WTF Friday, 10/23/2015

Here are this week’s highlights:

Robert Mugabe, 3,112 year old dictator of Zimbabwe, just won the Confucius Peace Prize, a.k.a. “China’s Nobel Peace Prize”, for his contributions to “African peace”. Because “peace” is definitely the thing you get from 28 years of systematic repression, political violence, and torture. (h/t: Milli. Thanks Milli!)

Jina Moore, a.k.a. “Lady Issues Reporter Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”, found clear evidence that refugee women and children are being sexually assaulted and exploited as they journey across Europe, despite official denials. (Today the UN High Commission for Refugees changed its tune, admitting that refugee children face “heightened risk of violence and abuse, including sexual violence”.)

And the New York Times, a.k.a. “Somehow Still the Paper of Record”, decided to survey its readers on whether they would go back in time and murder baby Hitler. (42% said yes.)

So it’s pretty much been business as usual.

Panel Discussion on Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka

Are you in the Bay Area and interested in hearing about recent developments in Sri Lanka?

If so, good news!

I’ll be speaking on a panel at Stanford next Thursday (10/29) along with Bhavani Fonseka and Beth Van Schaack. We’ll be discussing the prospects for transitional justice, and I have it on good authority there’ll be chocolate chip cookies…

Sri Lanka panel 10.29

Fighting the Patriarchy with Math

How many times have you walked into what sounded like an interesting panel on international security, or African politics, or even women’s rights only to be confronted with a row of white dudes in basically-identical suit jackets? (If your day-to-day doesn’t involve attending a lot of panel discussions, you’ve clearly made better life choices than I have. Please don’t rub it in.)

It’s not that white men can’t have opinions worth hearing on these subjects; it just seems unlikely that they would have ALL of the opinions worth hearing. Or that a random draw of folks-with-worthwhile-opinions would yield a homogenous panel.

A recent analysis by a Genuine Math Person reveals just how unlikely it is.

Mathematician Greg Martin ran some probability calculations for his own field, based on the (likely conservative) estimate that women make up 24% of research mathematicians. He found that the odds that a 20 person speakers’ list would have one or fewer women are just over 3%, while the odds that it would have five or more women (i.e. over-representing their population share) are about 54%.

In other words, it is approximately 18 times more likely that women would be over-represented than absent (or virtually absent). For fields with greater female participation than mathematics, the odds are even starker. And, as Martin explains in this Atlantic interview, the obvious conclusion is that homogenous panels cannot be the result of random chance.

In his own words: “any such conference without any female speakers must have come into being in a system that does not treat gender fairly.”


WTF Friday, 10/16/15

Did you guys know the UN is coming to force everyone to stop calling ladies sluts on the internet and to impose the inclusion of fully-realized, 3-dimensional female characters in all our media? True story. (Except, no, it’s not true.)

Also, this dude wants you to crowdfund the creation of “a new nation that would accept any and all refugees”. Don’t. It’s a terrible idea. If you want to help the refugees, give money to an existing organization that already has the infrastructure in place to deliver services.

H/T to David Sullivan who wrote the linked Atlantic UN Dispatch article about #Gamergate for the first one, and the whole entire internet for the second.

Coffee Coffee Coffee

As if the South Sudanese didn’t have enough to worry about, now they’ve got to contend with George Clooney turning their perfectly good coffee crop into Nespresso. Clooney, you’ll recall, is already oppressing the citizens of the world’s youngest country with his spy satellites and relentless active listening.

And in other celebrity-coffee-conflict news (yes, there’s more), eastern Congolese coffee made it into the Starbucks Reserve collection this summer, thanks to a partnership with Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative. Here’s hoping there’s more of it soon, because the processing plant I visited last summer (blurry photo below) smelled AMAZING.



I passed Ph.D. school, everyone!

As of October 1st, I am a postdoctoral fellow in Law & International Security at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. The main consequence of this change is that now, instead of saying “I’m working on my dissertation”, I can say “I’m working on my book”. (It is, of course, exactly the same project.) And I now own a car and have Opinions About Cargo Space.

I also have a bit more free time to do things like brush my hair and write this blog, which I’ve just given its first makeover in several years.

And in other news, if you’re not already following Amanda in her new(ish) role as Vox’s Senior Sadness Correspondent, get on that.

WTF Friday, 9/11/15

I had so much saved up for today. Uzbekistan outlawing political science, Chad executing 10 people one day after a trial in which they may not have been afforded access to counsel, that photojournalist kicking a refugee child.

But then I learned that presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to black Americans, is still “the law of the land” and I. Just. Cannot. Even.

This means one of two things: Either Huckabee does not have the basic knowledge of our system of government necessary to understand that a subsequent Constitutional Amendment can overturn a Supreme Court decision, or he doesn’t know about the 14th Amendment. In either case, I feel comfortable concluding that he does not meet the minimum qualifications necessary to be president. Yeesh.

The Forever Victims?

NIM (1)If you’re in the market for some upsetting reading, look no further: I have a new report out, coauthored with Nimmi Gowrinathan, on the human rights situation of Tamil women in northern Sri Lanka.

It documents the effects that 6 years of militarization have had on women’s lives and shows that, perversely, efforts to protect women from sexual violence have undermined their political and economic agency, making them even more vulnerable to victimization.

Readers of this blog will probably be most interested in the fact that the livelihoods approach endorsed by the international community seems to be exacerbating the problem by reinforcing regressive gender roles. It turns out that women who fought on the front lines of combat find it a bit galling to be handed a sewing machine and told to make something pretty. And by sidelining women into traditionally “feminine” activities, these programs not only disempower them, they deprive the Tamil community of their contributions to rebuilding and shaping a way forward.

Check it out: “The Forever Victims? Tamil Women in Post-War Sri Lanka

WTF Friday, 8/28/2015

Hard to know what to even say about this week. Two journalists were murdered on air, an innocent baby panda died, and against all reason, Donald Trump continues to be a thing.

So let’s go with a happier “WTF” today:

This is a Tumblr post written by 13 year old Disney actress Rowan Blanchard that does better on intersectionality than most fully grown white feminists. She’s responding to a fan question about “white feminism”, and explains the need for inclusivity simply:

“The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women. … To only acknowledge feminism from a one sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all.”

She also quotes Kimberlé Crenshaw, because apparently that’s what the kids are reading these days.

So that’s good news: 1, bummers: a billion.

WTF Friday, 7/31/2015

Walk me through this one.

A man is arrested for stabbing three marchers in Jerusalem’s 2005 Gay Pride Parade. He is convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His sentence is reduced to 10 years and he is released JUST IN TIME for the 2015 Gay Pride Parade. Where he promptly stabs six people.

All I’m saying is, maybe someone could have seen this coming? (And also: ugh, why are people continually the worst?)

H/T: Jon