It’s Vagina News Link Madness!

Holy cow, there’s a lot going on. Time to play catch-up. Ready? Let’s go:

  • I just finished a free online class in International Women’s Health and Human Rights through Stanford (they’re going to offer it again, and I HIGHLY recommend it – get on the list here). I learned a lot about the history of these issues in the UN, and specifically about the Millennium Development Goals. Last week, the 2014 Commission on the Status of Women ended “with an agreement that called for the acceleration of progress towards achieving the millennium development goals, and confirming the need for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the set of international targets that will be introduced once they expire in 2015. The agreement also said gender equality must underpin all other goals.” The details are interesting and encouraging, and very much worth a read.
  • Last week also saw the Hobby Lobby case argued before the Supreme Court. The craziest part of the case, IMHO, is the fact that the entire argument is based on an objection to ACA coverage of IUDs and the morning-after pill, based on the belief that they cause abortion – which they absolutely, undeniably DON’T. (They prevent conception. Hence the word “contra-ception”. Spermy no meet eggy.) Yet this case has risen all the way to the Supreme Court because the owners of Hobby Lobby (and another company) BELIEVE they cause abortion, and that would violate their religious beliefs (never mind that a corporation can’t believe anything.) Anyway, I bring it up to introduce this great piece on our three female Supreme Court Justices, which pounds home the importance of gender parity in all levels of government.
  •  Buzzfeed isn’t just lists of .gifs… They’ve done some important reporting on campus sexual assault; specifically, legal violations serious enough to prompt the federal investigation of a school less than a mile from where I’m sitting right now.
  • Jimmy Carter has a new book out, ‘A Call to Action’, and in it, he blames selective application of religious dogma for the unconscionable treatment of women and girls around the world. “The most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls… This claim that women are inferior before God spreads to the secular world to justify gross and sustained acts of discrimination and violence against them… This is not just a women’s issue. It is not confined to the poorest countries. It affects us all.”
  • And finally, a great article from the Money section of The New York Times about how gender discrimination affects women’s salary negotiations in the workplace. Like most contemporary manifestations of sexism, it’s not overt; rather it’s a combination of learned behavior and double standards that make everyone complicit. The article is a solid step toward becoming aware of how we may be participating unknowingly, and how to stop.
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Facebook Update

Remember the effort to get Facebook to stop ignoring content containing misogynistic hate speech?  Well, after seeing some disappointing reports about their progress, I reached out to WAM!, the organization working with Facebook to implement the necessary changes. They’ve provided an update which I found valuable, and I think you might too.

Onward and upward! 

“You’re never going to be a looker”

While you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, Andy Murray was not the only person to win a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this weekend – Marion Bartoli did it too. (No, not Mario Batali. I did the same thing.)

During her match, BBC sports reporter John Inverdale mused, 
“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?'” 

Response to Bartoli’s win on social media was rife with complaints and even threats of violence because fans didn’t find her physically attractive.

Suffice it to say, the same discussion was not had about the relative attractiveness of the male competitors.

The excellent Twitter account @EverydaySexism shared Bartoli’s response.

The STAGGERING Study No One Talked About

A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization issued a report – the first of its kind – on  domestic violence wordwide.

The results are staggering.

Based on data from 1983 to 2010, 1 in 3 women on the planet has experienced intimate partner violence, and 40% of all women who are murdered are killed by a current or former intimate partner.

This has ramifications in all areas of women’s health – increased likelihood of sexually transmitted infections, depression and other mental illness, alcohol and drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, and reproductive problems like low birth weight.

The report suggests the best opportunity to recognize and address domestic violence  is often in a health care setting – but heath care practitioners often lack the training required to see the signs, especially in the developing world.  

Imagine a study that found 40% of all murdered men were killed by a current or former girlfriend. Even just a woman – any woman. Would have been a pretty huge story. We’d be having a big cultural conversation about what’s gone wrong and what we must do to fix it. But this? Nope.

Ask yourself why.

Kickstarter Apologizes

Kickstarter has apologized, explained their thinking, pledged to change some policies, and is donating $25k to RAINN.

The core of their defense-with-apology is that they’ve never acted quickly to remove a project so close to funding. But the question they don’t answer is what it would take to get them to do so. I suspect if the project was revealed to advocate violence against people of a particular religion, race, or sexual orientation, they would have taken it down; But we’ll never know.

As with Facebook, only time will tell whether this indicates substantive or superficial change. The larger point is that institutional sexism isn’t getting a cultural pass anymore, and if you get caught, you’re not getting out of it.

Vagina News Link Roundup – The Science of Sexism

– Diana Greene Foster, a demographer and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, has completed a study on what happens to women who are denied abortions. (Aside from a similar study in the 60s in Czechoslovakia, this is surprisingly unprecedented.) The article is long and detailed and excellent. Spoiler Falert – it doesn’t bode well for mother or child. 

– Another study (thanks Jason!) shows that 1 in 6 women who seek treatment at clinics specializing in bone fractures have been abused by intimate partners – and that’s a low estimate. “Neck and head injuries are the most common for women who have experienced domestic violence, he said. Also common are “bruising or broken jaws, teeth being knocked out, black eyes.”… By the time a woman receives broken bones, she’s at sharp risk of being killed by her partner. That’s why orthopedic surgeons need to get better at noticing the signs, he said.”

– To lighten things up a bit, 6 female scientists to tell you friends and family about. We don’t know about these women because institutional sexism prevented them from being recognized alongside their male peers. (Like, Nobel prizes being awarded to all the men around them, but not to the women… That kind of thing.) Let’s help right that wrong by learning and talking about them.