Amplifying Voices

Amplifying Voices – Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace

I love how many amazing podcasts are out there right now. I subscribe to more than I can reasonably listen to, but they give me access to so many fantastic ideas and perspectives.

Recently, a friend recommended Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace, and it is fantastic. I still sometimes question my experiences or perspectives, or wonder if I was reading too much into occurrences. It is incredibly validating to find out that my experiences are in many ways, universal. (Also a bit depressing, but we have to be able to talk about it to work on making it better.)

The hosts Jeannie Yandel and Eula Scott Bynoe use their platform in such an effective way, talking to wide variety of guests. I started with the episode on “The reason why so many IRL Michael Scotts are bosses”, but wherever you begin, I think you’ll find some very interesting listening material.

Amplifying Voices – Katie Hill

One of the extremely frustrating things about being a woman in this world is how often we’re expected to apologize when we’re actually the victim. Such as what’s currently happening with California Congresswoman Katie Hill.

Here we have a woman apologizing, and resigning, when she was the victim of revenge porn. When conservatives, resentful of her win, happily jumped on using non-consensual, private pictures of her to create a scandal.

Let’s be clear. There is nothing scandalous about a naked photo of a human being. But there is absolutely something horrific about spreading and using such pictures to punish women.

The only ones who should be ashamed are the men who took, released, and shared the pictures. They’re filth and should be embarrassed by their behavior. I know they won’t be, because they’re misogynistic creeps, but they should be.

Male politicians can and will do any number of inappropriate things, especially sexually, and there is no outcry. No trouble.

However Hill is female, and young, and had an impact. So she had to be taken down.

But to give Hill credit, although she is going, she left with some beautifully scathing remarks.

I’m leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching. I’m leaving, but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence, and remain in board rooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office.

Hill is bright and capable, and I know she’ll land on her feet. She’s probably going to need a lot of therapy, but she can do it.

In the meantime, we need to start acknowledging the real criminals when it comes to revenge porn – the ones who release the photos. I will never shame a woman for having a photo taken. But I will absolutely refuse to respect any man who sinks to such a level. They’re the ones who should be resigning, making embarrassed speeches, and feeling like they can’t leave their apartments. The double standard is exhausting, and it needs to end.

And to anyone who is shocked by her pictures, but not by his behavior, you need to ask yourself why. Because it’s not a pretty answer.

Amplifying Voices – Jessica Valenti: The Niceness Trap

One of the most common criticisms when women engage with politics or activism is not a critique of their message or platform, but a critique of tone or word choice. How many times have we heard things like, “I like what she’s saying, I just don’t like how she’s saying it.” How many articles have we seen debating a woman’s likeability when she enters the political sphere?

Even a 16 year old climate activist is getting hate online, because people claim she’s “too angry”. Not to mention the tone policing that happens for women of color who push back against oppression.

Which is why I love this short but sweet article by Jessica Valenti on The Niceness Trap for women. It’s taken a long time, but we’re starting to get to an era where women have more agency to push back against the constant social pressure to be nice all the time. There are so many things that are more important that niceness. Our survival, for one.

And sure, our new unwillingness to put “nice” first will be uncomfortable for a lot of people. But growth doesn’t happen without discomfort. Whether they like it or not, times are changing.

Amplifying Voices – Greta Thunberg

There is lot of complaining that happens when it comes to our world’s youth. Whether it be criticizing their use of technology, the idea that they prioritize different values than their parents, or even their eating habits, there’s always something for the older generations to pick on.

And yet, when you think of who has been in power, who has had the time and resources to act, and who has chosen not to (because it might cut into profits), the irritation seems rather misplaced.

This is not the usual generational change that we’re talking about. Today’s younger generations are inheriting a world that has the potential to literally end.

So today, in honor of the worldwide Climate Strike, I wanted to highlight Greta Thunberg for a few minutes. Because when I hear people complain about youth, I think of children like her. I think of how the current school-age generations are having to speak out against guns and climate change, because we have left them no other choice. Because their very survival depends on it.

So let’s not criticize them. Let’s help them.

Amplifying Voices – Ali Thompson: How Can We Tell When a Weight Loss Study is Unreliable?

I’ve talked before about how data can be misrepresented and misused, especially when there is profit to be made. A huge example is the pharmaceutical industry, which routinely pays for biased studies to promote new drugs, but you can find this kind of faulty science in pretty much every field.

I like this quick and easy breakdown on the common flaws in studies by Ali Thompson. She is talking about weight loss studies in particular, but her questions around credibility can be applied to many different study topics.

This isn’t just about being an informed consumer. A great deal of this kind of information is used to discriminate or harass people. Before you look at someone and think you know everything you need to know about them and their health, perhaps a little critical thinking is in order. And above all – who stands to profit?

Amplifying Voices – Like Stories of Old: The Philosophy of the Fall

As much as I dislike YouTube as a company (and I hope this lawsuit against them from LGBTQ creators is successful), I do have to admit that via the platform I have been able to find a number of really amazing and creative channels.

One channel I really enjoy is called Like Stories of Old, with a creator who looks at the life lessons that can be gleaned from cinema.

Stories can be such a powerful framework for human thought, and I think all of us have experienced stories that have helped us gain new perspective or tap into emotions we can’t always easily express.

This is one of the shorter videos on the channel, but covers a movie that I think about frequently, called The Fall. Along with being one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen, there is so much depth to the content of the story. And Like Stories of Old does a beautiful analysis.

Amplifying Voices – Hannah Gadsby: Three Ideas. Three Contradictions. Or not.

Comedian Hannah Gadsby rose to prominence this past year due to her amazing comedy special on Netflix, entitled Nanette. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t yet had a chance to see it, but I will say that she takes the rules of comedy, and deliberately breaks them to send a message to her audience. It means that there are moments of discomfort, and it’s on purpose.

There are some who have criticized her show as not being “real” comedy. Most of these people are the sort to loudly exclaim that there should be no rules in comedy, and that it’s bad for comedians to be “politically correct”. Yet when a woman, in particular a lesbian, non-gender-conforming, neurodivergent woman, has the audacity to do things differently, suddenly rules about comedy are paramount.

Of course with this kind of criticism, it’s not about the art itself, but rather the gate-keeping of who gets to participate. Who gets to control the room. Who gets to tell their story.

This Ted Talk by Gadsby is another example of why I like her so much. She once again takes a very specific, set format, and refuses to follow the rules. It’s a great reminder that value comes from what makes us think – not in how perfectly it conforms to expectations.

Amplifying Voices – The ADA vs Domino’s

Today’s Voices post is a little different, in that I’m not highlighting one particular writer or speaker. Instead, I want to talk about the current court case involving Domino’s and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

You can find a more thorough write-up of the case here, but essentially a blind customer is suing Domino’s for having an inaccessible website. Domino’s is trying to argue that the ADA does not apply to websites, since it was written prior to the role that the modern internet plays in our lives.

Recently, a federal appeals court agreed with the plaintiff. However, Domino’s is now petitioning for this to go to the Supreme Court. And in our current political climate, this could have a huge impact on the lives of many disabled people. Domino’s is being supported by a number of large retailers, all of whom want to fight accessibility online.

Now, I don’t eat at Domino’s, because I like pizza that’s actually good, but a company fighting something like this speaks volumes from a cultural perspective.

The cost of updating their website is estimated to be about $38,000. Domino’s reported a profit last year of 362 million.

Making your website more accessible for the disabled tends to be good for everyone, as creating an improved and more inclusive design helps all customers.

And more accessibility means more people to use or consume your product, which means more money coming in.

So why are retailers fighting this so hard? Why have so many companies always had such a hard time with the ADA?

As with most things, it comes back to politics, bias, privilege, and a lack of true leadership.

All bias has a certain element of the ridiculous, but this is especially so when it comes to disability. 61 million adults live with a disability in this country. Most of us, if we live long enough, will be disabled at some point. Most of us, some day, will need accommodation. Even if this were not the case, making life accessible for the disabled is not a burden. It’s a responsibility. And Domino’s, like many corporations, wants to be above responsibility.

If they’re above taking care of their customers, I highly suggest their customers be above ordering from Domino’s.

Amplifying Voices – Junah Jang: Is Hope Worth Having?

Hope is a concept that feels very distant some days. There are so many problems that feel overwhelming and insurmountable in our world, and they just keep coming, day after day.

I don’t know if I even agree with everything that Junah Jang says in her talk about hope. My cynicism runs pretty deep these days. But I do know that I like hearing her talk about it. And maybe that’s something close to hope.

In the meantime, I plan to follow her advice that “hope doesn’t bring about action, action brings about hope”.

Action, I can do.

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