Women's News from the Web

Maternal stress and the male foetus | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/04/2019 - 06:27
When women are secure and optimistic they produce more boys than usual, writes Sebastian Kraemer

Zoe Williams cites the American sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong, who “examined the evidence for the detrimental effects of stress on a pregnancy. The only demonstrable correlation was between a profound stress event – the death of an existing child, or spouse – during pregnancy, and a negative outcome” (The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama, 2 July).

Several scientific studies have shown a significant effect on the offspring of pregnant women living in the area of catastrophic events, such as 9/11 and the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. The ratio of boys to girls born alive a few months later is always reduced. The male foetus is more vulnerable than his female sister to death from severe maternal stress.

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States are prosecuting women in the name of 'fetal rights'. We should all be alarmed | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:00

The indictment of Marshae Jones is part of a larger trend of states criminalizing women for unintended pregnancy outcomes

In December, 28-year-old Marshae Jones saw a woman she didn’t like, Ebony Jemison, in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and confronted her. The fight turned physical, and Jemison shot Jones, who was five months pregnant, in the stomach. Jones was rushed to a hospital. She survived, but lost her pregnancy. The fetus had been struck by a bullet.

Yet a grand jury indicted Jones – not Jemison – for manslaughter. Under Alabama law a fetus has the same rights as a living person, and the grand jury ruled that Jones had an obligation to avoid anything that could potentially cause harm to her pregnancy, like making herself available to be shot.

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'A haven': New York sees rise in women traveling across state line for abortions

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 19:00

A growing number of women are travelling for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country

When Courtney Buckman made the difficult decision to have an abortion, the obvious solution should have been to go to her nearest abortion clinic in Montana.

In fact the most practical option for Buckman was to have the procedure nearly 2,000 miles away from home – in New York.

Buckman is one of a growing number of women who are travelling to New York for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country.

Under the Trump administration, 27 abortion bans have been signed so far this year across 12 US states – including in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi, according to the Guttmacher Institute. As a result, Choices Women’s Medical Centre in Jamaica, Queens, has already seen a significant rise in women coming to the centre for abortions from the affected states.

Related: How gerrymandering paved the way for the US's anti-abortion movement

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Alabama: attorney drops charges against pregnant woman shot in stomach

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 09:57

Lawyers defending the woman argued the state used a ‘flawed and twisted rationale’ that ‘ignores the law and ignores reason’

An Alabama district attorney said on Wednesday she is dropping charges against a woman who was indicted for manslaughter after she lost her foetus when was shot during a fight.

Marshae Jones was arrested last week after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her foetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.

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Sexism in dictionaries: why are 'hussy, baggage and filly' still used to describe a woman?

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:35

From the Oxford English Dictionary to Google’s own, the synonyms given for woman are shockingly derogatory – while the entries for ‘man’ are almost universally positive. Now one campaign is trying to take sexism out of the dictionary

Think of the word “woman” and do you automatically think “bitch”? Or hussy, baggage or bit? These are, according to various traditional dictionaries, synonyms for “woman”, which came as a bit of a shock to Maria Beatrice Giovanardi as she typed the word into a search engine one night in January. Giovanardi was seeking inspiration as she tried to name a new project for the women’s rights group she was involved with and was looking for alternative words for “woman”. What she discovered instead was a wealth of derogatory entries. “They are offensive and I don’t believe they are synonyms for ‘woman’,” she says. “I don’t understand why they are there.”

Giovanardi started looking into it more deeply, using the default dictionaries on different search engines. And she began to explore whether men were given similar treatment. They weren’t – the most derogatory synonym for “man” given by dictionaries she found were “bozo” and “geezer”. She was alarmed, too, by the example sentences given below the definitions. Many, she noticed, were themselves sexist, involving stereotypes and centring men. “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman,” is one from Oxford Dictionaries.

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We're having a fantastic summer of women’s sport – even if some men refuse to move with the times

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:21

Women’s football, cricket and netball are more popular than ever, and provide us with role models that break stereotypes of what women can do or should look like

This summer is a great one for women’s sport. We will see England, the reigning Commonwealth champions, going for gold at the Netball World Cup 2019 next week, and the Women’s Ashes are in full swing. But nothing has captured the nation’s imagination quite like the women’s football World Cup.

I’m one of those people who, when asked if I watch football, replies: “Only when the World Cup is on” - but I never thought that response would also encompass the women’s game. Given how generously the title “role model” is handed out to footballers, it has been refreshing to watch players living up to it for once. Simply by existing, the Women’s World Cup teams provide a direct challenge to stifling ideas of what a woman can do – and what a healthy woman looks like. And while there are still no openly gay male footballers active in the upper echelons of the sport, there are many openly lesbian players, coaches and trainers who are outspoken about LGBT and women’s rights in the female game.

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The week the internet cancelled the Dalai Lama

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 05:32

Spiritual leader issued a statement saying he is ‘deeply sorry’ after outcry from Twitter users over his remark that a female successor must be ‘attractive’

The Dalai Lama has become the latest person to be “cancelled” by the internet, a victim of today’s online culture, in which one conversation can get anyone disavowed.

Sixty years ago, the Dalai Lama fled his homeland of Tibet on horseback because of Chinese persecution against Buddhists, and 30 years ago he received the Nobel peace prize for being a messenger of non-violence.

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Mordaunt targets ‘appalling’ Northern Ireland abortion laws

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 02:31

Equalities minister calls for government to act after Tory rivals rule out reform

The women and equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, has signalled her determination to change the “appalling” abortion laws in Northern Ireland a day after the two Conservative leadership rivals ruled out reform on the issue.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were accused of pandering to religious fundamentalists in the Democratic Unionist party by claiming that abortion rights were a matter for the devolved assembly if power sharing was restored.

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Gary Lineker is BBC's best-paid star again, but women close gap

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 01:50

Many female stars have had pay rises, while male news presenters have taken cuts

Gary Lineker has maintained his status as the BBC’s highest earner after the broadcaster’s leading male sports presenters refused to take pay cuts, although many of the corporation’s foremost women have had substantial wage increases.

The Match of the Day host took home £1.75m from the corporation last year, while his fellow pundit Alan Shearer was paid £440,000. Other highly paid sports pundits include Jermaine Jenas on £210,000 a year and Ian Wright on £205,000, while John McEnroe is paid £190,000 for taking part in the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.

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Only 1% of gender equality funding is going to women’s organisations – why? | Kasia Staszewka, Tenzin Dolker and Kellea Miller

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 20:00

There’s been a $1bn boost in support in the last two years, but only tiny pots of money are trickling down to feminist groups

In the past two years alone, governments and international institutions have announced more than $1bn (£0.8bn) in new commitments to support gender equality globally.

These include: €500m (£440m) for the European Union and UN’s joint Spotlight Initiative, €120m by France for its feminist foreign policy and $114m by Norway to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts. Canada has announced CAD$490m (£290m) towards three programmes: women’s leadership ($150m), the LGBTQ2 Fund ($40m), and the Equality Fund ($300m). This fund was among the nearly $600m committed to women and girls in June at the Women Deliver conference.

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The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama. Women must heed the warning | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

The ludicrous indictment of Marshae Jones for the manslaughter of her unborn child is an extreme example of a disturbing pattern

Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when another woman, Ebony Jemison, shot her in the stomach, in an Alabama town called Pleasant Grove. The 27-year-old Jones survived but the foetus, hit by the bullet, did not. Jemison successfully pleaded self-defence, since her gun was drawn in the middle of a fight that Jones reportedly started and was winning – according to an unnamed police source – until the gun was fired.

Since the shooter was exonerated, it seems odd still to be preoccupied with who started the fight. But this is one of two key elements in the extraordinary case against Jones, who was indicted for the manslaughter of her unborn child. As a pregnant woman, Jones’s alleged decision to provoke an altercation represented wilful endangerment. Since the law in Alabama confers “personhood” on a foetus, Jones was treated as she would have been had she endangered a child. Her lawyers have yet to decide whether or not to build a challenge to that idea of “personhood” into their case.

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Boys love these Lionesses too. A football revolution is coming | Sam Haddad

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

My sons are just thrilled England are in a World Cup semi-final. That enthusiasm means a threshold has been crossed

Last Friday morning I woke up to my nine-year-old son shouting: “Did you see that Lucy Bronze goal!?” as he burst into the bedroom. His six-year-old brother was right behind him, earnestly re-enacting the England player’s 20-yard thunderbolt with all his might. They’d followed our usual protocol for evening kickoffs on school nights, inaugurated with England’s men in the World Cup last summer and honed with Liverpool in the Champions League this season. They watch the first half with my husband and me before bed, then watch the second half on catch-up the next morning.

That this time it was women playing rather than men made no discernible difference to their levels of interest or excitement. For them it was just football – and compelling football at that, in which England were doing well.

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Talking About Talking: Perpetuating Bias in our Culture

Women's eNews - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:58

We are in the midst of a long-overdue discussion about the role of speech in perpetuating racial biases in our culture. Presidential candidate Joe Biden triggered the talk when he recalled working in the senate with the notoriously racist Mississippi Democrat James O. Eastland. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’” Biden remembered.

He talked of those bygone days as a time of “civility,” which prompted critics to note that segregationists like Eastland commonly called grown black men “boys,” a term meant to degrade and demean them.

Hurtful rhetoric that demeans Black individuals has been part of our modus operandi, often operating well below the surface of conscious choice. But this latest dust-up over language could have a positive outcome–drawing attention to the fact that speech can also perpetuate harmful gender biases. And men are not alone in using phrases to put women down; women are also at fault.

From the time I was a little girl, I used to bristle at my mother when she talked about “playing bridge with the girls.” What girls? I thought. She was about forty-five years old, and the “girls” were her women friends, also in their mid-forties. At the time, I didn’t say anything to my mother, not yet aware that by being a quiet bystander I was complicit in preserving the stereotype that women were child-like. That was then; now when I hear such demeaning slights I am quicker to voice my objections.

A few years ago, I was accompanying my husband to an appointment with his eye doctor. Before seeing the doctor, patients had to complete a few routine lab tests. The lab technicians in this office were all women. At the conclusion of the tests, the office manager told us to wait in the reception area until “one of the girls” called our name. Once again, I bristled. What girls? My immediate thought was, if the technicians were male, would the office manager have told us “to wait until one of the boys called our name?” Rather than “let it go,” assuming she did not mean anything derogatory, I called the manager aside, telling her that I wanted to talk to her privately. I shared my feelings and was relieved that, after a bit of defensiveness, the manager listened to what I had to say. She asked me how she should say it differently, and I suggested that she tell patients that “one of the technicians” would call their name when the doctor was ready to see them.

I haven’t been back to that eye doctor’s office since then, but I feel certain that our talk raised the manager’s awareness of what she was doing unconsciously, and decreased the chance that she will make the same mistake again.

As Carmen Rios writes on the website, Everyday Feminism,  “saying ‘girl(s)’ comes naturally to me, as it does to so many of us. But just like calling [mixed sex] groups of people ‘guys’ is a widespread and completely normalized practice that inadvertently minimizes the existence of women, so does calling groups of people ‘girls.’

“And yetthe use of the word ‘girls’ to refer to women is very rarely called out as sexist. In fact, it still goes largely unnoticed, even by people who should ‘know better.’ Even media with feminist leanings use the word ‘girls’ as a catchall for adult topics or stories about adult women. Consider the titles of shows like Girlfriends, New Girl, Gilmore Girls, and even Lena Dunham’s own Girls; or movies like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Girl, Interrupted; and Dream Girls. Even the book Girlboss is guilty.

That’s because calling women ‘girls’ is commonplace, and most people don’t bat an eyelash when they do it or when they hear someone else doing it. In fact, calling women ‘girls’ is so normal that people actually feel uncomfortable calling them ‘women’ instead. Yet, it is important to deal with these uncomfortable feelings because there are consequences of not doing so. When we call women ‘girls,’ we’re using the force of language to make them smaller. We resist and deny their maturity, their adulthood, and their true power. When you call a woman a ‘girl,’ you’re actually saying a lot of very serious things about gender politics and womanhood.”

And there are serious consequences. 

A girl is a female under the age of eighteen, so when the word ‘girl’ is used to describe adult females, it implies that women are immature or childish. Thus, language perpetuates the stereotype of women as emotional, irrational, weak, and helpless. 

There are other troubling consequences. When women are referred to as  ‘girls,’ it makes it easier for superiors in the workplace to ignore them and their contributions. Women may also be passed over for promotions because it’s difficult for bosses to appreciate the abilities or career advancement potential of ‘girls’. Further, it’s hard to think of yourself as a capable leader and thinker when you are called a girl or, even worse, when you think of yourself as a girl. 

This behavior garnered international attention in 2015 when the British paper the Guardian reported that then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd were greeted outside 10 Downing Street by a photographer calling to them, “Morning, girls!” For the record, The Guardian noted,  “Morgan is 42 and Rudd 51. Both are well beyond their teen years, when such a greeting might have been apt. Morgan, who is also ‘minister for women’ – that’s women – and equalities, had a witty comeback, shouting, ‘Girls? Girls?!’ The photographer quickly apologized.”

Unfortunately, even old age will not provide protection against the harmful effects of dismissive language. This point was brought home to me several years ago when I took my mother, who was roughly the same age I am now, to a medical appointment. The intake nurse had a number of questions, all of which she addressed to me. My mother, who was as fully competent then, as I am today, was completely ignored; it was as if she wasn’t even in the examination room. Once I saw the pattern, I called the nurse out and insisted that she direct her questions to the person with the answers–my mother.

Just as black males of all ages have been devalued by being called ‘boy,’ women of all ages have been demeaned and trivialized by being called ‘girl.’

Hopefully, the Biden dust-up will ignite a meaningful discussion about language and biases that will have beneficial effects during the 2020 election season, and well beyond.

Billie Eilish embodies the angsty spider-eating teenage girl in all of us | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 07:00

The 17-year-old was astonishing at Glastonbury and reminds me of Kate Bush – but she should not have to disappear like her to express her artistic freedom

I had an inkling Stormzy might be quite good at Glastonbury this year. Down with the kids, innit? But much of the festival on telly was a bit dull. Please don’t tell me you had to have been there. I have been there, which is why I will never go back. Nonetheless, loads of people have a brilliant time, and good luck to them. And every year someone astonishes me.

This year it was Billie Eilish, who seems to have been alive for less time than the set the Cure played to end the festival.

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You can expel your MP for fiddling expenses – but not violence or misogyny. Why? | Mandu Reid

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 02:06
As long as they avoid a custodial sentence, men who assault or harass cannot face recall from Commons. This is a scandal

• Mandu Reid is leader of the Women’s Equality party

I have never grabbed someone by the neck. Nor have I ever groped anyone, or looked at porn at work. I’ve never sent a colleague an inappropriate text message or asked someone I manage to buy sex toys for my partner. I have never been accused of rape. You would think that I wouldn’t need to clarify those things but, as a politician, I increasingly feel the need to. After all, there are more than a dozen men sitting in our House of Commons who have been accused of doing at least one of the above.

When Mark Field was caught on camera last week shoving a peaceful Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, seizing her by the neck and roughly escorting her from a black-tie dinner there was public outcry. As a result he has been temporarily suspended from his ministerial position and police are investigating third-party reports of assault against him. I believe he should face recall by his constituents. But under current legislation that is impossible.

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Trying to keep up with the Kardashians is returning women to the Victorian era | Marie Le Conte

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 05:07
Bound in corsets and painstakingly painted, today’s socialites promote an ideal of beauty that belongs to another time

Kim Kardashian West is perched on a chair. She’s not quite sitting; instead, she’s pushing her hands into the armrests then leaning against the cushion. Her figure is grotesque: above her generous hips rests an already small waist, tightened beyond belief thanks to a flesh-coloured corset. She addresses the camera. “Anna, if I don’t sit down for dinner, now you know why. I’ll be walking around mingling, talking, but I can hardly sit …” – she tries to sit, she can’t – “I can only half-sit.”

The Anna in question is Vogue’s Wintour and the dinner is the Met Gala’s, which took place in May. The video the quote is from was posted on 7 May, and has been watched more than 21m times since then. Perhaps she was right not to sit; a few weeks later, actor Elle Fanning attended a dinner at Cannes where she fainted and fell off her chair. Her dress, a vintage Prada gown with a corseted waist, was too tight.

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Asking for Botox has been normalised, so what happens now?

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/29/2019 - 21:59

Younger and younger women are being targeted with suggestions that the beauty treatment will empower them

There is a block of student flats near our offices that is the wrongest building in the world. To glance at it briefly, perhaps through tears on a bus, you might see it kindly as a 19th-century warehouse. To walk beneath it, however, with eyes unmuddled by emotion, reveals a pavement-wide gap between the Victorian facade and a hastily erected modern block in shades of glassy grey, which melts out on either side of the warehouse front, its windows opening straight on to the back of the old brick wall. A book called The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism is currently being crowdfunded in order to document these hybrid buildings being flung up across the city – new offices inserted behind the mask of old pub fronts or warehouses, like Christmas tricks of ducks inside turkeys.

Once your eye is trained it seems the streets are filled with such uncomfortable facades and your mind, my mind, wanders down crowded paths of meaning in metaphor. They become an emblem for the awkward tensions between authenticity and progress, or vanity, elsewhere in modern life. For instance, the rise and normalisation of cosmetic procedures.

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Glastonbury urged to boost number of women in headline slots

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/29/2019 - 21:00

Emily Eavis pledges 50/50 gender balance in future lineups as 8 in 10 headlines were male since 2007

Festival goers were preparing to see Kylie Minogue’s much-anticipated performance on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury on Sunday, 14 years after the singer had to cancel a headline performance in 2005 to undergo cancer treatment.

The announcement of Kylie’s performance, in the “legends” slot at Glastonbury’s biggest stage, came amid criticism of the festival for its lack of women in major headline slots. Janet Jackson played on the Pyramid stage on Saturday after the singer used photoshop to promote herself in a line-up poster.

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An app using AI to 'undress' women offers a terrifying glimpse into the future | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/29/2019 - 02:00

Unless we start taking online misogyny seriously, we are going to face a future where women may not be able to exist online

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

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A break in and a burglary make me miss my fearless youth | Coco Khan

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/28/2019 - 03:00

Perhaps as we age we take fewer risks. But I feel I have lost something

Recently I have had two nasty surprises. The first was finding my flat’s back windows shattered (“Was it a child’s football? Or a burglar’s fist?” I fretted). And the second was finding my car broken into. These events aren’t unusual, but because they came in quick succession, I couldn’t brush them off. I felt reduced, vulnerable and paranoid.

This, I know, is not my natural state. In my early 20s I was captivated by the idea of the flâneur – a French word for a man who roams society observing, often at night. Tellingly, flâneuse, the female equivalent, has never gained much traction.

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