sexism

Marketing Monday: Project Unbreakable

Domestic violence is a cause pretty close to my heart, for a mainly selfish reason.

I (at one point) thought I was too smart, too straight-forward, too butt-kicking to be in an abusive relationship. It was years ago since it happened but I still remember the yelling, the put downs, and one fateful night, a shove against a wall. He left the apartment and I felt small and powerless. I remember calling my parents (they were super calm and helpful). I hung up the phone and looked into the darkness, vowing to myself I’d never be there again and, if it were in my power, if I got out of this, I would do everything I could to keep even just one other person out of that situation.

I really appreciate all the work the internet has done, in particular in the last year, to really putting domestic violence, sexism, and harassment out in the open. Because let’s face it, no one starts by just walking up to a woman and hitting her or worse. There is an escalation… and an acceptance that turns into actions.

This video (where a woman is repeatedly harassed while walking in New York City) shows that it doesn’t matter what you wear, where you go, how much education you have, or anything else that we live in a society that treats women as objects: to be looked at, commented on, and even acted on at times.

And while it’s nice to wear purple and donate to charities that support anti-abuse programs, there is something really powerful about sharing your story and showing the world ‘this happened to me too.’ Not only the individual stories but the sheer number of people can produce change, in small and large ways.

This step can affect your friends and family… but most people don’t want to start a whole website about an abusive incident, several incidences, or a relationship. There is power in collecting these stories and sharing them with each other on a website and/or social media account already set aside for the purpose.

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Project Unbreakable has done just that. With their Tumblr blog, website, Twitter account, Instagram account, and Facebook page, they are accepting submissions of photos and sharing them with the world.

What I like is not only can the victims share what their abusers have said (as long or as short a quote as they want), they can also decide whether to show their faces or not.

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In our bite sized, social media world, the message is short and clear. Also women (mainly women are victims anyway), are getting supportive comments through the sharing of their story:

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As a visual share, we are able to connect with victims from identifying with their surroundings to identifying with a phrase, even if it is written in another language (the caption is usually translated into English).



The popularity of this group has allowed it not only to fundraise and grow for itself but has made it visible enough to partner with other websites like Buzzfeed to increase the general awareness of domestic violence.

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And whether submitting directly to Project Unbreakable itself or using the hashtag, people can take part in the message:

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No matter what cause is most dear to you, whether it’s animal rights, the rain forests, or anything else, we’d like to encourage you to not only get involved in the way of donating and volunteering with these organizations but follow them online and help them spread their message by contributing your part to the story. Use a hashtag or submit your idea to the organization itself. Yes you are just one voice but by connecting with others, you are creating powerful forces for good.

Over, Under, And Through: Dealing With Sexism In The Tech Industry

A couple weeks ago, Pax Dickinson got fired from Business Insider very quickly for some very sexist and racist remarks on his Twitter feed. For those of you not coming to this blog for vulgarities, I’ll include this tame one as an example:

paxdickinsontweetIn related but unrelated news, a couple of months ago, Bryan Goldberg launched a website for women which he said was the ‘first of its kind’. He got a lot of flack for implying that he needed to create a website for women. My favorite article from this online magazine aiming to target a smart, interesting, modern female demographic?

bustlearticleUgh.

These, and some other smaller news stories, have stemmed from this subculture of the ‘brogrammer’. This is the idea of a bro who is also a programmer, which as a group have been creating a similarly ridiculous subculture some have compared to Wall Street that women are choosing not to be involved in. (This isn’t just an opinion, there are actually less women in the tech industry then there was in the 1990s.)

Steve Jobs was considered a genius but why don’t we say the same of Marissa Mayer? Can you name any woman in tech besides Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg? (I can’t.)

What can we do about it? Well, you can do what I did and start your own thing. I largely get to stay out of that ‘bro’ subculture since I get to pick my coworkers (men and women who are not sexist). I also get to turn down work with sexist jerks that are potential clients (my female body parts generally scare them off anyway).

In Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which is one of my favorite books ever, she talks about women in the workplace in a general way and it is her advice I follow:

So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work, and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.

If the answer is yes, you have a more difficult road ahead of you. I suggest you model your strategy after the old Sesame Street film piece “Over! Under! Through!” (If you’re under forty you might not remember this film. It taught the concepts of “over, “under,” and “through” by filming toddlers crawling around in an abandoned construction site. They don’t show it anymore because someone has since realized that’s nuts.) If your boss is a jerk, try to find someone above or around your boss who is not a jerk. If you’re lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground—like the rifle range or the car sales total board or the SNL read-through. If so, focus on that.

Again, don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go “Over! Under! Through!” and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing. Don’t care if they like it.

(If you want to read the whole excerpt, just go here. It’s better in a context and it’s not much longer than what I have above.)

So those of us women in industries where we aren’t welcome, let’s go over, around, and through… because this is how things get better. I’ll keep doing my thing and not caring if Pax Dickinson, Bryan Goldberg, or anyone else likes it.