Women MPs should ‘toughen up’. November 29, 2013
Melissa Kite, in yesterday’s Guardian describes women who leave UK politics as a result of bullying by their male colleagues as ‘shrinking violets’.
There is some victim blaming in the article:
The problem is not that male politicians can be childish and offensive, but that today’s female politicians don’t seem to know how to handle them.
And a suggestion that women who can’t handle bullying in parliament are lacking not just in insensitivity, but in political conviction:
Ultimately, politics requires women with hides like rhinos, women who are sufficiently on fire with conviction to stand up and fight.
The reference to Mo Mowlam’s staying tough when she was called fat during her cancer treatment is particularly distasteful, suggesting, as it does, that if Mo had backed down then, she wouldn’t have been tough enough and worthy of being an MP.
On a Morning Joe broadcast from 2007, Mika Brzezinski became indignant when her producer tried to have her to lead the news with a story about Paris Hilton getting out of prison, as opposed to talking about the Iraq war, among other things. (There is also something worth saying here about why Paris Hilton is taken to be especially unfit and undeserving of attention in the news, and why an anchorwomen is pissed to be covering such a story.)
You can watch a few clips edited together here of her two co-anchors then telling her to “take control” of her job, to not use her producer’s commands as a cop out, and to make her own lead…and then proceed to ignore her commands, physically control her actions, and make light of her indignation over lax journalistic standards. The editing may be making the interactions look more disrespectful than they actually were, since there is usually is a lot of bantering on the show. But even granting that, grabbing a lighter from someone’s hand belies your insistence that they should take charge. Even if Brzezinski didn’t feel disrespected by her colleagues, their actions have such a weird patronizing undercurrent to them. (I’m sure someone somewhere can describe this with more exact philosophy-speak.)
Here’s an article written shortly after the newscast aired. And here’s a previous Fem Phil post from 2012 about another incidence where Scarborough claims that he respects Brezinski while his actions cast doubt on that point.
Very few careers had been ruined; what had been, or could be, ruined was the atmosphere that had existed before, where all the squirming was done by women, or some other vulnerable minority, and where all the smirking and grinning was done by men.
Depressing court decisions June 25, 2013
Monday was a great day for sexual harassers and for bosses who retaliate against workers claiming discrimination. The rest of us did not fare so well in the Supreme Court. While most Court watchers will likely focus on the narrower-than-expected decision in the Fisher affirmative action case, the most lasting impact of today’s decisions likely will be the twin blows struck against women and minorities in the workplace. Taking advantage of employees just became a whole lot easier.
The first case, which we previously labeled the “scariest pending Supreme Court case that you’ve probably never heard of” made it significantly easier for many people’s bosses to racially or sexually harass them and get away with it. Though the law provides fairly robust protection to workers harassed by their supervisor, the Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State University defined the term “supervisor” very narrowly. Under today’s decision, your boss is only your “supervisor” if they have the power to make a “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”
Lewis’ Law April 3, 2013
A recent article entitled, “Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminism” referenced Lewis’ Law, which is explained above. What do people think?
Also, I really hope the article linked above is mistaken about the increased popularity of MRAs.
Also also, Lewis’ Law, if sound, definitely applies to the article linked above.
Thandie Newton on sexism, abuse, and complicity February 18, 2013
Pensioner dies after care agency shut down February 6, 2013
It’s difficult to know where to start with this. The bare facts, as reported by the BBC website, are that an eighty-year old woman was left without food, water, or medication for nine days after the company responsible for her care was raided and shut down by the UK Border Agency. Sadly, she later died in hospital. The agency, it seems, had been illegally employing folks without papers, although I don’t think that much has been officially confirmed. There are so many things about this tragedy that make me angry. First off, care work is one of the most poorly paid jobs going. A 2010 report by the Low Pay Commission found that 9% of care workers were paid less than the minimum wage. Many were not being reimbursed for their travel costs. No surprise there, as caring has been – and still is – associated with women, and what has traditionally been considered ‘women’s work’ is always more poorly paid than traditionally masculine roles, no matter how important it may be. In addition, few care workers are union members, and as private companies have taken over – and made to compete for – the provision of care, this has led to reduced pay and poorer working conditions. Second, migrants without papers are one of the most easily exploited groups of people – lacking any official means to support themselves, they have to take any work they are offered, and their illegal status means that they have no power over their pay or working conditions. They cannot join a union to fight for a better deal, and they cannot complain if their jobs fail to meet the legally required standards. Third, the existence of such a vulnerable group of people, living in the shadows of our society, makes it harder for those with papers. Their pay and working conditions are driven down by the exploitation of illegal migrants, and they must now compete for work with people who can be paid less, made to work longer hours, and so on – people whom, from a certain perspective, it makes more sense to employ. And there we have it: a matrix of oppression, which leads to the various sufferings of care workers, folks without papers, and those who require care.