From the March-April 2016 issue of News & Letters
In February, women in Chicago’s comedy improv scene held a blackout in which they did not perform or attend comedy class or shows. They held a panel discussion with the YWCA about sexual harassment and sexism in the comedy community and how to create safer spaces for women. The action was the result of women comedians in both Chicago and Los Angeles speaking out on facebook and in news articles about the culture of constant sexual harassment including demands for sexual favors from teachers and directors and sexual objectification onstage that had been going on for years. Belinda Woolfson, a comedian who has worked in both cities, has started a documentary on the subject.
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The Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club has been providing a safe space for women to explore the sport of boxing since 1996. In February, they made news by threatening to show up wearing their boxing gloves at a meetup planned by a misogynist “men’s rights” blogger who advocates legalizing rape. The meetups, which were planned in several cities worldwide, were cancelled with the statement that the planner “could no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend.” Several mayors of Canadian cities made statements on Twitter that these meetups would not be welcome in their cities.
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In January, in Manila, Philippines, women in their eighties held a demonstration outside the palace where President Benigno Aquino was welcoming Emperor Akihito of Japan. The women had been kidnapped and raped as so-called “comfort women” by the Japanese army in World War II and were demanding the same acknowledgement from their government as their counterparts in Korea had received from theirs. They also demanded an apology and compensation from Japan. They will not accept the conditions that Japan has placed on the Korean women that anyone compensated loses any right to discuss what happened to them.