This Week in Feminist Politics: Sexual Harassment Around the World
- MacArthur award winning author Junot Diaz has been accused of sexual harassment by several women by week’s end. Author Zinzi Clemmons confronted Diaz at a writer’s conference in Australia first. A hushed silence fell on the crowd after she stood up and asked the question why did Diaz put her in a vulnerable situation as “a wide eyed” grad student, years earlier. Apparently Clemmons – who is well known for her coming of age novel What We Lose – alleges Diaz forcibly cornered and kissed her. Since then, several women have also alleged sexual and emotional assault from Diaz. Alisa Valdez has warned the literary establishment about Junot Diaz for years, and perhaps, in hindsight, everyone should have listened.
- Comedian Michelle Wolfe of the Daily Show faced backlash for her jokes at the WHCD, particularly the ones that focused on Sarah Sanders Huckabee and freedom of the press. “Some critics of Wolf’s routine took particular issue with her jabs at the White House Press Secretary, claiming a remark about Sanders’s ‘smoky eye’ targeted her appearance and was therefore un-feminist,” says Time magazine. “However, (Samantha) Bee sides with those who think Wolf’s dig was directed at Sanders’s job performance, not her looks. ‘Maybe we need to remind people what feminism is about,’ the Full Frontal host said during Wednesday night’s episode. ‘Look, calling Sanders a liar isn’t an insult, it’s her job description. Feminism doesn’t mean you can never make jokes about another woman ever.’”
- Three women are suing Charlie Rose and CBS News alleging sexual harassment. The Washington Post published an article showing three occasions in 30 years in which women warned CBS management of the behavior of Charlie Rose. “The new allegations follow an earlier Post report on Rose’s behavior at his namesake PBS program, in which eight women accused the TV star of making lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas,” the paper of record writes. “Rose issued an apology. His PBS show was canceled and he was fired from CBS News.” Further, the article found 27 additional women – 14 CBS News employees – who claim Rose harassed them.
- Feminism is, edited by Jen Thorpe, is a book contributions by 31 South African feminists, including: Gugulethu Mhlungu, Rebecca Davis, Ferial Haffajee, Nomalanga Mkhize, and Helen Moffett. All are attempting to define the truth of what contemporary feminism is for them. Feminism is: South Africans speak their truth comes out of the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2016 where Jen Thorpe was the moderator. You can find the original event here.
- The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, has decided not to award a prize this year after 18 women accused a man close to the committee of sexual harassment. “The announcement came days after Swedish media reported that French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of an academy member and a recipient of academy funds, groped Swedish Crown Princess Victoria at an academy event in 2006,” says the Washington Post. “Arnault had already been accused of sexual harassment or assault, in some cases on academy property, by 18 women in November. He also allegedly leaked the names of at least seven Nobel winners but has denied all accusations against him."
- The Writers Guild most extensive survey ever in its history has sexual harassment as its subject. The Guild surveyed over 2,000 members or one-fifth of the organization. “The board is reviewing the results of the sexual harassment survey and will use the information to help inform the guild’s work on the issue,” a Guild spokesman told Deadline. “We’re not going to comment beyond that.”
- Sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown has been serving a life sentence for killing her John. She was 16 years old at the time, she fatally shot her 43-year old john. She was convicted in 2014 and has been serving time for first degree murder at the Tennessee Prison for Women since 2004. After the 2011 hit documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story by filmmaker Dan Birman gained traction on social media, celebrities began arguing for clemency. “A court date has been set in a challenge to the sentence of Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman serving life in prison for a murder committed when she was 16 and whose cause has been championed by celebrities including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian,” says The Tennessean. “The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear oral arguments on June 14 from lawyers for Brown challenging her sentence as unconstitutional. State attorneys defending Brown's sentence have argued her sentence does not contradict a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found life sentences for juveniles to be cruel and unusual punishment in most instances.” If the sentence is not declared unconstitutional, then it will fall on Gov. Bill Haslam to consider a pardon for Brown, who is now 29 years old.
Cover photo via KSCJ