Shehla Masood case: court reserves order on bail pleas of two accused


My Friend Shehla Masood

My Friend Shehla Masood

Press Trust of India  |  Indore  April 10, 2013 

The special CBI court today reserved its order on the bail applications of two of the accused in the Shehla Masood murder case — alleged shooters Saquib Ali ‘Danger’ and Tabish Khan — till April 12.

Judge Anupam Srivastava reserved the order after hearing the arguments by defence lawyer Pradeep Gupta and CBI’s senior prosecutor Atul Kumar.

The accused had filed the pleas in December.

Advocate Gupta had argued that the trial was underway for over a year and would go on for long, so the accused be given bail. But prosecution argued that final arguments were yet to take place and the bail applications could be considered afterwards.

Five people are on trial for the murder of Shehla Masood, an RTI activist, in Bhopal‘s Koh-E-Fiza locality on August 16, 2011: Zahida Parvez, Saba, Saquib Ali Danger, Irfan, and Tabish.

Zahida Pervez, an interior designer, is accused of conspiring to kill Masood.

 

Making waves with news- Khabar Lahariya #womenempowerment


MEENA MENON, The Hindu

BREAKING INTO A MAN’S DOMAIN:The newspaper is empowering women.PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.

BREAKING INTO A MAN’S DOMAIN:The newspaper is empowering women.PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.

For a newspaper that’s ten-years-old, Khabar Lahariya (News Waves) has certainly made waves, as its name suggests. It won the Laadli Media Award in December 2012 for gender sensitivity, and before that the Chameli Devi Jain and UNESCO awards. The 40 women who run the newspaper in six districts are from backward communities and mostly live in remote areas of the country. They walk sometimes over 10 kilometers to gather news, have to put up with sustained taunts and opposition and face the challenge of establishing themselves in a male-dominated profession.

Yet they wouldn’t give this up for the world. Young Shalu from Lucknow says, “I got to see Bambai [Mumbai] and for me that alone is worth it. I want nothing more.

The Lucknow edition comes out in Hindustani and for Rizwana Tabassum, it was her desire to become a journalist just “so I can ask other people lots of questions”, she says. Rizwana is from Varanasi and her parents often insist she come back home before dark. More than her parents, it’s her neighbours and busybodies who are more worried. “Others have big problems due to my work and timings,” she laughs.

Guddi started working for the Sitamarhi edition of the paper in 2010 which comes out in Bajjika, the local language. She had to take her daughter, whom she has named Leher after the paper, along with her after the neighbours complained that she was leaving the child behind. Her husband, too, ticked her off but Guddi was firm. She told her husband he had a role to play in the child’s upbringing.

One day, when she had to go far away to meet labourers who hadn’t been paid for three years, Leher fell ill and she was faced with a tough call. She insisted her husband accompany her and her daughter and she made them wait while she did her story. On her way back she took the child to hospital. “Five days after my story appeared, the labourers were paid their salaries,” she grins.

Some of the women like Meera from Chitrakoot, is a post graduate and others are still studying, points out Shalini Joshi from the NGO Nirantar which has been instrumental in getting this project off the ground.

Government programme Mahila Samakhya had a newspaper called Mahila Dakya which closed in 2000. Meera says people were disappointed when it shut down. They said they missed reading about government schemes and local news. There was a discussion on reviving it and in 2002, the new paper was launched. “We drew lots to decide on the name and Khabar Lahariya was chosen,” says Kavita.

The first edition was printed in 2002 in Chitrakoot in Bundeli language and in 2012 the sixth edition in Varanasi in Bhojpuri was launched. The eight-page paper has special editions which can go into 12 pages on some days. The weekly launched its website in Mumbai recently and already has a huge following on Twitter and Facebook.

The women not only gather news, they also do the layout and search for international and national news on in the Internet for which there is a section. Initially, some of them were scared to even touch a computer but now they are all net savvy. The paper comes out in Bundeli, Awadhi, Bajjika, Bhojpuri and Hindustani and has a readership of 80,000 with a circulation of 6,000 copies. The readership is high because one paper is often read by more than 15 to 20 people.

The newspaper is running due to support from the Dorabji Trust and the United Nations Democracy and Equity Fund. Shalini says the money from the awards goes to bring out the paper but they are formulating a business plan. The cost of the paper is Rs. two while production cost is Rs. six. So it is difficult to sustain the paper on sales alone and other options are being examined. The journalists are being trained in using Internet and information and communication technology, says Bishakha Datta from Point of View.

The women are acquiring a formidable reputation with the government as well. “ Aa gayi Lahariya wali(the Lahariya woman has come) — they say when I go to offices. Once I had gone to a hospital where a hand pump was damaged and took pictures. Even before my story appeared, it was repaired,” says Savita.

“At first it was difficult but we made contacts and we also gave them the paper. They were very happy to read their stories,” Sunita says, adding that sometimes people couldn’t pay Rs. two but she still gave it to them.

The women also pointed out that in their milieu even wearing a salwar kameez was not an option and talking to men was taboo. Especially after the Delhi gang rape incident, Arshi from Lucknow says that her parents were warned by her relatives not to let her go out. “My mother supports me and we don’t even wear a naqab as is customary,” she adds.

While there are the usual cynics, the women said that most people valued their work and it had brought change, for instance, some villages had lights because of reports, people got their salaries and in one instance, a Dalit woman who cooked mid-day meals could stay back despite opposition from the upper castes in Sitamarhi. For these women to break into a “man’s domain” has been exhilarating.

 

The decade-old multi-lingual Khabar Lahariya is serving hinterland news to its readers and championing women empowerment at the same time

 

 

Bras and domestic violence- awareness or exploitation ? #advertising #vaw #Wtfnews


Breast Intentions: Of Violence, Advertising and Lingerie

Social Commentary post by Richa Kaul Padte, Submitted by Richa Kaul Padte on November 9, 2012 – 8:06am; tagged advertising, Amanté, domestic violence. at http://bitchmagazine.org/

Amanté bra ad: Suffocation is the Worst Kind of Abuse"

In both a national and global context where the rates of domestic violence against women are consistently soaring (according to the United Nations Population Fund Report, more 55 percent of women living in India face violence within the home), awareness campaigns and messages which seek to address this particular manifestation of gender-based violence are incredibly pertinent. Calling on women to recognise that they are not alone in what they experience, and highlighting the ways in which this violence manifests itself and affects other facets of a woman’s life are key components of such outreach.

“Suffocation is the worst kind of abuse”

“It always starts with the little nicks and cuts”

“Respect the space you really deserve”

“How much longer will you adjust?”

These taglines, part of a far-reaching poster campaign, seem to fit the bill. Or they would, if violence against women were their subject. In fact, they’re being used to sell bras.

Launched in early October 2012, Amanté Lingerie’s “Break Up With The Wrong Bra” campaign appropriates the language of anti-domestic violence initiatives to sell women the ‘right’ bra. Featured widely on billboards across major Indian cities, in daily newspapers, and in women’s magazines, each image features a woman’s face accompanied by one of the above taglines. Below the tagline are messages that, once again, are eerily reminiscent of the domestic-violence statistics that often accompany DV awareness initiatives. One reads, “8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra and don’t even know it. A poorly fitted bra that needs adjusting all day interferes with your overall appearance and self confidence.” In a country where more half of all women face violence within the home—and where the majority stay silent about it, or worse, feel like they deserve it—the decision to exploit the lived realities of violence to sell a foundation garment is one that must be questioned.

Amanté CEO John Chiramel, quoted in an Adrants report on the campaign, assured everyone that “This campaign has been carefully thought through in not trying to objectify women, but [is] more about dealing with the real issues and educating the consumer, so that they have an enjoyable experience wearing fine lingerie.” And the fact that the campaign avoids the usual bra-selling objectification of women’s bodies was noted by Jezebel.com’s Dodai Stewart, who wrote that “the brand chose a really clever way to advertise bras without actually seeing any bras…. Even if you don’t like the ‘worst kind of abuse’ slogan, the company deserves kudos for attempting to think outside the cleavage.”

Amanté bra ad featuring confused-looking Indian woman

Kudos! JK, this is still wildly disturbing.

But does the measure for the objectification of women always lie in the amount of skin being shown? To praise the Amanté ads for what they don’t show seems not only culturally irrelevant, but ignores other manifestations of objectification at play. For instance: The women featured in these ads, like the women featured in practically every aspect of public visual culture today, are undoubtedly beautiful. And Amanté’s slogan (“Love Yourself”) contributes to an existing global vocabulary of advertising that suggests only the beautiful deserve love. Furthermore, using the language of domestic violence here contributes to a construction of not only the beautiful woman, but the beautiful who is beautiful and thereby unabused. Both self-confidence and freedom from violence are linked to fashion and beauty itself, thus negating the class, caste, race, and other realities of gender-based violence.

Chiramel and Stewart may not see it, but to those who have worked on anti-violence campaigns—and, more poignantly, to those who have lived or continue to live with domestic violence in their daily lives—the allusion is glaringly apparent. Mumbai-based sociologist and feminist activist Manjima Bhattacharjya says, ‘Parodies are fine and have their own space as creative expression. But you have to be careful when you parody something like domestic violence, which is already trivialized in the everyday, something activists and survivors have struggled against for decades. To trivialize it further could make it even more difficult to change harmful popular perceptions about it.’ As this campaign is viewed by thousands of women across the country – outside their homes, in their newspapers, and so on – the violence they experience is now the face for a new bra, thus reinforcing the societal frameworks that negate and normalize their experiences of abuse.

Could the campaign’s appropriation of the language of domestic violence help create a dialogue around violence against women? Backed by large corporate budgets with a reach much further than, say, a nonprofit domestic violence–awareness campaign, do these “Break Up With The Wrong Bra” ads provide a wider platform for important conversations? Nope, argues Bhattachrjya. “Other companies, like Avon or Body Shop, have used such [visuals], so it’s not unusual to see such images or text used by women’s brands. But they have mostly used campaigns against domestic violence as the vehicle to promote their products, believing that speaking to women about things that matter to them would make for more sustainable partnerships. [In Amanté’s campaign], domestic violence is not explicitly mentioned at all, in spite of the obvious allusions. Even a line about the issue they are alluding to, or links to support services, would have been honest. On the other hand, the absence of any reference to DV shows it for what it is. For all the big words they’ve used (respect, deserve, confidence) they just want you to buy the right bra—theirs.”

The Hindu: It’s time to behave! #advertising


reporter nameAnindita Sarkar, afaqs!, Mumbai,http://www.afaqs.com/
November 02, 2012 Section: News Category: Advertising

While The Hindu continues to target the youth, in its latest television commercial it turns the spotlight on Indian politicians and focuses on the poor example of governance that is being set by them for the new generation.

Beat up your children and they will think it’s the norm. Fight before the young and they will learn to do it better. Break chairs in the midst of solving national issues and the youth will trust that it’s precisely how the country is run. And so, behave.

The Hindu TVC

This is the insight The Hindu’s latest ad is based on. After an entire campaign run which involved The Hindu and The Times of India taking shots at each other, the Chennai-based national daily has launched a fresh ad campaign that urges the nation’s leaders to conduct themselves well.

While the broadsheet continues to target the youth with the campaign, taking off from where it left in its previous communication, this time around it tries to ‘behave’ more inclusive.

In its latest television commercial, the daily turns the spotlight on Indian politicians and focuses on the poor example of governance that is being set by them for the new generation.

Even as it stirs up a conversation that is really affecting the youth, the campaign decides to talk through those who are the source of that very conversation.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the film is set in a classroom. The TVC opens with the professor asking his students to debate the rural development bill; and yes, he seeks ‘proper parliamentary behaviour’. The house is set open wherein two groups of students are pitted against each other. Very soon, the situation turns chaotic. Furniture breaks, books fly, faces are punched. Eventually, as an instrumental version of poet Narsinh Mehta‘s ‘Vaishnava jana to’ (a bhajan endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi during his daily prayer) takes over the screaming disorder, the ad ends with the note, ‘Behave Yourself, India. The Youth Are Watching’.

The insight

While The Hindu wanted to continue its dialogue with the youth, it was also keen to build a mechanism that would allow the daily to extend a thought that could raise many more pertinent issues.

Piyush Pandey
Suresh Srinivasan

And that is when the idea made its way. Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy says that the idea occurred while he was disturbed by something he saw on television. What followed is The Hindu TVC that he wrote.

“The insight is very simple and comes from our everyday lives. It asks us to behave wisely because it will impact the way our children will conduct themselves. The ad tries to talk sensibly to the largest target group of this country (the youth) through an idea, which is much larger and therefore, the positioning becomes much wider now,” says Pandey.

Joono Simon, ECD (South) Ogilvy worked in close collaboration with Pandey to conceptualise and create the campaign.

‘Behave Yourself, India. The Youth Are Watching’ can easily change tone and talk about social injustice, intolerance, attitude toward senior citizens, or even address the current economic divide without taking much away from the classroom scene. But to begin with, The Hindu chose to speak about the politicians.

“A vibrant democracy requires participation of the youth predominantly and in today’s era, the lack of political icons is the bane of the country; the youth of today do not see strong icons to emulate in comparison to the heroes of yesteryears. The Hindu exposes this stark contrast of leadership, and is set to the pulse of the youth and their resentment with today’s governance,” says Suresh Srinivasan, vice-president, advertisement, The Hindu Group of Publications.

“Our previous campaign was not just a reaction to TOI; it was to propagate a story that was begging to be told. Showcasing the horror in junk news consumption and re-establishing that knowledge is the ‘new cool’. This campaign, like the previous one, is also set to the pulse of the youth and strengthens our positioning as a vibrant and aggressive brand,” he adds.

The film that is already being shared and talked about extensively on social networks is being supported by digital and cinema promotions. The print campaign too shall be launched shortly.

The insight-execution translation

Jitender Dabas
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

For Jitender Dabas, executive vice-president and head of planning, McCann Worldwide, the ad is a ‘populist’ commercial. According to him, newspapers playing the voice of conscience of the society or holding the mirror to the society is one of the most obvious brand strategies in the newspaper/media category and bashing the politicians is the best way to take a populist moral high ground in our society today.

“So, I see this ad getting very popular in urban India very soon and generating a lot of conversations. It will perhaps also enhance the stature of brand ‘The Hindu’. But will it ever succeed in getting the young, whose cause the newspaper seems to espouse or who are watching this ad on social media, to pick up a copy of ‘The Hindu’? I am not so sure. What surely works for the ad is great monochrome execution and the choice of music,” he says.

According to Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, a newspaper stands for what is happening in the country at that moment. “And if the dynamics of the country is changing, it is only right to strategically portray what the current scenario is. We always say that we should be a living example for our children but our country’s so called political oldies with their tantrums are exactly the opposite. The insight has been very clearly communicated. Like the way the professor is shown — a middle aged man who does not have any point of view like many in our country and will still look in doubt as if nothing has happened.”

 

Has Change.org compromised its values for ad revenue? #Benrattray #Mustshare


by  Oct 31, 2012, FIRSTPOST
Change.org has changed. And chances are that you might have missed it.

The social action platform, which is credited with hosting many online campaigns to bring about change, is facing criticism for replacing its ‘values based’ advertising policy for an ‘open’ approach in which advertisements are accepted based on the content of the ad, not the group doing the advertising, says a company document meant for internal circulation, but which got leaked before the company could go public with its re-branding strategy.

In effect, the company has allowed for advertisements from various quarters including corporate houses and political parties.

Screenshot from Change.org

What this means is that even anti-abortion, pro-gun, union-busting advertising and ads by political parties will be allowed on the site, marking a remarkable change in the overall outlook of the company.

Before the policy shift, according to the document, the company’s advertising policy was values based. It accepted clients case by case, one at a time, based on their alignment with its values as a company.

The new advertising policy is akin to those of many leading platforms, open by default to any group that wants to advertise with them. “We are open to organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which we personally (and strongly) disagree,’ reads the document.

As per the company’s original strategy, it was not to allow campaigns by political parties as, “there were a number of risks involved in allowing political ads, in particular around our brand and user experience.”

The decision to allow political ads, is based on the feedback from the team including staff from outside the US, reads the document. “One of the primary ways people get involved in civic participation is through politics and elections, and we don’t want to close door to political actors engaging in change.org- something which they can do through many channels, and which has the potential to increase their responsiveness to citizens overall.”

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, an online campaigner based in Mumbai, who has initiated many petitions on change.org, says that the company’s advertising policy shift demonstrates the potential perils of for-profit companies founded on progressive values, and shows the power of money.

Read more here-http://www.firstpost.com/living/has-change-org-compromised-its-values-for-ad-revenue-509088.html

Change.org –the Brutal Betrayal !


by- MattBrowner Hamlin

Yesterday news broke that Change.org, an historically progressive-leaning distributed organizing platform, would shift to working with any advertising client, regardless of political affiliation. The story has been ably covered byRyan GrimJeff Bryant, and Aaron Krager – I highly recommend you read their pieces, all of which hinge around leaked internal Change.org documents that cover this shift.

The documents are well worth reading and have been posted by Krager (all links are PDFs). They include:

  • July 2012 email from CEO Ben Rattray to staff explaining the recent decisions by senior staff to pursue a big change in their client advertising policy;
  • September 2012 email from Rattray to their staff explaining the shift;
  • Rebrand-InternalFAQs-Change
  • As I said, the posts linked above give a good run down of the general problems associated with this shift in policy and values form Change.org. I recommend you read them and the leaked documents, which give a very clear view of the goals and motives behind this shift.

    I want to draw attention to one particular aspect of Change.org’s justifications for this move, quoting Jeff Bryant:

    What will change is that Change.org will no longer “filter potential advertisers” based on the advertisers’ “values.” Nor will Change.org filter potential advertisers based on any “gut feelings about the content of the ad itself.”

    The implication expressed in Change.org’s internal documents, by Change.org’s spokesman Ben Joffe-Walt who Ryan Grim quotes as saying, “Change.org is “not beholden to one community,” and by the talking points circulated by multiple Change.org staff members on progressive email list serves all point to the idea that it’s simply not possible for Change.org to make determinations about which clients are or are not progressive. As a result, they are saying they are now formally stopping to make any attempt to limit who they sell email addresses to based on their “values.”

    These talking points are undermined by their expressed strategies for evolving their advertising platform. In a section in their internal FAQ titled, “When will we be able to target ads better?” they have this explanation:

    • Machine learning: we are developing the technology to match action alerts to users, which utilizes everything we know about a user (what petitions they’ve signed, geography, demographics) to match them to petitions they’re most likely to be interested in. This is complicated technology but should bear fruit in 2013. Once that happens, we should be able to repurpose the technology and use everything we know about a user (what petitions they’ve signed, geography, demographics) to match them to the ads (sponsored petitions) they’re most likely to be interested in.
    • Tagging: we want to move from our current 8-cause system to a much more flexible tagging system. Once complete, users and Change.org staff will be able to tag any petition in many different ways, for example as “pro-choice.” We will then be able to show that “pro-choice” advertisement to people who have signed petitions tagged as “pro-choice” while suppressing people who’ve signed “pro-life” petitions. This is technically complicated, and we’re hoping to make significant progress in 2013.

    To be clear, what this means is not only that Change.org is saying internally that they are capable of assessing the political orientation of an advertiser or a petition, but that this assessment is something which is critical to their evolved business model.

    I raise this point because to me the idea of determining what is or is not in line with the values this company espoused since its founding until this week is completely possible. It’s been done with relative success by Change.org – excepting their work with union busting clients like Students First and Stand for Children – throughout the history of the firm. And most importantly, their ability to determine if a client should target liberal or conservative audiences is central to their future business model. They will be selling organizations and companies this ability – it’s what will make their ads worth money to their clients.

    When I look at Change.org’s talking points and internal messaging documents,  I see a lot of sophistry and disingenuous argumentation that I’m not going to go through now. I see statements like they’re not doing this for the money and since I am not a mind reader, I can only speculate whether or not that is true.

    But Change.org is telling the public that they are simply incapable of figuring out if their clients are liberal or conservative and as a result must throw up their hands to even trying to make the choice – this is a flat-out lie. Their own technology development and advertising targeting plans reveal it as a lie. Not only are they capable of making a determination as to what a client’s values are, it’s what they are selling their clients to maximize the impact they have as an advertising platform.

    There’s a lot to be unhappy about with this devolution at Change.org. I’m sure others will write more about it in coming days and I’m guessing I will too. But the completely cynical use of a lie about their fundamental ability to figure out who they are partnering with when they sell ads is something that I feel compelled to highlight first and foremost.

Change.org Changing: Site To Allow Corporate, Anti-Abortion, GOP Campaigns #takecaction


Ryan Grim
 (UPDATE)

Posted: 10/22/2012 5:58 pm EDT Updated: 10/23/2012 9:44 pm EDT

Change

WASHINGTON — Change.org, the online social movement company founded on progressive values, has decided to change its advertising policy to allow for corporate advertising, Republican Party solicitations, astroturf campaigns, anti-abortion or anti-union ads and other controversial sponsorships, according to internal company documents.

Change.org allows users to launch and sign petitions, and the company has had somehigh-profile successes. Change.org currently operates under a values-based client policy, only accepting advertisements from progressive organizations that share its values. The new policy will be closer to “a Google-like open advertising policy in which determinations about which advertisements we’ll accept are based on the content of the ad, not the group doing the advertising,” according to a company FAQ sent to staff. The document was leaked to Jeff Bryant, an associate fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal organization, who subsequently provided it and others to The Huffington Post.

The company will implement the shift on Oct. 24, according to the memo.

“Change.org built its reputation on arming Davids to take on the Goliaths of the world,” Bryant told HuffPost. “Now it seems that the company thinks David and Goliath should be on the same team.”

Change.org did not plan to reach out to its base of progressive users about the change. “[W]e have no plans to proactively tell users about the new design or our new mission, vision, or advertising guidelines,” reads one document.

The press was to be kept similarly in the dark. “We are not planning proactive press outreach on the rebrand but are queuing up positive press profiles to launch around Oct. 22,” reads the FAQ in the document, urging staff to keep things confidential and referring to the initial launch date, which has since been postponed.

The current Change.org policy limits sponsored campaigns to progressive organizations. “We accept sponsored campaigns from organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear — fairness, equality, and justice,” reads the site’s soon-to-be replaced policy. “We do not accept sponsored campaigns from organizations that consistently violate these values, support discriminatory policies, or seek private corporate benefit that undermines the common good.”

After the shift, Change.org’s new policy will specifically allow campaigns that its liberally minded site users might find objectionable. “What about anti-abortion, pro-gun and union-busting advertising?” reads the FAQ in the leaked document.

“We are open to organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which we personally (and strongly) disagree,” reads the answer.

Benjamin Joffe-Walt, director of communications for Change.org, acknowledged that the changes as outlined in the internal documents will be implemented. Joffe-Walt said the company never intended to pitch itself as strictly progressive.

“It’s not what we ever claimed to be,” he said.

Joffe-Walt said a new, general guide for the new company policy would be: “If Google will allow it, we would allow it.”

Change.org leadership met in San Francisco this summer to hash out its new advertising policy following a public uproar in July over the site’s partnership with Michelle Rhee, whose organization works in opposition to labor unions. “[W]e looked long and hard at our client policy in the context of our vision. This was the most difficult part of the weekend, but after many hours of discussion and edge cases we ultimately agreed that the current closed approach is simply not feasible,” Change.org’s founder and CEO Ben Rattray wrote in an email to staff, which was also leaked to HuffPost by Bryant.

“[W]e as an organization have transitioned from an American cause-based organizing network with a largely progressive agenda into a global platform open to a wider diversity of participants and perspectives,” he wrote. “Yet the honest reality is that we haven’t fully made this transition. At least in the US, we still often see things through a traditional partisan progressive lens, and over the past couple months it’s become clear that we have a choice: we can continue to try to have it both ways and risk getting pigeonholed into being a partisan organization with a particular agenda and limited audience, or we can break out of this mold and aspire to something much bigger –- to true empowerment everywhere.”

Labor and progressive organizations, which make up a sizable base of Change.org’s client list, threatened to pull out over the Rhee situation. After reports that Change.org was dropping Rhee and another controversial anti-union group as clients, the site continues to run her petitions.

It remains to be seen how current site users and clients will react to a new ad policy that opens the platform to opponents. Three of Change.org’s most prominent clients are the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and Credo Mobile, which runs the second-biggest progressive online activist group, after MoveOn.org.

According to the internal memo, the new policy will still allow the company to reject an ad if accepting it would threaten Change.org’s “brand.” Such rejections, according to the FAQ, will only be made by Rattray, who has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Joffe-Walt said the “vast majority of Change.org” users were not strictly liberal or progressive. “We’re in 196 countries,” he said, adding that it sounds like those who might criticize the policy shift “don’t want us to be on an open platform.”

Change.org’s advertising policy shift demonstrates the potential perils of for-profit companies founded on progressive values, and shows the power of money even outside the sphere of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Change.org’s strategic break with the progressive movement comes just days after the board of another for-profit progressive company, Salsa Labs, ousted its CEO. Salsa is a prominent campaign organizing platform that took $5 million in venture capital funding last year — a move the two cofounders say they “deeply regret.” Fitzgibbon Media, which only works with progressive organizations, has decided to drop the company as a client because it no longer considers Salsa in that category, according to founder Trevor Fitzgibbon.

“We remain committed to serving only progressive clients, reaffirmed that publicly on Friday, and have given no indication otherwise. Salsa’s change in CEO was solely a management change and is not indicative of any shift in our corporate vision or mission,” said Dave Leichtman, a Salsa vice president. Salsa’s main rival, Blue State Digital, sold itself to the corporate firm WPP in 2010.

Rattray has also recently been meeting with a number of well-known venture capital firms, according to his internal calendar, which was shared with Bryant. The venture giants include Google Ventures, Bridges Ventures and Acumen Fund, among others. Joffe-Walt stressed that the meetings “have absolutely nothing” to do with the change in advertising policy. The company is continuing to speak with venture capitalists, Joffe-Walt said, but will only work with a “mission-aligned investor.”

While it had no plans to proactively let users or the media know of its plans for a new direction, Change.org did tell staff it would launch new, “awesome language” on its site on Monday to better describe the company, the memo said. In a separate email to employees, Rattray laid out the new language to describe the company’s mission: “To empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see.”

In its internal memo to employees, Change.org justified its decision to change its advertising policy by referencing the dispute over Rhee. The situation was excessively time-consuming, the memo states, and the research efforts involved in such disputes “simply don’t scale” as the firm continues to grow globally.

“[W]e believe open advertising guidelines will help us maximize our mission,” offers the memo. What’s good for the business is good for the world, it argues, and an open platform that empowers more people will lead to positive change. Furthermore, the memo says, the rejection of some advertisers for moral or political reasons is an implicit endorsement of other advertisers — something the company wants to avoid.

Change’s softening of its liberal stance leaves the space open for competitors like Care2.com, which is also for-profit, and MoveOn.org, which offers petition software called SignOn and is a nonprofit organization. Care2 has been around longer than Change.org, and has significantly more clients, but the company lags behind Change.org in terms of public relations. Asked if Care2 would accept clients whose values the company doesn’t share, Clinton O’Brien, a Care2.com vice president, said no.

“Care2 will never run a campaign for the NRA, or from advocacy groups that don’t support a woman’s right to control her own body,” O’Brien told HuffPost. “Just like we will never sell an ad campaign to Monsanto or some other for-profit whose behavior we think is widely recognized to be negative for society or the planet … We consider it our duty to accept or reject clients on a case-by-case basis.”

Steven Biel, the director of SignOn, echoed the sentiment.

“When you see MoveOn.org promote a petition, you never have to wonder if we’re doing it because someone paid us to,” Biel wrote in an email to HuffPost. “For years, progressives have built a huge advantage over the right wing on the Internet, and it would be awful to lose that in service of a short-term payday.”

Change.org leadership, in explaining the policy shift to its staff around the world, noted that some of the changes could not be implemented immediately because there would be no support base among current users for the advertising campaigns the company may pursue.

“It’s irresponsible for us to sell advertising to a group that we don’t have the audience to support, and it’s bad user service to show users ads they don’t want to see,” reads an internal FAQ sent to staffers.

Change.org scooped up many of the most talented and well-known progressive activists when it initially launched, making the company’s departure from the movement more jarring.

As it attempts to expand its customer base to include conservatives and Republicans, Change.org is in a precarious position. In order to successfully make the pivot, the company will need to hold on to its base of progressive clients and users long enough for it to build a bridge across the spectrum. That means burying sponsored ads that its base will find objectionable. “We’ll also be investing heavily in building strong feedback loops so that sponsored campaigns our users don’t like will be hidden or even taken down from the site,” reads the memo. “This is going to be essential to our success as we build a much larger and diverse base.”

Rattray, in an email to staff that hinted at possible departures as a result of the shift, struck a hopeful tone.

“For some of you, this vision won’t feel like a shift at all. For others, it might seem like a big reframing of who we are. But if this feels a little unsafe, know this: nothing big was ever achieved by taking the safe option. We’re attempting something nobody else has done before – to transcend traditional partisanship and build a global empowerment platform that reaches hundreds of millions of people. It’s not easy to do, and will require difficult choices that will challenge each of us. But in the long run, it’s how we will change the world,” he wrote.

Joffe-Walt said Change.org is “not beholden to one community.”

“We’ve created a new platform that has enabled things to happen that weren’t possible before. We’re helping to drive net positive change in the world — with the emphasis on net,” he said.

UPDATE: Oct. 23, 9:25 p.m. – Benjamin Joffe-Walt, Change.org’s managing director of global communications, said that the source of the leak is no longer with Change.org.

“A Huffington Post article about our new advertising guidelines revealed that a blogger had obtained access to internal Change.org documents. We’ve identified the person who leaked the documents and they are no longer with the company. We respect their privacy and we are not releasing their name,” he said in a statement, adding that “this was a case in which a Change.org staffer shared internal documents and the private schedule of our founder and CEO with a journalist. Content aside, there is simply no situation in any organization or company in which the result would have been different. The suspicion that such a move is an attempt to punish a ‘whistleblower’ couldn’t be further from the truth: the leaked documents and emails in question are available to all our employees and outline plans to be fully transparent about our business model and new advertising guidelines. While we wouldn’t normally communicate externally through a painfully long, 12-page document, it outlines a number of important concerns and if anyone is inclined to read it they are more than welcome to do so. There are no nefarious secrets to reveal and no whistle was blown.”

PLEASE ASK CHANGE.ORG TO COME OUT CLEAN NOW !!.

Whiter, tighter and what else? Diamond-encrusted vaginas ? # Vajazzling #WTF advertising


Feel like a Virgin

Shrabonti Bagchi | August 11, 2012, Times Crest

In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, can a gel that promises ‘vaginal tightening’ be sold as a sexually empowering idea? A new advertising campaign for a product that promises to give Indian women tighter vaginas is headed for probable YouTube superstardom.

In a household straight out of a Priyadarshan film set or a Tamil TV weepie, where various family members keep appearing on screen, urging you to play a kind of spot-the-relative game (guy shooting the proceedings on camera phone is the pesky but cute brother-inlaw;young girl in jeans and kurta is the college-going sister-in-law ), a shapely young wife in a pink sari is about to hand over a steel dabba to her headed-to-work husband (who is touching his parents’ feet). But instead of leaving the scene after exchanging the mandatory coy look full of sexy promise with the husband, she grabs him by the hand and starts dancing the salsa, crooning “I feel like a virgin”. “Oh yes you do, ” replies hubby encouragingly.

The other V-word at the core of this little drama – vagina – doesn’t come into the picture till the end, when a sophisticated voice announces that the product that has made this revirginated woman and her husband so happy, 18 Again, is a “vaginal tightening and rejuvenating gel”. In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, a product that promises to make women “feel like virgins” is quite likely to have them queuing up outside medical stores to buy something they believe will miraculously restore their hymens. Feminists and web commentators are already questioning the ‘women’s empowerment’ argument put forth by the company behind 18 Again. While it may enhance sexual pleasure for both men and women, isn’t it feeding the patriarchal view that women need to be perfect and ‘virginal’ – because actual virginity is frustratingly for one-time-use-only, curse it – for men to find them attractive? It’s a toss up.

On the one hand, if you believe the stuff about tighter vaginas making sex more pleasurable for the woman, it’s easy to go with the empowerment argument and say this is a product women can buy for themselves to enhance their sex lives, and what’s not to like about that? On the other hand, the ‘virgin’ bit is clearly aimed at men.

Ultratech India Ltd, the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company that has launched this patent-pending gel after three years of research, clinical trials, market studies and an FDA approval, is convinced this is a revolutionary product that falls in the feminine hygiene category. Rishi Bhatia, chairman and MD, Ultratech India, is firmly taking the good-forhealth route. He believes 18 Again is a “vaginal health” product that addresses several needs like preventing infections and toning vaginal muscles, which in turn has health benefits like preventing adult incontinence and vaginal prolapse. “We are not saying this will restore virginity. The name indicates that this will make a woman feel young, as she did at the age of 18 when she was just entering womanhood. Our market research, including interviews with gynaecologists, shows many women want non-surgical vaginal tightening, ” says Bhatia.

Priti Nair, director of ad agency Curry Nation, who created the TVC, has a lighter take. “We didn’t want to take a negative route, showing a woman cringing and crying over her husband losing sexual interest in her. We wanted to show a woman celebrating her sexuality and revelling in her womanhood, ” says Nair. Yet, coming right after a certain muchdiscussed product that claimed to create fairer vaginas, 18 Again is definitely in for a hard time from those who believe there is much too much pressure on women to have perfect bodies.

“Leave our vadges alone!” says Nikhila Sachdev (name changed on request), a 32-year-old Bangalorean who just gave birth a year ago. “First you’re supposed to be really thin. Then you’re supposed to remove every bit of hair from your body. Then you’re supposed to do something about those sagging boobs. And now you have to get whiter, tighter vaginas? What’s next? Diamond-encrusted vadges?” she asks indignantly. You’re not too far out, babe. Kim Kardashian, that possibly plastic goddess of frivolity, has already been heard boasting about her Swarovski-studded labia

Your Vagina Isn’t Just Too Big, Too Floppy, and Too Hairy—It’s Also Too Brown


by- Lindy West

Good news, ladies! Society has discoveredanother new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the color of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherfucker. Bleach it right now!

In this commercial for an Indian product called Clean and Dry Intimate Wash, a (very light-skinned) couple sits down for whatwould have been a peaceful cup of morning coffee—if the woman’s disgusting brown vagina hadn’t ruined everything! The dude can’t even bring himself look at her. He can’t look at his coffee either, because it only reminds him of his wife’s dripping, coffee-brown hole! Fortunately, the quick-thinking woman takes a shower, scrubbing her swarthy snatch with Clean and Dry Intimate Wash (“Freshness + Fairness”). And poof! Her vadge comes out blinding white like a downy baby lamb (and NOT THE GROSS BLACK KIND) and her husband—whose penis, I can only assume, is literally a light saber—is all, “Hey, lady! Cancel them divorce papers and LET’S BONE.”

Needless to say, certain citizens are troubled by this product—which, in addition to just being fucking insane, brings up painful issues about the hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. As if it isn’t bad enough that darker-skinned people are encouraged to stay out of the sun and invest in skin-bleaching products like Fair & Lovely, and that white actresses arebeing imported to play Indian people in Bollywood movies, now everyone has to be insecure about the fact that their vaginas happen to be the color that vaginas are??? Splendid! God, I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it.

So what are the pro-vadge-bleaching people thinking? Here’s a hilarious explanation from a male ad exec:

It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer-so what’s the problem? I don’t think any Youngistani today thinks the British Raj/White man is superior to us Brown folk. That’s all 1947 thinking!

The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light. I found this amazing difference when I directed Kabir Bedi, who is very fair and had to wear dark makeup for Othello, the Black hero of the play. I found I had to have a special spotlight following Kabir around the stage because otherwise the audience could not see his expressions.

See? It makes perfect sense. We just want our vaginas to reflect more light—is that so wrong? I mean, WHAT IF MY CAR BREAKS DOWN AT NIGHT AND I DON’T HAVE A REFLECTIVE ENOUGH VAGINA? Really, the ultimate one-vagina-to-rule-them-all would glow in the dark like one of those deep-sea fishes. I need my vagina to attract more krill so my husband will fuck me again! (My husband is a whale.)

Basically the idea is to get as far away as possible from any color that vaginas actually come in. Because that’s what’s at the heart of this type of thinking—the perfect vagina would be something that’s not a vagina at all.

Contact Lindy West:your-vagina-isnt-just-too-big-too-floppy-and-too-hairyits-also-too-brown