This weekend, April 28-30, people coming to Penguicon in Southfield, Michigan can catch a number of sessions of interest to Geek Feminism readers.
Coraline Ada Ehmke is one of the Guests of Honor (her Penguicon schedule). Ehmke “is a speaker, writer, open source advocate and technologist with over 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. She works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry.” She and others are participating in a Women in Tech panel and Q&A on Saturday.
Perhaps I’ll see you at the con! Feel free to comment if you’re going to be there and mention any parties or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to.
Another digital commission for the Year Two Kickstarter! Bitty and Jack enjoying a rainy day at Jack’s place. They are very happy (sleepy?) boys. Thanks for the awesome request, VG!!
This month sociologist Matthew Desmond won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Desmond’s book documents, in rich and depressing detail, what it’s like to try to pay rent as a low income earner and how easy it is to end up on the street. Eviction is not caused by personal “irresponsibility,” Desmond insists, it’s essentially “inevitable.”
Eviction is psychologically scarring, but it also throws families further into poverty, destabilizing their work and family lives, often stripping them of their few possessions, and costing money — all while enriching landlords.
Here’s 7 minutes from Desmond about his experience living among low income families and the lessons he learned:Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
We are in a small city in the middle of Wisconsin where we arrived after a several hour drive from Minneapolis. When we checked in, I had to set up to do a webinar for Vita and for The National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals. I'm always nervous before one of these and was glad of the time I had to prepare for the hour long 'conversationar' which is really what it is. Once a month we go on air and chat with the author of the most recent article of The' International Journal for Direct Support Professionals. The conversation, as always we engrossing and the hour up quickly. They make me nervous, these things, but I love what I learn while doing them.
Afterwards I told Joe that I'd like to get out and go to the grocery store to pick up supper. Our hotel room has a fridge and a microwave so we can cook our own supper. We headed to a store not far from the hotel and went in. Now this is a small city, everyone seemed to know everyone, and then in we come. Me, with my weight and my chair, arriving anywhere new is like throwing a massive boulder into a pond. People look, they stare, they make comments. I know I'm facing that going in so I can prepare.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to the store was because I'd felt cooped up, I'd spent the day in the car or our new hotel room working. I wanted a bit of a 'run' in my chair. So I started whipping up and down the aisles getting in as much speed and distance as I could. The exercise made my shoulder feel good, my back stretched out, it was all great.
But what was awesome was ... though there were people in the store, none took much notice of me. It was like they saw big men on wheels zipping around their local grocery store on a regular basis. Several figured out what I was doing, this never happens, and made sure that I had a clear pathway to get up speed and race down the aisle. It was strange just to be in a place and just doing what I needed and wanted to do, and have it not be remarkable.
Not one stare.
Not one silly, or rude, comment.
Nothing, not even, thank heavens, encouragement.
No one was inspired!!
I don't get to go out and just be out. I don't get to take off the coat of armour that I wear to keep me safe.
But after about 20 minutes, I did, I took it off, I felt safe. It's been years since I've dared to do this and I couldn't believe how much the protection I carry weighed. I felt free for a moment. I noticed a long pathway, with no one in it, right near the end of my run. I decided to hit it and hit it hard to see if I could really make the chair fly.
Because I was free.
It's hard to be disabled and feel free.
It shouldn't be.
But it is.
We've closed institutions but not opened minds.
Except for today.
And it was good.
If trying to avoid dying of dehydration is a daily challenge for you, this might just save your life
Dot (£9, josephjoseph.com) is a drink receptacle with sprung ratchet cap. When rotated, cap locks into five consecutive positions, marked with a rising series of glyphs to track refills.Continue reading...
The rivers are all flooding, of course, but I'm on high ground, so it's just soggy. The thing of interest to me is how my growbag + water reservoir systems are holding up. All of them are as saturated as it is possible to be now and the tubs of water are overflowing. So far, they've done fine staying consistently moist during sunny days--now we see if they drown in the rain!
So far, most of them are holding up apparently fine. One bag, which is too shallow for the tub it's in, is definitely waterlogged (but that's one out of over a dozen, so not too shabby!) The two big chiapas-inspired growbag + barrel tubs are hard to tell, because the rain also pummeled a bunch of stuff flat, so I can't tell if the tomato starts are dying from drowning or just hammered down by hard rain. The peppers in the same tubs are okay. I guess we'll know in a day or two.
We close on Dogskull Patch next week. I am trying not to think about it for fear of jinxing everything and becoming a whimpering wreck.
So, we spent the weekend between gigs here in Minneapolis in a hotel that has a small gym. I noticed someone using the treadmill and holding on to it as if it were a giant walker. I got an idea. I told Joe that I would like to try using the treadmill as long as he was there with me, as long as I could step up on it, as long as it didn't go fast and as long as I could grab on to something sturdy that would keep me from falling over. Joe looked a bit fearful at the idea, having been there for a couple of nasty falls in the past, but agreed.
We set out.
The room was empty and I rolled my chair right up beside the walker. I got out and stepped up on it and then we had to figure out the controls. I got off the treadmill and back in the chair as we tried to suss out what all the buttons were for, I didn't want to go flying off and I admit that I didn't want to embarrass myself. Finally we understood how to work it and I got on again.
With great fear we started it up and it went really slowly, just perfect for me. It was sturdily built and I was able to lean down on it hard, holding myself in position as my feet moved below me. It wasn't comfortable and my arms tired more quickly than my legs did, and I have strong arms. But I managed seven whole minutes. Over the weekend I got that up to ten minutes at a slightly quicker pace.
Getting back in my wheelchair felt like the most welcoming thing. I felt stable and in control and the fear of falling was, of course, gone.
I know that the idea of me on a treadmill is comic to some and, oddly, a betrayal to others, but it was just me trying something new, trying something I didn't think I could do. Do I imagine myself one day running on a treadmill? No, of course not, I'm good with that not being in the cards. Do I imagine using it again? Yeah, I do. Why not? I'm a wall walker, I'm simply using an electronic walker.
See the things you get up to when away from home for a weekend. I would never have predicted this, and, my friends, that's what made it fun.
I drew a lot of bookplates for the Year Two Kickstarter.
- Jack and Parse as kids in the Q
- Lardo and George talking about their dumb boys
- There’s a huge S in the Samwell hockey locker room for this purpose
- Parse, at home, probably on insta
- Bow before Lardo, Flipper of Cups, Ruler of Bros
- A swim (◡‿◡)
This issue contains essays by Anya DeNiro and L. Timmel Duchamp, poetry by Mark Rich, Sonya Taaffe, and Bogi Takács, art work by Janet Essley, and reviews by Nancy Jane Moore, Maria Velazquez, Joanne Rixon, Steven Shaviro, and Bogi Takács. You can purchase a single issue or subscription, electronic or print, at http://thecsz.com/.
- After the Election: An ever-present emotional weight
by Anya DeNiro
- The Second Annual James Tiptree Jr. Symposium: Celebrating Ursula K. Le Guin
by L. Timmel Duchamp
- Before Helicopter-Heads Arrived
by Mark Rich
- Continuity Imperative
by Bogi Takács
- The Firebird’s Revenge
by Sonya Taaffe
- Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society, by Cordelia Fine
reviewed by Nancy Jane Moore
Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity,
by Alexis Pauline Gumb
reviewed by Maria Velazquez
The Island of Lost Girls, by Manjula Padmanabhan
reviewed by Joanne Rixon
Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction, edited by Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B. Sharp, with a Conclusion by Kathleen Ann Goonan
reviewed by Steven Shaviro
Judenstaat , by Simone Zelitch
reviewed by Bogi Takács
- Featured Artist
- Janet Essley
Mary Efron was one of the first women I ever photographed for Advanced Style. I met her while walking around New York and then she came to visit me at my job at The New Museum a few days later. She has always had the chicest style and sharpest wit. I asked Mary to share some of her life and style advice for my latest book . Check out her essay below:
Big Girl Time
My life is the story of a woman and her wardrobe. No doubt an x ray of my brain would primarily show closets and racks containing my current wardrobe. Yes, this is the confession of an obsessive clothes piggy, but it’s also my way of coping with the world as I age and shrink. To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn– enchanting universal icon– looking my best is my way of dealing with the world; I interpret this to mean the better one looks the more one is treated respectfully and taken seriously. We who begin with diminutive stature and are over 70 years old have a special problem in obtaining Presence in an ageist society, and by Presence I mean conveying a sophisticated intelligent adult persona. While not presuming “to give advice” I am happy to share my strategies and tactics for coping with the transformations of the aging process, and making a happier and easier time of it.
What follows are my personal formulae for makeup, shapewear and wardrobe for my petite antique state, along with brief sketches of some famous personalities.
So many surprisingly tiny women have achieved colossal Presence with their personalities, brains and modes of dress: for instance, Gloria Swanson‘s character Norma Desmond so aptly said in SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950), “I’m still big. It’s the pictures that got small.” Ms. Swanson was, in fact, 4’11”. In real life Hollywood’s exotic glamour queen of the 1920’s did not have a problem with her age: “I don’t let age bother me. Whenever I am a year older, everyone else is too.”
“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. de Mille”, Norma Desmond announces in that classic heartbreaking moment in SUNSET BOULEVARD; I get ready for my close-up every time I leave my apartment. At 75 nature needs a lot of help, and I have no problem with artifice over nature. Developing the skill of makeup application has been close to a lifelong practice; I’ always tried to assess needed changes as time advances. Obviously, the cosmetics industry gives us more than enough options. I’ve found an effective way to discover appropriate products is to visit a multi brand cosmetics store like Sephora and ask one sales associate to show me the various brands. Of course, I buy a few items and subsequently make purchases at stores that give discounts or have a points system of cash rewards, like Bloomingdales.
I celebrate the freedom to improve my appearance with a variety of products. While I can’t look younger I can look better and fresher. Madame Helena Rubinstein used to say, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”
Madame Rubenstein was another diminutive (4’10”) force of nature whose accomplishments are astonishing, especially considering her background: born in a small Jewish town near Krakow in 1872 to an Orthodox Jewish family, Madame created a huge cosmetics empire, amassed a magnificent eclectic art collection, had palatial homes in Paris, London and New York, and was remarkably progressive, culturally and politically. In spite of her small size she wore masses of large jewelry, which looked stunning. The recent exhibition, BEAUTY IS POWER (Helena Rubinstein’s slogan since 1904), organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, was a revelation of Madame’s extraordinary biography. The frontispiece of the excellent catalogue for the exhibition, distributed by Yale University Press, has the image of Picasso’s tapestry CONFIDENCE, which was in Madame’s posthumously dispersed art collection.
Now let’s consider underpinnings. “Flatter-U corsets do what you wish Nature would do—that is , a scientific equalization of the flesh,” proclaims a girdle ad, ca. 1930. Modern shapewear has even improved on the corsets that had formerly conquered Nature, but experience has taught me I need help to find the right garment. Bloomingdales has a large inventory and, wonder of wonders, still offers the free services of knowledgeable bra fit specialists, who can also help with compressors, formerly known as girdles. Uniqlo has serviceable low cost compressors for everyday wear. Modern shapewear, if properly fitted, is comfortable, confidence building and yes, rights the wrongs of nature.
Wandering past various come-and-get-it-boys lingerie boutiques at Bloomingdales, I think of blond bombshell Mae West, who was Confidence personified. Her outrageous character seduces with her brains and humor, lusty smirk and rolling hips, never doubting the power of her beauty to rule the male human animal. Ms.West is so smart and sexy, her ample curves squeezed into embroidered and beaded satin gowns, happily slithering toward the camera or her male prey on six inch platform shoes, which are always hidden by a long dress. Five foot tall with a giant personality, she would say things like, “When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.” Way before the feminist movement, Mae West turned the tables on men, treating them the way they were mistreating women. In the early 1930’s Ms. West once spotted an extremely attractive young man on the Paramount lot and said, “If that boy can talk he’s in my next picture. “ The picture was I’M NO ANGEL, the “boy” was Cary Grant, and she told him to “Come up and see me some time. Any time.” Playwright, screen writer, actress (on the stage since age 7 and 40 years old in her first movie), aka The Statue of Libido, Mae West had—and still gives us—a wonderful time, always beautifully and fully dressed, and under all she no doubt wears the very best foundations to be had.
At last we come to the final stages of our “armor to face the world”, more flattering and confidence boosting with just the right clothing and, most important, accessories. Style is eternal and fashion is ephemeral: I look for pieces that will be wearable for many years and span multiple generations, since I have a lovely daughter-in-law and glamorous granddaughters. My wardrobe consists primarily of items devised during the 1920’s—skirts, sweaters and trousers—and the 1930’s—shirtdresses, fitted sheath dresses, fitted jackets and swing or straight skirts. In other words, what used to be called All American Sportswear that can go anywhere, depending upon accessories. By keeping lines simple and colors on the dark side, either monochrome or harmonious, a longer illusion is created. Baby Jane moments are to be avoided, so all hem lengths must at least cover my knees.
From the bottom of my heart, as stated by a slogan contest winning window dresser I used to know, “Accessories are your Successories”. Not only are they that idiosyncratic touch which set one apart, there is also The Halo Effect, known in retail display as the charm exceptional pieces can have of enhancing the beauty of surrounding items.
Hollywood studio designers and stylists of the past seem to have known everything about making under-sized women look like normal mid-height adults. Apparel for Judy Garland (4’11) and Natalie Wood (5’) exemplify this skill: outfits designed for these megastars made the eye travel vertically; eye catching details such as jewelry or embellishments were up near their heads, proportions were never exaggerated and fit was always perfect. Practical, timeless and flattering, the styling devised for Judy Garland and Natalie Wood is the mode I’ve followed for many years.
How we put ourselves together sends a message about Presence in this ageist superficial world, so why not use some artifice to advantage? Of course, take it or leave it, it’s just personal– and we are in “Big Girl Time. – From the book Advanced Style: Older and Wiser available HERE.
Originally posted at Family Inequality.
It looks like the phrase “start a family” started to mean “have children” (after marriage) sometime in the 1930s and didn’t catch on till the 1940s or 1950s, which happens to be the most pro-natal period in U.S. history. Here’s the Google ngrams trend for the phrase as percentage of all three-word phrases in American English:
Searching the New York Times, I found the earliest uses applied to fish (1931) and plants (1936).
Twitter reader Daniel Parmer relayed a use from the Boston Globe on 8/9/1937, in which actress Merle Oberon said, “I hope to be married within the next two years and start a family. If not, I shall adopt a baby.”
Next appearance in the NYT was 11/22/1942, in a book review in which a man marries a woman and “brings her home to start a family.” After that it was 1948, in this 5/6/1948 description of those who would become baby boom families, describing a speech by Ewan Clague, the Commissioner of Labor Statistics, who is remembered for introducing statistics on women and families into Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. From NYT:
That NYT reference is interesting because it came shortly after the first use of “start a family” in the JSTOR database that unambiguously refers to having children, in a report published by Clague’s BLS:
Trends of Employment and Labor Turn-Over: Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 63, No. 2 (AUGUST 1946): …Of the 584,000 decline in the number of full-time Federal employees between June 1, 1945 and June 1, 1946, almost 75 percent has been in the women’s group. On June 1, 1946, there were only 60 percent as many women employed full time as on June 1, 1945. Men now constitute 70 percent of the total number of full-time workers, as compared with 61 percent a year previously. Although voluntary quits among women for personal reasons, such as to join a veteran husband or to start a family, have been numerous, information on the relative importance of these reasons as compared with involuntary lay-offs is not available…
It’s interesting that, although this appears to be a pro-natal shift, insisting on children before the definition of family is met, it also may have had a work-and-family implication of leaving the labor force. Maybe it reinforced the naturalness of women dropping out of paid work when they had children, something that was soon to emerge as a key battle ground in the gender revolution.
Philip N. Cohen, PhD is a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He writes the blog Family Inequality and is the author of The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Note: Rose Malinowski Weingartner, a student in Cohen’s graduate seminar last year, wrote a paper about this concept, which helped him think about this.
By Pamela D. Toler (Regular Contributor)
Forty-nine year old British nurse Edith Cavell was the director of the first nurses’ training school in Belgium. When Germany occupied Brussels in the first month of the war, Cavell refused to leave. She turned her clinic into a Red Cross hospital and cared for wounded soldiers from both armies.
On November 1, 1914, Cavell took her heroism to a new level when a Belgian resistance worker brought two British soldiers to her door. Hiding Allied soldiers was punishable by death, but Cavell took the soldiers in without question. She hid them for two weeks while plans were made to take them across the border into the Netherlands, which remained neutral throughout the war.
These two soldiers were the first of more than 200 Allied soldiers whom Cavell helped escape from German-occupied Belgium during the first year of the war. Working with a resistance network, she provided medical care for wounded soldiers, hid the healthy until a guide could escort them over the border, and made sure they had money in their pockets for the journey.
Catching Cavell in the act became a priority for the German political police, who assigned an officer to the task full-time. Searches of the clinic became more frequent. (On one occasion she hid a wounded soldier in an apple barrel, covered with apples.)
On August 5,1915, the Germans arrested Cavell. Told that the other prisoners had confessed, she admitted during interrogation that she had used the clinic to hide Allied soldiers. Ten weeks later, Cavell and 34 other resisters were tried for assisting the enemy. Five, including Cavell, received the death penalty.
American and Spanish diplomats tried to get her sentence commuted without success; her execution was scheduled to be carried out the next day at dawn. When an English chaplain visited her that night to offer her comfort, he was surprised to find her calm and collected. She told him, “I realize that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” As he left, Rev. Gahan said “We will always remember you as a heroine and a martyr.” Cavell answered “Don’t think of me like that. Think of me only as a nurse who tried to do her duty.”
Cavell’s hope to be remembered “only as a nurse” was idealistic–and unrealistic. The British propaganda office at Wellington House used her story both to increase enlistment in Britain (the number of volunteers doubled in the weeks after her death) and to increase anti-German sentiment in the United States.
Pamela D. Toler is a freelance writer with a PhD in history and a large bump of curiosity. She is the author of Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War and is currently working on a global history of women warriors, with the imaginative working title of Women Warriors.
Once in the store I saw that there was a mom there with a boy, maybe 8, with an intellectual disability. He saw the other kids come into the store and made a bee line for the back of the store. His mother called to him, and called to him, and called to him to come to the cash register and pay for his purchase. I'm sure that she heard the kids chatting amongst themselves loudly about 'special needs' and though they didn't say the 'r word' they communicated their view of him as other and as different and as less.
In their chat, they mentioned having been dropped off at the mall after church. I would not normally mention this however if you are going to be loud about your church attendance then you need to realize that you have chosen to represent your faith and your god, their casual and nearly joyful cruelty was terrible to see.
Mom wanted out of the store, her son didn't want to leave the back of the store. Joe comes in at this point and I have an opportunity to do something. I could see that mom didn't want a scene, she didn't want to confront the kids, she just wanted to make the purchase and get the hell out of the store. It had become toxic at the entry of the freshly churched children.
I rolled over by them and began telling Joe, loud enough for them to hear, what was going on. That these kids were mocking a disabled boy and, of course, me too, by how they spoke about disability with such disrespect. They heard me. I thought they'd care. They didn't. I had thought that I could shame them. I couldn't. They didn't care what someone like me said, what someone like me thought.
They also didn't stop. They began, under their breath, mimicking mom's desperate plea for her son to come to the cash register. I rolled over by him and then rolled back towards where his mother stood. He followed me, head down, like he was hiding behind me. There are times I am so freaking thankful to be tall and fat and in a wheelchair. This was one of those times.
Item is bought, mom and son are gone.
I'm in line with my purchase behind these kids. The clerk serves them and then wishes them a good day. I didn't understand why the clerk hadn't done something, he's the one in charge of the space, he's the one with the obvious power. So, I asked. I asked him if he'd heard the kids making fun of the young boy with Down Syndrome. He said that he had. He said that it disgusted him and that behaviour like that makes him want to vomit.
There was a truth and a vehemence in his words that surprised me. He went on to say that he was in the special needs class in his school for many years, he told me of his own diagnosis and a bit of his journey. He said that he got teased daily, but that it wasn't at all like his classmates got. He said that when it happens in the store he just freezes, like he's 11 again, and alone and not knowing what to do. I immediately felt sorry for having, in my mind judged him for his inaction. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a journey.
I made my purchase and wished him a good day.
He looked at me and said, "I should have done something shouldn't I?"
I said, "You served the mom and her child with respect and with care, you were the only person in this store who modelled for those kids what dignity looks like. I think that's good, don't you?"
He nodded, but he didn't believe me.
At the end of the day we went to a very large grocery store that, miraculously, wasn't busy. I set to doing a very long push, up and down every aisle and back and forth across the store. I needed to exercise but I also needed to feel in control again. It was great. I knew I'd done a long distance, I had tired myself out, and I knew sleep would come easily.
There was a moment though that I wanted to tell you about. We've forgotten our blue badge so we can't park in wheelchair parking. It had been raining so Joe let me off at the door and, though there was quite a up slope into the store, I knew that I could do it easily. I was pushing up when a customer coming in ran at me, arms out, ready to inflict help upon me. I didn't see her coming.
I did hear a voice saying, "Don't, he didn't ask!" When I got to the top I looked back to see a young woman with Down Syndrome, standing watching me. She stayed and waited until I was up the slope and in the store. I thanked her.
She said, "I hate it when people just help me. It's just another way to call me stupid and helpless." I told her that she was right. I didn't like the message behind unasked for help.
Ban the 'R' word in speech and in action.
Ban the helpless image in speech and in action.
Speak with respect, act with respect, it's all that anyone really wants.
I want to give a brief heads-up for an Afrofuturist event at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Saturday, April 22 (tomorrow!). Aqueduct authors Sheree Renee Thomas, Jennifer Marie Brissett, and Kiini Ibura Salaam will all be participating. For the full schedule of the conference, check out the official website: https://www.evensi.us/black-speculative-
At 12pm a panel titled 25 YEARS OF AFROFUTURISM & BLACK SPECULATIVE THOUGHT, will feature Dr Reynaldo Anderson, Mark Dery, and Sheree Renée Thomas, moderated by Tiffany Barber. And after lunch, at 2 pm, Sheree Renee Thomas, Jennifer Brissett, Kiini Salaam, and Ibi Zoboi will present BLUE BLACK MAGIC WOMEN.
I so wish I could attend. If you have a chance, it sounds like a wonderful--dare I say inspiriting-- way to spend the day.
Flashback Friday, in honor of Kathrine Switzer running the Boston marathon 50 years after she was physically removed from the race because it was Men Only.
The first Olympic marathon was held in 1896. It was open to men only and was won by a Greek named Spyridon Louis. A woman named Melpomene snuck onto the marathon route. She finished an hour and a half behind Louis, but beat plenty of men who ran slower or dropped out.
Women snuck onto marathon courses from that point forward. Resistance to their participation was strong and, I believe, reflects men’s often unconscious fear that women might in fact be their equals. Why else would they so vociferously object to women’s participation? If women are, indeed, so weak and inferior, what’s to fear from their running alongside men?
Illustrating what seems to be a degree of panic above and beyond an imperative to follow the rules, the two photos below show the response to Syracuse University Katherine Switzer’s running the man-only Boston marathon in 1967 (Switzer registered for the marathon using her initials). After two miles, race officials realized one of their runners was a girl. Their response? To physically remove her from the race. Luckily, some of her male Syracuse teammates body blocked their grab:
Why not let her run? The race was man-only, so her stats, whatever they may be, were invalid. Why take her out of the race by force? For the same reason that women were excluded to begin with: their actual potential is not obviously inferior to men’s. If it were, there’d be no risk in letting her run. The only sex that is threatened by co-ed sports is the sex whose superiority is assumed.
Women were allowed to begin competing in marathons starting in 1972 — not so very long ago — and, just like Melponeme, while they’ve been slower on average, individual women have been beating individual men ever since. In fact, women have been getting faster and faster, shrinking the gender gap in completion times, because achievement and opportunity go hand in hand.
Thanks Kathrine Switzer, and congratulations.
Originally posted in 2012.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
And I did.
Oh happy day!
I was rolling around a pharmacy and discovered that they have men's incontinence products in my size. I can relax and grow old.
Immediately people began responding, I was gathering a lot of 'likes' and a lot of smiley faces. I was glad because I thought it funny too. The someone responded saying that they were surprised at my post and asked if I was making fun of people like her son who, because of his disability is incontinent and doesn't find it funny.
My first response was a little bit of annoyance, let's be honest here, because, to me, obviously I was making fun of me, my size and my age. It was just a joke. A few seconds later, I can't think while annoyed, I clearly saw her point. I didn't have time to do anything other than delete the post. It wasn't a hard decision for me. I hadn't thought through what I'd written and what it could mean to others. My bad.
Then I received several messages saying I shouldn't have taken it down, that it was funny, that in this case it was obvious what I was joking about, that people are too sensitive, that I shouldn't censor myself because of the sensitivities of others.
It was the last one that got me, I shouldn't censor myself because of the sensitivities of others. That's the one that made me glad I had done what I had done. Because of course I should. I don't want my writing or my speaking to cause unnecessary pain or distress to people. I want to challenge people, that's my job, but when a joke, which has no meaning other than to be a joke, is one that could easily be interpreted as making fun of others, in this case, others who wear incontinence products, I am compelled to delete it. Of course I am. Moreover, I'm glad she came on and had the courage to challenge me.
Dialogue isn't to convince others you are right.
Dialogue exists so that both parties learn, both parties grow, both parties end up examining their points of view.
I hope people continue to take me on and say, 'hey, do you hear what you are saying' ... I am old enough now not to be threatened by the idea that I'm not always right. That I get things wrong. That I don't always think things through.
It doesn't matter that I wasn't meaning to cause hurt or offense, what matters is that I did.
So, it's a simple solution.
Take it down.
It's important to say that I've had people rant at me (and no ranting happened in this situation) about taking down posts wherein I speak of people with disabilities having voice and choice and adult goals and dreams. I examine the posts and if I still believe that what I said is accurate and important, I don't make the change.
This wasn't that.
And because this wasn't that, I took the post down.
Because that's the right thing to do.
Sometimes you have to take the long view.
This week Bill O’Reilly — arguably the most powerful political commentator in America — was let go from his position at Fox News. The dismissal came grudgingly. News broke that he and Fox had paid out $13 million dollars to women claiming O’Reilly sexually harassed them; Fox didn’t budge. They renewed his contract. There was outcry and protests. The company yawned. But when advertisers started dropping The O’Reilly Factor, they caved. O’Reilly is gone.
Fox clearly didn’t care about women — not “women” in the abstract, nor the women who worked at their company — but they did care about their bottom line. And so did the companies buying advertising space, who decided that it was bad PR to prop up a known sexual harasser. Perhaps the decision-makers at those companies also thought it was the right thing to do. Who knows.
Is this progress?
Donald Trump is on record gleefully explaining that being a celebrity gives him the ability to get away with sexual battery. That’s a crime, defined as unwanted contact with an “intimate part of the body” that is done to sexually arouse, gratify, or abuse. He’s president anyway.
And O’Reilly? He walked away with $25 million in severance, twice what all of his victims together have received in hush money. Fox gaves Roger Ailes much more to go away: $40 million. Also ousted after multiple allegations of sexual harassment, his going away present was also twice what the women he had harassed received.
Man, sexism really does pay.
But they’re gone. Ailes and O’Reilly are gone. Trump is President but Billy Bush, the Today host who cackled when Trump said “grab ’em by the pussy,” was fired, too. Bill Cosby finally had some comeuppance after decades of sexual abuse and rape. At the very least, his reputation is destroyed. Maybe these “victories” — for women, for feminists, for equality, for human decency — were driven purely by greed. And arguably, for all intents and purposes, the men are getting away with it. Trump, Ailes, O’Reilly, Bush, and Cosby are all doing fine. Nobody’s in jail; everybody’s rich beyond belief.
But we know what they did.
Until at least the 1960s, sexual harassment — along with domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and rape — went largely unregulated, unnoticed, and unnamed. There was no language to even talk about what women experienced in the workplace. Certainly no outrage, no ruined reputations, no dismissals, and no severance packages. The phrase “sexual harassment” didn’t exist.
In 1964, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it became illegal to discriminate against women at work, but only because the politicians who opposed the bill thought adding sex to race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion would certainly tank it. That’s how ridiculous the idea of women’s rights was at the time. But that was then. Today almost no one thinks women shouldn’t have equal rights at work.
What has happened at Fox News, in Bill Cosby’s hotel rooms, in the Access Hollywood bus, and on election day is proof that sexism is alive and well. But it’s not as healthy as it once was. Thanks to hard work by activists, politicians, and citizens, things are getting better. Progress is usually incremental. It requires endurance. Change is slow. Excruciatingly so. And this is what it looks like.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Another one of the paperbacks that made its way into our house around this time was about word puzzles, trivia about English, neologisms, and so on -- it had something to do with Mensa, I think. This is how I learned that the twelve most common letters in the English language are, in order, ETAOINSHRDLU.
Also I remember being given a collection of modern British short fiction and essays, for use in a supplemental tutorial or something -- this is how I read my first George Orwell, his essay "Shooting an Elephant", and my first D.H. Lawrence, his short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner", and my first taste of how truly dark Roald Dahl could get, "The Great Automatic Grammatisator".
The advice on dealing with myself, as a gifted child, helped some -- I got it into my head that an aversion to doing things that I wasn't already good at would be harmful, for instance, even if I couldn't prevent acquiring a bit of it anyway. Everyone who comes out of childhood has scorch and stretch marks. I'm glad I got an early start on Dahl, Lawrence, and Orwell, warning me about technology's effect on art, obsession's effect on childhood, and imperalism's effect on the oppressor, respectively. And though ETAOINSHRDLU caused me to regard "Wheel of Fortune" the way many programmers feel about Sudoku -- that it presents problems to humans that properly ought to be solved by computers -- and thus be a bit of a funless jerk for a while about a TV show that provides pleasure to many people, it's has proven useful in countless games of Hangman, and in an inadvertent audience participation moment during a play I saw in Manchester in 2014.
There's a bit in Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis where a lecturer, solving a Hangman-style puzzle and mocking the audience for our wrong answers, says something about the likelihood of the next letter. I blurted out something like "E, then T, then A, because the twelve most common letters in the corpus of English-language writing, in order, are ETAOINSHRDLU". The speaker teased me occasionally for the rest of the act, and I later learned that several other audience members inferred that I must be a castmember, a plant.
More and more frequently I find that other people in my communities treat me as though I must be one of the cast, not one of the audience. As though I am important. One way of looking at impostor syndrome is that it looks at two people with the same characteristics and pasts and treats one as less important, always the audience and never the cast, solely because it's the self. The How to Deal book had stories about kids who got swelled heads, and stories about kids who never believed they were good enough. "Shooting an Elephant" said: once you're in the cast, you have to follow the script or there'll be hell to pay. And ETAOINSHRDLU has long represented to me the power of double-checking whether something really is random, and finding patterns, and sharing them with others, empowering us. Which can break a kind of fourth wall between watching and acting.
In a little over a week, I'm a guest of honor at Penguicon, and one of my sessions will be a reprise of my LibrePlanet 2017 keynote, "Lessons, Myths, and Lenses: What I Wish I'd Known in 1998" (description, video, in-progress transcript). I'll give the audience a menu of topics and they'll select the ones I talk about, and the order. It'll be massively different from the LibrePlanet version because the audience will choose different topics or a different order, barring deliberate collusion. One reason I'm doing my Guest Of Honor talk this way is because there is too much to say, and this way each story or insight has a fighting chance to get said. But another is that I have given written-in-advance keynote speeches enough times before that it's in danger of becoming a habit, a local maximum. And -- perhaps this does not speak well of me -- I think this particular audience participation method also provides a release valve for the pressure of being the Important one in the room. Instead of performing as a cast of one, I turn everyone into a plant.
To close out, my favorite chunk of Orwell, the ending of "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad":
At any rate, spring is here, even in London N.1, and they can't stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can't. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, Spring is still Spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
This is hard.
The good thing is my fitness level has changed since last a footrest broke and I was able to push fairly far and fairly fast even under these conditions, but, it needs to be fixed quickly. Have found a place to replace it and will get a new set tomorrow.
We were lucky this happened after getting through the airport and into a rental car and to the hotel. The big stuff was done. We were also lucky that I had the ability to manage with it fairly well today but that's where the luck ends.
This is a trip where I decided to challenge myself. I'm doing three brand new lectures, one of them a full day workshop. I didn't need to have the additional challenge of wheelchair problems along the way. But things happen when they happen and we deal because we have to deal.
Tomorrow my chair should be back in business.
I'm hoping that the universe understands, that, I'm not in need of any more lessons for a little while.
I did not know, my sweetness, what it would feel like to be a grandmother. I tried to imagine it, and I wasn’t able to, not the whole time that you were on your way. I knew I would love you, that was certain – but the rest of it was a secret I’m only just now figuring out. My own mother has turned out to be such a wonderful grandmother, that I felt a lot of pressure, so I hope I do okay. It has started like this – you are so beautiful that I have shown your picture to every person I have encountered in the last 10 days. (The lady at the wine store agrees that you are perfect, and the guy who does our taxes (your Poppy Joe sent that one) agrees. Several taxi drivers have concurred, and I like to think that the lady at the grocery store can’t wait for an update.) I have not been so besotted of a human since your Mum and Aunties were in my arms. I cannot get enough of you, your tiny fingernails are miraculous, your little mouth, so like your mother’s, I could look at it all day. In this way, my Elliot, becoming a grandmother was like becoming a mother. You are like sunshine, I can watch you for hours, and holding your small body in my arms almost hurts, it is so divine.
It’s different than being a mother though, because I am not afraid. I don’t worry you’ll stop breathing, I am unconcerned by your snuffles and sneezes, I am not anxious about hypothermia if your hands feel cool, and I don’t fear for your future when you sleep through a feeding. I felt that fear for your mum, and it was all used up on her. I’ve seen how it goes now, and I know you’re not as tenuously here as it seems. When your mum asks me if you’re okay, it’s with an easy heart that I can reply that your are not just okay, you’re perfect. You changed that – promoting me from fretting, over-concerned mother, to confident, unworried grandmother, and it’s a change I’m enjoying. it is no longer my responsibility to make what feel like crushing, all important decisions about life and death matters, like whether or not you should have socks on. That is for your mum and dad, and the part of me that remembers the feeling enjoys watching them fuss over you. (The present debate centres around your fingernails. Do they need cutting? Are they too long? What if you scratch yourself? How should they cut them if they are too long? They are beautifully finding their feet as parents, and seeing them take on the role and the responsibility so well is almost as compelling and satisfying as your eyebrows.)
You’ve rippled through our whole little family, reminding me that babies are huge that way. Though you’re tiny, you’ve had an impact on all of our lives. Our whole dynamic has changed and we’re all looking forward, and dreaming, and imagining who you’re going to be, and what you’ll be like. So far, you’re easygoing, thoughtful, and worried – a lot like (me) and your Great Uncle Tupper, who’s name you bear. I’ve been thinking a lot about him this week, and I thought a lot about my own grandparents too, as I did with your mother and aunties, wishing that they were here, wishing they could see you. I was blessed Elliot, with the most wonderful grandparents in the world, and though I only had them until I was in my teens, they remain two of the most powerful people of my life. It was this that was in my mind when I started your blanket. The centre panel is Lily-of-the-Valley. It was an easy choice – for it reminds me of my own grandmother. It was a favourite of hers, and at her house a long bed of it bloomed every spring, and smelled like heaven. Your mother is named for my grandmother, and you’re the child who makes me a grandmother, and so Lilly-of-the-Valley it was.
Surrounding that centre is a wee border of ring lace. Tiny, perfect circles, meant as a symbol of the whole family that surrounds you. We are a small family, but we are tight, and we know how to operate as a team. it’s been said that we’re a hard family to break into – but you, little boy, are in, and the force of the wee and fierce McPhee army stands round you.
That motif gives way to a pattern of dog paws, meant to acknowledge your dog Penny. (She’s the border collie who keeps trying to lick your face, and comes over every time you fuss to make sure that someone is taking care of her people-puppy.) I am not a dog person, but Penny is a very good dog, and I suspect she’s going to be your first and fiercest friend.
The largest border on your blanket is your heritage – where you come from, in the context of the great big world. Your mother is Canadian, so snowflakes for her – and your father is Nicaraguan, so the little flowers are Nicaragua’s national flower, the sacuanjoche. (It is hard to knit one, but I think it’s close. Maybe when I teach you to knit you’ll come up with something better.)
Finally, the edging I choose for you is an old one – unlike the dog paws, snowflakes or the flowers, I didn’t have to make it up. It’s a variation of Print O’ the Wave, and besides being beautiful, it’s a symbol of much. The water we all love to be near and in, and the water you were born from and into, the wave of love that carried you here, and it isn’t lost on me that it looks a lot like the climbing plant in your living room that your parents both love.
All together, your blanket is just over 2 and a half kilometres of silk and wool, soft and strong, like I hope you and life will be. It is a great thing to be resilient, and gentle. It took me months to make it, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever made. I shudder to think how many stitches are in it, but know that I didn’t resent a one of them. They all hold my hope and joy, and there is so much of that – I couldn’t have knit a stitch less.
I know that right now, we don’t know each other very well. You’re young, and you’re perfect and you sleep a lot, and so much about you is yet to be revealed. Will you play the piano, like me? The guitar like Joe? Will you be tenderhearted, like Erin and your mum, or dangerously witted, like your Great Grandmother Bonnie or your Great Uncle Tupp? Will you be able to write like your Grammy or my Grampa, will you love crosswords and languages and travelling like Ian? Will you be fierce like your Aunt Amanda? Resilient like Samantha? Are you the child who is finally curly-haired, like me? Will you be tall? What will come from your father and his family? What will be all yours – the things that make you your own self, that we all come to think of as your gifts? We can’t wait to find out, and I am weepy and overwhelmed thinking of a lifetime of learning you.
You will go on to do a great many things, but know that even though you are so little, you have already changed the world. Though I will do my best to stand between you and sadness, you are going to have bad days. It is my fondest wish that on those days, you remember this. You are a wanted, longed for, and deeply loved person, and you are everything we ever hoped would happen. You are my grandson.
Welcome, and I love you.
I am constantly inspired by the wisdom and spirit of the people I photograph. I wanted to share an essay written by 98-Year-Old yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch, featured in my latest book Advanced Style Older and Wiser. For more essays CLICK HERE.
In my head I’m still in my 20s, and I have no intention of ever growing up. When people ask me about age, I tell them to look at all the trees around them. They’re hundreds of years old. They may look as if they’re dying at the moment, but they’re not; they’re recycling themselves. In a couple of months, they’re going to be reborn again. I believe we can recycle ourselves with each breath we take.
It’s important to have no fear. My uncle in India taught me that. He was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi. I marched with Gandhi in 1930. Through both of these great men I was inspired to always do what I believe. I performed nightly through the World War II bombing Blitz in London and people were amazed. I worked with General Charles de Gaulle and the French Resistance helping Jews escape the Nazis. I didn’t think it was anything special. I later married the love of my life and modeled for top designers such as Coco Chanel, Jean Lanvin and Jean Dessès. Then, I was an actress under contract with MGM in Hollywood. When disappointments came, my dear friend Marlene Dietrich said, “Close the book.” Instead of dwelling on things, I learned to move on.
I live every day with style. I like color and I always wear high heels. Although I am considered a yoga master and have certified over 1,600 yoga teachers, I love wine and chocolate. When I was 87, I started competitive ballroom dancing and I have since won over 721 First Place Awards. It’s never too late to follow your heart. When I get up in the morning, I say to myself, “This is going to be the best day of my life”… and then it is. Just know that there is nothing you cannot do for you’re not the doer, you’re the instrument. You have the power inside to do everything you set your mind to!