In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Pleasure Politics Part I: Employment, Economic Justice and the Erotic

Too often we are led to believe that work must be something separate from pleasure: that we are to do what we love on the side, in our spare time; that pleasure is an extra-curricular activity, a hobby, a side gig. As if only a privileged few are supposed to do work that is fulfilling and passion-driven. As if pleasure is a luxury, not a necessity.

Know: these are lies.

The rise of female breadwinners, and the betrayals of U.S. policy

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:

Mother’s Day is Over – But Pregnancy Discrimination Isn’t

Stories of discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace are all too common, and that’s why we need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was introduced in Congress today.

Despite the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act over 30 years ago, which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, some employers continue to deny pregnant women the minor job modifications that could protect not only a woman’s pregnancy but also a family’s economic security, forcing pregnant women out of their jobs.

The PWFA would make it crystal clear to employers that they can’t treat pregnant women worse than other workers who have certain job limitations and instead must make reasonable accommodations if doing so doesn’t pose an undue hardship on the business.

States Fight Back Against Pregnancy Discrimination

This is a guest post by Lenora M. Lapidus, Director, ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and Ariela Migdal, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Women’s Rights Project. The ACLU Women’s Rights Project (WRP) is dedicated to ensuring that all women can lead lives of dignity free from violence and discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

You know what? Go for it. Do it! Compliment women!

So last week, President Obama delivered an inappropriate compliment to California Attorney General Kamala Harris — inappropriate not because it was insulting or prurient but because, well, it concerned her appearance, and they were at a political event, and that’s not the place you talk about a woman’s appearance. He said:

She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough. She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general. … It’s true! C’mon.

he apologized for it.

But some people don’t like to hear important men apologize for stuff. At Jezebel, Lindy West responds to Washington Times columnist Jack Engelhard, who is pissed that Obama apologized because just for a moment, just for one shining moment, it seemed okay for Engelhard to do any damn thing he wanted without taking any time out to consider the feelings of women. Luckily, West provides for us a handy list of times when it’s appropriate to compliment a woman so you don’t have to go to jail over it.

Welcome to Neverland, Inc.

Losse rightly calls out Sandberg’s vision as a kind of business feminism that doesn’t look much different from regular boys’ business for girls; as she says, Lean In “teaches women more about how to serve their companies than it teaches companies about how to be fairer places for women to work.” Losse seems to be holding out for something closer to a feminist business. But there may be an even bigger problem than this, since Silicon Valley’s tech industry isn’t just Neverland–it’s Neverland, Inc., a place where Peter Pan CEOs carry out corporate-centered policies and politics that are bad for all workers.

Adria Richards, Sexual Assault and Victim-Blaming

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about Adria Richards, and how victim-blaming for cyber harassment parallels victim-blaming in rape cases:

Of course it’s possible to disagree with Richards’ actions while still focusing on the real problem: misogyny online and in tech spaces. But it’s really not possible to pontificate at length on what Richards should have done without obscuring the fact that when women speak out, we’re met with rape threats.

Standing with Adria

Adria Richards, formerly of the company SendGrid, was at a tech conference this week when some dudes behind her made a series of inappropriate and sexual jokes. Annoyed by the pervasiveness of misogyny in the tech world, she snapped a photo of them and put in on Twitter with a complaint. One of the conference organizers spoke to the men and they apologized. Totally reasonable! Good response, PyCon. Later, one of the dudes got fired. Instead of getting mad at the company that made the choice to fire him, the internet hoards descended on Adria. She was on the receiving end of rape and death threats. Her address and phone number were published. Her blog and her company’s website came under DDoS attack. Oh and then her company, SendGrid, fired her (I’d be careful reading the comments on that Facebook post — there’s a whole lot of racism and sexism).