Category : Women

Wealthy women shouldn't marry

Victoria Luckwell the daughter of a UK millionaire

The daughter of one of the UK’s richest men has warned wealthy women against marriage after her “gold-digger” ex-husband was awarded a £1.2 million in a divorce payout.


Victoria Luckwell, 37, whose father Mike set up The Moving Picture Company, and is worth an estimated £135 million or $222 million, said the current legal system in Britain acted as a “disincentive” for the rich to wed, because they had no way of protecting their family’s assets.

Her comments came after her ex-husband, Frankie Limata was handed a £1.2 million payout by a judge, despite having signed numerous prenuptial agreements waiving his right to any of his wife’s money. Miss Luckwell has been told by a judge that she must provide him with £900,000 to buy a home plus £300,000 to pay off his debts, buy a car and furnish his home.

As she left court she said: “Sadly I am left to conclude there is a strong financial disincentive for a wealthy woman to marry if she cannot be   assured of protecting her family’s assets. Simply put, this is a gold-digger’s charter.”

Her 71-year-old father added: “A law which rewards a gold digger after signing three legal agreements merits real criticism.”

The couple, who have three children, met in 2005 and prior to their marriage unemployed Mr Limata signed three agreements promising not to make any claims either during or after the marriage on his wife’s property or gifts provided by her family.

But when they split in 2012 he went to court asking for £2.2 million to keep him in the style to which he had become accustomed.

Today after a lengthy hearing earlier this month Family Division judge Mr. Justice Holman ordered her to provide him with £900,000 to buy a home to live in while their three children, aged between two and eight, are growing   up.

In addition she must also provide him with £300,000 to furnish the property and pay off his debts.

Miss Luckwell currently lives in a £6.7 million home in central London, but is now fearful that she may have to sell it in order to meet the payments to her ex.

After the ruling she said her family were “pleased” that the judge had recognised Mr Limata had contributed no capital to the marriage, with all the finances coming from her family.

She said: “We are all distressed that today Frankie was given a financial award at all, given the unforgivable breaches of his promises.

“This has been a painful public hearing during which Frankie made cruel and wholly unjustified criticisms of my family.

“Important public policy considerations arise from this case. Unless Parliament enacts the recent Law Commission’s proposals on nuptial agreements, the law will remain in a state of uncertainty.

“This results in very costly and public hearings a well as enormous emotional distress and financial uncertainty. My recent experience is exactly what nuptial agreements are designed to eliminate.”

Mr Limata claimed he had been forced to “live like a tramp” with all his possessions in bin bags after the couple split up.

He previously turned down an £850,000 offer to settle the case and the judge criticised the legal costs run up by the couple of more than £657,000.

In reaching his findings the judge said : “They do both need a suitable home in which to live. Victoria has one. Frankie does not.”

He said the couple both had a “high” standard of living, allowing them to take   expensive foreign holidays, eat at top restaurants and drive luxury cars.

Miss Luckwell is considering whether to launch an appeal against the judgment but is this case an anomaly or is there a concerted effort to dissuade people away from the idea of marriage?

One in five women in their mid-40s is childless – compared to one in 10 of their mothers’ generation, new data show.

Some 19% of women born in 1967 did not have children by their 45th birthday, compared with 11% of women born in 1940.

The new 2012 data, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also reveal that women now have 1.91 children on average, compared to 2.36 among their mothers’ generation.

One in 10 women born in 1967 had four or more children, as did almost one in five women born in 1940.

Women born in 1982 have had slightly fewer children on average (1.02) by their 30th birthday than women born in 1967, who had 1.16 children by the same age.

The data also showed that 383,189 live births in 2012 occurred within marriage or a civil partnership, compared to 346,485 that were outside marriage.

Of this last group, 304,606 births were registered by both the mother and father.

All the figures cover England and Wales.

For the first time, Berkeley saw an introductory computer science course with a majority of female students – 106 women vs. 104 men. This turnaround signals a promising trend in the male-dominated STEM world. However, Berkeley is an exception: according to the National Science Foundation with just 18.4% of computer science degrees were given to women (as of 2010), a trend that has been steadily decreasing since 1991, when it was a more impressive 29.6%.

Professor Dan Garcia, who taught the Berkeley course last spring, says that he attributes the gender flip to a drastic transformation in the curriculum, including team-based project learning, opened-sourced materials, and opportunities to become teaching assistants. “The course & curriculum really does capture the “Beauty and Joy” of computing; learning can be a lot of fun,” he writes. Worldwide trends in the gender balance aren’t any better than the U.S. Recent data from UK universities, shows that while women do earn a majority of the degrees (60% vs. 40%), they vastly under represent their male counterparts in computer science (82% vs. 17%).

computersciencegender bar chart

The gap has its origins going back at least as early as high school. Statistics, biology, and calculus courses all have roughly equal gender balance, but in computer science, the pie chart skews heavily male. (chart by Exploring Computer Science, with data from the College Board).

ap pie chart

Garcia says there are still barriers to keeping women interested throughout their entire tenure, such as “the lack of female role models in our industry, in our faculty, and in the graduate student population.” Even if they go on to advanced courses, there’s no guarantee they’ll get a job in the cut-throat tech industry. As an important feeder school to Silicon Valley’s top companies, Berkeley’s numbers may result in a positive shift in increasing the proportion of women in top tech companies in the near future.

Speaking to an Italian women’s organization Saturday, Pope Francis expressed a desire for women to become more involved in the Roman Catholic Church.

Citing the “indispensable role” of women in society, Francis said he has been pleased to see women sharing pastoral responsibilities with priests and families, adding that he wants women to take on a role that is “more capillary and incisive” in the church. Pope Francis went further, complimenting women for their “gifts of delicacy,” including a “special sensitivity and tenderness.” He also  spoke of women in the workplace, noting their role should be expanded there as well.

“This is important, for without these attitudes, without these contributions of the woman, the human vocation would not be realized,” Francis said.

The pope was addressing the Centro Italiano Femminile (Italian Women’s Centre), a non-profit women’s association with a focus on core Christian values.

The perception that men have greater power in the workplace is why women outpace them when it comes to investment returns, researchers say.

Female money managers consistently outperform their male counterparts, and social scientists say this unbalanced power dynamic is one reason why. But, they add that eventually, as the power balance evens out in the workplace, women may lose some of that edge.

Men’s higher testosterone levels lead them to trade more and take more risks: “Men can become a little immune to some of the signals in this market,” said Meredith Jones, a director at consulting firm Rothstein Kass. “Having more women in risk-tasking positions… can help mitigate some irrational exuberance.”

Jones is the author of a study, released Wednesday, that found since 2007, female-owned or female-managed hedge funds delivered returns more than six percentage points higher than hedge funds overall, and two percentage points higher than the S&P 500.

“Women just tend to think about money management and the markets differently,” said Jones.

Research done by social scientist Deborah Gruenfeld, co-director of the Executive Program for Women Leaders at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggests that the perception of greater power in the workplace can hurt people’s decision-making ability.

“We found that power led to perceived control over outcomes that were uncontrollable and/or unrelated to the participants’ power,” she wrote in a research paper published in Psychological Science in 2009.

“Members of dominant groups… [are] more likely than others to believe they can control the future,” she wrote. In the hedge fund world, that’s men; Rothstein Kass found that only about 20 percent of hedge funds are run by women.

“Power makes people less loss-averse. They’re less concerned about what a loss would feel like,” said Ena Inesi, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School. She theorized that people in positions of power are more likely to have the resources to weather a loss, so they might not be as concerned about potential negative outcomes.

The differences between how men and women act as managers is also important according to Crystal Hoyt, an associate professor of leadership studies at University of Richmond.

Female managers are more likely to collaborate, since a hard-charging, authoritarian leadership style is more likely to be perceived as masculine. “There’s a backlash if they’re too masculine,” she said. “They have to know when to listen to others and not assume they know exactly what to do,” Hoyt said. Taking the advice of others could improve their success as investors.

Movements like LeanIn.org, founded by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg works to make it easier for women to get on in corporate America. Ironically, social scientists say a more inclusive corporate culture would reduce the current gap between male and female performance when it comes to investing.

It won’t happen overnight. “I could see it taking longer than a decade,” Jones said. “I think they could potentially get closer but I think it’s very difficult to change behavior and biology.”

As more women rise to leadership roles, bosses of both genders will gravitate towards management styles that work best, which means men and women might solicit the advice and expertise of their colleagues. On the flip side, some female executives confident in their power and not bound by gendered tenets about how women “should” behave might act more like men.

First Lady Michelle Obama turned 50 on Friday, is only just starting to build her legacy. Presidential historians expect to see more from her in her commitment to fighting childhood obesity, supporting military families and encouraging good education and volunteer work to deepen in the next couple of years, and anticipate she will fully devote herself to those issues after she and her family leave the White House.

“I will be in my early 50s when I leave here, and I have so much more that I should do,” Obama recently said in an interview with People magazine. “I don’t have the right to just sit on my talents or blessings. I’ve got to keep figuring out ways to have an impact — whether as a mother or as a professional or as a mentor to other kids.”

The first lady is likely to continue promoting Let’s Move, her fitness and wellness program, and Join Forces, which assists military families, plus return to the philanthropy work that she did before she became first lady. But she’s unlikely to make a run for public office, experts say.

Robert Watson, a presidential historian and professor at Lynn University in Florida, expects the final year of President Obama’s second term to be a big year for Michelle Obama.

“If history holds, I expect Mrs. Obama will enlarge in her role,” he said, pointing to the fact that she already is making more of an effort to promote a good education than she did in the president’s first term.

“She’s going to assert herself. We’re going to see more of the Ivy League-educated lawyer and former CEO,” he said, adding that while presidents often have difficult second terms marred by sagging approval ratings or scandals, as was the case with Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first ladies “tend to spread their wings” during second terms.

As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to reflect on various trends we’ve seen in the gaming realm over that time. Now, looking back, I’m ready to declare 2013 a pretty great year for video game women.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not waving a “Mission Accomplished: Sexism Over” banner, and I understand that writing this article as a guy, I lack a certain authority on the subject. But I do know what I’ve seen and experienced throughout the year, and I believe there’s at least a very visible positive trend regarding how women are portrayed in games as of late.

Obviously there’s still a long, long way to go before 90% of the leads in games stop being grizzled white males, but I think we’re at least on our way. I wanted to spotlight a few games this year that contributed to raising the profile of virtual women in major or minor ways, a trend I hope continues in 2014 and beyond.

Tomb Raider


This may be a somewhat controversial choice, but in my eyes, the Tomb Raider reboot was not only a great game because of its design and mechanics, but also because it was female-led, a refreshing breath of fresh air in the genre. Obviously it’s not a revolutionary concept, as there have been many Tomb Raider games before this recent prequel installment, but this is the first one in a long while where Lara Croft’s cartoonish sexuality wasn’t the main focus of the game, or of the coverage surrounding it.

While the young, wide-eyed Lara Croft we see here is certainly an attractive virtual young lady, her appearance doesn’t overshadow the more important aspects of the game. Square treats her the way they would treat any brawny guy thrown into the same situation. The teenaged Croft is beaten, skewered, shot and stabbed, and does the same and worse to her enemies. While the narrative may be almost too accelerated, turning her from innocent explorer to hardened killing machine rather quickly, by the end, Croft is a fully-fledged action hero on par with any guy we see leading games these days.

Yes, she wears a tank top in the game, but Square was quick to provide a myriad of other more conservative clothing options for Croft. And really, the tank top is no more scandalous than a guy with a shirt unbuttoned a bit too low (I think Edward Kenway of Assassin’s Creed 4 actually had an outfit that was entirely shirtless).

The point is that a female lead can be sexy without being hyper-sexualized, and being attractive doesn’t have to take away from her being a badass female action hero, something video games, and popular culture in general, could use a lot more of.  Croft also had the good fortune to star in a mechanically excellent game, and brisk sales and high scores hopefully mean that we’ll be seeing more of this new, refined version of the character in the years to come.

BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us


This pair of games, which some would say may be the two best of the year, can be grouped together because they essentially use women the same way in their narratives. There is a central problem in the sense that both Ellie and Elizabeth are technically damsels in distress, an overused device that’s the plot of far too many video games, but I think their relationship to the protagonist represents a subtle but important shift for the trope. In both of these instances, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead with Lee and Clementine, if we can dip back to 2012, the male lead isn’t saving the girl for romantic reasons. Rather, the relationship in all three of these games is far closer to a father looking after a daughter, even if the pair aren’t actually related. While it certainly would have been more progressive to have say, a hardened forty-something woman protecting a chipper preteen boy in The Last of Us, I guess we have to take baby steps.

Though it is the men leading the way, the women are more fleshed-out characters than we’ve seen previously with personalities that make them far more likable than their male counterparts, if you ask me. Similarly, the way they’re integrated into gameplay turns them into assets rather than liabilities you must constantly protect.

Infinite’s Elizabeth “can handle herself” as you’re told during gameplay, and as such you never have to worry about her life bar. Rather, she helps you take out bad guys by tossing you ammo and health packs, or opening rifts in reality. In Sony’s The Last of Us, Ellie is more directly involved in combat, and will often outright shoot bandits or jump on their backs and fill them full of holes with her knife. Again, no protection required.

So while these girls are technically in distress and seem to need a man to come save them, their characters are well-rounded, completely unsexualized to the hero, and prove useful and capable in a firefight. Seems like a solid step in the right direction to me.

Gone Home


I think the Forbes comment of the year has to go to someone who told Daniel Nye Griffiths that Gone Home was the “feminist Duke Nukem.” The idea is that the game deals with gender and sexuality issues in the same way the Duke parodies masculinity, only Gone Home is doing it with a straight face.

As funny as the quip may be, I don’t think it’s accurate. While Gone Home has its share of issues, namely its length and lack of meaningful problem solving, I think it’s a great way to explore a different kind of story using video games, and uses female characters, even if they’re unseen, to great effect in ways most games don’t.

Though you play as a girl, a college-aged woman come home after a backpacking trip around Europe, you never see, hear from or really learn anything about your character. Rather, the focus of the game is on your younger sister, who is coming to terms with her newfound sexuality, and discovering she has a crush on a girl at her school. The tone of the game alternates between dark mystery and touching drama, and though it hints at a much darker finale that what actually takes place, it’s an important game, even if it’s a flawed one.

There simply need to be more games like this, and even if it is a touch heavy-handed at times, as for the most part Gone Home represents a beautiful way to tell a story through the medium of games, and it just so happened to be about a young lesbian. There’s no reason you can’t play the other 300 action/shooter/wargames out this year if Gone Home isn’t your thing, but for those wanting a change of pace, Gone Home is a story-centric game that doesn’t need combat to fill its pauses, and manages to deal with gender issues in an industry that usually flees from such topics.

Beyond: Two Souls


Beyond is probably the most divisive game of the year, as critics and gamers tended to either love it or hate it. I fall in the latter camp, and again, any compelling game that features a female lead is a step in the right direction in terms of diversifying the types of titles on the market.

Hollywood’s Ellen Page made the jump to video games for Beyond, and the result is another story-driven game from the team that gave us Heavy Rain. The central paranormal plot may not be nearly as interesting or coherent as the Origami Killer mystery from Heavy Rain, but Page does a phenomenal job in tandem with the animation team, and there are a number of scenes that resonate with me, even now. Page’s Jodie is again, mostly unsexualized, which eliminates the potential “Tomb Raider” complaints, yet is portrayed as capable, brave and selfless.

It’s strange that one of my favorite gaming sequences this year wasn’t some epic battle sequence or shocking plot twist, it was getting ready for a date with a coworker in Beyond. I only had an hour to prepare, and had to clean the house, cook dinner and get dressed. Somehow, it was far more stressful than being thrown into a room with armed enemies looking to kill me. And sure enough, I was wielding a gun a few scenes later, and Beyond presents a full spectrum of genres for Jodie to jump through, not just “traditionally female” ones like the date night I’ve described.

Beyond may have had its issues, but again, it’s another example of a high quality, female-led game, and one that doesn’t rely on titillation to sell.

In Brief:



The all-female fighting game has some cartoony sex appeal, but it’s mostly just plain fun, and has amassed a cult following this year. How many games can you even name that have an entirely female cast? Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Yes, we have yet to see a female lead in a non-spin-off Assassin’s Creed game, but I was pleasantly surprised with Mary Read’s role, as the character managed to steer clear of being a love interest for Edward, which would have been a bit predictable.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

It may not seem like a big deal, but now you can run around shooting people as a female soldier in Activision’s Call of Duty, a change from the endless parade of playable men the series has seen since its inception.

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn

The world of eSports is overwhelmingly dominated by guys, but this year Canadian pro Starcraft player Scarlett proved that a girl can be one of the best gamers in the world. Scarlett’s Zerg play was absolutely stunning throughout the year, and she had a host of great showings at tournaments and events where she faced off against top Korean pros.

And Finally:

Anita Sarkeesian


This year, Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian started releasing videos in her “Tropes vs. Women in Video Game Series.” A few years back, Sarkeesian became an internet sensation when she put up a Kickstarter to fund the proposed series. She was only asking for a few thousand dollars, but when internet trolls started harassing her for the idea, she raked in a huge amount of cash: $158,000 after requesting only $6,000, to be exact. Since then, Sarkeesian has been a constant target as critics accused her of taking the cash and running, as she didn’t release any videos for quite a while.

Now she’s released four, and though they are coming out at a snail’s pace, they’re a fascinating look at some of the issues facing women in gaming. Her first videos focused mainly on the “ damsel in distress” trope which I touched on earlier, and all of them are absolutely worth watching. No, her logic and fact checking aren’t always completely without fault, as her detractors are quick to point out, but overwhelmingly the points she makes are good ones. All her videos make you think and question your entrenched ideas about games, whether you agree or disagree with her points.

I expect if Sarkeesian were writing this list instead of me, she’d find quite a lot of issues even with the “postive” portrayals of women I’ve highlighted. But even so, that’s not a bad thing. There’s no reason someone like her shouldn’t be pushing all game developers to constantly be doing better in their representation of women, and I think it’s working. Not to give all the credit to Sarkeesian herself per se, but a general shift toward more diverse roles for women in games can be felt as you play through the titles I’ve mentioned here. I think there’s a wide range from badass leading ladies to quieter, emotionally resonant heroines, and hopefully we’ll only see more of each in the future.

Loretta Lynn joined an elite list of musicians, along with female icons such   as Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin, when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, on 20 November, 2013.

The 81-year-old unquestionably deserves the honour. The impact Lynn has had on   country music goes beyond her bold songwriting and chart success. She was a   genuine trailblazer. In naming her, the White House said: “Loretta   Lynn is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as   one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early   Sixties, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by   men. Ms Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Centre Honours in 2003   and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.”

Her background was the almost clichéd country music one of growing up in a   one-room log cabin. She was named after Hollywood star Loretta Young but   this was no Disney-like bucolic childhood. The possums, rabbits and raccoons   ended up in the family stew rather than frolicking in the forests near   Butcher Holler in Kentucky, where she was born, the second of eight   children. Her father was a coalminer and she remembers, aged seven, weeping   when the family hog chewed the only dress she owned that had not been made   from flour sacks.

She met her husband when she was a teenager. For many years it was claimed   that she had married Oliver ‘Doolittle’ Lynn when she was only 13 (he was   21) but an investigation by the Associated Press recently revealed that her   birth certificate, on file at the state Office of Vital Statistics in   Frankfort, Kentucky, showed that she was born on April 14, 1932, in Johnson   County. In Coal Miner’s Daughter, the best-selling autobiography that became   an Academy Award-winning film starring Sissy Spacek, Lynn had shaved nearly   three years off her age.

Even so, she was still wed under-age (not yet 16) and had a tumultuous   marriage, which produced six children. She blamed her husband’s drinking for   his violence (one night when he turned abusive over dinner, she poured an   entire skillet of hot creamed corn on his head) and she later admitted how   ignorant she had been as a child bride. “When I got married, I didn’t   even know what pregnant meant,” she recalled. “I was five months   pregnant when I went to the doctor and he said, “You’re gonna have a   baby.” I said: “No way. I can’t have no baby.” He said, “Ain’t   you married?” Yep. He said, “You sleep with your husband?”   Yep. “You’re gonna have a baby, Loretta. Believe me.” And I did.

But she credited Doolittle (or Doo) for changing her life. In 1953, on their   sixth anniversary, he bought her a $17 Harmony guitar. After years of   hearing her serenade their children, he was convinced she had real talent.   Her music career had to take a backseat for nearly a decade. “Me and my   husband both worked. I took care of a farmhouse, cleaned and cooked for 36   ranch hands before I started singing,” she said. “So singing was   easy. I thought ‘Gee whiz, this is an easy job.’” In 1960, while   leaning up against an old toilet, she wrote her first song, I’m a Honky Tonk   Girl, in just 20 minutes, on that $17 guitar.

During the next two decades, Lynn helped forge the musical genre that is now   routinely labelled Americana. She has an unadulterated country voice, sweet   and yearning, and is a fine songwriter, penning such hits as Coal Miner’s   Daughter, You Ain’t Woman Enough and Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With   Lovin’ on Your Mind). In 1972, she became the first woman to be named   entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association. Including her   duets with Conway Twitty, Lynn had more than 50 Top 10 country hits between   1962 and 1982, including 16 Number Ones.

In her writing, she focused on blue collar women’s issues (philandering   husbands and scheming mistresses appear regularly) and had a social impact   in pushing boundaries in the conservative genre of country music. She sang   about repeated childbirth (One’s on the Way) and the double standards that   penalised women (Rated X). In 1975, Lynn released Back to the Country, which   included The Pill, which is considered to be the first major social song   about oral contraceptives. Move aside Miley Cyrus, because this was a song   so controversial that Lynn’s record label delayed its release for three   years. Many country radio stations refused to play it. Lynn was re-assured   later by hearing from countless doctors and nurses that The Pill had done   more to promote rural acceptance of birth control than any government   efforts.

“Don’t ever come in on me while I’m writing a song, because I’m not   myself,” Lynn told 60 Minutes in 2004. “I’m the person that I’m   writing about. You’ve got to do that. You’ve got to be the person to write   it.”

The past 20 years have not always been easy for the woman known as the The   First Lady of Country Music. She’s had severe health problems (and had a   dark time in 1996 when her husband died) but her career enjoyed a resurgence   in 2004 when long-term fan Jack White (The White Stripes) produced her album   Van Lear Rose. There has also been a recent tribute album featuring Lucinda   Williams, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow; and a Broadway show about her life is   planned, with Zoey Deschanel playing the singer.

Lynn was always an individualist and a striking looking woman. “I’m proud   of being part Cherokee, and I think it’s time all us Indians felt the same   way,” she said.

She still sings, working with an eight-piece band that includes daughters   Patsy and Peggy and son Ernest, and she owns an 18,000 square foot Coal   Miner’s Daughter Museum. The singer who grew up in abject poverty has been   inducted into more music halls of fame than any other female recording   artist. The award from President Barack Obama is unlikely to turn her head,   though. As she said: “I never, never thought about being a role model.   I wrote from life, how things were in my life. I never could understand why   others didn’t write down what they knew.”

Feminist activist and Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem was the first woman to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, begrudgingly accepting a necktie—the NPC’s traditional souvenir at the time—in 1972. Tongue firmly in cheek, she told the audience she’d be happy to complete the look with a men’s jacket to “confirm your worst suspicions.”

Steinem, who turns 80 in March, returned to the NPC podium earlier this week to discuss an altogether more satisfying piece of neckwear: the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor the U.S. can bestow on a citizen who isn’t in the military—which Obama draped around her neck during Wednesday’s ceremony at the White House. He praised her for promoting “lasting political and social change in America and abroad and, among other things, for “inspiring us all to take up the cause of reaching for a more just tomorrow.”

“I can think of no president in history from whose hand I would be more honored to receive this medal from,” Steinem told the NPC audience, adding, “I’d be crazy if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement.”

Before Steinem became a feminist icon, she was known as the “girl writer” who helped found New York magazine (her male colleagues reassured her that she wrote like man) and went undercover as a Playboy bunny for a 1963 feature in Show magazine called “A Bunny’s Tale” (Years later she reflected on the experience: “The waitresses had to have internal exams and Wassermann tests for venereal disease, and they were told it was a requirement of the state—hello—it wasn’t at all.” It wasn’t until 1969 that Steinem officially became turned onto activism while reporting on an abortion speak-out in downtown Manhattan.

“I’d be crazy if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement.”

“There was something about seeing women tell the truth about their lives in public, and seeing women take seriously something that only happens to women,” she wrote in New York magazine’s 30th anniversary issue. “In my experience, things were taken seriously if they also happened to men…It was one of those moments when you ask, ‘Why? Who said?’”

Steinem quickly became a leader in the pro-choice movement and, more than forty years later, remains one of its most prominent voices. She devoted the next 20 years of her life to writing and speaking publicly as one of America’s foremost feminists. In the ‘70s she testified in front of the Senate on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment and co-founded groups like the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) and the Women’s Action Alliance dedicated to “eliminating concrete manifestations of economic and social discrimination.” Over the next decade, she broadened her activism to include civil rights for minorities and gay rights. Not long after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, Steinem was forced to step back from the feminist frontlines, though she remains an outspoken advocate today.

“In my old age—really old age, since I’m going to live past 100, I hope—I would love to have a diner,” she wrote in New York’s 30th anniversary issue. “Everyone goes—truck drivers go, people from the neighborhood, people in their tuxes after parties go…They’re truly populist places. And in the back room, we could have a little revolutionary meeting from time to time.”

In contemporary African wars, women continue to play a variety of crucial roles, and yet they remain invisible to the world. Only a handful of researchers and journalists have appreciated the importance of women in these conflicts, and the way in which gender stereotypes continue to mask their involvement. Starting in February 2013, I met, followed, photographed and interviewed a selection of women fighting in the alphabet-soup of rebellions currently operating in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo—including the recently defeated M23. Their stories reveal not only the significance of their roles within the rebel groups of which they are a part, but also show the striking contrast between the danger of their liberation struggle and the almost mundane reality of daily life in an armed group in eastern DRC.

For more information on the project, visit www.francescatosarelli.com