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Modernizing Modesty: the Hijab and Body Image

Photo: Ranoush (cc) Illo: Rob Beschizza

Recent trends in Hijab fashion modernize a form of modest dress once defined by local traditions.
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Narrow the Gap: ending income inequality for women

From Gina Trapani, a project to address the fact that in 2012, women still get paid less than men for the same work: Narrow the Gap. Happy International Women's Day.

Russian fan-made fictional table of contents for a Harry Potter encyclopedia of feminism

Charles Tan sez, "Ekaterina Sedia translates a Russian fictional Table of Contents for Encyclopedia of Feminism According to Harry Potter."

The Practice of Female Separatism in Daily Life of Luna Lovegood
Hermione Granger on Liberal Feminism
Female Empowerment in Academia Through the Eyes of Minerva McGonagall
Women in Politics: The Dilemma of Dolores Umbridge
Women in the Military and Psychological Violence: The Case of Bellatrix Lestrange
Consequences of Limiting Abortion Rights: The Tragedy of Lily Potter
The Death Toll of Unpaid Labor: The Duel of Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange
Replication of Violent Family Practices: Family Strategies of Nymphadora Tonks
The Duality of Economic Strategies for Women: Narcissa Malfoy

Russian Language Harry Potter Fandom is Awesome (Thanks, Charles!)

The invisible genocide of women

Video Link.

The recently-launched Women Under Siege website is a new project of the NYC-based Women’s Media Center, and features a number of powerful essays and features by women, about sexual violence against women. There's an account by CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who survived a sexual assault while covering uprisings in the Middle East; another about covering sexualized war in Congo by Lynsey Addario, who survived the same.

In this post, I'd like to draw special attention to a feature on the site about a subject with which I have personal familiarity: violence against indigenous women in Guatemala. Though the country's long civil war is over, the femicidio is not. Snip:

More than 100,000 women were raped in the 36 years of the Guatemalan genocide in which at least 200,000 people died. In this video, photojournalists Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita interview survivors and document the ongoing forensic and legal investigation that has just indicted former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt.

There are so many powerful stories on the Women Under Siege website. Below, a photo by Ms. Addario, from Congo: "Lwange, 51, with her daughter, Florida, who had been raped the week before this photo was taken in 2008. The child had screamed at the time, then bled. With her vagina and her young psyche damaged, Florida would no longer speak."

VA state senator attaches rectal exam amendment to anti-abortion bill

"To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication." (thanks, Antinous!) Xeni

Muslim student claims sexual harrassment, school ignores, she's falsely reported as a terrorist, FBI shows up at her door

Balayla Ahmad, an observant African-American Muslim student at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was sexually harassed by a male student in 2009 for months on end, but that university officials showed "deliberate indifference" to her repeated complaints—and that she was then reported to the FBI in revenge for having complained. From the Associated Press:

When she complained to a teacher, she was told that the university generally doesn't get rid of students right away over such incidents, the lawsuit said. Another teacher asked her if she were married and asked her not to report it to the dean because he would speak with the harasser, the suit said.

Ahmad then reported the harassment and fears for her safety to the university's president and dean, who promised to meet with her. But she said when she met with the dean, he said, "My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?"

After reporting the sexual harassment in April 2009, Ahmad said she was approached by two university security directors who told her someone had made allegations against her and they threatened to call the FBI and have her arrested.

Later, two FBI agents knocked on Ahmad's apartment door, questioned her and left a business card, according to the lawsuit. She said she learned that her harasser or his associates had fabricated a story falsely accusing her of being a terrorist in apparent retaliation for having made a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Muslim who claims harassment sues Conn. university (AP)

Update: A Boing Boing reader who once attended and lived near the University of Bridgeport points out that the school went bankrupt some decades ago, and was effectively bought out by an affiliate arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. The history's a little complicated; here's what looks to be a reasonably neutral Wikipedia article about that.

Libya: Gaddafi used rape as a weapon, gave troops Viagra, says ICC prosecutor

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(A Libyan woman holding a Kingdom of Libya flag walks past a caricature of Muammar Gaddafi near the court house in Benghazi June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori )

The ICC's chief prosecutor told journalists gathered at the UN today that he has gathered evidence which shows that Libyan leader Col Muammar Gadaffi ordered military agents to "punish women" with rape to spread terror and silence dissent. Human rights groups and journalists working in the region have reported this for months, and the case of Iman Al-Obeidi brought such allegations to international attention (she has since sought refuge in Romania). But this new validation, and the possibility of charges being brought against Gadaffi in the International Criminal Court, are significant.

"It was never the pattern he used to control the population. The rape is a new aspect of the repression. And that's why we had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced," he said. "Apparently, he decided to punish, using rape."

He said it was difficult to know how widespread the use of rape was. "In some areas we had a number of 100 people raped. The issue for us was, can we attribute these rapes to Gaddafi himself, or is it something that happened in the barracks," he explained.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo also said some witnesses had confirmed that the Libyan government was buying containers of Viagra-type drugs to carry out the policy, and to "enhance the possibility to rape". "We are trying to see who was involved," he added.

Libya: Gaddafi investigated over use of rape as weapon (BBC News)

Egypt: "Virginity tests will spark next revolution"

Mona Eltahawy in the Guardian, on gender and revolution in Egypt:
Mona-Eltahawy-003.jpg

If the "it wasn't about gender" mantra is stuck on repeat so that we don't scare the boys away, then let them remember the state screwed them too, literally - ask political prisoners, and remember the condoms and Viagra found when protesters stormed state security headquarters.

(...) Let's be clear, "virginity tests" are common in Egypt and straddle class and urban/rural divides. Be it the traditional midwife checking for a hymen on a bride's wedding night, or a forensics expert or doctor called in after a prospective bridegroom's suspicions, young women are forced to spread their legs to appease the god of virginity. But no one talks about it.

But it's different when the state [or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] is the one forcing women's legs apart. A protest is planned for Saturday. It's a perfect time for gender to come out of the revolution's closet.

This must be our moment of reckoning with the god of virginity. The rage against the military must also target the humiliation brought by those tests, regardless of who carries them out.

Read the full opinion piece here.

Egypt: The viral vlog of Asmaa Mahfouz that helped spark an uprising

Video Link. 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt recorded this video on January 18th, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it on her Facebook. Within days, the video went viral within Egypt and beyond.

"Whoever says women shouldn't go to the protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25th" she says in the video, "They don't even have to go to Tahrir Square, just go anywhere and say it: that we are free human beings."

And she condemns the couch potatoes and armchair internet activists, in no uncertain terms.

"Sitting home and just following us on news or on Facebook leads to our humiliation -- it leads to my humiliation!," she says in the video.

"If you have honor and dignity as a man, come and protect me, and other girls in the protest. if you stay home, you deserve what's being done to you, and you will be guilty before your nation and your people. Go down to the street, send SMSes, post it on the internet, make people aware."

The video is popularly credited with helping inspire fellow Egyptians by the thousands to participate in protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for an end of the 30-year authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak. The video is also credited with helping to inspire the Egyptian government to block Facebook. Whether it's accurate to credit this one video, and this one young woman, with all of that, I'll leave to activists in Egypt who know the history better than I. But at the very least, her powerful video captures the spirit of an important moment in history.

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America's last non-profit feminist bookstore in Portland, OR fundraiser

MamaCass sez, "Portland, Oregon's In Other Words Feminist Bookstore is the last remaining volunteer-run non-profit feminist bookstore in the nation. It's also making a transition to a community center which will include a library and feminist archives. IOW just celebrated its 17th birthday, but to keep the doors open past January, they need to increase their monthly sustainers. IOW provides a safe, all-ages space for the community and will continue to if it gets the help it needs." (Thanks, MamaCass, via Submitterator!)

Happy International Women's Day


Happy International Women's Day to everyone, but especially to all the strong, brave women who fought and fight for a world where women and men have equal opportunities, equal representation in all fields of endeavor, and equal rights in society, custom and law. I am privileged to have been raised by my strong, feminist mother and father to be a feminist man. For my Mom, my grandmothers, my wife, and my daughter, happy IWD!

International Women's Day (Thanks, @brigittekhair!)