Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.
10 hours, more than 100 cat-calls October 29, 2014
Discussion dynamics and gender October 26, 2014
When women were outnumbered by men in groups deciding by majority rule, women received a high proportion of negative interruptions from men. Conversely, when women’s numbers grew, men’s behavior toward women changed – they became much more likely to interrupt with positive expressions of support – a cue that audience is actively engaged in what the speaker has to say.
Men and women who held the floor for a greater percentage of the group’s conversation were dramatically more likely to later be identified by their fellow group members as the “most influential” group participant. Similarly, those who received more positive interruptions from their fellow group members were also more likely to be seen as influential.
Terroristic threats against Utah State University regarding feminist Anita Sarkeesian October 15, 2014
An email sent to Utah State University officials threatens to terrorize the school with a deadly shooting over a talk to be delivered by feminist critic and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games creator Anita Sarkeesian, Polygon confirmed with the school’s Center for Women and Gender Studies. . .
“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” the message reads. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”
The Montreal Massacre, also known as the École Polytechnique Massacre, took place in 1989 in Canada. Marc Lépine, who the email references, killed 14 women, injured 10 and killed four men in the name of “fighting feminism” before committing suicide.
The sender claims to be a student at the school, and adds “you will never find me, but you may all soon know my name.”
This latest threat marks yet another in a growing history for Sarkeesian herself and women in the video game industry at large. In August, following the release of another episode of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, Sarkeesian fled her home after receiving “some very scary threats” against her and her family. During GeekGirlCon, which took place this past weekend, officials confirmed to Polygon that a threat was made over her appearance there.
Notre Dame appeals to SCOTUS over ACA October 8, 2014
The University of Notre Dame has appealed to the Supreme Court, requesting that it require the lower courts reconsider its case against the HHS mandate in the light of the Hobby Lobby decision. Notre Dame lost its previous appeal, in which three anonymous students filed an intervening suit.
One unique feature of the legal complaint that Notre Dame is asking be reconsidered is that it asserts government regulation which treats religious universities as distinct from houses of worship violates the university’s religious belief in the unity of the Church. In its complaint, the university writes,
The U.S. Government Mandate also improperly attempts to sever Notre Dame from the Roman Catholic Church. Notre Dame sincerely believes in the unity of the Catholic Church, including that Catholic educational institutions, especially Notre Dame, are by definition the “heart of the church” or Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Notre Dame’s mission is just as central to Catholic faith and life as the mission of Catholic houses of worship. Yet, the U.S. Government Mandate would limit the definition of “religious employers” to houses of worship, attempting to sever the Church from its heart and to divide the unified Church. The U.S. Government mandate would thus turn the broad right to Religious Exercise into a narrow Right to Worship.*
Irrespective of what one thinks about religious freedom, women’s rights to healthcare, or potential violations of the establishment clause, this is a troubling argument. If religiously-affiliated universities could not be treated as distinct from houses of worship without violating religious exercise rights, then effectively, students at those universities could not be protected from sexual misconduct, harassment, or discrimination by Title IX as Title IX is not applicable to houses of worship (nor could it be).
*It is worth noting that Notre Dame has argued in court in the past (cf. Laskowski v. Spellings and Am. Jewish Cong. v. Corp. for Nat’l. & Cmty. Serv.) that activities such as the provision of healthcare coverage benefits do not constitute religious exercise.
Clarifying ‘sexual violence’ September 26, 2014
There are many forms of sexual and gender based violence. Some of them have only come to light in more recent history, and some we still tend, collectively, to fail to understand. However, the University of Michigan’s (otherwise seemingly wonderful) initiative to prevent and more effectively respond to domestic and intimate partner violence, has offered a very worrying example of sexual violence. The site reads:
Examples of sexual violence include: discounting the partner’s feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex.
Withholding sex and affection is not a form of sexual violence. Rather, too often, claims of failing to be sexually available and affectionate enough have historically been used to justify mistreatment of (and sometimes violence towards) partners–just think of the offensive (and mythical) stereotype of the ‘frigid wife,’ and the various ways in which it has been employed.
A return to stock photos: Women suspicious of birth control September 23, 2014
Women featured in stock photos have busy, complicated lives. They’re laughing alone with all kinds of salads, both with and without croutons. They’re diversely inept at riding bikes. They fly into unpredictable hysterics in the presence of a scale. But there’s one thing that most stock photo women agree on: birth control. In that they’re incredibly suspicious of it. . .
The following images were all among a popular stock photo service’s “most relevant” results in a search for “birth control.” As the results became less “relevant,” the number of happy or calm-looking stock women with birth control increased. Probably because birth control, in Stock Land, is on par with piles of baking powder arranged in lines to look like cocaine and a gathering of empty shot glasses before a person clutching car keys.
Joan Rivers & a chilling frankness about a woman’s life September 6, 2014
Compared to how women’s lives were described in the fifties – at least in the militaristic-Roman Catholic culture of my family – this seems quite textured. Earlier she was just freakish.
Female comics today like Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman are not as self-deprecating as Ms. Rivers and other female pioneers who were considered freakish just for daring to do stand-up. Acceptance then meant accepting the role of self-hating clown.
Onstage, Ms. Rivers was her own best target, ransacking her deepest insecurities for a laugh: her looks, her sex appeal, her marriage and even, a few years after he died, her husband’s suicide. She mocked aging and, most of all, her obsession with plastic surgery. In an interview on the occasion of her 80th birthday last year, Ms. Rivers said, “I’m celebrating with my 80th face.”
Perceptions of Abrasiveness in Tech by Gender August 30, 2014
Fortune published an article this week on a small study about people’s performance reviews in tech companies, and whether the tone of such reviews differed based on the employee’s gender.
Spoiler: it did. You can read it here.
(NB: The numbers are not percentages. It took me a moment to realize that.)
Not only did negative criticism show up more in reviews of women, but also women also received much more negative criticism regarding their personality and tone.
“This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.” [emphasis mine]
*Edited to reflect that the reviews were from tech businesses specifically.