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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

November 26, 2021
| Womens Advocacy

Founder's Weekly 12th Nov 2021: Here’s what Adele can teach an unempathetic Travis Scott…

Social media tells the rapper to “take notes” after multiple deaths at his concert - will he listen?

Fellow remarkable community,

Devastating reports from Travis Scott’s deadly concert in Houston with so many young people being injured and losing their lives has left us all feeling angry and heartbroken. Now videos flooding social media shows how musicians such as Adele have handled incidents at their performances proving that the Astroworld deaths could have been avoided if it weren’t for a lack of empathy. 

I was also inspired this week by Deputy National Party leader and Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor launching the NSW Gender Equality Dashboard. It’s been a year-long project for the passionate politician, who hopes it will start conversations about issues affecting women and help the government and non-government sectors work together on effective solutions.

And a huge congratulations to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala as she married her “partner for life”!


What Adele can teach Travis Scott about empathy

Imagine waiting almost two years to once again feel the rush of a loud, sweaty and inspirationally energetic concert environment only to witness death, fear and suffocation.

The avoidable crowd crush at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert last week raises major questions about the rapper’s lack of empathy as the tragedy unfolded.

In amongst this, a 22-year-old student succumbed to their injuries on Thursday, in addition to eight people aged between 14 and 27 who’d already lost their lives. A nine-year-old boy remains in hospital in critical condition.

While Scott stopped his show momentarily when he spotted someone who needed assistance, then again when he noticed an ambulance in the crowd, he quickly resumed performing both times. There has been widespread condemnation for him continuing with the concert for nearly 40 minutes after police declared it a “mass casualty event.”

People have been flooding social media platforms with videos of musicians responding compassionately to incidents during their live performances.

Adele, for example, halted a concert in Sydney in 2017, after a fan in the front row had a cardiac arrest. She stopped singing "Rolling In The Deep" and asked people to let paramedics through the crowd to help the fan.

She tearfully told the crowd: "I'm so sorry but someone got hurt and I have to check they're okay."

A clip of the moment is currently going viral on social media —on TikTok, it has racked up millions of views since being posted.

Unlike Scott, Adele only started singing again when she was given the all clear that the woman had been escorted from the stadium on a stretcher. Then, at her second Sydney show, the singer dedicated “Take It All” to the hospitalised woman and wished her a speedy recovery.

“I look forward to finding out who you are, I don’t know who she is yet and I’ll be speaking to you soon, I hope,” she said.

That is what empathy looks like.

Meanwhile, a video posted on Twitter shows Lady Gaga stopping a show when she noticed a fan was bleeding.

“She asks her name, if she needs a paramedic and apologises that she got hit. It’s heartbreaking Travis Scott and the organisers/staff at AstroWorld didn’t have this compassion and understanding of their responsibility,” a Twitter user wrote.

Travis Scott is notorious for goading his followers into risky behaviour during his shows. He has pleaded guilty to reckless or disorderly conduct twice—after instructing Lollapalooza attendees to climb over barricades in 2015, and after police said he tried to incite a riot at a show in 2017.

After the 2019 Astroworld festival saw some injuries from trampling, Scott wrote on Instagram: 

“IM PUTTING A PLAN TOGETHER NOW TO GET SOME MORE OF THE WILD ONES IN.
EVEN IF I GOTTA SNEAK THEM IN.”

Travis Scott has since apologised about the rising death toll from his gig and offered to pay for funeral costs and mental health counselling for victims and their families. He has asked victims to reach out to him, saying he "desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid".

But families of victims remain cynical. Basil Mirza Baig—whose brother, Danish Baig, was trampled to death—told the Houston Chronicle it was devastating that the music kept playing as the mayhem unfolded: “Travis Scott just kept telling people to rage. We were nobodies to them.”

Travis Scott has spent years ignoring signs that inciting his fans is dangerous. The act of riling up masses to ‘rage’ with intent to madness is sickening. The violence and ignorance that has been seen could have been avoided. This is what the entire issue is about - this all could have been avoided. 

The question is will Travis Scott learn from this tragedy and not just hold the safety of concertgoers in higher regard in the future but also realise the agonising pain he has caused to families, trauma he has caused to his fans and accept society’s rightful perspective on him as a man with no empathy? That’s yet to be seen. 

People before profits, always.   

Astronaut breaks glass ceiling in space, battles sexism on Earth

Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping made history last weekend when she became the country's first woman to conduct a spacewalk.

Wang and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang successfully completed a 6.5 hour spacewalk in the early hours of Monday morning, making her one of only 16 women globally to have done so since Soviet astronaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the first in 1984.

While it should have been a triumphant moment, the milestone has been overshadowed by sexism.

Reporters have continuously asked Wang about her appearance and her family. Before her latest space flight, state-run People’s Daily wanted to know “whether she would miss her family while staying in space for half a year,” but didn’t ask the male astronauts the same question.

The Global Times also noted that female astronauts supposedly have the advantage of having a “gentle personality (that) is good for teamwork”.

Shortly before the launch, Pang Zhihao, an official with the China National Space Administration, announced that a cargo capsule had supplied the orbiting space station with cosmetics.

“Female astronauts may be in better condition after putting on makeup,” he said during in an interview with CNS news agency

He also noted that the space station had chocolate, desserts and other supplements on board “in the event of heavy blood loss” while Wang was menstruating.

Following Wang’s spacewalk, Jiang Changhua, a top official at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center, said: “The biggest impression I got from Wang Yaping was that she didn’t feel like a woman because she was relatively strong in all aspects.”

While many online commenters have also chimed in with negative remarks about Wang cutting her hair or not being physically strong enough for the mission, others have baulked at the fixation on her appearance and gender instead of her accomplishments.

“It is as if women can’t live their life without cosmetics and skin care,” one user wrote. “This has already blurred the essence of Wang Yaping as a hero.”

Since when has lipstick been a prerequisite for being a female role model? The male gaze has defined and polluted feminism, and in strong, incredible and  Wang Yaping’s instance, has cultured hate towards what a female astronaut should embody. It’s pathetic, case closed. 


The politician fighting for gender equality in NSW parliament

Watching Deputy National Party leader and Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor launch the NSW Gender Equality Dashboard this week was so inspiring. 

Taylor spent a year working on the project, which gives visibility to trends in gender representation and offers insight into the ways women are impacted by gender issues. It features 10 indicators, such as electoral representation, workforce participation, the gender pay gap, safety from domestic violence and education.

The new dashboard brings together publically available data in one place for the first time, transforming the way people can access and use it.

“Knowledge and information are powerful tools and this dashboard will allow everyone to see where we are doing well – for example, it shows us that since 2010 more women than men have completed undergraduate and postgraduate degrees,” Taylor said.

“It also shows us where women are experiencing unacceptable difficulties and danger – such as in the areas of domestic and sexual assault.

“This tool will not just inspire conversations about issues affecting women, it will help the government and non-government sectors work together on effective solutions.

“It will also allow students and researchers to create their own insights and projects by enabling them to easily filter information, generate interactive graphs and download slides and photos.”

Taylor took the opportunity while publicising the launch of the database to call out the NSW Government for its lack of women in leadership positions.

She told The Daily Telegraph the new Liberal party leader, Dominic Perrottet, had inherited a team where women were not given the chance to rise to the top.

“If they want real change, and they want to see women in those leadership positions, they have to promote them,” she said.

“And women when they get in those positions, they need to promote other women, based on merit.

“At the end of the day, they need to be given the opportunity and they haven’t been. (It was) one female, one, and Gladys.”

Female voters are still waiting for Perrottet to balance his cabinet, more than a month after taking office. He’s committed to a cabinet reshuffle over the summer...let’s hope he honours that promise because the women and girls of Australia deserve to see themselves represented. 

To start exploring the dashboard, click here


Mine worker sacked for refusing sex with boss

I can’t believe I’m about to say this but, more disturbing reports have emerged from the West Australian parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment in the mining sector with a woman revealing she lost her job for refusing to sleep with her superintendent.

Astacia Stevens was working for the company as a haul truck driver on a Fortescue site when she was propositioned by the man who was heading an investigation into her vehicle, almost hitting another one.

He allegedly told the married woman that if she had sex with him, he would make the investigation go away.

She refused and he “fired me the very next day,” she said in her submission to the inquiry. “I was only employed by Macmahon for three months. I was glad to be fired from Macmahon … If I wasn’t fired, I don’t think things would have ended safely for me. I felt as though all the men were sexual predators.”

In another horrific incident while Stevens was working for a different contractor at a Rio Tinto site, a superintendent told her that if she wanted to get “her shirt” – meaning gain a permanent job – she would “have to get on your knees first”.

Macmahon has received 18 sexual harassment complaints over the past five years, with 11 incidents reported this year. When chief executive Michael Finnegan was asked if the company’s policies had failed to protect women in the company’s workforce.

“Oh look, absolutely – when there’s one case of sexual harassment, it means that it hasn’t worked,” he replied. “That caused us to take that as a priority and revisit it, and we’re committed to doing that.”

However, the inquiry was also told that sexual harassment only became a safety issue discussed at Macmahon board meetings last month.

It shows a disturbing lack of accountability when an estimated 74% of women in the mining industry having experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Many in the sector are calling for an industry-wide blacklist of sex predators, due to reports that some offenders who have been terminated for their behaviour later turned up at other mine sites.

West Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Paul Everingham said: “Do we build a register or a database of problematic offenders? That’s something that the working group is considering. There’s some support [in the industry]. It’s not unanimous.”

Where does this end? Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad that this is all coming to light - it needs to in order for change but if the industry is serious about protecting women and encouraging them to join the mining sector, “not unanimous” just isn’t good enough.


Mrs & Mr Malala

Nobel laureate and human rights activist Malala Yousafzai has announced her marriage to Asser Malik, an operations manager for the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The pair tied the knot in an Islamic marriage ceremony, with Yousafzai announcing on Instagram: "Today marks a precious day in my life. Asser and I tied the knot to be partners for life. We celebrated a small nikkah ceremony at home in Birmingham with our families. Please send us your prayers. We are excited to walk together for the journey ahead.”

Her husband tweeted: “In Malala, I found the most supportive friend, a beautiful and kind partner — I'm so excited to spend the rest of our life together.”

Yousafzai became a target of the Taliban as an 11-year-old living in Pakistan for refusing to obey orders banning girls from school. She survived an attempted assassination at age 15, when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on a school bus.

In that same year, she launched the Malala Fund, a global girls' education charity. At 16, she delivered a speech at the United Nations calling for gender equality. Then at 17, after writing a memoir about her life and experiences, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

She continues to fight for girls to have access to education and has called for aid for Afghan refugees during the current Taliban crisis.

The Remarkable Woman joins with tens of thousands of well-wishers in sending our congratulations to the happy couple! 

Until next week,
Shivani

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