Tag Archives: women

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

Best Tampon Commercial Ever

A commercial for Hello Flo, a home delivery service that provides essentials for your period, may possibly be the best tampon commercial ever.

From the moment that the young woman says “the red badge of courage”, the audience is captivated. As a matter of fact, it is not hard at all to understand why such a commercial would keep the attention of an audience; especially when a society barely hears the positive mention of a vulva or vagina on television. One must assume that hearing such terms would make any individual pay closer attention, even the attention of a woman who has had her period for the past 11 years.

After all, it is only a young women talking about something that naturally occurs to every woman of sufficient age. Yet, the commercial somehow elicits a shock factor to go with a large side order of humor.

Our society continuously adds more and more gore to the average television program that we, as the audience, have lost the surprise of seeing blood. Yet, the surprise of hearing this young woman discuss something so natural still makes one wonder what is wrong with making more and more commercials such as this one.

Put simply, this commercial is amazing because underneath the large blanket of laughs it shows the viewer the need for a new way of thinking.


Eating Disorders Are Not “White Girl” Diseases

“When eating disorders were first being recognized, people seeking treatment were young, white girls, so the belief developed early that nobody else suffers from them,” says Gayle Brooks, vice president and chief clinical officer of the Renfrew Center, the country’s first residential treatment facility for eating disorders. “When that became the core of our understanding, we stopped looking at diversity being an issue. We missed a lot.” – The Dangerous Myth that Only White Women Get Eating Disorders

Many believe that anorexia is a white girl disease. It’s not, and we need to stop believing it. Eating disorders are dangerous and kill more people than any other mental illness. There have traditionally been two categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Now there is a third category: EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) – a catchall term for problematic and dangerous eating habits that do not fit the strict confines of bulimia and anorexia (I believe Binge Eating Disorder – BED – has also been recognized more recently as well).

Eating disorders are widespread and do not discriminate. Unfortunately, the outreach programs, the advertisements and awareness campaigns, and even treatment facilities are predominantly white. Some women of color in need of treatment have trouble relating to the very different cultural context of many white women in treatment programs and may not even get to the point of receiving a diagnosis and treatment because of the widespread belief that EDs are most common among white women. Women of color have also been excluded from most of the research on EDs.

These women often receive the catchall diagnosis of EDNOS because they may not be underweight necessarily or obsessed with thinness (for example, among latino women, the guitar shape is considered more desirable). Different cultural expectations and beauty ideals shape the disorder but the result is often the same: an unhealthy and obsessive relationship with food, dieting, exercise, and body image. For many, eating disorders are a source of control in a world where they feel they have no control and may be triggered underlying factors and fed by unrealistic expectations of what women are supposed to look like. There’s still a lot we don’t totally understand about why some women develop EDs and how widespread it really is the main point is that eating disorders are dangerous and need to be treated. We have to start by dispelling the myths that keep so many from getting the help they really need.

– Lindsay

Glorifying Busy

“Students wrote about them as if they were embarking on a fruitful challenge: maxing out the total credits they could take, being involved in every club, not sleeping. They would reap the rewards of A’s today and impressive resumes later, the health of their bodies not even considered. Several months ago, I was doing the exact same thing.” – Chio in Stop the Glorification of Busy

In this article, Chio looks at the university system as a capitalist machine, forcing students to sacrifice their mental and physical health for the sake of their education all while convincing the world that this is normal, healthy, and desirable behavior. This system tends to be harshest on those who need validation, those who are nearly always structurally disadvantaged and inferior: women and people of color. The university system feeds off of our inferiority complexes and impostor syndromes; we overwork ourselves to make up for it and to be twice as good as the competition.

This is something I’ve definitely struggled with in college to the point that when I quit one of my jobs because I couldn’t handle two jobs and keep up my grades, I felt guilty. I felt like I was lazy and just wasn’t working hard enough. Interesting to compare the current American mindset to the Kung who could work only 23 days to produce 100 days of food. What do you guys think?

– Lindsay Cortright

Gender inequality in African American Intellectual Society (pdf attached)

Anna Julia Cooper Public Intellectuals

In this article, Carolyn M Cusick discusses the role of public intellectuals in society. Especially that of Anna Julia Cooper, a young woman born into slavery and recently appointed as teacher at the renowned M Street High School. Cusick focuses on the exclusion black female academics suffered from their male counterparts, even those who acknowledged the need for equality between the sexes. She speaks of Du Bois, whose printed words recognized the need for gender equality, but rarely acknowledged the work of successful and important women contemporaries. This article does a great job exploring the elitist issues tied in the African American Academic/Intellectualism enlightenment.




(a must read) Equality for Women A Distant Goal in the World

This is a must read. We’ve been reading a lot about the Gender inequalities taking place around the world. This piece touches on this struggle by taking us a step deeper into the conflict; steps toward resolution. Women and men are taking to the streets all over the world to promote awareness. My only criticism is to break out of the tendency to limit awareness to such important issues to a particular month. Gender inequality happens everyday and everywhere in the world, let’s not diminish the issue by ignoring the problem 11 months out of the year.

Read more on NPR

Guillaume Bagal

Women in Egypt Speak up about Getting Left out of Constitutional Process

It is interesting to read the previous post about women feeling empowered in Egypt now in their everyday lives. And really interesting link between sexual harrassment and political frustraction.

But what about at the larger “public” levels of society? See this article: women’s organizations are already protesting getting left out of scripting the new constitution–and not due to lack of qualifications:

Women’s Petition on Constitutional Committee

Susan Pearce

17 Victims Sue Pentagon Over ‘Plague’ of Sexual Violence

See this brave group of women who are suing the Pentagon over a culture that seems to condone or cover up rape and sexual harrassment:

17 Victims Sue Pentagon Over ‘Plague’ of Sexual Violence

Within the text is this: “The lawsuit cited the Pentagon’s own statistics that reported 3,230 rapes and other sexual assaults in 2009. Because the military acknowledges that 80 percent of victims don’t report the crime, the real number may be more than 16,000.”

I have a question about this. We have been learning more about how rape is used as a weapon of war in situations of ethnic cleansing as well as by soldiers who know that it can strike fear in a whole community and therefore give them control. Can we do a thought experiment to link this strategy to the use of sexual assault within a military establishment to control its women soldiers / employees?   — Susan Pearce

(in case you missed it) CBS News’ Lara Logan sexually assaulted in Egypt

Although this happened 5 days ago, some of you would perhaps like to read the statement CBS posted regarding the attack on Lara Logan. What happened to her is extremely unfortunate to say the least. I find it very encouraging that she was rescued by a group of women, in addition to the 20 some Egyptian police officers. Read the full statement on NPR.

-Guillaume Bagal