Our liberation as men is tied to yours as women

Jordan Stephens

It was during a Christmas lunch at Pie & Ale, Rachel Wise pointed me towards a post in the Guardian and short video from Jordan Stephens.  Well worth watching and reading. Here’s one of the key parts…

It’s our responsibility as we become adults to acknowledge this pain and gain compassion for ourselves and acceptance of others. But for men in particular, when the patriarchy says that it’s OK to grab a woman’s ass, or tell her what to do, or watch too much porn or deny her space – and you accept this as a way of treating another human being – you deny yourself the opportunity to understand why you desired that comfort of power in the first place. The ego wants dominance and control. And the male ego is currently everywhere.

As far as I can see, this toxic notion of masculinity is being championed by men who are so terrified of confronting any trauma experienced as children that they choose to project that torture on to the lives of others rather than themselves.

What’s even more upsetting is that often when men allow themselves to feel this pain, it’s so new to them that they kill themselves. We live in a society where men feel safer killing themselves than acknowledging pain. Accepting the patriarchy from a place of false benefit will prevent you from ever truly loving yourself or understanding others. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have loved your mum and dad growing up. It’s OK to have missed them or wanted more affection. It’s OK to take a moment when you’re reminded of these truths. When you allow your brain to access these emotions, it knows exactly what to do. So nurture yourself. Talk honestly to the people around you, and welcome the notion of understanding them more than you have ever done before.

This is something I’ve written about a few times in previous posts.
I always refer back to Tony Porters talk

“My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman”

Loving man seeking woman

Man seeking woman

There is a new TV series on FX man seeking woman.

Man Seeking Woman is an American television comedy series that premiered on January 14, 2015, on FXX. The series is based on a book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, by Simon Rich, who is also the series creator, executive producer, and showrunner.

Its worth watching as its got such great pieces throughout. For example when our unlikely hero is finally in a relationship, he is tempted back into singleton by alien women from the planet of sex. Then later, his friend gives him a tour of his future while he’s dressed in prison clothes. They go for a ride prison ride into suburbia, where they witness a man bbqing big flat mushrooms instead of meat.

Its all fun  and games and worth watching…

The confessions/mistakes of a serial dater?


I was reading this piece in the guardian written by Twist Phelan about the amount of dates she went on.

I was a dating novice. I’d recently emerged from a 20-year marriage, and the last time I’d been single the dating landscape was totally different. I’d moved to Denver and didn’t know a soul, so my cousin Erin signed me up to a dating website to help me meet people. I’m the sort of person who does nothing by halves, so to really throw myself into the singles scene, I set myself a challenge: 100 dates in 100 days.

This is very similar to me. When I became a divorcee after 4.5 years, I also moved to another city (Manchester). The Dating landscape had moved on quite a bit and I found it difficult to grok at first but I just rolled with it (throw myself into it). However I didn’t set myself a challenge, I just saw how it went.

It became a full-time job just wading through them, sifting out the weirdos and identifying the contenders. I didn’t start dating immediately; I had a strict protocol. First we would exchange emails, then talk on the phone for a few weeks, and only after I had gauged that he sounded genuinely interesting would I arrange a date.

I was sending out a lot of replies to woman who I thought were interesting or I could see myself liking. At the start there was a lot of matches and to be fair I was lucky I discovered OkCupid and Plenty of Fish (Fun) early on so it wasn’t costing me anything to contact them. It was over time that I became much more picky (rightly or wrongly). But I can identify with the exchange emails a few times before going out. I did have quite a few woman who were interested in just meeting up (mainly on pof) but I wasn’t so keen. Funny enough the talking on the phone part never really happened, yes text but not really calling and talking.

I decided always to use the same restaurant; it seemed sensible to be somewhere familiar while meeting a stranger, so to avoid the waiters thinking I was the world’s oldest hooker, I let them know what I was doing and booked the same table each time – table 14. They were lovely, and would give me secret thumbs-up or down to signal whether they thought a date was going well.

Yes I made that same mistake too many times. When I first moved to Manchester I lived in Deansgate Locks and meet woman there too. I was far too regular in the pitcher and piano, rain bar and knott bar. Then when I moved to northern quarter, I booked far too many of my dates in at Simple. I wasn’t double or triple dating on the same day like this woman but a couple times a week and before you know it the waiters are looking at you funny.

I met some fascinating people – rocket scientists, playwrights – and went to amazing places, including Paris for lunch, with me flying the jet. I never grew bored of my endless dates – if I didn’t feel in the mood at the start of the day, I perked up by the time I was brushing my hair: this one might be “the one”.

Yes I’ve met some lovely people, some are still friends or I will never see again. Doctors, nurses, musician, bar staff, personal assistants, designers, writers, a chinese restaurant owner, illustrator, developers, a architect, etc.

I didn’t feel sad that I hadn’t found love – I’d had a brilliant time, Denver had become my home and I’d made six very close friends, including the architect who remodelled my house.

Angie asked me the other day, why don’t I go for one of those dating experts which will match me with a bunch of people they recommend. I thought about it and said pretty much the same thing. I was having a great time, gain some great friends and heck a talented architect remodelled my living room!

Ok I have threaten myself to one day write a book about my experiences because some of them are shocking but I don’t think I will because unless your dating 1 person a week or 100 dates in a 100 days, no one will care. It recently has turned into a challenge of how many or how quickly. Thats not me, I’ve become a lot more choosy and I don’t see this as a game. Maybe one day I’ll tell my story but it will be one of many as this is just the way people date in the new millennium.

Woman speakers at conferences

I had the pleasure of attending the one day barcamp nicknamed bracamp… It was a interesting take on a barcamp and although I signed up originally because Laura was a sponsor, decided to go ahead when  Hwayoung said she’ll invite me (you know the rules of girl geekdinners, woman can only invite a guy)

Anyhow I ran a session talking about a number of things including what is a geek… Somewhere in the running order I attended something which got me speaking up about woman speakers.

I know this has been all over the news about what happened in a conferences in the states but I wanted to echo Samantha’s thoughts

Diversity in tech is good. And not just for the sake of it, but because we need. more. techies.

I won’t disagree, but its not just techies we need… We need people who think differently…

There are two reasons why a diverse audience and speakers should be at least somewhere halfway down the agenda of any conference or panel discussion: First, diverse speakers represent a diverse audience, making minorities feel more welcome, thus potentially helping with increasing participation. Second, speakers from a different background might (might!) bring a different point of view to the conference, which helps making talks and panels a lot more interesting.

Yes it was a great idea having the girl geeks in residence at BarCampMediaCity and really worked for that event. I won’t lie, its good to see more people like yourself around and at Tech events its usually very bad.

In my opinion, at least “being aware of the issue” and making some effort is okay. If it turns out that no woman submitted a proposal and all the female speakers you’ve asked decline the offer, well, that’s bad luck.
digging for diversity can also be frustrating. It’s incredibly hard to convince non-white-males-aged between 25 and 35 to attend any ‘mixed’ event.

Yes I have felt this first hand.

I ran a series of event and for one of the last ones before it ended. One of them was a ignite style event. As you can see all the speakers are male but I tried to balance the speakers with women. I sent emails out and spoke to many woman about taking one of the spots. I must have contacted about 20+ woman for a couple places in the line up. I have the emails if anyone wants to do a freedom of information request on me (go ahead).

I even lost my cool a tiny bit with one (sorry to say and I did apologise moments later) who I know very well and knew could easily do it with a bit of a push, so I gave her a bit of psychological big up and even that didn’t work. I was willing to spend time with the lady in question to make sure she felt comfortable and happy about everything (because it would be the right thing to do), I think I need to find another way to encourage woman to get involved in future.

Any thoughts? I’m all ears… as always!

Olympics woman’s football: Canada vs Team USA

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

Congrats to the Woman’s Team of USA, as they won the London 2012 Olympics football.

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

I had the pleasure of watching Canada vs Team USA in Manchester Utd’s Old Trafford stadium.

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

Thrilling game ended in the last minute of extra time 4 goals to 3.

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

I was cheering for Canada but what surprised me was how dirty this football match was. Quite a few tackles were missed and I’m really surprised no one got sent off.

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

It was a excellent experience and I finally got a chance to see Old Trafford from the inside. Good stuff for £20 and a seat with no leg room. Really felt like London 2012 Olympics was a good thing that day…

On your first date? The man must pay?

::Throughout life you will meet one person who is like no other,,, ::

I was in a meeting today with 3 female collages (I won’t say which ones for now) about BarCampMediaCity and somewhere along the conversation we got talking about my love life… don’t ask me how we got there but something happened…

One of the ladies said something about first dates and I replied saying I’ve got some crazy experiences over the last few years I’ve been dating. We had a brief chat and somewhere along the conversation she said something which I had to unpick.

It came about that she believed that on the first date, men should always pay for the meal.

I was shocked! Like totally dumbfounded…

So shocked I had to pose the question on twitter… a few people replied including my sister and very good friend.

I can’t believe in 2011 we still have these old fashioned views. I was under the illusion that woman had moved on and wasn’t buying all this chauvinistic crap. I was also under the illusion that insisting to pay for the whole dinner put the woman in a difficult position, like you owe the man something.

It turns out I might have been wrong all this time.

But to be honest, I say rubbish… This sounds like something straight out of the rules.

I might be wrong but I certainly like to think the woman I go out with are not bound by such frankly stupid ideology. Its 2011 for goodness sake! I can make a lady feel better in much better ways than paying for her meal. I mean, come on… Is she meant to be grateful that I unimaginatively paid for her meal instead of something creative and from the soul?

Just because I don’t pay for the whole meal doesn’t mean I’m not into you, maybe I respect you so much that I’m not going to undermine you by paying for the whole bill. I understand you have a great job and would like to share the bill with me also out of respect…

Maybe in there lies my problem, I show too much respect for woman and I should also adopt this chauvinistic take? To be fair its worked for lots of my other friends but I deep down like to think the woman who I end up growing old with (in the end) is smart enough to see through this crap and is happy to take her own path and make her up her own mind. Not be pressured by this old fashioned legacy…

What do other people think? Should I cover the costs of all the dates I go on? It certainly will restrict how many dates I will go (time to loose the serial dater tag then) on in the future if so…

Lastly this is certainly something for the 2nd season of geeks talk sexy… Maybe its time to start thinking about it

Continue reading “On your first date? The man must pay?”

Women at a overnight barcamp?

Suzanne Valadon Blogging, after Lautrec

Everytime we’ve tried to accommodate woman at previous BarCamp, we’ve been told “don’t treat us any different.”

It wasn’t till BarCampManchester2 when Lucy really made her feelings known about woman staying over night at a BarCamp. Up till that point it hasn’t really been a problem, but the idea of staying over seemed so shocking that even I was surprised. Fast forward to this month and Samantha convinces me that having a contact for woman to get in touch to ask questions about staying over makes sense to me. To be fair I didn’t take much convincing, it made sense to me for capturing a new groups of woman who might be put off

However in Techgrumps 39 last night, Iris seems pretty upset about the idea of woman staying over night at a event with men. It might have been her lack of experience ever going to a barcamp or the bad description we explained the concept of barcamp with… But then Samantha send me the recent blog post of Tim Oreilly.

We’ve been contacted recently about issues of sexual harassment at technical conferences, including at Oscon, which starts tomorrow in Portland. At O’Reilly we take those issues very seriously. While we’re still trying to understand exactly what might have happened at Oscon or other O’Reilly conferences in the past, it’s become clear that this is a real, long-standing issue in the technical community. And we do know this: we don’t condone harassment or offensive behavior, at our conferences or anywhere. It’s counter to our company values. More importantly, it’s counter to our values as human beings.

I’m starting to wonder if I was too easy going about this all, and actually I’ve just been lucky that nothing like this has ever happened while I’ve arranged things.

BarCampMediaCity has some fantastic facilities including multiple toilets, changing rooms and even showers. It would be a real shame if people didn’t take full advantage.

Claudia Winkleman hosts Film 2010, hold back the sexist stereotypes

From Den of Geek’s Claudia Winkleman vs the People.

Claudia Winkleman is a sexy woman. Some male nerds are uncomfortable around sexy women. Some women certainly don’t like or trust other sexy women. A lot of people, both male and female, indulge in nerdy pursuits to escape from the pressures and perils of dealing with the opposite sex and sexuality itself. If you then unbalance that equation with some misjudged sex appeal they get confused and angry, like at the impossibly perfect models who present shows about Starcraft on Anerican videogame websites, or at the sexy Spock who snogs Uhura (not logical, apparently).

I’m actually not that much of fan of Claudia Winkleman but I got to say there is something very sinister (hinging on sexist) running through the criticism of why she shouldn’t be hosting BBC’s Film 2010 show. I actually thought you she did alright and after the shock of seeing her on the show (I just happen to have the TV on and was expecting Jonathan Ross) I did check out some of the comments across twitter and the blogs (not singling anyone out except the Daily Mail). But alas Den of geek hits the issue where I’m thinking.

Let me be clear about something: I’m not saying that if you are male, and you don’t like Claudia Winkleman, then it would follow that you are a raging sexist powered by the heady combination of hatred, lust and jealousy. What I would argue that it is a combination of her femininity (she’s the opposite of a tomboy like, say, Emily Booth), attractiveness, and track record on reality shows that makes her so unpalatable to many male viewers.

Gabby Logan and Emily Booth both had to prove themselves up to the task by being better informed and better presenters than the majority of their male counterparts, and this is the area where Winkleman is ultimately going to live or die – is her film knowledge up to scratch?

It a sad fact but yes you need to be better that your counterparts. You almost have to shock your counterparts into believing you are amazing. The recent character assassination of Claudia Winkleman has got me thinking about woman geeks again. Of course we are going to explore this at a much deeper level at the series of talks we got setup starting with geeks talk sexy on 19th November at Madlab.

But a geek very much respect for her frank thinking and amazing insight is Tara Hunt, whos been thinking a lot more about her personality in the context of the Facebook movie.

If I had a penis and was 10-15 years younger, there would probably be a movie about me, too. But I’m not. I’m a woman who has been told since she was a young girl that she needs to be quieter, more humble, more demure, more agreeable, more attractive, less outspoken, less ambitious, less aggressive and more ‘woman’-like. I was highly unpopular growing up because I didn’t feel the need to fit a mould. I learnt as soon as I did fit a mould, I was rewarded. I got the academic awards and accolades? I was ostracized + called a show-off. Nobody wanted to be my friend. When I slacked off, dressed pretty and laughed at the boys stupid jokes? I was popular! This didn’t change in adult life, either (don’t even get me started on how dating advice on how a woman ‘should act’ fits into this whole mess)

There will be lots more of this type of analysis at Geeks talk sexy… But for now its worth saying there is something sinister, I’m also saying its not all out sexism but there is certainly a need to change the script.

Its Ladies night

The Big Bang Theory

Always interesting to read Miss Geeky’s thoughts on woman in technology. She’s been thinking about a Ladies night at a Comic Store in Nova Scotia. Generally she says in the post, I wish we didn’t need things like Ladies Night to make it *not* intimidating for woman. But its the examples which I find really interesting…

Since moving to London, I’ve visited the Forbidden Planet tons of times. I love the place, it’s filled with wonderful geeky delights, and if I could I’d buy everything that caught my eye. And yet… almost every single time I go there by myself I get hit on. Okay, I kind of get that (geek store, geeky girl, chances of possible perfect match increases). But half of the time they open with something along the lines of whether I ”needed help in finding a present” or something else that completely neglects the fact that I might be there for myself. The thing is it almost always happens when I’m browsing the comics. If I’m at any other part of the store (like the fantasy/scifi books section or the manga section) that type of stuff doesn’t happen. It’s as if most geeks have accepted that girls are into geeky things, like fantasy and manga, but comics… then it’s suddenly “you don’t belong here”.

Seriously, guys? Why assume straightaway that a girl doesn’t belong there? I thought that by now it should be obvious for guy geeks that the geek girl does exist, but it’s moments like I’ve described above that some guys are completely oblivious to that fact. And it’s those guys that are making it difficult for new geeky girls to feel comfortable with being a geek and going to places like comic stores. I know there are tons of guys out there who do understand and don’t make stupid remarks like those above to girls, but it’s that small oblivious group that do that mess it up for everyone.

Its always the subtle stuff which does the damage I find. I’m not pointing fingers but I wonder if media like the Big Bang Theory and IT Crowd are doing much to counter this problem?

A Rant About Women by Clay Shirky

A Pensive Clay Shirky

If you’ve not been following the heat/blowback from Clay Shirky’s rant about woman then its worth reading and following some of the strongly formatted comments which follow.

Personally I see what Clay is trying to say, but I don’t think its written as elegantly as he was thinking. That or he’d felt like causing a bit of a storm on the internet for a while. I wanted to pick up on two comments which sum up my thoughts…

Simon St.Laurent says:

There are two basic problems with this piece.

First, telling other people that the way to fix their problems is by being more like you is rarely a good strategy. It might work one-on-one occasionally, but the larger the cultural boundary this approach tries to cross, the less likely it is to produce much besides sparks.

Second, the behavior prescribed is behavior that a lot of us – men included – would like to see reduced rather than increased, punished rather than rewarded. That the first two examples both involved telling lies, however white they might seem from this perspective, doesn’t help make the case.

Stepping back and asking about how people listen seems to me a lot more likely to work than telling people they need to change how they talk.

There is a certainly amount of arrogance is asking someone to be more like yourself… I certainly don’t like it.

Marcus Brody says:

You’ve got the problem backwards. It isn’t that more women (and men) should act like hierarchical assholes, it’s that those assessing performance shouldn’t be so lazy that they only notice assholes. Your argument boils down to: people who assess performance are lazy and don’t bother to think critically so they are easily swayed by false aggrandizement. If you want to change the assessors opinions you should lie because the assessors don’t put in the effort to tell the difference between falsehoods and reality.

And you know what, most assessors are lazy, so lying does pay off. The call to action, though, shouldn’t be for more lying, but rather, less indolence on the part of those who are in a position to judge others.

Unfortunately for Clay, your starting to see this type of headline come up – Shirky: Women Need to Strap On Some Balls . Geez, wonder how long it took to create that headline…