The Super Bowl LI

Congratulations to the New England Patriots for their impressive comeback and win! Many of you likely enjoyed watching the game and commercials last night with your family and friends. There were probably some disagreements about which team was better and should win. There might have even been some disgust about the possible political messages that some of the ads were sending. Tensions are particularly high when it comes to politics these days and when party lines are already divided between teams, we hope that you took a moment to think about what the ads and actions of the NFL might be saying to younger viewers and even to think about what the messages meant to you. We’ve written before on various instances of sexism and domestic violence in the college football and the NFL in general, but with the 51st Super Bowl having taken place this past weekend we wanted to dive a little deeper. Issues that have raised concern in past games that you might want to discuss have included a player protesting by kneeling during the national anthem, cheerleaders’ outfits and their treatment, and controversial halftime shows.

Advertising

The Super Bowl’s commercial breaks are nearly as anticipated as the big game itself, with advertisers spending an average of $5 million to secure a 30-second slot. While the advertising industry itself continues to struggle with sexism, the top ads at the Super Bowl are put under a stronger spotlight that illuminates the deeper issues within this particular sport.

This year, however it seems some advertisers are getting it. It’s no longer just men watching the Super Bowl and the commercials during breaks, but women now make up almost half of the audience and are being targeted as such. Lisa Granatstein, editor at Adweek spoke about the trend, saying “It’s an amazing platform for a brand to message that they support women, that they take it seriously. It’s also been the zeitgeist. This is something that’s been brewing for some time, so a lot of brands are taking on that message, which gets translated into social media and has an even wider audience.”

Because of women’s purchasing power, more brands are rejecting sexist and hypersexualized portrayals of women, opting for more respectful portrayals that appeal to the female viewers. Check out the American Association of University Women’s list of best feminist Super Bowl ads, which is updated each year.

Women in the Industry

It’s no secret that the sport of football has faced a gender inequality problem for some time, at all levels and in various ways. The problem is rampant in coaching, scouting, and executive positions, but also within the media and fan base. Women with ties to popular players are frequently subjected to unwarranted sexist abuse for game losses and other failures, just for being a “distraction.”

Additionally, with a pending lawsuit by NFL cheerleaders on the horizon, top executives are scrambling to call out the league for ensuring women are treated properly within the industry. This lawsuit alleges that not only are the female cheerleaders barely paid minimum wage, but they often aren’t paid for appearances and practices like the male football players are.

Sex Trafficking

Some may ask if the sex trafficking uptick around the Super Bowl is legitimate, but they miss the point that it’s a problem that should be addressed year-round, regardless of large sporting events that draw mainly wealthy, mainly male crowds to one city for an adrenaline-based experience.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims last year alone, prompting flight attendant training to spot sex trafficking victims being transported by plane. On top of this training, over 25 groups organizations have joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) to conduct a nation-wide social media awareness campaign to #TackleDemand for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl and beyond.

Looking Ahead

As the advertising industry works to address sexist portrayals of women in the media, and the service industry trains employees to notice and respond to attempted sex trafficking, this year’s Super Bowl may be one step closer to achieving equality for the sporting world. Many celebrated Lady Gaga, who has been very outspoken on sexual assault and sexism, as the half-time performer and the Schuyler Sisters for their modification to “America the Beautiful.” While these strides should be celebrated, we must remember to look beyond one sporting event and seek to change not just the industry, but society as a whole.


What did you think of the Super Bowl and its ads this year? Check in and consider contributing by leaving a comment or emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com!

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Women’s March: Next Steps

Where do we go from here?

How do we realistically implement the rights contained in the published march principles?

“Without a clear path from march to power, the protest is destined to be an ineffective feel good spectacle adorned with pink pussy hats.” – Micah White, The Guardian

Maybe it’s not what you want to hear while you’re riding the high of being part of “herstory” or sharing stories of the loving energy you experienced during one of the marches last weekend, but it’s a necessary thought to address. With a successful march for solidarity behind us, it would be easy for many feel they’ve paid their dues, done their part, and wipe their hands of the cause before returning to their normal lives. Unfortunately, that would defeat everything the marches accomplished.

At the same time, others may feel they are not doing enough to contribute to the movement and must remember that every little bit counts. Even the smallest change in your daily actions could have a butterfly effect. One of the easiest ways to continue the momentum is to continue the conversation. This movement has sparked conversations and opened up space for people to speak who normally aren’t heard. Share resources, ask questions, learn from others, and address your weaknesses as an advocate.

Stay Hopeful, Stay Motivated

When everything seems overwhelming and like your actions don’t matter, listen to the women who have come before you and those who stand with you today. You are not alone. Things are changing, even if you can’t see it because change happens slowly. It’s easy to feel emotionally drained with all the conversations happening in the world right now, so remember to take time for yourself and be aware of your emotional and mental wellbeing. Disengage from social media for a while, step away from the political conversations, don’t respond to ignorant remarks – don’t burn out because that won’t do anyone any good.

When you feel like diving back in, stay hopeful and stay motivated. Find pictures from the march that remind you why you participated or if you didn’t why this movement may mean something to you. Talk with friends about how their lives are effected by what’s going on in the world and support them by swapping stories of strength and courage. Follow badass feminists on social media so that every time you scroll through your feed there’s something to make you feel empowered or encouraged.

And above all else, remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Stay Educated

If you are privileged enough to feel like you don’t have much you need to fight for, or that there is only one issue that really affects you, then you haven’t been listening. Fighting as a feminist means fighting for all people, even if you don’t feel like you are a part of a group or it makes you uncomfortable. So yes, you should turn out at Black Lives Matter protests, marches for science, and many of the other events that are getting organized now.

Read everything, especially if it talks about life experiences you’ve been lucky to never have faced. Read things by people who think differently than you and believe in things that you might not. There are many shades of being human, and that doesn’t make a person evil or wrong.

A part of staying informed about what is happening in the world and around the country is listening to other views. This isn’t just a matter of waiting for other views to come to you. As we saw in the 2016 election, listening to only the opinions that are readily available to you can give you a very distorted view of the world. Check out the Washington Post’s Red Feed, Blue Feed article from before the 2016 election if you don’t believe us.

Stay Involved

Immediately following the marches that took place around the world, the Women’s March on Washington released the first action from their 10 Actions for the First 100 Days plan: Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead. Every ten days, they will release a new action and encourage those who participated in the march along with those who did not to continue the momentum and take part in these actions.

Our readers in the Boston area are encouraged to check out the organizations below.

Look up what other marches and organizations are involved in your area and see what they need help with. Text “Daily” to 228466 to receive daily actions if you’re in need of direction.

Run for office yourself or contact your local legislators to let them know what you think. There are many ways for you to contact your legislators without having to speak to them directly, if that is easier for you. The app Countable is one of many options to make it easy to communicate with your representatives.

Don’t stop voting, even if you feel like it won’t make a difference. The midterm elections are two years away in 2018, and historically, voting for the people you want in office at that time can make political favor swing away from the President.

Finally, if marching is not for you and you aren’t sure what you can do to make a difference, don’t feel discouraged. There are many ways to get involved, whether it’s online or by doing little things in your every day life.

Do you have other plans for staying involved? Share it with us in the comments!


This is the final post in a series about the Women’s March – why individuals attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check them all out and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

 

Criticism and Questions About the Women’s Marches

In the days following the worldwide women’s marches, many have spoken out with criticisms or questions regarding the true intentions of the marches and how they were organized. This post seeks to address a couple of the questions we have received thus far, but we encourage everyone to ask their own questions, provide their own answers, and engage in a legitimate discussion to ensure this movement remains a productive one.

Aren’t American women the most privileged women in the world?

Many would agree that the majority of women in the United States are comparatively more privileged than in other parts of the world. That does not negate the fact that not all are equal and it does not eliminate the struggle that women across the United States continue to face. Just because someone else has it “worse” than you, are you not allowed to speak up for your own troubles?

Studies have been done year after year that rank countries around the world on a variety of topics, including “Best Countries for Women.” While some have the United States ranked in the bottom part of the top 15, others have our country ranked all the way down in the 40s. These studies are each based off their own wide range of criteria, yet consistently do not place the United States as #1.

In addition, even though white women are often some of the most privileged in the world, that does not mean that they did not need to march. As some of the people we talked to at the march said, worded by marcher Nancy Nee Hannifan, “we should all be sticking together because we have to raise up the least of us to protect the greater of us.” Inequality affects all of us, even if you aren’t personally discriminated against.

Was the march really inclusive?

The short answer: unfortunately, no. The women’s march inspired people representing a variety of issues. Knowing that, of course not everyone was going to agree on everything. The purpose of the march was to have your voice be heard, no matter what your motivational cause was. Despite the good intentions of organizers, sponsors, community partners, and participants, many of the women’s marches left other oppressed minority communities feeling ignored or over-written, or simply like they didn’t belong. In a movement meant to express solidarity, this is one of its greatest failings.

“Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” said Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.”

We must also not talk about feminism as it pertains only to one group. White feminism ran rampant throughout the marches, sparking a trend in critical articles written after the event. The march became not just an act of solidarity, but for many a chance to be humbled and address their privilege with respect to others. Brooklyn-based activist ShiShi Rose addressed “white allies” planning to attend the march, saying “For some people, their outlook of this country deeply changed on November 9th. For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked.” Her post continues as she says, “I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgement of their own privilege daily. … You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too. I was born scared.”

One of the women we spoke to at the Boston march, Sukriti, had a friend who made one of the most impactful speeches worldwide while at the Philadelphia march. Ericka Hart, a Black femme, breast cancer survivor and sex educator spoke about who this march was for and how we can all learn to create more intersectionality in our feminist movements. “If you don’t like what I’m saying, you might consider you are not here for all women,” she said. “Have you noticed who is NOT here? I ask that you notice moving forward and get intentional about inclusivity.  Start asking in all of the spaces you occupy and take up: Who is this for? And then make it for them.”

Meant to be a unifying aspect of the march, the pussy hats and related signage also highlighted the isolation of the transgender and non-binary communities from this movement. They sent a “clear and oppressive message: having a vagina is essential to womanhood.” While many marchers pulled together and created their own hats and signs, others still withdrew from the activity because it was no longer a welcome space. Jade Lejeck was one of many who decided not to participate for this reason, but said “”It’s better to fix any problems now before [Trump and his administration] use them against us — not to mention that fixing them will mean even more people fighting for the same cause.”

At the Washington March, transgender activist and author Janet Mock addressed intersectionality with particular regard to trans women of color and sex workers. “Our approach to freedom need not be identical but it must be intersectional and inclusive. It must extend beyond ourselves,” said Mock. “Our liberation depends on all of us, all of us returning to our homes and using this experience and all the experiences that have shaped us to act, to organize, to resist.”

Activist and comedienne, Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey summed it up, saying “good intentions don’t absolve negative impact…performative activism isn’t going to cut it. If your allyship is reliant on never being held accountable for your screw ups, you’re doing it wrong.”

Does it matter if other people’s rights to their beliefs and free expression of them are counter to the outlined goals?

For further context, the examples provided for this question were the goal of migration as a basic right and there being no such thing as an “illegal immigrant” or gender being completely fluid and without any recognizable norm.

This particular topic has been a sensitive one for years, with individuals, companies, political organizations, and religious communities taking stances on dividing issues and debating the balance of non-discrimination with freedom of speech. The trouble with this question is that the answer depends on the circumstance. The laws in place that draw the line between freedom of expression and ability to discriminate will depend on the state and the context of the situation in question.

Of course it matters if the outlined goals infringe on the rights of others who disagree. However, when it is simply a question of challenging someone’s beliefs, not their constitutional rights, there needs to be some perspective. One person’s beliefs do not outweigh another’s livelihood.

None of these principles are new, what’s going to change this time?

While these principles may not be new, where would we be if the activists before us gave up because it had all been done before? If oppressed groups stop talking, stop marching, stop acting, nothing would ever change. We may only see a little change at a time and it may take an entire lifetime, but every little bit of change should be celebrated.

In today’s connected world, it’s easier than ever to communicate with larger communities, to mobilize, to act together and move towards change. Like with any large project, getting something done takes a lot of time and persistence. If people gave up, nothing would ever change. That’s why we keep fighting.


Non-Fiction Feminism is posting a series of articles with contributions from marchers on why they attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check in and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

The Women’s Marches Around the World

With over 670 marches world-wide, The Women’s March has made history. While we couldn’t travel everywhere ourselves, we did manage to get a few stories from marches other than the one that took place in Boston.

Kevin Adato – New York

Why did you participate?

I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was. I live next to the UN and the Trump world tower so hearing the crowd, the chants and seeing the people was inevitable. I put on my pink t-shirt and decided to check it out and it was absolutely beautiful. As someone who’s been part of a peaceful protest (in Istanbul), I knew what the overall vibe was going to be. The major difference between this one and that of Istanbul is that this protest and movement in this country could and will actually have an effect.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

My way of contributing is to ideally talk to those who are ignorant and against this movement in a non aggressive, empathetic way.

Do you think it is important to have men involved and if so, why?

Of course. No matter the cause, it’s important to have the support of those more relatively privileged to acknowledge the issues and fight for equal rights and human rights.

Jessica Lopes – D.C.

Why did you participate?

I marched for various reasons, including support for my black brothers and sisters, my LGBTQI brothers and sisters, for climate change and science, for Planned Parenthood…but especially for immigration reform and against the racism and xenophobia rampant in this country. I am a child of immigrants, but I’m privileged to be of white Christian European descent. My family never struggled to become citizens or to enter this country. My mother faced one incident of discrimination in her youth but otherwise no one has questioned if they belong here. Why is it that one race is welcomed while another is cast violently away? Why is it that one religion is celebrated while another is threatened with a registry? I marched as a white privileged woman in solidarity with my non-white and non-Christian brothers and sisters.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

This march is only the beginning of our fight against Trump’s hateful administration. It’s only Day 1 of 1460. We have made our voices known, and we need to be sure they stay known. It’s time to call and write to our senators and representatives in Congress to let them know where we stand on the issues. We need to organize and support the efforts of organizations fighting for the rights of all. We need to work together by being intersectional and inclusive in our discussions and in our demonstrations. We need to be vigilant and fight any new bills in Congress that threaten these rights. And in two years, we need to educate the undecided voter on the issues, and campaign for new senators and representatives that will uphold their promises and support every American citizen regardless of race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Kate Tessmann – D.C.

Why did you participate?

As a future social worker, woman, and ally, I march for those I love and the people they love. And you and the people you love. I will stand in solidarity with those fighting for human rights. I will make my voice heard, and listen to the voices of those around me. Let’s march forward, not backward. And this time, we include everyone.

I truly believe that my humanity is tied to yours. Any battles for human rights and social justice are my battles to fight, even if they do not pertain to me as an individual. I am who I am because of who we all are.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

We must fight, every day, for the rights of all. This means that we have to turn awareness into conversations and actions. I will follow the advice from several speakers at the rally yesterday to remain engaged, and share action items I come across to support the work of equity.

As someone who works in the healthcare field, my mom highly suggests watching the documentary Sicko, which investigates the unjust, inadequate, for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industry prior to Obama’s election. We cannot move backwards, access to affordable health care is a human right.


Non-Fiction Feminism will be posting a series of articles this week with contributions from marchers on why they attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check in and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

The Boston Women’s March for America

Over 175,000 people gathered on the expanse of the Boston Commons on Saturday, January 21st to make sure that their voices would be heard and to unite in a pledge to take action. Marchers gathered all around the globe from Barcelona to Sydney, the U.S. and beyond, showing that this is truly a global cause regardless of individual issues. According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries. More people attended the march in D.C. alone than Trump’s inauguration.

Groups attended to march for any number of issues including Black Lives Matter, reproductive rights, immigration rights, anti-Trump protesters, and many more. Even though not everyone agreed with everything that other marchers supported, the march aimed to include everyone and encourage discussions about equality and rights. The marches around the world were not created as a protest to the presidency of Donald Trump. Instead, they were peaceful gatherings as marchers and organizers worked with police. Many of attendees wore the pink, cat-eared, knit hats, a project that was designed to let people represent themselves and support women’s rights at the march and elsewhere.

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Speeches were made by many familiar names to Bostonians, including Mayor Marty Walsh, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and new faces representing different issues within the movement.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to all groups, saying that we will not be silent. “And we believe that sexism, racism, homophobia, and bigotry have no place in this country,” Warren said. “Black lives matter; diversity makes our country stronger. We believe that equal means equal and that’s true in the workplace, it’s true in marriage, it’s true every place.”

We here at Non-Fiction Feminism spoke to a few of the crowd attending the Boston Women’s March to find out why they participated and how they are going to continue the movement.

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Nancy Nee Hannifin, left, dressed in a cat costume, Maria Reagan, and Marjorie Bigham, all of Jamaica Plain, Mass.

One figure that rose above the rest of the crowd literally was Nancy Nee Hannifin, towering over people in her cat costume. Hannifin is a member of the Beaver Weekend group, a group of women that attend a women’s weekend in November organized by Mary Wallace. Wallace was the woman who created the initial Facebook group to organize a woman’s march and got the permit for it.

“[Beaver Weekend is] always first weekend in November and so clearly we were all pretty upset and we were like let’s go to Washington, let’s go to the march but everything was so expensive so we said screw it, not everyone can go there. Let’s organize one in Boston. So that week [Mary Wallace] went into city hall and pulled the permit for this march. When she put up the Facebook page, I think she got like 18,000 people in one week and then it was up to 27,000. And some other organizers outside the city got in touch with her and that’s when they developed the website et cetera.”

“We’re just showing strength in numbers and unity because there are so many different women here and their allies. And that we’re very much insulted by [Trump’s] comments, not only about women but a lot of minorities and being on the margins as women have been for centuries, we should all be sticking together because we have to raise up the least of us to protect the greater of us,” Hannifin said.

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Sukriti Dabral’s sign raised above the crowd.

Sukriti Dabral has been living in Boston for 12 years.

“I showed up here because I feel like what I have to say matters,” Dabral said. “I wrote [my sign] with a x in the word ‘women’s’ to indicate the inclusivity of the word women – when I use it including transwomen, especially black trans women who are disproportionately affected by violence and whose stories do not get shared widely. Then up close if you read the full sign, it says ‘black womxn’s lives don’t matter yet.’ I have that as sort of a counter protest message today because a lot of what I’ve been hearing is really good thoughts and feelings about solidarity and all women getting together but I fear that’s a lot of talk and it’s good that people care but action needs to be first I think. Action must follow and I worry that it’s not going to. I want to put a little thorn in the side of all the white feminism that is rampant at this thing.”

When asked about what people can do to be more inclusive in their fight for rights, Dabral said, “I think for me the most powerful thing in my personal experience evolving as an activist and as a human being has been reading and listening to the voices of the most marginalized people in our society because they know best. They’ve been fighting the hardest their whole lives the most against the very things that a lot of us – and I put myself in sort of a grey space between these two zones. I’m South Asian American. I’m very well off and I’m light-skinned so I identify with white feminism in a lot of ways. That was my feminism for a long time. But again, by engaging with, reading, and listening to the voices of black women, of trans women, of queer women, of non-binary people of color and people who are working class immigrants who really don’t get platforms has been the thing that has transformed me, so I encourage you all to do that.”

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Alex Straley, a Boston University student weighed in on why men’s involvement in the march and the movement is important.

“Why did I participate? There are a number of reasons really. I care deeply about women’s rights and I want to support them any way I can. I feel at the moment that there is a huge danger for our nation to move backwards and for women to actually lose rights rather than continue to move closer to the equality there should be. Donald Trump’s history regarding women and in general regarding people who are not the most powerful in our country (white men) frightens me. It makes me mad. It reminds me that many people either don’t believe that there is a problem with his language or don’t think it’s as serious of a problem as I do. I participated because I want to be an ally and show that not all men are trying to keep women down and that when an opportunity is given to me to support a movement like this I’m going to jump at the chance. I participated because as a white man I unfortunately have more power than many others, and as a result I have a responsibility to use that power to boost important ideas.”

When asked how he plans to keep the momentum going, Straley said,”I’ll be honest I’m still trying to figure out the best ways to do that. My biggest fear is that so many who participated today will feel that ‘this is enough’ and pat themselves on then back as they go back home and close the door to the world. The first thing for me is to stay informed. I’ve been trying to get a lot of news and doing my best to be more cautious about questioning what I hear because of the amount of misinformation (whether intentionally or not) around. Second, I’m trying to make sure to talk about these issues. I’m trying to go beyond just throwing my hands up and say its all terrible. Instead I want to talk to those around me and share constructive ideas, not just despair. I’m also trying to find the right organizations that I can support financially and potentially with my volunteer time as well. Finally, I’m looking for politicians, either current or future, who I can really believe in and try to support in future elections. I haven’t volunteered seriously for campaigns before, but I’m politically opinionated enough that I think its foolish for me to not to be more directly involved with the people I want to see in power.”

“And do I think its important for men to be involved? First of all, I think for any movement its more powerful if the movement has allies. Those allies often have a voice that those directly impacted don’t have and they often can be powerful to help amplify the ideas. In this case much of the inequality that women experience is due to men. As a result I think its important for men to be involved in fixing it. The reality is though, that this isn’t just about men and women. This is the kind of issue that impacts all people, regardless of gender or anything else. I firmly believe that if women were equal to men in our society we’d be better off in countless ways. I can think of no good logical argument for why women should not be equal to men, so it’s the duty of every person to try to make the world more just.”

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Non-Fiction Feminism will be posting a series of articles this week with contributions from marchers on why they attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check in and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

Non-Fiction Feminism goes to the Boston Women’s March for America

As we are sure you have noticed, NFF has a penchant for news. We, Charlotte and Kristen, both spend lots of time reading through many different news sites, often trying to get different perspectives on the same stories and events.

This week we are excited to announce that we’re taking our show on the road. Instead of just aggregating articles, we will be creating our own original content on the ground at the Boston Women’s March for America, which is one of many marches worldwide inspired by the Women’s March on Washington.

“On the day after the Inauguration, Americans will unite in towns, cities and schools from Boston to Anchorage to send a message to our leaders and the world that the United States of America stands for values of human dignity, equal rights and freedom from discrimination,” Boston organizers told us.

The 2016 election was widely considered one of the most divisive elections in recent history. People are scared by what may come under a Trump presidency and others are hopeful that he will drastically change the way things have been for the past 8 years under the Obama presidency. Despite the deeply drawn party lines, the march is a celebration and a way to stand for the diversity of the American people and a way to acknowledge and respect differences.

“While some organizers and participants are energized by the election results, this March is a symbol of solidarity with communities most affected by the hate, intolerance and acts of violence being perpetrated throughout the nation—among many are communities of women, immigrants, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA and people with disabilities,” organizers said.

Those who march stand for religious freedom, human rights, climate justice, racial justice, economic justice and reproductive justice. Together, they hope to send a message to our leaders and the world, that the United States of America stands for values of human decency, equal rights and freedom from discrimination. It is a peaceful, nonpartisan march.

When asked how to involve men in a march primarily focused on women, the Boston organizers told us that “Everyone is welcome to attend our march! While women are leading the march, men and children are welcome and encouraged to attend.” There have been many articles and interviews discussing men’s lack of involvement in these marches, but if the aim is expressing solidarity, we hope the men of Boston join in.

Organizers said in a press release that more than 40,000 women, men and children have committed to marching with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The Boston Women’s March for America is one of over 300 happening nationwide and internationally inspired by the Women’s March on Washington.

As reporters of history in the making, we want to know what is motivating such great numbers to come out and march. As is part of our own mission at NFF, we hope to encourage everyone to listen with respect to the many different perspectives that people have on these seemingly divisive issues. Check back in with us in the days following the march to see what we found. Maybe we will even see you out marching in Boston too!

 

December: News Roundup

IN POLITICS 

Donald Trump to Be Inaugurated Amidst Continuing Concern

Everyone is waiting with anticipation or caution to see what president-elect Donald Trump will do once he gets into office. Some of his actions have raised the concern that he does not know how to pick his battles and spends his time on things that are not important, including this thread responding to Trump’s tweeting displeasure at a recent SNL impersonation of himself. Some of the things Trump said about women during the debate have also not been forgotten in this powerful photography series. The concern for the impact Trump might have has extended well beyond America too. Chinese feminist Zheng Churan wrote a letter to president-elect Trump to let him know how his words affect the world.

At the same time, Trump has been selecting women, albeit primarily white women, as part of his new administration. He is considering Carly Fiorina for national intelligence director, and Kellyanne Conway will become the highest ranking woman in the White House in her new role as a counselor to the president.

Takeaway: This election season did not break the glass ceiling as some had hoped for, but it has been a huge feat for women nonetheless. With the president-elect’s previous record of derogatory comments against women, feminists will be watching him and ready to stand their ground on important equality issues. 

The Heartbeat Law in Ohio

This proposed bill in Ohio would mean that once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens at about six weeks, women would not be able to safely obtain an abortion. Six weeks into pregnancy can often be before a woman is even aware that she became pregnant. Abortion could be a necessary choice for a variety of reasons, including the safety of the potential mother. While Ohio governor John Kasich vetoed this particular bill, he did sign into law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

A law that would similarly deter women from safely obtaining abortions through medical facilities has been approved in Texas. This law requires medical facilities to treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person, which can cost thousands of dollars for cremation or burial. One woman shared her experience with miscarriages in detail to combat the bills in Ohio and Texas.

Meanwhile, in the global fight for individual rights, Brazil decriminalized abortions. To make abortions illegal would be “incompatible with various fundamental rights” and the Federal Constitution of 1988 (article I, III) said that, “All individuals — man or woman — have a legitimate right to privacy in which it is up to them to decide how to live by their values…the state nor society have the right to interfere.”

Takeaway: As the article on Brazil’s decriminalization of abortions said, “Baby steps are frustrating for full grown women but this is a vital and unprecedented step towards legalizing abortion.”

IN POPULAR CULTURE

How Toxic Masculinity Dominated 2016

Toxic masculinity is the set of social norms that indicate how men should be and, when imposed on society, they “create a culture in which violence is prized, women and LGBTQ people are seen as inferior, and men are discouraged from expressing…emotions.” Some forget that feminism doesn’t only benefit women, but men are equally restricted by patriarchal ideals. The end of year video from the Representation Project demonstrates just how toxic masculinity is perpetuated by specific events of the past year.

Takeaway: We need to remember that the goals of feminism are beneficial to all and how the patriarchy affects men as well as women and the LGBTQ community. By exposing various events of the past year, the Representation Project highlights how far we still have to go. 

Scarlet Johansson is 2016’s Highest Grossing Actor

In a year where the glass ceiling was more evident than ever, Scarlet Johansson has been named by Forbes as the highest grossing actor in 2016, bringing in $1.2 billion at global ticketing sales. This follows news from June 2016 that Johansson was the first woman to break into the top ten of highest grossing actors of all time.

Takeaway: While women still have far to go in achieving equality in the workforce, entertainment, politics, and in general, Johansson’s success this year should be celebrated as an example of talent and ambition leading to a woman’s success in male dominated industries. 

National Geographic Features Transgender Kid on the Cover

Women come in all shapes, races, and forms. National Geographic published its first cover of a transgender girl. Not only does it feature the story of transgender Avery Jackson, but also the discussion going on worldwide about the gender spectrum. Toxic masculinity hurts men and other genders too. National Geographic covered this topic with care and showed how gender really isn’t black and white.

Takeaway:  The issues surrounding feminism are plentiful and harmful to many diverse groups of people. There is not one right way for people to live and express themselves, as National Geographic explored in its latest magazine. 

IN THE WORKFORCE

Study Shows Female Doctors Are Superior

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has shown that if male physicians were as adept as females, some 32,000 fewer Americans would die every year—among Medicare patients alone. To explain the discrepancy, the researchers refer to additional studies showing:

  • Females physicians are more likely to provide preventative care and psychosocial counseling.
  • Female doctors are also more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines.
  • Female physicians have a more patient-centered communication style, are more encouraging and reassuring, and have longer visits than male physicians.

Takeaway: Salaries for female physicians average around eight percent lower than those of male physicians and male physicians receive more research funding and are twice as likely to become full professor. This study is the first to compare gender differences in meaningful outcomes as death and hospitalization. With this research, disparities historically attributed to the effects of disproportionate domestic responsibilities have been refuted.

IN ACADEMIA

Minnesota Football Team Boycott Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Earlier in December, the University of Minnesota football team staged a boycott of their popular bowl game because of the suspensions of ten teammates for sexual assault allegations. When announcing the boycott, the remaining team members claimed their colleagues had not been afforded due process. Once they learned of the contents of the full report alleging the crimes of their teammate, the team announced they would be playing the big game under certain some conditions.

This case may sound familiar among all the university sexual assault scandals that have arisen in the past year. One such scandal, that of the Stanford Rape Case, was brought to light again recently as the judge Aaron Persky was cleared of misconduct regarding the case’s sentencing.

Takeaway: This tired trend of university sexual assault scandals has to end. Only when universities and other organizations learn to value the victim as much as the athletic/academic/whatever potential of the perpetrator will we hopefully see the number of cases diminish.

AROUND THE WORLD

The Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds Die

Jayalalithaa Jayaram, a Tamil film star known for challenging the state’s male-dominated politics before becoming chief minister, died earlier this month. Jayaram was the state’s first female opposition leader, eventually rising to become Tamil Nadu’s first female chief minister. While in office, she reduced the rate of female infanticide by creating centers where parents could anonymously surrender their child.

December closed out with the deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds just days apart. While known most for her role in Star Wars, Fisher made a lasting impact as a feminist and mental health advocate.

Takeaway: While these women come from very different walks of life, they each leave a legacy that should be admired and used as inspiration for generations to come.

Buenes Aires Catcalling Law

Any catcallers caught in Buenos Aires will be charged a $60 fine, including anyone who commented about or made reference to a woman’s body parts. This law was unanimously approved and the push for it by Aixa Rizzo and many stories like her made it possible. 

Takeaway: It is easy to feel like your voice alone does not make a difference, but Rizzo showed that you have the power to do something about the issues that affect you. If you speak up, it will encourage others to come forward too, and that is how change happens. 

WRAPPING UP 2016

The 10 Best Things That Happened for Women in 2016

25 Most Incredible Moments in 2016 for Women

17 Badass Women You Probably Didn’t Hear about in 2016

11 Women Who Dominated In 2016

New Years Resolutions That Can Make a Big Feminist Difference

IN OTHER NEWS


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. 

November: News Roundup

IN POLITICS:

Kellyanne Conway is the First Woman to Run a Successful Presidential Campaign

Since becoming Trump’s campaign manager, Conway has been a constant fixture on television – laying out the campaign’s agenda and attempting to smooth over innumerable controversies. When asked if she believes what she says when she defends Trump, Conway responds as a professional public relations specialist would, saying “I think it’s unfair to say I’m always dutifully defending him. I look at my job as explaining positions on issues, why he’s running for president and why people should vote for him.”

Takeaway: While it may be hard for some to wrap their heads around a woman being responsible for Trump’s successful campaign, her success as a professional should be noted regardless of political affiliation as it marks an important achievement for women in business and politics.

Women Make History in U.S. Election

Kamala Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Tammy Duckworth become, respectively, the first biracial woman in the Senate, the first Latina senator, and the first Thailand-born senator this election. More women earned their places as representatives and legislators. This was a huge win, not just for women, but also for minority groups, including refugees, the LGBT community, and more. For Harris, this is another in a growing line of firsts that she has won — she was already California’s first woman, African-American, and South Asian-American to be attorney general.

Takeaway: The U.S. may not have broken through the glass ceiling completely to get its first female president, but many women did succeed this election in earning leadership roles. 

IN ENTERTAINMENT:

Amber Heard Continues to Fight Against Domestic Violence

In a new campaign for the #GirlGaze Project, Heard opened up about domestic violence and the backlash she received from the public and the media. The video was released to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th. Heard addresses the stigma and victim blaming she experienced in her own personal life and offered advice to women in abusive situations, saying “Speak up. Raise your voice. Your voice is the most powerful thing, and we, together, as women standing shoulder to shoulder, cannot and will not any longer accept silence.”

This PSA comes at a time when more female celebrities than ever are talking about their experiences with abuse.

Takeaway: While her case was heavily covered by the media, Heard hasn’t really spoken out about her side of the story until now. Her PSA highlights issues not just with domestic violence but media biases and the difficulties that come along with being in the public eye.

AROUND THE WORLD:

Women in France Protesting the Gender Wage Gap

French women left work early on Nov. 7 to protest the fact that men earn 15% more salary than female colleagues for the same jobs. The specific date at4:34 p.m. local time was chosen to highlight when women start working for free until the end of the year.

Takeaway: Inequality is affecting women globally and must be tackled worldwide. 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Stay tuned for a special post to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Non-Fiction Feminism!


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. 

October: News Roundup

IN U.S. POLITICS:

Sexism in the 2016 Presidential Election

It’s not new to hear of politicians embroiled in sex scandals or men making lewd comments or sexism in the media, but if you’ve missed any of the above during the 2016 Presidential campaigns, read up on some of the recent news below.

Takeaway: this election cycle has highlighted the larger role of sexism in our society and hopefully all this attention will at least lead to some form of change. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to vote today!

 

 

Obama’s Legacy Now Includes Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights and Baby Changing Station Mandate

Amidst all the hooplah surrounding the 2016 election, President Obama continues to make changes the help move the feminist movement forward. He recently signed a mandate that would make it a requirement that baby changing stations are made available in all bathrooms of public buildings, even the men’s room. Not just that, but he signed into law the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act, a piece of legislation that guarantees specific rights for people who have been victimized by a sexual assault.

Takeaway: Whatever your view on politics, these legislative changes are a step forward for gender equality and justice and are a much needed relief in the face of an overwhelming amount of sexism along the 2016 campaign trail. 

SEXUAL ASSAULT & SAFETY:

Standing Against Sexual Harassment

Contrary to the usual video you see of street harassers, in this video a New York man protected a girl from sexual harassment and assault on a bus. The rapper Moise Morency encouraged others to step in when they see similar situations. When police intervened on the bus, Morency was arrested, but was later released.

Takeaway: Everyone can do something to intervene when they see someone in need of help. People cannot continue to ignore these situations and expect the problem to go away.

Ask For Angela

Bars the UK have started getting involved in the safety of their female customers. By simply asking for Angela,  women can get help from the bar staff in getting out of situations that make them feel unsafe. The staff will call for a taxi or help customers get out discreetly. The #NoMore campaign was put into place by Lincolnshire County Council and it raised awareness of sexual violence worldwide in October.

Takeaway: While the need for such codewords is unfortunate, this is one way public businesses can improve the safety and quality of experience for all patrons. 

IN SCIENCE:

Male Birth Control Study Cancelled

This month dozens of articles were published questioning whether contraceptive pills have caused depression in the females taking them. Females have been taking birth control pills for decades without much consideration of the side effects. However this month when a male birth control study included many of the side effects that women face from their birth control, men found them unacceptable. What does this actually mean for male birth control though? Studies on both male and female contraceptive pills do not clearly link depression to the pill. Likely the search for male contraceptives to serve as alternatives to only condoms will continue.

Takeaway: Men and women seem to be held to different standards when it comes to what is acceptable for them to endure. It has historically been the woman’s responsibility to take birth control pills, but male contraceptive pills will work towards having the responsibility split equally between men and women. 

IN ENTERTAINMENT:

Victim Blaming Applies to Celebrities Too – Kim Kardashian’s Paris Robbery

Does a life documented on social media warrant a terrifying attack? That’s what some thought when news broke of Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris in early October. Since the event, reports have come out claiming Kardashian blames herself for the attack and she has stayed off her social media channels almost entirely. This isn’t the first time the privacy rights of celebrities has been brought into the spotlight, but up until the attack Kardashian was famous for documenting nearly everything on one social media channel or another.

Takeaway: Celebrities have as much a right to privacy as any other individual, no matter how well documented their lives are. This definitely isn’t the first time this debate has been ignited, but the rise of social media has added an element that makes some people more comfortable blaming the victim. 

AROUND THE WORLD:

International Day of the Girl

October 11th was the International Day of the Girl Child, established by the UN with a mission “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” It is a 100% youth-led movement for gender justice and youth activism, but people around the world participated to promote awareness and change. The theme for the 2016 was measuring success, highlighting the role of data in reaching the goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls around the world by 2030.

Takeaway: Days like this provide a safe space for celebrating the success of the feminist movement around the world, but also remind us that there is much more work to do. Getting younger generations involved is one such way to encourage change and move towards a better future. 

OTHER ITEMS COVERED IN BRIEF:


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. 

August: News Roundup

THE OLYMPICS:

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:

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 Hacked and Humiliated

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

Update on Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp

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. 

IN ACADEMIA:

Update on the Stanford Rape Case

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. 

University of Washington Does Not Support Trigger Words or Safe Spaces

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:

Women Are Marrying Each Other in Tanzania

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. 

Burkini Banned in Some Parts of France

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:

Sexism is Now Punishable in the Courtroom

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:


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.