I am in the process of making my house look like something someone might buy, which means that I’m taking down my political decor temporarily. Among the gems I took down to save for their next home were these:
The media coverage and the U.S. response to the brutal attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan in Egypt last week has raised several troubling issues, particularly that sexual assault is a very common crime in this country and even more so in Egypt, but the reality is that few of those cases get the kind of attention the Logan assault has. The Poynter Institute takes a good look at how the media covers less prominent cases of sexual assault and rape in this country here:
We miss many of these stories, in part, because the people involved don’t want them told. Sometimes we miss them because we start with breaking news, says Poynter’s Kelly McBride. If you begin with an individual crime, you focus on the specifics, the victim, the circumstances and lose the wider view. If we started at another point in the timeline of sexual violence, then we could tell different stories, she says.
And the problem is even worse in Egypt, as Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe,
Data compiled by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics indicate that half of all married women experience violence in Egypt, usually at the hands of their husbands. A different study, cited by the 2009 Arab Human Development Report, estimated that 35 percent of married Egyptian women have been physically attacked — but the report cautions that violence against women is severely underreported in the Arab world, because “the subject is taboo’’ and women who file complaints are considered shamed.
It isn’t just the media that prefers to focus on the Logan case though. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told Egyptian authorities that she wants the Logan case thoroughly investigated, but she took a pass on using this as an opportunity to call for an improvement in women’s human rights in Egypt. I have examined this and the tools available to us for substantively addressing those abuses in a piece that I wrote for RH Reality Check. You can read the full piece here.
Finally, writer Ursula K. Le Guin offers this very well-said analysis of how to frame things in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprising:
Old Egypt is offering us a new and great opportunity: to break free from out-dated, noxious alignments and policies in the Middle East, to speak out for freedom from tyranny, to support a people reaching for democracy, to remember what being on the right side is like.
As long time readers of this blog know, I am a strong supporter of International Women’s Day (March 8th, which will be the 100th anniversary of IWD). It is, without qualification, the most inspiring day of the year when women around the world stand together to celebrate our lives and raise awareness about the full spectrum of women’s human rights needs–an end to violence, education, economic parity, healthcare, etc.
Each year on this blog, I try to highlight some of the many wonderful activities that are taking place throughout the world. This year due to extraordinary other demands on my time, I will not be able to devote as much time to this as in previous years, but I will be writing a few posts and I want to begin with this amazing idea,
a group of enterprising young Lebanese women, have created a “No Rights, No Women” movement to make the Lebanese community and law makers understand how it feels to be a “half-citizen”. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, the women and their supporters (myself included) will give up their “womanship” in favor of their “citizenship”. They will dress like men, act like men, talk like men, and even BE men.They are urging all who support the “No Rights, No Women” movement… to dress like men and act like men in their universities, offices, in coffee shops, on the streets, and in their homes.
Click the link above and you can join them on Twitter and Facebook. But here is the best part–you can join the movement from wherever you are by growing a ‘stache and posting a picture of yourself as a man. So to make it easy for you, here is a moustache you can cut out and use for your transformation (their website offers a variety of other styles if this doesn’t suit):
Today Lebanon, tomorrow the world!
If you know of a great IWD celebration, please post a link in the comments!
The other day I submitted a written piece to a progressive media outlet. They didn’t publish it. In fact they didn’t publish any work by women on that particular day. They have published some of my work in the past, so presumably my writing is, in general, up to their standards and they did publish other pieces on the same topic that day, they just happened to be written by men.
On average, about 20% of the authors that get published on that site are female. That is not an okay number. I’ve brought it up with them before and have never gotten a sufficient answer. To me as a writer it is demoralizing because I don’t know if they rejected the piece because they didn’t like it or because they prefer to publish men–they’d never cop to that, but the evidence does indicate a bias that they don’t seem interested in addressing.
But this isn’t about me and it isn’t just about them. The problem is pervasive in progressive media, some are taking steps to address it, some aren’t, but the problem persists and sorry, it isn’t really progressive if it is sexist. So here is the challenge:
During the celebration of Women’s History Month in March, give women the column inches. Deliberately turn the tables and turn over the majority of your space to women. Try it for a day on March 1. If the world as we know it doesn’t come to an end and there isn’t a mass emasculation of men, try it for another day–still there? Keep it up for the month and then resolve to once and for all do what it takes to reach gender parity because your current policies that leave out women’s voices are demoralizing and damaging and misogynist and it is way past time to get beyond that paradigm.
In the meantime, suspecting that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that this challenge will be heeded, I will continue to produce and support women-informed media because without it, our voices are inadequately heard.
Just as I finished writing the above came news that the Media Equity Collaborative has received a major gift that will be a significant boost for feminist media:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anonymous Donor Steps Forward To Advance Feminist Media and Deepen Its Public Reach
Valentine’s Day, February 14 —
Media Equity Collaborative has a secret admirer. An anonymous donor has contributed $20,000 toward the research, development and outreach of this new initiative. Media Equity Collaborative emerged in 2007 to broaden the support for the over 350 feminist gender justice media organizations, outlets and projects that provide the primary public platform for feminist voices, gendered thinking and advancement of womanist ideas.
Excited by this affirmation of their work directors of Media Equity have mapped out an ambitious plan of action over the course of the next six months as they continue to seek additional support. Completion of a Theory of Change on gender justice media will strengthen the perception and depth of the necessity of gendered centered media. Stepped up outreach via groups like the National Council of Women’s Organizations will serve to heighten awareness about the critical role of using women’s media outlets in spreading the messages of hundreds of feminist service organizations. Media Equity will craft a pilot to serve as a bridge with a core of feminist media outlets and a specified group in the larger women’s movement to deepen the dynamics of a national public relations campaign.
Further, Media Equity will commit a portion of the funds to regrant efforts in the field. The fledgling initiative hopes to double this proportion of support to the field by creating a match through some on-line funding vehicle.
To both strengthen the reach and transfer knowledge and leadership to younger women, Shireen Mitchell, founder and executive director of Digital Sisters, based in Washington DC, and a long time Girl Geek, will take on a larger role. She joins Ariel Dougherty, initiator of Media Equity, to enhance the ability of this practitioner lead fund to play a critical evolutionary role in reaffirming feminist gendered creative space that is essential to fundamental transformation in the lives of all people, not solely women.
Media Equity Collaborative is a sponsored project of International Media Project, where Executive Director Lisa Rudman of National Radio Project (producer of Making Contact) also serves to guide this initiative. In 2008 Media Equity was awarded a $30,000 grant from Social Science Research Council (regrant funds of Ford Foundation) to do a survey of the field, examine sustainable funding models and hold a meeting of the field. Inspired Legacies under leadership of Tracy Gary and Media Equity have partnered to encourage donors to support the building of the gendered media public sphere.
Congrats to Ariel, Shireen, Lisa and all–this is huge and must needed!