Friday, September 25, 2015

Feminism Friday: A Little about Radical Feminism

I've often discussed global and transnational feminisms and intersectionality on this blog. These branches of feminism are particularly developed by women of color (for example, Kimberle Crenshaw developed intersectionality).

I've touched on White Feminism, but I haven't discussed one of its major strains: Radical Feminism.

Radical feminism was part of the women's liberation movement and second-wave feminism in the 1960s, and continues as a strain of feminism today. As with any other feminism, there can be many variations on the theme. The Chorus I sing in recognizes that feminism can be defined in many ways, and does not attempt to define the feminism of the singers.

In my encounters with radical feminists online, they appear to build on the concept of the gender binary, and the ways in which society has allowed anatomy to determine a person's destiny as a human being.

Many of the radical feminists online criticize religion as a tool of the patriarchy, and particularly religious dress as a form of women's oppression. Transnational feminism (which intersectionality is a part of) recognizes that many women draw strength from their faith, even if it is one of the traditional Abrahamic religions. There are Muslim feminists, Jewish feminists, Catholic and other traditional Christian feminists who draw on the stories of the women in the respective traditions.

Some radical feminists are "trans exclusionary" (what intersectional feminists may abbreviate as "TERF"s), who consider trans women to be men invading women's spaces. While they have a few good points about how men should be allowed to wear whatever they want, and all genders should be able to do whatever jobs they want... so many of the arguments in the Wikipedia article are harmful.

Unfortunately, the exclusion of trans women from feminist spaces has had the effect of leaving trans women unsupported, with nowhere to go. Trans women (and men) have unique insights into the kyriarchy and systems of oppression, that cis-gendered people don't experience, as this article discusses:

Why Aren't Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.

Because Intersectionality embraces non-binary gender expressions (as well as a variety of religious beliefs and expressions), proponents of intersectional feminism often find themselves in opposition to radical feminism. Intersectional feminism recognizes Trans women as women, and works to include these women in their safe spaces.

I will admit that on my journey towards becoming an LGBT Ally, it took me longest to understand the transgender aspects. But knowing someone, caring about someone, made it easy. I don't need to know their anatomy, I just need to treat them with respect and honor their preferred pronouns.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Root Causes and Health

One of the processes used in Engineering, is Root Cause Analysis. There are several different methodologies for Root Cause analysis, including 5 Whys.

What I want to do here is more of a thought experiment than a formal engineering process.

In Monday's post, I started to discuss the things that help to maximize human potential, things like:
  • Healthy relationships (not abusive ones)
  • Proper nutrition
  • A body as healthy as possible
  • Adequate sleep
  • Limited stress
The thing of it is, none of these begin in adulthood. Workplace health costs will continue to rise until we learn to address these issues at the root. Because our health doesn't begin when we become adults.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Music Monday - The Greatest Love of All

I may have linked to this once before, but many of the lyrics are coming to mind for me again in the wake of last week.

Dr. Chanda posted her Black & STEM Playlist, and the song above is one of the ones on my STEM Women playlist.

I believe the children are our future. Girls, boys, every color.

My mother read a lot of self-help books, ones that discussed human potential, so I've grown up thinking about what we as human beings need in order to be our best.

  • Health helps, a lot. It may not be required to be a good person, but a healthy body can train hard, study hard, or both.
  • Proper nutrition, which fuels a healthy body.
  • A good education, which supports our interests and allows us to follow our unique gifts.
  • Opportunities, not only for extra-curricular activities, but also internships, role models, travel, etc.
  • Supportive relationships.
I spent one summer in Florida when I was 14, and heard a sermon topic: "People become who we say they are," about the human tendency to live up (or down) to expectations. I'm pretty sure the minister kept most of the examples on the positive side. As I've matured and learned more about abuse, I've learned more about how true this can also work to the negative. I've never forgotten that.

Independently, during my adolescence, I came to believe in the UU first principle: "The inherent worth and dignity of every human being." Each and every person matters, and that is why Black Lives Matter (too).

And Ahmed Mohamed's life matters.

I really don't care whether he developed his clock from scratch, or transplanted it to the pencil case from existing 1970s technology. It's the curiosity that matters for electrical engineering. Everybody has to start somewhere, and many engineers begin by taking things apart. That is good, and should be encouraged.

Women engineers, though... I was not encouraged to disassemble things as a child. We didn't own a lot that *could* be disassembled, and what few electronics we had... I preferred to keep intact so we could keep using them.

Many of the articles I have read about diversity in STEM point to a need to allow late bloomers as well as the people with early interests to find their way here. For example, Harvey Mudd's efforts in computer science.