From the November-December 2021 issue of News & Letters
In September, a leak from Facebook revealed it had kept secret its findings that its Instagram app worsens body image issues for one in three teenage girls. Facebook downplayed the findings, which echo those of numerous other studies, that social media, especially Instagram, has negative impacts on young people’s mental health. 5Rights Foundation campaigns for changes to digital media on behalf of children and youth, stating, “In pursuit of profit, these companies are stealing children’s time, self-esteem and mental health, and sometimes tragically their lives.” A study by neurologists reports the app TikTok is implicated in a social contagion, especially affecting young women, of Tourette Syndrome with very real neurological damages.
* * *
After years of work by feminists, the Mexican Supreme Court unanimously ruled in September that criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional. This does not automatically legalize abortion, and pending cases must still be heard at the local level. Several states in Mexico still have laws restricting abortion, but the ruling should mean women imprisoned for it may be freed. Adopting Argentine feminists’ symbol of the green bandana, they hope the “Green Wave” of women’s rights success will continue to have a ripple effect throughout Latin America.
* * *
FiLiA, meaning “daughter”—an international, UK-based “women-led volunteer organization and part of the Women’s Liberation Movement”—stated, “our vision is a world free from patriarchy where all women and girls are liberated.” In October, in Portsmouth, UK, FiLiA held its seventh FiLiA2021, “The largest annual grassroots in-person feminist conference in Europe” with 1,000 attendees. The 100 speakers were from many countries including India, Afghanistan, Rojava, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Australia and Ireland. Topics included violence against women, prostitution, women’s sex-based rights, persecution of lesbians, reproductive justice, classism, environmentalism, and feminist activism, history, and art.
* * *
In October, women across Britain boycotted bars and clubs for a week, holding huge demonstrations in over 40 towns and cities. Female students led this Night In protest demanding better training for staff to protect women from rapists. In the past two months there have been 198 reports of predators spiking drinks with drugs and 56 reports of the newer epidemic of “needle spiking,” injecting someone with drugs. Sarah Buckle, a drugging survivor, stated, “We want to show solidarity with each other.”