Women's News from the Web

Women as likely to be turned on by sexual images as men – study

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 09:00

Neural analysis finds the brains of both sexes respond the same way to pornography

The belief that men are more likely to get turned on by sexual images than women may be something of a fantasy, according to a study suggesting brains respond to such images the same way regardless of biological sex.

The idea that, when it comes to sex, men are more “visual creatures” than women has often been used to explain why men appear to be so much keener on pornography.

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My breast reduction: why I had the surgery that helped Simona Halep win at Wimbledon

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 07:19

The operation freed me from chronic headaches, and back and neck pain. But nothing about the process was easy

Three days before Christmas 2015, when I was 19, I had my breasts reduced in size. Sitting alone in my flat after the operation at Ross Hall hospital in Glasgow, I confronted my scars for the first time, and I cried.

It was not the first time that I had cried over my body, but these were not the tears of a miserable, frustrated teenager. I felt as if I had been through a battle and had emerged victorious. Holding those stitched-up breasts, a manageable 32E down from a 34GG, I was finally, gloriously me.

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The new 007 is a black woman – don't make her a Bond girl

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 00:48

Online joy over Lashana Lynch inheriting James Bond’s codename may be premature. White men won’t give up their hero status so easily

Fans have been hoping for a black actor to play James Bond at least since 2012, when Idris Elba was first rumoured as a possible successor to Daniel Craig. The franchise seems to have finally come through; this weekend it was reported that Lashana Lynch is going to be the new 007.

There was much celebration on social media, which is understandable. But it may be a little premature. Casting black female actors as legacy characters is a great step towards rectifying the historical racism and sexism that has led to a disproportionate number of those characters being white men. But it’s only a step. Black women also need to be written with respect; they have to be presented as natural, worthy heroes who deserve to wear the cowl or cape or tux in question. Otherwise, the new hero just becomes another way to demonstrate that the real, worthy hero is the white guy.

There are numerous examples of this dynamic. One is the character of James Rhodes, who in various Marvel comics takes over from Tony Stark as the hero Iron Man. Rhodes is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), too, and has long been presented as a kind of successor in waiting for Robert Downey Jr’s Stark.

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Theresa May’s positive legacy? She’s a feminist champion | Martha Gill

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 19:00

She did good work on domestic violence and FGM, and has been tireless in helping other women to advance

Can you call yourself a feminist? Here’s my test, and it applies to both men and women: how do you treat your female juniors? Do you talk passionately about female advancement in public while quietly squashing the careers of the women under you? Or are you a true champion? It is easy to identify the latter: women who have worked for them sing their praises for the rest of their lives. And whatever else you may think of Theresa May, she is a true champion of women.

How history judges the UK’s second female prime minister depends on whether her successor messes up Brexit even more spectacularly than she has done. But she already has one positive legacy despite the fact the battle to be her successor is being fought by two men. She has made the Tory party more female. In 2005, sexism was particularly rife in the selection of female Tory candidates: associations then had a firm idea of what an MP should be, and this was a man with two labradors and a stay-at-home wife. When applying for selection that year, Margot James, who went on to become MP for Stourbridge in 2010, has talked about a letter she received, outlining what might happen if she won, that blithely assumed she was a man. Laura Sandys, who had lost a selection contest in Arundel and South Downs to Nick Herbert, who was gay, overheard one Tory member say to another: “Well, he may be a homosexual, but at least we didn’t get a woman.”

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How Women Win with Medicare For All

Women's eNews - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 06:53

Women should rally around the Medicare-for-All bill introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

Medicare for All as proposed in HR 1384, along with its counterpart in the Senate, would benefit women in several essential ways. Because health insurance coverage would no longer be tied to one’s employment or marital status, women could leave abusive relationships or toxic workplace environments without losing health insurance for themselves or their families.

Our healthcare system is surely broken when some women feel compelled to marry, stay married or remain in a harmful job just to retain their health benefits. This outdated arrangement is a form of subjugation that has no place in our wealthy, democratic nation today.HR 1384 would create a publicly funded healthcare system that would guarantee everyone in the U.S. comprehensive health coverage while leaving the delivery of care mostly private.

It would also include coverage for doctor visits and hospitalizations, vision, dental, mental health, and even long-term care. This means women would no longer be saddled with some of the caretaking responsibilities that often befall them when a parent or other relative becomes severely ill.

Due to centuries of discrimination and asymmetric domestic duties, women and especially women of color are more likely to have low-paying jobs without health benefits. And when women don’t have access to health care, it not only affects them. Their children and other family members who rely on them often suffer, too.

Women who are uninsured or underinsured are especially vulnerable when they become pregnant or new mothers. The United States spends more on health care than other countries, yet our maternal and infant death rates are among the highest of large, wealthy nations. This means that American mothers and babies are not receiving the health care they sorely need.

Dr. Aleksandar Rajkovic, an obstetrician and the husband of one of the authors of this piece, has witnessed the effects of our collapsing healthcare system firsthand. While working in Texas years ago, he encountered an uninsured pregnant patient who experienced abdominal pain for 36 hours before she fell unconscious and was brought to the hospital. Concerned that she and her laborer husband could not afford an emergency room visit, she had told her husband the pain would pass. Sadly, the woman ended up dying of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which could have been avoided had she gone to the hospital sooner.

People are suffering and even losing their lives because they can’t afford health insurance at all, or must forgo treatment even though they’re insured, due to exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. Tens of thousands of people die each year in the U.S. due to being uninsured. The Medicare for All Act of 2019 (HR 1384) would ensure no one is forced to choose between essential medical treatment or going bankrupt, and it would be funded through modest progressive taxes, based on what people could afford to pay.

Medicare for All as proposed would also guarantee women reproductive choice. The ability to determine one’s family size and the spacing of one’s children is critical to women who must consider their economic reality, relationship status or career concerns. Yet today, women increasingly face obstacles when it comes to their freedom to choose.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed the strictest abortion law in the country, making it a felony to perform the procedure even in cases of rape and incest. Governors in several other states have approved abortion bans once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks in pregnancy. These moves represent the latest, pernicious assault on women’s reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would also allow federal funds to be used for abortion and other reproductive health matters. (The Hyde Amendment  currently prohibits federal funding of abortions except in extreme cases, effectively limiting a women’s constitutional right to choose and affecting poor, young women of color the most.) The decision to terminate a pregnancy or not affects not only a woman’s reproductive health but also her overall health. Thus, it’s one that should be made by her in consultation with her doctor – not politicians.

How many more mothers, daughters, and sisters will needlessly die under our healthcare system before we stand up and say enough is enough? While HR 1384 is now in our legislators’ hands, the choice to keep silent or voice support for it is now ours.

On which side of history will you stand?

Kirsten Magnuson is chair of Health Care for All-California 

Ana Malinow, MD

Dr. Ana Malinow is a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Is this the end of wellness?

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 22:00

After a trend of magical thinking and quick fixes, science-based solutions may not be so dull

Like a worm cut in half, its head regenerating into a new, even angrier worm, the “wellness” trend is one that refuses to die. But this week, its wiggle appeared to wane. A certain weariness had set in. Is this the end of wellness?

The evidence: “I was a huge fan of Gwyneth,” one attendee of Goop’s recent “wellness summit” in London told website Page Six, “Now I feel like I have lost my faith in God.” “GP [Paltrow],” said another, “is a fucking extortionist.” These were people who had spent up to £4,500 on weekend tickets, getting off the tube in Hammersmith as if landing in Lourdes, expecting to leave healed. What do they need healing from, you ask? Well, what have you got? Creepy energy, deep thirst, smell of cardboard, troubled pits, babyish sleeping, bad vagina – the beauty of the term “wellness” is that it encompasses almost everything, and can cost almost anything. Which is why I was excited to see the attendees rebel – a tipping point has been reached. Somewhere among the self-care stations and lavender lattes, a healthless revolution.

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The US World Cup team is loudly, proudly claiming the applause women deserve | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 02:01

Celebrating yourself in a world which tells you you’re worth less than men is an act of resistance – and it’s angering insecure men

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

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Lizzo is a joyous inspiration – but body positivity has come too late for the likes of me | Grace Dent

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 22:01

There was no such thing when I was a teen in the 80s; there was the heavenly Maria Whittaker on Page 3 and Sabrina in the Boys Boys Boys video

As Lizzo paraded gloriously with her flute at Glastonbury last month, a paean to body positivity, a poster girl for billions of proud, perfectly-imperfect young women worldwide, I finally accepted that, when it comes to radical self-acceptance, I have missed the boat.

God speed you, Lizzo, majestic in a purple sequined bodysuit which fought to conceal her camel toe. As for me, despite being primed for many decades to “step into summer” with a capsule wardrobe of chic garments in du jour shades, my 2019 wardrobe divides into two distinct piles: things I can kind of wear (with some caveats) and things I am too fat to wear. The second pile is much more voluminous and has at least a dozen subcategories, including “Gorgeous but literally unzippable as bought during a heartbreak when I was surviving largely on Celine Dion and two fingers of KitKat per day”. Or “Spaghetti straps: with my knockers? What was I thinking?” And, of course, a pile of bright statement maxi dresses that I will don for 10 minutes pre-pub beer garden, before deciding yet again that, with my hips, they make me resemble Ermintrude from The Magic Roundabout.

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What Love Island teaches us about 'himpathy' | Rebecca Buxton and Joshua Habgood-Coote

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 22:01

Amy Hart’s departure from the reality show highlights the excessive sympathy women offer to the men who hurt them

You might be surprised to learn that Love Island is shedding light on contemporary developments in feminist philosophy. You might also be surprised that philosophers are avid watchers of reality television.

But the ITV show gives us a unique opportunity to observe the relationships of 20-somethings – from their beginnings to the point where they flourish and, often, break apart. With these glimpses of human behaviour – albeit in the context of a television show – we can get an insight into how many women act, particularly at the end of a relationship.

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Megan Rapinoe’s ‘egotism’ is the perfect antidote to Donald Trump | Emma Brockes

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 05:10
A man with little talent squats in the White House, so it’s like balm to see a female sports star with real ability who’s unafraid to brag about it

This week it has been gratifying to watch Americans – specifically, American men – grapple on social media with a concept long cherished by the British as a thing we love to hate. If our characters are organised as much around that which we despise as revere, it is safe to say that the ancient British revulsion for Being Up Oneself is a central force in national life that, until this week, many Americans claimed to find mystifying. And then along came Megan Rapinoe.

Traditionally in the United States, being up oneself has been a default attitude practically enshrined in the constitution. As an American, you are obliged to at least pay lip service to the idea that anything is possible, and all that stands between you and your dreams is your own winning hustle. Self-deprecation, that sly old song of Europe, is neither appreciated nor understood. There is no integrity, in the US, in hiding one’s light.

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The Guardian view on abortion in Northern Ireland: standing up for women’s rights | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:35
With devolution still on hold, the decision by a huge majority of MPs to vote in favour of equal marriage and abortion should be welcomed

The law on abortion in Northern Ireland is an anomaly that should have been dealt with long ago. The near-total ban, dating back to 1861 and including abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality, is among the most restrictive in the world. It is also an affront to the rights of women – as both the UK supreme court and a United Nations committee ruled separately last year.

Since abortion is a devolved issue, and the proper business of the Stormont assembly rather than the UK parliament, Tuesday’s House of Commons vote in favour of liberalisation was not the ideal way to resolve an appalling situation. Given the circumstances, with power-sharing at Stormont suspended in 2017 and human rights violations ongoing, it was a humane and constructive step. Labour’s Stella Creasy deserves credit for her tenacity in pushing for it. That Conor McGinn’s amendment to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland also passed by a huge majority made the news all the sweeter. This was a day of celebration for many Northern Irish people, as Sara Canning, partner of the murdered journalist and LGBT rights campaigner Lyra McKee, explained in an article for the Guardian.

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Saudi Arabia 'planning to relax male guardianship laws'

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 06:17

Strict rules governing women’s lives could be changed according to Saudi newspaper

Saudi Arabia could be planning to relax the country’s strict male guardianship laws to allow women to leave the country without needing permission from a male relative, according to reports.

Travel restrictions for women over the age of 18 are due to be lifted this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting Saudi officials familiar with the matter.

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'Why should I have to work on stilts?': the women fighting sexist dress codes

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 23:00

Too many female employees are forced to wear high heels, or skirts, or even a particular type of bra. But the resistance is growing

It was at the beginning of a shift at Harrods that Georgia Brown told her manager where to go. Brown, then aged 22, was working for a temp agency that supplied shop assistants to the department store. She cannot remember the name of the manager. But she does remember why she lost her cool: she had had enough of being forced to wear heels on the job.

“Not just a mini-heel, but proper black stilettos. Bear in mind, you’re on your feet in Harrods all day – you can’t sit down,” says Brown. When she arrived at work, there was a mandatory uniform check, after which she would slip into flat shoes. This time, she got caught. “I said: ‘My feet hurt; who are you to tell me I have to work on stilts?’,” says Brown.

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UK firms accused of hiring female directors for symbolic value

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:01

Many FTSE 100 companies are failing to advance women’s boardroom careers, report says

Some of Britain’s biggest companies appear to be recruiting female directors for their symbolic value and then failing to advance their boardroom careers, a report has claimed.

Women make up 32% of FTSE 100 directors – up from 29% a year ago – putting leading companies on track for the government’s target of 33% by 2020, the report by Cranfield University said. But female directors keep their jobs for a shorter time and are less likely to be promoted than men, the report found. Female directors are also older than their male counterparts and disproportionately white.

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Parliament’s challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law is long overdue | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:00

MPs have finally voted to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland. That it has taken so long is shameful

MPs have passed a cross-party amendment compelling the government to bring forward regulations to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. It is, as many campaigners – spearheaded by Ann Furedi at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – have celebrated, a historic moment. But it’s chastening to consider how history will judge us, as neighbours, as feminists, as compatriots: it would be low to rejoice in the end of this situation without acknowledging the shame of how long it has persisted.

You have to observe an injustice in greater depth to see what it really means: I knew, and had always known, that abortion laws were different in Northern Ireland, and in Ireland. The constitutional implications of abortion law in Northern Ireland were profound – it’s hard to comprehend what it means, for women’s rights to be “devolved” in this way, that there would be a pocket of your nation where an entire cohort of people could have circumscribed rights that you would think belonged to another age.

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'It's had its day': ugly scenes as drama descends on Tonga's beauty pageant

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 16:20

Annual event marred by accusations of bullying, backstabbing and racism as women’s leaders call for pageant to be scrapped

The South Pacific nation of Tonga is in uproar after its annual beauty pageant was marred by accusations of bullying, backstabbing and racism, prompting calls by women’s rights leaders for the pageant industry to be abandoned altogether.

The country’s Miss Heilala pageant descended into chaos on Friday when the outgoing winner had her microphone cut in the middle of a speech and another woman was allegedly racially abused while delivering the keynote speech.

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Jilly Cooper tops inaugural Comedy women in print awards

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 09:30

The Rutshire Chronicles author received the lifetime achievement honour, with prizes for rising stars Laura Steven and Kirsty Eyre

Reigning queen of the pun Jilly Cooper has been awarded the inaugural Comedy women in print (CWIP) lifetime achievement award “in recognition of her legacy and inspiration to comic women writers everywhere”.

The bestselling author, who at one point describes her hero Rupert Campbell-Black’s aggressive love-making as “like a power drill … her Campbell-Black-and-Decker”, was named winner on Wednesday night.

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El Salvador: teen rape victim jailed over stillbirth to face retrial for murder

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 08:52

Pro-choice activists say Evelyn Beatríz Hernández’s case will be important in determining the stance of the country’s new leader

A teenage rape victim in El Salvador who was convicted for murdering her child and jailed for nearly three years after a stillbirth will face a retrial next week, her lawyers said on Wednesday.

Evelyn Beatríz Hernández was handed a 30-year prison sentence in 2017 for aggravated murder by a female judge who ruled the teenager had induced an abortion, which is a crime under any circumstance in the Central American nation.

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The tyranny of the schoolgirl skirt still haunts me | Yomi Adegoke

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 07:15

Gender-specific school uniforms are one of the earliest, most tangible ways in which inequality is entrenched

With “gender reveals” – ostentatious events to announce the sex of an unborn baby with a burst of pink or blue – becoming increasingly popular while, at the same time, unisex clothing is on the rise on the high street, it is difficult to tell how far we have got in terms of dismantling the gender binary. This week, it feels as if we may be making gains: by September, new statutory guidance will make school uniforms in Wales gender-neutral, meaning that items such as trousers, for example, will not be described as “for boys”.

Gender-specific school uniforms are one of the earliest, most tangible ways in which gender inequality is entrenched. There is a reason girls are permitted to wear shorts for PE – skirts and summer dresses inhibit young girls in the playground and restrict their freedom to play in the same way as their male peers. It is an unconscious marker of limitation: if you climb the monkey bars in these clothes, you’ll flash your knickers to the class – so don’t climb them.

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My partner, Lyra Mckee, would have been overjoyed about the same-sex marriage bill | Sara Canning

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 06:29

MPs have voted to bring LGBT+ equality to Northern Ireland. I shed tears of happiness at the news, but they were bittersweet

It won’t always be like this. It’s going to get better.” My incredible partner, Lyra McKee, wrote these words years before we crossed paths. I remember reading her “letter to my 14-year-old-self” and being blown away by her bravery. Lyra opened up about the deep hurt so many of us felt as teenagers, and showed that families can be incredibly loving, supportive and accepting; particularly important in a place like Northern Ireland, where religious divides and conservatism still play a huge role.

Lyra was terrified, anxious and, in a weird way, lucky. She knew her mind from a young age, was surrounded by friends from her area, who mostly turned out to be LGBT+ themselves, and had a family for whom her sexuality was not an issue. Some of us (me) take a lot longer to realise their true self. When Lyra wrote her letter in 2014, the idea of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was almost preposterous.

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