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Mostly just linky goodness today, but a lot of stuff out there.

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Women and the Media: The Curious Case of Jill Abramson

In the same week that Barbara Walters stepped away from the small screen (at least on a regular basis), the executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, was dismissed from her post. Was it really concerns about her "managerial style" as the Times reported, or was it because she was a woman who challenged management over salary issues as an opinion piece on CNN suggested? The business magazine Forbes also questions whether there is a link between the dismissal and gender, and whether a management style that would be seen as a positive in a male manager was seen as a negative in Abramson's case:

While still too early to conclude, it’s clear that even the world’s most powerful women are not safe from negative narrative if they are assertive. If the report is true, it’s not the pay gap that irks me; those numbers can be fixed.  But how do we even begin to fix deeply-ingrained attitudes about how women should behave to be successful?
The New Yorker also has reports (here and here) on the firing, and on Morning Joe a discussion on how women at the Times are viewing the developments.

The rest of the links below the Twisted Cheeto...

Domestic Affairs

•  The cover story of the May 26th issue of Time Magazine, The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses (excerpt), might be worth a stand-alone diary if someone wants to get hold of the magazine or has an online subscription.

•  In an op-ed piece, former Secretary of Labor and current professor of public policy at UC Berkeley Robert Reich details how the supposed "pro-life" right-wing in the United States is actually killing women with their anti-health policies, such as refusal to expand Medicaid and the closing of women's clinics.

•  Michelle Bachmann misses the point on women's history and feminism. (In other news, water is wet.)

•  Republican Attorney General candidate in New York state defends his stance on reproductive rights (apparently in his world, they don't exist):

At issue has been his opposition to the 10th point of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point women's rights agenda. It's the point dealing with codifying the Roe v. Wade decision into state law.

"Our focus should be, obviously, on equal opportunity, equal pay. The 10th point to that plan is extraordinarily divisive," Cahill said.

•  Thanks to Meteor Blades, we know what's going on in Missouri and Louisiana. (My dad's family is all in Missouri -- think it's going to be quite some time before I spend any of my tourist dollars there.)

International News:

• The sad tale of the missing Nigerian girls continues in the news. In two op-eds this week, Anne McFeatters and Nicholas Kristof both ask, in different ways, "What's So Scary About Smart Girls?" (And lest we think it couldn't happen here, there are plenty of folks out there who would prefer their daughters not get too much education out of fear of not landing a husband.)

•  In the wake of elections in India, there are concerns that the (male) politicians talk a good game when it comes to women's issues (particularly violence against women), but progress is glacially slow.

•  Also from India, a judge has ruled that forced marital sex is not rape.

•  It's a slow process but women in Saudi Arabia are making progress towards equality.

Odds and Ends

•  In the "Better Late Than Never, I Guess" Department, women who lost their US citizenship for marrying a foreigner got an apology from the Senate.

•  An Orange County man wrote an op-ed bemoaning the demise of the single car garage, and the resulting freedom it brought married women...and a reader had a response.

•  In the "Self Fulfilling Prophecy" Department, a study finds that girls called "too fat" as children are more likely to become obese as they get older.

Tomiyama said she understands that people who tell loved ones they are too fat often do so with good intentions. "I know it's hard -- if you call your child 'too fat' she may gain weight, but if you don't do anything, are you enabling an unhealthy lifestyle?" she said.

Her advice: Stay away from the word "fat."

"We don't really need to talk about fat or not fat if we are trying to talk about health," she said. "Just say let's go eat healthier and let's go exercise and not even make weight part of the conversation."

Makes sense to me.

•  This is actually from a few weeks ago, but I had it in my Favorites: an interesting piece on's Sleeps With Monsters blog on portraying female characters in fantasy fiction, and the difficulties in avoiding tired old tropes and sexist shorthand. (Probably applicable to more than just the fantasy/SF genre as well.)

On The Bookshelf

•  Those of you who have young girls to shop for, you might find A Mighty Girl a good resource. The site features books, toys and movies geared towards young girls and women, with the goal of empowering them to become powerful, confident women. You won't find too many Disney princesses here (though they do have Disney's "Brave") or the latest Barbie craze. I think a few of the books will find their way on my shopping list should I have any more great-nieces.

• When it comes to polling and other issues, women often have an "I don't know" problem. That's the premise of a new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know.

In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world's leading psychologists who explain how we can all chose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment.
•  And back in the international sphere, the problems of women in modern day China are addressed in a book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China. In a Q&A with the author, we learn of the intense pressure on Chinese women to marry young, and how they have been excluded from much of the economic boom.

Please sign the petition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting a pardon for Cecily McMillan, who was convicted of assaulting a police officer when she acted to defend herself against a sexual assault.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Notepad (17+ / 0-)

    Any other news you have, please share in the comments.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:14:03 PM PDT

  •  More news from the front (6+ / 0-)

    Tell the Senate to stop a national 20-week abortion ban.

    From the Sudan - a woman sentenced to death for apostasy. Analysis here:
    Petition demanding intervention here:

    Do you know who Jackie Mitchell was? She managed to strike out both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth when she was 17:

    We need a world in which we ask "What's happened to you?" more and "What's wrong with you?" less. (From a comment by Kossack nerafinator)

    by ramara on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:30:38 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

    for a thought-provoking diary. The Jill Abramson story sums up just where women are treated differently than men.

    We need a world in which we ask "What's happened to you?" more and "What's wrong with you?" less. (From a comment by Kossack nerafinator)

    by ramara on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:32:45 PM PDT

  •  Schedule (5+ / 0-)

    May 24 - ramara

    May 31 - jodylanec

    June 7 - cboswell

    June 14 - remembrance

    June 21 - Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    June 28 -  Cali Scribe

    July 5 - cboswell

    July 12 - Laura Wnderer

    July 19 - Cali Scribe

    July 26 - ramara

    Aug 2 - Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    Aug 9 -

    Aug 15 - Cali Scribe

    Aug 22 -

    Aug 29 -

    As always, we're happy to have more voices in this series!  Sign up in comments, or send a message to ramara or me.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sat May 17, 2014 at 01:05:26 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Cali Scribe (5+ / 0-)

    The Jill Abramson thing boils down for me why individual solutions (call it "leaning in," whatever) aren't enough.  Instead of tips on how to make it in a man's world, better to concentrate on making it less of a man's world.  It's like trying to solve poverty by telling individuals to work their way up to a better-paying job. The changes that we need are changes that require collective action.

    Stuff I ran across this week: after decades(!) of activism around this, the NYPD will no longer be able to use possession of condoms as evidence for a prostitution charge.  Even if you think prostitution should stay illegal, criminalizing condoms is unconscionable.  It means more spread of AIDS and other STD's.  It means that someone who's not prostituting, but walking down the wrong street in possession of condoms, may wind up in jail (people of color and queer or trans people often get profiled this way).  And it targets the sex workers (usually women) while conveniently letting the customers off the hook.  Street prostitution is already physically dangerous, and criminalizing condoms just makes it that much worse.

    This rant could be a spoof, but I've encountered enough of this attitude ("If I'm trying to pick a woman up, I'm entitled to her attention, dammit!") to think the hilarity is unintentional.  And the comments were priceless.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sat May 17, 2014 at 01:32:27 PM PDT

  •  Since I read a great deal of YA fantasy (4+ / 0-)

    and science fiction and have always preferred female protagonists, I took a look at the A Mighty Girl selection of fiction for teens.  I’m certainly not familiar with anywhere near all of it, but I’ve read quite a bit of it, and on that basis it looks like a pretty good list on the whole.  Because this is a subject close to my heart, I’ve picked out some that I especially recommend and added a few of my own choosing that occurred to me along the way.  They all qualify as YA, but they also cover a range.

    • Alma Alexander: the Worldweavers trilogy
    • Elizabeth C. Bunce: StarCrossed
    • Kristin Cashore: Graceling; Fire; Bitterblue, especially the first
    • Alison Croggon: the Pellinor tetralogy<li>
    • Peter Dickinson: The Ropemaker; Angel Isle
    • Diane Duane: the Young Wizards series
    • Neil Gaiman: Coraline
    • Shannon Hale: Book of a Thousand Days; the Books of Bayern series; the Princess Academy series; the Rapunzel comics
    • Gail Carson Levine: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
    • Malinda Lo: Huntress
    • Eloise McGraw: The Moorchild
    • Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword; The Hero and the Crown
    • Rachel Neumeier: The City in the Lake
    • Garth Nix: the Abhorsen trilogy
    • Edith Pattou: East
    • Tamora Pierce: anything, but especially the Beka Cooper trilogy
    • Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials trilogy
    • Michelle Sagara: Silence; Touch
    • Sherwood Smith: Crown Duel
    • Catherynne M. Valente: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There; The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
    • Ysabeau S. Wilce: Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog; Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room); Flora's Fury: How a Girl of Spirit and a Red Dog Confound Their Friends, Astound Their Enemies, and Learn the Importance of Packing Light
    • Patricia C. Wrede: the Enchanted Forest Chronicles; Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward; the Frontier magic trilogy
  •  As a writer (5+ / 0-)

    I was reading that article on women characters (and the twitter conversation linked to it) thinking, "Yes, exactly!"  It's not that men can't do it well (or that women always do).  It's that too often women are seen as something other than subjects.   Junot Diaz gets it:

    Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliché lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight.
    I was reading an article by agent Donald Maas, talking about the essentials of successful fiction.  His first point was that the characters be active, confronting the obstacles of the story rather than being passive.  Later in the same article, he mentioned a book that was extremely popular at the time (I believe it was called 50 Shades of Black & Blue, or somesuch).  He concluded that its draw was the way the female character tried to resist the domineering man, but gradually "surrendered" to him.  I thought:  what happened to the importance of active-not-passive characters?  Without even realizing it, Maas had created separate categories for "characters" and "women characters."

    Fiction helps us see what's possible, what the world is or can be, and gives us a glimpse into the lives of people different from ourselves.  So when only certain portrayals of women show up on a regular basis, or when women are forever the background characters and rarely the protagonists, it becomes part of our world, for both men and women.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sat May 17, 2014 at 02:04:46 PM PDT

  •  Change in Saudi Arabia (4+ / 0-)

    will happen when a father wants the same things for his niece as he wants for his own daughter.

    Most Saudi fathers I met wanted everything for their daughters - education, freedom, productive jobs, self fulfillment and fear free marriages.  They hated the day that they had to change from being a loving father who played with his daughter to "that guy" who could barely acknowledge her presence in public other than insuring she was covered enough head to toe.  But their brothers daughter?  She was a potential whore who had to be controlled so as not to bring shame on the family.  When I would ask how they could think of two girls - girls who were often best friends and who had played with their dads (climbing, swinging, giggling) the same way in such different extremes the most common response was "you can't understand."  I usually responded "you are right because I can't understand how that happens."

    The King has made clear a hundred times that NOTHING in Saudi Law forbids women driving.  Since the law is derived from the Quran by extension that means nothing in the Quran forbids it - a point he has also made.  It is the people who prevent it and nothing else.  The irony to me was that when I traveled to the most conservative areas I saw women driving all the time.  Those also happened to be the most dual areas and the logic was that cars (actually toyota pickups) were just metal camels and since women could "drive" camels they could drive cars.  It was not a coincidence that the "driving" was for work - living in a desert takes everyone rowing, even the women.  So much like the US where "conservatives" romanticize an American West being all about men (despite lots of women homesteaders) "urban" Saudi conservatives ignore the fact that "real" Saudi conservatives treat their women far more equally.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Sat May 17, 2014 at 03:48:45 PM PDT

  •  Great post Cali Scribe (1+ / 0-)

    "Water is wet."  hahahahaha that describes just about every Phyllis Shlafly follower ever!

    I found this headline interesting:

    Heaven forbid women know how to pleasure themselves...and if they are not, somehow we will be "tempted" to find the clit...

  •  Tipped, rec'd, hotlisted. (1+ / 0-)

    Lot of links I want to follow. Now if I can figure out how to find my hotlist.....

    Cogito, ergo Democrata.

    by Ahianne on Sun May 18, 2014 at 11:20:17 AM PDT

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