Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Re-imagining Jane Eyre

A couple of weeks ago, Amanda Hess tweeted, "Is there a more unappealing romantic lead than Mr. Rochester?" It's a really good question. And the answer is, there probably aren't many male romantic leads more unappealing than the jerky Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre, the iconic novel by Charlotte Brontë has been recently re-adapted for the screen starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. We are once again presented with the story of a girl who fell in love with a rather unlikable man. The film has even inspired a challenge from The Hairpin that Jane Eyre, while a genuinely excellent book, pales in comparison to Brontë's work in Villette.

I recently re-read the book and watched the new film. I should note, this is the only film adaptation I've seen of the book. Spoilers ahead (though c'mon, the book was published more than 150 years ago).

The new remake takes care to pluck some of the more feminist-themed language from the novel and depict some of the key scenes that transcend the relationship from fairy tale to realistically complicated relationship. Freedom is a key theme in Jane Eyre, and much of it has to do with the freedom of women in this time.

For Jane, the titular character in the novel, she finds freedom through love. But it is love with a twist; Brontë makes the simple point that love—and ultimately marriage—should be between equals.

The power of this notion might be lost on modern women, who enjoy many freedoms women didn't in the era during which Jane Eyre is set, but the power to choose one's partner—as an equal—was a rather radical notion back in the day. Fans of Jane Austin's work note that much of her satire revolves around women jockeying for partners who will improve their status in live, and that status-changing partner isn't always chosen because of love. Generally women who loved the men they married in this time felt they lucked out. The radical notion of marriage between equals is what makes Jane Eyre a feminist (or, some might say, pre-feminist) story.

But much as this book is about gender, it is also about the freedom that comes with class. At the beginning of the book, Jane is poor. But though Jane is poor, it's clear she ranks above servants in the book. She works, but she is better educated than servants and had the freedom to leave her job if she wanted to. And much as Jane seems to genuinely in love with Rochester, he also represents the freedom that comes with money. Just because Jane Eyre is more earnest than Jane Austin's work doesn't mean the motivation to obtain a status-changing marriage disappears. In the end, Jane and Rochester only marry once their status has evened out a bit—after Jane has inherited a substantial sum of money.

It is possibly his financial status that, in part, makes Rochester more appealing to Jane. The character is imperfect: We witness him as dishonest, exhibit vaguely stalker-ish qualities, and speak in a manner that is quite rude. But Jane herself is a flawed character: She's awkward, defiant, and loves someone as imperfect as herself. In my mind, the idea that Rochester is unappealing is kind of the point of Jane Eyre. After all, it might be even more annoying if he were perfect.

Today, the idea of marriages between equals isn't so radical. Stephanie Coontz, in her most recent book, A Strange Stirring, in which she examines the effects of The Feminine Mystique, notes that bringing attention to gender inequality may have initially resulted in more divorces and declines in marriage happiness. But now that the idea that American marriages should be partnership between equals is considered a good thing. As a result, men and women are reporting happier marriages than they were before feminism arrived on the scene. Life partnerships need to be built on mutual respect, and that notion isn't so radical today.

For the most part, Jane Eyre is a window into the past. It depicts a time when women had few freedoms and women with little means had even fewer, but that window into the past reminds us of how far we have come today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Student Parents Need Child Care to Increase Retention

Today I have a piece in The American Prospect on student parents. Check it out:
Each morning, Sherita Rooney wakes up around 6 a.m. She gets her 14-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son ready for the day. She makes breakfast and gets her children to school before driving an hour to West Chester University outside of Philadelphia, where she recently transferred after graduating from Montgomery County Community College.

Every day is difficult, but Tuesdays are especially so. She works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. before class from 2 to 7. She picks up her kids, then brings them home and puts them to bed. As a math education major, she takes challenging classes that keep her up late studying. She goes to sleep around 2 a.m. each night. The next day, she gets up and does it over again.

Without the child care scholarship she found through the Philadelphia-based nonprofit, Family Care Solutions, Inc., Rooney says, she's not sure what she would do. She'll find out this summer, when she's signed up for classes but won't have the scholarship.

Student parents like Rooney make up about a quarter of all postsecondary students in the United States, according to a new report released by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The report estimates that of the total of 3.9 million student parents in the country, more than half are low-income. About 12 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States are single parents, and of those more than three quarters are low-income. The vast majority of them are women.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How MIT (Sorta) Solved Its Gender Problem

(Flickr/Infinitely Curious)

As Monica Potts notes at The American Prospect, there have been a number of stories about women's leadership this week:
No fewer than three news articles this week detail how hard it is for women, both students and professors, at elite campuses. The New York Times reports that MIT, which made an effort some years ago to correct for a lack of female professors on campus, has made gains in recruiting and honoring female professors. But that's created a weird dynamic in which women who win accolades question whether their gender plays a role and feel they have to navigate gender stereotypes on campus. The Daily Beast writes about a study that shows women trail men in campus leadership positions as students, and another Beast article interviews the presidents of UPenn and Brown, both women, about how there's a similar leadership gap at their colleges.
Though the Times story Monica links to leads with the remaining problems of cultural sexism, what I think is interesting about the MIT situation is this: MIT story is that the school found a problem, studied it, and made steps to correct it. And it worked! MIT made significant gains in female representation among professors. It even has a female president, Susan Hockfield. It's a very MIT way of going about it, when you think about it.

Of course, that didn't eliminate all problems of women in academia. As the Times reported, problems remain: there's still a perceived problem that women are unfairly favored (even though MIT took steps to ensure qualified candidates would be hired), and the school still struggles (like all higher ed institutions do) accommodating academic couples.

What this illustrates is that schools really get down to business and recognize that institutional sexism is a problem that needs fixing, there are steps they can take to get there. And recognizing that there's a problem is an important first step.

Women's Occupy Just 27% of Leadership Jobs in Media

Joyce Slocum is the interim CEO at NPR.

Via Bloomberg:
Women represent less than one third of the main decision makers at news companies worldwide as gender inequality leaves top management and governance dominated by males, the International Women’s Media Foundation said.

Women occupy about 27 percent of the leading managerial jobs such as chief executive officer and about 26 percent of governing board positions, according to a survey of 522 newspaper, radio and television companies by the Washington-based advocacy group. Women hold 39 percent of the senior management positions that include managing editor and bureau chief, the two-year study released today shows.

This taps into tons of earlier discussions about women's representation in media. Still, it's startling to see the numbers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bad News of the Day: One in Five Air Force Women Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted

(Flickr/Official U.S. Air Force)

Ugh. The Christian Science Monitor reported last week:
In a quiet push to more honestly address sexual crimes within the military, the Air Force will release a survey later this week that finds 1 in 5 women say they have been sexually assaulted since joining the service.

One of the most comprehensive studies undertaken by the US military to assess sexual assaults within its ranks, it could become a model for how the military as a whole begins to address the problem, defense officials say.
Unfortunately, we're finding that sexual assault rates in the military are higher than rates among the general population. As horrible as this news is, it's encouraging the military is actually reporting the assaults. It's the first step in addressing the problem.

I'll Shut Up After 'Congrats' If You Do Too (At Least a Little)

(Flickr/Maggiejumps)

The Hairpin ran this really great piece on what to say when your friends get engaged. I personally found it rather helpful because I tend to be really bad at shutting up after I say "congratulations" to my friends when they tell me they're getting married. For every eye roll that came with an announcement of upcoming nuptials, I apologize.

But. Here's the thing.

If the conversation about a wedding announcement went something like this:
"Hey I'm getting married!"

"Oh wow, that's great! Congratulations! I'm super happy for you."
and that was the end of the story, everything would be fantastic. It'd be like when your friends get a new job or an apartment or something.

Except it's generally considered rude to change the subject to talking about this week's basketball game or what you had for dinner yesterday. You're often expected to offer follow up questions that include—but aren't limited to—the following:
"Can I see the ring?" (I have virtually no opinions on rings or jewelry that costs more than $30, which probably means my only opinion is that you spent too much money on it.)

"Where/when will the wedding taking place?"

"Where are you going on your honeymoon?"

"Is your mom/dad acting really annoying about the whole thing?" (Most often, the answer seems to be yes.)

"What color are your bridesmaid dresses going to be?"

"Who are your bridesmaids going to be?" (It's really OK if I'm not one of them. Don't worry. I won't freak out.)

"What kind of cake will you get?"

"What's going to be your wedding favor?"

"Are you going to hand-address your invitations? My Aunt Edna said it's rude not to." (By the way, why do old people believe this? It's as if they really want you to waste a lot of time or pay someone else to waste a lot of time. They have computers now that address envelopes for you. Geez.)

"Do you have a tiny relative to carry rings or flowers to you during the ceremony?"
The answers to these questions are often not very concise. Which—I get it—this is totally the most important thing happening in the engaged couple's lives at the moment. But let's remember that weddings are becoming increasingly expensive, so therefore the pressure to dissect every single detail is, well, pretty strong. After all, these couples are blowing a lot of money on the Big Day.

But as a friend, I feel that my role should be limited to the following:
1) Say "congrats."

2) Show up on the day of the wedding if invited. (Also, totally not a big deal if you don't want to blow $100 on feeding me. I understand.)

3) Bring a gift.

4) Get drunk and dance at the reception.
These all seem like totally acceptable ways to help a couple celebrate their One Special Day. Until then, however, I'd rather talk about television or sports or really anything other than what flavor your cake frosting is going to be. Seriously people, just let me be surprised.

The reason folks who get engaged might be experiencing some, uh, somewhat less than glowing congratulatory statements might be because a lot of people have really complicated feelings about weddings. And that might be hard for some people because friends are expected to care a lot about the details of these things.

Granted, this doesn't include everyone. I also have friends that keep wedding talk to a minimum. To those, I thank you. And hey, I'm not trying to be mean. Like I said, engaged folks should know that their friends really are happy for them. It's just that said friends maybe don't want to talk about the wedding as much as the engaged folks tend to think about it.

So let me make a deal: If we all agree to abide by the rules presented in The Hairpin piece, maybe that means the engaged can spare us some of details about the wedding. That's all I ask.

What Will It Take To Make a Consistent Sexual Assault Policy on Campuses Nationwide?

T-shirts San Francisco Women Against Rape created for a 2009 Walk Against Rape. (Flickr/Steve Rhodes)

Today the Chronicle of Higher Education has a really excellent piece on the current debate over sexual assault policies on campus. (Unfortunately, the story is behind a paywall, but I'll discuss some of the relevant bits below and for further context, you should read this really great series from the Center for Public Integrity on the problems with many campus sexual assault policies.)

It seems that whether a victim will receive justice for her assault (the vast majority of victims are women, though they aren't the only ones) depends greatly on where she attends school. Part of this stems from confusion over the law itself:
Federal civil-rights law requires [colleges and universities] to resolve all reported of­fenses. And increasingly, public pressure bears down just as powerfully. [...] The watchdog group Security on Campus proposed broader federal legislation, even a requirement that colleges use the relatively low standard of evidence "more likely than not." And at Dickinson College this month, students occupied an administration building and demanded that expulsion be the only available penalty for rape.

Meanwhile, confusion over existing law persists. The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights recently found that two institutions, Eastern Michigan University and Notre Dame College, in Ohio, did not adequately consider the rights of sexual-assault victims. Observers expect the office to release more guidance this spring on how cases should proceed, apart from general campus-conduct systems.
What this ultimately reveals is that sexual assault policies vary widely by campus, depending on university policy, interpretation of the law, and campus culture. These factors all leave a great deal of sexual assault policy up to the discretion of individuals. Though it's sometimes helpful to have room for special circumstances—especially since rape cases sometimes are thin on provable evidence—but ultimately what campuses need is a consistent best practices approach to dealing with sexual assault.

And figuring out what such a policy might be is difficult. The Chronicle article points out:
For cases that are reported, single sanctions may decrease findings of responsibility. "If the hearing panel has any doubt at all, they're going to acquit," says Gary M. Pavela, a consultant to colleges on legal issues and a former director of student judicial programs at the University of Maryland at College Park. Technical explanations of standards of evi­dence don't matter, he says: "Your eyes glaze over and you do ulti­mately what you think is right."
Finding a balance between investigating cases fairly and providing strong support for potential victims is tricky, but, as Dickson college found, being precise and providing a range of offenses as well as clear definitions is helpful. The school was awarded a $300,000 federal grant administered by the Department of Justice designed to encourage individual institutions to implement a comprehensive and fair sexual assault policy on campuses for its implementation of mandatory prevention education programs.

The grant program is a good incentive, but it also means that schools that already care about this problem are the ones most likely to be the leaders on creating good sexual assault policies. Until best practices can be agreed upon, many victims will simply exist in a legal limbo until schools can figure out what to do with them.

The Center for Public Integrity report revealed that sexual assault victims they followed were sometimes more likely to drop out of school than their assailants were to be suspended while they waited to pursue university appeals processes. For the sake of these young people, here's hoping schools will adopt a precise, fair, and universal sexual assault policy.

Big Love's Experimentation with Feminism

If you watched the series finale of Big Love last night and if you're not ready to give up on Big Love, be sure to read my piece that ran in The Atlantic over the weekend in anticipation of the finale:
The hallmark of Big Love is its ability to dive into modern social issues that are seemingly beyond the scope of the Utah polygamist family at its center. One of the show's creators said on a HBO featurette about the series, "There was something almost a little bit retro, you know, '50s American suburban family about the Henricksons and I think we were turning that idea on its head a little bit."
Keep reading ...

Spoilers ahead with some final brief thoughts on the finale.

The series ended more or less with the same themes they'd established throughout the show. I thought the way they did away with Bill's character was a bit cheap, but it seemed obvious that Bill couldn't continue in his role as the patriarch of the family. This whole season demonstrated that he was slowly losing control over the life he had built for himself. Eventually everything gradually slipped away -- the casino, the state senate seat, Home Plus, his wives, and finally his life. Each of the women began to express desires for something beyond the family (which I talk about in my Atlantic piece).

I agree with Aileen at Vulture, in that Nicki clearly had the least satisfactory resolution. Though I really loved many of her lines in the series, she was by far the least complex character, often reduced to a stereotype of the bitchy, jealous wife.

Still, the final message of the show really did demonstrate the show's major theme: that the bond between the sister wives is strong. They things they'd been through together would bring them together for life, even as they start down their diverging paths.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Links: SPACE FOR WOMEN

(Flickr/AGeekMom)
  • Can mainstream media ever responsibly cover race? Cord Jefferson takes on the question. [The American Prospect]
  • Ann Friedman on late-20s girl genius. [On This Recording]
  • Ever wonder what happens when the president or the first lady decide they're going to eat at your fancy restaurant? Now you know. [The Washington Post]
  • Byron Hurt, a wonderful male anti-violence activist, explains why he's a black male feminist and why more men should pick up the f-word. [The Root]
  • Here's kind of a neat info graphic by artist Kate Hersch. Did you know that 4 in 10 mothers are unmarried? [Pop Jolly]
  • Did you know Neko Case registered as a Republican when she lived in Arizona? [GOOD]
  • Via the hairpin, Caterina Fake examines how the "fear of missing out" is amplified in the age of social media. All I can say is, been there. [Caterina]
  • SPACE FOR WOMEN. [Wherever You Go, There You Are]
  • A woman in Iowa was jailed because she told a nurse she was thinking about having an abortion. [The Frisky]
Update: You should also read G.D.'s thoughtful piece over at Post Bourgie that responds to Hurt's post.

Exceptions to Abortion Bans Are Near-Universal Bans in Practice

(Flickr/muzik_note)

Today Nick Baumann of Mother Jones reports more on the disastrous anti-choice bill Congress is debating, HR 3, or the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). See, since the legislation deals with how tax breaks can and can't be used (they can't be used for insurance that covers anything but forcible rape), it mostly means that they're making it much more invasive to apply tax law.
In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.
[...]
[Chair of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committe Thomas] Barthold replied that the taxpayer would have to prove that she had complied with all applicable abortion laws. Under standard audit procedure, a woman would have to provide evidence to corroborate facts about abortions, rapes, and cases of incest, says Marcus Owens, an accountant and former longtime IRS official. If a taxpayer received a deduction or tax credit for abortion costs related to a case of rape or incest, or because her life was endangered, then "on audit [she] would have to demonstrate or prove, ideally by contemporaneous written documentation, that it was incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger," Owens says. "It would be fairly intrusive for the woman."
In other words, it suddenly becomes the IRS' business whether your abortion was the "right" kind of abortion. If it wasn't here's hoping you saved your police report in which you reported your rape or a doctor's note to prove your life was actually in danger.

Banning abortion (or in this case, banning tax credits for abortion) is unpopular on its face because withholding them from victims of rape or incest or women whose lives are in danger seems cruel. The way to popularize this position is to add exceptions in which women are "victims" of the pregnancy. The idea, then, is that you're "punishing" women who seek elective abortions, presumably because they're sluts who should have just kept their legs closed (channeling Amanda Marcotte, there).

Adding exceptions for rape or incest sounds really good to moderates, but, as I argued before, in practice it simply restricts access to abortion for all women. Victims of rape or incest report these crimes to the police a very small percentage of the time. Especially sense the perpetrators of these crimes are most often known to the victims, it makes reporting them uncomfortable. (For those that doubt such a thing might occur, I highly recommend going back to listen to journalist David Holthouse's account on This American Life of how he came to terms decades later with getting raped in childhood by a family friend.) The "exceptions" route to abortion bans of any kind is simply a way of getting moderate people to support a radical policy.

The reality of HR 3, if passed, would lead to IRS agents asking uncomfortable questions of women about how, exactly, that tax credit was used. In many ways, it reminds me of some of the accounts in Before Roe v. Wade. Before the Supreme Court legalized abortion, women had to seek permission from her doctors in some states in hopes of obtaining a mental health exception to obtain a legal abortion. Women generally said that having a child (or another child) would be too difficult for them, often exaggerating or lying about depression. This lead to pro-choice activists saying they wanted "abortion on demand," not when a doctor said it was okay. Oddly, this phrase has been usurped by the anti-choice movement.

The reality is that it's difficult to apply abortion exceptions to abortion bans in practice, so even if conservatives say they only intend to target elective abortions, the reality is that victims of rape and incest and women whose lives are in danger will also be caught in this trap. But then, I suppose, that's probably the point.

Giving Context to The Feminine Mystique

I finally got around to reading Stephanie Coontz's A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, the book that examines, in retrospect, Betty Fridan's most famous work. The slim volume deftly takes on the importance of The Feminine Mystique in the 1960s, but Coontz's examination is not without nuance or critique. Fridan's work was both vitally important and not quite the mythic ignition to the modern feminist movement that it has become.

Coontz surveys 188 women who read The Feminine Mystique and recounts how the work impacted these women. But she also places the work in the historical position that it belongs. The early chapters on the feminist and suffragist movements before Friedan published her work place the frustration women so felt with their roles as wives in important context. Coontz notes that these early women's movements had an impact on public opinion:
In a 1938 poll conducted by the Ladies' Home Journal, 60 percent of the female respondents disliked having the word "obey" in marriage vows, 75 percent favored joint decision-making between husband and wife, and a whopping 80 percent felt that an unemployed husband should keep house for his wife if she were working.
Coontz is sure to note that in some ways, women's equality was backsliding:
From 1951 to 1955, female full-time workers earned 63.9 percent of what male full-time workers earned. By 1963, women's pay had fallen to less than 59 percent of men's Meanwhile the proportion of of women in high-prestige jobs declined: Fewer than 6 percent of woerking women held executive jobs in the 1950s.
This means that the era in which Friedan was putting forth her message about women pursuing work they found fulfilling was happening in the midst of a social backlash to significant advancements in women's involvement in public life. Much of this backlash had to do with externalizes; women's work was viewed as less important during the Great Depression, when many were struggling to find work at all, and women who had advanced in the working world during the war were called on to give their jobs back to veterans—sometimes whether they wanted to or not.

Still, some of the things women faced in this era are somewhat shocking to read from the perspective of today (or at least, they were to me):
Even when a wife lived apart from her husband she could seldom rent or buy a home on her own. In 1972, the New York Times carried a story about a woman who could not rent an apartment until her husband, a patient in a mental hospital, signed the lease.

In many states, a woman was obliged to take her husband's surname. In some, she could not return to her maiden name after divorce unless under the fault-based divorce system, she had proven that he was "at fault." A woman who did not change the name on her driver's license or voter registration upon marriage could have it revoked until she did.
And it is perhaps this context that I found so valuable about Coontz's work and what makes her such an important academic. Her previous book, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, provided a clear and honest history of an institution about which many make mythic claims about its history. She does the same thing with A Strange Stirring, providing both mythbusting and context to an important cultural touchstone of women's rights in the last century. Since I can only read about that time in books, this was an important book for me to read.

Update: Yesterday Jill Brooke over at HuffPo's "Divorce" page (that's kinda weird the page is called that, no?) interviews Coontz. In it, Brooke notes that Phyllis Shlafly (!) says feminism is the cause of divorce. Coontz actually touches on this in her book, saying that at first economic independence did cause more women to walk away from their marriages but now women who embrace feminist ideas about gender equality tend to have happier marriages in the long run. Here's how she responds to Brooke's question.
Feminism didn't make good marriages go bad. But feminist reforms gave women the opportunity to get out of unhappy or unfair marriages, and in that sense feminism was the catalyst for many divorces in the 1970s and 1980s. When women no longer had to prove fault to get a divorce, many women whose marriages had been bad for years found it more possible to get a divorce. Before feminist-inspired reforms, for example, there were 42 states where a homemaker who could not prove fault in divorce (and often the criteria for fault were very stringent), had no claim at all on anything her husband had earned during the marriage, even if her housekeeping and child-raising had enabled his career. Furthermore, once feminist reforms gained women access to better jobs and outlawed discrimination in pay, hiring, and promotions, women who were unhappy in their marriages no longer had to stay married out of dire economic necessity.
You can read the whole interview here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 100 Female Characters in Film Surprisingly Undiverse


Via Kevin Fallon at The Atlantic, Total Film has a list of the 100 greatest female characters of all time. Like any list, it's inevitably going to be incomplete and biased in various ways. It was, however, startling to see this flaw:
Only two characters of color are ranked—both played by Pam Grier and both corrupted by drugs. Furthermore, only one character based on a real person is on the list, Bonnie Parker from Bonnie and Clyde, and even that's a highly romanticized version of the historical figure.
Emphasis added. This is, in many ways, reflective of Hollywood's bigger problems with offering up few roles for women of color or needlessly casting white actors in the roles of characters that are marked as people of color in the source content. The recent casting call for Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the popular young adult fiction series Hunger Games asked for an "underfed" Caucasian.

Hollywood's color problem is highly discussed, but often only among feminist and race blogs. Part of me wonders if there's any prodding on the part of executives and directors to diversify their films. Much in the same way editors are getting shamed for not diversifying their bylines enough, Hollywood executives need to feel pressure for continually casting white actors in films. (Television, for various reasons, tends to be slightly more diverse.)

After all, it would've been nice to see some great female characters of color make the list: Penelope Cruz' performance in Volver is supposed to be excellent, Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique were lauded for their performances in Precious, and let's not forget the many excellent performances in The Color Purple. I also really enjoyed Sydney Tamiia Poitier in Death Proof (even if lots of folks thought that film was the lesser of the Grindhouse double feature). And those are just films that come to mind without thinking very hard.

Maybe we need a Graphic Ladies or a Lady Journos for actresses of color.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Killing the 'Literary Wife' Memoir Subgnere

(Flickr/UK Pictures)

I recently listened to Marueen Corrigan's review of feminist writer Anne Roiphe's new memoir, Art and Madness. I haven't read any of Roiphe's work—not even her highly acclaimed second novel, Up the Sandbox, which has been hailed as a "feminist classic"—but Corrigan's review certainly piqued my interest to read it. What I found most fascinating about Corrigan's review, though, was her thoughts on where Roiphe's new book fell in the sea of literature:
Art and Madness is a particularly hard-boiled addition to a distinct subgenre of female autobiography — memoirs written by women who came of age in the 1950s and who sublimated their own ambitions by attaching themselves to literary men. I'm thinking of testaments like How I Became Hettie Jones by the eponymous former wife of LeRoi Jones, later Amiri Baraka; Manhattan, When I Was Young by Mary Cantwell; and the especially magnificent Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson, onetime girlfriend of Jack Kerouac. Educated at Seven Sisters colleges or their like, these young women wanted to live for Art — which, in the 1950s translated into living for a man who thought of himself as an artist. They found a place for themselves in the New York boho scene of the time, pouring drinks or tending to the other appetites of the resident drunken geniuses.
Roiphe is, after all, the erstwhile wife of Jack Richardson, a playwright who during the 1960s was called one of the most promising playwrights of his generation. But Roiphe clearly resents this connection, and, according to Corrigan's take on the book, is ruthless in her depiction of her younger self. She admonishes her former self for attaching to someone else's genius rather than exploring her own.

Though women today might feel more liberated to pursue their own craft and careers, Roiphe's critique clearly speaks to a perception about how men and women's work is perceived differently—and that's a sentiment that still remains true today.

Writers, like all people, are attracted to people like themselves. A 1993 American Journalism Review article addressed the question of married journalists and pointed to some prominent (at the time) examples:
[...] former Washington Post Executive Editor Benjamin Bradlee and Sally Quinn, an erstwhile Style staffer at that paper. Or Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn of the New York Times, who shared a 1989 Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on China. Or Ann Devroy of the Washington Post and Mark Matthews of Baltimore's Sun, married competitors. Merrill McLoughlin and Michael Ruby, who are married, are co-editors of U.S. News & World Report.
Of the couples called out in the AJR article, the male journalists are arguably more famous an influential than their partners. It's hard to say how literary couples of today, many of whom are still young and coming up in their journalistic and literary careers, will turn out. They will either challenge this paradigm or reinforce it.

After thinking through the many journalistic couples I know of today (an admittedly unscientific sample), I could name just one in which the female partner far outpaced her partner or husband: Megan McArdle and Peter Suderman. (Please, if you know of any other couples that might be in this category, leave them in comments.)

And it's no wonder. One need only briefly glance at the much-discussed Vida graphs to understand there's a dearth of female bylines to suss out why so many male journalists might be outpacing their partners in prestige.

Of course, we still have the potential to turn that idea—that "literary wives" will live in the shadows of their husbands or partners—on its head. Today in her farewell post at Feministing, Ann Friedman, in her tireless campaign to get more women to win at the literary prestige game, wrote about how women need to be more encouraging to other women. Such a message would be powerful if it especially came from a male partner.

Perhaps someday women will no longer be accessories to the "resident drunken geniuses" Corrigan described in this subgenre of memoir. Indeed, let's make sure the "literary wife" memoir is one that will be written about the past.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Links: Star Trek, Socialism, and Unions

(Flickr/esthereggy)
  • What Star Trek teaches us about socialism. [Yglesias]
  • I bet you'd be really shocked to learn that Gov. Scott Walker is also anti-contraception. [RH Reality Check]
  • Latoya Peterson wants to stop being feminism's Ms. Nigga. I don't blame her. I'm also really glad she agreed to speak on the panel I helped organize. [Racialicious]
  • Fetal pain laws are bad. Like, really, really bad. [The American Prospect]
  • Shirley Sherrod has some thoughts on the modern era of racism. And they're as interesting as you'd think they are. [The American Prospect]
  • This was kind of a neat little corporate video celebrating International Women's Day. [YouTube]
  • Remember those "Choose Life" license plates proceeds that weren't actually going to support pregnant women? Yeah, now they just want to blatantly fund the anti-choice movement. Points for honesty? [The American Independent]
  • Turns out attacking unions is also bad for the black middle class (and everyone else). [The Root]
  • I'm sorry, this Kate Middleton doll is creepy. [The Frisky]
  • So excited that Clarissa Explains It All is going to be back on the air! [Entertainment Weekly]
  • Hey, so maybe when we write about rape, can we not include the pornographic descriptions? [Columbia Journalism Review (PDF)]
  • Dolly Parton has a cookbook. [Dolly's Dixie Fixin's]

18 (OK, 20) Fearless Female Journalists, Past and Present

(Flickr/ccbarr)

There’s been a lot of discussion about the dearth of female bylines in major intellectual magazines. It was the cause of inspiration for Ann Friedman to start her project, Lady Journos, which allows her to highlight some of the great reporting and writing women are doing. But it’s worth pointing out that women have been doing phenomenal, life-changing journalism for a long time. Here are just a few women—past and present—who have been exposing injustices with their fearless journalism.

1. Ida Tarbell

This lady journo often ranks among the most famous of historical muckraking journalists in the Progressive Era, during which a combination of investigative journalism and social activism sought to expose injustice. Her investigation of the Standard Oil trust was published in McClure's Magazine, which she later turned into a book, The History of the Standard Oil Company. Her portrayal was damning to the tactics and practices of big business at the time

2. Ida B. Wells

Wells was a journalist and early leader in the civil rights movement. She fearlessly documented lynching, which she published in Free Speech and Headlight, an anti-segregationist newspaper her husband owned and she edited. She later founded the National Association of Colored Women and the National Afro-American Council,an organization we know now as the NAACP.

3. Rachel Carson

Though Carson got her start as a marine biologist and nature writer, it was her expose of the effects of the pesticide DDT’s effects on animals, published in her book The Silent Spring, that spurred a generation of environmental activists. She is largely credited with the United States’ reversal on a policy of using dangerous pesticides.

4. Nellie Bly

When you talk about embedding yourself into a story, you can’t get much deeper than Bly did when she faked a mental illness to expose the horrific conditions women underwent at the mental institution on Blackwell’s Island. She later wrote a book on her experience, Ten Days in a Madhouse. Her work not only drastically increased funding and quality of care at the institution, but pushed such asylums to adopt policies to ensure committed patients were actually mentally ill.

5. Gloria Steinem

Though we now think of Steinem as the quintessential second-wave feminist activist, some forget that part of her work started in journalism, when she embedded herself as a Playboy bunny in the New York Playboy Club. Her report detailed working conditions at the club, and she later went on to found Ms. Magazine, one of the first overtly feminist women’s magazines.

6. Nancy Hicks Maynard

Maynard was the first African American journalist at The New York Times, where she covered vital issues like the race riots at Columbia and Cornell universities. She later went on to cover health care, including important Medicaid issues. She and her husband went on to found the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, which is based in Oakland, Calif.

7. Ethel Payne

Known as “the First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne helped define advocacy journalism. She covered issues important to the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, desegregation at the University of Alabama, and the 1963 March on Washington.

8. Anna Politkovskaya

This Russian journalist opposed the Second Chechen War and the actions of then-Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her work exposing human rights violations was published in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and earned her death threats. She even experienced a mock execution when arrested by the Chechen military. Politkovskaya was ultimately murdered under mysterious circumstances in 2006.

9. Margaret Fuller

Fuller was a feminist and author who became the first female full-time book reviewer in American history at the New York Tribune in 1844. Her book, Women in the Nineteenth Century, is a major feminist work. She later became the first female foreign correspondent in England and Italy for the Tribune.

10. Jane Mayer

Mayer is an investigative reporter for The New Yorker, writing major pieces on the right-wing Koch family, the bin Laden family, and the United States’ controversial policy on extraordinary rendition. She was the Wall Street Journal’s first female White House correspondent and in 2008 won the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism for the investigative reporting that was later published in The Dark Side.

11. Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery

The co-editors of Mother Jones have done an excellent job of leading a longstanding investigative publication into a new era of online journalism. Bauerlein was formerly the magazine’s investigative editor and once covered the negotiations to end the first Gulf War. Jaffery came to Mother Jones from Harper’s Magazine, where she was a senior editor. She edited six National Magazine Award nominees, including Barbara Ehrenreich’s magazine feature that later became Nickel and Dimed. Under the supervision of these two editors, the magazine has increased circulation and web traffic when many publications have laid off reporters and editors. Read Campus Progress’ interview with Bauerlein and Jaffery.

12. Isabel Wilkerson

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her writing at the New York Times, Wilkerson won for her coverage of Midwestern floods in 1993 and her profile of a 10-year-old boy who was responsible for his four siblings. She is the author of the highly acclaimed 2010 book, The Warmth of Other Suns, which tracks the Great Migration of African Americans following the Civil War to Northern cities. Read Campus Progress’ interview with Wilkerson.

13. Katie Couric

Love her or hate her, Couric made history when she became the first female anchor of the CBS Evening News. Her interview with vice presidential candidate Sarah Plain won her the Walter Cronkite Award for Journalism Excellence.

14. Christiane Amanpour

The daughter of an Iranian father and a British mother, Amanpour did serious foreign coverage for CNN for decades, covering the Iraq-Iran War and the end of the Cold War. Last year, Amanpour moved to ABC News’ This Week one of the Sunday morning talk shows.

15. Gail Shister

Shister is widely regarded as the first “out” journalist in mainstream news. She joined the Philadelphia Inquirer as its first female sports writer in 1979. Her sports writing broke the same barrier at The New Orleans States-Item and the Buffalo Evening News in the 1970s.

16. Alexandra Pelosi

The daughter of the first female speaker of the house, Pelosi is breaking some barriers of her own. She started as a television producer at NBC covering George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. She’s created numerous award-winning documentaries, including Journeys with George, Diary of a Political Tourist, Sneaking into the Flying Circus, Friends of God, The Trials of Ted Haggard, and Right America: Feeling Wronged.

17. Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg

These two documentary filmmakers have been pushing important stories. They co-directed The Devil Came on Horseback, which helped expose the genocide in Darfur and won seven festival awards. They also co-directed and produced The Trials of Darryl Hunt, a story about a man who spent 20 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit.

18. Lisa Ling

She may have really hit it big on Channel One News and The View, but Ling is a serious journalist who now does many investigative pieces for her show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. On her show, she’s reported on bride burning in India, gang rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Cross posted, and co-bylined with David Spett.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pew Poll: Millennials View Parenting As Super Important, Good Marriage, Less So

Pew Research finds that, among Millennials, 52 percent say being a good parent is "one of the most important things" in life, while only 30 percent said the same of having a good marriage. Here's a helpful graph:
It's worth noting that Millennials seem to have a more positive outlook on good parenting than Gen Xers do, but as I've written before, marriage rates for young people are falling. People are getting married later in life. Getting married young just isn't as important to this generation. Jill Filipovic at Feministe has some good reasons for this (hint: It's not that men are emotional infants).

In fact, this later part of the Pew article is important to look at:
Even though their generation has been slow to marry and have children, most Millennials look forward to doing both. Among 18- to 29-year-olds who are not currently married and have no children, 70% say they want to marry and 74% say they want to have children.
Millennials aren't opposed to marriage and look forward to having kids. They don't, however, think the two go hand-in-hand. I think much of this has to do with the fact that Millennials are of a generation that doesn't find divorce strange. I knew tons of people growing up whose parents were divorced, and though it certainly still drew judgmental whispers, it certainly was a normal part of life.

Perhaps as divorce seems less scary, Millennials are beginning to examine life in a slightly different way: You can -- and should -- still be a good parent even if your marriage doesn't work out. And if it doesn't work out, that's OK. Plenty of people are happier out of their bad marriages. That's not to say that striving for a good relationship isn't a good goal, but fewer Millennials see it so tightly tied with parenthood:
About a third of Millennials (34%) think that more unmarried couples raising children is a bad thing for society, compared with 45% of those ages 30 and older.
Oddly, though, Millennials, like the rest of society, still think that single mothers are bad news. Over 60 percent disapproved of single motherhood. That's less than those in the 30-and-over category, who disapprove at a rate of just over 70 percent.

I'm sure this round of polling will bait lengthly blog posts about how selfish young people these days are -- that they're turning from marriage and making huge mistakes in their lives. But I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing that Millennials view marriage and children as separate endeavors. They are, after all, two very different things.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday, International Women's Day!

(Flickr/Downing Street)

Today is International Women's Day—the 100th such one, in fact. There are two things that strike me about this day. First, that women around the world are in a much, much better place than they were 100 years ago. The second is that women have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, feminism, gender justice—whatever you want to call it.

After all, women are still making leaps and bounds in breaking into predominately male industries and challenging what's "masculine" and "feminine" all the time. But despite all that, women still routinely make less than their male peers, women are the minority of political leaders, and women are still the minority voice among opinion makers. Not to mention some of the really horrendous human rights violations that are happening against women throughout the world.

It gets really exhausting for the women who fight to correct these injustices day after day. And that is, perhaps, why the lie that we don't "need" feminism anymore or that we've already reached gender equality. It's much easier to accept that where we are is the best we'll ever get than it is to correct these problems.

The world is a really bad place sometimes, but it is especially a bad place for a lot of women around the world. That, I think, is the takeaway is from a day like today. We should never forget that, and we should keep fighting for what women deserve: equality.

Graphic Ladies, Or Women Make and Write About Comics Too

(Flickr/Loren Javier)

Props to Erin Polgreen on making Graphic Ladies, a new blog that highlights the work of female comics and critics. Here's what Erin has to say about why she started it:
The Los Angeles Times debuted a new book award for graphic literature—but only one woman, C. Tyler, was nominated. The judges were all men. Last summer, Fantagraphics released an anthology of the Best American Comics Criticism—but only one woman writer was featured. Now, The Comics Journal, arguably the leading chronicle of the industry, just relaunched, and the number of female contributors is not encouraging. Only one lady author was published at the time of launch, with plans for 6 women (of 29 mentioned authors) to contribute at later dates.
Taking a cue from Ann Friedman's project Lady Journos, which highlights the great work of female journalists to show there's no excuse for a lack of women writers in highbrow literary magazines, Erin started Graphic Ladies to show that women both make comics and write comic criticism, and that there's really no excuse for such pitiful gender ratios.

So follow her on Twitter and Tumblr. Do it. You'll feel better about yourself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gender + Zombies in an Upcoming Anthology

(Flickr/Med's Photo)

Did you like my post on weird racism and sexism that got added to The Walking Dead's television series? I'll be contributing to an anthology on The Walking Dead called Triumph of The Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman's Zombie Epic on Page and Screen and it'll come out in November of this year (but you can, of course, pre-order now by following the link).

I have to admit, I'm in esteemed company. Here's a preliminary list of contributors:

Kyle William Bishop
Southern Utah University English professor, author (American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture)

Arnold Blumberg
Instructor University of Baltimore, author (Zombiemania: 80 Movies To Die For, The Big Big Little Book Book: An Overstreet Photo-Journal Guide)

Jay Bonansinga, author (The Black Mariah, Frozen, co-author with Robert Kirkman of upcoming Walking Dead novels)

Brendan Deneen, editor, film producer, publisher (former Director of Production & Development for the The Weinstein Company, editor on the Walking Dead novel trilogy for Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

Craig Fischer, professor at Appalachian State, comic scholar (The Comics Journal, The International Journal of Comic Art)

Kenneth Hite, game designer, writer (Zombies 101: Knowledge Is Survival, Trail of Cthulhu)

David Hopkins

Educator, comic book author, essayist (Karma Incorporated, Emily Edison, Webslinger: SF and Comic Writers on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)

Del Howison
Author, editor, actor (Dark Delicacies, When Werewolves Attack)

Scott Kenemore
Author (The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead, Z.E.O.: How to Get A(Head) in Business, The Art of Zombie Warfare: How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead)

Jonathan Maberry
New York Times bestselling author (Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel, Dead of Night, Rot & Ruin)

Lisa Morton
, author, screenwriter (The Castle of Los Angeles, The Lucid Dreaming, A Hallowe'en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writers over the Centuries)

Kim Paffenroth, professor of Religious Studies, zombie scholar (Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth, History Is Dead: A Zombie Anthology, Dying to Live series)

Brendan Riley, professor Columbia College Chicago, author (Journal of Popular Culture, The Amazing Transforming Superhero)

Steven Schlozman, M.D., assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Lecturer in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author (The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse, Psychology Today)

Kay Steiger, editor of Campus Progress, author (The Atlantic, Bitch Magazine, In These Times)

Ned Vizzini, young adult author (It's Kind of a Funny Story, Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah . . .)

COVER by Rafael Kayanan, artist Conan, Star Wars, Amazing Spider-Man, The Immortals

EDITED by James Lowder, editor, author (Curse of the Full Moon: A Werewolf Anthology; Prince of Lies (Forgotten Realms: The Avatar); Books of Flesh series: Book of All Flesh, The Book of More Flesh, The Book of More Flesh, The Book of Final Flesh (All Flesh Must Be Eaten), The Best of All Flesh: Zombie Anthology)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

D.C. History: Lewis Wentworth Giles, Architect

(From the collection of Lewis W. Giles, Jr., courtesy Cultural Tourism DC)

Today I attended a free class put on by the D.C. Humanities Council in collaboration with the D.C. Public Library and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., that taught you how to research the home in which you live. I discovered my home was designed by Lewis Wentworth Giles, a prolific and prominent African American architect in D.C.

According to the African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, which has an excerpt of Giles' biography online, he was born near Richmond, Va. His family moved to D.C. when he was young, and his father became one of the city's first African American police officers in the city. He graduated from Armstrong Technical High School and attended college at the the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied architecture. But before he could graduate, he was drafted in 1917 to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I. After his dishonorable discharge, he moved back to Washington, D.C., where he apprenticed with Isaiah Truman Hatton. He married in 1920 to Gladys Wheatley, who he met while attending the University of Illinois. Giles was under suspicion for his mentor's death in 1921:
Hatton died May 21 under mysterious circumstances, and Giles as his only employee came under suspicion. He was arrested and spent several nights in jail. No charges were filed and Giles was released three days after his arrest.
After Hatton's death, Giles opened his own architecture firm in a building at 1200 U Street NW, which is now home to the Public Welfare Foundation Inc. and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. In 1929, he moved his firm to the home he designed and built at 4428 Hunt Place. He and his wife Gladys had two children, Lewis W. Giles, Jr. and Julian Giles. His namesake followed in his footsteps and became an architect and Juilan went on to become a physician. He worked from his home on Hunt Place until his death in 1974.

Lewis' role as a trained architect served him well, since the D.C. government began requiring architects to be professionally trained in 1924. It's difficult to track down exactly how many building Giles designed over the course of his career; one source says "over 1,000" and another says "hundreds of houses, apartments, and churches here and across the city." According to a pamphlet created by the DC Community Heritage Project, "He had a reputation for creating such accurate drawings that he had little trouble getting approval from the city's permit division."

Incidentally, Giles worked with Randolph Dodd to build my apartment building, another highly successful and prolific builder in the city. He build many of Giles' designs, including many on the 1000 block of 49th Street in Deanwood. He also worked often with his brother, Jacob. They likely got a lot of work because their construction was cheap and reliable, according to one pamphlet, "To save money, the Dodds installed windows only in the front and back of the houses. Owners sometimes cut side windows later."

It's all pretty fascinating stuff, and now I learned some more skills in how to research the property databases and old city directories. If you ever get an opportunity to take such a class again, I'd highly recommend taking it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Links: Lady Gaga and Zombies

(Flickr/Kerry Burnout)
  • Apparently Lady Gaga's songs present problems for sign language interpreters. How do you translate disco stick? [Washington Post]
  • Last week, I highlighted Sarah Jaffe's series on anti-choice Democrasts, but it's also worth highlighting some great pro-choicers. [Keep Your Boehner Out Of My Uterus]
  • "Americans are so used to the fact that women are capable of doing anything that we hardly ever discuss it." [Gail Collins]
  • These awesome ladies (and men) are protesting to change bad sexual assault policies. [Penn Live]
  • Why do environmentalists hate the Easy-Bake Oven? [Food & Think]
  • "It took me a long time of standing still and being quiet to figure out what in retrospect appears to be a pretty simple lesson: writing a novel and living a life are very much the same thing." [Fuck Yeah Lady Writers]
  • Are you sure you're rooting for the right baseball team? [YFSF]
  • Only about 20 percent of plays are written and produced by women. [Female Playwrights Initiative]
  • We're becoming the United States of Zombieland. [AlterNet]
  • The super-awesome Anna Holmes takes on Charlie Sheen and his horrible misogyny. [New York Times]

Top Chef All Star Gets For-Profit College Issue Wrong

(Flickr/Rep. Virginia Foxx)

Tiffany Derry, of Top Chef All-Stars, has written an opinion piece for The Hill this week publicly fighting the “gainful employment” regulation proposed by the Department of Education. Derry says this proposed rule is bad because, “The proposed regulation is going to hurt students who need help the most: students who are considered at-risk, minority and low-income or older students who may be raising a family by themselves.”

Her op-ed was accompanied by lobby visits to Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus this week about the regulation.

The proposed regulation will look at default rates and debt-to-earnings ratios, but her conclusion that the regulation would “limit federal aid to students” is flat-out wrong. Under this regulation, it isn’t the student who won’t get funding; it is specific programs at schools that risk getting their funding pulled because too many of their students end up with overwhelming debt. Students are welcome to get financial aid for programs that provide better educational value.

Read more.

The Friday List-down: 10 Challenges Women Around the World Still Face

(Flickr/JIGGS IMAGES)

March is Women’s History Month, so this month the Friday List-downs will focus on women. Tuesday is International Women’s Day, which celebrates 100 years this year. The Asia Society has invited prominent feminist Gloria Steinem to participate in a conversation about the challenges women face in Asia. Check on events near you here. There are certainly lots of challenges that women face around the world. Here are some startling facts on women’s place in an increasingly global economy.

  1. Iceland ranks number one in the World Economic Forum’s 2010 survey of the gender gap worldwide, followed closely by Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The survey takes into account various factors, including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Yemen comes in last place, preceded by Chad and Pakistan.

  2. Josina Machel of the International Women’s Health Coalition spoke [PDF] at the recent Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, saying, “Seventy-six percent of people living with HIV and AIDS are women, and one-third of all these women are between the ages of 15 and 24.”

  3. In a recent Guttmacher Institute report [PDF] on women’s health in Ethiopia, they learned 71 percent of Ethiopian women have an unmet need for contraception.

  4. In a comprehensive World Health Organization study published in 2005, between 15 and 71 percent of women experience some combination of physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner over the course of their lifetimes. Women in Japan were the least likely to experience such violence, while women in more “provincial” countries were the most likely to experience intimate partner violence: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

  5. The United Nations notes that rape is still used as a weapon in war. A government study of Liberia, which has undergone a 13-year civil war, found that 92 percent of the 1,600 women interviewed had experienced sexual violence.

  6. A study put forth by the John F. Kennedy School of Government [PDF] found that women were more than twice as likely to be elected in countries that used proportional representation, or systems that divide up seats in multi-member districts by the proportion of votes received and distribute them to various parties or groups who choose a list of candidates, than they do under majoritarian electoral systems.

  7. The focus on women’s economic security has led to the idea of micro-lending, small loans given to people in developing countries to start small businesses or help make ends meet offered at low interest rates. The World Bank found that, as of June 2010, women borrowers account for 67 percent of these types of loans [PDF].

  8. According to 2007 Goldman Sachs findings cited by the State Department, closing the gender pay gap could have a significant impact on GDP growth. It could boost the United States GDP by 9 percent, Europe’s by 13 percent, and Japan’s by 16 percent.

  9. As information technology is a growing field in India, so is women’s participation. Women’s participation in the industry grew from 10 percent in 1993 to 35 percent in 2005 [PDF].

  10. Women endured the global economic crisis slightly worse than men. The International Labour Office found that the global unemployment rate for men was 6 percent in their 2011 report [PDF], whereas for women it was 6.5 percent.

Check out last week’s List-down here.

Cross posted.
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