News Round-Up

// 1 November 2008

First news from America that voters are influenced by the looks of female candidates – not really shocking news given that almost all groups are influenced in almost all settings by the looks of females from job interviews to personal judgements!

“Even female voters seemed to tap into the cultural expectation that women who are attractive as well as competent are more worthy of high status roles,” said Joan Y Chiao, an assistant professor of Psychology at the university.

The researchers said that though gender bias related to a female candidate’s attractiveness was consistent across both male and female voters, good looks was almost all that mattered in predicting men’s votes for female candidates. They added that competence, on the other hand, was almost all that mattered in predicting men’s votes for male candidates…Overall, voters perceived the faces of male politicians as more competent and dominant relative to female politicians, while female politicians were perceived as more attractive and approachable relative to males.

Meanwhile over here is an interesting, if somewhat wide-ranging, article on the sexual politics of decriminalising prostitution (Although comes with a NSFW picture). (EDIT – The article I tried to link to here has since disappeared. If I refind it somewhere I’ll add in a new link. Sorry.) Does that age old thing of conflating postfeminism and (here’s a hint, different names = different stances) but it’s interesting especially when read in conjunction with Ariel Troster’s piece on the same topic.

I Luv South Africa is highlighting child rape and gives some pretty terrifying statistics and case studies on sexual violence against children in the country including these.

  • A young girl born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than of learning how to read. (BBC News, April 2002)·
  • In South Africa, more than 1 million women and children are raped every year. (The London Times, October 14, 2004)·
  • Each and every day in South Africa, at least 50 children are victims of rape. (South African Press Association, June 2005)·
  • More than 90 percent of rape victims know their attackers. (South African Press Association, June 2005)·
  • In South Africa, one in four girls faces the prospect of being raped before her 16th birthday, according to the child support group, Childline South Africa. Source

Female legislators in Turkey are fighting to have penalities on sex crimes increased after a man was released from prison after just 40 days because a mental health report said his 14 year old victim was not harmed by the abuse she experienced from him.

And Feministe is highlighting new research which shows that women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than non-disabled women. Also on Domestic Violence, but in the UK, is the BBC’s coverage of the fact that 16% of all violent crimes reported to the Police are domestic violence cases including forced marriages.

For the weekend fluff recommendation there is this piece arguing that Janet Jackson and Madonna represent two strands of women’s empowerment thinking.

Comments From You

Sian // Posted 1 November 2008 at 11:01 am

That statistic about more likely to get raped than learn how to read actually made me cry. Really upsetting.

Cara // Posted 1 November 2008 at 12:42 pm

Wrt last piece, hmm, not sure that’s ‘fluff’ – isn’t anything women might be interested in dismissed as fluff? Whereas males being into music is, you know, a hobby. Not meaning to sound rude or critical, and I can see how pop music is a less serious subject than domestic violence. I just wonder why this distinction between ‘fluff’ and Serious Manly Subjects came about, and why it is used to denigrate women. No-one assumes a man is an airhead for being into music, or football, or golf, or making models, or, well, Manly hobbies.

And where *are* the Madonnas today? Most young female pop singers seem like sex objects. The rise of raunch culture is disturbing – and by ‘raunch culture’ I mean ‘Nuts’ and ‘Zoo’ and Pussycat Dolls etc., I don’t mean ‘anything raunchy’ – Madonna actually owned her own image.

lucy // Posted 1 November 2008 at 1:00 pm

great roundup, but is there a link for the second story, the “interesting, if somewhat wide-ranging, article on the sexual politics of decriminalising prostitution”?

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 1 November 2008 at 6:46 pm

A question – what is the gender of perpetrators who are systematically raping and committing sexual assault against South African women and girls? Couldn ‘t be men could it? Or is it martians again? We need to put the focus on gender of perpetrators committing these crimes because other wise saying xxxx number of women and girls are raped each year becomes meaningless. Put accountability where it belongs – not with women and girls but with men and boys who commit these crimes with such impunity. I note on reading I Luv South Africa that hidden in the annecdotal evidence is the fact it is men who are committing violence against women. So, we must not be afraid but must say/write that taboo word ‘men.’

Louise Livesey // Posted 3 November 2008 at 10:50 am

Really good point Cara.

I said it was a “fluff” piece because most of my stuff is on sexual violence etc. So something on pop stars is in a much lighter vein. But you’re right I’m falling into a very gendered way of thinking about things.

Anne Onne // Posted 3 November 2008 at 1:31 pm

Cara has a good point. On the other hand, I think we need a balance in how we percieve entertainment/hobbies. They shouldn’t be taken either 100% seriously (I was reading awhile back about how the stereotypically male obsession with music snobbery holds men back from music they might like because it’s seen as less worthy/cool) nor as completely worthless. Hobbies or interests shouldn’t have to be intellectual or stand up to scrutiny for us to do them, they should be about

And the I Luv South Africa link is so deppressing, though entirely necessary as a reminder of how much of the world needs to change, and how some privileges should be a right for all.

At the risk of being tangential, I came across an equally moving incentive for girls in Africa called ‘The Girl Effect’ via Shakesville. Their video is brief, but well worth a look:

And I’m entirely not surprised that many people focus primarily on looks. Mind you, I’d have to take issue with the idea that men only focus on performance: George W. Bush was clearly ignorant and had a host of policies that were bad for most people. Too bad many people are more concerned with voting to limit other people’s rights which have NOTHING to do with them, than picking a candidate which will effectively serve them best. That and religion. I’d like to see a day when people don’t vote for someone because they pay the most lip service to a bunch of dead patriarchs.

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