As of yesterday, the #YesAllWomen (a response to #NotAllMen) has been a heated trend in Twitter, once again reminding everyone of the commonplace frustrations, and even violence, that regularly occur to women.
The trending topic is the most recent media buzz concerning the welfare of females all over the world. Looking back just a few weeks ago, it’s amazing how successive the occurrences have been.
The most distressing incident being the kidnapping of an estimated 270 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram, a terrorist group violently opposed to Western education. Public awareness and efforts have been christened with #BringBackOurGirls, and it has sensationalized conflicts in Nigeria. But of all the articles related to incident, the opinion piece “Whats So Scary About Smart Girls?” by Nicholas Kristof has been one of the most gripping. Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist in the New York Times, has frequently written about the plights of smart girls all over the world.
Since its publication two weeks ago, Kristof’s op-ed piece has been widely circulated. His words, “The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books,” has sort of become a mantra in my social media feeds. In his opinion, Kristof explains the barbaric logic behind Boko Haram’s (and other terrorist groups, like the Taliban) opposition to educating girls, which has strong links to national stability and development. Kristof’s words are wonderful as they are ominous, simultaneously exposing the value and vulnerability of ‘smart girls.’
Education is definite for empowering anyone, but what if the institutions of education themselves are guilty of injustice? That became the case when the U.S. Department of Education published its list of 55 schools under investigation for mishandling sexual assault on campus. The most notorious example involved a student in Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz, who endured public humiliation all the way up to court, only to have her perpetrator walk free. Time Magazine’s issue on Campus Sexual Assault has published Sulkowicz’ story, “My Rapist is Still on Campus,” and now universities are coming under scrutiny. Columbia University has especially come under fire, with students posting rapist lists on bathroom stalls, and an alumna withholding donations.
However, the problems definitely don’t stop in education settings; even at the work force, women’s prospects are ambiguous. The recent shocker being the sudden dismissal of The New York Times (NYT) chief executive, Jill Abramson, after just three years in the position. Abramson made newspaper history as the first female chief executive in NYT; no surprise the decision to fire her was met with outrage, especially from female journalists. Specific reasons of her dismissal are debatable. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger claims the decision was due to problems with Abramson’s management, but it is also a know fact the Abramson fought for equal pay upon discovering she was paid significantly less than her male predecessor.
The exhaustive argument goes, if Abramson were a man, would she have been fired for the same management reasons, knowing that a number of male editors and executives have gotten away with worse? Edward Helmore’s article, “The facts show it: Female CEO’s are more likely than men to be fired,” reveals some numbers behind speculations, discussing the truth behind why “more than a third of the time” female executives are more likely to be fired than males.
These news bits are not new, so to speak. Yet like Sisyphus and the boulder, repetition creates a hell in which we cannot afford to stop, not when bigotries run deep.
Yesterday, the mass murder and suicide of Elliot Rodger happened, and the boulder keeps tumbling.
Photo from Tumblr.