Monday, October 28, 2013

Speed Blogging, Monday Oct 28, 2013: On Women Leaning In, Driving and Giving Talks in the Urinal Position

bell hooks writes about the LeanIn movement.  She makes good points about many of the limitations of the LeanIn ideas (their bad fit for women who are not white, upper class or blessed with a wonderful partner, the fact that they leave the corporate frameworks unchallenged, even though the success depends on the receptivity of those very frameworks etc.). 

On the other hand, tackling the problems she spells out is a much more difficult endeavor than the LeanIn emphasis on mostly self-help, especially if we are to address capitalism itself.   -- That comment does not mean that I didn't enjoy reading her analysis of this or that I wouldn't agree on much of it.

Saudi women protest the fact that they are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.  That may be the most famous part of the rigid rules which govern women's lives in that country.  The rest of the oppressive iceberg is submerged, though the article I link to discusses it.  Yet there are a few very small signs of positive changes in the attitudes of government.

Finally, that urinal position.  It cropped up in an internal memo of a Manhattan law firm, intended to teach female employees how to give a good speech.  A lot of it is applicable to anyone giving a speech, which made me wonder why male employees aren't given all that good advice about how to dress and groom themselves or how to prepare their speech and delivery.   Or perhaps they already got their internal memo with lots of good advice?

In this one,  the section on the voice use is all about how the speaker should try to lower her speaking voice ("Your voice is higher than you hear.  Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.)  And there is advice about cleavage and not letting people look up your skirt.

Which sounds pretty conservative and sorta common sense.  Well, except later on the speaker is told not to look like a mortician (If wearing a black suit, wear something bright.).  So all this stuff is extremely complicated and nuanced, whereas nobody would expect that a guy wears something bright with a black suit etc.

The funniest bit in the whole memo is the "urinal position."  It must have something to do with hands as it's in the section about choreographing your hands.  You should watch out for the urinal position!

The dreaded urinal position.  I have a guess on its meaning.  But I doubt it means that this law firm believes that women would otherwise, say, squat, while giving presentations.