Tag Archives: NPR

On the table, 7/6

Happy 4th!  I’m still recovering from my weekend of little sleep, grilling out, and eating lots of peaches.  I miss it all already.

Here’s what’s been brewing over the weekend:

In his book, Michael Billig coined the term “banal nationalism” to draw attention to the ways in which nationalism was not only a quality of gun-toting, flag-waving “extremists” (p. 5), but was quietly and rather invisibly reproduced by all of us in our daily lives.

So, what’s the problem with banal nationalism?  Sociologists have critiqued nationalism for being the source of an irrational commitment and loyalty to one’s nation, a commitment that makes one willing to both die and kill….  [Read on]

 

Read more: Check out Michael Billig’s book Banal Nationalism

 

 

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A few months ago I read about encouraging advances in the science of male contraception. That led me on a long search to speak to the leading minds in the field.

As readers know, I had a vasectomy several years ago. But I have several buddies who are either on the fence about wanting kids or don’t want them right this second. So, for those guys, I wanted to ask these scientists: What’s taking so long? [Read on]

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Georgia is having mixed results with a new program replacing migrant farm workers with probationers.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal started the program after farmers complained a crackdown on illegal immigrants was scaring away the mostly Latino workers needed to harvest labor-intensive crops like blueberries and cucumbers.  (This article sparks a plethora of conversation points – worker’s rights, prisoner’s rights, the value of migrant work and the claim that migrant workers take jobs from US citizens, and the intersections of class, race, and ethnicity to name a few.) [Read on]

Read more:

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“The moment when something is transformed into something else is the most beautiful moment; it’s a magical moment,” said Brazilian artist Vik Muniz in the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land (in Portuguese, “Lixo Extraordinário”), directed by Lucy Walker, João Jardim and Karen Harley.

The movie tells the remarkable story of how the “catadores,” scavengers of recyclable materials found in an enormous landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are coached by Muniz to transform mountains of discarded items into breathtaking works of art….[Read on]

 

Read more:

Watch the documentary Wasteland on Muniz’s work.  Check out the trailer here or watch the film on Netflix.

NPR also has a few more articles on the project.  Check them out:

 NPR – “Recyclers Turn Rio ‘Waste Land’ into High Art”

NPR – “Film Chronicles Artist’s Work from Rio Dump” by Pat Dowell

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On the table – 6/28

Most of the time I don’t feel like commenting on anything.  In fact, my act of including it on this blog is a comment – I care and, therefore, I share.  And most of the time I have tons and tons of things to share.

So, here begins a new bi-weekly-ish assortment of interesting things.  And because it’s current, it’s “on the table.”  It’s like a “Blog Post Blizzard,” only less lazy.

Each bullet point will have the beginning of the article or a short blurb about the piece, with both a “Read on” link which will take you to the source and a “Read more” for thirsty minds.

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In 2000, Sports Illustrated named its 100 top athletes of the 20th century. There are names you no doubt are familiar with — Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and of course Michael Jordan. But there’s also a name that might slip by: Babe Didrikson. She is the only woman in the top 10.

In the 1920s and 30s, Babe Didrikson proved a girl could be a phenomenal all-around athlete. After mastering basketball and track and field, she eventually turned to golf — and won three U.S. Women’s Open championships before she died of cancer when she was only 45. This weekend, Babe Didrikson would be 100 years old…. [Read on]

 Read more: Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Don Van Natta Jr.

 

 

 

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The "Buranovo Babushkas" watch video, for the first time, of two of their members appearing on Russia's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? program.

In Russian culture, one iconic image is the elderly woman — in Russian, she’s called a “babushka” — sitting on a roadside, selling vegetables from her garden.  One group of babushkas from the village of Buranovo, 600 miles east of Moscow, is blowing up that stereotype.

The dozen or so women — mostly in their 70s and 80s — have become a musical sensation, charming audiences across Russia. They sing Beatles tunes and songs by iconic Russian rocker Viktor Tsoi. They fly around the country for concerts. They made it to the Russian finals of the Eurovision music contest. And they have a Facebook page.  These women are sending a message loud and clear: It can be hip to be a babushka…. [Read on]

Read more: Watch them on Youtube

 

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This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments… [Read on]

Read more: Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World by Lisa Bloom

 

 

 

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When his toddler comes home to say that she wants her hair straightened, Chris Rock takes to the street to understand Black women’s hair and the physical and emotional dangers of straightening it.

 Read more: Rent Good Hair on Netflix!

 

 

 

 

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This American Life: Prison Rights

I was driving to IHOP this weekend when I heard this and was completely appalled.  I’m TAing for a constitutional law course, and have no idea how any of this could be legal.

Listen here.

NPR‘s This American Life: Very Tough Love

Part One.

Ira reports from Glynn County Georgia on Superior Court Judge Amanda Williams and how she runs the drug courts in Glynn, Camden and Wayne counties. We hear the story of Lindsey Dills, who forges two checks on her parents’ checking account when she’s 17, one for $40 and one for $60, and ends up in drug court for five and a half years, including 14 months behind bars, and then she serves another five years after that—six months of it in Arrendale State Prison, the other four and a half on probation. The average drug court program in the U.S. lasts 15 months. But one main way that Judge Williams’ drug court is different from most is how punitive it is. Such long jail sentences are contrary to the philosophy of drug court, as well as the guidelines of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. For violating drug court rules, Lindsey not only does jail terms of 51 days, 90 days and 104 days, Judge Williams sends her on what she calls an “indefinite sentence,” where she did not specify when Lindsey would get out. (30 minutes)

Part Two.

We hear about how Brandi Byrd and many other offenders end up in Judge Williams’ drug court. One reason drug courts were created was to save money by incarcerating fewer people. But in Judge Williams’ program, people like Brandi end up in drug court—at a cost of $350 per month—who would’ve simply gotten probation in most other Georgia counties. When offenders like Brandi are kicked out of the program—and half of participants in Judge Williams’ drug court program don’t successfully complete it—they go into detention, at a cost of $17,000 per year. Brandi did two years.

We also hear how one model drug court participant, Charlie McCullough, was treated by Judge Williams. (25 minutes)

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Blog Post Blizzard

Women’s Media Visibility in Egypt’s Protests – Sociological Images

Coverage of the Egyptian protests this week disproportionately interviewed and photographed male protestors, occasionally using the terms “Egyptian men” and “protestors” interchangeably (excellent example here).  What images we did receive of women depicted them as separate from the demonstrations if not dependent on male guardianship.  The paucity of images or stories about women activists excludes them from the national uprising and silences their protests.

These Attractive Sneakers Become Trees When You’re Done with Them – Good Magazine

The second-place winner at Amsterdam’s Green Fashion Awards last week, OAT’s “Virgin Collection” is the world’s first line of sneakers that, upon disposal, will biodegrade and sprout trees. The materials—some developed by OAT itself—are all easily broken down, and tree seeds packed in the lining will hopefully leave saplings where your sneakers once stood.

The ‘Black History’ of America’s White House – NPR

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For many Americans, the White House stands as a symbol of liberty and justice. But its gleaming facade hides harsh realities, from the slaves who built the home to the presidents who lived there and shaped the country’s racial history, often for the worse. In The Black History of the White House, Clarence Lusane traces the path of race relations in America by telling a very specific history — the stories of those African-Americans who built, worked at and visited the White House.

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum – New York Times

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times - Katricia Gray, left, of Detroit, brought sculptures to Tulani Salahu-Din, a researcher for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, at a November event to appraise possible donations to its collection.

As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Bunch, 58, is charged with creating an institution that embodies the story of black life in America.

The pressure couldn’t be greater. To open in 2015, in a $500 million building designed to evoke the art of an ancient West African kingdom, the museum will stand at the geographic center of American civic identity, on the National Mall.

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Blog Post Blizzard

I have too many interesting articles to share with you and so little time.  So, in honor of the snowcalypse in the Midwest, here’s a blizzard of fabulous things to read.  Choose your poison:

 

Why Keeping Little Girls Squeaky Clean Could Make Them Sick – NPR

WESTLAND, MI – JULY 6: Hannah Rose Akerley, age 7, of Grosse Point Park, Michigan, gets some relief from the heat by playing in a gigantic lake of mud at the annual Mud Day event July 6, 2010 in Westland, Michigan. The lake was created by mixing 20,000 gallons of water with 200 tons of topsoil. The event, which is sponsored by the Wayne County Parks Department, draws about 1,000 children each year. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

 

Middle Eastern and North African Protests Shatter Myths About Muslim Women – Ms. Magazine

Young people are coming out in full force to fight for democracy, and women are at the forefront of these protests, breaking a huge stereotype that Muslim women passive, voiceless or apathetic.

 

THIS PICTURE IS SO BADASS!!!

 

 

Beauty and the Double Standard of Aging – Sociological Images

Today I had the pleasure of reading a 1978 essay by Susan Sontag titled The Double Standard of Aging. I was struck by how plainly and convincingly she described the role of attractiveness in men’s and women’s lives: “For women, only one standard of female beauty is sanctioned: the girl. ”

 

Brisenia Flores, Another Nine-Year-Old Girl, Was Shot and Killed in Arizona – Village Voice

Brisenia Flores, 9, was killed on May 30, 2009, when a group led by anti-immigration fighter Shawna Forde raided the girl’s family home in the border town of Arivaca, Arizona. Allegedly, the attack was organized in the name of the Minutemen, a crew of vigilante border patrols, who hoped to steal money and drugs to fund their revolution against immigration. The Flores household was attacked mistakenly, for they had no drugs or money, but according to reports, Forde and her cronies commenced to shoot Brisenia’s father in the head, killing him, before wounding her mother and eventually, shooting Brisenia in cold blood…

 

 

 

The Black Power Mixtape – Democracy Now

We broadcast from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. One of this year’s selections that is creating a lot of buzz is a documentary called The Black Power Mixtape. The film features rare archival footage shot between 1967 and 1975 by two Swedish journalists and was discovered in the basement of Swedish public television 30 years later. We speak with renowned actor and activist Danny Glover, who co-produced The Black Power Mixtape.

 

Oscar nominations an all-white affair – The Gazette

It’s a wonder that the security guards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t stop Mo’Nique and make her show ID when she arrived to help announce the Oscar nominations early Tuesday at the organization’s Beverly Hills headquarters. After all, she was the only person of colour involved with the extravaganza, since the 83rd annual Oscar nominations have the dubious distinction of being an all-white affair…

 

 

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Uganda: Gay Rights Activist Found Murdered

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Global Voices:

Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was found murdered, just weeks after winning a court case against a local newspaper that had called for Ugandans to “hang” homosexuals.

Kato was an advocacy officer for gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda, which published a press release reading:

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.

Uganda has been in the news for gay rights issues since October 2009, when Member of Parliament David Bahati tabled a bill that would provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty for not only homosexuals but also anyone found to be supporting or promoting gay rights.

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The proposed bill has stirred up considerable anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, including the publication by local newspaper Rolling Stone [no relation to Rolling Stone Magazine] of a list of 100 suspected homosexuals and their addresses. Kato was on the list, and his face was on the paper’s front page.

Rolling Stone "100 Pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Leak: Hang Them"Photo via Gay Uganda.

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NPR:

Ugandan gay activist David Kato was murdered this Wednesday at his home in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. Kato gained international attention when the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone published a picture of him and several others next to the words “Hang Them.” In 2009, the Ugandan parliament was considering a bill that imposes the death penalty on people who are found to engage in homosexual activities. The bill was introduced after American evangelicals came to Kampala for a conference. Other Ugandan gay rights activists say Kato’s death resulted, in part, from sentiments that those evangelicals brought.

Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

January 28, 2011

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

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For Some Girls, The Ultimate Goal Is To Kill A Buck

Tamara Keith, NPR, December 9, 2010

Looking at Magan Hebert in her orange-and-blue cheerleading uniform, you’d never guess that she could shoot a rifle and kill a deer with a single shot.

Her hair is teased up and pinned back into a pouf. Her cheekbones and eyelids are defined with bold, colorful sweeps of makeup.

Magan, 15, of Wayne County, Miss., defies the typical image of a hunter — a man wearing camouflage, holding a gun.

But an increasing number of girls now hunt. According to the latest data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are some 300,000 female hunters under the age of 16. From 1991 to 2006, the number of girls who hunt in this country nearly doubled.

You can read on here.  Sadly this article doesn’t at all get into the gender politics about women hunting.  Not to say that women can’t or shouldn’t hunt, but the language women use to prove their strength and talent in hunting generally revolves around a masculinist rhetoric of promoting hegemonic masculinity.

The author obviously doesn’t have the same questions I have: Why do you find peace in killing animals?  Does killing ability equate actual power, or especially women’s empowerment in the name of feminism?  Do we associate hunting with a certain social class and why?  Is this type of hypermasculinity different from that of a Wall Street stock trader?  Do your cheerleading and hunting make you an American?

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Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa!!!

I. Love. Christmas music.  I start singing jingle bells in July.  But I recently realized that there are tttooonnnnsss of non-religious Christmas songs (Who doesn’t love Bing Crosby?), and then tttooonnnssss of religious Christmas songs, and like 2 Hanukkah songs (Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel and Adam Sandler’s song).

Much less, Kwanzaa songs:

You might not even know what Kwanzaa is, which is understandable.  Let Sesame Street tell you how it’s done:

Yes, the silent boy is from Everybody Hates Chris.

So I was listening to NPR yesterday night (shocker, I know), and heard Matisyahu, a Hasidic reggae musician from Brooklyn, speaking about the shortage of Hanukkah music.  Here’s an excerpt from his NPR essay on Hanukkah music:

Amazon.com has 48,322 Christmas albums for sale, but only 212 Hanukkah CDs. That’s 227 Christmas albums for every one Hanukkah album. Even taking into account that Christians outnumber Jewish people 76 to 1, there is still a huge lack of Hanukkah music. Over the past 100 years, there have been thousands of Jewish singer-songwriters. Where is all the Hanukkah music?

Jewish musicians might feel more inclined to make Hanukkah music if they knew that someone would actually want to listen to it. Until the holiday music market shows it can support Hanukkah songs, it’s highly unlikely that we will ever hear Jewish holiday music at the mall, or the gas station, or the DMV, or on every radio station that Santa currently rules.

Is it possible that one day the tide may turn, that Jews and Christians will come together in the studio and start making Hanukkah music? Will we ever get to hear Drake and Rihanna’s hit single, “Hanukkah’s Sexy Love Lights”?  Maybe, but it would take a real Hanukkah miracle.

Listen to the interview with Matisyahu and NPR, in which he discusses his choice in reggae and, at the end, performs his song “Miracle” acoustically.  It’s really amazing.

All in all, I’ll definitely be looking for ways to make my expansive holiday playlist more diverse this winter.

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What does the Republican win mean for women?

Personally, I’m taking the road less traveled by society and following the advice of Jon Stewart – everybody’s going to be fine America.  I’m an activist not a fatalist.

Before we begin, if you weren’t paying attention to women running in the election, then here’s a recap from Rutgers on who ran.

With that said, this election was both good and bad for women.  Here’s the gist from news sources and organizations:


“Despite GOP Wins, Hill May See Fewer Women” by Carrie Kahn, NPR:

It started as a banner year for female candidates. More of them ran in party primaries than ever before, especially Republican women, who set a new record.

Many of the winners had the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who coined a new nickname for the like-minded conservative moms: Mama Grizzlies.

Republican losses paled compared with those suffered by Democrats. Swept up in the conservative wave, Democratic women took big hits. Nine of them were booted in the House and one in the Senate.

Since most women in Congress are Democrats, the party’s problem this week became theirs. That means there will likely be fewer women in Congress for the first time since the 1970s, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.


Planned Parenthood was sure to chalk this election up as a loss:

Despite some bright spots in the election — races in which pro-choice candidates ran and won on our issues and the resounding defeat of an anti-choice ballot initiative in Colorado — it’s clear that the House of Representatives is in the hands of dangerous politicians who oppose women’s health and a woman’s right to choose.

The majority of Americans agree with Planned Parenthood on the issue of choice. While this election was a referendum on the economy and government, the results are truly alarming when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.


“2010 Faltered as a New ‘Year of the Woman’ in Politics by Ashlee Parker, The New York Times

This year’s results for women should be considered in the context of a tough year for Democratic incumbents, many of whom were women, cautioned Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University.

“The overall downside of this is people are going to look at a lot of these results and think, ‘Oh, my gosh, women can’t win or women can’t get elected,’ ” Dr. Lawless said.

The idea that 2010 would be the second coming for the Year of the Woman may have been overstated from the beginning. A handful of high-profile candidates, all Republicans — Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California, and Linda McMahon in Connecticut — generated an inordinate amount of news media attention. Upsets in primaries drew national interest to Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada.

“Several of these women,” Dr. Lawless said, “had interesting personal stories or personalities that garnered so much national attention, which obscured the fact that they represented actually a very small portion of the actual candidates.”


“Republican Shift Only Part of the Story of Women Voters” by Bryce Covert, The Huffington Post:

While Democrats took a beating on Tuesday, women were the deciding factor in many victories. A quick list of some of the Democratic winners who benefited:

  • More than half of women voted for comeback kid Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada.
  • Richard Blumenthal, running for Senate in Connecticut, had double-digit leads with women over his female opponent.
  • Michael Bennet, Colorado Senator, led with women over his Republican opponent.
  • Joe Manchin’s winning coalition included women’s support.
  • Ron Wyden and John Kitzhaber in Oregon both drew winning support from women.
  • Women favored New Hampshire’s new governor John Lynch, while men split the vote between him and his opponent.
  • Washington’s Senator Patty Murray drew her support from women.
  • Two-thirds of women backed New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo.
  • Deval Patrick owes his gubernatorial win in Massachusetts to women.
  • And in the West in general, women were a huge factor.

Speculation that women will vote for a woman no matter how conservative her policy positions has also dissipated. Many “mama grizzlies” met with defeat, particularly in the Senate. Sayonara to Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Linda McMahon, and Carly Fiorina, along with gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. And their defeat was at the hands of women voting for the opponent.


“A Mixed Election for Women” by Kathryn Lopez, Townhall.com

You win some, you lose some; We’ve seen that idea playing out in these midterm elections. And with the loss of the first woman speaker, we gain a presumptive speaker in Rep. John Boehner, who is willing to defend the most defenseless among us — the unborn. Bring him on.

And yet, in the wake of the election — which, frankly, had funereal aspects for all of us — it wasn’t a total win for either party — there were headlines like: “Americans slam women in midterm election.”

That one’s from an article in an online magazine for women executives. Reacting to the Democrats’ relegation to minority status in the House, the article struggled with the loss of Speaker Pelosi: “how will women survive in this man’s world come 2012?”

Quite fine, thank you. This last election cycle has engaged many Americans, including women, in citizen-activist roles — working for women and men in Congress who understand that Washington has been guilty of some comprehensive fiscal, moral and Constitutional malpractice of late.

We’ve got hope for change that will put us all in a much better position — perhaps, before long, with some change to spare, for once. We want good policy from Washington, and we know that men are quite capable of it, too.

Sarah Palin is definitely happy about the win.  I’d like to kill the editor who included the final clip.

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NY Times – South Africa Makes Porn With Condoms

This is something I’ve been waiting to see for a looonnnnggg time.

After reading NPR’s story “In Porn Industry, Many Balk At Condom Proposal” about how the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been lobbying to make condom use mandatory in pornographic films, I responded with a blog post wondering what the big deal was: Why do many Americans feel that porn stars deserve any STDs they contract?  If we can fake a t-rex in Jurassic Park, why can’t we photoshop a condom out of a shot?

The NY Times article, “South Africa: Condoms Star in a Sex Film With a Message” by Donald McNeil, Jr., details how South Africa now has its very first all-black porn with condoms!

The film, entitled “Mapona” meaning “naked” in Sotho, marks an incredible step to help encourage the use of condoms in South Africa (and hopefully everywhere else) and decrease the transmission of AIDS in a country with the most serious AIDS epidemic (6 million infected with about 1000 dying per day).

Producer Tau Morena says,

“This film has a gentle message about safe sex. I’m not making any grand claims – it is hardcore adult entertainment – but at the same time here’s a way to spread education and information… The great thing with South Africa is that there is no status quo with the way pornography is shown. We have a chance from the beginning to root out exploitation. In our case, a woman was paid more than the men.”

I don’t plan on watching the film, so I can’t attest to gender equality in the films, but at least it’s a step in the right direction?

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