International Women’s Day at Harvard and Google

On the breakfast table this morning in a Harvard cafeteria:

Typing “oppression of” into Google results in “oppression of women” as the first option:

Clicking on Google’s “Women’s Day” graphic brings up pages celebrating Yoko Ono and Frida Kahlo:

What’s the message here, though? Weren’t these artists famous primarily due to their sexual relationships with successful male artists? (both of which male artists happened to be married at the time that the sexual relationships commenced) Was it a good day for Cynthia Lennon when Yoko Ono began having sex with her husband John Lennon? If Google is going to pick female role models, why not pick women who made it as artists without the assistance of a male sex partner? Mary Cassatt, for example, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, or Louise Nevelson in visual art. Aretha Franklin or Mitsuko Uchida in the world of music.

Or maybe that actually is Google’s intentional message? The way for women to advance is with an already-successful male sex partner and the selection of the partner should not be limited to those men who are unmarried?

Readers: How did you celebrate International Women’s Day?

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Provincetown Public Library

One of the exciting things that I am able to do after 18 years of flight training is go to public libraries in different towns. The photos below are from a recent rare calm-wind, above-freezing day in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Adjacent books in the featured Young Adult Non-Fiction section:

From the rest of the shelf:

What about New (and/or featured) Children’s Fiction?

I do hope that at least one candidate in 2020 adopts Gordon Jack’s slogan of “When they go low, we go slightly lower.”

In between the fiction and non-fiction sections:

What about for little kids? The library is in a converted church and makes great use of the high ceilings:

There is a restroom:

The little kids have their own books, in which it turns out that adults and cisgender boys are guilty of cisgender-normative and hetero-normative prejudice.

The reviews of I’m a Girl on Amazon:

  • A wrongheaded picture book attempts to celebrate “girl power” and the rejection of traditional gender roles but ends up perpetuating stereotypes. … The damaging fallacy extends in every direction, though, as the bystanders’ sometimes derisive comments, which assume that she’s male (“Ugh! Boys are so messy.”), support an additional set of (binary) gender stereotypes.
  • Besides the message of “you can be as annoying as you want as long as you’re breaking gender stereotypes,” having to read “I’m a girl!” with emphasis throughout the entire story gets tedious.
  • Intentional or not, it’s about gender identity and being misgendered. … It never says she is trans, but could easily be read that way

And of 10,000 Dresses:

  • I am building a collection of books and lessons to help my children understand what the GLBTIQ crowd experiences to help teach them how to treat others and how NOT to treat others.
  • I selected this book as part of an independent English literature course that I am taking that involved examining LGBT experience through literature. This is an excellent selection for starting discussion on transgender identity in childhood. The author’s use of pronouns is especially insightful and overall it’s a reaffirming story. I removed one star from my review because the main character’s parents and sibling are rude and intolerant and the book in no way addresses this.
  • I do have a problem with the girl running to a stranger’s house and going in as if that is a perfectly safe behavior.
  • I returned mine today and was appalled as I read the story to my son before reading it to myself. Kids need to feel safe at home, especially when dealing with gender non-conformity.
  • This book seems intended to be positive about a boy wearing dresses, but in the story, the boys’ parents and sibling reject him, and one girl becomes his friend and makes dresses with him. The issues with his family are never resolved.
  • [From American University] 10,000 Dresses is a true depiction of what a young child goes through when feeling that they do not fit in. … There are also no diverse races in this book; every character that is depicted is Caucasian. Since children of color are unable to see themselves represented in the book, they cannot relate to the greater message behind the story.
  • The story is poorly conceived: the parents are unsupportive and cold, while a stranger provides comfort.
  • A child is systematically mocked by each member of his family, only to find refuge with a random stranger.

Should these paper forms be called “Normally aspirated tax”?

From the convenience store, we learn that customers are passionate about marijuana, but that the claimed health benefits for humans do not translates into health benefits for our canine companions:

What’s happening in the rest of the town?

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Google shows that James Damore and Econ 101 were right?

James Damore, the Google Heretic, was cast out for saying that intelligent people who identify as “women” did not enjoy staring at a screen and typing out pages of boring C and Java code (while simultaneously wearing headphones and rubbing elbows with other nerds?).

Damore suggested that the programming job be reconfigured so that it would be more appealing to people identifying as women. Instead of doing that, Google fired him for his thoughtcrime.

If Damore were correct, Econ 101 would predict that women at Google would be getting paid more than men for doing the same job. Otherwise, why would they be there doing something that was distasteful to them?

“Google Finds It’s Underpaying Many Men as It Addresses Wage Equity” (nytimes):

When Google conducted a study recently to determine whether the company was underpaying women and members of minority groups, it found, to the surprise of just about everyone, that men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.

Doesn’t this tend to show that both Damore and Econ 101 are correct?

Related:

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Is it okay to say “LGBTQ”?

From “Sen. Booker quizzes judicial nominee on ‘sin’ and same-sex marriage” (Catholic News Agency):

Booker also asked Rao if she had ever employed an “LGBTQ law clerk.”

The nominee reminded the senator that she had never previously served as a judge, and so had never employed law clerks. She did said she did not question her staff about their sexual orientation.

“I take people as they come,” Rao said. “Irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I treat people as individuals.”

(Kind of a brilliant tactic by Cory Booker! If she says “no” then she is a hater. If she says “yes” then she admits to questioning employees about their sexual activities!)

This reminded me of a bottle of bubbly that I recently purchased:

I posted the above on Facebook, quoting from the label

“Supporting LBGTQ acceptance”; what about IA?

A member of Virtue Corps asked “what is IA?” and I referred him to the taxpayer-funded LGBTQIA Resource Center at UC Davis:

Our center uses LGBTQIA to intentionally include and raise awareness of Queer, Intersex and Asexual as well as myriad other communities under our umbrella.

The Virtue Corps soldier was not mollified:

So, what exactly is your point about the wine bottle? That’s my question. Is it that you have a longstanding concern for the intersex and asexual community, and you’re genuinely concerted for them? Or something else?

Me:

I am genuinely concerned for all communities! That’s why I was upset that IA were left out. (separately, if a bunch of people are “asexual,” why do they need to congregate in a “community”? Isn’t it possible to practice asexuality in one’s own apartment or house?)

So… circling back to Senator Booker. How is it okay for him to imply that the only employees worth highlighting fit somewhere on the narrow “LGBTQ” spectrum? If he is passionate about inclusion, doesn’t he need to go all out with “LGBTQIA”?

[Separately, this product shows how profitable virtue can be. Generic Cava retails for about $3 per bottle over in Spain. I paid $20. The label says 50 cents will be donated to GLAAD, so that leaves at least $16.50 for importation, U.S. taxes (fairly low), and distributor markup (source of John McCain’s fortune-by-marriage). Now I just need to find the perfect occasion for serving. Suggestions welcome!]

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Shop from women-owned businesses at Amazon

A friend recently pointed out this feature from Amazon: “Shop women-run businesses”:

In a gender-fluid age, what does this mean? Can any enterprise in which an owner or manager clicks “I identify as a woman” be considered “women-run” as far as the Amazon database is concerned?

[Separately, I’m not sure that this works. I searched for “razor”, hoping to see if it was possible to purchase an anti-toxic masculinity Gillette product from a woman-owned business. The first option was to buy a Fusion 5 (my continued testing against the Dorco Pace 7 and Pace 6 Plus show that the Koreans make a superior product if performance, rather than politics, is the relevant measure) from Amazon itself. In what sense is Amazon “women-owned” or “women-run”?]

Things are simpler here in the Boston suburbs. From a coffee shop in Lexington today, “we source this coffee exclusively from women coffee farmers”:

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NYT: Greedy employers love women; woke university professors hate them

“The Secret History of Women in Coding: Computer programming once had much better gender balance than it does today. What went wrong?” (NYT, February 13, 2019) describes a golden age of female nerddom from the 1950s through the mid-80s. Employers would recruit, train, and pay people who identified as women to write software in IBM 704 assembly language. They would even do this for applicants who identified as part of two victim groups (a “young black woman” is cited).

According to the newspaper, once it became conventional for programmers to get Computer Science degrees, the percentage of women choosing coding dropped:

If we want to pinpoint a moment when women began to be forced out of programming, we can look at one year: 1984.

Who was forcing them out, then? University professors and the environments that they set up! Women-hating CS faculty were apparently eager to send approximately half of the potential students, and the funding that would accompany them, into the arms of less sexist departments.

The women described in the article don’t support the narrative of the NYT. One left coding because she wanted to be a lawyer and had a successful four-decade career in the law (see Atlantic article below on how the availability of higher-paid and more prestigious work in, e.g., finance, medicine, law, and politics can draw women away from the last-resort jobs of engineer and computer programmer).

The comments are interesting. A young woman reading these would certainly choose some career other than programming. Women describes decades of misery and sexism in the cubicle plantations where they’ve been stuck (and now they don’t even get cubicles!). So we have the odd phenomenon of the NYT saying that they are passionate about pushing up the number of women in STEM while simultaneously writing articles that any rational young woman would interpret as a huge warning flag regarding a STEM career.

Alternative explanations are not considered by the journalist and editors. For example, the purported golden age of female coding ended just as programming changed character. The job of data scientist today is a lot more like what a “programmer” was doing in the 1970s.

Another alternative is that the golden age coincided with a time of maximum female economic insecurity. No-fault divorce was being rolled out, in which the husband could unilaterally shed the wife in favor of a younger sex partner. But post-divorce financial arrangements were subject to the whims of individual judges due to a lack of guidelines and precedent. Once known-in-advance rules were set up, a lot of married women concluded that they didn’t need to work (see the economic study by Voena cited in “Litigation, Alimony, and Child Support in the U.S. Economy”). Child support guidelines introduced in the 1980s made it more lucrative for a woman to have sex with an already-married dentist or doctor than to go to work as a software engineer (see Massachusetts family law, for example).

Nor does the Times consider why female-run profit-hungry employers don’t seek out women to hire, train, and exploit. Sheryl Sandberg runs Facebook and advertises her passion for the advancement of women. If there is a huge reservoir of female coding talent out there, why wouldn’t Facebook tap into it with an aptitude test and an in-house training program? The cost of training women to the standard of a BSCS is less than what Facebook is currently spending to recruit men. (Remember that most of the four years of a BSCS is spent doing stuff that doesn’t relate to being a software engineer. For one thing, a full two years is spent not being in school at all.) How about Epic Systems and its multi-billionaire founder who identifies as a woman? Why wouldn’t they save a ton of money by recruiting and training an all-female staff to relive the glorious days of the 1960s with their 1960s database technology? (Epic rejects the RDBMS!)

Finally, the Times doesn’t consider the apparent inconsistency between this article and the rest of their journalism. Capitalism is responsible for the evils of racism and sexism. Universities are where enlightenment prevails. Is it that CS professors are the exception to the general rule? And what’s their motivation? Why do they want to see the biology department get the fancy new building to accommodate all of the female students (now a majority on campus)?

Finally, the article is strong on its mischaracterization of what James Damore, the cast-out Google heretic, wrote. (Has anyone at any American newspaper actually read his infamous memo?)

Readers: What was your favorite comment on this piece? I like the ones that say that the waning of female nerddom was due to the high salaries that purportedly began to be paid to programmers (the BLS can’t find this! Programmers today get paid less, on average, than the women described in the article were getting way back when). None of these coastal elites ask why, if it is all about the Benjamins, the percentage of women is growing in the highest-paid fields, such as medicine and finance.

Related:

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Literally born to be a digital photographer

From “Women of Color Organize for Access and Accountability in Photojournalism” (nytimes, Feb 5, 2019):

Tara Pixley often felt isolated in the newsrooms where she worked as a photographer or photo editor. As a “black woman who was the child of immigrants, raised by a single mom, and also a first-generation college student,” she struggled for a decade to fit in. She was the only woman of color in the photo departments where she worked and was ignored or treated dismissively.

Pixley!

[The article goes on to explore the question of how a person who fits into multiple victim categories might start determining the reason that he or she was “ignored or treated dismissively”:

“There is a three-prong gender/race/class identity space, and the bias and marginalization that it brings down on a visual journalist is very real and makes it difficult for women of color to succeed in this industry,” Ms. Pixley said. “Add to that being gender nonconforming, non-binary or trans, then you’re just this kind of oddity that no one seems to know how to engage.”

So it is either three dimensions or four dimensions.]

Related: Sony Alpha Female program (identify as female as Step 1 towards picking up a $25,000 grant, $5,000 in gear, mentorship, networking, and exhibitions), which Tara Pixley and company complained about in a letter:

one of the awarded portfolios included a prominently featured wedding photo that uses an apparent wildfire as a backdrop for a bride and groom. This was an egregiously tone deaf choice as wildfires destroyed thousands of California homes and lives in the same week as Sony’s announcement. Another portfolio featured images of black and brown people from impoverished nations that exoticized those individuals and communities, rather than telling complex and compelling stories from their perspective.

(Is a wildfire image inappropriate for a California wedding? A lot of California marriages end up in scorched earth litigation that consumes all available fuel (cash) to pay the lawyers.)

Any photo of a non-white subject is risky:

By relying on tropes of people of color, honed and employed over hundreds of years of colonization and dehumanization of black and brown people, you fail to convey a holistic narrative. That is the damning imperialistic photographic tradition being upheld by these images, their photographers and therefore the camera companies that reward, employ, fund, mentor, highlight and support such work.

But what if a bunch of white photographers take pictures of white subjects? Wouldn’t they then be accused of ignoring people of color? The letter goes on to say that Sony, et al., should “hire inclusion consultants.” Maybe the answer is that cameras should have a real-time feed to a second electronic viewfinder. Whenever a person of color is in the frame, the inclusion consultant can check the second viewfinder and approve the shutter release.

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Gillette ad shows the changing standards for being a male hero?

I recounted my Costco conversation (see yesterday’s post) about the Gillette ad on Facebook. A cousin in her 20s responded

As someone with a daughter you should be happy about this. The whole purpose of this ad is to show men they can be kind and loving. Which I know you want for Greta. It’s shedding the awful stigmas that have been pushed onto men.

To me the ad was absurd. The situations in which the men found themselves entailed no personal risk and no consequences for action versus inaction. One young man says “not cool” to a same-age friend who is considering pursuing an attractive young woman on the street (maybe “it might be expensive” would be more effective?). A full-sized adult male separates two young boys who are wrestling/fighting on the grass. Shoveling the front walk after the weekend’s snowstorm is more challenging than what any of the guys in the video are doing.

What kind of conduct was valorized when I was this cousin’s age? Roger Olian and Lenny Skutnik were warm and dry prior to deciding to dive into the icy Potomac River to save people from Air Florida 90. They took a huge risk that was in no way related to their jobs or responsibilities. Nobody would have criticized Olian from staying in his warm truck or Skutnik for staying in his warm coat and boots on the shore. That’s not “the best a man can be” anymore, though!

The Thai cave rescue presented a similar situation in 2018. The “over 100 divers” (were they all men?) who went in would not have been criticized for staying home, right? Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL who died, was “working in security at the Suvarnabhumi Airport when he volunteered to assist the cave rescue.” Surely at least one of those 100+ divers identifies as a man and is (or “identifies as”?) a Gillette customer. Yet to resonate with young consumers, Gillette decided that men dealing with children on grass was more powerful than men leaving their cozy homes, flying to Thailand, and pulling children out of miles of flooded cave.

I wonder if the debate about the Gillette ad is actually a debate between generations. My young cousin had a completely different impression than I did. So Gillette wasn’t clueless. They just don’t care about older customers who are stuck with a 1970s/1980s concept of achievement.

Related:

  • Dorco Pace 7, the Korean-made shaving system for the non-woke and/or elderly
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Gillette versus Dorco Shaving Test 1

The controversy over Gillette’s recent “toxic masculinity” ad campaign got me curious about the state of the art in razor blades.

Test 1:

  • three days of growth
  • no shower beforehand
  • warm water applied with cloth
  • Edge shaving gel
  • Dorco Pace 7 on right side of face
  • latest and greatest Gillette Fusion 5 ProShield with FlexBall on left side of face
  • brand new cartridges in both handles

Results:

  • Dorco: slight pulling/grabbing sensation at times, no trouble shaving under nose despite lack of single blade in the back, no nicks
  • Gillette: less resistance, one nick

Winner: Draw. Equal smoothness of face on both sides.

[Separately, from Friday:

Costco cashier assistant (looking at roses in cart): “What’d you do?”

Me: “If you’ve seen the Gillette ads, then you know that simply existing as a man is reason enough for apologizing.”

Assistant (in her 60s): “Aw. That’s not true. We need men.”

Cashier (in her 30s): “I’m doing fine without. The only thing that I miss is the dual income.”

]

Readers: How much better could Dorco do in the U.S. if they didn’t market their flagship under the name “Dorco”?

See also: Test 2 (in-shower shaving).

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You didn’t build that, Jeff Bezos edition

“MACKENZIE BEZOS AND THE MYTH OF THE LONE GENIUS FOUNDER” (WIRED):

Admittedly, MacKenzie’s role in the history of Amazon may not be as crucial as the existence of the World Wide Web. Then again, it’s hard to say for sure.

See also, my review of The Everything Store.

(The book describes Mrs. Bezos as providing some assistance, such as bookkeeping or getting shipments out the door, during the first years of Amazon, but then exiting the workforce. She is mentioned on page 22 as having a degree in English and “targeting” Jeff Bezos for marriage, on page 27 as “supporting” Jeff Bezos in moving from NY to Seattle, on page 39 as driving boxes to UPS, on page 40 as depositing checks, and on page 60 as attending a 1997 post-IPO party. There is no mention of MacKenzie Bezos as having had any role in the management or operation of Amazon after 1997.)

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