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Vol 2012 no1

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Women's Issues


Media Impact on Girls in the US, China and India through a Gendered Filter
Kristie Holmes, Associate Professor of Social Work, Union University
While infanticide or sex selective abortion in rural areas of the world may seem to have little to do with a famous musician who is a domestic abuser from the first world who avoids criminal punishment while being applauded and glamourized, the message going out to girls is consistent:  they are not valued in the same way that boys are.  In order to make adequate recommendations for change to increase the benefit of media, one must look to its source, its use, and its locale.  Media literacy schemes may be seen as a localized plan for significant change, and can certainly be of use.  However, its impact will be felt globally by addressing the issue at its source by engaging girls in the creation of media early as a career goal, resulting in lasting transformation, rather than decrying the end products and lack of effective public policy.
Being familiar with cultural norms is essential to build impactful educational campaigns. Money can be spent by governments or NGOs to increase positive messages, but if it is not possible for the locals to implement the message in their daily lives through the buy-in of local officials and leaders, lasting change is not possible whether it be in the case of Ms. Feng in China (forced late term abortion by family planning officials) or Mr. Brown (known batterer and singer who continues to be rewarded through fame and fortune, suffering little consequence for his crimes) in the United States.  Stealthy advertising campaigns and hidden “cookie gathering” of children’s data only further exacerbate the impact of negative messages to girls by gathering information on them about their potential “weaknesses” in the form of desire, and what they search for online (food, beauty, fame) and what they crave to be, or look like in order for corporations to sell to them. And of course, what is sold to them (even in the form of an idea) filters out to their greater society, in the context that they live in.

The Perpetuation Of Injustice Against Women: Reflections On Widowhood Practices In Africa And The Task Of The Writer In Challenging The Status Quo
Christine N. Ohale, Professor, Chicago State University

There are so many neglected issues in African literary discourse but only few are as neglected as the problems associated with widowhood across much of the continent. Although death is one phenomenon that levels all humanity, Africans deem the subject taboo and too eerie and morbid to be openly discussed, often engaging in such discussions in hushed tones, as though death would hear and come for them. Yet Africans are perennially engaged in rituals and ceremonies associated with death, even as they feel uncomfortable discussing death itself. Since Africans live in dread of the cold, lethal grip of death, discussion of an aspect of death with respect to widowhood rites, has been abysmally neglected in literary discourse. This neglect seems to stem from certain aspects of the African culture. Why do we condone the plight of the widow? Why do we keep silent in the face of tyranny?   
African women have continually endured exclusions and restrictions. The marginalization of women is global, but western societies tend to manage it more subtly than African societies. But by far the most unconscionable acts of injustice against African women appear to be the cruelty and restrictions that are handed out to them when they become widows. Although I have cast the title of this paper in broader terms, the focus will be on widowhood practices in Nigeria—and more specifically still—in Igboland, the society I know best, and the place of my birth.
Igbo synonymously refers to both the people and their language. The Igbo occupy a significant portion of southeastern Nigeria, including the Igbo on the west bank of the River Niger. Nigeria is made up of thirty six states, plus the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Igbo states are comprised of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and a good portion of Delta and Rivers States. The region inhabited by the Igbo ranks as one of the largest in Nigeria, the Igbo being estimated at over 27 percent of the total population of Nigeria.

“Monkey in a Cage”: the Complicated Loyalties of Mid-level Academic Women Working in Higher Education
Athena Vongalis-Macrow, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

Loyalty raises a dilemma for women’s career progression and leadership because it signals confidence in the organisation, despite the ongoing constraints that organisations present for women and their leadership aspirations.  The research investigates women’s loyalty in the context of higher education.  Focussing on a select group of mid-level female academics, the paper will argue against a common sense understanding of loyalty as an expression of female care.  A critical reconsideration of loyalty as care is made possible by analysing the ‘utility of loyalty’ and how it becomes a legitimate organising principle that operationalises institutional and personal objectives.   How women enact loyalty draws on agency theory to explain and analyse the way loyalty is appropriated by women.  The results show contradictory actions around loyalty, however, these can be clarified by agency theory to demystify loyalty and critically analyse how specific work actions and practices shape explain seemingly contradictory and emotive responses. The complications around women and loyalty are expressions of a substantive rationality through which mid-level female academics respond to the uneven opportunities, limitations and constraints that influence their work, profession and relationships. 


Common Denominators in Successful Female Statecraft: The Political Legacies Of Queen Elizabeth I, Indira Gandhi, And Margaret Thatcher
Sandra Wagner-Wright, Professor Emerita, History, University of Hawaii

Standard literature on female leadership styles posits that successful women deny their inherent feminine characteristics in favor of masculine attributes.  Sara Louise Muhr (2011) counters this view, asserting that successful female leaders are androgynous “cyborgs” who transcend gender to combine male intellectual attributes with an intense feminine appearance.  Case studies of Queen Elizabeth I, P. M. Indira Gandhi, and P. M. Margaret Thatcher apply Muhr’s theory to demonstrate its validity.




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