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Lobsters Feel Pain, Friends Is Sexist — And I Just Can't



Over the past week or so, it's been hard not to feel disoriented by what is constantly being thrown at us, in this hyperconnected planet of ours, and not to get the feeling from our social media feeds that the world might just be going mad.

Let's begin with the open letter signed by Catherine Deneuve and 99 other prominent French women to condemn the "puritanical," "witch-hunt" aspect of the #MeToo movement. I, for one, happen to agree with what this letter denounces, though I'm very much opposed to some parts of it, especially when the signatories seem to casually dismiss women being rubbed up against in public transport as a mere "freedom to bother." But the paranoia, the outrage, and the frenzy the letter seems to have provoked worldwide is beyond all proportion.

The same could be said for the ripple effects of the Weinstein scandal, as evidenced the story of the British mother calling for Sleeping Beauty to be banned from primary school because the kiss is non-consensual, or by the ridiculous accusations recently thrown at Aziz Ansari.

Not that we should be surprised. Ours, after all, is a world whereFriends (The Hollywood Reporter"s all-time favorite TV show) has suddenly become homophobic, sexist and fat-shaming. Yes, you read that well. According toThe Independent, some millennials — who are just discovering the show now, courtesy of Netflix — are "shocked" by the storylines and "uncomfortable" by the obvious "homophobia" of Chandler and Ross.

They also take issue with the show's "lack of diversity," because, as everyone knows, the quality of a work of fiction is equally proportionate to the number of minorities it positively represents. Star Wars: The Last Jeditaught us that much, right? As Chandler himself would say: Seriously, could this BE any more insane?

Well, turns out that in Switzerland, it can. Though the scientific jury is still out on whether lobsters can feel pain, the Swiss Federal Council decided last week to give the popular and delicious crustaceans the benefit of the doubt and issued an order that bans cooks from placing them alive in boiling water. The government considers "knocking them out first" — either by electrocution or "mechanical destruction of the brain" — a more "humane" way to kill them, according to Swiss broadcaster RTS.

Not that we should be surprised.

We are reaching a point where any idea that, as far-fetched as it may sound to most, may very well turn into a genuine activist battle royale a few years in the future. Can anybody be certain there won't be, at some point, campaigns to raise awareness about the pain trees may feel when farmers shake them to harvest olives? Or that there won't be calls, at some point, to ban lawn mowing on grounds that it's an inhumane, barbaric practice?

Personally, I'd be tempted to wager that in the not-so-distant future, we'll see the emergence of groups — let's call them "non-walkers' — who will try to convince us to stop walking on grass because it risks killing insects. If you think that's crazy, just look at how a number of Parisians reacted to the city's response to its worst rat crisis in decades: They denounced it as a "genocide."

Naturally, all these excesses stem from genuine and legitimate battles: against sexual harassment, discrimination and animal abuse. But the response to these issues has to be proportionate and reasonable. Defending genuine sexual harassment makes no sense. Why would anyone even try? But I find it equally preposterous to argue that a man complimenting a woman's looks is harassment.

Surely there's a more balanced position to be found, one that won't lead to more estrangement and resentment in female-male relationships. The same goes for the rest, lobsters and all. More and more, reason and temperance seem to never show up in our social media feeds.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A New Survey Of Ukrainian Refugees: Here's What Will Bring Them Back Home

With the right support, Ukrainians are ready to return, even to new parts of the country where they've never lived.

photo of people looking at a destroyed building with a wall containing a Banksy work

People look at a Banksy work on a wall of a building destroyed by the Russian army, in the town of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv.

Sergei Chuzavkov / SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Daria Mykhailishyna

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, millions of Ukrainians fled their homes and went abroad. Many remain outside Ukraine. The Center for Economic Strategy and the Info Sapiens research agency surveyed these Ukrainian war refugees to learn more about who they are and how they feel about going home.

According to the survey, half of Ukrainians who went abroad are children. Among adults, most (83%) are women, and most (42%) are aged 35-49.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Most Ukrainian refugees have lost their income due to the war: 12% do not have enough money to buy food, and 28% have enough only for food.

The overwhelming majority of adult refugees (70%) have higher education. This figure is much higher than the share of people with higher education in Ukraine (29%) and the EU (33%).

The majority of Ukrainian refugees reside in Poland (38%), Germany (20%), the Czech Republic (12%), and Italy (6%). In these countries, they can obtain temporary protection, giving them the right to stay, work, and access healthcare and education systems.

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