Screw leaning in. It’s time to slam the door in Silicon Valley’s face

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/15/screw-leaning-in-its-time-to-slam-the-door-in-silicon-valleys-face

Opting out of sexist workplaces is straight out of the universe of boycotts and strikes. It acknowledges that this is a political problem, not one to be solved by HR


15 April 2015

Women in tech have been told to lean in, back off, be bigger blowhards and simultaneously let others shine. But by far the most inspiring – and probably the most effective – piece of advice is the one found on the otherwise rather mysterious new website tableflip.club: “Fuck that, we’re done. It’s not us, it’s you.”

Meaningful change, the anonymous woman behind the site told me over email, requires not just tweaking but reinvention from the top down: “It’s virtually impossible to change a sick system without being the one in charge.”

You can’t destroy the master’s house, it seems, when the master’s a tool.

Her site went up on Monday and hosts a single, 500-word piece of writing giving voice to years (or decades) of exasperation:

“When we try to play by the rules (which we do because we’ve seen what happens to women who don’t) we’re denied opportunities because we aren’t “ready” for them – and we are ALSO denied the things you say we need in order to BE ready. When we do these things without your corporate approval, we do it knowing that we may be the next woman who gets quietly fired for being too forward. When we try to take a seat at the table like Sheryl said we should, we’re called presumptuous.”

The solution: “It’s time we take our potential elsewhere.”

What makes her campaign so novel is that it applies the language and techniques of political activism to something that’s been treated as a business problem. Many self-help books and workshops designed to support women at work actually place the onus of responsibility on them, encouraging women to brag more but promise less, to be more assertive and less aggressive.

But the tableflip.club founder rejects the idea that women should try to adapt to the demands of an already-broken system in order to survive: “Flipping the tables takes the ‘just try harder, just sit at the table’ advice and flips it on its head. We’re already trying so goddamn hard and it’s not working, women are leaving in droves. So we need to change something”.

Opting out is straight out of the universe of boycotts and strikes. It acknowledges that the problems faced by women in tech are inherently political, and can’t be solved by a human resources department. The difficulties women face aren’t the problems of one woman, or one team or one company. They’re not just limited to Adria Richards or Brianna Wu or Ellen Pao; they’re not just Twitter with its no-women board or Wikipedia with its 91% male editors. The problems are systemic – and no amount of attitude adjustment or leaning in on the part of those who get screwed by the system can possible change it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/15/screw-leaning-in-its-time-to-slam-the-door-in-silicon-valleys-face

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Why is it okay to discriminate against women for religious reasons?

From The Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-is-it-okay-to-discriminate-against-women-for-religious-reasons/2015/04/19/95939e9e-e519-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html


April 19, 2015

Not very long ago I met a young man at a business function. “Hello, I’m Amanda,” I said, sticking out my hand in greeting. He kept his arms glued to his side. “I don’t touch women,” he said.

He was, I realized belatedly, a deeply Orthodox Jew whose tradition prohibited even minor physical contact between men and women outside their families. I nodded politely and moved on. But the encounter deeply troubled me, then and now. Faced with someone who refused to shake my hand because of who I was, I defaulted to social courtesy, wishing neither to make a fuss nor disparage this young man’s religious beliefs.

Yet later I wondered: Why are biased acts against women — even religiously motivated ones — considered so much less toxic than biased acts of any other kind? Why do women often demur and accept humiliation rather than make a fuss? Why does respect even for admittedly extreme religious beliefs trump respect for half the human race?

My encounter came to mind again as I pondered recent stories of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refusing to take airline seats next to women. Several cases were reported in the New York Times this month. Others have appeared in the Israeli press as far back as 2012.

On some flights women reportedly moved when asked. Some men switched places with women to eliminate the adjacency problem. Some flight attendants assisted the Orthodox men in relocating. Yet when others did not, some flights were delayed as men refused to be seated. The incidents have spawned lively discussions among Jews and non-Jews alike.

Yet I wonder: Why are we even discussing this?

Would such blatant behavior be treated merely as a social choice, a courtesy issue or an awkward airline customer-service problem if the targets were anyone other than women?

Let’s test it. What if we recast my encounter, giving me a different race and gender. How do I react now if someone says, “I don’t touch black men.” Do I quietly move on? How would this young man have reacted had the tables been turned? What if I had done something I could never imagine myself doing? Would he have treated it as a social issue if I had refused his hand, saying: “I don’t shake hands with Jews?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-is-it-okay-to-discriminate-against-women-for-religious-reasons/2015/04/19/95939e9e-e519-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html

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Victim of Southold fire renowned feminist Sidney Abbott

Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love wrote “Sappho Was a Right On Woman”

From Southold Local:  http://southoldlocal.com/2015/04/15/victim-of-southold-fire-renowned-feminist-sidney-abbott/


Apr 15, 2015

The woman who died tragically in a house fire in Southold this morning was a well-known figure in the feminist movement who left a rich legacy.

Although police have not yet officially released the victim’s identity, multiple sources, including friends, her pastor, and Southold Fire Chief Peggy Killian confirmed that the woman, who was wheelchair-dependent and who lost her life was Sidney Abbott, 77, a world-renowned crusader in the women’s movement and co-author of  “Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism”; the book was written with Barbara Love in 1971.

According to the Southold Fire Department, the fire broke out at 435 Willow Pond Lane, Abbott’s home, at approximately 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The Southold Town Police dispatch center was advised of a house fire at the above location by a private fire alarm company.

Killian said former Southold Fire Chief George Berry, Abbott’s next-door neighbor, tried valiantly to enter the house to save Abbott, who was home alone; he was “turned back by flames and heavy smoke,” a release from the Southold Police Department said.

Once fire department personnel entered the home, they found the female occupant of the house on the first floor; Killian said she was found in the living room, sitting in a recliner, a wheelchair nearby. Abbott had a home health aide who had already left for the day, Killian said.

Her dog, Killian said, was at the kennel and survived the blaze; a cat’s body was found at the scene.

Southold detectives, Suffolk County arson and homicide squads and the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office are all investigating the fire. Greenport and Cutchogue Fire Departments also responded to assist.

Continue reading at:  http://southoldlocal.com/2015/04/15/victim-of-southold-fire-renowned-feminist-sidney-abbott/

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World’s mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/19/worlds-mountain-of-electrical-waste-reaches-new-peak-of-42m-tonnes

The biggest per-capita tallies were in countries known for green awareness, such as Norway and Denmark, with Britain fifth and US ninth on the UN report’s list

A record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded around the world in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said.

Last year, 41.8m tonnes of so-called e-waste – mostly fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life – was dumped, the UN report said.

That’s the equivalent of 1.15m heavy trucks, forming a line 23,000km (14,300 miles) long, according to the report, compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s educational and research branch.

Less than one-sixth of all e-waste was properly recycled, it said.

In 2013, the e-waste total was 39.8m tonnes – and on present trends, the 50-million-tonne mark could be reached in 2018.

Topping the list for per-capita waste last year was Norway, with 28.4kg (62.5lbs) per inhabitant.

It was followed by Switzerland (26.3kg), Iceland (26.1kg), Denmark (24.0kg), Britain (23.5kg), the Netherlands (23.4kg), Sweden (22.3kg), France (22.2kg) and the United States and Austria (22.1kg).

The region with the lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was Africa, with 1.7kg per person. It generated a total of 1.9m tonnes of waste.

In volume terms, the most waste was generated in the United States and China, which together accounted for 32% of the world’s total, followed by Japan, Germany and India.

Waste that could have been recovered and recycled was worth $52bn, including 300 tonnes of gold – equal to 11% of the world’s gold production in 2013.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/19/worlds-mountain-of-electrical-waste-reaches-new-peak-of-42m-tonnes

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Grayson on Money & Politics: “If We Do Nothing, We Can Kiss This Country Goodbye. Well, Pucker Up”

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Why Gay Rights Trumps Women’s Rights

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17864/why-gay-rights-trumps-womens-rights

Why aren’t we standing up against the assault on women’s rights?

BY Marilyn Katz
April 17, 2015

Well, finally someone’s finally pointed out what I (and I imagine many others) have been thinking about but have been hesitant to point out, while gay rights are doing great, women’s rights have gone down the tube. And, as bad, men don’t seem to care.

Bringing these nasty inverse trends to light was Gail Collins who in her April 3 New York Times column contrasted the uproar over potential discrimination against same-sex couples with the silence that met the passage of new anti-abortion laws in Texas and Arizona.

While the Indiana law created an instant call for boycotts and mobilized a broad swath of opposition—including from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, so great that Governor Pence and the legislature mounted a hasty retreat, as did those in Arkansas—not a word of ire was spoken about the egregious acts in Texas.

Back home in Indiana at the same time the wrath of entertainers, business leaders and politicians was focused on the potential harm to gays, Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old Indiana resident, became the first person in the history of the United States to be prosecuted, tried and convicted of feticide—for what she says was a miscarriage and the State argued was an illegal abortion.

Yet for this actual, not theoretical, harm to a woman, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, there was no outcry, no threat of boycott and very little news coverage.

While I and most other feminists applaud the successful protests against Indiana’s retrograde actions and have been among the most staunch defenders of gay rights—and in fact I would argue that we are the birth mothers of the movement through our insistence on decoupling sex from procreation—I find the disparate trajectories of our movements and society’s disparate response to our injuries more than a little disturbing.

While same sex marriage laws have been approved in 37 states and the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the laws of the 13 states where such marriages were banned, nearly 100 years after its introduction, the Equal Rights Amendment for women still languishes.

While I laud the fact that gay men have fought for and won the $24.1 billion that the federal government allocates each year to fight HIV and the 56,000 new cases that arise each year, I cannot help but compare this amount to the less than $600 million the our government spends on breast cancer for which there are 231,840 new cases and 40,290 deaths each year.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17864/why-gay-rights-trumps-womens-rights

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And Now, Political Virgins

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/opinion/gail-collins-and-now-political-virgins.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fgail-collins&_r=0


April 3, 2015

On Tuesday in Texas, the House of Representatives voted to take $3 million earmarked for prevention of H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases, and spend it instead on abstinence-only sex education. It was a fascinating moment — particularly when the sponsor of the motion, a Republican named Stuart Spitzer, told the House that he had been a virgin until he got married at age 29.

“What’s good for me is good for a lot of people,” he said.

This had historic reverberations. Several years ago, then-Gov. Rick Perry conducted a fabled interview with The Texas Tribune in which Perry defended the state’s stress on abstinence-only sex education while his interviewer pointed out that Texas had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.

“I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works,” Perry retorted.

Does Texas traditionally decide state policy based on politicians’ sexual history? If so, that’s terrifying.

The debate in Austin degenerated when a Democrat demanded to know whether Representative Spitzer — who, I have to point out, is a doctor — had ever tried to proposition other women before his wife accepted.

That was going overboard. The Democrats should have stuck with their earlier lines of argument, which included pointing out that Texas gets more federal money for abstinence-only sex education than any other state, and that Texas has a teen birthrate that is almost twice as high as California’s, which has completely barred schools from limiting their courses on sex to the advisability of not having any.

All that was news to Dr. Spitzer, who did admit that abstinence-only education “may not be working well.” This had no effect whatsoever on his insistence that Texas needed to do more of it. His proposal passed and went to the State Senate.

So that was lawmaking on sex in Texas. Meanwhile, over in Arizona, the State Legislature was passing a bill that requires doctors who perform drug-induced abortions to tell their patients that the procedure may be reversible, even though most scientists say it isn’t.

This business of legislating fiction is rather widespread. The Guttmacher Institute, which keeps track of these things, has counted 12 states where women seeking abortions have to be informed that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain, research to the contrary notwithstanding. Four states require that women be given inaccurate portrayals of the effects of an abortion on future fertility. In five states, a woman who wants an abortion has to be informed that abortions are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/opinion/gail-collins-and-now-political-virgins.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fgail-collins&_r=0

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