• Monday, September 1, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Gender Masala - Notes on gender - A spicy mix

    This blog brings out the flavour of gender issues, from the network of IPS writers and friends. Gender Masala is part of the Inter Press Service project Communicating for Change: Getting Voice, Visibility and Impact for Gender Equality. Check it at www.ips.org/mdg3/


    Runner Caster Semenya: gender, sex and discrimination

    26 Aug 2009

    Open letter by South African gender activists

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Some of those championing Caster Semenya’s cause accuse those wanting to sex-test Caster of imperialism and racism (as well as sexism). Others plead to wait before reaching a verdict, arguing that the realities of sex testing are enormously complex

    Firstly to address the issue of terminology, over which there seems to be confusion. Gender is the dominant society’s views on how women and men should look, behave, what roles they should play in society, how they should perform and frequently what rewards they receive – hence gender inequity. This has usually led to lower status and discrimination against girls/women but has increasingly been seen as limiting the options and potentially harming boys/men too.

    Gender is not a politically correct term for sex. Sex testing would be just that – establishing whether a person is biologically female or male. So gender testing is not the term that should be used this case, but sex testing. More »

    Taboo word out in the open

    27 Jul 2009

    Sometime in this century, a taboo word crept out of the dark, dusty basement of journalists’ lexicon and acquired legitimacy and visibility, both as a word and an issue: menstruation.

    Bring it into the open: it's our right. By M. Sayagues

    Now we can talk about it.

    Neither impurity necessitating reclusion nor social blunder, our monthly cycle is now recognized as part of women’s sexual and reproductive needs and an issue of hygiene and dignity.

    (…and I wrote “our cycle” on the third edit, it´s still not that easy to be public about it…)

    Something similar happened with cancer. As philosopher Susan Sontag noted in her classic essay “Illness as a Metaphor” of 1977, the standard euphemism used in obits was that someone had died after a long illness. Ten years later, she noted “a new candor”, the word cancer uttered more freely.

    Regarding menstruation, surprisingly, TV ads did not shy away from comparing pad brands. But the press lagged behind the ad agencies.

    More »

    Wedding hell: child brides

    22 Jun 2009

    Too young to carry the burden of marriage. Photo: M. Sayagues

    In Bissau - too young to carry the burden of marriage. Photo: M.Sayagues

    She was a brave little girl, who believed in her right to choose how to live her life. Aged 12, as a minor she remained nameless in the news.

    She lived in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, the green, misty mountains along the Mozambican border. On weekends, people dressed in flowing white robes, the men bearded, holding carved wooden canes, gather under the masasa trees. They belong to the Johanne Marange apostolic sect. Peaceful people – with a nasty habit of marrying young girls.

    More »