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January 30, 2013

Shadowy Squads Enforce Modesty in Hasidic Brooklyn

Shadowy Squads Enforce Modesty in Hasidic Brooklyn - NYTimes.com
The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys. “The man said, ‘Do the neighborhood a favor and take it out of the window,’ ” the store’s manager recalled. “ ‘We’re trying to safeguard our community.’ ” In many neighborhoods, a store owner might shrug off such a call. But on Lee Avenue, the commercial spine of Hasidic Williamsburg, the warning carried an implied threat — comply with community standards or be shunned. It is a potent threat in a neighborhood where shadowy, sometimes self-appointed modesty squads use social and economic leverage to enforce conformity. The owner wrestled with the request for a day or two, but decided to follow it. “We can sell it without mannequins, so we might as well do what the public wants,” the owner told the manager, who asked not to be identified because of fear of reprisals for talking. In the close-knit world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, community members know the modesty rules as well as Wall Street bankers who show up for work in a Brooks Brothers suit. Women wear long skirts and long-sleeved, high-necked blouses on the street; men do not wear Bermuda shorts in summer. Schools prescribe the color and thickness of girls’ stockings. . . .

January 28, 2013

Single and over 27, China's "leftover women"

Single and Over 27: What the Chinese Government Calls 'Leftover Women' | PRI's The World
A television drama, that ran a couple of years ago called “Old Women Should Get Married,” featured a 33-year-old woman who watched her younger sister get married, suffered through blind dates (including one who turned out to be a drug dealer), and put up with her family telling her to stop being so picky and just find a man. This kind of message gets hammered in multiple ways in China’s state-run media. Even the webpage of the government’s supposedly feminist All-China Women’s Federation featured articles about leftover women – until enough women complained. So, what’s all this about? “I argue that the ‘leftover women’ term is actually part of a sexist media campaign by the government, which is facing a severe demographic crisis,” says Leta Hong-Fincher, an American doing her sociology Ph.D at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She’s written about the leftover women phenomenon, and she says state-run media started using the term in 2007, the same year the government warned that China’s gender imbalance – caused by selective abortions because of the one-child policy – was a serious problem. “Ever since 2007, the state media have aggressively disseminated this term, in surveys, and news reports, and columns, and cartoons and pictures, basically stigmatizing educated women over the age of 27 or 30 who are still single.” But the gender imbalance in China is one of too many men. There are an estimated 20 million more men under 30 than women under 30. So why the pressure on women to marry — specifically, educated, urban women? Huang Yingying says it has something to do with men wanting to marry down. “There is an opinion that A quality guys will find B quality women, B quality guys will find C quality women, and C quality men will find D quality women,” Huang says. “The people left are A quality women and D quality men. So if you are a leftover woman, you are A quality.”

Boy Scouts considering putting bigotry choice into the hands of local chapters

They could do what the Girl Scouts did: put a ban of the exclusion of gay kids. Instead it looks like they are going the route of political cowardice and punting the decision down to local chapters. It's a step in the right direction, but it's the absolutely smallest step possible in the right direction. Boy Scouts Statement On Potential Lifting Of Ban On Gay Members | TPM LiveWire
For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve. Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families. The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.