Sunday, October 20, 2013

Race, sexual violence, dating and Game of Thrones

So according to my sister, I committed a redonkulously huge boo boo with my date this weekend
and that I was too naive to tell the guy that I liked him. You should have seen the “NOOOOOO” that came out of her mouth.


[On a side note, all women share their date details with everyone they are close to, even when they say that they will not talk about it. Its pretty much of a known fact]

I went on a date with this MOCs [men of color] and surprisingly sane person [yes, yes stereotyping to highest degree], he seemed really cool and super awesome. We were able to connect and hit it off very quickly. Though one of the things that we passionately disagreed upon was "Game of Thrones" and “Thanksgiving weekend”. Anyways, overall I had a good time with him and after which I told him over text that I liked them and I thought we connected and that I would like to know them more. And its been two days since I heard back from him.

I was of the view that the show was degrading towards women and that it was racist. I am not going to indulge in that aspect of it as there are many people who made very eloquent articles so I will just refer you to them [ref: Aamer Rahman– Game of Tropes]

As for thanksgiving, it basically celebrated a genocidal hero. I mean why the hell we do not have a holiday which celebrates indigenous heroes who fought colonizers or is that too much to ask? If we do not celebrate Hitler's birthday because that would be equivalent to spreading white supremacy and demeaning to Jewish population then why care about “Thanksgiving” which basically demolished a population, made people slaves and so much more.

But thats not the point, the point is I was head strong!

My sister thinks that I came off too strong *I honestly don't know what that means* does that mean that men are scared of women who can actually express their views and who know how to stand their ground and articulate themselves?

Please tell me that I am not crazy for being passionate about my perspectives on sexual violence and racism. I care about it as it affects so many of us, because at the end of the day, the world that we live in is not all white and all male. We do not all enjoy the same privileges. Systemic racism perpetuated in the form of “national holidays” or “favorite TV shows” matter.

He said, “its just a fantasy, you are reading too much into it” and I was like, “I understand that its just a fantasy but obviously its a projection of ideals that authors feel. It is coming from a weird place.”

I don't know maybe I come from a place where I do critically analyze everything and I thought he had his views and he had some mental capacity as well. But I guess I was wrong. I am one of those people who have really high expectations from MOCs [men of colour], it makes my heartache when at the end of the day after being so awesome and amazing, they end up dismissing racism as an important part of our lives.

I write and rage about racism because it is a huge part of my identity. I know its pretty hip to say that we are all “equal” and its all good and love conquers all but its seems like love just failed at the step of “Game of Thrones” * sigh *

My dating advice: Make sure you ask your MoC where he sides on his race politics because as WoC, its important to me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Snap out of it

After listening to the thoughts of bud of mine, I revisited my decision on why I do not blog about mental health.

I guess being brown really does a number on you especially where you do not discuss or even consider any aspect of mental health issue.

I have had Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with acute depression; there was a time when I was on verge of being institutionalized because depression medication increased my suicidal tendencies [one of the side effects] but I had a really great doctor on campus who would call me every morning and check on me and I had amazing amazing girlfriends.

[FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW, ANTI-DEPRESSANT MEDICATION WORK DIFFERENTLY FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE. PLEASE DO NOT CHOOSE MY EXPERIENCE TO BE SIMILAR TO YOURS.]

Though men in my life have never been supportive, I remember getting this from my partner at the time;
                                                                    "just snap out of it" 

I am not sure how you explain to the person who says "snap out of it" when every morning you wake up and stare at ceiling all morning and ask yourself if its a good day to die or if its a good day to have breakfast.
                                                                
                                                                    "its not a big deal"



                           "WEAK PEOPLE TAKE MEDICATION FOR DEPRESSION!!!"

 
The reason I dont necessarily yell about it at the top of my lungs is cos everyone walks through their own issue and they have different things to deal with and most prolly much worse than mine. 


And there are time when my mental health is used against me in my arguments, "oh you just feel it too much cos you are sick". 

And its not the first time I have been told that, I have been told that multiple times by the "Queen Bees" of the activist circles. I was told "I was being too much" and "I was sick and I needed help" when I was advocating for a girl leaving abusive parents.

So yeah, life sucks at times and then you learn to shrug everything off as there is no point in it. Basically reminds me of wise words of one of the people I met this weekend; "there is no place for shame in life..."

Friday, September 27, 2013

A dose of pain and banality

I had a really bad day at work today. A colleague of mine is vacationing in Europe and he sent everyone skype message of how he got sexually assaulted in Serbia.

What ended up happening was a lot of ridicule of him from everyone, of how he was lying and how he must be joking and if it was some new thing.

I am disgusted and depressed right now at work and I had to remove myself from that conversation.

This is not really the first time such disturbing events have happened at my work place. Most of my colleagues are sexist, racist, misogynist and oppressive to different degrees. You don't believe me, check out the blog I wrote earlier.
Shitty workplace
Shitty workplaces
Though, this was a very baffling incident as the whole conversation took over skype amongst 6-7 employees and what ensued as a result was the most disgusting tirade of filth I had ever witnessed. I was being triggered at getting all the pop messages on my work skype. It was agitating me so much that I had to look for the function as to how I could leave a group conversation. 
I just poured myself another mug of coffee and checked my watch for time. I could not wait to leave for home. I like my work but my colleagues do make me feel suffocated at times. The last time I was this suffocated, it was Ramzan and I was fasting and the same person who has issues with my "blue hair" went on THE MOST islamophobic rant. 
And then my supervisor came to me and asked how come I removed myself from conversation. At which point, I said I am not comfortable with people making fun of sexual assault. To which we went completely quiet.
It was not like that I could even complaint it to anyone considering that the company is small and basically everyone was involved in ridiculing this person who just told us that he was raped.
I know tech industry is highly masculine and they are super sexist and misogynist, though the interesting part was that the person who began the whole tirade of making fun of him was this same woman.
I miss working for social justice orgs/groups. I miss working in a place where I did not have to deal with these things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Was Tim Wise hacked?

I am not really sure what happened over today but Tim Wise facebook cropped up with some interesting material so was he hacked or are these his personal messages?!?

This is bizarre or maybe not so much

Oh my, I am sensing another Hugo Schwyzer drama coming up all over again

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Suicide Prevention Week: what happened on my Twitter

Yes, so it was suicide prevention week and well what you know we got to know that my friend's friend committed suicide two days ago. The person in question was suffering mental health issues including depression and other ailments for a long period of time. Though, what followed on his personal facebook wall was an immense level of fuckery which is ironically common amongst Pakistani awam. The most disappointing part was the fact that the woman who went on holier-than-thou bs is also a medical professional.

Check out blog of Andaleeb Rizvi: andaleeb-rizvi.blogspot.com
Either Shazia Nawaz who is apparently a doctor in United States, never learnt ethics during med school or she missed some really important lessons in life.

Outraged by this I posted on twitter especially because this was "Suicide Prevention Week", what we end up getting as a result was a series of garbage [ as usual!!! ]


Yes, please, you are a "BITCH" if you call people out on their fuckery. Pakistani mard hazrat epic way of dealing with things [ and then everyone complains why the hell do I cuss so much ]

Another classic thing from the old misogynist book, giving out beauty tips.. you know after all, all women are their personal door mats because thats how doormats are controlled -_-

And when all the tricks in the book fail, the last thing the problematic assholes come up with are "RACISM" because in Pakistan, racism ain't a big deal especially against a Hindu from across the border.

I am just too fucking tired of this holier-than-thou mindset by our Pakistani garbage because thats what they are... absolute garbage!

Today this disgusting person went on to defend some of the most vile shit said by a woman about a person who committed suicide. He then went on a racist rant against my gal pal, Shivangini, why cos she is from India and then he went on to say that;
                             "Indian men rape whereas Pakistani respect their women"

Yeah you fucking asshole, you and garbage like yourself respect women so much that when they get sexually assaulted, you ask for FOUR MALE WITNESSES to prove their pain and when that is not enough and they make the mistake of approaching and reporting the crime, you THROW THEM IN PRISON ON CHARGES OF ADULTERY.

Thats how you respect WOMEN and thats your hypocritical reality.


Oh and guess what happened after he went on to declare in protecting "Pakistani woman" cos he thought I was from India [ maybe cos I am darker than most people ].

You know, fuck Shazia and her problematic self and the fuckers who support her for her fucked up views.

I am outraged and I question everyone who is not....

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Queerdesi: Requesting help from fellow comrades

Reposting callout from queerdesi:
Lately, I have been the target of malicious actions by individuals who seriously want to destroy my life. This is due to blowback for my support of the Dream 9 action, where some of my friends organized a transnational border action, self-deported to Mexico and brought back 6 other individuals.
In July 2013, after losing my job a day before the bar exam due to what I suspect was punishment for supporting the DREAM 9 action and asking tough questions, I asked for job alerts and donations on my personal website, at which point I was subjected to relentless stalking, harassment and defamation from various persons whom I had never met. My words were taken out of context, cast in a false light and misrepresented; my home address was posted on many forums to intimidate and harass my family; I was accused of committing crimes; all my social media profiles were stalked in an attempt to intimidate and chill my free speech; and I was attacked by various individuals who acted as if I had attacked them. One month later, people are still sending me hate mail and death threats i.e. telling me that they will shoot me at sight. 
We are a newlywed, queer/trans, inter-racial and bi-national family and we sincerely feel and believe that our life is in danger. We do not feel safe in our new home. We have reported the persons involved to the authorities and we are demanding a cease and desist for all defamatory statements. In the meanwhile, you can support my legal and advocacy work with a donation via Paypal to prerna@prernalal.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saint Mary's Frosh Week ... glorifying rape?

Gosh! you gotta love the technology. So in an instagram video which went viral and for very obvious reasons, you can see Saint Mary's University on Frosh Week.. ... *drum rolls*.. glorifying and celebrating rape... you don't believe me, here have a look at it


and if people feel like watching the whole video, they can do so here.

According to CBC, Jared Perry @SMUSAPresident, the student union president, called it an oversight and apologized.

One would think that student union would be heavily involved in monitoring frosh week activities, at least it used to be when I was in executives but oh noes, it was just an "oversight" on part of the executives of Saint Mary's University Student Union... [if you ask me, I am not buying this garbage excuse of "oversight"]

Guess who is Jared Perry;






Does it not feels great that think that chanting "rape" and glamorizing it is basically an "oversight" are doing to be in future part of our legal and political system... *sigh*


Considering the pathetic response and performance of SMUSA so far, we will see how will they enlighten us tomorrow.

This comes not as a shock especially after the counter protests we witnessed in Halifax after the suicide of Rehtaeh Parson who was bullied after being gang raped.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Domestic Violence: When your best efforts are not good enough


This has been quiet a stressful week with us receiving SOS calls from women in distress and leaving abusive households looking for resources.

It was quiet unusual when my friend, Andaleeb ended up narrating back to back incidents of help inquiries she recieved from her networks in the Middle East.

One of the things being that many women who are ended up in Middle East with their husbands do not speak or understand Arabic at all. Saudi Arabia especially being hostile towards women further marginalises women who are partners of migrant workers. Such women have little to no protection in terms of their safety and access to local bodies for ensuring protection in abusive situation.

One woman in question was residing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the only information we were given that her husband [Pakistani citizen] after beating her up has held her hostage.


We were literally freaked out when we came to know about the incident and I immediately sent a call out over the web. The idiot who gave us the information did not provide us with further details but this is the response we got from twitter.
I think I was blown away when Indian Minister, Syed Akbaruddin, Minister of External Affairs, responded to it, as I know for a fact that not many Pakistani Ministers would show such courtesy.
One of the many reasons I love Twitter




Though it was extremely unfortunate that we were not able to reach out to the woman with all the in-tell we collected. The primary reason was the person who came to us with the issue, changed his mind and refused to assist the battered woman any further.
Here were some of his reasonings:


It was extremely depressing at least for me, that after spending all night trying to gather people and resources for this woman and who had a fair chance of being protected and taken to safety. And the only reason we were unable to assist her because one asshole of a guy thought that a safety of a woman, who was crippled with fear who most prolly thought that she had no where to turn to, especially being in such an isolated place, was nothing compared to his best buddy.

This "friend" who chose to protect an abuser and a wife beater and for all we know he might have raped her as well; because he thought it was in his right to do so.

So fuck you, Ali Zaidi and men like you who support and perpetuate the culture of violence.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fleeing Domestic Violence - I wish it was different

Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon of, "we are so sorry to hear that", please DON'T!!

I decided to blog it because separation/divorce is such a huge taboo and our Muslim holier-than-thou community treats divorced women like plaque.

Calling quits on an emotional, financial, psychological abusive relationship is a good thing and not a bad thing. I know coming from the super desi household all women are told to stay in abusive relationships in an unspoken code. Because at the end of the day, marriage is a test from "Allah" and a woman has to go through it no matter what bullshit.... *fumes*

I have not seen God, I am not sure if he really exists but if he did and if he really "loved" or "took care" of his beings. He would not want you to suffer for the sake of his pleasure. He would not want you to be in suffocating unbearable relationships.

At least, thats what I think of God... it was hard for me to walk away from my 11 month old relationship so I can imagine the effort that my mother took to walk away from her 27 year old of pain and abuse.

I am not writing this because the woman I am writing about is my mother. My mother and I rarely agree on everything. In her view, I am too strong and a "free thinker" [whatever that means]

My mother has been scared, stressed out and depressed about the whole thing this time. I try to call her more often and check up on her but she worries about other things. For example, her main reason of worry right now is my youngest sister graduating from her school. She does not realises that she needs energy to take care of herself before she can invest in anyone else and that youngest sister is only 13 and that there is time for everything.

My mother says that she will stick by her decision and do not go back to the same nexus of abuse. But I guess that part is yet to be seen... Though I do remember the way he patronized her by saying that she would have zero support [you know being single, separated/divorced w/ kids, with financial debt caused by an abusive husband] and that everyone will take advantage of her emotional vulnerability.

I don't know how much she is ready to embrace the world on her own and if she realises that being on your own is not the end of the world. But I hope she sticks to her guns...

During this whole time [my mother fleeing her abusive relationship], I have been trying to be objective regarding behavior of my father. But I don't have any sympathy for him. Its not cos the way he behaved with my mother [ and I was the eldest child who witnessed each and every part of it]. Its cos he is abusive and the advocate in me refuses to have any leniency for him.

The other day, my father called me after kicking my other sister out of the house [the super diva one who chose to stay with him]. His grande scheme has been to ask me to return to his house because he has space [I live on my own and I am perfectly happy with my space]. This only arose as now he is feeling lonely. I guess he does not realises that I am not 15 anymore and I am way past his manipulation tactics.

In my short life, I have experienced that "good people" are not necessarily good partners. Some people might be great friends and do a lot of social and community work but they are some of the same people who are worst with their intimate partners. Claiming to have great politics does not makes anyone a great person, unless the politics is not applied into practice.

Divorce/Separation especially in South Asian community is seen as a failure of a woman. It does usually nothing to a man. It is only the woman who gets to be blamed for everything. Because its her "duty" to "make it work".

I wish it was OK for numerous women like my mother to stand up and leave. I wish they had the support they needed. I wish we did not have abuse as normalised practice and we did not use the excuse, "It happens with everyone" or "Its OK!"

I wish it was seen as an end to brutal past and the chapter of a new beginning. I wish it was different..

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dating Violence: Things you need to know


Trust me when I say this, we have all been there. We have come across one person of whom we thought was abusive towards their partner and in my case it was myself at one point. We choose to do nothing about it... well, we thought it was none of our business and in cases where we, ourselves, were in an abusive relationship, we thought that we must have done something wrong.

When I talk about abuse, it doesn't mean that its physical abuse. Its also emotional, psychological and financial abuse [depending on which phase of relationship you are in]. Emotional and psychological abuse leaves deep embedded scars on your emotional and mental health which when treated comes in form of flashbacks.


Today's post is a re-post from "Dating Violence"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It can be pretty exciting when you are in your first relationship. There is love, passion and getting used to another person’s moods and behaviour. If you haven’t dated much, however, it can be hard to know when a relationship is unhealthy.

Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. You may disagree and fight with your partner but there should never be a time when you feel scared for your safety. In a healthy relationship, you are able to work out your disagreements and move on. In a healthy relationship there are more good times than bad times.

Sometimes in a relationship, though, one person may hurt, scare, belittle or demean the person they are dating. This type of unhealthy relationship is called an abusive relationship and the behaviour is called dating violence. Dating violence can happen to people of all races, cultures, incomes, and education levels. It can happen on a first date, or when you are deeply in love. It can happen whether you are young or old, and in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Dating violence is always wrong. Dating violence isn’t only about physical abuse, though. It’s about making you feel bad about yourself, too.

Some signs of an abusive relationship include:
  • Constantly texting or sending instant messages to monitor you
  • Insisting on getting serious very quickly
  • Acting very jealous or bossy
  • Calling you names
  • Making you feel stupid or worthless
  • Posting sexual photos of you online without permission
  • Threatening to hurt you or themselves if you break up
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Any physical abuse like shoving, pushing, hitting, slapping or kicking
  • Unwanted touching and kissing
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Not letting you use birth control
Anyone can be a victim of dating violence but it is never okay for someone to hit you. be cruel to you or make you feel bad about yourself. You may think alcohol or drugs make your partner abusive. Those things may increase the chances of abuse, but they never make it right. You also may think it is your fault that your partner has hurt you but it’s not. Nothing you say, wear, do or think gives anyone the right to hurt you. You don’t control how your partner acts, and you can’t make someone mistreat you.

Abuse in a relationship can happen slowly. At first you might not be sure that what is happening to you is wrong. It may start out by being called names so you feel bad about yourself. But feeling bad is not ok either and often the name calling turns to physical abuse over time.

Most people don’t want to admit or believe that they are in an abusive relationship. You may find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour or thinking that you can handle it. Many teens experiencing dating violence may feel ashamed, depressed, anxious, anxious and confused. You may think that with time, you can change your partner’s hurtful behaviour. That if you change yourself, be “better” or more attentive to them, that they will stop hurting you. This won’t happen. In fact, it’s likely that their behaviour will only get worse.

If you are in a relationship where you feel scared or are being hurt, remember that you are not alone. Try talking to someone you trust. By sharing the secret you are taking the first step in taking care of and protecting yourself. If you’re not sure who to tell, try a teacher, counselor, friend or whom ever you trust. You always have the right to be treated with respect and to feel safe. Always.

Stories of courage: Meet the Supergoats

Repost from Nilendu Ganguly
--------------------------------
 

Few days back, as a billion plus India slept, a handful of tribal girls proudly held aloft a trophy they won in their maiden entry in a football tournament in far-flung Spain.

It was the night of July 13. Hundreds of fire crackers lit the skies as the girls screamed Vande Mataram – their battle cry – for being placed third in the Gasteiz Cup, the world’s best testing ground for teenager football in Victoria Gastiez, also popular as Europe’s Green Capital.





They were the same girls who were slapped, kicked and made to sweep floors by arrogant bureaucrats in Jharkhand when the girls asked for birth certificates, a necessity to apply for passports.

But they eventually managed their passports, thanks to a strapping American, Franz Gastler, who pushed the cases of the girls with mandarins of the Ministry of External Affairs in the Indian Capital.

He was a lone ranger in his efforts.

The girls were lovingly titled the Supergoats by the organizers in Spain the moment they saw the girls playing barefoot in practice matches on arrival.
 

Why?

The girls had limited football gear and could not take the risk of tampering it before the tournament. They were overawed by international teams in the first tournament, the Donosti Cup, but came to their own in the second tournament.

Offering a consolation prize for the third team – winner of a match between losing semi-finalists – was a mere formality for the organizers.

But for the girls, it was a giant leap into global soccer from their impoverished Rukka village near Ranchi, considered one of the world’s epicenters of child marriage and human trafficking.

As soon as the announcement was made for the prize distribution ceremony, the girls rushed into their dressing room and returned, some barefoot, wearing red-bordered white saris, their traditional festive dress. Many had their plastic flowers in their hairs.

And when they huddled together after the mandatory photo session, some wept inconsolably because they had almost given up their hopes to participate in this tournament.

“They were over the moon. It was their night,” said Gastler of the girls, who subsist on less than a dollar a day.

For a country low on soccer, this was - arguably - good news for the mandarins of the game. But no one cared. All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel was not aware of the girls’ superlative achievement, nor was the country’s new sports minister Jitendra Singh.

“We could not sleep that night (July 13),” says Rinky Kumari, 13, captain, Supergoats. Once she bunked her school helped her mother do household chores. Today, thanks to football, everyone knows her name in the village.

She says she remembered the days she was slapped and sweep floors when she went to the Panchayat Office get birth certificates for her passport.

“That is the pain of being a tribal girl in India. I do not remember the slap, I remember the Cup,” says Rinky.

For her, and her teammates, it means a lot.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Labor Rights: Fuck you Tim Hortons

So what does Tim Hortons do when its employees get injured at work, they tell them to suck it up?!?


Apparently franchise owners tell their injured disable employees that they were not injured at work at all, though they are!

Things falling on top of partially-able employees and injuring the person is not considered "injury" by them.

The co-owner told the worker, “You must be having some bone disease.. your fracture is not our responsibility”

The manager and supervisor said,

“If you keep up with this drama, you will be fired....”

“How can you be in pain when I do not see the bleeding”


This incident happened in Mississauga, on Friday 26th after which what this worker received was series of harassment, intimidation and threat from each and every part of the management.

A doctor's note along with X-rays saying that the person is actually "injured" is not considered "injured" by them.

Franchise Owner of TimHortons told this employee: "Your report doesn't matter. You can't make me a fool" .. 

WOW.. just fucking WOW

When all this stressful remarks are not enough, the owners tell the employee: "We have seen this video tape [CCTV footage] 100 times. There is no way it hurt you that much. We are not responsible for it [the injury]."

The worker in question was harassed, intimidated and as a last resort threatened with termination... all of this humiliation and stress because the worker was injured at the workplace.

That was their only fault!

When we have laws in this country which are suppose to protect the labor and ensure them their minimal rights, then why the heck corporations and employers dare to violate them?

The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, age and a number of other grounds. It came into force back in 1985. Since then it has been updated ongoingly.

Another piece of legislation in this area is the Employment Equity Act (EEA), which falls under the Department of Justice Canada. These laws are meant to protect the rights of four “designated groups” in particular: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, and visible minorities.

The Canadian Human Rights Act functions alongside the Employment Equity Act. The major difference between the two is that the CHRA prohibits discrimination in general, whereas the EEA requires employers to use measures that improve employment opportunities for the four designated groups.

If we indeed have these laws and these are the laws in place then how the hell franchise owners of Tim Hortons think that they are above the law?

Why do I have to take the fight to social media and shame the company publicly so that their head office could look into the complaint and call the franchise owners and keep them in check?

Does it means that if some other worker who did not have access to social media and resources and if they were being harassed, threatened and intimidated, they would not be heard?

If social media didn't exist, does it mean that all of these violations would go unheard?

Tim Hortons' Human Resource Department said that all locations are independently owned franchises, then what the heck is their responsibility? Do they not keep their brand name in check or do they just give their brand to the most despicable people who just want to violate minimum rights ensured to us by our legal system?!?

Labor rights activists talk about the sanctity of workers everywhere, its about time, they looked into their own backyard and tried to help out their own people.

Fuck Tim Hortons & their franchise owner who promote violation of ‪#‎laborrights‬ & harass its employees.

Its about time Tim Hortons was unionized!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook, are you leaning in?

I was at BlogHer'13 this year, for those who don't know, BlogHer is one of the largest gathering of women bloggers in North America.

Apart from being one of panelists for International Activists, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of keynote speakers in person, not limited to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

The reason I decided to talk about Sheryl as she claims to be a "feminist" in addition to being a businesswoman. In her keynote at BlogHer'13, she said that she believed that it was indeed possible and that after writing her book, Lean IN, she has indeed changed the discourse of conversation of sexism.

Er... OK... maybe that conversation has changed in corporate tech world... but that conversation has not changed for many at all.

So the night before keynote, I posted a question on different forums asking what would people want me to ask, Sheryl Sandberg, when I meet her. This is one of the responses I received;




These are some of the questions we all have and I am glad that Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer, was able to ask the initial question, during Sandberg's interview.

But most disappointing part was the reply from Sandberg.

According to Sandberg, we
just need to use the "report" button .. Ermmm... WOW ... we didn't know that
part, did we?


I mean it wouldn't be so bad if something actually happened when we clicked the "REPORT" button. 


I ain't sure what Sheryl Sandberg is trying to do but either she is in complete denial or she was just being dismissive. 

I found her keynote to be somewhat disappointing!

I am sure she is trying to champion of women rights in the "new era" but this is not 1930s, when rich white women decided that it was time to stroll out of their tea rooms. This is 2013, we have moved past first-wave feminism, we speak inter-sectionality of gender with race, class, sexuality and cyber space. 


She calls herself quote unquote feminist but what we all heard was a businessman who is a COO of a corporate structure.

After her keynote, we were informed that we will be meeting Sandberg during which we can ask her questions. I was not really happy about the keynote speech and I decided that I will ask her about removal of breast feeding pictures & #fbrape in a bit more detail.

Me: "I wanted to continue the question from your earlier keynote speech, where you were asked about #fbrape.. you mentioned that the we need to just use the report button... but the problem is this is not working.. we know countless incidents where people report consistently and pictures are not taken down.

I am not sure how much you are aware of it because of your position as COO.."


                             SS: "Oh no, I know everything...

Me: "Well, we have not witnessed any change and this is still an issue for a lot of people. Other than that the breast-feeding pictures...I mean this is important.... BlogHer consists of numerous bloggers who are mothers and they blog about motherhood. Breastfeeding ain't a huge issue for me as I ain't a mom but its an issue for a lot of people."

 
SS:"Our
policies are much more stricter than all the other online forums. There are more than 1.5 Billion users of facebook and everyone posts all the things all day every day. We have algorithms which take down a lot of online material. 

There are people who make offensive comments all the time, e.g. there is a group and its about holocaust deniers and I am Jewish and it offends me but we decided to let it stay for the sake of free speech... if such material ends up being there it also gets criticised by other fellow users.... We have made changes and it might not be working where you are [ probably she mentioned that part as I said that I was Pak-Canuck.. *sigh*...]"

Me:... well we do not see any changes. We are part of groups like "Everyday Sexism Project" where numerous users still rage about extremely violent pictures not being taken down...
 


SS: You know if you see anything like that... I will give you a number and you can call it.

She basically did not address any part of breast feeding pictures being taken and no proper answer for violent pictures about women.


In the part of my question, I did give her an opportunity to walk away from the whole thing that she is COO and she might not be aware of all the details, she was pretty insistent that "she knows everything".

I guess then she knows everything. At this point, the number I can directly call has turned into an email address. We will see if it will be any useful in progress.


After her mention, "Everyday Sexism Project have said itself that they have seen changes", I decided to ask Laura Bates if this was indeed true...

"Well yes, in so far as we got a public statement from Facebook that they would change their policy guidelines on domestic violence and rape, and we released a joint statement with the other
#FBrape
coalition members saying that we welcomed that ... but we are still in the process of actually working towards implementing those policy changes to see real change in reality, so it's difficult to say just yet..."

 

I decided to speak with another coalition member who was spearheading the hashtag #fbrape. Soraya Chemaly said;

"Facebook agreed they'd insufficiently recognized gender based hate in applying their own rules. In response to our request, they pledged to review and revise guidelines and to train people which is what we are working in making sure happens in a systematic way. We approved those steps as a commitment in response to our action. Part of their response was to seek our input, which they are doing. The more we learn, the more pragmatic and implementable we hope our recommendations will be."


I mean, I am glad that they are recognizing that there are errors and they are willing to work on it but its far away from leaning in [at least not at this point].


For fun: This is still one of the most dramatic pictures of Sheryl Sandberg and I #BlogHer13

Website last updated 2013