Women's News from the Web

Today, more than on any other Mother's Day, I appreciate my mum | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 02:00

Thanks to this crisis, I don’t know when I’ll see my brilliant mum again. I want her know how grateful I am to her

We emerged from isolation yesterday to post Mother’s Day cards, the short walk around the corner to the postbox offering a degree of novelty I never thought I would come to crave. I chose Matisse’s Woman in Blue: a red-headed woman who looks like a queen. Fitting, for my mum.

I once had an editor who didn’t like the word “mum”. Maybe she thought it was, I don’t know, mumsy, a word that is often used in a derisive tone. Mumsy is defined as “giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable”. How unfair that, on top of all the bum-wiping and wound-dressing and tucking-in and spoon-feeding, mothers should have to contend with an image problem for frequently performing those tasks.

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Parr’s makeup ad for Gucci has a brush with controversy

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 03/21/2020 - 23:08

The shoot, featuring musician Dani Miller in mascara, has reignited debate about realistic standards of beauty

One is famed for warts-and-all realism, the other for high-end gloss, so there was always going to be something spectacular in the offing when British photographer Martin Parr was asked to shoot a make-up advertising campaign for the Italian fashion house Gucci.

The imagery – for the brand’s new L’Obscur mascara – features New York punk musician Dani Miller and her now-famous gap-toothed smile. With lashings of heavy black mascara, natural eyebrows (complete with, shock horror, regrowth), and minimal foundation, it has divided customers and started yet another debate about diversity, even in these times of increased body positivity.

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I loved appearing on University Challenge. Then I looked at Twitter…

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 03/21/2020 - 21:51

There are few women on the show, and after receiving a torrent of abuse on social media, Lucy Clarke (Jesus, Oxford) isn’t surprised

After my team’s latest episode of University Challenge, I idly scrolled through Twitter. It was much as ever: old men telling me to wipe my nose (I have a septum piercing), some praise, and the usual criticism: “What a mess, did she get dressed in the dark”; “She deserved to mess that up after her poncey Kraftwerk pronunciation”. So far, so much as we’d been warned. But then came the real doozy. A man whose bio proclaimed him to be “grandad of six … married to my lovely teacher wife”, had tweeted: “All these knobs on here saying they got [a question on] massive attack along with everyone else, what other question have you answered ? Plus I’ll guess Clarke sucks like a fucking Dyson.”

I stared at it for a long time, trying to understand the bizarre conjunction of defending me and matter-of-fact sexual objectification.

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For some people, social distancing means being trapped indoors with an abuser | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 03/21/2020 - 03:00

As more cities go under lockdown, activists are worried that attempts to curb coronavirus will inadvertently lead to an increase in domestic violence

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

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Rising numbers of UK mothers falling into long-term debt – report

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/20/2020 - 00:12

Precarious employment and pension age increase among causes, say researchers

Precarious employment, low pay, the increased pension age and real-term reductions in welfare benefits are causing increasing numbers of mothers to fall into long-term debt, according to research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics and in-depth interviews.

The research, titled Mothers in Debt – Shame, Abuse and Resilience, by researchers at the University of Manchester, found that separated or divorced mothers aged 55 and over were more likely to have significantly worse financial problems than fathers of the same age.

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India executes four men convicted of 2012 Delhi bus rape and murder

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 15:02

Four found guilty of attack that shocked the world were hanged in capital on Friday morning

India has executed the four men who were convicted of the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman on bus in Delhi in 2012, a case which shocked the world and brought India’s problem with sexual violence against women into the spotlight.

Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh had been found guilty in a 2013 trial and sentenced to death by hanging, but their execution had been postponed multiple times due to Supreme Court appeals.

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This week we have brought New Zealand's abortion laws into the 21st century | Andrew Little

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 13:56

Seeking an abortion was a crime until now, but new legislation has removed the stigma and given women a choice

New Zealand’s current abortion laws are more than 40 years old and were enacted when there were more MPs in Parliament named Bill than MPs who were female. This week we brought the laws into the 21st century.

Up to now, women seeking an abortion in New Zealand were committing a crime under our main criminal statute but had a defence if they followed the requirements of the abortion legislation. These requirements included the woman being referred by their doctor to two specialists who each had to certify she faces a serious danger to her life or physical or mental health. Other conditions also applied, such as whether the pregnancy was a result of incest or the woman lacked capacity to consent. For abortions after 20 weeks, conditions were more stringent.

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Older people widely demonised in UK, ageism report finds

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 01:01

Older members of society mostly seen as incompetent, hostile or a burden, says report

The UK’s ageist attitudes have been revealed in a report that shows older people are widely mocked, patronised and demonised by the rest of society.

Older people are mostly seen as incompetent, hostile or a burden on others, according to a review of the evidence that found they are subject to a litany of damaging stereotypes.

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Sex Doesn’t End at 40, and Other Reasons to End Silence About Menopause

Women's eNews - Wed, 03/18/2020 - 12:27


         When Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix show Goop Lab debuted a few months ago, it garnered plenty of media hate for its pseudoscience and self-promotion. But there’s one important bright spot in the show we should all pay attention to: 90-year-old sex educator Betty Dobson offering advice on sensuality. She’s living proof that sex doesn’t end at menopause—and that’s just one of the powerful lessons our culture needs to learn about post-reproductive years.  Our national silence on menopause has lead to misdiagnoses, mistreatment and needless suffering for millions of women. 

            On average, women live for about 78 years—of that, only about 15 years fall in the peak reproductive period (25-40).  Most women will spend far longer in the post-reproductive years.  And many know almost nothing about what to expect when those years end. We are ignorant because of chronic misinformation and silence. Our mothers did not typically have the tools to help guide us themselves. When I have surveyed women over the years in my practice less than 5% report That their mother or another significant female figure shared information about the menopausal years. 

This shouldn’t be surprising: For most of the 19th and 20th century, women’s body’s and health needs were regarded as less important than men’s.  As researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported in 2014, “The science that informs medicine—including the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease—routinely fails to consider the crucial impact of sex and gender”

            As a gynecologist and author of a book on menopause, I’ve been astounded at the mistreatment of women that results from our culture’s silence on menopause. Just a few examples: Recently, a new 67-year-old patient came to me for severe vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. She had been seen by at least two other medical providers.  One told her she should simply expect her sex life to suffer as she ages. That’s ridiculous.  Many therapies are available for dryness and pain, either over the counter or by prescription.  Another doctor offered her anti-depressants and sleeping pills.   She needed a doctor who understood menopause. I prescribed a combination of vaginal hormone therapy and CO2 laser tissue rejuvenation.  Three months later, she could resume sexual relations  with her husband and they now report intercourse twice weekly. It has changed their marriage.

            I see this all the time.  Women frequently hear that painful intercourse after menopause is all in their head, not an actual medical condition that can be treated

This is true of other symptoms related to menopause as well.  A fifty year old women with newly diagnosed anxiety and heart palpitations is likely to get a psychiatric and cardiology workup, despite the fact that she is experiencing some of the most typical symptoms of estrogen imbalance.  

            Even me—a 53-year-old gynecologist! I was so steeped in traditional (male) approaches and mindsets in medicine, that when I started feeling irritable, depressed,, had difficulty sleeping and experienced night sweats, I complete overlooked the fact that I was entering perimenopause,  the one-to -eight year period preceding menopause. Once I realized what was happening I treated my symptoms through integrative  approach. I changed my diet, focused on self-care, and eventually started hormone replacement therapy. 

But more importantly,  I realized that I was not going crazy.  Within weeks I was feeling better but it was a long journey to begin to understand how my body was actually changing. I realize that if a gynecologist could be this confused about this period in  her life, what must the average woman experience?

            Some of this comes from the same shame and silence that has historically surrounded the female body—but it’s even worse for menopause than other conditions.  Every woman knows where to turn if she is contemplating motherhood—sisters, girlfriends, best friends, obstetricians, and thousands and thousands of books. . Yet, of the hundreds of women I’ve talked to about menopause, less than 10% have told me that there were women (or sometimes men) in their lives who described menopause, what it was, or what to expect. With a lack of intergenerational conversations, we will always lack understanding of the unique experiences of women entering this transition. 

            While the Goop Lab may not survive its savage reviews, I fervently hope that the show’s willingness to explore taboo subjects—including menopause—continues.  But fortunately, we don’t have to depend on Netflix and Paltrow to continue that movement.  

            Women can change the narrative right now, by starting the conversation with their mothers, sisters, daughters, and yes, even their doctors. Transparent, evidence-based, unbiased healthcare should be the standard of care delivered by our health care professionals not only during a women’s reproductive years but also in the decades that follow. 

About the author: Arianna Sholes-Douglas is an OB-GYN and author of The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Shared About Life After 35

It's time to embrace the internet's perma-positive brigade

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 03/18/2020 - 08:16

Instagram’s relentless optimism and promises of silver linings are giving me unexpected comfort when I’m distinctly lacking my own

The ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak are still unfolding, changing how we work, interact and, for me at least, use social media. Self-isolation means that most of us are using our phones even more than usual. It was already a great deal, with the average Brit checking their phone about every 12 minutes of the waking day. A digital detox is probably more necessary than ever during this period and yet also less feasible.

Over the past few days, overwhelmed by rolling news coverage and conspiracy theories, I’ve only managed to survive online by frequenting the “sunny side up” social media channels that are so often the subject of ridicule.

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Beaten, raped and forced to work: why I'm exposing the scandal of Nigeria’s house girls

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/17/2020 - 07:43

Mariam and Edna were just two of millions of children trapped in domestic slavery. Their tragic stories inspired me to write a novel targeting a practice that is rife in the country

One day, when my daughter was eight, I asked her to help me unload the dishwasher. She moaned, dragged her feet and pleaded for Haribo in exchange for this simple task. I asked her if she knew how lucky she was and told her that, in many homes in Nigeria, girls as young as her were forced to do chores all day, every day. They were not allowed to go to school, or eat at the table, or watch TV. She was amazed. Looking into her face, the horror of what was considered so normal during my childhood really hit me. It was child slavery – and it continues today. It was for these forgotten girls, trapped in domestic slavery, that I wrote my debut novel, The Girl With the Louding Voice.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated to be as high as 15 million, but due to the nature of the problem it is almost impossible to land on an accurate number. A large proportion of these children are young girls, who work as “house girls”: domestic servants who are often underage and forced against their will into this kind of work. Many of them never see their “wages”, as they are paid directly to agents or family members.

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Joe Biden's pledge to pick a female vice-president smells like tokenism | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/17/2020 - 05:00

Of course I want him to choose a woman as his running mate. But his grand gesture feels more like pandering than policy

Stacey Abrams? Kamala Harris? Elizabeth Warren? Nobody knows for sure whom Joe Biden will choose as a running mate if – as is almost certain – he wins the Democratic nomination, but we do know it will be a woman.

“I’ll pick a woman to be vice-president,” Biden promised during Sunday’s presidential debate with Bernie Sanders. “There are a number of women qualified to be president tomorrow.” While none of those eminently qualified women will be president any time soon, one lucky lady may have the privilege of playing second fiddle to a gaffe-prone white guy. To cement his position as intersectional male feminist of the year, Biden also promised to appoint an African American woman to the supreme court.

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Secret policy change by CPS cut number of rape trials, high court told

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/17/2020 - 03:14

Application on behalf of women’s group follows concern over fall in number of charges

A legal challenge over alleged changes to Crown Prosecution Service policy on bringing charges in rape cases has been dismissed by the high court.

The judges, Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lord Justice Singh, denied permission for the case to proceed to a full hearing on Tuesday.

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Kenya split over campaign to give women the right to safe abortions

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 03/16/2020 - 22:00

MP Esther Passaris says lives are being put at risk in a country where 40% of pregnancies are unplanned

The pills arrived with no instructions. Delivered on a Sunday to Joy’s home in Kayole, an informal settlement in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, by someone she didn’t know.

She had ordered them because she was pregnant, and didn’t want to be. At 19, she said, she couldn’t support a baby, and the father had stopped answering his phone after she told him. Desperate, she had asked an older friend, who said she knew someone who could help.

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From the Executive Director: 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Awards Gala Rescheduled

Women's eNews - Sun, 03/15/2020 - 17:57
Lori Sokol, PhD

Dear Women’s eNews Readers:

Women’s eNews has been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in the US and particularly in New York City, where we host our annual ’21 Leaders for the 21st Century’ Awards Gala on the first Monday in May.

Due to the increasingly widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in New York City, coupled with the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation yesterday that no events of more than 50 people take place over the next eight weeks, Women’s eNews has decided to reschedule its annual gala.

We believe it is critically urgent to adhere to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, as well as social distancing to help reduce the chance of transmission.

The Awards Gala will be rescheduled for the Fall, 2020. The new date will be announced later this month.

We also ask each of you to abide by recommended measures to minimize risk of infection, and protect others, as provided by the World Health Organization. By doing so, we can remain healthy and slow its spread.

As always, we thank you for your understanding and continued support, as Women’s eNews looks forward to honoring our ’21 Leaders’ and celebrating our 20th anniversary with all of you later this year.

In solidarity,

Lori Sokol, PhD

Executive Director


Sunday with Sophie Walker: ‘I run to clear my head’

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 03/14/2020 - 20:45

The activist on art and the joy of jogging

What time are you up? Having worked for 20 years at Reuters doing breaking news you become an early bird – a junkie for knowing what’s going on. But on Sunday I sleep until 8am. Over breakfast we have a (not always entirely democratic) vote with the kids to decide what we’ll do with our day.

Do you work? I’m at the Young Women’s Trust Monday to Friday, but at the weekend I work on Activate, a project to get women community activists elected. I try to take days off when I can. I’m fighting my own eternal battle to just be with my family.

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The real-life heroes of Misbehaviour inspired my feminism | Julie Bindel

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 22:00

Activists are increasingly operating in the online space but this film is a timely reminder of the power of public protest

When I first encountered feminism, in 1979, aged 17, there was one story I heard about over and over from the activists I was hanging out with: the direct action that disrupted the 1970 Miss World competition, in front of a live audience of 100 million TV viewers worldwide, 20 million of them in Britain. Several women had dressed up and bought tickets to the televised event at the Royal Albert Hall in London and, at the height of proceedings, threw flour bombs and shook loud rattles, leading to the programme being taken off air and sending the host, the US comedian Bob Hope, scuttling backstage. The massive success of that action taught me that huge change can come from women being inventive and brave.

At a screening of the film Misbehaviour, based on that protest, I was honoured to sit next to a couple of elderly women who had taken part in the protest. I thanked them for setting an example of proper feminism for future generations, and they told me they have been heartened by what looks like a resurgence of public feminist protest.

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Swedish midwives who oppose abortion fail in rights case

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 05:51

Women argued that being denied employment breached their rights to freedom of religion and conscience

Two nurses denied midwife jobs as midwives for refusing to carry out abortions have lost their legal bid to take Sweden to a top European court for violating their religious beliefs.

Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen had told the European court of human rights (ECHR) that being denied employment due to their beliefs against abortion was an illegal breach of their rights to freedom of religion and conscience.

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Universities traumatise student student sexual misconduct survivors by mishandling cases | Anna Bull and Tiffany Page

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 21:00

It’s time for universities to overhaul their sexual misconduct complaints processes to protect their students

Sexual harassment complaints processes in universities are a feminist issue. Our research has shown that these processes systematically place (mainly female) survivors of sexual misconduct at a disadvantage compared to those (mainly men) accused of sexual misconduct.

Why? Because in staff-student sexual misconduct complaints, students are silenced. They have no right to see evidence submitted against them, to attend a hearing into their complaint, to know the full outcome or to appeal it. Universities have even been known to reach confidential settlements with staff members without the student having any input.

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Trans or cis, women are stronger united | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 07:58
Laura Mauro writes in support of Zoe Williams’ piece calling for solidarity, and Angela Price agrees that feminism is an inclusive movement that should fight for the rights of all minorities

I am writing to commend Zoe Williams for her thoughtful column (Why we need feminist solidarity more than ever, G2, 11 March).

The trans “debate” – a term I use loosely, as I don’t believe trans people’s rights should be up for debate – has focused largely on the voices of those decrying the right of trans women to be considered at all. As a cisgender woman, I am unequivocally supportive of the view that empowering trans women in no way disenfranchises or endangers cis women, and that in fact we are stronger united. The enemy is misogyny; our trans sisters are our allies in this fight, and history bears out their role in both this and in the equally important fight for LGBT+ liberation.

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