Million of Indians took part in anti-rape protests this year, including this protest in Delhi in April. Photo by Ramesh Lalwani.
This past year has been a turning point for media discussion of sexual assault in India, with last December’s high-profile gang rape in Delhi generating unprecedented public interest in the treatment of women and unleashing extensive news coverage of sexual violence in the country. But despite this recent spike in reporting on issues of gender inequality, India’s media industry continues to be overwhelmingly male-dominated. Recent studies show that women make up only 2.7 percent of India’s local journalists.
• On Wednesday, the Michigan legislature passed a bill that bans private insurance plans from covering abortions. Women can buy extra coverage for unplanned pregnancies that many are calling "rape insurance", but Jessica Valenti argues that this phrase creates a hierarchy of good and bad abortions that limits reproductive justice for all women. [The Nation]
• Queers for Economic Justice, a progressive non-profit organization that has been dedicated to addressing poverty and inequality through a lens of sexual and gender liberation, has announced that they will be closing due to lack of funds, and they urge their supporters to continue the fight for justice. [Queers for Economic Justice]
Some books are easy to read, yet stay with you long after you've finished the last chapter. Nivedita Menon's Seeing Like a Feminist (Penguin/Zubaan, 2012) is a timely work that explains a complicated subject without over-simplifying it.
In Karen Sander's dystopian young adult book Tankborn, the world is a stringent caste system where race and origins determine all status. Tankborn was a hit and the sequel, Awakening, just came out this April, which means now is a great time to discuss the race and gender angle of the book.
After these terrible crimes come to light, we all want to see them result in major change. Harvard University is sponsoring a policy task force "to offer recommendations to India and other South Asian countries." But the group received a critique from Delhi blogger Nivedita Menon, who wrote in a post called "Harvard to the Rescue!" that Harvard would be better able to discuss rapein South Asia not from the ivory tower, but by consulting with feminists on the ground in India.
Talking sex—especially about the Kamasutra—is progressive, but discussions of the political economy of the text don't get the same pedestal. How can I claim and embrace queer liberation (as much as I may want to), when it silences someone else?
While we might scoff at the spray-tanned guys of "Jersey Shore" and their year-round pursuit of bronze, skin lightening isn't so easy to laugh off. First, skin lightening is far more globally and culturally pervasive than tanning, with pressure to lighten being highest for those of Asian, Latino, and African ethnicities. For instance, baseball star and native Dominican Sammy Sosa made headlines in 2009 when he copped to using a nightly skin bleaching cream that had noticeably whitened his face. A couple weeks ago, Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel sparked controversy regarding his forthcoming cosmetics line that includes a skin lightening solution called "cake soap."