the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for July goes to Cynthia Pannucci, Founder and Director of Art and Science Collaborations, since 1988 an international non-profit organization dedicated to the world of art, science, and technology.

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

Entering high school students at SMHS Higher Secondary School in Kerala, South India, this year found a shocking message on the school's welcoming board. The juniors, ages 15 and 16, were told that senior girls were "experts in raping and forced sex". One message read, "We will break your diaphragm if you people cross the limit"; another, "If you are not loyal to us, beware, there are rape experts among us." A male teacher notified the authorities, both to protect the young girls and to take appropriate action against the seniors.

The subject of "male rage" against women in Australia has been brought to the fore by the death of Eurydice Dixon. Ms. Dixon, a comedian and feminist, had just finished a stint at a local bar and was on her way home through an affluent area when she texted her boyfriend, "I'm almost home safe". Her body was found at 3 am the next morning and a 19-year-old man has been charged with her rape and murder. Ms. Dixon's plight has ignited an uproar about male fury in Australia and the need for men, not women, to change. The country's Prime Minister has said, "What we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women.... Australia need(s) to start with the youngest men, the little boys, our sons and grandsons".

A searing image of a young child sobbing at the border of the U.S. and Mexico has prompted the photographer to say, "It was hard for me to photograph". Millions of viewers have seen the photograph as it sped across the internet. John Moore has spent over 10 years recording immigration and the U.S. border as a Getty Images photographer. As a father of 3 young chldren himself he has tried to humanize the tragedies unfolding. On this occasion, he was riding with the U.S. Border Patrol in McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the most active areas for undocumented foreigners to enter the U.S. One of the last to try and enter were a mother and daughter who had traveled for a month from Honduras. Once the mother was asked to put the child on the ground and was frisked, the pair disappeared. Moore has been unable to locate them.

A young photojournalist, working on his dissertation, suddenly realized that from 2008 to 2014,he had written more than 24 book reviews and yet had never been asked to review a female author. It was not until 2018 that he was finally asked to review "The Green Road" by Anne Enright (he found the novel "fantastic".) He attributes the discrepancy to several factors. For one, it was assumedt that as a male reviewer he'd be most interested in male writers. That cultural bias began in school: while he was reading mostly sports novels written by men, his sisters were exposed to Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is valid, he asks, to assusme that a reviewer cannot totally understand the life experiences of another gender, or race, or relgion? Is it time to face the fact that only 18% of the reviewers and 26% of the authors covered at the London Review of Books in 2016 were female?

Jonathan Blitzer at the New Yorker magazine looks into the rationale behind Jeff Sessions' decree that domestic abuse does not qualify a woman to ask for asylum in the U.S. According to Deborah Anker, immigration specialist at Harvard Law School, Sessions could be "repealing sixty to seventy per cent of asylum jurisprudence". She continues, "Its ramifications are extraordinary". Another expert, Michelle Brane of the Women's Refugee Commission, adds, "The Administration is unilaterally dismantling access to any protection for those seeking safety". Border agents have been apparently telling asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico until America has the space to admit them: legal scholars counter that this policy violates both U.S. and International human rights laws. One teacher from Haiti, even after winning his asylum case in immigration court, has nevertheless been held in custody for more than two years while the U.S. government files appeals against him.

In corners of Nepal, far into the Himalayan mountains, women are shunned during their periods, forced out of their homes into tiny huts which have been described as "menstruation foxholes". The onset of menstruation means that the women are considered polluted and potentialy toxic. Every year a young woman dies from exposure to freezing temperatures, smoke inhalation as they try to warm up with a small fire, or attacks by snakes or wild animals. The process of evicting these young girls from their homes is called "chhaupadi" and has been happenng for hundreds of years.

The Chief Executive of Qatar Airways has put foot in mouth recently when he claimed that an airline "has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position." Akbar Al Baker was speaking to the annual conference of the International Air Transport Association in Sydney where he had just become head of the group's board of governors. Qatar Airways, one of the world's largest carriers, was quick to try for damage control after his comments, even trying at one point to characterize his remarks as a joke.

In the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh in India, the death rate for pregnancies has been one of the worst in the world - 451 deaths for every 100,000 live births. One official described a situation where, even if a woman gave birth in a hospital, she was sent home 30 minutes later to do household chores, feed cattle, and cook for the family. The hospitals themselves tended to be unsanitary and supervised by an untrained midwife. Poor diets and a prevalence of anemia added to the problems. Education has succeeded in cutting those statistics by 90%, so that the women feel they are no longer consigned to death when they give birth.

If you live in Manhattan you may be familiar with a working space/social club called The Wing. This safe space for women and non-binary members opened its first locale in October, 2016. Men have not been allowed entrance. This year, however, the Wing hosted a Father's Day breakfast complete with Wingman shirts. Another club called Curves exists as a chain of all-female fitness centers in states like Wisconsin as well.

For the first time in 8 years, Forbes' list of the 100 highest paid athletes did not contain a single woman. Serena Williams came close but missed. She was the only female on the last list. The highest earnings were reported by Floyd Mayweather: unfortunately he is reported to have a history of domestic violence.

At the 58th Venice Biennale to be held in 2019, female artists will represent Ireland, Austria, the UK, and France. This site describes the four artists and the type of work they do.

Anissa Helou has authored her 9th cookbook, titled "Feast:Food of the Islamic World". Helou realized that many Lebanese people had been displaced during the civil war and had lost touch with the food culture of their native land. Her first cookbook, in 1994, was aimed at them and called "Lebanese Cuisine". It was short-listed for the Andre Simon Award, which acknowledges excellence in British publications about food and drink.

A summit called Women Rule was hosted recently in Los Angeles. The conference assembled female leaders discussing how to change "perceptions and paradigms" about gender and specifically why the time to take action is now.

A former sex worker was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her championing of rights for sex workers. In the 1980's Catherine Healy had been arrested at the brothel where she worked. She began campaigning for recognition and better rights for sex workers as well as fighting against the stigmas attached to their profession. In 1986 she established the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and has since sponsored a bill to decriminalize their work and safeguard their rights. The bill was passed by a single vote in 2003.

Women journalsts for British television at the World Cup found themselves the object of gender discrimination in the form of critical comments. Viewers reacted negatively to the "pitch of their voices". Reporters found themselves being groped and kissed, sometimes while on the air. Vicki Sparks, the first woman allowed to report on a live World Cup match, was the recipient of such discrimination, a bias found elsewhere against women in politics, news, entertainment and media.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2018

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