Ban Julien “rape evangelist” Blanc from UK – Sign the Petition

 As the 21st November draws near, we are watching carefully to see if the UK will follow the good examples of Australia and Brazil to take a stand against the sexist, misogynistic and racist Julien Blanc. The ‘Pick-Up Artist’ is due on our shores this week. He hosts ‘dating advice’ events where men pay up to £1,250 to learn how to emotionally, and in many cases, physically manipulate women into having sex with them. Teaching harassment is not a skill the UK needs. It’s bad enough that one in five British women have been victims of sexual violence since the age of 16. With tutorials that will only contribute to a culture of this violence, Blanc is offering a pick-up seminar in London on November 21 – dismally, it’s already fully booked.

Blanc provides seminars to “make girls BEG to sleep with you after SHORT-CIRCUITING their emotional and logical mind into a million reasons why they should”. One of Blanc’s tactics for ‘breaking the ice’ is to grab the heads of female strangers and thrust them toward his crotch. Another of his ‘approaches’ is to grab women in a choke-hold, while he puts his finger on his lips and whispers ‘Shh’. We don’t need more misogyny on our shores. According to The Ministry of Justice over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year in England and Wales.

Anti-Blanc social media campaigns have gathered pace in recent days, with Twitter users sharing pictures of his hand around the throats of women posted with his disgusting hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld. Online petitions are putting pressure on the Home Office and Theresa May to deny Julien Blanc a UK Visa. More than 150,000 people have signed a change.org petition, drawn up by a city worker using the pseudonym Caroline Charles to protect herself from abuse, and over 129,000 the avaaz.org community petition. Forced to cut short a visit to Australia following widespread protests, Blanc was subsequently denied visas in Australia and Brazil for his misogyny and racism.

As yet there has been no official comment from The Home Office but Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary and Lynne Featherstone, have added their voices to the calls with Featherstone telling The Guardian: ‘As the Home Office minister with responsibility for tackling violence against women and girls, I am extremely concerned by the sexist and utterly abhorrent statements Julien Blanc has made about women’.

We don’t normally advocate for petitions, but knowing that a man who routinely advises his audiences: “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head …on the dick’ means action must be taken. Please sign one of the above petitions as the UK is better off without Blanc’s ‘lessons’. The UK must show more respect for women and follow Australia and Brazil’s lead; let’s ensure his visa is revoked.

Are all the misogynists working in technology?

techonologyOur sister company, The InclusIQ Institute’s inbox was inundated with comments about a technology site ‘codebabes.com’ that aims to reward novice coders with page 3 style photos for every piece of new code they learn. No prizes then for guessing that sexism is a major problem in the technology industry. Headlining the website are hyper-sexualised women who remove a piece of clothing on the successful completion of a test like, ’Where to stick your CSS’. It’s actually advertised as ‘educational’ with a byline of being ‘awesome for Learning to code & Checkin’ out babes’. While sites like this are clearly offensive to women; they are patronising to men as well.

It reminded us of a MassChallenge Business Start up we attended a year ago. Everyone pitched their business concepts; looking for strangers to join them over the weekend in turning their idea into a reality. A number of young guys presented concepts for website or apps that rate local parties by the quality of the women attendees- ‘so you always know ‘which’ party to go to’. Dismayingly, these proposals got selected whilst projects by the few women who pitched potential websites where parents can rate babysitters in their local area, were largely ignored. What a missed opportunity for crowdsourcing great information for which parents would gladly pay.

It brought to mind an article: ‘Technology’s Man Problem’ in the New York Times. Two TechCrunch Hackathon entrepreneurs showcased their ‘Titstare app’ – which ostensibly offers bare-chested women the opportunity to take photos of themselves in the mirror. Thanks, but no thanks.

Not surprisingly, participants were shocked and it sparked a massive online backlash on Twitter. One attendee, Elissa Shevinsky, co founder of Glimpse, was disgusted and started a Twitter blogpost :“I thought that we didn’t need more women in tech. I was wrong.” TechCrunch published an apology; ‘Any type of sexism or other discriminatory and/or derogatory speech will not be allowed. You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry’. As purveyors of ostensibly the newest and best in technology, we do indeed expect more.

Parity between the genders in the technology sector feels a long way off. Every small step counts. We support organisations who strive to make tech a safer and more inclusive place for everyone, such as the one mentioned above and others: womenintechnology.co.uk, The Representation Project #NotBuyingIt app, and womenwhocode.co.uk, Black Girls Code , Girl Develop It, and Girls who code.

 

Soft-Porn Construction Hoardings: Just who does Malmaison think it will attract with it’s “Dressed to Drill’ imagery?

The picture on the hoarding of the Malmaison hotel, Manchester.Jeanette Winterson, author of the hugely successful ‘Oranges are Not the Only Fruit’ who’s been awarded a role of Professor of New Writing at Manchester University, is well-placed to comment on the building hoardings she sees outside her former hotel of choice; the Malmaison. In The Guardian: she asks: ‘How pretty do you have to be to work on a building site?’. The hotel is currently fronted by construction hoardings with soft-porn version of ‘women at work’ a blonde, skinny model donning a strapless dress, full make-up, hard hat and wielding a drill.

Feminism has supposedly triumphed, but as Winterson points out: “Yet the pay gap is widening; reported incidents of rape and domestic violence are rising; women are not getting to the top of their professions; anorexia and self-harm are increasing. When we talk about sexual abuse, largely we are talking about men abusing women and girls.” Wanting to see what the public at large felt about the advertising, Winterson then conducted a straw poll outside the hotel.

She explained: ‘Some taxi drivers, parked opposite, liked the hoarding. A few people said they didn’t notice it because the images are “normal”. Some thought it was a joke. Maybe it is a joke. The joke is that as Britain falls down the equality ladder behind Rwanda and Nicaragua, and Victoria Beckham is named entrepreneur of the year for dressing us all in size zero – some great clothes, but the same skinny models, the same skinny message – the nearest most women will get to being on the board is a strapless dress and a hard hat outside Malmaison.”

My next trip to Manchester certainly won’t include a stay at the Malmaison, which is a power we forget. Women have power as consumers to not just avoid certain brands, but tell them why we won’t be buying. Malmaison should work with their construction company and advertisers to create imagery that is appealing to both genders rather than patronise men and alienate female travellers. A progressive message for a brand that claims to be at the forefront of modernity and great customer service – neither of which it shows with these hoardings.

Egg Freezing Debate: Fantastic Perk or ‘Hard-Boiled’ Corporate Greed?

working motherAs you can imagine, Facebook and Google’s announcement they’d pay for the freezing of eggs of female staff (and the partners of male staff) has drawn both advocates and critics. Some see it as a valuable perk and an extension of reproductive rights for an expensive process. We at Female Breadwinners see this as ‘corporate creep’. As Harriet Minter succinctly put it in The Guardian: ‘Rather than saying, “have your children in your own time and we’ll support you with well-paid parental leave and subsidised childcare”, they’re saying, “work really hard through your most fertile years and then when you may not be able to have kids anymore, you can give it a shot with the eggs we froze for you as a perk”.

Surely, these firms would be better off creating a culture where people don’t have to chose between family and a career at the same time. The unspoken threat is: ‘Don’t say we didn’t offer to support you get to the top; it’s full steam ahead or a family’. Plus what happens to the women who opt to freeze? Their chances of success are slim – only 2000 babies have been born this way; only 20 in the UK. Plus, we suspect women may feel a psychological pressure to carry on working, or stay in a bad situation with their employer, rather than starting their family simply because they have eggs in store.

The fact that this ‘answer to women’s woes’ comes from the technology sector is particularly rich. It’s an industry where women have less than a 15% chance of reaching a senior position – about the same chance of a successful pregnancy for a 40 year old who’s frozen her eggs. From our point of view, while early 20’s is the ideal time to freeze eggs, most 20-somethings are optimistic they will find the right partner, have kids and live happily ever after in their ideal order – egg-freezing seems implausible and pessimistic.  Interestingly, there may be another seedier and simpler motivation why this ’solution’ has come out of Silicon Valley as described by one insider in Newsday: ‘Something about this policy feels like Silicon Valley men plotting to get the women off their backs about marriage, so they can go back to their video games.”

Are women only coding bootcamps our future?

women in techWhen our sister company The InclusIQ Institute moved to their office at CodeBase, a tech hub in Edinburgh, they noticed a paucity of women in the halls. According to a recent article ‘Technology’s Man Problem’ in the New York Times there’s been a drop of 35% since 1985 in the number of women graduates in computer science. Women hold only one quarter of all tech jobs in the UK – a worrying statistic in an industry poised for explosive growth. We are curious: How can the tech culture change to be more female-friendly?

Some advocate ‘women only’ coding camps and training courses as the way forward. All-female courses such as those offered at Hackbright AcademyCodeFirst:GirlsGirl Develop ItGirls who code and Black girls code host coding workshops aimed at turning women into “awesome programmers”. It’s a case of separate but equal. It’s worked for many single sex schools, but are single sex programmes the answer when these women will be in a minority once they enter the work world?

Others think focusing on the positive side to the industry will attract more women. Numerous independent media platforms allow women to share their code programming and experiences in technology, examples being ‘Passion Projects’, and ’Model View Culture’. Sara Chipps, chief technology developer at Flatiron School, a coding faculty, said: “I’ve been doing this 10 years, and myself and everyone I’ve spoken to who’s a female developer has had an amazing experience in the developer community.” Given the prevalence of office ‘bro’mances’ in many tech start-ups, focusing on positive seems a stretch when there is so much misogyny.

The truth is the current talent pool in the UK can’t match the growing requirements for programmers. It’s estimated the demand for computing jobs will rise to 1.2 million by 2022 and there are insufficient graduates to match these vacancies. We need male and female programmers to create innovative workplaces of the future.

 

Are Daughters the Secret Weapon in Creating Inclusive Leaders?

Father and daughter diversityA few months ago, I spoke with three male panelists at an event hosted by a major bank, on gender diversity in the City. After our panel, one of the fellow speakers came up to me and said with an almost furtive look: “I know what you mean about women changing the workplace. My daughter Sasha is doing her A-levels and she is amazing. She is such a hard worker. If anything, it’s actually my son, Scott who I’m worried about! Scott rarely comes out of his room and grunts at us all, but I can tell Sasha will go places.’

‘It’s hard to think of yourself as a brand, especially when I have four daughters who kick my butt early in the morning every day before I go to work’ – Harvey Weinstein

His was not the first comment of this kind I’ve heard. The good news is his willingness to take part on the panel to a largely female audience, talking about diversity – may have indeed been unknowingly affected by his love and admiration of Sasha. A surprising new study has revealed how the mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men into becoming more empathetic and generous leaders.

In a study done on Fatherhood and Management, researchers tracked the wages male chief executives at more than 10,000 Danish companies paid their employees over a period of ten years. On average, after becoming fathers, the executives paid about $100 less in annual compensation per employee. However, the changes in pay depended on the gender of the new-born child! Data consistently showed that wages were reduced when a boy was born, but not when it was a daughter.

To explain the empathy this study demonstrates, but also fathers of older daughters often demonstrate, the researchers Andrew Oswald at the University of Warwick and Nattavudh Powdthavee, then at the University of York argue: ‘A father takes on some of the preferences of his female offspring,” For male chief executives, this daughter-driven empathy spike may account for more generous impulses toward employees that temper the temptation toward wage cuts.

An article in The New York Times on ‘Why Men Need Women’ commented, “Daughters apparently soften fathers and evoke more care-taking tendencies. The speculation is that as we brush our daughters’ hair and take them to dance classes, we become gentler, more empathetic and more other-oriented.” Repeated studies have shown that women in the role of mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues have a profoundly positive influence on the men around them.

Do you think male leaders with daughters are more likely to ‘get’ diversity?

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