Women and LGBTQQIA Under Attack
This is news? Not in the big picture, of course. The news is the shift. There was a time (okay, forever) when the world didn’t care that gays were being attacked, especially if it wasn’t your part of the world. There was a time (okay, the past one hundred years) when hardly anyone was willing to speak up about the Hollywood casting couch, much less name [BIG] names. Cue Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changin. When the U.N. is on your side, when Harvey Weinstein’s name comes up and not because he’s being thanked at an award show, it’s time to notice that there is in fact a shift in thinking. (No matter what Trump tells people at an anti-gay rally.)
First, let’s talk about why the U.N. is speaking out. There were mass arrests of lesbians, bisexuals, gay, and transgender people in Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Indonesia over the past few weeks. According to the New York Times, “The authorities in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, have detained more than 80 people identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender since mid-September, reportedly subjecting some of them to beatings, electric shocks and forced shaving…” The reports were from Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In Egypt, where more than fifty people have been detained, two people were arrested for waving rainbow flags at a rock concert. Again, from the New York Times, “Charges against those detained included ‘habitual debauchery,’ ‘inciting indecency and debauchery,’ and ‘joining a banned group,’ Mr. Colville said. Some had been subjected to intrusive vaginal and anal examinations, he said, which have been condemned by the United Nations’ anti-torture panel as cruel, inhumane and degrading.”
In Jakarta, Indonesia the police arrested fifty people at a sauna “on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation,” Mr. Colville said. Many were released, but four men and one woman were charged under a “law on pornography” that Mr. Colville said had been used to punish people for same-sex relationships.
These instances are all denial of basic human rights, and twelve U.N. agencies have called for an end to discrimination in health care and the elimination of laws that criminalize gender expression and relationships between consenting adults.
We applaud the U.N. for taking a stand.
Second, the #WaronWomen continues. An appalling incident happened recently that should have all of us up in arms. A Michigan man who was accused of raping a twelve-year old girl — and convicted on a lesser charge, thanks to a plea deal — also impregnated her. Eight years later, a judge has granted him joint custody of the child. Read the entire story here. Just in case you think his rape of this young girl was a one-time thing, be aware that he was later convicted of sexually assaulting a victim between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. He served four years in that case.
The war on women’s bodies includes how we are bombarded daily with words and pictures showing us how we are supposed to look. There was a time when we thought the Dove ads represented a company who got it. But the current Dove ad for Facebook fiasco makes us think we must have been wrong. How did the ad in question ever make it past the initial pitch? How did anyone at Dove ever think this was a good idea? And especially, how did EVERYONE involved in the process from pitch to final product think it was fine? Look at this ad.
Buzzfeed published an article about why people are angry about it. Some people are defending it, even after Dove has revised its apology. First they said they had “missed the mark,” but when that flimsy excuse didn’t placate, they offered a deep apology assuring us they didn’t condone any activity or any imagery which insults any audience. That ought to cover it, eh? They hope. But whitewashing is wrong, and if the company isn’t making changes on every level of their company to have inclusion (and not just diversity), they will make similar missteps.
Here are five lessons on diversity and inclusion from some top global companies who are working to understand how the world is changing and how to be part of the change.
Let’s look at how one woman has fought back recently. Her city endured a fierce hurricane, and then she has had to endure continuing insults, lack of empathy, and outright discrimination against her and her city and country from the President of the United States.
Let’s be like this woman. You go, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz!
If you need inspiration for how to be strong in midlife, even when you are caring for aging parents, have lost your brother to heroin, and been dumped by your boyfriend, follow Jill Gleeson’s journey to climb Aconcagua, a mountain even higher than Kilimanjaro. (Full disclosure, I met her last week in a writing workshop.) I am a new follower of her blog, which will cover her climb, and you can read the blog here.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.