Thursday marked the first observance of the International Day of the Girl, but the rest of the week provided a relentless stream of news that shows how very, very far the world has to go before we can say that we actually do respect and honor girls. At Al Jazeera English, Manuela Picq looks at the way entire communities often collude to protect the perpetrators of sexual violence against girls and concludes, "It takes a village to rape a woman."
At the Guardian, Kamila Shamsie reflects on the shooting of 14-year-old Pakistani activist for girls' education Malal Yousafzai and asks, "For political differences, seek political solutions. But what do you do in the face of an enemy with a pathological hatred of women?" (You can read Yousafzai's original diaries for the BBC, written when she was 11 years old, here.)
Two members of Pussy Riot — the ones with young children — are sentenced to two years in penal colonies, while the third member is released. From Moscow, Miriam Elder reported on the sentencing for the Guardian. At The New Republic, Julia Ioffe analyzes the divide-and-conquer techniques at play.
Political scientist Laura Seay summarizes a new report from Simon Fraser University concluding that sexual violence in wartime is not on the rise, and is as much a function of continuing domestic violence as it is about assaults by combatants. Lauren Wolfe, the director of the Women Under Siege Project, which documents reports of rape in conflict, takes a closer look at the report and disagrees with the upbeat frame in which it has been presented.
Closer to (my) home: at The Boston Globe, Yvonne Abraham profiles a young mother who fell through the holes in a shifting safety net and was raped as a result.
At Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker reports on one Reddit member's short-lived campaign to out men who post to the subreddit r/CreepShots, which posts clandestine, sexualized photos of women and girls. At Betabeat, Jessica Roy advises us to take cover in the coming "inter-website war" as Gawker writer Adrian Chen publishes the identify of an r/CreepShots moderator. **Edited to add link to the post Zeynep Tufekci published this morning on this and what it says about how we define free speech.**
At The New York Times, public editor Margaret Sullivan takes no prisoners on the question of whether a male freelance journalist should still be published by the paper of record after insinuating that successful women have slept their way to the top — or wanted to. "Given his misbehavior on Twitter and his status as a highly replaceable freelancer, I think his editors are extraordinarily generous to give it to him."
At The New Yorker, Amelia Lester writes about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's blistering speech in parliament about the misogyny of the leader of the opposition. If you haven't, do watch the clip of the speech. It is very satisfying. But also check out this post from ourcatastrope on what viewers outside Australia should know about whether Gillard should qualify as anyone's feminist hero. (Via Lili Loofbourow.)
At The American Prospect, E.J. Graff takes a second look at the question, "Are Women Better Off Than We Were Four Years Ago?" Spoiler: yes, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which disqualifies "being a woman" as a pre-existing condition.
At The Christian Science Monitor, Jina Moore examines the surprisingly complicated question of how one defines poverty in America.
For Reuters, Margot Roosevelt profiles economically struggling voters, who still largely support Obama in the bitterly disputed swing-state of Nevada. Meanwhile, Colorlines' Aura Bogado presents a dispatch from Kate Sedinger about how Nevada state-run public service agencies are failing to perform their federally mandated responsibility to serve as voter registration sites.
I suspect that Zeynep Tufekci may just be the smartest person on the internet. Here is a wonderfully clear post on her blog about political party identification in polls that explains confounding variables, "the reason you should run, most of the time, when someone says 'correlation does not equal causation' without saying anything more substantive."
"Why Your 4-Year-Old Is As Smart as Nate Silver." Er. Maybe not, but still an interesting read from Alison Gopnik at Slate about how very young children can interpret statistical data more quickly and accurately than adults, who filter it through the biases of our already-acquired knowledge.
A blog post by Marie-Claire Shanahan at the University of Alberta on Helvetica, science education, and the failures of modernism: "Why is it so hard to give up on hoping that facts speak for themselves?" (Via Scicurious.)
Should disadvantaged children be given drugs to improve their performance in school? Maia Szalavitz at Time is — understandably — skeptical that this approach benefits anyone besides pharmaceutical companies in the long run.
News you can use: "Many drugs are just fine years after they 'expire,' study finds." By Karen Kaplan for the Los Angeles Times. (Via Eryn Brown.)
From that well-known liberal rag Fortune, Becky Quick wonders why the Justice Department is quick to make sure that consumers don't face a monopoly when it comes to sticky-notes, but seems to be just fine with vertical integration that allows drug store behemoth CVS to move into the prescription benefits business.
At the Daily Dot, Jennifer Abel explains why the Supreme Court may effectively shut down the secondhand market for any goods made abroad when it decides Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley and Sons.
As the Supreme Court hears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, Julianne Hing at Colorlines traces the history of how "the diversity rationale" became the main legal argument in the defense of college affirmative action policies.
Mind-blowing: "Of the 10,000 firefighters in New York City, only 28 of them are female." Ravenna Koenig at Women's Media Center with a case study on how discrimination can flourish despite laws that theoretically end it.
From lady business (which has a laugh-out-loud tagline), a very preliminary analysis of the gender breakdown of authors and protagonists among award-winning YA books. Surprise! If Our Boys aren't reading, it's not because books that portray them are suffering from a lack of visibility. (Via Penni Russon in one time zone and Rachel Hartman in another!)
It was also National Coming Out Day this week. I loved this post from crunkashell at the Crunk Feminist Collective: "what does a person with a belief profile like mine do on a day like today? I was going to use my rainbow umbrella but it didn't rain."
At The Independent, a surprisingly lyrical and very moving piece by Peaches Geldof on the very different coming-out of her adolescent best friend and his boyfriend.
At The New Inquiry, Leah Caldwell makes me grateful to be middle-aged with her analysis of "Party Rock," and the band that holds the trademark on that phrase: "The LMFAO party simulacrum at their performances masks the way our ordinary lives have become an endless, joyless elaboration of the same party principles." Fun!
At The New Republic, Eliza Gray looks at how Scientology has been successfully recruiting the Nation of Islam. In the future all UFO-based religions will be one?
For The New York Review of Books, Anne Applebaum reviews four new books about various moments in the history of Russian spying. You don't have to have grown up watching Get Smart reruns to know that is a MUST-CLICK topic.
If I know my audience, something like 97% of you hold opinions on this topic. So enjoy this post from Rohan Maitzen: "Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?" Via Aaron Bady.
And finally: Mallory Ortberg wins the internet this week! First for this (what I can only hope is the beginning of a book-length) profile of children's book editor extraordinaire Ursula Nordstrom, at The Awl. And, second, for "Texts From Little Women." Featuring the all-time classic line: "Jo, Father still isn't dead" OH MY GOD.