Women's News from the Web

‘George Eliot’ joins 24 female authors making debuts under their real names

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 08/12/2020 - 06:19

The Reclaim Her Name project, marking 25 years of the Women’s prize for fiction, will introduce titles including Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans

Middlemarch is to be published for the first time in almost 150 years under George Eliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, alongside 24 other historic works by women whose writing has only ever previously been in print under their male pseudonyms.

Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously. Middlemarch, originally published in eight parts in 1871-72, has never been released under her real name. Evans said she was “resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation”, while her partner George Lewes said “the object of anonymity was to get the book judged on its own merits, and not prejudged as the work of a woman, or of a particular woman”.

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From the Executive Director- She Is Me: How Women Will Save The World

Women's eNews - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:59

Women’s eNews is thrilled to announce that it’s Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief, Lori Sokol, has published a new book available beginning today, August 11th: She Is Me: How Women Will Save The World

A non-fiction book which is part memoir, Dr. Sokol takes you into the homes, offices and classrooms of 30 courageous and powerful women who are dedicating their work, and their lives, to building communities, saving lives, and sustaining the planet.

From author and activist Gloria Steinem, to groundbreaking sports legend Billie Jean King, to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee, you will witness how traits viewed as soft and weak in traditional patriarchal societies, are actually more effective in creating positive change while building peace.

To learn more about her book and all of the inspiring and brave women in it, visit sheismebook.com.

To buy the book, with the entire purchase price donated to Women’s eNews, please click here.

“Because Lori Sokol tells the truth about her own story — and listens with her heart — thirty diverse women have told her the truth of their lives. ‘She Is Me’ takes us from global to personal.” 

– Gloria Steinem, author & activist

Intimate letters reveal Simone de Beauvoir’s role as an agony aunt

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/08/2020 - 22:10

Inspired by the author’s unconventional love life, thousands of men and women wrote to ask for her advice on sex and sexuality, hidden correspondence reveals

She was the feminist icon made famous by her 1949 seminal treatise, The Second Sex, and her open relationship with fellow writer Jean-Paul Sartre, with whom she swapped sexual partners. Now a vast trove of 20,000 letters reveals that Simone de Beauvoir sparked an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from readers in Britain and across the globe.

Far from ordinary fan mail, these are letters filled with an exceptional author-reader intimacy. Both men and women sought her advice on everything from marriage to mistresses, sexual confusion to sex, abortions to affairs.

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UK’s women’s refuges turn away victims who speak no English

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/08/2020 - 21:50

BAME sufferers of domestic abuse refused sanctuary despite available places at many sites

Women’s charities have raised concerns that victims of domestic violence are being refused places at refuges, even when there is capacity, because they do not speak English.

Those turned away include a mother with a 14-month-old baby who was fleeing violence after being held as a slave by her ex-husband.

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'Polarised' debate on gender recognition is harming UK, says equalities chief

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/08/2020 - 09:30

David Isaac urges women’s groups and transgender campaigners to listen to each other and focus on consensus

The departing chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said the polarising debate around transgender rights will be damaging to the country if it continues.

In his final interview, David Isaac, who left his position on Saturday after more than four years in post, urged supporters and opponents of gender self-identification to recognise that they had much in common.

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Indian food delivery company Zomato offers 'period leave' to women

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/08/2020 - 08:21

Employer aims to remove stigma in a nation where menstruation is still taboo to some

Indian food delivery company Zomato has said it will give female employees up to 10 days of “period leave” a year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was stigma around the issue.

Zomato is the most high-profile organisation to institute the policy in India, a country where menstruation is still taboo to some.

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Book of the Week: Since I Lost My Baby

Women's eNews - Thu, 08/06/2020 - 08:30

by Selimah Nemoy

“When I was 17 years old, I was forced to relinquish my newborn baby and told to “just go home and pretend it never happened.” Not likely. Twenty-four years later, I found my daughter and our reunion was broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This is my coming-of-age memoir of what happened those 24 years since losing her, and the power of soul music that brought me through.” – Selimah Nemoy


Los Angeles, 1967 

For What It’s Worth 

I’d paid my dues, big time, the ultimate price for committing the unpardonable sin. After five months of humiliating incar- ceration, with the stroke of a ballpoint pen I agreed to the life sentence that had been handed down: I was walking out of there alone. 

Early morning fog met me on the landing outside, and the whiff of budding flowers on a weedy Scotch Broom in the alley caught me by surprise. I wondered if it was heralding my free- dom or mourning my loss. My father, shoulders sagging with resignation and relief, went first, carrying my suitcase to the car, where my mother, eyes forward but looking at nothing, was waiting inside with the doors locked. 

I took one look back at the hideous institution from which I was being released. Behind its windows, like dark condemning eyes, were generations of secrets and shame—where the wanton and wayward were imprisoned by wicked old witches who had been born with their ugly gray hair in a bun and never been loved by a man in their whole life. 

Across the street behind a chain link fence, a dirty Chihuahua yapped and barked as, for the last time, I descended the wide concrete steps of the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers, a relic of last-century history to which teenage girls like me were banished for the crime of falling in love. 

Halfway down the steps I heard someone call my name. The Director had forgotten to give me her farewell speech: those tired, fake words of wisdom that unimaginative old people hand to young ones as if they were tools or money or the Bible. Standing on the step above me, she put one lizard-like paw on my shoulder. 

“Now dear, you’re only seventeen years old. Your whole life is ahead of you. We’ve taken care of everything.” 

I held my breath, along with the urge to slap her and watch those withered old legs go tumbling down the stairs. 

And then, just like everyone else who had ever inflicted damage on me, she poured on the perma-seal. 

“Just go home and pretend it never happened.”

Click Here for Book Purchase Options

About the Author: Selimah Nemoy is a storyteller, journalist, and author of SINCE I LOST MY BABY: A MEMOIR OF TEMPTATIONS, TROUBLE & TRUTH (OG Press, June 2020). Born in Los Angeles, her coming-of-age journey was shaped by soul music in the 1960s, then by the turbulent, multicultural 1970s in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area.

Selimah served with the (President Bill Clinton) White House Press Corps in 1994, and as the English editor for both an Italian-American and a Japanese-American newspaper. Her play, THE DADDIES, was performed at the Buriel Clay Theatre in San Francisco’s Western Addition, and her short story, GOODBYE, received first place at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. Learn more at selimahnemoy.com

Female doctors in menopause retiring early due to sexism, says study

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 08/05/2020 - 13:01

Experienced women leaving medicine early because of symptoms and lack of support

Female doctors going through the menopause are reducing their hours, moving to lower-paid roles or retiring early from medicine due to sexism and ageism in surgeries and hospitals, research has found.

The British Medical Association (BMA) found a strong pattern of highly experienced women leaving GP partnerships, ending their positions as clinical leaders and directors and leaving medicine early, because they were struggling to cope with menopause symptoms with no support from management or peers.

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‘Disgusting’ study rating attractiveness of women with endometriosis retracted by medical journal

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/04/2020 - 21:34

Fertility and Sterility took seven years to take down Italian study, which was criticised by doctors for ethical concerns and dubious justifications

A widely criticised peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

The study, Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study, was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting”.

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Dreary chat and no sexual spark: the couples who fell out of love in lockdown

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 23:00

With coronavirus keeping us at home, many of us have been taking a long, hard look at our most intimate relationships – and deciding to end them

Hannah began to question her relationship when her boyfriend chose not to live with her during lockdown. They had been dating for two and a half years but didn’t share a home. Now, forced to choose between not seeing each other for weeks on end, or being together 24/7, he had opted for separation.

“At first, I felt anxious about being apart,” she recalls. But friends reassured her that it was only natural not to want to start living together in such stressful circumstances. “We are both very young, in our early 20s, so I brushed aside my concerns and we went to stay separately with our families.”

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I’m bisexual – but worry I'm not as attracted to men as I am to women

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 21:00

I’d feel there was something missing in a long-term heterosexual relationship, but am concerned I am not attracted enough to men to have a monogamous gay relationship

I’m a bisexual man in my 30s. I greatly enjoy sex with women, but the thought of it doesn’t turn me on as much as the thought of receiving anal sex from a man. However, when I am physically intimate with a man I find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an erection. In some ways, this is fine, but I’m worried that the men I sleep with think I’m not enjoying it, or don’t know whether I am or not. I think the wider problem may be that I don’t find men as attractive as women. I don’t enjoy cuddling with men or kissing like I do with women. As a result, I treat the men I’m with like sex objects. I’m worried that if I end up with a woman, I’ll always have something missing from my sex life, but that I am not attracted to men enough to have a satisfying monogamous relationship with a man.

When people are grappling with such questions, what they are really comparing is not so much the qualitatively different sexual experiences, but rather who they experience themselves to be in the context of their relationships with people of different genders. But you do not have to make a choice – not now and not ever.

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'A small but powerful signal': Mumbai installs female figures on traffic lights

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 17:28

Campaigners in India say the move helps dispel the notion that only men should be out in public

Mumbai has become the first city in India to introduce female figures on its traffic lights, a move welcomed by campaigners as a step towards greater inclusivity.

Authorities are swapping the green and red male stick figures for female figures on more than 100 pedestrian crossings as part of a broader plan to make roads more pedestrian-friendly.

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A Female VP: What’s Ambition Got To Do With It?

Women's eNews - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 11:49

It’s convention season, which means it is almost time for Joe Biden to name his VP running mate. Since the announcement that the VP will be a womanvarious names have been floated, each with her own unique selling point: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Tammy Baldwin, Stacey Abrams, Susan Rice – the list goes on and on.

As names have proliferated, so has the commentary: each woman has been analyzed, scrutinized, and endlessly discussed in this not-so-modern Cinderella story. Who will be given the glass slipper, the rose garden? For now, only Prince Joe the Charming knows. In 2020, only four short years after Hilary Clinton’s electoral college defeat, it is sad that women can still only strive second-best, especially given the tremendous rise in women holding public office since the last election.

Today, 127 women serve in Congress, more than ever before but still less than a quarter of all representatives. The tendency to parade and belittle women is, if not as old as time, at least as old as the ancient Greeks. The story of the Trojan War begins with the Judgement of Paris, a not very impressive shepherd saddled with the task of allocating a golden apple to one of three goddesses. Hera promised him power, Athena wisdom, and Aphrodite the possession of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose sex, and the rest, as it were, is history: men get to choose between women more powerful than they, in hopes that their choices will empower them right back.

And so it goes: Biden’s allies are already said to be waging a secret campaign against Kamala Harris, on the suspicion that she will be ‘too ambitious’ for the presidency in 2024 to pull her weight this time around. But why shouldn’t she be? Biden is 77, and age alone means there is a real chance his will be a one-term presidency. Even if it weren’t, what Vice-President doesn’t have his—or, someday her—eye on the next rung?  It is female ambition that is frowned upon, women who are seen as taking up more room than they warrant.

How can we break this narrative? Hillary Clinton tried to be more prepared, more approachable, and more experienced, but failed among her fellow white female voters. What can women do to break out of their pre-assigned role, step off the pedestal, and muck in the same arena where political progress is actually made? As a woman voter, here is what I hope for. Whomever Biden ends up picking—and we each have our favorites—I want the ticket to become a genuine partnership, and the chosen VP an ambitious prospect for next time, when she is the presumptive nominee and the party will have had four years to prepare for the inevitable wave of misogyny.

Even more, though, I want this presidency – through the VP selection, cabinet appointments, leadership position and legislative priorities — to be an exercise in public education, making the prospect of the first female president an inevitable and long overdue consequence of all that women have achieved. To do this, the Biden campaign, and the White House, must work to make women’s issues central to the experience of each and every citizen, whatever their gender.

Reproductive rights, maternity leave, pre- and post-natal care, childcare, workplace discrimination, the pay gap, sexual harassment, rape culture, educational attainment – these are all issues that affect every one of us, even if they impact the bodies of only half the population. Framing them as ‘women’s issues’ not only distorts reality, but ignores the vast contribution of women to the fabric of society as mothers, nurses, teachers, social workers, CEOS, lawyers, soldiers, or doctors.

Biden is well on his way: his $775 billion dollar plan to fund universal childcare and elder care  is an ambitious start, and if the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is that this country’s economic recovery begins and ends with care duties, and those who shoulder them, who are predominantly women of color. But there is more, much more, to be done. Putting a woman in the VP slot is a good start, but to really change the narrative, it is time for Prince Charming to turn the selection process on its head: Ask not what women can do for you, but what you can do for women. 

Ayelet Haimson Lushkov is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a Public Voices Fellow of the Op-Ed Project.

If we can't define what a woman is, how can we organise politically? | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 06:19

I respect everyone’s pronouns – and I ask others to respect the language that defines my life

‘What is a woman?” This was the question asked of the Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran late last month, on the radio programme Political Thinking with Nick Robinson. “You talked of giving straight answers to straight questions,” said Robinson. “Here’s a nice one for you, philosophical: what is a woman?”

There was a pause, before an answer that probably wasn’t as direct as Robinson had hoped. “Well,” said Moran, “a woman is a gender, it is a way to self-identify and there are lots of genders. There is male and that is biological. There is female, which is also biological. A woman is a gender identity which is more akin to being a man. Those are the opposites and then there is also non-binary, which is people who don’t identify with either.”

This seemed confusing to me. So being a man is akin to being a woman? How does that work? I asked the same question on Twitter – what is a woman? – and Naomi Wolf, no less, the author of The Beauty Myth and Vagina: A New Biography, answered that a woman is anyone who wants to be one. It is a personal choice. “Many men and trans people have thanked me for The Beauty Myth,” she wrote. “I didn’t write it only for readers born with uteri.”

The confusion continued on Twitter with a row over a tweet from Piers Morgan, in response to a CNN tweet reading: “Individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25.” Morgan replied: “Do you mean women?”, and when Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, liked Morgan’s tweet, she was accused of being a transphobe. Duffield then tweeted: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix...?!” Progressives who presumably want to win back those “red wall” seats called for her sacking.

I am dismayed at the persecution of trans people – and also at the bile directed towards women who are questioning a narrative in which our experience, needs and reality are too often overlooked. Why can’t we use the word “womxn”, someone asked on Twitter. It’s obvious, isn’t it? To erase the word “woman” means we cannot speak of our biology and our experience. Leftwing feminists, me included, see women as a sex class. American “choice feminism” was a disaster; feminism repackaged as capitalist attainment. The backlash is now here, and in some cases it comes in the form of an ideology that overrides the demands of women.

We don’t talk so much now about the terrible violence meted out to women – the appallingly low rate of rape convictions and the huge and growing incidence of domestic violence – because that would be to see women as still oppressed. And there is a popular narrative now that often says we’re not. For some people, victimhood has become the preserve of a tiny percentage of the population – trans and other seriously marginalised communities – who do indeed have a very hard time. But while their difficulties are recognised, women’s difficulties are considered merely the bleatings of privileged females.

If we cannot define what a woman is or name that experience, we cannot organise politically. As the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin once wrote: “Men have the power of naming, a great and sublime power. This power of naming enables men to define experience, to articulate boundaries and values, to designate to each thing its realm and qualities, to determine what can and cannot be expressed to control perception itself.”

For me, the debate around trans issues is not and never has been about toilets or changing rooms. It is about the right of women to define themselves in a system that is afraid we might do just that.

I will happily respect anyone’s pronouns and I ask other people, too, to respect the language that defines my life in a female meat suit. Men are never spoken of as prostate owners, or vehicles for their penises or testicles. I have never yet read a definition of “cis” that I identify with, even though, as a female whose gender expression matches her sex, this is apparently what I am. The fact is, when it comes to my appearance, I started wearing drag – makeup, heels, big hair – as soon as I knew that, in order to use my mind, I would have to appear on the outside entirely different to how I felt on the inside. Gender nonconformity has been an essential part of my life, as it is for so many people, whether this is apparent or not. I always liked the way the Stonewall activist Marsha P Johnson chose to call herself a “street transvestite action revolutionary”. She thought of herself not as a woman but as “a queen”.

All of us are a combination of biology and history, our bodies situated in a time and a place. I neither want to fetishise and essentialise biology nor deny it. It is different for each of us.

It is often argued on Twitter that the struggle for trans rights is the same as the struggle for gay rights. But, crucially, coming out as gay demands nothing from others but equality. There is now a demand from some activists – many of them not trans themselves; many of them men – that the class of women must be renamed.

I reject this. Am I more than a collection of body parts? Am I allowed to talk of my own life? Am I a woman simply out of choice?

What, then, is a woman? These days, I often find it is simply someone who does not agree to let misogynist men speak for us.

• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist

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The Guardian view on lockdown creativity: a freedom for female musicians? | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 08/02/2020 - 07:25

For some the domestic space has offered artistic liberation at odds with the home’s reputation as a place of constraint for women

The coronavirus pandemic has reconfigured the home as a site of creativity, one glimpsed through webcams and headphones. The format will surely vanish when arts venues reopen. But for some female musicians in 2020, before and during lockdown, the domestic space has offered artistic liberation at odds with the home’s reputation as a place of constraint for women.

Some have long understood the benefits of recording in isolation, away from an industry that prizes looks over sounds. Lockdown’s most highly rated album is perhaps US songwriter Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters. As a 90s teen prodigy, she was dogged by media intrusion, which by her own admission took a lasting toll. But Apple has centred herself by recording in the California home she has seldom left in 20 years. From there, she addressed her past on the album with biting humour and deep feeling.

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Women's prize for playwriting longlist is 'politically charged', say producers

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/31/2020 - 03:05

The £12,000 prize is a galvanising moment for industry that must ‘rejuvenate rather than regress’ after the Covid-19 pandemic

The longlisted writers for a new prize for female playwrights have created “satisfyingly puzzling” characters and “ambitious, politically charged” plays, say the award’s producers.

The Women’s prize for playwriting, open to writers in the UK and Ireland who identify as female, was launched last year. Submissions closed in early March and the prize has grown in significance in the wake of coronavirus, which led venues to close that month and has since devastated the theatre industry. Producer Ellie Keel, whose company launched the prize with Paines Plough (run by Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner), warned that fewer creative risks will be taken by the industry after the pandemic. “It is a historically well-trodden path that work by women can be seen as risky,” said Keel, who wants to “force the theatre industry to rejuvenate rather than regress”.

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Is the #ChallengeAccepted trend simply a Miss Instagram pageant or something more? | Nadine von Cohen

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 13:16

The glamorous photos seem to be the latest in performative western pseudo-feminism. But the tide is turning

In 2020, as a global pandemic enters its eighth deadly month, Black Lives Matter protests continue across the world and the US presidential campaign nobody wants ramps up, cutting through the noise of social media with a campaign is near impossible.

So it was with incredulity that this Tuesday past I watched as a rapidly increasing number of women on my Instagram feed posted beautiful photos of themselves. Of course, hot selfies are the bricks upon which the house of Instagram is built, so this alone wouldn’t have piqued my interest.

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Democrats introduce bill to repeal anti-abortion rule for US overseas aid

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 04:00

Critics of the Helms amendment, which currently prevents the use of aid to fund abortion services abroad, say it is ‘deeply rooted in racism’

The first bill to repeal a US law preventing aid from funding abortion services overseas was introduced to congress on Wednesday.

Democratic congressswoman Jan Schakowsky said the Helms amendment, a policy introduced in 1973, was “deeply rooted in racism” and must be replaced to allow US money to be used to support safe abortion services worldwide.

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Gisèle Halimi, trailblazing French feminist MP and lawyer, dies aged 93

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 03:20

Instrumental in decriminalising abortion in France, Halimi spent her life fighting for women’s rights

The Tunisian-born French feminist MP and lawyer Gisèle Halimi, described as a “trailblazer” and a “rebel”, has died one day after her 93rd birthday.

Halimi was instrumental in the decriminalisation of abortion in France and spent her life fighting for women’s rights. “Injustice is physically intolerable to me. All my life can be summed up with that,” she once said.

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Mexico’s activists brace for landmark supreme court abortion ruling

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/28/2020 - 23:00

The ruling could set a precedent; in states that have restrictive regulations, injunctions could be granted to allow the procedure

Activists on both sides of Mexico’s abortion debate are bracing for a potentially historic supreme court hearing on Wednesday, which could lead to decriminalisation across the country.

The case before the five judges of the high court’s first bench involves an injunction granted in the eastern state of Veracruz, which ordered the local legislature to remove articles from its criminal code pertaining to abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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