Monthly Archives: October 2010

RAPE DETROIT

detroit-rape-kit-backlog

A yellow t-shirt that reads RAPE DETROIT is currently on exhibit in the stairwell-gallery at The Burton Theatre. Created by multi-media artist and Bad Party vocalist Nate Czarling, “Rape Detroit” is priced at $100. Acquisition of this piece can be made at The Burton Theatre. Their weekend schedule is as follows:

Saturday, October 30

  • Dawn of the Dead: 8:00, 10:20

Sunday, October 31

  • My Year of Flops. Book Reading/Film Presentation/Juggalo Discussion with The AV Club’s Nathan Rabin: 2:00
  • Dawn of the Dead: 6:00, 8:15, 10:30

The Burton Theatre is located at 3420 Cass Ave. in Detroit.

CFP: MASAL Women’s Studies Section

As Chair of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters (MASAL) Women’s Studies Section, I would like to extend a personal invitation to collegiate faculty, graduate and advanced undergraduate students, community organizers, and individuals from research organizations, government agencies and non-profit groups to attend and present at the 2011 MASAL annual meetings to be held on Friday, March 11, 2011 on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan.

Our meeting is an excellent place to present new positions and research on women’s studies. Unlike many large national meetings, the MASAL conference offers a low-stress option to get valuable feedback from local experts. The meeting also provides many of us the opportunities to develop new and rekindle past research and community relationships.

As you are thinking about which conferences to participate in next year, please remember that MASAL is affordable and involves less travel time and expense. While the conference is always held in Michigan on the campus of one of our affiliated institutions, it does draw participation at a national and international level.

The abstract submission deadline is December 23, 2011 and can be submitted electronically on the MASAL website. Please contact me if you have any questions, and pass this communication on to anyone that you think might be interested in the conference.

The Hangover

It is more than apparent in the thoughtful comments spurred by “Scotch, Cigars and Sexism” that sex and gender are important issues to members of our community. This pleases me to no end. We are dealing with something that operates and must be addressed on many levels: philosophical, emotional, statistical, feminist, pragmatic, political, cultural, psychological, and creative-casual. I am humbled that my site will serve as the public archive for this gathering of Detroit-based intellectualism and political consideration. Generating interest has never been so fulfilling.

Having said that, clarifications are in order. Our virtual billow needs to be freed of noise, summarized, and refocused in order for it to be productive as a conversation or have potential as a springboard for change. As we all know, too much scotch can make things blurry.

Before anything else, it must be stated that whether or not there exists a gender imbalance in leadership positions in Detroit’s tech/social media communities is not the question. In fact, it is not even a question. It would be nice if actual research could be published on these numbers, but until then let’s move on to something worth engaging, like, What is the question?

 

Saab Advertisement Playboy Scotch and Cigars TedxDetroit

From your comments emerge four discursive themes, each of which breed a unique set of questions. Clearly dividing these should help further guide our conversation.

  1. Do men intentionally exclude women from professional and platonic personal relationships?
  2. Is there a relationship between one’s gender and whether they are perceived as popular/cool?
  3. The social media community is largely homosocial, but is it perceivedas such?
    1. Does the perception (or lack thereof) of male dominance or the exclusion of women matter? Why and to whom?
  4. Most significantly, does male homosociality in business and social situations matter? Why and to whom?
    1. If it is a problem, is it a problem worth fixing?
    2. If it’s a problem worth fixing, how can it be fixed?

Please know that it is just as important to me to clarify the ideas I myself put forth in “Scotch, Cigars and Sexism,” and certainly will be doing so. Little birdies tell me that my use of words was hurtful and harmful. Please know that I come from a place of self-exploration, truth-seeking, rigerous attempts for honesty, and a genuine desire to make things more comfortable in the world—beginning with my own corner of it.

Scotch, Cigars and Sexism: A Feminist Response to Henry Balanon and His/The Social Network

As I watched “Mark Zuckerberg” repeatedly hit refresh on a laptop that at five years old appeared somewhat archaic, I whipped out my iPhone and tweeted:

The Social Network is the most homosocial shit ever.

David Fincher’s contemptuously sexist telling of the arduously sexist story of Facebook’s genesis is certainly a disappointment worth discussing. However, I am far more concerned with the similarity between the social organization portrayed in the film and the one that shapes so much of my reality: that which I classified as homosocial. Homosociality describes a community that revolves around and is engrossed in same-sex bonding and relationships.

You see, just like the dorm in which Zuckerberg nested, like the fraternity he so desperately wanted to be a part of, like the family he made for himself in the California rental house, and like the glamorous big-money world of Sean Parker, the creative communication field in which I work* is a homosocial mecca. And despite its historically unique intention, motivation, and raison d’être, this exclusionary social configuration is disadventagous to women on levels both personal and professional.

Scotch, Cigars and Sexism

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Last week at TEDxDetroit, my friend Henry Balanon gave an important talk called “Building Relationships Over Scotch and Cigars.” The title of this speech is not a metaphor. It is not a charming projection of mythical, old-fashioned “adult” masculinity. IRL, the male population of my tightly knit Metro Detroit social media community periodically enjoys “scotch and cigars” together. And Balanon’s presentation hit the nail on the board: It is in the intimate space of “scotch and cigars”—the homosocial space—where relationships are formed, be they personal, professional, or creative-casual.

Since I myself enjoy smoking and scotching—not to mention building friendships and exploring new possibilities for vocational and artistic excursions—I was enthusiastic about joining in on a night of “scotch and cigars” as soon as I became aware of their happening, so one evening over some pre-#tweetea banter, I asked a male friend if I could come along to the next scotch/cigar occasion. He was not inclined to extend an invitation.

These men are my friends, and I trust that they enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. So when I am excluded from such a highly regarded bonding ritual, I can only assume that my presence as a woman is somehow inhibitory to the creation of meaningful male-male relationships…and to the creation of “billion dollar companies.”

When I first became active in my regional social mediascape, I immediately observed the dominance of male leadership in/and/of “boys clubs” in the well-intentioned organizations that were forming and collaborating online and off. iDetroit consists of an exclusively male ensemble. Along with Terry Bean and Charlie Curve, Balanon and the men of iDetroit (Hubert Sawyers, III, Adrian Pittman, Brandon Chesnutt, Ken Burbary, David Murray and Damian Rintelmann) come together in various combinations to spearhead nearly every significant social media/technological/entrepreneurial/start-up/etc. event and community formation in Detroit.

I am proud to be friends with these men and support their endeavors to the brink of my personal means. I do not believe they would make a conscious effort to make me feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. Yet at the same time, I cannot shake the haunting feeling of  “no girls allowed.” Nor can I reduce it to political paranoia…

The awkward Harvard students in The Social Network are over-exposed, delicate, castrated, self-castrating, and bitterly beyond-the-point. The distant yet uncritical portrait of Zuckerberg as well as the screenwriter’s inclusion of the inconsequential truth-telling lawyer suggests a similar inhumanity and self-involvement in the films’ creators.

Contrary to the fictionalized Father of Social Media, the men I know are all socially apt, confident, self-aware and outward looking. Nearly all have wives and girlfriends with whom they share a healthy and supportive (or at seemingly so) relationship. This tells me that these men are capable of connecting with the opposite sex in meaningful ways and on both intellectual and emotional levels. Yet statistically inter-sexed relationships are something that remains in the personal realm, and the homosociality that has for so many centuries cock-blocked women from political and economic arenas remains in check. One might argue that male dominance in the public sphere is even mightier today, given that no argument can actually be given against the pretentious grin of neoliberalism.

The homosociality of geek “boys clubs” are something I think about a lot and have been concerned by for a good deal of my life. Despite years of preoccupation (back-burner though it may be), I am too timid to make and defend any statement regarding the reason such blatant gender divisions exist in the here and now. Even in my own head I shy away from constructive philosophical thought about the soft exclusion of women—particularly single women—because I am uncomfortable with the speculations that I make (“and it wasn’t good, because it was in secret”).

I’ve got a pretty nice bottle of scotch on hand if you ever find yourself having similar thoughts or discomforts…

Or…you know…we could always kick it online…

*ocassionally work