes.

Related Post: Sunday 63 (Cabrini-Green, Merkel vs. Rae Jepsen, Anne Friedman, school lunches)

Related Post: Sunday 62 (Is this racist? Authors in bikinis, Sandberg, grammar points)

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Filed under Art, Body Image, Books, Gender, Media

In Defense of Hugo

To the average person, the recent blow-up about Hugo Schwyzer’s feminist involvement has registered on the pop culture spectrum somewhere below what I had for breakfast. But, if you run in the Facebook and Twitter circles I run in, the drama seems to never cease. In a nutshell, a number of feminist blogs (and Facebook groups) have decided that, for a variety of reasons, he should be disqualified from discussing, advocating, writing, and teaching about feminism and women’s history. Read his thoughts on the subject here.

There’s a difference between pointing out structural inequality and discrimination and giving voice to personal pain, discomfort, or injustice.

I can write a paper about housing discrimination in Chicago, or the Civil Rights movement, or Gwendolyn Brooks, or explore the political, sociological, cultural histories of race and racial discrimination. I can’t, however, write about the experience of being discriminated against for being black, nor can I claim to understand the implications of such an experience.

I would be wary of any male feminists who began sentences with phrases like:

Women feel like…

Women should feel like…

Women think that…

Women act like….

I would find such overgeneralization and presumption offensive and belittling, regardless of the intentions of the speaker. That is not, nor has ever been, the attitude I have read in Hugo’s writings at Jezebel and the Good Men Project. That some feminists are suggesting that Hugo’s gender, complicated history with addiction, or what they perceive as self-aggrandizing style disqualifies him from the conversation does not jibe well with what I want from feminist discourse.

Feminism, like any movement, is a large, ungainly, and often controversial umbrella. I have been frustrated before by women who refused the title, but believe in the ideas, but I understand that the connotations it carries (earned or not) can be hard to swallow.

My feminism is about allowing individual desires to take precedence over societally proscribed roles and assumptions. It’s about men being nurses and teachers, women being firefighters and executives, but it’s also about giving boys and girls (and men and women) the complete spectrum of ways to be successful and saying, “the world is open to you, treat it well and do with it as you will.” Being a boy, or a girl, or gay, or straight, or something that is not so easily labeled, should not determine your path or limit your options.

My feminism has room in it for people like Hugo, and also people that disagree with Hugo. It has room for argument and debate, and complicated personal histories. It has room for nuance and complexity, and empathy for the difficult decisions we all make every day.

Related Post: I don’t like places that discriminate against my friends.

Related Post: So this is why people hate feminism?

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Filed under Gender, Media