Professor Judith Taylor comments on the growing ‘femtech’ market

In an article by CBC News, Professor Judith Taylor commented on  “femtech,” a growing form of technology focused on women’s health. The article discussed both the liberating possibilities of women having use of data about their reproductive health and the risks of growing private sector surveillance over various aspects of their reproductive lives.

Professor Taylor is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, and is jointly appointed in the Women and Gender Studies Institute, at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change making with public institutions. She also teaches and writes about qualitative research methods, feminist approaches to studying people, and community-based learning, with a particular focus on the dilemmas posed by institutional ethical review. In her work, she uses feminist creative work as a lens to better understand the central focus of feminist imagination and life.

The full article can be found here. We have included an excerpt below.

…The premise behind many companies in this growing sector is that technology can give us more insights into our bodies, biology and well-being, based on our own data, and that can give women the agency to make better informed choices about their health and their lives. These digital tools are “fantastic for women’s own understandings about their bodies,” says Judith Taylor, a professor of sociology in the University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute.

Taylor points to benefits such as being able to track how many days of the week the birth control pill makes women nauseous, and where in the cycle, as well as tracking ovulation for pregnancy and changes in their symptoms from menopause and perimenopause. These are details “that really affect women’s lives, but MDs don’t much care about.

“Further to the notion of technology giving users agency, Taylor says, “Doctors do not seem ambitious to see the root of problems, and apps might be more intrepid than our health-care providers.”

According to Taylor, with these tools, women are tracking their symptoms, making their own diagnoses and organizing around these problems to change medicine. She says, “They did that with fibromyalgia, with postpartum depression and a host of other afflictions medicine didn’t want to deal with but now has to.”

Indeed, for all the ways that our data is now bought, sold, and manipulated, to sell us things and target messages toward us, this is an example of being able to leverage our own data for our own good, to learn more about our health and make better choices for ourselves….

Professor Judith Taylor comments on “culture shifts” in the music streaming universe

In an article by CTV News, Professor Judith Taylor commented on how certain changes in the music streaming universe are part of a broader phenomenon, where the public is pressuring musicians to hold their colleagues accountable for their actions. Many artists, including Lady Gaga and Celine Dion, are taking down their collaborations with R. Kelly from music streaming services, due to the history of sexual misconduct allegations against him. Professor Taylor says that altering functions on streaming platforms, such as being able to “mute” certain artists, contributes to creating a culture shift, where people are creating new mechanisms to deal with social wrongs. These mechanisms raise the question of whether artists should be able to take their songs off streaming platforms, which potentially erases slivers of pop context. In response, Professor Taylor states that the controversies behind the recording of duets with problematic artists has already solidified its place in pop culture history. In fact, trying to banish certain songs makes them more potent in people’s memories, making them impossible to erase.

Professor Taylor is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, and is jointly appointed in the Women and Gender Studies Institute, at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change making with public institutions. She also teaches and writes about qualitative research methods, feminist approaches to studying people, and community-based learning, with a particular focus on the dilemmas posed by institutional ethical review. In her work, she uses feminist creative work as a lens to better understand the central focus of feminist imagination and life.

Read the full article here. We have included an excerpt below.

…Judith Taylor, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, identifies changes like these as part of a broader phenomenon where the public is pressuring musicians to hold their colleagues accountable for their actions.

“Really this is about trying to create a culture shift,” she said.

“As the legal field has proven itself to be unable to (show) it’s efficacious in dealing with these social wrongs, people are creating new mechanisms — social shaming is one of them.”

It raises the question of whether artists like Gaga and Chance the Rapper should be able to take their songs off streaming platforms, seeing the move as potentially erasing slivers of pop context.

With the demise of physical media, those historical records of song could become harder to find as years pass. Already some unofficial YouTube links to “Do What U Want,” as well as some of Gaga and Kelly’s live televised performances, have been pulled down.

Taylor isn’t convinced that creates any sort of urgency to maintain the public record of Gaga’s song on streaming platforms as a point of reference. She said controversy behind its creation has already solidified its place in pop culture history.

“It’s impossible to erase anything,” she said. “Trying to banish this song makes it more potent in people’s memories.”…

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Judith Taylor on Feminist Internships and Political Activism

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Judith Taylor published an article in Feminist Formations that examines the effect of the institutionalization of the women’s movement on younger generation’s perceptions of political activism. Through interviews conducted with university students who participated in “feminist internships”, the authors find that “progressive social-movement organizations” can negatively affect students’ perceptions of the viability of social change and activism.

Judith Taylor is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, jointly appointed to the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Her research interests include feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change-making within public institutions. Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the Rotman’s School of Management at the University of Toronto. She studies the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Taylor, Judith and Kim de Laat. 2013. “Feminist Internships and the Depression of Political Imagination: Implications for Women’s Studies.” Feminist Formations 25(1):84-110.

Scholars have paid ample attention to many of the effects of the institutionalization of the women’s movement, but have not sufficiently attended to how such formalization has affected younger generations’ perceptions of what it means to be politically active. The article uses interviews with an ethnically and racially diverse sample of Canadian university students who interned in feminist organizations to better understand their perceptions. The authors found the “feminist internship” to have predictable features that depress students’ understanding of the kind of social change or challenges that are possible, and that train them to think of activism as another form of paid employment—a process the authors refer to as the routinization of political consciousness. Significantly, too, they found the likening of activism to work has also transformed social interactions among generations in the movement, replacing conflict and contestation about political goals and means with a script akin to employer/employee relations. Despite the trend towards formalization, students in the study most valued organizations in which staff members broke rules, attended to political ethics, eschewed hierarchy, strove for transparency, and openly debated ideas, signaling that de-professionalization may be a sound strategy for producing more movement adherents from emerging generations. Finally, the article reflects upon the role of women’s studies units in brokering these relations between students and organizations, explicating how internships also lead students to revise their conceptions of women’s studies curriculum as impractically critical and utopian.

Read the full article here.

Professor Judith Taylor on the #MeToo Movement

Professor Judith Taylor published an article on TheConversation.com discussing the impact of the #MeToo movement on the average workplace. She presents eight strategies we can utilize in our every day lives to address and/or prevent toxic work environments.

Judith Taylor is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, jointly appointed to the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Her research focuses on feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change making within public institutions

We have posted a short excerpt below. The full article is available on TheConversation.com.

How do the great majority of working women reckon with #MeToo when there will be no confrontation, revelation or watershed moment for them?

Academics, journalists, teachers, social workers and psychologists have experienced a notable outpouring of questions and concerns, but this is not a professional moment, this is a people’s moment to decide what is no longer OK, partly because it’s illegal, partly because it violates workplace policy and mostly because harassment is soul-killing.

While researchers have shown formal reporting mechanisms to be often disappointing, other scholars show that everyday referencing of social movements, and allying with them, makes women feel stronger and more capable of refusing sexism.

The #MeToo movement won’t make a tsunami level wave in every place of work. But with small gestures, we can remove the sandbags from the thresholds of our doors, open the windows and invite something of the force of that water to trickle in. Inviting the water in while small may feel more energizing than wondering whether, and when, it might come.

Read the full article here. 

U of T Sociologists discuss the Toronto Yonge and Finch van attack

Professors Judith Taylor and Jooyoung Lee spoke on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken to discuss the possible motivations behind the Toronto van attack and the role of toxic masculinity in violent acts.

In the half-hour segment, Professors Taylor and Lee join also with Osgoode Hall’s Jamil Jivani in their discussion with Steve Paiken.

The video of the segment titled, “When Mayhem Comes to Town” is available online here at the TVO website.

Professor Taylor has also spoken with CBC and with CTV and Professor Lee was interviewed and cited by Global News regarding the van attack in Toronto earlier this week.

Continuing coverage: Professor Judith Taylor in Macleans Magazine and Sociology Professor and Vice Provost, Students Sandy Welsh in U of T News re the Vigil on Sunday at Mel Lastman square.

Professor Judith Taylor speaks about International Women’s Day

Professor Judith Taylor spoke recently on CTV and on CP24 about the resurgence of feminism and protests around the world to mark International Women’s Day. Professor Taylor is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies with teaching responsibilities at the St. George campus. Her research focuses on feminist movements around the world. Surveying the movement now, Professor Taylor is confident in its sustainability, saying in the CTV interview that the movement is “very, very sustainable.”

Watch video of the CTV interview.

Watch video of the CP24 interview.

 

 

 

Professors Judith Taylor and Ellen Berrey discuss the legacy and resurgence of feminism amid plans for 2018 Women’s Marches in Canada

Professors Judith Taylor and Ellen Berrey from U of T St. George’s Sociology Department were recently featured in an article in Toronto’s Metro News. The article highlights the legacy of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and plans for further marches in 2018 in countries including Canada. Professor Taylor and Professor Berrey are featured in the article discussing what these marches and other recent movements can mean for feminism and social change.

Professor Taylor researches social movements and feminist activism. Professor Berrey’s research studies the effect of law, organizational practice, and culture on inequality. We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

‘Going to see a massive change:’ Women’s Marches planned across Canada for 2018

From the Women’s March to #MeToo, 2017 was a year for women fighting back. They’ll keep marching in 2018.

May Warren | Wed Dec 27 2017

…Women around the world are preparing to march again. There will be marches all over Canada, including in Toronto on Jan. 20, said Sara Bingham, one of two executive directors for Women’s March Canada. Marches are also planned across the U.S., including a signature one in Las Vegas, Nevada — a swing state that will be influential in the 2018 mid-term elections.

“The theme around the world is looking back, marching forward,” said Bingham.

They’ll be reaching out to local groups to get a diverse crowd, she added, a response to criticism the first time around that organizers and marchers were mainly white women.

Judith Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, sees a resurgence of feminism that builds on the work prior generations have done.

“I do think we’re going to see a massive change,” Taylor said, adding she believes the “cultural explosion” will filter down from elites like Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his actress accusers.

“That dialogue then translates into a shift in consciousness, a shift in what’s possible to say in your place of work, whether you’re paid by the hour or you’re a professional.”…

…Ellen Berrey, also an assistant professor in the department of sociology at U of T, sees clear links between Trump, who has bragged on tape about sexual assault, the Women’s March and #MeToo. But she’s not sure if this year’s news stories will lead to lasting impacts, especially for low-income women and women of colour.

“Is this going to become like, this thing that happened at the end of 2017, or is this a deeper sea change?” she asks.

Berrey said one of the paths to change, as well as revamping human-resources systems so they don’t protect employers, is to get more women in positions of political power…

 

Read the full article here.

Professor Judith Taylor speaks on CTV News about the movement to wear black at the 75th Golden Globes

The recent 75th Golden Globes Awards Show was used as a platform for individuals in Hollywood and film to demonstrate their solidarity with victims of sexual assault within the industry, by wearing black to the ceremony. University of Toronto’s Sociology Professor Judith Taylor was featured on CTV News discussing the movement and its implications for feminism and antiracism.

Professor Taylor is a Professor of Sociology at the U of T St. George Campus. She is jointly appointed to the Women and Gender Studies Institute at U of T. Her research interests include social movements, feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change making within public institutions.

Watch the interview here.

 

Professors Judith Taylor and Josée Johnston consider Hugh Hefner’s cultural impact

Judith TaylorProfessors Judith Taylor and Josée Johnston recently published an article in The Conversation discussing the late Hugh Hefner’s influence on beauty, sexuality, and the objectification of women in the media. Professor Taylor is a faculty member in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies and teaches at the St. George campus. Professor Johnston is a faculty member in Sociology at the UTM campus. Both have done collaborative research on gender, beauty norms and popular culture. We have posted a short excerpt of the longer piece here.

Hugh Hefner’s legacy: Narrow visions of sex and beauty

With the death of Hugh Hefner, the architect of the Playboy empire, comes tributes and stories of his life. One wonders about his origin story, the price of his mansion and why he loved to wear pajamas. Hefner’s death gives us reason to revisit the debate about whether Playboy made room for sexual expression and free speech — or whether it ushered in a pitiful era of objectification of women with still-lingering effects.

What can we say about Hefner’s impact on sexual culture? Did his empire broaden the sexual landscape in the U.S. and abroad? As researchers who look at popular culture, gender and women’s sense of value and sexual selfhood, we assert that Hefner’s effects have been detrimental.

Most centrally, Hefner defined sexuality solely as men’s desire, in which women aim to achieve physical attractiveness as a life project. In this definition, women can consider themselves sexually successful if, and only if, they are desirable to men (or “f*ckable”, as noted by female comedians like Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Playboy culture advocated objectification rather than reciprocity, without democratizing heterosexuality and asking men to cultivate, earn and fail at desirability, as women do.

Read the full article here.