Women underrepresented at all levels in British politics

It won’t surprise anyone to learn that Cameron’s government has worsened women’s representation.

From the Independent:

Britain is lagging behind Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Kyrgyzstan in its efforts to increase the number of women in politics, a damning report reveals today.

Women are dramatically under-represented at all levels of politics from the Cabinet to the town hall, and as a result Britain has tumbled to 65th in a global league table of female representation.

This country ranked 33rd 15 years ago, but had dropped to 62nd by 2010.

According to the annual study by The Counting Women In coalition, David Cameron’s arrival in office made no difference to the downwards trajectory and Britain now languishes 65th in the table.

Rest: The Independent.

Research: Sexualisation of little girls linked with negative body image

On collectiveshout: “A new study from Flinders University has found that little girls are adopting potentially sexualised behaviours usually associated with teenage girls. Little girls’ engagement with teen culture is linked with an increased concern with physical appearance. Over one quarter of girls aged 8-10 were concerned about how they look. e know from other studies that increased concern over physical appearance is linked with a range of negative health outcomes for girls, including depression, anxiety and disordered eating.”

From the study’s abstract (sciencedirect): It is widely accepted that the sexualization of girls has increased markedly over time. The overall aim of the present study was to offer a description of the behaviours of young girls, with a particular focus on potentially sexualized behaviours and appearance concern. A sample of 815 mothers of 4–10 year-old girls completed a questionnaire about a range of behaviours exhibited by their daughters, in addition to measures of their own self-objectification and material concern. It was found that many girls engaged with teen culture and used a variety of beauty products, but few exhibited more overtly sexualized behaviours. Involvement with teen culture, using beauty products, attention to clothes, and personal grooming were all associated with the measure of appearance concern, as were maternal self-objectification and material concern. It was concluded that young girls do engage in ‘grown up’ behaviours and that such engagement is not benign for their development.

Via collectiveshout.

Maybe we’ll all “lighten up” a bit when women are permitted to be successful without having to be literally on display for the male gaze while the real, full humans get to talk about serious, important things.

Feminism in China: Risky, But Rising

Interesting post (msmagazine) about the growing feminist movement in China an the risks women are taking (facing the wrath of the Party) in being active. Emphasis added.

This summer I taught a course on American education policyat Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China, with 55 undergraduates, mostly women, who were smart, inquisitive and surprisingly bold.  Despite the lack of support for women’s rights in the country, several of them identified as feminists, and many chanced government backlash by writing about wanting more rights in education, marriage and employment in the course’s online discussion board and on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter.

During my three weeks there, I found that under China’s economic, political and social modernization, the most profound change may be the burgeoning number of feminists. While feminism as a widespread and cohesive political movement has yet to arrive in China, young college women are getting out their messages of gender equality on the Web. For example, last year at the prestigious Beijing Foreign Studies University, 17 female students  promoted an upcoming performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues by holding up signs that read “My Vagina Says: I Want Freedom” and posted photographs of themselves with the signs on Chinese social media.

In 2013, after the Women’s Legal Research and Service Center revealed widespread gender discrimination in college entrances that left women who scored much higher than men on the gaokao (the all-important national college admissions test) out of the top institutions,  some young women shaved their heads in protest and posted their photographs on social media platforms.

[…] The feminism of Chinese women is also remarkable because being a feminist in China is risky. Women’s rights activists are pressured, harassed and punished by the government, especially if their activism involves collective action, public protests or is seen by the ruling Communist Party as threatening social stability. The Party often shuts down group demonstrations and places strict enforcements on the Internet.

Rest on msmagazine.

We Have a Problem With Male Violence, And Everyone's OK With It

On feminspire:

I’ve tried a couple times to write this piece. Each and every time I do, it ends up in a semi-comprehensible rant, because why do I even have to say this shit part 2,305,723.on

You know how people are always talking about the violent crime among black youth, Hispanic immigrants, insert other racial minority here? How many times have you seen news reports, articles, books, TV shows, documentaries, and other media frantically pontificating about why these people of color are committing violent crimes in such high rates? And what can we do about it because OH SHIT IT MIGHT AFFECT WHITE PEOPLE.

Just like how people are pointing out how nobody talks about white-on-white crime, I’m here to remind you that nobody addresses the group that can boast the highest rates of violence in comparison to other groups of the same type. Men.

Men commit 90% of the homicides in the US.

About 75% of all violent crimes in the US are committed by men.

Men commit 7.15 acts of violence for every one time a woman commits an act of violence.

While researching statistics, it’s striking how difficult it is to find surveys and studies that examine crime rates based on gender. You can find mountains of information about how many women will be the victims of male violence each year. But this is focusing on the victims. Coming across data that focuses on the perpetrators takes some digging.

Rest: feminspire.

burning bras.
(c) bellbis.tumblr.com via upworthy. (Rest of image on link.)

burning bras.

(c) bellbis.tumblr.com via upworthy. (Rest of image on link.)

This is going to be uncomfortable. It will make you feel sick to your stomach. It will make your heart ache. It will make your scalp tingle and your blood pound in your ears and you will want so desperately to stop and go back to the time when you existed, oblivious, in a blissful bubble of white privilege and YOU MUST KEEP GOING ANYWAY. Your temporary discomfort is a small price when weighed against the lives of millions of people.

Research: women who read 50 Shades more likely to tolerate abusive and controlling behaviours

From mic.com: “Anastasia Steele’s biggest defeat may not have been submitting to her abuser’s sexual desires, but convincing other women that the behavior was okay. At least that’s the finding of a new study in the Journal of Women’s Health, which claims young adult women who read Fifty Shades of Grey are more likely to replicate the behaviors of people in abusive relationships.”

Research indicates that women who read 50 Shades are more likely to tolerate abusive and controlling behaviours in their own relationships though (there is a pretty big caveat around the correlation: “one thing the study couldn’t determine was whether women who engaged in risky behaviors started doing so before or after reading the book”). 

The research article: Fiction or Not? Fifty Shades is Associated with Health Risks in Adolescent and Young Adult Females

Conclusions from abstract: Problematic depictions of violence against women in popular culture—such as in film, novels, music, or pornography—create a broader social narrative that normalizes these risks and behaviors in women’s lives. Our study showed strong correlations between health risks in women’s lives—including violence victimization—and consumption of Fifty Shades, a fiction series that portrays violence against women. While our cross-sectional study cannot determine temporality, the order of the relationship may be inconsequential; for example, if women experienced adverse health behaviors first (e.g., disordered eating), reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma. Likewise, if women read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors assessed in our study, it is possible that the book influenced the onset of these behaviors by creating an underlying context for the behaviors.

Click for larger.
@IPPR asked 18 year olds about online porn, sexting and the impact on their relationships. This is what they said.

So women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us. We have the choice to keep quiet or respond “gleefully.”

But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment—and the sheer volume of it—has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages. I’ve spent countless hours over the past four years logging the online activity of one particularly committed cyberstalker, just in case. And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day.

Sexting and porn part of everyday life for teenagers

On telegraph:

Sending sexually explicit pictures by mobile phone is now part of everyday life for almost half of teenagers, according to new research showing a backlash among young people against Britain’s increasingly sexualised culture.

Eight out of 10 18-year-olds now believe that pornography is too easy to access, including by accident, and six in 10 admit that its pervasiveness made the process of growing up more difficult for them.

And in a marked rejection of the “free love” ideology espoused by many in previous generations, two thirds of British teenagers now believe that people today are “too casual” about sex and relationships.

The study for the think-tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that many older teenagers even blame adults for failing to do enough to discourage them from rushing into sex or counter the influence of pornography.

Some spoke of feeling “pressured” into sex by teachers through rushed and awkward sex education lessons promoting the message that it is “normal” to have sex before the age of consent as long as contraception is used.

Rest: telegraph.

See also: Surprise! Teen girls are having anal sex because they’re being pressured into it on (feministcurrent):

[…] The study was conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who interviewed 130 teenagers aged 16-18 in three sites across the country to “explore expectations, experiences and circumstances of anal sex among young people”. They found that anal sex among heterosexual couples was “painful, risky and coercive, particularly for women” and that males expected to persuade or coerce reluctant partners:

Even in otherwise seemingly communicative and caring partnerships, some men seemed to push to have anal sex with their reluctant partner despite believing it likely to hurt her…

…Persuasion of women was a feature to a greater or lesser degree of most men’s and women’s narratives about anal sex events, with repeated, emphatic requests from men commonly mentioned…

…Women seemed to take for granted that they would either acquiesce to or resist their partners’ repeated requests, rather than being equal partners in sexual decision-making. Being able to say ‘no’ was often cited by the women as a positive example of their control of the situation.


In defence of white knights

New Statesman:

Back in the real world, something fascinating is happening. As men and boys everywhere begin to realise that a society less riddled with rape, sexual violence and lazy gender stereotypes might be better for everyone, less evolved men and boys have started to round on them as traitors. One common charge is that men who support feminism are trying to be “white knights”, sweeping in to protect women, not knowing that we capricious females prefer the attentions of the bull-necked misogynists who holler at us in the street.

“White knight” and “beta male” are the most common slurs flung at such men – usually by retro sexists who still think that feminism is all about poor confused chaps getting shouted at whenever they hold open a door for an enormous straw woman. In reality, most women and girls would simply rather that men stopped slamming doors in our faces.

Rest: New Statesman.

Stay-at-home mums face barriers returning to the workforce

On dailylife.com.au (emphasis added):

in contemporary Australia, most mothers go back to work when their children are still young kids. But what is it like when they get there? Do they face discrimination as mothers? Have they been supplanted by younger workers or the childless? Is it possible that the struggle to get back to work has supplanted the mummy wars as the great feminist battle of the 21st century. Just how easy is it, in a world which tells us modern workplaces are flexible, for women who have opted out of the workforce to opt back in? ‘‘It’s horrific,’’ says Jessica (not her real name), a mother and a former human resources manager for a private wealth firm, who has experienced both sides of the post-maternity coin.

‘‘At an organisational level, there was never a time when a woman was more vulnerable than when she was on maternity leave,’’ she says of her former workplace. ‘‘It was commonplace to change the head count when the woman was on maternity leave and make her redundant, which is really destabilising for the women’s career,’’ she says. ‘‘If the role doesn’t exist any more, she doesn’t come back.’’

Jessica’s anecdotal experience is backed by data – an Australian Human Rights Commission review into discrimination related to ‘‘pregnancy, parental leave and return to work’’ found one in two mothers reported  workplace discrimination at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on their return to work. One in five mothers surveyed said they were ‘‘made redundant/restructured/dismissed or

Rest: dailylife.com.au.

Study raises questions about why women are less likely than men to earn tenure at research universities

Fault of (sexist?) tenure process and not research productivity: ‘“It’s not that we need to make women more productive. It’s that we need to change the processes,” said Kate Weisshaar, a graduate student at Stanford University who did the study.’

On insidehighered:

In discussions about the gender gap among tenured professors at research universities, there is little dispute that there are far more men than women with tenure in most disciplines. But why? Many have speculated that men are outperforming women in research, which is particularly valued over teaching and service at research universities. With women (of those with children) shouldering a disproportionate share of child care, the theory goes, they may not be able to keep up with publishing and research to the same extent as their male counterparts.

A study presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association finds that those assumptions may be untrue in some disciplines. The study compared tenure rates at research universities in computer science, English and sociology — and then controlled for research productivity.

Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity. In English men are slightly (but not in a statistically significant way) more likely than women to earn tenure.

Rest: insidehighered (HT feministphilosophers).

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

On npr.org:

A number of studies, on college campuses and elsewhere, have shown that having friends who support violence against women is a big risk factor for committing sexual assault. Now prevention efforts are exploring the idea that having male friends who object to violence against women can be a powerful antidote to rape on college campuses.

“One of the things that matters most to boys and emerging adult men is the opinion of other men,” says John Foubert, a researcher at Oklahoma State University who studies rape prevention among young men.

[…] But in a group of guy friends, Oklahoma State’s Foubert says, the opinions that can end up influencing behavior are often just what a guy thinks his friends think. “Let’s say you have a peer group of 10 guys,” says Foubert. “One or two are constantly talking about, ‘Oh, I bagged this b- – -h.’ Many of the men listening to that are uncomfortable, but they think that the other men support it through their silence.”

Rest: npr.org.