TIME Culture

Brooklyn Rapper Calls Out Catcallers With ‘Aye Girl’ Music Video

“Think you hit my spot? Gee I think not.”

Last month, anti-street harassment group Hollaback released a video of a woman getting catcalled repeatedly while walking the streets of New York. The video sparked a heated conversation, with responses from men who see street harassment as complimentary, and from many people critical of the video’s complicated racial dynamics. A new video from Brooklyn-based rapper Shanthony Exum, a.k.a Miss Eaves, addresses both of these points.

In the video, a white man walks around Brooklyn and dances at a club, barraged with both verbal and physical harassment from women. Exum wrote the song months before Hollaback’s video came out, but she decided to make a video for it in response to the conversation. Of her decision to cast a white actor, she said in an interview with Brokelyn that it “really worked because it starts to change the dialogue about black men being the main perpetrators of sexual harassment.”

The gender reversal is meant to counter the argument Exum says she often hears from men, which is that they would love to receive unsolicited compliments from women. “I wanted to portray in this video,” she said, “that no human regardless of gender would enjoy objectification, unwanted sexualization and harassment.”

TIME Business

Dismantling Tech’s Sexist Culture Isn’t Easy, But Deleting Uber Sure Is

Uber Technologies Inc. Senior Vice President Of Business Emil Michael Interview
Emil Michael, senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nilofer Merchant is an author and speaker based in Silicon Valley, California.

As history has shown, if we wait for those in power in Silicon Valley to do something, we might wait forever

News Monday of car-service company Uber wanting to launch a smear campaign (to the tune of $1 million) against a female journalist should worry you for obvious reasons. In response, actor and Uber investor Ashton Kutcher tweeted “what is so wrong about digging up dirt against a shady journalist?”

Oh, boy. Or, should I say, boys.

We should all be concerned with what’s going on with Uber—not just for what it says about tech, but for what it means for business and culture as a whole. One truism I’ve learned in the last 20 years of being up-close in the tech industry is that as Silicon Valley Companies Do, so Does the Rest of the Industry. From key ideas to key leaders, what happens here in Silicon Valley spreads fast.

Some people have called this latest news just another “clueless” move by inexperienced and young company executives. But that defies evidence of a pattern at play in tech, business and society overall: that women are threatened and oppressed for having an opinion. And perhaps more to the point, that men and their inaction allow this attitude to propagate. “Boys will be boys.”

Both Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the executive involved in the latest scandal, Emil Michael, have been publicly shamed into saying “I’m sorry.” But an apology is not the only thing this situation merits. Michael, as of now, still works for Uber. And the company’s recruitment of top political talent implies that it’s more interested in spinning the news, not changing its ways.

This is not an isolated incident in tech. It’s part of a pattern. Take, for example, Gamergate, a controversy that began earlier this fall of online harassment of women in video gaming culture. Social media attacks, particularly those from website forums 4chan and Reddit, were widely condemned for their sexism and misogyny. Just last month, media critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian became the subject of terrorist threats against her planned lecture at Utah State University, which made international headlines.

And let’s not forget that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said a few weeks ago that it was “good karma” for women to wait for a pay raise, rather than ask, and then suggested some elusive “industry” fix this problem.

Point being, the dynamics in tech are not new, or even unknown. The ‘bro’ culture has just been left unchecked.

Let’s remember, the people “in charge” today could have already made much needed changes. But Uber’s investors and board have chosen to remain silent on the safety of women issue, despite the company’s well-known and widely reported frat-bro culture, as summarized by Elizabeth Plank in Mic:

It’s hard to count all of the ways Uber has degraded, diminished and generally harmed women since its founding in 2009. Whether it’s the CEO openly referring to the company as “Boober,” the company’s chauvinistic ad campaigns, the alleged slut-shaming of female passengers who accused drivers of assault, or the reports that drivers “choked” and even attempted to abduct female passengers, the company has built a reputation for an increasingly problematic and misogynistic management style and culture. And that’s saying something in Silicon Valley.

And, so that begs the question, is this changeable?

Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted for the smear campaign, wrote, “unless forces more powerful than me in the Valley see this latest horror as a wakeup call and decide this is enough, nothing will change.”

She’s right in one way. But I’m not convinced they need to be more powerful than her. People who share in a common purpose need to join forces with her. Because if we wait for “those in power” in Silicon Valley today to do something, we might wait forever.

Rather than waiting for “those in power” to act, we should start with each of us acting. So, today, you should delete your Uber account and put a dent in their estimated annualized billion-dollar revenue stream. In the social era, connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could. Yes, you can be as or more powerful as any top tier venture capitalist by banding together with others in this protest.

Mind you, I’m not limiting this action to women. This is not just a gender issue, but one of human values. It’s about the kind of world you want to live in. Uber counts on your desire for convenience to subsidize its untouchable ‘bro’ culture. That’s a big cost for convenience.

It’s going to take using the power available to each of us to act as one. And if Uber does change its ways because of our collective action, we can always return to them.

Nilofer Merchant’s high-tech business experience spans shipping 100 products, resulting in $18B in revenues. An author of two books on collaborative work, her next one is on how to make your ideas powerful enough to dent the world (Viking, 2016).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

Marvel Is Actually Going to Publish That Sexist Spider-Woman Cover

Spider-Woman #1 Variant Cover by Milo Manara Marvel Comics

But don't worry: The words 'Spider-Woman' are covering her butt, so it's fine, right?

Remember that ludicrously objectified version of the Spider-Woman No. 1 cover from August—the one that made Spider-Woman’s bottom look like an apple? The alternate cover that drew fan outrage is now getting published on Thursday with one major tweak: The words “Spider-Woman” will now cover the offending derriere.

It’s unclear what Marvel hoped to accomplish by the strategic positioning of the title: Perhaps it thought nobody would notice.

Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios have made headlines this year for embracing their female heroes: In July, Marvel Comics revealed that a woman would be taking up the hammer of Thor, and earlier this month the studio announced a Captain Marvel movie slated for 2017, the first female-centric film from the studio. Even the announcement of the Spider-Woman cover at San Diego Comic Con was enthusiastically received by female fans of the comic who were excited that a female character in the Spider-Man universe was getting a big PR bump.

That’s why female fans are particularly disappointed in the company for overly-sexualizing what they hoped would be an empowering female character on the cover. Even worse, artist Milo Manara seems to have based the cover on an erotic image he had drawn earlier in his career of a nude woman lying bottom-up in front of a gang of men. The woman-focused entertainment site, The Mary Sue, even mocked the image with several memes.

Here’s the original image:

Spider-Woman #1 Variant Cover by Milo Manara Marvel Comics
TIME South Korea

South Korea’s Labor Ministry Issued Sexist Job Advice for Women

A jobseeker looks at a board showing job information at an office of the Employment Information Service in Seoul
A job seeker looks at a board showing job information at an office of the Employment Information Service in Seoul on May 11, 2011 Truth Leem—Reuters

You don't mind a bit of sexual harassment, do you ladies?

Women in South Korea were advised by a government website to tell potential employers they do not mind sex jokes in the workplace, had no plans to get married and were willing to take on menial tasks like making coffee.

The statements were among job-interview guidelines posted on a site run by the country’s Labor Ministry, the Korea Herald reports

The post, which incurred the anger of several local advocacy groups and was taken down on Friday, compiled “ideal answers” for potential interview questions.

When a woman was asked about her opinion on sexual harassment, her response should be: “I wouldn’t mind casual jokes about sex and it is sometimes necessary to deal with [sexual harassment] by making a joke in return,” the guidelines stated.

Women were told to say, “I have no interest in getting married for awhile,” even if they did plan to get married, because the ministry said women often quit their jobs after marriage.

And of course no woman should be reluctant to make trips to the pantry. “I will do my very best even if it is just making a single cup of coffee,” is what the ministry told female job seekers to say.

A group of NGOs, including the Korean National Council of Women, denounced the post. “The government is in fact encouraging employers to discriminate against women,” they said in a joint statement.

[Korea Herald]

TIME viral

Watch 10 Hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC

"Hey your worship..."

It wasn’t a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but recently, right here in the streets of New York City that Princess Leia silently walked the streets for ten hours and recorded every catcall, every “Hey Princess….”, every attempt to introduce her to an “aid” named Lobot that was flung at her.

It’s the latest parody of the Hollaback! PSA, which captured the experience of a woman walking the streets of NYC and getting catcalled to raise awareness about street harassment. The spoof manages to be fun to watch without making too light of the original video’s serious message.

As Leia drifted down the street wearing a conservative ankle-length, turtleneck white tunic and simple ear buns, she was called after by everyone from Darth Vader to creepy hooded Jawas to supposed good guy Luke Skywalker and even Boba Fett, who just walked silently along side her for several minutes. While obviously noted sleaze-ball Lando Calrissian hollered at his girl, even Jedi Master Yoda couldn’t help but shout-out to the princess who was just trying to mind her own business (and probably save Alderaan).

 

TIME 2014 Election

Joni Ernst Missed the Real Problem With the Taylor Swift Comparison

Joni Ernst
Republican Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst in Des Moines, Iowa on May 29, 2014. Charlie Neibergall—AP

The problem is not that she was called attractive, it's how people react to that

When video surfaced of a Democratic senator calling her “really attractive,” Senate candidate Joni Ernst took full advantage.

In an appearance on Fox News Monday, the Iowa Republican slammed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, whose seat she’s seeking, for saying in a video that she’s “as good looking as Taylor Swift” but “votes like Michele Bachmann.”

“I think it’s unfortunate that he and many in their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and female,” she said. “I believe if my name had been John Ernst on my resume, then Senator Harkin would not have said those things.”

Ernst is right that there’s a double standard for female politicians, but she’s not quite right about how it works. For one thing, people say male politicians are sexy all the time. In fact, it’s often an argument in favor of their candidacy.

Obama’s sex appeal won him a fan in “Obama Girl,” who made viral YouTube videos about her crush on the then-Presidential candidate in 2008. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) rumored washboard abs were the subject of much speculation during his 2012 Vice Presidential campaign. Scott Brown, who once posed nude for Cosmopolitan, was the subject of a 2010 New York Times column called “Bringing Sexy Back.” John Edwards was voted People Magazine’s “Sexiest Politician” of 2000.

It’s not a recent phenomenon either. Some historians argue that JFK won the presidency in 1960 because he looked more handsome than Nixon during the televised Nixon-Kennedy debate.

But while attractiveness is a political asset for male politicians, it’s a liability for women.

A 2010 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that when female job applicants included a photo with their resumes, more attractive women were less likely to get hired than plainer ones. But references to physical appearance of any kind, flattering or insulting, can hurt a female candidate.

“When [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said during the Real Simple/TIME event on Women and Success on Oct 1. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

That’s why comments about female politicians’ looks are seen as gaffes, while comments on men’s looks are considered funny and flattering.

Earlier this year, Gillibrand revealed in her book that she had been called “porky” and “chubby” by fellow Senators. Last year, Obama apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris after he commented that she was the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” Before he was defeated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012, then-Sen. Scott Brown responded to Warren’s comment that she didn’t have to take off her clothes to pay for college (a dig at Brown’s nude photo shoot) with an insulting “thank God.” And in 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Gillibrand the “hottest member” of the Senate, while she was sitting only a few feet away. Each of these comments created a minor scandal, and sparked debate about whether the female politicians were being “taken seriously.”

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of this. The former beauty queen-turned politician became a living punchline, thanks in part to her “sexy librarian hair” and resemblance to SNL comic Tina Fey.

So the problem with Harkin’s remarks isn’t that he wouldn’t have made them about a hypothetical John Ernst. The problem is that they would be seen as a problem for the real Joni Ernst.

TIME video

Here’s What It’s Like to Walk the Streets of NYC as a White Man, According to Funny or Die

Hint: a lot of high-fives are involved

10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man – watch more funny videos

On Tuesday, the anti-street harassment activist group Hollaback released a video of a young woman walking around New York City for a day, experiencing more than a hundred instances of harassment from men. Now, Funny or Die shows us the other side of the coin: what it’s like to walk the city streets as a white man.

The video serves as a reminder that the flip side of sexism is privilege, and as the video’s ample footballs and high-fives suggest, a very bro-tastic kind of privilege, indeed.

While the parody will ring true to any white man who’s fully aware of the privilege his sex and race afford him, it’s important to remember that not everyone’s in on the joke. Following the virality of Hollaback’s video, the woman in the video received rape threats, which serve only as further proof that efforts like Hollaback’s are sorely needed.

TIME harassment

The Woman in That Viral Street Harassment Video Got Death and Rape Threats

Hollaback!

The video has more than 8.1 million views on YouTube and over 42,000 comments

A woman featured in a video that showed her being harassed as walked the streets of New York City has received at least 10 death and rape threats since the video went viral.

Some of the threats have gone directly to Shoshanna Roberts’ personal email accounts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The video, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” had over 8.1 million views on YouTube as of late Wednesday afternoon, and many derogatory comments—including one that says “this is exactly why women aren’t supposed to leave the kitchen.”

Despite the backlash, the video, which was created by the anti-street harassment organization “Hollaback!”, has become the latest fodder in an ongoing conversation about street harassment. You can see the video below.

TIME feminism

Seriously? This Is What Passes for Feminism in America

Karin Agness is the Founder and President of the Network of enlightened Women.

Stunts like young girls yelling the F-word get attention. Sadly, that is what much of feminism has been reduced to

On Tuesday, I listened to Malala Yousafzai speak at the Forbes Under 30 Summit on her work fighting for girls’ education. Malala was shot in the head on October 9, 2012, by the Taliban for her outspoken views. She survived. But many girls don’t.

She has become a public figure, fighting for education for girls. Appropriately, she learned that she won the Nobel Peace Prize this year while in class. Her courage and grace are inspiring.

Today, I returned home to the so-called “war on women” in America. The latest antic? Apparel company FCKH8 posted a video of young girls dressed as princesses using the F-word and gesturing with their middle fingers to try to bring attention to sexism. It’s uncomfortable to watch—not in the sense that it causes viewers to rethink long-held beliefs, but because it’s a cheap ploy. Toward the end, two adults appear hawking “This is what a feminist looks like” and “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights” t-shirts. The video ends with a young girl saying, “Swear jar? I don’t give a f**k.” This isn’t courageous or graceful.

This for-profit t-shirt company recognizes that young girls yelling the F-word gets attention. And sadly, that is what much of feminism has been reduced to today—nothing more than offensive, crude attempts to draw attention away from the real issues.

Take equal pay. In the video, the girls recite the tired and debunked statistic that women supposedly make only 77 cents for each dollar that men make. Using the number this way has been discredited by people across the political spectrum, including Hanna Rosin, writer and author of The End of Men.

The problem is that this FCKH8 effort isn’t an outlier in feminism in America today. Comedian Sarah Silverman starred in a video as a woman who decided to get a sex change operation because she would supposedly get paid more as a man. What? This was an effort to raise money for the National Women’s Law Center, which “has worked for 40 years to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives—from education to employment to retirement security, and everything in between.” Maybe this silly ad helped them raise money, but wouldn’t a serious attempt have been better for women?

The battles that women and girls like Malala are fighting each and every day make the so-called “war on women” in America appear laughable. In some parts of the world, women would give about anything to be able to go to school. And some give it all. These women probably can’t even imagine testifying before Congress to try to get their university to pay for birth control and then turning that fame into a political candidacy.

It’s no wonder that only 20% of Americans self-identify as feminists, according to a Huffington Post/YouGov poll.

The FCKH8 “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause” is the latest example of feminism gone wrong in America. Feminists should start using their words, including the F-word, more wisely, because what they say could benefit women around the world.

Karin Agness is the Founder and President of the Network of enlightened Women.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2014 Election

New Hampshire Republican Disfigures Senate Race with Sexist Blog

"Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?"

What is going on in New Hampshire? You’d think the state with the first-in-history all female delegation—both senators, both House members and the governor—would be more enlightened, or at least more sensitive, when it comes to female candidates.

First, State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican, wrote a blog post that sounds more like it was written by a blog troll, than an actual author. In it he compares the looks of the two candidates for New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District: incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster and challenger Marilinda Garcia, a 32-year-old Republican. He goes so far to call Kuster, a 58-year-old mother of two, a drag queen.

How attractive is Marilinda Garcia? You know how opposition ad makers usually go out of their way to find a photo of the opponent not looking his or her best. Well…Democrats and Annie Kuster supporters can’t seem to find a photo of Marilinda Garcia looking bad at all.

As for Annie….oh as for Annie…and before I continue, I offer that caution, caution, caution, gain [sic].
Let’s be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.
If looks really matter and if this race is at all close, give a decided edge to Marilinda Garcia.
Unlike Vaillancourt, New Hampshirites don’t seem to judge their candidates by appearance since Kuster is ahead in most polls and the non-partisan Cook Political Report has the seat “leaning Democratic.” Garcia, of course, put out a statement disavowing Vaillancourt’s remarks:
“State Rep. Vaillancourt’s recent comments about Rep. Ann Kuster are sexist and have absolutely no place in political discourse. Both Rep. Kuster and I have experienced this unfortunate reality of being a woman in politics. I hope that as time moves forward and more female candidates run for political office around the country, people will focus on the content of our ideas rather than what we wear and how we look.”
Then former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who is challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for her seat, proved definitively that alcohol, college kids, politics and cameras are a toxic mix for any candidate. According to a video posted by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Brown had to ignore lewd and sexist heckling about his opponent and Elizabeth Warren, to whom Brown lost his Massachusetts Senate seat in 2012.
Brown appeared not to hear repeated shouts of “F**k Jeanne Shaheen!” “Elizabeth Warren sucks!” and “F**k her right in the p***y!” Apparently, there’s clearly something in the water in New Hampshire.

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