Wonder Woman is No Longer a U.N. Ambassador

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

 

DC Comics superhero/feminist icon Wonder Woman has been ousted as the United Nations (U.N.)’s Honorary Ambassador for female empowerment. The character was officially unveiled as the ambassador on Oct. 21. The unveiling tied into the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal #5, which “seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.’

Her last day as ambassador was Dec. 16. Girlfriend didn’t even have the job a whole two months.

The reason for the end of Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is slightly unclear. Around 45K+ people showed their displeasure with the iconic character’s new role by singing a petition. But the U.N. claims they made the end date soon after the character’s debut in the role, and not as a result of the protests.

 

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Sex & Stats’ 2016 Year in Review

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

Raise your hand if you are DONE with 2016. Everyone? Yeah, I thought so. Before we let the door hit this year on its ass, let’s look back at some of the biggest trends in sexuality this year.

Women’s Equality

This year, women began speaking up and demanding more. This ranged from five women suing New York State for the infamous tampon tax to single women voting becoming America’s force to be reckoned with to “Shameless” actress Emmy Rossum asking for (and getting!) equal pay for her performance on the hit TV show.

This is one trend that’s been a long time coming, and I hope it continues for a long, long time.

Brands’ New Inclusive Spokesmodels:

This year, larger brands began making strides towards inclusivity in their advertising. This was especially prevalent with the CoverGirl brand: Beauty blogger (and teenager!) James Charles became the first man to rep the brand, and beauty vlogger Nura Afia became the first Muslim woman to wear hijab to appear in CoverGirl’s advertising.

Let’s hope that more brands follow CoverGirl’s lead of using spokesmodels of all stripes to include in their public-facing advertising. After all, it’s been proven that diversity is big business.

Wonder Woman:

Wonder Woman fever is beginning to crest, with many news items about the Amazonian princess making headlines. First, the character was revealed to be queer by DC comics writer Greg Rucka. A few weeks later, she was named honorary ambassador to the United Nations for female empowerment worldwide.

Wonder Woman will probably retain a strong interest with the release of the self-titled big screen movie starring Gal Gadot. The movie will be released on Jun. 2, 2017.

And that’s it for 2016. See you in 2017!

Nikki Haley is the First Woman and Minority Named to the Trump Administration

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

President-elect Donald Trump (I threw up a little just now writing that) has named his pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He’s selected Republican Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley. Haley is the first woman Trump has selected for his administration.

Haley’s also the first minority Trump has selected: She’s of Indian descent, and her parents are Sikh.

Haley has served two terms as governor of South Carolina, and is known for advocating removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol grounds.

She is the first woman governor of South Carolina, as well as the first minority governor of the state.

According to CNN, “Haley will keep serving as governor until the Senate confirms her nomination.”

China’s Sex Ratio: How Skewed Is It?

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Late last year, China ended its one-child policy, where each family was only allowed to have…one child. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Though its rules have relaxed in recent years, this is the first time the practice has been officially abolished. (But we’ll see how long it takes for the policy to actually die down, data-wise.)

We’ve all heard about how skewed China’s sex ratios are; we’ve heard about how the country overwhelmingly favors male children to the detriment of an equal sex ratio. But what are the numbers behind this phenomenon?

Consulting firm Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. released data in 2010 that revealed that Chinese women bear .71 of female births during their lifetime. That year, men outnumbered women by 50M+. The birth rate at that time was 120 boys per 100 girls, which works out to a sex ratio of 1.2.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s what that ratio looks like, especially in context with other countries:

China's male births compared to other countries' male births ('Business Insider')

China’s male births compared to other countries’ male births (‘Business Insider’)

As Business Insider notes:

That means lots of single, possibly angry males. Hard to imagine anything good coming out of this.

The policy was made into law in 1979, and abolished in 2015. That’s 36 years. Thirty-sex years of selected sex-selection in favor of boys at the expense of girls. (Fun fact: Kim Kardashian West participated in this when she was trying to get pregnant with her now-son.)

Scary, right? We’ll see how the new policy helps attempt to reverse this long-running trend.

 

Pregnant Girls Banned from Sierra Leone Schools

Pregnant Sierra Leone woman (The Fatou Blog)

Pregnant Sierra Leone woman (The Fatou Blog)

Schools in Sierra Leone closed during the Ebola epidemic are scheduled to re-open today, welcoming children eager to learn again. But the country’s Minister of Education Minkailu Bah has banned one group from returning: pregnant teen girls, claiming they’re a distraction to their peers and would hinder learning.

Incidentally, this ban isn’t new, having been in place since 2010. But it’s making headlines now.

Whether or not this qualifies as a “distraction” is another debate entirely, but teenage pregnancies within the country are becoming more common. A recent long-term study by the UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearing House found that 33%+ of all Sierran Leonian pregnancies involve teen girls, and nearly 40%+ are involved in a “maternal death.” For context relative to the size of the country’s population, 41% of Sierra Leone citizens are under age 18. Those are some scary stats.

Sierra Leone isn’t the only country battling this issue. As a whole, Africa has the highest rates of teenage pregnancies, taking 18 of the top 20 spots in a 2013 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) rankings report.

The recent teenage pregnancy epidemic has been attributed to Ebola, in that girls who might otherwise be attending school are now more vulnerable to sexual violence. They may also have to survive and provide, and do so via prostitution. So there might be a bit of a substitution effect at play here.

But human rights governing bodies have taken note of Bah’s stance. The United Nations issued a statement in which stated that “education is a fundamental human right that Sierra Leone has committed itself to uphold.” The UN also reminded the country of its own Education Act, passed in 2004, which barred discrimination of those seeking education.

We’ll see how Bah’s proposed idea pans out. But the words of UNFPA’s Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin ring true here:

Adolescent pregnancy is intertwined with issues of human rights. A pregnant girl who is pressured or forced to leave school, for example, is denied her right to education.

Sex & Stats’ 2014 Year in Review

Beyonce's 'Flawless' performance at the 2014 MTV Video Music Award

Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless’ performance at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards

We’re almost done with 2014, so let’s take a look back at some important movements in the world of sexuality.

Trans Issues:

After a long time, the trans community has come into the spotlight.

It started back in early March, when Jared Leto took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing trans woman Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club.” This was the first time an actor won an Oscar for a trans role, and the second time an actor playing a trans character had been nominated for an Academy Award. (The first time was when Felicity Huffman played a trans woman in 2005’s “Transamerica,” and garnered a Best Actress nomination.) The film also sparked a dialogue about cisgendered actors playing trans roles.

The community has been making strides on a local level as well. This fall, a Texas high school elected its first trans homecoming king.

 

Anal Play:

“We’ve been experimenting with the butt,” a good friend of mine said recently. Though she was referring to what she and her partner were getting up to, this statement also applies to our culture’s newfound fascination with anal play.

Ever since a stripper alleged that Drake enjoyed having his salad tossed, it seems like anal play and rappers  are having a major intersectionality moment. Nicki Minaj has proven this most frequently with her singles “Anaconda” and “Only,” positing herself in the power position of receiving, and greatly enjoying, having her asshole eaten out.

Anal sex also appeared on our broadcast TV screens in mainstream American homes this fall. The “How To Get Away With Murder” pilot and an episode of “The Mindy Project” both featured the formerly taboo act (the former more explicitly than the latter). Bonus points for both featuring interracial couples as well.

 

Feminism:

This is technically a holdover from 2013, but feminism continued to stake its claim in culture this year.

“Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson gave an inspiring speech to the United Nations launching the HeForShe campaign, mobilizing men to do their part for feminism. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld ended his spring 2015 runway show with models holding up signs painted with feminist slogans. Singer John Legend declared that society would be better if all men were be feminists.

Of course, Beyoncé also had a hand in this. (No surprise there, as her 2013 self-titled album sampled Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie’s now-famous TED talk on feminism.) She started it off strong in January authoring an essay on workplace inequality for “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink.”

But that was small compared to what was to come: During the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé performed “***Flawless” in front of a giant lit marquee, branding herself as a FEMINIST. IN ALL CAPS. It certainly raised consciousness for many people, because Google searches for “feminist” and “beyonce feminist” majorly spiked that week.

 

2014 has been very eventful, and let’s hope society keeps making sex-positive strides forward in 2015. See you next year!