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Tag Archives: Women Rights

The Myth of Women’s ‘Empowerment’

For only $100, you can empower a woman in India. This manageable amount, according to the website of the organization India Partners, will provide a woman with her own sewing machine, allowing her to take the very first step on the march to empowerment.

Or you can send a chicken. Poultry farming, according to Melinda Gates, empowers women in developing countries by allowing them to “express their dignity and seize control.”

If chickens are not your empowerment tool of choice, Heifer International will, for $390, deliver an “enterpriser basket” to a woman in Africa. It includes rabbits, juvenile fish and silkworms.

 

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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo

A month or so ago, a friend and I mulled over when exactly the backlash to the then-peaking #MeToo moral panic would set in. Mid-January, we guessed, and sure enough here we are.

No, we were not being clairvoyant, just noting certain dynamics. The early exposure of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein — achieved by meticulous, scrupulous journalists and smart, determined women — quickly extended to more ambiguous and trivial cases. Distinctions among many different types of offenses — from bad behavior at private parties to brutal assault and rape of employees and co-workers — were being instantly lost in the fervor. Punishment was almost always the same — social ostracism and career destruction — whether you were Mark Halperin, who allegedly sexually assaulted women in his workplace, or Al Franken, damned because of mild handsiness and pretending to grope a woman’s breasts as a joke. Any presumption of innocence was regarded as a misogynist dodge, and an anonymous online list of accusations against named men in the media was created and circulated with nary an attempt by its instigators to substantiate a single one. Within a few weeks, the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/andrew-sullivan-time-to-resist-excesses-of-metoo.html

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in North America

 

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We’re Not Done Here

Oh, girls, look what we’ve done now. We’ve gone too far. The growing backlash against the MeToo movement has finally settled on a form that can face itself in the mirror. The charge is hysteria, moral panic, hatred of sex, hatred of men. More specifically, as Andrew Sullivan complained in New York magazine this week, “the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.” Well, yes. That’s rather the point.

Sullivan is far from the only one to accuse the MeToo movement of becoming a moral panic about sexuality itself, and he joins a chorus of hand-wringers warning that if this continues — well, men will lose their jobs unjustly, and what could be worse than that, really? The story being put about is that women, girls, and a few presumably hoodwinked men are now so carried away by their “anger” and “temporary power” that, according to one piece in the Atlantic, they have become “dangerous.” Of course — what could be more terrifying than an angry, powerful woman, especially if you secretly care a little bit more about being comfortable than you do about justice? This was always how the counter-narrative was going to unfold: It was always going to become a meltdown about castrating feminist hellcats whipping up their followers into a Cybelian frenzy, interpreting any clumsy come-on as an attempted rape and murder. We know what happens when women get out of control, don’t we?

 

Charges like this are serious. Too serious to dismiss out of hand. I don’t mean to do so, not least because I am a queer person, and I do not take the notion of sex panic lightly. Why, then, are so many people so anxious to believe that this is one? There is at least one simple answer. It is easier — much, much easier — to manufacture an attack on sexuality than it is to imagine an attack on patriarchy.

We’re Not Done Here

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in North America

 

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Asia Argento, Harvey Weinstein and Italy’s complex relationship with feminism

Italy has long been regarded as being backwards when it comes to gender rights and sexual harassment. So in many ways, its reaction to the recent wave of revelations about sexual harassment by men in positions of power all over the world was depressingly familiar. But, at the same time, it also revealed the strength and diversity of grassroots feminism there, despite the odds.

Simona Siri, a US-based Italian journalist, pronounced recently in The Washington Post that “the already present and strong sexist Italian culture now seems almost impossible to reverse”. This came following the startling backlash against Italian actor Asia Argento after she gave an an interview to Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker in which she accused Harvey Weinstein of a horrific sexual assault. Siri argued that Italy’s entrenched misogyny, embodied by the figure of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, made fighting back futile for Italian women.

https://theconversation.com/asia-argento-harvey-weinstein-and-italys-complex-relationship-with-feminism-88496

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in European Union

 

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Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood said the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, was the symptom of a broken legal system and had been “seen as a massive wake up call”.

However, she wondered where North American society would go from here. “If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers?” Atwood asked.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/margaret-atwood-feminist-backlash-metoo

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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France’s Fight Over Sexual Freedom

After the backlash, comes the backlash to the backlash. It’s been fascinating to follow the torrent of responses in France this week to an open letter in Le Monde signed by French actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other women, effectively saying that the #MeToo movement had gone too far and that women should own up to their own sexual agency. (I wrote about the letter here and you can find a full translation here.)

“Sexual Freedom Threatened, REALLY?” ran the headline of Thursday’s Libération, a left-wing daily, beneath photos of three signatories: Deneuve, Catherine Millet, the author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M., and Brigitte Lahaie, a talk-show host and former porn actress. The implication was, why should we listen to these women? “To entertain the idea that a groper on the metro ‘is the expression of a great sexual misery, or a non-event’”—as the Deneuve letter had—“presumes that you live on a planet without rush hour and have enough power and/or hours on the couch to relativize it at your leisure,” the paper wrote in an editorial.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/me-too-france-le-monde-letter-backlash/550361/

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in European Union

 

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We Are Living Through the Moment When Women Unleash Decades of Pent-Up Anger

Feminism is back, with a vengeance, and you can thank 
Donald Trump for that. No, seriously. The pussy-grabbing scam artist, ignoramus, and vulgarian with zero government experience, who ran on “Lock her up!” and gold-plated racism, won the White House against a former US senator and secretary of state, a woman with many progressive and pro-woman positions who also happened to be sane and the most qualified candidate in living memory—and, adding insult to injury, who got more votes! It was the loudest wake-up call since alarm clocks were invented. Even plenty of women who didn’t like Hillary Clinton could see the problem with a “Hillary Sucks but Not Like Monica” T-shirt. The Trump campaign was like overhearing your co-workers and finding out that, while they might be polite to your face, they all agreed you were an incompetent moron who was sleeping with the boss—oh, and by the way, there’s blood coming out of your wherever.

https://www.thenation.com/article/we-are-living-through-the-moment-when-women-unleash-decades-of-pent-up-anger/

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in North America

 

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Your Reckoning. And Mine. As stories about abuse, assault, and complicity come flooding out, how do we think about the culprits in our lives? Including, sometimes, ourselves.

The anger window is open. For decades, centuries, it was closed: Something bad happened to you, you shoved it down, you maybe told someone but probably didn’t get much satisfaction — emotional or practical — from the confession. Maybe you even got blowback. No one really cared, and certainly no one was going to do anything about it.

But for the past six weeks, since reports of one movie producer’s serial predation blew a Harvey-size hole in the news cycle, there is suddenly space, air, for women to talk. To yell, in fact. To make dangerous lists and call reporters and text with their friends about everything that’s been suppressed.

This is not feminism as we’ve known it in its contemporary rebirth — packaged into think pieces or nonprofits or Eve Ensler plays or Beyoncé VMA performances. That stuff has its place and is necessary in its own way. This is different. This is ’70s-style, organic, mass, radical rage, exploding in unpredictable directions. It is loud, thanks to the human megaphone that is social media and the “whisper networks” that are now less about speaking sotto voce than about frantically typed texts and all-caps group chats.

Really powerful white men are losing jobs — that never happens. Women (and some men) are breaking their silence and telling painful and intimate stories to reporters, who in turn are putting them on the front pages of major newspapers.

https://www.thecut.com/2017/11/rebecca-traister-on-the-post-weinstein-reckoning.html

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in North America

 

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We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

We’re through the looking glass now. As women all over the world come forward to talk about their experiences of sexual violence, all our old certainties about what was and was not normal are peeling away like dead skin.

It’s not just Hollywood and it’s not just Silicon Valley. It’s not just the White House or Fox News.

It’s everywhere.

It’s happening in the art world and in mainstream political parties. It’s happening in the London radical left and in the Bay Area burner community. It’s happening in academia and in the media and in the legal profession. I recently heard that it was happening in the goddamn Lindy Hop dance scene, which I didn’t even know was a thing. Men with influence and status who have spent years or decades treating their community like an all-you-can-grope sexual-harassment buffet are suddenly being presented with the bill. Names are being named. A lot of women have realized that they were never crazy, that even if they were crazy they were also right all along, and — how shall I put this? — they (we) are pissed.

We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in North America

 

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Let This Flood of Women’s Stories Never Cease

There’s a problem with the way feminism moves forward in reaction to breaking news stories. It brings focus to a single predator, a single incident, and people who haven’t faced the pervasiveness of misogyny can build stories around it about why this was the exception, not the rule. That Harvey Weinstein was typical of liberals or Hollywood, or Roy Moore and Bill O’Reilly were typical of conservatives, that this mass killer with a domestic violence background was typical of veterans or loners or was mentally ill, that case after case is a glitch in the pattern of society, not the pattern itself. But these are the norms, not the abberations. This is a society still permeated and shaped and limited by misogyny, among other afflictions.

Obviously—as we keep having to reassure them, because when we’re talking about our survival we’re supposed to still worry about men feeling comfortable—not all men, but enough to impact virtually all women. And in another way all men, because we’re all warped by living in such a society, and because as Kevin Spacey’s case demonstrates, though men are nearly always the perpetrators, other men and boys are sometimes the victims. Being groomed to be a predator dehumanizes you, as does being groomed to be prey. We need a de-normalization of all that so we can rehumanize ourselves.

https://lithub.com/rebecca-solnit-let-this-flood-of-womens-stories-never-cease/

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in North America

 

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