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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:

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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

Girls Doodle & Boys Doodle

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Boys Doodle / Girls Doodle

Recently, while perusing the book shelves at a local bookstore, I noticed the following 2 books: The Boys’ Doodle Book and The Girls’ Doodle Book. The books were featured next to each other in seemingly a made-for-Sociological-Images set up.

The Boys’ Doodle Book features the following images on its cover: triceratops, ogre, tiger, superman, rocket, skull & crossbones, octopus, boy w/slingshot, mouse, train, kite, dragon, knight, shark, excavator, dog and a cowboy.

The Girls’ Doodle Book in comparison has a different cover color and a variety of differing images than the Boys cover including: crown, pony, castle, sun, microphone, ice cream cone, frog/prince, purse/bag, rabbit, cupcake, starfish, unicorn, fish, cat, toothpaste, dragon, ballerina and a mermaid.

I’m surprised that the Girls’ Doodle Book didn’t have a pink colored cover given the overall stereotypical and gendered nature of the doodles on the cover. Boys like fire, machines, spikes and death, while Girls like food, animals typically associated with non-violence, dancing/arts and hygiene. I’m not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with any of the doodles. What I am saying is that gender-based stereotypes are being perpetuated in overt contrast with these two books.

If you switch the doodles on each book over to the other I wonder if they would still sell?

Written by Eric Stoller

May 20th, 2009 at 9:10 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

Improper procurement

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University of Colorado at Boulder
It always saddens me when I read a news report that focuses the lead paragraph on the public relations aspects of something awful instead of talking about the survival and recovery of those who have been victimized.

And seriously, WTF, when is it ever “proper” to “procure women”? What a mess.

The University of Colorado on Wednesday announced that it would pay $2.85 million to settle lawsuits by two women who said they were raped by football players, closing the book on a scandal that tarnished the school’s athletics department and led to the departure of its chancellor.

The assaults allegedly occurred in 2001 when a group of football players and recruits crashed an off-campus party at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Although no one was convicted in the attacks, the lawsuits contended that the incident was sparked by a hostile atmosphere created by the school’s use of alcohol, drugs and sex to lure top athletes.

During the height of the furor in 2004, seven women came forward to say they had been raped by football players since 1997. No charges were filed, but a university panel found that the school had improperly procured women and alcohol for football prospects. The football coach, athletics director, chancellor of UC Boulder and president of the entire university system eventually left.

via the Houston Chronicle.

Written by Eric Stoller

December 9th, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Pink and Sexism

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University of Iowa pink locker room

The visiting team locker room at the University of Iowa is painted pink. Hayden Fry, the oft-revered Hawkeye football coach, had the locker room painted pink as a “psychological strategy.” A former University of Iowa law professor plans on filing a complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“I don’t think this is about Hayden Fry or his intention in the 1980s; I think this is about how people understand the locker room in 2007,” said Gaulding, who has since left Iowa and now practices employment discrimination law in Minnesota. “This [is] understood as a funny version of the slur that goes on in athletics about playing like a girl, playing like a sissy” — and worse, she said, the university has perpetuated the insult in “a very official, permanent way.”

“It’s based on a concept of gender hierarchy that says not only are boys and girls different, but more important it’s better to be a boy than a girl; it’s shameful to be a girl,” said Gaulding, who is researching a book on cognitive bias and gender discrimination. “Anyone who’s not deeply in denial understands and acknowledges that the pink locker room taps into this very long tradition of using gender as a put-down.”

via Inside Higher Education.

The sexism within the comments on this article at Inside Higher Education are nauseating. I hope Gaulding is successful with her complaint.

Written by Eric Stoller

December 9th, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Web Developers Listserv + Sexism

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I’ve been subscribed to the University Web Developers (UwebD) listserv for quite a while. It’s an interesting mix of design/code tips, recent data, job postings, etc. I wanted to post a brief exchange that occurred a little while ago on the list.


Chris posted this:

Hey guys,

We’re looking for a motivated web developer who loves what he does. ‘We’ being the guys at Arc90, based in NYC…


Missy responded:

I take it female web developers need not apply? Thanks for the heads up. Most of the time we don’t even know we’re not being considered due to our gender.

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Written by Eric Stoller

October 30th, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Windows gurus

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Windows gurus in Redmond Magazine are all men
The illustration is from the cover of Redmond Magazine, the “independent voice of the Microsoft IT community.” At some point in my techie journey I was placed on the Redmond Magazine subscription list. I usually skim through the magazine and analyze the content from the social justice techie perspective. The magazine primarily features white men in various information technology roles. The latest edition features the heading “Secrets of the Windows Gurus.” The illustration consists of 12 men in wizard robes. Apparently there are no feature-worthy windows gurus who are women. So either there are no women who are windows gurus or there are women who could have been featured but were not.

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Written by Eric Stoller

October 23rd, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Discovery Channel

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discovery channel hosts - les stroud, adam savage, bear grylls, jamie hyneman, richard machowicz, ben bailey, danny forster, and mike rowe
dis·cov·er·y
–noun, plural -er·ies.

  1. the act or an instance of discovering.
  2. something discovered.
  3. Law. compulsory disclosure, as of facts or documents.
  4. (initial capital letter, italics) U.S. Aerospace. the third space shuttle to orbit and return to earth.
  5. a cable TV channel for white men.

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Written by Eric Stoller

October 7th, 2007 at 1:39 pm