• Lisa Archer, 24, of Atlanta, center, chants as protestors march, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. (David Goldman/AP)


    ‘Stand Your Ground’ and Toxic Masculinity

    Mallika Dutt, the CEO of Breakthrough, on how the same mentality that plays into aggressive ‘stand your ground’ laws often breeds violence against women.

    Last week Stanley Fish wrote insightfully in The New York Times about the “implicit affirmation of a code of manliness” with “stand your ground.” The law, Fish wrote, “is more than a declaration of a right; it is an injunction—stand your ground, be a man.”

    As a longtime global women’s-rights activist, I see the perils of this kind of injunction every day in my work. I’ve seen over and over how this culture of “toxic masculinity”—the same culture that encourages men to “stand your ground,” no matter the consequences—enables all manner of violence, including violence against women.

  • The Jury box for the Geroge Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla., is seen Monday June 17, 2013. (Pool photo by Joe Burbank, Joe Burbank)

    Gender Stereotypes

    Yes, Trayvon's Jury Was Irrational

    But not because it was all-female—because it was all-too-human, says Amanda Marcotte.

    One of the hardest parts of the George Zimmerman trial for a lot of people to swallow was that it was handed down by an all-female jury. For those of us who believe the verdict was largely a product of subconscious racial prejudice, it served as an ugly reminder that despite the sexism women face every day, women are not particularly better at getting over irrational fears and bigotries than men are.

    Feminist writers like Jessica Valenti and Janell Hobson (and, yes, myself) wrote about how the irrational fear of black men colored the decision rendered by this all-female jury. Unsurprisingly, the admission that sometimes women can, like men, be irrational, was seized upon by the “gotcha” conservative brigade. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal tweeted, “Ha, look how @AmandaMarcotte and @JessicaValenti stereotype women as governed by their emotions,” though it’s unclear what his point was. That women should be banned, due to irrationality, from serving on juries, as they were up until the 1970s? Probably not, but it’s clear that he certainly wished to bolster the stereotype that women are especially irrational, a stereotype that keeps cropping up again and again in the debates over women’s rights.

  • Witness Rachel Jeantel gives her testimony to the defense during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court June 26, 2013 in Sanford, Florida. (Jacob Langston-Pool via Getty)


    Poor ‘Black Girl’

    She was a key witness in the George Zimmerman trial. So why can’t anyone look past the tired stereotypes?

    Rachel Jeantel is a name that will forever live in infamy in the minds of many Americans—both black and white—after her testimony as the prosecution’s star witness in last week’s trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murder for the death of Trayvon Martin.

    Let’s be honest: Jeantel’s very presence on the witness stand (broadcast live on national and international television) conjures up all kinds of age-old race, class, and gender-based stereotypes about black women. The large, full-figured, dark-skinned black girl. Not a great communicator. Not very articulate. Head hung low. Appearing to roll her eyes and head as she verbally sparred back and forth with defense attorney Don West. And, stunningly, she tweeted about needing a “drink.”