The first episode of the 22nd season of the children's animated show Arthur, titled "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," premiered last week but Alabama Public Television has refused to air it. Why? Because third grade teacher Mr. Ratburn's special someone is a chocolate maker named Patrick and the two are seen walking down the aisle. In 2005, Arthur spin-off show Postcards from Buster showed a lesbian couple which infuriated then-Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.) From CNN:
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The storyline about Mr. Ratburn's marriage conveys a positive message, (programming director Mike McKenzie) said. But while many parents will find it appropriate, many others will disagree, he said -- "either because their children are too young, or because of their beliefs."
"Our broadcast would take away the choice of parents who feel it is inappropriate," McKenzie told CNN in a statement.
PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation," PBS Kids' Maria Vera Whelan told CNN. "We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day."
Two years ago, a Taiwan court ruled that its laws forbidding same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Now legislators there voted to make it the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The law goes into effect May 24.
Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage. In recent months conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform, pushing for a law that would see gay marriages redefined as something closer to same-sex unions.
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From 1989, Fingers Inc.'s beautiful mix of "Can You Feel It" with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech:
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A report from The Web Foundation, which was founded by internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee, shows a stark decline in the worldwide growth of internet access. Read the rest
Boston Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe is suing her employers for $200,000 in damages. The reason: her closest counterpart in the orchestra, a man, is making a shitload more money for doing almost the same damn job as she does. Rowe’s lawsuit was filed one day after the state of Massachusetts brought its equal pay law into effect. Before slamming the Boston Symphony Orchestra with her suit, Rowe attempted, on a number of occasions, to sort the issue of the pay gap out amiably and out of court. Since the Orchestra wouldn’t own up and do the right thing, I suspect they will now be skinned alive under the state’s wicked harsh new pay equality laws.
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Rowe was hired for the Boston Symphony's top flutist job in 2004 — a high-profile and extremely competitive position at one of the world's foremost orchestras. According to her suit, she has been profiled as a soloist with the orchestra 27 times in the years since she was hired — more than any other BSO principal musician — and that the orchestra has repeatedly highlighted her in its marketing, publicity and social media materials.
Rowe says that she is currently the top-paid female principal player in the BSO, while the BSO's principal oboist, John Ferrillo, is the symphony's top-paid male principal musician. According to the BSO's 2016 IRS Form 990, Ferrillo was paid $286,621, the largest salary paid to any BSO principal musician. (Violinist Malcolm Lowe — the orchestra's concertmaster, who serves as something of a liaison between the symphony's musicians and its conductor — earned $415,402 in 2016.) The BSO's three other highest-paid musicians — its principal trumpet, principal viola and timpanist — are all male.
The United States Marine Corp’s equality science is tight. This month alone, the number one reason not to screw with America has seen two firsts, from women in their ranks who have had the intelligence, grit and determination to move into leadership positions.
First, let’s talk ground pounders.
According to Task & Purpose, on June 23rd, a female Marine graduated to become the second woman ever to complete the Corps’ 13-week Infantry Officer Course (IOC). It’s a notoriously tough slog of a training program that a good number of candidates wash out due to its grueling physical and psychological demands. Thirty other Marines, including two women, were unable to complete the training that the successful female candidate did.
As an IOC graduate, she’s qualified to lead an infantry platoon into combat. But that’s not what she’ll be doing. Instead of fulfilling a role she worked her ass off to earn, she’s moving on to serve in a different capacity by enrolling in and training to become a Ground Intelligence Officer. Once she’s finished with this, she’ll be the first female Ground Intel Officer in the Marine Corp. As such, she’ll be qualified to command a recon or scout sniper platoon. For the time being, Marine Corps media relations types aren’t releasing her name. I love this: they’re not holding the IOC graduate up as something special: She’s a part of the machine, like any other junior officer, as it should be.
If this isn’t awesome enough, a female lieutenant colonel was just made the first ever female commander of a Marine Corp ground combat unit. Read the rest
The United Nations General Assembly has a new President: Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces. Every year, the U.N. votes to choose a new ramrod for its General Assembly. Potential candidates for the position are chosen, partially, based on a regional rotation. This time around, the U.N. was looking for someone from Latin America or the Caribbean. As such, Espinosa Garces stepped up to the plate and whacked it right out of the park: of the 192 nations voting on the matter, 128 gave the thumbs up to her taking the position.
As Yahoo News points out, the position of President in the General Assembly is largely ceremonial, especially given that a large percentage of what the General Assembly does is create non-binding resolutions. But still, a win is a win, and the newly-minted President Espinosa Garces is definitely a winner.
In her home nation of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces is a frigging HUGE political noise. She worked as the nation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration from January 2007 to December 2007, before moving on to a new position as Special Adviser to the President of the Constituent Assembly, Alberto Acosta, from December 2007 to February 2008, before moving on, in October 2009, to become Ecuador’s Coordinating Minister of Heritage – a post she held until 2012. In November of that same year, Espinosa Garces was called upon to become the country’s Minister of National Defense. In October 2014, she was named Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva. Read the rest
That's right, wizard, detective, and occasional actor Benedict Cumberbatch isn't cool with bullshit pay gaps that Hollywood production companies have been laying on his female colleagues since pretty much forever.
During an interview with the Radio Times, the actor, best known for his come-hither and do-my-bidding eyes, proclaimed that he refuses to have anything to do with a project where his female co-star isn't being paid the same amount of cash as he is. In an interview with Radio Times Magazine, Cumberbatch espouses the fact that “Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism." He goes on, compelling other men to look at what they're paid and, if they see that a women they work with is being paid less, refuse to do it until amends are made.
More than this, with his production, SunnyMarch, Cumberbatch is putting his personal fortunes where is mouth is.
From Radio Times Magazine
“I’m proud that [partner] Adam [Ackland] and I are the only men in our production company; our next project is a female story with a female lens about motherhood, in a time of environmental disaster. If it’s centered around my name, to get investors, then we can use that attention for a raft of female projects. Half the audience is female!”
Granted, it's far easier for a fella that's already made his millions to suggest that others refuse the ability to pay their bills in the name of equality. But if enough people were to do it, often enough, it wouldn't be long until shoring up a pay gap would prove less costly to companies than the lost hours their protesting employees are costing them. Read the rest
Last year, according to a recent study by Oxfam International, just eight people owned as much wealth as half of the world’s population. That's bad. Many people suggest Universal Basic Income as a way to help solve that problem. My friend and Institute for the Future colleague Marina Gorbis suggests that we need something more -- Universal Basic Assets. From her provocative essay on Medium:
The answer may be in the concept of Universal Basic Assets (UBA), which in my definition is a core, basic set of resources that every person is entitled to, from housing and healthcare to education and financial security...
In designing Universal Basic Assets we take into account access to traditional physical and financial assets like land and money, as well as the growing pools of digital assets (data, digital currencies, reputations, etc.). We also recognize and assign value to exchanges we engage in as a part of maintaining the social fabric of our society but that do not currently carry with them monetary value (caring, creative output, knowledge generation, etc.).
In essence, we need to look at the concept of assets in its broadest sense, considering three classes of assets: private, public, and open.
‘Universal Basic Assets’: A new economic model that could save the other 99% Read the rest
Craig Froehle tracks the odd convolutions of his famous illustration of how conservatives and liberals view the notion of equality. It's been simplified, expanded, twisted, tucked in and turned inside-out—and even redrawn by professional artists.
Are the worst versions the ones that bury the simple point in condescending explanation?
Or the ones that seek to subvert it entirely, in as much as stamping "THIS IS FUCKING STUPID" over it counts as subversion?
The cannier mutations contextualize it for local audiences:
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I am giddy that my little graphic has helped so many people think about the issue of equity and has spawned so many conversations in just the past few years. I’m not upset by the many way it’s been reimagined. In fact, I’m delighted, because the modifications just make it that much more useful to people.
New research from the University of Utah and Cornell University suggests that couples involved in egalitarian marriages, at least as chores are concerned, have more sex. (Note that the study is only about heterosexual marriages.) This new study appears to counter a 2014 New York Times Magazine article titled "Does Gender Equality Kill Sex Lives?." For this work, the Utah and Cornell researchers compared a 2006 marital satisfaction survey with data from 1992-1994. From a news release about the paper:
Turns out, the “rules” that govern sexual and marital satisfaction have been changing rapidly—and, like many generalizations about modern marriage, the 2013 study (that the NYT article reported on) was based on outdated data. As Cornell University Professor Sharon Sassler shows in her new paper, “A Reversal in Predictors of Sexual Frequency and Satisfaction in Marriage,” presented today to the Council on Contemporary Families, when couples share similar tasks rather than different, gender-stereotyped ones, this seems to deepen desire.
Sassler reports, “Contemporary couples who adhere to a more egalitarian division of labor are the only couples who have experienced an increase in sexual frequency compared to their counterparts of the past. Other groups – including those where the woman does the bulk of the housework – have experienced declines in sexual frequency. This finding is particularly notable given reports indicating that sexual frequency has generally declined worldwide over the past few decades.”
Quartz digs deeper into the new study:
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...Couples who reported sharing housework equally had sex 6.8 times per month, on average, or about once more per month than those where the woman does more “routine housework,” defined as: preparing and cooking meals, washing dishes, cleaning around the house, shopping for groceries, and doing laundry...
Kind of a crazy day, right? Read the rest
There is some truth to the American ideal of meritocracy. But there's a lot of myth, as well. Biologist Danielle Lee describes her experience coaching poor kids in St. Louis on science fair projects — an activity that often becomes a stepping stone to a career in the sciences. But, for the kids Lee met, intelligence and a good idea aren't enough to overcome the institutional barriers working against them. This is how discrimination happens. It's not simple and easy to fix and it isn't pretty to watch. Read the rest
Celebrate marriage equality with the Swedish Chef.
Photo: At a bar in San Francisco, Horst Linsen of Germany watches TV as President Obama voices support to same-sex marriage. (Reuters)
U.S. President Barack Obama said today he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. Your thoughts on the news, and what it means for the presidential election season in America, are welcome in the comments. Read the rest
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. Read the rest