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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 8:31 am 
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All Women Like to Be Catcalled, According to Buenos Aires' Mayor
by Jasmine Garsd @ThisIsFusion
4 May 2014

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Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri and wife Juliana Awada attend the Opening Ceremony of the 125th IOC Session at Teatro Colon on September 6, 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, has recently found himself in hot water over his views on catcalling women on the streets of Argentina.

A few weeks ago, he defended catcalling, a common practice in Latin America that has become increasingly controversial. The 55-year-old is now in the news again for a picture of him lasciviously eyeing a 17-year-old pop star, which went viral this week in Argentina.

Earlier Macri had said that women shouldn’t be offended by sexual comments directed toward them by men in public, even as groups are working to raise awareness that most women feel harassed by them. "Women who say they don’t like it, and are offended by it, I don’t believe it” said Macri on the “FM Masters” radio show. "There is nothing nicer than a piropo, even if it’s accompanied by something offensive, if someone says ‘nice culo’ it’s all good.”

In most of Latin America, piropos — catcalls — are part of everyday life. It’s a tradition that’s gone modern, there are even websites that offer ideas for catcalls.

But women’s groups are trying to stamp out the practice, which often result in crass, offensive and threatening statements. Macri’s comments came just one month after the launch of a public campaign against catcalling in his city. An NGO named Accion Respeto posted signs around Argentina’s largest city last month, which displayed common catcalls that women regularly hear on the streets.

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“Come here brunette, we want to rape you” read one of the many signs, which were posted on street corners and buildings all around Buenos Aires. “You look like a little whore my love,” read another. Underneath each sign, there was a clarification, “If you don’t like reading it, how would you feel about hearing it?”
Source: Facebook/Accion Respeto

Macri and others believe the comments are made in a lighthearted way, but a recent study found that most women think the catcalls are menacing. The poll, conducted by the Universidad Abierta Interamericana (UAI), concluded that most women would prefer not to be catcalled at all, and feel threatened by piropos.

Over 70 percent of the women surveyed said they’d recently heard vulgar comments directed at them while walking on the streets. Fifty-six percent of women in the UAI study said they cross the street when they see a group of men, and 42 percent said they are simply afraid of walking alone in public.

Not all women agree. “I love [being catcalled]!” wrote commenter rita_frey under the piece about the survey. “I answer nasty catcalls with something even nastier, I laugh heartily at the funny ones, and I collect the gentlemanly ones. They are like pearls that make life funny. Good times!”

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But another reader — Mechicabota — replied, “harassment is not just in the words. It’s in the attitude … I don’t go out into the street so you can call me ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly’, ‘fat’ or ‘thin’. I go out in public because i’m trying to live my life.”

Soon after his statements aired, Macri apologized, saying one of his daughters scolded him for his comments. “I made a gentlemanly comment, I apologize to those I’ve offended” he tweeted. “I am against any situation that makes women uncomfortable on the street. And I don’t catcall women like that.”

Reader carlos_gimenez2 wrote: “It it embarrassing that this … represents us. How can someone in a position of power say something so brutish?”

Then, just days later, this photograph of Macri staring lasciviously at a 17-year-old pop singer went viral. The anti-catcalling efforts have found their way into pop culture too. Popular Argentine comedienne Cualca’s sketch about women’s dislike for catcalling helped catapult her to internet fame. In it, she fantasizes about brutally murdering the men who say threatening things to her on the street.



“Of course, we are completely against murder,” she clarifies at the end of the sketch. “Society is against killing people. But society doesn’t seem to be bothered by you flashing me, and society doesn’t seem to have a problem with you telling me that you want to rape me. So keep on saying it. Maybe one day you’ll work up the nerve to actually rape me.”

Source: Fusion.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:49 am 
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Women go online to protest 'everyday sexism'
By SYLVIA HUI
20 July 2014

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Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, poses for a portrait in London, Monday, July 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) -- When Laura Bates was followed home one night by a man from her bus, she didn't think much of it. Incidents like that just seemed to be part of living in London.

But the writer said several other similar situations followed within days: One stranger shouted obscenities at her out of a car window. Another propositioned her forcefully in a cafe. A third groped her on the bus, and commuters looked away when she spoke up. She was startled not so much by the incidents - but how accustomed she had become to brushing such behavior aside and not taking action.

"I started talking to other women, and I couldn't believe how many stories they had. I think many of us just think `maybe I'm unlucky,'" said Bates, 27, in an interview. "Just like me, so many of them said `until you asked me, I've never talked to anyone about this.'"

Those conversations triggered the birth of the Everyday Sexism project, a website that Bates set up for women to share their experiences of sexism and harassment in their daily lives - in the office, on the train, in school or on the street. Two years on, what started as a simple idea has become a movement that is steadily gaining momentum, galvanizing support from politicians, police and thousands of women and men from Britain and beyond.

The project has collected 70,000 posts from some 20 countries, describing a wide range of unwelcome behavior and offenses from a colleague's casual comment to unreported rapes. Many tell of assault, threats of violence and verbal abuse in public places. Others report seemingly innocuous behavior and comments: One woman tells how a sales assistant handed back her change to her male friend, after she had paid for the goods.

Some are disturbing because those posting are so young: A 12-year-old wrote to tell how she was told to "get back in the kitchen" by her male classmates when she raised her hand to say something, and numerous preteens say they are harassed daily by men who shout at or touch them on the way to school.

The outpouring on Bates' website, and the attention it has garnered, has translated into some successes offline. Bates has addressed a United Nations-hosted forum and worked with British politicians, schools and businesses, and she and other activist groups have collaborated with British Transport Police to help reduce sexual assault and unwanted sexual behavior on subway trains and buses.

"The greatest problem is a high degree of underreporting," said Inspector Ricky Twyford, who oversees the force's awareness campaign. That has improved in the past year or so, he said. "Definitely there has been a shift in the confidence and awareness of people who either experienced or witnessed it to come forward."

The force says reporting rates have increased by 36 percent, while arrests were up 22 percent compared to the year before.

Bates said she was surprised that despite perceived equality in the workplace, sexism in the office remains the most commonly voiced concern on her website.

"There were men in their office printing off pictures of female applicants and rating them out of ten. Other women say their colleagues went to strip clubs at lunch time with clients and they just missed out on these deals," she said. Many such incidents go unreported largely because women are afraid of losing their jobs, she said.

The popularity of social media has been key in sparking interest and debate in women's rights campaigns like Bates'. When a disturbed young man who had professed hostility to women went on a shooting rampage in California in May, hundreds of thousands of women worldwide turned to Twitter to reflect on the misogyny they experience in their own daily lives, using the hashtag YesAllWomen.

Bates said the online community has encouraged women to speak out against sexism even if they have been ridiculed or told "not to make a fuss about it" elsewhere.

"That doesn't work anymore because suddenly 50,000 people are saying the same thing. The social media age has enabled a sort of collective action and made people feel courageous," she said.

Not all the reactions have been positive. Critics have argued that the focus is too trivial and distract from more important women's issues. Others say some of the behavior described in the entries does not count as sexism, or claim the women are being overly sensitive.

Bates has plans to expand the project's reach to places from Mexico to Serbia to India, and says there is still much to be done at home. Sexualized images of women are still everywhere, she said, a major influence on how women are treated from day to day. This week, when Prime Minister David Cameron announced a government shakeup to promote more women to the Cabinet, British tabloids chose to focus on what the female politicians wore and how they styled their hair.

"People say sexism doesn't exist anymore," Bates said. "But it really is one of those things where once you see it, you can't stop seeing it all around you."

Online: everydaysexism.com

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:03 pm 
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University offers female students extra credit for not shaving their armpits
by Lauren Clark
July 3, 2014

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Female Arizona State University students can receive extra credit for defying social norms and refusing to shave for 10 weeks during the semester.

Women and Gender Studies Professor Breanne Fahs, encourages her female students to cease shaving their underarms and legs during the semester and document their experiences in a journal.

Student Stephanie Robinson said it was a “life changing experience.” “Many of my friends didn’t want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught at the idea that I would be getting married in a white dress with armpit hair,” Robinson told ASU news.

Men are also allowed to receive extra credit, as long as they shave their bodies from the neck down. Fahs says the experiment illustrates social issues with gender roles, particularly with the male participants. “One guy did his shaving with a buck knife,” Fahs said. “Male students tend to adopt the attitude of, ‘I’m a man; I can do what I want.”

As the Director of the Center for Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality Group at ASU, Fahs has been very active in women’s issues. Her academic journals have been published in outlets such as Feminism & Psychology, Psychology of Women Quarterly and Gender and Society. She has also authored books including Performing Sex, Moral Panics of Sexuality and her newest biography on the life of radical feminist and attempted assassin, Valerie Solonas.

Participant and student Jaqueline Gonzalez said the experience allowed her to start on a path of activism. “The experience helped me better understand how pervasive gendered socialization is in our culture. Furthermore, by doing this kind of activist project I was no longer an armchair activist theorizing in the classroom.” she said. “So much is learned by actually taking part in the theory or idea we learn in the classroom, and we could benefit from this type of pedagogy being taken up by similar classes.”

Source: CampusReform.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:33 am 
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Vagina selfie for 3D printers lands Japanese artist in trouble
by Justin McCurry
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

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Megumi Igarashi and the vagina kayak she had made. Photograph: /Megumi Igarashi

Last month it took more than 20 firefighters to free a US student who had become trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany.

But genital art elicited a very different response in Japan this week, when police arrested an artist for distributing data that enables recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina. The artist, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as “good-for-nothing girl” – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls “pussy boat”, according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.

The artist, whose real name is Megumi Igarashi, was held in custody in Tokyo on suspicion of breaking Japanese obscenity laws. Media reports said Igarashi, 42, denied the allegations. She pointed out that had not sent images of her vagina in return for money and did not recognise the scanned 3D data as obscene. Kyodo quoted unnamed police sources as saying Igarashi had collected about 1m yen in exchange for the data.

While Igarashi's art has a fun-loving and cheeky theme, her situation is serious as far as the law is concerned: if convicted she could receive up to two years in jail or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen (£14,300/US$24,500), according to her lawyer. Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of her arrest, which comes soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.

The activist Minori Kitahara said police raided Igarashi's office and seized 20 of her artworks. "Japan is still a society where those who try to express women's sexuality are suppressed, while men's sexuality is overly tolerated," she said.

Igarashi has made a name for herself with her Decoman “Decorated Vagina” series of sculptures. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese for vagina. Igarashi said she was once asked not to use the word Decoman during a TV appearance. Because female genitalia were “overly hidden” in Japanese society, “I did not know what a pussy should look like,” she said in an online post. “I thought it was just funny to decorate my [moulded] pussy and make it a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say manko.”

One of the works, described as a “vaginal battle scene”, shows a group of toy soldiers taking cover in an unmistakeably pudic crevice; another diorama titled Fukushiman – a “taboo on top of taboo” – shows workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in similar surroundings. She has also designed iPhone covers and recently posted an image of Gundaman, a figurine based on the popular anime character Gundam, sporting an oversized vagina, according to the Japanese art and design website Spoon & Tamago.

Igarashi has said she is on a mission to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, a country where thousands flock to an officially sanctioned annual penis festival in Kawasaki every April.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:51 pm 
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The 'sexy car wash' in Sardinia sparked controversy. Photo: Marco Bellu

Sexy car wash 'not degrading' owner claims
30 July 2014

The owner of a car wash in Sardinia has hit back at claims he is degrading women, after he hired a scantily-clad team of models to clean cars.

They're better workers than men, he tells The Local. In fact, Maurizio Gianni, the owner of Albo car wash in Olbia, said he plans to hire male models as part of the next so-called “sexy car wash” event on August 9th in a bid to “silence the feminists”.

As word spread across the island on Saturday that the women - hired from an employment agency - were cleaning cars, a queue of male clients quickly formed. The initiative was slammed by a local women’s group, Prospettiva Donna, for being “detrimental to the dignity of women”.

But Gianni insists it was only intended to attract attention to his business, which has been hit hard by the financial crisis and recent bad weather. It was not meant to be “vulgar towards women”. “It also gives the women a job for a few hours,” he said, adding that a female works full-time at the car wash. I find women, especially the younger ones, are better workers than men. They’re more enthusiastic and happier.”

Despite lacking a sunny disposition, male models will be used at the next “sexy car wash” show, a move Patrizia Desole, the president of Prospettiva Donna, said “made no difference”. “The only reason he’s now using men is because of the controversy,” Desole told The Local. “Whether it’s men or women, it still shows a lack of respect. For years we have been fighting to defend women’s rights and combat gender-based violence. This type of publicity destroys all of that.”

Source: The Local Italy.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:13 am 
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Lego told off by 7-year-old girl for promoting gender stereotypes
by Kashmira Gander
Monday, 3 February 2014

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Lego figures are pictured at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair (Nuernberger Spielwarenmesse) on 29 January, 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany. Timm Schamberger/Getty Images

A seven-year-old girl’s letter scolding Lego for what she saw as gender stereotypes in their toys has gone viral.

In Charlotte Benjamin’s hand-written letter she says she “love[s] Lego” but complains that during a visit to the toy store she noticed that “there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls.” Addressing the “Lego company” she compares how “all the girls did was sit at home, got to the beach, and shop, and had no jobs,” while the boy figures “went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs,” adding they “even swam with sharks”.

In the letter dated 25 January, the seven-year-old orders the company to “make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?! Thank you.” Charlotte’s mother sent her daughter’s strongly worded letter to The Society Pages website. The photo of the letter has since been retweeted almost 2000 times.

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7yo Charlotte writes an adorable and strongly worded letter to LEGO regarding the lack of adventures for girls.

The child has tapped into wider criticisms of toy manufacturers, with the Education and Childcare Minister warning in January of the risk of turning girls off careers in science and math by producing gender-specific toys. Elizabeth Truss called for parents to buy more Lego for their daughters to get them interested in engineering.

Emma Owen, a spokeswoman LEGO UK Lego, said: "We are grateful that we have a product that so many children around the world engage with. Each year hundreds of thousands of children all over the world reach out to us after playing with our products, and give us positive feedback and suggestions for ways to improve. We reply to all consumers who reach out to us, and this answer is between us and the consumer unless the consumer decides to share our response of course. "In general we believe that LEGO® play appeals to children of both genders and all ages. Building with LEGO bricks fosters the creativity of children which is why it’s our mission to offer any child – regardless of their age, gender or interests - a relevant LEGO play experience." She added: "We have a variety of female minifigures in our assortment."

Source: Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:57 am 
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Sexism of Authorities Aggravates Violence Against Women Journalists in Mexico
14 August 2014

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Yunuhen Rangel, Lucia Lagunes, Lydia Cacho and Adriana Carmona

MEXICO (Efe) – The sexism of Mexican authorities generates impunity and has led to a 300 percent increase in violence against women journalists in just a decade, according to a report presented by an NGO.

In the last few years 86 cases of violence against women journalists were reported, of which 54 percent occurred in 2013, the study by the Communication and Information for Women organization (CIMAC) revealed. It added that Mexico City reported 35 percent of the total number of cases, thus making the capital “the most dangerous place for women in this profession.” “The sexist treatment is seen, among other factors, in the questioning of the personal life of the journalists, re-victimization and the lack of guarantees to gain access to a life free of violence,” said CIMAC’s chairwoman, Lucia Lagunes.

The study, “Impunity. Violence against Women Journalists. Legal Analysis,” was presented on Wednesday in Spain’s Cultural Center in the capital.

Lagunes said “the Mexican state is indebted with freedom of expression and journalists, to whom it guarantees no justice when they are abused, thus leaving the door open for incidents to be repeated.”

One of the participants at the event was Mexican journalist and writer Lydia Cacho, who said the lack of gender perspective in the standards of freedom of expression and the “naturalization of the violence” is reflected in the poor access to justice for the journalistic community.

According to the report, the Government of Mexico City adopted a “repressive” position towards social protests and free speech which is reflected in constant attacks during public demonstrations against women journalists, mostly from independent media. No institution, public prosecutor, mechanism or office has managed to change the landscape, and even though a regulatory framework for the protection of journalists and defenders of human rights has been created in Mexico in the last two years, its application has been “fledgling,” the report said.

On Monday, the National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Mexico said the risk for women activists and journalists still exists in the country, which witnessed 398 assaults between 2010 and 2013.

Source: Efe via Latin American Herald Tribune.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:33 am 
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Shocked and outraged by Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video? Perhaps you should butt out
by Michelle Lhooq
Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Nicki Minaj sings Anaconda. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In the summer when America’s racial wounds are rupturing , and the anger of the disenfranchised boils over from a hashtag into a movement, the possibility of real change dances in front of us. But the pop music world only wants to talk about one thing: black women’s butts.

They’re twerking all over Taylor Swift’s new video, Shake It Off – she even crawls under them, mouth agape, gawking at her own cultural appropriation. They’re also the focus of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video – shimmying around her all-female jungle gym before teasing Drake, as he sits back in a chair.



In this sea of wobbling black flesh, a new report on sexism and racism in music published last week by three leading women’s groups gives a directive: “Picture … Jay Z, stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex kitten-ing his way through a boulevard of suited and booted women for their pleasure.” You can’t. But that’s the point. Our inability to picture the hip-hop mogul in a thong, the report claims, is proof of a double standard endemic to music video culture, where men are sex beasts while women – especially women of colour – are reduced to blank receptacles of male desire.



Going further, the report cites experimental research where viewers who watch hypersexualised music videos become more tolerant of racist and sexist attitudes; some even are more likely to excuse a rapist’s actions. It goes on to suggest that by reducing women to eye candy, music videos create “a conducive context for violence against women”. The recommended solution: compulsory age ratings, and increased cautiousness when it comes to what music video “choose to portray”.

It all sounds agreeable enough at first. But the report’s implication that videos full of sexily writhing bodies are responsible for both rape culture and racism is fundamentally misguided. The subtext whispers: “Hide your butt cheeks, hide your breasts, because people cannot learn to respect women if they are sexual creatures.”

The real problem, of course, is the assumption that displays of feminine sexuality are indicators of sexual availability. That, and the framework of (white) patriarchal privilege that paves the way for this logical misstep, this mental game of hopscotch where the lines are all drawn wrong.

It seems so painfully old-fashioned to think of women as either Madonna or whore – but that dichotomy has just been reconfigured for 2014 as “wifey” or a “thot.” This troublingly simplistic mindset is why newspaper the Voice picked up on the same report with a headline that said, “How Stars Like Beyoncé Are Damaging Our Girls.” It is why the owner of AllHipHop.com wrote an ostensibly “concerned” open letter to Nicki Minaj, asking “Is this the path you want to lead impressionable kids down?” It is why people blamed my short skirt when a sweaty old man followed me home from school.

Slapping a parental advisory warning on Nicki Minaj’s bum will not change the way black women are exoticised. Banning videos by Robin Thicke, DJ Snake, and Calvin Harris, who use female bodies as trophies hard won of their overpowering masculinity, will not deflect the male gaze. Calling out Miley Cyrus’ career-advancing performance of racial drag, or Lily Allen’s casual racism is important, but what we really need is a broader spectrum of depictions of female sexuality – especially when it comes to women of colour – in mainstream culture.



Yes, we have pop stars such as Rihanna, who in her video for Pour It Up bucks patriarchal privilege by sitting on a throne surrounded by strippers – and exactly zero men. Meanwhile, Minaj is literally butting into Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ode to buttocks with Anaconda, turning the classic song into a conversation, and refusing to let the camera objectify her lap dance by keeping it zoomed out, at a distance.

We also have Lana Del Rey’s manifestation of how tedious it is to be a constantly Instagrammable girlfriend, Grimes refusing to be infantilised despite her petite frame, and FKA Twigs showing how feminine vulnerability can be a source of strength. But we need more.



Because the real problem is not that women of colour are over-sexualised in music videos, but rather how absent they usually are in the dominant culture as well as in discussions of cultural issues. Music videos shouldn’t be the only ways that mainstream society gets a glimpse of “otherness” but all too often, they are. A friend, a black female poet living in New York, recently commented: “Maybe if we were represented in other ways, we wouldn’t care so much about this.” She’s right.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:23 pm 
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Boobs aren’t news, but try telling that to the Times of India
by Homa Khaleeli
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

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Deepika Padukone Deepika Padukone: tweeted the Times of India in outrage after it posted a video of her cleavage. Photograph: Strdel/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not the sentence you would expect to see in an “open letter” from the respectable Times of India, (established 1838). “Deepika,” runs the editorial addressed to actress Deepika Padukone, “just for the record, we do not zoom into a woman’s vagina or show her nipples.” The unedifying clarification was the latest salvo in the “cleavage row” between the paper and a huge Bollywood star, in which it seems that nothing is off-limits.

The storm began when the Times of India tweeted a video, angled to show Padukone’s décolletage with the excitable caption “OMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show”, helpfully ringed just like Heat magazine’s old “circle of shame”.

The actor was not impressed, unleashing a flurry of scathing tweets in response. “Supposedly India’s ‘LEADING’ newspaper and this is ‘NEWS’!!??”,” she wrote, “YES! I am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”

Undeterred the Times fell back on the comeback of leery wolf-whistlers everywhere: “It’s a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)

Other Bollywood stars, male and female, then piled into the ensuing storm, until the Times of India responded with the open letter, which included a rebuttal of the actor’s complaint that they would never “zoom in” on a man’s crotch in this way.

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But perhaps the most depressing aspect of the row, for a global audience, is just how familiar it is. With the Sun’s Page 3, British readers have grown accustomed to news outlets treating women’s bodies as currency to drive up sales – with the No More Page 3 campaign’s refrain of “boobs aren’t news” almost exactly echoed in Padukone’s irritated tweets.

Just in the past week there have been long articles about which celebrities have the perfect breasts – illustrated with pictures of Kelly Brook and the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Times of India’s defence – that Pandukone “flaunts” her body on the red carpet – sounds much like the language used on the Daily Mail “sidebar of shame”, where women are often written up to be “showing off their curves” as they go about their daily lives.

Critics have pointed out that Padukone has benefited herself from posing for racy photos, yet arguing that this made her body public property only leads to arguments that justify even worse invasions – such as the recent leak of nude pictures of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna.

Of course, all this might matter a lot less if newspapers were releasing a stream of exciting stories about women who were achieving great things rather than, as the No More Page 3 campaign observes, “page after page of pictures of men in clothes doing stuff”, while women are still pictured “in their pants showing their breasts”.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:55 pm 
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Israeli airline faces calls to stop 'bullying' of female passengers by ultra-Orthodox Jews
by Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday, 1 October 2014

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s national airline is facing outrage over what critics call the “bullying” of women on flights by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to them.

The issue was brought to international attention last week, when a flight from New York to Tel-Aviv descended into an “11-hour long nightmare”. A group of Haredi Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, believing that the sexes should be segregated.

After delaying the take-off by standing in the aisles and attempting to trade seats, despite numbers being allocated in advance, the passengers continued disturbing the flight during the journey. A spokesperson for the airline, El Al, then said it had done its best “to address the needs and requests of all our travellers” in the busy period before Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year.

As news of the incident spread, a petition was launched by a woman in Chicago, Sharon Shapiro, calling on El Al to change its policy.

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Haredi Jews practice gender segregation for unrelated men and women

She wrote: “Why does El Al Airlines permit female passengers to be bullied, harassed, and intimidated into switching seats which they rightfully paid for and were assigned to by El Al Airlines? “One person's religious rights do not trump another person's civil rights.” Ms Shapiro suggested reserving rows of separate sex seating on flights that could be selected by ultra-Orthodox passengers in advance to avoid confrontation.

The petition has since been signed by more than 2,000 people but on Tuesday, a spokesperson for El Al told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that there is no intention of putting a specific policy in place. She said its “policy in general is to try to accommodate any customer request,” and that it deals with requests on a case-by-case basis. Another suggestion in the petition was to communicate with travel agents over block seating for religious passengers so they can be booked with requirements in mind.

Many Haredi Jewish men insist on separation, particularly on long flights, and are known to ask fellow passengers to switch seats for that purpose and also to maintain distance from people eating non-kosher food. The practice also extends to buses in parts of Israel, where it is common to see women seated at the back and men at the front.

The Haredi community in London was criticised last month for putting posters up in Stamford Hill telling which side of the road to walk on. A spokesperson for the local Shomrim Jewish security group said the signs were to prevent contact between unrelated men and women during a Torah parade and organisers had been told they “lacked explanation”.

Source: Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:03 pm 
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Online abuse of women in Pakistan turns into real-world violence
By Katharine Houreld
September 30, 2014

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Internet abuse of women in Pakistan is triggering real world violence against them, but large social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, are moving too slowly to stop it, internet rights group Bytes for All said.

Women face online threats globally, but they run a unique risk in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where there is a tradition of men killing women seen as having injured a family's honor, besides punitive laws against blasphemy.

With law enforcement too weak to fight the violence sparked by online campaigns, activists want giant internet firms to roll out greater protection for users, from streamlining how they tackle complaints to faster action against threats of violence.

"These technologies are helping to increase violence against women, not just mirroring it," said Gul Bukhari of Bytes for All, and the author of a report released this week as Pakistan experiences a surge in sectarian hatred, attacks on minorities and blasphemy quarrels. "A lot of the crime we are witnessing would not have been possible without the use of these technologies."

There have been more than 170 complaints of cybercrime against women this year in Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab, the Federal Investigation Agency says. No figures were available for the remaining three provinces. None of the cases was successfully prosecuted because women usually reached a compromise with the suspect, said Syed Shahid Hassan, an official with the cybercrime office in the provincial capital, Lahore, where 30 employees work full-time. Since police rarely act when women are harassed online, few cases are reported, activists say.

About 32 million of Pakistan's 180 million people use the Internet, the group said in its report, mainly on mobile telephones. About 12 million are on Facebook and some 2 million use Twitter, domestic media say.

ASSASSINATION BID

In one case documented by Bytes for All, an online hate campaign last year urging the rape and murder of a prominent human rights defender culminated in shots being fired at the woman and her husband. She received hundreds of threats and the addresses of her family were posted online, along with pictures of her and her daughter. "She suffered nightmares of being raped, of family members being harmed because of her," the group said.

Facebook took down the pages, but had to do so again when they were posted by a different user, the group said, and Twitter took a month to deal with her complaint. Twitter declined to comment on specific cases but says it took tough steps last year to protect privacy and tackle abuse. Facebook is "passionate" about protecting users, says its content policy director Monika Bickert, who formerly worked at the U.S. Justice Department to target sex traffickers and crimes against children. "My background has given me an appreciation of how serious this issue is," Bickert said. But the woman is unlikely to get justice, as police have lost all the evidence, and the sole witness has died.

BLACKMAILED INTO RAPE

In another case that spotlights the limitations of Pakistan's police, a 14-year-old girl was blackmailed into submitting to repeated gang rapes after her boyfriend threatened to post online a video he had secretly shot of the two together. The slight, shy girl told Reuters she was too ashamed to tell her family and gave into her abuser's demands. Bukhari's investigation showed police got the girl's age wrong and did not charge her abusers with statutory rape. "She's 18," one police officer told Reuters, but admitted he had not looked at school records to ascertain her age or searched for evidence of the abuse online.

Though the case is nearly two years old, authorities have not asked Facebook for evidence, the girl's lawyer said. The site said it would investigate if the rape video proved to have been posted on its pages. Twitter and Facebook had made it easier to report abuse but more needs to be done, said Bukhari. "The companies are responding a bit better to women in the West," she said. "But voices in other countries are not being heard with as much seriousness and that puts women in danger."

(Additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:55 am 
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Rapists confess as Kenyan cleric takes up equality struggle
By Katy Migiro
October 2, 2014

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Rev. Timothy Njoya stands next to riot police during a march dubbed ''Kenya ni Kwetu'' in Kenya's capital Nairobi February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When the elderly man, in his black-and-white striped prison uniform, confessed to raping his 18-month-old granddaughter to prove his manhood, Reverend Timothy Njoya knew he had made a breakthrough.

“He stood up and testified: ‘I wanted to show who has the penis, who is the boss’,” recalled Njoya, a retired Kenyan cleric who campaigns for gender equality. “‘My son had a Mercedes, my daughter-in-law a BMW and I was still driving a Volkswagen. I had to prove that I still have what it takes to be a man,’” the prisoner said.

One after another, dozens of sexual offenders in Naivasha Maximum Security Prison, 90 km north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, admitted that they had raped women and girls because they believed they were entitled to sex or felt frustrated about their lives. “This was a phenomenal transformational experience,” said Njoya, who has held workshops to discuss masculinity with hundreds of thousands of men and boys across Kenya over the last decade.

SEX ON DEMAND

Njoya, 73, is widely respected as a fearless cleric who fought for an end to the dictatorship in Kenya in the 1980s and 1990s. He was defrocked by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa for preaching for the restoration of democracy and beaten unconscious by the police for demanding free and fair elections. In his retirement, he has shifted his focus from national to women’s liberation. “We need to cure the source of women’s problems and it is men; it is masculinity,” he said during an interview in his office, decorated with photographs of meetings with luminaries like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

After 37 years of counseling parishioners whose marriages were in crisis, Njoya believes the root of the problem is that men are socialized to oppress women. “So long as men prefer to eat before, and more than, their wives and children, and to have sex on demand and have more sex than women, then the relationship can only be maintained by violence, by the fist,” he said.

African cultures teach men that they must be providers, protectors and owners of property, which includes their wives and children. When men fail to achieve these goals, or women make gains that threaten them, they explode, Njoya said. “Gender violence is mainly driven by boredom, stress and redundancy,” he said. “If a woman is doing everything and you are doing nothing, it breeds guilt and violence, especially if food is late. Because you didn’t wake up to go and cook, you go and beat the woman for what you should have done.

REDEFINE MASCULINITY

Feminists cannot succeed in their struggle for equality, Njoya believes, unless they work with men to redefine masculinity. Njoya set up Men for the Equality of Men and Women (MEW) in 1999 to challenge men’s perceptions of what it means to be a man. “My aim is to transform,” he said. “You start with the boys and you cure them from those tendencies (towards domination).”

His inspiration comes from his mother, Wandia, who rebelled by running away from home on the day she was due to be circumcised in 1925, and later refused to allow her husband’s clan to pay a dowry, or bride price, for her in the form of goats, cattle, liquor and honey. “What a revolutionary she was,” Njoya said. “She taught me how to be human. To be human, is to be sovereign, is to be free.” Although Njoya was only nine years old when she died, she has been a guiding force in his life.

MEW is not as confrontational as Njoya’s mother. It sugar-coats its gender equality pill by appealing to men’s self-interest. Trainers tell men at workshops that they will live longer if they help out with domestic chores like cooking and childcare. “We tell men to hold babies. Cuddle them and that will give you about 10 years more to live, that alone,” Njoya said. “God did not make women mothers and wives. He made them human and the rest is their choice.”

(Reporting by Katy Migiro, Editing by Lisa Anderson)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:39 am 
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Tarpischev sanctioned for Williams comments
October 17, 2014

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Russia's team captain Shamil Tarpischev smiles during a news conference prior to the Fed Cup match between Russia and Slovakia in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
(AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev has been fined $25,000 by the WTA Tour and suspended from tour involvement for a year for questioning Serena and Venus Williams' gender in comments on Russian television.

The WTA Tour said Friday that the $25,000 fine is the maximum allowed under tour rules and that it is seeking Tarpischev's removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup for one year. The tour also said Tarpischev owes Venus and Serena Williams a personal apology. ''Mr. Tarpischev's statements questioning their genders tarnish our great game and two of our champions,'' WTA Tour chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement. ''His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned.''

Dave Haggerty, the president and chairman of the U.S. Tennis Association, also called on Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to the sisters. ''As the president of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship,'' Haggerty said in a statement. ''Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.''

Source: Yahoo! AP.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 7:12 pm 
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India slides, U.S. gains in gender equality ranking
28 October 2014

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A woman employee attends a meeting with her male colleagues at Titan Co.'s corporate office in Bangalore, India. Photo by Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian women still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth, according to a survey of 142 nations released Tuesday.

The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum showed India falling to 114th place, after being ranked 101st out of the 136 countries surveyed last year. That puts India below other fast-developing nations including South Africa, ranked 18th, China at 87 and Brazil at 71.

Nordic nations led the world in promoting equality of the sexes, as they have for many years, with Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark occupying the top five spots. The United States climbed three places to 20th, thanks to a narrowing wage gap and more women occupying political offices. "Achieving gender equality is obviously necessary for economic reasons. Only those economies who have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper," Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, said in a statement.

Yemen, Pakistan and Chad remained at the bottom of the index, which ranks countries based on data reported by international organizations in four categories: health and survival, access to education, economic opportunity and political participation.

Overall, the report said gender equality is improving worldwide, with 105 countries becoming more equal since the forum launched the index in 2006 and health and education access being the most egalitarian across the globe. "Much of the progress on gender equality over the last 10 years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce," said the report's lead author, Saadia Zahidi, who heads the forum's Gender Parity Program.

India ranked a high 15th for female political participation, with some of its most powerful positions in government recently occupied by women. But it was among the bottom 20 in terms of income, literacy, work force participation and infant survival. China also has a low ratio of girls born to boys, which contributed to the country falling 18 spots. The highest-ranking Asian country was the Philippines, in ninth place.

Experts cautioned that the index, pitting countries against one another, may not reflect improvements on the ground. For example, while Ireland improved its overall score slightly, it still fell from sixth to eighth place as Nicaragua, Rwanda and Denmark moved up.

Indian voters fed up with the corruption and inequalities that have come with economic growth gave new Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party an enormous election mandate this year after he campaigned on promises of a fairer society and a revived economy. Economic growth had been averaging 8 percent for a decade before slumping to below 5 percent in recent years. Modi has also spoken publicly against rape and violence against women, giving many people hope for change after decades of political apathy in addressing concerns about women's safety, high rates of maternal mortality and female infanticide. The Gender Gap Index placed India second to last, ahead of Armenia, in terms of women's health care and survival.

Modi's government has said it plans to launch a program next month to improve the health of pregnant woman and empower young girls. "The intent looks good so far from the prime minister, but it's too soon to say," said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Delhi-based Center for Social Research, who called for more effort in guaranteeing that the nation's wealth is used to benefit women and the poor. "There is no natural trickle down. India needs legislation to make sure that happens," she said.

India's sex ratio for children under 7 has fallen to its worst level since the country gained independence in 1947, with 914 girls born for every 1,000 boys. It is illegal for medical workers to reveal the sex of a child before birth, to prevent families from aborting female babies.

Activists in India also said that while they've noted some progress in boosting the number of Indian girls in primary school, the overall lack of safety was still preventing many from traveling for higher education or taking jobs far from home. Others were simply not getting credit for the work they were doing, such as farming on land that is owned by a man.

"The thing that worries me the most is the work situation, because girls are getting fewer skills than boys, and so they have fewer opportunities than boys," said Renana Jhabwala, national coordinator for the Self-Employed Women's Association in India. "Women are an important part of the work force, they contribute to GDP, but they really are not regarded as workers and producers. It's never become a political issue, and that has to change."

Source: AP via Times Free Press.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 7:18 pm 
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10 best and 10 worst countries for gender equality
October 28, 2014

The annual Global Gender Gap index by the World Economic Forum, shows marginal improvement in women's equality worldwide, according to data on access to health care, survival rates, education, income and participation in the work force and in politics.

The best nations in terms of gender equality:

1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. Nicaragua
7. Rwanda
8. Ireland
9. Philippines
10. Belgium

Nations with the most gender inequality:

133. Morocco
134. Jordan
135. Lebanon
136. Ivory Coast
137. Iran
138. Mali
139. Syria
140. Chad
141. Pakistan
142. Yemen

Source: Yahoo! AP.

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