Feminism: Sex

There exist stereotypes that women don’t want sex as much as men, don’t like sex as much as men, aren’t as interested. Well, today I will tell you that on average that is true. Women aren’t enjoying the sex they’re having as much as men are.

That is a different thing from saying women can’t or “naturally” don’t enjoy sex as much as men. They can. They aren’t.

As a culture we have a very specific narrative about how sex works, and the narrative we have considers it critical that men enjoy sex – it ‘doesn’t count’ unless a man orgasms. It is ‘done’ when the man orgasms (in the assumed heterosexual penile-vaginal sex, because clearly that’s the only kind of sex).

citation: Psych Central – The Sex Gap

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feminism: The Thing About Becoming a Feminist

The thing about becoming a feminist is that it “ruins” almost all popular media for me. People will invite me to see a movie or watch TV or god forbid talk about an event in the news, and I am given the choice between gritting my teeth through the entire event or unleashing a torrent of what is apparently crazy just-looking-for-something-to-be-angry-about ranting.

Anyway, instead of trying to explain what this new world is like, I will link to another, better, description (via fugitivus).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feminism & Women in CS: Economics of Parenting

There are a lot of unfair things related to being a woman in the workplace. Women still don’t get promoted to positions of power as often as men, and then even for women doing the exact same work as men, they make less money doing it.

There are a lot of reasons for women earning less than men, and just about all of them boil down to sexism. The trouble is, when we talk about these reasons, things that are sexism get spoon-fed to people as if they are the “choices” women make, instead of sexism.

A good example of this is maternity leave and childcare. We live in a culture where women are expected to shoulder the vast vast majority of housework and childcare, which is sexist. But we frame this like it’s a choice: if women wanted to do as well as their male counterparts in the workplace, they just wouldn’t do that silly thing where they have children; also, men are allowed to have children with no negative impact on their work-life.

The cost of time out

Fast forward 10 to 15 years, and the earnings gap between our male and female MBApples is about 40% for those who were observationally equivalent at graduation. But almost all of that huge difference can be fully explained by the greater number of career interruptions and lower weekly hours experienced by the women (mind you, they still work a large number of hours). One of the reasons for the large gap in earnings between male and female MBAs is that the cost of career interruptions is very great in the corporate and financial sectors. These costs are considerably lower in medicine, and somewhat lower in law and academia.

Taking time out of work for maternity leave in particular is an unavoidable experience for the child-having-inclined among women. People will often note that one fact and leave the explanation at that. (Not to mention a good bit of men will opt to take paternity leave – where’s your handwavey excuse for women making less money now?) But if some event affects nearly half your workforce, shouldn’t that be treated as an expected side-effect of your workforce, and not some special-case “surprise” every time it happens? If close to half your workforce got the flu, you would offer your workers flu shots on site. If half your workforce were blind you would fucking-well put brail on your signs.
But this only covers the few weeks or months when a woman brings a child to term. That is only a tiny fraction of this story. The real story starts after maternity leave. Little Johnny has a runny nose, and both his parents are equally capable of taking him to the doctor. Guess who does.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media/Fandom: Grammar Nerds

The following is an excerpt from the wikipedia article on Parentheses, as written by three anonymous editors {repost from xkcd}:

Parentheses may also be nested (with one set (such as this) inside another set). This is not commonly used in formal writing [though sometimes other brackets (especially parentheses) will be used for one or more inner set of parentheses (in other words, secondary {or even tertiary} phrases can be found within the main sentence)].

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feminism: Bitch, I Was Just Trying To Give You A Compliment

Sometimes, when I give people examples of the tangible ways in which sexism affects our lives they are dismissive of what it means when I say that physical beauty is put in the forefront of women’s responsibilities. And this is what I mean: all the time we are told to be paying attention to our hair our cheeks our eyebrows our painfully-waxed vaginas is the time we’re not spending on our own hearts, on making the world amazing or on getting some fucking sleep.

It’s the same way with telling women to worry about being raped (on the street, late at night, even though that’s not how rape usually works). All the time we don’t go out to the grocery store because we can’t god forbid go out of our houses without escorts, all the space in our brains that is thinking about how I could defend myself right now or whether or not I’m giving off those supposed rape-me vibes is time and energy not relaxing (god can you, men, imagine what relaxing is like when some part of your brain worries constantly about being raped). It’s time and energy not being spent on making me happy, making history or making money.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Women in CS: One Unit Experience

(repost from Jean Hsu)

Jean Hsu is a software engineer. I stumbled across a segment she wrote about her experiences being a woman in computer science, and I though it was nicely written, so I’m sharing it here.

Most of my classmates were not that extreme, and from my experience, most mean well but are just socially awkward. They can say something so simple as “Oh don’t you know that command?” but in an inadvertently condescending voice that makes you feel like you’re the only person who doesn’t know it. As someone just testing out the CS waters, that type of experience in every class can be very daunting. I think women are more susceptible to these feelings of inadequacy, and it can deter some potential CS concentrators from the department. From my limited experience, the ones that stayed with it were pretty strong-willed and generally kept to themselves.

One of my professors, Kai Li, had a profoundly positive impact on me. There were only 4 girls in my Operating Systems class, and at first we were pretty quiet. Professor Li would ask questions about the reading material every day in class, but would often say “Let’s hear from some of the girls” and wait for one of us to answer. I can’t speak for the other females in the class and how they felt about being “singled” out like that, but for me, it was very encouraging. He once told me that even though the females are fairly quiet, and the boys in the class showed off a lot, when it came down to projects and exams, the female average was often higher. When I walked by a departmental career fair, I paused to look at some of the companies I might want to apply for next semester, and he told me to sign up for some interviews for that day. I said I didn’t feel prepared and wanted to wait a semester until I felt like I had more of a basic foundation. He turned to a professor next to him and said “Jean doesn’t know how good she is.” He probably would not remember that exchange, but for me his support was eye-opening. I realized that while I did decide to major in CS fairly late in the game, I really was good at it, and my harshest critic was really myself.

I’ve always hated being singled out as a girl in computer science. It’s really frustrating for someone to constantly remind you that (at least in their eyes) you are an anomaly in their group, especially because it often comes in the form of being either a trick pony or being asked to verify your existence or defend your credentials. Because it really seems like there is nothing that signals you shouldn’t belong to a group more than being singled out as different and then having your membership of that group questioned. Also, it signals (to me) that I am being seen primarily, the most important thing about me, as ‘a girl’ instead of ‘another one of my students/peers/coworkers’. And that annoys me.

My experience in industry has been very positive in that I have never felt any discrimination or judgment based on my gender, and people seem to be less condescending (I don’t know where those people ended up…) in general. One of the challenges for me while I was at Google was to speak up when I didn’t understand something, as I often assumed it was common technical knowledge and that people would pass judgment. Up until recently, I could strongly relate to the Impostor Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which you feel like an impostor, and that despite concrete accomplishments, your success is just based on luck. As I grow as a developer, I realize that hey, I am really good at what I do and I’ve gotten to where I am because of that.

Impostor syndrome is an especially bad thing. And I think it’s particularly relevant to CS because 1. of the disparity in access to computers and engineering toys girls are given as children, 2. the if-you-didn’t-already-know-this-obscure-command-you’re-a-n00b culture in CS, particularly in kernel hacking (besides the directly sexist remarks prevalent in the asshole of the internet), and 3. the disproportionate number of women who are effected by impostor syndrome. If you are a woman, you statistically (more likely) didn’t have much experience with computers or engineering when you were younger, are being told that if you don’t already have a good deal of experience you are incapable of CS, and are most likely to drop out because of it (than average). That sounds like a recipe for low numbers of women in CS to me.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment