2019 Feminism Headline News
5-22-19 In pictures: Protests across US against abortion bans
Thousands of people have taken part in co-ordinated rallies across the United States to protest against several states passing tough laws to restrict abortions. The anti-abortion bills, approved by Republican state legislatures amid a nationwide push for new restrictions by opponents of abortions, are likely to be challenged legally, forcing a ruling by the Supreme Court. Those against abortions hope the court - which now has a Conservative majority following appointments by President Donald Trump - could then overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. Last week, the state of Alabama passed the most restrictive law yet, banning abortion in all cases apart from when the mother's life is at risk. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio are among the other states to pass new abortion restrictions. Earlier this year the Supreme Court blocked implementation of new abortion restrictions in Louisiana. However, the ruling was made by a narrow margin and the case is due to be reviewed later this year.
5-2-19 US military reports major spike in sex assaults
The US military has reported a major spike in sexual assaults despite years of efforts to address the problem. Figures show 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2018, up from 14,900 in 2016 which is the last time a survey was conducted. Alcohol was involved in one third of cases, and female recruits ages 17 to 24 are at the highest risk of attack. On Thursday, Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan directed the military to "criminalise" sexual harassment. The report released on Thursday surveyed the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and estimated a total of 20,500 cases in 2018. The total figure is based reports of attacks as well as an extrapolation of survey data which was gathered through a poll of over 100,000 troops. Researchers say the survey has a 95% level of confidence. Incidents of unwanted sexual contact - which ranges from groping to rape - rose by around 38% between 2016 and 2018. Only one out of three cases were reported to authorities, the report found. In 2006, only one in 14 victims reported sexual assault crimes, the Pentagon said. In more than 85% of cases, victims knew their attacker. The majority of cases involved young women whose attacker was often a superior officer. The report should be "a trip wire", said Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director of the Department' of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "This is what tells us that there's something going on that we need to hone in on," he told ABC News. "We've got a higher prevalence for women 17 to 24. We're going to be focusing very, very tightly on that." Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee's personnel panel, told the USA Today newspaper that the military "must accept that current programmes are simply not working". "Congress must lead the way in forcing the department to take more aggressive approaches to fighting this scourge," she said, calling for intervention from US lawmakers.
3-19-19 Karen Uhlenbeck is first woman to win prestigious maths Abel prize
Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win the Abel prize, sometimes called the Nobel prize of mathematics. She has been awarded the 6 million Norwegian kroner ($700,000) prize for her work in the fields of gauge theory and geometric analysis, which have been credited with far-reaching impact in both mathematics and physics. Gauge theory underpins much of modern theoretical physics, and is integral to cutting-edge research in particle physics, general relativity and string theory. Her work laid the foundations for one of the major milestones of 20th–century physics, the unification of two of the four fundamental forces of nature: electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force. “The holy grail in physics has always been unification of forces,” says Jim Al-Khalili at the University of Surrey, UK, who gave a talk about Uhlenbeck’s prizewinning work today. “She has made a big contribution to the mathematics that allowed us to progress some considerable way along this path.” Among her other meaningful contributions was her work on the calculus of variations, the study of how small changes in one quantity can help find the minimum or maximum value of another. A real-world example comes in blowing soap bubbles, which always adjust their shape so that their surface area is minimised. Predicting comparable structures in higher dimensions is enormously challenging, but Uhlenbeck’s work has greatly helped. Uhlenbeck has always blazed a trail for women in mathematics. Her plenary lecture at the 1990’s International Congress of Mathematicians was the first delivered by a woman since Emmy Noether in 1932.
1-15-19 Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'
A Gillette advert which references bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity has split opinion online. The razor company's short film, called Believe, plays on their famous slogan "The best a man can get", replacing it with "The best men can be". The company says it wants men to hold each other "accountable". Some have praised the message of the advert, which aims to update the company's 30-year-old tagline, but others say Gillette is "dead" to them. The ad has been watched more than 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours. It currently has 23,000 likes and 214,000 dislikes, at time of writing - and that's increasing all the time. In it, the company asks "Is this the best a man can get?" before showing images of bullying, sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and aggressive male behaviour. It then shows examples of more positive behaviour - such as stepping into prevent these behaviours when they happen in public. Comments on the video are largely negative, with viewers saying they will never buy Gillette products again or that the advert was "feminist propaganda". (Webmaster's comment: All the brute males rally around their favorite things; bullying and beating women!) "In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done?," wrote one angry viewer. Twitter users are also sharing their disappointment with Gillette's new campaign. There have also been calls for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, to post an apology video. But the brand believes the new advert aligns with its slogan and says it believes in "the best in men." "By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," says its president, Gary Coombe. (Webmaster's comment: It's about time all good men stood up against all the brute males! Shun them!)