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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:48 am 
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100 Women 2014: Exploring stereotypes across Russia
29 October 2014

Russian photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina challenges gender and cultural norms across her country through fairytale pictures.

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One woman holding a sign saying 'I am Russian I sell drugs' and another holding up a sign saying 'Vodka water'

The St. Petersburg-based artist pokes fun at stereotypes about people from Russia.

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Man with neck ruff made from barbie dolls

Ms Bakhtiozina takes a sideways look at the roles and perceptions of men and women in Russian society.

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Woman in gymnastic outfit holding up a red curtain

Men in Russia often have unrealistic expectations about women, she says.

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Boy with ballet skirt on and helmet

If a teenage boy's dreams differ from those of his classmates he will be ridiculed, she says.

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Women holding a sign saying 'marry me I need a visa'

Russian women are often stereotyped as wanting to marry a foreign husband to secure a prosperous future, says Ms Bakhtiozina.

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Woman in a floral dress and a superhero fighting mask on

In some parts of the country, there is pressure for women to marry before they reach a "scary age", such as 25, says the photographer.

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Man ironing with red statue at the back

Ms Bakhtiozina says it would be surprising to see a man doing the house work in Russia as he would rather promote a tough image.

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Women in ball gowns, one with 'Miss Relevance' as a sash and the other with 'Miss Genuine'

Ms Bakhtiozina says women who compete in beauty pageants are sometimes missing the point in life.

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Women dressed as 'Miss Uniqueness' lined up among stone statues

She says the standardised image of beauty in the modern world lacks uniqueness.

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Woman and man with batman helmets on and a radio stereo

The artist was born in St Petersburg and studied photography at the University of Arts in London.

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Woman holding doll baby with a snorkel mask on

Her work has been exhibited across the world including London, Berlin and Moscow.

Source: BBC.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 4:55 pm 
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Gender equality at work more than 80 years off
By Nina Larson
October 27, 2014

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Inequality at work is not expected to be erased until 2095, the World Economic Forum warns (AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)

Geneva (AFP) - If you're waiting for gender equality in the workplace, be prepared to wait a long time.

While women are rapidly closing the gender gap with men in areas like health and education, inequality at work is not expected to be erased until 2095, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Tuesday. The organisation, which each year gathers the global elite in the plush Swiss ski resort of Davos, said that the worldwide gender gap in the workplace had barely narrowed in the past nine years.

Since 2006, when the WEF first began issuing its annual Global Gender Gap Reports, women have seen their access to economic participation and opportunity inch up to 60 percent of that of men's, from 56 percent. "Based on this trajectory, with all else remaining equal, it will take 81 years for the world to close this gap completely," the WEF said in a statement. The world would be better served to speed up the process, according to WEF founder and chief Klaus Schwab.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (L) meet in Berlin. There are 50 percent more female ministers worldwide than nine years ago, a new report says (AFP Photo/Clemens Bilan)

"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," he said.

Some 'far-reaching' progress

The report, which covered 142 countries, looked at how nations distribute access to healthcare, education, political participation and resources and opportunities between women and men. Almost all the countries had made progress towards closing the gap in access to healthcare, with 35 nations filling it completely, while 25 countries had shut the education access gap, the report showed.

Even more than in the workplace, political participation lagged stubbornly behind, with women still accounting for just 21 percent of the world's decision makers, according to the report.

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French Minister for Women's Rights and Sports Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (R) rings the Euronext stock exchange bell along with Irene Natividad (L), president of the Global Summit of Women on June 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Eric Piermont)

Yet this was the area where most progress had been made in recent years. "In the case of politics, globally, there are now 26 percent more female parliamentarians and 50 percent more female ministers than nine years ago," said the report's lead author, Saadia Zahidi. "These are far-reaching changes," she said, stressing though that much remained to be done and that the "pace of change must in some areas be accelerated."

More equality in Nordic countries

The five Nordic countries, led by Iceland, clearly remained the most gender-equal. They were joined by Nicaragua, Rwanda Ireland, the Philippines and Belgium in the top 10, while Yemen remained at the bottom of the chart for the ninth year in a row. The United States meanwhile climbed three spots from last year to 20th, after narrowing its wage gap and hiking the number of women in parliamentary and ministerial level positions.

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UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson gave a speech at the United Nations on gender equality on 20 September as part of the HeForShe campaign. Credit: United Nations

France catapulted from 45th to 16th place, also due to a narrowing wage gap but mainly thanks to increasing numbers of women in politics, including near-parity in the number of government ministers. With 49 percent women ministers, France now has one of the highest ratios in the world. Britain meanwhile dropped eight spots to 26th place, amid changes in income estimates.

Among other large economies, Brazil stood at 71st place, Russia at 75th, China at 87th and India at 114, the report showed.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 7:18 pm 
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Father wins sex discrimination case after request to work part-time rejected
By Theo Merz
4 November 2014

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Mr Pietzka

A man who asked to work part-time so he could look after his daughter has won a sex discrimination case after his request was rejected.

Erik Pietzka, 38, was a manager at the Cardiff offices of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) when his marriage broke down and his wife moved to Bury St Edmunds with his daughter, then two years old. Mr Pietzka asked bosses at the firm whether he could take two days off work a week to spend with his daughter, as seeing her involved a four-hour drive across the country.

Shortly after his daughter was born he had applied for flexible working hours so he could spend more time with her, but both this and his request to work part-time were initially denied – though it was later agreed he could take one day off a week. The colleague who dealt with his application warned Mr Pietzka that pursuing the idea would harm his career prospects, an employment tribunal heard. The same colleague later blocked his chances of promotion in an annual review.

But women in the office who made similar requests were met with much less resistance, the employment tribunal found. In Mr Pietzka’s 11 years of employment at PwC, the company won several prizes for diversity and gender equality in the workplace, with the Opportunity Now Awards praising the firm’s “inclusive culture” in 2012. “Its ‘Open Mind’ programme has delivered awareness training to 15,872 people in the organisation on unconscious personal biases and how they can impact decision making and working,” the prize-givers said.

According to the employment tribunal, however, this inclusive culture did not extend to one senior employee in its Cardiff office, who held “a subconscious view that flexible working on family grounds was suitable for female employees but not male employees”. The colleague “found it difficult to accept that the claimant would wish to put family issues above work.”

After launching two unsuccessful internal grievances processes, Mr Pietzka handed in his resignation from the £40,000-a-year role.

PwC plans to challenge the decision in an appeal session scheduled for Tuesday. Robin White, the employment law specialist who represented Mr Pietzka at tribunal, said companies had to “move away from that old view of men going out to work and the women staying at home and looking after the children. It’s really not uncommon now for women to be earning more than their partners and for men to want to take time off for childcare. I think this is something we will be seeing more of,” she said.

This is not the first time a man has brought a successful claim against his employer after requesting flexible working hours. In 2011, the Newcastle Metro transport system was forced to pay £5,000 compensation to a male train driver after bosses were shown to have given higher priority to women’s requests for flexible hours.

Employers have been legally obliged to consider both mothers’ and fathers’ requests for flexible working since 2002, though the majority of applications come from women. Fathers are twice as likely as mothers to have their applications rejected, according to figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Earlier this year the law was extended to give all employees the right to request flexible working hours.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for PwC said: "PwC considers that it has behaved reasonably and appropriately in relation to Mr Pietzka at all times in relation to his employment."

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:21 am 
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Hungary police warn women of dangers of flirting
25 November 2014

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, police in Hungary have warned young women about the risks of flirting.

The Vas County police department issued a statement Tuesday about rape prevention, cautioning that "flirting by young women can often elicit violence."

The statement was sharply criticized by women's rights advocates. It came a few days after police from another Hungarian county released a video whose message of "You can do something about it, you can do something against it" seemed to suggest women were at least partly responsible for sexual attacks against them.

Reka Safrany, of the Hungarian Women's Lobby, said they were confounded over the "unprofessional" releases which "very much blame the victims."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:40 am 
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Boss of vile American 'Pick Up Artist' Julien Blanc facing UK ban bragged about 'raping' stripper who was 'totally not in the mood'
By Andy Tillet
18 November 2014

The controversial 'Pick Up Artist' Julien Blanc who has sparked worldwide outrage after a video emerged of him strangling a woman was mentored by a fellow 'dating guru' who apparently bragged about raping a stripper.

Blanc. from Los Angeles, now faces a ban from entering the UK to hold a series of workshops after Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone, said she was lobbying Home Secretary Theresa May to refuse him a visa. But Blanc is not alone in advocating his aggressive approaches to meet women. He was taught by the founders of Real Social Dynamics, Nick Kho and Owen Cook.

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Outrage: Julien Blanc was thrown out of Australia and faces a ban on entering the UK after video footage shows the 25-year-old 'dating guru' using racist language and grabbing women by the throat

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Predator: One comment posted on his Twitter feed stated: 'Dear girls, could you please save me the effort and roofie (spike) your own drink? #JustKidding'

Cook – who also goes by the alias Tyler Durden, after Brad Pitt’s character in the movie Fight Club – appears in a video from one seminar telling of his pride at forcing a stripper into having sex with him. In an expletive filled tirade - recorded on video - he tells his crowd: ‘She was a stripper... I f*****g hated that f*****g b***h. The last way I f****d her too … I just threw her on the bed and I put it in her, and I could barely even get it in because she was just totally not in the mood. And I was like, "F**k it, I'm never seeing this b***h again. I don't care.' So I just like, jam it in, and it's all tight and dry and I f**k her.’

Jennifer Li, a woman from Washington, D.C. who has launched a campaign against RSD, tweeted the video on November 7. She added: 'It looks like RSD's founder Owen Cook admitted to rape in this clip.' The video has since disappeared from YouTube.

While Blanc is listed as an Executive Coach on RSD's website, Cook is his superior, a co-founder of the company with the title of Executive Producer. The Canadian, who now lives in California, was one of the first to comment on Blanc’s now notorious video, made in Japan, where he encourages men to grab hold of random women by the neck and push them toward their crotches. Blanc said that: 'At least in Tokyo, if you're a white male, you can do what you want.' Shockingly, Cook said he felt the video was 'pretty tame by Julien's standards'.

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Aka Tyler Durden: As Executive Producer of RSD, Owen Cook is Blanc's boss. He said that the shocking video of Blanc in Japan was 'tame'

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'I hated that b***h': Cook, originally from Canada, was recorded on video recounting how he forced himself on a stripper. Critics of RSD said it amounted to an admission of rape

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Girlfriend: Cook has been dating Roxanna, above, for four years and has a son with her - who he told an audience was a 'mistake'. Roxanna also works with RSD advising men how to pick up women

Surprisingly for a pick up artist, Cook is father to a four-year-old son, Vincent, who he had with his long-term girlfriend Roxanna, who also works for RSD. The company offers young men coaching seminars around the world, charging around £1,200 for tips on how to date women. Cook appeared in one video with his son. He introduces Vincent to the crowd, pats him on the head, before saying: 'You were an accident. You were an accident.'

Alongside Cook, co-owner Nick Kho – known in the pickup artist community as ‘Papa’ – appears to take more of a backseat in the operations. He married documentary-maker Amber Holmes, who claims to run a female equivalent company to RSD called Lovelogica, in 2012. A dating website review website says his claim to fame is having taken the phone number of Paris Hilton twice - but never dated her. He declined to defend his company’s practices when contacted by MailOnline for this article.

RSD's cadre also includes Executive Coach, Jeff Allen, who is notorious around San Francisco’s Mission District for driving his brightly decorated vehicle, which he refers to as his 'rape van', from which he hurls abuse at women who reject him during dates.

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Big daddy: Nick Cho is also the co-founder of RSD. He is married to a documentary maker, Amber (left) and dating review websites say he is proud of getting Paris Hilton's number twice - but didn't date her

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Too late: Blanc appeared on CNN to apologise for the video in a desperate attempt to dampen global anger

One woman who met with Allen at a tapas bar he frequents has described how things took a turn for the worse when she refused his advances. Jolene Parton wrote on her blog that after she had left his company he texted her almost immediately saying: 'Kill yourself n****r. You're pathetic. The cognitive dissonance must be killing you.'

The spotlight was thrown on Blanc and RSD last week when the video in Japan went viral on the internet. Footage shows the 25-year-old Mr Blanc using the racist language and apparently grabbing women by the throat. His other proposed methods include threatening to commit suicide and isolating women from their friends. One comment posted on his Twitter feed stated: ‘Dear girls, could you please save me the effort and roofie (spike) your own drink? #JustKidding’. A blog post describes how to use ‘use coercion and threats’ and ‘emotional abuse’ to control women.

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A blog post by Blanc explains how to use ‘use coercion and threats’ and ‘emotional abuse’ to control women

It states: ‘Makes threats to hurt her; make her drop charges; make her do illegal things; threaten to report her to welfare; prevent her from taking a job; take her money and humiliate her.’

In the wake of the media storm around RSD, the company has remained silent, although Blanc has appeared on news network CNN, where he apologised for the content of his past seminars. He said: 'I am extremely sorry. I feel horrible. Those pictures that you're referring to, like choking women, I just want to make that clear, that is not what I teach. Those pictures are a horrible attempt at humour.'

Whether it does anything to quell the outrage over Blanc and RSD remains to be seen. He was forced to leave Australia last week when his visa was cancelled. A similar campaign was mounted to bar him from Canada. A petition calling for him to be refused entry to the UK has received more than 136,000 signatures. The woman behind the petition, who goes by the pseudonym of Caroline Charles said: 'Julien Blanc dresses up his seminars as dating advice, which at best is disingenuous - he focuses on tricking women into having sex in order to make money. It is wrong on every level - it is promoting violence against women and girls, it takes advantage of men and it sends a message to survivors of sexual assault that they will not be listened to. To allow someone into the UK who is explicitly promoting these things is abysmal.’

Other commentators have suggested that the campaign against Mr Blanc merely generates him unwarranted publicity.

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Money maker: RSD rakes in £1,200 a person at seminars around the world attended by young men desperate to be successful at the dating game

Blanc’s company, Real Social Dynamics, runs three day courses costing around £1,200. His company is due to host a two day course starting on 27th November and another from December 19. Eleven more events are scheduled for next year.

Mrs May can use discretionary powers to ban anyone for reasons of 'unacceptable behaviour'. The Home Office refused to comment on the specific case for legal reasons. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.’ Mr Blanc’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:05 am 
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'Pick-up artist' Blanc banned from UK
November 19, 2014

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Swiss-American dating coach Julien Blanc claims to teach men how to attract women, but his methods have been widely criticised as abusive

London (AFP) - The British government on Wednesday banned controversial US-based "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc from entering the country after nearly 160,000 people signed a petition accusing him of encouraging "physical and emotional abuse".

Junior Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said granting Blanc a visa "could have led to an increase in sexual violence and harassment". "I am delighted that Mr Blanc won't be coming to our shores," she added.

The Swiss-American dating coach claims to teach men how to attract women, but his methods have been widely viewed as abusive. British ministers had been urged to deny the visa on the grounds that Blanc was "not conducive to the public good", with 158,000 signing the protest on website change.org. "Julien Blanc and his group... are a group of sexist and racist 'pick up artists,' who have made a living by teaching men how to violate women through physical and emotional abuse," said the petition. "Do not associate the UK with a man who chokes women around the world as part of his pick-up game. It's not only women who are affected; Blanc's misogynistic 'pick up techniques' directly exploit vulnerable men who buy into rape culture and end up believing that this is an appropriate way to behave."

Blanc, an "executive coach" for the company Real Social Dynamics, was due in Britain on Friday as part of a world tour. He was forced to cut short a visit to Australia earlier this year when his visa was cancelled following widespread protests and Canadian officials are considering a similar ban.

"As a husband and father of two young girls, I find this person's views, his actions and the fact he profits from them, absolutely and utterly disgusting," Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement. "It is my duty as a minister to help ensure that women are protected from all forms of violence and subjugation, in line with Canadian laws. That is why we are looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil," he added.

In an interview earlier this week with CNN, Blanc said: "I want to apologise to anybody I've offended in any way." He said photos of him choking women and his apparent endorsement of violence as a means of control "were taken out of context" and were a "horrible attempt at humour". I teach guys how to gain confidence, most of them socially awkward, in order to socialise with women and perhaps to get into a relationship with women," Blanc insisted.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:46 am 
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Why everyone needs to see Ben Affleck's penis
By Shawn Binder
October 15, 2014

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Image: popsugar.

The Internet undeniably has a lot to say about Ben Affleck’s full frontal nudity in Gone Girl, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the best-selling Gillian Flynn novel.

I’m not exactly sure why, though: If you sneeze or even squint your eyes, you’ll miss said penis. Its cameo may be the most brief in film history, and the level of attention Ben Affleck’s penis is getting, thus, highlights the way society is not accustomed to male nudity in mainstream media. It also illustrates just how shocked society is when men are treated as sexualized objects in the media, just like women are every day.

The level of conversation generated by Ben Affleck’s member hasn’t been seen since Michael Fassbender showed his bits and pieces in Shame, which Complex considers the most important moment in full frontal film history. (Before that it was Richard Gere in American Gigolo, released back in 1980.) Each one of these male nude scenes marked a powerful plot point or character development for these men. For Affleck, he enters a shower to ensure the truth is told to him while he is not wearing a wire; Fassbender plays a man with sex addiction; and Richard Gere played, well, a gigolo, so it would make sense to the audience that he would get naked in character.

It is important to note that rarely if ever is full frontal nudity with males shown in the heightened sexual way that women’s nudity is shown, as a form of fan service (i.e., "blatant nudity or sexual content for the sake of pleasing fans") for panting heterosexual audiences. Shows like MTV’s Teen Wolf and CW's The Vampire Diaries showcase shirtless men for their audiences, but even then the men showcased are archetypes of masculine beauty, with not an ounce of body fat in sight. They also never show the whole package.

However, the nudity in Gone Girl wasn’t explicitly meant for sexual purposes; instead, its purpose was to make the viewer slightly uncomfortable. Audiences were out of their element being exposed to a flaccid penis while Affleck’s Nick tried to make sense of his marriage. It’s rare that one would call a flaccid penis salacious or arousing, though. When Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Jason Segel flashed millions of people, his mother sent out an email to family and friends that read: “I would like to inform you all that Jason has chosen to do full-frontal nudity… However, it is not gratuitous and is essential to the plot.”

In addition to the double standard on titillation, the appearance and treatment of male nudity also highlights the fact that MPAA ratings can be frustratingly vague and inconsistent. An NC-17 film is used to classify films that could be considered “pornographic.” Although a film like Sin City might slide by with an R, despite featuring the gratutious sexualization of women throughout, Shame got slapped with an NC-17 of death. This prompted viewers to wonder if it was because of the film's ubiquitous (and well-publicized) depiction of the phallus, front and center in the conversation about the movie.

The difference between male and female nudity is, thus, clear: When men get naked it makes them vulnerable, when women get naked, more often than not, it’s to please the fantasies of male audience members. This double standard in the way films are rated heightens the gender inequality depicted in the media. Men are only able to see themselves naked on screen if it’s in a way that’s deemed “pathetic.” Otherwise, male full frontal is left out of the mainstream.

Growing up, the only times I was able to see another man’s penis was when I logged onto view porn. I looked at sites such as FratMen.TV and Sean Cody and stood in the mirror naked after a shower, rubbing my hands over the small amount of baby fat below my belly button and wondering why there weren’t abs there instead. Yet, something is changing. As Jack Flanagan wrote in the Daily Dot’s Kernel magazine: “We can tell more people want more porn all the time from how enthusiastically they have taken to the Internet to find it and how badly the legacy porn industry is suffering now that no one is buying its magazines and DVDs.”

It’s clear that the public is crying out for a less one-dimensional depiction of the male body, even if they have to create it themselves. This is for good reason. In a survey for the Channel 4 program Sex Education versus Pornography, which surveyed over 400 young men and women, 27 percent of young men said that after watching porn, they were concerned with the size and shape of their penises. Although porn should not to be demonized, it is telling that young men would become self-conscious about their private parts after comparing their bodies to porn stars, due to the fact that the opportunity to see other male bodies in the media is scarce.

There is no denying that porn has won the Internet, which has shifted public focus towards men and women with unattainable bodies. This infographic highlights that over 40 million Internet users are regular porn viewers and 70 percent of men ages 18-24 view porn on a regular basis. According to a 2006 study by Arbour & Martin Ginis, the increased number of sexualized images of men in the media has lead to more men being dissatisfied with their bodies, which is both a commentary on porn and the culture at large. Remember: When it comes to objectification, porn has a lot of help from the advertising industry.

However, technology has begun to allow men to see all forms of themselves being represented in different aspects of media. Grindr has allowed gay men in particular access to other men who perhaps aren’t film stars, allowing them a forum in which they can view all types of men in various shapes and sizes. Websites like Tumblr are likewise allowing amateur nude photos of men to be posted in both sexual and artistic ways, opening up discussion on what a human body looks like. Elsewhere on the Internet, discussion boards allow young men and women to exchange Snapchat user-names in order to share naked images of themselves. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but for Tumblr and Snapchat users, it can be an act of liberation.

With the rise of amateur porn, naked selfies, and a push for male nudity in film, there is a male body revolution occurring, in which different sizes of men are being shown to the public, but research shows we still have a lot of work to do. The more young men see bodies like theirs depicted in media, the more likely they are to feel normal in their own skin, and the less likely they’ll feel the need to rub their hands over their stomachs and wonder why they don’t have a massive member and washboard abs like the men they see in porn. Sure, you may only see Ben Affleck’s penis for such a short amount of time that you’ll think it was just a dust particle in your eye, but it’s a small, yet radical step forward for everyone.

Source: Daily Dot.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:02 pm 
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Rome prohibits sexist advertising in city
23 March 2015

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Mayor Marino against ads 'using a woman's body in sexist way'. (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) - Rome - A new regulatory plan on advertising in the city of Rome will enter into effect in the coming days, and on Monday Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said advertising space would be prohibited to those who "use women's bodies or launch sexist messages".

"City advertising space will be able to be sold only to those who respect the rules in the new regulatory plan and so a woman's body can't be associated with images that objectify it or portray it in a sexist way," Marino said.

Marino reviewed the city's advertising code with respect to the "Friendly Images Award" (Premio Immagini Amiche) promoted by the Women's Union in Italy (UDI) and the Office of Information of the European Parliament in Italy, aimed at promoting communication that "goes beyond stereotypes".

Source: ANSA.

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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 12:34 pm 
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Balkans missing girls: prenatal selection upsets sex ratio
By Briseida Mema
May 1, 2015

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A pregnant Albanian woman lies on a bed while doctor observes her foetus on a monitor as he carries out a sonogram, in Tirana (AFP Photo/Gent Shkullaku)

Tirana (AFP) - Drita, 31, covers her face with trembling hands.

She just learned that after giving birth to three daughters in four years she is pregnant again with a girl, an unforgivable crime in the patriarchal Balkans that clearly prefers boys. She tries to mutter a few words, but her mother-in-law, Sanije, silences her with a hard stare. "A fourth one is a curse... either she will abort or there is no place for her with us," she says, handing a bundle of bank notes to a doctor at a private clinic in downtown Tirana.

Selective abortions are common practice in Albania and some other Balkan countries where an imbalance between boys and girls at birth is blamed on a preference for boys. "Prenatal sex selection continues to be a persistent practice in Albania although the legislation specifically bans it," said Rubena Moisiu, head of an obstetrics hospital in Tirana. It gradually leads to a demographic masculinisation of society, already visible among young children.

In countries such as Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and in western Macedonia there some 110 male per 100 female births," Christophe Guilmoto of the French Research Institute for Development, who specialises in gender imbalances, told AFP.

This figure is higher than the average biological sex ratio at birth of 105 boys to 100 girls. And the regularity of the 110-100 ratio over the years attests to the imbalance. According to the national statistics bureau, on January 1 there were 31,000 fewer women than men in Albania's population of 2.8 million. Albania is among the few European countries where men outnumber women, and this despite a very strong emigration for economic reasons over the past two decades, mainly by men.

Traditional society

"Such a trend exists also in Montenegro, a traditional society where (prenatal) sex selection is a common practise," says Maja Raicevic of the Women's Rights Centre in Podgorica. "In recent years for every 8,000 births there were about 800 more boys than girls, an imbalance that is far from normal," said Olivera Miljanovic, head of the National Medical Genetics Center. As a result, Montenegro lacks some 3,000 women of reproductive age, she said.

In the Balkans "boys are more desired than girls," explained anthropologist Aferdita Onuzi from Tirana. "Women are under strong pressure to give birth to a male successor at any price." In Kosovo, Montenegro, but also in some Macedonian regions, traditional thinking that favours boys over girls is said to be the main cause of this phenomenon. Experts stress that a woman is perceived only as a "burden" and a man as a "pillar of the family".

Missing women

Abortion in the Balkans region is legal until the 10th or in some cases 12th week of pregnancy, before a baby's sex can be determined. To circumvent the law, however, many selective abortions are carried out in private clinics or even by individuals who are not authorised to perform such a medical procedure. "Although there have been cases when women died, everyone remains silent, fearing repercussions. A lot of money is at stake," said Fetije Këpuska a Pristina gynaecologist.

In Montenegro, many women prefer to go to hospitals in neighbouring countries to determine the baby's sex before abortion. "I know a woman who aborted twice under pressure from her husband's family after learning she was pregnant with girls. Eventually, she gave birth to a boy," Milica, a professor in Podgorica who did not want to give her family name, told AFP. "The missing women, eliminated before birth because of their gender, weigh heavily on the society and economy of all the countries concerned," said Elsona Agolli, a gender issue expert with the United Nations Population Fund in Tirana.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 6:00 pm 
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Bus company pulls topless 'ride me' adverts after outcry
by Elena Cresci
Monday, 11 May 2015

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A bus company has come under fire for promoting a new route with a poster on the back of its vehicles showing an apparently topless woman holding a sign saying “ride me all day for £3”.

The adverts, by Cardiff-based New Adventure Travel, prompted outrage in the city and on social media. The company, which runs services in Cardiff and elsewhere in Wales, including school buses, was promoting the launch of a fleet of new buses for a cross-city service in Cardiff.

At 11.30am on Monday, just a few hours after the campaign first appeared, the company said the adverts would be withdrawn. While the posters feature both female and male models, the female versions came in for particular criticism on social media.

Hana Johnson, who is part of the team who runs hyperlocal blog We Are Cardiff, saw the bus on her morning commute. She said: “I got stuck behind one of these buses in Canton at 8.45 this morning. With our following of 30,000 people, we try not to use We Are Cardiff to express opinions, but I felt like we had an obligation to the women and men of Cardiff to call this company out on the commodification of a woman’s body, and the trivialisation of prostitution. “I guess you could use the ‘it’s just a laugh’ argument, but in 2015 does a bus journey really need to be sexualised to market itself?”

The company was apologetic on Monday. “Firstly we have stated that our objectives have been to make catching the bus attractive to the younger generation. We therefore developed an internal advertising campaign featuring males and females to hold boards to promote the cost of our daily tickets.

“The slogan of ‘ride me all day for £3’ whilst being a little tongue in cheek was in no way intended to cause offence to either men or women and, if the advert has done so then we apologise unreservedly. There has certainly been no intention to objectify either men or women. Given the volume of negativity received we have decided to remove the pictures from the back of the buses within the next 24 hours.”

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Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:00 am 
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Belloli lesbian remark 'hateful' if true, says FIGC chief
15 May 2015

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LNC chief denies women's soccer slur, witness says she heard it. (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) - Rome - Comments describing women soccer players as "lesbians" attributed to the head of Italian amateur soccer were denounced as "sexist" by women players and called "unacceptable" by Italy's Olympic chief on Friday.

Patrizia Panico, midfielder for the Verona and national women's soccer teams, said that if the comments attributed to National Amateur Soccer League (LNC) President Felice Belloli about women's soccer teams are true, "his words are sexist, male chauvinist, and ignorant".

On Thursday, Belloli was quoted in minutes of a meeting on funding for womens' teams as saying: "That's enough, we can't always talk about giving money to handfuls of lesbians".

Belloli has denied making the comments. However, a witness who was at the meeting said she heard him make the slur. "I was there and Belloli said that phrase about a handful of lesbians," Sonia Pessotto, a former player and advisor for FIGC women's department, told ANSA on Friday. "Now he must resign as president of the amateur league".

Women footballers "are ready to protest on the field," over this particular remark but also the poor treatment female athletes generally receive, Panico added. "There is more talk of us footballers when you use that word (lesbian) than when we play a championship," said Panico. "All we would like is to be judged by what we do on the field, not by sexual orientation".

Carlo Tavecchio, president of the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) said he found the words, if proven to be true, "hateful and unacceptable". He added in a note on the federation website that more money will be spent on women's soccer and said prosecutors must confirm what was said at the meeting. "In a period of objective economic difficulties, women's football is the area where we are investing more," he wrote.

Tavecchio has been no stranger to controversy himself. He was elected president of FIGC despite causing a huge racism row last year with his comments about the prevalence of "banana-eating" players from outside the European Union. Tavecchio sparked the racism storm last summer when calling for tighter restrictions on non-EU players in Italian soccer. "In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play," Tavecchio had said. "Here, on the other hand, we get 'Opti Poba', who was eating bananas until recently and then suddenly becomes at starter with Lazio".

Italian soccer has a big problem with racism on the terraces. Meanwhile Giovanni Malagò, head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), also denounced the comments as "totally unacceptable" and urged a fast investigation into who said what at the meeting on funding.

Source: ANSA.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:26 pm 
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Turkish deputy PM in new sexist gaffe
29 July 2015

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Women legislators are demanding that Turkey's deputy prime minister offers an apology for telling a legislator that she should be quiet because she is a woman.

Bulent Arinc told an opposition legislator who heckled him Wednesday: "Madam, shut up! As a woman you should shut up!" Arinc was speaking at an emergency session of Turkey's parliament called to discuss terror attacks in the country. Women lawmakers protested the remark and asked for an apology.

It was the latest in a series of sexist gaffes by the deputy premier. Last year, he drew ridicule for saying women should not laugh in public, not draw attention and should protect their "chasteness." Women, including actress Emma Watson, reacted by posting photos of themselves laughing on social media.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:15 am 
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Viral video sparks concern in Saudi over harassment of women
By AYA BATRAWY
7 August 2015

DUBAI (AP) -- In a minute-long video uploaded to YouTube last month, two young Saudi women walk along the waterfront promenade in the kingdom's Red Sea city of Jiddah as a group of young men jeer and follow them until the women become visibly agitated.

The video went viral and set off a rare public debate on the rights of women in a country which distinguishes itself as an Islamic state that upholds one of the strictest segregation of the sexes in the world.

Rights activists and commentators lambasted the men in the video for sexually harassing the women, who wore traditional black flowing robes known as abayas, along with face veils. Public outrage, expressed in the media and online, prompted a police investigation, and state-linked media reported that six of the boys involved were detained and questioned.

Then, things took a sharp turn. Days later, another video emerged, purportedly of the same two young women. It was shared on semi-official news websites and carried on websites of privately-owned channels such as Rotana TV, which suggested it had been recorded just before the women were accosted.

In that video, the women are riding a quad bike on the promenade as the young men watch. One of the women tosses toward the men an "agal," the black rope worn by Saudi men over their traditional checkered head cloths. The young men break out in laughter and hooting at the gesture. Suddenly, the women were no longer seen as victims by viewers who accused them of being "indecent," and provoking the men.

Though men and women in Saudi Arabia work alongside each other in places such as banks and hospitals, unmarried men and women are prohibited from socially mixing - in both public and private - and women adhere to an ultraconservative dress code that often includes the full-face covering.

Saudi women are not allowed to drive cars and riding a quad bike is no less offensive in the more conservative provinces. But in Jiddah, the kingdom's cosmopolitan hub and seaside gateway for millions of Muslims pilgrims, some women do not cover their hair and the abayas are not always black. There are walkways where men and women, in sporty black robes, can stroll briskly alongside one another - public spaces that do not exist for average Saudi citizens in the capital, Riyadh.

Judicial adviser Yehia al-Shahrani told the state-linked Sabq news website he believes the women acted in a "seductive and tempting" manner. He said it would be unjust to investigate and possibly refer the men to trial "without taking the same deserved action against those who seduced and aroused this to happen, which are the two girls." He also blamed the young women's parents for allowing their daughters to be in a public place around young men.

The debate that emerged from the videos is significant - both for bringing the issue into the spotlight and for exposing struggles Saudi women face in public.

The Justice Ministry says 3,982 cases of sexual harassment were registered over the last two years. However, that figure also includes cases of sexual assault and abuse, since there is no legal definition of what constitutes sexual harassment in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi women's rights activists and liberal pundits claim sexual harassment is all too common in the kingdom and are calling for a law that would criminalize such behavior. Regardless of whether a Saudi woman even shows her face or not, she is seen as "just a subject to harass," activist Tamador Alyami told the Associated Press. "Harassment is something you see on a daily basis," she said. "It's expected and accepted. That's how common it is. It only makes controversy when it's caught on camera."

Social media and YouTube have carried videos from across the kingdom that appear to show women being harassed. In one, from the central city of Taif, a young woman is aggressively followed by several young men as she walks near a shopping center. Police said two men were arrested afterward, though neither the girl nor her family reported the incident.

Though Saudi women were granted the right to run and vote in municipal elections, due later this year, their lives are still dominated by their male relatives. Under "guardianship laws," women need the permission of male relatives, usually the father or husband, to travel abroad or work, and many private hospitals require such permissions for women to undergo medical procedures.

Many within the powerful clerical establishment argue that male guardianship protects women and say that if women were allowed to drive cars, it would expose them to sexual harassment, among other sins. Jiddah-based commentator and writer Khaled Almaeena says that these restrictions have ultimately failed to protect women. He says religious education should emphasize basic Islamic fundamentals of right from wrong.

Almaeena is among several public figures who have called on the consultative Shura Council - which last year for the first time had women appointed as members - to recommend an anti-sexual harassment law to the Cabinet and King Salman for approval.

Another backer of the initiative, Shura Council member Thuraya Ebrahim al Arrayed said that in the absence of a law, the definition of what constitutes harassment is broad and penalties for sexual abuse and rape are left to the wide discretion of the judges interpreting Islamic law.

A law would "clarify the details because it would punish any harassment, whether it is sexual assault of minors or adults, including that of children and minors inside and outside their home," she told the AP.

But discussion within the Shura Council for a bill against all that encompasses "sexual harassment" was shelved last year by members who argued it could encourage women to go out in more provocative attire and mingle with men. The proposed bill remains with the council, pending further action.

In the absence of legislation, it is unclear on what grounds the harassers in the videos from Jiddah and Taif could be prosecuted, though there are broad laws against disturbing public order and violating Islamic codes of conduct that have been used in past cases.

Some argue Saudi Arabia's morality police, the muttawa - also known as the Commission for the Protection of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice - should enforce segregation of men and women more vigorously, particularly in places like the Jiddah promenade.

Almaeena says norms, such as those requiring women be accompanied by male guardians when they go for a walk or run personal errands, have backfired, fostering negative attitudes toward women among men from an early age. "It's a mindset," he said. "They (men) are not taught to respect women right from the house."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:43 pm 
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Romanian education official resigns over "high heels" comments
22 October 2015

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- A Romanian education ministry official has resigned after saying that schools should teach young women how to walk provocatively - in high heels.

At a press conference Tuesday, Vasile Salaru, said Romanian schools should teach female students how to walk wearing high heels, dance the tango, be a good hostess and walk enticingly in public. He said girls should walk with "chest out, bottom out, let the boys faint!"

Several student organizations protested his comments and called for his resignation. They also reported him to the National Anti-Discrimination Council. Salaru, state secretary in the education ministry, resigned Thursday, saying he did not want to harm his party. However, he said his "informal" comments had been taken out of context.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:36 pm 
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"Birds vs butterflies:" gender-selective abortions in Vietnam
27 November 2015
By Scott Duke Harris and Bac Pham

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"Birds vs butterflies:" gender-selective abortions in Vietnam - © Bac Pham, dpa

Hanoi (dpa) - Huyen, 29 years old and 14 weeks pregnant, waited nervously at a Hanoi maternity clinic.

With two young daughters at home and two abortions behind her, she was hoping to hear staff look at the sonogram and say, "Looks like the father!"

In Vietnam, such code phrases are used to get around laws proscribing medical staff from disclosing gender while the foetus is young enough to abort without medical grounds. Huyen was hoping for a boy, in line with the country's patriarchal traditions; another girl would bring pressure from her husband and in-laws for a third abortion.

Gender-selective abortion is illegal but on the rise in Vietnam, and contributes to the country's highest overall abortion rate in the region, according the UN Population Fund. The widespread availability of the procedure and increased teenage sexual activity, have driven up rates to one termination for every five live births per year, according to the Health Ministry.

Abortions by choice are legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, and typically cost about 150 dollars. A recent proposal by the Health Ministry to lower the limit to 12 weeks, except in cases of rape or medical problems, has been met with widespread public criticism. Within the high abortion rates, gender-selective terminations are a distinct problem, despite 12 years of laws and initiatives against the practice.

In 2014, a record of 112.4 boys were born for every 100 girls, up from 106 boys in 2003. In 16 localities, the male ratio exceeded 115, topping out at 124.4 at northern province of Quang Ninh. At that rate, Vietnam would have 4.5 million more males than females by 2050, some studies say. "Vietnam will face the problems China has faced because our sons will have trouble finding wives," said Khuat Thu Hong, director of the Hanoi-based Institute for Social Development Studies. China saw nearly 118 boys born for every 100 girls in 2011. "Vietnam will face more social problems such as prostitution and women trafficking."

Some women say that their husbands blame and beat them if they don't produce sons, even though gender is determined by the father's chromosomes. Machismo is a key factor, said Pham Thu Hien, a gender-bias expert with UN Population Fund who worked several years as a gynecologist and obstetrician. "Some men feel like they are not real men if they don't have sons," she said.

Gender imbalance among newborns is increasing in Vietnam, China, India and several other smaller countries, as newly prosperous populations use modern technology to obtain the traditionally favoured male children. So each year, thousands of Vietnamese women told by medical staff they are carrying a "butterfly" rather than a "bird" - another code - will opt for abortion, often with a gender-neutral explanation. "They'll say, 'We're too poor - we can't afford it' or 'The time isn't right'," said Hien, herself a mother of two girls, age 20 and 16. "They don't tell the truth because they know it is wrong."

There is no ignorance of the law, Hien said. During field research in a remote province, clinics were posted with signs informing clients of laws prohibiting the discussion of gender, and doctors and nurses insisted they strictly observed the laws, she said. Village women seldom said they had aborted because of gender, but all said they new someone who had, usually citing pressure from husbands and in-laws, she said.

Confucian tradition values sons to manage family wealth, care for ageing parents and perform rituals to honour ancestors. Couples also use a range of measures to increase the chance of conceiving male children. Some women try to determine the moment of ovulation or their variations in body temperature in the belief that precise timing of conception can influence the baby's gender, Hien said. More affluent couples use more scientific methods, including going abroad. Hien said she knows of one couple with two daughters who traveled to Singapore for in vitro fertilization that produced twin sons.

The government is considering several measures to ease pressures on families and hopefully reduce the impact of gender preference. There are proposals to lift a two-child limit applied to government workers, and to offer families extra insurance or tuition for girls, but both remain at the planning stage. One initiative implemented so far is a UN-backed awareness-raising campaign under the slogan "Being a Girl Is Cool."

Huyen emerged from her appointment with a glum expression. "Another butterfly," she said. "My husband will be unhappy." The doctor had warned her that a third abortion, and in her 14th week, could have health implications. "But I would rather suffer from health problems than have the third girl," she said.

Source: dpa.

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