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.

10 ways to get comfortable using the ‘f’ word

feminist lookbookSwag. Source: lookbook

It has taken me just over a year to begin feeling comfortable with calling myself a feminist, with putting it on my site, even.

Here’s how you can, too!

Try telling your friends and people who support you

It’s funny to me as I meet new friends and they gasp (maybe not quite gasp), but as they wonder at how I could be so bold as to say that I am. I used to wonder if I could be so bold, also, but now, it’s really become easy, old hat.

My newest friend asked me if I get a lot of negative reactions, and the answer is honestly, no. I do see negative reactions to feminist videos, to anything that might resemble a woman standing up for her rights or talking about other women as if they had rights (audacious, I know!) but I personally have never had anything close to abuse or negativity about my views. (Touch wood!)

Talk with other feminists

Being in a group where you know there will be no retribution and will support your views is always a good thing. A lot of the people I follow on twitter I know are feminists or supporters of feminism (if they’ve not quite got there yet!)

Perhaps this is because I am always networking with those of like-minded thoughts.

I don’t get into comment fights if I can avoid it, and any comments I make are only for what I believe is a positive step for feminism – I express my enthusiasm, and it’s very difficult to argue with someone who has not even given an opinion, only expressed a feeling of joy that equality is that little bit closer for all women.

Express your feelings, not your opinions

This is not to say that voicing your opinion is not a good idea, it’s simply for those that don’t want to get in a fight about what they intrinsically believe – and why should they if they don’t have to? The idea is to stand up for what we believe in, not to bring others down who don’t believe in it.

Empathise with those who don’t believe what you believe

When some people say why you should shut up or shouldn’t call yourself a feminist specifically it can be hard to hear, if that’s what you identify as. But empathising with those statements, i.e. seeing the feelings and needs behind them can allow you to accept any differences of opinion. We’re allowed to disagree.

Plus, a bonus of this is people expect a dehumanising argument sent back their way. If you instead try to connect with their statement, it will at least confuse them, and at best, help both parties to feel heard and understood.

Know that you don’t have to use ‘the word’

Some people just don’t like the word ‘feminist’ I’m not sure why, and I will be writing a post on that topic next, because when it comes to it, it simply means wanting women to have basic human rights and equality.

But, just because I use the word for myself, doesn’t mean YOU have to. -Who cares?! A word is a word, and it’s my own right to identify as any identity I want to, and it is yours, too.

And if you do like the idea of equality, you might come to call yourself a feminist just to yourself, as I did, at first. It’s not like I go around with an ‘I am a feminist’ t-shirt on all day. I don’t talk about it all day long to complete strangers – it’s just a part of who I am – what I believe in – and why I write these posts in my attempt to empower myself and other women.

You don’t have to give up lipstick

Or make-up. Or hair products. Or being girly. Or manly. You don’t have to be angry all the time. Or give up having fun. Or laughing. Or having sex. Or not having sex.

It’s just about equal rights… Not about hating.

Shout it out

As Caitlin Moran suggests, try standing on a chair and yelling out words like ‘feminist’ and ‘environment’ until they become as natural as saying chocolate or macadamia nuts. (bonus points if you got the Eat, Prey, Love reference)

Use a disclaimer

The first post I ever wrote on this blog was about how not all feminists are dungarees-wearing, bra-burning, hairy-arm-pitted lesbians. I explained who I was, how I am JUST interested in equality for women.

Remember, it’s not your responsibility how other people react to you

This is simply that a friend of mine told me maybe the word feminist isn’t so good’er idea to use the actual word. It might offend some people. But that’s because they don’t know who I am, and they don’t know what I’m about. And they have their own stuff going on.

And that’s ok, but it’s not my responsibility to help them out. I might want to. I might want to clear some things up. To use a disclaimer. In that case, I would. But I am what I am as they say, so I’m not about to go around apologising all the time if they can’t believe me, the same way they don’t need to for disagreeing with me.

Remember, it’s about individuals

We’re all different. Some people won’t agree with you. No matter what you say. So you may as well say, quite simply, what you believe in.

I choose to use the ‘f’ word. Because it defines easily what I believe and any misconception that it means anything other than (I’ll say it again!) wanting equal rights for women, is a shame, but I have stated simply in what I believe and if someone chooses not to take my word for it, that’s really their prerogative. I don’t have to prove my beliefs to them.

In the same way, I am a pacifist, no one questions what this means.

Being a feminist, to me, is the same. And that’s my prerogative

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be ‘weak’ or ‘whiny’

You don’t have to be a ‘victim’ to be a feminist. You just need to want equality. It’s. really. That. Simple.

You can be super strong and want equality (if you like). Like Michele Obama 🙂

You can give feminism a good name

Feel like feminists have a bad rep? Well, you can change that.

Anyway, I’m not saying deciding to take that great leap and claim the name is easy. But I will say that if you are brave to even say the ‘f’ word once a year, you will be giving it a new shine, a new lease of life. Because there is a stereotype of angry bra-burning feminist, people shy away from using the word. But it’s not a big deal. It’s like saying, I eat chicken, I am a pacifist, I believe in human rights. I believe in equality. It’s the same thing.

Sharing that you are a feminist can be scary, but once you’ve done it, it really becomes reassuring just HOW MANY people will support you in your boldness to claim the label; to make it clear that you stand for women’s rights, and to show that you are not a horrible man-eating ogre to boot! 😉

 

So there we have it, ten ways to feel more comfortable using the ‘f’ word. I hope it’s helped.

Overall I have made my peace with the fact that there are those out there that do not believe what I believe, who do not understand my need for equality, who will make arguments against why they don’t see the need. And that’s ok. Hopefully one day we will be able to connect. Or not. But that’s their role in life, and this is mine. And I have to play it out with as much gusto as I possibly can.

I think one reason my blog has had so much support and not one negative comment (again, so far!), is because I am usually positive with my posts, always looking for the best in any situation and supporting young women. There is no ‘down with men’ speak of any kind, because I love men, and I think being a woman is a wonderful thing to be, I just also want equality…

 

What do you think? Are you loving the word or does it not matter at all? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thanks in advance for any little gifts you might want to give 🙂

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5 Ways A Male Feminist Makes A Really Good Boyfriend

5 reasons you should go out with a male feminist hairy armpits pinterestFeminist boy. Source: Pinterest

This is another slightly silly post. But it’s true, a lot of women go weak at the knees for a feminist guy (or at least, I do!) and here’s why:

  1. He’s down with consent

A guy who is aware that when he offers a cup of tea, you might not want it at that particular point in time, and is ok with that becomes majorly attractive. Someone who understands what no means and respects it immediately and with little worry becomes someone we want in our corner.

2. He cares about you

If a guy cares about women’s rights and equality, then he cares about you and all women. That’s hot.

3. He is likely to be fair to you

Anyone that is on the side of equality is likely to show those same views within all of his relationships. Because fairness is important to him. Period.

4. He’s perceptive and empathic

A lot of people cannot see when inequality does not exist simply because it isn’t happening to them and they haven’t maybe understood (or they don’t want to) how this can effect any ‘minority’ group. (I say ‘minority’ as there are a few more women (1%) than men in my country today)

5. He will respect you

Anyone who sees women already as equal to men can see the good points about being a woman and respects women. It is those that believe women are ‘less than’ that do not appreciate women’s strengths. Likelihood is he will both appreciate and respect you.

This is not to say that all men (or women!) who proclaim themselves as feminist are perfect. But, if the right guy (or gal) comes along and they genuinely share these views… total bonus, right?!

If you liked this post and feel moved to give me a gift, I thank you in advance ❤

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So there you have it! What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

In response to… International Women’s Day 2017

hairy armpits blog in response to... international women's day 2017 8 marchWomen’s Day. Source: februarycalendars

This being a feminist website, I thought I’d best talk about the one day a year dedicated to celebrating women!

I usually don’t take much notice of it (which is perhaps ignorant, considering Annie Lennox’s wonderful and inspiring speech about the coming together of women of this day) as I write often about this subject, and I see everyday as a chance to inspire women; I see everyday as women’s day already. But a day to come together as a collective, to empower each other and to remember, that no woman is alone in this struggle for equality can only be a good thing in my book.

hairy armpits blog in response to... international women's day 2017 a lifeA life. Source: isis.aust

This year, sky are dedicating a week’s viewing to women’s achievements, the UN focused upon equality for women in the workplace by 2030, and Michelle Obama made an awesome speech about why young girls need to be educated.

Emma Watson once asked ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ and I think this question answers all of the doubts those wondering about why a women’s day is needed. Because it’s one time when all of the issues we are concerned about can be discussed, together. And that is really empowering. Knowing there is a time for your voice to be heard, makes it easier to speak out knowing you will be supported. You were going to say it anyway, but it just makes sense to say it then.

So here’s to another 364.

 

If you liked this post and feel moved to give me a gift, I thank you in advance ❤

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What do you think? Are you a fan of women’s day? What did you do this year to celebrate? Let me know in the comments!

Why women are not sl*ts- they are temples

The Golden Temple (holiest Sikh shrine), Amritsar, Punjab, IndiaSri Harmandir Sahib. Source: WordPress

I see myself as a Goddess. If I value myself and my body and decide that it is sacred – does that mean no one can come inside and visit? No. A truly beautiful temple has many visitors. This doesn’t mean that a woman who saves herself for one man or woman or trans person, is any less of a temple.

We need to see ourselves as beautiful beings, and tell our friends, no – just because someone burnt down the alter, or wrote on the walls, does not mean you are any less of a goddess temple. As the line says in the poem– “no man can make a wounded energy of your flesh.”

And no name- no shame- that you felt after the one night stand, the rape, the callous looks of someone who is upset about something in themselves and has nothing to do with you, can ever take away the fact that you know your inner value.

That’s why the word hurts so much, and I don’t use it as I know that it has been used all too much. As a hopeless slur, to abuse you. To abuse all of us. As younger generations appear, I am confident there is not a fourteen year old school girl that has not been called this name in some form or capacity – as- class shaming becomes pre-dominant and as a way to cut girls down when they are learning so many other things from the media and TV about what it is to be a girl – and what’s bad about it.

About how bad it is to have larger breasts, or to have smaller breasts, to have sex with consent, to refrain from it. To wear short skirts and low cut tops, and to cover up, and to be human, and to live and to love and to cry.

And I’m sorry if I’m getting emotional, but this is important to me. Because those girls are important to me. Because they are me – I was them once and they will become what I am now, and I hope to God that they can see themselves as lovable with all this crap going on as women begin to find it hard to orgasm with all of these conflicted and shameful messages in their heads.

Tell your daughters- they are a temple. They have their own inner space and power. Don’t let any media image or bitchy girl trample all over that, because that is so easily done. And at that age, it is hard to become un-done.

Tell them, they are never a slut.

 They are women. And we laugh at the crocodiles.


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