Why women talk less

language: a feminist guide

This week on Newsnight, Evan Davis talked to three women about all-male panels—a subject made topical by the recent popularity of a tumblr set up to name and shame them. Why, he asked, are women so often un- or under-represented in public forums? Are they reluctant to put themselves forward? Are they deterred by the adversarial nature of the proceedings?

The women offered some alternative suggestions. Women don’t get asked, or if they do it’s assumed you only need one. Women aren’t seen as experts, unless the subject is a ‘women’s issue’. The age-old prejudice against women speaking in public means that any woman who dares to voice her opinions can expect to be deluged with abuse and threats.

But while all-male panels are obviously a problem, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Just ensuring that women are represented on a panel does not guarantee their voices will…

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On Evaluative Criticism

bigtallwords

Imagine yourself wearing a pair of latex gloves, scraping some dust off the surface of your favourite book or movie with a scalpel and tapping it into a glass vial of clear fluid. Now seal the vial and shake it, stare into its contents. When little Venus symbols to start floating in the solution you can declare to all willing to hear, “This! This is a feminist text!”

A lot of effort goes into arguing whether something is or isn’t feminist. In fairness, this is as tricky a question as people make it out to be. If we are to accept that an author’s intentions don’t always reach the text and that the reader reads themselves in a text than it follows that some amount of, say, feminism, may exist in anything. It also may be that in reaching for something to identify with, audiences may nominate a toothless champion for their defence. This might be the case with Mad Max:…

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This Asteroid Will Come Eerily Close to Earth on Halloween

Lights in the Dark

Concept image of a large asteroid passing by Earth and the MoonA recently-discovered asteroid named 2015 TB145 will come within 1.3 lunar distances of Earth on Oct. 31, 2015. (Illustration by J. Major.)

Yes, it’s true: a rather not-so-tiny near-Earth asteroid SKULL-SHAPED ZOMBIE COMET (see below) 2015 TB145 will make a relatively close pass by our dear planet Earth on October 31, aka Halloween — the day when certain beliefs profess that the veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest, allowing spiritual and even physical interaction to occur between both.

Of course there is no scientific evidence that the latter is at all true but it makes for good scary stories around the light of a campfire. And as the first-world campfires of today are the stark lights of computer monitors and smartphone screens, some are trying to weave scary stories about the passing of this asteroid as well. Should you be afraid? Certainly not. (But there is a cautionary tale to be told.)

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review

Feminist Frequency

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Reviewed by: Anita Sarkeesian

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the latest entry in Ubisoft’s long-running open-world franchise, and although the gameplay is exactly what you’d expect from an Assassin’s Creed game, Syndicate distinguishes itself from its predecessors. It stands apart not because of improved mechanics or visual design but because its developers have made noticeable attempts to portray a more inclusive cast of characters.

Syndicate follows twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye on their quest to liberate the oppressed working class of 19th century London from ruling class thug Crawford Starrick and free the city from the Templars’ control. It’s clear that Starrick is a monster from the first moment we see him because of his evil mustache and his penchant for punching desks.

Preceding the release of last year’s Unity, Ubisoft came under intense public criticism for its repeated lack of playable female characters in…

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How about we stop moralizing and end child poverty tomorrow?

Family Inequality

How much would you pay to stop having to listen to rich people tell poor people how to run their families?

If my calculations are correct, we can end child poverty for $62 billion per year. Is that a lot? No, it’s not. It’s $578 per non-poor family — but (if Twitter analytics are to be believed) my typical reader will pay less because I’ll put it on a sliding scale for you. Details below.

Americans tend to think of poverty as a giant, intractable problem, combining intergenerational dynamics, complex policy tradeoffs, conflicting cultural values, and “personal responsibility” (not to mention genetics). For example, in her book Generation Unbound, Isabel Sawhill says, “If we could return marriage rates to their 1970 level, the child poverty rate would be about 20% lower.” She’s (wisely) not advocating that, because it’s impossible, but think of it — rolling back one of the…

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