The minefield that is the Middle East

I feel in this blog I have not really touched on many topics stemming from the Middle East.

I know I have a very shallow view of women’s rights in this region- basically that there aren’t many. It is a topic that intrigues and interests me but right now, feels out of my depth.

A friend from class kindly passed on these two items that represent a portion of the experience of females in the Middle East.

A powerful image:

And an awesome story about Bill Gates:
Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. A partition separated the two groups. Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering.” “


Americans – please vote Obama on November 6!

Lesley Gore’s classic protofeminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” which reached No. 2 in 1964, has become a “get out the vote” public service announcement directed by and starring some major young female talent.

The Women Voter Call To Action PSA, which is just up today on YouTube and features Gore herself providing an introductory “I’m Lesley Gore and I approve this message” endorsement, was directed by rock ‘n ‘ roll cabaret act Citizen Band’s cofounder Sarah Sophie Flicker and award-winning filmmaker/artist Maximilla Lukacs. Among the many hipster notables seen lip-synching the words to Gore’s vocal are Girls creator Lena Dunham, style icon Alexa Chung, rock drummer/DJ Tennessee Thomas, filmmaker/writer Miranda July, teen feminist online mag Rookie creator Tavi Gevinson and Lula magazine creator Leith Clark.

Also recognizable are actresses including Zoe Kravitz, Rain Phoenix, Alexa Paladino, Alia Shawkat, Mae Whitman and Natasha Lyonne; designers Rachel Antonoff, Tracy Ellis Ross, Melissa Coker and Vena Cava; and members of the bands Au Revoir Simone and Chapin Sisters.

“A bunch of us gals had all been horrified by the news, the repeated attacks on women’s rights, and the anti-women sentiment pouring out from the GOP generally,” says Flicker. “We decided we wanted to make a PSA.”

Flicker says she’d been long “obsessed” by “You Don’t Own Me,” and has been performing it with the Citizens Band.

“Tennessee had interviewed Lesley Gore for Lula a few months back and reached out to her,” she continues. “Lesley emailed back immediately, and couldn’t have been more amazing! She is very active politically and just got on board. Tavi had the brilliant idea of recording on computers–leave it to a 16 year old!—so we went to Lesley’s place with our computer and recorded her message.”

The others were approached by email with the instructions to record themselves lip-synching to “You Don’t Own Me” (song and lyrics were attached) via webcam. “Be yourself–laugh, smile, dance…be crazy!” encouraged the message. “We would love for you to wear bright colors, and most of all, have fun!”

That the gals obviously did, several also holding up pronouncements (example: “Mind. Body. Rights.”) jibing with Gore’s declaration of distaff independence.

“In a year that has seen the greatest backlash against women’s rights in recent history, now is the time not only to vote, but to send a mandate,” stated the email missive. “Tell the country, elected officials and the world that we will not stand for this any longer. We will not go backwards!”

On a more personal note, Flicker says, “I’m struck by the fact that we are teetering dangerously close to a situation where my daughter won’t have the same rights I’ve enjoyed my entire life–and that scares the heck out of me. Women constituted 60 percent of the last election’s voters. We can win this thing. We just have to agitate, motivate, and get out the darn vote!”

Gore returns at the end of the video. Looking back at 1964, the recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon inductee says, “It’s hard for me to believe, but we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes, ladies, we’ve got to come together. Get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours!”

“Please vote,” she concludes.

From: The Examiner

10 Awesome Feminist Halloween Costume Ideas

10 Awesome Feminist Halloween Costume Ideas.

There’s not long to go until Halloween.

In need of some ideas?

Personally, I still want to dress up as Frida Kahlo. I’ve been growing my moustache for months.

Chinese women can go to space but not into politics woot

So, I may be a few months off the mark but back in June, Liu Yang became the first Chinese female to go to space – only nine years after the first male!

The above article from the Washington Post highlights how hard it is for females to make it in Chinese politics.

Please note how State Councilor Liu Yandong is described in the article : “Liu is a smiley 67-year-old with a degree in chemical engineering and a penchant
for pearls and red lipstick. Her portfolios include education, sports and
cultural affairs. Experts say she is well-connected and state media paints her
as a diligent civil servant with a human touch”

I’m just surprised they didn’t put her ‘penchant’ for pearls and red lipstick before her chemical engineering degree!  I wonder how they would describe a male candidate? ‘Mr X has a penchant for cologne and ties’ – I don’t think so.

P.S. In case you were wondering, the first article I found on astronaut Liu Yang told me she is married but has no children! I know we were all wondering.

Australia still has a long way to go

Of Australia’s top 200 companies listed on the stock exchange, only five have female CEOs. That is 2.5%.

In August 2010, the Australian gender pay gap was 16.9%. “Western Australia has the largest gender pay gap of any state or territory in Australia. As of August 2010 it was 24 per cent” (Wikipedia).

That means, in the lovely state I live in, a male could be making more money than me for doing the exact same job.

Now go on and tell me that sexism doesn’t exist. 


Malala Yousafzai is a 14-year old Pakistani girl who has advocated for female rights since she was 11 years old.

Two days ago, she was shot by members of the Taliban in an assasination attempt. “The Taliban response: Malala has “become a symbol of Western culture in the area.”

She is in a critical condition.

It puts my petty complaints about being too lazy to do my uni work into perspective- education, yes is a right but also a privelege when girls like Malala are shot,  standing up for their right to be educated.

It seems fitting that today is the inaugural UN Day of the Girl Child.

First female judge in WA’s family court passes away

On October 1st, the first female judge of Western Australia’ family court, Carolyn Martin, died from cancer.

Justice Martin “paved the way for women in WA to become judicial officers”