“If the term bothers you, you can call it gender equality...I think feminism is a good term...It’s about standing against the systematic and global subordination of women.”– Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström on unabashadly persuing feminist foreign policy
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lebanese Housekeepers Unite Against Abusive Employers
The nannies and housekeepers of Lebanon are fed up with age-old working conditions and fighting back in the form of unionization. The domestic labor industry, with a workforce consisting mainly of women, is rife with physical, sexual and emotional abuse (Nanny cam? How about employer cam!). And in Lebanon, where~250,000 migrant domestic workers find employment, those women are coming together to rally against the oppression. Current laws regarding domestic labor in Lebanon are unabashedly oppressive, requiring employers to act as “sponsors” for their workers (employers retain their workers passports) and any migrant worker that develops a romantic relationship risks deportation. Many women report being locked in the houses for which they are employed for years on end, often working long hours with no days off (TGI…nevermind.) These schedules add even more difficulty to the process of unionization, but determined workers and representatives are coming together despite the odds. The union, one of the first of its kind in the Middle East, provides these women the opportunity for education, social interaction, and support against the rampant abuse littered in the domestic work industry.
Housekeepin’ it real.
Doctors Push to Legitimize Menstrual Pain
Often portrayed as the go-to reason for skipping gym class, recently there has been a heavy push in medical community to legitimize menstrual pain. This is great news, since women’s health issues are routinely looked over, and research into them often goes underfunded. Some doctors are even comparing the severity of period pains to those of a heart attack! Still, women’s pain is treated less pressing than men’s, with emergency room wait times for abdominal pain treatment averaging 49 minutes for men, and 65 minutes for women. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have even been known to discontinue women’s hormonal treatments due to “financial reasons,” yet doctors have noticed that this is rarely the case for other medications. In a surprising but welcome development, Richard Legro of Penn State has found that sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, may prove helpful for severe menstrual pain. Yet despite multiple attempts, he has been unable to secure funding for further research, which he blames on popular medicine’s lack of interest in women’s health (part of the larger theme of not caring about women’s issues, likeCBS’s programming, or this history podcast). It seems modern medicine has literally placed men’s sexual enjoyment over easing women’s suffering.
Sildenafil: "Slid and Fell" said 10 times really fast.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A new study shows evidence that women are stereotyped as being more ethical than men (nice!), which leads them to be subjected to harsher penalties when they violate ethical codes in the workplace (not nice.) Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Jessica Kennedy, and Nicole Stephens ran an experiment where they told participants about a hospital administrator committing Medicare fraud; some were told the administrator was named Jack Moranti, and others told the name was Jane Moranti, all other details were identical. The participants then had to recommend a jail sentence for Moranti- with the average being about 80 days for Jack and about 130 days for Jane (160% more!) The researchers then turned their focus to actual disciplinary cases from the American Bar Association. Upon analysis of 500 cases in 33 states, they found that women had a 35% chance of being disbarred in any given case, while men only had a 17% chance of the same punishment. It turns out even when society holds women to supposed “higher standards,” they are still treated worse. That seems more of a "lose-lose" situation to us!
In the late 1960s an underground comics movement burgeoned, featuring hancho macho men with their busty, subservient women. (A patriarchy as indelible as the marks those horrible catsuits leave.) Women weren’t only withheld from the page but behind the scenes as well. Comic artist Trina Robbins was frustrated at the lack of inclusion and opportunities for women, so she created--along with Barbara “Willy” Mendes--the first all women’s comic book, “It Ain’t Me Babe Comix.” The book, worked on by other female artists, featured comic characters like Wonder Woman and Mary Marvel espousing women’s lib ideals (We only wish they would have burned those ridiculous costumes alongside the bras.). This platform gave Robbins the impetus she needed to produce “Wimmen’s Comix,” a female-produced collective centered on feminist issues. Unfortunately, mainstream comic bookstores weren’t the best marketplace for them, seeing as how they catered to men with an interest in steroid-abusing misogynists wielding lightning bolts and bad one-liners. Today, though, Robbins is optimistic as she points to the prevalence of female creators and producers of comics. Indeed, she says of comics books when she was a kid, “They made me feel like I could be the heroine of a comic book, like I could be anything.” Good news Trina; we can, in fact, be anything!
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
Summer camp is bad enough with mosquitos, getting picked last for dodgeball, and Freddy Krueger, so imagine how it must be for transgender children maneuvering their way around the camp site. Thankfully, one camp aims to provide an inclusive place for all transgender children, and it’s the subject of the new TLC documentary Transgender Kids Camp. The four-day camp at Camp You Are You provides workshops for parents while kids participate in activities like swimming and obstacle courses. The camp culminates in the “Free to Be Me” fashion show (Step aside, “Say Yes To the Dress!"). Some kids at the camp have fully transitioned, while others still haven’t come out to their friends and schools. Either way, it’s a place where no one is judged. (Which is good because obstacle courses always sound a bit grueling.) One parent named Sabrina expressed her gratitude for the open environment of the camp, saying, “They don’t have to explain themselves, they don’t have to protect themselves, they don’t have to make excuses. There are no questions— just have fun!” Make time amid your regular TV-binging and check the doc out for yourself.