You’re Spunky!

Throughout the course of mankind women and girls have been subject to the pressure of social messages instructing and reinforcing them as to how to “do” their gender, and as to how to be real, or true women. These ideals are then repeated or reproduced through their enactments and learned by successive generations with slight modifications accommodating for changes in the times, or namely the economy and politics. Simply put—the ideals of true womanhood are formed, reinforced, and passed down through generations of women.

Society’s expectations of women in regard to feeding, infertility, childbearing, particularly as social attitudes and technologies have changed.

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Psychology, Religion

Wifely Subjection—Mental Health Issues in Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Women

Wifely Subjection: Mental Health Issues in Jehovah’s Witness Women

Kaynor J. Weishaupt, M.S., M.F.C.C.
San Rafael, California
Michael D. Stensland
Athens, Ohio

Abstract

The Watchtower Society, commonly referred to as Jehovah’s Witnesses, exerts a great deal of control over the everyday life of its members. Women, in particular, suffer from psychological stresses in this high-control environment, as it is also a culture where patriarchal attitudes limit women’s personal power and predominate in their relationships with men. A group of women responded to a questionnaire about their experiences during membership in the Watchtower Society and after leaving. The results indicate that while in the Watchtower Society, women experience a higher degree of mental health problems than they do after they leave the group. They also report experiencing more egalitarian attitudes in their relationships with men after exiting the group.

Little research has been done focusing on the experience of women in “high-control” or cultic groups, despite the fact that women make up a large proportion of the membership of such groups. The type of group referred to here as high-control is defined by the degree of control and restriction the group exercises over the everyday life of its membership. Such a group can be focused on religion, politics, militarism, psychotherapy, meditation, commercialism, or simply a “special” leader (Tobias & Lalich, 1994). A high-control group differs from other groups in that individual behavior is excessively limited by rules and regulations, access to information is restricted or managed (especially information critical of the group), pressure is high to conform in thought and behavior to group norms, and members must put the group’s interests before their own. The leadership in this type of group is absolute and considered infallible; outsiders are generally viewed as dangerous or evil; and members leaving the group are generally punished or shunned. While all members of such groups pay a psychological price (as well as reap certain psychological dividends, such as a sense of belonging and purpose), women often face particular difficulties in groups that are patriarchally based.

This article explores the relationship between women and the high-control social climate of the Watchtower Society (WTS), commonly referred to as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The article reviews literature bearing on the Watchtower Society’s control practices and patriarchal organizational structure, analyzes psychological implications of WTS’s social climate, and reports on the results of a survey of 20 female former members of the Watchtower Society. The survey explored three areas: (1) the degree of patriarchal versus egalitarian attitudes subjects felt existed while they were members of WTS compared to what they experienced after having left the group, (2) subjects’ perceived psychological distress while in the group and after exiting, and (3) subjects’ perceptions of the degree to which the group controlled everyday life and isolated members from outsiders. The latter area included a comparison group of women from other religious backgrounds.

The Watchtower Society as a High-Control Group
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@debbieblox Disrupting the Pink Aisle
Culture, Technology

Toys R’ Us and the Power of Pink—or Purple—“when I feel like it”.

In 2006 I wrote a paper about gender in toys, “Toys R Us—Engendering Children Are Us” for my UW Sociology of Family course.

Now it’s 2014 and we’re demolishing gender stereotypes and disrupting the pink aisle…

Sterling realized she was one of the only female engineering majors at Stanford University.

The Story of GoldieBlox | Cassie Jaye from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

“When Debbie Sterling set out to create GoldieBlox engineering toys for girls, she was hoping to sell much more than a product. She was hoping to inspire a movement that could eventually change the gender ratio in the engineering industry,” reports  from the Dallas Business Journal. Continue reading

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Documentation, Ethics, Technology

Microsoft: On Karma and Protecting the Innocent

“Knowing and having faith that the system … that might be one of the additional super powers, that quite frankly, that women who don’t ask for raises have… because that’s good karma. It will come back.”—Nadella, at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference

Publishing today in response to Microsoft’s CEO Nadella’s perspective of the super hero powers of women like me who don’t ask for raises.

Bad Karma Coming Out of the Closet

I treated this situation as confidentially as I could, to the extent possible, as asked, for as long as I possibly could. I think I did pretty well, no?

Photo credit @DotBen “SpunkyGidget at Mix ’06

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Documentation, Ethics, Technology

I never asked for a raise, but I did get sexually harassed at Microsoft.

“Knowing and having faith that the system … that might be one of the additional super powers, that quite frankly, that women who don’t ask for raises have… because that’s good karma. It will come back.”—Nadella, at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference

“I’m absolutely reeling,” said Rachel Sklar, who in 2010 founded Change the Ratio, a group focused on increasing visibility for women in tech. “He put to words the massive fear women have in asking for raises and told them to trust in a system that is proven to be broken.”

Nadella also said he would “not fall for the crutch of the supply-side excuse” of women in tech, and that Microsoft was attempting to improve, despite recently released Microsoft diversity numbers that were similarly dismal to most tech companies. He advised women to be persistent in breaking into the industry.

I wonder what the percentage was when I was at Microsoft?

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Satya Nadella at Anita Borg Institute 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
Technology

Nadella at 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

“It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along…That, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that, quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. Because that’s good karma. It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to. And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up.” — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

I don’t believe in karma—”good karma” has never caught up with me.

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Culture, Documentation, Ethics, Neuroscience, Psychology, Technology

Gender Violence Issues—and a Few Good Men [TED Talk]

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.

Jackson Katz asks a very important question that gets at the root of why sexual abuse, rape and domestic abuse remain a problem: What’s going on with men? Continue reading

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