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Posts from the ‘Sexism’ Category

Punishing Pushy Women: Gender and Power in the Newsroom

By Carrie Adkins

Until last week, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times, was considered the nineteenth most powerful woman in the world. She was the first woman ever to hold that particular job, and she managed it during a challenging period, as the Times moved to embrace digital technology and cope with the changing face of American journalism. On Wednesday, May 14, however, the newspaper’s publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., announced unexpectedly that he was firing Abramson. He replaced her with Dean Baquet, who thanked Abramson for her work and noted that he was taking over “the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago.” And just like that, Abramson -- who played a major role in making those improvements at the Times -- was out of a job.

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Eirebrushed: Erasing Women from Irish History

By Helen McBride

A new play opened in Dublin this week called Eirebrushed. Written by Brian Merriman, the play tells the story of Elizabeth O’Farrell, whose role as combatant has been quite literally airbrushed out of Irish history and the 1916 Easter Rising. The Easter Rising of 1916 was a significant rebellion against British colonization and, while it ultimately failed, it sparked a series of events that eventually lead to the independence of Ireland (first as the Irish Free State, a dominion of the British Commonwealth, in 1922, and then as the independent Republic of Ireland in 1948). Elizabeth O’Farrell, a midwife and member of Cumann na mBan (the League of Women), has been described as a “fierce Republican” and played a significant role in the rebellion of 1916. O’Farrell actively fought for the independence of Ireland from British colonization before and during the Easter Rising, delivering bulletins and instructions to the rebel outposts around Dublin. As Eirebrushed brings to our attention, her legacy, and those of other women active in the movement, has been diminished in the commemoration of the Easter Rising and its role in sparking the Irish Civil War.

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Misunderstanding Miscarriage

By Lara Freidenfelds

Miscarriage rarely makes the news, except in tabloids. But last year, Virginia state Senator Mark Obenshain’s ill-advised attempt to require Virginia women to report all miscarriages to the police contributed to his failure to become Virginia’s state attorney general. The bill, introduced in 2009, haunted his race for the position. Obenshain was trying to demonstrate his moral outrage over the case of a frightened teenager who had given birth to a premature stillborn baby, and disposed of it in a dumpster. It was a tragic case, to all observers. But instead of asking how his state could better provide sex education and contraception, or provide support to teens who get pregnant, he wrote a bill aimed at surveillance and punishment. On penalty of up to a year in prison, women would be required to report all incidences of fetal demise occurring outside a physician’s supervision to the police. They were to report the pregnant woman’s name and the location of the remains, and would not be allowed to dispose of them without police supervision.

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When Wombs Fly!

By Carrie Adkins

Last Tuesday, February 11, the German athlete Carina Vogt became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s ski jump event. The sport itself is not new; ski jumping dates back to the early twentieth century, and men have been competing in the event at the Olympics since 1924. But until these 2014 games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee refused again and again to allow women to participate – even when faced with mounting pressure from female skiers who wanted to compete in the 2006 and 2010 games.

And their rationale for denying women entry was incredibly stupid.

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Girls, STEM, and My List of “Ingenious Inventors”

By Carolyn Herbst Lewis

There is much talk these days about girls and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In 2009, only 24% of scientists and engineers were women. This is not surprising, given the fact that women comprise only about 17% of the students earning degrees in these subjects, as compared to the 79% of students earning bachelor's degrees in education. There are material benefits to building careers in STEM. A woman in a STEM-related career earns, on average, 33% more than a woman in a non-STEM field. Given the continued gender wage gap, and the high numbers of women in poverty in this country, it makes sense to encourage an interest in STEM. How to do so has been the tricky part. Colleges and universities -- as well as prospective employers -- actively recruit women to enroll in STEM programs. But getting young women interested in these fields has been more difficult. The old maxims that girls don't pursue these interests because “Math class is tough,” and their brains are not “hardwired” for it, no longer suffice. Researchers have found ample evidence that demonstrates that it is a combination of gender conditioning and a lack of role models that make girls feel that they don’t “belong” in STEM. This isn’t just about finding gender equity in the workplace or the college classroom, then; it's also about reframing the gendered messages we send to young girls and women about femininity and science.

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Slane Girl, In Solidarity

By Helen McBride

Last Saturday at an Eminem concert at Slane Castle, outside Dublin, Ireland, a 17-year-old woman was photographed performing oral sex on two males. Unsurprisingly, these photos went viral on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ve been hopeful of Twitter and Facebook recently. In particular the discussion surrounding the #solidarityisforwhitewomen trend inspired a lot of thought about what gender and feminism mean in 2013 and has served as a much needed reminder for white feminists like myself to check our own privilege. That spirit of hope has taken a hit with the Slane Girl Story. Within two days of the Eminem concert, Twitter exploded into a slut-shaming bonanza. The hashtags #slanegirl and #slaneslut trends have taken on the appearance of a free-for-all, cruel, glee-filled, slut-shaming stampede.

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The Principle: A Short History of Finance’s Glass Ceiling

By Austin C. McCoy

The debate over who should serve as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve (Fed) is indicative of the glass ceiling that persists in the world of finance. Many consider President Obama’s former economic adviser, Larry Summers, as the front runner to serve as the next chairperson of the Fed once current chairman Ben Bernanke steps down next year. Yet, several Democrats, economists, and journalists have voiced their support for the current Vice Chairwoman of the Fed’s Board of Governors, Janet Yellen.

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Zombie Feminism

By Andrea Lowgren

The news media love to ask the question: is feminism dead? A quick google search finds literally millions of hits for the phrase. Yet despite the supposed death of feminism, gender equality has become strangely mainstream even while misogyny continues. Today’s sexism is sneaky AND overt; while violence against women continues and people ask female presidential candidates for cookie recipes, one is also hard-pressed to find someone respectable who will go on record arguing that women should not be given equal pay or have the right to run for office. Honestly, feminism has an image problem. Though many people agree with its tenets, relatively few embrace the label and the identity. The conservative Washington Times recently reported that “among women, 38 percent consider themselves feminists.”

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Who has your Back? Harassment on our Streets

By Helen McBride

Last week the British newspaper, The Guardian, reported on a young woman named Jinan Younis, who started a feminist society in her high school in response to a personal experience of street harassment. By rightfully acknowledging how this harassment was part of a wider culture of sexism, she was determined to do something about it: “After returning from this school trip I started to notice how much the girls at my school suffer because of the pressures associated with our gender. Many of the girls have eating disorders, some have had peers heavily pressure them into sexual acts, others suffer in emotionally abusive relationships where they are constantly told they are worthless.” This quote is horrifying.

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No Paula Deen, It’s Not Just Men Being Men

By Cheryl Lemus

Sick of hearing about Paula Deen? Yeah, I know, it's been a little overwhelming. Not only have we found out that Deen admitted to using the "n-word" in the past, that her ignorance about race still exists, and that she has subsequently been dropped by several sponsors, but we also have endured many, many responses to these events in the last few weeks. Well, I hate to break the bad news, but I am going to give you another commentary. One with a very different viewpoint, however, so please bear with me. The case against Deen and Bubba Hiers (her brother) is not that complicated, but the responses to Deen’s deposition raise issues of privacy ("we can say what we want in private"), reflect double standards regarding race ("well, African Americans call each other by that name, why can’t we use it?"), suggest the belief that time erases all sins ("she’s of a certain time period" or "well, she said it so long ago, it does not matter anymore"), and even elicit offerings of olive branches (an excellent example of this is here). But as much as this episode in the continual series “Celebrities are not Gods” demonstrates that racism is alive and well in America, I must remind everyone that Lisa T. Jackson is not just suing Deen and Hiers for racial discrimination, but also for sexual discrimination and harassment. These charges have gotten lost in the shuffle. Why?

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