food for thought: end of october edition

This week’s round-up brings us more food for thought around labor, life, and how the two fit together…

[E]Coco Papy @ Persephone Magazine | Bandaids Ain’t Options: Freezing Eggs and Facebook.

Facebook and Apple claim to be about corporate family friendliness, and yet neither company offers  in-house daycare or daycare vouchers, aren’t offering flexible leave, a decreased pay gap, or any of the social conditions it takes to actually raise children. Furthermore, they still place the onus on child rearing on women with the incentive of egg freezing. It’s not progressive or family friendly. It’s kind of gross.

Paul Boag @ Smashing Magazine | You Are Not a Machine. You Are Not Alone.

Many of us struggle silently with mental health problems and many more are affected by them, either directly or indirectly. {Geek} Mental Help Week starts today and we would like to help raise awareness with a couple of articles exploring these issues. – Ed.

…Me, a grown man. A respected figure in my field. A success. Standing on the doorstep of my parents’ house, crying to my mum like a small child. This was the breaking point for me, the minute I finally realized I had depression. In fact I’d been depressed for over a decade. Burnt out. Used up with nothing left to give.

It had started back in the late nineties when I took a job with a dot com. I had a boss who was a bully, plain and simple. He shouted, he threatened, he manipulated. I stood up to him, but it drained me. Every day was a battle.

He was replaced, but the next guy wasn’t much better. He used to put me in a room with the company’s investors and make me present to them. He knew I was a good presenter, so when things got tough he would wheel me out. But he would sit next to me through the meetings kicking me under the table when I said something he didn’t like.

Jos Truitt @ The Guardian: Comment Is Free | Trans people need more than beloved celebrity spokespeople. We need equality.

President Obama’s executive order last summer protecting transgender federal employees from anti-LGBT discrimination was a good start, especially as it resulted in Thursday’s ruling in favor of Tamara Lusardi, a transgender civilian US Army software specialist. The US office of special counsel decided that she was targeted with gender-identity discrimination by the Army when her co-workers required her to use a single-use, gender neutral restroom, referred to her as “sir”, “it” and by her birth name and refused to give her work.

But we still have a long way to go to win employment protections for all trans people. While federal employees are protected in general, a huge loophole exists in that trans people are not allowed to serve openly in the military – so Lusardi can work for the Army, but she couldn’t serve in it unless she stayed in the closet ( a position in which many trans people find themselves).

The Diane Rehm Show | Women and Online Harassment.

[from the complete transcript]…Well, there’s an incredible amount they can do under existing law. And exactly as Danielle said, some of the actions against Anita and Brianna rose to the level of threats. The denial of service attacks of course were intentional hacking and harm to people’s presence online where there were defamatory statements made about them that — you know, to Kickstarter and other business modules. We already have laws against those. None of those actions would harm the First Amendment. …

Michael Hiltzik @ The L.A. Times | U.S. income inequality is bad, but wealth inequality is a bigger problem.

Wealth inequality is also an artifact of income inequality; the two trends work together to magnify the former. As the bottom 90% struggle to make ends meet on stagnant incomes, they’re unable to accumulate savings. “Today, the top 1% save about 35% of their income,” the authors write, “while bottom 90% families save about zero.”

Strong measures will be needed to reverse this otherwise inexorable trend, they write. “Ten or twenty years from now, all the gains in wealth democratization achieved during the New Deal and the post-war decades could be lost. While the rich would be extremely rich, ordinary families would own next to nothing, with debts almost as high as their assets.”

Yuki Noguchi @ National Public Radio | Behold the Entrenched – and Reviled – Annual Review.

Performance review season is nearing, and if that makes you break out into a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Studies show between 60 percent and 90 percent of employees, including managers, dislike the performance evaluation.

Some companies are starting to look at alternatives, but the performance review is pretty entrenched.

“They’re fraudulent, bogus and dishonest,” says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA who does research in dysfunctional management practice. “And second, they’re indicative of and they support bad management.”

Lisa Peet @ Library Journal | Librarians Embroiled in Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Harassment.

(well, no, actually, the lawsuit alleges libel … but I do appreciate that Peet explores the broader issues raised by the #teamharpy situation…)

One positive repercussion of Murphy’s lawsuit, and de jesus and Rabey’s responses, has been to mobilize further discussion about harassment and marginalization in the library world. Librarians have been speaking up to share their stories; after the 2014 ALA conference, children’s and teen librarian Ingrid Abrams created a survey asking about harassment  incidents, and documented the results. “I don’t think people know how wide-spread harassment is at conferences,” she wrote on her blog, The Magpie Librarian. “When I relayed [my] story…most male librarians were shocked. Female librarians expressed sympathy and then usually shared similar (or worse!) stories with me. However, I am not naive enough to believe that those who identify as female are the only ones who are harassed, intimidated, threatened, or even physically attacked at conferences. Homophobia, racism, transphobia, and able-ism can also occur.”

s.e. smith @ this ain’t livin | Race Flipping and Expectations In Fiction.

Bernardine Evaristo’s Blonde Roots is one such example, a totally flipped world in which whites are slaves and indentures, while people of colour are the dominant members of society. Unlike the horrifically racist Save the Pearls, Blonde Roots is a commentary on social attitudes about race and the slave-owning era in England (where it’s loosely set, with considerable variance). It’s about wild, pasty-skinned tribespeople brought in hand by an enlightened, dark-skinned people – and about the desperate emulation of Black traits, a desire to pass as Black.

It’s a sharp, incisive, and at times deeply painful debut novel that explores the Transatlantic slave trade from an entirely new angle, challenging the reader to think about the history of slavery, and race, from an entirely distinctive perspective. Her book is designed and calculated to make white readers deeply uncomfortable, and it does, in a glorious, clear, wonderful way that makes it impossible to avoid certain truths of our collective past.

Maggie Zhou @ Model View Culture | A Code of Conduct Is Not Enough.

The push for adoption of anti-harassment policies at tech conferences has been a success: since 2010, hundreds of conferences have adopted an anti-harassment policy, many of them based on an example policy on the Geek Feminism wiki. Thanks in large part to anti-harassment policy advocacy by the Ada Initiative and other organizations, an anti-harassment policy is the done thing these days.

The introduction to the Geek Feminism wiki’s example policy states, “Simply having an anti-harassment policy can prevent harassment all by itself.” Indeed, the widespread adoption of conference codes of conduct is often considered a victory in its own right by tech culture activists.

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough, and harassment at conferences continues. While it’s true that the existence of an anti-harassment policy or code of conduct can discourage the worst offenders from attending an event, or encourage some attendees to think more carefully about their behavior while there, we’ve seen firsthand that a code of conduct alone is not remotely sufficient to prevent all incidents of harassment and misconduct from occurring.

As always … got links? Send them in via email, Twitter, or comments and we will include them in next week’s round-up.

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