A Three-Minute Demonstration of What Infantilizing a Grown Woman Looks like

On a Morning Joe broadcast from 2007, Mika Brzezinski became indignant when her producer tried to have her to lead the news with a story about Paris Hilton getting out of prison, as opposed to talking about the Iraq war, among other things. (There is also something worth saying here about why Paris Hilton is taken to be especially unfit and undeserving of attention in the news, and why an anchorwomen is pissed to be covering such a story.)

 

You can watch a few clips edited together here  of her two co-anchors then telling her to “take control” of her job, to not use her producer’s commands as a cop out, and to make her own lead…and then proceed to ignore her commands, physically control her actions, and make light of her indignation over lax journalistic standards.  The editing may be making the interactions look more disrespectful than they actually were, since there is usually is a lot of bantering on the show.  But even granting that, grabbing a lighter from someone’s hand belies your insistence that they should take charge.  Even if Brzezinski didn’t feel disrespected by her colleagues, their actions have such a weird patronizing undercurrent to them. (I’m sure someone somewhere can describe this with more exact philosophy-speak.)

 

Here’s an article written shortly after the newscast aired. And here’s a previous Fem Phil post from 2012  about another incidence where Scarborough claims that he respects Brezinski while his actions cast doubt on that point.

 

The murder of Pinky Mosiane, and, how not to pursue gender equality at work

Pinky Mosiane was murdered at her place of work, the Anglo Platinum owned mine in South Africa. This article brings to light the context of that murder: one in which formal moves towards gender equality (the Mining Charter prescribing that 13% of employees should be women) have not been accompanied by changes in material conditions that ensure the safety of women (and indeed men) working in those environments. Sisonke Msimang writes:

although women are now being sent underground in greater numbers, nothing has been done to make mines safe spaces in which they can work free from sexual harassment and violence.

Women’s increased participation has been accompanied by informal practices (within problematic bonus structures which incentivise risk taking) in which women are treated as inferior workers and sexually exploited in exchange for their ‘share’ of the team bonuses:

In mines where women are part of underground teams, their male colleagues often resent their presence, suggesting that they are unable to mine as quickly. To meet team targets for production bonuses, a practice of bartering sex for bonuses and substitute labour has evolved. Essentially, female miners are coerced into stepping aside to enable their teams to meet the bonus targets. They receive a reduced share of the financial reward that goes to the team. Often, they are also forced to have sex with their colleagues in order to qualify to receive the bonus payments.

The judiciary have suggested that the rape and murder of women in mines is a ‘gender specific issue’, rather than a safety issue, and as such not a matter for investigation by the Chamber of Mines.

More here.

Bogaletch Gebre: Inspiring Guide, Leader, Teacher

[Update: Unfortunately, all of the links for the main KMG Ethiopia website do not work now. Usually when this happens, the site goes back up/working within hours, days, or weeks. For now, the following website works: KMG-Ethiopia. All of the links at the top and the top right of that landing page contain important and inspiring material. We will have to see whether they import more material from the older site, restore the older site, or some such combination/variation. So the next three links below do not now work. However, most of the rest do. Please check them out!]
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One month ago on May 22, 2013 Bogaletch Gebre received the 2012-2013 King Baudouin African Development Award “for transforming women’s lives by developing an innovative approach to changing community mindsets on a range of culturally entrenched issues”.

Interested readers might want to begin with, or include in their reading, this “About Us” part of the KMG Ethiopia website.


Interested readers can find a detailed and elaborate account on pages 8-28 of the 2010 paper “Ethiopia: Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices – Experiences in Four Locations” by Haile Gabriel Dagne, Special Series on Social Norms and Harmful Practices, Working Paper 2009-07, Innocenti Research Centre.

Interested readers can also find a concise summary on pages 29-31 of the 2010 paper “The Dynamics of Social Change: Towards the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Five African Countries” produced by the The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy.

According to a frequently cited 2008 UNICEF study, female genital mutilation in the Kembatta Tembaro Zone decreased from nearly 100% in 1999 to less than 3% in 2008. This study seems hard to track down. Interpretations of it might come from (what is now) pages 8-28 of the 2010 paper “Ethiopia: Social Dynamics…” linked above. Interpretations of that 2008 UNICEF study might also come from a 2008 paper titled “A Study on Social Dynamics Leading to Abandonment of Harmful Traditional Practices with Special Reference to Female Genital Cutting, Kembatta and Tembaro Zone, Kembatti Menti Gezzima – Toppe Project UNICEF Ethiopia” by Haile Gabriel Dagne, study submitted to UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence. If anyone can find a link to this paper and/or clarify this citation matter, please do so in the comments! (I think the paper linked above may be a revised version of (a 2009 version of) the 2008 paper and that the 2008 paper itself may not currently be available, or at least possibly not easy to locate – any help?)

Bogaletch Gebre and KMG-Ethiopia’s successes include certain kinds of focus on certain forms of education and community involvement – very much like the autonomy-within-culture account discussed by Diana Tietjens Meyers in her wonderful 2000 paper “Feminism and Women’s Autonomy: the Challenge of Female Genital Cutting”. See also the “community conversations” based approach of the “Community Capacity Enhancement Handbook” of the UN Development Program (compiled in response to HIV/AIDS but applicable to a wide range of issues.)

Here is a link to an image that represents the KMG Ethiopia “Women’s Perspective – Theory of Change”. It is not as simple as it may first look. After reading about KMG Ethiopia and Bogaletch Gebre’s efforts in the links provided in this post (if not elsewhere too), some of the organizational insights and sophistication should become more clear.

For an excellent newspaper piece that includes Gebre’s story, click here forKidnapped. Raped. Married. The extraordinary rebellion of Ethiopia’s abducted wives“.

Readers can find one more piece, not very long but more detailed than most in the 2012 Global Change Leaders Case Study: Dr. Bogaletch Gebre, KMG Ethiopia by Rachel Hess. It is part of a series on Women’s Leadership from the Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University.

Finally, this earlier post by Monkey is excellent and contains relevant links as well:
Afar region, Ethiopia, Abandoning Female Genital Mutilation

Update: Click here for the UN Population Fund webpage on female genital mutilation/cutting.

Following links on that webpage, you can find this 2012 annual report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joint programme on “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Accelerating Change”.

Click here for a summary of an evaluation of the FGM/C joint programme. This summary covers 2008-2012. Apparently, the second phase of the joint program will cover 2014-2017 and current planning for it is provided here.

In addition to the above material, the UN Population Fund webpage on FGM/C contains many more important and relevant links.

Women Breadwinners and Fox News

A segment from Fox News simultaneously containing a stunning (though, perhaps, unsurprising) level of sexism, and a wonderful response from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. What’s especially telling about this exchange is that Kelly is rightly, intelligently, factually, and articulately, taking Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs to task–and they seem to fail to grasp this. More than once, she’s met with giggles from her interlocutors.

 


A partial transcript is available here.

One Perk of NYC E-Hail Taxi Apps: Reducing Discrimination

a taxi cab

In a case about whether to allow New York City Taxis to use E-hail apps, which allow passengers to summon a taxi by using the app on their phone, the judge points out how this app may reduce the degree to which taxi drivers  discriminate by passing over some fares.

 

“At least on its face, the program appears better aimed at avoiding discriminatory passenger selection,” she wrote. “The driver must accept an e-hail without knowing the passenger’s identity or destination.”

 

 

“Academia’s indentured servants”

It is hard to know which parts of “Academia’s indentured servants” posted on Aljazeera, and written by Sarah Kendzior, to quote because I find the whole thing so quotable.  So here are a couple of important bits that I hope will encourage you to read it all.

On April 8, 2013, the New York Timesreported that 76 percent of American university faculty are adjunct professors – an all-time high. Unlike tenured faculty, whose annual salaries can top $160,000, adjunct professors make an average of $2,700 per course and receive no health care or other benefits.

and

On Twitter, I wondered why so many professors who study injustice ignore the plight of their peers. “They don’t consider us their peers,” the adjuncts wrote back. Academia likes to think of itself as a meritocracy – which it is not – and those who have tenured jobs like to think they deserved them. They probably do – but with hundreds of applications per available position, an awful lot of deserving candidates have defaulted to the adjunct track.

“Hijacking feminism”

An Op-Ed by Catherine Rottenberg: “Hijacking feminism” 

“Yet the ideal for both women [Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter] remains the same – having a very successful career and a heteronormative family and being able to enjoy them both.

This, unfortunately, is how the “truly liberated” woman of the 21st century is increasingly being construed. What is particularly troubling about this feminist moment – especially since both women espouse liberal ideals – is exactly how little emphasis either Slaughter or Sandberg ultimately places on equal rights, justice or emancipation as the end goals for feminism.”

 

” Zillah Eisenstein calls this imperial and trickle-down feminism.”

Lewis’ Law

Lewis
“As I’ve just told @alicetiara, the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism. That is Lewis’s Law.”

A recent article entitled, “Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminism” referenced Lewis’ Law, which is explained above.  What do people think?

Also, I really hope the article linked above is mistaken about the increased popularity of MRAs.

Also also, Lewis’ Law, if sound, definitely applies to the article linked above.

Picking Our Battles: The Paradox of Power & Social Justice

Yesterday I was watching the Melissa Harris Perry (MHP) Show and legal scholar  Kenji Yoshino talked about a possible paradox at play in regards to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling on Prop 8 (and the other case that no one seems to reference by name).  He brought up the following point: a group has to have a significant amount of political power in order to even make it to the Supreme Court, who will rule on whether they are being discriminated against.  This can be restated as,

“A group must have an immense amount of political power before it will be deemed politically powerless by the Court.”

I can’t find the exact clip, though here is Sunday’s MHP show.  And since I was forced to search the internet for another mention of Yoshino’s quote, I stumbled across a law review article he wrote on the topic (no pay wall!).

Today I was reminded of this paradox as I logged onto Facebook and was greeted with a newsfeed awash in red and pink:

equal
a pink equals sign on a red background

(more after the jump)

Read More »

2012 Gender Inequality Index

Click here for links on/for the 2013 Gender Inequality Index


The U.N. (Development Program) released the 2013 Human Development Report (and the 2012 Human Development Index within it) a few days ago. It incorporates data from 2012 for the latest Gender Inequality Index (on pages 156-159). This index reflects gender inequality along three dimensions – reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market – as rated by five indicators: maternal mortality and adolescent fertility for reproductive health, parliamentary representation and educational attainment for empowerment, and labor force participation for the labor market.

Of the 186 countries ranked in the 2012 Human Development Index, 148 of those countries are ranked in the 2012 Gender Inequality Index. The U.S. ranks #42, the U.K. ranks #34, Canada ranks #18, Australia ranks #17, New Zealand ranks #31, and South Africa ranks #90.[The UN Development Programme has several times now updated/changed some of their data/info. Please share relevant updates/changes in the comments.]

Also out of those 186 countries (for the 2012 Gender Inequality Index…), Netherlands ranks #1, Sweden ranks #2, Denmark and Switzerland rank #3, Norway ranks #5 (though as you might expect, Norway ranks #1 overall in Human Development), Finland and Germany rank #6, Slovenia ranks #8, France ranks #9, Iceland ranks #10, Italy ranks #11 and Belgium ranks #12.

In addition, out of those 186 countries (for the 2012 Gender Inequality Index…), India ranks #132, Saudi Arabia ranks #145, Afghanistan ranks #147, and Yemen ranks #148.

More UNDP links are down/changed again. Click here for links on/for the 2013 Gender Inequality Index

Click here for a PDF of the full 2013 Human Development Report. The 2012 Gender Inequality Index is on pp. 156-159.

Click here for a more detailed account of the Gender Inequality Index that includes indicator data from 2012 as well as previous (grouped) years. This is a new webpage containing more index statistics than previous webpages and PDF files. [Update, the UNDP deleted this webpage again, but did replace it with one that contains relevant data.]

Click here and scroll down to “technical note 3” on pages 5-6 for a PDF file that provides details on how the Gender Inequality Index is calculated.

Unfortunately, the webpage with frequently asked questions (and answers) about the Gender Inequality Index seems no longer to exist among the United Nations Human Development Programme webpages. If anyone finds or has a link to it, please share it in the comments!


What do readers think? All sorts of data here for all sorts of comments…