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Sexism, From The Streets To The Screen

Jillian Deutsch


Battles over sexism are being waged all over the world. In India , Muslim women have brought the "triple talaq" law, which allows men to cut off their wives by repeating "divorce" three times, to the country's Supreme Court. In the Republic of Congo, widows are suing over a tradition that forces them to give their belongings to their deceased husband's family. And in Argentina , a woman took a man to court for street harassment in the country's first "catcalling case."

But make no mistake: Sexism is battled not only in courts, and it certainly is not an issue unique to the non-Western world. Even in Cannes this weekend, actress Jessica Chastain commented on how she found the way women were represented at the 2017 film festival "disturbing."

It's an all-too common mistake for the Western world to write off sexism as a symptom of foreign cultures and religions.

Just look at people's reactions when women circulated a petition against harassment in the Paris area of La Chapelle-Pajol, where many migrants arriving to France have taken shelter. A writer for the French paper Le Figaro wrote that "some young men, not exactly animated by the spirit of gratitude toward their host country, attack the most singular brand of French civilization: the visibility of women in the public space and the diversity of the sexes that coexist naturally in a spirit of equality and complementarity."

Of course sexism does exist in non-Western cultures. But that does not diminish, nor excuse, the sexism still seen in the West. France itself, a country where the sexes supposedly "coexist naturally" has a parliament in which only 26% of its members are women. Iraq's has 27%.

This hypocrisy was on full display during Donald Trump's stop in Saudi Arabia, with Melania and Ivanka by his side. People cheered that Melania did not wear a headscarf and heralded Ivanka for bringing her " brand of female empowerment " to the country. An op-ed in the Washington Post claimed that the two showed the world what feminine power looks like, standing "as beacons of light in a part of the world that remains cloaked in the darkness of religious fundamentalism and oppression." But the writer must have forgotten to mention that it was in Saudi Arabia that the music video for " May Men Go Extinct " went viral just this year.

It's an all-too common mistake for the Western world to write off sexism as a symptom of foreign cultures and religions.

Maybe some Americans were too preoccupied with other forms of sexism. Many male fans of the DC Comics character Wonder Woman were upset when a cinema in Austin, Texas, announced it would host women-only screenings of the film, decrying the act "sexist" — this time against men.

The backlash left many women wondering where the outrage had been in January when Trump signed the global gag rule, banning American aid to any foreign group that conducts abortions; and then again, in March , when Republicans were writing their Obamacare replacement that featured serious cuts in women's healthcare . Those events, you may recall, were men-only.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Israel's Choice Right Now: Halt "Collective Punishment" Or Lose U.S. Support

As fighting has resumed and intensified in the southern area of the Palestinian territory, more and more criticism builds from around the world. How much longer can Israel fight this war for if it loses the support of even its most steadfast allies?

December 1, 2023, Khan Yunis, Gaza: Palestinians carry an injured man following the Israeli bombing on Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza

Saher Alghorra/ ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Can Israel wage its war in Gaza without caring about the opinion of its allies?

Since fighting resumed in the Palestinian territory on Friday, serious disagreements have emerged with the United States and, to a lesser extent, with France . It is the disagreements with the U.S. that carry significant consequences: Washington plays a vital role in this conflict by supplying weapons and deploying a considerable military apparatus to deter the regional expansion of the confrontation.

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This weekend, both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris expressed serious reservations about how Israel is conducting its operations. The issue at hand is the massive aerial strikes on densely populated areas, resulting in a considerable number of civilian casualties.

These criticisms came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel last week on the eve of the resumption of hostilities, urging Benjamin Netanyahu to change to a strategy that better protects civilians. Israel chose not to heed this advice, resulting in the current diplomatic tensions.

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