From the January-February 2022 issue of News & Letters
In November, hundreds demonstrated at Boise State University in Idaho after a misogynist “pro-family” speech by political science professor Scott Yenor at the National Conservatism Conference. Decades of research proves the importance of women’s participation in society and equality within the family. Yet sexist men still discourage and drive women from professions and trades where they frequently excel, often stealing credit for their work. In spite of this, Yenor advocated discouraging women from education in engineering, law, medicine and all trades, claiming they didn’t really like these professions. Idaho state representative Brooke Green stated, “Women shouldn’t have to spend time today defending our value in society or rights as human beings. However, women wanted to gather to send a message saying we will continue to occupy professional spaces, whether it’s a boardroom, courtroom, or leadership role within the community.”
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In October, in a #MeToo moment for the French porn industry, four male performers were charged with rape after 53 women performers came forward during a police investigation. They described abuse during filming, including being drugged, forced, and manipulated into humiliating acts. Anti-prostitution organization Movement du Nid stated the investigation “laid bare how the criminal porn industry is organized: a vast network of pimping and human trafficking, subjecting women to prostitution, rape, and acts of torture.” A spokeswoman stated, “This is a very important case because it shows that impunity can be challenged, it’s not a foregone conclusion.” Last year, after a previous investigation, two producers of a violent porn website received prison sentences for aggravated pimping and human trafficking.
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In December, hundreds of women demonstrated in Khartoum and two other cities in Sudan against security forces’ gang rapes of at least 13 women and girls at an earlier demonstration against the military coup. They delivered a memorandum signed by over 40 human rights groups and neighborhood pro-democracy “resistance committees,” demanding an investigation by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a joint statement, the U.S., UK, Canada, the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland condemned the use of sexual violence “as a weapon to drive women away from demonstrations and silence their voices.” Sudanese women are prominent in pro-democracy demonstrations but face pressure from male relatives not to attend.
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In January in India, two men and a woman were arrested for creating a website pretending to “auction” over 100 Muslim women as slaves. The photos of real women, including journalists, academics, activists, scholars, and artists, were used without their consent. Many are vocal critics of the government of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. One victim, radio DJ Sayema Rahman, stated, “This has been happening relentlessly to women for quite some time now, especially with this communal angle. It’s Islamophobia coupled with misogyny. I was targeted, and a whole lot of other women were targeted, because we are the vocal voices, we are the liberated voices, and they want to silence us by commodifying us, humiliating us and trying to scare us.”