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Haitian earthquake effect on girls and young women

January 17, 2010 2 comments

Women and girls have always carried the brunt of natural disasters. They become more vulnerable than they may already be. They become more impoverished, due to the fact that they were probably in a worse-off financial situation beforehand. Since they’re generally the primary caretakers, they have other people to take care of, so they don’t put their own needs first. Also, the countries are usually rebuilt on the shoulders of women. You get the picture. Obviously nature disasters effect men in negative ways, but women just carry the brunt of negative effects.

When I heard about the earthquake, I was immediately thinking about how women and girls were going to be effected, and now there is actually an acknowledgment that young women and girls are in more danger now than ever before in Haiti.

As of right now, relief efforts are being put into Haiti, and many have said that things like security is just not something that is important at this moment. However, Gerardo Ducos, a Haitian researcher for Amnesty International states,

“My worry is we put a lot of effort into bringing relief, but we have to have some protective measures to benefit women and girls to avoid their being victimized and sexually assaulted. It was already difficult in ordinary times.”

As Ducos said, it was already difficult during ordinary times. There are various reported numbers, but so many girls and young women do not report their rapes or other sexual assaults. During this time of crisis, this issue is just going to get worse. Yifat Susskind, policy and communications director for MADRE, says that women need more support during this time, but this is what happenings:

“They need support commensurate to the burden they are carrying. Instead, we see women and girls are targeted in all sorts of way, especially gender violence.”

She also mentioned that there are simply more losses for girls and young women, by stating,

“Her grandmother, the one person (a girl) could go to for protection or solace – she doesn’t know if she is dead or alive. Her school, the one safe place she could go every day is destroyed. … “

Ultimately, this earthquake has been such a huge hit for everyone, and it’s wonderful that the world is really stepping up and pouring out love to Haiti. We just can’t forget that women and girls are the ones that are going to be effected by this the most in the short and long run.

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I am a woman, and I am a damn good parker

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

I am not surprised that the Daily Mail has an article about how men are better parkers than women. Sure, there was a study done (by “feminist” scientists – the Mail really wanted to point that one out), but of course the Daily Mail would just eat this up, since it’s pretty much a misogynistic publication.

Here’s the rundown of the study:

Psychologists asked 65 volunteers to park a £23,000 Audi repeatedly in a sealed-off university car park.

Ok, all is good and well with that, I suppose. Of course, I don’t think 65 people really represent the 6,692,030,277 people in the world (fine, some aren’t legal to drive yet…but eventually!), but I’ll let that slide. However, this is the Mail’s first statement in the article:

Male drivers have long boasted they are superior to women, particularly when it comes to parking.

That is correct. Congratulations to the Daily Mail for getting something right. Men have always thought they are better drivers and we often here a disgruntled person (usually a man) saying “those women drivers”, or something along those lines. Growing up, we see more men driving than women. In my own family, my dad always drove if we were all going somewhere, and my mom only drove when she was going to work or if my dad couldn’t drive me somewhere. This kind of things gets normalized as we are socialized into it. If we see men driving more often, is it ridiculous to start thinking that men are the better drivers? It’s not that it’s necessarily true, but I think it’s easy to think that as you grow up and even wherever you are in your present age, because most likely, you’re still seeing more men than women driving.

So, you’ve turned 16 (or whatever the age is in your region) and it’s time to get your license. For me, it was never something that I was concerned about; however, I was a “natural” driver and learned to have confidence in my driving. But really, it was hard for me to not think in the back of my head that I’m just a “second rate driver”, just because I have a vagina. Because the socialization of “men are better drivers”, my driving and my driving confidence has not always been the greatest.

Ultimately, if women are constantly told that they are bad drivers, they will begin to believe it and not want to drive as much. They will want to pass it off to men if they can. This is something that is so normalized in our society that I’m honestly not surprised that the study came up with this. Of course, the study says that men are better parkers because of their “spatial awareness”, and that may be a valid thing. However, I do think that if there wasn’t a stereotype of women being “bad drivers”, than there probably wouldn’t be too much difference. It’s amazing how socialization can effect these things.

Finally, I would just like to say, that I for one, am one damn good parker. I mean it.

Categories: gender, stereotypes

Being male in the writing realm equates to more success

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

James Chartrand, of Copyblogger and Mens with Pens, is coming out. As the true woman that she is. James Chartrand, which is a pen name, explains the struggle she was having before she got into the online writing biz. She tells of how she is a single mother, who was on the brink of having to go on welfare and not being able to feed her two daughters. She decided to look online for writing jobs, as she knew she could write well and do it from home. She did this for a good while, under her real name, but it just wasn’t cutting it. She explains that before she took up a male’s pen name, that she would be struggling to get jobs, as well as not receiving the pay she knew some other people were getting. She then decided that she was going to make a pen name for herself, something that would “command respect”. She chose James Chartrand.

Once she did this, she got more jobs. She got more pay. She got compliments. She didn’t have to do many revisions. She states,

Understand, I hadn’t advertised more effectively or used social media — I hadn’t figured that part out yet. I was applying in the same places. I was using the same methods. Even the work was the same.

The exact same work. It was equal by all means, yet, because she now had James as a pen name, everything was better and easier. She explains the positives here:

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Astounding. If that’s not a slap in the face for women writers, and women in general, I don’t know what is. Most professional women just want to work. They want respect for what they do, because they love what they do and they work hard at it. But still, just because we have vagina’s, we apparently aren’t as good as men. We aren’t as respected. We’re ignored. We’re sexually harassed. We’re discriminated against. Just because we have vagina’s. Really? Does a difference in genitals really make a difference? The clear answer is no, but still today, it is an issue. James talks about this, as she mentions that women writers have been doing this for ages, however, she states that,

Since then, we’ve had feminism. We have the right to vote, to own property, to be members of Parliament and Congress, to get a job, and to be the main breadwinner of the family. And yet apparently we haven’t gotten past those 19th century stigmas.

No, we haven’t gotten past the 19th century stigmas. That’s why feminism still exists today. We need it, and James Chartrand has once again proved that.

Click here to read her post called Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants, which tells her whole story.


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AIDS and Gender

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

With the recent finding that HIV/AIDS is the biggest killer among women in their reproductive age, we know that there are some serious issues that need to be looked at in terms of this disease and gender.

We know that for most women (an estimated 98% of all women affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries), treatment, prevention and ultimately, equality, are things that they do not have access too. Let’s talk about gender inequality for a moment, shall we? Gender norms are a part of this inequality and accounts for much of the spreading of this disease. UNAIDS states,

Gender norms, for example, often dictate that women and girls should be ignorant and passive about sex, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. Gender norms in many societies also reinforce a belief that men should seek multiple sexual partners, take risks and be self-reliant.

And let’s not forget, they also mention how in in many cultures, violence against women is condoned. So looking at the gender norms of men, it’s apparent that women automatically become more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. These uber masculine gender norms continue to hurt women in many ways, but especially in this area. And of course, when women and girls are supposed to be “passive” towards men about sex, it doesn’t prevent the spreading of HIV/AIDS. A way to hurdle this is to of course promote gender equality, empower women to know more about their bodies and sex, and teach men that these norms aren’t good for women, or themselves. And of course we can’t forget, if there is going to be consensual sex, use a condom!

The WHO talks about another issue that comes up with gender norms. They call it “gender-related barriers” for services, or treatment.

Women may face barriers due to their lack of access to and control over resources, child-care responsibilities, restricted mobility and limited decision-making power.

Socialization of men may mean that they will not seek HIV services due to a fear of stigma and discrimination, losing their jobs and of being perceived as “weak” or “unmanly”.

How true. For women of course, it appears that they are not in control of the decision to go seek out services or treatments. How horrible, but true. Women once against face the brunt of this disease, because of their lack of options. Men on the other hand probably do have much more access to services or treatment, but because of their societal gender norms, they refuse to get treatment. This hurts men. This hurts men a lot. Any cultural idea of what hegemonic masculinity should look like, usually hurts men and it can be seen here that men also pay the price.

I’m not going to sit back here and think I know the solution to all of this. I don’t think anyone actually does; and even if they do, solutions are a very hard thing to put in place and people will still continue to live with HIV/AIDS and die from it. However, I do say that promoting gender equality is a must (it’s a must anyway, but I digress). Through promoting gender equality, women and girls will have more rights, as well as have an understanding about their bodies and understand that consensual sex is where it’s at. Now, I’m not saying that women and girls always have the choice of consensual sex. A lot of times they don’t. But for them to know that that is what kind of sex should be happening, is a must.

Women and girls do unfortunately bare the greater responsibility and consequences of sex many, many times. After all, we are the ones that get pregnant and we are the ones that are more vulnerable to STIs. It shouldn’t be our complete responsibility, however, it sometimes ends up like that. Women and girls must be educated about safe sex and the possibility of HIV/AIDS. Many women and girls are in the dark about this because they have not had access to this kind of education. Of course, this still will not prevent HIV/AIDS, because some men will insist that no condom be used.

And this brings me right back around to promoting gender equality. When women are able to make decisions and choices about their bodies and sex, we will see a decrease in HIV/AIDS, in both women and men.

If you want to read more about AIDS and gender, visit AVERT.

Yes, gender inequality usually pertains to women and girls

November 2, 2009 1 comment

Well, an article over at Men’s News Daily is claiming that something is wrong with the Global Gender Gap Report. The article talks about how this report is all about anti-female inequality and doesn’t take into consideration anti-male inequality. And with all due respect, we honestly wouldn’t even need a gender gap report if it weren’t for anti-female inequality…so what’s with the complaints about how it’s done?

I do understand where this article is coming from, albeit disagreeing. The author gives the example of this:

Turn to page 184 which is where the figures for the United States are to be found. Under “Educational Attainment,” we see the four subcategories I mentioned previously. Men and women are equal in the literacy subcategory, but in each of the other three – primary, secondary and tertiary education – there is a higher percentage of girls and women than boys and men. So clearly, according to the criteria laid down by the Report, girls and women do better than boys and men in education in the United States. Ergo, the country’s score in this category is 1 which signifies “equality.” Inequality equals equality. See how it works?

The problem I see with this example is that I doubt that boys are not going to school just because they are boys. You may have to look at different social or environmental factors for this, but it most likely doesn’t have to do with their gender. And remember, this report is about gender. However, you can see that in many countries where girls and women are blatantly less valued, many girls will not go to school just because they are girls.

This is one of the reasons why this report is more about anti-female inequality. Although there can be anti-male inequality, it is just not to the same massive scale that anti-female inequality is. Ultimately, males don’t have to deal with issues of gender inequality as much as women do, therefore, the report isn’t about anti-male inequality.

Just my two cents!

Categories: gender, inequality

Thank you, Joanne Lipman

October 26, 2009 3 comments

A refreshing Op-Ed piece has come out of the New York Times, by Joanne Lipman. It is entitled The Mismeasure of Woman. And here, she speaks the truth:

The truth is, women haven’t come nearly as far as we would have predicted 25 years ago. Somewhere along the line, especially in recent years, progress for women has stalled. And attitudes have taken a giant leap backward.

But apparently, since we measure things by numbers (an example being the Shriver Report), we see that women are making a progression. Lipman takes on this notion, and points out that women are not making nearly as much progression as they maybe should be. She talks about how attitudes towards women have pretty much become toxic, and that you have to be one stereotype or the other. How true is that of our society? Women are constantly polarized. You have to be the good girl, or the bad girl.

One telling thing I found was when she mentioned some of her own college experience:

When I was in college in the 1980s, many of us looked derisively at the women’s liberation movement. That was something that strident, humorless, shrill women had done before us.

Was this a part of the problem that caused attitudes to shift? It’s not just about men, but about so many women that look at that feminist movement as something that it wasn’t, and something that the women were not. It’s so unfortunate that these ideas of the feminist movement, along with those women have been made into what they are today. Although I’m not saying that Lipman still has those feelings, I just thought that was telling, as she talks about attitudes towards women being one of the things that sets women back.

I really encourage you to read the whole article. What I am saying definitely does not do it any justice. Lipman has some great ideas and it’s a very interesting piece…so head on over the article now!

Pop Culture Hit: Lily Allen’s “22”

July 14, 2009 1 comment

Well, not to plug anything, but Lily Allen has a new single called “22“. When I first heard it, I quite enjoyed it (and I admit, I still do). It’s a catchy song and I found myself immediately connected to it because of the fact that I am…22!

However, upon listening to it more, something made me uneasy. The song is about a woman who is nearly 30. She’s still going out a lot, has a decent job, but not a “career”, and has one night stands, but really just wants a boyfriend. The chorus then chimes in with these words:

It’s sad but it’s true how society says
Her life is already over
There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

When I first realized what was being sang, I was hoping that Allen was singing this in an attempt to mock society because of this notion…but after listening many times, I don’t get that vibe. I get the vibe that this song is actually saying that a woman’s life is over after her early 20s, until a man comes in a sweeps her off her feet!

What the heck is with that? This is just another example of our society valuing a woman’s youthfulness and when that’s over, life is over. That is, if you don’t have a boyfriend/fiancee/husband/kids. It seems as though a woman’s life is always defined by others. It is never ourselves that are able to stand alone, and be the definition of ourselves.

The premise of this song just worries me because Allen has many female fans, who can be very influenced by her. This song is solidifying the idea that a woman needs a man to have a fulfilling life. And by the way, I don’t think a man needs a woman to have a fulfilling life either…it goes both ways.

I personally know many older women (and by older, I mean in their 60s+) who have had amazing lives and have not been married or had children. They had the opportunities to do what they wanted, go for their own dreams and pursue their passions. I admire these women because they didn’t give into society’s confining norms. They are amazing role models! It is just so sad how this message is getting out to young girls and teenagers.

And I for one, at 22, hope that my life will not be over by my late 20s. It’s easy to give into that thought. I have before, but I’m refusing to do so now. There is too much living to be done for the many decades to come to even consider this notion!

I hope that I’m not the only one who feels this way.