Sunday, 30 October 2016

Random Reads (30/10/16)

In the lead up to the US Election and with Hallowe'en just around the corner, I have been reading some spooky stuff lately.

The tragic accident at Dreamworld in which four people died on a seemingly tame ride has lead the news all week. The event itself was horrific, but the handling of the aftermath by the company has been woeful. From seeking to reopen the park quickly (while still a crime scene), to the allocation of large bonuses to the executive, and the fact that CEO Deborah Thomas didn't know whether or not families had been contacted, resulted in a massive PR disaster. Advertising guru Dee Madigan penned an interesting article for the Guardian about how this crisis was managed so poorly.

New Yorker magazine has an article by Jeffrey Toobin about Justice Clarence Thomas, who has just served 25 years on the US Supreme Court. Toobin argues that Thomas has served on the fringes of the Court, having not authored landmark opinions on important cases.  I must admit I haven't thought much about Thomas in recent years, but I remember well his confirmation hearings in 1991 and the accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. I was outraged at the treatment of Hill and by Thomas' eventual appointment. I highly recommend Toni Morrison's collection of essays Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power (1992) about this controversy. 

The World Economic Forum has published its's Global Gender Gap Report 2016 this week. Australia has moved down the rankings to 46th place (behind all of Europe, Scandinavia, New Zealand (9th)) so that we are now substantially lagging behind countries like Bolivia (23rd), Rwanda (5th), South Africa (15th) and elsewhere. Ten years ago we were 15th, so what has happened (or what has not being happening)?  Well, we have not done much to close the wage gap, reverse the decline in women's participation (through child care and paid parental leave), or to increase women in senior positions. While we have women attending university at equal numbers to men, once women hit the workforce they are disadvantaged. With our current lack of political will, we will likely continue to fall further as more countries realise the empowerment of women is the key to economic prosperity.

Finally, I love the article in the Atlantic this week by Siddharta Mahanta "Women in Movies Running in Heels" which uses the new movie Inferno as a catalyst for discussing how impractical it is for women in action films to run around in heels. Pointing to Jurassic World and other films in which women have to outrun dinosaurs, bullets or assassins in impractical footwear, Mahanta argues that if there had been more women involved in the production of blockbuster films women would likely be kicking butt in sensible shoes. Here, here!