Women's News from the Web

Abortion is legal, so why did the BBC fail to give advice? | Kenan Malik

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 20:00

The broadcaster did viewers a disservice in refusing to offer information over a Call the Midwife plotline

Abortion has been legal in Britain for more than half a century. It’s the most common gynaecological procedure, with 98% of terminations in England and Wales funded by the NHS. One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. The public backs the right to abortion (as do 61% of Catholics). It is, in other words, a much-needed healthcare procedure, widely used by women and with overwhelming public support.

According to the BBC, however, abortion is such a divisive issue that it cannot provide information about it. A recent episode of Call the Midwife featured a storyline in which a woman died after a backstreet abortion in the days before the 1967 Abortion Act. At the end of the episode, viewers were directed to the BBC’s Action Line website that provides information about issues aired in programmes.

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Sensitive facade, feminist credentials, soulful lyrics… but what lies beneath? | Barbara Ellen

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 19:59
My music journalism past suggests that a #MeToo moment in rock is long overdue

The allegations against the US singer-songwriter Ryan Adams are complex and gruesome. Sexually Skyping with someone who turned out to be a minor. Blocking his then-wife’s career. Offering creepy-sounding “help” to young female artists. Threatening suicide when women didn’t respond quickly enough…

Away from Adams, who has denied the allegations, a good name for this might be “needy predator”, a toxic masculinity honed to such a degree that it can mute itself to evade detection. For such types, where better to hide and flourish than in the role of liberal/sensitive/navel-gazing/feminist-simpatico/outsider singer-songwriter?

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Calls to ban the Saudi 'wife-tracking' app could be counterproductive | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 04:00

While Absher is awful, having it removed will further restrict women. Let’s not let politicians off the hook for their complicity in how Saudi women are treated

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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A new documentary about Lorena Bobbitt sheds light on the weirdness of the 90s

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 23:00

Nineties women who dared to speak out, from Anita Hill to Courtney Love, were derided with a glee that was downright Victorian

I was born at the end of the 1970s, which means I am somewhat in a no man’s land, generationally – at the fag end of Gen X, too old to be a millennial. “Xennial” someone suggested recently, and what that term lacks in clarity it also lacks in pronouncability. So I prefer something less snappy but more descriptive: too young to remember John Lennon’s death, but old enough to remember Tiffany.

One thing that is non-debatable about my generation is that we all came of age in the 1990s. Any sensible adult will look back on their teenage years with vague bemusement. (And any adult who doesn’t should be avoided at all costs: the best thing about the film Juno was Jason Bateman’s character, who illustrated the toxicity of a grown man who still thinks he is 18.) But these days it does feel that the 90s was an exceptionally weird time, especially for girls.

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Male lawyers must confront others who sexually harass – QC

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 21:00

Helena Kennedy calls for tougher action on sexism in legal profession

Men in the legal profession need to “call out” other men if they witness sexual harassment, according to the barrister Helena Kennedy QC, who has urged such behaviour to be made the subject of disciplinary action.

In the wake of a fresh outcry over sexism among barristers and patronising remarks by judges, there have been calls for tougher action to prevent female barristers being forced out of the profession.

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The Guardian view on Disney’s Frozen sequel: winter is coming – again | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:25

The 2013 movie broke box office records and won the hearts of young viewers around the world. But it did so by challenging Hollywood expectations

This week, two minutes of video struck both terror and cheer into the hearts of parents worldwide. The dread, for those with small children, is prompted by the endless viewings, deluge of merchandise and earsplitting singing that lie in store with the release of a follow-up to Disney’s blockbuster Frozen later this year. The trailer offered the first, teasing glimpse of that sequel.

The original is the highest grossing musical and animation ever, earning $1.3bn at the box office since its release six years ago and vast sums via associated paraphernalia. No wonder Disney wouldn’t let it go. It is “a generational set text”, wrote a Guardian critic: it is to its younger and mostly but by no means solely female audience what Star Wars was to teenage boys. Very loosely inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, it follows a snow queen who freezes the land and a brave young girl who risks her life to bring back the warmth.

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Call the Midwife takes women’s side over abortion. But the BBC is failing us | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 03:01
The broadcaster’s refusal to provide information on a legal medical procedure shows it does not support women’s choices

Call the Midwife is a wonderfully successful programme, a slice of dramatised social history that centres on women’s experience. It tackles many “difficult” issues: recently we saw a young woman find out that she was intersex, and the introduction of the cervical smear. It manages to be warm and moving, while reflecting the quiet bravery of so many women. A triumph. It is, if you like, always on “our side”.

I never thought of it this way before, even though I know the BBC as an institution is not always great for women. It does not promote women into its senior management roles, it does not pay women equally and it is happy to crank out routine misogyny on many of its flagship shows, such as Today, in the guise of “banter”.

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The Breadmaker: on the frontline of Venezuela's bakery wars – video

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 02:00

In the midst of Venezuela’s spiralling economic crisis, Natalia and fellow members of a Chavista collective have stepped in to take over production at a local bakery, La Minka. Authorities had suspended operations when the owners were accused of overpricing their loaves and hoarding flour. In March 2017, with the tacit support of the government, the collective began selling affordable bread. This is the story of their fight to safeguard the bakery’s future and keep the Chavista dream alive

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Monthly Column: WRighteous

Women's eNews - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:44

#WhenAPetDies*

Almost exactly a year ago I learned that when a pet dies – whether it’s in your arms or in your home, or when taken to a veterinarian or when a veterinarian comes to your house to put her or him down – the grief cuts through you so deep you can barely breathe, and it stays. It stays and rears its head when you’re driving, walking down the street, taking a bath, or making dinner. It rears its head when you smell their fur on a pillow, on a sofa, or on a chair. It hits you so hard and so deep and so wide. I also learned something I never knew: partner pets grieve profoundly. Partner pets sleep together, and play together and take care of each other; lick each other’s coats and yes, their wounds, and keep each other clean. When one goes, the other is lost, sad, full of pain that is palpable and visible. They love good, and fully and unconditionally; that I now know wholeheartedly with every single fiber in my being. 


I also know something else – we must stop comparing trauma and suffering and pain – making other humans feel badly or unworthy of their own suffering and pain. No one needed to tell folks a year ago – folks who were without power for days and days and days here on the East Coast – that the people in Puerto Rico had it much worse, and were suffering much more. To be without power – to literally be and feel powerless – is scary and hard and it should bring out the compassion, not the competitive, in all of us.

Competing only makes people feel horribly guilty and awful and, worse, it makes folks feel that their pain doesn’t much matter or count or have any value whatsoever. Something else I know from the inside out: heartbreak is heartbreak, it shouldn’t be weighed by circumstance. I know what it’s like to dig a grave and bury a pet who meant the absolute whole entire world to me – a creature who helped me get through my dark depression and unbearable sadness and loved me when I couldn’t love me. Someone recently wrote that she could barely breathe because her dog had died, and she didn’t know how she would get through a day, and someone responded, “But, it’s only a pet for God sake.’ No, no, no… it’s not just a pet. Not to that woman who wrote in all CAPS that she could barely breathe, and not to me; my cat, my Lotus, was my life-saver. Please, let’s be less judgmental, less critical, less petty. Petty is so unattractive. 


It is not a good accessory to wear or even try on. Let’s stop competing with each other and start completing each other. Let’s stop acting holier than thou with the, “…but it’s only a home, it’s only a pet; it can be replaced, oh, it’s just a car, it’s only a piece of jewelry, it’s only a teddy bear… but but but but it’s only… but it’s only… but think of other folks who have it much worse… but, it’s only…” For folks whose comfort and safety and ease came or come from any of those things, items, possessions; for folks whose unbearable pain comes from the reminder of a touch or a smell or a memory of a pet; for a child who held tight to a stuffed animal to help her or him breathe during an anxiety attack or sadness or a death – and now that stuffed animal is lost, gone, in a fire… it’s not ‘an only’, it’s absolutely everything. It is everything to that person – to that child, to that girl, to that boy, to that woman, to that man. Please, allow folks the luxury of mourning and grieving whatever loss weighs on them; whatever loss that is. It is not ours to judge or criticize someone’s pain or sorrow or suffering or heartache, and it is not up to us to take that away from them. Let’s be humans who show compassion and goodness, and spread kindness everywhere. Let’s be creatures who comfort each other, not diminish the needs of others. Let’s be people who afford someone else their pain, their suffering, their heartbreak; it is what allows us the opportunity to understand and know and love another human heart. Let’s stop comparing and competing. There really is no best in hell.

amy ferris

author. writer. girl

*This post is written in memory of Lori Sokol‘s pet Merlin, a teacup Yorkshire Terrier who left this world on February 9th, after spending 14 years providing unconditional love and support for all who were lucky enough to know him.

Women’s eNews monthly columnist Amy Ferris is a highly accomplished author, screenwriter, television writer and editor. She was also honored by Women’s eNews as one of our ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century‘ for 2018. Once a month you will continue to be invited into her world, where she will champion, encourage and inspire women to awaken to their greatness, as only she can, through passion, truth, hope, and humor — along with a heaping side of activism.

We’ve been told sport and politics are separate, but mixing the two can save lives | Emma Race

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:19

Craig Foster used the power of sport to help get Hakeem al-Araibi released. We can do more

This week Hakeem al-Araibi arrived in Melbourne after being detained and incarcerated by the Thai government since November 2018.

Much of the credit for his safe return to Australia is due to the advocacy of Craig Foster, known predominantly in Australia for his role as a footballer and now commentator. Football and the larger community of sports people and sports lovers have championed the campaign to #SaveHakeem.

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BBC criticised for failure to provide abortion advice

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 05:19

Healthcare organisations say not including abortion on Action Line site is stigmatising

Healthcare organisations have called on the BBC to reverse its “stigmatising” decision to not provide information about abortion.

After an episode of Call the Midwife, in which a character died as a result of complications from an illegal abortion, women who visited the BBC Action Line website complained there was no advice relating to abortion.

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Neat pubic hair? Pregnant women should never be pressured to get a brazilian

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 06:19
Having a baby is the world’s single most courageous feat. So why would a textbook publisher illustrate it with a picture of a woman with trimmed pubic hair?

“Make yourself at home,” the midwife said, as I hove into the birthing room like a galleon in full sail. Immediately, I ripped off my shirt, dropped my trousers, stepped out of my knickers and lay, utterly naked, across the blue-plastic-covered bed. I must have looked like a spider, pinned beneath a boiled egg.

Labour is no time to be thinking of your appearance. Pregnancy is no time to worry about your genital grooming. However you give birth, vaginally or surgically, your body is about to accomplish the single greatest, most courageous, universally impressive feat known to humanity – a bit of fluff around the corners cannot possibly take the shine off that. So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that many first-time mothers now prepare for labour with bikini waxes, a heavy Immac session or other forms of deforestation. Never mind that the Royal College of Midwives has repeatedly stated that there is no need to do so, that no health professional will even notice and that pubic hair will have absolutely no effect on your baby’s health. If you need a C-section, they will shave whatever needs to be shaved. If you deliver vaginally, there will be bigger things to think about than a couple of short and curlies.

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Jury finds Queensland woman guilty of arranging daughters' genital mutilation

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 22:26

The mum denied taking the girls, then aged 12 and nine, to Somalia for the procedure

A Queensland woman has been found guilty of arranging for her two daughters to have their genitals mutilated in Somalia.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied she had taken the girls, then aged 12 and nine, to her birth nation in April 2015 to undergo the procedure.

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Empowering people to exercise safely | Letter

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 08:14
Saying that joining a group may be helpful for some people does not mean that we think women shouldn’t run alone, writes Det Supt Marie Wright of Avon and Somerset police

In response to Zoe Williams’ piece (Why are the police telling women to go jogging in packs?, G2, 31 January), as leader of the Avon and Somerset police campaign that she refers to I would like to clarify a few points.

Advice to consider joining a running club is for those who may feel more confident in tackling this type of behaviour as part of a group, and those who may be put off exercising altogether because of the fear of encountering it – a very real issue which has been raised with us in focus group work with local running clubs.

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Why it matters to call external female genitalia ‘vulva’ not ‘vagina’ | Lynn Enright

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 07:32
Yes, some people use the term vagina, but getting it right is vital to female sexual agency

When you find yourself mansplaining the term “mansplaining” to a worked-up faction of Twitter on a Sunday evening, you can assume you’re not getting the best out of your leisure time. And that’s not even the most foolish thing a man called Paul Bullen did over the weekend.

On Saturday, the Guardian published an extract from an upcoming book, Womanhood: The Bare Reality by the photographer and writer Laura Dodsworth. Alongside photographs of external genitalia was first-person testimony from the subjects pictured. Titled “Me and my vulva: 100 women reveal all”, it was an arresting story. Bullen spotted the article on Sunday, and responded with a tweet that he probably (well, hopefully) now regrets: “The correct word is vagina.”

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Hollywood diversity has improved, study shows

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 06:24

An increased number of people of colour and women in lead roles appeared in the 100 highest-grossing films of 2018

Hollywood has improved its diversity record in terms of female characters and people of colour in its most successful films, a study has found.

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative analysed the 100 highest grossing films released in the US in 2018 and found that 40 of them contained a female lead or co-lead, compared to 32 in 2017, and 33 in 2018. The current number is the highest since the study began in 2007.

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Immigration handbook features only one in five female role models

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 02:10

Critics also highlight near-total absence of women of colour in Home Office citizenship guide

Women make up just one in five of the major historical figures in the Home Office’s official handbook to help people hoping to settle in the UK understand British culture and history – and only two are women from ethnic minorities.

The Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, Jo Swinson, has condemned the lack of female role models in the handbook, which features 191 men and 39 women. Of the women featured, 40% are members of the royal family and just one is an MP – Margaret Thatcher.

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Tulip Siddiq: ‘I needed a caesarean – instead I was at parliament’

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 00:00

The Labour MP was forced to postpone her C-section to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Her battle to bring parliament into the 21st century is far from won

When the Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq found out she was pregnant with her second child, which must have been roughly nine months and three weeks ago, “I said to Chris, my husband: ‘Thank God it’s [due at] the end of January – that means I can vote.’” She is sitting in the living room of her new home in Kilburn, north-west London. It is homely, because there’s a baby in it, but she and Chris have just moved in, and their only furniture is the gigantic plastic toy kitchen belonging to their two-year-old daughter, Azalea. Chris, she says “told me off, said that shouldn’t be the first thing on my mind. But …” I’m expecting her to say something a bit more predictable, about how obviously the baby comes first. Not so much … “My constituency is 75% remain. I don’t know who the other 25% are because I’ve never met them in my life. I have 22,000 EU nationals in my constituency; every single midwife and doctor I had at the Royal Free hospital, where I had this baby, was European. I can be doing a downward dog in a pilates class, and someone will ask me about their settled status. It’s a really important vote for me.”

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Christopher Chope is blocking bills that make women safer – it’s obscene | Frances Ryan

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 08:42
A senior, white, wealthy man shouldn’t be using his power to actively block an anti-FGM bill

When Jess Phillips’ immigration speech to the House of Commons recently went viral, it did so not only because it was a witty take on class but because her comment that she wouldn’t even trust some of her colleagues to “hold my pint” perfectly spoke to the feeling much of the public have about MPs: that many are out of touch – enjoying the perks, power and privilege of their positions, with little regard for the lives of ordinary people they are meant to represent. Step forward, Sir Christopher Chope.

Chope, who recently gained notoriety for using an obscure parliamentary tactic to delay upskirting from becoming a criminal offence, was at it again on Friday, this time blocking a bill to make it easier to protect girls believed to be at risk from female genital mutilation (FGM).

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Meet entomologist Barbie: still white, pink and unattainably thin

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 08:19

Mattel has introduced a new scientific range of the dolls. But whatever Barbie does for a job, young girls know they can never measure up

Another day, another faceless corporation attempting to capitalise on the drive for gender equality without doing anything meaningful at all. Today’s own goal comes from Mattel toys – its latest gimmick revolves around everyone’s favourite childhood instrument of patriarchy, Barbie.

The new range, in collaboration with National Geographic, sees Barbie get in touch with her scientific side: there is an astrophysicist Barbie, a polar marine biologist Barbie, and my particular favourite, wildlife conservationist Barbie (because nothing quite says “save the planet” like a bit of mass-produced plastic).

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