U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism is on the rise, and democracy is on the decline. But day after day, we stay vigilant in our goals to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. The fight is far from over. We are watching, and we refuse to go back. This is the War on Women Report.
Saturday, July 28
+ In perhaps the most literal iteration of this column and its name, a new congressional provision could require women to sign up for the draft. The Senate Armed Services Committee included in its version of the annual defense policy bill legislation that, if enacted, would require women to register for the Selective Service alongside men, and in the event of war, be drafted for the first time in our country’s history.
In 2015, the Obama administration opened all combat jobs to women, and since then, Congress has been debating whether to expand the registration requirement to women. Nevertheless, several conservative legislators—the same ones attacking critical race theory, trans rights and abortion rights—see the new potential provision as a fresh target in the culture wars. If this is giving you deja vu, it’s not just you: In the 1970s and ’80s, ERA opponents like Phyllis Schlafly argued that the ERA would require women to be drafted into the military.
Tuesday, July 31
+ Thus far, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games are shaping up to be monumental in terms of women’s representation and activism. Namely, the German gymnastics team opted out of the usual high-cut uniform in favor of full body leotards. The choice was not based on modesty, but rather a statement against the over-sexualization of female athletes, who are often expected to wear uniforms displaying more of their bodies than their male counterparts. When asked about the German team’s choice, world renowned gymnast Simone Biles reflected on her choice to wear the traditional bikini-cut leotards, noting how they elongate her legs and make her appear taller. However, Biles said she “stands with their decision to wear whatever they please and whatever makes them feel comfortable.”
Wednesday, August 1
+ Female journalists and activists targeted by spyware attacks say governments seek to intimidate and silence them. Ghada Oueiss, a journalist for Al Jazeera, recently opened her Twitter account to find a private photo taken when she was wearing a swimsuit in a hot tub had gone viral. She was then bombarded with thousands of tweets attacking her credibility as a journalist—many from verified accounts belonging to government officials. Oueiss is one of several high-profile and outspoken female journalists and activists who have been targeted and harassed by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East through hack-and-leak attacks using spyware.
“If a woman tries to express their opinion about unjust laws or says something that doesn’t please the government, they will leak your private pictures to intimidate you,” said the sister of another journalist targeted in these attacks. “But in the long term it won’t work. Women will gather to unite against it.”
Thursday, August 2
+ U.S. Olympic fencer Alan Hadzic will compete in the Games this summer, despite multiple sexual assault claims. Six women fencers, including two Olympic athletes, wrote to the Olympic Committee just days after Hadzic secured a spot, citing his three open investigations of sexual assault and misconduct. These were reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, created by Congress after Larry Nassar’s abuse came to light, a nonprofit agency responsible for protecting professional athletes from abuse.
Fencers say, though, that the system failed them: Instead of banning Hadzic from competition, a “safety plan” was made to keep him away from women and out of the Olympic village, staying at a hotel 30 minutes away. A male teammate said, “We are pissed off … he’s been protected again and again”—a sentiment many female fencers hold. In a match on Aug. 2, three of Hadzic’s teammates showed up in coordinated pink face masks in protest of Hadzic, and in solidarity with victims.
#TeamUSA men’s epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Alen Hadzic— their teammate accused of rape and sexual assault— is on the left. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen pic.twitter.com/yRI4azelKN— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 30, 2021
Friday, August 3
+ This past week the office of Attorney General Letitia James completed their investigation of the standing sexual misconduct allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The 165-page report found Cuomo guilty of creating a hostile environment in the workplace via repeated incidents of sexual harassment and other cruel abuses of power. In total, the investigation confirmed that Cuomo harassed at least 11 women—three of which were previously unreported but all of whom worked on his staff at some point in time. Just after the report was released, President Joe Biden joined the chorus of prominent politicians calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
My statement on the independent investigation into the alleged sexual harassment claims against Governor Cuomo: pic.twitter.com/DfBC0xaI37— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) August 3, 2021
“He has zero partners at any level of government, including the top Democrat in the nation,” said N.Y. Assemblyman Ron Kim, one of the first Democrats to demand Cuomo’s resignation. “Right now we have an executive who is primarily concerned about saving himself.”