The ugly side of supply & demand

The recent case of Shaniya Davis brought to light the problem of sexual slavery in this country. Headlines, stories and TV broadcasts all talked about the horrors of a mother who sold her 5-year-old into sexual slavery. But, may I ask….

Why aren’t we also talking about the demand side of sexual slavery? Why aren’t we talking about the rape of a 5-year-old child prior to her murder? 

If we don’t talk about the demand for minors and adults in prostitution and slavery, we will never solve this problem.

Press release: Global media monitoring project

November 10, 2009

“Today gender equality in the news media came under scrutiny in some 127 countries around the world. Teams of volunteers around the world took part in measuring how well their national media are doing on fair and balanced representation and portrayal of women and men in the news. They monitored thousands of stories in hundreds of newspapers and news broadcasts. The Global Media Monitoring Project is the largest research and advocacy initiative in the world on gender equality in news and journalism.

From Argentina to Zimbabwe, Bangladesh to Yemen, Barbados to the Solomon Islands and Australia to Canada, national newspapers, television, radio and internet news broadcasts were analyzed in the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP). Teams of volunteers around the world took part in measuring how well their national media are doing on fair and balanced representation and portrayal of women and men in the news. They monitored thousands of stories in hundreds of newspapers and news broadcasts.

The Global Media Monitoring Project is the largest research and advocacy initiative in the world on gender equality in news and journalism. It is coordinated in Toronto by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) with regional coordinators and national coordinators in each country. Through it, community organizations, organizations concerned with gender equality, university students and researchers and media professionals, among others, work together in a massive voluntary collaborative effort. Its ultimate goal is to advance gender justice by encouraging the fair and balanced gender portrayal and representation in and through the news.

It is often said that the news is a mirror on the world. The GMMP study in 2005 found that women are largely invisible in the news. Four out of every five persons (21%) in news stories worldwide were men, and just ten percent of all news stories focused specifically on women. The data gathered today will generate solid evidence of whether and how much this has changed across the world.

Today’s research investigates concrete examples of how the routines and practices of journalism result in news stories that reinforce gender stereotypes, and highlights instances of exemplary gender sensitive journalism. The data generated today are expected to provide evidence — facts and figures — for transformation.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women UNIFEM is supporting the project, recognizing the importance of gender equality in news media to women around the world. The International Federation of Journalists and numerous national media associations are involved.

The results will be analyzed by WACC in partnership with Media Monitoring Africa and Gender Links, both based in South Africa. A report will be published in time for the 2010 the Millennium Development Goals Review Summit and the 15 year review of progress in the implementation of the 1995 Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing. Through Section ‘J’ of the Beijing Platform for Action, governments and other actors committed to promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media. They also committed to increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication.

The project highlights the need for fair and balanced gender portrayal to take its rightful place in ethical professional standards for journalism.

For updates from monitoring groups around the world visit:

For more information, please go here or contact Terry Mutuku, Communication Officer:

This press release was posted on  AWID

Female Vaginal Mutilation

Congress is considering health care reform – which is great – but recently the Stupak amendment has been attached to it – not so great. The Stupak Amendment would ban federally subsidized policies from covering abortion. Abortion access, over the decades, has been chipped away.  Denying abortion to women and girls, as we’ve seen in the past, will result in death and permanent injury to tens of thousands of females. Black and poor women will suffer the most. We will not return to a time when women and girls insert knitting needles, sticks or coat hangers into the vaginas – a return to what I call Female Vaginal Mutilation.

Here’s some info on unsafe abortion – Complications of Unsafe Abortions

Here’s a piece on Feminist Peace Network

And Katha Pollitt’s piece in The Nation

Media attention needed

Two cases are in need of media attention:

1.)  This case involves a child who’s being sexually abused by her father, who has custody. A restraining order prevents the protective mother from seeing her child:

2.)  This case involves a mother who faces 30 days in jail because her daughter doesn’t want to see her father:

If you are a writer or know someone who works in the media, please consider writing about these cases. Thank you.

You go, New York Times!

Wow! I was amazed to read this article by Jere Longman in the New York Times. I just recently saw this story covered on the Today Show and thought the same thing – double standards (and this feeling that the producers just looove to show the negative side of women – like their “fembot” episode, or their “wife-in-chief” segment, or…)

For all the wrong reasons, women’s soccer is noticed

Here’s the problem:

Lambert, 20, has been suspended indefinitely by New Mexico after she engaged in shoving, punching, tripping and yanking an opponent down by the ponytail last Thursday in a 1-0 loss to Brigham Young.

But the reaction – including airtime on the Today Show – has clearly been blown out of proportion:

Bruce Arena, the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy and the former coach of the United States men’s national team, said in an interview Sunday: “Let’s be fair, there have been worse incidents in games than that. I think we are somewhat sexist in our opinion of sport. I think maybe people are alarmed to see a woman do that, but men do a hell of a lot worse things. Was it good behavior? No, but because it’s coming from a woman, they made it a headline.”

~ ~ ~

Similarly harsh play by men does not seem to provoke the same visceral reaction and incredulous scrutiny that Lambert received, Dorrance said.

“The world has changed,” Dorrance said. “Women play with just as much intensity, work ethic and sometimes aggression as guys.” But although men can be celebrated for extreme aggression, like knocking out a quarterback in the N.F.L., “women are held to a different standard,” Dorrance said.

“I hate to call it a higher standard,” he said. “It’s almost like they crossed a gender line they weren’t allowed to cross, like we want to take them out of the athletic arena and put them in the nurturing, caring role as mothers of children.”

~ ~ ~

The Lambert incident has also been sexualized, as was the jersey-removing celebration by Brandi Chastain after she scored the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Lambert’s behavior has been referred to as “hot” on some blogs. On Monday night, “The Late Show” with David Letterman used a male voiceover to portray the video in a sexy manner.

This is a way to trivialize, or make less threatening, women’s sports, said Pat Griffin, an emeritus professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts.

“It isn’t about women’s soccer and how great its players are,” Griffin said. “It’s about titillation, about sexualizing women in a catfight, that weird porno-lesbian subtext: let’s watch two women go at it.”

This article definately looked at the situation with a gender lens – without any backlash to feminism, denial of women’s use of aggression/violence or or any condescension  or any of the negativities that can get in the way. Kudos to the NY Times for providing such a clear gender analysis of the subject! Wow! Keep it coming! 🙂

Women in Peril

Here’s a report by the Parents Television Council on storylines depicting violence against females:

The PTC’s report, Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend, examined fatal and nonfatal female victimizations on prime time broadcast television and found that there was a significant increase in all forms of female victimization storylines; an increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; an increase in the use of female victimization as a punch line in comedy series; and an increase in the depiction of intimate partner violence


The high price of family court

High costs of family courts

The I-Team found one example out of Northern California in which an 11-year-old boy, Coby, was the center of a custody dispute. His mother was ordered to pay $2,200 upfront to a custody evaluator. In the ruling, the judge wrote, “If mother does not pay the fees … primary custody shall be changed.”

 The mother did not come up with the money and she lost custody. She told the I-Team she didn’t have the money and the boy’s father had missed child support payments. 



The I-Team confirmed that low income families, even those with documented conflict, are not ordered to get the custody evaluations because there is nobody to pay for it. The reports are only used for families with financial means.



“The church can be flexible, except with women.”

Interesting op-ed in the New York Times –

The Nuns’ Story

Nuns were second-class citizens then and — 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are. The matter of women as priests is closed, a forbidden topic.

In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.”