Friday, May 24, 2013

Girls Club: Bias

Another session, and another roundtable discussion that was actually a discussion, with active listening, weighing of matters and consideration given to the various facets of the topic that could be squished in over a late (and tasty) breakfast.

(I have to plug Trunk, because their breakfast menu is incredibly delicious and a Golden Gaytime milkshake? Whoever came up with this is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.)

This video was used as a reference point, and so the particular angle at which the idea of gender bias was approached was geared very much toward the what is encountered in professional circles. This was, for me, a conversation more listened to that contributed to, as I am in the minority in that my dayjob is not my career, and bias tends to become an obstacle particularly when one is trying to advance oneself, when one has ambition and when one can be considered competition, and thus a threat.

A great many disheartening stories which related not only to gender to but to age bias as well. What interested me most, however, was not that judgement should be equal regardless of gender, but the idea that what needs to be  promoted is not only the presence of women in power and responsibility, but the positivity of what have previously been considered 'feminine' traits, and negatively at that.

(Apologies for the wiffy-waffy sentence structure.)

For example, from the article 'To Bake or Not to Bake':
"You bake for work?" Her tone was less curious than it was accusatory. "I thought you were more ambitious than that."
Baking, the preparation of food (I specifically say 'food' and not 'cuisine'), has long been considered the realm of the woman, as the kitchen is where a woman belongs. A woman's work not being considered of any real importance, to engage in this activity, publically, is perceived as a sign of weakness on behalf of the professional woman, to the point that other professional women will see this as a betrayal.

To be successful is, therefore, still measured according to male-inclined criteria, and that which falls into female criteria is to fail. To be feminine to is to fail. We must become men to be successful.


Nothing is gained by shaving down triangle blocks to fit into square holes. Nothing changes, nothing is improved.

So I just wanted to take this opportunity to applaud not only the women I have worked beneath in my time, but the men who have not adhered to overly-macho dickwad 'masculinity' behavioural models that sadly dominate most corporate culture.

I have worked beneath such men, and in all instances the work environment was mostly crap, involving unbalanced expectations and assumptions, unnecessary favouritism and almost universally poor communication.

My current manager is quite the opposite sort of gentleman. The fact that he takes his time to listen to and consider things, is patient, understanding of the human factors involved in this line of work, and is willing to teach as well as learn makes this one of the most comfortable offices I have ever worked in.

Are these feminine qualities? I believe they are sensible, practical traits; it had not occurred to me to think of them as gendered until now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Face Value / Drill Down

This is pure kneejerk reaction. Distilled and essence of.

I have just read "When does plastic surgery become racial transformation?" and it's all in the title.

For months we've talked about his journey, about the reasons behind his surgery, and what he hopes to do in the future. But Jiang, articulate, intelligent, and using his philosophical skills to their fullest, often talks in the abstract. It's all a way to muddle the real emotion behind the actions — 16 years ago some dumb people made some dumb comments and it's still dominating his life.

"I believed that my ugliness was in part due to my ethnic features," he says. "My father thinks I'm ridiculous for building a complex system of beliefs based on that initial shallow stimulus. He says, 'You've gone and done this, so you must be very proud of it, but initially it was some stupid kids opening their mouths to you.'"

The article touches on a number of facets, but it felt like this, the individual root from which Jiang's decision stems, was brushed aside. Discussion centres largely upon why a member of an Asian race wishes to "look white", with various experts being quoted. Jiang's voice, while also quoted, isn't given any volume. It isn't that he wants to look white, just less Chinese.

Because, yes, he was bullied for being Chinese. It wasn't "some dumb people made some dumb comments". He was bullied, ostracised and had his whole life shaped because of the way he looked.

Erasing his defining features from his face should not be a path he should have to consider.

Small-minded majorities who can't cope with anything that doesn't fit in their narrow worldview without attempting to crush it are the problem. That racist, bigoted, shallow and fucking puerile mindset is what needs fixing. The incessant and overwhelming broadcast of ALL THAT IS WHITE IS PURE AND GOOD AND NORMAL needs fixing.

TV shows and movies are full of 'token ethnic person' appearances because that is what they are; token. A head nod that hey, non-white people exist so look, they're visible on the screen, but they're incidental and the narratives that matter are full of white people. The ads are full of white people. The news covers stories about white people because 'no one wants to hear about [insert whatever]'.

Just as there's nothing wrong with being Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, etc, there's nothing wrong with being white. It's the perpetual and self-feeding delusion in the Western world that white is normal,  THAT is what is wrong, and sickening, and sets the world up so that white people will bully a Chinese guy and he will change his face to address that, and those white people will never know or care or change. As if that is okay. As if that is expected. As if that is normal.

 And yes. I was bullied as a kid too. Also because I was not 'normal'. And I've stood in front of mirrors and been fucking thankful that my eyelids have a fold because they could have just as easily not. Even though I don't even look Chinese, I don't look white enough to be normal, and I've wished, I have fucking wished I was whiter because then I would not stand out and I would be normal and no one would push me aside and laugh at me.

The problem is the Western world as a whole. You're a disgusting fucked up bigoted and self-deluded mess, and we can't get out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Coin of Your Life

I've been thinking a lot about time recently, and how I'm not sure if I'm spending that which I have in a way that I'm satisfied with.

No longer being fulltime at my day job does return a significant chunk of my life to me. Additionally, I'm currently housesitting at an address that has my commute down to 20 minutes from 1 hour. The amount of time that is mine at the moment is staggeringly luxurious.

Still, there is never enough time to do all that I want to do.

Which indicates that I'm getting done all that I need to do, and that is already better than before. Being torn on the fact that I must decide between various pleasures is a wonderful conundrum.

(But is writing a pleasure or a necessity? I have made time for it, but it does not feel like enough.)

(And the freelance work? Is that work or play? How do I prioritise that?)

(Friends, I am still gorging myself on friendship and camaraderie, and I really should heed the introvert warning signs but-)

I'm not sure who I need to be stricter with; those around me asking for my time, or myself. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Midriff Conundrum

The realisation that the t-shirt you grabbed from the drawer this morning is just a touch to short is just a touch too late, coming as it does when you raise your arms to stretch out a yawn while talking to a co-worker. The lift gives him a perfect view of the waistband of your jeans, which are just a touch too tight and emphasis that little flap of paunch just a touch too well.

And you can't work up the motivation to be disgusted with your body, or to be disgusted at the socially-conditioned reaction of disgust, because you're at capacity with frustration at the knowledge that you will have to manage this oversight of overflab over the next 16 hours when you know you do not currently have the mental resources to spend on something so ridiculous and trivial as keeping your midriff concealed because your sleep the night before was so utterly broken and crippled and limping and crying at its ineffectiveness and all this could have been avoided if you'd only checked yourself before stepping out the front door, but you were so addled, so tired, that it slipped your mind just as your belly slips into view; with easy.

This doesn't put you in a wonderful frame of mind, and you were already in negetive attitude. You can always choose your mood - no, you can - but you can't choose whether or not you are exhausted, aching, and addled. You can choose to vent your petty miseries, or you could choose to shut up and stop polluting the emotional airspace, but the one person who doesn't benefit from that is yourself.

You could try and turn this into something mildly thought provoking, and whip up some navel-gazing blogpost concerning the constructive analysis of physiological mood factors and the responsibilities we take with not only our mood by how we choose to project our mood onto the world, but truth be told it would only be a thinly veiled piece of waffle that, even with the long words and needlessly meandering clauses, is just a whinge.