Sunday, 22 October 2017

Twitter's confusion over what '#Asians' means

The use of hashtags on Twitter may be a great social media innovation for getting a specific message across in the way the #metoo hashtag has drawn attention to rampant global sexual harassment of women. The flip side of the coin is the power of the eponymous hashtag to further reinforce and disseminate stereotypical demeaning messages and pictures of women.


I looked up the hashtag #Asians because I had attended an Asian Writers Festival and was seeking to reach the right audience with my tweets. What I found was a stream of naked women and nothing of any relevance to being 'Asians'. In a further twist, most of the images (I only went as far as today's tweets) were of White women.  Am I to conclude that #Asians=naked sexy White women? 


In a world of increasing complexity I am still trying to figure this conundrum out especially given that under the hashtag of 'sex' one finds only a scattering of naked women pictures.


Could it be that Twitter, as an organisation, is managing a soft porn messaging service that caters for Asian countries where pornography is outlawed?


Twitter's refusal in the past to take down rape threats or such like dire tweets against women is increasingly making it a misogynistic social media application. Come on Twitter, for goodness sake. #Asians are walking, talking brown skinned human beings who live lives with dignity. While you aren't responsible for twats posting porn surely you can do something about a hashtag that refers to a whole humankind. The sexualisation of a hashtag that refers to a race of people is deeply immoral and racist. Replacing pictures of white naked women with ones of Asian women will not do the trick either. That's the Hugh Heffner faux model of female empowerment.

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Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Diwali Poem

















The clear blue sky,
The scent of flowers,
The colours of Rangoli,
And the sound of crackers.

The gifts and sweets from dear ones,
And the getting of their love,
The light of the candles below,
And the dazzling fireworks up above.

Lighting lamps at our homes,
Making the less fortunate smile,
Putting on new apparels,
Show our friends some style.

Paying respects to the gods,
And decorating for them the thali,
This is what the occasion is all about,
This is the spirit of Diwali
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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

#metoo groped at a business meeting


It has been more than a week since the news of the sexual harassment carried out by the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein broke. The scale of his evil acts has become apparent subsequently with more and more victims coming forward with their accounts.

On 15 October the actress Alyssa Milano tweeted asking women who had been victims of sexual crimes to tweet her using the hashtag #metoo. The request has spawned a movement in itself with #metoo being actively used for a number of days now. 

Sexual harassment is endemic and even a quick read of the #metoo twitter stream shows just how widespread it is not only in the countries that it takes place but in the spaces in women's lives in which these acts of harassment and rape take place.

Women are vulnerable everywhere in the spaces that they inhabit on a daily basis for the normal functioning of life.

It's taken me a week to write this blog post because I could not decide which incident of sexual harassment to blog about. This revelation has shocked even me and I was there each time! Are we mere playthings for men in the way that a cat toys with a mouse?

The concept of 'choice' associated with the women's movement is as far way as possible from the choice that I have had in trying to decide which attack to write about. 

Should it be the time when I knelt on the floor to pick something up that I had dropped only for a male work colleague to quip, "while you are down there"?  There was the time during a windy day when I held my skirt down while running to get onto a bus only for the bus driver to tell me that I ought to have let my skirt blow up to make his day.

I have chosen to write about the time I was groped at a work meeting because it is an example of the indiscriminate and sick opportunistic nature of male sexism.

I was co-chairing a round table meeting some years ago quite close to Christmas.  I left the room during break time to get something and as I re-entered the room one of the attendees came up behind me and wished me 'Merry Christmas' with a grope. He picked his moment because the meeting was due to restart any second. He had compromised me not only with the use of his hand but with his timing too. As it happens I did report him to my boss who wanted to take action but I did not want a confrontation and chose not to take it further.  A marker of his behaviour was sufficient for the moment in case it happened again.

The details of incidents of sexual harassment are quite often secondary to the context within which it occurs and by this I mean that men have gone unchallenged for far too long over their stronghold of a power base which demeans women. Male privilege is a dangerous anomaly.






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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Fight racism because girls come in different skin tones

The Benetton ad below which features children of different races reflects the changing cultural context of the world that they are growing up in. On 'International Day of the Girl' the importance of sending girls encouraging messages to look upwards in terms of life and career choices should have equal footing with eradicating the structural inequalities that pull them downwards. Racism is one such inequality. 
Donald Trump's slights and outbursts against immigrants and the rise of the far-right political groups in the Western world is sufficient evidence of how racism is quite often implemented in a top down fashion. Racism becomes embedded in the structures of governance. In other words, racism becomes rife and a way of life.


A young Indian girl or Latina girl at school, as an example, may be living in an ethnically dominated area which receives less funding and attention from the Government's education policies. As a result, the girl's life chances are immediately several paces behind the dominant race of whichever country she lives in.


Racism skews the level playing field.


Racism is a soul destroying experience for an adult, let enough a child (girls or boys). The salience of race in childhood requires upholding the type of attention that has not been accorded to date.
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Who has the European Central Bank’s listening ear?


Private financial corporations occupy most of the seats on the advisory groups that provide advice and expertise to the European Central Bank (ECB).
A report titled, ‘Open doors for forces of finance’, by CorporateEurope Observatory has discovered that Corporations such as BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank have frontline positions when it comes to having the ECB’s ears, thus raising the red flag on the power of vested interests to shape and influence the bank’s policies.

There are 22 advisory groups which form part of the ECB’s decision making process. There are 517 representative seats across the 22 groups and 508 seats have been allocated to representatives of private financial institutions. The representatives come from 144 different entities: corporations, companies, associations and trade associations. These entities advise the ECB on matters such as bond purchases, banking and technical regulation among others.
Given the strategic importance of the ECB and its’ remit to manage monetary policy it is worrying, to say the least, that such large numbers of what can be called ‘lobbyists’ are so close to the centre of decision making. The concern is that they are able to provide enough of a critical mass to garner strong enough clout to push self-interested agendas and ensure that their private interests are adequately considered by the ECB.
The EU’s transparency and, by extension the ECB’s, has often been called into question by both Eurosceptics and Euro reformers such as DiEM25.
Given that the ECB has responsibility for the euro and the administration of the Eurozone’s monetary policy and is one of the three entities that makes up the ‘Troika’, responsible for imposing harsh neoliberal austerity policies on countries like Greece and Ireland, questions are quite reasonably being asked on how the ECB is making policy.
The Corporate Europe Observatory also rightly questions why other interest groups in society such as civil society or academic expertise are not members of the advisory groups.
This lack of transparency is something that dogs the Brexit debate. While the Brexiters use it as a convenient justification for an exit it is those who support the European project but are concerned about the EU's seeming reluctance to respond to these accusations who will need assuring.
At the next council and general election the Lib Dems will have the unenviable task of trying to square support for remaining in the EU while acknowledging that it has many shortfalls.
A shorter version of this article has been published on DiEm25.
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