Fashion, Sexism & Politics: An American Obsession, Victoria's Secret, The NFL, and more in this Week's Feminist News

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Fashion and Politics: An American Obsession

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. This reached its apex during Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President; she was criticized for being confused about her gender, editors suggested what she ought to wear, and entire articles were ran on her pantsuits.

via    Vox

via Vox

The Vox article is quite interesting as socio-cultural history. Anna North writes that "until the 1990s, an ‘unwritten rule’ dictated that women could not wear pants on the Senate floor […] That changed in 1993, after Moseley Braun, unaware of the rule, wore ‘a very nice Armani pantsuit’ to work, the former senator said. ‘It was kind of shocking to me at the time that there would be this unwritten rule that women had to wear dresses,’ Moseley Braun said. ‘What century is this?’” Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman Senator, served the great state of Illinois from 1993 to 1999 -- in the 20th century.

NFL: Bad Gender Politics

The NFL cannot quite seem to get anything right with regards to gender politics. “Running back Kareem Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs and placed on the commissioner's exempt list Friday night, hours after TMZ's publishing of a video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February. ‘As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him,’ the Chiefs said in a statement. ‘Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The evidence released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately’” writes USA Today.


The fact that it took months for the NFL to react and discipline the player is astonishing. The calls of “What took so long?” recall the Ray Rice and Janay Palmer video tape of violence (see below) and the glacial pace of NFL discipline. The now-infamous quote from Washington Redskins official Doug Williams – that violence against women is “small potatoes” – is reverberating through the league. “Basically, he is saying that Donald Trump and other people in power are so disgusting that a little bit of violence against women is ‘small potatoes,’ writes Dave Zirin at The Nation. “Williams is certainly right that the amoral vacuum at the top of society has a ripple effect up and down the social ladder, but that only makes it more important for every institution to rise out of the gutter and not succumb to the general moral rot.”


Melinda Gates on Women in Tech

Melinda Gates, who started at Microsoft in 1987, writes for QZ about the challenges for women in tech. “Computer science is one of very few professional fields where the proportion of women has actually been going down. In 1985, women made up 37% of computer science graduates, a high-water mark that still fell well short of gender parity. Today that number has been cut almost in half: It’s now just 19%.” Gates goes on to tie her history into the rise of technology and, of late, the growingly dispiriting numbers in the last ten years of girls not getting into tech tracks at school. "In 2013, there were three states in the US in which not a single girl took the AP computer science exam," writes Gates referring to Montana, Wyoming, and Mississippi. The piece is thought-provoking and ends on some optimistic notes.

Non-Inclusivity Spotlight: Victoria’s Secret

On her Instagram, American singer, songwriter and actress, Halsey criticized Victoria’s Secret VP of Public Relations, Ed Razek, for his non-inclusive comments during a Vogue interview about using transsexuals for their annual show. “Razek was asked about competitive brands 'that are putting trans women in their advertisements’ and ‘women who are size 40.’ Razek responded, ‘If you're asking if we've considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have.’ But it was what he went on to say that did not go over well with some. ‘Shouldn't you have transsexuals in the show? No, I don't think we should,’ Razek said. ‘Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is’” writes CNN.

Halsey Instagram Victorias Secret Comments - Fashion Politics Sexism American Obsession Openletr

"Trans women, women of color, and plus sized women deserve ill fitting, poorly manufactured bras and cheap, vodka-smelling body sprays as well, and are worthy of representation as consumers," writes Jasmine Sanders at Jezebel.

217 Year To Gender Equity

According to World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, at the current rate, the job industry will still take 217 years to close the gender economic gap. “Our analysis found that women represent fewer than 50% of leaders in every industry analyzed—and in some fields, like energy and mining or manufacturing, representation of women is far lower, with women holding fewer than 20% of leadership positions,” writes Sue Duke, Senior Director in Public Policy for LinkedIn. “And the rate of progress for women has been slow: over the past ten years, the proportion of female leaders increased by an average of just over 2 percentage points across the 12 industries studied."  Now let’s go out and do our part to change these ratios. #Incentive

Bahrain: Women Parliamentary Elections

Sunday was an historic day for women in Bahraini politics. In Bahrain’s first elections in 2002, all 31 women candidates lost. This time around, women won six parliamentary seats in 2018, of 15 percent of the Parliament’s representation. The increase is 100 percent over the last legislative election in 2014. "The 2018 elections are historic for Bahrain," Mohammed al-Sayed, spokesperson for Citizens for Bahrain organisation, told Al Arabiya English. "We will certainly have more women in parliament, and this is a source of pride for all Bahrainis as we believe in equality and the important role played by Bahraini women in society and politics," he concluded.

Malaysia: A Gender Equality Bill

“The Malaysian government is committed to ensuring that women enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedom, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She said in realising this commitment, the government is working towards formulating a gender equality bill as an investment for the country at several levels. ’Currently, we have five women ministers (17.86 per cent) out of 28 ministers and 4 women deputy ministers (14.81 per cent) out of 27 deputy ministers.’”