Women of color are a principal force behind one of the most important components of America’s current marketplace and our nation’s future economy: entrepreneurship. Today, women of color are the majority owners of close to one-third of all women-owned firms in the nation. Increased access to business capital—including microenterprises, venture-capital-funded firms, and crowd funding—has helped the number of women entrepreneurs grow substantially. But women of color face significant obstacles in starting their own businesses, leading to the question of why so many of them turn to entrepreneurship. The growth of women of color as business owners is part of a long-term trend, but the question of why this trend is occurring is often left unanswered. Looking at the alternative to entrepreneurship—the traditional workplace—sheds light on some of the reasons.
I Am Loveworthy: How a Transgender Woman Found Love. (Previously, by the same writer.) Useful resources for participating in the discussion: Ohio U's Trans 101* : Primer and Vocabulary guide; GLAAD's Transgender Media and Education Program
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn "Stop interrupting me." "I just said that." "No explanation needed." [more inside]
Chris Gethard: Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man
Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain. "The pain of women turns them into kittens and rabbits and sunsets and sordid red satin goddesses, pales them and bloodies them and starves them, delivers them to death camps and sends locks of their hair to the stars. Men put them on trains and under them. Violence turns them celestial. Age turns them old. We can’t look away. We can’t stop imagining new ways for them to hurt." [more inside]
In a study and trial somewhat breathlessly reported as Norwegian troops get unisex dorms, the Norwegian Armed Forces has tried out unisex dorm rooms with two women and four men to a room, and consider the experiment a success, with better unit cohesion and lower rate of sexual harassment as results. [more inside]
On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously) and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
Weddings are inherently a form of performance art, and various artists have explored weddings as an artistic form. For example, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens held a wedding every year for 7 years to various parts of the environment and Maria Yoon held weddings in every US state to explore marriage as an Asian-American woman. Second Life also hosted a performance art wedding while Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis incorporated their House of Fairytales project into their own wedding. Kathryn Cornelius married and divorced seven suitors every hour on the hour while Chen Wei-yih opted to marry herself.
'Feminism' has often been seen as a Western concept, but African women are increasingly redefining it to suit their own purposes. This, in turn, is influencing the rest of the world.
Female porn stars, with and without their makeup It's a large bandwidth-intensive imgur gallery. (Via)
The Everyday Sexism Project collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter account. [more inside]
The New York Times asks seven 'experts': Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it? [more inside]
"...the first decade of the 21st century can be viewed as a singularly male-dominated era in American cinema."
New York Times Magazine "Hollywood Issue": Hollywood’s Year of Heroine Worship. Accompanied by an online web series of 13 original, short films: Wide Awake, each starring an actress whose performance helped 'define the year in film.' [more inside]
In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
Right now Baltimore, MD plays host to FemmeCon, a biannual gathering for those who "seek to explore, discuss, dissect, and support Queer Femme as a transgressive, gender-queer, stand-alone, and empowered identity and provide a space for organizing and activism within Queer communities". Some of the issues faced by queer femme culture include femme invisibility in larger queer culture, the lack of non-stereotypical role models, being classed 'femme' by default, dismissal as "too much", as well as intersectional issues of femme with race, gender, and disability. In the meantime, femme subcultures such as tomboy femme, hard femme, and FEMME SHARKS as well as femmes in specific regions come together for inspiration, expression, power, creativity and support from each other - as well as from appreciative butches.
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf) from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime," NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
Women are often referred to as crazy when remembered by exes. A magazine article propagating this view was forcefully rebutted. Have the times changed for women with a wide range of emotions?
So Tara Tiger Brown of Forbes.com wrote an article begging fake geek girls to go away. Leigh Alexander of Sexy Videogameland responds with "This is the worst kind of thing to me, because not only is it sad for her, but it sucks for all of us. Women in our space, having once been something of a scarcity, face particular challenges. We lack for companions and mentors. " Followed by The Mary Sue's Susana Polo "So yes, I understand the desire to weed the “posers” out of your personal life and interactions. But I have never, actually, in the flesh, met a “fake” geek girl. Or guy. "
Results of a new survey by the Washington post and Kaiser sheds some light on black women in America in a way that some others have failed to do. 2011 saw a record number of articles, books and shows dedicated to analyzing the "plight' of black women in America. Naturally, most of it devolved into popular tropes about black women being undesirable, ugly, angry, and lonely. This new survey shows that for some black women, the path to happiness doesn't necessarily have to be through companionship with a mate.
"While we still live in a sexist society, any woman who sticks her head above the parapet will encounter misogynistic abuse."
"You should have your tongue ripped out." Female bloggers speak out about misogynist comments, rape threats and death threats. [more inside]
She Was A Camera. Melissa Gira Grant writes about camgirl culture. (NSFW?)
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
Hidden World of Girls: Girls and the Women they Become is NPR's collaborative year-long, ongoing series between The Kitchen Sisters, NPR and listener submissions. The series explores "stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secet identities—of women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, changed the tide." [more inside]
The American Academy of Pediatrics is proposing that doctors be authorized to perform a “ritual nick” on the genitals of pre-pubescent girls in order to satisfy cultural requirements and hopefully stave off more invasive forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC):
Most forms of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians should decline to perform them, even in the absence of any legal constraints. However, the ritual nick suggested by some pediatricians is not physically harmful and is much less extensive than routine newborn male genital cutting. There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disﬁguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC. It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm. (source: PDF; not safe for work, contains line drawings of female genitalia.)
The New York Times covers a 'new celebrity trend', Unshaven Women, Free Spirits or Unkempt?
After decades of selling tampons and "sanitary products" with ads containing nebulous, euphemistic images and language, Kotex launched a new product line, 'U by Kotex' and a 'Declaration of Real Talk Campaign' to encourage girls and women to speak about menstruation without embarrassment. Ironically, their ad was rejected by the major US television networks for mentioning the word 'vagina'. Here's the 'safe for the viewing public' version. / YT channel. [more inside]
Extravagant Crowd - Carl Van Vechten’s Portraits of Women and Photos of African Americans. Previous post by ND¢: Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten 1932-1964. Also, public domain works from Wikimedia Commons. [more inside]
Women's rights: What's in it for men? - "Women in rich countries largely enjoy gender equality while those in poor countries suffer substantial discrimination. This column proposes an explanation for the relationship between economic development and female empowerment that emphasises changes in the incentives males face rather than shifts in moral sentiment. Technological change that raises demand for human capital may give men a stake in women's rights." [more inside]
"This will be a woman’s world, and men will have to learn to fit in." The Wilson Quarterly examines the historical, cultural, and sexual implications of matriarchy. Via.
Geiko of Kyoto is a stunning photo gallery of Kyotos's Geisha - both the mature Geiko and the apprentice Maiko. Melissa Chasse annotates many photos with fascinating details and offers an account of her tea party with Mamechika, a lovely Maiko. For more, this lovely Geisha site offers a brief history from the era of the floating world, more photos, Ukiyo-e art, and links. Also see y2karls' prior definitive post on ukiyo-e.
Eight rules for writing a female comics character worth reading Karen Healey lays a cursory path for avoiding the major pitfalls of women in comics. Part of the larger Girl Wonder site (previously). Also good is Designated Sidekick's takedown of IGN.
Personal ads in the Arab world "Resident of the UAE, 28 years old, high-school diploma, looking for a veiled wife, a citizen of UAE or any other Gulf county. Will be allowed to continue working after marriage." ~ "Syrian, 36 years old, holds a government position, is interested to meet a tall, fair-skinned and green-eyed virgin, Lebanese or Moroccan."
Female genital mutilation is a blight on women's lives in many parts of Africa. Today's NY Times has a story, "Genital Cutting Shows Signs of Losing Favor in Africa" by Mark Lacey, that gives grounds for optimism:
Slowly, genital cutting is losing favor. Parliaments are passing laws forbidding the practice, which causes widespread death and disfigurement. Girls are fleeing their homes to keep their vaginas intact. And the women who have been carrying out the cutting, and who have been revered by their communities for doing so, are beginning to lay down their knives.(If you don't want to register with the NYT, here's the Mathaba.net copy.)
Sworn virgins. "A sworn virgin is called such because she swears—takes a vow under the law of the Kanun—to become a man. From the day she takes this vow (which is sometimes at a very early age), she becomes a man: she dresses like one, acts like one, walks like one, works like one, talks like one, and her family and community treat her as one. She is referred to as he. He will never marry and will remain celibate all of his life." If you find this stuff intriguing, by all means read Alice Munro's great short story "The Albanian Virgin" (from Open Secrets, 1994); you might also want to check out A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture, where there's much more cultural weirdness, and Edith Durham's classic High Albania (online here), from which I first learned of these mannish gals. Oh, and there's a movie!
Startlingly beautiful girl. What is her life like? Does she resent it? How uncomfortable must life be for this girl's boyfriend? Why do restaurants give her a 75% discount if she sits at a window table? Rhetorical questions all, but sometimes you gotta ask. Be sure to click the slideshow thingie. (NYtimes link)