Wonk-y magazine Foreign Policy‘s most recent issue, The Sex Issue, is right up our alley with a cover story article about the how the real war on women is in the Middle East. Author Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American writer who was beaten and sexually assaulted by police while protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Her piece, “Why Do They Hate Us?“, is worth a read on its own.
But images used for the piece are also causing controversy: an attractive, naked woman is covered in body paint made to look like a niqab (a body-covering veil), with only her eyes showing. Newsweek‘s Tumblr lauded the images as “powerful,” while a Tumblr blogger who goes by the name That Sassy Arab chastised the magazine: “Nope, newsweek [sic], this is not stunning and powerful, or awesome. This is highly offensive and completely misguided.” Other critiques of the images used by FP, and the article by by Eltahawy hereself, are here, here and here.
What do you think, Frisky readers? [Foreign Policy]
Today in Awkward Diplomatic Kerfluffles: the entire country of Ukraine is pissed at the entire country of The Netherlands for airing a commercial that implies sexy, sexy Ukrainian women are a bunch of husband-stealing sexpots. The ad was made by a Dutch energy company called NLE and references the Euro 2012 soccer games, which will be hosted by the Ukraine. (On a side note, any other Americans find it utterly impossible to keep Europoeans and their various soccer tournaments straight?!) The ad shows a woman Googling the words “Ukrainian women” and coming up with images of super sexy hot Ukrainian ladies. She then immediately goes and purchases an at-home beer tap, presumably so her husband will stay on his couch and not leave her for some random blonde chick in the Ukraine during a soccer match. Ukraine is now pissy that the commercial will affect tourism during the Euro 2012 games. Keep reading »
Bringing new meaning to the phrase “before the body gets cold,” Egypt is considering a new law that will allow Egyptian husbands to have sex with their dead wife’s corpse up to six hours after death. But don’t get your panties in a knot, ladies. Wives can have sex with their dead husbands’ corpse as well, because the issue at hand is whether marriage is still in effect after death. (Unless rigor mortis sets in southward, we don’t much see the point.) This very important matter of “farewell intercourse” is just one of many measures Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament is considering; the others are not so what-the-fuck as they are human rights abuses. Other laws being considered would restrict women’s access to education and employment and lower the minimum marriage age to 14. Pardon my pun, but those are the real issues here, even if they’re not as sexy as the necrophilia law. [Al-Arabiya; Daily Mail UK]
I don’t fully understand why these ads are “sexist” or “offensive,” as per the women’s health blog Blisstree. The Brazilian gym Vila Olimpica ads show big, muscular men standing behind women, their ripped arms doing things like opening jars and bottles of wine. But I didn’t read this as “the iddy-bitty-widdle-lady can’t open a jar of olives,” because the female model actually looks rather fit and toned herself. I read it more as a joke: the lady needs gorilla arms to open these relatively easy products, but those kind of muscles are more of a female body builder thing, so there’s a big dude standing behind her doing it.
It’s a obtuse, sure, but I’d say it’s visually clever. What do you think, Frisky readers? Maybe I’m losing my edge? [BlissTree]
A doctor, a dentist, and an alternative medicine practitioner were all secretly filmed offering to perform or arrange female genital mutilation (FGM), according to the UK Guardian. FGM involves removing all or part of the external female genitalia, and sometimes sewing the opening to the vagina shut. It’s all supposedly for the purpose of making it impossible for a woman to have sex for pleasure and therefore ensuring her “purity” upon marriage.
The so-called “female circumcisions” are performed on girls as young as 5 and is widespread across Africa; you can read more about FGM on the World Health Organization’s web site. Thankfully, human rights and women’s rights activists across the continent are condemning the horrific procedure. As such, both performing FGM and arranging for it to be performed are illegal in the UK. But that doesn’t stop FGM from occurring in the UK: the Guardian claims 100K women in the country have been mutilated. I hope those doctors know FGM carries a 14 year prison sentence and are shaking in their boots/heels. [Guardian UK; Telegraph UK]
Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics in 11 states have reported a string of suspicious incidents where women come in asking questions about sex-selective abortions, leading the organization to believe it’s being targeted with a “hoax” by an anti-abortion sting operation.
Women claiming to be pregnant came into clinics over two dozen times, asking provocative questions about sex-selective abortion, the Huffington Post reports. (Patient confidentiality prevents PPFA from identifying the clinics.) The women asked questions like how soon they could find out the gender of their fetus and whether they could schedule an abortion if they were expecting a girl. Keep reading »
Today in India is a celebration called Akshaya Tritiya, a Hindu and Jain holy day which is marked by mass marriages. But human rights supporters in India, such as UNICEF, are using the day to draw attention to a less jubilant topic: child brides. Child marriage is officially illegal in India, but that hasn’t stopped too many families from marrying off their young daughters ages 5 to 12 to older “grooms” — which is another way of saying sex slavery. Today, the Wall Street Journal points out one of the more controversial of the anti-child marriage campaigns, called The Girl Store, a website set up to look like an online retailer that advertises “100 percent genuine girls. Young. Innocent. And available. Experience the sensation of buying a girl.” Keep reading »