Manal al-Sharif: Calling Attention to the Lack of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia, and More Feminist News


Saudi Arabia: The Fight For Human Rights Continues

This week, Manal al-Sharif, Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist appeared on NPR. She spent April driving over 3,000 miles across America, calling attention to the lack of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She did this because of the important geopolitical relationship between the United States and the Kingdom.

Manal al-Sharif was arrested and imprisoned for 10 days in Saudi Arabia eight years ago after uploading a video of her driving, a serious crime in the Kingdom at the time. The footage went viral, gaining over 700,000 views on YouTube in a day, and the rest is history. On April 25th, her birthday, al-Sharif stood outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC with a sign, in protest. “I’m turning 40 today and my son is still my guardian,” the sign said, poignantly. “If American citizens are aware that one of their biggest allies, Saudi Arabia, is accused of these huge violations of human rights, they should question their senators, they should question their representatives, they should question their government,” Sharif said in an interview with the Guardian. That having been said, international pressure seems to be working, as just this week four women's rights activists have been released from custody.

Supermajority: The Newly Formed Women’s Political Group

Much attention in the press was given to the star studded launch of Supermajority, the women’s political action group aiming at building on the electoral gains of the 2018 midterms. Women still, unfortunately, only account for under 1 in 4 members of Congress, despite being the majority of the population. But the election of Donald Trump has supercharged women's right's activism. "There's a fear that 2018's wave made electing women seem like a mere fad. Supermajority joins a large constellation of other women-focused groups like Emily's List, as well as Emerge and She The People, to name just a few,” political reporter Danielle Kurtzleben writes.

CBS Drama? Not Exactly.

CBS News has always been a good workplace—better than the other news networks, anyway—at providing opportunities for women to advance. A notable example is December 2005, when Katie Couric made headlines and history as the first female solo anchor of a weekday network evening news broadcast, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

This week “CBS This Morning” announced that co-host Norah O’Donnell will be leaving the program to become the new anchor of “CBS Evening News. Further, Gayle King—who recently became a viral sensation for her measured interview with R. Kelly—becomes the only remaining co-host after John Dickerson was moved to “60 Minutes.” King also negotiated a salary increase to $11 million—double what she previously made—as a result of her new role as the face of CBS early morning.

Unfortunately, the press has created a storyline of friction between King and O’Donnell, both seasoned news hosts. The two downplayed those reports on CBS This Morning. “I know you have Oprah, but I want to thank you for being my work BFF. You have made me better,"  O’Donnell said on air about Gayle King. "I have no beef with you, you have no beef with me. This never happens to men," King added. How many times have men changing jobs within a high profile organization been covered in the press as personality conflicts?

Seattle Journalist Fired For Sexual Harassment

Seattle Times journalist Mike Rosenberg has been suspended for sending writer Talia Jane an explicit DM on May 5th. Rosenberg, who is married, offered to donate $1,000 to the National Organization of Women if she didn't release his name on Twitter. “(H)e sent an email asking for empathy to not out him and promised a $1,000 donation to NOW. wrong move. (W)omen are not toys. (W)e certainly should not be played with and efforts to manipulate us will not be tolerated. (L)ive with your choices,” Jane wrote.

The Riot Grrl Era’s Resurgence

Evelyn McDonnell and Elizabeth Vincentelli co-bylined a New York Times essential listening guide to Riot Grrl, which is currently undergoing resurgence. Elizabeth Moss's new movie "Her Smell" perfectly captures the moment of Riot Grrl culture in the mid-90s, re-introducing a new generation of DIY feminist punk. "If you wrote a good song, you recorded it as quickly and cheaply as you could, then pressed it up and stuck it inside some cut-up-graphics-style paper sleeve. The songs were put out by regional labels like K, Kill Rock Stars, Chainsaw, Outpunk and Dischord,” Evelyn McDonnell and Elizabeth Vincentelli write. “In the past year, Kill Rock Stars produced a podcast commemorating the 25th anniversary of Bratmobile’s debut album, ‘Pottymouth,’ and two key groups—Bikini Kill and Team Dresch—have reunited for tours and are rereleasing albums,” they continue. Also -- Jon Caramanica of The Times did a noteworthy podcast on "The Long Tail of Riot Grrl." Check it out.

Cover image via Elle