Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Aberdeen woman who helped the world learn more about ancient Egypt

Stories of tomb-raiders, ancient worlds and mysterious gods can still send a shiver running along the spine but not many people are aware it was an Aberdeen-born woman who helped shape our interest in Egyptian history and archeology, and that even today, experts rely on her work and drawings to help them put together pieces of the puzzle surrounding ancient Egypt.

Aberdeen-born Annie Abernethie
Pirie Quibell (pictured on left )

Annie Abernethie Pirie Quibell was a fascinating, extraordinary woman, says Dr Daniel Potter from the National Museums Scotland (NMS).  Her name may not be too familiar but she’s considered to be so important that she was chosen by NMS to be a woman worth celebrating this year on International Women’s Day.

read more here @ Press and Journal

Historical Reformer: Dorothy Day

Image result for dorothy dayFrom Nations Media
Writer. Activist. Reformer. Socialist. Bohemian. Mystic. Rabble-rouser. Single mother. Pioneer of advocacy journalism. Catholic convert. Servant of God. 

Words so seemingly disparate it’s hard to believe they’re often used to describe one woman and candidate for sainthood: Dorothy Day. 

What to say about Dorothy Day? It’s nearly impossible to synthesize such an expansive life and legacy, but it is easy to trace the message she lived, stunningly simple in its essence: love is the final word. It was love that saved Day’s life. It was love that allowed her to see the face of Christ in her neighbor. And it was love that compelled her to live in alignment with His message.

“Our arms are linked—we try to be neighbors of his, and to speak up for his principles. That’s a lifetime’s job,” she once said. 

And what a lifetime it was! To understand Day’s impact on society and the larger Church, one must look at the kaleidoscope of experiences that compelled Day’s conversion; one must “follow the breadcrumbs” that led her to Catholicism and a life of service and activism. Her path is a winding one, and perhaps its unconventional nature is what makes her a saint for these tumultuous times.

 read more here @ Nations Media

Map of Scottish Witches

logoMap of places of residence for accused Witches from the University of Edinburgh

The Data and Visualisation internship project at the University of Edinburgh had as its core aim to geographically locate and visualise the different locations recorded within the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database.

You can read an excellent summary of the project to date on Anne-Marie Scott's blog here: Some witchy history and a very smart woman in data science

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gaddafi's special team of female bodyguards: A dark story of rape and violence

At the peak of his power, Gaddafi was unavoidable. Perhaps, what he lacked in words was expressed in the mixed bag of atrocities he masterminded as well as all the good he did for the Libyan people.

The man was what he did not say but showed. And one of the things he showed – a thing that made him the “one to see” on the international scene – was his team of exceptionally trained and dramatically named Revolutionary Nuns.

The group was formed in the early 1980s, after Gaddafi's official resignation as Libyan head of state in favour of the title of "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya".  According to Joseph T. Stanik, Gaddafi reportedly employed a cadre of female bodyguards because he believed that an Arab gunman would have difficulty firing at women. However, it has also been submitted by other authors that Gaddafi's female bodyguards were, in reality, just an aspect of the dictator's well-known eccentric showmanship and his fondness of surrounding himself with young women. Gaddafi would usually travel with 15 of his Amazonian Guards assigned to security or housekeeping.
Revealed: Dirty secrets of Gaddafi's harem
It should come as very little surprise that in selecting who gets to put their life on the line for the president, some moral and spiritual significance is attached to a woman who has never had sex.  In recent times, however, it has been reported that becoming a member of the guard was not optional for some women. They are pried away from their families at the threat of dire consequences should they refuse.

read more here @ Face2Face Africa

see also:
Gaddafi's Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya by Annick Cojean

900-Year-Old 'Grand Lady' Skeleton Emerges from Watery Coffin

From Live Science
An exquisitely preserved skeleton of a woman dubbed the "Grand Lady" has been discovered in a water-filled coffin within a tomb at Tieguai Village in China. The coffin dates back 900 years.

The archaeologists who discovered the remains found that the body was buried with numerous grave goods, including a model house that has tiny furniture inside — a dollhouse of sorts — and a silver pendant depicting two dragons chasing pearls. A banner found on top of the inner coffin (which was in turn buried within an outer coffin) says that the tomb occupant is a "Grand Lady" who lived in "Ankang Commandery." Though her real name was hard to make out on the banner, the archaeologists said that it may be née Jian.

"The skeleton [of the Grand Lady] is essentially preserved, complete with fingernails and hair," a team of archaeologists wrote in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Image result for grand lady tomb artefacts   Image result for grand lady tomb artefacts

She still had silver and gold hairpins on her head; "there were silver bracelets on her arm and a string of bronze coins on her abdomen, 83 coins altogether," the archaeologists wrote, adding that "underneath her right hand were two zongzi [which are the remains of two sticky rice dumplings], and embroidered shoes were on her feet."

read more @ Live Science

Poisoning Agnes Sorel

From CrimeReads
On a cold winter’s day, twenty-eight-year-old Agnes Sorel, the most beautiful woman in France, lay dying in the tidy stone manor house of the Abbey of Jumièges, some eighty miles northwest of Paris. She often traveled there to give moral support to her lover of many years, King Charles VII of France, in his ongoing campaign against English invaders. But this journey had an added impetus. Though the details are unclear, Agnes urgently wanted to warn the king of a plot against him. Whatever she told him, however, her royal lover didn’t take it seriously.

Shortly afterward, she went into premature labor and gave birth to her fourth child with the king. While her other three pregnancies had produced full-term, healthy offspring, this child died soon after. Now, on February 9, 1450, Agnes was tortured by a “flux of the belly”—nonstop diarrhea. After two or three days of agony, she whispered of her ravaged body, “It is a little thing and soiled, and smelling of our frailty,” and closed her eyes forever.

Rumors flew immediately that the Lady of Beauty, as Agnes was known, had been poisoned. A 2005 exhumation of Agnes’s mortal remains has revealed off-the-charts levels of mercury poisoning—between ten thousand and a hundred thousand times higher than normal.

read more @ CrimeReads

Hyde Park bridge named for abolitionist, suffragist Grimke sisters

From Universal Hub
Sign with inspirational quote from Sarah GrimkeCity officials and local historians and residents gathered at the former Dana Avenue Bridge in Hyde Park this morning to officially rename it as the Grimke Sisters Bridge in honor of two 19th-century sisters who fought for both the abolition of slavery and for women's rights to vote - and who on March 7, 1870 led a march of women to Hyde Park Town Hall to vote in the town elections, the first time women voted in the US - although the town then discarded their ballots.

The sisters, children of a prominent South Carolina slave owner, fought for ideals "that were dangerously radical, even among reformers," such as that all people are equal and deserve the same rights as white men, Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, said. At a time when "racism ran deep in the United States," even among white reformers, "they were attacked on all sides, they were denounced in pulpits all up and down the East Coast," she said.

She added that Sarah Grimke specified she was not asking for special treatment by men. "All I ask from our brethren is that they take our feet off our necks," words later made famous by then lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

read more here @ Universal Hub

Abortion Is an Unwinnable Argument

From The Atlantic
In 1956, two American physicians, J. A. Presley and W. E. Brown, colleagues at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, decided that four recent admissions to their hospital were significant enough to warrant a published report. “Lysol-Induced Criminal Abortion” appeared in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. It describes four women who were admitted to the hospital in extreme distress, all of them having had “criminal abortions” with what the doctors believed to be an unusual agent: Lysol. The powerful cleaner had been pumped into their wombs. Three of them survived, and one of them died.

Image result for lysol abortion

We will never know how many women had abortions via this method, or how many died because of it. Why was Lysol, with its strong, unpleasant smell and its corrosive effect on skin, so often used? Because its early formulation contained cresol, a phenol compound that induced abortion; because it was easily available, a household product that aroused no suspicion when women bought it; and because for more than three decades, Lysol advertised the product as an effective form of birth control, advising women to douche with it in diluted form after sex, thus powerfully linking the product to the notion of family planning.

read more here @ The Atlantic

The Quandary Regarding Female Genital Mutilation Persists in Kenya

A ritualistic practice dating back to Ancient Egyptian Civilization around the 5th century BCE, female genital mutilation (FGM) has risen among the most hotly contested human rights predicaments over the past hundred years. From vehement condemnation on the part of the international community, to fervent support in practicing countries of retaining a longstanding tradition, legal measures taken to cut or continue the custom have been largely indecisive, ineffective and ambiguous amongst nations of the developing world.

In 2011, the Government of Kenya felt it time to become an exception to this ambiguity. The Kenyan government passed the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, unconditionally banning FGM in all parts of the state. Violation of this law carries an obligatory three-year prison sentence for all parties implicated. By prohibiting mutilation, this legislation is perceived by many as a long-awaited escape route for girls and women being coerced into pure barbarism, on the sole basis of tradition. 

Tatu Kamau, a female Kenyan physician, publicly objects to this law and the logic behind it. Currently, Kamau is appealing to the high courts of Kenya, arguing the option of FGM should be made open to females above the age of 18. According to Kamau, once reaching adulthood, the female has a fundamental right to do what she wishes with her body. Nobody, she argues, including the government, should have the authority to make decisions that “infringe on a woman’s right to exercise her cultural beliefs.”

read more here @ IR INSIDER

Will feminism be a crime in Mohammed bin Salman's Saudi Arabia?

This week, feminism in Saudi Arabia was declared to be a crime punishable by imprisonment and lashing. 

The Saudi state security agency’s video announcement defined feminism as an extremist position, imported from the West to assert that men and women have equal rights in economic, social and political matters. 

According to this definition, feminists allegedly aim to eradicate differences between the sexes, abolish marriage and family, and encourage same-sex unions. The Saudi definition lumped feminism in with other forms of “extremism”, including atheism, homosexuality and promiscuity. 

10 Prohibitions for Women in Saudi Arabia That Are Hard to Believe

Facing a backlash, the Saudi regime soon declared that the video had been the result of an employee’s mistaken interpretation, but it is unlikely that such an outrageous announcement was a mistake. 

Could it have been an attempt to embarrass the crown prince by the old deep state of his rivals? Or could there be government employees who genuinely believe that feminism is akin to terrorism? We may never find out, but the confusion reflects the contradictions that beset this regime, amid its ostensible attempts at reform and promote women’s empowerment.

read more here @ Middle East Eye

Sunday, November 3, 2019

POLL - 81% back idea of Japan having female emperor

From Kyodo News

A whopping 81.9 percent of respondents to a Kyodo News survey over the weekend said they are in favor of the idea of Japan having a female emperor, while 13.5 percent indicated they are opposed.

Concerns persist over the stability of Japan's imperial succession, as the 1947 Imperial House Law stipulates that only males of the patrilineage can ascend the throne.

Following the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, 59, the family now has only three heirs -- the emperor's younger brother Crown Prince Fumihito, 53; the crown prince's son Prince Hisahito, 13; and Prince Hitachi (Masahito), 83, the uncle of the emperor.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have a daughter -- Princess Aiko, 17 -- and there are other females in the imperial family, but the Imperial House Law requires women to abandon their imperial status after marrying commoners. 

Regarding whether to allow heirs of female lineage to ascend the throne, 70.0 percent in the poll supported the idea, while 21.9 percent were against it.

read more here @ Kyodo News

'Little Miss Sumo' wrestles sexism in Japan's ancient sport

From Reuters
A young wrestler dubbed “Little Miss Sumo” is fighting sexism in the ancient Japanese sport, hoping to inspire other women to step into the ring and elevate sumo to Olympic status.

Hiyori Kon is the focus of a new Netflix documentary “Little Miss Sumo”, which tracked her attempts to take on sporting inequality in a society that lags on all manner of women’s rights.

Popularly regarded as Japan’s national sport, sumo pits two giant wrestlers, clad only in loinclothes, in a test of brawn and skill waged - with crouches and charges - inside a ring floored with clay and edged with straw bales.

Image result for little miss sumo trailer

But tradition in a sport that began more than 1,500 years ago forbids women from entering the ring as the space is sacred and any female presence is considered a pollutant.

“Even if you are faced with someone who is big and strong - it’s not something to run away from, but engage with - like in the sumo way,” said 22-year-old Kon when asked how other wannabe but wary women wrestlers should take up the sport.

read more here @ Reuters

Scientists reconstruct face of 1,000-year-old Viking warrior woman

Scientists have re-created the face of a female Viking warrior who lived more than 1,000 years ago. 

The woman is based on a skeleton found in a Viking graveyard in Solør, Norway, and is now preserved in Oslo's Museum of Cultural History.

While the remains had already been identified as female, the burial site had not been considered that of a warrior 'simply because the occupant was a woman', archaelogist Ella Al-Shamahi told The Guardian

But now British scientists have brought the female warrior to life using cutting-edge facial recognition technology. 

read more here @ Daily Mail Online

Scientists reconstructed the face of the female warrior who lived more than 1,000 years ago by anatomically working from the muscles and layering of the skin

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Why is Emily Wilding Davison remembered as the first suffragette martyr?

“She paid ‘the price of freedom’. Glad to pay it — glad though it brought her to death (..) the first woman martyr who has gone to death for this cause.” In the context of the women’s suffrage campaign who do you think was the subject of this eulogy? Was it Emily Wilding Davison, the centenary of whose death is being honoured this June?

Mary Jane Clarke.jpgUnlike Emily Davison, Mary Clarke was not merely a member of the WSPU, but one of its inner circle, fully involved in the campaign from its early days, twice imprisoned after taking part in deputations, and, from mid-1909, based in Brighton as a paid organizer. Her final imprisonment came at the end of November 1910; she had thrown a stone through the window of a London police station. On 23 December, on her release from Holloway, she spoke at a WSPU ‘welcome’ luncheon and two days later, aged 48, died of a brain hemorrhage attributed to the strain of her prison sentence. Her sister, Emmeline, was at her side when she died.

read more here @ OUP Blog