In response to… James Damore’s Echo Chamber

echo chamber damore echo bilnEcho. Source: bilan

Welcome to my echo. It’s funny, because this guy without meaning to, created his own sound in a cave, which is now reverberating about the internet.

Basically, this dude working for Google as a software engineer was asked to give some feedback on their diversity programs. Without any response he tried sharing his ideas with other employees. His memo then leaked and went viral.

When I first heard about this, I got a brief account of the story – ‘guy says that there are less women in tech because they are biologically less suited to it’.

Without more understanding, there’s a shock factor. I can feel my metaphorical cat hunching up it’s back and getting defensive. ‘Women too stupid to do tech!’ … But I don’t like to jump on a bandwagon without a bit of further information.

giraffe catCats love giraffes. Source: reddit

By coincidence I came across him speaking in an empathy circle in an NVC video. I was still cagey, but interested in how he might not be a total dickhead! It took me a while, and I eventually managed to find the original document. Having read it, I could see the clear intention of the author – to increase inclusion and diversity.

It is not so dissimilar from the advice given in this TED talk by Linda Salane, talking about how women are different from men in certain ways, (for cultural or biological reasons) and knowing this can be used to our advantage. She encourages women to improve their bartering skills for pay and to care less what people think about them so they do what they want/take promotions despite any negative judgements that may be made.

Damore doesn’t make any suggestions for women to change themselves, he does, however, suggest ways tech companies could improve upon their inclusion of women and general diversity in the workplace.

He made many points about this and how political views/biases may be affecting the company. These included the idea that google’s diversity programs singling out one type of person from another is possibly adding to the problem. A catch 22. Damore implies that by including everyone’s opinions, by not labelling people as minorities, we begin a new path of egalitarianism.

Balance-scalesScales. Source: super metal recyclers

This is a similar point to a woman I find truly inspiring, Caroline McHugh – who said that she is a feminist, but she is mostly a ‘womanist’, i.e. proudly a woman. This does not mean feminism is not needed. It just acknowledges the unfortunate catch 22 feminism brings to the table. In an odd way it backs up the idea that it is needed.

(nb I am not saying that feminism is not needed! But, I can see the progression in moving towards what we would like to happen.)

The ideas and strategies suggested in this memo are inspiring to me. He even goes as far as referencing feminists in the memo, arguing we have made great leaps in freeing women of their gender roles.

He makes the argument for men also to be heard, and that giving people jobs simply because of their gender is not helping the problem. But jobs can be made more, ‘female-friendly’ so that women want to work in tech more organically.

 3045915-poster-p-1-how-do-i-get-long-winded-job-candidates-to-stop-talking-during-interviewsTalk. Source: kingston muslim association

If not judged so quickly as an ‘anti-diversity’ statement, these possible findings could be used to help more women in many different sectors. If correct, they could be the key to getting more women into management positions, or more men interested in more social /people-based jobs.

I can understand why some women do not want to hear what he has to say. Perhaps there is too much pain from past experience. The way they have been treated may seem so unfair and, yes, sexist, that they are not willing to hear his ideas. I get it. It is hard to not feel heard or understood.

At face judgement, what he appears to be saying is shocking. But that’s ironically because of the echo chamber of fake news implying he thinks women are not biologically up to becoming techies. -It is easy to say that he is a ‘white male’, so he can never understand. But, what if he’s willing to try to understand? And what if we were willing to hear his perspective, not just dehumanise him because of his skin colour or sex?

Then, maybe, just maybe, we could all hear each other, and we could work something out. And the world could get just a little more diverse.

#strongertogether #hairypitstogether

 

What do you think? Is this guy onto something? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, thank you for your gifts ❤

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Women and exercise – ‘you don’t have to’


women exercise pride ev grieveLove the Skin. Source: stacie joy

So, this is a little thought about the strange situation women are in in terms of exercise, our relationship to the world and to ‘body shaming’.

It is so assumed that a woman would be exercising because she hates her body or to lose weight that the phrase ‘oh, you don’t have to,’ is often used in response to the statement ‘I’m going for a run now’.

This is sad. To put it on the other foot, for a man who wants to exercise for whatever reason, this phrase seems less likely to be used (please correct me if I’m wrong!), but I’d guess the phrase ‘but you don’t need to lose any weight!’ isn’t used so much.

Our culture seems to have so engrained in our psyche the idea that women should dislike their bodies and strive to change them, that exercise naturally must be an odd side effect in response to this pressure.

women exercise you don't have to love- awesome desktopLove. Source: awesome desktop

But what if there was another reason? (Can you imagine?!)

What if, on the other end of the scale, a woman is so full of love for herself that she enjoys feeling healthy? Maybe she just likes running. Maybe she’s gotten past all the bullcrap about how people think she should be, gotten past all the hate that she is meant to be feeling, and she just loves herself, as she is.

The woman who loves her body does not then need to exercise. She chooses to. Exercise has many benefits, especially improving your mood and mental health, which, a woman who loves herself might want to take advantage of. Or not.

women exercise - you don't have to - lying-naked-woman-alfons-niexWoman. Source: Fine Art America

I happen to be an artist. To me, everything is art, including my body. I don’t work out to eradicate it – I work out to create it! To allow it to be all that it can be!

I love my body as it is and I love seeing it evolve. Yes, I like seeing my body develop into a healthier body, but I don’t berate it or myself when I have an off day and eat a whole pizza and a burrito! My body gave me life, it finds health for me, it works, even when I’m sleeping! And I find all sorts of ways of enjoying it; exercise being one of them.

 awwww women exercise you don't have to body pride girlGirl. Source: Pinterest

So I say yes to body pride (which is always sexy), and I say yes to exercise pride. Let’s allow our girls to run and enjoy being girls, to enjoy being active if they want; to find strength in any way they want to.

Because the shame of not being able to move, just incase you are judged as fearful of your own body, is not something we need carry on to the next generation.

 

What do you think? Vibe from the other side – what is body shaming like for men? Have you ever had this kind of ‘exercise shaming’ before? The odd sister of body shaming?

Let me know in the comments! Thanks, love you!!

For more on Body Lovin’, click here.

Thanks in advance for any gifts ❤

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In response to… me too

me too heartMe too. Source: all express

Well, this is an idea I had about two years ago. I’m glad someone else got there and made it happen.

I think the idea of sharing our stories of sexual pain or attack as women (and men, actually) can be majorly healing. I believe that shedding light on the dark corners of our human experience always helps encourage healing; helps us connect as human beings. We are all having difficulties and challenges with similar things throughoutour journeys on this tumbledown earth.

Like many, I have been assaulted. The #everydaysexism is something so common, it is unfortunately expected as a given if you are a woman. When talking of assault, the idea that you might be upset or want to express feelings of grief for the violence, is often frowned upon.

Feminists are mocked for being possible rape victims with a chip on their shoulder. The thing is, is this not a valid thing to be upset about? Hundreds of women (…or is it thousands by now?) are able to say that it is.

I find the idea of sharing a scary one. Many may feel their privacy needs to be kept intact and sharing is not for them. This I totally respect, of course.

But for me, the values of Lana Wachowski ring in my ears as I see the feed on my facebook wall fill with a chiming solidarity between my sisters, as they vulnerably speak their truths.

But, as Lana says:

‘Sacrifice of my private civic life 

shall have value…’

in-response-to-hairy-armpits-world-in-hands-inner-michaelWorld is in our hands. Source:

And so, here it is, my vulnerable, very human, expression of solidarity to my sisters and brothers: me too.

The 10 reasons Sense8 changed my life (and it will change yours, too!)

sun3Sun.

I have an apology to make… to all of my friends and family who I talked to about Sense8… I’m sorry. I have become all enthralled and totally enthused by this show. And so I thought I would write a post to explain myself… here is why I became so god-damn obsessed with this show, and you should, too.

1. It made me feel less alone.

I have been very lonely of late and have found myself huddled away behind my canvas, my notepad, my meditation and the shadows of trees in the sunlight. With only my cats to talk to, I found Sense8 to be a lifeline.

Sense8 is a show that gave me a new perspective on my loneliness. It helped me to realise that even though I was on my own here, I am connected to other people in the world, perhaps in ways I don’t know yet and that have not been revealed to me.

The story line is about eight people joined by their own emotions and senses. The idea that I can be connected in this empathic way to people I haven’t even met, reassures me. It puts new hope and faith in humanity, that they are out there, my close friends, just waiting to be met.

2. It reminded me of empathy and life purpose.

Well, as you know from my post about how to empathise, I was already into empathy. That said, I sometimes am human and forget all about it and my passion for truly hearing people.

The sensates themselves can already feel everything the other person is feeling instinctually. This level of effortless understanding is something not attainable by us humans so easily, but is something to aspire to – a oneness that many of us are thirsty for. It reminded me of the beauty of true human connection in which everyone is transparent, authentic, and connected to one another.

beaut intro sense8 the tubeSense8 intro. Source: The Tube

3. It reminded me of the beauty in the world

In this time of difficult times, it is easy to forget and to focus on the negative side of everything, of humanity. But Sense8 reminds us through the amazing and beautiful (emmi nominated) cinematography, that the world can be and is, a beautiful place. Shot in eight different countries for each character, this is true dedication to diversity and sharing what each place has to offer.

Not only is it beautifully shot, the message of hope and strength that runs throughout each storyline is clear. -The emphasis on celebration and the positive side of human nature reminds me that it is not all bad in life. And the open appreciation of the LGBTQ+ community and relationships is an added bonus.

4. Knowing that I’m weird just became a strength

If you’re one of the weird ones on the outside looking in, possibly a Lady Gaga fan, you will relate to this show. It takes self-acceptance to another level.

Birthed by trans sisters, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, their original take on being an outsider is clear through their writing.

The theme of each of the characters being different but this being a strength as they bring something new and essential to the table, is a message that is highly needed in this often hostile political climate.

The messages here give representation to those who do not feel heard in a world that slowly seems to be going to shit!

you did it will riley giff .gifWill and Riley. Source: rebloggy

5. It helped with my trauma

This will likely not have the same effect on others as it did me, but the story about one young woman’s trauma, and how the writers made sense of this on a spiritual and emotional level helped me to understand a little more, my own.

This is the purpose of all art, I believe. Particularly in good and talented writing, it is to pose our own questions and to delve deep into what we might find as our own personal understanding of what once posed a problem or a psychological curiosity. It gave me a reason to fight past the trauma, for the people we love.

This was the Wachowski’s two cents. And for me, it proved very very insightful and transformative.

6. It is the perfect show for INFJs

This show is based more around the character’s development than anything. Being a show already primed for empaths of the world to unite, the ‘feeling’ personalities will eat this up. My life and brain works this way. Logic often is lost on me.

And so seeing a show that also shows my own perspective, was freeing to me. And seeing an introverted character be one of the most badass superheroes I have ever seen, was refreshing in itself.

lito beauty gay manLito, the beauty. Source: tumblr

7. I saw real women, real trans people, real gay people … I saw myself.

The best kind of art makes you connect with the characters, but also to see yourself clearer than you had before you saw it.

Often we see women as superheroes who are just a hot body in a tight suit, with no real personality, no real humanness to them. They are perfect and they kick ass. And yes, when I watch them, I do want to be them. But I also feel ‘less than’ them.

The difference here is that the female characters here are all beautiful, but I can SEE MYSELF within them. They show weakness, they love, for real, they are tender, for real, sexual, for real, and if they can be this strong and passionate, smart and fiery.

Then so can I.

9. It teaches that courage is courage.

Kind of in opposition to the last point I made. -Whilst I find it highly beneficial to see ‘strong’ female leads, I also value the point made here which loosens up the boundaries of what we think we need in order to feel courage, or to be strength. The point is made that it doesn’t matter who is being courageous, it the intention and the act, rather than whether it is a man or a woman. That ‘who we are’ is an abstract construct when you consider yourself one in eight different people, or one in a million. If courage is represented only by men but you are female, in a way, it does not matter, because you can still be inspired by the qualities you like, no matter what your gender. (I believe this is true, along with representation of all walks of life being highly valuable to all.)

love is art twitterLove must be free. Source: twitter

8. It makes me want to create more art

This series is heart and soul defined. It is the new chicken soup for the soul. It has spiritual teachings scattered around beautiful scenery, scintillating chemistry, hot sex scenes (that embrace this side of human nature), humour and strong connections and empathy throughout.

The one liners are never ending in this piece of art. No line is wasted.

It’s like Hemingway on crack.

I could eat these lines up the same way a Woody Allen movie fills me with inspiration; it gets me up off of the couch and to my typewriter. It just works.

10. It calls for revolution like a ‘whisper’

This show encourages people to do better and be better than they already are. To think for themselves, to not accept the status quo. This is exactly the kind of message we need for people to be free again. To remember our true power; to fight for what is right and for what is ours.

I believe this fighting spirit is what gave the Sense8 fans the tenacity to petition and rally together for a month upon its cancellation and to succeed in getting back a two-hour special for the series completion. Not only that, thousands of us are still fighting for a full third season, and more if we can get it.

sense8-sun hugCluster love. Source: google

This is not only a fight for us, it is for ‘we’ – it is for all – so that more people can see this show and have the same ‘aha’ moments and chills we have had, the same amount of joy in its humour and love for the human condition; the love of the ‘mess’ of all of us, the strength and power each of us have, and how, when we are different, we are #strongertogether.

Like Almanita says, ‘I am also a ‘we”. This I believe to be absolutely true, more than ever. Let us not forget it.

Lilly. Source: The Tube

“While the ideas of transformation and identity are critical components in our work… the bedrock that all ideas rest upon is love.”

I would like to say a personal thank you to Lana and Lilly Wachowski, you do not know how you have changed my life and touched my soul. I aspire to be exactly like you lovely ladies as I grow as an artist.

You are my benchmark. # I am we. ❤

What do you think? Seen the series? Want to?! Let me know in the comments! Thanks in advance for any gifts you might want to give, they are most appreciated.

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In response to… the trans ban

Well, it’s been awhile since I wrote and I just couldn’t hold it back any longer. Like Marvyn Gaye’s love for… everyone; the current was too strong. So let’s get it on.

We all knew this day was coming, well… many of us; that something crazy and stupid like this would happen. Following the people ban, and the idea of a big wall, this new development maybe isn’t as surprising as it should be. Just incase you didn’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll catch you up – here.

I love transShowing some love. Source: flickr

For me, this brings about mixed feelings. Of course I’m outraged at the idea that Trump would decide that trans people are not worth the investment and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to fight in the military. In all of the haze of anger the figure of 15K current people serving are trans. I don’t know if this is accurate. But the point still stands, a minority have been chucked out where they previously roamed free. This is not ok. And it is a worrying step forward.

That said, if you have read any of my blog posts, you will know I am a pacifist at heart. I can’t help feel a little relieved at the fact that, if this happens, the army will be weaker. If the US army are weaker, will will be less likely to be attacked. War attracts war. And if there are less people in the act of ‘doing’ war, arguably, from this point of view, it is better for all of us. Less people will be killed by these people, less people will therefore, kill us.

love-equals-love.jpgLove = Love. Source: lifemusicfun

But on the side of human rights and basic human freedom, it is a sad day. My heart sinks for what this says to a young trans girl or boy, wanting to go into the world with full confidence considering the hostile environment right now.

As a feminist, I am aware of certain inequalities for women. I am also made more aware of inequalities in race and sexual orientation.

This is a sad day. The only ray of light that we can take from this moment as we move on, and we must, move on, because that is the only way progress is ever made, is to see all of the huge outpouring of support for trans people that will appear over the coming days and weeks.

Trans people are people. We are all people. We deserve the same rights. And we stand with you, side by side, through this storm. We all need each other, compassion and support from each other more than ever.

you-and-i-equals-love-tattoo-on-fingerYou and I. Source: tattoostime

So, be there on the ground. -Be there for anyone you know who is trans and might need support. Talk about it. There is power in words.

And remember, to always walk to the other side of the road when there’s a blazing madman there shouting at you. Don’t talk to him – just keep on walking.

This too, shall pass.

Marvyn. What’s Going On? The Tube.

Thanks in advance for any gifts you might want to give and comments left, they are most appreciated.

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Peaceful promise

I’d like you to join me, in starting with this pledge to allegiance for peace:

 

I promise, from this day on, to try to contribute to peace on this planet.

I choose to live my life in a peaceful way, taking responsibility for my choices, and contributing to the cause of peace in any way I can.

I choose to see people’s needs and feelings, and to use language that contributes to life, rather than creating enemy images or dehumanising my brothers and sisters.

I do this because I know the huge impact just one (seemingly) small person like me, can have on other peoples’ lives.

When I think of all the people I will meet during my lifetime, I believe that if just a handful are touched by my peaceful ways, then I will have helped to contribute to a better life for those in the future, and I will know that mine was a life well-lived.

I want to stand for something. I want to stand for peace.

Today.

Everyday.

Peace.

Maybe if enough of us say this and act upon it, maybe one day we will have world peace.

Please share if you believe in this, too.

how-to-love-your-piccadillos-hairy-armpits-elephant-boyPeaceful trunk. Source: arynbates

“From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.”

Aeschylus

Thanks in advance for any gifts you might want to give, they are most appreciated.

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The human feminist – a field beyond feminism

Feminism isn’t about hating men any more than enjoying the music of the Beatles is anti-Beegees. As Caitlin Moran said, not all feminists want to burn penises. I’m actually quite against it, myself.

caitlin moran feminism

“When women talk about “The Man”, we’re not talking about you. You’re just a man. You’re not The Man.”

Caitlin Moran. Source: interview magazine

 

In a recent conversation with a few friends I got told there were some people who might expect an angry woman or get scared at the idea of me, if I were to call myself a feminist. Maybe it was a good idea for me to stop using that word, they said.

Thing is, I just want to be able to say what I believe without being put in a box. I am just me. Just little old me, typing at my computer. So when you hear the label ‘feminist’, please don’t jump to the conclusion that I burn bras or begin an ‘all people like you…’ list.

The label only serves for me to express my beliefs. That’s all.

feminist-quote-29-picture-quotes-aziz-ansariAziz Ansari. Source: Pinterest

I am a white, female, feminist, pacifist, humanitarian, egalitarian, humorous Brit. But none of those things make me who I really am. To say you know who I am because of my job description would be just as dehumanising. It is my decision what I call myself, how I express myself. I believe in equality. And peace. And to deny that would be unnatural.

Perhaps one day I will become ‘the writer formerly known as hairy’. But in the meantime…

mlk

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King Jr. Source: seattle times

I like the idea that we can be judged on the content of our character, instead of what is seen on the surface. I’m not just a feminist. I’m so much more than my labels. And so are you.

And right now the world seems so separated by these names, these ideas, of what one person believes, or not.

So, let’s try and see behind the labels.

Break down the enemy images.

And remember we’re just all human beings.

rumi-quote-about-love-and-the-picture-of-amazing-field-rumi-quotes-about-true-love-930x617Rumi. Source: mactoons

What do you think? Ever been labelled and want to break free from the stereotypical chains?

Let me know in the comments, and as always, thank you in advance for any little gifts you might want to give 🙂

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