Last Week: Facebook Group for Abuse Survivors Shut Down for Harassment, Saudi Women being arrested by Islamic Police for Driving, and The Good Men Project

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Openletr is launching a social app to empower victims of abuse. 

  • A popular Facebook group for survivors of sexual abuse turned into a tool for harassment. “People shared the most intimate moments of trauma with these people,” Amanda, a member of the original group, told WIRED magazine. Amanda is one of five women of the original group that talked to the magazine. The original group, which was closed, suddenly opened up to new members during the Donald Trump campaign and, in turn, many of those new member started harassing and threatening the members of the old group. "It’s not clear whether the #MeToo group was taken over through some sort of hack, or if it was purposely set up to lure women in with the goal of eventually harassing those who may have joined,” writes WIRED. “After women began reporting their group to Facebook, it was deleted, leaving the original members to piece together what might have happened. ‘That was the worst part. Some people had posted that the group was their safe place to talk, then bam, it’s gone,’ says Amanda.”


  • Just last month Saudi Arabia issued the first drivers licenses to women. This has been done, historically, for the same reason measures of control have been issued against women: to control them. Manal al-Sharif tells the harrowing story of being arrested for driving in Saudi Arabia. Al-Sharif recounts in The Atlantic how, although, she had a New Hampshire and Massachusetts driver’s license, was arrested while driving home her little brother. “The men told him to ask my legal guardian. This is the standard treatment for Saudi women. We are expected to sit in silence while our male keepers speak for us, act for us, and ultimately decide for us. But I had not come this far to stay silent,” she writes. “’He’s my little brother,’ I said. ‘I should be his guardian.’ The Mutawa were shocked. I’m sure they wanted to slap me. I explained to the colonel what had happened, and asked why, when this was a traffic disagreement, the Mutawa were involved. ‘Do you know what you did is illegal?’ the colonel asked.” Mutawa are islamic policemen, whose job is to keep religious order throughout the day. In May, Vogue Arabia underwent a media firestorm for putting a Saudi princess on the cover in a car while her countrywomen, not as well born, would have been imprisoned for doing the same. Incidentally, the freedom to drive was gained after long lobbying by the Obama administration. Fighting for an increase of freedom used to be a part of America’s soft power strategy – whether Democrat President or Republican – but no longer.


  • The Good Men Project, an excellent and worthy site featuring male feminists, is consistently interesting and is a work in progress (as we all are). Writer Paul Hartzer confesses to actually enjoying being a troll sometimes so that we can recognize those drives in ourselves and keep them under control. His motivation: "I’ll look around my imaginary social club, looking for validation from the other people in the conversation. The high fives, the looks of awe, the pats on the back. This is the confirmation that I am smart, witty, and rhetorically superior to this sap that I have just humiliated on the Internet. Call me a bully. Call me a troll. Call me a hypocrite." It is a good way to begin the conversation about what motivates trolls, so divisive and retrograde to good conversation. How can we, as a culture and society, minimize the malign impact of trolls? This post is a solid beginning. Kudos to the author for the courage of revealing the dark, negative aspects of his personality for the greater good.
  • Of the top 100 top grossing movies of 2017, a paltry 10% were written by women, according to Women And Hollywood. So it was particularly exciting to hear Christina Hodson was tapped to write the script for the upcoming Harley Quinn standalone movie Birds of Prey (Bonus: Cathy Yan will direct the film)"(Margot) Robbie’s Harley Quinn spinoff, 'Birds of Prey,' having a woman writing the movie changes everything for the super-villain. 'Harley is such a complicated character, she was created by a man and I think he did an amazing job with her, but she is flawed, complicated, has so many different angles,' Hodson told Variety at the Future of Film Is Female discussion at our Comic-Con Studio. Hodson said she hates when Quinn gets written as just a plus-one character for Joker, and is looking to write her as her own person in the upcoming film." There are not too many women superhero/super-villain movies out there, even fewer penned and directed by women. Fingers crossed that the story they put together for Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is as compelling as the story behind the story of how it got to the big screen.


Cover via Independent UK