It certainly could be worse!

And we do know that, but there’s fresh and sad evidence.  One is the erasure of women in a picture of Israel’s latest government.  The first picture was altered for ultra-conservative newspapers which ban showing pictures of women:


It gets worse.  The NY Times comments:

The news this week has been bad for supporters of women’s rights in at least three parts of the world, with women in government digitally removed from newspaper photographs in Israel, video circulating of a woman being flogged in Pakistan and a change in the law in Afghanistan.

The NYT site  has what seems to be a picture  of the flogging.  It is  disturbing.

The Afghan law is in some ways worse than the marital rape one we commented on earlier.  It will give a fortunately small proportion of men very extensive control of their wives.  Details are at the link above.

“Ban the Breast Pump”

Judith Warner’s new  article in the NY Times could be read as following up on Jender post here.  Warner’s claims, though, are a bit stronger, I think.  It isn’t just that there needs to be some understanding when things don’t go optimally, but also that the optimal may be being misconceived (so to speak).

Is it at long last possible – on this side of the Atlantic [as opposed to France as she experienced it]– to suggest that we’ve maybe taken “breast is best” a bit too far? That a mother’s need for some semblance of physical dignity is perhaps a right worth respecting? That supplementing with formula – if it makes for greater happiness (and emotional availability) in the baby’s most important caretaker – isn’t necessarily an act of gross irresponsibility?

Maybe. Maybe we’re even at a point where it’s permissible to insist that the needs of a mother and the needs of her baby, rather than being opposed are, in fact, linked, and that the best way to meet both is to scale down the demands now put on mothers and beef up support for them.

Given she says that the breast pump makes one feel like a cow, it’s interestng that she uses “beef up.”

Let me recommend  that commentators take a little care not to just  repeat the discussion of Jender’s post linked to above.  Some care had to be taken to clarify the issues, and it might be best not to repeat all that here.

Fire service (UK) diversifies uniforms

Report here on how the fire service has recently introduced new uniforms. A good example of how small-  although crucial! – aspects of jobs can serve to make certain professions unappealing to those who don’t fit the ‘white male’  paradigm, and how this can be changed to move towards more inclusive workforces.

They will fit better, look more professional and, crucially, protect the wearer more efficiently from heat and flames, says the government. But the new firefighters‘ uniforms unveiled yesterday have another notable feature, being designed for the first time “for a modern, diverse workforce” – including hijab and turban versions, as well as maternity uniforms for pregnant female staff.

“We want the widest range of applicants to join the fire and rescue service,” the fire minister, Sadiq Khan, said yesterday. “It is important that all applicants know that the uniform and clothing they will be issued with will not only protect them, but will also fit properly and be comfortable.

Sounds a damn sight more practical (and protective) than this (a pretty fantastic photo though)!

Firefighter uniforms: 1926: A member of the Achille Serre Ladies Fire Brigade in London (From the Guardian pictures: a member of Achille Serra Ladies London Firebrigade in London)

Afghan marital rape law

Afghanistan has just passed a new law *in favour of* marital rape.

“As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 of the law says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

What’s the US response so far?

The U.S. is “very concerned” about the law, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. “We urge President Karzai to review the law’s legal status to correct provisions of the law that limit or restrict women’s rights.”

‘Very concerned’? I really hope a lot more is going on behind the scenes. To urge US action, go here. We sure have done some great liberating over there. (Thanks, Jender-Mom.)