Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The former president of Chile has a new gig, we meet a badass Marine, and delve into China’s inspiring world of emoji activism. Have a fabulous Friday and restorative weekend!
•The #RiceBunny movement. Shortly after #MeToo was attached to the Harvey Weinstein-triggered movement against sexual assault and harassment, the hashtag zipped around the Internet in many parts of the world. In the first 24 hours, 1.7 million tweets featured it, as did 12 million Facebook posts. Since then, the hashtag has displayed a remarkable staying power.
In China, it’s not so simple.
As the #MeToo movement there finally gathers steam, the government’s censorship machine is also catching on.
For instance, an anonymous intern last month claimed in a Weibo post that she was sexual assaulted by a broadcaster who appears on state-run TV. Her original post was censored, but not before other Weibo users captured it with screenshots, which they then shared online. That approach exploited a weakness of China’s censorship algorithm: while it can easily police text, it has a harder time understanding what’s being communicated in images.
As such, Chinese social media users have displayed some impressive ingenuity as they search for versions of #MeToo that are harder for government censors to trace. Take, for example, the “rice bunny” alternative. In Mandarin, the phrase is pronounced “mi tu.” That iteration is circulating, and it’s being shared in emoji form: 🍚🐰
According to the FT, there’s growing support for such work-arounds. “Do you think you can censor all of us? Minority-language speakers, step up!” one online user urged.
I find it rather encouraging that #MeToo supporters in China, even when faced with government interference, are still sharing their stories, even if it means doing so one emoji at a time.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• A changing tide. Argentina’s Senate failed on Wednesday to pass a bill that would have legalized abortion in the country. Despite its defeat, pro-choice supporters see the fact that the bill made it to the Senate floor and was the subject of intense debate as a sign that public opinion may be shifting in their favor. Brazil is also exploring abortion policy. Together, these two countries contain two-fifths of all women in Latin America, so opinions on abortion there carry considerable weight.
• Bachelet’s back! Prominent women’s rights advocate and former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, is the next UN rights chief. In this role, she will be the world’s top human rights advocate. Experts say her work will be informed by first-hand experience: She herself was the victim of human rights violations at the hands of Chile’s secret security agency under Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 1970s.
New York Times
• Justin jumps in. The rift between Canada and Saudi Arabia over the latter’s detainment of women activist has escalated considerably this week, so much so that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has finally weighed in. “Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and public on questions of human rights,” he said. “We will do so in a constructive and polite way, but we will also remain firm on standing up for human rights everywhere around the world.”
• Oorah! First Lt. Marina Hierl made history this week by becoming the first woman ever to lead a Marine Corps infantry platoon. At just 24 years old, she is one of four platoon commanders in Echo Company, which is stationed in northern Australia. She is leading nearly 40 men through six months of training.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The White House director of media affairs for Latino and African-American news outlets, Helen Aguirre Ferré has exited her role, but will continue to work for the administration in a different capacity. Erica Martin has joined KKR’s technology, media and telecommunications team as a director in New York.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Monumental. A new monument in Virginia’s Capitol Square called “Voices from the Garden” will pay homage to over 400 women who influenced the state’s history. The project, to be unveiled next October, came to fruition thanks to a group of women who in 2008 expressed concern that women were under-appreciated by history curriculum in the state. The monument will join the all-too-short list of statues dedicated to women. Of the 152 monuments in U.S. National Parks, only three honor female icons.
• A big push for smaller sizes. Universal Standard, a clothing brand with cult following among plus-sized women, is increasing its size range to include smaller women. Co-founders Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler say they want the brand to be inclusive of all body types; they have a goal of one day offering sizes 0-40.
• Using their voices. For years, Japanese women journalists have faced overt sexual harassment and come to think of it as the norm. Now, thanks in part to the recording of a journalist being harassed by a powerful source, women are fighting back against the sexist culture.
Columbia Journalism Review
ON MY RADAR
Shared parental leave in the U.K. suffers inauspicious start
CBS’ controlling shareholder is quietly shopping for a new CEO
In Virginia, women form an insurgency to try to topple Republican Dave Brat
New York Times
It shouldn’t be this hard for a woman in a wheelchair to get a pedicure