Feminist Link Round-Up 4.14.15

Swedish musician Robyn is hosting Tekla, a one-day festival aimed at girls 11 to 18 with an interest in tech. The festival will include workshops on game development, electronic music, programming, and more. As a bonus for visitors, the singer will also perform at the festival, which will be held April 18:

The festival is being thrown in partnership with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, which awarded Robyn its Great Prize in 2013. Recipients are required to hold a seminar at the university, but Robyn is instead choosing to throw this day-long event. “I thought of KTH’s motto, ‘science and art’, and wanted to do something to inspire girls who are curious about technology, while at the same time highlighting that too few women are applying to KTH programs,” Robyn says. KTH says that only about 34 percent of its new students are women. Google, Spotify, and other tech firms are partnering for the event. It’ll be held April 18th. It’s not stated whether the event will recur in the future.

Tech isn’t the area you’d expect to see Robyn working in, but KTH still views her as an important figure in the industry because of what it calls her use of “new technology in IT, audio, and video in innovative and exciting ways.” And throwing an event like Tekla is important. An interest in these subjects too often isn’t fostered in girls throughout school, and introducing it to them through a dedicated festival could help to change that — even if it starts with a small number of people.

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Taylor Swift makes it onto Forbes’ list of the “World’s greatest leaders”

Taylor Swift didn’t become the highest-paid woman in the music business by accident. Pop’s savviest star has crossed swords with Spotify, embraced corporate sponsorship, and moved to secure dozens of trademarks (including phrases like “This sick beat”)—plus she has proved shrewder at honing a brand in the social media age than virtually any other person or company. And she’s done it without resorting to dumbed-down salacious gimmickry. (Swift, ahem, is arguably the anti–Miley Cyrus.) With 1989, the top-selling album in 2014, Swift’s efforts to ensure she gets paid for her music could have a huge ripple effect on the way artists are compensated in an era of free streaming.

No slight against Swift, but I fail to see how any of the above justifies her placement on a list of the world’s greatest leaders.

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UK audiences tell broadcasters: “we want more real and older women on tv”

There needs to be more “normal” and older women on the news and the radio, according to a new survey commissioned by the BBC.

The findings of the Blurred Lines: Contemporary Attitudes to Gender Portrayal in the Media revealed that viewers believe that news and radio lacked high profile names compared to other areas.

The corporation’s detailed and wide-ranging study also revealed that well-known presenters like Clare Balding and Gabby Logan are improving sports coverage. Comedy, too, was getting a boost from female stars like Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican.

The survey found that people want less scantily clad women on reality television shows as well and that audiences did not think that they were good representations of real people.

Interestingly, the study also showed that audience perception of gender balance is better than the reality, with two men to every one woman.

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Walmart refuses to sell Ronda Rousey’s book in stores

Walk into just about any Wal-Mart and you’ll find a whole section filled with  MMA gear and accessories. You’ll have a harder time, however, finding UFC champion Ronda Rousey’s new memoir, “My Fight/Your Fight.” The store confirmed to Jezebel this week that it will not display the title on its in-store shelves, but instead only offer customers the opportunity to purchase the tome online.

Why? ESPN and the New York Post both reported last week the content was considered “too violent” for the store, which displays and sells copies of “American Sniper,” “Walking Dead” graphic novels and, oh yeah, shot guns. This is just the story of an Olympic athlete’s life and career. What could possibly be so offensive?

Of note in this story-ESPN, NY Post, and the Washington Post all fail to cite their source for the claim that “Walmart deems the content of the book (or Rousey herself) too violent”. A Walmart spokesperson refutes this assertion in a Jezebel article:

Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquadt tells us that’s not correct, that Walmart has been “preparing for the release” of Rousey’s book since September 2014, and that they’re pre-selling it online now. (That’s true: it’s right here.) She told TMZ virtually the same thing.

“When the book is officially released on May 12, customers interested in purchasing it can use the ‘site to store’ feature and pick it up at a local store, “ Marquadt added.

I asked if the book’s content had anything to do with Walmart’s decision to sell this book in this way. Marquadt responded: “There’s a variety of factors that we look at when determining what items to offer our customers. At this point we’ve chosen to offer this particular title to our customers online. We’ll continue to watch how customers respond.” She added that Walmart’s website sells millions of items versus the 150,000 sold in an average Walmart Supercenter.

I asked again if the book’s content was one of those deciding factors; at this point, Marquadt could presumably have said “No,” or “I don’t know” or “We’re saving space for more in-demand titles” or something. Instead, she told me: “I’ve shared with you what I have to share. In terms of the factors that we look at, there are a lot of different factors that we look at when determining what items to offer our customers.” This information—and not one iota more—was all repeated in an email that she sent to me after we hung up.

I wonder what those factors are and if sexism played a role in Walmart’s decision.

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Last year, a 9-year-old Massachusetts girl emailed President Obama to inquire about the absence of women on paper currency in the U.S. Back in February, she received a response from the President:

“I think there should be more woman on a dollar/coin for the United States because if there were no woman there wouldn’t be men,” she wrote, adding that there are many women that deserve to be featured on U.S. currency because of the “important things” they’ve done.

Included on her list of suggestions were Rosa Parks, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Sofia told Time she “sort of forgot about” her letter when months passed without any response from the president. But in February, she received a letter from the White House.

“This is a belated note to thank you for writing to me with such a good idea last summer. The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group, and I must say you’re pretty impressive too,” the president wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Time.

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” Obama wrote.

Sofia might be happy to know that the online campaign Women on 20s shares her concerns. The non-profit campaign aims to get a woman’s face on the $20 bill by 2020.

Women On 20s, with your help, aims to compel historic change by convincing President Obama that NOW is the time to put a woman’s face on our paper currency. With over 256,000 voters casting ballots over the last 5 weeks, Americans have chosen which of the 15 inspiring American women heroes will go on to the Final Round of voting. And now we reveal that Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks are the people’s choice and will advance to the final ballot for your consideration. In addition, Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller has been added to the final ballot by popular demand in order to include a choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Susan Sarandon is also excited about this campaign. Writing for The Daily Beast, the actress says:

A few weeks ago, I came across a short video entitled, “Where Are the Girls on the Money?” on the website womenon20s.org. Women on 20s is an online campaign to put a woman’s face on the $20 bill. I was excited to see that there was a positive mission afoot to bring attention to some of the greatest women in American history.

As the Women on 20s website points out, “the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. So it seems fitting to commemorate that milestone by voting to elevate women to a place that is today reserved exclusively for the men who shaped American history. That place is on our paper money and that new portrait can become a symbol of greater changes to come.”

I liked how it was reframing the conversation about gender equality in a whole new way and decided to post a photo on social media that championed the cause and urged others to vote for one of the 15 incredible candidates on the Women on 20s website.

As Sarandon notes in her article, Turkey, Mexico, the Phillipines, and Syria are among several countries that recognize female leaders on their paper currency. Why is the “world’s greatest country” lagging behind in this respect?

Feminist Link Round-Up 4.14.15

LGBT Link Round Up 2.25.15

Australian-based street artist Astrotwitch uses art to remind people that LGBT people exist in all manner of shapes and sizes.

The LGBT community rarely sees its experiences depicted authentically in mainstream media. A 2014 GLAAD study found that a mere 3.9% of scripted broadcast TV series regulars are LGBT individuals. Even when they’re shown onscreen, they’re often reduced to insulting archetypes like the “sassy gay best friend” or “angry lesbian.”

One Australia-based street artist is attacking this problem by promoting authentic representations of LGBT individuals in public spaces. Astrotwitch launched “Queer the Streets” last year based on the idea that, as theywrote in a Tumblr post, all the “queer community needs is simply for more people to know that they exist.” For the past year, Astrotwitch has exclusively painted queer people of all “body shapes and looks” throughout the streets of Melbourne.


The artist told Mic that one of the biggest barriers for queer advocates doing political work is that people often “forget that queers exist.” Depicting them so vividly in public, they wrote, allows “people who identify as queer to see themselves represented in society” and helps people feel like part of a community. It also educates others about issues like marriage equality and violence against transgender people.

Here’s a sample of his art, which you can find at the above link, or at the Queer the Streets Tumblr

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 Christian publisher drops young Evangelical after he comes out as gay

Brandan Robertson, 22, was told his contract was canceled out of concern that Christian retailers would not buy his book because of his LGBTI advocacy.

The Evangelicals for Marriage Equality spokesperson signed a deal with Destiny Images before he publicly came out in January.

Within hours of submitting his manuscript later that month, he received an email from a communications specialist at Destiny, Mykela Krieg.

‘Since you’ve been receiving more media attention over the past few months, we’ve had some questions/concerns arise from our buyers,’ she said.

Robertson said as soon as read those words, a knot formed in his stomach.

‘I immediately knew that the problem was going to be with my very vocal support of LGBTQ equality and inclusion in the church. Unfortunately, I was right,’ he told Time magazine.

‘I am at a frustrated point, not for my book, but this is so symptomatic of what happens in the broader evangelical community — every day, LGBTQ individuals are told that they are no longer welcome in churches, are kicked out of homes, are fired from jobs, and forced in to reparative therapy by those who claim to represent Jesus.’

Yet another example of so-called “christian love”.

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In the latest example of Republican politicians seeking to trample on the rights of USAmerican citizens, a committee in West Virginia has advanced a bill that would prevent towns and cities from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances.

Targeted at the LGBT community, the bill, if it becomes law, would nullify the non-discrimination laws in six West Virginia cities, and would ban other jurisdictions from enacting non-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people, the elderly, and veterans.

The legislation is being pushed through as a commerce bill, under the claim that it will attract businesses from out of state who would prefer to not have to deal with varying laws in different cities. In truth, most businesses have far stronger non-discrimination  policies than any in the state.

The bill, HB 2881, known as the West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, was filed just Monday and scheduled Tuesday night, displaying Republican’s desire to push it through without time for factual debate.

It mirrors a similar bill that just became law in Arkansas, another that is being debated in Texas, and one that is already law in Tennessee. Opponents say it undermines local control.

HB 2881 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Lynne Arvon (photo), who is also sponsoring an anti-gay, religious license to discriminate bill, the West Virginia Freedom of Conscience Protection Act.

It’s so adorable that they’re hiding their bigotry behind claims that this is all about bringing businesses to the area.

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Do you live in the San Francisco area? You may want to check out Lesbians Who Tech.

The Summit is our marquee event, bringing together over 1,000 LGBTQ women (and allies) across all areas of technology. The Lesbians Who Tech Summit is the only event focused on increasing visibility and tech participation in two historically underrepresented communities: the women’s and queer communities. Join us for our second annual summit starting on February 26 and ending March 1, 2015 in San Francisco, the epicenter of the technology industry. Through this summit and future endeavors, we will bond together to demonstrate our shared commitment to these two critical groups in the tech world.The Lesbians Who Tech Summit will bring together hundreds of queer women in tech (and the people who love them), for the most unique technology conference ever. We will be highlighting incredible queer women who are the next generation of technical leaders, as well as the people who have paved the way.

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In a special report, VICE has been granted access to an organization that performs “gay conversion therapy”

In this special report, VICE gets exclusive access to one of the hundreds of gay-conversion-therapy organizations, groups, and sessions in the United States. At the Journey into Manhood program, men pay more than $600 to attend a weekend retreat where they participate in exercises and activities the staff members claim will help them battle their same-sex ­orientation. The only qualification to become a staff member is to have successfully completed the program.

The report meets with the founder of reparative therapy, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who is illegally practicing on minors in the State of California, and investigates the controversial legal battle to fight conversion therapy for individuals under 18 years of age. We also travel to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference, speak with former “ex-gay” leaders including John Smid of Love in Action, who is now married to his gay partner, and hear the grueling stories of the individuals who have survived this brutal practice.

I suspect a lot of lies will be exposed in this report, which is a good thing. Far too many people believe in conversion therapy, despite the practice being discredited.

LGBT Link Round Up 2.25.15