March 2023 picks

Welcome back to my ‘Picks’ series. Here is a selection of my favourite content published in the last thirty-one days:

In a blog post, Growing Rights Instead of Poverty Partnership (GRIPP) details its contribution to the United Nation’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Four grassroots organisations, ATD Fourth World UK, Intisaar, RAPAR and Thrive Teesside, have submitted a body of evidence for poverty as a human rights violation. GRIPP believes that “lived experience must be included as a key part of the evidence to inform systematic and positive change in people’s lives”. The article contains powerful accounts of lived experiences of inequalities and calls for real and systematic change.

Danielle Allen’s brilliant series of articles about rethinking democracy for the Washington Post. She uses this amazing metaphor of the house in her first piece to talk about America. “Our nation is in desperate need of democracy renovation. We need to bring this old house we all share up to date and fit for purpose in the 21st century. (…) Systems are straining under the scale and complexity of our family’s needs. But there’s also the fact that our house wasn’t originally built for everyone. (…) We’ve got to renovate so that there are good rooms for all — so that power is broadly shared“. Her latest article talks about, literally, the House of Representatives in the United States… And how it can better account for people’s voices. She skillfully explains the complicated issue of representation in the States and lists many, many solutions.

This insightful article by ATD Fourth World that expresses the importance of listening to the voices of women in poverty in feminist activism. Eva Carillo summarises a workshop where women with experience of poverty could share their vision of feminism and their thoughts on gender inequalities. She also emphasises the importance of “listening first to girls and women who face the most social exclusion. They are the ones who can teach society how to use rights as a starting point to benefit everyone”. I also mention this article in my blog post on language and sexism.

Vocal Fries, a linguistics podcast, explores medical language and how science describes women’s bodies. Interviewee and author Rachel E. Gross explains how such language is too often marked by sexist assumptions about women. For instance, a “hostile uterus” assumes its only role is to bear fertile eggs. Or that scientific research regularly tests male subjects and doesn’t account for women’s bodies and realities. “But the interesting thing is, many doctors do not notice these things because they are used to words like [these] being in their medical textbooks”. The author and the two hosts call for a feminist science that would make “visible those invisible assumptions that we have, that are baked into so-called neutral scientific literature”.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, writer Alissa Quart calls for a new narrative on members of Congress or other institutions. One that is more inclusive and scraps the ‘bootstraps narrative’: “politicians claim or imply that they come from humble beginnings but have since become powerful and wealthy, thanks to no one’s efforts but their own. The idea is that success is within reach of us all, and that hard work by a lone individual, unaided by others and regardless of where we come from, is the ticket to riches and renown. (…) But it is a tale that erases the roles of our parents, teachers and caretakers, as well as the part that wealth, gender, race, inherited property and a whole cache of related opportunities play in our lives.