This Week in Feminist Politics: What You Need to Know
- The death of Winnie Mandela last week left a void in feminist perspectives on the global scale. “She challenged patriarchy not only in words but also in deeds, and she suffered for it but seemed never to worry too much about how she was perceived by her opponents,” is how The Washington Post eulogized her. “She was, to the very end, a remarkably independent woman.” Fair enough.
- That said, there is some good news filling that yawning chasm this week: Epsy Campbell Barr was elected the first Afro-descendant Vice President in the Americas. She is the new Vice President-elect of Costa Rica alongside her running mate President-elect Carlos Alvarado Quesada. Epsy Campbell Barr is an economist and co-founder of Costa Rica power-to-the-people Citizen Action Party. "I wouldn't be the first only in Costa Rica, but in Latin America. And some day, if the president leaves the country, [I would be] the first woman of African descent to assume the presidency of a country in the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility. But I've taken my political life as a great responsibility,” she told CRHoy.com.
- Gina Haspel was nominated to be head of the CIA. President Trump boasted that Haspel was the “first woman so chosen.” Before the nomination, she was Deputy Director of the CIA. Although definitely qualified for the position, it is not a victory for feminism, as the New York Times notes. “Ms. Haspel played a direct role in the C.I.A. global kidnap, detention and torture operation known as ‘extraordinary rendition," Mona Mona Eltahawy writes. “Under the program, which was adopted after the 9/11 attacks, suspected militants who were captured in Afghanistan were sent to other countries, which held them in secret detention and allowed C.I.A. personnel to torture them.” A Pyrrhic victory, to be sure.
- Rwanda, by virtue of a Constitutional decree that Parliament reflects the female population, is the first country in the world to have more than half of its government run by women. According to data from the World Economic Forum’s 2017-18 report, Rwanda is the best country in Africa to be a woman. It is also -- coincidence? -- among the most competitive African countries with efficient goods and labor markets and a stable political situation that supports "robust GDP growth (above 6 percent for the next few years)."
- International Roma Day on April 8 and Hungarian actress Franciska Farkas revealed that she is of that ethnic identification. Roma are one of Central Europe largest and most discriminated minorities. “Human rights progress concerning Roma generally is impossible without significant advances in the field of Romani women’s rights,” said Aniko Orsos of the European Roma Rights Centre told Reuters. For those unfamiliar with Roma or Romani, according to Wikipedia, they are "a traditionally itinerant ethnic group, living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern Indian subcontinent, from the Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Sindh regions of modern-day India and Pakistan."
- The Ontario Progressive Conservatives elected their 26th consecutive male leader recently. Seriously? Is that “progressive”?
- Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia appears to be blaming the severe human rights restrictions against women in his country in, of all things, 1979. In an interview with 60 Minutes, he said “we were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars, there were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, women worked everywhere. We were normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979.” So – here’s the thing. It is now 2018. And he is, after all, the Crown Prince. So, uh, just let women drive unaccompanied, dude. Stop blaming CBS.
- The social impact of women’s voices in fashion is a trend not likely going anywhere. Statement t-shirts, Planned Parenthood and ACLU buttons, #MeToo hashtags – these are all the stuff of pop-culture now. The election of Trump has ramped up politics in the fashion world. “As demonstrated by Hollywood on the red carpet earlier this year, fashion has power to make impactful statements transcends well beyond the runway,” writes Lauren Alexis Fisher for Harper’s. “From actresses opting for an all-black dress code at the Golden Globes to attendees accessorizing with white roses at the Grammys in support of the Time’s Up movement, symbolic fashion has the potential to make just as much of an impact.”
- Finally in a recent New Yorker essay, Molly Ringwald addressed her sometime fraught relationship as the teenage “muse” – already creepy – for, at the time, middle aged and film Director John Hughes. Sixteen Candles, perhaps the most difficult films of his oeuvres (racially and sexually), involves unfortunate portrayals of Asians and a boyfriend who passes off his girlfriend to another teenager while she is drunk. Ringwald concludes:
“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go.”
Artwork by LittleWomanGoods