the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for March, 2019, goes to Olga de Amaral, Columbian artist who weaves exquisite tapestries using precious metals. I first saw her work some 20 years ago on a trip to Santa Fe and have never forgotten their strength and beauty. You can see more of her work on her wikipedia page.

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

A teacher in Texas was distressed by the teasing handed out to one five-year-old because she had short hair and looked too "boyish". Shannon Grimm noticed that the child was wearing a hat to hide her hair, as well as her tears. Grimm in response cut her own hair, which was waist-length, in the same short cut to show solidarity with the young student.

We have long known about an ancient warrior accorded a special Viking burial ceremony accompanied by deadly weapons, two horses (one bridled), and gaming pieces (thought to represent military command). What we didn't know and recently learned was that the warrior was a woman. Public reaction to the finding was loud and angry: some wanted to know if the warrior was a transgender man or if there were perhaps two bodies buried of which one had to be a man? Now the findings have been verified and published in the journal Antiquity.

Saudi Arabia now has an app that supports the right of men to give women permission to travel. The country's male superiority complex is no secret, but the pressure by the Saudi government to perpetuate this system and to give the app a 5 star rating with "glowing reviews" is causing controversy. A. U.S. senator has declared the app's purpose "unconscionable". Further, senator Ron Wyden says that it makes it easier to control women and keep records of where and how they travel.

Sue Kreitzman is proud of the description WOW, for Wild Older Women. After years as a food writer she switched to art and assemblage and chuckles to remind us that she is untutored, intense, and motivated by junk. Her exuberant jewelry and clothes are refreshing, bold, and definitely exist in their own world of vibrant chaos.

Another vibrant artist with accumulated years behind her is Iris Apfel. At age 97 Apfel has signed a modeling contract, a career which began when she was 90. She has also become a source of inspiration for women who found no likenesses of themselves on TV or in Hollywood.

A campaign is under way at Penn Station in New York City to encourage women to donate unused menstrual products to homeless women. Posters for the project were designed by Erin Da Eun Song, a graphic designer who created foldable posters with pockets with the name Perigives.

The FDA is reporting additional cases of cancer arising from breast implants. A rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma has been diagnosed in at least 457 women who received the implants. Nine of those have died. The cancer affects immune system cells near and around the implant sites.

The declining birth rate in Japan has been a major concern lately. The country's deputy Prime Minister did not help the situation when he blamed childless women for not giving birth. Over 20% of Japan's population is over the age of 65. Actually the declining birth rate has been taking place since the 1970's. Comparative statistics show that in 2017 fewer than 950,000 infants were born while the number of deaths reach a post-war high of 1.3 million. Women with children are struggling, however, to find affordable child care so they can continue their careers. Tokyo, for example, has a high population of children on waiting lists for day care.

Reach for the chuckles as you watch this You Tube short video on Bro culture in the workplace. I wasn't sure whether to cry or laugh at first but it develops into a well-woven comment on women trying to survive in the corporate world.

The differences between female and male brains has an additional factor to contend with. Scientists have found that female brains age more slowly: on average women's brains age 3 years slower than men's do. As a result, women stay sharp mentally for longer than their male counterparts. The conclusion is that women's brains suffer cognitive decline more slowly than men's. The findings were published in PNAS, the Proceedngs of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Bloun Artinfo reports that young women are attracted to poetry more than young men and that in fact these young female readers are changing the ground rules of poetry writing. Older men in particular are stressed out to find that poetry is no longer the private domain of white men in academic institutions. The new young female writers and readers tend to come from social media and are upending the old rules. One woman, for example, writes about previously-taboo subjects like menstruation and sexual violence.

In Umoja Village, Samburu County, Kenya, women rule and men are banned. 48 women live in the village in protected huts. If a man tries to intrude, the women call the police who either give a warning or make an arrest, depending on the number of offenses. The village was established in 1990 by 15 women who were ostracized after being raped by British soldiers. Those rape victims were shunned because they were said to have brought dishonor to their families, so a safety community was formed called Umoja, which means unity in Swahili.

Days for Girls was founded in 2008 to assist young women in handling their menstrual cycles when no other help was available. Many of these young African women sat on cardboard, without food, for days waiting for their periods to finish. At the moment, over 1 million young girls have been helped by the program in 125 countries with hygiene kits and health education. The basic kits contain things like a Dfg POD (portable object of dignity) with one waterproof shield and two absorbent liners. Larger kits also have a bar of soap, a washcloth, and two pairs of panties.

Katherine Johnson, NASA engineer and mathematician who was featured in the film "Hidden Figures", has been accorded a tribute by NASA. Their Fairmont, West Virginia facility has been named after her. Johnson is credited with crucial work in the ability of the United States to go to outer space. (Haven't seen "Hidden Figures"? Don't miss it.)

Market Watch has calculated that even small gaps in female pay vs. male can result in up to $500,000. lost over a lifetime for women. Their examples show that a woman hired in 2005 with a salary 2.6% lower than a man's, would receive roughly $501,000. less in pay and investment returns over a 30 year period. The article cites additional examples as well.

A Christian theologian and author is asking for contributions on twitter toward making a large artwork. Nadia Bolz-Weber is protesting the practice and continuing presence of "purity rings" which were once required by a patriarchal society to insure abstinence before marriage. Bolz-Weber wants to melt them down and create a "golden vagina", part of an advertising campaign to promote her new book called "Shameless". The book is said to help women "reclaim their bodies" rather than having the Church or anyone else dictate how women's bodies should be used.

In an age of shifting identities some fashion designers have begun showing skirts for men. A trend away from stolid was seen recently at the Oscars Award Ceremony - did you see Spike Lee in purple? - but that trend is emphasized as men are increasingly unsure of who they are and how to relate to women who are demanding their fair share of space and rewards. Ladies, see how you feel about the designs shown here.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2019

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