Just came across this book, and I thought several of our readers would be interested in it: Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia.
Living on the margins in modern Britain January 7, 2013
What makes a life in modern Britain go well? Doing ok involves keeping oneself (and maybe dependent loved ones) fed, warm, and sheltered; being part of human networks that provide emotional and practical support; possessing the emotional and cognitive tools to function day-to-day, and navigate life’s obstacles; being born in a geographical location that means one finds oneself on the right side of borders legislation; existing in a cultural niche where one is presented with opportunities, other than robbing, drugs, and violence. Doing ok in modern Britain depends to a large extent on luck – accidents of birth and upbringing, together with other factors that are mostly beyond one’s control. For those who are unlucky, life is tough. Journalist, Laura Page, interviews five people living on the margins in modern Britain.
What Is the Current State of Feminism’s PR? October 9, 2012
I hope everyone had a very nice Let’s-Glorify-Imperialism Day.
I came across this screen shot on failbook (which surprising takes quite a few shots at oppressive cultural patterns) and at first I had myself a mighty wince over seeing all the hackneyed stereotypes of feminism get thrown around. But then I found the article that the screen shot comes from, and that adds a whole new context: the #sorryfeminists hashtag was created by feminists. To mock these stereotypes. (here’s the article on Slate):
One of the most frustrating parts of being a feminist is how negative stereotypes created to discredit feminism are now pretty much conventional wisdom. Like the population at large, actual feminists can be funny and sexy, despite our bad rap as sexless and dour. It’s like living in Oz but repeatedly being told you’re in Kansas. That frustration boiled over this morning when Deborah Needleman, the editor of T Magazine (and the stylish wife of Slate‘s own Jacob Weisberg), put up this joking tweet suggesting that feminists dislike women being sexy:
At this point, stereotypes of feminists are mocked so thoroughly that it’s impossible to determine if someone who invokes one is trying to reinforce it, making fun of it, or playing up the ambiguity so that you get a little from both camps. Anna Holmes, the founder of Jezebel, and Irin Carmon of Salon (full disclosure: real-life friends of mine who are, may I say, ridiculously sexy ladies) decided to respond in a way that the Internet does best: embracing the confusion by creating the hashtag #sorryfeminists on Twitter.
It worked. The #sorryfeminists meme is, as I type, expertly tearing apart the idea that feminists hate fun, hate sex, and hate beauty. (It’s also, like any other Twitter meme, devolving into layers of irony and meta-jokes that pretty much stop making sense altogether.
So it seems like there are both people using the #sorryfeminists hashtag to make fun of stereotypes and makes fun of feminists.
Okay and now there’s yet another level. If you actually look on twitter (#sorryfeminists) there’s a lot of people using this hastag to critique the white-washing and middle-class-centrism of feminism and its public face. For instance:
#sorryfeminists is fun/funny to people who can afford to be that stereotype, or who have the knowledge to refute that stereotype.
Cutesy side of 2nd wave. What
#sorryfeminists is NOT addressing? Those OTHER labels: at worst oppressive/racist, at best willfully blind.
You gotta stop this echo chamber of white feminists who are given book deals to recycle the same tired ideas.
#sorryfeminists I’m not sorry.
If I was introduced to white feminism 1st I would’ve NEVER been a feminist. Thank goodness for Black/brown feminist scholars
Feminism has a double PR problem. It still hasn’t shaken some of these ridiculous stereotypes but it also all too often puts forward white middle class women and issues that are particularly (or only) pertinent to white middle class women–so they become interpreted as “the” issues of feminism.
(I sometimes catch myself doing this still: abortion is not the only issue for women’s reproductive rights and health; balancing work and family is not a “new” issue for lots of families; fighting to gain respect for not changing your last name has little resonance for people whose marriage isn’t recognized as legitimate no matter what they do with their name, etc.)
So in the name of helping improve feminism’s PR, I’m giving a shout out to some of my favorite blogs that join in the dismantling of anti-woman oppression and that address issues that aren’t often given the spotlight:
Badassery Incarnate, pt 1: Glorifying Rich White Men (And Erasing Everybody Else) September 30, 2012
While visiting Los Angeles last week, I saw the trailer below during the previews for a movie. As I sat there in the darkened theater, I thought to myself, “Self. You are writing a blog post about this when you get back to the East Coast.”
I present to you: The Men Who Built America
In the trailer, this tag line appears: “America wasn’t discovered. It was built.” It then flashes between depictions of men like Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford, Edison (I assume), and Carnegie–all of them rocking suits and yelling various things which peg them as badass, ruthless, and unaplogetic capitalists.
There’s a lot to talk about here. (after the jump)
Stereotypes and the first laptop September 25, 2012
An interesting article over at the Atlantic on how gender stereotypes and the keyboard might have made it more difficult for the first laptop to catch on.
‘This is an amazing fact. We had this product. It was designed for business executives. And the biggest obstacle, one of the biggest obstacles, we had for selling the product was the fact — believe it or not — that it had a keyboard. I was in sales and marketing. I saw this first-hand. At that time, 1982, business people, who were in their 40s and 50s, did not have any computer or keyboard in their offices. And it was associated with being part of the secretarial pool or the word processing (remember that industry?) department. And so you’d put this thing in their office and they’d say, “Get that out of here.” It was like getting a demotion. They really were uncomfortable with it.’
Though Hawkins doesn’t quite say it. There is a distinct gendered component to this discomfort. Typing was women’s work and these business people, born in the 1930s and 1940s, didn’t scrap their way up the bureaucracy to be relegated to the very secretarial work they’d been devaluing all along.
Of course, it also cost something like $20,000 in today’s currency–still, this makes me wonder what interesting cases for agnotology we might find in forms of practical knowledge.
An immigrant in limbo between two Americas June 11, 2012
“Maria Gomez, a UCLA graduate with a master’s in architecture, grew up believing in the American Dream while living in its shadows as an illegal immigrant.”
An immigrant in limbo between two Americas, by Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times (June 8, 2012)
… makes me think of my grandparents migration, my parents work, and how my situation(s) in the world relates to the situations of others… What do readers think of Maria Gomez? Does this story about her relate in any particular ways to your views of certain stereotypes or your moral judgments about immigration?
High Pay too High – findings of UK High Pay Commission November 23, 2011
The High Pay Commission is an independent body set up to investigate high pay in the UK. A year long investigation culminated in the publication of a report on Monday. Those who’ve been keeping an eye on the recession will be wholly unsurprised to learn that the poorer members of society are bearing the costs of austerity cuts, whilst the top 0.1% of earners are getting richer. The Commission states that:
In 1980 top bosses were well rewarded, but they had not pulled so far away from the rest of society. Since then some of them have enjoyed an increase of over 4000% to what are now multi-million pound packages… so much wealth has been channelled to those at the very top. This is a trend that has led to such a huge rise in inequality over the period that Britain now has a gap between rich and poor that rivals that in some developing nations.
Amongst the figures quoted by the Commission, is the salary of the chief executive at Lloyds Bank (now partly owned by the State), which the Commission states has increased by more than 3,000% since 1980 to more than £2.5m – 75 times the average Lloyds employee’s salary. In 1980, it was just (‘just’ – hah!) 13.6 times the average. Lloyds have responded with the claim that “The High Pay Commission’s figures are flawed. They have compared the average basic salary of our employees to a remuneration package awarded to the CEO that includes salary, bonus and benefits. As a result they have reached an inflated number that is entirely unrepresentative of the truth” – because everyone knows that bonuses and benefits aren’t really part of one’s salary, just little treats left by the banking fairy.
A copy of the High Pay Commission’s report, including recommendations such as not-doing-salary-deals-in-secret, can be downloaded from here.
Uttar Pradesh – extreme violence against women July 23, 2011
Uttar Pradesh – a state in Northern India – is seeing an increasing number of extremely brutal attacks on women. In the latest case, a sixteen year-old woman was assaulted with knives and axes before being gang raped. The woman and her family are too scared to stay in their village. They have abandoned their home and land to stay with relatives. This is just one of hundreds of rapes and attempted rapes that have happened this year in Uttar Pradesh. The attacks are a tragic example of the intersection between gender, class, and poverty. Women are accorded very low status in the region. Moreover, many of those attacked are Dalits – members of India’s lowest caste, which used to be known as ‘untouchables’. An analysis of rape figures carried out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Uttar Pradesh found that 90% of the victims were Dalits. Poverty makes things worse, as people are unable to afford sanitation in their homes, forcing them to go out into their fields at night to go to the toilet. Many women are attacked whilst performing their ablutions. Campaigners say that most of the rapists are people with money and political power. Roop Rekha Verma of Sajhi Duniya (Shared World), an organisation based in Lucknow that works with women says, ‘It’s a very difficult situation here… There is a lot of violence: Crimes are escalating; gender problems are increasing; girls are being attacked, both in rural and urban areas… These cases are so brutal that we wouldn’t have believed that they could happen – we thought such things could happen only in novels and films’. You can read more here.
‘The Oxbridge Whitewash’ December 7, 2010
David Lammy entered a Freedom of Information request to get Oxford and Cambridge to reveal information about applications and admissions.
The results (reported here) are appaling: Oxford admitted one black Caribbean student last year. 21 (out of 44) Oxford colleges made no offers to black students last year.
Lammy suggests the problem is not simply a matter of black and ethnic minority students not applying. Rather, white students were more likely to be successful than black students at most colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. This seems to be particularly so for black women:
The starkest divide in Cambridge was at Newnham, an all-women’s college, where black applicants had a 13% success rate compared with 67% for white students.
A spokesperson suggests that the low acceptance rates may be explained by the fact that black students tend to apply for the most over-subscribed subjects.
Class representation is also poor, as the data gathered show:
that Oxford’s social profile is 89% upper- and middle-class, while 87.6% of the Cambridge student body is drawn from the top three socioeconomic groups. The average for British universities is 64.5%, according to the admissions body Ucas.
From what we know about solo status and stereotype threat, there’s reason to suppose that such low numbers may affect the experience of working class and black and ethnic minority students at these universities. And there’s clear anecdotal evidence of under-representation putting off prospective applicants:
Matthew Benjamin, 28, who studied geography at Jesus College, Oxford, said: “I was very aware that I was the only black student in my year at my college. I was never made to feel out of place, but it was certainly something I was conscious of. …
“On open days, some black kids would see me and say ‘you’re the only black person we’ve seen here – is it even worth us applying?’”
And this is all in face of a fees hike…
It is worth noting that, as far as I know, both Cambridge and Oxford operate a ‘Special Access Scheme’, aimed at recruiting excellent students from schools which do not have excellent grade averages. One might wonder how effective such schemes are, in light of these figures.
But the banks will all leave! November 28, 2010
That’s why the UK government ‘s plans to demand more information about highly paid bankers are being scrapped– HSBC has been especially vocal in insisting they’d leave the UK. But guess what? Hong Kong already demands that, and HSBC didn’t leave. Apparently Thatcher also imposed a windfall tax on banks. They didn’t leave then either.