I’m really glad to have discovered this TED talk today. This is what I like most about TED; the voices of reason and experience exploding some of the most dangerous societal myths.
A word or phrase in English which I possibly heard in my undergraduate women’s studies papers but was certainly outlined here is “implicit gender bias.” Dr Randy Newman talks about it from 12:30 in the clip below, but, her whole talk is really worth anyone listening to and discussing fully, even in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
I especially like her conclusion from about the point of 15:30 onward. Indeed, perhaps the greatest benefit of the shared wisdom that is consciously communicated effort of higher education is the conclusions we can learn to draw from experience. Many – I dare say most – women experience similar bias within the varied contexts of their many different lives and cultures each day, yet few can consider and then communicate the full weight of them so eloquently as delivered here by Dr Newman.
With regard to implicit gender bias, wikipedia.org does not have an entry on that specific phrase; however, it has links on both implicit stereotypes and also implicit attitude. It’s great to see these and other expressions written out and explained with clear examples so well in English. I really hope someone can translate even just a little of these entries into Korean on wikipedia soon. Our sisters need to learn this stuff. I think maybe it’s missing from the general Korean education syllabus.
The positive side of this last point is that I’m very proud to be teaching “mixed classes” at GIST. In my first class I taught this morning there was an equal number of each. The second class is nearly the same, with five out of eleven students being female. This is immensely encouraging, although given that this is a language class, it’s worth wondering whether the same holds true in all the students’ main subject research labs.
You may well know that one of the most important international meetings ever to occur is currently underway. The strangely named COP 18 is being held in Doha, Qatar, until this Friday. It’s the COP 18 meeting of nearly 200 countries who are tasked this year with finding and agreeing to the details of an effective replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.
Then again, you may well not know about it. Judging by one major online news source, New Zealand certainly seems to be facing a virtual media blackout on the very mention of the two week long conference. One of the nation’s leading news websites, the appropriately named “stuff.co.nz,” returns merely one single article on proceedings, and that’s for all three of the searches under the separate terms: Doha, Qatar, and Cop 18. Appearing as the fourth result of a search for the term Qatar [edit/ update: now the third, perhaps as a result of ranking improvement], but, crucially, NOT appearing under either COP 18 or even Doha, the tone of the article is quite rancid with acrimony and bitterness, virtually espousing a negativity akin to passive/aggressive ranting. Furthermore, it deals not even with the current proceedings of the meeting, but rather questions the “rights” of the host nation to hold the talks in the first place. But more on this tone of implicit vitriol later.
This overt failing of the website demands answers to a string of questions. Foremost in my mind: Why have the editors clearly deliberately avoided making up-to-date news on this conference able to be searched under the most obvious term: COP18, the name of the event itself? Even Qatar, as the name of the country, would be useful as a reference point for some people searching for current stories of this world-shaping event.
This gross negligence leads me to wonder: Why would the editors want to deliberately bury this, the one and only story referring to this, the major environmental meeting on the calendar and concerning all related issues and nations?
To be quite clear: stuff.co.nz is an aggregate news site. It supposedly presents ALL major news articles from ALL the nation’s local daily newspapers throughout the nation. Perhaps such stories have been carried in print but not put online, however, this in itself would be markedly unusual and would raise the question of why those stories have not been published online. Clearly then, there is something extraordinarily strange going on here, for which the editors of all the local daily papers would seem to have something to say which is not being said, online at the very least. Perhaps, for example, editors are venting their views and highlighting the meeting via their editorials, which are generally not included on this site.
To return to the tone of the article, it is rare to find any article on any subject which presents such a litany of examples of negativity in so many different contexts. From the title itself to the quotes, the attitudes presented are critical of the host nation in a way which belies New Zealand’s own hypocritical attitude as a developed nation, reliant on the huge amounts of methane and carbon pollution produced by the livestock industry, and our reliance on the majorly disastrous airplane to get us anywhere beyond Auckland’s beaches.
Clearly, the approach of stuff.co.nz bodes badly for the likely attitude of New Zealand’s representatives in Doha, Qatar, at the COP18 conference itself. Fortunately or not, the bad news for the rest of the world as presented by NZ’s governmental representatives is in fact the case, as is borne out by articles presented by the other news site, nzherald.co.nz. The tone of defensiveness continues even in this most recent of articles from yesterday’s news, though gratefully, the absurd vitriol has abated. Rather, as the title of another piece pointed out a day or two before, “Climate change talks may be ‘embarrassing’ for NZ.” Why anyone would bother with the straw man attempt at a handshake pass with the words “may be” here is a laughable question in itself. There is no question, and the better verb form here is an emphatic: ARE. This state of affairs is in fact so offensive to the rest of the world, that even the online activist group Avaaz.com has been called to arms with this petition they are ready to present to the NZ Prime Minister.
In the 1970s New Zealand citizens repeatedly raised record amounts of money for charity on nationwide “telethon” events, and we also learned to feel good about our identity as a naive young nation by doing relatively well in such irrelevant events as the Commonwealth and the Olympic Games (on a strictly per capita basis, of course). In the 1980s we, the people, faced down the might of the US with regard the imposition of the threat of nuclear catastrophe by resisting the visits of nuclear powered and possibly nuclear weapon-equipped ships. We, the people of New Zealand, also stood against the governments of both New Zealand and South Africa, demanding introspection of our own cultures. In a dramatic string of events which saw the streets and the rugby fields covered with riot police, we asked hard questions, namely: the place of politics in sport, and the place of racism in the very structure of our daily lives. It was a time of maturing as a nation; of facing ourselves and taking on our own responsibilities as a people.
And yet in this new century where the major threat is the weather bomb of our own making, we have not enough foresight to insist, loudly and clearly, that our very own leaders stand with those low carbon footprint countries who will suffer most as a consequence of our recent luxuriously oil-soaked lifestyle.
Clearly, that website needs to be renamed immediately. The only question is which is better: stuffall,co.nz, or completelystuffed.co.nz…?
As you contemplate the answer, please go ahead and help the New Zealand government to grow up a bit, do the right thing, and change their tune: please vote in Avaaz’s petition and forward to others who might appreciate the opportunity too.
I love this woman a whole big heap of a lot.
She’s intensely beautiful in a majestic myriad of ways that makes me feel humbled and privileged just to have shared a conversation with her.
Dear Mum and Adrian,
Today I had to walk to the office and class because of another typhoon. It was raining hard this morning when I left my apartment, so I did not take my bike, although it’s still only about five minutes’ walk.
Typhoon Samba is perhaps the third large storm we have had in the last month or two. This one has passed further away from Gwangju though, and as a result of its more inland path, we have had only a fairly constant wind and an annoyingly ongoing drizzly rain for a few days now. I am looking forward to cycling to work again soon, and then going for a longer bike ride to explore the countryside after work too. Maybe tomorrow!
In the meantime, I am enjoying the swimming pool. It is very peaceful and quiet, and yet also sociable. In many other pools around Gwangju there are too many people, but I still meet nice people in the GIST pool. Two weeks ago I met a nice Filipino guy named Joey. Yesterday I met one woman from Tanzania and another from Thailand, and there’s the new guy from the Czech Republic. His name is Bohuslav, and he eats in the cafeteria. Sometimes I see Tanya from Russia who swims in the early afternoons, just after lunch. There’s also a tall European or middle-eastern guy who swims in the mid-afternoon. He seems like a very confident swimmer. Finally, my coworker John’s wife and young children swim there at least a couple of afternoons per week, so, the pool is not exactly empty.
As for work this week, I am glad to have now started all my courses. It is a large variety of different papers to be teaching. I have to do a lot of preparation and planning each day for the next day’s lessons. But, the students are varied, and interested, and they are interesting too. I am looking forward to actually talking with them about their lives here at GIST and elsewhere, and not only talking about the business of learning English.
I was deeply saddened on reading the news last week. I learned not only is there a cigarette factory near to my home town in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, but also they are expanding production. As if this was not bad enough, even just the name of the company is an embarrassment: Imperial Tobacco. Finally, it was also sad to see the news report title emphasizing that the factory expansion would create a few jobs, rather than the fact that it will kill many, many more people.
Imperial Tobacco started as a factory in 1928, according to this news story. It was bought out by a new company relatively recently, in 1999. That is when the new company gave it the new name.
Since that time the new company has positioned itself to take over production from a factory in Sydney. What will happen to the Sydney company’s factory personnel is not clear. I suppose they will have to look for other jobs. In the meantime, the old local factory in Petone will produce four times as many cigarettes. But cigarettes kill one in every five smokers. That’s 20% of every one hundred smokers will die from cancer, heart disease, or some other painful and disgusting death. It is hard to be proud of a local company producing this much more pain and suffering.
The name itself is an anachronism and an embarrassment. Koreans know very well the pain associated with the word ‘imperial.’ It is a moniker associated with images and connotations of abuse of power, oppression, subjugation, and exploitation. In a sense then it is both ironic and all too fitting for a cigarette company which makes money from the power of addiction, and subjugates and exploits its customers literally to the point of death for many, and shocking misery for many more.
Finally, I want to offer a very brief media analysis focusing only on the titles of the two news reports to cover the story. It is very interesting to see the contrast between the two different titles of these stories which were published in the mainstream national online news media the same day as each other. The first one reads: “Tobacco deal creates 50 jobs in Petone” and so clearly celebrates the new jobs the factory expansion will bring. It was published at 5 am on Monday morning. The second one is entitled: “Cancer society blasts tobacco export” and was published in the evening at just after 5 pm. It is clearly about the response from the national Cancer Society, although it still contains unnecessary information helpful to the company such as the brand names to be produced, and a return quote and even a picture of the company manager. In these ways then, the impact of the statement from the Cancer Society and the effect of the dramatic verb in the title ‘blasts’ is reduced, and the increased production of a thing which actually kills one fifth of its customers is actively supported. The Cancer Society estimates that approximately 20,000 people will die as a result of the work of those 50 new jobs being fulfilled in Petone. This does not even include the many hundreds, maybe thousands who will be sickened due to second and third-hand smoke.
I remain greatly disappointed in the manipulative local media, just as I am in the abusive, exploitative local company. I do hope all Australian smokers quit smoking soon and the offensively named Imperial Tobacco goes out of business very quickly.
If you were stuck on a desert island, and then one day an empty Pocari Sweat bottle washed up on the beach shore, and then when you opened it a magic genie jumped out and granted you three wishes as long as they were tangible objects (and not people like Rain or BoA), then what three things would you wish for?
My Desert Island Survival List - One Paragraph
If I were stuck on a desert island, and then one day a magic genie jumped out of a washed up Pocari Sweat bottle and offered me three tangible items, I would choose my MP3 player, a solar powered battery charger, and my favourite acoustic guitar. Firstly, I would ask for my MP3 player from home because it has my favourite music from New Zealand and Korea which I like to listen to at different times of the day, like when I am jogging, or feeling homesick. Secondly, I would want a solar powered battery charger because I want my MP3 player to keep working, but also because it might be able to help me signal to passing airplanes or ships. Thirdly, I would ask the nice genie for my favourite guitar, so I can continue with one of my favourite hobbies: playing guitar and singing badly. With these three things then, I think life on a desert island might actually be quite nice!
My Desert Island Survival List - Five Paragraphs
If I were stuck on a desert island, and then one day a magic genie jumped out of a washed up Pocari Sweat bottle and offered me three tangible items, I would choose my MP3 player, a solar powered battery charger, and my favourite acoustic guitar.
My MP3 player has some of my favourite music from my favourite bands back home in Wellington, New Zealand, including Weta, and Shihad, and some other songs by my uncle and cousins, and also some of my favourite Korean home music like Crying Nut, and Vidugi OoyoO. I like to listen to my favourite songs when I am waking up in the morning, or when I am walking home, or when I am jogging, or when I am feeling homesick. It would be very helpful for my heart, ears, and mind at these times to have my MP3 player (and headphones) on the island.
If there was no MiniStop, 7Eleven, or EMart nearby, then I would not be able to able to perchase new batteries. I would therefore need a solar powered battery charger. Also, most solar powered battery chargers have very shiny surfaces. Perhaps I could use this charger for two more things: one is to use the reflected sunlight to signal to passing airplanes or ships, to try and distract the captain and let them know I am here. The second is to check my reflection so that I know I look good before they pick me up and take me back to Gwangju. Otherwise, they might think I am some kind of strange new wild animal, and they might leave me there for a future science expedition which may not arrive for many more months or years.
Just listening to music is not active enough an activity sometimes though. I would also like to have my favourite guitar so that I can practise playing guitar and singing badly. Playing guitar and singing badly is one of my favourite hobbies. Also, it would be good practise for me and my brain to remember the songs I know, and perhaps to write new ones about my experiences on the island. It is healthy to keep mentally active in a creative and fun way.
Of course it would be helpful to have many other things on my desert island. A MacGyver Swiss Army pocket knife might be handy, and it would also be really nice to have a “bungopang” stall (or “pojungmacha“) with the nice aunty to make me bungopang for dessert on cold nights. Before that, however, I would be much happier having my MP3 player to listen to, a solar charger for its multiple uses, and my guitar to keep me creatively engaged and more mentally active in my spare time, after fishing and eating coconuts.