Women WorldWide: June 2024

June 5, 2024

by Artemis

Faith Ringgold in 2017. Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CC BY 3.0 DEED

On April 13, Faith Ringgold, born Faith Wili Jones, died at age 93. In her seven-decade career as a Black American artist, she was most famous for her “story quilts” depicting struggles around sexism and racism. She stated, “For me it is important to make work about peril if it’s your story. One can find beauty in horror that you can share through your art and ideally effect change.” Ringgold co-led a group of Black members of the Art Workers’ Coalition, successfully pushing famous New York museums to include more artists of color, lower admission costs, and have a free-admission day. She received 80 awards and honors and wrote 20 children’s books. Her work, including painting, fabric, sculpture, doll-making, and performance art, has been exhibited worldwide, including the White House and Rikers Island prison.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, is one of the foremost researchers on sexual behavior in the U.S. Four years ago, she began studying the rapid increase among college students of violent and degrading but supposedly consensual “rough sex” acts. She found they are mostly inflicted by men upon women, with strangulation (aka “choking”) especially prevalent. Two thirds of women in her recent survey reported being strangled during sex, with 40% of these reporting its first occurrence between the ages of 12 and 17. Originating as a trend in online porn and increasingly depicted in popular culture, strangulation is never safe and causes long-term medical harm. Both men and women feel social pressure to participate, and Herbenick emphasizes the importance of communication. Canadian criminology professor Amanda McCormick recently noted strangulation is a major warning sign a domestic abuser is about to kill a victim, and it is used as a method of power and control.

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In March, the Snow Leopard Trust’s team of researchers released a paper for Women’s History Month, “Applying a Gender Lens to Biodiversity Conservation in High Asia.” The Trust and its partners used case studies from India’s Kibber village and Tost, Mongolia, to show the crucial importance of women’s ideas and contributions in snow leopard conservation and fighting climate change. Community support is part of conservation efforts, but when a community is male-dominated, care is needed to forward women’s needs. Women also have specialized knowledge from assigned roles such as management of water in Kibber and livestock in Tost. It is encouraging that women are becoming more active in conservation-related decisions due to improved education and pursuit of roles in local government and businesses.

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Filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar recently released their documentary You Are Not Alone: Fighting the Wolf Pack about the trial inspiring Spain’s #MeToo movement. In 2016, a gang of five men, “the wolf pack,” raped a woman at a festival in Pamplona, but a judge gave them shorter sentences for a lesser offense. Massive protests and a social media campaign called Tell Your Story led to Spain’s supreme court giving them longer sentences for rape. The filmmakers worked in secret, interviewing those close to the case, all previously afraid to speak publicly during proceedings. Instead, defense lawyers had dominated the media, taking advantage of rape culture to sow doubts about the defendant. The filmmakers hope this documentary, which includes interviews with other rape survivors, will help society sustain the new openness around the truth about sexual violence.

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