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Dec 01
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Making a difference

Actress and soon-to-be princess Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Prince Harry of Great Britain, has been a vocal feminist ever since the age of 11, as shown in a 1993 video interview that originally aired on Nickelodeon. In the video, which was recently unearthed by Inside Edition, a young Markle shared how she reacted to a dishwasher advertisement in which women can be seen scrubbing dishes while a voiceover declares that “women are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mom does everything,” said the 11-year-old. “It’s always mom does this, and mom does that … I said, ‘Wait a minute, how could somebody say that?’”

Markle wrote to Procter & Gamble outlining her objections to the ad, suggesting that they swap the word “women” in the voiceover with “people.” Remarkably, the multinational company not only read her letter, but even agreed to remove the gendered language from the advertisement.

Nearly 20 years later, Markle reflected on that moment while delivering a speech at the U.N. for International Women’s Day.

“I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt,” she said. “It just wasn’t right and something needed to be done.”

Watch the video of 11-year-old Markle below.

Read the full story at Town & Country magazine.

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Lifesaver

Amid the current head-spinning news cycle of sexual harassment and assault stories that are barraging us each day, it may seem difficult to find a positive news story, let alone a heartwarming one. But on Thursday night at the 2017 Billboard Women in Music event, singer Selena Gomez delivered a moment that is inspiring and poignant for all the right reasons.

Gomez was being honored with the “Woman of the Year” award, a distinction she’s earned both personally and professionally. The singer has been open about her struggles with lupus and the fact that she underwent a kidney transplant in August, and all the while her career has been humming along — she released a new album and is an executive producer for a hit Netflix show. But it was the kidney transplant, made possible by a selfless friend, that was on her mind Thursday night. The life-saving organ donation was made by the actress Francia Raisa. In September, Gomez told fans about the surgery, and shared a photo on social media of her and Raisa in their hospital beds.

“To be honest, I think Francia should be getting this award … she saved my life,” Gomez said of Raisa, whom she brought with her to the award show. “I feel incredibly lucky. Honestly, I couldn’t be more grateful for the position that I’ve been given in my career from 7 to 14 to now.”

She continued, saying, “I want people to know that I respect the platform that I have so deeply because I knew that I wanted to be a part of something great, I wanted people to feel great.”

“Specifically this year, I would like to thank my amazing team and my family because they stuck with me through some really hard times,” she added. “I got to do a lot this year, even though I had a couple of other things to do.”

Prior to the show, Gomez and Raisa were seen being photographed on the red carpet together, another decidedly happy photo of the two.

Honoree Selena Gomez and Francia Raisa attend Billboard Women In Music 2017 at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood Highland Center on November 30, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Billboard)

Below, watch a video clip of Gomez’s emotional acceptance speech.

Read the full story at Billboard.

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Times change

In the wake of renewed criticism over her 1998 Op-Ed defending Bill Clinton from accusations of sexual assault, feminist icon Gloria Steinem has refused to apologize or admit regret about the controversial essay — though she did note that she probably “wouldn’t write the same thing now.”

In an essay titled Feminists and the Clinton Question, Steinem had refused to condemn Clinton for his consensual affair with Lewinsky, and glossed over sexual harassment claims from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. Jones had sued the then-president for allegedly summoning her to his hotel room when he served as Arkansas governor. She said that Clinton had then touched her inappropriately, tried to kiss her, and demanded that she perform oral sex on him. But in Steinem’s Op-Ed, she wrote that “Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection,” adding that “there seems to be little evidence” that Jones was negatively impacted by the incident. A year after Steinem’s essay was published, former Clinton campaign volunteer Juanita Broaddrick accused him of rape — a claim he also denied.

With renewed focus on the way that women who report harassment or rape against power figures are silenced, writers such as Caitlin Flanagan have held up Steinem’s Op-Ed as a classic example of slut-shaming and victim-blaming. But at a benefit for the Ms Foundation for Women, which Steinem helped found, she said that she stands by the essay.

“We have to believe women,” said Steinem. “What you write in one decade you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade … Because the danger then was we were about to lose sexual harassment law because it was being applied to extramarital sex, free will, extramarital sex, as with Monica Lewinsky.”

“Paula Jones,” she added, “in spite of all the pressures on her, said very clearly, ‘He said to me, I wouldn’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.’ That was part of her testimony.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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Coverup?

Current and former staffers at NBC News have reportedly rebuffed claims from the network’s top executives that news of Matt Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct came to them as a shock. Lauer was fired after reports that he allegedly sexually harassed three women, including a female intern and a colleague whom he allegedly assaulted after locking her in his office using a special button fixed underneath his desk.

“Everybody at NBC knew about Matt Lauer’s sexually inappropriate behavior — and knew not to talk about it,” a current Today show staffer, speaking anonymously, told The New York Post. “Women did complain about his behavior, and there were a lot of closed-door meetings before it was all brushed under the carpet.”

Another NBC insider told the Post that NBC News chiefs Jeff Zucker and Steve Capus had received complaints from women about Lauer’s behavior, and that current NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and chairman Andy Lack “knew of the investigations into Matt’s behavior and tried to negotiate.” Lauer’s co-hosts were allegedly aware of his behavior as well.

“Matt’s sexual conquests were general office fodder,” a staffer said. “There was constant innuendo in the office about which woman had just had sex with Matt and which one would be next.”

Another former Today staffer said it was “insulting” to see the Today show hosts pretend to be surprised at the news, adding that Lauer would use women on the show for sex and then “[make] it clear that if they ever spoke out or crossed him, they would be fired from the show, negative stories leaked about them, and their careers would be destroyed.”

Zucker, Capus, and Lack have all denied prior knowledge of Lauer’s alleged behavior, and according to at least one Today show source, “the current talent” on the show were also unaware of the allegations against him.

Read the full story at The New York Post.

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On to something

A woman running for Michigan’s attorney general has a simple recommendation for those tired of elected officials sexually harassing their employees — elect more women.

“If the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we need more women in positions of power, not less,” said Dana Nessel, a Democrat, in a new campaign ad. “So when you’re choosing Michigan’s next attorney general, ask yourself this: Who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn’t have a penis? I’d say so.”

“I want to tell you what you can expect me not to do,” she added. “I will not sexually harass my staff, and I won’t tolerate it in your workplace either. I won’t walk around in a half-open bathrobe, and I’ll continue to take all sex crimes seriously just like I did as a prosecutor.”

Nessel, who in her work as a lawyer famously won the case that ended Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, revealed to The Washington Post that she had been warned against running by political analysts who are afraid that a potentially “all-female ticket” for the Democratic party in Michigan would be unable to unseat incumbent Republican men in the posts of governor, secretary of state and attorney general. In her campaign ad, Nessel hit back against that notion.

“Yes, I’m a woman,” she says. “That’s not a liability, that’s an asset … Pundits and insiders are asking, ‘Can we afford to have a female governor, a female attorney general, and a female secretary of state? Well, I read the news, and I bet you do too. And it has me wondering: Can we afford not to?”

Watch the ad below.

 

Read the full story at The Slot and The Huffington Post.

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‘Shame & secrecy’

In a movement that is being called “menstrual activism,” women the world over are increasingly fighting to end the taboo that surrounds women’s periods.

“We need to talk about this,” explains Yvan Savy of Plan International, a company which launched a competition this year for the best menstruation-themed emoji. “We want to open a debate.”

On social media and in public life, activists have increasingly been questioning the lengths that women are made to go to hide the evidence of their monthly cycle. Two years ago, Instagram poet Rupi Kaur railed against Instagram’s hypocrisy for allowing pictures of underage girls in underwear but banning a picture that appeared to show her with small patches of menstrual blood on her sweatpants. Musician Kiran Gandhi also highlighted stigma around menstruation after running the London marathon without a tampon. Afterward, Ghandi noted that wearing a tampon would have bothered her while she was running, and that she decided to prioritize her own comfort in an act that also served as a form of protest.

More recently, art exhibits in London and in Sweden have also sparked outrage from those who do not think menstruation belongs in the public sphere. And just a few months ago in the U.S., a woman was fired from her job after going through a heavy period leak caused by pre-menopause.

In other countries, the taboo around menstruation can lead to sinister consequences. After a 15-year-old Nepalese girl died of possible suffocation in a cramped menstruation hut in 2016, Nepal was forced to strengthen their ban against the ancient practice with a new law. In countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda, many girls are also made to stay home from school during their periods. In India, an estimated one in five schoolgirls eventually drop out of school due to problems caused by menstruation and lack of bathrooms. And thanks to cultural taboos that prevent people from talking about menstruation, one in three schoolgirls across South Asia are unaware of what a period was before they had one for the first time, according to a study.

“Until we dispel the myths associated with menstruation and bring much needed visibility to this biological process, its social meanings as dirty, embarrassing problem to be solved, will persist,” explained University of Massachusetts Professor Christina Bobel, the president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. “We have to attack the shame and secrecy, we have to make menstruation visible. Until we do, products — no matter how hi-tech or widely available — will not change the way to encounter our bodies as the rich and wonderful resources they are.”

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

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12.01.17

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