Monday, February 25, 2013

The difference between feminism and assertiveness training

Over at Feminist Peace Network there is a fascinating new post on a soon-to-be released book by Sheryl Sandberg. You've never heard of Sheyrl Sandberg? Neither had I. Apparently she is the one woman on the board of directors of Facebook. Based on this accomplishment, Ms. Sandberg has authored a book.

Now frankly, I have a life and I'm busy with school, and I don't get on Facebook that much. (If I had more time to spend online, I might blog more often.) But apparently, Facebook, which has a policy against permitting hate speech. Except, they have this funny exception when it comes to posts justifying rape and other miscellaneous forms of woman-hatred.

Apparently, Ms. Sandberg has nothing to say about this in her new book, Leaning In. But she apparently has a lot to say about what women need to in order to achieve personal success. The problem, apparently, is that women lack the assertiveness to "lean in," to put ourselves forward, to take charge. But for some of us, feminism has always been about something more than getting a few more women at the top of the corporate ladder.

As Lucinda Marshall of FPN puts it:
What irks me is the notion that if women behave differently, the corporate world will welcome them in and hold the ladder while they climb to the top. In what way is this really different than telling a woman that what she wore precipitated a rape? I’m also thinking of military generals telling women that if they take on combat roles they will finally be paid equally and maybe be less likely to be sexually assaulted. The problem with that, and the problem with what Sandberg is saying is that the real issue is that there is something terribly wrong with the power-over dominator system on which the corporate and military power structures depend. And even if a higher percentage of women rise to the top, most women, and for that matter most men, will still be at the bottom.
I admire the deft way that Lucinda Marshall unpacks the self-absorption and arrogance of one very privileged woman who wants to lecture the rest of us on what we ought to do differently. Taking on Facebook's over-the-top sexism? Apparently Sandberg doesn't give even passing mention to that.

But having said all this, I've incurred an obligation to read the book for myself and form my own opinion. Fortunately, I can do this without contributing to Ms. Sandberg's outsized wealth. Copies are on order at my local public library, and I've placed a reserve request.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Of tar sands and corporate profits.

This is just a quick post in honor of my friend Stefan Warner, who was arrested with seven others at a civil disobedience action near Schoolton, Oklahoma today. Stefan, working as part of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, chained himself to a piece of equipment that is being used to construct part of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance is holding a training camp for activists March 18-22 in the Ponca City area, and encourages people who are interested in working with them to attend.

If this pipeline is constructed, it "could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health," according to Friends of the Earth.

According to
Calgary-based TransCanada has proposed a 1,700-mile pipeline, dubbed the Keystone XL, to carry oil derived from tar sands in Alberta to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Although the northern leg of the project has not received federal approval, the company currently is constructing the 485-mile southern portion of the pipeline that will transport oil from storage facilities in Cushing, Okla., to Texas, said TransCanada spokesman David Dodson.

The man who locked himself to the machinery, called a side boom, was removed after he was lowered to the ground and a local fire department used a pair of bolt cutters to free him, Conn said. A spokesman for the environmental group identified the man as Stefan Warner, a youth pastor from Harrah.
For in-depth background about the XL Keystone Pipeline, I recommend Michael Klare's excellent post at