Apr 16
Her eye on the news
Misogyny in politics

Impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff appeared at the Brazil Conference at Harvard and M.I.T. last weekend, warning listeners that Brazil’s democracy was at risk from far-right supporters of the country’s prior military dictatorship. In an interview with The New York Times’ Ernesto Londoño, Rousseff spoke at length about the aftermath of being impeached, Brazil’s future, and the “eminently anti-woman government” that took power after her ouster.

Rousseff had endured an impeachment process in which more than 150 politicians implicated in crimes but protected by their status as members of parliament voted for her removal from office — including the man who led the impeachment process, Eduardo Cunha, who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption and money laundering.

One far right politician, Jair Bolsonaro, dedicated his vote to impeach in honor of Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the head of the Doi-Codi torture unit during the dictatorship era. Rousseff, a former guerilla fighter, had been among those tortured by the dictatorship.

Speaking with Londoño, Rousseff described the impeachment process as a “coup,” and suggested that the present course of Brazilian politics represented “an even bigger threat” to her than “the physical threat of being jailed and tortured” during the dictatorship. Noting that her successor, President Michel Temer, had immediately appointed a cabinet composed entirely of “white, wealthy old men,” Rousseff suggested there had been a “very misogynist element in the coup” against her.

“They accused me of being overly tough and harsh, while a man would have been considered firm, strong,” said Rousseff. “Or they would say I was too emotional and fragile, when a man would have been considered sensitive. I was seen as someone too obsessed with work, while a man would have been considered hard-working … I was called a cow about 600,000 times.”

The Q&A with Rousseff is a fascinating one and she goes on to discuss several other topics, including what she sees as the country’s greatest cause for concern.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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Making bank

According to a report by Morningstar, an independent investment research firm, only one out of five funds have at least one female manager, though women are more likely to have obtained chartered financial analyst credentials than their male colleagues, reflecting a gender imbalance that might have a negative impact on returns for investors. “The data may suggest that women need to be more credentialed than men to win a fund-management role, reflecting a potential hiring bias,” the report, which looked at more than 26,000 fund managers registered in 56 countries, said. It concluded that the investment fund industry is “drawing from a relatively limited talent pool.”

The United States is particularly problematic, with only about 10 percent of managers being women (Singapore is the best scoring country, with about 30 percent of managers who are women). The analysis also stressed the fact that this gender imbalance could be leading to lesser returns. Women are 36 percent more likely than men to be overseeing passive funds (which are not actively managed and, rather, track index funds) that are cheaper and get better long-term results. Nevertheless, women might be even better suited to managing active funds because they make fewer risky and costly trading decisions than men. “In downturns, women are more likely to hold on to their investments. In rallies, women are less likely to be looking for quick wins,” the report says. “This invest-with-conviction approach may be especially beneficial for active managers, which face cost scrutiny, and have largely lagged passive funds with a conventional higher-turnover approach. It is unfortunate, then, that women have lower odds of managing active funds.” The low numbers of women in higher-ranking positions in the finance industry came up, among a host of other topics, in the first episode of Women in the World’s new video series She-Suite. In that episode, Kathy Murphy, talks about how the finance industry was “created by men for men.” Watch the complete episode below.

Read the full story at Marketwatch.


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Good idea

In the Nevada State Assembly, a bill has been proposed that would provide access to contraception without any co-pay to all women living in the state. Moreover, the bill would provide women access to 12 months of anticonceptive medication if appropriate, which would be a boon to people in more rural areas for whom it can be hard to get to a pharmacy. “For many of my patients, living paycheck-to-paycheck, even a small co-pay can be a barrier to access. And without contraception, they face unintended pregnancies they can ill afford,” Toby Frescholtz, a Nevada ob-gyn writes in an opinion piece supporting the legislation. “I have witnessed how accessible contraception can make the difference between a young woman finishing her studies and getting a good paying job, or falling into a never-ending cycle of poverty. The costs of unplanned pregnancies are not just limited to the families who experience them, but are shared by our community as a whole.”

Read the full story at Reno Gazette-Journal.


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‘Safe space’

In a speech given at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill earlier this month, “equity feminist” Christina Hoff Sommers argued that the feminist ideologies being taught to students at many universities had been overrun by notions of “intersectional feminism.”

According to Sommers, intersectional feminists focus on the way that powerful groups systematically oppress less powerful ones along race, class, and gender lines — a philosophy she claims stems from Marxian thought.

In practice, Sommers argues, intersectional feminism effectively demonizes men and ostracizes women who disagree with its tenets. By focusing on how women are “systematically oppressed,” she argues, such brands of feminism encourage women to feel victimized by men and rob women of their intellectual freedom.

Sommers’ critique of intersectional feminism has led to outrage at some universities — including Oberlin College, where students posted fliers warning of a “dangerous person” coming to campus and 30 women protested her presence by retreating to a “safe space” during her talk. Sommers has not been dissuaded by the opposition — if anything, she argues, the open hostility shown to her by many feminists only lends further credence to her views.

Read the full story at The National Review.


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A Michigan doctor was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly performing genital cutting on two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota who were brought to the doctor by their parents. According to a criminal complaint filed on Wednesday, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, a physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, may also have performed the procedure on “multiple” other girls between 2005 and 2007.

“Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” said Kenneth Blanco, acting assistant attorney general with the Justice Department’s criminal division. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”

According to investigators, one of the girls in the case said that cutting procedure left her screaming and barely able to walk. Nagarwala has reportedly denied performing any genital cutting procedures on children.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains prevalent in many countries across the world, particularly in Africa. Worldwide, more than 200 million girls and women have been subjected to the procedure — in the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that more than half a million women and girls are affected by or at risk of FGM.

Despite a longstanding ban on FGM in the U.S., where the practice has been illegal since 1996, federal officials said that the recent case is expected to be the first known prosecution under the law.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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Lawmaker argues FGM is necessary because Egyptian men are ‘sexually weak’