Category Archives: Empowering Girls and Young Women

Chrissie Hynde

Original article here.

Hynde’s clean living also extends to her having been a vegetarian since she was 16. “Back then, I was living on what the English called ‘cheese salad’,” she laughs. “I can eat in thousands of places now!” So many good social changes have happened in her lifetime, she says, not that you’d notice this today. “The ongoing discussion about how shitty things are now annoys me – come on. Obviously, there’s some bad shit in the world, but there always has been.” Positive changes get forgotten far too quickly, she continues. “Smoking killed more people than two world wars and nobody’s said since the ban that it’s great that so many people have stopped. Stop fucking moaning about things! Do something about it or shut it!”

This extends to her feelings about women in music. “The idea that women couldn’t be in the music industry 40 years ago – not only did I prove that wrong, but I just disagree. In music, you can do whatever you want. The only person who ever tried to stop me was me.” Surely she was treated differently to men in the industry in the 70s? “I was a chick and it was a novelty, sure – but this is showbusiness. Novelties are what showbusiness runs on. Jimi Hendrix didn’t have to set his guitar on fire. He played pretty fucking good without the theatrics. But people liked it.”

She was never discriminated against either, she says, then pauses. “I think a lot of guys didn’t want me in their band because I was a girl. Maybe. But so what?” As for the controversy about the gang-rape in her book: “It was just total bullshit. All of a sudden, I became this rape apologist. I thought, ‘Fuck you all!’ I don’t talk about it [feminism]: I am it. I fucking do it.” She’s never “taken a penny from a man”, she adds. “I’ve never had anyone help me get to the top, so to be suddenly this anti-feminist…” She shakes her head. “Go fuck yourselves.”

She wants to move on, but doesn’t quite yet. “I wasn’t saying I was a victim, but I was saying I was a bit of a fucking idiot. I mean, you don’t walk into a bikers’ clubhouse, with a sack full of Quaaludes, all padlocked up and you find out you’re the only person there. Surprise, surprise!” We talk for a while longer and she asks me not to include a few of the things we discuss: she worries about some of her tamer, topical statements becoming the only things people ask her about in the future.

And this worries her today. “We’ve now got to a point where even people who are very outspoken, know their own mind, who aren’t afraid to be criticised, who don’t care what people think, are putting a sock in it because it’s not fucking worth it any more.” She went to see Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse on tour recently, she says, and noticed how they were restricting themselves. She’s not advocating general rudeness, along the lines of people who troll – she doesn’t like that – “but the idea of doing it anonymously, it means most people can dish it out, but they can’t take it”.

Hynde can take it, clearly. “Anyway, I told my story [about the rape]. That was my story. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the book. Let’s move on. I don’t give a fuck.”

I ask to see Hynde’s studio. “Yeah, sure!” She’s bouncy after her rants, which never seem directed at me personally, despite my questions. Hundreds of canvases lean against each other on shelves and teeter against the wall. Some lovely abstracts sit drying, full of colour, light and noise. By the door, there’s a black-and-white photograph of her parents, Bud and Delores, in front of the house her father built. “We didn’t get along,” she explains. “It was during that time in the 60s when no one got along with their parents. Mine were very conservative and the only way I could deal with it was just to split.”

Did she feel guilty? “No! I never thought about it. I kind of feel guilty now. I think, ‘What did my mother think? I just disappeared.’” Even after she got famous, she didn’t stay in touch beyond the call of duty; they came to see her on tour “eventually”. “I just needed to go to another continent to do what I wanted to do,” she says, all matter-of-fact. “I could be bitter about that or see it in another way – that’s how I fulfilled my destiny. So now I can actually say, ‘Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it so hard on me that I just pissed off!’” She smiles, a little sadly. “I know they’d be offended by that. I don’t want to offend them. But that’s what it was.”

Hynde likes being 67. “I find it really interesting, getting older, because life starts to make sense. I didn’t get famous until I was quite old – 27 – so maybe that’s part of it too.” She also thinks being alone gives her perspective – she’s been single for a long time. Her last marriage, to artist Lucho Brieva, broke down in 2002; she also points to a painting of a man in her room – “some arsehole I don’t hang out with any more”. “You have to have a very strong sense of yourself to be alone,” she says. “It’s hard work and I don’t recommend it. It’s not like you can have a lovely moment sitting over a cup of coffee discussing the ordinary pleasures of everyday life.” She picks up a paintbrush. “You’ve got to find an outlet. And if I was in a happy relationship, you wouldn’t be looking at these paintings.”


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.

De-Mystifying Mindfulness 1

Over December I made a list of courses from Coursera that might be good for my future.

You can find the link to this one here.

Here are my notes on the course so far:

Based partially in experiential learning, this course aims to give you the theoretical and practical skills to understand and to critically assess Mindfulness in its various forms for yourself. Encompassing its ancient traditions and cutting edge science, this course seeks to de-mystify Mindfulness as a technology for life in the 21st century.
the equivalent of a complete eight week Mindfulness training course based on the famous MBSR on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. This special combination of theoretical and practical learning reflects the nature of Mindfulness as a field. One of its great challenges to us today is the way that it emphasizes the critical importance of our own personal experience of it, as a resource for our understanding of it. So you need to be prepared to do some honest introspection during this course as part of the process of study.

Put together in conjunction with CFI Online Learning Lab of Leiden University

Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)

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A video on how to be successful on a mooc. I think I’ll need to make a video or two for my Spanish teaching project. This one seems simple and effective!

Theory I: Introduction to Mindfulness – This Thing Called Mindfulness (video)

In general, the results suggests that the vast majority of people who take up mindfulness do so because they feel that it will help them to reduce negative experiences. In fact, about 95% of people recognize this as their motivation for participation. This category also includes the aspiration to be calmer to regulate their emotion more effectively and so on. About 30% of people hope that mindfulness will allow them to enhance their sense of well-being which also includes aspects such as feeling happier, being more fulfilled, being more self-aware. And perhaps, even having better concentration and focus.