Monthly Archives: September 2015

Status of Women in Middle East After 2011

Informative report on status of women in the Middle East after the uprisings of 2011.
CARE International Policy Report, Arab Spring or Arab Autumn?,
September 2013

Females Expected to be Wonder Woman

As a consequence of media images of the beautiful woman in a business suit energetically carrying a brief case and baby, Barnard College president Debora Spar warned in her book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection that her generation (she’s 50), thought that they could do anything. They also thought they should do everything well like TV character Clair Huxtable   Her generation made the mistake of “privatizing feminism” as neoliberal individualism teaches us. When they don’t live up to their standards of perfection, they feel guilty and like failures. Spar observed that as managers, they tend to be more empathetic than men but to care too much about being liked. When Mattel toy company designed a talking Barbie they felt they should reassure girls they don’t have to be wonder girls. Julia Pistor, Mattel vice president explained, ‘‘The subtext that is there that we would not do for boys is: ‘You don’t have to be perfect. It is O.K. to be messy and flawed and silly.’ ’’  The new Barbie also had flat feet instead of high heel feet and less makeup.
James Vlahos, “Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child,” New York Times, September 16, 2015.

Yemen War Kills Thousands of Civilians

It’s difficult to unite Yemen’s multiple political parties, tribal sheikhs, religious leaders, al Qaeda, revolutionary youth, and North and South. It’s also caught in power plays between Shite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Civil war killed over 4,500 people by September 2015 and over a million citizens were displaced from their homes. Saudi-led airstrikes devastated cities, killing over a thousand people by September 2015: “They are targeting the whole population,” reported a survivor of the strikes, age 20, with burns over two-thirds of his body.[i] American weapons were used in the war, including missiles for Saudi fighter jets. Women and children were caught in the crossfire, some women had to marry to protect themselves, others struggled to provide for their families while their husbands were fighting, others were displaced without social services. Yet women were left out of peace negotiations in Yemen and the Middle East: It’s the “male-controlled mentality of Saudi-inspired Salafism that has detached women from participation in building the peaceful Yemeni society.”[ii] Updates and resources are provided in Atiaf Alwazir’s blog “Woman from Yemen.[iii]

[i] Kareem Fahim, “Airstrikes Take Toll on Civilians in Yemen War,” New York Times, September 12, 2015.

[ii] Afouaiz, “The Forgotten Frontline: Women at War Zone: Yemen’s Case,” sanaafouaiz blog, July 9, 2015.