EURO 2012 Stadiums Of Hate

BBC Panorama investigates Polish and Ukrainian racists and ultras, just days before the kick off to Euro 2012. „Euro 2012 – Stadiums Of Hate“

With just days to go before the kick-off of the Euro 2012 championships, Panorama reveals shocking new evidence of racist violence and anti-semitism at the heart of Polish and Ukrainian football and asks whether tournament organiser UEFA should have chosen both nations to host the prestigious event.

Reporter Chris Rogers witnesses a group of Asian fans being attacked on the terraces of a Ukrainian premier league match and hears anti-Semitic chanting at games in Poland. And with exclusive access to a far right group in Ukraine which recruits and trains football hooligans to attack foreigners, Panorama asks: how safe will travelling football teams and their supporters be at this summer’s European festival of football?

Pilot Kicks Sexist Off Her Plane

Imagine you’re a certified commercial pilot, and you’re among the 6.6 percent of them who happen to be women. You’ve passed all the same training as your male colleagues and proven that you can fly a plane just as well. One day, as you prepare for takeoff, you hear a male passenger say that he refuses to be flown by a woman. Do you just ignore him? Do you turn around and give a reasoned explanation of why your gender plays no role in your ability to fly a plane? Or do you kick him off the flight?

A Trip Airlines pilot went with the third option on Tuesday, May 22, after a male passenger stood up and shouted, “Someone should have told me the captain was a woman. I’m not flying with a female at the controls.” The unidentified passenger was ejected from the plane and met by police, who escorted him out of Belo Horizonte airport. The Brazilian airline later backed its pilot’s decision with a statement that it wouldn’t tolerate disparaging remarks about any of 1,400 women working there.

While the airline’s support of its women employees is encouraging, it’s hard not to be discouraged by the incident that prompted it. Despite increasing opportunities for women pilots, they’re still among the few professionals who face the outmoded belief that women physiologically “just can’t do” the job–even though gender-blind, controlled studies have found that women pilots make as few or fewer mistakes than their male counterparts.

Just last month, Joe Cowley, a sportswriter for the Chicago-Sun Times, tweeted from a plane: “Chick pilot. Should I be OK with that or am I just a sexist caveman?” He proceeded to get into a Twitter flame war with New York sportswriter Sloane Martin, in which he tweeted, “The chick pilot did good…Even though she had to come back and ask for directions twice.” Fortunately, like the man on the Brazilian flight, Cowley got his just deserts: His Twitter account disappeared later that day, and the Sun Times has reportedly put him on probation. And, in both this case and the Trip Airlines case, the web was filled with responses condemning the sexist behavior.

In other words, no surprise here–sexism is still alive and well whether you’re on the ground or in the air. But as more women take to the skies and more feminists speak out on the Internet, there’s hope that such beliefs will die an overdue death. Until then, it’s nice to have the example of this pilot and Trip Airlines. There are times when there’s no enlightening people and you just have to kick them off the plane.


Hollywood’s War on Women

While Hollywood’s marginalization of women may not yet have reached the scale of the Republican Party’s, a study released today reveals that the top-grossing films of 2011 were far from gender-equitable. The study, “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: On-Screen Representations of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2011,” conducted by San Diego State University‘s Martha M. Lauzen, reveals that women accounted for only 33 percent of characters. Given that women are 50.8 percent of the population, this in itself is problematic. More worrisome, though, is how that 33 percent are represented.

They’re not leading the action: Women made up only 11 percent of film protagonists. This statistic rings true when you consider 2011’s box-office champions: Number 1 was the boy-vs-man Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; number 2 was the girls-on-the-side Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and number 3 was the MMF-love-triangle The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. While each of these films has one female lead character, Bella is arguably the only true protagonist among them, and she, sadly, falls into the other traps for women characters identified by the study: “Female characters remain younger than their male counterparts” (Bella is 17 to Edward’s 107) and “Female characters are most likely to be in out-of-workforce positions such as homemaker or student” (Bella goes from the latter to the former).

To be fair, Hermione could be considered part of a leading trio, but Harry is the real center of the saga–look no further than the titles. That being said, at least Hermione is the same age as her male counterparts, is not defined via marital status (as 59 percent of all female characters are) and is portrayed as a leader (unlike a whopping 86 percent of female characters). However, Twilight aside, age differentials are less common in films featuring teens and marital status is rarely a defining trait for pre-adult characters. And, though Hermione is a leader, she is not the same type of recognized leader that male characters most often are, in fields such as government, religion and business.

The number 5 film of 2011, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, does give us a woman pirate as a leader, and does so with refreshingly little focus on romance. Alas, other films in the top 100 include the typical array of female stereotypes: women as domestic or mom-figures (The Help (#13), War Horse (#41)), women as hyper-feminine creatures who love shopping, frilly clothes and boys (Smurfette in The Smurfs (#19), Mary in The Muppets (#34)), women as hypersexualized creatures who tolerate or “ask for” male sexual violence (Water for Elephants (#57), Footloose (#67), Red Riding Hood (#80)), women as either absent or alien (War Horse, Cowboys & Aliens (#30)). Then, of course, there is Sucker Punch (#89), the “girl power” brand of faux-feminism that suggests all sorts of dubious paths towards “empowerment.”

A number of the top 100 films also have either no lead women characters or have the typical token semi-strong woman amongst a gaggle of male characters, as in The Hangover Part II (#4), Cars 2 (#8), X-Men: 1st Class (17), Super 8 (#21), Rango (#22), Cowboys & Aliens (#30) and Happy Feet Two (#54). Overall, the majority of the top 20 films are male action/adventure stories that keep women on the sidelines. But the gender problem isn’t just one of genre: Most of the films on the top 100 list represent women in one of a few typical ways–as partners or “booty” for men, as mothers, or as damsels in distress. Whether the film is animated, an action-adventure or a comedic romp, women are either peripheral or virtually non-existent. Few of the 100 would pass the Bechdel test.

Thankfully, there are some exceptions. The much-lauded Bridesmaids (#14) proved what we feminists have known for a long time–women are funny. And Hugo (#49), though led by a male protagonist, gave us the savvy wordsmith Isabelle, while Soul Surfer (#72) supplied us with a rarity indeed: a lead woman athlete. The Iron Lady (#100) granted us a rare portrait of a woman head of state while Hanna (#75) presented an iron girl capable of holding her own against a mass of baddies. That brings me to possibly the strongest woman lead of the year–Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (#28). While not a problem-free feminist heroine, she is about as far from a damsel in distress as you can get. A code-cracking computer genius who refuses to abide by gender, sexuality and beauty norms, Lisbeth rejects playing the victim–in fact, she is stronger and more intelligent than the men that surround her.

Alas, characters of Hermione’s and Lisbeth’s ilk are still all too uncommon in film, a problem that works to normalize the sidelining of women in real life. Let’s hope that 2012 brings us more truly feminist heroines, leaders, and role models–both on screen and off.


„Why are you looking at my manicure?“ – Saudi women blasts religious police for harassing her

In this video, obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Saudi women blasts religious police for harassing her in a public mall for wearing nail polish: „Get out of the mall?,“ the woman tells the religious police. „I’ll show you who’s getting out of the mall. This is none of your business.“
„I’m free to put on nail polish if I want to,“ she says later. „I’m not getting out. What are you going to do about it?“

In a video the woman recorded of the incident and posted on YouTube, she can be heard demanding the agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and P revention of Vice to leave her alone, as they instruct her to leave the mall at once.

“Why are you chasing me? The government said no more chasing! Your duty is to advise people… why are you looking at my manicure? I will never leave the mall!” she can be heard saying in the video.

Egypt might lower the minimum Age of Girls for Marriage

Equality Now has just issued an Urgent alert on draft legislation in Egypt which would lower the minimum age of marriage and could be voted on at any moment.

Egypt’s People’s Assembly Council is currently discussing legislation that would reduce the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to possibly as low as 9 years old and could vote on the final draft bill at any moment. If adopted, girls could be married off by their families without their consent putting them at risk of physical and psychological harm, as well as cutting short other life opportunities, such as pursuing their education. Such measures make Egyptian women, including the umbrella organization Alliance for Egyptian Women, fearful that their rights are being rapidly eroded post-revolution.

Other draft legislation limiting a mother’s access to her children upon divorce and the reported denunciation in Parliament of the 2008 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM), are giving Egyptian women cause for extreme concern.

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ARGENTINIA: Groundbreaking Gender Identity Law

Argentina: doing it right. After passing a groundbreaking gender identity law on Wednesday, Argentina, which became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, now leads the entire world when it comes to trans rights.

The new law grants trans people the right to legally change their gender identity without having to get approval from doctors or judges–and, importantly, without having to change their bodies at all first. Not having a valid ID that matches your gender identity is a huge barrier to access to education, employment, health care, you name it. As Kalym Sori, an Argentinian trans man said, “This is why the law of identity is so important. It opens the door to the rest of our rights.”

But in most places in the world trans people must show proof of a medical diagnosis and often major interventions, like surgery or hormone therapy, before they can get that legal recognition. (For example, in 17 European countries, trans people have to be willing to be sterilized just to change their ID) It’s a hurdle that many people can’t–or simply don’t want to–jump. And now they won’t have to in Argentina.

But, if trans Argentinians do want to change their bodies, thanks to the new law, insurance companies–both public and private–will now have to provide them with surgery or hormone therapy at no additional cost. I know, I know. That may seem strange to those of us in the U.S.–where trans rights are way back in the dark ages and the right to health care in general is not recognized. But, see, in Argentina they believe in things like human rights, and as Sen. Miguel Pichetto said during debate on the bill, “This is truly a human right: the right to happiness.”

Although the law does not know categories outside of male and female, it is a start to enforce trans rights.