The New Republic: The role of white womanhood in violence against black people

The New Republic: The role of white womanhood in violence against black people

Last week at The New Republic, in the wake of the horrific church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, I wrote about the long history and ugly present of using white womanhood as an excuse for violence against black people:

We cannot talk about the violence that Dylann Roof perpetrated at Emanuel AME last Wednesday night without talking about whiteness, and specifically, about white womanhood and its role in racist violence. We have to talk about those things, because Roof himself did. Per a witness account, we know that he said: “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” “Our” women, by whom he meant white women.

There is a centuries-old notion that white men must defend, with lethal violence at times, the sexual purity of white women from allegedly predatory black men. And, as we saw yet again after this shooting, it is not merely a relic of America’s hideous racial past. American racism is always gendered; racism and sexism are mutually dependent, and cannot be unstitched.

You can read the whole thing here.

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Reuters: Hillary Clinton and the double whammy of sexism and ageism

Reuters: Hillary Clinton and the double whammy of sexism and ageism

My latest at Reuters is about how Hillary Clinton is up against sexism and ageism as she runs a second time for the presidency:

Simply put, Clinton is living proof of how sexism and ageism interact: when it comes to leadership positions, women always seem to be held to a higher standard than men, and by the time they’ve accumulated the experience to meet that standard, they’re old enough to be hit with age discrimination. That Clinton is running at 67 is one high-profile example of how long it seems to take women to amass the experience necessary for people — whether it’s voters or employers — to overlook the fact that they’re women. We know this about ourselves: in January, a Pew survey found that 65 percent of people recognize that, in business, women are held to a higher standard than men.

Clinton is far and away the most qualified person to enter the race so far. Between her legal and advocacy experience; her time in the White House as the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt; her time as a senator; and her service as Secretary of State, she has amassed more relevant experience and knowledge than a number of the current Republican candidates combined. Detractors can reasonably question her judgment, her trustworthiness, her husband and her emails, but her qualifications are indisputable. Her resume is undeniably presidential.

None of which protects her from being subjected to what Catalyst, a research and advocacy group focused on normalizing gender and race representation in corporate leadership, calls the High Competence Threshold. “Women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than male leaders,” Catalyst found in its 2007 study The Double Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership. “On top of doing their job, women must prove that they can lead over and over again,” the study found.

You can read the whole thing here.

The New Republic: UN Women has dumped Uber, and you should too

The New Republic: UN Women has dumped Uber, and you should too

This week at TNR, I wrote about why I’m glad that UN Women has backed out of their partnership with ridesharing service Uber, which was designed to create a million new driving jobs for women by 2020:

The creation of a separate system of women drivers designed to make women passengers feel safer will carry unintended side effects. As a woman who frequently travels alone, I am grateful for the option of car services that only hire women drivers. I used one in India when I traveled there alone several years ago. And having been groped in the New York City subway, nearly groped on the Paris Métro, and having heard countless stories of harassment, flashing, groping, and, of course, rape, on public transport, I can certainly see the appeal of creating a way for women passengers to get around without having to worry so much about those risks. Egypt, Taiwan, and Brazil—among other countries—offer women-only public transport services. In the United States, only 2 percent of taxi drivers are women, and only 170 of New York’s 46,000 taxi drivers—or 1.1 percent—are women.

Being a realist and a feminist are not mutually exclusive. Like many women, I am deeply saddened that these options are necessary while also being deeply grateful that they exist. And yet, it’s easy to see how the creation of these women-only spaces lets society at large off the hook. Rather than holding male Uber drivers accountable and creating a work culture—a culture, period—in which sexual harassment and assault are unacceptable, we instead create a parallel system for women drivers and passengers, accepting the inevitability and intractability of widespread sexual violence committed by men. For a company that claims to be visionary and paradigm-shifting, this is a surprisingly short-sighted and paradigm-enforcing approach to “empowering” women.

You can read the whole thing here.

The Guardian: Women writing online series

The Guardian: Women writing online series

I had the privilege of doing an interview with The Guardian‘s Sarah Galo last month, as part of her series on women who write online:

What is some advice you have for women who want to write online?

You don’t have to be perfect. You can’t be, and you won’t be, so don’t get hung up on trying. There’s a freedom in the knowledge that perfection is not an option. But there’s a responsibility, too: it means that you will make mistakes. And you have to be prepared to screw up in public, and be held accountable in public, and apologise in public, and learn from those mistakes in public. This sounds like a challenge, but it’s actually a gift: it’s a way to be part of the kind of public discourse most of us wish we had, one where people are allowed to be wrong but are held accountable – and hold themselves accountable – when they are. It’s also a challenge, because screwing up can hurt other people and it doesn’t feel great for you, either. But it is also inevitable, and the best thing you can do is learn from it. And other people will learn from it, too: I’ve learned a lot from seeing my role models succeed in public, but I’ve learned far more from watching them learn from their mistakes in public.

You can read the whole thing here.

New York: It’s not sexism, it’s chivalry!

New York: It’s not sexism, it’s chivalry!

I have a piece at New York magazine this week, about two new dating websites that are hoping to make a profit from what they call “chivalry” or “traditional dating”:

The HiDine process is simple: After being granted permission to join the “exclusive” HiDine community, would-be daters create a profile in which they list their favorite foods and the specific restaurants they enjoy. The men are instructed to find women who share similar culinary interests and “ask them out to a restaurant you think they will enjoy based on their lists of favorite restaurants.” The women, meanwhile, are instructed to “sit and wait” to be asked on a date. “Chivalry is alive” assures the website’s tagline.

“I come from a small town where guys act more like guys, and this wouldn’t even be a question in some places,” McGinnis told me in a phone interview. “When you take somebody out, you pay, it’s as simple as that.” But HiDine isn’t shooting for the small towns; it’s shooting for the big cities, starting with L.A. And in a city like that, McGinnis said, there’s a lot of competition. “Especially in big cities, where a girl can go out with any guy, [paying for dinner] is such a small and easy thing to do.”

Why can’t women do it for men? McGinnis explains that’s just not how it works. “If I ask a girl out, she’s going to expect that I pay,” he said. “It’s fair that that’s what girls expect, to be romanced in the early stages of dating.” (At no point in the interview did he refer to women as “women”— always “girls.”)

You can read the whole thing here. Unless you’re a “girl,” of course, in which case you should sit and wait for a man to come and read it to you.

MSNBC: Double standards in sex scandals

MSNBC: Double standards in sex scandals

I have a piece at MSNBC today, about gendered double standards in political sex scandals:

When men are drummed out of office for a sex scandal, we lament their lost potential. Anthony Weiner had such promise, we groaned. David Petraeus was so brilliant, we sighed. Now they’ll never get to fly as high as they might otherwise have, as high as they should have. When Weiner relinquished his seat in the House of Representatives, the Washington Post mourned his “squandered political promise.” When Eliot Spitzer resigned, his colleagues rued his “promise lost.” In his own resignation press conference, the former “Sheriff of Wall Street” himself said, “I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been.”

In political sex scandals, women are not lost potential. They are punchlines and punching bags, and then they fade away into obscurity. The women these men were caught with, whether they were trading explicit Twitter messages or having a sexual relationship with the president in the Oval Office, become guaranteed laugh lines. If we know their names, if we remember their names, it is because we mock them. Monica Lewinsky! Chuckle, chuckle. Paula Broadwell! Giggle, giggle.

At the time, we laugh at the men, too, of course – we joke about “hiking the Appalachian Trail” and make sly asides about going “all in,” – all the while knowing that the men could bounce back, given a few years. The women, as The New York Times reported recently, will not be so lucky. The New York Daily News ran a photo of Ashley Dupre, the woman with whom Spitzer was caught cheating, with the headline “Hi, ho Eliot!” He’s running for comptroller; she’s still a “ho.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Daily Life: How to destroy the joint

Daily Life: How to destroy the joint

I have a piece at Daily Life today, about the group that’s been voted as one of the most influential women’s voices in Australia in 2012, Destroy the Joint. The group sprung up in response to comments made about the Prime Minister by radio host Alan Jones.

It wasn’t easy to explain “Destroy the joint” to American friends and colleagues. “Wait, what is the joint?” one of them asked me.

To Australian women, though, it made complete sense. The outrage that erupted in response to Alan Jones’s comments about women in leadership was visceral, a gut feeling for a populace who had finally had a gutful. Within hours, the witty and wonderful Jane Caro had coined a Twitter hashtag that had gone viral, and not long after that Jenna Price started the Destroy the Joint Facebook community page.

A few months later and the community has more than 20,000 members, all of whom are “sick of the sexism dished out to women in Australia, whether they be our Prime Minister or any other woman”. It’s a remarkably active Facebook community, with new content – new examples of sexism in the media, new ideas about how to “re-build the joint” in a more equitable way – being posted all day, every day.

You can read the whole thing here.