Deepa Kumar, a professor of media studies at Rutgers University, proudly took credit for helping run Condoleezza Rice off campus in 2014. “We won!” she tweeted when the Stanford professor and Bush administration secretary of state announced she was withdrawing as the university’s May 18, 2014 commencement speaker amid such ugliness as students calling her a “war criminal” and professors (including Kumar) who had called for her to be “disinvited” planning a “teach-in” that would likely disrupt the graduation ceremonies.
But now Kumar is as mad as the rooster that lost the cockfight because Fox News discovered a more recent tweet of hers (on March 25) saying the U.S. was worse than ISIS. “Yes ISIS is brutal, but US is more so, 1.3 million killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she’d written on Twitter.
How unfair for Fox to pick on her like that! And for those mean commentators to wonder aloud what she was doing teaching at a public university! In an interview with Inside Higher Education, Kumar says she’s fighting back:
“This is not the only case of a professor being targeted by Fox News and by the right — in fact, there’s a long history here of trying to silence and intimidate faculty who have dissenting opinions on the U.S. government and policies in the Middle East,” Kumar said in an interview. “The only way to push back and defend myself is to be public about it.”
A PlayPump in Africa: Putting kids to work instead of fossil fuels
I’ve been reading about the rise and fall of the “PlayPump.” The idea, hatched by a high-minded NGO (natch!), was that the perfect way to provide clean water for impoverished sub-Saharan villages would be to set up a children’s merry-go-round attached to a pump that would move water from an underground aquifer to an above-ground tank that the village women could draw from. Perfect! No nasty real energy source for the pump such as, um, electricity. Fossil fuels! Global warming! We can’t have that.
So the little tykes would run the pump instead, merrily pushing themselves round and round just for fun, and voila! Water for the whole village!
“The donations gushed in. In 2006, the U.S. government and two major foundations pledged $16.4 million in a public ceremony emceed by Bill Clinton and Laura Bush. The technology was touted by the World Bank and made a cameo in America’s 2007 Water for the Poor Act. Jay-Z personally pledged $400,000. PlayPump set the goal of installing 4,000 pumps in Africa by 2010. ‘That would mean clean drinking water for some ten million people,’ a ‘Frontline’ reporter announced.”
But no one at the carbon-phobic nonprofit ever thought to test the idea on real children before plunking about 1,500 of the PlayPumps in African villages whether the residents wanted them or not. No one ever considered, for example, the fact that children get bored with doing the same kind of play over and over, especially when it actually isn’t play at all but more like those primitive olive presses operated by a blinders-wearing donkey on a rope trudging in a circle.
“By 2007, less than two years after the grants came in, it was already clear these aspirations weren’t going to be met. A UNICEF report found pumps abandoned, broken, unmaintained. Of the more than 1,500 pumps that had been installed with the initial burst of grant money in Zambia, one-quarter already needed repair….
“In 2010, ‘Frontline’ returned to the schools where they had filmed children laughing on the merry-go-rounds, splashing each other with water. They discovered pumps rusting, billboards unsold, women stooping to turn the wheel in pairs. Many of the villages hadn’t even been asked if they wanted a PlayPump, they just got one, sometimes replacing the handpumps they already had. In one community, adults were paying children to operate the pump.”
Panelist Miss Coco Peru: Hey kids, let’s drop some F-bombs!
“In rural, small-town Iowa, a group of parents and community leaders is seeking to prevent students from the local taxpayer-funded middle school and high school from attending future versions of an anti–bullying conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.
“The rest of the sessions involved issues such as ‘how to pleasure their gay partners.’
“Middle school girls from Humboldt (pop.: 4,690) had the opportunity to learn ‘how to sew fake testicles into their underwear in order to pass themselves off as boys.’
“One speaker wore a dress made out of condoms to which could be ‘used as needed.’ Another speaker raised the important middle-school issue of using the Internet to locate an orgy.
“A father from Des Moines whose daughter attended the conference described the girl’s experience.
“’She thought she was attending this conference to learn how students can be supportive of their homosexual peers,’ he explained, according to EAGnews.
“’When she got there, it wasn’t really on bullying; it was basically a sexual education class for same-sex couples,’ the mad dad said. ‘It was crude. One presenter told students who asked whether anal sex hurt that, as a lesbian, it really depended on how big the device is that their partner straps on.'”
At least one Iowa community group has circulated a petition asking their local school districts to ban participation in the conferenvce, and Iowa GOP Stat Rep. Greg. Heartsill sent a letter to all 150 Iowa School superintendants asking them to provide information about how many students and faculty attended and how much it cost the districts. Heartsill declared:
“My biggest concern is that school kids — minors — were allegedly subjected to presentations that were sexually explicit, obscene, and laced with profanity. The conference had very little to do with anti-bullying or the promotion of tolerance and understanding. In fact, the closing speaker — whose presentation was reportedly littered with F- and S-bombs in almost every sentence — encouraged the attendees to vandalize the property of those who disagree with the LGBTQ lifestyle.”
The obscenities and the call to deface were said to have been delivered by Miss Coco Peru, a red-headed drag queen invited to address the attendees.
Author Brogan and his grill: Eeww, I just hate feeling like a man!
Slate writer Jacob Brogan has found a new reason why grilling is bad for society: It makes men feel more masculine. And heaven knows, we can’t have masculine men! Here’s Brogan on the anxiety he feels when he so much as looks at his two-pronged fork:
“I’m uncomfortable with the pleasure I take in something so conventionally masculine. Looming over the coals, tongs in hand, I feel estranged from myself, recast in the role of suburban dad. At such moments, I get the sense that I’ve fallen into a societal trap, one that reaffirms gender roles I’ve spent years trying to undo. The whole business feels retrograde, a relic of some earlier, less inclusive era….
“On the one hand, there’s the peculiar alchemy of sun and smoke that makes summer days sprawl. On the other hand, it bears the stain of unintentional masculine cliché. Gathered around the coals with beers slung low, we’re all but enacting a myth of the American man, telling a story in postures and poses. No longer mere Ph.D. students, we have become bros.”…
And of course gender discrimination has got to be in there somewhere:
“Unlike most other traditionally ‘feminine’ forms of domestic cooking, grilling typically happens outside, and hence in the public sphere. The putatively masculine quality of grilling may derive in part from the old public-private gender split. In that sense, it shares a common cause with the belief that women belong in the home.”
‘The black shirt, which has the word “trophy” in bold white letters across the front and costs $12.99, has many slamming the retailer for treating women and girls as objects. A number of customers have been posting photos of the T-shirt, which some say they spotted in the junior’s section, on social media, publicly criticizing what they say is a sexist move on Target’s part. While the shirt has reportedly been on sale since June, it’s only recently gained steam on social media.
“‘Dear Target, why are you selling shirts that describe women as obtainable objects such as trophies?’ wrote one user on Target’s Facebook page. ‘It’s honestly appalling. I’m nobody’s trophy, and I sincerely hope that in your eyes, women are more than something to be won.’
“Plenty of women echoed those sentiments. ‘Losing outdated, ridiculous attitudes toward women could be helped if everyone, Target included, chose to stop marketing to women as though they were objects. When was the last time you saw a men’s shirt that said “provider” across the chest? Let’s all do what we can to lose the stereotypes,’ wrote one Facebook user. And in a tweet accompanying a photo of the shirt on display, one user added ‘@Target under what circumstances should any human being wear a T-shirt that indicates that they are a “trophy”?’….
“One woman has even started a petition on Change.org demanding that Target stop selling the shirt. ‘The truth is that millions of women and young girls are taken as “trophies” every year in war, sex trafficking, slavery, and rape,’ writes Amanda R., the author of the petition. ‘The perpetrators see women as “things” that are bought, sold, traded, and “won” through force where they are then beaten, abused, tortured, raped, and murdered for the sole purpose of “victory.” The word trophy should not refer to any person, man, or woman because we are not THINGS — we are human beings. Labeling any person as a “Trophy” is demeaning their humanity and objectifying them as a tangible object that can be bought, used, and disposed of.’”
“Beyond sexist trophy wife connotations, the petition claims the shirts perpetuate rape culture on college campuses and beyond. ‘What’s worse is that the use of the word when referring to women encourages a rape culture where women are merely objects, not humans, to be used for men’s pleasure,’ A.R. continues in the petition. ‘A large part of the studies done with college campus rapes found that the attackers often took a “trophy” from their victim, be it a pair of panties, bra, photograph, or even video, to later revel in their “victory.”‘”
Emma Thompson at Hogwarts: Miffed at Hollywood’s “sexism” and “ageism”
Must be Wednesday–another none-too-young actress is complaining that Hollywood is “sexist” because it won’t cast women her age as romantic leads.
This time it’s Emma Thompson, age 56. According to People:
“’When I was younger, I really did think we were on our way to a better world and when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women and I find that very disturbing and sad,’ she said in an interview with Radio Timesmagazine.
“The actress, who plays a 77-year-old prostitute in the film The Legend of Barney Thomson, said there’s more pressure for women to look a certain way and take on certain roles than when she started out.
“’I don’t think there’s any appreciable improvement and I think that for women, the question of how they are supposed to look is worse than it was even when I was young.'”
“Even worse, the problem appears to extend far past directing gigs. A study by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that women made up only 17 percent of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 domestic grossing movies of the year
“‘The findings drive home the point that men continue to construct the vast majority of the visual and aural worlds featured in U.S. films,’ said Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at SDSU.
“The same institute also found that there are fewer jobs for leading actresses available, since female characters made up just 12 percent of protagonists in the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2014. This figure is three percent below 2013’s study and four percent below the number in 2002.”
The idea seems to be that there’s a category of films called “top 250 domestic grossing movies”–so all you need to do is have the government set up a gender quota system requiring that 125 of them star female protagonists (and are also directed by women) and bingo! Problem solved!
“[O]ver the years, like a lot of young women, I endured ass-grabs, disgusting come-ons and a range of hisses, whistles and stares. For a long time, I thought there was something about me that invited the unwanted attention: it took until adulthood to realize that it was the common cost of being female in public spaces….
“Because while street harassment is just one of many violations that American women endure, its prevalence is a clear message to women and men: there are no safe spaces for women. We need to be able to walk the street and simply be in public without fear. Not just for equality, but because, one day, I’d like my daughter to take the subway to school.
“The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.
“[A]s much as I wish it didn’t, the thought of not being worth men’s notice bothers me. To my great shame, I assume I must look particularly good on the rarer days that I do get catcalled.”