Skip to main content
Read page text

on to collect 1.6 million signatures. Kenya’s public prosecutor has since upgraded the charges and a new trial was due to start in June.

Other nascent campaigns are getting a taste of victory – such as the successful battle to force Facebook to remove misogynistic images and comment. Tactics and tools are quickly taken up and shared. Each win builds confidence and is a step towards bigger changes.

It feels as if feminism has a more populist bent today. It’s alright to be feminist and like Beyoncé. Men are increasingly encouraged to join the struggle for gender equity. There are pushes for more women on corporate boards or to run for high office.

‘It’s not what we in second-wave feminism thought we would work on,’ chuckles Joni Seager, ‘but I think it’s complementary in a “small steps” kind of way. It opens up the old debate: do we want to be the Barbarians at the gate or the people in the boardroom? I say both.’ Reasonable and revolutionary Malala Yousafzai warned her peers, the Tower Hamlet girls, that both the ‘developing’ and what she described as the ‘modern world’ discriminated against women. ‘In India and Pakistan, people say it openly, but here [in Britain] it’s kept hidden. Now we need to highlight it.

‘Women need equality in practical l ife – real l ife.’

If we want the transformative, far-reaching changes imagined by Malala, it is the strong feminist movements that hold the key to change.

These organizations are more effective at combating violence than either political parties or wealth, according to a 40-year study conducted in 70 countries.9 Feminist groups are operating at the coalface of patriarchy in its most brutal manifestations, and should be the target of funds and support.

The foundations of feminism are strong. In Brazil, feminist NGOs are monitoring the implementation of domestic violence legislation; while one young woman’s anti rape-culture stance – featured on the front of this issue – goes viral. The latest groundswell of anger brings new approaches, which can tap into the older wisdom, and has the chance to effect real cultural and political change.

These women will take us to the next stage on the journey: to a world that values women; where girls love the bodies they are born with, where rape is treated as if it mattered, and care is shared and valued. n

1 Huffington Post, Maternal mortality infographic. 2 ‘Why women are still left doing most of the housework’, May 2011, Oxford University press release. 3 ‘An early start for gender equality’, Plan Canada, October 2011. 4 Natasha Walter, Living Dolls – the Return of Sexism, Virago, 2010. 5 Young People into 2013, The Schools Health Education Unit. 6 Anne Becker, ‘Eating behaviours and attitudes following prolonged exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls’, The British Journal of Psychiatry (2002). 7 Philip Cohen, ‘The Banal, Insidious Sexism of Smurfette’, The Atlantic, August 2013. 8 ‘Viewpoints: has the Delhi rape case changed India?’, BBC News, September 2013. 9 ‘The civic origins of progressive policy change: combatting violence against women in a global perspective, 1975-2005’, American Political Science Review, (Issue 03, Volume 106), August 2012.

RADICAL HANDMAIDS ‘Pro-choice activists who love Canadian Literature and really outrageous hats’.

THE POWER OF GENTLE MEN ‘Powerful men do not need to hurt or blame others.’ This is one of the values spread by the Men’s Resource Centre Rwanda (RWAMREC), the country’s first ever male-led organization working for gender equity.

It delivers training to violent men, teaching new models of ‘positive masculinity’. Its prescriptions, which include making husbands cook rice and sweep the compound, have successfully turned abusers into conflict resolution counsellors for troubled marriages, according to Guardian reporter Nishtha Chugh.

It’s one of hundreds of organizations that are looking to attack patriarchy by reimagining what it means to be male. The largest movement is the White Ribbon anti-violence campaign (now a global network) propelled by the Canadian Michael Kaufman, who also tours campuses teaching men about consent. Another campaign, MenCare, pushes for gentle, fairly shared parenting; its influence extends as far as Brazil and Latvia. In a more politicized vein, there is the New York-based Challenging Male Supremacy Project. // //

#I DON’T DESERVE TO BE RAPED This list would not be complete without a hashtag-led Twitter protest. A 28-yearold Brazilian journalist, Nana Queiroz, struck a blow against victim-blaming last March when she posted a photo of herself topless with the words ‘Eu Nao Mereco Ser Estuprada’ (‘I don’t deserve to be raped’) written across her body [immortalized on this issue’s front cover]. It was her outraged response to a survey, which claimed that 65 per cent of Brazilians thought that a provocatively dressed woman deserved to be raped. The research institute later revised its figures down to 26 per cent – still a quarter of the population. The post went viral, with thousands of women and men uploading their own pictures. Consequently, Queiroz met with President Dilma Rousseff and is helping to draft a document to outline how to educate schoolchildren in gender issues.

‘It's not an invitation!'

N e w I n t e r n at i o n a l i s t ● july/au gust 2 014 ● 17

. c o m

/g e n d e rf o c u s

. o r g i d

. a w

. y f a i r e i s t w i n f e m

Yo u n g


: AW

S o u r c e s

My Bookmarks

Skip to main content