In July, Cedarburg High School in Wisconsin announced upon its fall opening that students would not be required to wear masks but still required to follow a dress code directed at girls. Seniors Ava Rheeve and Julia Going noted the female student body “collectively recognizes” the unfairness of the code “telling girls their bodies are inherently sexual.” Some teachers are even notorious for finding clothing violations in order to remove girls from class. They gathered 1,500 signatures on an online petition stating that, if the administration could discipline girls for “rules as trivial as shorts length and tank top strap width,” they could mandate masks, which would not be worn by all if not enforced. In this conservative small town, wearing a mask is viewed as a political statement instead of a safety precaution. Grateful citizens helped them compile a 30-page document of reasons schools should require masks.
In September, Shere Hite died at the age of 77. Her 1976 book, The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality was unusual because its survey of 3,000 women asked them to write anonymous responses to questions instead of choosing multiple-choice answers. She said, “Researchers should stop telling women what they should feel sexually and start asking them what they do feel sexually,” calling it a “giant rap session on paper.” This referred to consciousness raising, a method of creating theory from women’s lives used by Women’s Liberation groups. Her conclusions that female sexual pleasure is not primarily centered on intercourse and is routinely ignored in heterosexual relationships improved the sex lives of many. Receiving media condemnation and death threats from enraged sexists on both Left and Right, she moved to Europe, where she wrote three more books. Twelve prominent feminists denounced her persecution as a conservative backlash “against the rights of women everywhere.”
The human rights group Project South-Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide filed a complaint in September with the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of migrant women detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. It was on behalf of Dawn Wooten, a nurse at ICDC who stated that inmates complained to her of mass hysterectomies performed without informed consent or an interpreter present. They called ICDC’s gynecologist “the uterus collector” and alleged “rough treatment” during exams. Wooten also described unsanitary conditions, “jarring medical neglect,” and lack of precautions against COVID-19 for inmates and employees. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, called for an investigation, comparing it to historical U.S. racist medical atrocities.
In Mexico City in September several collectives of feminists seized the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) building for five days. They renamed it “House of Refuge Ni Una Menos” after their movement, which translates “Not One Less.” This fourth-wave feminist movement against femicide began five years ago in Argentina and spread throughout Latin America. Members are calling attention to the surge in already high levels of violence against women during the lockdowns. Demonstrators in this action prominently included mothers of murdered, raped, and missing women called victims of “Forced Disappearance.” They assembled inside the building, writing a position statement and a petition demanding justice. They wrote on the walls, “State Femicide,” “Justice for All” and “We Neither Forgive nor Forget.”