Despite the rise of #MeToo and other women’s rights movements across the world in recent years, polls show that most young women — and older ones — continue to reject the term feminist. But the reason why women decline to be called feminists, writes Dr. Christina Scharff, a senior lecturer in Culture, Media, and Creative Industries at King’s College London, appears to correlate more strongly with fear of being stigmatized than it does with women’s equality.
In an Op-Ed for the BBC, Scharf notes that fewer than 20 percent of young women self-identify as feminists, according to polling in the U.K. and U.S. And while the popularity of the term has risen somewhat in recent years — a 2018 YouGov poll found that the number of British women who said they were feminists had increased to 34 percent compared to 27 percent in 2013 — that same study found that 80 percent of respondents believed that women and men should be treated equally in all respects.
According to Scharf, it appears that people — and especially lower-income groups — support the idea of feminism but not the word itself. Since the 1920s, she notes, feminists have been denounced by society as unfeminine, sexually undesirable, and deviant. A hundred years later, she wrote, her own research shows that fear of being associated with “man-hating, lesbianism or lack of femininity” was a key factor for many young German and British women who eschewed the feminist label. Despite the discouraging lack of support for feminism itself, Scharf concludes, the fact that the majority of people now appear to support women’s equality — at least in principle — should give feminists reasons for optimism.
Read the full story at BBC News.
Doctors performing awake brain surgery on a woman with epilepsy helped keep her calm during the procedure by stimulating a part of the brain associated with laughter, according to a new report of her case published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Neurosurgeons at the Emory University School of Medicine said that after they stimulated the “cingulum bundle” — a part of the brain that scientists once thought was solely involved in control of the muscles that pull sides of the mouth upward during laughter — the patient immediately felt “profound relief,” and remained happy and relaxed until the surgery was complete.
“Immediately she had profound relief, she was happy, able to communicate and able to make jokes,” said study author Dr. Jon Willie, one of the Emory neurosurgeons who operated on the woman. The pioneering technique has reportedly been performed successfully on at least two other patients, both of whom reported feeling a sense of well-being and reduced anxiety, Willie told Live Science. Scientists say the new study supports the notion that the cingulum bundle is connected to both the physical response of laughter and also the very emotions associated it.
When surgeons perform awake open-brain surgery, they leave patients awake and responsive to ensure that they don’t accidentally interfere with other aspects of brain functionality such as language. Historically, surgeons have used sedation and distraction during such procedures to try to keep patients docile — and prevent them from potentially damaging themselves by panicking, moving their heads, or even compulsively reaching out to try to touch their own exposed brain. But the new approach, doctors say, is not only more effective at ensuring patients don’t interfere with the surgery, but less emotionally stressful on the patients as well. And for one woman, at least, the technique turned a potentially traumatizing surgery into one that she looked back on with a smile.
Read the full story at Live Science.
A new report from Harvard Business Review makes a strong case for the economic importance of female leadership — particularly in countries with ethnically diverse populations. In fact, according to HBR’s report, women leaders in diverse countries vastly outperformed their male counterparts as they led their economies to an average of 5.4 percent GDP growth in the year following their assumption of power. Male leaders in diverse countries, by comparison, managed an average GDP growth of just 1.1 percent for male leaders.
In many cases, the report found, these economic gains were closely tied to women leaders’ efforts at economically empowering historically marginalized groups. In Liberia, for instance, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf helped overcome the country’s difficult history of ethnic conflict by achieving gender equity in her cabinet and constructing a government with representatives proportionate to each ethnic group’s size — a difficult task, especially given that Liberia boasts more than a dozen prominent ethnic groups. Under Johnson Sirleaf, the country’s GDP grew at an average of 4 percent each year from 2006 through the end of 2010. Her predecessor, President Charles Taylor, was infamous for helping members of his own ethnic group, the Krahns, seize resources for themselves at the expense of other tribes. During his tenure from 1986-1990, Liberia’s GDP grew at a 1 percent rate — and the country was ultimately engulfed in rebellion.
Current Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, the first woman to hold the position, made similar efforts to reach out to her country’s largest minority groups and to limit the advantages given by prior governments to the country’s majority ethnic group, the Hans. By empowering a country’s minority groups, Harvard Business Review found, leaders were able to prevent the stunted economic growth that results from ethnic conflict, systemic bias and discrimination. And women leaders, they concluded, appear to be the ones best equipped to lead the way.
Read the full story at Harvard Business Review.
A Canada woman has become an unlikely — and posthumous — celebrity thanks to a hilarious obituary written by her children, in which they joke that being cremated finally gave her “the smoking hot body I have always wanted.”
“It hurts me to admit it, but I, Mrs. Ron Hicks from Baysville, have passed away,” they wrote, as if by Sybil Marie Hicks herself. “I leave behind my loving husband, Ron Hicks, whom I often affectionately referred to as a ‘Horse’s Ass.’”
“I also left behind my children whom I tolerated over the years,” it continues, naming one of them, Bob, as her “favorite,” while simultaneously chastising “Baby Brace” for not eating “homemade turkey soup because he didn’t want to be alert looking for bones.”
The spicy tongue-in-cheek testimonial went viral after being published on social media, as users paid tribute to the Hicks family’s sense of humor and speculated about the identity of “Dorothy,” who is identified as the “special friend … who is now lovingly taking care of my horse’s ass.” After a spirited debate, most users appeared to conclude that “Dorothy” was more likely to be a family pet than a human mistress.
I think "Dorothy" is the family dog, It seems like Sybil is having one last joke at her husband's expense.
— Darren (@dazcolumbo) February 6, 2019
“Thank you all for sharing my life with me,” the obituary continues, more tenderly. “I am off to swim to the buoy and back.”
Read her full obituary below.
— Jim Poling (@PolingRecord) February 5, 2019
Read the full story at The Spec.
Michal Zernowitski, a veteran programmer, project manager, and developer, is making history in Israel as the first ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman to run for MP in the center-left secular Labor party. Born into the notoriously conservative Haredi community — which is typically represented by the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, both of which have refused to field woman candidates based on religious grounds — the 38-year-old mother of four insists that there is nothing within the laws of Judaism that bars women from holding office. Her campaign slogan, appropriately, is simply: “Breaking Conventions.”
There are “hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox [Israelis] who no longer vote automatically for ultra-Orthodox parties, who want change and who believe in equality, social justice and peace,” said Zernowitski in a statement announcing her candidacy in January.
Once a proud UTJ supporter, Zernowitski said her views began shifting left in her early 20s after she grew increasingly disturbed by the grim reality of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“It started to really bother me that there are a few million Palestinians, living in areas we control, who have no real status,” she said. “So, it all began for me out of a concern for human rights.” As a member of ultra-Orthodox feminist group Not Elected, Won’t Vote, Zernowitski has worked to end the ban on women politicians in the Shas and UTJ parties. She is also at the forefront of a movement to end the economic exploitation of ultra-Orthodox women in the workforce. In most Haredi families, she says, women are the principal wage earners as the men spend their days studying scripture. These effectively unrepresented women, she explains, have no recourse or champions to fight for them despite being “among the lowest-paid workers in the country.”
Zernowitski faces a steep challenge in her bid to be chosen as a candidate for MP during Labor’s April polls. She has faced criticism in the Labor party over her faith’s conservative stance on issues such as homosexuality, and many remain unconvinced that the legions of liberal Haredi that Zernowitski speaks of will show up to vote for her. Nonetheless, she has resolved to continue to fight for greater equality — both within her community and outside of it.
“I am a religious woman but also a liberal,” she said. “I don’t want to force people to do what I choose to do.”