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The Women’s World Cup kicks off, what it was like to grow up as a mixed-race South African girl under apartheid, and an idea for an easy gift.
Japanese minister’s response to #KuToo petition: It is ‘occupationally necessary’ for women to be required to wear heels at work
It’s customary for Japanese companies to require women to wear high heels to the office. Recently, Yumi Ishikawa, an artist and writer living in Tokyo, brought attention to the practice with the hashtag #KuToo, a play on #MeToo: In Japanese, “kutsu” means shoes; “kutsuu” means pain. More than 25,000 people have signed a petition Ishikawa launched following her initial #KuToo tweets. It calls for an end to the custom.
Takumi Nemoto, Japan’s health, labor and welfare minister, received pushback last week after he was asked whether requiring women to wear high heels was an “abuse of power.” Speaking about the petition Wednesday, Nemoto said: “It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate.” He continued: “Whether the employers’ requirement to wear high heels is an abuse of power or not depends on whether the requirement goes beyond the social understanding of what is necessary and appropriate.”
The Women’s World Cup kicks off in France amid a fight for equality
The Women’s World Cup kicked off Friday in France and runs through July 7. The U.S. women’s soccer team plays its first match on Tuesday, against Thailand. This World Cup, all eyes are on the U.S. team for several reasons: Not only are they the defending champs, but they’re also using their platform to advocate for equality. The team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging unequal pay.
Changes are afoot in the sport internationally, too. The Australian players’ union, for example, is calling for an increase in prize money, which is typically far less than what men’s teams make. And Norway’s star player Ada Hegerberg is boycotting the tournament over what she says is mistreatment of the women’s program by the country’s soccer leaders. Several male leaders in some of soccer’s highest governing bodies have also been hit by #MeToo allegations.
Advanced breast cancer drug lowers risk of death by 30 percent in younger women, study finds
A recent study has found that a drug used to slow the progression of advanced breast cancer also lengthens survival in women who have not started menopause or are still going through it. For younger women who took the drug alongside standard hormonal treatment, 70 percent were still alive 3½ years later; only 46 percent of those given the standard treatment alone were still alive.
About 25 percent of breast cancers in the United States are diagnosed in premenopausal women, an author of the study told the New York Times. The study’s findings — which another doctor, unaffiliated with the study, called “wonderful news” — only apply to women who have not yet reached menopause or are still going through it, and whose tumors lack a protein called HER2.
Two recent deaths of black trans women in Dallas receive national attention
When Muhlaysia Booker, a black trans woman living in Dallas, was shot and killed in May, the nation was watching: The slaying came after a video of her being assaulted by a group of men went viral. Last week, Dallas police found the body of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey, another black trans woman. According to Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Lindsey’s body showed “obvious signs of homicidal violence,” though police have not confirmed the cause of death. Hall said police are “concerned” about the deaths and have asked the FBI for assistance in the investigation, Time magazine reported.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least seven transgender people have been violently killed in 2019 so far. All the victims were black trans women. “When you have the combination of a society that protects racism, misogyny and transphobia, it creates insurmountable odds,” Louis Mitchell, the executive director of Transfaith, told Time. “This is not so much an issue just in the Dallas area, but an international pandemic.”
A rape allegation against Brazil’s most beloved soccer star sets off debate
Model Najila Mendes de Souza’s allegation that Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Junior raped her has set off debate in Brazil, where Neymar is one of the country’s most beloved athletes. Souza made the allegations on a news show, saying that the two had exchanged messages on social media and then met in Paris, where her intention “was to have sex with him.” But when she learned he did not have a condom, she said she told him to stop; she alleges he then beat and raped her.
In response, Neymar published images of his messages with Souza on Instagram, including nude photos of a woman with her face and genitals blurred out. Neymar said the posts, which have since been taken down by Instagram, were “necessary ... to prove that nothing happened.” Other soccer players came to Neymar’s defense. And Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told reporters at a news conference: “He’s a boy. He’s going through a hard time, but I believe him.” Meanwhile, feminists in the country said the case was an example of how sexual assault victims are re-victimized.
In the years leading up to gaining the right to vote, women stood outside the White House with signs urging President Woodrow Wilson to give them “liberty.” Eventually, police started arresting the women for obstructing the sidewalk, and many were sent to jail. Some of the suffragists arrested outside the White House were the same ones who, on June 4, 1919, packed the U.S. Senate gallery and celebrated after the final vote on the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed them the right to vote. By 1920, women had secured the right to vote nationwide, but black women faced barriers for decades — it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that discriminatory voting practices were outlawed.
A century later, the Atlantic has launched a new project, “Votes for Women.” As executive editor Adrienne LaFrance explains, the series “looks back on the movement for suffrage, to better understand how we reached this political moment, and where it leads.” The project tackles how both progressive and conservative feminists see themselves as inheritors of the early women’s movement, and digs into the Atlantic’s archives to reflect on coverage on the fight for women’s suffrage.
—Claire Breen, Lily multiplatform editor
• After coming under intense criticism for supporting the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion, former vice president Joe Biden abruptly reversed his stance Thursday. The 2020 presidential contender, who is leading in the polls, said in a speech that he could not support the policy while Roe v. Wade is under attack in Republican-held states.
• A homophobic assault on a bus in West Hampstead, London, left a lesbian couple in need of hospital treatment. Police say the women were attacked, punched and robbed after a group of young men began to make “lewd and homophobic” comments to them. British politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, condemned the attack.
• Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, made her first major appearance since giving birth to son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on May 6. She attended Queen Elizabeth’s 93rd birthday alongside Prince Harry.
• Former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized abortion rights activists at a gala for the Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion group. “Unfortunately, many on the left use the abortion debate to divide women and demand conformity,” she said in her keynote address. “They do this in the name of feminism. But that is not real feminism.”
Jesmane Boggenpoel grew up as a mixed-race girl during apartheid in South Africa and went on to become a successful businesswoman. She leads several advisory boards and formerly served as the head of business engagement at the World Economic Forum. Her new memoir, “My Blood Divides and Unites: Race, Identity, Reconciliation,” traces what it was like to grow up during apartheid, and how she came to terms with her identity and heritage.
Her most defining memory from childhood: “Visiting my father at a mental institution when I was about 4 years old and knowing he was away from home for a few months. For context, my father suffered a nervous breakdown after working on a mining construction project. ... This situation resulted in my mother (who has not completed high school), being forced to become the primary family provider. The experience made me recognize the importance of women having an education and profitable careers.”
On being mixed race in South Africa under apartheid: “Being of mixed race is an important aspect of my identity; due to racial segregation laws, I was raised in an exclusively historically mixed-race (Coloured) community. Being mixed race in a South African context meant there was a mystery to my bloodline as we did not ‘pierce the veil,’ and I wanted to figure out what was in my blood as I worked out my identity. There was also a measure of shame attached to my blood due to the racial mixing and slave history, which was not taught in our schools or acknowledged.”
Her advice to women wanting to break into the business world: “Seek out mentors that can support you. Seek communities that talk to your business interests, such as associations, research institutions. Follow relevant thought leaders. Upskill yourself by always learning and obtaining new skills and improving your current skills.”
My friend’s boyfriend broke up with her last week. It was sudden and awful, and all I wanted to do was go over to her house with a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, she lives on the other side of the country. So I decided to send something that would make her smile. I thought about making a care package, but that would take too long. Or ordering flowers, but that’s always so expensive (and flowers die). Instead, I sent a Greetabl: a small gift (of your choosing) inside a paper box, customized with your own pictures and personal message. She loved it.
—Caroline Kitchener, Lily staff writer
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