Canada and Sweden Paving the Way in Feminist Foreign Policy, #WhyIDidntReport Still Trending, The Kavanaugh Case a Testimony to Patriarchy, and More
Feminist Foreign Policy
The idea of a feminist foreign policy has been promoted on 23 August, in the midst of nativist-hypermacho foreign policy, Wallström, issued this report online. “In a worsening climate where human rights and women’s and girls’ rights are increasingly questioned and threatened, and in a world of shrinking democratic space, a feminist foreign policy is needed more than ever,” said Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, who presented a handbook of Feminist Foreign Policy. “Sweden is the first country in the world to pursue a feminist foreign policy. The handbook is intended to support the Swedish Foreign Service, central government administration, and society in general. But the handbook is also expected to attract an international readership, since there is major international interest in the policy.
Canada’s First Ambassador for Women
Last week, Canada announced the creation of Canada's first ambassador for women, peace and security. Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada, made the announcement during Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (WFMM) organised in Montreal and including top women diplomats. This new position was created to “elevate feminist-based aid programs and advocate for more female participation in peacekeeping in Canada and around the world.”
“This is a big step forward for our feminist foreign policy ,” Freeland wrote in a tweet.
The Top Trending hashtag on Twitter with more than 200,000 responses on Friday was #WhyIDidntReport. The social media backlash occurred after the President wondered aloud why sexual assault survivors don’t report their attacks. Why does he do this? Does he not have high level advisers looking out for his good and the good of the country? Many celebrity survivors, like Mira Sorvino, Darryl Hannah, and Ashley Judd tweeted out their stories.
Gender Gap in Politics
"For every 492 men in the United States, there are 508 women," writes Philip Bump at the Washington Post. The data comes from a Pew Research poll released Thursday on Women in Politics. One of the most surprising trends revealed by the white paper is the remarkable gender gaps on views of women in leadership, which are particularly wide among Republicans. For instance: “By 20 percentage points, Republican women are more likely than their male counterparts to say there are too few women in high political offices (44% of GOP women vs. 24% of GOP men) and in top executive positions in business (49% vs. 29%) in the U.S. today,” the report says. “And while most Republican women say it’s easier for men to get these positions, closer to half of GOP men say the same.”
There is a surge in interest in politics among Democrat women this election season. NPR does a great jobs reporting. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University a record number of women are running for office – in both parties. 234 women have won Democrat or Republican House nominations this year. 15 Democrats women and 7 Republican women have won their primaries this election cycle in the United States Senate. 183 Democrat women and 52 republican women won their primaries for the US House of Representatives. And 12 Democrat women and four Republican women have won their primaries for Governor (which beats the record of 10 in 1994). But the most dramatic data from the CAWP poll is that African-American women are voting at just over 70%, up from 48% back in 1984. Politico has a women candidate tracker here.
Kavanaugh a Testimony to Patriarchy
As the one-year anniversary of the viral social media protest against sexual harassment, Constance Grady and Anna North argue in Vox that the Kavanaugh hearings have become a test of the #MeToo movement. “The Kavanaugh confirmation process has brought to the surface the many fallacies our culture repeats about rape and other sexual misconduct: that committing sexual violence is normal male behavior (boys will be boys, after all); that real victims come forward right away (and anyone who waits must be a liar); that depriving someone of a powerful position is the same as locking him in prison (or even killing him); that it takes the word of multiple women (at least more than one, and probably more than two) to equal the worth of a man’s word; and that the country owes accused men a path to redemption (even if they haven’t acknowledged what they did wrong),” they write.
It is impossible to properly discuss feminist content without discussing Bust, which predates Jezebel by over a dozen years. Bust Magazine is now a quarter of a century old. “We wanted to make a magazine that women could actually feel good about reading,” Bust founder and editor-in-chief Debbie Stoller tells Fast Company. “If Playboy is—or was—entertainment for men, then this would be like entertainment for feminists, to present pop culture from a feminist perspective and give feminism some better PR.” While magazines have never quite recovered from the ad recession of 2007, Bust is doing a robust business with 12,000 subscribers and a thriving event business on the side.
Women in Tech
The AnitaB.Org’s report on top companies for women technologists has some interesting insights about women in tech. "In 1987, computer scientist Anita Borg founded a digital community for women in computing,” the press release states.”Today, AnitaB.org works with technologists in more than 80 countries, and partners with academic institutions and Fortune 500 companies worldwide.” Some of the companies that were singled out for high praise are HBO, Thoughtworks, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and XO Group. Accenture announced that it was setting its sights on a 50/50 workforce by 2025. Of participating tech companies, it was found women held 22.95% of technical roles. This is a 1.2% increase from 2016.
What is going on at present in Sudan is extraordinary. What is even more interesting—and less reported—is the fact that so many of the protests that are forcing the military to backtrack on authoritarian control are being led by women.
Halsey, who came out as a bisexual years ago, was kicked out of her house when she dropped out of community college and struggled to pay for food and rent. Although she eventually became a best-selling artist/singer, she spoke about her most financially insecure times recently at a benefit for ending youth homelessness.
In less than five months, Michelle Obama has sold more than 10 million units of her biography, “Becoming.” It is a publishing industry phenomenon, and on track to become the bestselling memoir of all time. A Judge in North Carolina ruled that three girls in a charter school cannot be compelled to wear skirts, and more feminist news.
It was a strange week made stranger by the fact that the leader of the free world engaged in a social media feud with the husband of one of his employees, advisor Kellyanne Conway. This March Rolling Stone’s cover celebrates Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and three members of the congressional freshman class—Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and more news on women in media and tech.
Out of the twenty-one Marvel superhero films, Captain Marvel is the first one solely about a woman, and already the 13th most successful in the franchise with $760 MM at the box office. Movie review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes, YouTube, and IMDb were besieged by trolls trying to sabotage its success. The film actually spurred several review platforms to alter their algorithms.
During the week of International Women’s Day, PWC released the Women in Work 2019 report. Some observations: Iceland is named the most feminist country, Sweden holds second place, and for the first time, New Zealand is number three most feminist country. Very disappointing are the United States, China, and India’s rankings.
Elizabeth Rowe, the principal flutist at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, one of the “big five,” settled her landmark equal-pay lawsuit against her employer for a disparity between her paycheck and that of a comparable musician—principal oboist John Ferrillo. “According to the BSO’s 2016 tax filings, Rowe made 75 percent of Ferrillo’s annual salary, which was $286,621 […]”
The Grammys were on mid-month, and women took center stage. The theme was the power of women and the LGBTQ community, as even former First Lady Michelle Obama showed up for her girls. There were, we cannot fail to note, some disagreements as to whether the Grammys were successful based on the arguments of race, gender, and recognition.
Kamala Harris recently became the fourth woman to announce her candidacy for President of the United States, and drew a rare compliment from the man she seeks to replace. When asked by The NY Times who would be his toughest opponent in 2020, Trump replied: "I would say, the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris. I would say, in terms of the opening act, I would say, would be her." And he is right.
Oby Ezekwesili has devoted much of her career to anti-corruption, a major issue in Nigeria, and was a 2018 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. At present, her mission is to return all the kidnapped Boko Haram schoolgirls back to their families, despite the uneasy fact that the world seems to have moved on from previous outrage.
The new year arrived at cyclonic speed with Lifetime’s Surviving R Kelly. With over 20 million viewers, the #MeToo movement has finally reached communities of color. The New York Times even ran an Op Ed, titled: “After the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Documentary, #MeToo Has Finally Returned to Black Girls: Let’s keep it there.” Hard questions are being asked, once again, of urban icons.
2018 was a banner year in the struggle for the ever-elusive equality between the sexes. There are many reasons why that was the case, not the least of which was the boiling point of election day 2018 reached after years of recurrent misogynistic remarks by the President and pushback against the rise of misogynistic authoritarians across the globe. Here are the largest moments in the Year of the Woman.
Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi activist, has been detained for over a 100 days alongside 9 other activists. Concerns for the safety of the detainees are rising, as the Kingdom recently sought death sentence for Israa al-Ghomgham, another woman activist, for mere incitement to protest and providing moral support to rioters.
As the year draws to a close, it is instructive to look back and reflect on the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of equality of the sexes, the classic textbook definition of feminism. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed; Poland and Argentina had movements to liberalize abortion laws; women marched in places as far flung as South Africa, and Nadia Murad shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
Why are Americans so obsessed with what women politicians, like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, wear? Anna North at Vox looks at the historical sexist obsession with what women politicians wear – and what that says about us as a culture.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi was nominated on Wednesday as Speaker of the House Democrats. This was not a surprise, as she outlined the platform that Democrats used to win this year’s pink wave election. Rep. Pelosi is a second-time Speaker, and this will “most likely be the final act of the 78-year-old legislator’s long career as the most powerful woman in the history of American politics.” More feminist news spanning from India #MeToo to Tunisia’s Gender Equality bill.
“Women won this week,” Joy Reid joyfully declared on MSNBC on Sunday, in perhaps an understatement. Although that other “Year of the Woman,” 1992, was invoked often in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, the latter turned out to be a bigger feminist moment in American politics. Find out why.
Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, receives a $90 million payout and a hero's exit after it was discovered that sexual coercion claims against him were credible. “Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out,” says Times reporters.
“If, for some, feminism is about legal redress and due process, for others, it requires an extrajudicial set of interventions given the repeated limits and failures of the law to bring gender justice. For some others, it is ultimately the voices of middle class and metropolitan women, journalists, actors, and other professionals that constitute the ‘me’ in India’s #MeToo” writes Srila Roy.
Alongside Halloween making a hit at the box office with over $75 million in its first weekend outing with a woman lead character Jamie Lee Curtis (happy feminist moment), NGO Plan International published a report determining the most dangerous cities for women and young girls in terms of harassment, sexual abuse and violence, as well as their safety and vulnerability when using public transportation, and the top cities with effective policies.
Moira Donegan, creator of the Shitty Media Men list, launched a GoFundMe to offset the $1.5 million lawsuit. The Shitty Media Men List had for intention to collect sexual harassment and abuse allegations so women in Journalism and Publishing could warn one another about potential predators.
A year after #MeToo emerged, Jezebel interviewed Tarana Burke. “She started the movement […] in response to what she saw as a failure to speak—openly, candidly—to a 13-year-old girl who had come to her with her story of sexual abuse.” “Anita Hill was one individual who came forward and shocked the nation with some language and a description that had never been part of the consciousness of the country.”
With the majority of the upper chamber having voted in favor, Kavanaugh’s nomination is advancing to final on Saturday morning. Perhaps the biggest disappointment in contemporary women’s rights. Until recent years, Rachel Mitchell has been firmly sentencing sexual assaulters such as Reverend Paul LeBrun for 111 years in prison, but a decline in the quality of her work has been noticed when it comes to prosecuting assaults reported by immigrants and women.
“In a worsening climate where human rights and women’s and girls’ rights are increasingly questioned and threatened, and in a world of shrinking democratic space, a feminist foreign policy is needed more than ever,” said Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström.
CBS sexual accusation drama including the downfall of Les Moonves has been described as the "most significant #MeToo moment yet," leaving a $90 MM severance on the table. Troubling still is Julie Chen Moonves pledging solidarity to her accused husband. Where is the line between backing a spouse and responsibility towards society at large?
No Name Kitchen a group providing food and kitchen resources to #refugees in Šid, #Serbia, Velika Kladuša, #Bosnia, and in #Rome, and through the #UNHCR has documented over 700 cases of violence against women by Croatian police officers.
There is some good news, some hard news, and some bad news for feminism this week. The latest study by University of Chicago political science professor Cathy Cohen’s Millennial Views on Feminism finds that a majority of women 18-34 do not identify themselves as feminist.
Earlier in the week, The New York Times revealed that even as Asia Argento was alleging sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, she was secretly arranging a $380,000 hush money payment to a former co-star for statutory rape. The incident is alleged to have taken place in 2013 in a California hotel room with alcohol when he had just turned 17 and Argento was 37.
America seems to be waking up to the reality that all genders are potential victims of sexual abuse. This news has set off a gigantic reaction in the twitterverse. Right-wing hacks like Ben Shapiro and Christina Summers leapt at the chance to discredit #MeToo on the double standards argument/canard.