Cheers and Jeers

France OKs Gender Law; Girls Play Dumb for Boys

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A sweeping new law is passed in France that promotes gender equity. Also, this week, new research indicates girls hide their intelligence with intent to please boys.

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woman and girl in paris
A woman and girl cross a bridge in Paris.
Credit: Éole Wind on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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(WOMENSENEWS)--

Cheers

France passed a sweeping gender equality law that eases current restrictions on abortion, encourages paternity leave and promotes gender parity at home and in the workplace, Reuters reported . Women can now obtain an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without having to give a reason. The previous law allowed women to have an abortion only in a situation of "distress." It is now illegal to prevent women from obtaining information about abortion services.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The San Antonio Spurs named Becky Hamon as the first female assistant coach in NBA history, Bloomberg News reported . "Everybody here knows her, everybody here respects her. She's a good person to have around. She understands the game," said Spurs guard Danny Green. Hamon is currently playing in her 16th and final WNBA season for the San Antonio Stars.

Recent U.S. surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria showed what appeared to be large groups of girls held together in remote locations, raising hopes that they are among the group that Boko Haram abducted in April, The Wall Street Journal reported . U.S. surveillance flights also spotted groups of girls in open fields in July. The findings suggest that some of the 219 schoolgirls still held captive are being used to bargain the release of prisoners rather than being forced into marriage or sex slavery.

The United States announced on Aug. 4 that it is committing new assistance to advance gender equality in Africa. Over $190 million will be used to create programs that provide political opportunities, health services and to prevent gender-based violence. Plans include developing programs that focus on increasing women's participation in peace building efforts and centers that provide assistance for female entrepreneurs.

An Alabama law restricting doctors at abortion clinics is unconstitutional because it would unduly hamper women's ability to obtain the medical procedure, The Associated Press reported . The law required abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Clinics in Birmingham and Mobile filed the lawsuit, saying that they would have to close because they could not meet the requirement. The decision comes days after a similar law was ruled unconstitutional in Mississippi.

The superintendent of the Air Force Academy has called for a new investigation into the school's athletic department in light of allegations that student athletes have used date-rape drugs to sexually assault women, The Washington Post reported . Student athletes have also been accused of binge drinking and smoking marijuana. A confidential informant told authorities that women were offered drinks that contained a date-rape drug at a party in 2011. As many as five women did not recall what happened at the party the next day.

Jeers

Girls believe they need to play down their intelligence to not intimidate boys, according to research conducted by Maria do Mar Pereira from the University of Warwick's Department of Sociology. "Girls feel they must downplay their own abilities, pretending to be less intelligent than they actually are  . . .  and withdrawing from hobbies, sports and activities that might seem 'unfeminine'," she said.

Pereira found that 14-year-old boys believed that girls their age should be less intelligent. "The belief that men have to be dominant over women makes boys feel constantly anxious and under pressure to prove their power--namely fighting, drinking, sexually harassing, refusing to ask for help and repressing their emotions."

More News to Jeer This Week:

MountainKing Potatoes, the name under which Smokin' Spuds, Inc. and Farming Technology, Inc., operate a potato warehouse in Monte Vista, Colo., created a hostile work environment by allowing managers to sexually harass female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Aug. 8, according to an EEOC press statement. The EEOC also charged that the company unlawfully retaliated against those who complained about the sexual harassment.

In their effort to overhaul the state's domestic abuse laws, Massachusetts legislators failed to think through the broader implications of a provision that was tucked in the bill with little to no debate, says an Aug. 8 editorial in the Boston Globe. It prohibits information about domestic abuse complaints and arrests from being logged into daily police records, which are public.

An Indian fashion shoot showing a woman being groped on a bus has caused anger, with social media users saying it glamorizes the 2012 Delhi gang rape, the BBC reported . The gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus led to widespread protests and tougher rape laws in India. The photos, which show a model fighting off men on a bus, have been taken down. Photographer Raj Shetye has denied that he attempted to recreate the gang rape.

The state of Nebraska refused to give a woman a driver's license because it would mean recognizing her same-sex marriage, ThinkProgress.org reported . Sue Stroesser married her partner in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal. She brought her Iowa license and marriage certificate to a state agency in Nebraska to get a new license with her new name, but was told that the state does not recognize same-sex marriages. Stroesser was told she would have to have her name changed legally in Nebraska to acquire a new driver's license.

Noted:

India's cabinet has approved a bill to allow children over 16 to be tried as adults for crimes like rape and murder, the BBC reported . The move follows calls for stricter punishment for juveniles after a 17-year-old was among those convicted of gang rape and murder in Delhi in 2012. At present, juvenile courts can jail those under 18 for at most three years. Under the bill, minors convicted in adult courts would face longer jail terms but would be spared the death penalty or life imprisonment. The bill still needs the approval of parliament.

Members of the public reacted angrily when the new edition of the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was revealed on Aug. 6, the BBC reported . The cover, with an image of a doll-like young girl, was deemed "misleading" and "creepy." Author Giles Paley-Phillips said it looked "more like Lolita." But Penguin said it stressed "the light and the dark aspects" of author Roald Dahl's work.

The Detroit man charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons felony firearm for killing a 19-year-old woman on his porch was found guilty on all counts, NBC News reported . Theodore Wafer shot Renisha McBride on Nov. 2, 2013, when she knocked on his door after a car crash where it was determined that she had been drinking. The trial drew comparisons to the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case because Wafer is white and McBride was black, but the subject of race was rarely breached in the courtroom.

In October, The Royal Society, one of the oldest and most respected scientific institutions in the world is hosting an event with the Royal Literature Society, marking the 50-year anniversary of Rachel Carson's death, The Guardian reported . The panel discussing her book "Silent Spring" is all male.

A Thai surrogate mother said she was not angry with the Australian biological parents who left behind a baby boy born with Down Syndrome, The Washington Post reported . The Australian couple reportedly refused to take the boy, instead taking his twin sister back with them to Australia. "I've never felt angry at them or hated them. I'm always willing to forgive them," said Pattaramon Chanbua, the 21-year-old surrogate mother. Chanbua's case highlights the problems that surrogate mothers face in Thailand, where legal loopholes allow the practice to exist.

During marathons, women pace themselves more evenly than male competitors do, according to a study of thousands of racers, The New York Times reported .

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