Women's News from the Web

US abortion policy is 'extremist hate' and 'torture', says UN commissioner

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:00

Trump administration’s ban on terminations is a crisis directed at women, warns Kate Gilmore

The US policy on abortion is a form of extremist hate that amounts to the torture of women, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights told the Guardian.

The attack on women’s rights was a “crisis”, organised and well-resourced by very extremist groups.

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Lies pave the way for anti-abortion laws. To defeat the laws we must fight the lies | Rebecca Solnit

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 09:07

A wave of new laws banning and restricting abortion could not have been passed without misleading the public about what abortion actually is

Anti-abortion laws are built on anti-abortion lies. Lies about things like who has abortions, how abortions work, how women’s bodies work and how fetuses develop. The lies pave the way for the laws.

There are the old lies, like the ones suggesting that the women having abortions are careless hussies (51% of abortions are to women who were using contraception; 59% are to women who are already mothers; 75% are to poor and low-income women). Lately, there’s a huge new lie making the rounds, that women and doctors are conspiring to kill babies at birth and calling it abortion. This is a lie that encourages conservatives to regard pregnant women and medical caregivers as potential ruthless killers who should be hemmed in with yet more laws targeting them. While a lot of older abortion lies were distortions and exaggerations, this one is a complete and dangerous fabrication.

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Why UK feminists should embrace sex worker rights | Kate Hardy

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 03:47

Sex workers are at the coalface of gender injustice. In Argentina, they are central to the feminist movement

Puta Feminista” (Feminist Whore) reads the banner taped to the wall, as women stream through the door at the Casa Roja. Freshly painted, the bright red casa is in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Constitución, in the heart of the red-light district. After today, it will be the new centre for Ammar – the Argentina’s Women’s Sex Workers’ Union.

On any one day, up to 200 women arrive – morning, noon and night – to find clients on the corners of the neighbourhood. Lilian, 55, has been a sex worker for 20 years. She stopped working, but has been forced to return to the streets of Constitución to make ends meet. “We’re in the midst of a total crisis,” she says. “We used to work four to five hours a day. Now it’s 12, including on Saturdays and Sundays, just to cover the basic necessities.” Dramatic inflation (which reached nearly 50% last year), combined with a reduction in subsidies by the rightwing government under Mauricio Macri and at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have sent the cost of basic foodstuffs, electricity and water spiralling. A third of the population are living in poverty.

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#KuToo: Japanese women submit anti-high heels petition

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 00:27

Campaigners urge government to ban employers from forcing footwear on female staff

A group of Japanese women have submitted a petition to the government to protest against what they say is a de facto requirement for female staff to wear high heels at work.

The KuToo campaign – a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain – was launched by the actor and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa and quickly won support online.

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Not one single country set to achieve gender equality by 2030

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 18:00

The first global index measuring efforts to end gender inequality finds countries are not doing enough to improve women’s lives

No country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030, according to the first index to measure progress against a set of internationally agreed targets.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index, launched on Monday, “should serve as a wake-up call to the world”.

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Taking Back the Streets with Chalk

Women's eNews - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 14:53

I was 15 years old and walking to the first day of my summer job. I was thinking about making a good impression on my boss. I had painstakingly picked out my outfit: a purple sun dress and white espadrilles. The nervous rush of excitement brought about by my acquaintance with adulthood was quickly interrupted as I got off the number 1 train at 18th street and 7th Avenue in New York City. “Hey, beautiful!” “You’re sexy” “Gorgeous” “Mmmmm.” These are some of the many comments I heard on my walk to work that day. My first thought was to respond ‘thank you.’ After all, these comments sounded like compliments. But in these moments, they felt nothing like compliments. I felt uncomfortable: like my body was under surveillance. Each new block made me more self conscious. I wanted to hide. Quickly, I started to think there must be something about what I was wearing that was provoking this harassment. Was my dress too short or too tight? When I got home that night and told my parents, they suggested I ignore it. My dad even said I should ‘dress down’ to avoid provoking unwanted attention.

Years later, for a freshman year writing assignment, I decided to do something about the harassment I was facing. Frustrated by feeling silenced, I decided to respond to catcalling in a creative way. I started to collect catcalls, both from my experiences and from those of friends, and write them on the streets with chalk where they were being shouted, along with the hashtag #stopstreetharassment. The colorful chalk would mark the spots where someone was harassed. It would catch people’s attention and bring to light something that is normally ignored. Then, I would post their images on Instagram to illustrate the catcalling spectrum, highlighting comments from “hey beautiful” to “I want to f*ck the sh*t out of you.” The combination of public art and Instagram would be a method of raising awareness. It would make people confront this problematic behavior and educate them about how frequent and invasive this behavior is. I could provide victims of harassment a space to share their story and start a dialogue about harassment.  

As a 19 year old student, I never could have predicted the impact that this project would have.  At first, writing in chalk was a way for me to feel empowered when so much of my agency in public space had been taken away.  But this project has become so much bigger than me. In December, 2017, almost two years after I started my project and shortly after the #MeToo movement went viral, @catcallsofnyc got picked up by international press; @catcallsofnyc went from having 800 followers to over 10 thousand in just one week. This growth proved that the account was providing something that many people around the world needed. Much like my younger self; many folks facing harassment felt isolated by these experiences. They were ashamed to tell people because they felt it was somehow their fault.

Being one voice among many makes the fight against street harassment louder and harder to ignore, and this feeling of empowerment is contagious. I began receiving messages from people asking, “Can I bring this initiative to my city?” Accounts started sprouting up around the world. Catcalls of London, Catcalls of Amsterdam and Catcalls of Paris were some of the first to launch. Soon after, Catcalls of Mauritius, Catcalls of Berlin, Catcalls of Mumbai. Catcalls of Iran. Catcalls of Cape Town, South Africa, and Catcalls of Dhaka, Bangladesh began . Now, there are over 100 programs around the world that also collect stories of harassment and document them on the streets. My idea, which I now call “Chalking Back,” has been a springboard for young activists around the world to fight back against harassment, creatively.  

More than half of the women who run these programs are under the age of 18, and 88% of people are under the age of 25. They represent a wide variety of racial and religious groups and, because of them, what was originally a class project has become a global movement. The bravery and commitment of everyone involved in “Chalk Back” has built this movement from the ground up.

Last week, I graduated from New York University (NYU) with a degree in Gender and Sexuality, and after working on this project for three years as a full-time student, I have decided to commit my time to turning “Chalk Back” into an international non-profit to provide additional resources for the movement which will allow it to grow. Our mission is to allow young people to advocate for cultural change within their communities, and ultimately end street harassment through creative means such as chalk events and workshops. It is a community and youth-led project, based on our personal experiences.

We have been harassed. We have been disempowered. We have been objectified. Now, we will amplify our unique experiences to come together as a collective whole.

Sophie Sandberg, a recent graduate of New York University, is an activist, organizer and professional speaker. She founded Catcalls of NYC, a viral Instagram account and initiative which seeks to raise public awareness about street harassment using street art.

The Guardian view on Artemisia Gentileschi on tour: the people’s painting | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 07:49
An innovative scheme by the National Gallery has seen a new and prized possession displayed in public buildings across the country

When the National Gallery in London acquired a portrait by the great 17th-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi in 2018, the institution asked itself how this remarkable work, showing the painter in the guise of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, might help it fulfil its role as a truly national museum. The gallery has a long history of lending to other institutions. But once it was restored and ready to display, was there anything else it could do?

The answer was yes. The painting has been on a tour, unprecedented for a British museum, that has so far taken in a girls’ secondary school in Newcastle, a GP practice in East Yorkshire, a women’s prison in Surrey and the Glasgow Women’s Library. Its last stop, before returning to Trafalgar Square this summer, is a library in the London borough of Waltham Forest. The idea has been to bring the painting to people who would not, or could not, normally encounter it – taking art to the people rather than inviting the people to art.

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Bluetooth your bladder: the hi-tech way to beat incontinence

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 04:00
Urinary leakage affects millions of women, who have often suffered in silence. That may change with Elvie, a new way to strengthen the pelvic floor – involving an app

There are nappies in my wardrobe, but I have no children nor a sexual fetish. Instead, I have a problem shared by millions of women (and some men): I cannot always control my bladder as well as I want to, no matter how many toilet visits I have made beforehand. I have incontinence, and I am not alone: in the UK, up to 40% of women have incontinence at some point, either because they have given birth or are menopausal, because of genetics, or simply because of age. Up to 70% of expectant and new mothers experience incontinence, and a quarter of men over 40 – though, given how shameful it is thought to be, the figures are likely to be conservative. We mask, we hide, we cope.

The pelvic floor – a sling of muscles stretching from the tailbone to the pubic bone – supports the bladder, bowel and womb. These muscles are meant to contract to stopper any flow of urine. (The muscles are also sometimes referred to as a “trampoline” – a sour joke for women who know trampolining is a sure way to wet pants.)

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The trouble with ‘woke’ ads is they’re just another cliché

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 22:00

The advertising industry has got the body-imaging message, now they’re trying to sell it back to us

Every now and then it’s important, isn’t it, to take the temperature of where we are with the whole “feminism” project. Specifically in relation to women’s bodies – these soft maps where international politics plays out daily, from the way they’re criminalised by the men controlling anti-abortion laws to our evolving body-image crisis, now entering its late stages.

At the beginning of the new Boots advert, we watch two women watch an advert, a Protein World-style video of a hot bikini girl asking: “Are you summer ready?” But these are modern women, able to dissect and name the clichés that have rained and then hailed down on them since puberty. So instead of doubling over with shame and regret, they laugh. After a slick of lip balm and spritz of hair stuff, they saunter across a beach, past a disapproving model-type, before, with brave Thelma and Louise-esque grimaces, throwing off their sarongs to dance gleefully in the sea. The slogan appears: “Let’s feel good about summer.”

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My friends’ husbands keep hitting on me. How can I stop them? | Dear Mariella

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 19:00

It’s reassuring to know that our allure doesn’t fade with age, says Mariella, and while it may actually be the opposite, it’s hard to know what’s prompted this epidemic of lust

The dilemma I’m a 60-year-old grey-haired woman, reasonably fit and not ugly, but not particularly beautiful. I don’t wear sexy clothing and I can’t fill a double-A bra. I’ve never been tempted to cheat on my husband of 30+ years. But the husbands of my girlfriends keep hitting on me. Two nights ago, one of these husbands had his hands all over me while my husband and his wife were in the same room. I didn’t want to make a scene that would upset the friendly relationships among the couples. I don’t want to lose my girlfriend’s friendship, which is extremely important to me, and I don’t want my husband to get angry with her husband. This is not the first time. The same thing happened with another couple, and after I told my husband about the man’s advances, all communication between both husbands and both wives ended. What am I doing wrong? How can I stay close to my girlfriends and enjoy going out as couples with our husbands without having them hit on me?

Mariella replies Nice problem to have. Swatting off amorous men is no hardship at any age so long as they are prepared to take no for an answer. Thanks for pointing out that there is nothing about you that anyone should find attractive. Grey hair, post-menopausal, small breasts and sensible clothes – what’s to like? Or could it be that our entrenched assumptions about sexual attraction are inaccurate? It’s very easy to feel that we live in a world where unless you’re cosmetically enhanced or blessed with a Baywatch body your ability to find a partner will forever be compromised. But looking around there’s way too much evidence that the opposite is true.

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Childfree by choice: stop telling me I'll change my mind later

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 10:00

Saying a woman will regret it returns to the idea of motherhood as the natural position and anything else as deviant

At work a while back, I was complaining that the air-con – usually set to subzero – was turned up to practically balmy. No one else agreed; my mate reached for the emergency nanna rug we keep in the office.

“Huh,” I said. “Must be the menopause.”

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Seriously, Meryl Streep? 'Toxic masculinity' doesn't hurt men – it kills them | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 02:00

In America, men are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women, and many experts say it’s because they’re told not to express emotions

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

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Threat to Missouri abortion clinic leaves neighboring providers scrambling

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 20:00

With reproductive rights under aggressive attack, clinics across state lines are bracing for an influx of women seeking care

Dr Erin King felt a weight lift off her shoulders – at least for a few minutes.

The executive director of Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois had spent a week “scrambling” to prepare for an influx of patients from St Louis – just about a 10-minute drive across the Mississippi River – as Missouri threatened to close its last legal abortion provider by the end of the week at midnight.

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Missouri abortion clinic to stay open – for now – after judge's order

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 09:04
  • Michael Stelzer stops Missouri from allowing license to lapse
  • Threat to clinic came amid growing push against women’s rights

A judge has issued an order allowing Missouri’s only abortion clinic to continue to provide the service, just hours before the St Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to perform abortions was set to expire.

Planned Parenthood supporters gathered outside the clinic breathed a sigh of relief after the ruling from circuit judge Michael Stelzer. He issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Missouri from allowing the license to lapse.

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Want to be Tory leader and say you’re a feminist? Show us how, exactly | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 06:50

Candidates’ declarations of solidarity look like virtue signalling. We will judge them on their actions

Actions speak louder than words. And certainly T-shirts. Do you remember a few years back, when various celebs and politicians from Benedict Cumberbatch to Nick Clegg posed in This Is What A Feminist Looks Like T-shirts? It’s always dodgy when men do this stuff. Most women just think: “Why don’t you get on with being a good ally. Walk alongside us, not in front of us.”

Yet this particular identity debate has now surfaced in the Tory leadership contest, which is suddenly chock-a-block with some unlikely specimens claiming to be feminists. Of course the leadership contest, in which 120,000 or so rank-and-file members of the Tory party choose the next prime minister, would do well to drape itself in T-shirts carrying This Is Not What Democracy Looks Like slogans, for it is indeed an affront to the very notion.

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Ten years after abortion doctor's murder, one woman carries the fight for reproductive rights

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 02:12

In 2009, George Tiller was shot dead in Kansas. Today, as America’s discord over abortion reaches fever pitch, Julie Burkhart is keeping the flame alive

Julie Burkhart remembers all too vividly the morning of 31 May 2009. It was a Sunday and she was in a meeting in Washington DC when, shortly after 10am, her phone started buzzing incessantly with calls from her home town of Wichita, Kansas.

Related: Hollywood backlash over Georgia abortion law grows

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Meryl Streep: 'We hurt our boys by calling something "toxic masculinity"'

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 02:02

The actor has taken issue with the phrase, saying that such labels block communication, and that women can also be toxic

Meryl Streep has criticised the phrase “toxic masculinity”, saying it is offensive to men. “We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity,” she said. “Women can be pretty fucking toxic … It’s toxic people.”

Streep was speaking at a panel discussion about the forthcoming second season of female-fronted show Big Little Lies, and brought the issue up after co-star Nicole Kidman recalled a male fan telling her about his enjoyment of the first series.

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An encounter in an alley reminded me why women always need survival instincts | Emma Brockes

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 22:24
Even in a leafy Massachusetts town, a woman can’t forget to be ready to run – it’s enraging

I was in Massachusetts, in a leafy college town that seemed entirely made up of bakeries and gift shops selling dresses from the 1980s. The Amtrak railway station was in the middle of the town and, because it was under renovation, it wasn’t clear where the entrance was. I ducked down a side alley and, as a guy, unkempt with a backpack, walked towards me, I went automatically through the usual rigmarole: was the music on too loud in the bar 500 yards back for anyone to hear me? How soon could I backtrack without alerting the guy to the fact I was spooked? Why hadn’t I stayed out the front?

An hour earlier, I had taken an Uber from the hotel to the station. The driver had gone off the main route on to what he said was a shortcut. “This doesn’t look right,” he said, as we swung off a suburban street on to a semi-dirt track and I thought: you’re telling me. He was talking pleasantly about TV shows; it was the middle of the day. But I followed our progress on the app until we rejoined the main road.

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Georgia’s largest businesses decline to take stance on contentious abortion bill

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 20:00

Disney and Netflix consider ending production in the state but others, such as Home Depot, Coca-Cola and UPS, avoid the debate

Georgia is home to some of the world’s biggest businesses but those corporations are so far avoiding becoming involved in a growing debate over the state’s recent passing of a controversial abortion bill.

Entertainment giants Disney and Netflix this week said that they are considering ending production in the state if it implements a bill that bans abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy – a point when many women won’t know they are pregnant.

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Netflix and Disney threaten to boycott Georgia over abortion rights

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 20:00

Firms refused to comment on filming in Northern Ireland where laws are stricter

Netflix and Disney are threatening to pull film production in Georgia over the US state’s new abortion law – but neither company will comment on whether they will continue to make shows in Northern Ireland, where women face even more restrictions on their reproductive rights.

Georgia’s proposed law, which has prompted a growing boycott from the entertainment industry and leading actors, will ban women from seeking an abortion after six weeks. By comparison, Northern Ireland’s longstanding ban on abortion is absolute from the moment of conception, with anyone obtaining an abortion theoretically facing life imprisonment.

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