TIME China

U.N. Panel Claims China Tried to Silence Women’s Rights Activists

Some claimed to have been censored by "state agents"

A United Nations committee on women’s rights accused China on Friday of aiming to silence activists who were scheduled to testify about the government’s human rights record at a conference in Geneva.

Some activists claimed to have been censored by “state agents,” according to Reuters, and at least one wasn’t able to travel to Switzerland based on “travel restrictions.”

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women asked that China “take steps to ensure that in the future no travel restrictions are placed on individuals/human rights defenders,” and also to fight other practices like forced abortions and “infanticide of girls.”

Read more at Reuters

TIME women

Rose McGowan Was Right: Women Can’t Lean on the Gay Rights Movement Anymore

amfAR LA Inspiration Gala Honoring Tom Ford Hosted By Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Rose McGowan attends amfAR LA Inspiration Gala honoring Tom Ford at Milk Studios on October 29, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage

Steve Friess is a freelance writer.

LGBTers were once so desperate for allies that they supported any and every liberal cause

Seventeen years ago, in the dark ages of the gay-rights movement, I was a member of the board of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association when we voted to move our 1998 national convention from San Diego to Las Vegas in protest of California’s passage and subsequent legal defense of Proposition 187. Prop 187 had nothing to do with gay rights; it was a measure, later thrown out by the federal courts, that stopped undocumented immigrants from using health care, public education and other social services in the state.

I was new then to identity politics, so I naively wondered what this issue had to do with ours. It was explained to me that we “owed” our friends in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists because they moved their convention some years earlier from Colorado after that state passed a measure, also later invalidated in court, that barred cities or the state from enacting gay-rights measures.

The episode springs to mind this week because actress Rose McGowan endured a crushing backlash for her declaration that gay men owe it to women to support her definition of feminism. “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so,” she told the American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis on his podcast. “I have an indictment of the gay community right now. I’m actually really upset with them.” After she was attacked for these statements, she backpedaled modestly and apologized for glibly suggesting the gay-rights movement was all about earning the ability to appear in Speedos in pride parades and take drugs. On Twitter, though, she suggested gay men owe women like her because, “I fought for your right to do that as well.”

To those who were offended and appalled by these remarks, I say, get used to it. But the Rose McGowans of the world also better get used to not being able to count on “gay people” as automatic supporters of every liberal or progressive cause. LGBTers were once so desperate for political allies that they had little choice but to show support for any and every other group that might return the favor, from racial minorities to women to the poor.

Now that gays have become stunningly successful at winning their key battles at a speed that is the envy of other minority movements, their political priorities are changing and their monolith is crumbling. There will always be a hearty component of the LGBT population who agree on principle with the goals of progressive groups, but going forward neither other oppressed groups nor the Democratic Party should assume gay support without earning it. We are morphing from an interest group to a constituency.

The fact is, the objectives of gay activists are decidedly different from that of advocates for abortion rights, amnesty for undocumented immigrants, universal health care, gun control, government assistance for the poor or legal protections for racial minorities. What these contingents and gays chiefly had in common – and still do, though perhaps not for long – were common enemies. It was the same gang — the religious right, straight white men and Republicans in general – who opposed all of us.

Yet as civil rights movements go, the gays have had a staunchly conservative and traditional agenda. Our chief aims over the past two decades were legal recognition of same-sex marriage, permission to serve openly in the armed services and freedom from legal interferences in private, consensual, adult sexual relationships or discrimination because of it. Translation: we’re pro-family, pro-military and anti-Big Government. Given that, is it really an obvious contradiction or hypocrisy to be both gay and a member of the National Rifle Association? Or to be gay and believe in lower taxes and less regulation? Or, heck, even to be gay and believe that abortion is murder – especially when science could very soon help parents screen for and then dispose of their gay fetuses?

For a long time – and still in certain quarters today – African-American and feminist leaders took great offense to the LGBT community’s insistence on equating the gay struggle with theirs. It has certainly been rhetorically useful for gays to do this, especially when we fought for an integrated military and marriage equality. But perhaps, after all, they were right. But now they resent not having knee-jerk support from gays and they wonder why that is.

Please note: I am not stating my own political beliefs here. I absolutely believe that gay people, having been oppressed and subject to vicious discrimination, would do well to hold on to their sense of social justice and have that empathy influence their views on many other matters.

But the cold reality is that progressive groups will someday soon be unable to presume the overwhelming support of gay people. The nation is rapidly approaching a point at which sexual orientation is seen as a distinction as insignificant and immutable as eye color. Once gays are comfortably mainstreamed, Republican presidential candidates will garner ever-larger chunks of votes from fiscally conservative and religious gays.

McGowan may not realize it, but this is what is bothering her. Gay men are, in fact, men first. We probably aren’t actually more misogynistic, as she contends, but there’s no obvious reason why we would necessarily be any less misogynistic than any other men.

There will be times in this gay new world when the interests of LGBTers will align in direct, obvious ways with that of other minorities, or in which alliances will be mutually beneficial to similar aims of both sides. And there will be times when they won’t. That’s going to be quite a shock to everyone who took us for granted for so long.

Steve Friess is an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based freelance writer and former senior writer covering technology for Politico.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Who Remembers the Greatest Woman to Rule the Ancient World?

Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut Michelle McMahon—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Hatshepsut, a woman who was Egypt’s king, serves as a model and cautionary tale for today’s female politicians

This November, nearly 200 women ran for Congress. Most didn’t win. Of the 535 representatives and senators currently serving, only 99 — 18.5 percent — are women. Why are there so few women in positions of power in this modern age?

One way to answer that question is through the story of the greatest woman ever to rule in the ancient world — an Egyptian pharaoh.

In Egypt in the 15th century B.C., women were considered sexual companions and the carriers of men’s seed—not rulers. But Hatshepsut found her way to the throne of the richest and most powerful state in the ancient world. Then, a mere 25 years after her death, ruling elites had her statues smashed into bits.

I wrote my book about Hatshepsut, The Woman Who Would Be King, after the birth of my son. Motherhood made me realize, as I never had before, how trapped women are by our bodies. Hatshepsut must have felt the same kind of entrapment after she gave birth to the child of her half-brother, the king, while still in her early teens. That child was a girl, not the son for whom her people had hoped. But Hatshepsut’s lack of a son laid the foundation for the rest of her strange, charmed life.

Hatshepsut’s husband passed away after only three years of rule, when Hatshepsut was very young, perhaps 16. At the time, the next in line to be king of Egypt was a mere infant—not her own baby, but a baby belonging to one of her husband’s second-class wives.

Hatshepsut had the power to fill this vacuum. Her bloodline was impeccable, back to kings of the earlier 18th Dynasty. She had an education, likely begun in early childhood. Not only was she the highest-ranking royal wife, but also she was Egypt’s most powerful priestess.

Hatshepsut made sure the young king — that infant son of a lesser wife — was educated, brought up in the temple mysteries, and trained in the military arts. But since he was so small, Hatshepsut took charge.

So it was Hatshepsut who gave the vizier — the king’s second-in-command — orders about trading ventures to the land of Punt, who discussed treasury matters with her royal steward, and who put down insurrections in Kerma (in modern-day Sudan). She personally oversaw the collection of the spoils of war, according to a tomb inscription written by her overseer of the treasury.

Then, for reasons that were not recorded, Hatshepsut was given — or decided she needed — more. When the young King Thutmose III was just 8 or 9, Hatshepsut was crowned king alongside him, with the full support of her courtiers, Egypt’s elite families, and its powerful temple priesthoods. Hatshepsut became a king — because ancient Egypt had no word for a female ruler.

She won this prize because she was the most able person for the job. Hatshepsut also built a strong cohort of supporters — men whose continued prosperity depended on her power.

When Thutmose III was approaching his 16th year, she tried another strategy to retain power. In statuary, in reliefs, maybe even in rituals before her elites and populace — she took on the appearance of a man. She bound her breasts; she wore a masculine kilt; she tied on the long beard of kings. She was ostensibly past childbearing years, which meant that she would never bear her own heir to the throne, and her co-king was quickly becoming a man. She had to stay ahead of him.

Historians have given many explanations for Hatshepsut’s power plays — an unreasonable greed and lust for influence being chief among them. But she actually helped Thutmose III’s position by keeping him by her side. Thutmose III accompanied her on campaigns to Kush, presumably participating in the battles, the dispatch of enemies and the taking of spoils. The investment paid off: Thutmose III became the greatest warrior king Egypt had ever seen.

The history of her reign became troublesome as Thutmose III was grooming his chosen son to be next in line. The possibility of another woman taking the throne was a complication he decided to erase. So down went the statues and the first layer of the temple reliefs.

We’ve come a long way since the 15th century B.C., but what’s interesting is how much remains the same.

Kara Cooney is associate professor of Egyptian art and architecture at the University of California at Los Angeles. She wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

How to Feel More Empowered on a Daily Basis

Game
Getty Images

The most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

The word “power” can conjure up a lot of opinions and reactions, especially for women.

Many of us, when we think about powerful women, imagine (best-case scenario) Olivia Pope in all her white-wardrobe glory or (worst-case scenario) Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada—no-nonsense, borderline-aggressive, delegating pros wearing power suits and designer heels.

While I’m all about great shoes and bold women, the distinction I want to make here is that powerful does not need to mean power over other people. In fact, the most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered.

So what does that actually mean? I think the word “empowered” has become so overused that it’s almost lost its meaning. To me, empowered means feeling charged, confident, proud, inspired, and passionate. It’s feeling like you’re in the driver’s seat of your life (instead of in the back seat, watching your life pass by through the window).

Sadly, most of us don’t feel empowered on a daily basis… maybe not even a weekly or monthly basis.

What can you do to feel more powerful and in control of your daily life?

Consider the areas of your life that currently feel disempowering.

Maybe you feel trapped, stuck, or unfulfilled at work. Or maybe some of your relationships are making you feel undervalued or invisible.

Feeling disempowered can make you feel completely out of control and at the mercy of your situation. Most people’s default reaction to feeling disempowered is to either 1) shut down and want to give up or 2) to blame someone or something else. In both cases, you relieve yourself of responsibility, which only serves to make you feel more powerless.

So how can you take back your power over one small (or large) piece of this situation?

Here’s a great example:

I was working with one of my life-coaching clients recently, and she was feeling completely powerless about her work schedule. She really values freedom and flexibility, and she hated that she had to sit at her desk until 5:30 or later every afternoon, regardless of whether she’d finished her work for the day or not.

Every hour that she sat at that desk, with no work to do, she felt increasingly more resentful. It got to the point that she was considering quitting because she was so frustrated.

I asked if she’d talked to her boss about having a more flexible schedule, based more on productivity rather than arbitrary hours. “Oh, no, I can’t ask that. That’s not how my company works. Plus, I’m afraid my boss will think I’m lazy.”

(MORE: The Power of Power Poses)

But eventually, her misery outweighed the discomfort of having that conversation with her boss. She decided to take action and ask for what she wanted; we even planned out, in advance, how she could frame it as a win-win for her and her company.

The result? Her boss was completely open to the idea, and now she has a much more flexible work schedule. She feels valued and unrestricted at work now, and her resentment and powerlessness evaporated.

That’s exactly what I mean about getting back in the driver’s seat of your life.

Consciously relive your wins on a regular basis.

When was the last time you feel completely charged, confident, proud, inspired, and capable of anything?

Whether it was yesterday or six months ago, you probably haven’t thought back on that moment much since it happened.

But the criticism or negative feedback you got about your last project? That’s probably running through your head on repeat.

As humans, we’re wired to hone in on the negatives and quickly forget about the positives in our past. It takes consistent effort to consciously rewire your brain to relive your past wins more often than your failures.

One way to do this is to create a personal “Brag Sheet”—I’m not talking about a résumé, here. This is a list of all the things that you’ve done that have made you feel proud and amazing, big or small. No one has to see this but you, so you get to include anything you want.

Keep your brag sheet somewhere visible—on your computer desktop, the notes app on your phone, or the nightstand by your bed—so you can see it regularly and continually add to it.

Bam, instant internal power boost.

Challenge yourself to face your fears regularly.

A while back, I wrote an article called Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You, which was inspired by the book, My Year With Eleanor. In the memoir, the author, Noelle Hancock, released her social anxiety and regained her confidence and passion for life by facing one of her fears every single day for an entire year.

While I’m not necessary suggesting you to go extremes like she did, I do believe that deliberately facing down your fears (whether it’s speaking up in a meeting or going skydiving) is an instant confidence booster. It puts the other stressors in your life in perspective and makes you realize, “If I could do that, then I can do anything.”

(MORE: Is Short Hair the New Power Move?)

TIME Business

France Investigates Higher Prices for Women’s Products

Petition notes that women's products are priced unfairly compared to men's

The French Finance Ministry has promised to investigate why certain women’s razors, shaving creams, and deodorants are more expensive than men’s, even though the products are practically identical.

The inquiry comes after a French women’s group launched a petition against what they called an “invisible tax” on products marked as “feminine.” Secretary of State for women’s rights, Pascale Boistard, even tweeted (in french) “Is pink a luxury color?”

A Change.org petition aimed at getting Monoprix, a major French retail brand, to change its pricing has gained almost 40,000 signatures. The petition notes that a packet of 10 males razors costs less than a packet of 5 female razors, even though the products are basically the same. Monoprix denies the price discrimination, saying that the different pricing comes from the fact that men buy more razors than women do.

The “invisible tax” isn’t just in France– American products marketed towards women are also more expensive than regular products. Bustle broke down how nearly identical products at CVS are priced differently depending on whether they’re being sold to men or women. For example, a men’s dandruff shampoo costs $7.99, while a women’s dandruff shampoo costs $10.99, even though they’re made by the same company (Head & Shoulders) and promise the same thing.

In 1995, California passed a law to ban gender-based price discrimination, citing analysis that women were spending an extra $1,350 a year because of the bias. But that only applies to service pricing– car washes, dry cleaning, etc. — not products in stores.

TIME 2014 Election

Joni Ernst Missed the Real Problem With the Taylor Swift Comparison

Joni Ernst
Republican Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst in Des Moines, Iowa on May 29, 2014. Charlie Neibergall—AP

The problem is not that she was called attractive, it's how people react to that

When video surfaced of a Democratic senator calling her “really attractive,” Senate candidate Joni Ernst took full advantage.

In an appearance on Fox News Monday, the Iowa Republican slammed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, whose seat she’s seeking, for saying in a video that she’s “as good looking as Taylor Swift” but “votes like Michele Bachmann.”

“I think it’s unfortunate that he and many in their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and female,” she said. “I believe if my name had been John Ernst on my resume, then Senator Harkin would not have said those things.”

Ernst is right that there’s a double standard for female politicians, but she’s not quite right about how it works. For one thing, people say male politicians are sexy all the time. In fact, it’s often an argument in favor of their candidacy.

Obama’s sex appeal won him a fan in “Obama Girl,” who made viral YouTube videos about her crush on the then-Presidential candidate in 2008. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) rumored washboard abs were the subject of much speculation during his 2012 Vice Presidential campaign. Scott Brown, who once posed nude for Cosmopolitan, was the subject of a 2010 New York Times column called “Bringing Sexy Back.” John Edwards was voted People Magazine’s “Sexiest Politician” of 2000.

It’s not a recent phenomenon either. Some historians argue that JFK won the presidency in 1960 because he looked more handsome than Nixon during the televised Nixon-Kennedy debate.

But while attractiveness is a political asset for male politicians, it’s a liability for women.

A 2010 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that when female job applicants included a photo with their resumes, more attractive women were less likely to get hired than plainer ones. But references to physical appearance of any kind, flattering or insulting, can hurt a female candidate.

“When [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said during the Real Simple/TIME event on Women and Success on Oct 1. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

That’s why comments about female politicians’ looks are seen as gaffes, while comments on men’s looks are considered funny and flattering.

Earlier this year, Gillibrand revealed in her book that she had been called “porky” and “chubby” by fellow Senators. Last year, Obama apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris after he commented that she was the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” Before he was defeated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012, then-Sen. Scott Brown responded to Warren’s comment that she didn’t have to take off her clothes to pay for college (a dig at Brown’s nude photo shoot) with an insulting “thank God.” And in 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Gillibrand the “hottest member” of the Senate, while she was sitting only a few feet away. Each of these comments created a minor scandal, and sparked debate about whether the female politicians were being “taken seriously.”

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of this. The former beauty queen-turned politician became a living punchline, thanks in part to her “sexy librarian hair” and resemblance to SNL comic Tina Fey.

So the problem with Harkin’s remarks isn’t that he wouldn’t have made them about a hypothetical John Ernst. The problem is that they would be seen as a problem for the real Joni Ernst.

TIME harassment

The Woman in That Viral Street Harassment Video Got Death and Rape Threats

Hollaback!

The video has more than 8.1 million views on YouTube and over 42,000 comments

A woman featured in a video that showed her being harassed as walked the streets of New York City has received at least 10 death and rape threats since the video went viral.

Some of the threats have gone directly to Shoshanna Roberts’ personal email accounts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The video, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” had over 8.1 million views on YouTube as of late Wednesday afternoon, and many derogatory comments—including one that says “this is exactly why women aren’t supposed to leave the kitchen.”

Despite the backlash, the video, which was created by the anti-street harassment organization “Hollaback!”, has become the latest fodder in an ongoing conversation about street harassment. You can see the video below.

TIME women

Enough With the Stats About Women and Work

185988600
Multi-bits—Getty Images

Susan S. LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, which helps organizations build cultures, create employer brands and develop talent strategies using a data-driven approach.

The C-suite can't hire and advance women in the workplace if they don't listen to their very unique needs

Women aspire to success: they earn 60% of college degrees and hold 52% of professional-level jobs. Yet, we’ve heard the same concerns over and over. Why are less than 15% of Fortune 500 executive positions held by women? Only 32% of lawyers are women, and they comprise only 36% of MBA-earners. And let’s not even talk about the wage gap–it’s been written about by everyone from Forbes to the New York Times, with little progress and lots of debate. The statistics on women in the workplace aren’t shocking anymore and the arguments and struggles aren’t new.

Yet from our clients’ struggles to the media’s relentless focus, the question remains: How do we hire and advance more women in the workplace?

The hypotheses and assumptions abound. For many women it’s a question of wanting to be at home (or have at least one parent be at home) to focus on raising children. For others it’s a question of cost: paying nannies or child care providers to shuttle kids to ballet and soccer doesn’t make sense.

But what do we really know about the women in our workplaces? Understanding their struggles, frustrations and the late night “how do we manage this?” conversations with partners and spouses may be something peers pay attention to. But management doesn’t. And this is the problem.

One married mom of twins I spoke to who works in finance for a well-known Fortune 100 company was offered a promotion to move from one division of finance to another, directly supporting the CFO. She had no choice but to turn down the role. Her husband has a full-time job too and her supporting the CFO would mean on-call problem solving at all hours of the day and evening–untenable when there are kids to feed and bathe at home.

Another gave up her lucrative job in law for eight years to raise her kids, and now that she’s back working has to answer to her pre-teen son who complained it was hard to get used to his mom being so busy.

These stories are anecdotes and there are thousands more just like them. But when we generalize, assume and build strategies around those assumptions, we fail. And this is why companies continue to struggle with hiring and advancing women.

Leaders just don’t understand the real, frontline issues in their own workplaces.

During a recent workforce analysis project, I presented some specific data to a CEO and a Chief Human Resource Officer showing the challenges their employees–men and women–were facing. One major issue had to do with getting out of work on time. Their employees were struggling with a combination of the office location/commuting issues and picking their children up from day care. Both men were shocked when I shared that each parent had to pay late fees each for minute they were late to pick up their kids. These leaders had no idea.

And how could they? This particular management team averaged over 50 years old, and those who had children had full-time childcare or a spouse at home to take care of them. Most employees won’t tell their C-suite bosses, “If I don’t leave now, I’ll probably have to pay $35 because I’ll be late to daycare.”

When leaders don’t live the issues or attempt to understand them, they can’t solve them.

Memo to the C-suite: It’s time to start understanding what’s behind the problems women are facing in your own organizations.

  • Stop with the assumptions

Instead of making assumptions or paying attention to broad sweeping trends, why aren’t leaders collecting their own data? It shouldn’t be about what the media tells leaders women want. Instead, leaders should look to their own unique workforces to see what their specific issues are. And if you’re sitting in a coveted C-suite role as a working parent, don’t assume your issues and story replicate others’ issues. They won’t–as a C-suite leader you’re no longer a representative sample.

  • Collect real data

Go beyond broad satisfaction and engagement ratings and ask specific pointed questions of your workforce to see what their real struggles are day to day. Late-night work calls and emails? Family leave policies? Equal pay? You won’t know what problems are most prevalent or what solutions work best for your workforce until you go directly to the source. Then segment that data to find patterns among different functions, levels, geographies and teams.

  • Blend qualitative and quantitative data

Let’s say you already know that the majority of your female employees want more flexible schedules. Great. Now go find out why by collecting qualitative data. The combination of survey data plus deep focus group and interview insights will help your leadership team understand the core issues. It may be childcare is at the root cause or it may be a greater desire for schedule control. You won’t know until you dig in and ask.

  • Forget the broad sweeping initiatives

It’s great to see nationwide movements, surveys and polls. But they won’t impact your specific organization alone. Only the C-suite can do that. Leaders are the ones who have to understand their own microcosms and make pointed changes specific to their own workforces.

When we engage, research and really understand our stakeholders–in this case women–we can more effectively address their frustrations and problems. For example, the female finance leader from the Fortune 100 company? She’s not just limited by her two young children. She’s also stuck on why the work has to be done at the last minute or at the CFO’s whim. She wonders what other leaders do about spending time with their kids.

The mom who has to have a conversation with her son about transitioning from staying at home to working again? The change at home is only one piece of the puzzle. She may really need resources at work to help her with making the change.

And it’s not just parental issues. Women without children have their own set of important issues and concerns. But it’s up to leaders to listen and learn what those are–and know that they differ by company, function, geography and even team.

I’ll never forget the lecture I got as a rising leader in a Fortune 500 company. It was 9:15 a.m. and an executive needed something from my team. I was nowhere to be found, and my small team hadn’t made it into the office yet either. My management style wasn’t a strict “must be at your desk by 9:00 a.m.” As long as my team got their work done and respected their peers, I didn’t care whether they started their day at 9:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. But that executive did. And as I listened to the lecture about setting a good example I thought to myself, “No one ever asks why.”

Susan S. LaMotte is the founder ofexaqueo (ex-ACK-wee-o), which helps organizations build cultures, create employer brands and develop talent strategies using a data-driven approach. Susan has an MBA (Vanderbilt University), an MA in HR Development (The George Washington University) and a BA in Communications (Virginia Tech). She has also written two books: The Right Job, Right Now (St. Martin’s Press) andVault Guide to Human Resources Careers.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Nigeria

Dozens More Women And Girls Abducted By Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls
A man poses with a sign in front of police officers in riot gear during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 14, 2014. Olamikan Gbemiga—AP

Residents say the kidnappings come a day after a truce between the militants and the Nigerian government

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been accused of abducting dozens more women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa state.

Residents say the alleged kidnappings, which haven’t been confirmed by authorities, took place a day after a reported truce between the militants and Nigerian government, the BBC says.

The government hopes negotiations with Boko Haram will secure the release of more than 200 girls who were taken hostage by the militants in April. But the Islamist group has not confirmed the ceasefire.

The April kidnapping, in Borno state, sparked mass protests in Nigeria and calls for the government to do more to save the girls under the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Meanwhile a bomb blasted through a bus station Wednesday in northern Bauchi state, killing five people and injuring 12. No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.

[BBC]

TIME feminism

Seriously? This Is What Passes for Feminism in America

Karin Agness is the Founder and President of the Network of enlightened Women.

Stunts like young girls yelling the F-word get attention. Sadly, that is what much of feminism has been reduced to

On Tuesday, I listened to Malala Yousafzai speak at the Forbes Under 30 Summit on her work fighting for girls’ education. Malala was shot in the head on October 9, 2012, by the Taliban for her outspoken views. She survived. But many girls don’t.

She has become a public figure, fighting for education for girls. Appropriately, she learned that she won the Nobel Peace Prize this year while in class. Her courage and grace are inspiring.

Today, I returned home to the so-called “war on women” in America. The latest antic? Apparel company FCKH8 posted a video of young girls dressed as princesses using the F-word and gesturing with their middle fingers to try to bring attention to sexism. It’s uncomfortable to watch—not in the sense that it causes viewers to rethink long-held beliefs, but because it’s a cheap ploy. Toward the end, two adults appear hawking “This is what a feminist looks like” and “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights” t-shirts. The video ends with a young girl saying, “Swear jar? I don’t give a f**k.” This isn’t courageous or graceful.

This for-profit t-shirt company recognizes that young girls yelling the F-word gets attention. And sadly, that is what much of feminism has been reduced to today—nothing more than offensive, crude attempts to draw attention away from the real issues.

Take equal pay. In the video, the girls recite the tired and debunked statistic that women supposedly make only 77 cents for each dollar that men make. Using the number this way has been discredited by people across the political spectrum, including Hanna Rosin, writer and author of The End of Men.

The problem is that this FCKH8 effort isn’t an outlier in feminism in America today. Comedian Sarah Silverman starred in a video as a woman who decided to get a sex change operation because she would supposedly get paid more as a man. What? This was an effort to raise money for the National Women’s Law Center, which “has worked for 40 years to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives—from education to employment to retirement security, and everything in between.” Maybe this silly ad helped them raise money, but wouldn’t a serious attempt have been better for women?

The battles that women and girls like Malala are fighting each and every day make the so-called “war on women” in America appear laughable. In some parts of the world, women would give about anything to be able to go to school. And some give it all. These women probably can’t even imagine testifying before Congress to try to get their university to pay for birth control and then turning that fame into a political candidacy.

It’s no wonder that only 20% of Americans self-identify as feminists, according to a Huffington Post/YouGov poll.

The FCKH8 “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause” is the latest example of feminism gone wrong in America. Feminists should start using their words, including the F-word, more wisely, because what they say could benefit women around the world.

Karin Agness is the Founder and President of the Network of enlightened Women.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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