the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for August goes to Susan Ressler. Ressler has more than 40 years of experience as an author, educator and social documentary photographer. Her work may be found in the Smithsonian American Museum of Art and the Library Archives of Canada, among others. Ressler edited the book "Women Artists of the American West" , (McFarland, 2003), a scholarly anthology on under-represented women artists west of the Mississippi. She received an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1988 and is currently Professor Emerita, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Purdue University. She resides in Taos, New Mexico.

Note: Woman of the Month now has its own page in the giraffe.com archives section.

In an article entitled "How Trump Signed a Global Death Warrant for Women", the Guardian delves into the worldwide implications for women's rights and health occasioned by the Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump. Health clinics from Zimbabwe to Mozambique will be shut down. International Planned Parenthood could lose up to 100 million dollars. Even organizations that provide vitamins to children or supply malaria vaccines must sign an oath not to "perform or actively promote" abortions or lose their funding. Every cent given to family planning internationally will be eliminated, as will the support for the UN Population Fund, which helps women in refugee camps and war zones. The global impact is considered catastrophic.

Once upon a time, actually the late 19th century, an unknown woman drowned in the River Seine in Paris. Her identity is still unknown, but her beauty lives on because of a small out-of-the-way family workshop called L'Atelier Lorenzi located in a Paris suburb. She is now called L'Inconnue, the unknown, and over the years became an inspiration for artists like Albert Camus, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso.

A public outcry has occurred over an advertisement by the Audi automobile company. The uproar followed publication in China of an advertisement that appeared to equate women with second-hand cars. When the piece was published on the Chinese Internet it brought forth a "furious backlash".

After a survey of attitudes toward women as revealed in advertisements, the U.K. is putting strict controls on gender stereotypes promoted in the media. Britain's regulator of advertising will no longer allow ads that discriminate against women who don't meet stereotypical models, ads that objectify women sexually, or ads that feature "unhealthy body images". In a report titled "Depictions, Perceptions and Harm", the Advertising Standards Authority found that existing ads limit the choices and hopes of young girls who are struggling with goals and identities.

The World Economic Forum places Yemen at the bottom of the list for countries that respect women's rights. Yemen is a country where 2/3 of women are illiterate, 50% of females are married by the time they are 18, and marriages at age 8 are not uncommon. One woman, however, has broken the taboos. Eqbal Dauqan is a biomedical professor. She was named one of the top female scientists in the developing world by the Elsevier Foundation. Yemen's bloody civil war, however, disrupted her academic life. The war has killed some 10,000 civilians, wounded 40,000 more, and caused over 370,000 children to be malnourished because of a lack of food. Dauqan was able to get a refugee scholarship to work in Malaysia, where she hopes to save enough money to bring her family there. She also would like to win a Nobel prize.

Women working in the tech industry of Silicon Valley are beginning to speak out about the misogyny inherent in that field. Sexual harassment and predatory behavior have been rampant but seldom exposed. The mistreatment of women was initally revealed by Ellen Pao, who sued her former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for alleged gender discrimination. Although Pao lost her suit, it emboldened other women to confront the hostile workplace atmosphere they had to endure. Part of the problem lies in the imbalance of power positions, where few women are hired and promoted. Part of it also comes from an underlying culture of bullying and denigrating women.

Perhaps in response to such harassment, one Silicon Valley company is putting together a list of investors who mistreat women. The firm hopes to combat the "whisper network", in which investors known to harass women are discussed but not revealed to others. The issue was brought to a head some weeks ago when an unprecedented wave of outraged stories appeared from women who had been violated by well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Most of those venture capitalists are male and hold extraordinary power. Unfortunately that power is too often used to dangle financial opportunities in return for sexual favors. It all reeks of the Hollywood casting couch, or the Wall Street of the 1970's, which I experienced personally.

A 101-year-old sprinter has just broken the 100-meter dash record, her second record-breaking run in less than a month. Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins is the oldest female athlete to participate in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championship. Hawkins began competing at the age of 100, after being an enthusiastic cyclist.

After being trapped in a brothel for more than 20 years, Alika Kinan became the first woman to sue her traffickers. That courage took her to the U.S. State Department, where she became one of eight activists honored for their work. Kinan was rescued from the brothel in 2012 by PROTEX, a Buenos Aires anti-trafficking prosecutors office. In 2014 she founded a volunteer group for victimized women, called Gender Institute of Sapa Kippa.

The New York Times reports on the difficulties still being faced by women hoping for top positions at the nation's law firms. Although females constitute 50% of recent law school graduates, they still represent less than 35% of lawyers at legal firms. More discouraging yet, they only belong to 20% of equity partnerships, the positions that offer the highest compensation, and this percentage has barely changed in the past few years.

I'm not certain we know the whole story about this couple and their children, but I do feel that there are important issues to consider and wanted to share the situation with all of you. Basically it involves the rights of parents, whatever their IQ, to keep their children without interference from the government. The issue, however, extends well beyond intelligence to the reach of government control over private lives. Let me know what you think.

The condition of women abused by Isis in Iraq makes for heart-rending reading. Physical and psychological torment visited upon these victims makes me wonder if we have indeed moved very far from the Stone Age. After three years as prisoners, these women often sleep for days on end, seemingly not able or not wanting to wake up. Some of them were convinced that the Islamic State had conquered the entire world. This is not an Iraqi tragedy: this is a failure of humanity.

Women who wear larger sizes are using Instagram to promote bare arms, rather than being forcecd to hide themselves under clothing. Down with shame, up with pride.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2017

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