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feminist news round-up 22.07.12

Yahoo CEO Pregnant

The new female CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, has announced that she is pregnant via Twitter. At age 37, Mayer is only the 20th woman ever to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. There is little or no research tracking whether there have been pregnant Fortune 500 CEOs while in that job, but the vast majority of Mayer’s ilk are well into their 50s, and thus presumably well out of maternity-leave territory. The announcement has reignited debate over whether women can ‘have it all’, that is, both a family and a high-profile career. But, as pointed out on Jezebel, that debate is very much geared for the ‘one percenters’, very rich and privileged women, and that a pregnant maid would have a far more difficult time.

Catholic Melinda Gates Funds Birth Control

Philanthropist Melinda Gates has recently granted US$560m to prevent unwanted pregnancies in developing countries. Despite being a Catholic, Gates has vowed to dedicate her life to improving access to contraception for women in the developing world. She says, ‘Of course I wrestled with this. As a Catholic I believe in this religion, there are amazing things about this religion, amazing moral teachings that I do believe in, but I also have to think about how we keep women alive… I believe in not letting women die, I believe in not letting babies die, and to me that’s more important than arguing about what method of contraception [is right].’ A Number of countries world over, including Australia, the UK, and Germany, have also committed to increasing foreign aid for birth control.

Carefree Says ‘Vagina’

If you haven’t already seen it on TV, you might have read some of the debate about it. This week, Carefree released an ad for their sanitary products which used the word ‘vagina’ and ‘discharge’. The spokesperson on the ad was also naked (but strategically behind some lovely white flowers). The subsequent debate has been fairly heated. Is this a step forward in the liberation of women? Does it make them feel more comfortable in their bodies? Is all that good work erased by the use of a naked actress? Is the word ‘vagina’ just too icky? Everyone seems to have an opinion. lip covered the issue earlier this week, as did The Conversation.

French Minister For Women Wants to Ban Prostitution

In France, the country which most romanticises ‘the oldest profession’, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s new cabinet minister for women’s rights, has aimed to make it a thing of the past. Vallaud-Belkacem has been described by some protesters as a ‘disappointment’. France’s prostitution industry is currently highly regulated and one placard protesting the move read, ‘criminalised clients means murdered prostitutes’. France’s new socialist government also doesn’t seem to be looking to unban the burqa either. This is despite that Vallaud-Belkacem has a Muslim background herself.

Man quits job because of a feminist?

Dr. Greg Canning of JCU in Queensland has recently quit his job over the comments of his feminist colleague, Betty McLellan. He describes McLellan’s comments as amounting to ‘sexual vilification’ of men, saying that her views are ‘extreme’. What offended Canning is McLellan’s piece on a website which read, ‘even with all the evidence we have that something’s not quite right with the male of the species, there is still impenetrable resistance to focusing on men’s behaviour and asking: what is it about men?’ He says that her comments paint men as violent sexual predators and goes beyond the traditional feminist goal of gender equality.

Canning made an official complaint to JCU, accusing McLellan through her activities and writings of breaching the university’s guidelines for ethical conduct and bringing JCU into disrepute. JCU, however, reviewed his concerns and found there was no evidence McLellan had breached the university’s code of conduct, nor brought it into dispute. McLellan says of Canning’s outrage, ‘It speaks of a man, really, who is fairly desperate because he’s not getting his own way…He’s not able to silence a woman who has an opinion.’ She further denies that she has vilified anybody.


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