‘Shot in the vagina’

The same forces that feed into the violence against migrant women are also undermining climate action.

Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]
Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]

Last December, the Trump administration enacted a scheme requiring Central American asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal proceedings drag on indefinitely in the United States.

The Migrant Protection Protocols policy – a handily perverse euphemism – is the approximate equivalent of calling the Exxon Valdez oil spill the Marine Life Protection Initiative. As various human rights and advocacy organisations have pointed out, the border programme has exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers to violence; including rape, kidnapping and assault, in the unsure border regions of Mexico.

In light of the surplus of rapes and other abuses already documented as a result of so-called “protection”, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – marked annually on November 25 – is an ideal occasion to reflect on the violence facing migrant women in an era of mass migration.

Pervasive violence

As the UN Women website observes : ” Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.”

For an idea of the extent of normalisation, just recall Patriarch-in-chief President Donald Trump‘s own previous advice about fondling women without their consent: “Grab ’em by the p****.”

Migrant women, of course, are particularly vulnerable to “grabbing” – and much worse – especially given that crimes against migrants are not generally reported or prosecuted. And for Central American women transiting Mexico to the US border, sexual assault is frequently par for the course.

Lest anyone assume that this validates the Trumpian vision of Mexico as composed of rapists and criminals , however, just recall the epidemic of rape in the US’s own military – not to mention rampant claims of sexual abuse of immigrant children held at US detention facilities.

‘Shot in the vagina’

It bears emphasising, too, that many of the women who flee Central America are fleeing a system of patriarchal violence that the US itself has played no small part in sustaining.

Following the 2009 US-abetted right-wing coup in Honduras, for example, a surge in femicides and all manner of other crimes was accompanied by a climate of impunity that has yet to subside. According to a New York Times essay , a 2018 study conducted in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula indicated that more than 96 percent of women’s murders went unpunished – an arrangement presumably facilitated by reports that officials in the “agency entrusted with investigating women’s deaths [were] killing women themselves”.

Murder methods have included being “shot in the vagina” and “skinned alive”.

In addition to throwing a bunch of money at homicidal Central American security forces, the US underwrites capitalist patriarchy by pushing punitive economic policies – pardon, supporting “development” and “investment” – that favour the financial domination of the United States’ local, predominantly male and obsequiously neoliberal elite acolytes.

This ensures that, while US corporate interests in the region remain sacrosanct, the lives of the poor are expendable – and the lives of women even more so. After all, as far as capitalism is concerned, there can never be too much inequality.

Patriarchal contexts

Meanwhile, across the ocean, violence against women is also tied up with migration. Last year, the UN found that in Libya – a primary jumping-off point for maritime migration to Europe – the ” overwhelming majority of [migrant] women and older teenage girls interviewed … reported being gang-raped by smugglers or traffickers.”

In Libya‘s migrant detention centres, too, rape is rife. And, thanks to an agreement between the Italian government and the Libyan coastguard, migrants intercepted at sea are often returned to these very same centres.

Never mind that centuries of European colonialism and exploitation of the African continent have played no small role in determining present migration patterns; “fortress Europe” has appointed itself unquestionable victim of the migrant crisis, condemning the actual victims to a criminalised existence that only increases the chances of their further victimisation.

For many migrant women, then, life becomes one continuous migration between patriarchal contexts in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.

And for those who do make it to Europe, things do not necessarily improve. Amnesty International has documented how, for a great number of females in Greek refugee camps, ” the insecurity and dangers they experience in Greece are a constant reminder of the violence they sought to escape”.

Among the interviewees at one camp was a Cameroonian woman who had to flee abuse twice. Leaving Cameroon on account of an abusive husband, she made it to Istanbul, where she found a job at a sweatshop. When her employer there started sexually abusing her as well, she fled again, this time to Greece.

Violate women, violate the earth

But physical violence and socioeconomic inequality are not the only ways in which patriarchal systems drive migration. Consider reports that climate change could generate more than 200 million refugees by 2050 – and that climate change disproportionately affects women.

Consider also an August article at The New Republic, headlined The Misogyny of Climate Deniers, which catalogues a ” growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism” and finds that “male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap”.

According to a 2014 paper published by the International Journal for Masculinity Studies, the whole notion of climate change is in fact perceived as a “threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity”.

By extension, then, patriarchal capitalism imperils not only women but the planet itself.

Now, as the migrant crisis rages on and humanity hurtles towards self-destruction , the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women should serve as a reminder that, without first smashing the patriarchy, we will never even stand a chance.

INTERACTIVE: Violence against women

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maine’s congressional delegation backs effort to spur passage of Equal Rights Amendment

When the ERA failed to gain enough support by one old 1982 deadline, it seemed dead, but it suddenly has life again and may win approval within months.

In a move that may help enact the long-delayed Equal Rights Amendment, which would put women on equal footing in the U.S. Constitution that serves as the bedrock for the nation’s government, all four of Maine’s federal lawmakers support the extension of a deadline for its approval.

No other state’s congressional delegation offers such unanimous and bipartisan support for the measure.

The ERA, which seemed dead decades ago, suddenly has new life as Democrats in Virginia, who captured control of its legislature in this month’s election, vow to push through the proposal in January.

If they do, it would make Virginia the 38th state to endorse the amendment, enough to meet the three-fourths requirement to change the Constitution.

“The question is no longer if, but when. We will ratify the Equal Rights Amendment!” tweeted U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who introduced a bill with Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski to try to clear a path for the measure.

It’s not going to be simple, though.

Back in 1972, with U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican, supporting the proposal, Congress approved the ERA and its promise that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Congress set a 1979 deadline for the states to endorse it.

In 1978, with the amendment’s momentum stalled, Congress agreed to give the states three more years to ratify it.

“Ten years is a reasonable time for the ERA,” U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, said at the time. “This is no ordinary constitutional amendment. We are dealing with the rights of over half the people in the country.”

Dismissing Republican argument that the deadline could not be prolonged once set, Bayh declared, “It has been clear in every court decision and in every action of the U.S. Congress that the Congress has the authority to determine what is a reasonable time for ratification of a constitutional amendment.”

Despite Maine’s 1974 backing of the amendment, it fell just shy of the three-fourths of states needed, seemingly leaving the proposal dead in the water. For more than three decades after its failure, debate over the amendment largely ceased.

Supporters kept introducing new versions of the ERA in Congress without success. Then some backers got the idea of reviving the old push rather than promoting a new one.

As a result, in the last couple of years, Nevada and Illinois approved the 1972 version for the first time, with supporters arguing the time limit was merely verbiage by legislators that ought to count for nothing. Virginia’s almost certain approval when its new legislative session begins in January would, if they’re right, make the ERA the law of the land.

Legal observers are divided about the issue, which would almost certainly wind up in the hands of the federal courts to decide.

Meanwhile, though, lawmakers on Capitol Hill who support the ERA are pushing another angle to help make the ERA law. They want to remove the deadline for its passage entirely.

Most of the Democrats in the U.S. House have signed on as cosponsors of the measure — including U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden of Maine — but only a handful of senators have done the same.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican (rape-apologist), and Angus King, a Maine independent (who wants a coin for George H.W. ‘David Cop-a-feel’ Bush), are among the four who have agreed to endorse the Senate’s version of the measure.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a prepared statement that his panel plans Wednesday to take action on the proposal to drop the time limits on ERA passage.

“Congress created this deadline and, it is clear, Congress has every authority to remove it now,” Nadler said. “After decades of work by tireless advocates, it is time for Congress to act and clear the way for Virginia, or any other state, to finally ratify the ERA and for discrimination on the basis of sex to be forever barred by the Constitution.”

The House will likely go along with the decision of Nadler’s panel.

What happens in the Senate is less clear, particularly since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been keeping almost every bill from consideration.

Cardin and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, are the Senate bill’s chief sponsors, with King and Collins also on board. Senate Democrat is expected to support the bill as well.

Its passage would require more GOP support, but that might be possible. Collins and Murkowski are longtime ERA supporters and firm opponents of the bill are scarce.

“There should never be a time limit to women’s equality,” Murkowski said last summer, according to Maryland Matters, a news site. “So let’s get that out of the way. Let’s move towards full ratification and let’s finish this unfinished business.”

There are a host of legal issues likely to be raised should Congress opt to drop its old 1982 deadline for the ERA’s passage.

One of them arose when five states that approved the amendment soon after its submittal for ratification — Nebraska, Tennessee Idaho, Kentucky, and South Dakota  — voted again before the 1982 deadline to rescind their approval.

Whether they can do that or not has never been resolved by courts. At the time, the only court case pondering the matter was tossed out as moot once the deadline passed without enough states giving the ERA a thumbs up.

However, Congress itself refused to recognize efforts by two states to rescind their backing of the 14th Amendment after the Civil War, a precedent that may matter.

If it does come down to a court fight, there’s at least one justice on the Supreme Court unlikely to shoot down the ERA.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once told the National Press Club she would like to see the amendment approved.

Legislation, she said, “can be repealed, it can be altered. So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature — I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

How Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King voted last week

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-20h56m02s177.png

The House was in recess this week. Along with last week’s roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Supply Chain Counterintelligence Training Act (S. 1388).

There were no key votes in the House this week.

SENATE VOTES

CLAIMS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of David Austin Tapp to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for a 15-year term. Tapp, a circuit court judge in Kentucky since 2005, was previously a criminal defense lawyer and police officer. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: “As a volunteer drug court judge, Judge Tapp has earned national praise for promoting long-term recovery in the courtroom. He has also developed a sterling reputation for fairness throughout Kentucky and around the country.” The vote, on Nov. 5, was 85 yeas to 8 nays.
YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine

APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Danielle J. Hunsaker to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Hunsaker had been a county judge in Oregon since 2017, and before that a law professor and private practice lawyer in Portland from 2008 to 2017. The vote, on Nov. 6, was 73 yeas to 17 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

ARKANSAS JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Lee Philip Rudofsky to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Rudofsky, Arkansas’s solicitor general from 2015 to 2018, has also been a senior lawyer for Walmart and a private practice lawyer in Washington, D.C. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Rudofsky a nominee who believed “in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to apply our nation’s laws and Constitution as they were actually written, not as they might wish they were written.” An opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Rudofsky “has a long history in Arkansas of working to deny women access to reproductive healthcare.” The vote, on Nov. 7, was 51 yeas to 41 nays.
YEAS: Collins
NAYS: King

PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Jennifer Philpott Wilson to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Wilson has been a lawyer at her family’s law firm in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, since 2009, and before that a tax trial attorney at the Justice Department from 2005 to 2009. The vote, on Nov. 7, was 88 yeas to 3 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

SECOND APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of William Joseph Nardini to serve as a judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Nardini has been on the staff of the U.S. attorney’s office for Connecticut since 2000, and currently heads the office’s criminal division. The vote, on Nov. 7, was 86 yeas to 2 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

Meghan Murphy: Canadian feminist’s trans talk (“men aren’t women”) sparks uproar

Meghan MurphyMeghan Murphy says she wants to ensure the safety of women

A Canadian library has been criticised for refusing to cancel an event hosting a feminist with controversial views on transgender rights.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a branch of the Toronto Public Library as writer Meghan Murphy gave a talk inside.

The library defended its decision to allow her talk on gender identity and “society, the law and women”.

Campaigners have called Ms Murphy anti-transgender, which she denies.

Toronto police quoted by Global News said officers had been present inside and outside the event to “keep the peace.”

Global News reporter Kamil Karamali tweeted that attendees were escorted by police out the back of the building when the talk ended.

White space

What is Meghan Murphy’s stance?

Ms Murphy says she wants to ensure the safety of women in places like female prisons, women’s refuges and changing rooms.

In Canada, she has spoken against a bill that amended Canada’s rights act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and identity over concerns it could undermine women’s rights by eroding their “safe spaces”.

“Under current trans activist doctrine we’re not allowed to exclude a man from a woman’s space if he says that he’s female and I find that quite dangerous and troubling,” she told the BBC.

She says she believes the transgender activist movement is “regressive and sexist” and ignores women and girls.

The talk’s organisers, a group called Radical Feminists Unite, have said they are “not a hate group, and we do not espouse hate speech, or advocate for the removal of rights from any marginalised group”.

The event was sold out.

Judith Taylor, from University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute, calls Ms Murphy “basically a provocateur”.

She thinks that Ms Murphy, in asserting the rights of one group “is implicitly trying to sideline another” and disagrees with Ms Murphy that safe spaces and diversity cannot coexist.

“The more that we start embracing that diversity the better our learning and the better our strength,” she said.

What has the library said?

City librarian Vickery Bowles released a statement in mid-October defending the decision to host the event, saying that as a public institution it has “an obligation to protect free speech”.

She said that while the library supports the LGBT community and can cancel a room rental if it believes “the event will promote discrimination, contempt or hatred for any individual or group” this case does not violate its rental policies.

Toronto Mayor John ToryImage copyrightTORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES
Image captionToronto Mayor John Tory called the library’s decision “disappointing”

Ms Bowles, who sought legal opinion on the matter, added Ms Murphy has never been charged with or convicted of hate speech in Canada.

The decision to honour the room booking received the support of PEN Canada, a major writers’ organisation, on Monday.

What has been the response?

Opponents to the library’s decision include Toronto Mayor John Tory, who has called it “disappointing”.

An online petition started by three local authors calling for the event to be cancelled had more than 8,000 signatures by Tuesday.

Those who signed it said they would no longer participate in library events if Ms Murphy’s talk went ahead.

Pride Toronto, the organisation behind the city’s annual pride festival, warned the library “there will be consequences to our relationship for this betrayal”.

It said in a statement that Ms Murphy’s views are “a denial of the lives, experiences and identities of trans people”.

A city crosswalk painted in the rainbow colours of the LGBT flag in downtown TorontoImage copyrightLIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
Image captionA city crosswalk painted in the rainbow colours of the LGBT flag in downtown Toronto

Two city councillors – Kristyn Wong-Tam and Mike Layton – are asking for a review of policies governing the use of community spaces at the Toronto library and other public spaces.

Early this year, a similar talk that included Ms Murphy at a public library in Vancouver drew both protesters and a sold-out crowd. The library was later barred from participating in the city’s pride parade.

In May, Ms Murphy was invited to the Scottish Parliament to speak on transgender issues as Edinburgh planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to “self-declare” their legally recognised gender.

Campaigners at the time said Ms Murphy wanted transgender equality protections “ripped apart”.

She was also banned from Twitter for stating that “men aren’t women” and for “misgendering” transgender women on the site. She has taken legal action against the company.

Is Mitch McConnell Trying to Kill the Violence Against Women Act?

OCTOBER 24, 2019

Column default

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

Twenty-five years ago, the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, was signed into law. The protections it afforded to victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking were renewed and expanded in 2000, 2005 and 2013. Last April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, yet another renewal, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, H.R. 1585, this time with added protections for women on tribal lands, for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and with new limits on the ability of perpetrators of domestic violence to obtain guns. The bill was sent to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it has languished. One Senate staffer confirmed Wednesday that “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t put it on the legislative schedule.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, during which many survivors of domestic abuse and their supporters wear purple to draw attention to this problem, considered a national epidemic. Every 16 hours in the United States, a woman is shot to death by her partner.

The text of the current bill contains statistics worth repeating:

“Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. Female intimate partners are more likely to be murdered with a firearm than all other means combined. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.”

The bill continues: “Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women on the job. Domestic partners or relatives commit 43 percent of workplace homicides against women … in 2010, homicides against women at work increased by 13 percent despite continuous declines in overall workplace homicides in recent years.”

This new House VAWA bill, one of the earliest considered by the new Congress, which includes a historic number of women, passed by a vote of 263 to 158, with 33 Republicans joining the Democratic majority. The Republican support came despite opposition from the National Rifle Association, which strongly opposes language in the bill to close the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows gun purchases by unmarried, domestic or intimate partners who have been convicted of abuse or are under a restraining order.

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Last week, Everytown for Gun Safety reported: “Every month, an average of 52 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. Nearly 1 million women alive today have reported being shot or shot at by intimate partners, and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun. In more than half of mass shootings over the past decade, the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member as part of the rampage.”

Amplifying that last statistic, March for Our Lives, the gun control group founded by teenage survivors of the Parkland, Florida, massacre on Valentine’s Day 2018, sent out an email calling domestic violence a gun violence issue, noting that at least 54% of mass shootings are committed by domestic abusers. The list of mass shooters who were known domestic abusers or stalkers is long. In Parkland, the shooter had stalked another student and killed her in the massacre; in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the shooter had been convicted of domestic violence, but that conviction was not shared on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, allowing him to purchase guns; in Newtown, Connecticut, the shooter killed his mother first before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary; the Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando was physically and verbally abusive to his wife; and, most recently, in Dayton, Ohio, the shooter had kept a “rape list” of potential targets in high school and killed his sister during his murderous rampage.

Last Saturday, the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees, clinching a spot in the World Series. Among three female journalists in the Astros locker room covering the celebration was Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, who was wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet. Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman yelled at them, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f***ing glad we got Osuna!” The Astros signed relief pitcher Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018, weeks after he received a 75-game suspension related to accusations he assaulted his child’s mother. On Thursday, after conducting an investigation with Major League Baseball, the Astros fired Taubman.

One goal of the Violence Against Women Act is to educate people across all sectors of our society, to make domestic abuse simply unacceptable. “VAWA’s overwhelming impact on the lives of victims makes the need for reauthorization more critical now than ever,” writes Lynn Hecht Schafran of Legal Momentum (the new name for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund). “VAWA is moving the culture forward toward a future where everyone can live free from violence.”

Meet The Alabama Doctor Who Could Face 99 Years In Prison For Providing Abortions Under New Law

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.

As Comcast Lobbyist Hosts Biden’s First Fundraiser, Campaign Boasts of Support from “Top 1%”

APR 26, 2019

H3 biden fundraiser comcast lobbyist philadelphia david cohen

In other campaign news, Biden marked his first day on the campaign trail by attending a $2,800-per-person fundraiser in Philadelphia at the home of Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen. Attendees included Daniel Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in the Philadelphia area. Senator Bernie Sanders criticized Biden for holding a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-hosted the Biden fundraiser, appeared on CNN this morning, and said the fundraiser attracted the top 1%.

Ed Rendell: “For 90% of the people who attended last night’s fundraiser, they’re contributing against their own financial interest. They will do better with a Republican president, because they’re in the top 1%. So they’ll do better with a Republican president. It will probably cost them money if Joe Biden wins, because I think he’ll bring some sense to the tax cut and he’ll probably raise rates on the top 1%. So, all these people gave money even though it was against their own financial interest.”

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton accused of sexually assaulting reporter

NBA coach Luke Walton

Luke Walton is accused of sexual assault during his time as assistant coach at the Golden State Warriors

A National Basketball Association (NBA) coach is being sued for the alleged sexual assault of a sports reporter, US media report.

In the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ and ESPN, Kelli Tennant alleges Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton forced himself on her in a California hotel room.

At the time he was assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, another California NBA team, says the lawsuit.

In a statement, Mr Walton’s lawyer called the accusations “baseless”.

According to legal documents obtained by US media, Ms Tennant met Mr Walton in his suite at the Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica to give him a copy of her 2014 book.

Sports reporter Kelli Tennant
Kelli Tennant worked as a broadcaster on Spectrum SportsNet at the time of the alleged incident

Mr Walton had written the foreword to the publication, The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports.

No specific date for the alleged incident was stated in the lawsuit, according to US media.

The two had reportedly had a working relationship, stemming from Mr Walton’s time as a guest on Spectrum SportsNet, a US regional cable sports channel where Ms Tennant used to work.

She also knew Mr Walton’s wife, according to US media.

The legal action says Ms Tennant had viewed Mr Walton as a “trusted mentor and colleague”, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kelli Tennant's Instagram page
A photo from Ms Tennant’s Instagram page, which has been flooded with comments following the suit

Upon Ms Tennant’s arrival at the hotel, the lawsuit reportedly says, Mr Walton invited her to his room, ostensibly so they would not be seen by any Golden State Warriors players.

Once inside the suite, the legal action says that Mr Walton “pinned Ms Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body”, before groping her chest and groin, according to US media who have reviewed the court documents.

“She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the legal action reportedly says.

According to US media, Mr Walton’s lawyer released a statement categorically denying the allegations.

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible,” said Mark Baute.

Mr Walton was hired this month by the Sacramento Kings, after leaving the Los Angeles Lakers, where he had been head coach since 2016.

Mr Walton had previously played 10 seasons for the Lakers, before beginning his NBA coaching career with the Golden State Warriors in 2014.

All three teams responded to the allegations.

The Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors said they were aware of the report and had no further comment.

The Los Angeles Lakers statement said the alleged incident took place before he became their head coach.

“At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers,” it said.

“If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA.”

Since news of the lawsuit broke, Ms Tennant, a former volleyball player for the University of Southern California, had her Instagram page flooded with comments, many of them abusive.

ESPN reports the NBA has launched an investigation of its own into the alleged event.

Susan Rice says she won’t challenge GOP Sen. Collins in 2020

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

NEW YORK — Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won’t be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020.

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

Rice tantalized Democrats in October when she expressed interest in Collins’ seat during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said at the time that Collins “betrayed women across this country” by supporting Kavanaugh.

Rice said during the event on Thursday that her daughter is going into her junior year of high school and that her family has already sacrificed for her.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, and in the course of weighing it all, I’ve decided with my family that the timing really isn’t right for us,” she said.

Her announcement could free other Democrats to enter the race.

So far, no high-profile Democrat has announced a challenge to Collins next year. But the race is still early, and Collins herself hasn’t formally announced she’ll seek re-election.

Collins’ office had no immediate comment Thursday.

Collins is a self-described centrist in an era of increasingly polarized politics. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she’s now the last Republican member of Congress from New England.

Rice’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Jamaica to Maine in the 1910s. Her grandfather, David Augustus Dickson, worked as a shipper, porter and janitor. Rice’s grandmother, Mary Dickson, a maid and seamstress, was named Maine State Mother of the Year in 1950.

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Commodifying women’s rights: How corporations make money out of ‘feel-good’ feminism.

'Feminist' t-shirts are put on sale during the Women's March in New York City on January 20, 2018 [File: Epics/Getty Images]
‘Feminist’ t-shirts are put on sale during the Women’s March in New York City on January 20, 2018 [File: Epics/Getty Images]

A few days ago, I received a message from my son’s secondary school announcing that it is celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday. The message read: “The school is selling Feminist jumpers to mark the event. Jumpers are on sale for 10 pounds ($13) – please ask your daughter or son to bring 10 pounds cash to the English office if she/he would like to wear one.”

A few hours later a friend called to tell me, tongue-in-cheek, that International Women’s Day t-shirts are passe and that sex toys are the new t-shirts, sending me a link to “IWD sex toys” currently on sale.

The irony is that International Women’s Day began as an initiative of the Socialist Party of America to honour the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, which, at the time, was the biggest industrial action ever taken by women workers in the United States. Hence, the dedication of a day to women began as a struggle against capitalist economic exploitation, where women demanded better working conditions and higher wages.

It is true that, over the course of the 20th century, International Women’s Day has undergone many transformations. In certain countries and contexts, it has served as a day simply to celebrate women and their accomplishments. It has also been a catalyst to mobilise women around the world to rally for a variety political causes: from working women’s rights through the right to vote and participate in politics to anti-war protestsand, more recently, gender equality.

There is, of course, always a certain problematic tokenism when setting aside one day during the year in which we either celebrate women and/or protest gender inequality.

But in the past few years, and particularly with the rise of Trumpism and the far-rightacross Europe, South America, India and many other places, International Women’s Day has taken on increased potency and significance.

Indeed, the demonstrations organised on March 8 across the globe have become more militant and intersectional since 2016. One has only to think of Spain, where last yearmillions walked out to protest against gender inequality and sexual discrimination, or the US, where the Feminism for the 99% movement called for a women’s strike.

OPINION

Palestine, the Women’s March, and imperial feminism

Azeezah Kanji
by Azeezah Kanji

The agendas of many of these protests go well beyond “equality”: They are demanding gender, racial, economic, and climate justice, understanding that these issues are inextricably linked.

And yet, as the message from my son’s school and the IWD sex toys reveal, alongside the more militant direction of International Women’s Day, there has also been another parallel development, namely, the increasing commodification of March 8 and its branding by corporations.

Scholars call this brand activism, where corporations attempt to improve their reputation by using some popular and often progressive cause in their PR and advertising campaigns. The businesses and corporations thus give in order to get.

An example of this is the fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter who has launched an exclusive limited-edition collection of IWD T-shirts in collaboration with six women designers. It is true that all of the profits go to a charity supporting women survivors of war, but activism and empowerment here is equated with buying an expensive t-shirt with words like “You Go Girl”. Women, in other words, are encouraged to express their solidarity not through struggle or protest, but by shopping.

This corporate appropriation is clearly part of a wider cultural phenomenon – the rise of neoliberal feminism.

This kind of feminism encourages women to invest in themselves and their own aspirations, inciting them to build confidence and “lean in”. And while such feminism acknowledges the gendered wage gap and sexual harassment as signs of continued inequality, the solutions they posit, such as encouraging individual women to take responsibility for their own well-being, do not challenge the structural and economic undergirding of these phenomena.

Neoliberal feminism is palatable and marketable precisely because it is a non-threatening feminism. It doesn’t address the devastation wrought by neoliberal capitalism, neo-imperialism or systemic misogyny and sexism, so it is easy to embrace and it sells well on the marketplace. Its message is the exact opposite of the one advanced by the women’s strikes at the beginning of the 20th century.

Moreover, given the rise of this feel-good feminism, it is not hard to understand why suddenly everyone is eager to claim the “feminist” label: from movie stars like Emma Watson to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Nor is it difficult to understand why this feminism makes good business today.

The popularity of feminism and its widespread embrace is not a bad thing per se. But it is crucial to understand what kind of feminism has become popular and why. A watered down and defanged feminist message is neither going to uproot patriarchy, nor is it going to help us resolve the existential threats to life on earth.

We thus have two competing forces at work at the moment. On the one hand, we have a popular, commodity-driven feminism that serves as a handmaiden to neoliberalism. On the other hand, we have a growing movement of mass feminist mobilisation that is demanding transformative social justice.

In the US, such mass mobilisation has been spearheaded by activists like Alicia Garza, who is one of the cofounders of Black Lives Matter and Linda Sarsour, who was cochair of the 2017 Women’s March, the 2017 Day Without a Woman, as well as the 2019 Women’s March. Their feminism is a threatening one because it challenges the intersecting systems of oppression: from white supremacy through Islamophobia to misogyny and neoliberal capitalism. These women carry on the revolutionary spirit that sparked the first IWD over a century ago.

Which feminism “wins” in many ways depends on us. I, for one, have made my choice. Today, I will join the Global Women’s Strike and will bring my two sons along.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.