Anyway, I thought this week would be a bit of a loss in terms of my non-contracting projects, but it wasn't. That is a testament to the power of the theme I've chosen for this week's links: keep on truckin'. I just wrote my daily to do lists and chugged through them, and here we are on Friday afternoon and most things on them are done. Go me.
To the links:
Cord Jefferson's essay about his mother is just wonderful. I'm going to bookmark it and come back to it when I'm struggling with explaining the bad things in the world to my kids, or with parenting in general. Or life in general.
I've had several LOLSOB sort of conversations with men I know about that famous catcall video, and basically, I am tired of the reminders that I live in such a different world than they do. So many men I know are so incredulous that catcalling happens, or that dudes talk to me even when I've got my headphones, or... gah. So this video in which the New Zealand Herald hired an actress to walk the streets of Auckland sort of made my day. And I reflected and realized that I could not recall ever being catcalled in New Zealand, and my first visit there was when I was not yet 30 and in what was probably the best physical shape of my life. Yet another reason to try to arrange my life such that I can spend more time there!
I mostly don't have an opinion about Lena Dunham. I don't watch Girls and I haven't read her book, and I have no intention of changing either of those things. So I largely ignore the back and forth about whether we should embrace her or hate her. But the recent flap about one section of her book has been hard to ignore. If you've missed the uproar, Roxane Gay's take on it is (as usual) quite smart. I wasn't going to read more than that, but I'm glad I read Jessica Bennett's piece on this, because while I do not agree with everything she says, I do strongly agree with the point she makes about how women- even feminists- tear down successful women. I have written about this in relation to famous women in tech like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. It is not that I think these women, or any prominent women, are perfect and above criticism. It is that we focus so much more criticism on them than we do on their male counterparts, and the criticism is more vicious.
While I'm halfway ranting, let's talk about the midterms, and voter turnout. I have seen a lot of disappointed Democrats bemoaning the fact that Democratic voters don't turn out as well for midterms. And I've seen a lot of smug Republicans say that this means Democrats should re-examine their policies or whatnot. But I haven't seen much analysis of why Democratic turnout is lower. Here's my guess: because we've been constructing impediments to their voting. Precincts in districts with more non-white voters are more likely to have long lines. Several states have new voter ID laws. Some states have whittled back early voting and placed more restrictions on voting by mail. These things matter, and I suspect they matter more for voters who are more likely to vote Democratic. I read about lines of up to 9 hours to vote on Tuesday. Ask yourself: would you have been willing to wait 9 hours to vote? I didn't wait at all and the entire process took less than 10 minutes. But I live in a predominately white district in a state that has a vote by mail option open to everyone and good early voting provisions. The fact that anyone has to wait more than 30 minutes or so is a national disgrace, and I don't think it is an accident. I think some very cynical people are doing whatever they can to keep power while the tide of the nation turns away from them. Shame on them for passing these laws. Shame on them for trying to make voting harder, rather than easier. And shame on us for letting it happen.
I am still looking for a good analysis of what impact all of this has on outcomes. I found an article with some early observations, but I suspect it is too soon to have a full analysis. I hope someone produces one. Regardless of the impact of these laws and policies, though, they are wrong, and antithetical to democracy. We should fix them.
(The Democrats should probably also ask themselves why so many white men don't like their message, and think about how to win white men over, but that is a rant for another day. I'll just say I don't think the answer is "be more like the Republicans.")
Moving to happier things- this interview with Cindy Gallop on being an entrepreneur as an older woman is awesome and inspiring, and was the source of some of my resolve to keep on truckin' this week.
Erica Joy's post about being a Black woman in tech is less fun to read, but very important. I've thought a lot about the psychic impact of being so outnumbered- and as a white woman, I am far, far less outnumbered than Joy is. The underrepresented people who stay in STEM careers are doing a lot of work that white men do not even recognize exists. (Sort of like how they don't realize catcalling is an issue, apparently.)
Joy's determination to find a way to stay in tech while also taking care of herself is inspiring. It was in my mind when I picked this week's Tungsten Hippo quote, from Kiese Laymon:
"Your heart was good but you forgot to guard it. You killed yourself slowly because of this."
I am glad she is guarding her heart.
I was also inspired by Molly Crabapple's post about being successful as a creative person in the internet age. The entire thing is really good and you should read it, but I particularly liked rule #5:
"I've never had a big break. I've just had tiny cracks in this wall of indifference until finally the wall wasn't there any more."
Here is a great tweet about aiming high:
Most of us are capable of punching above our weight. We're just scared cause the other guy looks bigger.
— Ashley Ford (@iSmashFizzle) November 7, 2014
And here is a dog herding ducks, because I always have to end with something fun: