Entries tagged "feminism"

Redemption at the Polls: Obama’s 2012 re-election, 80s Identity Politics and the Tipping Point

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A lot of geek prayers were answered recently through geek statistical analysis by Nate Silver. He accurately predicted almost all the US election results and was dismissed for it by the Right, for his bewitching use of math because “Nobody knows anything.”

Nate Silver is a statistician taking on the job done before by pundits and experts who have been around the game a long time. He is quiet and nerdy and he bested them all. It’s exactly the story told in Moneyball (which is a great movie and an amazing book by Michael Lewis).

I was lucky to get a nerdy tour of Obama’s campaign headquarters when I was speaking at WebVisions in Chicago in October. (Many thanks to them for the tour and the above pic). Some of the people in our group who worked in UX (or user experience design) knew the Obama campaign’s head of UX. Obama’s HQ was full of old computer monitors propped on cardboard boxes for ergonomic help. There were huge numbers of young people editing video, designing sites, coding, making calls and designing all manner of posters which were all center justified and beautifully fonted (yes I made that word up and I like it). The posters and youthful environment felt like a Pride Parade organized by McSweeney’s smushed with a tech start up: Asian American Pacific Islanders for Obama, African Americans for Obama, LGBT Americans for Obama and so on.

It was a room full of true believers who were working their asses off. It reminded me of my brother who is an intense campaigner (he helped Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May get elected and now runs Change.org campaigns in Canada) and it reminded me of myself in college and law school when I organized and worked fervently on feminist and progressive causes. I attended a rally for Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition” back in the 80s when he ran for the Democratic nomination and it was dismissed as a political stunt and far-off, utopianism among naive students and wacko liberals. And it was easy to dismiss. The rally wasn’t very big, the speeches weren’t well-organized or confident and the most notable moment was one of my few out classmates throwing her bra onstage for the Indigo Girls. It was 1988. All of these different groups working together? They couldn’t stop arguing and all they wanted to do was compare their pain and oppression. A bunch of whiners.

Fast forward 24 years to last Tuesday and I’m at my nerd friends with a bunch of nerdy people of various races and sexualities and genders, many of whom work at tech start-ups and we’re taking photographs with our pocket computers of the High Definition television set of the results of incredibly well-organized, disciplined, grass roots campaign which had as its basic premise the reality that enough of us from all the hyphenated groups would matter and are of voting age that you could have enough votes to re-elect a Black and White President who supports the right to equal marriage.

And all 4 states with votes on gay marriage supported marriage equality.

And the first openly gay senator was elected. And the first Asian American woman senator.

And every politician who made insane comments about rape was defeated.

And the demographics show that the tipping point has happened. The electorate has moved toward amore diverse population and inclusive policies.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for the wake up call about the human cost of the “trickle down” economics and the playing to the religious right since Reagan, since I was a university student at Yale. That’s when identity politics was being mocked as official whining and it launched the career of many a disdainful, pithy writer (Katie Roiphe, Camille Paglia, Dinesh D’Souza I’m looking at you). And yeah the worst part of identity politics was and is the idea that feeling aggrieved is what you should lead with instead of what motivates you to lead. It took me many years to find that the theory you have about the world is just a feeling you have about your parents.

The best part of political correctness is the idea of consideration and respect for others who are different than you. The best part of identity politics is the notion that the reality of your lived experience informs your understanding of public needs and effective solutions.

And to have the best from these things combined with incredibly nerdy attention to detail and excitement about connecting with people is to re-elect Barak Obama.

To focus not only on what hurts, but to feel and acknowledge what hurts and then focussing on what *can* be done. This inspires me.

Fix This Movie – Lincoln, Brave, Wreck It Ralph. Our podcast experiment. What do you think?

Mariko Tamaki and I write a lot, perform a lot, read a lot and see a lot of movies. We know as artists what it’s like to have someone just tell us what’s wrong with what we made. It’s a very popular hobby. It’s one of the many parents of the blended family known as the Internet.

Anyway, after having high high hopes for Young Adult (especially because of how much we like Diablo Cody. Ivan Reitman, Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt’s work) we found ourselves trying to figure out *how* we could have made it better. We play this little writing game after every movie now and decided to try it as a podcast. So we made one. We discuss Lincoln, Brave and what it can learn from Wreck It Ralph. Tell us what you think. Do you want to hear some more? Any movie in particular?

10 top obstacles to women's influence

1. “No one will listen to me.”

2. “I don’t have anything to say that matters.”

3. Fear they will upset someone or that they will be criticized.

4. “These guys act as if they know everything, when they don’t. But I don’t know enough to speak.”

5. No one asked me or invited me.

Many women, not to mention anyone of colour or who does not fit into the the existing image of authority held by attention centre gatekeepers are invisible to them. And if you’re not just like those who “already matter,” you probably have to live in translation in order to gain attention from these gatekeepers.

6. Not having someone in their life (ie role traditionally cast with wife, girlfriend, mother) to encourage them and emotionally take care of them when they risk and fall working for public influence.

7. “I learned to shut up in public in grade 6.” (in order to be liked by boys-if they liked boys- or blend in)

8. “If I want to be popular or influential, isn’t that selfish and egotistical?”

This is a subset of fear of wanting. If you want, then you exist some way other than relationally. If no one is there to affirm your own desires and wants…do they exist?

9. “I have more important things to worry about.”

The profound satisfaction of strong and intimate bonds of close family and friends seem much more valuable to many women than trading this mode of connection for public influence. I believe the skills and most of all *caring* that make these strong bonds possible are actually necessary to create growing public influence now.

10. “This crap is obvious to me. Why do I have to shoot my mouth about it in public? I could just be doing something.”

Who is more likely to get something done without asking for public credit? Women or men?

All About Sarah

I was watching a bit of Sarah Palin’s speech tonight and thought, “Wow. This chick is as uninformed as W. but way, way tougher and hungrier. And smarter. Those old dudes might think they can ride her the way they rode him but they are fooling themselves.”

The Republicans have been using their new Christianist base without delivering much that’s really, really important to them. They’ve been all about the ends justifying the means. But what if they have to actually make core decisions as the Christianist base demands?

Palin may be the first to really do this. I sense a spectacular 3rd act for her. She will go all the way. Whether that means following through on legislating Christian evangelism and thereby walking that walk, or finding she enjoys the taste of the life of “cosmopolitan elites” that it will be in her interests to mock (until it’s not), whomever thought they could use this woman for their own purposes has another thing coming.

Eve Harrington: I will regard this great honor not so much as an award for what I have achieved, but a standard to hold against what I have yet to accomplish.

Lloyd Richards: I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. Just when exactly does an actress decide they’re HER words she’s speaking and HER thoughts she’s expressing?
Margo Channing: Usually at the point where she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theatre!

Eve Harrington: I’ll never forget this night as long as I live, and I’ll never forget you for making it possible.
Karen Richards: A part in a play. You’d do all that just for a part in a play?
Eve Harrington: I’d do much more for a part that good.

All About Eve – Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Vote today: Everything I Need to Know About the Web I Learned From Feminism

I proposed this as a panel at SXSW 09. I’m really looking forward to digging into this conversation with some really interesting feminist scholars and web / network thinkers. Voting for the panel happened here. To my surprise the room was packed. It outdrew Larry Lessig’s conversation. I didn’t imagine there would be so much interest and passion about feminism. We had a great conversation with Microsoft researcher/Harvard scholar danah boyd, Wall St Journal reporter and author of a book about MySpace Julia Angwin and Joseph Campbell collaborator and professor Betty Sue Flowers.

There is a really lovely compatibility about the notion of transcendence in both feminism and the Net….both of which give protection and community to those who have been invisible / “private” before.

The Net is quantifying / making visible the value of the social skills / communal skills that have previously gone unvalued by the market or “public” space.

This is inspired, in part, by something else I’m working on: a talk about how I do the performance I do….how to design for conversation rather than presentation all of which changes notions of where authority comes from. This is because the value is relational rather than one-off.

I think it always was..but that aspect was “hidden” by it being a silent piece of “private” life that women mostly carried out….preparing holidays, gatherings..maintaining relationships..creating  and giving physical and other bits of acknowledgement (gifts , cards ..the Christmas newsletter etc) and of course the “salon” which has been a big piece of the basis of how I’ve mashed up a new kind of performance.

There are quite a few ideas embedded in here and for the mag piece..perhaps best to focus on the social networking piece..but that’s just the latest business surfacing of something much deeper..which is the way the West is turning more relational this way…that’s my instinct.

It’s just too costly to market / force awareness of onesself/business without a network effect and any lasting audience/network  can only happen through what is community and community can only be maintained by this “female” stuff.

I found it very interesting in India where these social roles and conventions are still so deeply a part of peoples’ daily lives. I had an unusually deep experience of it myself because of the Niagara Falls shtetl in which I was raised.

I’m excited to see the value of this feminist stuff (as well as performance stuff) in the business arena…though I’m aware that I’m really out on the front edge of explaining and doing much of it..the social media consulting world and facebook shows this stuff to be shifting.

Note: I’ve further developed some of these ideas into a project called #WITH.

The Feminist Drinking Game: Name 10 famous women over 30 (who aren't about men).

Where this came from:

The anger of the many female Hillary voters (of which I am not one) and the press following Hillary’s loss led me to a thought. Hillary is almost the only public representation we have of a woman with power in the public sphere. Not sexual power. Not power based upon making men comfortable. Even with her marriage to Bill Clinton much of her power now is her own and it is not presented as trophy wife power.

I issued a challenge on twitter yesterday and I repeat and will track it here:

Name me 10 other women over 30 you see who aren’t about sexually or emotionally supporting men in popular media.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Brad King condi rice, albright, 70 current representatives and 14 current senators.

Ok Brad, quick name 8 of those reps by name. And we’re talking *famous* here.

Nick Douglas: B’bra Walters, Anna Wintour, Arianna Huff’ton, Oprah, Tyra, Condi Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Marissa Mayer, Anne Coulter, Ruth Ginsberg?

Nick agreed to remove Tyra (fame by sexual appeal) and I am disqualifying (though he disputes my call) Ann Coulter for the same reasons. She used that strongly to start her national visibility.

Nick also notes “Of course the time it took me to think up that list speaks to the still terrible dearth of well-known powerful female figures.”

MulegirlPut up Arianna too. (While haters say Hillary only has power because of Bill, I don’t hear them saying Arianna only has power cause she was willing to be a beard for a green card. Personally I can’t wait to meet Arianna to find out when she knew Michael is gay and when and how her political change of heart happened and if it was done so she could grow her audience).

Here’s the challenge. See if you can do it off the top of your head in under a minute. Double points if you can do it while drinking. Challenge your friends. Send me the videos.

Venom: the Hillary / Obama thing

My friend Rebecca commented on my last post about Hilary’s use of snark via facebook:

You know, I didn’t find that “over the top” and “mocking” at all — I really wish that Arianna could tone down her obvious bias in every single thing she writes about Hillary. I expected something really theatrical and dramatic. Hillary was dead on. Continue reading…



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