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Clay Shirky + Status Quo + Patriarchy

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Clay Shirky needs to drop the status quo and subvert the dominant paradigm

A rant about Clay Shirky…well, not really a rant since I am not much of a ranter…a rebuttal perhaps?

When a member of a dominant group, in this case, a highly educated white guy, writes a “rant” on the reasons why a traditionally marginalized group (women) is not matching the status quo set forth by the dominant group, I take umbrage. Seemingly bereft of a critical awareness of systems of oppression, and the power structures that maintain privilege and patriarchy, Clay Shirky used his virtual pulpit to perpetuate status quo addled thinking.

Shirky argues that women should stop caring, be more arrogant, and act more like men do when it comes to securing career “opportunities.” Women are framed as being less skilled in the art of being jerks than men. Being a jerk, according to Shirky’s bizarro world view, is a good thing. In other words, women should be arrogant jerks in order to succeed. How twisted is that? What about changing systems so that no one has to be a jerk in order to succeed? Why settle for the current state of affairs? Mr. Shirky’s argument only thrives if we believe that things cannot be changed. The system, and the “rules” that currently govern it, need to be rewritten.

Shirky attempts to draw parallels to the movement amongst men to be more like women. According to Shirky, we “encourage men to be better listeners and more sensitive partners, to take more account of others’ feelings and to let out our own feelings more.” So according to Shirky, being an arrogant jerk holds the same value as listening, sensitivity and empathy. I disagree. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Adopting traditional patriarchal values (being aggressive / a “jerk”), from which sexism flows out of, is no where near the same as values (listening, sensitivity, empathy) that are about creating goodwill / creating community.

What if being a better listener, being more sensitive, and being empathetic were grounds for career success / opportunities?

Photo by Duncan

Written by Eric Stoller

May 19th, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Furloughs and Privilege

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Furlough days at Oregon State University plus privilege by Robert P Garrett

It was almost two weeks ago when the Oregon State University faculty senate voted for furloughs for all faculty (grant-supported salary is exempt) in 2010. It should be noted that the Oregon State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors “came out in support of furloughs provided that a number of important principles be included in the resolution.” I agree with the OSU AAUP’s suggestions. The top income tiers for furloughs need to be modified so that people who make more than $14,000 per month take more furlough days. If you make $168,000 pre-tax, I think you can handle a bit more of a cut. If you can’t make ends meet, then perhaps you should hire me to manage your finances.

Speaking of privilege…OSU Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Robert P. Garrett, decided that the best way to address the furlough situation was to attack Oregon State’s multicultural support programs via a letter in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. According to “Bobby,” OSU’s programs that support underrepresented and/or historically marginalized groups represent a redundant financial burden on our predominantly white campus. In summary, a white male professor on a mostly white campus says that there are just too many campus groups that support women, people of color, and LGBT folks. I wonder how many groups/organizations/offices at OSU are made up of a majority of straight white men. Anecdotally, I would offer that there are a lot…more in fact, than the “redundant” orgs of which Robert writes.

Here are few of the choicest bits from Robert P. Garrett’s letter with a few added thoughts from yours truly:

Read the rest of this entry »

Women’s College Basketball & ESPN

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ESPN Womens Basketball Mens Basketball Sexism Gender

If you hover over the “All Sports” link on ESPN and click the “College Basketball” link, you are taken to ESPN’s coverage of Men’s College Basketball.

The link to “Women’s Basketball” takes you to ESPN’s coverage of Women’s College Basketball.

ESPN is placing one gender (Men) over another (Women) by placing Men’s Basketball as the normative or neutral “College Basketball”. It’s a not so subtle difference…

Google engages in this gender-preferential activity too…a search for “Texas basketball“* lists the most recent score for the men’s Texas Longhorns basketball team. You have to search for “Women’s Texas basketball” to get information on the women’s team.

Title IX may have increased funding and the number of teams in women’s collegiate athletics. However, the above examples illustrate that men’s collegiate sports are still quite overtly at the “center” of mainstream media. “Women’s basketball” is seen as outside the norm and “basketball” as the domain of men.

It’s also important to note that gender, a fluid social construct, as Dave Zirin and Sherry Wolf write, needs to be discussed at great length in the context of all sports.

*Please note that this is in no way limited to searches for Texas..unfortunately, this seems widespread for Google search queries.

Written by Eric Stoller

November 29th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Jay Smooth: Miss California & opposite marriage

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via ill Doctrine

Jay analyzes the inherent patriarchal oppression present in beauty pageants, Renaissance Fairs, Miss California and “opposite marriage,” heteronormative nomenclature, time machines, teleportation, and flux capacitors. Excellent.

Written by Eric Stoller

May 24th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

“Guys” is not gender neutral

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via Professor, What If…?

What if I could overcome my gut-wrenching hatred for the phrase ‘you guys’?

Well, it would certainly make my life a lot easier because I hear this phrase multiple times a day. I wish I could accept being referred to in terms that insinuate the whole population is male or that male terms are ‘neutral,’ but I can’t. When I hear ‘you guys,’ I don’t feel like whoever is saying/writing this is talking to me because I am not an f***ing guy!

Reminds me of my post on how “guys” was used in an email to advertise a web development job. “Guys” is not gender neutral.

Written by Eric Stoller

August 24th, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Overt Sexualization + Female Olympiads

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Sociological Images has an interesting post up on the sexualization of female Olympiads. The team uniforms that women wear in comparison to the uniforms that men wear is very interesting. The beach volleyball uniforms are the most striking in terms of apparel difference. The men’s uniform consists of a mesh tank top with mesh shorts. The uniform for women basically exposes as much skin as possible. I am all for the celebration of women’s bodies and am not dissing the women who are wearing the uniforms. However, when people start saying that the women’s beach volleyball uniform is all about performance, that’s when I start raising eyebrows. If it was all about enhancing an athletes playing ability, why aren’t the men’s beach volleyball players shirtless and wearing speedos?

Written by Eric Stoller

August 16th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Life@Lane student blog

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Lane Community College Eugene Oregon Student Blogs
Life@Lane is a “student moderated blog” at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I happened to stumble upon the site while checking out some summer classes at LCC. The blog is prominently advertised on the Lane Community College homepage.

I scrolled down through several posts and was intrigued by a post titled “Would The World Be Better With Women As Leaders?” The post basically says that women are emotional and therefore are not capable of being leaders. Jeffrey, the writer of the post and student at Lane, states in a response to a comment that “i don’t think my gender is superior i just don’t think women would be a good world leader.” Unbelievable. How can Lane Community College support this blog? How can Lane Community College stand behind this overtly sexist post/comment?

Here is the initial blurb about the blog via the LCC Marketing and Public Relations Office:

Life at Lane Student Blog

LIFE@LANE, A STUDENT MODERATED BLOG, launched from Lane’s homepage. Topics are generated by Lane’s Student Service Associates. Student blogs are common at four-year institutions. Lane is among the first community colleges to host a student blog. The purpose is to provide a communication tool primarily for current and prospective students and to increase “community” access.

How in the hell does this blog “increase ‘community’ access”? Student blogs are a common method of providing student insights into the student experience at a college/university. Student blogs are supposed to build community. They are not supposed to perpetuate stereotypes. It seems that Jeffrey, the student blogger at Lane, wanted to generate controversy and not build community. Marketing and Public Relations officials at Lane Community College should post an apology on the Life @ Lane blog, fire Jeffrey, and start moderating the commentary of the Life@Lane blog. I highly doubt that this is how they want life at Lane Community College to be represented.

Tech people

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I was recently at a higher education conference for academic advisors where every time the campus tech support office personnel were referenced, they were called “tech guys.”

For example: “Our tech guys are going to be configuring our database.”

I was asked to be on a technology panel on academic advising and Web 2.0 technologies. During what was probably a long-winded answer to an audience question, I decided to point out that our campuses have “tech people” or “tech folks” on staff in our IT offices. I said something about the fact that tech guys is such a sexist phrase as it makes women invisible and centralizes men as being technology experts.

On a related note, Jason Kottke has been keeping track of the gender diversity at some of the most well known and attended web conferences… WebVisions, a web conference in Portland, Oregon seems to contain a bit more gender variation than some of the conferences that Kottke references, but not by a lot. Of 38 total speakers, only 8 are women.

Sunday links

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The 19th Erase Racism Carnival

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