Katie Piper – Acid Attack Survivor

“There is so much on Instagram with positive quotes and about being positive, we have to be careful about not making people who are not positive feel like they are failing or not coping. That is ok, who wants to walk around like a robot, constantly repeating affirmations?”

Original article here.

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Quote: Madness

There is no running away from this problem. In the last century, doctors called it housewife neurasthenia and recommended lots of bed rest. Sheila Rowbotham has called it the problem of being “oppressed by an overwhelming sense of not being there.” Betty Friedan saw it in the tired, empty women of the Feminine Mystique – and called it “the problem that has no name.” It is the problem of Woman as Body: of suffering from an overexposure of physical visibility as a body combined with an impoverishment of genuine recognition as a person… Whatever one calls this problem of feminine identity, it is the stuff of which female symptomatology, nervous breakdowns, and madness are made. 

— Miriam Greenspan

Anger about makeup on the tube is the first stop to misogyny

their exasperated plea for women to do their eyeliner at home in order to “maintain the mystery”. The mystery – spoiler – is that there is no mystery. There is simply concealer, tight underwear and pretending everything’s fine.

This week, my favourite MP, Stella Creasy, persuaded the government to fund a review by the Law Commission into hate crimes – it’s the first time misogyny has been recognised as a form of hate requiring a legislative framework to address. And while the public transport issue she was talking about was harassment, such as taking photos up a person’s skirt, I feel there’s a thread between the two, a fine rope of disdain for women.

Things like this do make you think about your place in the world, and the space you take up, and the rules of how to be a woman in public. For example, on my way to a meeting in town last week, I bought a jambon beurre from Pret a Manger, the most elegant of its offerings I’d argue, and indeed have, many times. It was around 2pm I think, and waiting on the train platform I propped myself against a wall and prepared to unwrap it. I was feeling slightly light-headed at this point, my body being one of those that requires a relentless routine of watering and refuelling, and while it’s not my regular choice of lunch spot, I needed to eat. I had the sandwich about an inch from my mouth when I was filled suddenly with a chalky kind of doom. I’d remembered the Facebook group Women Who Eat on Tubes, full of creep shots of unsuspecting women with their own frantic lunches, and then gently returned it to my bag.

In a slightly different time, world, a group like that, where strangers share and comment on women eating might feel a bit like nothing, a laugh even. But we are here, now, and the fact that the subjects must be female exposes a mean truth about the boundaries of how it is acceptable for women to perform.

Until recently it was frowned upon for women to enter pubs alone, or smoke on the street – to do anything that was seen as actively undermining their femininity. Applying makeup does exactly this by revealing the labour it takes to look like a pretty lady. Eating does this, too, not just because it displays a lack of control, a primal desire for food (and food that, eaten in transit, is usually fast and cheap) but because eating anything at all is a grimly unfeminine act – the pursuit of all women should be an existential reduction of flesh through means of abstention and exhaustion and regular exfoliation.

Nottinghamshire police have been recording misogyny as a hate crime since 2016 – they define it as “incidents against women that are motivated by the attitude of men towards women and includes behaviour targeted at women by men simply because they are women”. While tutting at a stranger as they apply their blusher is at least four leagues away from the harassment that requires hate crime status, it is, I think, a behaviour that swims in the same sea. The monitoring of women, the policing, the rules about how to behave, whether dating or working or mothering or simply travelling home. People offended by women applying makeup on the train, look away. Look down at your newspaper and read about war, or close your eyes and enjoy the simple pleasure of your own circle of private air. If you see me walking through the world, muttering, it will be a simple phrase, repeated: “This is my dance space.”

I’m considering launching a social experiment where I reply to all emails with the first suggested response Gmail gives. “Love it!” comes up regularly, but the rub comes when Gmail seems to know me better than I know myself. In response to a message asking “You OK?”, it suggested, “No I am not.”

Football-Mad Girl Fame Boys Refused to Shake Hand

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/13/football-mad-girl-fame-boys-refused-to-shake-hand

What an uplifting story 🙂

This reminds me of going to a local pub in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and how the bartender shook my Dad’s hand. I (naturally) went to shake his hand also, but was stared blankly at, while they talked hunting.

Subtle, insidious.

It reminds me of being 10 or so and a younger boy spitting in my face when we tried to play football with them at the local park.

It reminds me that my mother, with the best of intentions, would often tell me “not to compete with the boys” in any way and to generally “stay away from them”. She tried to follow all the strict, Catholic, conservative “rules” that she was brought up with, but, even after making all that effort, she still seemed to get chewed up by the patriarchy anyway.

They were painful experiences, but I have decided to believe that things are really changing. I hope we can support women and men and move forward together, and that  if this girl keeps playing mixed sports, that she is protected from sexual violence and threats therein at a later stage in her sporting career.

I have to remind myself that, despite my experiences and that of people I love, it is a small proportion of men who actively do bad things, and many men do support women, and speak up when they see injustice, like my work husband in Bilbao. Time and again he has helped me out of difficult situations, and spoken up when he sees creepy dudes being creepy. He doesn’t call himself a “feminist”, and he’s had difficult and hurtful experiences with women that he’s shared with me, but he just tries his best to do the right thing on a daily basis.  Knowing men like that gives me hope.

 

Why tech’s gender problem is nothing new

Original article here.

Today, jobs in computing, if advertised on Facebook, would probably be targeted to men because these jobs are located in an already male-dominated field. In the early days of electronic computing, however, the work was strongly associated with women. It was feminized because it was seen as deskilled and unimportant. This quickly began to change as computers became indispensable in all areas of government and industry. Once it became clear that those who knew how to use them would have great power and influence, female programmers lost out despite having all the requisite skills. Britain’s computerization is a cautionary tale: women were repeatedly and progressively denied promotions or boxed out of their jobs, particularly when they married or had children. When they left, they were replaced by men. This created disastrous labor shortages that ultimately forced Britain’s decline as a computing superpower.

Women continued to program, but they had to do it without the support of major institutions. One example was the entrepreneur Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, who used a masculine nickname to sidestep sexism. Shirley started a freelance programming company with an explicitly feminist business model after finding herself unable to advance in government and industry. She employed hundreds of other women who had similarly had to leave the workforce. Shirley gave these women an opportunity to use their skills in the service of the nation’s economy by giving them the option to work from home, filling some of the gaps left by this exodus of trained computer professionals from full-time computing work.

The irony is that this shortage had been intentionally engineered by the refusal to continue to employ female technologists in these newly prestigious jobs. Throughout history, when jobs are seen as more important, or are better paid, women are squeezed out – hence the need for protective legislation that ensures equality of opportunity in hiring and job advertisements.

Stephanie “Steve” Shirley

Completely flabbergastingly amazing woman.

Demi Lovato – Mental Illness/Addiction

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/28/demi-lovato-sober-recovery-addiction-mental-health

 

In academia, they’re known as “narratives of restitution”: tales of recovery that frame personal experiences of mental illness and addiction as past and resolved. They frame illness as something that can be beaten, even though in many cases recovery is a matter of management rather than victory.

Lovato’s latest single, Sober, is about her lapsed sobriety; she released the song on 21 June, a month before her hospitalization, and it’s very apologetic. “I’m sorry that I’m here again,” she sings. “I promise I’ll get help / It wasn’t my intention / I’m sorry to myself.”

But Lovato’s illness is not her fault, and perhaps that’s the most important thing that her story can shed light on: people struggling with mental illness and addiction require empathy, even if they never achieve the kind of recovery that resembles a conclusion.

First days

Adjusting to the UK feels absolutely bizarre, but then I realise that I’m in England, a place where I’ve only ever lived for 3 years of uni in Liverpool.

Here are some weird things:

  1. How English everyone looks – 9 out of 10 people are blonde, with pale skin and rosie cheeks.
  2. Overweight people – there are a few obese people, but generally people are about two clothes sizes bigger than in Bilbao.
  3. The price of alcohol – I had remembered that a drinkable bottle of wine would cost about £7, but trying to find cheap wine for cooking is basically impossible, so I bought vermouth instead.
  4. The money has changed – buying my first pint in a pub, the barmaid handed me back a pound coin, saying the old ones are no longer in circulation. When did that change?
  5. People don’t make eye contact, but if they do, they give a little smile.
  6. When I move out of someone’s way, they say thank you.
  7. Driving on the left again.
  8. Food trucks being in fashion.
  9. Socks and flip flops being in fashion.
  10. High definition eyebrows.
  11. People are polite and friendly on the phone.