Women's News from the Web

Rail union in push for more female and BAME train drivers

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 13:01

Just 6.5% of drivers in England, Wales and Scotland are women, and 8% are an ethnic minority, says Aslef

A campaign to increase the number of female, BAME and younger train drivers is being launched after a study revealed the “glaring gap” between their numbers and those in the population they serve.

Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said just 6.5% of drivers in England, Wales and Scotland were women, 8% were from a minority ethnic background and 15% were under 35.

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Book excerpt: 100 TIMES: A MEMOIR OF SEXISM

Women's eNews - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 12:08

When she was 5, the little boy Chavisa Woods was playing with pinched her butt. His mother, upon hearing the story, told her she probably liked it. When she was 36, a cab driver locked the doors and wouldn’t let her out until she gave him her phone number. In 100 TIMES: A MEMOIR OF SEXISM (Seven Stories Press; June 25, 2019), Woods lays out one hundred personal vignettes of the sexism, harassment, discrimination, and sexual assault she’s experienced in her life. The incidents, which range from lewd comments to attempted rape, take place when she was growing up in poor rural Southern Illinois, when she was working in St. Louis as a young adult, when she was living with her girlfriend in Brooklyn, and when she was a Shirley Jackson Award-winning author and three-time Lambda Finalist writing this book.

While Chavisa Woods chronicles these 100 stories to show how sexism and misogyny have impacted her life, something else happens simultaneously: she lays bare how these dynamics shape all women’s lives, and how relentlessly common they are. She underscores how thoroughly men feel entitled to women’s spaces and to their bodies, and how conditioned women are to endure it. It’s impossible to read 100 TIMES as a woman without cataloging one’s own “Number of Times.” As Woods writes in the book’s introduction, “It’s not that my life has been exceptionally plagued with sexism. It’s that it hasn’t.”

Excerpt: #11

When I was twelve years old, a friend of my mother’s, a fifty-year-old man, began talking to me while I was standing away from the crowd at a family barbecue held by my mother’s side of the family. This older man told me I was beautiful and that I had my mother’s hips, and asked me if I wanted to go on a boat ride with him. I said I would love to, and that I didn’t even know he owned a boat. He said he had a big boat and that the motor purrs, then he pursed his lips and “blew raspberries,” making a fake motor sound with his lips. I was confused. He laughed and asked again if I wanted a boat ride from him. I didn’t answer. He explained to me that a “boat ride” is when a man puts his lips “down there” on a girl (he pointed to my crotch), and “blows raspberries,” and it feels good.

Brooklyn-based writer Chavisa Woods is the author of the short story collection Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country (Seven Stories Press, 2017), the novel The Albino Album (Seven Stories Press, 2013); and the story collection Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind (Fly by Night Press, 2009). Woods was the recipient of the 2014 Cobalt Prize for fiction and was a finalist in 2009, 2014, and 2018 for the Lambda Literary Award for fiction. In 2018 Woods was the recipient of the Kathy Acker Award for Writing and the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novelette.

People often sneer at it, but small talk is hugely significant | Eva Wiseman

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 21:59

It’s a social lubricant, a way of easing the day or the foreplay to a deeper connection. These are the small shared moments that bind us together

Every week my dad’s family would gather at an auntie’s house and argue about the best route to Ridley Road. They would drink tea and describe, with glee and not a flake of detail spared, the buses they’d each taken, and the madness of having started in the wrong place, always. Arguments about shortcuts and the benefits of the No 38 would roll around the table like pennies as whole weekends passed quite happily with absolutely nothing of worth or depth apparently being shared at all. Like a Monet, the fine art of small talk (an art that is under threat) is best viewed from a distance.

“I hate small talk,” is a phrase one hears regularly today. “I have no time for it,” boast introverts, swishily. It is classed as the very worst of the talks, the Garibaldi of the talks, the Home Alone 3, the Phoebe, the Ryanair, the Niall Horan of the talks. It is treated with a disdain usually reserved for Esther McVey by Lorraine Kelly. Small talk is commonly spoken of as shallow, as dull, a stain on the otherwise flawless shirt of our humanity. Christ, there are even apps to help you avoid it, as if small talk were a traffic accident that must be driven around. As Uber trial an option allowing customers to select “Quiet preferred” when they book a car, alerting their driver to their preference for “no small talk”, it’s time, I think, to plead its case.

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Sarah Sanders' job was to be the female face of a misogynistic administration

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 02:00

Sanders helped to roll back women’s rights while allowing the Trump administration to boast about ‘empowering women’

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

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Adwoa Aboah: ‘I thought I was hideous. I wanted to jump out of my skin’

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 23:00

The supermodel turned mental-health activist on how battling dyslexia, drugs and depression helped her find her voice

Adwoa Aboah’s clothes are causing a stir, and not – as you might expect from one of the world’s most recognisable models – in a fashion sense. Her team are worried that her black hoodie, featuring the colourful logo of a young, disruptive sportswear brand, won’t fit with the podcast she is recording about girls’ mental health when the pictures go up on Instagram.

Aboah’s not having it. “Nah – these are my boys,” she says, of the designers behind the hoodie. “Anyway, would you prefer the one I have on underneath?” She lifts her top to reveal a white T-shirt that says: “Blowjobs are real jobs.”

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Swiss women strike to demand equal pay

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 02:27

Hundreds of thousands protest against ‘culture of sexism in everday life’

Hundreds of thousands of women across Switzerland have taken to the streets to demand higher pay, greater equality and more respect, protesting that one of the world’s wealthiest countries continues to treat half its population unfairly.

Nearly 30 years after the first nationwide equal rights demonstration by Swiss women, a “purple wave” of pram marches, whistle concerts, extended lunch breaks, giant picnics and city-centre rallies took place on Friday.

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'There are almost no women in power': Tokyo's female workers demand change

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 20:42

Japan has a 27.5% gender pay gap and ranks just 110th in the world for gender equality – but social change is slowly happening

Last week, after Yumi Ishikawa’s petition against being forced to wear high heels at work went viral around the world, responses ranged from solidarity – with some cheering Ishikawa and denouncing “modern footbinding” – to surprised disappointment. In 2019, in a liberal democracy such as Japan, could the issue of women’s rights still be stuck on stilettos?

But the global spotlight on the hashtag #KuToo (a pun on a word for shoes and a word for pain) may have obscured what’s really happening in Japan. “It’s so trivial,” says one senior female publishing executive, who wished to remain anonymous. After all, on the streets of Tokyo, there is a growing movement for real change for women, not merely more comfortable footwear.

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Mira Sorvino says she was date raped and calls for 'justice' for survivors

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 16:20

Oscar winner at forefront of #MeToo movement says she felt ‘ashamed’ and that incident was somehow her fault

The Oscar-winning actor Mira Sorvino has said she is a survivor of date rape, saying she was talking about it publicly to lend her voice to a push for stronger sexual assault laws in New York.

Sorvino, who was one of the first women to accuse the film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, spoke during a news conference with New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, in support of the push to drop the statute of limitations on rape allegations.

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How Kate Moss Close could pave the way to a better world

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 06:49

A drive for more streets to be named after women won’t solve sexism and racism – but it’s a start

A new initiative in Bradford is hoping women will take up more literal and figurative space in the UK. Through the Pioneering Bradford Lasses campaign, more streets and public spaces in the city will be named after women in order to correct the gender imbalance of the figures whose achievements are publicly honoured. Bradford will kick off by naming a new street – Lillian Armitage Close – after a local suffragette who campaigned for women’s right to vote.

I am under no illusion that more brown faces on bank notes, more women’s names on blue plaques or the toppling of the statues of colonialists we continue to celebrate will actually see minorities getting better-paid jobs, an increase in women climbing the ranks or somehow end white supremacy. I do, however, think that these can be brilliant and necessary moves. It is important that a city, town or country acknowledges not just the existence but the contributions of those who helped make it great.

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Kylie Jenner’s party was stupid. But it won’t curtail the power of The Handmaid’s Tale | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 21:00

Celebs can drink their Gilead cocktails. Margaret Atwood’s story remains a pertinent warning about misogyny’s mission creep

I felt a small spark of joy yesterday, as I imagined Margaret Atwood’s facial expression when confronted with the news that a member of the Kardashian family – Kylie Jenner – had provoked internet outrage by organising a Handmaid’s Tale-themed party. The novelist is known for taking no prisoners, and the footage, which shows Jenner and her friends squealing as they are confronted with Handmaid-themed costumes and cocktails, lays bare some of the most flagrant stupidity I think I have ever witnessed.

Was I particularly offended? Before anyone cries “snowflake”, I was not. But I was astonished at the ignorance and privilege of the women in the video, who will never suffer if Roe v Wade is repealed, abortion is outlawed in the US and women’s bodily autonomy is drastically curtailed. The Handmaid’s Tale is a TV series to them, a piece of pop culture iconography that can be stripped of its context, but even then it is not without its dark connotations. The first series was a brilliant and faithful adaptation of the book, before the next series descended into violence so disturbing and gratuitous, that many women I know stopped watching. Yet the rape and the female genital mutilation and the torture did not preclude this story from being chosen by a young woman as the theme of a glossy celebration ripped of its context and appropriated.

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Want to be a male ally? Start by helping to clean the house | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 20:00

Liberal men say they want to be equal partners in housework and parenting. But it hasn’t happened

Imagine if the dishes stopped getting done. Imagine if no one did the laundry, and it piled up, stained and mildewing in hampers and in piles on the floor. Imagine if no one fed the baby, or changed her, and imagine if no one made dinner. Imagine if no one scheduled grandma’s cardiologist appointment, and no one reminded her of the appointment after it had been scheduled, and if no one drove her to the appointment on the morning she was supposed to go. Imagine if no one vacuumed, or washed the windows, or picked up the various detritus that accumulates around the house.

Imagine that this goes on for a week, two weeks, two months. Imagine the domestic fights behind closed bedroom doors. Imagine the wailing infants. Imagine the hunger, and the injuries, and the infections. Imagine the paid work that happens at the shop or at the office that would be delayed, then phoned in, done badly and eventually not done at all.

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On World Day Against Child Labor: Put an End to Child Marriage

Women's eNews - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 13:36

Each year, on June 12, the International Labor Organization (ILO) commemorates the World Day Against Child Labor to focus global attention on the extent of child labor and the actions needed to eliminate it. 

The ILO, which was founded a hundred years ago in the aftermath of World War I, is using the occasion of this year’s World Day Against Child Labor to urge accelerated action on Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which calls on all “to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor … and secure the prohibition and elimination of all forms of child labor.”

These are noble and important goals, but we also urge the ILO to direct its focus on SDG Target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of “all harmful practices, such as child, early, and forced marriage.” For the truth is obvious: Child marriage is child labor within the ILO’s own definition.

The reality of day-to-day life for girls living within child marriages is one of servitude. They carry out all of the household chores, perform demanding agricultural work, and cook with fire and heavy pots of boiling water over unventilated cookstoves. They also work from dusk until dawn, waking at night to breastfeed, tend to sick kids, and care for elders; and they are forced into a sexual relations before the age of consent.

Consider the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) criteria for the worst forms of child labor: Work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous or harmful to children; work that exposes children to physical or sexual abuse; work that forces children to work long hours, which unreasonably confines them to the premises, and could result in a child’s death, injury, illness or disability.  Yet, many child “marriages” are still excluded from the ILO’s child labor statistics. 

The dots simply need connecting: A marriage to a minor who is too young to give her legal consent is by definition a forced marriage, creating a non-consensual relationship between a child and the man posing illegally as her “spouse,” which results in a forced labor situation. Forced labor is the worst form of child labor. Therefore, child marriage is child labor. 

AIDS-Free World concurs that anyone under 18 should be defined as a minor child, but we also recognize that the Convention on the Rights of the Child left it to individual governments to set the age at which a child becomes an adult and can legally consent. As a first step, while advocates for children work to raise the age to 18 in every country, it must be acknowledged that any “marriage” to a child who is too young to consent under her or his country’s existing laws is, by definition, in a forced marriage that results in child labor. 

There is no need to change any treaties or conventions. The legal basis for finally beginning to count child marriage as the worst form of child labor is solidly in place. The ILO statistics are no small matter. Bad data makes bad policy, and vice versa.

Undercounting the number of girls forced into child labor by omitting all those at work within illegal marriages is discriminatory. It means that critical resources, policies, and programs are being misallocated. People who are genuinely devoted to ending child labor worldwide are unaware that their goal cannot be reached unless we also end child marriage. Recent studies estimate that of the 12 million child marriages that take place every year, at least 7.5 million are illegal in the countries where they occur. This means a minimum of 7.5 million girls are missing from each year’s estimated total of child laborers, rendering the data inaccurate and skewing policy decisions.

It takes strength to abandon old habits and outdated perspectives; it takes courage to agree to a recount that will put the ILO farther from the finish line of eliminating child labor worldwide. But the world needs that strength and courage from the International Labor Organization and, more importantly, and urgently, so do millions upon millions of girls hidden in plain sight.

As the ILO outlined in its founding constitution one hundred years ago: “Universal peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.”

Paula Donovan is Co-Director of AIDS-Free World.

Nancy Meyers: focusing on my movie kitchens is sexist

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 00:25

Director of It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give says male directors who make ‘gorgeous’ films don’t face similar criticism

Nancy Meyers, the multimillion-dollar grossing director of The Intern and It’s Complicated, has hit out at critics who focus on the lavishly designed domestic interiors featured in her films, saying the attention is sexist and that male directors would not be criticised in the same way.

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Kylie Jenner’s Handmaid’s Tale party was tasteless, but is the TV show any better? | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 22:59

The Kardashian scion completely missed the point of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, but the small-screen adaptation seems to revel in violence against women

Praise be, ladies. The world may be a dismal place at the moment, but Kylie Jenner is here to remind us that there is a bright side to everything – even torture, rape and oppression. The 21-year-old reality TV star and cosmetics mogul recently had the bright idea of throwing a Handmaid’s Tale-themed party for one of her BFFs. The book and TV show may be a downer, but, hey, the bright-red gowns look great on Instagram! Guests sipped “praise be vodka” and “under his eye tequila” cocktails while taking selfies – and completely missing the point of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel.

Jenner’s bash, which she shared on social media (naturally), has prompted a backlash. It does seem remarkably tone-deaf to treat The Handmaid’s Tale like a hilarious joke when the US is becoming more like the fictional Gilead by the day. If you think that is an overdramatic comparison, just take a look at Alabama, which recently became the latest state to pass an extreme abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. Not only does the bill force women to have their rapist’s babies, but Alabama law means the rapist can get parental rights and sue for custody. Meanwhile, any doctor caught performing an abortion could get 99 years in prison.

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A Letter from Men…to Men: Stand Up For Women’s Reproductive Rights!

Women's eNews - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 12:05

According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of women and 57 percent of men say abortion should be legal in “all or most cases.” But “checking a box on a questionnaire doesn’t tell us much, because polls don’t measure intensity,” noted Katha Pollitt in The Nation recently. “There is no box for “Sure, babe, whatever” or for “Yes! Abortion rights is the hill I would die on.”

When it comes to speaking up for women’s reproductive health and voices, pro-choice men’s voices have been more or less mute. It’s a tricky conversation but it shouldn’t be. While not everyone believes men should have a seat at the reproductive rights table, would excluding men really be in women’s best interests? In their Girls’ Globe article, “What do men have to do with women’s reproductive rights?”, Gary Barker of Promundo, an international NGO engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality, and Serra Sippel of Change, a 25 year-old center for health and gender equity, argue that it would be a disservice to women to exclude men from sexual and reproductive rights conversations because it “…keeps the burden for contraception on women. It halts efforts that encourage men to support the reproductive choices of their female partners, and perpetuates a culture in which no man is perceived to be, or engaged to be, an ally in ensuring reproductive rights of all people.”

For many men who believe in gender equality, me included, there’s been little of a sustained, consistent men’s pro-choice effort. We heard the maxim, “women’s bodies; women’s choices” and nodded. Consequently, many of us backed off from actively working to protect Roe v. Wade, believing we could always re-engage if circumstances became dire—if Roe was being threatened, right? After all, we reasoned, Roe’s been settled law since 1973. Well, it is now more than unsettled—it is unraveling. In the face of vicious anti-choice laws sweeping through southern and mid-western states, men cannot afford to stay silent. 

Before the 2006 mid-term elections, I was among hundreds of volunteers who went door to door across South Dakota canvassing to overturn what was then the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation. For weeks, pro-choice legions criss-crossed the state. I stood on residents’ doorsteps on leafy streets in small Dakota towns explaining why I’d come all the way from Massachusetts. “I have a son, 18, and three daughters all in their twenties,” I’d begin. “Imagine if even one parent in South Dakota had a daughter who’d been raped and became pregnant. Must that family follow a state law that forbade the young woman from aborting the rapist’s child? One that compelled her to bear his baby?” Often enough my comments struck a nerve. We won that battle (55 to 45 percent) and South Dakota’s law was overturned by the will of the people. Nevertheless, vigorous efforts to restrict a woman’s right to choose continue unabated to this day all across South Dakota.

I can come up with a half-dozen reasons why I didn’t maintain as active an involvement in the reproductive rights movement as I might have; but none hold water. It’s painful to admit that I have fallen short, missed the mark—that I have not been a better ally to women in the struggle to maintain their reproductive rights.  After all, as a man who believes in gender equality, I have always been able to enjoy and manage my own body knowing that the same is not true for women. I now know I cannot remain silent.  How can I ask other men to speak out for women’s reproductive health and rights if I‘m not willing to do so as well?  Men need to encourage other men to step up. 

Hopefully Father’s Day, 2019, will jumpstart some important conversations among men and between women and men. More than a new grill or tickets to the ballgame—and certainly beyond the demeaning dad stereotypes that get aired every June—there are practical ways men can stand with women at this perilous time. Whether you’re a father, stepdad, father figure, brother, uncle, nephew, coach or mentor, we need you, not just on Father’s Day, but every day!

Here are some actions men—not just fathers—can take: 

Volunteer at a clinic, including escorting patients inside.

For fathers: in lieu of a gift ask your family to make a donation to a local clinic, Planned  ParenthoodNARAL, or all three.  

–  Urge your faith community’s leader to deliver a sermon supporting a women’s right to choose (or be the guest speaker yourself).

–  Write a letter to the editor stating your unequivocal support for women’s reproductive rights.

–  Invite a group of men over to talk about the threat women face and why men need to break their silence.

–  Urge researchers to accelerate work on developing male birth control methods.

–  If you have a son old enough, talk with him about respecting women’s autonomy.

–  Let your daughter know you unequivocally support her right to control her body.

–  Alert anti-choice legislators that you won’t just vote to unseat them, you’ll work to elect pro-choice candidates.

Katha Pollitt has other suggestions, beginning with noting the economic advantage most men have: “That dollar you earn compared with the average woman’s 80 cents? Put it to work by donating today to an abortion fund in one of the abortion-ban states,” she suggests. Among possible recipients could be Missouri’s Gateway Women’s Access Fund, which helps people in this state with more than six million people, but only one clinic, and where the latest super-restrictive “heartbeat bill” was recently passed. (To support the Missouri fund, along with many others, go to abortionfunds.org).

Women are facing a full-blown emergency. The clock is ticking; a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade could soon be before the Supreme Court. With the flames of intolerance rapidly approaching our sisters’ windows, men must join the bucket brigade to put out the fire. NOW!

Quotes from Men about AbortionFrom the Political to the Personal:

“Among the scores of pro-feminist, anti-violence men’s organizations Voice Male magazine has written about and partnered with over the past three decades, are committed colleagues who champion gender equality, working both in North America and around the world. Their overarching goal of transforming masculinity takes many forms, including (but not limited to) advocating to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault; educating young men about respectful relationships; involving actively fathers in caregiving; consulting with NGOs around the world on projects to advance gender equality; and training early childhood educators on strategies for raising healthy boys. Their projects are representative but by no means exhaustive among efforts aimed at advancing a new expression of manhood, a new vision of masculinities. Recently, six colleagues that have been engaged in pro-feminist men’s work for decades shared with me some of their thoughts about men’s role in supporting women’s reproductive rights. The edited excerpts below range from the political to the personal.”—Rob Okun

“Although we are making progress in helping men and boys understand their role in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the vast majority of men, including many working to engage men and boys, are still unsure, largely silent on the question of a woman’s access to abortion and reproductive rights.  Could abortion still be viewed by most men as a “woman’s issue?”  We were able to break the barrier when it came to gender-based violence and gender equality, so why are we stuck on abortion?  Removing access to safe abortion is a form of gender-based violence. Controlling a woman’s reproductive choices—including access to abortion—is a form of individual and state-sponsored control over a woman’s body.  If men are speaking out against all other forms of violence against women, then we should speak out against this form of violence, too. Men and boys need to join women advocates. We owe it to the women’s movement, and we owe it to ourselves.” —Humberto Carolo, executive director, White Ribbon, board co-chair MenEngage Alliance

“Political analysts say that pro-choice women, outraged by the abortion ban legislation sweeping through state legislatures, will be an important political force in 2020, perhaps more than in any single previous presidential election. The idea that threats to women’s reproductive freedom are also an issue for men is only mentioned—if at all—as an afterthought. This has to change. Liberal and progressive men need to hear loud and clear that their support for women’s right to comprehensive health care services—which includes access to safe, legal abortion—needs to be an absolute first-order priority, because without it there is no gender equality. And without gender equality, there is no real democracy.”     — Jackson Katz, cofounder, Mentors in Violence Prevention and author of The Macho Paradox

“In the mid-1960s my mother had an abortion. I was 12 years old and didn’t know that it happened until decades later. Because abortion was illegal in the United States, my mom and dad had to sneak around like criminals. They ended up in Puerto Rico where abortion was also illegal, but more common. Luckily they found a safe and compassionate doctor. My dad was by my mom’s side throughout the process,supporting her decision. The systematic erosion of women’s reproductive rights happening now should be ringing alarm bells for men around the country. Control of our own bodies is the most basic human right. Erosion of this right moves us steadily into a world where we are no longer free to make our own choices.  Will we speak out on behalf of mothers, sisters, wives and lovers? Will we stand up on behalf of all of our freedom.” Steven Botkin, coordinating committee, North America MenEngage

“Men who support gender equality must join with women and people of all genders in supporting women’s reproductive right to choose. Men also need to take their share of responsibility for birth control, as many unplanned pregnancies are the product of sexual abuse, reproductive coercion or mere irresponsibility on the part of men. If as a society, we want to reduce the number of abortions, men have to do their part.” Juan Carlos Areán, director, children and youth program Futures Without Violence

“Men’s participation in reproduction is minimal. Minutes of pleasure; our desire fulfilled. Then what?  If, despite precautions, the woman accidentally becomes pregnant, what should men do? It’s simple: assist her in whatever way she decides. Support her right to choose. It’s her life; not ours. A growing number of state governments are insisting theycan determine what she does with her body and her life. What should men do? Basking in our male privilege, remaining quiet in the face of immoral impositions upon women’s basic human rights is unacceptable. There is no neutrality when there is oppression. Men must speak out publicly. Join women in support of their right to decide—for themselves—what they will do if they become pregnant. Do not sit quietly by. Women’s reproductive rights are not just a woman’s issue; they are an issue of justice and democratic freedom.” Chuck Derry, cofounder Gender Violence Institute

“When I was still a teenager, I was having unprotected sex with my girlfriend. I was ignorant and irresponsible; I assumed she was taking measures to avoid a pregnancy Why? My reasoning was shallow. I thought, well, she’s the woman, and she’s had more experience in these matters since she was mother to a four year-old. When she told me she was pregnant, I freaked out. I was about to start my first year of college. I “convinced” her to abort the pregnancy. I played the victim; guilt-tripping her, saying something like, “How could you do this to me when I’m just starting college?” I acted as if I was not co-responsible for the pregnancy. Feeling alone, she got the abortion. I was not even present. My “excuse?” She was living in another city and did not let me know where and when it would occur. All these decades later, the question remains: When women face an unplanned pregnancy and all the complex decision-making it requires, where are the men? A few years later, after I was lucky enough to be exposed to feminism, I became active in the profeminist men’s movement in my native Nicaragua. That was in the late eighties and nineties. Then about 20 years ago, our Managua-based profeminist men’s collective, Grupo de Hombres contra la Violencia, drafted a statement about men’s responsibility regarding abortion. Here’s an excerpt: As brothers, parents, boyfriends, husbands, and friends of women who at some time have needed or may need a therapeutic abortion to safeguard their life and health, we reject the claim of criminalizing therapeutic abortion… Men have no right to demand that women put their lives at risk… It is the right of women to put their own health and well-being first. If therapeutic abortion is penalized, then men should also be imprisoned. Men are the cause of many abortions, particularly when we behave in the following ways: 

               – Pressure or force women to have sex.

               – Refuse to use condoms or other male contraception. 

               – Prevent a partner from using her preferred contraceptive method. 

               – Inflict physical, sexual or emotional violence on a partner. 

               – Deny responsibility for her pregnancy.

               – Fail to comply with legal and moral obligation to support our children. 

               – Strong-arm and/or threaten our partner to abort.

Abortion is a very complex, delicate issue. But what is clear is women are the ones who experience pregnancy and abortion. Women must always have the last word.”

Oswaldo Montoya, Networks associate, MenEngage Alliance; cofounder, Grupo de Hombres contra la Violencia, Managua

Rob Okun is editor of Voice Male magazine and a member of the steering committee of North America MenEngage. He was one of Women eNews “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” in 2018, receiving the Gordon Gray Male Leadership award. He can be reached at rob@voicemalemagazine.org.

The CPS is denying justice to thousands by secretly changing rape prosecution rules | Rachel Krys

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 21:00

Reported rapes have soared, but cases reaching court have plummeted. That’s why women’s groups are taking legal action

Rachel Krys is co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition

This is a sad day. I belong to a national coalition of women’s organisations that have finally been forced to launch a legal challenge against the Crown Prosecution Service for its failure to prosecute rape.

We believe the CPS has altered its approach in how it makes decisions on whether to charge or drop rape cases. For almost a decade, the CPS used a “merits-based” approach to building rape cases. This meant working from a thorough consideration of the law on rape (the seeking as well as the giving of consent, and being in a fit state to do so) and building a case that assumes the jury will make a decision without relying on “rape myth” prejudices.

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Fighting to protect women at work | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 06:58
Signatories including Helen Pankhurst, Sadiq Khan and Harriet Harman say the International Labour Conference in Geneva presents an opportunity to end violence and harassment against women, and call on the UK government to use its influence wisely

Over the last few years, we have come together around #March4Women to demand action to end violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. This week, world leaders have a crucial chance to answer this call, and turn the wave of global outrage following #MeToo into systemic change for women in the workplace. We call on the UK government not to waste this opportunity to champion a strong global law that protects all women.

Governments, employers and workers are meeting in Geneva for the International Labour Conference to negotiate a new global convention to end violence and harassment in the world of work. We urge them to remember the 235 million women around the world who work without any legal protection because one in three countries have no laws against sexual harassment at work. It is the poorest women who are the most vulnerable – domestic workers, factory workers, those women living hand-to-mouth who cannot afford to risk their jobs by standing up for themselves and for each other. An international law is urgently needed.

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Canadian volunteers scour river for missing Indigenous women

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 00:00

Drag the Red searches for human remains in the Red River as a report recently concluded Indigenous women face a ‘genocide’

As a government inquiry compiled its landmark report on the epidemic of violence against Canada’s Indigenous women, Bernadette Smith and a group of volunteers continued what they have done for years – scouring Manitoba’s Red River for human remains.

Since 2014, Smith and her team at the Drag the Red initiative have used a small motor boat to drag the murky waters in the faint hope providing closure to grieving families.

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Natalie McGarry deserved to be punished but did we really have to lock her up? | Kevin McKenna

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 19:00
The imprisonment of the ex-MP was greeted with howls of glee that ignored her plight and that of others like her

Social media is a place to be avoided when it’s time for a public execution. At these times, it becomes something savage, as an assortment of semi-literate grotesques gather to yell insults and throw eggs.

On Thursday, it was Natalie McGarry’s turn to face these gargoyles. The former Scottish Nationalist MP, who has an 18-month-old child, was jailed for 18 months for embezzling more than £25,000 from pro-independence campaign groups during and after the 2014 independence referendum. She is a first-time offender.

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Like May, the first woman in cabinet faced a lonely battle in a male-dominated world | Rachel Reeves

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 19:00
Ninety years after Margaret Bondfield was appointed, the challenges for female politicians are different but real

The imminent departure of Britain’s second female prime minister reminded me of Margaret Bondfield. Unlike Theresa May, the former shop worker and union organiser is far from a household name – but she should be. Her story tells us much about the battle women fought to secure political representation and the way they were treated when they arrived in Westminster. It also tells us something about women in politics today.

Ninety years ago today Bondfield made history when she became the first female cabinet minister.

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