February: News Roundup

Each month we will be doing a news roundup that includes coverage on the current topic (street harassment, in this case) as well as other issues in the feminist scope along with a brief takeaway of each story.

Hindu women can be legal head of the family, Indian court rules

A New Delhi court has ruled that women can be the karta, the legal head of a family, according to ancient Hindu customs, a position previously reserved for men only. The karta occupies the superior position in a family and takes full control over property, rituals and other family affairs.

The case that decided this verdict was raised by the eldest daughter, who wanted to run her family business after the passing of her male relatives – father, brothers and uncles – but was challenged by her nephew.

This is a huge step for women in India, but it does not mean that all woman can be the karta. Although this decision is a big win for women throughout India, the decision does not give all of them the right to be karta. The ruling applies only to India’s legal definition of an extended family, which is a Hindu Undivided Family.

Further details of the ruling can be found in the International Business Times: India and the Hindustan Times.

Takeaway: This ruling is important because some women now have been recognized equal rights not only with respect to succession to ancestral properties, but now also management of estate. There is still more progress to be made, but this is a big step. 

CDC to Women: Don’t Drink Unless You’re Using Birth Control

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an infographic in early February around the risks drinking can have on women. They received almost immediate pushback from people who found it insulting, condescending, and severe.

The goal behind the infographic was to decrease the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome, but the reactions to it show that it overshot its aim. Some women have found the disregard to how woman live as a suggestion that their value comes from the fact that they are “either future, current, past or broken incubators, and that is their body’s primary use.” This is viewed as just a continuation of the stranglehold on women who are already pregnant, and on control over a woman’s body.

The CDC has since released a statement, saying, “We’re really all about empowering women to make good choices and to give them the best information we can so they can decide what they want to do themselves.” CDC Graphic

Takeaway: The way this advice was expressed, while it had good intentions, further exhibits the sexism that women hear frequently and from many different sources.  

Kesha’s Legal Battle to Cease Contract with Dr. Luke

On February 19th, a judge ruled against Kesha’s motion in her long winded contract dispute.

This case reignites the issue of sexual assault in the public eye, as those who follow it take sides. Some argue that it only makes things worse for “actual” victims, saying Kesha took too long to come forward, previously stated Dr. Luke never assaulted or drugged her, or that she lacks “proof.

Numerous celebrities have come out in support of Kesha, offering to work with her, donate money, or just add a voice in a show of industry solidarity.

The case itself may now be winding down and sliding out of the spotlight, but Sony has only just spoken up with a statement that they are “not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha.

Takeaway: Once again, feminism collides with other issues as this case brings to light sexism in the entertainment industry.

Portugal has made street harassment a crime – why hasn’t the UK?

Countries around the world are beginning to introduce laws specifically to deal with street harassment. The Guardian reports on this, but proposes that this might not be the answer people were hoping it was. Rather, enforcing the laws we already have would help more.

The creation of these laws prompted response articles, such as this one in The Debrief discussing why street harassment is in fact not illegal in the U.K. Despite the fact that “last year in the UK the number of recorded sexual offences on trains and at stations rose by 25% and hit record levels, according to the British Transport police,” no laws have been enacted there.

Takeaway: Legislation against street harassment may not be the answer to stopping it. A cultural shift in the view and acceptability of street harassment is what is needed; however, making street harassment a crime is a start in changing perspective.

The way female characters are introduced in movie scripts is ridiculously depressing

It’s already been highlighted how The Oscars and Hollywood leave lots to be desired in the way of equality. Romper highlighted how even for Mad Max, a feminist-forward film which took home six awards, shows the lack of women who seemed to be behind the film. There is an absence of female writers, producers, directors and other roles.

In this Mashable article, it becomes obvious how ingrained introducing females via their sexuality has become in the film industry.  Movie producer Ross Putman created Twitter account @femscriptintros to show “the ridiculous (and sometimes rather depressing) ways women are being described in screenplays.” Putnam keeps the writers anonymous to make the point that objectification of women is a systemic problem in which “female characters are often thought about in the same, simplistic and often degrading way.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 5.07.51 PM.png

Takeaway: Simply the cliché  ways that women are described reveal gender stereotypes and objectification that is inherent in our culture. Becoming aware of how these descriptions can be problematic is a great first step to establishing a more equal environment. 

#ShareTheLoad: This touching laundry ad makes a really good point about feminism

The #ShareTheLoad ad is one of the most recent examples of advertisements pushing gender stereotypes. These ads are showing the popularity of equality movements in different cultures.

“According to a study by a private agency that we have supported,

  • 2/3 children in India agree that washing clothes are only their mother’s job.
  • 73 percent married women agree that mothers teach household chores to only their daughters, not sons.
  • But ironically, 79 percent fathers would want to get their daughters married to a man who will help with household chores.

This campaign, therefore, takes the conversation on social inequality within households forward,” Sharat Verma, associate brand director of Fabric Care, P&G India told reporters.

Find out more and join the #ShareTheLoad discussion at Yahoo Finance, Quartz, and The Wall Street Journal India.

Takeaway: This is great progress towards increasing discussion of what defines gender equality.  Celebrate the small victories and keep pushing for change by openly discussing these issues of inequality and sexist mistreatment.

Did we miss something huge? Let us know! Submissions are always welcome and comments are highly encouraged and will be approved to further discussion as long as they follow our guidelines. Please keep an open mind and respect your fellow humans. 






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