An Open Letter about Feminism to My Brothers

Dear Brother,

My Dad encouraged me to speak out.  He was a feminist!

My Dad encouraged me to speak out. He was a feminist!

I write to you today because I realize how uncomfortable you have been of lately. The Third Wave of Feminism (as it is being dubbed) is blooming (and praise be for it), and you are hearing women speak out about rape cultures, feminism, wage inequality, and the fact that the glass ceiling has not, no matter what PR spinners wish to say, broken. And because of social media, this third wave of feminism is loud, louder then even the first or second wave of feminism.  Women have a large medium to play with and they are using it.  But,  I see your discomfort on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social media outlets.  Many of you are feeling attacked and I am deeply sorry for this.

Please do not feel we are attacking you! We are NOT! We are attacking a system.  Many of our brothers stand with us and also reject a system that objectifies women, promoting the idea of the female as a means to an end. Many of our brothers object to a rape culture.  But what we have to say may make you uncomfortable.  When I talk about my rape, I am NOT blaming you, unless you were the one who did it and trust me, I would not be FB friends with you if that was the case!

Rather, it is important to understand something my dear brother: for decades we were asked to be silent about sexual abuse, assault and gender inequality.  And if we weren’t silent, we were threatened or attacked. Every woman in my immediate family, and yes we have all been sexually assaulted and raped, were threatened for speaking out one way or another: threatened by our attacker and by society at large. You see, this is something you don’t talk about in good company.

Nicolas Mollet, Rape, Events.

It’s like politics or religion, keep your mouth shut. That was the standard. If you did speak out, even your family could punish you for your transgression. Police force, school officials, and other authorities in our culture told us to be quiet.  And if we weren’t quiet we were more often than not, blamed for our attacks. Just like we are often blamed for encouraging an environment in which cat calls are generated: “you asked for it because you dressed like a slut.”

1920s competition

But the idea of dressing like a slut has been so subjective throughout time, and yet it still haunts us women: we exposed our ankles, we were sluts. We exposed a bit of shoulder, we were sluts. We allowed our breasts to be held up in a bra, we were sluts. We took our bra off, we were sluts. We exposed our legs in hot weather, we were sluts. We wear yoga pants, covering our bare legs, we are sluts. You see, this attitude, over time, has bubbled in the cauldron.  And the Cauldron is about ready to explode.

But should you feel threatened by this? No, my dear brother. Not unless you are contributing to the culture, you should not feel threatened by it.  But sadly many of you do. I know because I’ve had conversations with you over Facebook, on twitter, and face-to-face. I have been told that we need to get rid of the word “feminism” because it means that we hate men and are actively into male bashing. What we hate, dear brother, is a disgusting cultural norm that must be revised, but we don’t hate you. Why should we hate our counterpart?

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with Petition

Feminism was never defined by feminists as male bashing; a matter of fact, feminism defined as a way for women to bash her fellow male counterpart was created by people, men and women alike, who wanted the status quo of gender relationships to be maintained. Why?  One reason was economics.  Consider the recession of the 1970s, and the fact that women coming into the employment market threatened men who were losing their jobs. You see, not unlike today, a corporation could hire part-time female workers for a lot less money than they were charging their male counterparts. Hell, they could hire a woman full time and still pay her less for doing the exact same job as her male counterpart. As men were laid-off from their jobs, a new market niche open, one for women, and many families were desperate for those women to go in and take those part-time jobs. But this should not be understood as male bashing feminism. It was survival.

I don’t want to give you a history lesson, but I do want to encourage you to go out and get a history lesson about feminism, my dear brother. The thing is this, people were feeling threatened, and a PR campaign was created in proclaimed that only lesbians, and male haters, were said to be feminist. The good woman, rejected feminism. This is the same bullshit that we are seeing today with the #IDon’tNeedFeminism and #WomenAgainstFeminism movement that is occurring in reaction to the third wave of feminism. Yes, history is repeating itself. And the sad thing is, most of these men and women who are part of this movement, don’t understand what feminism is. They also don’t understand that they are acting against their own self interest by rejecting feminism.

Gender Equality

So what does feminism mean? It means simply this: that men and women enjoy equal rights. These equal rights are to be understood as being enjoyed in the political realm, the economic round, the social realm, in short – in life. Equality. We ask for no more. We don’t want to rise above man, we don’t want to smash man, we don’t want to be better than men. We want equality and we want justice. Equality does not exist between the sexes presently, and it cannot exist if we continue to encourage and and nurture a culture norm that sees women as objects. That’s the truth.

My dear brothers, please do not feel threatened by the stories that you are hearing women share about their rapes and sexual assaults, about the economic inequality that they are suffering, or the fact that they feel ignored in this world. They are not blaming “you;” that is, unless you have done something to be blamed for. Rather, they are blaming a cultural norm that has gone wrong, and they are asking you, dear brother, to stand with them. I am asking you to stand with me!  I need you!  I need your voice and your conviction.  I need you to be willing to question your assumptions about gender relationships. I need you to speak out when you have been treated badly as well. But above all, I need you to stand with me. I am not asking you to sit in the sidelines. Fight with us and help us make a better world.

Mahalo,
R

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The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

The White House – Blog Post – A Wonderful Day

Today, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  This act will counteract the Supreme Court’s decision of 2007 to limit the ability of employees to take their company to court for pay discrimination.  In 2007, the supreme court ruled that employees had only 180 days from the first day a valid discrimination of pay was instituted by the company the employee was working for to file a suite.  This ruling was not a 180 days from the first day you learned of the pay descrimination, but 180 day from the moment of pay descrimination.

Why is this a problem? Because often we do not know if we are being discriminated against, since the culture of silence around discussing issues such as salary is so institutionalized.  Indeed, several companies I have worked for has required employees to sign an agreement that specifically states that they will NOT disclose their rate of pay to other employees under the threat of disciplinary action or loosing their job.  These clauses often embedded in company “loyalty” oaths statements help corporations and other smaller companies legally practice forms of civil discrimination, and in my book – this does not bode well for labor, minorities, and women.

In Lilly’s case, it was years before she knew that she was being paid substantially less for doing the same job as her male counterparts and so it took years before she brought the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to court.  for me, today is a good, as the White House Blog states, but for others it is not such a good day.

The Sunlight Foundation, a fantastic organization that works to promote transparency in government and business using technology and blogging, is worried about this action today by Obama.  In a blog post, Paul Blumenthal rightfully questions the “transparency” promises of the White House with this bill.  Blumenthal writes:

For quite some time President Obama has promised that all non-emergency
legislation will be open for public comment on Whitehouse.gov for 5
days before the President signs it. I am not sure what constitutes
“emergency” legislation; providing emergency appropriations in response
to a disaster or attack would apply. This was supposed to be a major
element to the President’s transparency efforts, even though the effect
of it can be disputed (the bill has already passed and can’t be changed).

As Blumenthal points out, this is a huge slip of transparency on the first major act of the Obama Presidency.  Yet the truly important point I believe that Mr Blumenthal presents us with, and a critical thinking point at that, is how does the administration and WE define emergency. 

Here is the rub!

For me, civil rights violations constitutes an emergency.  It continues to be a problem in this country, and a very serious one at that.  Being that most of the people I have heard from regarding this issue
today are men, I would ask them to take a moment and consider the
position of others like Lilly who has been consistently discriminate
against because of their race, gender or disability.  Further, think of
those solders who have served our country who are also being currently
discriminated against because of corporations’ fear that they will be
called back to combat and so they are also being discriminated against. In general, I believe Obama’s efforts here constitutes a utilitarian action – the most good for the most amount of people.

For others such as some fellow twitterers (sp?), an emergency equals only war.  I understand and emphasize with this position.  Regardless, for me, transparency should be really followed in times of war – look at the lack of transparency used to get us into our current war-and how well that came out, right?!  So how do we define 1) transparency and 2) emergency.  This is the real question and we should be debating this question right now and then relaying our definitions to the current administration.   Blumenthal and the Sunlight Foundation is quite right about being concerned here and as was pointed out in his post: “I am not sure what constitutes “emergency” legislation” (para 2), and either am I -this is a problem.  As to other “responders” who calls these concerns “retarded” (Para. 11), this is the communication approach most of us were rejecting when we voted for now President Obama. 

From a communication/ critical thinking point of view, “That’s just retarded” is an example “loaded Language” and an ad baculum fallacy that ends discussion possibilities and potential for transparency, as a result of threating language and/or insults.  May I suggest that we all join the conversation and not simply end it.

All thoughts are welcome here.

Rebecca

(Note: I have published this post on both my personal and educational blogs because I think these questions are vital)

Israel’s Tweets – Press Conferences on Twitter!

Twitter / israelconsulate

The Israel Consulate now has a twitter account and has been offering updates to the conflict and holding “tweet” news conferences.  As many of you know, I am a fan of Twitter and of 12second.TV (and of current tv as well), and feel that the next new communication breakout will be via twitter.  This new development, Israel Citizen’s “press Conference,” helps solidify my case.

Reading the New York Times, Noam Cohen wrote a nice piece on the twitter press conference titled “The Toughest Q’s Answered in the  Briefest Tweets.”  Noting the trend of moving from traditional news sources to the new social media/new media sources that presents an interactive element with the audience, Cohen notes the Military Channel on YouTube that offers the illusion of transparency in military action.

There are, I believe, some interesting consequences in this move to social media (A move that the Obama team in making in mass considering the number of “Obama” folks following me on twitter).  First, getting a message in 140 characters or less offers a feeling of intimacy but also limits firm attempts at communication.  You can sell a brand in 140 characters, but can you explain a military action in deeper terms other than “they deserved it” or as soon to be president Bush might have said, “its us against them.”

Judging from the conference tweets, yes and no.  What helps, of course, is the ability to link to other sources including traditional news articles, YouTube videos and central blogs.  What also helps again is the idea that the “Israel Consulate” will DM (Direct Message) you back, again creating the feeling of both transparency and intimacy which is so terribly lacking in traditional news forums. 

Yet as I write this, I do note that Twitter, like other innovative devices before it, is falling to the same “devils” of destruction.  Advertisers are tweeting like crazy and using the search functions to find out who is tweeting their product names and why.  Also, as reported yesterday, there has been a serious effort to hijack people’s twitter accounts and send DMs directing those you follow to a virus loaded site.  . . . is there anything that can be kept pure?  Doubt it.