Tag Archives: Gender

Selfie photo by Julian Gentilezza

Snapchat’s sociologist defends the selfie – but it’s not for the reasons you’d think

In 2010, Nathan Jurgenson was holed up at home in Washington DC writing his PhD thesis when he noticed something strange was happening. Two big snowstorms had hit the city, there had been nearly a metre of snow and DC was in shutdown.

“Everyone was posting these photos of the snow on Facebook. They were using this Hipstermatic app. It made the photos look like they were from the 1960s…full vintage photos.”

Back then Instagram had just launched, Snapchat hadn’t been invented and Hipstermatic was the cool new thing. Phone cameras were basic and the new filters were a great way to enhance images. But Jurgenson wasn’t interested so much in the photography as in the use of nostalgia:

“Why particularly vintage? Out of all the things you could do with a photo?”

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If men were “having it all” they’d be depressed, too!

There are two things I’m a bit sick of in the press this week. The first is the idea that women must pay a price for “having it all”. That’s rubbish. Women don’t pay a price for “having it all”. We pay a price for having to deal with more than our fair share of “it”.

Second, the “money” myth. Of course for many families these days two incomes are necessary to pay the bills/ mortage. But childcare is so expensive, a great number of families will actually benefit – financially – if one partner gives up work.

The truth is, many women continue to work not so much for the money but for a whole host of other reasons: the desire to use a different part of our brains; the desire to keep our skills and knowhow up-to-date; the desire to continue to identify with ourselves in roles as journalists, lawyers, doctors etc; the desire to have many aspects and interests in our lives.

Why is it that women still feel guilty for admitting that actually they might quite like to work over being a “homemaker” day in and day out?

Childcare is wonderful, lovely, rewarding and deeply fulfilling. But it can also be repetitive, boring, frustrating and stressful. There’s a limit to how many bottoms we wish to wipe, meals we wish to cook and arguments we want to have about the amount of toys/ paraphernalia that our beloved little one(s) wants to carry with them every single time we go out. Let alone all that tidying, washing and hoovering!

I’m sure that a lot of women, given the choice, would love to work in a stimulating job PART TIME and get to look after their children the rest.

Why, oh why, is it taking us so long to find a way to make this happen?

I’ve a great deal of sympathy for Allison Pearson, but it wasn’t her desire to have a career and children that was at fault, it was this crazy “system” we’re all expected to cope with.

Photo: Pewari Naan


Today is Ada Lovelace Day and I’m grateful for family planning

And of all the women in science and technology to whom I might be grateful, Marie Stopes (pictured above in her laboratory, 1904) has to come pretty near top of the list.

Stopes (1880-1958) pioneered family planning as we know it today. She was a tireless campaigner for women’s rights and her book, Married Love (1918) shattered taboos on love, sex, marriage and child-rearing.

Although her UK business ran into trouble in the 1980s (the clinic I went to as a teenager no longer exists), today, Marie Stopes International has more than 450 clinics worldwide and has protected millions of couples from unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion.

This year, Ada Lovelace Day takes on a special significance because I’ve been working on the RSA’s initiative to recruit more women members. The programme will officially launch at a glitzy reception next Tuesday (I think it’s sold out but you can always pop your name on the waiting list).

Although the RSA has always welcomed women Fellows (Marie Stopes was one of them), the current female membership stands at just 23 per cent. By celebrating female RSA Fellows in science and technology we hope to raise the RSA’s profile among women just a little bit.

The RSA’s Matthew Taylor and Laura Billings are also due to write posts today. It turns out Matthew is related to Ada so I’m intrigued to see if he says anything!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons