In this week’s Wednesday 5: Dustin Hoffman reflects on the questions about beauty raised in the film Tootsie; Geena Davis undertakes a study on how women and girls are depicted on screen; Roya Mahboob’s ambitious plan to get Afghan women into the workforce; female inmates sterilized in California prisons without state approval; and 25 American Muslim women writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their search for love.

 

1.

Dustin Hoffman Talks ‘Tootsie’ and Ideals of Beauty

We were moved by Dustin Hoffman’s candor in this recently uncovered 2012 American Film Institute video by The Mary Sue where he talks about the making of Tootsie and the serious conversations and questions about beauty that the film raised. Hoffman says that Tootsie “was never a comedy for me”; instead, it was a turning point for him in which he realized that he had been “brainwashed” about what beauty looks like. In this video, he gets emotional and remorseful about the “many interesting women I have . . . not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”

 

 

2.

Geena Davis Undertakes Study on How Women and Girls are Depicted on Screen

508px-Geena_Davis_cropIn more Hollywood news, Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis is undertaking a major partnership with U.N. Women, the United Nation’s women’s agency, to create the first global study on how women and girls are depicted on screen and to examine how these portrayals on film impact the perception of women in society. Countries to be included in the study include Australia, China, Russia, and the U.K.  According to the Associated Press, “Davis, whose Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media commissioned the study with support from U.N. Women and the Rockefeller Foundation, said the lack of female characters in media is teaching that women ‘don’t take up half the space in the world.’” The study is set to be released in 2014.

 

 

3.

Roya Mahboob’s Ambitious Plan to Get Afghan Women into the Workforce

220px-Roya_MahboobIn Afghanistan, only 15 percent of women are literate. In response to this staggering statistic, Roya Mahboob, 25,  launched the Afghan Citadel Software Co., an IT company, in 2010. She tells GOOD magazine”

“Afghan Citadel employs mostly women in an effort to empower them in the eyes of their families . . . . Enough women proved the worth of their employment and education to the entire family to make a success of Afghan Citadel and its employment policy. Having taken small steps towards unsettling the balance of power in families, we began investing all of the company’s profits into a program to build computer classrooms with Internet access for for girls. A boy’s education is supported financially, but families do not support females. Girls are not supposed to go to Internet cafes.”
Earlier this year, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg introduced Mahboob to an American audience when she introduced her for TIME’s 1oo Most Influential People in the World.
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4.

Female Inmates Sterilized in California Prisons Without State Approval

Wendy Davis’s heroics in the Texas legislature recently stirred up abortion debates, yet again, in our nation. On its heels comes a sobering article from the Sacramento Bee that revealed, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting, that between 2006 and 2010, 148 female prisoners in California were illegally sterilized by force. Although state lawmakers officially banned such practices in 1979, Corey G. Johnson writes that doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation performed tubal ligations on the women without the required state approval:

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison. Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that prison medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future.
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5.
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Twenty-Five American Muslim Women Sweep Aside Stereotypes to Share Their Search for Love
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loveinshallah_coverA few weeks ago, we featured the secret poetry of Afghan women on our Poetry Sunday. These two-line verses (folk couplets, or “landays”), written in strict meter, are astonishing in their fierceness, boldness, earthiness, and lyricism. Today, in the frank spirit of the “landay,” we share with you a lovely collection of essays—Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, featuring “25 American Muslim writers who sweep aside stereotypes to share their search for love openly for the first time, showing just how varied the search for love can be—from singles’ events and online dating, to college flirtations and arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.”