Do women’s rights activists really exist in Saudi Arabia?

Really interesting piece on feminism and activism in Saudi Arabia. Such is the nature of the system in Saudi, that there is little activism: “After an initial burst of energy and thought-provoking discussions, there is a sense that outspokenness has now been mute,” while the consequences can be quite severe for women who chose to challenge the system.

There is little chance that an activist will emerge from a poor or middle-class background and influence Saudis of similar backgrounds. Jobs are at stake and few people see the upside of sacrificing food on the table for a cause that will go nowhere. We can simply look at the women’s driving issue as a campaign that has been tackled by women on and off for more than 20 years. Despite this, it has gained little traction. Going against the grain in Saudi society, even if it means rejecting the thobe for jeans and a t-shirt, has its consequences.

On english.alarabiya.net:

The Western media have sniffed out another “Saudi activist” recently as a shining example of a “courageous” woman challenging the status quo in Saudi Arabia. If media coverage is any indication, I’d say us girls have been through a couple dozen Saudi activists in the past decade or so with little to show for it. Anyone ever wonder where these activists go once they get their moment in the spotlight? What is a Saudi activist anyway?

If we were to define activists in a historical context, there are precious few, if any, Saudis that would qualify as an activist. An activist by any definition would include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Lech Wałęsa. Closer to home, there are Egypt’s Doria Shafiq and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai.

What these people have in common is a modest upbringing in a poor or middle-class background. They have also managed, to varying degrees, to generate grassroots activism. A groundswell of popular support leads to a lasting positive impact on society. The closest a Saudi has come to being a true activist – and I’m sure she rejects this label – is probably Manal al-Sharif, who now lives in Dubai. [Rest.]

International Women’s Day march in San Franciso

NO MORE PAGE 3 (by beckycoley)

I am a walking contradiction. I work in the film industry. I am a voyeur of the worst kind as a filmmaker; an image maker. I want to tell stories that are about love and life and sometimes that includes sex and violence. SO why do I have a problem with page 3 and why do I feel so compelled to actually make a video about it?

I love breasts. I think the female body is beautiful. I love to see nudity in art, fashion, films, where its relevant to a story or even just sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes.

My next film is a documentary in a steam room and half the people are naked.

SO am I not a hypocrite?

Why would I want to make a video for the No More Page 3 campaign? What’s wrong with these beautiful young girls bearing their breats for all the world to see? Why is it so strange to me to have that image next to stories about politics, war, pedophilia, rape, abuse and murder? 

CONTEXT. That’s all. It’s about context. This is a national newspaper. It is a newspaper that is read widely and is very much part of our culture. It is a newspaper that is seen by children and had a big effect on me as a young girl growing up, even though no one in my house read it. It would still be found lying around many places we visited in our daily lives. [Rest.]

Protect Our Sisters From FGM This International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day, yet we still have A LOT to get done before we can confidently say that women around the world are receiving equal rights. In fact, there is a war against the pride and beauty of women’s genitals going on right now — the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). You can learn more and sign a petition to help end this horrifying practice here. [Rest.]

So Whose Responsibility Is Page 3?

The No More Page 3 campaign sometimes receives horrific stories of young girls abused by family members using Page 3 as their means of grooming.

In cases like this apologists point out that Page 3 does not cause this behaviour; it does not make men into paedophiles. This misses the point that it is more difficult for a man to behave in this way without a readily available soft porn image in the daily newspaper to assist him. In a young girl’s mind, a newspaper, one that all the trusted members of her family read, represents what is normal and accepted. Page 3’s message is that offering yourself up naked for men’s titillation is something that grown women do happily. How can a young girl argue with this evidence?

A paedophile may be responsible for his own actions, but the question here is: should a national newspaper be making it easier for him and providing him with the means?

We hear the same justification in regard to the countless stories we receive from schoolgirls who are humiliated and sexually harassed by boys using Page 3. In this case, we are told, the responsibility lies with the parents to bring up their sons to respect women. [Rest.]

So Whose Responsibility Is Page 3?

Why naked pictures aren’t harmless

image

A frat flyer featuring naked women contributes to rape culture and objectification, and students are fighting back. 

[…] 

Earlier this week young men at Georgia Tech received an email signed “In luring rapebait” that instructed them to, among other things, grab women “on the hips with your 2 hands and then let them grind against your dick.” In October of last year a woman filed a lawsuit against Wesleyan University citing a fraternity known on campus as the “rape factory.” At Miami University of Ohio someone thought it was a good idea hang a poster titled “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape,” which closed with, “If your [sic] afraid the girl might identify you slit her throat.” A University of Vermont fraternity surveyed members in 2011 with this question: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?” At USC, two years ago, some boys released a Gullet Report (named for a “gullet,” defined as “a target’s mouth and throat. Most often pertains to a target’s throat capacity and it’s [sic] ability to gobble cock. If a target is known to have a good gullet, it can deep-throat dick extremely well. Good Gullet Girls (GGG) are always scooped up well before last call.”). For good measure they added some overtly racist material as well. Five years ago, Yale’s Zeta Psi fraternity took photos of members holding up signs reading, “We love Yale sluts.” Another fraternity had fun running around campus singing, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” Meanwhile, the school’s recommended punishment for sexual assault violations was a written reprimand. In 2012 Yale reached an agreement with the Department of Education, which launched a Title IX investigation in the wake of the song and similar incidents. [Rest.]

Why naked pictures aren’t harmless

My Belly is Mine

My Belly is Mine (FWSA blog)

The My Belly is Mine campaign was set up to support Spanish women in their fight against the proposed reform to Spain’s current abortion law. We stand in solidarity with Spanish women and defend their right to safe, legal abortion.

We are organizing immediate peaceful action in London and in other European cities in collaboration with Spanish and European pro-choice and feminist activists.

Under present Spanish legislation, women have the right to an abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. In cases where the mother’s health is at risk, or when the foetus shows serious deformities, Spanish women have until the 22nd week to end the pregnancy.

A draft bill was approved by Spain’s cabinet on the 20 December 2013, which ensures abortion is only allowed in the case of rape, serious foetal deformity or if the pregnancy presents a serious mental or physical health risk to the mother.

Our immediate aims are:

To raise awareness in the UK of this proposed reform via online action
To commit to peaceful action in the UK in order to demonstrate our support to Spanish women and to help them defeat the bill.

We require your support in the dissemination of our campaign. Please contact us if you are interested in getting involved in the UK. [Rest.]

23 Awesome Feminist Digital Campaigns That Changed the World

23 Awesome Feminist Digital Campaigns That Changed the World

Remember when everyone was like “Feminism is so dead?” Well, the last few years have absolutely proved that theory wrong.

Activists have become increasingly skilled in the digital age at using the sophisticated online tools to galvanize social change. The result? Amazing feminists are changing the world.

Here’s a look at the incredible digital campaigns in recent memory resulting in amazing feminist victories. There’s tons of work left to be done, but these moments are worth celebrating. They are a strong reminder of why we keep on fighting. [Rest.]

We need to talk about boobs

“Public property?” I hear you say. Well yes, actually. Look around you, and you’ll find for something so normal, we have one hell of a warped relationship with what should be one of the most basic features of the female body. Boobs are deemed taboo and almost unmentionable in some cases, yet perfectly acceptable in others. All too often, we act like a bunch of leering schoolboys, shamelessly gawping over a slight glimpse of cleavage rather than perceiving a pair of boobs as something females have had on their chest for well, pretty much all of eternity.

Take breast feeding, for example. Without aiming to stereotype all new mothers in a nice neat category, many women will tell they’re uncomfortable with breastfeeding their child in public. We’ve all heard of the stories where mothers have been asked to politely tuck their breasts away, because y’know, the natural female body is so unsightly it should be hidden away on all accounts. The irony that strikes me, though, is that whilst a woman sitting on a train or bus is prompted to cover her breasts away in their own natural right, in the newspaper sitting right across from her stands a fully topless young woman, openly baring her body but for a very small pair of pants. [Rest.]

@CCriadoPerez: “After the Jane Austen announcement I suffered rape threats for 48 hours, but the trolls won’t win”

In the last 72 hours, Caroline Criado-Perez has received a constant stream of misogynisitc abuse (chiefly in the form of rape threats) on twitter because of her (successful) campaign to get a woman reinstated on Bank of England banknotes. The abuse is entirely in keeping with the reaction of some men when they encounter women who they think should know their place (you know, in the kitchen and bedroom and always subservient to men). I wouldn’t suggest reading Caroline’s twitter timeline or mentions because it is horribly upsetting but I do suggest that you read the piece below – Caroline’s response to the abuse.

Here it is:

On Wednesday the 24 July, the Bank of England made the historic announcement that, in response to over 35,000 people signing a petition, they were confirming Jane Austen as the next historical figure on banknotes.

“this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine”

Even better from my perspective, the Bank of England also agreed to institute a review of its criteria and procedures, admitting that its current processes were inadequate if they wanted to live up to promote equality.

“Everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”; “Ain’t no brakes where we’re going”

The day was overwhelming. Press from all over the world were getting in touch, wanting to talk about the power of social media, and how ordinary people could take on a huge institution and win.

“Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”

This has been my life for the past three days: a mixture of overwhelming pride at what we can achieve when we stick together – and overwhelming horror at the vehement hatred some men still feel for women who don’t “know their place”.

Rest on link.

Feminists still have to do stunts to be heard

It was amazing to witness the Texan senator Wendy Davis’s filibustered victory against a highly restrictive abortion bill. Standing talking for nearly 11 hours in trainers, at one point donning a back brace, Davis managed to derail the vote in what will probably be a short-lived victory. (Texan governor, Rick Perry instantly called for a special session to pass the thwarted bill.) But it was remarkable, nonetheless.

It made you wonder: why don’t our female politicians do things like this – why aren’t they so committed and passionate that they arrive at parliament kitted out in trainers and back braces? However, it also made you think, here we go again. The sporadic pro-woman event, the brief attention-grabbing flash of global interest and excitement, and then it’s over – until the next time, the next opportunity. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this approach, but, after all this time, is this – what I’d term “guerilla-feminism” – really all we have?

This isn’t a pop at feminists who actually, you know, do something, unlike so many of us – the so-called “armchair” feminists. I’m not so far slumped into my armchair that I can’t appreciate or applaud the audacious, the defiant, and the active. I just wonder if we should be alarmed that so much of recent high-profile pro-female activity derives from what could be perceived or dismissed as stunts? [Rest.]

A movement of their own: voices of young feminist activists in the London Feminist Network (research)

Abstract:

A so-called “resurgence” of feminist activism in the UK is currently being reported by journalists, commentators and academics, with young women seemingly at the fore. This is remarkable given the reported backlash against feminism and the widely held view of young people in general, and young women in particular, as politically apathetic. In this qualitative study I focus on eight young feminist activists who arguably form part of this resurgence. All are members of the London Feminist Network, a grassroots, women-only,feminist activist organisation in London, England, UK. Through qualitative interviews I explored their motivations for becoming involved in feminist activism and their perception of the benefits that they gained, including political efficacy. The findings highlight the significance of women-only space in providing such benefits, and expose the impact of sexism in mixed social movements. Sociability and the opportunity to engage in collective political activism emerged as key motivations for joining LFN. Inspirations for joining were often negative, such as the mainstreaming of pornography, and the sexual objectification of women in the media. These were identified as barriers to the equal engagement of women in all political spheres, including social movements. [Rest.]

Facebook commits to addressing hate speech

On womenactionmedia:

Last Tuesday, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants sent over 60,000 tweets and 5000 emails, and our coalition has grown to over 100 women’s movement and social justice organizations.

Today, we are pleased to announce that Facebook has responded with a important commitment to refine its approach to hate speech. Facebook has admirably done more than most other companies to address this topic in regards to content policy. In a statement released today, Facebook addressed our concerns and committed to evaluating and updating its policies, guidelines and practices relating to hate speech, improving training for its content moderators and increasing accountability for creators of misogynist content.

Facebook has also invited Women, Action & the Media, The Everyday Sexism Project and members of our coalition to contribute to these efforts and be part of an ongoing conversation. As part of these efforts, we will work closely with Facebook on the issue of how Community Standards around hate speech are evaluated and to ensure best practices represent the interests of our coalition.

For details regarding Facebook’s response, please visit here.

Facebook has already been a leader on the internet in addressing hate speech on its service. We believe that this is the foundation for an effective working collaboration designed to confront gender-based hate speech effectively. Our mutual intent is to create safe spaces, both on and off-line. We see this as a vital and essential component to the valuable work that Facebook is doing to address cyber-bulling, harassment and real harm. [Rest.]

Related:

‘Girl Rising,’ film championing gender equality, to premiere in Portland, Hillsboro [video]

It’s International Women’s Day! There’s lots to celebrate but there is still also lots to do for women’s rights and equality. This blog highlights (every day, if you’re an avid reader) the sexism and discrimination – and in many cases, misogyny – experienced by women. International Women’s Day is about celebrating how far we’ve come in our struggle for women’s rights but it is also about focusing on what we need to continue to do.

Though I’m a conference all day (for International Women’s Day, natch), I’ve tried to schedule a series of posts during the day. (There’s going to be a lot of them.) Here’s the first.

What would happen if more of the world’s 66 million uneducated girls were allowed to receive the same schooling as their male counterparts?

That’s the question addressed in “Girl Rising,” an Intel-funded film that begins screening this week in theaters throughout the Portland metro area and nationwide.

The film is a project of 10×10, a social action group dedicated to the notion that educating girls in developing nations is the key to reducing poverty and improving quality of life. It tells the tales of nine young girls who rise above their circumstances to gain an education and, in turn, positively influence the world around them.

“One of Intel’s state missions it to empower girls and women, so this was right in line with our values,” says Chelsea Hossaini, a spokeswoman for the tech company.

Noted authors including Loung Ung, author of the best-selling memoir “First They Killed My Father,” wrote the true tales of young women hailing from developing nations around the globe, while famous names including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, and Alicia Keys  provide narration to tell their stories.

[Rest: oregonlive, via psawomenpolitics]

More for #IWD13.

Battling Feminist Burnout

I get this “burnout” at least once a week. But that’s great news about Girls Gone Wild. I hadn’t heard it.

Feminists got two great pieces of news on the violence against women front this week. First, the Violence Against Women Act was passed—and not the watered-down Republican one either! This version of VAWA contained protections for the LGBT community and allows Native American courts to prosecute non-Native perpetrators on tribal land.

Then we learned that Girls Gone Wild—the exploitative porn empire that targets young intoxicated women—filed for bankruptcyAs I said on Twitter, I’m pretty sure a feminist angel got her wings as proprietor Joe Francis signed on the dotted line.

But in the same week we got this great news, a rape survivor at the University of North Carolina was threatened with expulsion for “intimidating” her rapist by becoming an anti-rape activist, there was another attack on Planned Parenthood, a Kansas bill moved forward that would allow doctors to lie to pregnant women in an effort to prevent them for getting abortions and a 9-year-old girl of color—a child—was called a “c*nt.” One step forward, twenty steps back.

It reminds me of a question I get asked a lot when I speak to younger feminists: How do you continue to do this work when it’s just so depressing?

Every day, there’s another piece of bad news. A lawmaker says something egregious about rape. A sexist law passes. A movie or television show or viral video promotes an awful stereotype about women and sexuality. That doesn’t even get into the outrageous number of women across the United States who will be sexually assaulted or had violence done to them by their partners. (And that’s just in this country!)

[Rest: thenation]

The consequences of the media’s objectification of women (petition)

Excellent petition. Signed.

Since starting my petition a week ago, I have started getting an alarming amount of searches to my blog, referring to Reeva Steenkamp as a ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and ‘hussy’. A lot of them have been actual questions, such as’ Was Reeva Steenkamp a slut?’ and ‘Reeva Steemkamp was a whore, right?’.So where have they got this idea that Reeva is a ‘slut’ from? The media.

The Sun and many other publications have objectified her, and refused to name her. Not even the well-respected BBC can manage to say her name. She has become nameless, and so there isn’t much public sympathy for her. She is first and foremost ‘Pistorius’s lover’. She is something that he has lost, and so in some perverse way people feel sorry for him, even though he is the reason she is dead. I was frankly appalled when a BBC correspondent added to the sympathy yesterday by saying  ”Perhaps he’s being punished enough by losing the woman he told friends he thought might become his wife.” Reeva is the person who deserves our sympathy. A man took her life. The media took her name and identity. She has been silenced.

[Read the rest: thenotsoquietfeminist]