Tag Archives: MySpace

Catch Fire! Don’t Just Read => Share, Re-post, Educate Your Friends.

26 Feb

2.25.2010  Original Art by

Chase Kyla Hunter

Re-post from Mashable.com

Social Media logos ImageOne of the best things about the web and social media is how much great information is written and produced every single day. If you’re a regular reader of blogs, you probably come across great articles that you just want everyone to know about. But what’s the best way to share these posts?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of ways to spread the word. Blogs, social networks, instant messenger, and mobile phones are some of the many ways to let others know about the best content on the web. Here are our 20 favorite ways to share a great blog post:


Sharing Via Social Media:


1. Using Twitter to Tweet and Share: Perhaps the fastest and most effective way to share a great blog post is through Twitter (Twitter). Sharing or retweeting a link in Twitter can spread like wildfire. Use a URL shortener such as tinyurl or bit.ly (bit.ly) to shorten links to fit within 140 characters.2. Posting to Facebook: Sharing a blog post on the world’s largest social network is as simple as going to the Facebook (Facebook) homepage and posting a link.

3. Digg it: Not only will you help bring that blog post one step closer to reaching the front page of the news site Digg (Digg) (which will spread it even further), but all of your Digg friends will see it as well.

4. Post on MySpace Profile: Don’t forget about the world’s second largest social network when sharing your favorite articles. Post the link to your MySpace (MySpace) profile so your friends can enjoy it too.

5. Posting to LinkedIn: Some blog posts are worthy of being shared by your business network on LinkedIn (LinkedIn). Post a link to the Network Updates area in the homepage.

6. Stumbling on StumbleUpon Stumble the post! StumbleUpon (StumbleUpon) is a favorite network for discovering fun websites and useful information, so make sure that you give the post a thumbs up. The StumbleUpon Toolbar is the easiest way to Stumble.

7. Bookmarking to Delicious: Delicious (Delicious) is great for not only sharing posts, but for helping categorize blog posts for others to find. In addition, you can import your delicious bookmarks to Facebook, FriendFeed (FriendFeed), and other social media websites.

8. Sharing on FriendFeed: The social media aggregator FriendFeed has a vibrant community who love to share videos, links, and pictures. Use the FriendFeed bookmarklet to quickly share a good blog post to FriendFeed.

9. Adding to Reddit: Reddit (reddit.com) is another great social media site for sharing and voting on articles. It’s quick and easy to submit a link


Sharing Via Blogs:


10. Reblogging Great Posts: Blogging about a great article is one of the best ways to engage with the topics being discussed. Post a link, write some commentary, and share it with all of your readers. And don’t forget to share your own blog post as well!11. Sharing via Google Reader: Google Reader (Google Reader) has a great feature for sharing blog posts. If you use Google Reader as your news reader of choice, all you have to do is click the “share” button at the bottom of blog posts to share it with all of your Google (Google) friends. You can also add notes and comment as well.

12. Posting on Tumblr or Posterous: If you want to share something via a blog, but don’t want to write a full blog post about it, there are great options for that as well, primarily Tumblr (Tumblr) and Posterous (Posterous). They are the quick and easy versions of full-fledged blogs, ideal for posting about pictures and blog posts.


Useful Tools for Sharing


Shareaholic Image13. TwitThat: TwitThat is one of the quickest and easiest tools for sharing blog posts. It will post to your Twitter quickly and easily. Just add the bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and click it whenever you come across a great post.14. Shareaholic Firefox Extension: There are a lot of great social networks where you can share a great post, but who wants to visit Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn to share a post? If you are a Firefox (Firefox) user, then install Shareaholic, an extension that goes on your toolbar. It provides quick links for sharing to all of the major social networks.

15. Ping (Ping).fm: If you’re a busy person, you might not have time to share on all of these social media websites. Isn’t there an easy way to share a blog post everywhere, all at once? Ping.fm (Ping.Fm) links to all of your social networks and sends your updates to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, to any other website you wish to link to it. You can even update from your instant messenger. It’s the perfect solution for those who like to share content all over the web.


Other Ways to Share:


ShareThis Image16. Emailing: Email has always been a good way to share articles, especially with close friends and family. Although it may not reach as many people as Twitter, it will definitely reach anyone who isn’t as deep into social media as you are.17. Texting: Did you know you that many blogs, including Mashable (Mashable), support sharing an article via text message? Look out for the ShareThis button (three green dots connected by lines) under blog posts and select the “text” option. iPhones and mobile browsers have made it easy to read links sent by texts.

18. Changing IM Statuses: You probably have dozens, if not hundreds of IM contacts. Share great posts with all of them by changing your IM status to a great post you just read or wrote.

19. IMing a friend: If changing an IM status seems too impersonal, then just IM your friends the link. You can then have a fun chat about the blog post.

20. Talking to Friends: If you don’t have a computer handy, then don’t forget about the analog approach – call a friend or tell him or her over coffee about a great blog post you read. You can always send the link later if necessary.


How Do You Share Blog Posts?


This post only scratches the surface of sharing in social media. There are hundreds of tools and resources at your disposal. If you have another great way to share blog posts, please add it in the comments.

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User reviews: Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Firefox, FriendFeed, Google, Google Reader, LinkedIn, Mashable, MySpace, Ping, Ping.Fm, Posterous, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter, bit.ly, reddit.com

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What Are the Average Ages of Social Network Users?

26 Feb

2.25.2010 Re-post courtesy of pingdom online

Study: Ages of social network users

Posted in Main on February 16th, 2010 by Pingdom

Social network ages

How old is the average Twitter or Facebook user? What about all the other social network sites, like MySpace, LinkedIn, and so on? How is age distributed across the millions and millions of social network users out there?

To find out, we pulled together age statistics for 19 different social network sites, and crunched the numbers.

Full list of sites in this study: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Last.fm, Friendster, LiveJournal, Hi5, Tagged, Ning, Xanga, Classmates.com, Bebo.

To get consistent age data for the various sites we used site demographics information for the United States gathered from Google’s Ad Planner service and then did some additional calculations to get all the data we needed.

Social network age distribution

What is the age distribution in the social media sphere?

We took the age distribution data we had collected and calculated what the age distribution looked like across all 19 sites counted together. The resulting chart is right here below.

Average social network age distribution

A full 25% of the users on these sites are aged 35 to 44, which in other words is the age group that dominates the social media sphere. Only 3% are aged 65 or older.

That was the age distribution when looking at these 19 sites together. When looking at individual social network sites, the differences are significant, as you will see below.

Age distribution per site

Here below you can examine the age distribution for each of the 19 social network sites we included in this study. The list has been sorted by the average user age per site (see further down for that), with the “youngest” site showing at the top and the “oldest” at the bottom.

Age distribution on social network sites

Some observations on age distribution:

  • Bebo appeals to a much younger audience than the other sites with 44% of its users being aged 17 or less. For MySpace, this number is also large; 33%.
  • Classmates.com has the largest share of users being aged 65 or more, 8%, and 78% are 35 or older.
  • 64% of Twitter’s users are aged 35 or older.
  • 61% of Facebooks’s users are aged 35 or older.

Dominant age groups

Most of the social networks we included are dominated by the age group 35-44, which was apparent in the first chart in this article. This group has become the most “social” age group out there. This is the generation of people who were in their 20s as the Web took off in the mid ‘90s.

If we look at which age groups are the largest for each site, we get the following distribution:

  • 0 – 17: Tops 4 out of 19 sites (21%)
  • 18 – 24: Tops no site
  • 25 – 34: Tops 1 out of 19 sites (5%)
  • 35 – 44: Tops 11 out of 19 sites (58%)
  • 45 – 54: Tops 3 out of 19 sites (16%)
  • 55 – 64: Tops no site
  • 65 or older: Tops no site

It’s a bit surprising that not one single site had the age group 18 – 24 as its largest, but that can be explained by this interval being a bit smaller than the other ones (it spans seven years, not 10 as most of the others). That the two oldest age groups don’t top any of the sites probably doesn’t surprise anyone, though.

Average user age per site

As we promised in the introduction, we have calculated an estimate of the average age for each of the social network sites included in this study. The result is here below.

Estimated average age on social network sites

A few observations:

  • The average social network user is 37 years old.
  • LinkedIn, with its business focus, has a predictably high average user age; 44.
  • The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
  • The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
  • The average MySpace user is 31 years old.
  • Bebo has by far the youngest users, as witnessed earlier, with an average age of 28.

On the social web, age is a factor

Although we can’t say how this will change over time, at the moment the older generations are for one reason or another (tech savvy, interest, etc.) not using social networking sites to a large extent. This probably reflects general internet usage, but we suspect the difference is enhanced when it comes to the social media sphere where site usage tends to be more frequent and time-consuming than usual.

It is also noteworthy that social media isn’t dominated by the youngest, often most tech-savvy generations, but rather by what has to be referred to as middle-aged people (although at the younger end of that spectrum).

Suggested further reading: Males vs. females on social network sites

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Mad as hell? Catch fire! Re-post & share what you learn

25 Feb

2.25.2010  Original Art by

Chase Kyla Hunter

Re-post from Mashable.com

Social Media logos ImageOne of the best things about the web and social media is how much great information is written and produced every single day. If you’re a regular reader of blogs, you probably come across great articles that you just want everyone to know about. But what’s the best way to share these posts?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of ways to spread the word. Blogs, social networks, instant messenger, and mobile phones are some of the many ways to let others know about the best content on the web. Here are our 20 favorite ways to share a great blog post:


Sharing Via Social Media:


1. Using Twitter to Tweet and Share: Perhaps the fastest and most effective way to share a great blog post is through Twitter (Twitter). Sharing or retweeting a link in Twitter can spread like wildfire. Use a URL shortener such as tinyurl or bit.ly (bit.ly) to shorten links to fit within 140 characters.2. Posting to Facebook: Sharing a blog post on the world’s largest social network is as simple as going to the Facebook (Facebook) homepage and posting a link.3. Digg it: Not only will you help bring that blog post one step closer to reaching the front page of the news site Digg (Digg) (which will spread it even further), but all of your Digg friends will see it as well.

4. Post on MySpace Profile: Don’t forget about the world’s second largest social network when sharing your favorite articles. Post the link to your MySpace (MySpace) profile so your friends can enjoy it too.

5. Posting to LinkedIn: Some blog posts are worthy of being shared by your business network on LinkedIn (LinkedIn). Post a link to the Network Updates area in the homepage.

6. Stumbling on StumbleUpon Stumble the post! StumbleUpon (StumbleUpon) is a favorite network for discovering fun websites and useful information, so make sure that you give the post a thumbs up. The StumbleUpon Toolbar is the easiest way to Stumble.

7. Bookmarking to Delicious: Delicious (Delicious) is great for not only sharing posts, but for helping categorize blog posts for others to find. In addition, you can import your delicious bookmarks to Facebook, FriendFeed (FriendFeed), and other social media websites.

8. Sharing on FriendFeed: The social media aggregator FriendFeed has a vibrant community who love to share videos, links, and pictures. Use the FriendFeed bookmarklet to quickly share a good blog post to FriendFeed.

9. Adding to Reddit: Reddit (reddit.com) is another great social media site for sharing and voting on articles. It’s quick and easy to submit a link


Sharing Via Blogs:


10. Reblogging Great Posts: Blogging about a great article is one of the best ways to engage with the topics being discussed. Post a link, write some commentary, and share it with all of your readers. And don’t forget to share your own blog post as well!11. Sharing via Google Reader: Google Reader (Google Reader) has a great feature for sharing blog posts. If you use Google Reader as your news reader of choice, all you have to do is click the “share” button at the bottom of blog posts to share it with all of your Google (Google) friends. You can also add notes and comment as well.12. Posting on Tumblr or Posterous: If you want to share something via a blog, but don’t want to write a full blog post about it, there are great options for that as well, primarily Tumblr (Tumblr) and Posterous (Posterous). They are the quick and easy versions of full-fledged blogs, ideal for posting about pictures and blog posts.


Useful Tools for Sharing


Shareaholic Image13. TwitThat: TwitThat is one of the quickest and easiest tools for sharing blog posts. It will post to your Twitter quickly and easily. Just add the bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and click it whenever you come across a great post.14. Shareaholic Firefox Extension: There are a lot of great social networks where you can share a great post, but who wants to visit Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn to share a post? If you are a Firefox (Firefox) user, then install Shareaholic, an extension that goes on your toolbar. It provides quick links for sharing to all of the major social networks.15. Ping (Ping).fm: If you’re a busy person, you might not have time to share on all of these social media websites. Isn’t there an easy way to share a blog post everywhere, all at once? Ping.fm (Ping.Fm) links to all of your social networks and sends your updates to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, to any other website you wish to link to it. You can even update from your instant messenger. It’s the perfect solution for those who like to share content all over the web.


Other Ways to Share:


ShareThis Image16. Emailing: Email has always been a good way to share articles, especially with close friends and family. Although it may not reach as many people as Twitter, it will definitely reach anyone who isn’t as deep into social media as you are.17. Texting: Did you know you that many blogs, including Mashable (Mashable), support sharing an article via text message? Look out for the ShareThis button (three green dots connected by lines) under blog posts and select the “text” option. iPhones and mobile browsers have made it easy to read links sent by texts.18. Changing IM Statuses: You probably have dozens, if not hundreds of IM contacts. Share great posts with all of them by changing your IM status to a great post you just read or wrote.

19. IMing a friend: If changing an IM status seems too impersonal, then just IM your friends the link. You can then have a fun chat about the blog post.

20. Talking to Friends: If you don’t have a computer handy, then don’t forget about the analog approach – call a friend or tell him or her over coffee about a great blog post you read. You can always send the link later if necessary.


How Do You Share Blog Posts?


This post only scratches the surface of sharing in social media. There are hundreds of tools and resources at your disposal. If you have another great way to share blog posts, please add it in the comments.

Print Story

Tags: , , ,

User reviews: Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Firefox, FriendFeed, Google, Google Reader, LinkedIn, Mashable, MySpace, Ping, Ping.Fm, Posterous, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter, bit.ly, reddit.com

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Judy Collins Is Right: “The Rising of the Women Is the Rising of the Race”

15 Sep
IMG_7050.JPG
Image by interplast via Flickr

Spring 2009 Copyright 2009-3009 by Chase Kyla Hunter, All Rights Reserved, Re-posts permitted leaving content and links intact.

Until acts of animalistic barbarism like the one described in the www.salon.com article below become a thing of the past, the world we live in is doomed to remain in servitude to the violence erupting within it’s own species toward the sacred beings who bear it’s children.

Any man who would do this to his spouse for simply wanting to further her education is not a man; in fact he is not even rising to the dignity of a wild animal. Even animals living in the wild with their chosen mates to not act out this kind of insane senseless violence onto them. This so called man should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Perhaps he should pay by losing his face as well. “Losing face” now portends a much darker meaning, having read this piece. How utterly sickening that in our day and age, with machines now trolling the surface of mars for photos and scientific evidence, that so called men back on earth still splash acid in the faces of spouses who desire an education. How far we all have to go, as a species, for this kind of deranged violence against women to end. How disheartening.

This article ia a gut wrenching example of why radical Islam must never be allowed to take root in the civilized west. it does not matter if the wealthier upper crust of the Islamic world can now build cities reaching to the sky; it does not matter if they pump ten quadrillion barrels of oil per day to sell to the west. If even just a few radical Islamic men are still acting out such acts of evil barbarity on their own spouses, there remains NO CIVILIZED LIFE emerging  from radical Islamic countries. If it has been done to her, then spiritually speaking, then it has been done to the entire species.

This violence against women must end. All acts of reckless violence and life killing savagery against women must end, and it must end now.

I have never been made so sick in my life as I was to have to read this essay. But if we do not speak out, and speak out strongly, against vicious acts of hatred like this, the world will never ascend out of it’s genetically regressive tendencies to desecrate the very beings who give and nurture life and allow for the world to have a population at all.

When you attack any woman with hatred and violence, you are doing no less than attacking yourself, your own future, and the very future of the species itself.

New laws must be created bringing forth the harshest penalties possible against those who believe that their own spouse is so worthless that she deserves to be splashed inthe face with acid for desiring, and rightly so, to educate herself and expand her knowledge. God (Allah) bestowed intelligence upon humankind because the fundamental human urge to know more is a gift from God. Without that urge, your spouse would still be foraging for herbs and small game and feeding it all to you raw.The urge to learn, to know more, is the fundamental driving force that civilizes and inspires the species to move forward into unknown intellectual territory. I can assure the reader that the woman who endured this is a much more civilized being than the evil animal male that did this to her. In God’s grand universe, eventually final  justice will be done. I can assure you that.

This was an act of pure evil. The man who perpetrated it needs to pay. The criminal justice systems in these countries will be held spiritually accountable if they allow this man to walk free, while his wife lies in a bed with her face burned off for wanting to read a book.

Chase Hunter

Article courtesy of salon.com:

Where Have All the Women Gone?A manifesto against gender apartheid.

By Johann HariUpdated Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, at 7:16 AM ET

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.As soon as I started reading this cry against the global wasting of women’s lives, I could smell Shahnaz‘s face—what was left of it—again. By the time I met her in a hospital in Bangladesh, Shahnaz’s face flesh was a mess of charred meat: Her skin, the soft tissue of her cheeks, and the bones beneath had been burned away. Her nose was gone, replaced by two flared holes. Her lips hung down over her chin like melted wax. Her left eyelid couldn’t close, so a trail of tears was forever slowly tracking down over the wounds. Shahnaz was 21 years old, and her husband had just thrown acid in her face.

Her “crime”? To insist on continuing her studies—she loved science and poetry—when her husband wanted her to have babies. She smelled of a day-old barbecue left out in the rain.

In much of the world today, it is Shahnaz, not her husband, who would be judged to be in the wrong. For them, a woman is there to be a servile baby machine, and if she refuses, she can be beaten, raped, or burned with impunity. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his Chinese-American wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have written an impassioned exposé of this subjugation—and a roadmap to equality.

They start with an extraordinary fact that shows how deep this abuse runs. Today, now, more than 100 million women are missing. They have vanished. In normal circumstances, women live longer than men—but China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population, India has 108, and Pakistan has 111. Where have these women gone? They have been killed or allowed to die. Medical treatment is often reserved for boys, while violence against women is routine. More girls are killed in this “gendercide” each decade than in all the genocides of the 20th century. This year, another 2 million girls will “disappear.”

But this isn’t considered a story. While we rightly roared at racial apartheid, we act as though gender apartheid is a natural, immutable fact. With absolutely the right Molotov cocktail of on-the-ground reporting and hard social science, Kristof and WuDunn blow up this taboo. They ask: What would we do if we believed women were equal human beings, with as much right to determine their life story as men? How would we view the world differently?

We would start by supporting the millions of women who are fighting back. This isn’t merely a story of victims; it is predominantly a story of heroines. Mukhtar Mai is a 37-year-old woman who was born to a peasant family in southern Punjab, Pakistan. She was never sent to school because there were no schools for girls in her area: Why would girls need to read? In July 2002, her younger brother was kidnapped and gang raped by a higher-status clan. In order to cover up the crime, the gang accused him of having raped one of “their” girls. A tribal council heard the case and found him guilty—and ruled that, as punishment, his sister Mukhtar should be gang raped.

After she was dragged into a barn and raped by four men in turn, Mukhtar was supposed to kill herself to remove the “shame” from her family. As she explains: “They know that a woman humiliated in that way has no other recourse but suicide. They don’t even need to use their weapons. Rape kills her.”

But Mukhtar did something a woman wasn’t supposed to do: She went to the police and demanded justice. Unusually, the police arrested the attackers. Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf heard about the case and sent $8,300 in compensation. She used it to build a school for girls, saying it was the only way to start eroding the attitudes that led to her rape. But once she started speaking out—saying rape was a systemic problem in rural Pakistan—Musharraf declared that she was “embarrassing” Pakistan and had the secret services order her to shut up. She refused—so she was placed under house arrest and then kidnapped by Musharraf’s goons.

Even then, Mukhtar wouldn’t give up. She got word out to her supporters—and they ensured that she was released. Her campaign is working. As Kristof and WuDunn explain, “Rape is no longer a penalty-free sport, and so it seems to have declined considerably in the Punjab.” Thanks to her, thousands of girls are in school, and tens of thousands now will not be raped.

It’s a humbling story in a book full of humbling stories. An illiterate woman from a middle-of-nowhere village stood up to her country’s president and security services, in the name of the most basic human value of all, equality—and she won. It forces you to ask: What have I done, with almost none of the odds stacked against me that Mukhtar had?

Perhaps that sounds depressing. But on the contrary, Kristof and WuDunn’s book is empowering for the reader. It shows that, while there is a mountain of misogyny to be climbed, it is being ascended, woman by woman, day by day. The authors are constantly pointing readers toward practical things they can do, from giving to the best charities to volunteering for Mukhtar’s schools in Pakistan.

They take the reader on a grand tour of all the issues that are ignored because women are ignored. For example—who has heard of fistula? It is today’s leprosy, causing 2 million women to live and die as despised outcasts—yet it is virtually unknown. When a woman has a long, obstructed labor with no doctors to help her deliver, the blood supply to her vagina, bladder, and rectum can be cut off. The tissues die, and a hole is ripped in her flesh. From that hole, shit and piss will leak for the rest of her life in one long incontinent streak. Because she stinks, she is rejected by her husband and her community, and forced to live scavenging on the streets.

In every African town, you see fistula-stricken women, wandering aimlessly, their heads down in shame. They are the saddest people I have ever met. But this problem is cruelly easy to treat. For $300, a fistula can be repaired in 90 percent of cases. Fistula can be beaten, if only we value women enough to do it. There used to be a fistula hospital in Manhattan. Today, it is the Waldorf-Astoria.

Or how about the enslavement of women in brothels, which is now far larger than the trans-Atlantic slave trade at its height? Some 3.5 million women are being jailed, drugged, and raped for cash today. This brutalization of women doesn’t have to happen any more than the enslavement of Africans did in the 18th century. As the authors write: “The tools to crush modern slavery exist, but the political will is lacking. That must be the starting point of any abolitionist movement.” International pressure—set in motion by the acts of ordinary citizens—works.

In a book that comes close to being a masterpiece of modern journalism, it’s sad—and a little squalid—that Kristof has allowed a discredited cause from his columns to crawl into its pages. He has long defended sweatshops, where by definition women are forced to work near-impossible hours for a pittance. He does so again here, writing: “Sweatshops have given women a boost. … Women and girls still stream to such factories because they’re preferable to hoeing fields all day back in a village. … Instead of denouncing sweatshops, we in the West should be encouraging manufacturing in poor countries.”

But Kristof surely knows that it is a false choice between having poor women hoeing the fields and having them working in dangerous conditions in factories. There is a third—and better—way. Anti-sweatshop campaigners—who he has explicitly chided—want all factories, everywhere, to adhere to certain minimum standards: No use of beatings, a maximum working day, safety precautions. Then they won’t be sweatshops; they’ll just be factories.

Whenever he is confronted with this argument, Kristof says that any country that imposes basic human conditions on sweatshops loses its trade to a country that won’t and women suffer. But this ignores an obvious truth: Anti-sweatshop campaigners want to see these rules imposed everywhere. There should be no escape clauses and no places where multinational corporations can go to cheaply abuse women for a few extra pennies of profit. Given his genuine disgust at the abuse of women elsewhere, it’s bewildering that he endorses it in this form—and as a species of feminism, too!

There is another, more subtle flaw with this book. The Kristof journalistic template is plain: He finds individual heroines in countries ignored by the United States who personify both the problem and the fight-back against it. He then tries to marshal U.S. public opinion and, in turn, U.S. governmental power behind it. It’s effective—but he uses it only when the victims are marginal to the bigger goals of American power. The U.S. government has no interest in maintaining the sex trade, or fistula, so it is relatively straightforward to enlist its support in eradication efforts.

But when it comes to crimes of commission by the United States, rather than of omission, this formula falters. One of the worst places in the world to be a woman is Saudi Arabia, where you can be imprisoned for trying to drive a car and lashed for being raped. Perhaps the very worst is Afghanistan, where—outside the Potemkin village of Kabul—women are almost invariably imprisoned in their homes and used as property-cattle in private fiefdoms run by warlords.

Yet woman-lashing Saudi Arabia is the closest U.S. ally in the region (along with Israel), and woman-crushing Afghanistan is actually occupied by the United States. The rights of women are being casually sold out in exchange for oil, military expediency, and hard geopolitics. U.S. citizens have the most responsibility for this, because it’s your government doing it—but Kristof and WuDunn choose not to focus on these places, skimming over them briskly. The closest they get to condemning a U.S. ally is the fragile regime of Musharraf, who was already widely criticized within elite U.S. circles and has subsequently been junked for a more pliable puppet. To assume the U.S. government could easily become a nuclear-armed Amnesty International if only its citizens would ask it more assertively is dangerously naive. It overlooks the massive structural changes that need to happen at home—like kicking America’s oil addiction—before the United States can consistently support women’s rights everywhere.

Even with these stains, Half the Sky—named after the Chinese proverb: “Women hold up half the sky”—remains a thrilling manifesto for advancing freedom for hundreds of millions of human beings. Yet many people who should be buying this book and supporting the women it describes are inhibited by the fear that it would be “cultural imperialism.” Isn’t it their culture to treat women differently? Who are we to judge?

This is historically illiterate. Cultures can change. It was the “culture” of Massachusetts to burn witches once; it was the “culture” of Alabama to enslave black people. A century ago, China was the worst place in the world to be a woman. Your feet would be bound into gnarled, bloody stumps. Often, you weren’t even given a name, just called “Daughter No. 4.” For all its flaws, China has left these bloody bandages far behind it. “If culture were immutable,” the authors say bluntly, “Sheryl would be stumbling along on three inch feet.”

This argument collapses even further into The Chasm of Lousy Excuses for Inaction when you speak to the women themselves. It wasn’t Shahnaz’s culture to have her face burned off or Mukhtar’s to be gang raped. No—it was the culture of their oppressors. Slaves do not love their chains; women do not love to be subordinated. There is a conflict within these cultures—and we must now pick a side or sit out the great civil rights battle of our time.

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