While popular scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has finally addressed the accusations of sexual harrasment and assault against him publicly after being accused years ago and, more recently, accused by multiple women, and many people find his accounts moving and refreshing since he's apologized for some of his behavior in a less condescending way than other men have, others are finding his remarks quite problematic.
Malawi tribal chief Theresa Kachindamoto is an incredible inspiration. The woman, fed up with all of the child marriages ruining so many lives of the local girls in Central Malawi, took a stand and just opened up communication with the girls' parents in order to protect them from child marriage. She explained to them what better chances their daughters could have in live if, instead of marrying so young, they were given the opportunity to finish school and use their education for a good job. She's saved at least 850 girls through her tireless efforts.
The #metoo campaign has been doing some great things for the national conversation about sex abuse and in the case of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics team doctor who was just convicted on multiple accounts of sexual abuse, it's also helped achieve justice where its due, which also helps prevent predators from hurting more people. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina had no reservations sentencing him "to his death" in jail for up to 175 years for his crimes.
How many women are we going to see imprisoned for crimes they committed after a lifetime of abuse, neglect, rape and crimes committed against them that went unaddressed for years? It seems like we hear of these cases all of the time while less than 10% of rapists will see a day in jail (and those who do just go on to get out early, repeat their crimes and ruin more lives). When we come across a case of a person who was sex trafficked and abused from an early age until the day his or her crimes were committed, it should definitely give us pause rather than have us send them to jail.
"Let. Her. Speak. Please!"
Women in science are trolling Bill Nye the Science Guy, but they're doing it very politely. Men in science are doing it as well with the hashtag #BillMeetScienceTwitter, where scientists who believe that the engineer needs more actual scientists on his show are introducing themselves to him.
Or at least that's what their latest ad campaign would have you believe. Its website, entitled Everything I Do is Wrong, sympathizes with these poor victims. Because there's nothing worse than observing a hormonal trainwreck from the outside, am I right? Women, man. Can't live with or without. Luckily, milk alleviates the symptoms of the lady-crazy (allegedly--or not). So feed your woman dairy and you'll be good to go.
We've seen this kind of advertising rhetoric before, where women are screeching, irrational harpies and men their sympathetic victims. Somehow, in the thousands of years that humans have been around, we still haven't gotten over the fact that hormone levels--and sometimes moods--change throughout a menstrual cycle. We still love the idea of the uncontrollable bitch. It still sells products, even something so commonplace as milk.
Advertising that uses women's bodies to sell a product has become so ubiquitous that most of us hardly bat an eye when we see a bikini-clad bottom sprawled across a highway billboard. We live in a society that normalizes advertising with female sexuality, and when something is socially normalized, most people go about ingesting it without protest.
Not everyone is so keen on complacency in the face of sexist marketing, however. In fact, upstanding ladies have been engaging with offensive advertising since the 1970s or so. A classic example of feminist graffiti comes in the form of spray-painted letters on the following billboard:
The ad suggests that sexual harassment is par for the course when attractive ladies are present. Pretty things get their bums grabbed at; it's just the way of the world. One spray-can-wielding feminist disagreed with the acceptance of sexual harassment as normal, everyday behavior. And plenty of contemporary feminists are following in that anonymous lady's footsteps. After all, we've not gotten terribly much better at advertising without offense since the '70s.
One New York culture jammer recently called out Stella Artois on an ad campaign that likened beautiful women to beautiful beer. The ad featured a well-dressed white man gazing longingly at a well-dressed, attractive woman drinking a goblet of the Belgian lager against a white background. In between the two individuals was the Stella logo and the text, "she is a thing of beauty". The anonymous ad hacker merely whited out the words "of beauty", leaving the ad reading "she is a thing"--perhaps the more accurate message to take away from the image. If we perpetuate the cultural norm that women are to be looked at and consumed much in the same way that beer is, we're effectively reducing women from full human beings to products. Depicting a man seeing a woman and a lager in the same light, to be used for the same purpose--his own pleasure--can be a dangerous method of advertising. Let's not forget we still live in a culture where women's bodies are often assumed to be the property of whoever desires them. Ads like this one can't possibly help.
Some shots of the "This Insults Women" sticker have also popped up online, layered over and disrupting images that use women's bodies to advertise events or products. A wordier jam appeared over a Special K bus stop poster. The original ad encourages women to eat Special K in order to "shine" in their swimwear--because, as we all know, there's only one way to look good in a bathing suit, and it requires serious caloric reduction of whatever your diet is now. The fem-jammer declares, "I think I look pretty fabulous just the way I am. Also, Special K tastes like cardboard, so piss off." Piss off indeed. Well said, rad Irish lady.
It's good to see a market saturated with female sex appeal get some public resistance. You can check out more examples of women taking back the public space that demeans them over at Sociological Images. It seems that Sticker Sisters, producers of the "This Insults Women" sticker, has closed down (sad face), but there's nothing stopping you from printing out your own stickers and plastering them over whatever irks your feminist sensibilities. Or do as some of these anonymous ladies have done: grab a sharpie and layer your protest over the spaces that treat your bodies like products.
We’ve all heard that our generation will be the first to not be better off than the one before it, from jobs to economy to education and general standard of life. But now there’s even more sinister news afoot: women in the United States are not living as long as women a generation ago, either.