CLOSE
Original image
iStock

Meet the Only Afghan Woman to Run Afghanistan's First Official Marathon

Original image
iStock

Completing a marathon requires an incredible amount of strength, stamina, and fortitude—especially if you’re a woman competing in Afghanistan’s first official major road race.

The Guardian recently profiled a 25-year-old female athlete, Zainab, who ran in her country’s pioneering international marathon earlier this month. The event was held in the mountainous central province of Bamiyan, and it drew 35 runners, along with 80 other individuals who ran a 10k. Although local schoolgirls participated in the shorter sporting contest, Zainab was the only Afghan female to participate inand completethe entire event.

Zainab spent two months training for the event by running laps around her parents’ backyard. When she finally hit the road, she faced myriad challenges—including gender-based harassment and accusations of cheating— along with more standard problems like altitude adjustments and chilly temperatures. However, she eventually reached the finish line alongside two other female runners from Belgium and Canada.

This isn’t Zainab’s first marathon. She was athletic all her life, and played basketball and participated in taekwondo clubs before working for Skateistan, an international skateboarding charity. However, an organization called Free to Run gave Zainab a grant last year to compete in an ultramarathon in China’s Gobi desert. Zainab caught the running bug, and now she's blazing trails—literally and figuratively—wherever she goes. 

Read a little more about Zainab’s inspiring life over at The Guardian, or watch their video of her pounding the pavement.

[h/t The Guardian]

Original image
arrow
holidays
10 Alternatives to Columbus Day Celebrated Around the Country
Original image

Columbus Day has a complicated history, and many cities have recently voted to rename the annual holiday that falls the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, honoring the native cultures that existed in North America long before Columbus arrived in 1492 and who were decimated by European colonization. In lieu of heading to a Columbus Day parade, consider these 10 alternative celebrations taking place across the country.

Original image
iStock
arrow
entertainment
How Screen Directions Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes
Original image
iStock

It's hardly a secret that Hollywood has a sexism problem onscreen. But issues of bias and stereotyping might be just as prevalent behind the scenes, according to The Pudding’s new analysis of nearly 2000 film scripts.

Data scientist Julia Silge and her colleagues pulled screenplays for 1966 movies, most of which were less than 30 years old. They processed the text to scrape out just the screen directions, then narrowed it down further to two-word terms like “she runs” or “he sits.” Finally, the team calculated the odds that any given verb would be paired with a male or female pronoun. 

Unfortunately, the results were bleak. Female characters were overwhelmingly instructed to behave like damsels in distress, while men took (often violent) action. 

Gif showing the association between gender and certain verbs.

They also used information about the screenwriters themselves to investigate the relationship between writers’ genders and their characters’ behavior. Their results suggested that both male and female writers were likely to rely on gender stereotypes

“Relative to men,” the analysts note, “women gasp, hurry, smile, hesitate, and stir (mostly while cooking), regardless of whether the writer is a man or a woman. Men are consistently more likely to smash things, draw their weapons, grin, wink, point, talk, and speak.”

But it’s not as though the sample sizes were the same, or even close. Male screenwriters were responsible for 85 percent of all the scripts in the study.

“Should Hollywood reach gender parity,” Silge wrote, “we’d expect fewer women characters to respond, kiss, and cry. The increase in female writers would also mean women would be more likely to spy, find things, and, perhaps most remarkably, write onscreen.”

[h/t The Pudding]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios