Friday, March 14, 2008

Why should not having finished them stand in the way of denouncing them?

I was given yet another business book to edumacate me in the ways of big business. Needless to say, I got about one page into the book before I got incredibly angry, skimmed the rest of the chapter and then gave up. I decided to review the book on this blog, then wondered whether that was completely fair, given I hadn't read anywhere near the whole thing. After a moment's pause, I came to the conclusion that if the first chapter - where they lay out their theory for the rest of the book - is a load of shite, it is somewhat unlikely that it will get any better. So it's fine. It got me wondering about other business-books-I-have-hated-without-reading-them-all-the-way-to-the-end.

Here is my top three:

(1) Inside Her Pretty Little Head: I think I hate this one the most, simply because it seemed rather promising. It's written by women who have set-up their own company to market things to women, as they got tired of the traditional advertising approach, which was to make it pink. I am also tired of this. I haven't mentioned here how much I hate the idea of a pink blackberry pearl, mainly because every time I think about it, I can't contain my own bile. Needless to say, if anyone tries to suggest I should have a pink blackberry pearl to show how much of an empowered career woman I am, I will forcefully insert it into their anus.

Anyway, a promising start. But then, you start the first chapter and there is a chart of ways in which women are different to men. Including the fact that women "tend and befriend" rather than experiencing the "fight and flight" instinct which men apparently developed on the veldt to defend their womenfolk.

I don't think I'd mind so much if they would just say "selling princesses to young girls works" but they seem to feel the need to justify this claim with some absolutely ridiculous evolutionary psychology bullshit. I hate evolutionary psychology even more than I hate pink blackberry pearls and tools with flowers on the handles, which is saying something.

I was so outraged that I didn't bother to read the rest of the book, which seemed suspiciously like it was starting from the "let's not just make things pink" stance and then going on to justify that we should in fact just make things pink.

2) Life's a Pitch: short summary of this could be described as - success in business takes the form of a misogynistic pig trying to get sex on the first date. Whatever. I have to say, that given any dates *I* have been on are nothing like the general experience ascribed to dates in the book, it seems unlikely that any success I have in business will resemble it either. Case Closed.

3) Things they don't teach you at Harvard Business School: if I'd wanted to watch smug men wave their cocks around I'd have rented some niche porn. Enough said.

The lesson here is probably that I should stop reading business books. Especially ones recommended by my employer.

The good news is that I've ordered a copy of Deborah Cameron's latest book which I will be able to review at a later date.

Friday, March 07, 2008

This week in the news

A great article on how Norway is getting women into the boardroom.

It would be great to set up something similar over here, except the positive discrimination ruling wouldn't hold up. Still, as the new Equality and Diversity Head in my workplace, maybe I can come up with something that is slightly more helpful than researching the addresses of people to invite to a dinner event, which is my current task. I suppose I just have to grit my teeth and try not to throw myself out of the window first.

Thank the blessed Lord for my BlackBerry

Last weekend, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I live in Intellectual Oxford and went to a lecture hosted by the Oxford Radical Forum. Sadly, I'd missed the feminism-focused day (although thinking on, this may have been a good thing - attend something like this and it's only a matter of time before someone gets all PoMo on your ass) and had chosen to attend what I now think of as "Why I can never be a Marxist" day.

The lecture itself, given by Gerry Cohen, was great. He's always good to listen to and knows how to engage an audience. It concerned the fact that Marxism *was* dead in its traditionally accepted form, because the working class (which is central to it) no longer exists in the form that Marx had thought it to exist then. Thus, if Marxism was to survive, it had to change its content regarding the working class. This is a terrible summary of the actual lecture, but doing it justice would take more space than is reasonable on a blog.

I began to have misgivings when I walked into the lecture room and found it dominated by SWP leaflets and pamphlets. Never a good sign. Nor that they'd advertised "Jerry" Cohen on the website, who is actually a completely different person. Indeed, the questions after the lecture indicated that:(a) the terrible stories about Marxist meetings are true - lots of people liking the sound of their own voice and getting impassioned about the fact that "we can rise up and defeat capitalism now!" which they can't (b) most of the people there were there to argue rather than actually listen and (c) the pomposity of Oxford Students is unbelievable. Oh the nostalgia...

High points:

(1) When someone took a pamphlet about beating capitalism from the rack and the SWP lady raced after him and told him they weren't free, they cost £1.00, with a completely straight face. Communism for those who can afford it, apparently.

(2) The man who claimed, as a deputy head teacher, he experienced the same exploitation as the workers did in the factories Marx and Engels observed. Yeah, I'm thinking not, theoretically or literally.

(3) The Oxford Radical Forum t-shirts for sale had a design on them that looked like it had been hugely influenced/stolen from the modernist movement, who - incidentally - were the artists of choice for many fascist movements.

(4) Singing "Solidarity forever" and realising that I am deadly afraid of earnestness in all its forms. I can't sit in a room full of middle class students with expensive hair cuts, all singing seriously about the workers without wanting to be swallowed up by a huge hole in the ground. It felt rather like being immersed into a cult, which is rather too much first thing on a Saturday morning when slightly hungover.

Leaving the lecture, I felt like I'd managed to be a horrible, capitalist pig (as I dialed the SO to tell him all about it) and at the same time terribly sad, because somewhere deep inside, I would really love to be earnest and a communist. Sort of. You know what I mean.

Anyway, "solidarity forever" has been going round my head pretty much continuously since that point, especially when coming up against the gross incompetence of FGW. Perhaps there's hope for me yet...