Pink and Sexism

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.

Noose + History = Racism

Oregon State University Phi Gamma Delta Noose

This photo was taken in front of the Phi Gamma Delta house here at Oregon State University. Apparently the noose was from their Halloween decorations that had been left up accidentally. A student informed me that the original noose included a witch hanging from it. Note that all of the other Phi Gamma Delta Halloween decorations had been removed leaving just the noose hanging from a tree.

I’m sure the fraternity members never thought about the symbolism and historical context of nooses. Once again, racism does not always include malicious intent. The effect of racist symbolism creates an unwelcome and scary environment.

I really hope that Bob Kerr, OSU’s Coordinator of Greek Life, addresses this situation immediately. I also hope that the OSU student newspaper, the Daily Barometer does not try to cover up or silence anti-racist editorials on this situation. (The Barometer has refused to print several editorials that critique the Barometer’s printing of a photo of a student in blackface.)

For more examples of racism on college campuses, check out Vox’s – College Racism Roundup.

Web Developers Listserv + Sexism

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.

Continue reading Web Developers Listserv + Sexism

Windows gurus

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.

Continue reading Windows gurus

NASPA + Abercrombie & Fitch

Update: NASPA seems to have received the message from its members that a partnership with Abercrombie & Fitch was a bad idea.

After the announcement last week about a partnership with Abercrombie & Fitch, we heard from a number of members who objected to NASPA partnering with this particular corporation. It’s important to know and to inform your constituencies that your voices have been heard. NASPA will not be going forward with the partnership. No agreements have been signed and no funds have been received. While the original decision to enter into the partnership was based on numerous conversations with the management of A&F and with many NASPA members and
leaders, based on additional information we received in regard to the business practices of A&F and the reaction of several members, I felt that it was in the best interest of NASPA not to move forward with an agreement. But most importantly, in walking away from the potential partnership, I respect the KC chairs and other leaders who, while perhaps uncomfortable with the partnership, wanted to support their professional association. I regret that they and other leaders received the brunt of some of the more vocal objections from some of our members.

Before the potential for this partnership was realized, the NASPA Board, at its July meeting, established a task force to review sponsorships for the associations. Any guidelines developed by this task force will be shared broadly with the NASPA membership.

We, in the NASPA office, want to note that in order to keep costs down for our members, we will need to continue to look for corporate sponsorships. However, we will work within guidelines established by a committee of the Board that will help us avoid situations such as we encountered with the potential A & F partnership.

NASPA remains committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. We continue to hear and respond to the concerns of our members. NASPA _is_its members and we thank you all for your support.

Apparently NASPA is for sale to the highest bidder. NASPA is one of two higher education associations for Student Affairs professionals. It was recently announced that NASPA was partnering with Abercrombie & Fitch. Specifically, A&F would be providing monetary support for the NASPA Multicultural Institute (a conference on social justice issues for student affairs practitioners.). I am stupefied by NASPA’s decision to take money from Abercrombie & Fitch. The Diversity link at the bottom of the A&F homepage focuses on the diversity (in this case, race and ethnicity) of A&F’s employees. My question to NASPA and A&F is what about the marketing of A&F products. The only people of color on the A&F site (that I see while currently browsing their site) are on the Diversity page!

A&F’s advertising (via the web and in store) is about as diverse as a klan newsletter. It appears to me that NASPA (and several other well-known and respected associations) are for sale to the highest bidder. I think that the A&F PR machine is donating large amounts of money in an effort to deflect criticism of their sales and marketing scheme. Increasing the number of employees of color from zero to more than zero does increase the diversity (see the percentage in the press release below) of the A&F workforce, but it does little to eliminate an institutionalized discriminatory corporate culture that utilizes white supremacy and sexual objectification to sell a product.

The official release from NASPA is after the jump.

Continue reading NASPA + Abercrombie & Fitch

Why I blog…

For the record, I believe that writing about white privilege and patriarchy is a positive thing to do. I feel very positive when I write about these particular barriers to social justice.

I feel that working towards the elimination of racism and sexism is a positive thing. It’s not an easy thing to do. It often hurts. There are comments that make my heart pound as I attempt to digest scattered remnants of thoughts that have been buried beneath piles of words. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night as I try to negotiate how to respond. It hurts to see comments from friends who say that I only talk about negatives. It is challenging.

Continue reading Why I blog…

More on privilege

TOWARD A PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSOR
by Michael Kimmel

THIS BREEZE AT MY BACK

To run or walk into a strong headwind is to understand the power of nature. You set your jaw in a squared grimace, your eyes are slits against the wind, and you breathe with a fierce determination. And still you make so little progress.

To walk or run with that same wind at your back is to float, to sail effortlessly, expending virtually no energy. You do not feel the wind; it feels you. You do not feel how it pushes you along; you feel only the effortlessness of your movements. You feel like you could go on forever. It is only when you turn around and face that wind that you realize its strength.

Being white, or male, or heterosexual in this culture is like running with the wind at your back. It feels like just plain running, and we rarely if ever get a chance to see how we are sustained, supported, and even propelled by that wind.

It is time to make that wind visible.

Continue reading More on privilege

The Meritocracy Myth

The Meritocracy Myth I’ve been mulling over a few subjects that have been making appearances on my site as of late. The subjects are white privilege and the meritocracy myth a.k.a. “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and inequality vanishes as soon as the laces are tied.”

I’ve written about white privilege and the meritocracy myth before but I feel that I need to add a few more bits of content.

I’d like to thank Dennis at Rhetorical Wasteland for spurring me on to continue to post about the same thing…over and over again.

In addition to D’s encouragement, I received this comment/email today (which actually encouraged me to create this post):

…yes, I am white, and no nothing was given to me. The scholarships I had in college – academic (i.e., merit-based) based, not because they were promised to white people. The grades I earned – because of hard work, not because the professor favored white people. The job I hold now, I earned because of my experience and background, not because I am white.

…And if you do not believe in pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, then perhaps you should more attention to the people who have achieved success in this country by their own hard work.

pull yourself up by your bootstraps

In response to that sentiment, I present the following comic, excerpts and links regarding the meritocracy myth…

Continue reading The Meritocracy Myth

bell hooks at Lewis & Clark College

bell hooks photo

Here is the audio recording from bell hooks‘ talk at Lewis & Clark College from February 1, 2006 [88 MB MP3].

Gender disparity in web conferences

Jason Kottke has an excellent post about the gender disparity amongst several of the most popular (successful?) web conferences and their featured speakers.

Women make up less than 25% of the featured speakers at the majority of the conferences (TED, PopTech, An Event Apart Boston 2007, Future of Web Apps – San Francisco, etc) that Kottke analyzes.

According to Kottke:

it seems to me that either the above concerns are not getting through to conference organizers or that gender diversity doesn’t matter as much to conference organizers as they publicly say it does. The Future of Web Apps folks seem to have a particularly tin ear when it comes to this issue. For their second conference, they doubled the size of the speaker roster and added only one woman to the bill despite the complaints from last time.

Here is a list of women speakers for conferences