In light of the way female athletes were reported on during the Olympics, the #AskHerMore campaign challenged the sexist coverage. From attributing Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s win to her husband, to identifying bronze medalist Corey Cogdell by her marital status, and more, the media coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics was rife with sexism.
Other aspects of Olympic coverage:
- After gold medalist Simone Manuel’s historic win, she was only addressed as an “African-American” in a headline highlighting fellow Olympic luminary Michael Phelps.
- Gold medalist Simone Biles made the powerful statement, saying “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”
- Two men debated on whether female olympic athletes should wear make up.
Despite the many ways the media failed by discussing women in a sexist way or not at all, there was some positive coverage. Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui discussed having her period during the Olympics, fighting the stigma that surrounds menstruation in many countries.
Takeaway: Women have been making great strides in athletics, but this year the Olympics showed that the media coverage has not kept up. The female athletes were not recognized with the same credit given to male athletes, despite their inspiring achievements.
IN THE MEDIA:
Leslie Jones is unfortunately no stranger to sexism, racism, and online harassment with the sexist backlash to the new Ghostbusters movie, her “feud” with Breitbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos on Twitter, and now the extreme hack of her website.
The hack became a national story and even the Department of Homeland security has launched an investigation into the breech. Many celebrities and activists have expressed their sympathy and support for Jones using #StandWithLeslie. Even head troll, Yiannopoulos, expressed sympathy.
Takeaways: The internet provides a mask of anonymity that proves dangerous and disgusting when misogyny and racism run rampant. Celebrities have the right to personal privacy and security just as much as anyone. Luckily, Jones didn’t let the haters get her down earlier this month and had a fantastic time supporting team USA at the Olympics.
The month started with news of a video being released that revealed Depp throwing a tantrum and the case has only gotten stranger from there. After the former couple reached a settlement, Heard announced she would donate all $7 million of her divorce settlement to two charities that help battered women and sick children. All was well and good until Depp bypassed Heard and donated the money directly to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital.
Why does this matter if Heard claims it was never about the money in the first place and truly intended to donate her settlement?
1. Depp would donate in installments, over an undisclosed number of years.
2. Depp would receive the tax deduction for the $7 million payment.
3. Depp has never previously expressed any support for either of the charities, one of which Heard has been volunteering with for 10+ years.
4. This fails to legally honor the terms of their divorce settlement.
Takeaways: While we wait to see what happens next, many are rethinking their support of one party or the other. This case and the new case against Chris Brown continue to be reminders not only that anyone can be a victim to domestic violence, but anyone could be a perpetrator too.
Following the rape case that received national attention, Stanford installed a hard alcohol ban in an attempt to limit campus sexual assault. Many students are angry, saying this is in line with Brock Turner and his father’s cop out by blaming his actions on alcohol. Turner himself is set to be released this week, after serving only half of his already measly prison time.
In the meantime, California has passed a bill that closes a loophole in existing sexual assault law, which previously required prison time for people convicted of sexual assault – unless the case involved a victim who is unable to defend herself (read: unconscious).
And in other sexual assault news, high school athlete David Becker has been charged with two counts of rape and won’t go to jail – to avoid impeding his “college experience.”
Takeaways: Many academic institutions have been on the receiving end of upset and anger for prioritizing athletic performance over safety of students, and judges in cases like these only add to the problem. The potential and future experiences of the culprit should not be placed higher than the potential and future experiences of the victim, especially considering how much pain and suffering the victims have already been forced to endure.
The raging debate around free speech vs. trigger warnings and safe spaces continues as the University of Chicago has released a statement telling incoming freshmen that the school does not support the latter two.
The undergraduate dean of students, Jay Ellison, writes:
“Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others.”
This issue has plagued many other universities recently, including Wesleyan and Oberlin. However, not all universities take the stance as University of Chicago. Stanford has created a physical “safe space” designed as an experiment in helping people heal.
Takeaways: While each side has their points, it’s never a good idea for universities to support an “everything goes” approach to free speech. While the argument against trigger warnings and safe spaces posits that they inhibit and slow down academic processes, it’s important to support the needs of those who have experienced severe trauma and are making an effort to overcome.
AROUND THE WORLD:
Female same sex marriages are on the rise in a small village in Tanzania, but not among lesbians. Instead, there is a longstanding tradition of straight women and widows marrying each other to preserve their homes and lifestyles. Tanzanian journalist explains that this tradition reduces the domestic abuse, child marriage, and female genital mutilation, while giving the female couple more power and freedom. This trend means even more given the recent controversial plan from Tanzania’s justice minister to suspend registration of any charity or NGO that supports homosexuality in Tanzania.
Takeaways: Women around the world find ways to survive and support their lifestyles, with or without male figures. Tanzania is yet another example of the battle for equality in terms of both gender and sexuality.
The swimwear known as “burkinis,” commonly worn by Muslim women have now been banned in multiple towns in France. The argument given by France’s prime minister and other officials is that it is a threat to public safety. France’s highest court lifted the ban as an illegal breach of individual freedom and religious freedom; however, many mayors of these towns are refusing to do so.
Takeaway: Officials are regulating what women wear under the argument that it’s for public safety, even going against the highest court ruling stating that it is against religious and individual freedoms.
IN THE LEGAL SPHERE:
It is now a punishable offense for lawyers to say “honey” or “sweetheart”, among other sexist remarks in the courtroom. Penalties will vary by state from fines to suspensions. 5,200 women of the National Association of Women Lawyers raised this petition to amend the American Bar Association (ABA)’s professional code of conduct.
Takeaway: While sexism is still rampant in many industries, this is great step in stopping it in the legal sphere.
OTHER ITEMS COVERED IN BRIEF:
- Women and men bare it all for National Topless Day.
- Women’s Equality Day celebrates the day the 19th amendment was certified as US law.
- For years, male comedians have posited that women just aren’t funny. Now female comedians fire back.
- Alicia Keys sticks with her “no makeup” position attending the VMAs.
- Latest article in Washington Post’s ongoing series about oppression and violence against women in India covers a rape case that’s been in the courts for 11 years…and counting.
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.