Category Archives: Gender in Latin America

I “just” wanted to point this out…

As students — many of whom will be scouring the job market for opportunities in the near future — we are often preoccupied with the written and spoken language that we use; not solely for the numerous research papers, essays and presentations we are responsible for producing over the course of our educational careers, but because we are aware of the value judgments people make about our dialect and our prose.

How many of you have dedicated an immense amount of time to making sure the carefully-crafted letters and e-mails you send to peers, colleagues and future employers are “just right” before pressing send? We check and double check spelling and grammar, we make sure we use tone that’s appropriate for the intended recipient, and we fire away. Whether we speak on the phone or in person, we tend to be more careful about the words we use because unlike written language — which we are typically free to edit until we are satisfied with the final result — there’s no “taking back” spoken words (or the inflection behind them) when you’re trying to quickly convey a message or attempting to prove yourself worthy to someone whose approval matters to you. We think about our word choices — some people even code-switch between the dialect they use naturally versus the dialect they use in a professional setting — and hope that we aren’t coming across in a way that misconstrues our intent or puts us at risk of negative evaluation.

However, have you ever considered that even the subtle, seemingly innocent word choices you make may be stripping your words of their full power?  Ellen Leanse thinks so.  In her latest article — It’s time to stop using ‘just’ in your writing and speaking (published today at Ragan.com and in its original version located at Women2.com) — Leanse charges women with using the word ‘just’ as “a ‘permission’ word.”

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a “child” word, to riff Transactional Analysis. As such, it put the conversation partner into the “parent” position, granting them more authority and control. And that “just” didn’t make sense. … I began to notice that “just” wasn’t about being polite. It was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous. As I started really listening, I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message.”

Upon noticing the prevalence of the word “just” in the e-mails sent by women at her company, Leanse decided to conduct an informal experiment in which observers listened to a six-minute conversation between a man and a woman about their respective business startups — each had three minutes to speak — while the observers tallied the amount of times they each used the word “just.”  The man used it once; the woman used it either five or six times.  As Leanse states, this experiment was “not research: it’s a test that likely merits more inquiry.”  Until a formal experiment is conducted, I urge you to inquire within yourselves.

Look through your e-mails and text messages.  How often have you used the word “just” in an attempt to sound friendlier or non-demanding?  You may be unconsciously asking permission for your thoughts and words to be validated by others, which can diminish the impact behind them.  Ladies: it is time to stop diluting our convictions, our lofty goals, and our grandest plans with the constant use of what otherwise would continue to be considered an innocuous four-letter word in a sea of written and spoken communication.  I “just” thought you should be aware of your own authority and the power it holds when you wield it with confidence.  Laura Redman

Another take on intersectional issues in activism: Black Cuban feminists

Cuban hip hop artists Las Krudas

 

This Cuban Hip Hop group is interesting: Remember the critique that many black women in the US have of white feminists, and so they prefer the term “womanist” to “feminist”? Check out this group’s discussion of this issue and how they are framing themselves:

Black Cuban Feminist Hip Hop Band

Also a reminder of our discussion of communist countries attempting gender equality (and equality between races, in the case of Cuba).

 

Street Harassment Plagues Women the World Over

This BBC article succinctly sums up the issue of street harassment, a type of harassment that can involve cat-calling, groping, lewd comments, verbal threats/coercion, and may escalate into violence.  Every woman I know, including yours truly, has endured frequent street harassment wherever we go, not only while here at East Carolina University.  Many men consider “complimenting” (i.e. honking/whistling/hissing at) a strange woman on the street to be fairly routine and flattering to her, but simply do not understand or worse, do not care that their behavior is threatening.

ihollaback.org is a website that encourages women to take pictures of street harassers with their mobile phones, or to act like they are using their phones to report/photograph these men.  However, I worry that this act could bring about even more unwanted attention from street harassers, and even result in a violent attack against the woman who attempts to fight back in this manner.  What do you think?  Do you think that this is an effecting solution to combat street harassment, or do you advocate for the redesign of public transportation centers, as mentioned in the article?  What else can be done to fight this blatant and threatening sexism?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/magazine-12771938?SThisFB

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