In this week’s Wednesday 5: Claudia Chan is aiming to change the presence of women in the media; ‘Honor Diaries,’ the first film to break the silence on ‘honor violence’ against women and girls, is now on Netflix; the history of women dining in public; the current environment for women and girls in Chechnya; and confronting make-up’s dirty little secret: those concealers cover up abuse scars.



Changing the Presence of Women in the Media

Claudia Chan

“How do we get women to obsess about women’s empowerment the same way they do about the Kardashians and Us Weekly?” This is the question the young entrepreneur Claudia Chan is working to answer. As the founder of the media network S.H.E. Globl Media Inc., Chan aims to change the way women are depicted in women’s media: “It seemed everywhere she turned, women’s media was consumed with stories about beauty, fashion, celebrities, and how to have a perfect body,” writes Jane Porter of Fast Company. Chan’s response to this media culture was centered on interviewing more than 200 women leaders, putting their interviews on her website, and organizing  the annual S.H.E. Summit, which recently brought together inspiring women leaders from around the world. “I kept meeting extraordinary women, and their stories weren’t being told,” says Chan. Her mantra is a simple one: “We can’t be what we can’t see.”



Award-winning ‘Honor Diaries’ Film Now on Netflix

As you know, we like to keep you updated on the latest films featuring inspiring women that are newly streaming on Netflix. Clarion Project’s award-winning documentary film Honor Diaries: Culture Is No Excuse for Abuse is now available globally on Netflix. The film tackles honor violence and female genital mutilation. It is touted as the first film to break the silence on “honor violence” against women and girls and features the stories of nine courageous women’s rights advocates who are engaged in a dialogue about gender equality. These women, who have witnessed firsthand the hardships women endure, are profiled in their efforts to effect change, both in their communities and beyond.



Women’s Rights: Dining in Public

03057rWomen in restaurant in high building. Image via

A new article penned by historian Paul Freedman in the Journal of Social History is taking a unique look at the arc of the history of women’s rights—women dining. “Today, a group of women dining without men is hardly worthy of notice; a woman dining alone might stir only about as much curiosity as a man dining alone. It was once quite different,” notes Claude Fischer in his blog Made in America. We learn from Freedman’s piece that when restaurants—known then to be places of elegant dining—emerged in the 1820s, they banned or frowned upon women who dined without men. Women needed to be with husbands, fathers, or other male counterparts in order to dine in public. The turning point came during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, when restaurants could not rely on the sale of alcohol (mostly to men). Classic restaurants closed, but the small luncheonettes, coffee shops, tea shops, etc., where women could dine publicly, flourished. Men began to patronize them too. In his blog, Fischer summarizes, “This story seems to show an historical arc for women from exclusion in the early 19th century to special accommodation in late 19th century to non-discrimination in the 21st century. One might even argue that the menus of fashionable restaurants today reveal the triumph of the presumed ‘feminine cuisine.’ “



For Chechen Women, Modesty Is the New Normal 

Last Friday, Chechnya celebrated its Chechen Women’s Day, a holiday introduced by the republic’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, to honor 46 Chechen women who drowned themselves rather than succumb to Russian soldiers in 1819. The lives of  women and girls in Chechnya remain fraught with challenges and danger. In 2011, photographer Diana Markosian traveled there to document what it means to be a young woman growing up under the increasingly repressive regime of the Kremlin-backed president. We share with you her video interview with the Open Society Institute, in which she discusses the resulting project, Goodbye, My Chechnya, and explains what the environment for women is like today, three years after this project began.



Makeup’s Dirty Little Secret: Covering the Scars of Abuse

Last week, we shared with you a post on a doctored CoverGirl “Get Your Game Face On” ad that was making waves on the Web. (The ad had been altered to show a woman with an eye badly bruised—presumably by an act of domestic violence.)  In a new post for Jezebel this week (“Makeup’s Dirty Little Secret: Covering the Scars of Abuse”), Arabelle Sicardi shared the fact that just before the NFL/CoverGirl controversy blew up, she’d helped three girls find the right concealer to cover up their bruises. Sicardi—herself a victim of domestic abuse—notes:

I think about these statistics (25 percent of women are abused at one point or another) and compare them to the fact that approximately 52 concealers are purchased in drugstores alone every minute in the United States. How many of those products are purchased by girls who need to cover up bruises? The beauty industry doesn’t track those numbers, but considering the fact that 1 in 5 women are abused by their partners, we could say that about 10 of those objects of vanity were reasonably purchased by abuse victims.

Sicardi acknowledges the vulnerable battered woman’s need to cover up the “shame” of her victimhood: “Let’s face it: you’d be too scared to talk to us [women showing their beaten faces] if we were really visible. People get preachy. People see us differently; we cease to become capable friends and more a story for you to conclude. So many women stay invisible out of this sense of independence and this sense of utterly dependent, desperate hope for love.” Still, she argues that beauty companies should become accountable for the way their  products are used in the cover-up of abuse—literally. She declares:

If you are silent in the knowledge that your products are being used in this realm of body terror, you are culpable to all of the results that follow. This is not to say beauty products advocate for these terrible things to happen—but they play a part in the cycle of power between the abused and the abuser, and it is important to place that power on the right side of struggle.

Her suggestions about accountability: “You want to empower women? Make their stories known. Make it real and tangible. Don’t glamorize abuse; help stop it with every purchase of your product. Make it a part of the vocabulary in everyday conversations. Link resources on your websites.”

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