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Chinese noodle soup! Like in Hong Kong, but actually in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Practising my Cantonese food vocab and catching a taste of those egg noodles for the first time in 2 years ;_; (at Chinatown)

On feminism and environmentalism

Feminism, environmentalism, two words that are close to my heart and mind yet I can’t fully embrace. The problem with -isms, is that it is usually associated with a vehement defense of whatever the subject of the -ism is. 

Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, has kept the “feminism” discussion in the news, following the likes of Anne-Marie Slaughter (who by the way is quite critical of Sandberg), and the nomination of Marissa Mayer as CEO of Yahoo (and her subsequent actions as CEO). These three women are quite inspiring people and, regardless of their opinions or personalities, deserve to be respected if only for their achievements.

The main bone of contention on feminism is the fact that younger women (such as Mayer) refuse to be called “feminists”, some going as far as to say that feminism is no longer necessary nowadays (Carla Bruni-Sarkozy). Nowadays, when you think feminism, you may think Femen. And their particular way of advocating feminism (naked).

On the other hand, we have another hot topic on my mind: the environment (and anything related, such as animal rights, renewable energy as opposed to nuclear, etc.). When you think environmentalist, you  could think GreenPeace (or PETA for animal rights, or GreenPeace again for anti-nuclear). And, same as for the Femen, you remember their particular way of demonstrating (naked in a cage).

Don’t get me wrong. Actions that attract media coverage may still be necessary to keep the subject in the public opinion’s mind. Every Greenpeace, PETA or Femen action reminds us that nuclear plants, animal rights, discrimination against women are still an issue of the 21st century. 

But at the same time, I’m among those who are wary of generalisations and one-dimensional thinking. What a lot of people remember of these shock actions is the show. Or the stupidity (breaking into a nuclear plant might not be the wisest thing to do; although breaking in is supposed to prove the lack of security of the aforementioned plant, I’m not sure the organisation would be too happy to get one of their members shot dead either). I’m afraid of the “crying wolf” effect. I’m also subject to the same feeling of rejection that Mayer expressed in an interview: I’m not sure I want to be associated to the word “feminism” (and in my case environmentalism as well), because of what it means to the public opinion: half-crazy people who sometimes go naked just for the sake of something they want to defend but we’re not very clear what.

I love talking about these subjects though. Talking and thinking about them. How can we advance gender equality (i.e. not only women’s rights, but men’s as well). How can we eat more sustainably. What are the real environmental implications of renewable energies. How people could advance in their careers as part of a happier life (on that one, I’m a firm believer of work as an important social value, and I’m really keen on the idea that being committed to your job is the first step towards finding satisfaction in it — that is, until you find a better one). 

And since I’ve started being interested in the consequences of how we eat, I’ve also started reflecting much more on how my actions are accountable, and how every little thing we do can help (and I’m not only talking about meatless Monday; paying taxes without complaining or trying to escape them is also something everyone should do).

So as Hanna Rosin swiftly mentions in her article (link below), maybe we need a new word to replace feminism, and, if I may add, other -isms as well (communism doesn’t have a very nice image overall either). 

Or maybe we simply need to move away from stereotypes and broad generalisations on these issues. But that would take away the whole point for -isms, wouldn’t it?

Some links:

Some good references (books I’ve read):

I may want to read Sandberg’s book as well.


Sunrise is now an app! It’s a calendar app that does not mean to replace your other services, but combine them: you can connect your Google Calendar account together with Facebook events, SongKick and I think TripIt soon. It’s a nice way to have an overview of everything that’s happening around you, without having to check each service separately. Especially now that some of the calendars are automated (such as TripIt checking your email to automatically add future travel plans). 

Sunrise started as an email service (a bit like Timehop, or Agora from the same founder), with an email in the morning that summarized the contents of your day. The app form is really nice to use. Apparently it got some backlash and bad reviews due to the fact that it was Facebook-login only, but they’re working on a Google Connect option — much more logical since the main service they’re connecting to is Google Calendar.

To be honest I used to rely on Apple iCal/iCloud integration more than GCal sync, since at some point in the past I had trouble with events appearing twice — but that was before iCloud, and I think it was related to sync problems with iTunes anyway. The app made me think twice and I’m giving another chance to GCal. I will try to work out an easy and seamless way to be able to use it in conjunction with my desktop iCal app — or maybe I will ditch iCal altogether and find another. 

I need to rework my calendar routine, and using Sunrise might be a good place to start.

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