We had a lot to keep up with this week, not the least of which were the continuing protests in Egypt (we discussed women’s roles in those protests earlier this week, in case you missed it). We were pleased to see our friend and contributor Annie Rebekah Gardner back on the Internet from Cairo, with this guide on how to talk the recent news out of Egypt, and why the term “revolution” might not be fitting. A Slate writer called the protests “a momentous time for Egyptian women.” And a New Yorker piece placed the events in Egypt in context with other non-violent protests.
Elsewhere, Noam Cohen in the New York Times analyzed the gaping gender gap in Wikipedia contributors — women account for less than 15% of them. Cohen notes that the 85:15 ratio is troublingly familiar: it’s similar to the gender breakdown of major newspapers’ op-ed pages and even members of Congress. “[T]raditions of the computer world and an obsessive, fact-loving realm” are generally, he points out, male-dominated– and sometimes even “uncomfortable for women.” Whatever the reasons, Wikipedia’s content reflects the divide:
With so many subjects represented — most everything has an article on Wikipedia — the gender disparity often shows up in terms of emphasis. A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.
Yesterday Feministing posted a terrific essay from J. Victoria Sanders called “Some of us Are Brave, A Reflection on Hip Hop.” Sanders reflects on her lifelong love of hip hop and grapples with its pervasive misogyny. It’s an intimate and incisive take on something that I’m sure a lot of us struggle with – embracing art that can feel at once “delicious to the ears but abhorrent to the soul:”
I was walking my dog when I realized that Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” is only palatable to me when first I substitute words like “pimp” “bitch” and “hoe” or words like “hustling” into a female-appropriate metaphor for something else. My translation means I’m the one in charge, not the hoe. Of course, if a real pimp saw me or any other feminine black woman, he would assign me a different title for sure. The same is true for hustlers. I am a hustler baby, Jay-Z said, I’d sell water to a well. I love that quote, except it does require co-signing by way of reinvention. My version of hustler includes honest, sometimes corporate or academic work. It means working the hell out of anything I do – from writing to singing to reading and teaching.
Finally Ms Magazine‘s Janell Hobson took on last weekend’s SNL sketch, “The Bride of Blackenstein,” relating a troubled history of the relationship among science, the public and black women’s bodies:
While SNL sought to recall the history of ’70s blaxploitation films in “Blackenstein,” I saw a deeper history in its connection between Frankenstein and the black female body. We may recall that Mary Shelley, the daughter of women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft, penned the original Frankenstein, first published in 1818. Notably, a year earlier, the prominent scientist Georges Cuvier penned his own “masterpiece of modern science”–a thesis about the famed buttocks and genitalia of Sara (Saartjie) Baartman, a South African woman who was exhibited in England and in Paris as the “Hottentot Venus” between 1810 and 1815.