Women in Combat: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Over the last few years, women have become more involved in combat operations. Since September, 2001 (to February 28, 2013), 299,548 female service members have been deployed for contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In approximately 12 years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 800 women have been wounded and over 130 have died.
According to the Department of Defense (DOD), as of February 29, 2013, 16,407 female members were currently deployed in contingency operation. Women have been recognized for their heroism, two earning Silver Star medals.
The expansion of roles for women in the armed forces has evolved over decades. Women are not precluded from serving in any military unit by law today. DOD policy restricting women from serving in ground combat units was most recently modified in 1994 and 2013. Under the 1994 policy, women could not be assigned to units, below the brigade level, whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground. Primarily, this meant that women were barred from infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineers, and special operations units of battalion size or smaller. On January 24, 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rescinded the rule that restricted women from serving in combat units.
Various commissions and others have reviewed the issue of women in the military, in general, and women in combat units, at times at the direction of Congress. For example, the FY2009 Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act contained language establishing the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. Among its duties, the Commission was to conduct a study and report on the “establishment and maintenance of fair promotion and command opportunities for ethnic- and gender-specific members of the Armed Forces at the O-5 (Lieutenant Colonel for Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, and Commander for Navy and Coast Guard) grade level and above.” Among its recommendations, the Commission stated that DOD should take deliberate steps to open additional career fields and units involved in direct ground combat to women. The Ike Skelton National Defense Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directed DOD to conduct a review to “ensure that female members have equitable opportunities to compete and excel in the Armed Forces.” [Emphasis added.]
With the repeal of the ban on women serving in combat units, some have questioned whether or if current standards should be kept in place, reviewed, modified, etc. Many women’s right supporters contend that the former exclusionary policy, or standards that, de facto, act in an exclusionary manner, prevents women from gaining leadership positions and view expanding the roles of women as a matter of civil rights. Critic s view such changes as potentially damaging to military readiness.
“Swept Away” — Abuses against Sex Workers in China
Source: Human Rights Watch
This 51-page report documents abuses by the police against female sex workers in Beijing, including torture, beatings, physical assaults, arbitrary detentions, and fines, as well as a failure to investigate crimes against sex workers by clients, bosses, and state agents. The report also documents abuses by public health agencies, such as coercive HIV testing, privacy infringements, and mistreatment by health officials.
Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers (PDF)
Source: Sundance Institute
In our digital age, ideas and culture are increasingly shaped by the stories told with moving images. This context elevates film artists to an enormously influential role in determining how we see ourselves, one another, and the world around us. Yet the vast majority of films made and seen in the United States are written, directed and produced by male filmmakers whose stories tend to reflect dominant themes and reinforce the status quo. What might the future look like for both men and women given the full inclusion of a generation or two of truly empowered female perspectives in our media ecology?
There is a growing body of empirical research that documents how having a woman at the helm can affect the types of stories being told. First, female directors are more likely to feature girls and women on screen than male directors. This is true in both top-grossing films 1 and crit – ically acclaimed projects nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards over a 30-year period. 2 It is often as true for women producers as it is for women directors. Second, female producers and directors affect not only the prevalence of girls and women on screen, they also impact the very nature of a story, or the way in which a story is told. Examining more than 900 motion pictures, one study found that violence, guns/weapons, and blood/gore were less likely to be depicted when women were directing or producing, and thought-provoking topics were more likely to appear.
These patterns are not restricted to cinema. A recent content analysis 4 of war stories filed for news outlets during the first 100 days of three different international conflicts (Bosnia, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan) showed that female correspondents were more likely than their male counterparts to focus news stories on the victims of war, abuses to human rights and soldier profiles. Women put a human face on conflict reporting, just as they do in film.Together, the evidence is quite clear: gender of the storyteller matters.
Currently, the presence of women behind the camera in popular film is infrequent at best. Assessing 250 of the top-grossing U.S. movies of 2011, 5 one study found that only 5% of directors, 14% of writers, and 25% of producers were female. These statistics have fluctuated very little since 1998. This picture would seem to suggest that the traditional Hollywood economic model or power-structure is a leading impediment to access for women filmmakers.
Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
This report provides the first-ever estimates of women’s employment in the green economy, state-by-state, by industry, and by occupation. The analysis draws on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey; the Brookings-Battelle Clean Economy database; and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Goods and Services survey. The report examines women’s share of employment in the occupations predicted to see the highest growth in the green economy and includes two alternative state-by-state estimates for growth in green jobs. Focusing on investments in green buildings and retrofits, the report includes a state-by-state analysis of employment in key construction occupations by age, race, ethnicity, and gender. This report was funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE) Program. It is the first of a series of publications investigating strategies for improving women’s access to quality employment in the green economy; future reports will address good practices in workforce development for women in the green economy.
Why Don’t Men Understand Women? Altered Neural Networks for Reading the Language of Male and Female Eyes
Source PLoS ONE
Men are traditionally thought to have more problems in understanding women compared to understanding other men, though evidence supporting this assumption remains sparse. Recently, it has been shown, however, that meńs problems in recognizing women’s emotions could be linked to difficulties in extracting the relevant information from the eye region, which remain one of the richest sources of social information for the attribution of mental states to others. To determine possible differences in the neural correlates underlying emotion recognition from female, as compared to male eyes, a modified version of the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was applied to a sample of 22 participants. We found that men actually had twice as many problems in recognizing emotions from female as compared to male eyes, and that these problems were particularly associated with a lack of activation in limbic regions of the brain (including the hippocampus and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex). Moreover, men revealed heightened activation of the right amygdala to male stimuli regardless of condition (sex vs. emotion recognition). Thus, our findings highlight the function of the amygdala in the affective component of theory of mind (ToM) and in empathy, and provide further evidence that men are substantially less able to infer mental states expressed by women, which may be accompanied by sex-specific differences in amygdala activity.
Source: PLoS ONE
Voice, as a secondary sexual characteristic, is known to affect the perceived attractiveness of human individuals. But the underlying mechanism of vocal attractiveness has remained unclear. Here, we presented human listeners with acoustically altered natural sentences and fully synthetic sentences with systematically manipulated pitch, formants and voice quality based on a principle of body size projection reported for animal calls and emotional human vocal expressions. The results show that male listeners preferred a female voice that signals a small body size, with relatively high pitch, wide formant dispersion and breathy voice, while female listeners preferred a male voice that signals a large body size with low pitch and narrow formant dispersion. Interestingly, however, male vocal attractiveness was also enhanced by breathiness, which presumably softened the aggressiveness associated with a large body size. These results, together with the additional finding that the same vocal dimensions also affect emotion judgment, indicate that humans still employ a vocal interaction strategy used in animal calls despite the development of complex language.
Born both ways: The alloparenting hypothesis for sexual fluidity in women
Source: Evolutionary Psychology
Given the primacy of reproduction, same-sex sexual behavior poses an evolutionary puzzle. Why would selection fashion motivational mechanisms to engage in sexual behaviors with members of the same sex? We propose the alloparenting hypothesis, which posits that sexual fluidity in women is a contingent adaptation that increased ancestral women’s ability to form pair bonds with female alloparents who helped them rear children to reproductive age. Ancestral women recurrently faced the adaptive problems of securing resources and care for their offspring, but were frequently confronted with either a dearth of paternal resources due to their mates’ death, an absence of paternal investment due to rape, or a divestment of paternal resources due to their mates’ extra-pair mating efforts. A fluid sexuality would have helped ancestral women secure resources and care for their offspring by promoting the acquisition of allomothering investment from unrelated women. Under this view, most heterosexual women are born with the capacity to form romantic bonds with both sexes. Sexual fluidity is a conditional reproductive strategy with pursuit of men as the default strategy and same-sex sexual responsiveness triggered when inadequate paternal investment occurs or when women with alloparenting capabilities are encountered. Discussion focuses on (a) evidence for alloparenting and sexual fluidity in humans and other primates; (b) alternative explanations for sexual fluidity in women; and(c) fourteen circumstances predicted to promote same-sex sexual behavior in women.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
EQUAL PAY IS A FAMILY ISSUE. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men.When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families.
While progress has been made, the pay gap affects all women and is larger among minority women and women with disabilities. Over the course of her lifetime, this pay gap will cost a woman and her family lost wages, reduced pensions and diminished Social Security benefits.
This guide is designed to help working women understand their rights under certain laws that govern equal pay and compensation.
Source: Guttmacher Institute
Sexual activity is and has long been rare among the youngest adolescents, according to "Sexual Initiation, Contraceptive Use and Pregnancy Among Young Adolescents," by Lawrence B. Finer and Jesse M. Philbin of the Guttmacher Institute, published online in the journal Pediatrics. Very few early adolescents (both boys and girls) have had sex (0.6% of 10-year-olds, 1.1% of 11-year-olds and 2.4% of 12-year-olds), and the incidence of pregnancy among girls aged 12 or younger is minuscule. But adolescence is a time of rapid change, and sexual activity is more common among older teens, including one-third (33%) of those aged 16, nearly half (48%) of those aged 17, and 61% and 71% of 18- and 19-year-olds, respectively.
Moreover, this pattern has prevailed for decades: A low level of sexual activity among young adolescents has long been the norm, while sexual initiation later in adolescence has been and remains a normal part of teens’ development process. At the same time, however, recent cohorts have delayed starting sex; in the current cohort of adolescents, the likelihood of sexual activity at any given age is lower than at any time in the past 25 years.
Ordinary or Peculiar Men? Comparing the Customers of Prostitutes With a Nationally Representative Sample of Men
Ordinary or Peculiar Men? Comparing the Customers of Prostitutes With a Nationally Representative Sample of Men
Source: International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Recent media attention implies that prostitution seeking is widespread, an “ordinary” aspect of masculine sexual behavior. Other accounts suggest that customers are “peculiar,” characterized by distinct qualities, perversions, or psychological impairments. Using the nationally representative General Social Survey (GSS), this study demonstrates that prostitution seeking is relatively uncommon. Only about 14% of men in the United States report having ever paid for sex, and only 1% report having done so during the previous year. Furthermore, this study dissects whether customers are ordinary or peculiar by comparing a new sample of active customers who solicit sex on the Internet with an older sample of arrested customers, a sample of customers from the GSS, and a nationally representative sample of noncustomers. The customers of Internet sexual service providers differed greatly from men in general and also from other customers. The remaining samples of customers differed slightly from noncustomers in general. We argue for a balanced perspective that recognizes the significant variety among customers. There is no evidence of a peculiar quality that differentiates customers in general from men who have not paid for sex.