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WMC News: the Manchester bombing, sexual assault survivors, Women for Women International, WMC Live

May 24, 2017


ISIS targets 'dangerous women' in Manchester attack

By Lauren Wolfe/Director | May 23, 2017

With this morning’s news that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the UK’s Manchester Arena Monday night, the obviousness of the target begins to make a sick kind of sense.

Ariana Grande, 23, who had just finished her last song when the bomb hit, is the epitome of all ISIS fears in the world. Grande represents a society in which women can choose what they do, wear, and say. The show’s audience was made up mainly of young girls who idolize the singer. Girls who want to grow up and be beautiful like her, wear makeup and tight clothes when they want to, and talk about who and how they love without consequences, as Grande does in her songs.

It is exactly this freedom that ISIS finds most threatening to their ideology, which calls for women to remain severely subdued in order for men to succeed.

In an honor culture, which exists throughout the Middle East and other parts of the world, women are expected to dress demurely and listen to their men. In ISIS, which takes this idea to an extreme, women must make themselves invisible through covering their bodies in swaths of cloth, including gloves. In a pamphlet known as the “Bill of the City” ISIS distributed in Iraq in 2013 it says: “To the virtuous women…stay in your homes and do not leave them only in cases of necessity.” Then there has been the buying and selling of women in slave markets. Women and girls are passed around, to be raped by whichever man owns her. More >>

Photo: Walking casualties leave a nearby hotel that took in people from the Manchester Arena stadium in Machester, United Kingdom on May 23, 2017. A large explosion was reported at the end of a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. (Credit: Getty Images)

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The Manchester bombing was an act of terrorizing girlhood 

By Mankaprr Conteh | May 23, 2017

I didn’t grow up in a very religious home. Concerts are where I know to worship. Joy, to me, in its most potent form, feels like expelling lyrics loudly at a stage. It feels like the rattle of drums in my bones. At concerts, I learned to find communion with strangers. I learned to be grateful for the sorrow and scars and coming of age from which great music is born. The performers are more preachers than deities, though we meet them with godly reverence. When we’re lucky, the artist is a young woman.

At thirteen, Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams was my theologian, and the band’s album Riot! guided me through the hell that is middle school. On Riot!, Williams asserts herself against those who have wronged her and stands up for those who have been wronged. While other girls so often felt like they were my enemies during that time, at Paramore’s Philadelphia show, a sea of adolescent women and I were enamored with Hayley, and by extension with each other. I spent the concert with an older cousin and slim stranger, a girl a few years my senior with dozens of shows under her belt. Still, despite her experience, she oozed bliss, unfazed. We, who were what seemed to be the lone black girls, thrashed and sang with our white counterparts about conquered crushes and broken hearts, about getting even and growing up.

If that communion had been halted by a bomb’s detonation, it would have ripped through my soul—even if I had the fortune of surviving. Which is why my heart hangs heavy for the thousands who sought sanctuary at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena show Monday night. It bleeds for the 22 who did not survive, the nearly 60 wounded, and for the parents who, like my own did over and over again, sent their well-loved daughters and their hard-earned money to a place of joy. Terror ripped through a venue dotted by whimsical pink balloons and commanded by unapologetic femininity. More >>

Photo: This should've a safe space for girls.  

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Experiencing online misogyny as a sexual assault survivor

By Carolyn Luby | May 24, 2017

I am a woman, a sexual assault survivor, and a feminist—and I am all of these things publicly, on the Internet. A basic Google search will turn up articles I’ve written related to my activism, photos taken of me at activist events and press conferences, and other evidence of my fight against the deliberate indifference universities across the U.S. display towards sexual assault and sexual harassment. That search will also reveal the onslaught of harassment, rape threats, and death threats I have received as a consequence for speaking out.

Many of the top hits for my name are from years back. Perhaps this would suggest that the public assertion of my political views, my personal lived experiences of trauma, my identity, and the massive backlash of harassment and threats that have resulted from going public with all of this can be discussed using the past tense. The reality is, however, that although years have passed, and I have even since moved to another continent and have almost completely disengaged from almost all internet spaces, this violence does not feel like it’s in my past. Far from it. The Internet in general, and online misogyny in particular, has a way of defying traditional boundaries of space and time. They truly never forget.

Almost every month for the past four years I have received some kind of harassment or threat via the Internet, from personal messages sent to my Facebook account, to mentions of my name in comment pages on forums dedicated to annihilating my person and trivializing my trauma. These comments almost all stem from an open letter I wrote to the president of my university in 2013 for the Feminist Wire. I wrote that I believed the president, Susan Herbst, was prioritizing a rebrand of our school’s athletics program as aggressive, while ignoring sexual assault (a phenomenon that certainly included, but was not limited to, athletes) on campus. The Daily Caller covered this letter with a misleading headline, which led to Rush Limbaugh lambasting me on his show, which led to more coverage and criticism that continues today, four years later. More >>

Photo: Carolyn Luby

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What the first black ‘Bachelorette’ will mean to viewers

By Kadin Burnett | May 22, 2017

Over its 15 years on the air, The Bachelor franchise has had some of the most aggravatingly attractive, square jawed, toned, and tantalizing contestants a producer could dream of. Every season, a sea of white faces, usually decorated with an occasional pinch of color, descend upon the Bachelor Mansion to drunkenly vie for the immediate and undying attention of one beautifully sculpted white person. But now, for its 34th season (which starts tonight), the franchise has finally stemmed its wave of “caucasity” by casting its first black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay.

Until this point, the past decade and a half of The Bachelor franchise flirted far less with diversity than its contestants flirted with each other. Aside from the tanning-bed aficionados, non-white contestants have been rare, and the show’s understanding of “diversity” limited. The dating pools in the past three seasons of the show have gone from including one non-white contestant in season 29, to five in Ben Higgins’ season, and a ratio of 22 white women to eight non-white women in the most recent season (including Lindsay). In fact, the most diversity on the show has generally been the range of contestants’ employment—namely truly ridiculous jobs smattered among a cavalcade of personal trainers, “business owners,” and aspiring models that do something vaguely related to sales or marketing. It’s true, almost anyone who fits these rigorous criteria can make it to the finish line of the show and be in a 3- to 6- month long post-finale relationship before enduring a public break-up.

Snark aside, in order to earn that proposal, or to even make it to the important benchmarks of going to a fantasy suite, or visiting the finalists’ hometowns, the one underlying, indispensable attribute that one has had to possess has been whiteness. Some may argue that there have been exceptions to this rule. They might point to women of color like Caila Quinn and, of course, Lindsay, who made it to the final rounds of the show. But the mere fact that these few cases of people of color making it deep into the competition are are so clearly remembered speaks to the cascade of white people we’re so used to watching. More >>

Photo: Rachel Lindsay, the first black bachelorette.

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An interview with activist, world traveler, and Women for Women International President Laurie Adams

By Angela Liu | May 19, 2017

The United Nations has committed to achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls everywhere by 2030. Some specific targets include ending all forms of discrimination against all women, eliminating all forms of violence against all women, ensuring women’s full and effective participation in public, economic, and political life, and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health resources and reproductive rights. Considering that over 60 million girls were out of school in 2013, one in three women worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and women hold on 20% of positions in government worldwide, these are challenging targets that will involve the efforts not only of international governments, but grassroots organizations as well.

That’s where Women for Women International (WfWI) comes in. WfWI supports women in countries affected by conflict and war by empowering them economically, connecting them to support networks, and educating them about their health and rights. Since 1993, WfWI has helped over 462,000 women in eight countries around the world.

Today, Laurie Adams – a lifelong activist and advocate for equality – serves as the President of Women for Women International. After spending 20 years living in several countries in Africa, Laurie moved back to the United States to work for WfWI in Washington, D.C. just one year ago. I spoke with Laurie about her beginnings as a student activist at Dartmouth, her job as president of a global nonprofit, and how the Trump administration has impacted WfWI and marginalized women around the world. More >>

Photo: Laurie Adams

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WMC Live #209: Linda Fentiman, Claudia Megan Urry. (Original Airdate 5/21/2017)

Robin on Trump's "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," gerrymandering, jailing press, and leakers. Guests: Linda Fentiman on how blaming mothers is embedded in the law; Claudia Megan Urry on the wonders of astrophysics—and fighting sexism in the field. Listen here >>


This week WMC SheSource features experts on the recent attack in Manchester, the proposed budget, President Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis, U.S. officials leaking information about the Manchester attack, and Montana’s special congressional election this Thursday.

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