Women's News from the Web

Marriage Story: What Heterosexual Relationships Can Learn from Queer Divorce

Women's eNews - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 08:21

As Marriage Story grasps for an Oscar, this weekend we are reminded that the story of a heterosexual couple going through a painful, cruel divorce is the unfortunate story of many in our country. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. We are active participants in the culture that benefits from and monetizes our own suffering.

As the child of heterosexual divorce and as a queer stepmother now, I was warned not to watch this movie. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Adam Driver describes the movie as a love story told in the lens of divorce. Charlie and Nicole intend to have a friendly divorce, Driver says, but other people’s opinions, agendas and lawyers wind up propelling the legal battle in the end.

What I would add to Driver’s analysis is that the agenda and those opinions are rooted in heteronormativity, which is what allows the legal process to go from fact-finding and fair treatment to cruel performance art.

Heteronormativity is the notion that heterosexual coupling (and marriage) is the norm, and our culture should essentially be built to support it. Heteronormativity is the breeder (no pun intended) of the Hallmark Channel, daddy-daughter dances, “mancaves” and separating McDonald’s toys into “girls” and “boys” toys. Heteronormativity plays a role in domestic abuse and homophobia and the proliferator of painful and scarring divorces like Charlie and Nicole’s in Marriage Story.

During Nicole’s first visit with Nora, her lawyer says, “Once we have babies, we become the mom and they get sick of us.” Yeah, Nicole responds. During Charlie’s visit to the initial lawyer he speaks with, he is asked a series of questions intended to get at Nicole’s potential vices – to which Charlie responds with my favorite line of the movie, “She was addicted to Tums for a while.” The lawyer warns Charlie that he’s not going to win “if she’s the perfect mother.”

This is not a commentary on divorce lawyers. The lawyers are just using what’s already there – the heteronormative culture we have created and continue to willingly buy into. Despite the original wishes of Charlie and Nicole to keep it friendly, they got caught up too, as many heterosexual divorces do, and one of the very things that marriage is built on and cherished by our culture – parenthood – is also the thing that is turned against them during their legal battle.

Despite the fact that heteronormativity is a plague on our culture, it still privileges heterosexual couples on an everyday level, and therefore, the groundwork on which a same-sex marriage stands is already different from the ground on which a heterosexual marriage stands, and that makes the grounds of divorce different, too.

Heteronormativity is often dangerous for LGBTQ communities in general, and we’ve had to learn how to adapt, shift, hide and fight. It’s made us resilient, yes, but it’s also forced us to assemble and disassemble our relationships differently.

Due to the high rate of homelessness and familial rejection for LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ communities often bond together as each other’s families. These are not blood ties, these are heart ties, born from understanding the devastation and hopelessness that comes from the rejection from one’s family of origin. We continue to re-define the word “family,” unraveling the traditional definition that has betrayed us and instead, created a unit of people who sustain us as human beings to be loved, celebrated, protected and given another chance.

Additionally, same-sex couples are not bound to the same prescribed gender roles written by our culture and enjoyed by many heterosexual couples.

Of course, the frustrations of marriage do not discriminate completely along the lines of gender or sexual orientation, and someone has to do the dishes, bring in a paycheck or stay up all night with a sick child. And yes, there might be someone in the marriage in an unhealthy place and they wind up legally battling their partner during the divorce.

Moreover, there are people who have arranged their heterosexual marriages differently to be more egalitarian, and some early trends show that younger generations are putting off marriage to create more financial stability and effectively avoid the “first divorce.”

But in queer culture, the conversations about child custody are different, because LGBTQ people aren’t “supposed” to have kids in the first place. The financial discussions are different, because perhaps one or both partners don’t have family money to rely on due to estrangement, or underemployment because one partner is transgender. The property discussion is different, because perhaps there isn’t enough access to safe housing in the area for LGBTQ individuals. And because of those reasons, divorces look different for us.

For example: now as a queer stepmom, I knew when I married my wife, her ex-wife and their children were to become my family, too. I understood that the success and happiness of my wife’s ex- and their children was directly tied to me, individually and to the collective LGBTQ community. And to achieve that, it meant taking a different approach to raising the kids, finances and scheduling. Case in point: we switch the kids every day. And if that seems odd to you, that’s heteronormativity creeping up (i.e. the assumption that children need to stay with their mother for the majority of the time – but what happens when there are only mothers?)

But it should look different for heterosexual couples, too. You can see glimmers in Marriage Story pleading to get rid of the common constraints and allow the love of their relationship – regardless of its dissolution – to guide what’s best for all involved. There’s no need for the backstabbing betrayal or dragging your children through the mud just because the heteronormative fantasies that have been sold to you your whole life didn’t work out. We are all humans, despite who we love, and forcing us to conform to a set of constraints that create more suffering serves no one.

About the Author: Lauryn Bianco is Vice President of Operations and Philanthropy at Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse in Tucson, Arizona, and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.

Prince William's Baftas tirade was insultingly misdirected – he should resign as its president | David Cox

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 03:04

Is the Duke of Cambridge sabotaging the voting system? Or simply saving face by attacking an acceptable – if innocent – party?

The other day, I wrote to Prince William, urging him to resign. Not from his second-in-line thingy: he seems to do that job OK, if nowhere near as well as his wife does hers. The post I called on him to renounce was the presidency of Bafta. As a voting academician, I felt obliged to take this step after puzzling over the opaque remarks he read from notes at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

The purpose of the academy’s annual awards is “to recognise, honour and reward individuals for outstanding achievement in feature films released in the UK within the awards year”. In casting my votes, I aimed to observe this rubric. From what I know of my fellow academicians, they would have done likewise. Yet our president appeared to think we had done something wrong.

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Missouri lawmaker wants police officers to stop women from getting abortions

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 00:00

Mike Moon introduced bill that would redefine fertilized egg as a person and effectively turn any attempt to terminate a pregnancy into murder

A Missouri state representative who once beheaded a chicken on Facebook to make a point about abortion wants police officers to stop women from terminating pregnancies.

Mike Moon, a Republican Missouri state representative, introduced a bill he calls the Right to Due Process Act, which redefines a fertilized egg as a person with all the constitutional rights of any other citizen. The suggested law then requires police and the courts to “affirmatively enforce” the Missouri constitution’s due process clause which guarantees legal rights to people, effectively turning any attempt to terminate a pregnancy into murder.

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We will end female genital mutilation only by backing frontline activists

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 23:00

From the Gambia to Kenya, FGM has been fought most successfully at grassroots level. The world must pay heed

I underwent female genital mutilation at the age of seven, while on holiday in Djibouti. When I returned to school in the UK my teacher told me that this happened to “girls like me”.

Thankfully, this type of reaction is no longer common, and this country is much better equipped to protect girls at risk. FGM is now seen as a global issue, which we know has affected more than 200 million women and girls around the world.

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We should celebrate the sex appeal of pregnant women, not shame them | Yomi Adegoke

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 07:11

Nothing makes me happier than seeing women such as Jodie Turner-Smith deem their bump a part of their body to show proudly

It was hard to believe that Jodie Turner-Smith, the chiselled-from-black-marble female lead of Queen & Slim, the feature film debut from Melina Matsoukas, could get any more resplendent. Then she got pregnant. Last Friday, she glowed on Graham Norton’s couch, her bare bump on display below a chic, one-shouldered crop top.

Not everyone was as taken with the vision. Inevitable uproar ensued over her audacity to don anything other than a muumuu, to which she clapped back via Twitter, sharing a picture of herself in the outfit with the caption: “Gives zero fucks about your disdain for pregnant women’s bodies on British television.” Personally, I love maternity looks where the bump is treated like another piece of flesh to flash, even if somehow it still rankles with some people.

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Why Tracy Brabin was right to give sexist critics the cold shoulder

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 04:04

The MP responded to comments about her clothes in fine style, but the heavily gendered insults aimed at her prove that male counterparts in the Commons are held to different standards

Tracy Brabin MP is a class act. Following a tide of hate on social media for wearing an off-the-shoulder top in the House of Commons, she tweeted: “I can confirm I’m not a slag, hungover, a tart, about to breastfeed, a slapper, drunk or just been banged over a wheelie bin.”

Notice, if you will, how gendered most of these slurs were: the full kaleidoscope of every crime a woman can commit, across the whole middle section of her life cycle, from having sex to nurturing a child. We cannot, therefore, make a straight comparison between Brabin and her male colleagues, in terms of whose attire is the most policed. Even if the prime minister, say, were to look like he had just rolled in a pile of jumble and stood up, nobody would infer recent sexual activity from it (unless “just got divorced” falls into that category).

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What I learned talking to 120 women about their sex lives and desires

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 23:00

I spoke with widows, newlyweds, monogamists, secret liaison seekers, submissives and polyamorists and found there was no such thing as desire too high or low

Male desire is a familiar story. We scarcely bat an eyelash at its power or insistence. But women’s desires – the way they can morph, grow or even disappear – elicit fascination, doubt and panic.

In 2014, as experts weighed the moral and medical implications of the first female libido drug, I found myself unsatisfied with the myths of excess and deficit on offer, and set out to understand how women themselves perceive and experience their passions.

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Jersey scraps 'only husbands talk tax' rule

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 06:51

Channel island politicians back proposal that married women should have equal tax rights

An “archaic” tax law on the island of Jersey in effect deeming that a wife’s income belongs to her husband is being scrapped.

Politicians on the Channel island have backed a proposal that married women should have the same income tax rights – and responsibilities – as their husbands.

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The treaty of Waitangi was forged to exclude Māori women – we must right that wrong | Emma Espiner

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 03:00

The signing of the treaty marks the point at which Māori women began to be written out of history

This week, to mark Waitangi Day, the Guardian is publishing five pieces of commentary from Māori writers.

This year I’m not interested in the symbolism of what Jacinda Ardern does or doesn’t do or say at Waitangi. I’m looking to the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa inquiry. Nearly 30 years since it was instigated, the inquiry investigates the role of the Crown in contributing to the disadvantage that has inequitably burdened wāhine Māori since the Treaty was signed. At the end of this month a judicial conference will be held to consider the claims.

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Prince William's ticking off means Bafta must get serious about diversity

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 02/03/2020 - 05:41

Bafta seeks to project the image of a global, inclusive institution but the reality suggests it is guided by outdated traditions and prejudices

Bafta likes to think of itself as a cut above its American counterparts, in terms of classiness at least, if not actual importance. Our world-beating film industry might have blurred into Hollywood more than we would like to admit, but I think you’ll find we Brits invented the “black tie” dress code. And the president of our esteemed institution is the second in line to the throne, no less. And we’ve got the Royal Albert Hall. Beat that, “Hollywood royalty”.

But when Bafta’s royal figurehead is giving the institution a royal ticking off, you know they’ve got problems. At Sunday’s ceremony, Prince William addressed the elephant in the hall: the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of this year’s nominees. His speech was surprisingly direct: “In 2020, and not for the first time in the last few years, we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process – that simply cannot be right in this day and age.”

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Sexual harassment: Ecuador president says women tend to accuse ugly people

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 02/03/2020 - 04:24
  • Lenín Moreno scrambles to apologize for remarks to investors
  • President tweets: ‘I reject violence against women in all forms!’

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has scrambled to apologize for comments suggesting women tend to complain about sexual harassment when it comes from ugly people.

In a speech to investors on Friday in the port city of Guayaquil, Moreno said men were under threat of being denounced for harassment and added, “at times, with harassment, they torment ugly people.

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FGM doctor arrested in Egypt after girl, 12, bleeds to death

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 02/03/2020 - 03:30

Child had been taken by her family to have the procedure, still prevalent in the country despite new laws to combat it

A doctor has been arrested after the death of a 12-year-old girl he had performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on.

Nada Hassan Abdel-Maqsoud bled to death at a private clinic in Manfalout, close to the city of Assiut, after her parents, uncle and aunt took her for the procedure.

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Rates of insolvency among women over 65 rapidly increasing

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 14:01

Across all age groups insolvency rate of women overtaken men

The number of insolvencies among women aged 65 and over increased from 1,109 in 2008 to 2,082 in 2018 – an increase of 88% – according to new analysis of data from the government’s Insolvency Service.

Insolvencies jumped for every age group over the same decade but the increase was biggest in the over-65s, followed by women aged 45-54 (69%), according to the analysis by Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over-50s.

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The menopause isn’t so scary that young women need to sign up for costly surgery | Catherine Bennett

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 02/01/2020 - 21:30

The benefits of tissue harvesting to delay a supposed middle age hell are doubtful

Against a background of tasteful pastel – which signals from the off that we are in the land of discretionary spending on faulty female anatomy – the ProFaM website makes its unique bid for women’s money. Ovarian tissue storage! And not only for fertility-related reasons. Who’d want a menopause? “Will you be ready?” the website challenges. “You never know what the future holds, so freeze the biological clock and prepare for the future.”

For many women, alas, the offer will be empty. The ProFaM clockstopping technique requires young ovarian tissue and costs up to £7,000 for removal (storage and reinstatement extra). “Age 25-30 is optimal,” the doctors say. Once reinstalled, the tissue is supposed to function as “natural HRT”.

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