Who are you?

Currently I am listening to the audiobook of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (she’s the writer behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, awesome TV, etc.).

Yesterday Shonda read a chapter and basically posed the question for readers to ask themselves “Who am I?”

This is the second time I have heard that phrase this week, in suggestion for the listener to ask themselves. The first time, I sat and thought, “Wow. I don’t know. I’m nobody.”

Today I am writing my methodology chapter for my research proposal for my dissertation. I read my “Personal Truths” section I wrote some months ago. I got teary eyed.

While I won’t bore you with the whole bit, here is a section of my “Personal Truths.”

This is who I am:

The researcher recognizes several personal truths as they pertain to this research study. The researcher has a great desire for all individuals to obtain at least a four-year degree from a higher education institution. The researcher feels the knowledge a student may draw from their time at a higher education institution is expansive and can be transformative. She recognizes how higher education affects many aspects of one’s life, including emotional, financial, intellectual through to their individual world view.

Education should be a right and not a privilege is also a personal truth of the researcher. While not everyone desires a higher education, higher education should be an available opportunity for those who desire it. The researcher firmly subscribes to the theories of Howard Gardner, which indicates intelligence may manifest in various forms and not only in the traditional sense. She feels strongly that individuals in society should not be discounted for their difference from the traditional. Society comprises individuals, yet society ostracizes anyone different from the herd.

This is my passion.

It makes me smile. It makes me giddy. It makes me cry. It makes me talk so inspiringly to other people about education that they themselves are motivated to do something.

A few weeks ago I wrote about why many of us will likely fail in our careers, and why we should all follow our passion. Do something you feel this passionate about, and we might just save the world.

Girls Against the Grain

Women’s issues are always on my mind, and I am always eager to hear what other feminists (and opposers) have to say. My ears perked up a couple weeks ago when a story came on NPR about Marissa Mayer’s second maternity leave.

On a professional note, she did double the amount of paid maternity leave for Yahoo employees, yet she did away with telecommuting.  She also built a nursery next to her office to use with her four month-old son. Yes, she is a CEO of a very large company and arguably works more hours than the traditional full-time employee. But does her clout and wealth allow her certain benefits not afforded to other working moms? Yes. Does taking only a few weeks of maternity leave and working throughout set presidence for other women taking maternity leave? Unfortunately, yes.

While any woman should be able to do what is best for her personal situation, in this country, society groups women together when considering what women should do. It is as if we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves. We are judged for taking time off. We are judged for asking for flexible work schedules. We are judged for bringing our children to conferences or work. We are judged when our children get sick. We are judged constantly, regardless of what the laws state.

Unsurprisingly, men with children are rewarded in the workplace while women are reprimanded.

I loathe the whole lean in crap circulating right now. As if women cannot be multiple identities at once. We can work and be mothers if that is what we want to do. Marissa Mayer, as well as other women, should not be admonished by the public for only taking a few weeks of maternity leave. We, however, should recognize as a society our role in women’s issues, including paid maternity leave and support of working mothers.

Find out more:

Political Science Baby Ban

Managers avoid hiring women to avoid maternity leave

Crying Wolf

It is very hard for victims of sexual assault to come forward. Some even struggle to tell those most dear to them for many reasons. We are individuals and struggle differently with those terrible things that haunt our lives.

Chris recently had someone troll him on Reddit. I say troll because this person has attacked him, unprovoked and repeatedly, for what he believes. Chris believes people who come forward about sexual assault or rape – regardless of gender – should be supported. While there are people in our society who do tell lies, we should not allow those to tarnish our humanity.

Yes, we all have recently heard of stories about people falsely claiming sexual assault or rape. Those instances are disheartening and deplorable. It is sad those people may feel they are doing justice to the cause by essentially crying wolf. People who have been sexually assaulted or raped live with that experience each day. It is a shame some people choose to embellish their lives with these harrowing experiences they truly know nothing about.

In regards to societal norms, we women culturally are so often asked to forgive or ignore the misbehaviors of others. Sexual assault and rape are never ok and should not be ignored. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or rape, encourage them to speak up. Nothing is more isolating than silence.

Challenging the -isms

The -isms are never easy to talk about. They can be hurtful and embody so much history. Recently with the Ferguson event exposing continued racism in the region, St. Louis County issuing marriage licenses to all individuals, and attacks on women and feminism in various forms, Chris and I wanted to be sure to provide Kari with as much information as possible – and on an 8 year-old appropriate scale regarding feminism, heterosexism, and racism.

Over the past few months, feminism has been firmly on my mind with Senator McCaskill’s investigation into campus sexual assault (and frankly, every one could guess campuses were not honestly reporting incidents) and Gamergate.

More applicable to Kari right now is the topic of Gamergate. She loves video games, and has since a young age. She is certainly not going to ever give up games. She also loved going to PAX in 2013.

Will this change to more inclusive gaming continue, or will there be a divide? Is there a place for women in tech that will not have to be hard fought and never truly won?

Let’s start with a quote from Anita Sarkeesian:

One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.

Why is it when women report assault or harassment the first thought is skepticism?

Threats to women in tech are not new. Take the 2007 discussion prompted by the threats to Kathy Sierra. She is not the first and will not be the last woman to take a hiatus from the Internet and popular culture due to harassment and death threats. Why is this behavior ok? It’s not, but it is accepted. Why?

Going back to Gamergate, this disagreement about what gamers should be erupted into a division between those for women’s rights and those against. After nearly a month of heated debate, right after Kori was born in September, Chris stopped talking to his good friend of 15 years.  This hurt him terribly. No, not because of the loss so much, but because something so integral to him was ignored. Feminism is such an important part of who my husband is to disavow that part of him is to overlook so much of what makes him amazing. It’s part of his identity. Being married to such a strong, smart woman (uh-hum) and raising 2 daughters, women’s rights are very important to him. However, women’s rights would be equally as important to him if he were raising 2 sons as he would want to make sure they were just in the world.

On a sidenote: I am so proud he was on the list of users Gamergaters Twitter blacklisted. He’s just too equality and social justice for them. I think he’s rather proud of that too.

So many people in the industry are just like Chris. They are standing up for equal rights and uniting against the harassment of women. But there are the others too. There is no reason why anyone should be permitted to threaten another person or diminish their person.

This morning I made the comment that I am glad we are not going to PAX in the next couple years. Chris said he would love to go and challenge the issues. I guess I just think that part of my world is sacred. Video games are my immersive experience and I don’t want the neckbeards to pervade that too.

Interestingly enough, still many people do not think the issues of feminism are valid. Some comment that feminism was created by ugly, angry women and that women should enjoy sexually-charged attention. That particular individual was commenting on the video below.

Unfortunately, the “hello” in this video was not simply a chipper greeting. This is a challenge many women face on the daily: unsolicited sexual advances. Respond, you’re into them. Don’t respond, and you’re a bitch.

My favorite encounter to date (2003):
Guy: Girl, you got kids?
J: No.
Guy: You want some?
J: Not with you.
Guy: Damn, girl. Ain’t nobody gonna marry your bitch ass.

Where was this conversation? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Another argument many have tried is that women are inviting these advances because of where they go, what they wear, or by not doing more to stop the advances – see comments here (I know, don’t ever read the comments, but what do I do? I read the comments.)

Women should not have to be mindful of their attire, career choice, opinions, etc. to avoid sexual harassment, death threats or other exploitation. Women should receive support and action when situations like these are reported.

I want my girls to feel more like a Samus than a Peach and be embraced by the world for being so.

I’ll leave you with Computer Engineer Barbie, which still has Kari laughing.

K: Hey mom, I still remember that story about that Barbie who needed help doing tech things.
J: Yeah?
K: It was pretty dumb. The guys needing to help her. (she laughs)
J: Yeah, you don’t need anyone to write your code for you, do you?
K: Nope.


Rights and Responsibilities

For those of you who know me personally, you’ll find it no surprise about how affect I have been by this most recent massacre.  My favorite things in life include children and teaching and my strongest opinions are about gun control.

For those of you who do not know my daughter, Kari, she is 6, nearly 7.  She is beautiful, funny, intelligent, and one of my favorite people in the whole world.  She loves animals and wants to study their behavior.  Her favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs. Dancing and soccer make her top ten.

All of those children killed on Friday were 6 or 7.  All of them were exactly like Kari:  full of energy, fun and happiness.  I could not imagine.  I still hope to wake from this horrid reality of what is.  I cannot understand what constitutional right can overrule this wrong.

I will never in my life touch a gun.  I have no desire to touch an object that is specifically designed for ending another life.  To the argument is that shooting is a sport:  that may be.  Yet one cannot argue with the inherent design of a gun.  It is designed to kill.

Last night, Kari clung to me, scared to go to school today.  I explained to her that this likely wouldn’t happen at her school and Connecticut is very far away.  To that she replied, “Mom, guns are all over.”  Amazing how easily children figure out our biggest problems.

Pro-gun individuals are all about guns it seems regardless of the lives lost, statistics and the overall reality. See this report from the Onion. Pro-gun individuals’ biggest worry is not trusting the government or the police.  Yes, because we live in a third world war torn country where the issues in a democracy are best solved with brute force.  I honestly ask pro-gun people:  How many times in your life have you actually had an instance where you were oppressed or otherwise and a gun would have made that situation better?  Let me fill this in for you.  It’s a very minute portion and likely you’re not in it.

I am sick over this.  I cannot express enough how much I hate guns and the lack of gun control in our country and our overall total disregard for life.  We are an embarrassment.  Our children our being killed yet we still hold dear our “government-protected right to own a portable device that propels small masses of metal through the air at lethal rates of speed.”

Americans generally have always had a few things backwards forcing not participants to participate in their choices: smoking, drunk driving, guns, etc.  I live in one of the most dangerous cities in America.  Our news should just be called the obits.  I know about violence and how absolutely senseless crimes occur out of emotion.  When people have access to lethal weapons when in such emotional states, crimes occur.  Maybe you don’t run around shooting your gun, but, honestly, what practical reason do you have for carrying a gun? Don’t tell me it is for fantasized heroics. That doesn’t do it for me.

Please allow this tragic string of massacres and overall gun violence be a call to everyone to take an issue with gun control in America.

See more objective and rational information at kottke.org.