Women's News from the Web

Hannah Dines on going public with her labia surgery: ‘It started a big conversation’

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 20:00

The Paralympic cyclist wrote about the damage the sport had caused her. The article caused an outcry, others with similar experiences contacted her – and manufacturers finally began designing saddles for women

The day after I wrote in the Guardian about how my life as a female cyclist, and Paralympian, led to me having reconstructive surgery of my vulva – all because saddles are not designed for women – a book arrived in the post. It was The Vagina Bible by Dr Jen Gunter. It was a gift from my mum, who had read the searing details about my labial surgery. She has always had a good sense of humour.

The response from other people was overwhelming. That is the thing when you share – people share back. When the first professional cyclist contacted me to tell me she had gone through the same thing, the relief was so profound that I cried. I can now say with certainty that there are other people like me who, due to the wrong kind of pressure, experienced a cycle of chronic inflammation and swelling. These are people for whom cycling is as necessary to life as breathing and they face an impossible dilemma.

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Pro-choice activists launch abortion initiative in Poland

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 04:00

Abortion Without Borders to offer women advice and funds to seek treatment abroad

An international group of pro-choice campaigners will launch an initiative in Poland this week to provide advice and funding for women to travel abroad to have abortions.

Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, and proposals backed by the rightwing government to introduce a total ban on abortions in 2016 were scrapped only after large-scale protests.

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The Guardian view on Finland’s new PM: a different type of leadership | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 12/09/2019 - 08:23

By becoming the world’s youngest prime minister at the head of a coalition of female-led parties, Sanna Marin reminds us that another politics is possible

The world’s happiest country, according to an international survey two years in a row, is now one of very few to have a female leader. Finland’s Sanna Marin, who is 34, will become the youngest serving prime minister when she is sworn in later this week. In setting this record, the Social Democrat follows in the footsteps of another young, progressive PM – New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, who was 37 when her Labour party won the 2017 election, and the first woman to give birth in office since Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto (the male, 35-year-old prime minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, was the world’s youngest PM for three months in between).

Finland, which was the first country in Europe to grant women the vote in 1906, is often regarded by those on the left as something akin to utopia – or at least a shining example of what a big-spending, socially liberal government can achieve. Its well-funded universal education system is among the most successful in the world. Between 2017 and 2019 it ran one of the first trials of universal basic income. This summer a new left-leaning government pledged to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 – a target accurately described by Finnish Greens as “probably the most ambitious in the world”.

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge: I was not hired for Bond because of my gender

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 12/09/2019 - 02:51

Fleabag creator says she was never told 007 script role was to help with female characters

Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be only the second woman ever credited on a Bond movie script but she has insisted gender was not the reason she was hired.

The Fleabag creator said it was “mad” and “exciting” to work on No Time to Die, in which Daniel Craig will play 007 for the final time. But there was never a conversation about her being there to help with the film’s female characters.

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'Now I have to check your hymen': the shocking persistence of virginity tests

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 23:45

In the US, it is still perfectly legal to doctors to perform ‘hymen checks’ as proof of virginity

Michelle Northcote doesn’t remember her paediatrician’s face, but she does remember the ceiling in his office. It was covered with large tiles probably made of foam or cork-board. Each tile was large and rectangular, an off-white color flecked with grey.

From the age of six to 13, Northcote spent a long time staring at it. Once a year, for the longest two minutes in history, she would force herself to concentrate on those tiles right after her doctor repeated the familiar phrase:

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Police files on Queen Victoria's suffragette goddaughter to go on display

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 20:00

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was deemed a danger to the state and heavily surveilled

She loved parties, dogs and, as Queen Victoria’s goddaughter who lived in a grace and favour royal apartment, she was fabulously well connected.

But Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was also a suffragette and therefore marked down as a danger to the state.

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Teen Voices: A Pilgrimage on Emancipation Avenue

Women's eNews - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 13:14

My friend wanted to get arrested one morning in July on the curb of the sidewalk along a street east of downtown Houston called Emancipation Avenue. That’s where she intended to stand while, she anticipated, her hands would be shackled, her arms hoisted up, and her body thrust into the backseat of a police car. On the street named for liberation, she would sing Hebrew as they hauled her away; freedom ringing in her voice and radiating from her eyes.

She informed me of her plan the day before, while on her way back from another demonstration in Oklahoma. Her firebrand of a five-foot tall, curly-haired Jewish mother hiked with her up to the site of Fort Sill, a nineteenth and twentieth century internment camp where the US government forcibly converted Native tribes and imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII. As the current presidential administration prepares to detain fourteen hundred Latin American migrant children at Fort Sill, hundreds of activists (from a plethora of communities) crowded beneath a highway outside the building, employing the collective weight of their bodies and the force of their voices to implore the government not to once more make use of this camp. Jews, remembering our own difficult migrations and our history with concentration camps, traveled far to attend.

The sight on Emancipation Avenue the following morning appeared much the same. Packed together, Jews lined the sidewalk of a barred detention center that holds migrant teenagers; one long-isolated people weeping for another.

A rabbi addressed our cohort dismayed Jews, brandishing a tattered Haggadah that escaped Nazi Germany with his grandfather. Holding up the Haggadah, he turned to the camp behind us and issued a purposeful statement: “Not in my name, and not in my time.” I lifted a poster with the words of Elie Wiesel as I screamed my assent.

When a reporter from the Houston Chronicle asked me why I chose to protest on Emancipation Avenue that day, I repeated the words of the Rabbi. I explained that, by bringing the story of my Jewish ancestors into the present to defend the rights of others, I was participating in the age-old Jewish tradition of creating our identity, our name, through action.

My friend—a Latina Jewish teenager who painted fiercely doleful blue stars on her legs —didn’t encounter the police that morning. But three weeks later, while back sitting on Emancipation Avenue, she watched her mother earn the awaited handcuffs and make the sacred pilgrimage to the police station.

Pilgrims are people who venture to a sacred place, and their journey is equal parts travel and destination. As Jews, our pilgrimages take us from one land, one mindset, one tradition, and one generation to the next because we recognize that, in order to survive, we must grow our peoplehood by challenging ourselves to leave behind the comfort of the now (where we are, what we know, how we act) and move anew. Time flows, and we take pilgrimages to keep moving alongside it, adapting and expanding our Jewish identity.

I’ve watched for years as Jewish pilgrims in our time journey to chart the course of our people; I’ve studied the formative journeys of past millennia. But I failed to comprehend that this movement crafted the history, the identity, the people I hold dear, until my friend’s mother was arrested under the proud gaze of her daughter. No matter how hard we may try to remain quiet and still, we cannot situate ourselves, unnoticed, in one space, one mindset, for long. When there are political, social, and religious developments in society and the world changes, we move.

And why do we move? Sometimes it’s in response to persecution (or most of the time: even when we move or make a choice unmotivated by antisemitism, we’re probably—if unwittingly—influenced by our age-old affliction to some degree.) Sometimes it’s to intervene in immoral politics, such as our aforementioned immigration protests. Sometimes it’s internal change, in pursuit of new meaning for tradition. Sometimes, it’s to create space. To care for others. To pursue justice. To foster inclusion. To learn for ourselves. To teach our children.

I am a Jew because I embrace such movement: I look to the Jewish pilgrims for guidance in each new life exploration. My understanding of the Jewish people teaches me to resist passivity and immobility. Be it a curse or a blessing, stagnation, in my eyes, is our communal antithesis. Change serves as one of our few constants. Ideological nomads who make our home in the history of our travels.    

Every Jewish service or holiday acts as a reminder to shift our mindset. We interpret our religious texts, doctrines, and stories to spark new quests; these teachings are but maps to our next Temple. The Shalosh Regalim, the three Jewish holidays with Biblical pilgrimages to the Temple, never died.

And like all things Jewish, this pilgrimage manifests in limitless ways.

Jews might quite literally pack up and move, expanding our Diaspora. Or we might re-envision or revitalize a tradition within our homes. We might align ourselves with a cause and join an organization marching towards social justice. We might put pen to paper and embolden our community through a speech, a poem, a memoir, or a post.  

Or we might trek to Emancipation Avenue, one late morning in July, wielding tattered Haggadahs and signs with quotes: tributes to the Jewish pilgrims of our past. We might bear bold blue stars, strategically etched on our legs, our arms, our foreheads. And we might lie down in the middle of the street, singing, until the handcuffs arrive. 


About the Author: Madeline Canfield
 is a member of The Jewish Women’s Archive’s  Rising Voices Fellowship,a 10-month program for female-identified teens in high-school who have a passion for writing, a demonstrated concern for current and historic events, and a strong interest in Judaism, gender and social justice.

This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views. Learn More.

How to look after your vulva

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 06:00

Forget soap, shower gel and douching. And absolutely never steam

When it comes to putting anything near the vulva, as natural as possible is best. This means no soaps, shower gels or feminine washes – essentially any product that foams, because they can dry the skin, get rid of the good bacteria and increase the likelihood of developing bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush.

The vagina itself is self-cleaning, so all you need to do is clean it with water or an emollient. You can also apply an emulsifying ointment or olive or coconut oil – not inside – to act as a moisturiser. When we wash, anything we’re using elsewhere on the body such as shower gel and shampoo tends to run down between the legs, so having an oil over the vagina reduces the risk of an allergic reaction or irritation. Just rinse it off at the end. Douching is an absolute no-no as it removes lactobacilli, which are there to prevent infections. And absolutely never steam.

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Melania Trump is no caped crusader for women’s rights. She’s still Donald’s fig leaf | Catherine Bennett

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 12/07/2019 - 08:00
Casting the first lady as a feminist obviously has its attractions. And yet...

The spectacle of Melania Trump at the Nato celebrations, inside an outfit that looked half papal, half gobstopper, was not the neatest fit with older, possibly inaccurate perceptions of pallid misery and a mutinous resolve to reserve a separate identity from the old goat she, however inexplicably, married.

Consider the handholding. Previously, she was widely admired for a very relatable reluctance to touch Trump – witnessed in the celebrated Tel Aviv hand-swat. Last week, the couple handheld, practically snuggling their way round the summit, or as much as a gigantic poncho ever allows. At an event that exposed, to the largest of audiences, Donald Trump’s more comical deficiencies, his alleged victim appeared all loyalty. Stockholm syndrome? Or could Mrs Trump, hardly a feminist icon from the start, have long been the object of spurious concern, sympathy, wishful thinking?

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'Peloton husband' trying to prove he's not sexist misses the whole point

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 12/07/2019 - 04:00

The actor in the ad that drew backlash is making the controversy about him and bizarrely casting himself as a victim

Sign up for The week in patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Record number of over-45s giving birth in England

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 07:42

More than 2,000 women in this age group had babies last year, ONS figures show

The number of women aged 45 and over giving birth is at the highest level since records began 80 years ago, figures show.

The number of live births in this age group rose from 1,619 a decade ago to 2,366 in 2018. In 1938, when records began, there were 2,085 births to women over 45, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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Chilean anti-rape anthem becomes international feminist phenomenon

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 21:45
  • A Rapist in Your Path performed by women at mass protests
  • Performances staged across Latin America and Europe

A Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming has become a viral anthem for feminists around the world.

Related: Chile security forces' crackdown leaves toll of death and broken bodies

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Labour's Jon Ashworth pulls out of Question Time over all-male panel

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 05:58

Shadow health secretary steps aside in favour of Oxford East candidate Anneliese Dodds

Labour’s Jon Ashworth has pulled out of the final pre-election episode of BBC Question Time, after the programme was criticised for featuring an all-male panel.

The shadow health secretary said he had “no idea” it was an all-male line-up when he agreed take part in the programme, so has agreed to step aside in favour of the Oxford East Labour candidate Anneliese Dodds.

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Why do some men consider talking about pregnancy ‘too much’? | Terri White

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00

Being pregnant is the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. But I broke some kind of code when I wrote about it on social media

When I read the message from the man on Twitter, I felt the instant inching of shame. It wasn’t what you would call rude. If he was asked, he would probably have called it “helpful”.

“You mention you’re pregnant way too much on here these days,” it said. He only came to my account for the “film stuff” – not beyond reason, given I am the editor of a film magazine. Nevertheless, as well as “film stuff”, I also talk about poverty, politics and domestic violence. I have sent a staggering number of tweets about cheese triangles. None of these topics warranted comment or were “too much”. But this was clearly different. I had breached a code.

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Amy Dunne on her lonely, harrowing abortion fight: 'I was told I would be done for murder'

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 20:00

At 17, Dunne was pregnant with a baby who had a fatal abnormality. She was given a pseudonym and became the focus of a landmark Irish legal case – but now she is reclaiming her story

The week Amy Dunne turned 17, she was several months pregnant and made two discoveries – one devastating and the other incomprehensible. A hospital scan showed something badly wrong in her womb. The foetus had anencephaly, a fatal abnormality. Doctors said the baby, a girl, would die soon after birth.

Although she was living in foster care and still a child herself, Dunne had looked forward to becoming a mother and building a new life with her boyfriend. Distraught, she shared the news with her social workers and said she needed to travel to Britain from Ireland for an abortion. That’s when Dunne discovered something badly wrong in her country.

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Peloton loses $1.5bn in value over 'dystopian, sexist' exercise bike ad

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 09:12

Shares slide amid backlash to Christmas advert in which man buys partner exercise bike

Almost $1.5bn (£1.1bn) has been wiped off the value of the exercise bike firm Peloton after a backlash against a Christmas advert widely derided as “sexist and dystopian”.

The advert, which has been viewed almost 2m times on YouTube, shows a woman receiving an exercise bike from her partner on Christmas morning. The gift inspires her to record a video diary of her exercise sessions, in which she proudly says: “A year ago I didn’t realise how much this would change me.”

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Boris Johnson claimed children of working mothers 'more likely to mug you'

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 03:57

Exclusive: PM made comments about low-income families in 2006 collection of essays

Boris Johnson made claims that children of working mothers in low-income families were “unloved and undisciplined” and more likely to “mug you on the street corner”, it has emerged.

In a 2006 collection of journalism, entitled Have I Got Views for You, Johnson bemoaned the increasing tendency of women to work, saying they had been “socially gestapoed into the workplace”.

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TikTok's soft girls: could a hyper-cute aesthetic be a symbol of empowerment?

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 03:13

The soft girl’s vision of femininity can be seen as retrograde – but there’s more going on than simply blush and Bambi eyes

Everyone knows the familiar high-school subcultures – the populars, rebels and artsy weirdos who comprise the basic foundation of teen archetypes.

Now new subcultural types distinctive enough to be intelligible to adults have emerged, in large part via trend superconductor TikTok. You can read about VSCO girls (beachy and eco-conscious and inconspicuously rich) and e-girls (emo types who are very online) in publications such as the New York Times and the Columbia Journalism Review.

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Unnecessary appendix surgery 'performed on thousands in UK'

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 19:01

Third of women who enter theatre end up having normal appendix removed, study finds

Thousands of people in the UK, particularly young women, are having their appendices removed unnecessarily because of inadequacies in the way appendicitis is diagnosed, surgeons say.

A study has found that almost a third of women and 12% of men in the UK who undergo surgery for suspected appendicitis end up having a normal appendix removed.

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I'm 50 and disillusioned about love. How should I be in my next relationship? | Leading questions

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:00

Changing the things you love about yourself to avoid being alone seems like a trade off, writes Eleanor Gordon-Smith, but it’s really a trade off between two ways of being alone

I am an energetic, capable, intelligent woman of 50. I earn a good salary, I am good at DIY and all other household chores. I am loving, caring and supportive with a good sense of humour. However, I have had a 20-year marriage and an eight-year relationship both end. Men (or at least the ones I choose) say they love independent women, but all they really seem to mean is they love women who will support them. How should I be in my next relationship? Should I pretend to be a pathetic helpless female who needs a man to save her? I am so disillusioned, I wonder what I am doing wrong.

There’s a Japanese folk story about a crane who tricks a man into marrying her by pretending to be a woman. She knows that her beloved won’t want her if he discovers she’s a bird, so at night she stays awake and tears out her feathers with her beak. CJ Hauser wrote a beautiful memoir recently that called on the story: “To keep becoming a woman is so much self-erasing work.”

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