This article was published on February 24, 2020

Byte Me #12: Lost IUDs, Jess Bezos, and a hidden vagenda

Byte Me #12: Lost IUDs, Jess Bezos, and a hidden vagenda
Cara Curtis
Story by

Cara Curtis

Former TNW writer

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Welcome back to Byte Me, our feminist newsletter that makes everyone mad <3

Some updates from us you certainly didn’t ask for: Cara went through some uterus troubles when she thought her vagina swallowed her IUD — turns out, it just wandered around a little too much, so all is well. Anouk continues to shine as publisher, but her usual hair-removal studio went bankrupt, so now she’ll be a hairy puss forever. Gigi found out she has IBS, which explains why her stomach is chronically in pain, gassy, and making noises, but that means she’ll likely have to cut back on gluten and dairy, which she’s not pleased about.

[Also read our previous issue: Byte Me #11: The Naked Philanthropist, brofanity, and muff candles]

Each month, our gloriously gifted designer, Saïna, illustrates a weird comment or tweet we receive from one of TNW’s funny (or just misogynistic) readers. We didn’t hear from too many incels this month (sad), but we did find out our Twitter account has been attracting a lot of attention from the annoyed dental community?

… here’s Saïna’s artistic interpretation:

Not to brag, but every month we get numerous shows of admiration from people writing in or tweeting to tell us how much they love this newsletter, and by extension, us. Shout out to Sebastiaan and Emma <3 We agree that we’re great, but we still love to hear it. Now onto the news!

the bloody news

  • The Guardian wrote about the eco gender gap, which sees the responsibility to save the planet as ‘women’s work.’
  • Filmmaker Brit Marling wrote an op-ed for The New York Times: “I don’t want to be the strong female lead.”
  • 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon created one of the biggest dances on the internet — she’s only just getting the recognition she deserves now. (NYT)
  • South China Morning Post Magazine wrote about the realities of being transgender in rural China.
  • Rebecca Black wrote an op-ed piece about what she learned as a target of internet hate at just 13-years-old after releasing viral single, ‘Friday.’ (NBC)
  • The New York Times wrote about how sex scenes in movies are evolving for the #MeToo era, with studios and theaters hiring intimacy coordinators to help actors.Plot twist: they’re also making the scenes sexier.
  • The Verge interviewed Susan Fowler, author of Whistleblower, about the sexual harassment and sexism she faced at Uber while working as a developer. You can read her original blog post about sexism at Uber from 2017 here.
  • CCCBLAB: Sci-fi has long been seen as a male-dominated literary genre. But the person responsible for sci-fi’s 20th-century renewal was James Tiptree Jr. — the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon.
  • The latest from Code Word: A recent study found that 1 in 10 Americans admitted to using ‘stalkerware’ to monitor their partners. Healthy!
  • Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the star of Uganda’s Queen of Katwe, has died at age 15. (BBC)
  • Christina Koch returned to Earth after a year in space — breaking the US record for the longest spaceflight performed by a woman. Not to mention the other record she broke after performing an all-women spacewalk on the same trip. But women can’t be astronauts, their periods will get in the way!
  • The Verge found out r/FemaleDatingStrategy’s weirdly conservative dating advice for women is not the healthiest. Since when is Reddit toxic for women???

that’s what she said: How should we ‘remember’ problematic people?

Because we’re all magical and unique snowflakes who don’t always agree on feminist issues — and subsequently feel like we’re “bad” women — we’re going to discuss something we found online in each newsletter.

For this month’s that’s what she said, we’re discussing how we should remember problematic people. We’ve linked to our full discussion here, and included the TL;DR below:

Georgina: Today we’re talking about public mourning, and how to treat the deaths of figures with problematic pasts. Do we focus on only the great things they did and contributed, or do we look at the full picture? A recent example, of course, is Kobe Bryant.

Anouk: I always feel a bit uncomfortable about HUGE outcries of sadness and mourning on social media after a public figure dies, even the unproblematic ones.

Cara: There’s a line between respecting the dead and not using death as a sort of way out for all the shitty things they did. And to say that we should not think about the accusations against him at all is also disrespectful to the alleged victim, and other victims who would find seeing an accused rapist triggering.

Georgina: That’s the thing, on social media, there’s only one allowed narrative about a person that everyone has to agree on — we all have to either think he’s shit or perfect, no grey area allowed.

Anouk: I think, when we’re talking about someone’s legacy — this definitely should not be erased. It’s part of this story, just like the deceased’s successes. But if we’re talking about emotion, it’s ok to feel sad, mourn, and be devastated by the death of someone who meant a lot to you, no matter how flawed the person.

You can check out the full conversation here, which discusses Kobe Bryant, Caroline Flack, and social media and tabloid abuse.

Feel free to comment on the document with your thoughts, or send us an email!

the best and the worst

In this section, we ask women much smarter than us about the best and worst piece of professional advice they’ve ever received. This month we asked Eva Galperin, the Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and technical advisor for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Galperin is also noted for her extensive work in protecting global privacy and for her research on malware and nation-state spyware. Last year, she convinced anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab to begin explicitly alerting users of security threats upon detection of stalkerware on the company’s Android product.

The best?
The best professional advice I ever received was to apply for things even if I was not completely qualified. Stretch yourself a little. It’s worthwhile.”

The worst?
“The worst professional advice I ever received was that I’m “so smart and talented,” but “it’s a pity about how I present myself,” which was their way of telling me to change my clothes and hair and entire personality.”

Read Eva Galperin’s full AMA here

tweets of the month

word of the month: Vagenda

Next up in our new and improved Dicktionary (sorry):

“Vagenda” was actually coined by one of our most loyal readers: our very own Már Másson Maack, an editor at TNW. 

Már is a true feminist, but he’s from Iceland so it doesn’t count. Feminism is basically force-fed to babies over there. 

Anyway, Már discovered an error in last month’s Byte Me: 

Már expected foul play — did he just stumble upon some sort of women-led conspiracy to feminize Jeff Bezos? In other words, had we been pushing a hidden vagenda?

Truth is, we hadn’t. But we also didn’t pick up on this during any of our proofreadings. So on a subconscious level… maybe? Come to think of it, it’s a brilliant strategy.

We may need to broaden this approach, for increased effect. Marge Zuckerberg. Elaine Musk. Bill Gates can remain Bill Gates, because we trust Bill’s a feminist. 

Don’t think this is necessary? Last week, this headline appeared in the media:

Livia Cevolini, which is “female Elon Musk’s” name, is CEO and founder of Energica, a company that makes electric sports motorcycles. Elon Musk is a serial entrepreneur who developed an electric car, among many other things. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

CNN didn’t come up with this, by the way. It seems Forbes was actually the first to call Cevolini this. 

But thanks to this repeating headline, chances are Livia’s name will never become recognizable. Maybe if we would celebrate her achievements in the same way we would those of Elon Musk, we wouldn’t need the “female counterpart of” angle to make her story clickable. People would know her name, and not define her success through a male narrative. 

So put that on your vagenda, CNN and Forbes. We’d like to read about a “male version of Livia Cevolini” for a change.

How to use ‘vagenda’ in a sentence:

  • Mike interrupted Sarah mid-sentence during the crisis talk at work: “Stop forcing your vagenda on us. Not everything is about gender.”
  • In her speech yesterday, senator Elizabeth Warren pushed her vagenda once again by stating tampons should become freely available to female prisoners.
  • “Next item on the vagenda: addressing groups as ‘guys’. Please stop doing that,” Susan from HR said. “Instead, you can use the phrase: ‘Good morning, gang.'”

What do you think of Byte Me? Love it? Tell us. Hate it? Tell us — as female journalists we love hate mail.

Don’t forget…

<3 The TNW shrews

Cara ([email protected])
Anouk ([email protected])
& Georgina ([email protected])

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