Tag Archives: gender

Bathroom Diaries: Transgender Restroom Access VS Civil Rights

19 May

There is a lot of misunderstood dialog between sex and gender – the ideas only get more conflated in communities and households that thought they go hand-in-hand…

The most recent headliner of the Great Transgender Bathroom Debate came hot off the press of the New York Times earlier this week. One of my new guilty pleasures is to peruse the comments thread on Facebook beneath the high profile articles. I like to see individuals with opposing viewpoints duke it out. Sometimes I just laugh at the “idiocracy”, other times I learn something new and it changes my outlook. Not this time.

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I try to hold back the urge to get involved – to be one of those commenters that responds to every “hater” who disagrees with me. Every one has a different opinion – and that is OK!

I relapsed anyway when a few stray cats came in and compared transgender bathroom access to the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, my own claws came out.

To assert that only biologically males are “allowed” to use the men’s restroom is not the equivalent to having a “White’s Only” restroom. African Americans, at that time, did not have equal rights. Transgender individuals most certainly do have the same natural rights as you and I. To compare bathroom access to systemic oppression cheapens that injustice.

I do believe that you cannot force someone with a gender identity crisis to use a labeled bathroom inconsistent with their self-identification. This seems unethical and likely to cause emotional harm.

However no one is being denied equal access to public restroom accommodation. This debate is less about rights and more about being afraid of what you don’t know.

A majority of heterosexuals who feel that transgender individuals are encroaching on their privacy by using a restroom opposite of their biology are scared – scared that it is a gateway for anyone to enter any restroom based off of how they are “feeling.” Of course it does enable perverts easier access to harm people, though I do not think it necessarily is “breeding” a new type of predator.

If a man is comfortable living as a woman, and vice versa, then we should respect that.

This is a slippery slope for me as I toy with the idea more of what a restroom “means” to me (this is an amazing article about stall confessionals!  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/stall-confessions-for-women-the-washroom-is-a-sacred-place-one-for-privacy-and-reflection).

For the record, I do not mind sharing a restroom with a transgender male. But everyone is not as liberal.

This is about fighting to fight. And while I am all for human rights, I think this topic is tired. If a transgender individual does not feel comfortable using the bathroom with which gender they identify…use a unisex one! It does not automatically classify them as “other.”  Trans students are the hot topic for discussion and lament having to “resort” to entering family restrooms because of harassment and bullying.

But! but! while it seems unfair that they feel threatened and pressured to use the restroom which biologically describes them, the fact is there is no solution that is satisfactory to the majority of any stance!

While transgender people may enter any restroom they choose, they cannot change the opinions of others. Like racism, discrimination again non-conformists will persist NO MATTER WHAT.

Some of you are just too damn sensitive over EVERYTHING and need to realize that labels are necessary.

We are a species, that since the beginning of time, has named things. We are innately curious, speculative, and yearn for identification and expression as a means of storytelling and making sense of the world. Having labels is not oppressive – it is how we categorize things.

Taking away gender labels in favor of  “genderless” will not prevent standards and societal normatives to shine through. Taking away the label that women wear heels and men play with guns will not prevent people from doing those things on the basis of gender.

Utopia, then, is not a society where is no gender.

Rather, utopia is a world in which there are a wide variety of genders and gendered expressions, all of which are seen as equally true, and equally acceptable. Gender of all sorts would ideally be as unmarked, and unremarked, as whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. You’d notice if someone was male or female or both or neither, but it wouldn’t be defining, and wouldn’t carry with it a weight of expectations, anger, censure, and potential violence. – Noah Berlatsky for Ravishly.com

Demanding genderlessness only reinforces the importance of gender, and makes it more visible. It causes you to look more microscopically for the “hated” signs of gender.

The end of gender shaming will not come from people having no gender. The end of gender is the moment when wearing makeup or playing with trucks isn’t seen as having any particular meaning other than that you like wearing makeup or playing with trucks.

As long as there’s one standard, even one standard of genderlessness, those who don’t conform to it will be marked and targeted.

Making restrooms for “all” or abolishing labels on restrooms all together will not solve the issue or make trans individuals feel any less alienated.

Education and acceptance are the only resolution.

 

 

The Eventual Demise of “Shop by Gender” ?

5 Mar

Research has suggested that retailers should take note when it comes to gendered items. Clothes and toys don’t necessarily need to cater to either boys or girls. By focusing on a non-gendered audience, products will appeal to a wider market.

A report titled “Little Miss Understood” indicates that young girls prefer brands that empower them, rather than those which are specifically gender orientated. The research surveyed 1,070 girls aged 8-14 showcasing the brands they liked and disliked, and highlighting that the younger the child, the less they were influenced by gender. Gender is a social concept rather than a predisposed natural instinct.

Always’ advert ‘Like a Girl’ also struck a chord with retailers and consumers alike, identifying the negativity of stereotypically targeting children of different genders. The ad shows girls acting out ‘what it means to be a girl’, showing off the typical attributes that categorise them. Younger girls are seen running faster, whereas older girls run according to their gender’s stereotype, ‘girly’ or ‘ditzy’. Are products losing relevance with girls?

Danish toymaker Lego has already explored unisex figures, allowing its female characters to take on supposed masculine job roles. In 2014, three new Lego figurines were introduced, with a palaeontologist character, an astronomer and a chemist. The items were backed by a public vote and geoscientist Ellen Kooijman, who wanted to oppose the, ‘skewed male/ female minifigure ratio’. The toys were a success, selling out within a week of launching.

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The main category on Lego’s website splits toys by age rather than gender, allowing Star Wars items and the ‘Detective office’ to appeal to a wider demographic. The company’s sales increased by 13% to $4.4bn in 2014, seeing it named as the world’s most profitable toymaker and powerful brand. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of the Lego Group puts this success down to the company providing, “children with a tool to express their imagination”.

Brands such as GoldieBlox also strive for innovation. Though targeting only girls, the brand focuses on strong female character such as the ‘zipline action figure’. The brand lets girls know that it’s okay to aspire to be something that is deemed masculine, such as an engineer. Though founder Debbie Sterling was originally met with hostility and told that, “construction toys for girls don’t sell”, consumers backed her plan, raising $285,881 on her site. Further backing was provided by investor Kickstarter, allowing the company to expand. The toys are now sold in 500 independent stores in the US and Canada, with a spot in toy giant ‘Toys R Us’. You can check out the toys by clicking here.

‘ab’, a creative communications agency, emphasises that gender isn’t relevant to younger girls, finding that the main reasons girls will engage with a brand is if it ”helps them to have fun” and “allows them to be themselves”. ‘Let Toy Be Toys’ reported that the number of retailers using gender to categorise toys has dropped by 46%.

The results are reinforced with news of Mattel’s Barbie reporting disappointing financial results for its fourth quarter in 2014. Barbie suffered a 12% drop, while Mattell‘s net income fell 59% to $149.9m and sales dropped 6%. New CEO, Christopher Sinclair was less than happy with the situation, who said: “Our results were not acceptable,” and put the decline down to inconsistent product innovation, most probably the limited demographic Barbie targets.

Belinda Paramer, CEO of Lady Geek adds: “Successful brands that engage young women deliver on three things: emotion, reassurance and authenticity”.

It is no longer enough to target boys with blue and girls with pink. Successful retailers are subverting the idea of ‘hegemonic masculinity’, instead focusing on age groups for maximum exposure. AMEN!

I think the real question here is if the “pinkification” of toys for girls really adds to gender inequality in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or if this ideal is over exaggerated. One can argue that children learn through play; it’s how they develop skills and interests, and that the detrimental effects of this kind of marketing, though clearly only one factor in a mix of many influences on the young, may run broader and deeper. It polarizes children into stereotypes. It’s not just that vehicles, weapons, and construction sets are presented as “for boys” while toys of domesticity and beautification are “for girls.” Toys for boys facilitate competition, control, agency, and dominance; those for girls promote cooperation and nurturance. These gender stereotypes, acquired in childhood, underlie a host of well-documented biases against women in traditionally masculine domains and roles, and they hinder men from sharing more in the responsibilities and rewards of domestic life.

In my house, I do the dishes – my fiance will not touch them –  he takes out the garbage. I clean the floors and bathroom, but he washes, dries and folds the laundry.

Who does what chores in your house?

Panic at the prom – when young women are denied the agency to feel beautiful

18 May

There’s really no way to ease into this; I have a vendetta against this organized home school prom committee. If you haven’t seen the blog post and complementing news article that went viral earlier this week, let me quickly fill you in.

Click here to read the post!

Imagine this: you’re getting ready for your high school prom; you look gorgeous and feel even more beautiful inside. You found the perfect dress and can’t wait to have a great evening with your closest friends. You’ve barely begun to enjoy yourself, and you’re pulled aside only to be told you must leave. And no, you weren’t caught sneaking in airplane bottles or intermittently going outside to pass a joint.

This is what happened to a high school senior named Clare, who was thrown out of her prom because a group of horny middle aged male chaperons admitted they were getting aroused from watching her.

Yeah, you read that correctly, more than one of the fathers attending the prom publicly expressed their inappropriate lust for a seventeen year-old girl.

She wasn’t dancing in any provocative manner and more than adhered to the dress code of a fingertip length dress, yet she was made to leave because a few pedophiliac fathers couldn’t keep their lewd thoughts from showing through their pants.

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Excuse me, but how the hell do these “adults” earn the right to stay, nevertheless monitor the activities of teen girls who reportedly were acting raunchy and behaving like a Girl’s Next Door orgy?

I can just imagine the conversation these men had with their wives that night.

“So Hon, how was it?”

“Boring. Really standstill. With all the shit music these kids listen to you’d think they’d know how to have a fun time…but yeah I couldn’t wait to come home to you.”

Then he goes into the shower to beat one off to a remembered image of his daughter’s best friends. Way to go.

There’s something wrong here and I’m infuriated by the fact that women are always made to feel as if they violated someone in such a way that they were “asking for it.”

Why are men allowed to blame blasphemous thoughts and behavior on innocent women?

This is not so much different than rape, and I’d be highly questionable of my husband if I knew he was lusting after someone close to three times his junior. American Beauty anyone?

So she made you feel “uncomfortable?” Get a grip, you chose to look. And the solution was to remove Clare, when all the while she was not the problem at all.

On my daily work commute to and from New York City, I face inappropriate stares, wolf whistles and snarky comments to no avail. I don’t stand for it. Last week I yelled at a guy on the subway and threatened to stab him in the face (eh, a little much I admit) because he kept staring at me in a seductive manner, literally eye fucking me from six feet away.

Women shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable or unsafe because men think they can publicly display thoughts that should be kept inside the content (if there is any) of their minds. And don’t sit there saying all men aren’t the same. I’ve had numerous one night stands with cops and correctional officers who like rough foreplay which was on the barrier of being domestic abuse. Protect and serve my ass!

Next week, I’m contemplating standing on a street corner entry way to the subway. I’m going to smoke a Marlboro menthol, even though I don’t smoke, and  square up with every man that passes by. I’ll rotate between throwing a head nod, saying something obscene (“Yo, you look like your packing a nice set tools) and rubbing my crotch like  Miley.

How you like me now?

If only there were more men like this…

 

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Russian Coach Says Women Shouldn’t Ski Jump Because It Distracts Them From Housework

27 Jan

“Women have another purpose — to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home,” Alexander Arefyev said.

Russia’s men’s ski jump coach says he is against women’s ski jumping and believes women’s job is to be homemakers and give birth.

“I admit, I’m not a fan of women’s ski jumping,” Alexander Arefyev said in an interview with the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia Monday. “It’s a pretty difficult sport with a high risk of injury. If a man gets a serious injury, it’s still not fatal, but for women it could end much more seriously.

“If I had a daughter, I’d never let her jump — it’s too much hard labor. Women have another purpose — to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home,” he added.

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What does this say to our children? Children have no practical use for gender, and the sooner adults conceptualize this in full and choose, to end it an the tradition of promoting behaviors that are only relevant to caricatures of sexualized hetero-normativity, we will finally produce superior kinds of people who who lack the vapid gendered thinking that permeates so much of our lives today.

Nurturing children to be skilled and curious, and by ignoring their sexual organs, we offer the lesson that their worth is determined by what they know and by how they treat each other based on individual merit, and not by gender contribution. The world would be improved as a result, and you would be a rock star parent.

 

Chinese Women ‘Name and Shame’ Companies They Say Discriminate

30 Dec
An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

Eight young Chinese women, most of them university students facing a tight job market, have “named and shamed” dozens of Chinese companies they say are illegally specifying that only men can apply for certain positions. They have mailed their complaints to government human resource departments in the cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, and in Yunnan and Henan Provinces.

Job advertisements in China have long listed a range of desired qualities in applicants, sometimes including height and weight. And the women say that they are aware that some job advertisements request women, especially in the service and handicrafts sectors. But they note that such jobs tend to pay less than the managerial positions that may specify male applicants.

The women, who call themselves “volunteers” and aim to highlight gender discrimination in China, provided photographs of themselves with dozens of letters of complaint they say they mailed to local government offices on Dec. 26. Most of the companies they list are privately owned and employ at least 500 people.

Contacted by telephone, two of the companies in Yunnan said they would drop the request for male applicants from their job advertisements.

Kunming Union Technology Company, the only state-owned enterprise on the women’s list, had advertised several positions for male engineers to maintain credit and debit card machines.

“This is a job that requires frequent travel and outdoor legwork. You need go to all those shops to install or fix the machines. Women are not quite fit for that,” said a woman who answered the telephone in the company’s human resources department. “But if there are female candidates we would still considering hiring them.”

So why say that only men need apply? “If women apply, we are open to them,” she said. “We support free choice.”

Kunming Daqiang Precious Metals Trading Company advertised for a male general manager with financial experience.

“If woman applies, we’d consider her also,” said a woman answering the telephone.

So why specify a man?

“What does it matter?” she asked. “I just love you journalists. They can apply. I’ll change the requirement right away.”

Faced with so many job ads that appear to shut them out, some female university students reason: “If that’s the case, then it’s more important to marry well than to study well,” said one “volunteer” in an emailed statement. She declined to give her real name out of concern for political repercussions over their action.

“We college students are facing serious employment problems, so we hope our action will breathe life into the laws and regulations that ensure equality of opportunity in employment,” she wrote.

Figures from the central government’s All-China Women’s Federation show that women’s average incomes have fallen relative to men’s since China embarked on market-oriented economic changes in the late-1970s.

Most shocking for the “volunteers,” they said, was the discovery that 80 percent of jobs that specified male applicants did not require physical labor. While many Chinese are aware of the gendered job ads, most believe they are aimed at ensuring that jobs that require physical strength, such as security guard, are filled by men.

The #WhipIt Campaign Encourages Women to “Whip” Away The Labels That Hold Them Back Professionally

11 Dec

I was trolling Buzzfeed.com and came across this empowering and enlightening ad by Pantene that highlights several common gender-related professional double standards.

It’s a part of Pantene Philippines’s integrated marketing campaign called #WhipIt, which encourages discussion about issues faced by women in the workplace.

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It is accompanied by print and online ads in the same vein.

enhanced-buzz-1574-1386141070-10Last month, they hosted a forum to create a space for women to discuss professional gender biases.

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And they conducted surveys regarding the same.

Amongst the results, the surveys found that “70% of survey respondents believed men deserved employment more than women.”

A photo album on their Facebook page highlights “strong women who are whipping” the labels and stereotypes that hold women back.

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See the full album, and more information about the campaign, on their Facebook page here.

The Happy Marriage of Genders: What is a Balanced Workplace?

23 Oct

I believe the essence of balance in the workplace is achieved when both masculine and feminine qualities are represented and utilized to a certain degree. This doesn’t necessarily mean however that an even team of 10 men and 10 women is balanced.

A recent Forbes article (Can Women Create Companies Worth Hundreds of Millions?) highlighted the lack of women founders in the start-up world. Data compiled from the last decade and half revealed that only 1.3% of privately held companies had a female founder, 6.5% have a female CEO, and 20% had one or more female C-level executives. 

Tracy DiNunzio, Founder and CEO of Tradesy theorizes why women are so under-represented:

 “Perhaps it’s because investors are (consciously or subconsciously) pattern-matching: betting on the people who look and behave like those they’ve seen succeed before, who are mostly male. As more female CEOs build successful companies with great outcomes, this should change. Making access to capital easier for women founders is part of what inspires and motivates me to win big with Tradesy.”

The problem is only more exacerbated by the media, which tends to focus on the same female success stories (Oprah, Sara Blakely, etc.). This not only limits the number of role models young women have to look up to, but also diminishes the perceived number of accomplished women entrepreneurs.

Contributing editor John Greathouse believes women can “level the playing field by solving their customers’ problems within the bounds of the resources available to them.”

Although I agree with Greathouse’s article, which pushes for more female investors, I think the reason men exceed in entrepreneurial pursuits lies whether we like it or not in the differences between men’s and women’s professional attributes.

These are NOT gender stereotypes, but behavioral observations supported by research. Women tend to excel in some areas and men excel in others. While today’s business culture more often associates masculine attributes with success, there’s no evidence to suggest that hiring more men or more women will drive a company’s bottom line.

 MEN

  • They’re early adopters of technology. The Accenture study found that men were more likely to be early adopters of technology and tended to rely on technology more than their female counterparts.
  • They’ll ask for what they want. Men demonstrate strengths in negotiation. In 2003, a study looking at students graduating from Carnegie Melon with master’s degrees and found that the male students attained salaries 7.6 percent higher than their female counterparts, thanks to negotiation. More than half of the male students negotiated higher salaries, while only 7 percent of female students did so. Other research by Accenture shows that only 45 percent of women would be willing to ask for a raise, compared to 61 percent of men.
  • When in doubt, they’ll ‘wing it.’ “Males tend to convey more confidence than women in performance-oriented settings,” writes George Washington University law professor Charles Craver in an essay titled The Impact of Gender on Bargaining Interactions, based on experiences in his classroom. “Even when minimally prepared, men believe they can ‘wing it’ and get through successfully. On the other hand, no matter how thoroughly prepared women are, they tend to feel unprepared.” 
  • They make friends in high places. Men score more promotions than women, and that may be explained by who they mingle with in the office. Among participants of a 2008 Catalyst survey on mentorship, 72 percent of men received promotions by 2010 compared to 65 percent of women. According to a Harvard Business Review paper, Why Men Still Get More Promotions than Women, this is because men are more likely to be mentored by senior executives, whereas women are more likely to have junior-level mentors. This difference is an issue of access. Sociology researchers Lisa Torres and Matt L. Huffman found in a 2002 study that both men and women build social networks comprised of people of the same gender. As upper management still tends to be male dominated, this places men in a better position to receive promotions from their mentors.

WOMEN

  • They’re honest, hard workers. As women ask for more to do, they are likely to work longer hours than their male counterparts. Polls by career site theFit showed that 54 percent of women worked 9 to 11 hour days compared to 41 percent of men. Women more than men also expressed a willingness to do some work on vacation, and were less likely to spend their sick days “playing hooky, taking a mental health day, suffering from a hangover, or interviewing for another job.
  • They like a challenge. A 2009 international study by Accenture found that 70 percent of businesswomen asked their bosses for new challenges at work, compared to less than half of businessmen polled.
  • They’re persuasive. Women leaders scored significantly higher than male leaders in persuasiveness and assertiveness, according to the Caliper study. They were able to “read situations accurately and take information from all sides,” write the authors. “This willingness to see all sides of a situation enhanced their persuasive ability.”
  • They’re team players. A 2005 study on gender bias by New York research group Catalyst found that women leaders are typically judged as more supportive and rewarding, whereas men are judged better at behaviors such as delegating and managing  up. In another 2005 study by Caliper, a professional services consulting company, women demonstrated higher levels of compassion and team-building skills.

So when questioning why women are undermined by men in professional settings, it should be noted that more often than women, men demonstrate the abilities of an entrepreneur. This is not to say that women should be discounted, or the lack of women CEOs exists solely because investors rely on pattern matching. I would love to see more women at the top. But just because they aren’t there doesn’t mean they are less able. Women have an equal ability for success, and gender diversity is not simply a numbers game; It’s about ability to understand the different strengths individuals bring to the table. I’m not telling you to hang up your power suit. If most men are better leaders than women by nature, then let them be. I think society over thinks gender inequality too much in some cases. Businesses are all about results, and I don’t think investors care about gender as much as they do about their money.