Archive for the ‘workplace discrimination’ Category

If Steve Jobs were a woman…

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

…he’d be treated as a CEOILF.

…there’d be incessant carping about his sense of fashion (rather, the lack thereof).

…he could either be hard-working and unlikable, or incompetent and likable. Pick one.

…the over-pricing of his products would be evidence of his narcissism and be seen as a personal failing, not as evidence of his good/bad business sense.

…TV commentators would complain about his boring presentations, and wonder if he was *pimping* out his products a bit too vulgarly.

…late night comics would make jokes about raping his kids. Only the girls, of course.

…people would say ‘why doesn’t he just GO AWAY already?!’ while simultaneously clicking on every news link about him.

…people would make videos about punching him in the face, strangling him, and sexually assaulting him. In humor, of course.

…people would complain for years about how he was selfish in not having kids.

…people would be horrified that there were rumors of a kid he didn’t acknowledge.

…people would complain about how selfish he was in having kids and not staying home and taking care of them himself.

…people would complain about how selfish he was that he stayed home and took care of his kids for a few years, thereby *abandoning his company*.

…battle-lines would be drawn around his parenting choices – whether he chose to breastfeed or not would indicate how good a parent he was.

…his falling out with John Sculley, Gates and others would be seen as evidence of his b*tchiness, and he would NEVER get past it.

…sleazy pseudo-journalists would camp outside his house and write tell-all books about his family.

…sleazy journalists would say *good lord, isn’t it horrifying* about the brown and black (wo)men he slept with in India and elsewhere.

…his ideas would always be ignored. Even when they were good.

…his ideas, if un-ignorably fabulous, would be appropriated sans acknowledgement.

…his product names would be treated as evidence of narcissism rather than personalization (iDevice)

…there would always be deep insinuations about how much influence, exactly, Laurene (who? his spouse!) had on his work and the firm.

..he would never, ever, EVER be seen as a visionary. No matter what he did or said.


These [pirates’] rules, they’re more like guidelines anyway

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Cap’n Barbosa from the Dead Man’s Chest speaketh:

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday said it was planning to have women fighter pilots in future, but they will be inducted with a pre-condition of not bearing children till a certain age.

“In a few years time, we might see this change (women getting inducted as fighter pilots) coming in with certain pre-conditions that till this age we request you to be happy, be married, but no offsprings,” IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora told reporters here.

After 13-14 years of service, investments made on fighter pilots are actually recovered by the government,” he said in an indication that women fighter pilots will be allowed to have kids only after putting in 13-14 years in IAF.
The IAF Vice-Chief said if a woman pilot has to take pregnancy leave, she will be off-flying for around 10 months, which will not be fruitful for both her and the Service.

Citing reasons for Services not inducting women into combat arms, Barbora said, the armed forces “feel that it is not right to have a lady or a woman exposed to a conflict where she can be a prisoner of war.”

Secondly, psychologically, are we fit? another factor,” he added.

This is when I stop being proud of the Indian military that ‘keeps us safe’ (wev), and start wondering about eligibility & selection criteria that allowed Barbora and his ilk to come up through the ranks. First, psychologically, is he fit? Second, mathematically, is he sound? Third, how robust are his faculties of logic?

If 13-14 years are all that are required to break-even on training costs, then what’s preventing them from directly saying that they require 14 full years of service – get initiates to sign a bond to deliver 168 full months of committed service or pay back training costs and suffer penalties? If someone takes 10 months off to deliver it’s not like they are never fit to do anything after that – ask Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open 18 months after delivery. And why the exception for pregnancy – what if someone (a male candidate maybe?) falls ill with a debilitating heart disease at 30, and needs to take six months off to recoup?It’s not like large emergencies never happen to fighter pilots, or that employees of the IAF are exceptionally protected from all such unexpected events .

Do Barbora and others that helped make this decision think they’re fooling anyone when they say “Now, women in the age group of 21-23 years are inducted into the flying branch and may be allowed to start family after crossing the 35-37 years age bracket.”? Is that condition likely to allow for any woman’s priorities at 21? Or, for that matter, any man’s priorities? What about changing priorities? And what if someone gets pregnant by accident? Is the IAF going to demand and force abortions? Sheesh, people, do you even think these things through before you call press conferences to shoot off yer mouths?

Maybe Barbora and ilk need to recieve printed copies of the story of Major Stephanie Nelson (her story here), the US Air Force fighter pilot (she flies F-16s) who got pregnant and was still treated with respect and equality.

French maid fantasies, Om?

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Via Indiequill, apparently Om Puri slept with two of his maids a while ago. I’ve seen this in Hindi movies from the 80’s and in books about pre-Civil War America when slave owners raped their slaves, but never realized this was such a wide-ranging phenomenon. Who knew an essential rite of passage for so many of our ‘gritty, realistic’ Indian male actors was to have sex with – or rape – a woman from a different economic class who was clearly their dependent? Who’s next, now – Nana Patekar?

In Om Puri’s case, of course, it’s a little more complicated. In the first incident, apparently he was only 14, and they haven’t spoken about the age of the maid then. Does that count as statutory rape on the part of the maid? Was she exploiting her adult privilege, or was he cruelly leveraging his economic and male privileges? In cases such as these, if the sex is consensual, is it still ‘improper yet natural’, like workplace sex, or exploitative, like boss-subordinate sex, or is it a whole different class altogether?

After watching Vanaja’s nuanced portrayal last year, it’s hard for me to be sympathetic to men who make out with maids/servants/nannies. And especially in the Indian context, where class and caste and English language privilege are still often insurmountable barriers, how can these people not see that what they’re doing or did – or had – was not clear consensual sex but murky coercion, often based on economic dependency? These are the very same people who’ll rant and rail against the Catholic Church donating money to poor untouchables to convert them.

But what truly sent chills running down my spine were not the incidents, but Om Puri’s furious-ness at his wife:

“I don’t care if she’s my wife. I won’t let her get away with it

When Nandita expressed a desire to write about me I couldn’t stop her because she’s my wife but she has forgotten who she is,” added Om.

She has forgotten who she is? Erm, dude, I’m guessing you don’t mean the journalism part of her. She’s forgotten she’s your WIFE, you mean. Or rather, YOUR wife. Who shouldn’t be doing things without your permission. Maybe you should meet Mr. and Mrs. Sanjay Dutt sometime soon – I have a feeling you’ll like them.

And seriously, ‘I won’t let her get away with it‘?!!????@##@$#$%

Class superiority much? Male privilege much? Of, maybe that will turn you on, knowing now what we do about you – you get off on that superiority thing, don’t you, you sick ba****d.

*breathing deeply to calm myself down*

Hrumph. I wonder if French maid costumes are really disproportionately popular in Indian role plays. Maid (truly desi, subordinate, available) + white woman (loose, unattainable but ‘available’). Business idea # 562, indeedy.

What’re your weekend plans?

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Keep your weekend free. This Sunday, I’m getting myself a copy of the New York Times’s special issue. Yup, after nearly four years of being increasingly distrustful, disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted with the NYT, I’m actually recommending to everyone that they buy and read this issue, because of the most heart-warming, well-researched articles they’ve put out in a long, long time.

The Women’s Crusade
Nicholas Kristoff talks about the ‘alchemy of gender’ in a deliciously long article, excerpted from his and Sheryl WuDunn’s book. I was alternately in tears and alternately giggling with excitement and nodding in vehement agreement through the story (but it could just be undiagnosed bipolar :-))

A New Gender Agenda
An interview with Hillary Clinton (swoon already), but I’m shocked at how much and how often she references India. It’s clear she’s actually one of the rare Westerners who can wrap their heads around the fact that one nation can be both more liberal and more conservative vs. another at the same time; that progressiveness is not a one-dimensional continuum. She gets that India is, in many ways, a model of development for the West and desh seems to be as top of mind for her as it is to me. And most effectively of all, she’s understood that advocating to the rest of the developing world (argh, I hate that term) that development = American values will not get them or her too far, that she needs to use someone else, someone closer to the developing world as an example – therefore the frequent references to Indian democracy in Nigeria, and to Liberian elections in Congo. Wish someone would smash some of her wisdom into Aaron Sorkin’s pathetic little brain sometime.

And hey, I’m suddenly more respectful of journalists again. Who knew.

Shattering Glass ceilings? First woman ever to…

July 13, 2009 Leave a comment

…be court martialed by the Indian Army?

Army court-martials its first woman officer
For the first time in the Indian Army’s history, a military court on Saturday ordered the court martial of a woman officer for disobeying orders, levelling false allegations against her superiors and communicating service matters to the media.

Captain Poonam Kaur had accused three officers, including her commanding officer and second-in-command, of sexually harassing her last year. She was then serving with an ASC (Army Service Corps Battalion) at Kalka near Chandigarh.


A court of inquiry conducted before the court martial had slapped 21 charges on Captain Kaur — whose father is a retired army havaldar —of which 11 were dropped, as there was no evidence to substantiate them.

The charges levelled against her included wrongfully getting married accommodation allotted and having an improper relationship with her driver.

I’m not defending either Captain Kaur or the Indian Army – I don’t have enough information, and I’m not interested in fighting that battle. A charge of physical abuse, sexual harassment and/or rape is a career stopper (not very often, of course: Phaneesh Murty, K P S Gill, Sanjay Khan, Virendra Kumar Dohare) – but a false charge is not just unfair, it also reduces the credibility of many, many true charges and causes plenty of harm to everyone involved. And I’m of the school of thought that true gender or racial or communal equality is not just equal opportunity to success, but also equal leeway to be bad, to fail, to irritate, to upset those around them. We’ll know women are equal to men not just when the # of women CEOs are equal to the # of male CEOs, but when the average woman is as much at ease to go against the grain as the average man is, when the punishment is commensurate with the crime and not with the gender.

It’s just unfortunate that the first woman to have broken this glass ceiling, to be court martialed and sacked from the Indian army was done so regarding a complaint of sexual harassment by her Commanding Officer. It’s very, very hard as it is for women anywhere in the world to speak up about sexual harassment (when the perpetrators are friends or acquaintances, the rapes go unreported 61 percent of the time – this is in the US), even harder for Indian women, and those in and around Punjab have to deal with the additional Punju male ‘pride & ego’ (a survey done in the state of Punjab a few years ago found that for every rape reported, a humongous SIXTY-EIGHT go unreported), and for anyone in a job, especially in the army to speak up against their own boss, even in a trivial case, is so difficult as to be impossible (example in case: yours truly!). When the victims get the courage and resources and huge support system required to fight such cases and go public, invariably there are plenty other issues – e.g. media silencing, a media trial on the woman’s character, and sometimes, incredibly stupid, out-of-touch judges (“a judge summoned a nurse who was raped, her one eye gouged out, in Shanti Mukund Hospital in the heart of Delhi by a hospital employee. The judge wanted the woman to answer a strange request by the rapist: would she marry him, as now, presumably, nobody else would“).

The second issue here is the problem inherent in all military, jingoistic groups. Armies around the world demand absolute control over their employees. Military personnel and processes are used to expected to give absolute, unquestioning obedience. This is understandable at some level, because they do want their soldiers to die for a cause, and you can’t have last-minute thoughts and backtracking and discussions and challenges in a battlefield. However, this sets up everyone inside for abuse and isolation of the worst kind (e.g. Lavena Johnson, tons of other cover ups of rapes and murders, and why soldiers rape) . Add to that the whole culture of ‘looking out for each other’, and ‘having your brother officer’s back’, which somehow translates to defending the brother that did the raping & the harassment rather than protecting the sister that was raped and/or harassed (if you have the stomach for it, read this story about Houston firewomen targeted in a hate campaign – major trigger warnings). And top it all with the weird defensive argument that if you complain about something the army or your President is doing, you’re somehow unpatriotic and don’t care for your country (see: Dixie Chicks). That last one is seriously f***ed up, because by making sure the army is functioning as it should, you’re actually strengthening it.

Given such a context, it’s really really sad that Captain Poonam Kaur’s case has been resolved so badly. It only further stops other women from speaking out when in bad, dire need, and closes out the options of half of the world’s population from living and working productively.

Women for women

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning, for a few weeks now, to write about how women’s actions are the primary reason the patriarchy is still surviving, how they (we) actively undermine other women unlike almost any other ethnic/religious group that would work together to become more powerful. The last year certainly gave us some remarkable examples of such betrayals.

But that will have to wait. Today, I see this and I blub:
Senate passes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Who voted how

The voting was almost exactly along party lines, except for the five Republican senators who courageously voted Yea:
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Kay Hutchison (R-TX)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Arlen Specter (R-PA)

Four of these five of the Republicans who broke party lines in their voting are women.
Every female Republican Senator voted Yea. Every female Senator voted Yea.

Now, go ahead, tell me to HOPE!TM

Hell hath no fury….

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I might be a little (!) late to the party, but I just saw Madame Secretary, the new blog over at that, in its own words, is

“an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America’s (next) top diplomat”

It’s surprisingly non-CDS affected for such a mainstream blog, too, so toodle off there if interested – I don’t know if it is a Trojan horse, but maybe I’m just being paranoid and pessimistic. But the interesting part here, is that this is written by Megan Carpentier and Carolyn O’Hara. The first name sounded so familiar I googled it, and here goes:
Female Wonkette Editor Fired — Sexism Involved?
and this:
Should Ken Layne Have Fired Megan Carpentier?

Wonkette editor Ken Layne continues to take some amazing heat for firing Megan Carpentier, one of the most popular writers the site has seen since Ana Marie Cox left in 2006. Commenters have been outright rude to him on his own site (calling him “a sexist anti-gay pig” in one instance), and he’s received dozens of letters from readers expressing their outrage.

And yes, Wonkette was never a great blog, just barely entertaining until a couple of years ago when all the women left. Now it’s just where random Wanktards in their shorts collect and rig polls with scripts. Myiq2xu has it best here. It was just a crazily anti-Hillary Clinton site, so no surprise that Megan Carpentier was asked to leave (much like goldberry was banned from dailykos and went on to set up one of the best blogs on the Internet, and Alegre went on strike. Thank God for that!!). So now we know!