Surviving R Kelly: No Backing Up, #MeToo Reaching Black Communities & More Feminist News


Surviving R Kelly

The new year arrived at cyclonic speed with Lifetime’s path breaking Surviving R Kelly. With nightly ratings of 3.5 million viewers and thus far over 20 million watchers, 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 now being asked – once again – of urban icons. This time, however, the allegations in the case of Robert Kelly are not going to go away. As a result of the program, which has broken all sorts of ratings records, local radio stations have once again began to pull R Kelly’s music from circulation. “The #MeToo movement and the generation that will fight for gender justice safety is absolutely not being led by celebrities,” filmmaker Dream Hampton, the Executive Producer of Surviving R Kelly told Time magazine. “We know about Gwyneth Paltrow and Mira Sorvino’s stories — we’re aware of that. You’re not always aware of what we’re doing, and what we’re always doing is organizing. When Rick Ross had a lyric about drugging a woman’s glass of champagne and raping her, [women’s activist group] UltraViolet targeted Reebok to cancel his endorsement. That was years ago. We are always doing the work.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has at least two movies and two biographies out now. There are also countless articles and think-pieces on her importance in the age of Trump. One of the most interesting Ginsburg projects out is journalist Irin Carmon’s Notorious RBG, which compares her, at times, to hip hop legend Biggie Smalls. “Sometimes the combination of the genteel geriatric and the quasi-violent rap iconography affixed to the ‘Notorious RBG’ persona seems an unholy marriage, as if we couldn’t quite love a feminist trailblazer without turning the 90-pound bubbe into a gangster,” writes Dahlia Lithwick in The Atlantic. “Squaring the careful public Ginsburg with the media creation of the present time can be challenging. Rap music deals in anger. The women of the Trump resistance are livid. Books about women and fury fill the tables in every bookstore. And yet, above all, Ginsburg models the fine arts of civility and diligent case citation. She is less a radical feminist ninja than a meticulous law tactician—and she has become what we dream of for our toddler daughters.”

A Feminist Influence On The Israeli Elections?

Elections in Israel are on April 9 and some observers are asking whether or not some of the runoff of the American midterm elections of 2018 (and the social media fallout of #MeToo) might venture to the only democracy in the Middle East and have a similar influence. Polls are already suggesting that like the 2018 midterms, Israel is looking at another “Change Election” cycle. “Over a quarter of the 20th Knesset's lawmakers were female, but advocates are cautiously optimistic that the April 9 election could top that – with these 13 women all likely to make headlines,” Allison Kaplan Sommer writes for Haaretz. There are already some early signs that this might just be the case. Among the new lawmakers is Michal Zernowitski, the first female ultra-Orthodox member of the Labor Party in the Knesset.

Yemen Seats On The UN Women’s VP Chair

Oftentimes the United Nations seems more of a surreal artistic creation of Dali than the globe’s leading force in the promotion of human rights. Earlier this month, Yemen was given the vice presidency of the executive board of the United Nations’ gender equality and women’s empowerment agency, UN Women, for 2019. The prime directive of the organization is to fight for the elimination of discrimination against and the empowerment of women. This is the same Yemen that has consistently ranked at near the bottom of The Global Gender Gap Report, put out by the World Economic Forum, which benchmarks 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four categories: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. "Ranked the least gender-equal of 142 countries for the ninth successive year, Yemen fared worse than Pakistan, Chad, Syria and Mali, according to the Global Gender Gap Report,” writes Kieran Guilbert at Reuters on the 2018 report. “Yemen has no female members of parliament, and only one in ten ministerial positions are held by women, while the gap between the literacy rate and enrollment in education of girls compared to boys is among the widest in the world.” Just incredible.

The Limits of Women’s Rights In Ireland

In the 1918 elections in Ireland, the democratic project officially began – but it did not by any means end. The process continues. Irish women won the right to vote, but not many other essential human rights. “The independence achieved following the 1918 election did not extend to women, and Ireland was a cold place for many,” Orla O’Connor writes for the Irish Times. “Yet, due to hard-fought and hard-won campaigns over the years by women and women’s groups, there has been progress from the time where women could not sit on juries, where they were barred from working in the public sector once married, and when marital rape was not a crime. This progress was no more evident than in the landslide Yes vote on May 25th, 2018, which resulted from so many women telling their stories of harm under the Eighth Amendment [which is essentially a ban on abortion]. Yet, there are still many battles left to be fought. [January 6th] was Nollaig na mBan, the day women traditionally left house and care work to men, while they celebrated their Christmas. Every year, there is a debate around Nollaig na mBan, around whether we should still celebrate it, and whether the responsibility of care has really shifted between men and women.”

Cover via Jezebel