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Author Joanne Harris Says Boys Need To Be Encouraged To Read Books With Female Stories 

Author Joanne Harris recently spoke at the Hay festival in Wales, and discussed how boys should be encouraged to read books about girls, because “a boy who is afraid to read a book with a girl protagonist will grow up into a man who feels that it’s inappropriate for him to listen to a woman’s voice. 

The ‘Chocolat’ author, who also taught in an all-boys school for 15 years, discussed with the audience that violence against women is a constant threat that “needs to be addressed really early, long before an actual crime happens.”

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“We have to stop girls being apologetic when they have done nothing wrong. We have to stop boys being entitled when they’re actually not entitled to have more than anybody else. We’ve got to stop teaching them differently as teachers, that will help a lot.”

She continued: “Also we’ve got to stop giving them the message that it’s wrong for a boy to read books about girls. Because even schools are giving them this message. And this is where the problem happens, where women’s voices are perceived as less.”

Harris also discussed her newest novel, ‘Broken Light,’ at the Women of a Certain Age literary festival. The novel is described as a “menopause Carrie,” referring to the famous horror novel by Stephen King. 

Harris stated that the protagonist in her new novel, Bernie Ingram, gains supernatural powers when she reaches menopause, as opposed to when she goes through puberty in the original novel.

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Harris believes this distinction is important, especially for the messages of the female experience she wants to emphasize for readers. 

“[Menopause is one of] the things we choose not to talk about because we think people are going to judge us on them. [Issues women are encouraged to keep private] grow and grow unless we externalize some part of it,” she explained

Harris discussed the storyline of her new novel in relation to the recent case of Nicola Bulley, who was found dead after going missing near a Lancashire river this year. During the search, police officers released information that described Bulley as struggling with alcohol use and perimenopause symptoms. 

“The implication is that if you are a young mother and attractive then you are valuable and therefore your death is a tragedy, but if you are a menopausal woman you are high risk and low value.”

“the narrative became less ‘a mother disappears in mysterious circumstances’ and much more ‘a menopausal woman finds her way into the river’,” Harris said.

MeToo Movement

Viral Footage Of Women Being Attacked In China Revives #MeToo Movement For The Nation

Security footage shared online showed a violent attack on female diners at a restaurant in China, sparking outrage online and a call to revive the #MeToo movement against gender inequality, something President Xi Jinping has tried to suppress.

The White House Podium

Executive Order From Biden Could Improve How US Colleges Handle Sexual Misconduct

President Joe Biden is potentially going to improve on a Trump Administration policy that weakened how American colleges and universities that receive federal funding handle cases of sexual misconduct and assault accusations on campus, according to administration officials. 

Biden is projected to sign an executive order this Monday that would direct the Department of Education to review certain changes to policies that were implemented by former president Donald Trump. These policies include Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded institutions. 

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While Biden was campaigning he had a major focus on gender equality, and a big piece of that was a commitment to do better at protecting the young women of America who are constantly threatened at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. He promised to strengthen Title IX if he won and “sign a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council,” according to two administration officials.

Biden had the plans to create the council before he even took office as well. The order will direct the DOE to review Title IX, and potentially shift how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct/assault in the future. 

Back in 2018 Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, rescinded an Obama-era policy that made it standard for cases regarding sexual assault to require “preponderance of evidence,” and instead required “clear and convincing evidence” to make an allegation valid. Essentially, colleges and universities needed clear cut evidence that an assault occurred to actually do anything about it. These changes that were enforced by DeVos allowed colleges and universities to get away with ignoring the hundreds of allegations that appear on their campuses every year. 

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“The DeVos changes reduced the liability of colleges and universities for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstered the due process rights of the accused, including the right to cross-examine their accusers through a third-party advocate at campus hearings,” according to the Associative Press.

With the DOE now expected to review these policies, it’s expected that Biden is intending to make America’s colleges and universities a much safer place for students, and giving them the security of knowing that should something happen to them, they’ll have all the resources, information, and support they need to make sure they remain safe and the right parties are punished appropriately. 

The White House Gender Policy Council is a resurrection of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was an Obama-era council that worked to combat issues specifically related to women’s rights. That council was disbanded under Trump, and Biden’s resurrection of it with a new name aims to “acknowledge that inequities can affect people of all genders, however, the council will primarily focus on issues facing women and girls due to the disproportionate barriers they face,” an official claimed. 

According to White House officials, “the new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts. Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately impacted women and responding to gender-based violence.”

King Air 200

South African Pilot, Refilwe Ledwaba, Is Looking To Change The Face Of Aviation

“This is my favorite aircraft. It’s called a King Air 200. I’ve got approximately 100 hours of flying on this aircraft. I absolutely love it, it just performs,” Refilwe Ledwaba said as she stood next to the hanger of the King Air 200 at the Wonderboom Airport in South Africa.   

Ledwaba has made a major impact in South Africa through her advocacy for women’s rights, especially for their right to start careers in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as piloting. Ledwaba herself is both a helicopter and a fixed-wing pilot as well as a flight instructor for all prospective pilots in South Africa. 

Her other accomplishments include being a goalkeeper for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which basically means Ledwaba could choose a specific group/charity to advocate and raise awareness for. For Ledwaba, that has become the Girls Fly Program in Africa. She also was the first black woman to be a police service pilot in South Africa.

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“For a long time, I was the only black female that was holding the highest license for helicopters, but being the first for me is not important. The important thing is the 20th person, the 30th person, then we can start talking,” she said.

Ledwaba’s philosophy here couldn’t have come at a more relevant time. Reports claim that less than 10% of the world’s pilots, aviation maintenance technicians and airline executives are women, Ledwaba is ready to multiply that number five times over and she’s starting in Africa. As previously stated Ledwaba is involved with the Girls Fly Program in Africa (GFPA), but she’s not involved in the traditional sense of the word, she actually runs the entire foundation. 

GFPA’s main goal is to introduce girls in elementary, middle, and high school to STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering, and math. When Ledwaba was a child, she was raised by just her mother, who also had to raise six other kids. Her mother always instilled a hard work ethic in Ledwaba, and made it clear to her from a young age that the possibilities are limitless when it comes to what she wants to do with her life. 

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Initially, Ledwaba claimed her mother inspired her to work hard to become a doctor, however, when she was in school she got a job as a flight attendant to help pay for her education. From that moment on she was fascinated by all things aviation, so much so that she began taking private flying lessons, which has led to her career today.

As the world develops and continues to industrialize, more careers are going to require a degree in STEM, so Ledwaba’s goal is to introduce these subjects to girls at a young age to spark an interest early on. More often than not, girls are steered away from focusing on STEM subjects in terms of specialized studies, and Ledwaba is gearing up to change that. 

“I’m working to diversify the face of women in the aviation industry by being accessible, being available, and being visible. I want a future where a small child can just wake up like, ‘I’m going to do that one day,’ and not have doubts.” 

She’s already held multiple aviation/space camp programs through GFPA in South Africa, Cameroon, and Kenya. Ledwaba also emphasizes on the GFPA website that while their focus is on empowering young girls, they also reach out to young boys as well to join their school outreach programs and camps. While the main goal is equality amongst the sexes in STEM careers, Ledwaba is just as invested in young people of all demographics gaining an equal opportunity to succeed if they want it. So far, the GFPA and Ledwaba’s work has helped over 100,000 young girls and boys through their multiple STEM programs.

WWE Ring

WWE Women’s Division; They’re Finally Getting It Right

World Wrestling Entertainment, more popularly known as WWE, has had a long and tumultuous past with it’s women’s wrestling division. What started out as the “Divas Division” has now transformed into a place where women wrestlers are not only taken just as seriously as men, but their athleticism proves that equality amongst the sexes is long overdue in terms of sports entertainment. 

The Woman’s division started with only one competitive championship title to strive for. It went from the women’s championship, to the diva’s championship. Now, there’s eight total titles that all women wrestlers can compete for out of a total of 18 WWE championships. The Bleacher Report just released their list of top women’s division competitors to be on the lookout for in the following decade of entertainment. With every next generation of women wrestlers, the industry is seeing more and more diversity in strength and power with these athletes. The old narrative for the WWE “diva” was exactly that. The stereotypical diva who only was ever really there as an accessory for their male counterpart. Women’s matches used to be quick, and non-eventful, as the networks never put effort into a proper women’s division. They must have forgotten about the golden age of wrestling with individuals like Mae Young, who was the first to prove that girls can fight just as good, if not way better, than any man. Now, within the past decade, the women’s division has grown substantially with longer matches, and increased skill, and the best part? It’s one of the audience’s favorite divisions of competition, guess the network was wrong. 

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The Great Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah

Shayna Baszler tops the list as number one. A former MMA competitor, now has taken over WWE’s NXT division, which is where amateur wrestlers make their debut before performing on major stages like RAW or Smackdown. However, it’s important to note that NXT itself has also become a huge part and asset to WWE as a whole. Baszler holds the NXT Women’s title, and remains undefeated in her WWE career thus far. She’s only been in the division for one year, but critics are already branding her legacy as potentially one of the most successful WWE competitors to enter the ring. It’s more of a matter of if she decides to hold out with her career in wrestling, or return to the world of mixed martial arts, which she also dominated. 

Bianca Belier, another NXT beginner is already making a huge name for herself, and her ponytail, which she uses to quite literally “whip” the competition. The Bleacher Report describes her as style and technique as having a “power-based offense with raw athleticism and pummeling striking, leaving her more than one way to defeat the opposition.” She’s competed for the NXT women’s championship now twice during major high-profile televised events, giving her one of the quickest come ups in NXT. 

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Lacey Evans competing in Saudi Arabia’s first ever Women’s Wrestling Match 

Rhea Ripley is the next NXT competitor who is dominating at the beginning of her WWE career. She’s 23 years old, making her one of the youngest in the game at the moment, but don’t underestimate her based on her youth, in fact, it’s proving to be quite an advantage. Her aggressive persona and “in your face” demeanor makes her one of the most memorable personalities to enter the ring. At first, Ripley wasn’t with the televised division of NXT, as she wanted to focus more on her skill, so she remained competing at NXT house shows. House Shows are WWE wrestling events that aren’t televised, so there’s less drama moments and confrontations, and more straight up wrestling. After about a year of house show competition, Ripley made her return back to TV and boy did those skills she was building really show. 

If you’re an avid WWE watcher, than you definitely already know about the magic that is Lacey Evans, who’s become one of the most talked about WWE wrestlers on TV now, and rightfully so. She’s been competing now for five years, making her a more seasoned “amateur.” Evans was one of two wrestlers to recently compete in Saudi Arabia in the country’s first ever women’s wrestling match, alongside experienced wrestler Natalya. 

Bleacher Report stated that Evans has “been wrestling for five years but has already headlined a major WWE pay-per-view and competed against Raw’s top star, Becky Lynch, for the brand’s women’s championship. The former Marine has forged a path for herself that has taken her to the highest level of competition. With a move to SmackDown opening up opportunities for her to star in front of a network broadcast audience, she figures to be just getting started.”

These individuals are only a small percentage of the greatness that is coming from WWE’s women’s division currently. Women are finally getting their moment in the spotlight and it’s long overdue. Every year the network is recruiting more and more women wrestlers, many of which make a move from MMA, branding the Women’s Division as one of strength, power, and invincibility. It’s truly inspiring to see this division grow into the fullest of its potential, and show the world that when it comes to pure athleticism, gender doesn’t have anything to do with it.

WWE Ring

WWE Hosts First Ever Women’s Match In Saudi Arabia

World Wrestling Entertainment, more commonly known as the WWE, made history this week by hosting the first ever women’s wrestling match in Saudi Arabia. Natalya Hart, of the Hart Family Dynasty, was one of the participants facing off with U.S. marine veteran Lacey Evans. Two powerhouses and inspirations for female athletes everywhere, these two superstars broke barriers this Thursday with their match at WWE’s Crown Jewel event. 

Both Natalya and Evans were required to wear full body suits to ensure that their arms and legs were fully covered, as opposed to their normal wrestling gear which is a little more revealing and breathable when they compete in the United States. Saudi Arabia has long been labeled as one of the most oppressive countries in the world in regards to how the culture views women. It was just last year, 2018, that women gained the right to drive a vehicle, and were also granted access to attend sporting events if they wanted to. The lifts on these bans to basic human activities are all in an effort to re-brand the country, however, they obviously still have a long way to go. 

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According to Human Rights Watch, “women still face discrimination, as four feminist activists are behind bars, others remain on trial, and torture allegations have not been credibly investigated.” 

These small adjustments to the law are barely anything revolutionary, and the women of Saudi Arabia still have to deal with the sexist environment they are living in, regardless of the laws. The government has also been known to detain and arrest any women’s rights activist who is vocal about fighting for these new rights. 

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The WWE Crown Jewel event took place at the King Fahd international stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. The stadium is one of three in the country that now allow women to attend in the audience. While the country may have a long way to go in the name of gender equality, the fact that two women were broadcast live participating in a wrestling match in such an oppressive part of the world is a huge feat.  So much so that both WWE superstars took to Twitter to express their gratitude to be apart of such a monumental moment. 

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do the things I’ve done with WWE,” Evans tweeted on Wednesday. “Tomorrow I get to show my little girl that hard work can bring you to history-making heights.”

Her opponent, Natalya, expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter: “The world will be watching. I am so incredibly proud to represent our women’s division tomorrow night at #WWECrownJewel. It’s time to bring your best, Lacey.”

The WWE women’s division has taken a major turn within the past decade. Originally the women’s division was known as the “divas division” and the female wrestling matches were often overlooked, underdeveloped story wise compared to the men, and there was only one championship belt that the women could win. Now, the women’s division is thriving in a way that the WWE hasn’t seen since the attitude era. Natalya has been a wrestler since 2007, so she personally has been there for it all, and now she can say that she was there to break boundaries for women in Saudi Arabia.