Tag Archives | Feminism

The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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The Glaring Omissions Of iPhone’s Siri

Apple’s new iPhone 4S has made waves for its voice-commanded virtual assistant, personified as “Siri”. However, users have noticed that Siri seems to have a blackout concerning certain topics — is Apple pandering to the Christian Right? Via Amadi Talks:

The recent illustrations of Siri, the iPhone 4S voice-recognition based assistant, failing to provide information to users about abortion, birth control, help after rape and help with domestic violence has gotten a lot of notice.

Siri can answer a lot of health related questions perfectly well, why shouldn’t we expect it to be able to answer reproductive health related queries too? Why treat reproductive health as a walled-off garden that the general public can’t or shouldn’t be exposed to?

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How Patriarchy and Rape Culture Hurt Men

Via the SAFER Blog:

I’ve often found myself trying to explain to people that rape culture and patriarchy aren’t just bad for women. If you draw attention to a form of violence that is primarily aimed at women by men, and a form of social oppression that is intended to provide men with dominance over women, a lot of people will think you must be hostile to men, or want to take something away from men. Nothing could be further from the truth. Patriarchy and rape culture are clearly more harmful to women, but they also cause men great harm, and I engage in anti-violence work to help men as much as I do to help women or anyone else. Here’s why:

The patriarchal “ideal” of male toughness and invulnerability creates the following problems for men:

  1. Men are often expected to endure hazardous conditions, with the attitude that any expression of fear is a sign of weakness.

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A Browser Extension That Flips Gender

1950s-housewife-223x300Danielle Sucher’s Jailbreak the Patriarchy is a Chrome extension that substitutes the word “women” for “men” and “he” for “she” and so on within all text. The results are thought provoking — toggle between a patriarchal and matriarchal online world with the click of a button:

Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing.

This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!

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The Golden Age Of Female Computer Programmers

computer-girls1Via the blog of software developers Fog Creek, a look at the forgotten history of women programmers, and the strange ways in which different work fields are labeled as “male” or female”:

Computer science has always been a male-dominated field, right? Wrong.

In 1987, 42% of the software developers in America were women. And 34% of the systems analysts in America were women. Women had started to flock to computer science in the mid-1960s, during the early days of computing, when men were already dominating other technical professions but had yet to dominate the world of computing. For about two decades, the percentages of women who earned Computer Science degrees rose steadily, peaking at 37% in 1984.

In fact, for a hot second back in the mid-sixties, computer programming was actually portrayed as women’s work by the mass media. Check out “The Computer Girls” from the April 1967 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

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Women and Disbelief

Darwin FishA long-running critique of the New Atheist movement has been how strikingly male-dominated it is. Victoria Bekiempkis over at Bitch Magazine explores the intersection between feminism and atheism:

Women are God-fearing and don’t challenge institutions. Men, on the other hand, are skeptical and rational, and go out of their way to publicly call bullshit on faith and religion — which is why today’s well-known secular thinkers, especially in the ranks of the New Atheism movement, are all male.

These statements should sound ridiculous because, of course, they are. From Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists, whose 1963 Supreme Court lawsuit brought an end to prayer in public schools, to Sergeant Kathleen Johnson, who started an organization for atheists in the United States military, to Debbie Goddard, founder of African Americans for Humanism, countless women have worked as successful atheist activists. They’ve penned books, run organizations, and advocated on behalf of religiously repressed citizens.

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1915 Anti-Women’s-Suffrage Newspaper Ad

Courtesy of Sociological Images, a 1915 Massachusetts newspaper ad in opposition of giving women the right to vote — it’s fascinating how closely some of the political framing recalls that of today, including playing up fears of divorce, socialists, and Mormons.

(One would presume that the ad was effective, as Massachusetts’ male voters rejected women’s suffrage. Women were given the ability to vote five year later by the federal government in the form of the 19th Amendment.)

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Are These Evolution’s Future Sluts?

Toronto Slutwalk

SlutWalk protest in Toronto, 3 April 2011. Photo: Anton Bielousov (CC).

Violet Blue explains why the new SlutWalk protests are “a significant tipping point in cultural evolution” — and she’s serious. “Yes: I think scantily clad girls marching in the streets around the world are agents of change for our species.”

It started in April when a Toronto cop said that to stay safe from rape, women “should avoid dressing like sluts”. Soon “my clothes are not my consent” protests erupted, and the event “had an international identity within a few months,” representing “a huge reclamation and restatement about boundaries and women’s bodies.”

Now sex workers, young exhibitionists, high-heel feminists and random pissed-off women are marching “for the right to dress as they like while having their boundaries respected,” and Violet calls them the true punk rockers — the disruptors. “They’re the ones with the brass ovaries enough to dress like sluts and tell the world to STFU about what they should, or shouldn’t do, with their sexiness.”

“Maybe that’s why its critics are panicking and handwringing as if Invaders From Mars have come out of a time machine from the future in heels and hose, reminding everyone that their face is up here!”… Read the rest

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Sweden Debuts Gender-Neutral Preschool

3596182798_fdf38a900eAt best, a school model for the more-enlightened future, and at worst, an intriguing social experiment. Via Yahoo News:

At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.

Egalia doesn’t deny the biological differences between boys and girls — the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct. What matters is that children understand that their biological differences “don’t mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities.”

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

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Kansas: The First Abortion-Free State?

abortion-masterKansas is apparently set to become conservative Christianity’s Mecca. Via Mother Jones:

If new guidelines from the Kansas health department are enforced, the last three abortion clinics in the state could be forced to shut their doors this summer. A court fight over the rules is almost inevitable. But anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue are already claiming success in making Kansas “the first abortion-free state.”

The state’s latest approach—with its remodeling requirements and so forth—is often referred to as “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.” TRAP laws are intended to make it difficult, if not impossible, for clinics to operate, and they have become increasingly common around the country.

The new requirements require facilities to add extra bathrooms, drastically expand waiting and recovery areas, and even add larger janitor’s closets, as one clinic employee told me—changes that clinics will have a heck of a time pulling off by the deadline. Under the new rule, clinics must also aquire state certification to admit patients, a process that takes 90 to 120 days, the staffer explained.

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