Symbol of the and militant protesting woman of the feminist movement, the French novelist visited Cuba and, hand in hand with its main leaders, learned about the Revolution and the role of the so-called weaker sex in the emerging Caribbean social process.
By Javier Gómez Lastra
May 26, 2016
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
“The fact that determines the present status of women is the stubborn survival of the oldest traditions in the new civilization being outlined. That is what is unknown to hasty observers who see women as inferior to the opportunities offered to them today, or who see only dangerous temptations in those opportunities. The truth is that her situation lacks balance, and for that reason it is very difficult for her to adapt to it. (…)
“Everything still encourages the unmarried young woman to expect ‘Prince Charming’ fortune and happiness rather than to attempt the difficult and uncertain conquest alone. In particular, it will give her the hope of reaching a higher social stratum than her own, a miracle that will not reward her life’s work. But such hope is dire, because it divides their energies and interests; it is a division that is perhaps the most serious disadvantage for women. The parents still educate the daughter with a view to marriage more than they promote her personal development, and the daughter sees in it so many advantages (…)”.
This text, taken from the work “Le Deuxième Sexe” or “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir, a French writer, narrator and philosopher and an essential figure in 20th-Century literature and thought, was a theoretical starting point for various feminist groups and became a classic work of contemporary ideology.
The piece, which breaks the existing canons in Europe since the Second World War, tells a story related to the social status of women and analyzes the different characteristics of male oppression.
It also exposes the gender situation from the point of view of biology, psychoanalysis and Marxism, and destroys the existing feminine myths, inciting the search for the authentic and full gender liberation.
Considered ambitious, the text also maintains that the struggle for women’s emancipation is different and parallel to that of the classes and that the main problem to be faced by the so-called weaker sex is not the ideological but the economic front.
The publication evoked strong reactions because of the marked character of nonconformity that the women of that time began to show.
The big push for gender equality
The beginning of the second half of the 20th century had very particular characteristics in the socio-cultural field in Europe. If anything brought about radical changes in ethical, political and philosophical thought in the countries of the Old Continent after the World Wars, it was the enormous need to achieve fundamental human rights and the emancipation of women.
Faced with the example of the policy of equality for all, applied by the governments of the nations of the newly created socialist bloc, many thinkers, human rights fighters, writers, poets, philosophers, and even politicians in Western Europe took a 180-degree turn in their way of valuing life and began to call for true equality between men and between men and women.
It was in this context that Simone de Beauvoir stood out and left a deep mark on the universal history of the world, leaving behind not only her extensive literary work, but also her tireless struggle.
In spite of her bourgeois origin, from a very young age the intellectual knew the difficulties of her contemporaries in a world dominated by men, markedly masculine, made in the image and likeness of the male and where women were relegated to domestic chores or simply to love.
Her work reflected women’s problems, marked by exclusion from production and home-based processes and purely reproductive functions, which represented the loss of all social ties and the possibility of being free.
A radical change
Simone was born in Paris on January 9th, 1908, in a district where coffee shops were beginning to proliferate, where literary gatherings were present and intellectual environments that logically influenced the writer’s education were created.
Very early on she excelled as a brilliant student and studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. Until 1943, she was involved in teaching in high schools in Marseille, Rouen and Paris.
At the age of eighteen, she wrote the first literary essay where the protagonist has many traits in common with her. From that moment on, literature played an essential role in her work.
In 1929 he met the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who became her companion for the rest of her life. Together they shared almost five decades of existence.
Sartre’s influence was unquestionable and Simone began to make use of her existential freedom. This led her to renounce her family and friends, adapting to the real world and choosing a new system of life based on her encounter with the philosopher.
Under these principles, she managed to penetrate the world of the Parisian intellectuals of the 1930s, being one of the few women that this closed universe came to accept.
Extensive literary legacy
According to the vast majority of critics, researchers and scholars of Simone’s literature, in her literary texts she dared to revise the concepts of history and character and incorporated, from an existentialist perspective, the themes of freedom, situation and commitment.
Together with Sartre, Albert Camus and Merleau-Ponty, among others, she founded the magazine Les Temps Modernes [Modern Times], whose first issue was published in October 1945 and became a political and cultural reference point for French thought in the mid-20th century.
The thinker’s extensive work includes the texts “The Guest” (1943), “The Blood of Others” (1944), “Pyrrhus and Cinema” (1944), “All Men are Mortal” (1946), “For a Morality of Ambiguity” (1947), “America Today” (1948) and “The Farewell Ceremony” (1981).
In the latter, she openly dealt with the curious love relationship, from her youthful days to her old age, and the death of her companion, which implies their hard separation. Despite the absolute identification between them, they never shared the same roof, making use of freedom and with no other purpose than the mutual need to find each other, which allowed them to achieve a perfect symbiosis.
The work ends with the striking phrase: “His death separates us. My death will not bring us together, it is so. It’s been a long time since our lives could have melted together.
In the mid-twentieth century, with some feminists, she also established the Women’s Rights League, which set out to react firmly to any sexist discrimination, and prepared a special issue of Modern Times to discuss the subject.
Her many testimonial and autobiographical titles also included other texts such as “Memoirs of a Formal Young Woman” (1958), “The Fullness of Life” (1960), “The Power of Things” (1963), “A Very Sweet death” (1964), “Old age” (1968), “The End of Accounts” (1972) and “The Farewell Ceremony” (1981).
Character is destiny
The Algerian war broke out in 1954 and Simone felt powerless in the face of reality, thus beginning her period of political struggle.
She took part in anti-fascist demonstrations and gave lectures to the students, but all attempts to impose criteria against the system were unsuccessful, and, despite her efforts, Charles de Gaulle was declared President of the Republic.
This new political situation prompted Simone to rekindle the need to rebel once again, and she agreed to accompany Sartre to Cuba in 1960. There she met Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara, among other revolutionaries, in Havana. Cuban photographer Alberto Korda documented the meeting between the couple and the two leaders.
Both Sartre and Simone were always fascinated by the Heroic Guerrilla. At the time of his death, seven years later, Sartre wrote: “Che was not only an intellectual, but also the most complete human being of our time”.
The couple spent almost two months working on the main island of the Antilles, which led to their subsequent and continued dedication to the defense of the Cuban Revolution.
They made an intense tour of the island, which included a tour of the Ciénaga Zapata swamp, the inspirational examination of the book “Sartre Visits Cuba”, published in Havana in 1960 by Ediciones Revolución. In its pages, the philosopher narrated his experiences in the country.
Fundamental decade for women and their rights
The Frenchwoman’s ideas soon reached the rest of the world and Simone de Beauvoir centers began to proliferate everywhere.
The emancipation of women was her ideal of struggle. Without denying the biological differences, she was able to denounce a whole system of oppression that worked – and still persists – from levels such as the home and that can extend to entire nations where one sex is established and dominated by another.
Her main ideology was based on equal opportunities for both men and women and on the true emancipation of all, both at work and in society.
Simone disappeared physically in 1986, but her intense work of ideological activism and broad literary exercise remain imperishable as a sure guide to the struggle for full equality. This is what her work testifies to.
By Juventud Rebelde
Posted: Monday 26 March 2018 | 11:09:09 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the first quarter of 2019, the Vietnamese Thai Binh Investment Trading Corp, which has been operating in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) since 2016, will start producing sanitary pads and disposable diapers.
In a statement to the Cuban News Agency, Vi Nguyen Phuong, director general of the consortium, said the factory, which is currently under construction, will produce 40 million diapers and 150 million sanitary pads annually.
The investment, which totals more than nine million dollars, aims to provide local consumers with high quality, Cuban-made items, said Thai Binh, a company that has been present in the country for almost 20 years.
To meet the growing demand from domestic customers, the company decided to expand its investment activities in the ZEDM, where it also plans to build a powder detergent plant with a capacity of 50,000 tons annually, the directive said.
He argued that this new project will be under the form of a joint venture, in partnership with the commercial company Industrias Nexus S.A. of Cuba, a proposal that they plan to submit to the Mariel Office next April to become operational in 2020.
Today, Vietnam is Cuba’s second largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region and its main supplier of rice. The two countries have a relationship of more than half a century, which will be strengthened by the visit to Cuba of Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam, from 28 to 30 March.
By Tania Rendón Portelles (ACN)
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 11:25
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
The protagonist of this story, Rosalba, may have several names, as there are many who, faced with an unexpected pregnancy, find themselves in the difficult situation of what to do: have a child or wait longer.
Many people in the home intervene and give their opinions left and right, and while Rosalba can hardly sleep and stress upsets her, she tries to listen to the views of each one to make the best decision.
Now, she regrets her own lack of care and that of her partner, and is afraid of using abortion as a contraceptive method, but at the same time, she has not yet planned or wanted to become a mother.
Rosalba will not be the first or the last woman between this three and two, and there is a question that she expects, without surprises, every time someone knows her condition: are you going to take have the baby or not?
In Cuba, contrary to other Latin American countries, social and moral acceptance of abortion, as well as its practice, is common.
The last National Fertility Survey was conducted in the Greater Antilles in 2009 by the National Statistics and Information Office. It highlights the high prevalence of these situations in Cuba, which has led specialists to say that these procedures are currently used as contraceptive methods.
In other words, abortion becomes an alternative to the non-use – or misuse – of different methods to avoid pregnancy.
Although the archipelago lacks an abortion law, its practice has been decriminalized since 1965. Up to 10 weeks of pregnancy you do not need to give any reason to opt for this practice.
The use of abortion as an alternative to avoid being a mother or having more children has also been due to the fact that medical professionals are safe and reliable to perform this procedure.
Here in the Caribbean nation, abortion or curettage is safe, comfortable and free, despite the discomfort it can cause in patients or the complications that sometimes occur.
Today, Cuban birth control is centralized from the primary health care level, which is a guarantee for any procedure in this regard. It includes counseling and family planning consultations, with the expectation of reducing unwanted pregnancy, maternal mortality, and infant mortality.
It is a strength for Cuban women their right to decide about their bodies. Specialists, however, warn that this practice should not become a common occurrence.
Even when school-based sex education campaigns are implemented, contraceptive methods are offered at very low prices, and it is emphasized that avoidance is best, there is generally little knowledge related to sexuality, especially among adolescents.
It is almost always women who decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy, partly because of their empowerment achieved and partly because of men’s lack of responsibility for reproduction and the consequences of unprotected sex.
It is also recognized that there are multiple causes involved in the decision to be a mother or to have more children. These include: unsuitable age for pregnancy, pregnancy very close to the last birth, ignorance, misuse, failures and limited availability of contraceptives, obstacles to personal projects, prejudice and poor material and family conditions.
Hence, the best method will always be protection, something that Rosalba understood very well, for whom the termination of her pregnancy was traumatic.
Whoever has gone through that tough time knows how difficult it is to make that decision, she shared with ACN.
It should also be noted that in Cuba, the illegal termination of pregnancy is criminalized, i.e., outside health institutions, as established by the Criminal Code since 1979.
Previously, since 1965, the procedure had been hospitalized, after many women died on the island due to poor home practices; however, in 1968, the official figures for abortion in the country began to be recorded.
There remain several questions which need to be answered, even in the face of the high number of abortions. A few are collected in a 2014 research study by the University of Havana:
To what extent has safe abortion and its social legitimization created a “culture of abortion” among Cuban women? Do they really know the risks involved in abortion? Do men and women receive age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services? Is there awareness that prevention is better than action?
Despite the possibility of betting on safe and legal abortion, an inalienable right conquered by Cuban women as a result of the Revolution, this option does not eliminate its risks and consequences for women’s health.
Author: Gabriela Avila Gómez, Special Envoy | firstname.lastname@example.org
June 8, 2018 21:06:54
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
BEIJING: The proclamation of the People’s Revolution in China, the 1st. of October 1949, represented a transformation of the country that took deep root in every sphere, including the role of women in society, which until then could be defined in one term: obedience.
The belief in the superiority of men within the family and society over women led to the conception that women should always obey: first their father, then their husband and, if they were widowed, their son. As if this were not enough, the woman did not work, she had to admit her partner’s surname and did not even have the right to divorce, but the man did.
However, after the coming to power of Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China (CPC), a new stage for the development and empowerment of women was opened, leaving behind superstitions, lineages and patriarchy.
On one occasion, the Chinese leader stated that “in order to build a great socialist society, it is of the utmost importance to mobilize the great masses of women to engage in productive activities. (…) Only in the process of socialist transformation of society as a whole can true equality between the sexes be achieved.
In a conversation with Liu Meng, Vice-China Women’s University’s vice-chancellor, she said the Constitution – adopted just a few years after Mao took office as the country’s top leader – opened a new page for women’s emancipation by advocating for gender equality and encouraging them to move out of the confinement of the home to which they were previously committed.
Years before the appearance of the Magna Carta, the first Marriage Law had been enacted in the Asian giant, thanks to which the imposed and forced marriages, characteristic of ancient China, were definitively annulled.
WOMEN IN TODAY’S CHINA
Nearly 70 years after the People’s Republic, women in the Asian giant are an essential part of a society facing an ageing population and have a number of institutions that safeguard their security and promote gender equality, such as the National Federation of Women of China.
While the data provides an encouraging picture, it also reflects a number of difficulties for them, which the government of the president and secretary general of the CCPH Central Committee, Xi Jinping, knows and works to eliminate step by step.
“We will continue to pursue gender equality as a basic state policy and guarantee the legal rights and interests of women and children,” Xi said last year when presenting her report to the 19th National Congress of the CCPH.
Currently, their participation in political life is very notable, they are part of the National People’s Assembly, the Political Consultative Conference, and the administration at all levels.
Currently, the employment rate of women in the Asian giant is among the highest in the world, with a greater presence in sectors such as service and agriculture, said the vice-rector of the Women’s University of China.
However, as in other countries, efforts are being made to close the wage gap: in the Asian giant, women earn only 70% of men’s wages, and the higher the level of employment, the fewer women there are.
In that sense, Liu considers it difficult to have a female president in the short term, as their weight in top-level positions within the Asian nation is still very low.
This is due to the fact that they are left behind from antiquity and it is thought that if women want to be leaders they are ambitious and illogical, to which is added the difference in access to higher education between those in the countryside and those in the city, with 24% and 2%, respectively.
“We hope that the presence of Chinese women in high positions can increase,” she said.
The Asian giant has around twenty women’s universities, created under the premise of promoting gender equality, and training women’s talents to contribute to economic and social development and diplomacy.
One such institution is the China Women’s University and, according to its vice-chancellor, Liu Meng, currently has around 6,000 students, 99 per cent of whom are women.
There are careers,” said Liu, “in which there is a need for a balance between people of both sexes, such as that of a radio presenter.
Currently, the university has three cooperation projects, the first of which is aimed at training female officials from developing countries such as Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela. The second is dedicated to master’s degrees in women’s leadership and social advancement, and the last one is dedicated to women’s talents from nations included in the Silk Road and Strip.
Although women in China, and around the world, still have a long way to go to achieve their full rights, work from every family, locality and government is critical to their empowerment.
1949: Implementation of an agrarian reform that benefited more than 90% of the population. Some 300 million farmers obtained farmland.
1953-1957: First Five-Year Plan. From that experience are the Chinese progress that increased the national income to almost 9 a year and created a solid industrial base for a rise as a power.
1978: Policy of Reform and Openness, a project of nationhood that began more than 30 years ago and which considerably increased its national power, the standard of living of the people and the weight and contribution to the world economy. It catapulted the country’s political stability, fostered development and active diplomacy, which is still in place.
It has consolidated the construction of socialism with Chinese peculiarities and defined the path that the country should follow.
By 2020, the integral construction of a modestly affluent society would be completed.
China’s prosperity and stability are opportunities for all humanity to live on.
More than 30 countries are participating in the Strip and Silk Road initiative.
STUDENTS: TOTAL MEN(%) WOMEN(%)
UNIVERSITY: 1,793,953 51 49
TEACHING: 1,495,650 48.6 51.4
GRADUATE: 298,283 63.1 36.9
MEN: 86,852,572 (51.27%)
WOMEN: 65,287,288 (48.73%)
NATIONAL PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY (2018)
24.9% are women out of about 3000, total.
Data provided by Liu Meng, Vice-Rector of Women’s Univesity of China.
By Caroline Amaral Coutinho email@example.com
Posted: Saturday 24 March 2018 | 11:09:24 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A black, bisexual woman, born in one of the poorest slums in Rio de Janeiro, Marielle Franco became a symbol of the social struggle in the country after her brutal and mysterious murder on March 14.
Her second death – that of her honor, her principles, and her struggles – was caused by the dissemination of news in the social media, which tries to minimize the importance of the crime against the human rights activist.
One of the so-called fake news defamation stories against Marielle alleges that she married a well-known drug trafficker in the country, Marcinho VP. Others claimed that the counselor was using drugs or that she had had her daughter when she was 16 years old – all fake, as evidenced by several Brazilian data-checking websites.
On an even more sinister occasion, a federal judge at the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice caused controversy by criticizing Marielle based on the false news that the councilor was voted for by members of the Comando Vermelho faction. The judge said in response to a Facebook post: “The point is that Marielle was not just a fighter”; she was engaged to bandits! She was elected by the Vermelho Command and failed to meet “commitments” made to her supporters.
The Free Brazil Movement, a right-wing opposition group known for disseminating sensationalist information, used the news about the judge’s baseless accusation in a web publication entitled “Federal judge breaks with the PSOL (Marielle’s party) narrative and claims that Marielle was involved with bandits and is a “common corpse”,” with more than 40,000 “likes” before she was killed.
Other representatives of the extreme right also mobilized to spread lies about the representative of the PSOL party (Partido Socialismo y Libertad). Among them, Alberto Fraga, deputy of the “Bancada da Bala” (parliamentary front for the right of access of civilians to bear arms), published last Friday on Twitter an image of defamation with false information about Marielle’s alleged relationship with criminals to question the action of the police in crime. As a result of the criticism, the Member had to withdraw the publication.
But the online lying machine could not contain the manifestations of pain and solidarity with Marielle. The day after her murder, tens of thousands of people from different parts of Brazil, as well as from Portugal and New York, took to the streets in repudiation of what had happened, according to G1 data.
In addition, around 50 members of the European Union’s Human Rights Council requested the suspension of negotiations with the Mercosur economic bloc. and 100 UN entities denounced Brazil for violence against social activists in the country.
Marielle Franco received the fifth most votes as a candidate in the city of Rio de Janeiro from the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL). She was also a sociologist and political leader in the defense of human rights. The councilor was shot dead on the night of Wednesday, March 14, leaving an event on the role of black women in politics.
Author: Gabriela Ávila Gómez | firstname.lastname@example.org
20 March 2018 21:03:48
Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of birth: 27 July 1979
Date of Death: March 14, 2018
Occupation at the time of her death: Sociologist and councillor in Rio de Janeiro
Political affiliation: Socialism and Freedom Party
Alma Mater: Catholic University PUC and Federal University Fluminense (master’s degree)
Photo: Taken from TN.COM
“Another murder of a young person who may enter the Military Police account. Matheus Melo was leaving the church. How many more will it take for this to end?” That was the last message on the social networking site Twitter from Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco, who paradoxically became the next victim just 24 hours later.
Criticizing the military intervention ordered a month ago by the de facto president, Michel Temer, the activist had emerged from an act of defense for black women and was riding in a car when the shooting began.
According to the Brazilian daily O Globo, the goal was to reach the councilor, who was shot five times. The driver also died in the accident and only one of the advisors who accompanied her survived.
The event caused a stir in Brazil, as she was a woman respected and admired by Brazilians for being a fervent advocate for social causes. There have been several marches and mobilizations called by political parties and social movements under the slogans “Luto e luta” (Mourning becomes fighting), “Murdering police, they will not silence us” or “Warrior woman who died for the people”. Demonstrations were also held in Argentina.
Marielle Franco was a woman, young, black, a favela woman, but she managed to make all these elements – still discriminatory for many – her driving force in the struggle, and from every possible platform she dedicated herself to raising her voice against racism, machismo and the abuses committed by the police in Rio de Janeiro.
The activist was born and raised in La Maré, one of the most violent slum complexes in Rio. At the age of 18 she became pregnant and dropped out of school, but later she attended night classes. Thanks to a scholarship, she obtained a degree in Sociology from the Catholic University PUC, one of the most prestigious in the country. She also held a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Federal University of Fluminense.
One of the events that marked her in her youth and that defined her later line of work was the death of her best friend due to a stray bullet in the Maré; this led her to work on the denunciation of violence within the favelas.
In 2006, she became parliamentary assistant to Marcelo Freixo, He was an emblematic deputy who fought terror unfounded by militias in the favelas. Years later, Franco headed the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro.
At the time of her death, Franco was a member of the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), and on this political platform she became the fifth most votes for municipal legislator in 2016.
Both the councilor and the PSOL were among the biggest critics of the military intervention ordered by Temer.
In this context, Franco became the rapporteur of a commission set up in the Rio municipal chamber to report on possible abuses committed by the military in this intervention.
She gained respect and admiration for the ideas she promoted: that of a greater presence of women, especially black women, in politics, the defence of human rights and her denunciations of the abuses committed under the pretext of stopping the violence in Rio.
In the palace of the Municipal Chamber, where the activist’s remains were veiled, the steps were covered with flowers and banners.
Many organizations and personalities around the world have called on the Brazilian authorities to explain this brutal act, which they describe as a “political assassination”.
In the midst of the investigation, based on the hypothesis of premeditated murder, it emerged that the ammunition that ended Marielle Franco’s life was part of lots sold to the Federal Police of Brasilia in 2006. This fact that opens another discussion and raises the question: was it the activist murdered by the police?
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
London, 20 Mar (PL) Filmmaker Steven Spielberg today supported the Time’s Up movement in this capital city, organized by women in Hollywood industry following accusations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein.
So far, the director is the most recent and reliable voice to have made public his support for the campaign, which he describes as an historic moment in cinema’.
Today we are in the presence of an authentic, positive scenario in the sector, thanks to the movement promoted by our colleagues, and which my wife and I supported from the beginning, said that film authority.
The last few months have been diverse for the industry; also for gender and race, because we must seek equality in all senses; that is why I speak out and I am infinitely grateful to Time’s Up, he said.
I think in 10 years we’ll look back and realize what a decisive moment we’re living in right now,’ said the director.
Spielberg strengthened his support for sexual abuse actions during the Legend of Our Lives award gala, an honorary laureate presented by the British film magazine Empire.
The award was presented to the filmmaker on Sunday in recognition of his extensive and plausible film career, which includes emblematic films, including E.T., the Alien, 1982; Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, 1993; and most recently, The Post: The Pentagon Archives, 2017.
The Hollywood star will release the movie Ready Player One on March 28th, about a near future in which humanity is hooked on a video game called OASIS.
The detonator explodes when the founder hides a treasure within the hobby when he dies and whoever finds it will obtain a great fortune. It is a race for the discovery of the century that has so far been very well accepted by critics.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
By Juventud Rebelde
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 16.- The Belgian authorities announced today that the new mobile application (app), created to enable women to report cases of sexual harassment, is now available.
Under the name “Don’t touch my friend”, the initiative allows women who are harassed on the street or in the subway to anonymously report the harassment at the touch of a button, according to PL.
This way, other people who are registered in the app and are nearby will receive a warning and can help the victim. These “street angels”, as they are called, can be either men or women.
As a result of the data collected by the application, city officials can take immediate action.
A civil society organization and Brussels official Bianca Debaets developed the app based on a similar one used in France since October 2016.
Several territories also implement apps to fight sexual harassment. One of the most relevant cases is “Safecity”, which is used in 50 cities in India, Kenya and some other countries.
February 26, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton was shaky: the then-president had to go through in impeachment process based solely on his extra-marital relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a 27-year-old scholarship recipient. Clinton survived the trial, led by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Lewinsky almost didn’t make it. In 1998, she was used as a weapon by the prosecutor and the media. At the age of 24, an unpaid scholarship holder saw every facet of her life dissected or reinvented. How, Lewinsky recalls in Vanity Fair,”in the Washington Post alone 125 articles appeared on the subject, only in the first 10 days.”
Two decades later, after a fortuitous encounter with Starr, Lewinsky has decided to contribute her vision. She has done so, in the first person, for Vanity Fair, by recalling those days in 1998, when the Internet first became the seed of fake news, a viral propagator and source of harassment. In a steamroller that crushed the line “between facts and opinions, news and gossip, private lives and public moral judgments. The Internet was already such a driving force behind the information flow that, when the House Judiciary Committee decided to publish Ken Starr’s findings online -two days after I had received them- it meant to me that every adult with a modem could read my private conversations, my personal thoughts (taken from my computer) and, worse, my sex life.”
Lewinsky talks about the infamous Starr Report, achieved among other things when “a group of FBI agents – Starr was not present – cornered a 24-year-old girl in a Pentagon room and told her she faced 27 years in prison if she didn’t cooperate. That “they threatened to impute my mother (if I didn’t tell them about the private confidences I had given her), that they let it slip that they would investigate my father’s medical career, and even interrogated my aunt, with whom I was having dinner [the night the FBI went after Lewinsky],”.
The media, fed by “anonymous sources and online rumors that arose daily, all false or irrelevant”, dragged through public opinion the figure of a young woman who, at the age of 22, entered into a “consensual” relationship with a 49-year-old married man. Or all the spoilage that can be the relationship with someone who “was my boss. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He was 27 years older than me, with enough life experience to know that it wasn’t right. That he was at the top of his career while I was in my first position after college. Lewinsky says that even if the relationship was consensual, it is now that she begins to realize the “incredible abuse of authority and power” that Clinton exercised.
But there was something worse, something that has changed for the better. During the whole Lewinsky case, those rumors appeared in the media, either Starr’s point of view, or Clinton’s, or that of hundreds of talk shows, but not Lewinsky’s, who “was not allowed to speak legally. She had no support, no way to tell her story or defend herself “as any woman today can do by sharing her story by tagging it with #MeToo and immediately welcoming her into the tribe. (…) Support networks on the Internet were something that did not exist at the time. Power, in that case, was still in the hands of the president, Congress, prosecutors and the press.
Lewinsky was alone. “Publicly alone. Abandoned. Without support, much less the main figure [Clinton]”. She has even been recognized as “one of the founders of the #MeToo movement”. And that marks the change of an era: Lewinsky was by no means a victim of sexual abuse (something that Lewinsky herself has defended from the beginning). But she did suffer multiple abuses of power, both before and during and after her relationship with Clinton. Responsibility. Of a game between two men, Starr and Clinton, with their media choirs. Subjected to an infinite “gas lighting” by all those who had placed a 24-year-old girl at the center of a public narrative. Lewinsky had no public voice. Lewinsky was what others said she was,”until I couldn’t question my narrative internally or internally.
And that’s what has changed today: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the heroines of #MeToo and Time’s Up. Because their movements speak volumes about the pernicious conspiracies of silence that for so long have protected powerful men when it comes to abuse of power, harassment and sexual abuse. Lewinsky concludes by recalling a Mexican proverb she’s been told quite a few times during these months:”They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds. And for Lewinsky, Time’s Up and #MeToo is proof that spring has arrived.
(Taken from Vanity Fair)
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Not to be kissed by force, not to be cuddled up to from behind and not to be grabbed around the waist without prior consent: Brazilian women have mobilized more than ever this year around the “No means no” movement to put an end to the frequent instances of sexual harassment inflicted on them during Carnival.
The situation is repeated countless times per day in many of the dance troupes that fill the streets in Brazilian cities and towns: A man begins to make advances to a woman, the woman tells him to stop, that she’s not interested, but the man keeps insisting.
In just three hours, a woman can be accosted up to five times, according to what some of them have said.
But something is changing in Brazil, although for the past two years, the number of sexual harassment complaints during Carnival has been growing in a country where 52 percent of women who have experienced such behavior from men have decided to keep silent, according to a survey by the Brazilian Public Safety Forum.
In 2018, stickers and tattoos have begun being seen calling for respect for women’s bodies and an end to macho behavior that is still seen as natural among a large portion of the public.
“When we say ‘no means no,’ we’re speaking up so that women can empower their bodies, we’re saying they aren’t obligated to endure that and that they have a support network,” Julia Parucker told EFE.
Even the police seem to pay the issue little heed. At one Carnival celebration in the state of Pernambuco, one girl said that when she went to the police to complain about a sexual attack the officer said: “Girl, this is Carnival. What do you want me to do…?”
Given that situation, Parucker and a group of female friends have launched an initiative –with donations from the public– to print 25,000 stickers for women to stick on their skin saying “Nao e Nao” (no means no).
“Our bodies are going to be our battleground, where we cry that there’s no reason for it to be like this,” she said.
The initial target was to collect 7,500 reais (about $2,330) but the campaign resonated so strongly among women that they received 20,457 reais ($6,365), which has allowed them to get their message out in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Olinda and Brasilia.
Even if this is a “daily battle”, Parucker believes, it is important to step up the struggle against harassment whenever “it is necessary, like during the carnival”.
Eloisa Honorato, 31, a member of a dance troupe called “Maravillosas Cuerpo de Baile” (Wonderful Corps of Dancers), enjoys the atmosphere of the popular Sao Paulo-based parade Pilantragi together with more than twenty of her colleagues.
Most of them are carry a female symbol on their head and a top with a patterned music player showing a comb shaped like a Fallopian tube. Eloisa, however, displays a full-body painting, her breasts covered with two red hearts surrounded by a golden bra-like drawing.
“We’re here to fight against patriarchy and against an oppressive society that believes itself to be the owner of our bodies”, Eloisa complains. “We’re all fed up, we can’t take it anymore, and when we all get together we feel stronger and protected by the energy we create”, she adds.
Near them is Luiza Gonçalves, 21, who says “as women we are now more empowered and aware” that we don’t have to put up with “any intolerable situation”.
At least 42 percent of Brazilian women say they have suffered sexual harassment, according to a survey conducted by Datafolha and released last December. A third of them admitted to being sexually accosted as they were walking down the street.
To Parucker, Carnival is particularly delicate because men take advantage of the fact that everybody is happy and joking to “poke around”, to put it mildly, convinced that they can get away with it and nothing will happen.
In her opinion, there’s still a long way to go before society and authorities stop downplaying the cases of harassment “so typical” during Carnival.
The tattoos, stickers and other signs saying “No means no” are the start of a situation in Brazil where women who suffer sexual harassment can “have the courage to complain” because “when we say no means no it’s not a yes or a perhaps. No means no and (men) have to respect that,” said Parucker.
(With information from EFE)