All posts filed under: Abstractions

Abstractions

No more victimisation

At the end of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, actress Jessica Chastain – who was serving as a jury member – said that she found the portrayals of women in the festival’s films “quite disturbing.” To many, this isn’t exactly news. The lack of women in film – in front of and behind the camera – has been at the forefront of Hollywood criticism in recent years, with scholars and writers detailing the various ways women tend to be underrepresented or cast in stereotypical roles. University of Southern California communications professor Stacy Smith, who researches depictions of gender and race in film and TV, found that of the 5,839 characters in the 129 top-grossing films released between 2006 and 2011, fewer than 30 percent were girls or women. Meanwhile, only 50 percent of films fulfill the criteria of the Bechdel Test, which asks whether a film features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Despite the uphill climb for women in film, it isn’t all doom and …

Gross face of the new feminism

Vaginas are so hot right now. If that sentence shocks you, then you’ve been out of the cultural loop. Thanks to a new wave of television and autobiographies by some very funny women, female privates have moved to the front and centre of popular entertainment. Male bits, once the only game in town, are now chiefly of interest only as a sidebar to hilarious female riffs on misfiring, awkward and unsatisfactory sex, thanks to recent work by the likes of Lena Dunham, Britain’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge (writer, actor and star of BBC series Fleabag), and now Amy Schumer, whose smash hit “femoir”, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, recently hit stores. This is all part of a new movement – what I like to call “gross-out feminism”. It is gleeful, honest to a fault, and practised exclusively by women who long ago kissed goodbye to the capacity to be embarrassed. Its goal – apart from to make people laugh – is to provide a kind of shock therapy to those still harbouring the notion that …

Skeptic Society Magazine Water Access is a Gender Equality Issue

Water Access is a Gender Equality Issue

World Water Day, an internationally-celebrated day dedicated to collaboration between the United Nations, governments, and non-governmental organizations to tackle the world’s water crisis. Ensuring universal access to safe water by 2030 is identified as a critical component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s mandate to eradicate extreme poverty. The global water crisis is not only deadly—lack of access to clean water claims more lives each year than AIDS, breast cancer, terrorism, and all the world’s conflicts combined—but is incredibly economically costly. And the opportunity cost of water shortage, contamination, and inadequate infrastructure falls disproportionately on women and girls. In communities around the world, women and girls spend much of their days walking long distances to seek out safe water, fetching or drawing it, and carrying heavy containers back to their households. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, an average trip to collect water covers over 3 miles and takes 33 minutes each way—and in a number of countries, such as Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia, and Yemen, the trip takes longer than an hour each way. In …

Skeptic Society Magazine American slavery Separating fact from myth

American slavery Separating fact from myth

On Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the US, a historian dispels myths about the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery. Slavery has been in the news a lot lately. From the discovery of the auction of 272 enslaved people that enabled Georgetown University to remain in operation to the McGraw-Hill textbook controversy over calling slaves “workers from Africa” and the slavery memorial being built at the University of Virginia, Americans are having conversations about this difficult period in American history.

Skeptic Society Magazine Women Leading Science Maths and Physics

19 Women Leading Math and Physics

In an interview with Quanta Magazine last fall, the eminent theoretical physicist Helen Quinn recalled her uncertainty, as a Stanford University undergraduate in the 1960s, about whether to pursue a career in physics or become a high school teacher. “There were no women in the faculty at Stanford at that time in the physics department,” Quinn said. “I didn’t see myself there.” Her adviser warned her that “graduate schools are usually reluctant to accept women because they get married and they don’t finish.” (He kindly added that “I don’t think we need to worry about that with you.”)In the 1970s, the Italian-American dark matter physicist Elena Aprile survived male advisers with a similar unwillingness to tolerate competing demands on her time. “It made me of titanium,” she said of her relationship with her brilliant but demanding mentor. “He would keep pushing you beyond the state that is even possible: ‘It’s all about the science; it’s all about the goal. … You have a baby to feed? Find some way.’”Four decades later, the welcome mat can still be hard to locate. “In …