Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for the 'Women’s issues' Category

No Laughing Matter, Humor and Protest Arts

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, July 4th, 2013 by Bev Clark

No Laughing Matter? : Humor And Protest Arts
Deadline: 30 July 2013

The University of Zimbabwe and Savanna Trust invites you to submit your abstracts for conference presentations on the 24th and 25th of October 2013 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In both popular and academic imagination, protest arts have been generally associated with ‘angry’ and ‘gloomy’ ‘subversive’ images. Consequently limited attention has been paid to the use of humour in protest arts. The possibilities, complexities and limitations of humour in protest arts deserve serious recognition. Several questions can be raised in this regard.  Why in the first place do artists and the public include humour in their protest arts?  Is humour compatible with radical transformative protest arts?  What are the aesthetic and ideological implications of deploying humour in protest arts?  How have state actors, elites and the general public responded to humour in protest arts?

-Aesthetic quality, humour and protest arts
-Ideological possibilities/complications of humour in protest arts, (eg gender, class, race, ethnicity disability political identity etc)
-The reception of humour in protest arts
-Humour, ethics and morality
-Writing/performing humour in protest arts
-Media/technology, humour and protest arts v    Protest music and humour
-Humour in protest marches and demonstrations
-Humour in protest and graffiti
-Popular jokes and/as protest arts

Submit your abstracts in not more than 350 words to: kchikonzo [at] arts [dot] uz [dot] ac [dot] zw and copy paifst [at] gmail [dot] com

Where are the women at the Worldwide Developers Conference?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

This story discusses how male dominated the technology industry is.

It looks like an alternate universe: Ridiculously long queues outside the men’s restroom while there’s not a single person waiting for the women’s. But while the image of men impatiently hopping from one foot to the other may make women across the nation giggle – it also reveals an issue that is no laughing matter. The image was taken at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday by CNET editor Dan Ackerman, who captioned it: ‘WWDC explained in one photo.’ The picture highlights how male-dominated the technology industry remains – and is just one of many similar photos taken at recent gadget conferences.

Read more and see images here

The Friendship Bench, improving the lives of Zimbabwean women

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

Ever since the day I watched a documentary called Wasteland on how a photographer changed the lives of rubbish pickers in Brazil by empowering them to make art with the recyclable materials they pick from the dump site my mind now forever boggles on how best people can make of the circumstances and scenarios they are in. The Friendship Bench at Harare Hospital is one of the many ideas across the country of how communities are being empowered.

I recently visited the Friendship Bench at Harare Hospital. An organisation created by Dr Chibanda to assist low-income people suffering from depression and anxiety. Patients come to the wooden bench for counselling from trained health workers. After realising that most of the people receiving counselling at the Friendship Bench had no source of income, the idea of Zee Bags was born. These women crotchet old plastic bags into colourful shopping baskets and fun handbags.

Now the women have been so empowered to make their own living. If you attended HIFA this year, you probably saw their stand, which was big and eye-catching. Being at HIFA and exhibiting was a great achievement for them and now they look forward to doing the same at the Harare Agricultural Show.

Being around this group of women you can see how this community development project has helped them to deal with their challenges with common mental disorders, depression and anxiety. During the interviews I gathered most of the women eluded that before joining this project all they could think of were their worries leading to stress, but now making these bags keeps their minds busy. And it’s also giving them some income to take care of their families.

Facebook rape threatens advertising revenue

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, May 31st, 2013 by Marko Phiri

While millions have “religiously” embraced social media with the kind of enthusiasm perhaps not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press, this has, predictably perhaps, come at a price.

Well, for that little thing called social etiquette, which is set to have knock on advertising traffic on these portals.

Citizens of social media spaces have lapped up on the anonymity offered here where you can create user accounts under various aliases and post all manner of both palatable and unpalatable stuff.

And raw bigotry, sexual, or otherwise, has been just but one bane to afflict these spaces where disparaging “sexual jokes” and what some are calling Facebook Rape, has become “normal.” Talk about the well-worn phrase “normalizing the abnormal.”

And this is stuff usually not uttered in any other setting but has with increasing audacity found its way into these very public spaces called social media.

Facebook is now being lobbied to act and this is something FB cannot ignore.

Its advertisers are being targeted by lobbyists, and for a company with over 1 billion users, and as it is agreed that with such numbers, social networks can indeed make a lot of moolah, Facebook can only but pay attention.

Called the the #FBrape campaign’s strategy it seeks to “hold Facebook accountable for the misogynistic content of its users by pressuring advertisers.”

And misogynistic content sure abounds, and for Ndebele and Shona readers, this is all too familiar and we all know how raw vulgarity spoken or written in our own languages can be.

Yet for some this call to “block” offensive posts can very easily be seen by advocates of free speech as militating against the very ideals of such platforms, namely that there is no censorship.

The twist of course being that the average individual lives by moral codes that would be universally applicable, and this is apparently not so considering the #Facebook rape campaign that has been launched: Facebook rape is cool for some.

It is in essence a call for FB to closely look at its content policy without infringing on individual rights, yet I still find it contradictory that some still see it as a “human right” to freely express themselves on “your” wall using all sorts of “unprintable” stuff!

It is the same freedom they demand that should tell them to respect other people’s space, no?

It would be interesting to see how seriously these issues are taken in a developing country like ours where one can go to any FB page and be met by shocking stuff written in our vernacular dialects.

And remembering that ours is a land where all sorts of homophobic expression is hailed where you can label anyone you don’t not agree with and this supposedly being the ultimate insult thanks to our dear leader.

It’s a space to watch as advertising traffic also targets Zimbabwean users.

It would be quite an undertaking for people whose first language is not English to have a lobby at that scale as seen by the #Facebook rape campaign.

But then Facebook, has already made “promises to train its content moderators (and an entire planet of actual users) to flag and remove violent content.”

Despite such things as “blocking abusive user” some comments can still be found on some pages administered by Zimbabweans, and a case in point could well be the one launched after Big Brother housemates were announced with a page created to vote out Zimbabwe’s female rep.

It is the kind of language that Women, Action, & the Media (WAM!) who set up the #FBrape campaign want blocked from the site, but has become part of an acceptable lexicon despite what is seen by many as the unapologetic chauvinism that accompanies it. It is curious that some of the comments have been attributed to female followers of Big Brother! Solidarity, no?

Facebook has already made a commitment to keep vigilant, however admitting that “these are complicated challenges and raise complex issues. Our recent experience reminds us that we can’t answer them alone.”

And by that they mean these questions will be answered with the help of rapists who prowl the FB looking for victims!

Are we men yet?

Three reasons why a vagina is not like a laptop

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by Bev Clark

Sarah Ditum writing on the Guardian:

Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross seems to think there are parallels between rape and property theft.

“Don’t have nightmares!” Nick Ross used to say, when he hosted Crimewatch, but little did we guess at the Hellraiser-esque horrors haunting our plucky watcher of crime until this weekend. In an extract from his book, Crime, published in the Mail today, Ross reveals that he has been afflicted with a terrible case of visual agnosia which has left him unable to tell the difference between vaginas and laptops.

He writes: “We have come to acknowledge it is foolish to leave laptops on the back seat of a car […] Our forebears might be astonished at how safe women are today given what throughout history would have been regarded as incitement […] Equally they would be baffled that girls are mostly unescorted, stay out late, often get profoundly drunk and sometimes openly kiss, grope or go to bed with one-night stands.”

Obviously, writing a manuscript in a state of perpetual confusion between portable computers and female genitals is a distressing condition – is that a return key or a clitoris? – and Ross is to be applauded for battling through to the end of his wordcount. And so, in a spirit of compassion for the baffled, I would like to offer Ross a brief guide to the ways in which women and their vaginas are not like cars and laptops.

1. Not every car contains a vagina
When you carefully tuck your high-value portable property under the passenger seat (just kidding, smash-and-grabbers! That’s definitely not where my iPad is!), it’s because you don’t want potential thieves to know it’s there. But draping your vagina in a floor-length modesty frock is unlikely to persuade anyone that don’t have one, and therefore might not be worth violating. This is not a quantum mechanics problem. Schrödinger’s fanny is not a thing.

2. A laptop is a portable electronic device, a vagina is a body part
Does it whir? Does it make small clicking sounds? Can it be placed in a briefcase and carried around separately to its owner? That is a laptop. Is it a fibromuscular tubular tract located between a woman’s thighs? Vagina. Taking the former from a car would be an act of theft. Penetrating the latter without the woman’s consent would be a physical assault – and that’s true even if the woman has behaved in a way that makes it obvious that she has a vagina and sometimes uses it for fun! No one says to the victim of a beating: “Well, anyone could see you had teeth. You were just asking to have them broken with all the eating you do.”

3. You can’t insure a vagina
Having your car broken into and your valuables taken sucks. But, understanding that this is a world where some people might be driven to desperate acts for small rewards, you might make a heavy sigh and sweep up the glass (secretly hoping that the drugs your laptop has paid for turn out to be mostly cornflour), and then go and put in your insurance claim. Being raped is – and I know this is going to surprise you, Nick Ross, so prepare yourself – worse than that. There is no insurance that lets you claim back the state of being not-raped. There’s no cloud backup to restore your pre-rape internal data. You’ve been raped, and that is profoundly horrible.

When Ross compares rape to theft, he presents it as a crime of property, not a crime of violence. It’s an idea that belongs to the dark ages when women were permitted to own nothing apart from that abstract quality called “honour”. Now – oh, fortunate modern females! – we are understood to have to rights to all sorts of things, including the right to decide who we do or don’t want in our own orifices. And that’s a right we cannot forfeit. Whatever we’ve drunk, however we’re dressed and whoever we’ve kissed, a vagina is never a laptop.

Where does development start?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, May 24th, 2013 by Emily Morris

Usually when the word ‘developed’ is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is money, since surely you cannot develop without money, and therefore the logical assumption is that development results in money and therefore can be measured in it.

However, this is not always true, as in the case of Kerala.

Kerala is a small province in Southern India and is very poor with people living on between $298 and $350 a year. This is about one seventeenth of the income in the United States, and yet, demographically, Kerala is almost at the same level as the USA. A study was done to compare the 2 and it was discovered that:

- Kerala male life expectancy is about 70 years while the USA is about 72
- Kerala’s birth rate is about 18 per 1000 (and dropping) while the USA is about 16 per 1000
- And, possibly most shocking (or logical) is Kerala has 100% literacy!

This indicates that on one seventeenth of the money Kerala can achieve almost the same development as the USA (if development is not measured in money). Which brings to question why such a small place can do so much on such little money.

The answer can be found in education. Kerala had a huge drive in the late 1980s on education, which resulted in their 100% literacy. What was particularly focused on was female literacy. The idea was that if a woman is educated, she is far more likely to share her education with her children than a man. Therefore more people can benefit from one woman being educated rather than one man being educated. Although this did not improve the unemployment rate (which is still very high), it did create emancipation, which then trickled into other areas. With female emancipation, the birth rate dropped, aiding the problem of overpopulation and also reducing pressure on family incomes.

Kerala seems to be a huge success in terms of human development. Whether this is just a boom after a big push or a genuine, sustainable change in the people’s lives cannot be determined yet as it is still too recent. However, it can be said that not all development is reliant on money, and maybe other provinces in India and even other countries can learn from Kerala and its successes.