Gender stereotypes leave me powerless even in my own home

Oppression, a photo by isabellaquintana, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en">Licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication</a>
Oppression, a work by isabellaquintana, Licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

This morning Chris and I decided to call a technician to look at our furnace. I never knew this decision would expose so many other problems.

The vibration of the furnace grew with intensity over the past week, and so had our annoyance with the noise. I felt so relieved when the company could send someone right away. An hour later, the technician diagnosed the problem, and identified the part to be replaced. He explained the cost to me and asked, “Does your husband want to go ahead with the repair?”

I was standing there talking to the technician. My husband never met or spoke to him. But, in that moment, my husband automatically had more power than I did.

I know what some of you are thinking, “Who does that?!

Honestly, the answer is worse than you think:

Nearly everyone.

While we might not outright say it, but in our thoughts and actions, subconsciously, we automatically give men more power. And it’s not only men who act and think this way. Women do too. We are socialized in the same patriarchal society. Women may just recognize it more than men, as it directly affects us. But there again, we also have gotten good at repressing the oppression. It’s complicated.

Whether or not we speak up about it is complicated too.  It puts us in complicated situations – further discomfort, further stereotypes, and further minimization and dismissal. This shows up in perceptions of assertive women as “bitches” or “bossy” and comments that we’re making a “big deal” out of nothing.

I also have to say this is additionally complicated for people with additional identities. For some, their speaking up may marginalize them more. People are perceived differently based upon their identities and the stereotypes that affect them.

Just because we don’t say anything doesn’t mean we don’t mind. It just may be less marginalizing and traumatizing to remain silent.

For more reading, read this UN publication about Gender Stereotypes and the Socialization Process.

For a broader view on gender and women, read some of the content at UN Women.

For some good books and intro into feminism, see Feminist Frequency’s resources.

Conformity of Wearable Tech

Don’t get me wrong, I love a shiny new new Apple product just as much as the next person. I have even been smitten with the Apple Watch since it came out, even though I have absolutely no practical use for such a techy trinket.

My other half asked the other day if they did in fact come out with a Rose Gold version of the Watch just like they did with the iPhone and if it came with a pink band. I knew both the Rose Gold Watch and pink band existed, but I went on the website today to triple check.

For a company that has traditionally celebrated originality, you may only have the Rose Gold face in these 2 band options:

Snapped from Apple.com
Snapped from Apple.com

That is unless you wish to fork out additional Benjamins beyond the purchase price for another band. This isn’t exclusive to the Rose Gold face either. It is across the board with each face variation.

I know this slim selection offering is to simplify product processing, but why not then just sell the faces and the bands separately? For a brand that people have come to know for innovation and style, this bums me out. Let the people choose and show how they Think Different!

The Cloak of Invisibility Allows Gender-Based Violence

You can be an asshole on the Internet, but why?

On Monday I began listening to Invisibilia’s most recent episode, Our Computers, Ourselves and finished it yesterday afternoon.

The second half of the show strongly resonated in my mind. As the story goes, this commuter train rider was tired of rude commuters so he started a Twitter account where he’d post pictures of the infractions in attempt to shame rude people on the train. His crowd shaming efforts soon turned shameful. Not only did he post pictures of rude behavior, but he began being rude himself – the worst was posting a picture of a woman with terrible acne scarring and making a snide remark. When word about this Twitter account got out, his followers skyrocketed.

I’m sure there are other situations like this. Person is a jerk. People are fascinated by the tragedy. Jerk gets an audience.

Why are we as society so fascinated with the negative?

Why is it ok to say these things on the Internet?

The Internet is full of trolls. (See: This American Life “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS”) I theorize the troll to person ratio is 4:1. They will troll on anyone for any unconceivable reason. Even worse than the trolls are completely heinous dungeon dwellers. These individuals find it completely acceptable to threaten women, often with vicious, violent acts.

Gender-based violence is nothing new. There are still people in society who will say such comments or threats to a woman’s face, but the cloak of invisibility people feel the Internet provides seems to turn down the volume on the super-ego and unleash the unbridled id.

Unfortunately it seems to take a rally cry, hash tagging and a bunch of blogging to hold social media venues accountable for reacting to gender-based violence. For now, most offenses still receive boiler plate responses that include phrases like:

Just like when we are interacting in a public space we may overhear conversations that are offensive…

This same platform chirped further about how users can find such content “frustrating”. Yes, being told to “go get raped” or “get raped with a broken bottle” is totally frustrating, just like this rush hour traffic.

It is never ok to suggest or threaten violence against anyone. This plague of gender-based violence is open for everyone to see and affect. The best cure for a bully is an ally. Stand up and be an ally against gender-based violence. Don’t give the assholes an audience, report their heinous behavior, and their soapbox will cave in.

Expectations of Me

The topic of women has always been rather interesting to me and been at the front of my brain recently with topics such as sexual assault on college campuses, Gamer Gate, and harassment of women in tech frequently flickering across the media.

There are certain issues women run into more than our male counterparts while being us. Women often juggle and are judged. Our male counterparts who juggle are commended. What a terrible disservice to both genders.

Women are often told to “lean in” – I implore you. Tell me to “lean in”.

Try it.

This disgusts me how frequently I hear women telling other women to “lean in” or saying that they “leaned in”.

Women are not children’s punching bags. We don’t lean one way and remove ourselves from another direction of our lives. We are also not gyroscopes tilting involuntarily with the birth of a child, pursuit of a new career, illness, going back to school, etc. We grow in knowledge, interests and depth.

I am frequently baffled by the interpretations of others (women, men, media) of what women should do, be, are doing, etc. I was listening to TLDR this morning, catching up on some of my podcasts, and listened to “Episode 45”. I then listened to “Episode 46”. Please listen to these. Also see Quiet, Ladies. @wadhwa is speaking now for more explanation.

Most fascinating is the hack that finds fame in riding on the coattails of women.