The benevolence of white men


By now the vast majority of you will have heard of the racist comments made by Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA team. Sterling was taped during a phone conversation with his girlfriend V. Stiviano, asking her not to bring black people to games with her. This is, apparently, part of a long history of racist comments made by Sterling over the course of this conversation and over a number of incidents stretching back many years. The response has been quick and severe, with players, owners, sports fans, and team sponsors all moving to condemn the comments and the man who made them.

Is Donald Sterling a racist?

Whether or not Donald Sterling is “a racist” is a question that I find profoundly boring. As I have said many times before, I do not recognize the validity of the category “a racist”. There…

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The most comprehensive analysis ever of the gender of New York Times writers

Family Inequality

In this post I present the most comprehensive analysis ever reported of the gender of New York Times writers (I think), with a sample of almost 30,000 articles.

This subject has been in the news, with a good piece the other day by Liza Mundy — in the New York Times — who wrote on the media’s Woman Problem, prompted by the latest report from the Women’s Media Center. The WMC checked newspapers’ female byline representation from the last quarter of 2013, and found levels ranging from a low of 31% female at the NYT to a high of 46% at the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s a broad study that covers a lot of other media, and worth reading. But we can go deeper on the NYTimes. The WMC report, it appears (in full here), only focused on the A-section of each newspaper, with articles coded by topic according to unspecified criteria. Thanks to the awesome data collecting powers of my…

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234 Girls Abducted from Physics Exam #HelpTheGirls


Two weeks ago, 234 girls were abducted from a school in northeastern Nigeria. They were loaded into trucks at gunpoint and taken into the forest. We know what happened because of about 30 girls who managed to escape.

This is assumed to be the work of Boko Haram, a sect of Muslim extremists whose very name means “Western education is sinful.” They want to institute an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. They use child soldiers and there’s evidence to suggest they’ve abducted girls in the past to serve as sex slaves. In February they murdered 59 students.

The local Muslim population is unsupportive of Boko Haram, to the point that the group has even assassinated Muslim clerics for criticizing it.

The best weapon we have against groups like Boko Haram is education, and they know it. That’s why they’ve waged war on it. Those girls were in school that day to take a physics exam. If 200 white girls in America were abducted during physics class, the world wouldn’t rest until they were found. But because these girls are in Nigeria, a place far away from the media spotlight, they’re simply gone. The Nigerian government is doing less than nothing – at one point they announced that the girls had been found and rescued, but the parents revealed that was a lie. The parents are spending their own money to hire motorcycles and cars to trek into the forest, and coming back empty-handed.

How do 200 girls, and enough soldiers and trucks to carry them off, simply disappear?

One way to help fix this is by raising awareness. International media attention leads to international pressure on the Nigerian government to do something. There’s a petition you can sign, created by a Nigerian woman currently living in Germany. You can also Tweet using the hashtags helpthegirls and bringbackourdaughters.

It may not seem like a lot, but increased awareness is one of the major factors that led to the release of persecuted individuals like the members of Pussy Riot and Alexander Aan. So spread the word and maybe make a difference.

It’s breastfeeding. Get over it

It’s breastfeeding, get over it..

blue milk


Ariel Gore is having trouble getting some newsagents in America to stock her latest issue of Hip Mama. “Why are Americans still so uptight about breastfeeding?” in Psychology Today:

She reached out to the Barcelona-based artist and selected “Symbiosis,” a gorgeous self-portrait photograph of Ana in partial superhero costume breastfeeding her son.

I loved the selection. I thought the image invoked the unrealistic notion of the “Supermom” who can do everything and countered it with the vulnerability of being partially naked with a small child.

I added the tagline “No Supermoms Here.”

Ana, in our interview for the magazine, said she thought of the piece as showing the symbiotic relationship between mother and child, “where each being is complete by themselves but they are reinvented and strengthened by the relationships they establish with each other.”

None of us thought of the photo as being “about” public breastfeeding.


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Medical ‘Guinea Pigs’ for #Cervical #Cancer Studies, 254 Poor #Women Killed in #India

Shame on you Bill + Melinda Gates


guinea pigs New Delhi, April 20, 2014

 The death of 254  women from poor families from villages and slums in India,  who were participants in  US-funded clinical trials for cervical cancer, has triggered public outrage about the ethics of how clinical trials are conducted in India. The women who died were part of a control group who were kept without screening to study death rates in unscreened populations.

This follows a row for these same clinical trials in 2010 when four teenage girls taking part in the  test study of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines died.  The Indian government was accused of loaning its citizens to western medical companies for use as guinea pigs to test dangerous vaccines.  The subjects were selected from the poorest sections of India and did not have adequate education to make informed choices.  The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and run by the…

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New Born #Girl Drowned in a Bucket of Water in #Kashmir


April 04, 2014, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

A new born baby girl, was discovered drowned in a bucket of water in a public bathroom at the Jawharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital at  in Srinagar.

Kashmir which historically did not have the practice of female infanticide, now has rampant female infanticide and feticide. It has seen the single largest decline in sex ratio of all the states in the country, and has the worst sex ratio for girls according to the Census 2011 . While in the 2001 census, the number of girls per 1,000 boys (aged between 0-6yrs) was 941, the 2011 Census found that it has plummeted to 859.  At present, there are 82 fewer girls in the state per 1,000 boys.  No other state is even remotely close to J&K’s dismal record. Maharashtra is second in that list. But, in absolute numbers, it has 30 fewer girls per 1,000…

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From Steubenville to Delhi: Destroying Rape Culture is a Worldwide Effort

Media Diversified

by Huma Munshi

Trigger Warning: rape, child rape, domestic violence

Last week something quite special happened.  Though only witnessed in real time on twitter, it has since filtered through to the mainstream media. It was an important moment in the fight-back against rape culture led by a survivor who asked women totweet stories of their rape and, simply, what they were wearingThe response was overwhelming. It hit home yet again that it does not matter what a woman wears: from sweatpants, to a girl in a school uniform, to someone in a bathing suit, a rapist will rape. Victim blaming is dangerous, ignorant and simply adds to rape culture.  

I watched a play recently,Nirbhaya‘,at the Purcell Room, London, and was struck again by the all-pervading impact of rape culture as it is played out through all cultures and ethnicities.


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Sport and Objectification

Media Diversified

What Does Physical Attractiveness Have To Do With Sport?

by Joy Goh-Mah

Picture the following scenes. It’s November 2012, and President Obama has just won the US election. Amid the celebrations, keyboard warriors take to social media to comment, “Obama? President? What a joke, he can’t tap dance at all.” Or perhaps a group of students are in the classroom learning about Einstein, and wonder aloud, “Why is Einstein so admired? He clearly didn’t know much about hairdressing.”

Naturally, we recognise these to be completely absurd. One’s ability to tap dance has no impact on one’s effectiveness as a leader, and to be a theoretical physicist, hairdressing skills are unnecessary. To link them is simply ludicrous. Yet, this line of ‘logic’ was precisely what drove the actions of a horde of social media users in the wake of Marion Bartoli’s victory in the Wimbledon final.

While Bartoli, overwhelmed by happiness…

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Death Threats (and the rest)

Left at the Lights

I’ve been tweeting at Twitter for more than 24hrs to remove the account in the first screenshot with no success.

This account has been functioning for quite some time and it is our belief it was set up to harass and intimidate one of our friends.

When I became aware of them I asked Twitter to suspend the account for transphobia. The person behind the account tweeted those words about me, taking advantage of a disagreement between me and a real life friend.

24 hours I’ve been tweeting, as have many of my supporters and nothing from Twitter.

The other tweets, the death threats, those were aimed at me for telling a friend that she could report the death threats leveled at her, to the police and if they were taken seriously, as was the case for Caroline Criado Perez, then they were looking at jail time. So how did…

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