Photography by Mark Runyon
UK Parliament is set to have even fewer flavours than Molly Mae’s chicken dinners for Tommy Fury. Both Conservative and Labour have selected less than half the number of candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds seen in the last two elections. Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, who carried out the research, said: “For the first time, the new intakes of Labour and Tory MPs will be less diverse than the parliamentary parties that they join.”
November is Native American Heritage Month, so I implore you to read and understand the grossly underrepresented history of indigenous people in the US, and the harrowing abuse and oppression they continue to suffer at the hands of white Americans. In his usual disgusting and disrespectful manner, Donald Trump declared that this month would also be for the white men who violently colonised the land of Native Americans. Stop trying to make “National American History and Founders Month” happen, it’s not going to happen.
Here’s what else went down this week.
T.I. virginity testing his daughter feeds into a bigger issue of women’s bodies being policed
This week Atlanta-based rapper T.I. boasted on the Ladies Like Us podcast that he requests a virginity test for his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah at the gynecologist, to see if her hymen is broken. There are so many levels on which this is this is a gross invasion of her personal privacy and sexual identity, as well as being a violation of human rights according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Virginity testing, also known as “two-finger” testing, is an unscientific and long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, generally to assess the virtue, honour, and social value of women and girls. It is a harmful form of gender discrimination that shrouds women’s sex and desire in shame and humiliation.
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, a sexual and reproductive health and rights expert from South Africa, has written on the hymen and campaigned for an end to virginity-testing in the country’s Tugela district. Dr Mofokeng told gal-dem how she felt when she saw the news about T.I.
“I felt immediately worried about the person who is being abused,” she explained. “I wondered if they have support. (I also have) a general concern that a doctor can be so unethical with no consequence. This again shows us that misogyny is universal.”
Virginity is a social construct that is weaponised against women, and the hymen, a small membrane that surround the vaginal opening, is often used as a measure of purity. “The hymen is the most overrated piece of anatomy. It saddens me that I talk to so many women who are anxious about maintaining and later proving their ‘purity’,” Dr Mofokeng writes in her book. The myth that the hymen is an accurate indicator of virginity has been long disproven, some women are born without one, while others lose theirs while riding a bike or playing sports.
Japanese women are being banned from wearing glasses at work so they don’t appear ‘cold’
Reports that some women employees in Japan have been banned from wearing eyeglasses to work caused outrage this week. Some retail chains reportedly said that shop assistants who wore glasses gave a “cold impression”. The hashtag #glassesareforbidden trended on Twitter, with many recalling the recent #KuToo campaign started by actor Yumi Ishikawa after she was made to wear high heels to work in Japan.
Masaki C. Matsumo, 34, is a genderqueer restaurant owner and writer on gender and sexuality living in Gunma, Japan. “While I think the ban on glasses for women is totally sexist and there’s no excuse, I also believe that it is just the tip of the iceberg,” they explained. “It is a manifestation of not just Japan’s corporate sexist cultures but also the material realities of women disproportionately making up the majority of the service industry where 愛嬌 (aikyou, or friendliness/attractiveness/hospitality) is highly valued and required of staff.”
Masaki spoke about women in political contexts, saying flowers and pink are often used to represent women suggesting “cuteness and attractiveness are necessary”. The double standard of women being perceived as “cold” while a man acting the same way is ‘confident’ is very familiar in the West. There is an expectation on women to not only be professional and hard-working, but also personable, warm, and accommodating in a way that isn’t expected of men.
• The trailer has dropped for Pixar’s first film with a black lead, Soul, starring Jamie Foxx, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs and Questlove.
•Non-binary has been added to the Collins Dictionary. Its official definition is: “relating to a gender or sexual identity that does not conform to the binary categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual”.
• An investigation into SPAC Nation, a youth church that rehabilitates ex-gang members, showed that members of the congregation are being pressured to take out loans.
•People of Culture Collective (POCC), a community of PoC creatives, has launched its Generations of Greatness campaign, profiling the stories, and increasing the visibility of black and brown people contributing to British society.
•The Apprentice has sacked five ethnic minority candidates in a row this series, prompting concerns of racism. Standard stuff in reality TV to be honest.
•Jade Camila Diaz, 27, is the second transgender woman killed in El Salvador in the past 15 days.
•Afrotech took place in California this weekend, bringing together black professionals and big tech companies to “reduce the digital divide” and try and fix Silicon Valley’s diversity problem.
• Speak of the devil, 12 current and former Facebook employees took to Medium to anonymously express the ongoing racism within the company.
• Maryland became the first county in the US to ban hair discrimination.
• California Senator Kamala Harris, who is standing in the next presidential election, dismissed the “trope” that she said has developed “among some Democrats” that suggests African Americans are homophobic and transphobic.
• Turkey is being urged by human rights groups to drop charges against 19 LGBTQIA+ activists for attending a Pride march in May.
•Mastercard will offer cards aimed at transgender and non-binary people which will let customers use their chosen names.
• Lex, a dating app for LGBTQIA+ people was launched this week, born from the Personals Instagram account.
• A lecturer at Goldsmiths University, Dawn Mellor, has been criticised as “unethical and insensitive” after pretending to be a non-binary person called Tippy Rampage as part of a research project.
• Lol Simon Cowell is getting jealous of K-pop so is creating a rival white version…UK-Pop. Is it just me or does this very much already exist?
• One of the only US shows prominently featuring an Asian-American family, Fresh Off the Boat, is coming to an end.
• In Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent tyrannical move, he stripped British Indian journalist Aatish Taseer of his citizenship for writing an article on his regime.
• Osman Ahmed Nur, a teenage Eritrean refugee in London, took his own life after fearing he would be sent back to his home country where he had been imprisoned and tortured as a child.
Moment of the week
IKEA played a blinder with their Christmas advert this week featuring an original grime track by D Double E who voices different household items dropping bars like: “I must confess, this place ain’t bless, this place is a mess.”
This article is a part of gal-dem’s Race Review column, a weekly news roundup centring the issues faced by people of colour.