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The IGNITE International Girls’ Hackathon took place in five countries last weekend. The Hackathon gets girl coders to collaborate and develop a website or app that addresses a specific challenge facing young women. This year the theme was safe spaces—spaces free from violence and judgement and have access to supporting peers. This also includes spaces where education and information are available to young women. IGNITE is part of the Global Fund for Women, which explores the roles of science and technology in advancing gender equality. This event is a huge milestone for feminism as it has broken into a field previously monopolised by males. Not only does it encourage girls to undertake technology development as a career but it also shows them how to use it as a way of helping other young women.
A trans Maori woman was assaulted by a security guard while protesting Auckland’s Pride Parade. Emmy was part of the No Pride in Prison group that peacefully protested against the fact that uniformed correctional officers were allowed to partake in the parade despite the routine institutional violence and racism exercised by New Zealand police towards the queer community. She was pushed to the ground and then aggressively forced to the curb where she was then denied medical attention for twenty-five minutes while a police officer interrogated her. The assault resulted in her humerus being fractured. This assault is a prime example of the right to protest being restricted based on gender, race and class.
Rebecca Stringer, a Senior Lecturer on Gender Studies at Otago University, held a forum on the politics and theories of rape culture in Dunedin on 25 February. Movements like Slutwalk have begun to shift people’s perceptions of victim blaming following sexual assault. Stringer challenges what it means to be victim, both in the time of assault and in the following treatment by peers and the court. Her talk touches on some of the ideas and theories discussed in her paper Vulnerability after Wounding: Feminism, Rape Law and the Differend which is a must-read for anyone interested in the politicisation of the anti-rape campaign.
Patricia Arquette, winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, ended her acceptance speech with a brief but concise shout out for equal pay for women, declaring that “it’s our time to have wage equality for once and for all”. But this positive, if a little cursory gesture was almost immediately overshadowed by an offensive backstage interview during which Arquette specifically called upon gay women and women of colour to up their game in the fight for women’s rights. Arquette’s actions played directly into the stereotypes of celebrities using superficial fame-inism to appeal to their audiences. She did succeed in making fellow high-paid white actress Meryl Streep burst into a kind of cute supportive applause-dance, but sadly her victories for feminism ended there.