Visible Women

Women’s Daily Dispatch: The news you need to know on 1/2/18

Posted by
Emily Reynolds

 As part of our Visible Women initiative, brings you the Women’s Daily Dispatch: your daily digest of international news relating to women. It’s the good, bad, inspiring and urgent stories you need to know from around the world, all wrapped up in one bitesize piece. 

In today’s WDD: London fire chief tells of hate mail and abuse; the Grammy Awards consider how to tackle inequality; a new coin is set to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage; and ‘deepfake’ celebrity porn videos are removed from online platforms. 

London fire chief tells of sexist abuse over ‘firefighters’ campaign

Dany Cotton, the first female commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, has said she was “bombarded with abuse” and hate mail after she launched a campaign to encourage people to say “firefighter” not “fireman”. 

“The backlash I’ve had – the vitriol, the spite, the unpleasantness – truly horrified and shocked me. And it showed me we’ve got a long way to go,” she told the audience at a talk organised by the Young Women’s Trust on gender equality. 

“For a little while it made me want to back off and hide in a cave because it was shocking. I had letters of hate written to me at work.”

Cotton (pictured top) had suggested that Fireman Sam should be renamed Firefighter Sam – part of a campaign to encourage women to join the fire brigade. 

“I have nothing against him. I don’t want to kill him,” she said. “Secondly, he is not real. He is not a person, he is a cartoon – I just want him to join us and call himself a firefighter … But by saying that people [were] so full of this craziness that it made me think we have to do this together.”

Cotton continued: “We all have a part to play and one of the first things we have to do is stop apologising for it. Stop being sorry for being women. Stop being sorry for wanting fairness, equality and rights. Because it isn’t something we need to apologise about.”

Read more at The Guardian

Grammy Awards to launch ‘taskforce’ to target biases against women

The Grammy Awards has announced plans to form an “independent task force to address biases against women in the music industry”. 

The move comes after criticism of the male-heavy shortlists at the 2018 awards – and after Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told women they needed to “step up”. 

“Regrettably, I used to words ‘step up’, that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make,” Portnow said in a statement apologising for his original comments. 

“Our industry must recognise that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced.” 

He wrote: “After hearing from many friends and colleagues, I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s GRAMMY telecast has caused. 

“I also now realise that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right.”

“I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on. We as an organisation, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that. We will share more information about the steps we are taking in the coming weeks.”

Pink penned a furious open letter after Portnow’s comments, saying women “don’t need to step up”. “Women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside,” she said.

Read more at Pitchfork.

New coin launched to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage

A new coin has been struck at the Royal Mint to mark the 100th anniversary of some women being granted the vote.

Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline, used a press to imprint a coin at the Birmingham centre. The coin, a 50 pence piece, shows a woman in a celebratory pose alongside a soldier and a suffragette. 

“My great-grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst was a key suffragette, campaigning for women’s suffrage,” she said. “I think she would have been happy that the coin is here to mark the struggle.”

“Suffragettes actually used to deface coins and mark them with ‘Votes for Women’ so there is an element of justice in having an official coin. Its creation is also very timely given that gender equality is so in the news.”

Stephen Taylor, the graphic designer who designed the coin, said that the design “uses the familiar idea of a British queue to suggest a line of people waiting to cast their votes at the ballot box”. 

“I paid careful attention to their poses and clothing, showing the different classes of society finally being given a political voice after years of struggling to be heard,” he said.

Read more at BBC News

’Deepfake’ celebrity porn videos taken off online platforms

A popular image hosting platform has banned so-called ‘deepfake’ videos, which allow people to swap the faces of celebrities, friends or acquaintances onto the bodies of porn performers. 

A spokesperson from Gfycat told tech site Motherboard that the videos are “objectionable” and will no longer be allowed on the platform. 

“Our terms of service allow us to remove content that we find objectionable. We are actively removing this content,” a spokesperson said.

The developer of the tool, FakeApp, says it has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Sites including Reddit have not yet put a block on the videos – but chat service Discord closed down a group where users were sharing and discussing the clips, explaining that the videos were considered non-consensual pornography. 

Read more here

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.  

Images: Instagram / Mark Harrison for Stylist / Royal Mint / Rex Features