Women's News from the Web

Daily Star covers up its Page 3 girls, signalling end of tabloid tradition

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 19:00

Newspaper was last print daily using topless images but says it will trial non-naked pictures

Almost two decades into the 21st century, the days of the Page 3 girl look to be finally over, after the Daily Star announced it would no longer feature pictures of topless women.

The newspaper was the last daily print outlet maintaining the British tabloid tradition, after the Sun stopped doing so following political pressure in 2015.

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What ‘Career Barbie’ Really Needs

Women's eNews - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 10:04

Barbie first hit the toy market 60 years ago in March, 1959. Her creator, Ruth Handler, believed that by playing with this new toy, “little girls…could be anything they wanted to be.” This message continues to be a clear winner.

In 2018, the Barbie brand “generated gross sales that amounted to about 1.09 billion U.S. dollars, up from about 955 million U.S. dollars the year before.” Mattel hit the jackpot with Barbie, both here and across the globe . The website Statista reported, “The commercial success of Barbie has allowed Mattel to become the ninth most valuable toy brand worldwide as of 2018.”

It is not surprising that to commemorate her diamond anniversary, Mattel introduced a glamorous Barbie who, according to the company’s product website, “wears a cascading ball gown twinkling with silvery sparkles. Paying homage to the original Barbie® doll and her iconic fashion heritage, Barbie® 60th Anniversary doll wears a dramatic ponytail with an elegant twist, side-eye glance, hoop earrings and wrist tag.”

The original Barbie was unrealistically thin, blonde and built with impossible to obtain proportions. Critics noted that she was stereotypically, the “dumb blond.”

That conclusion was reinforced when, in 1992, Mattel introduced Teen Talk Barbie. A doll with a voice box programed with such phrases as “Math class is tough.”, “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “Let’s plan our dream wedding!”, ”Wanna have a pizza party?”, “Want to go shopping?”, “Okay, meet me at the mall”, and “Let’s have a campfire”.

With very few exceptions these phrases added to the picture of Barbie as a air-headed girl who could only think about enjoying today. She personified the stereotype of the day; a female who had no dreams of a future career, only thoughts about fun and marriage.

Since then, perhaps in response to changing demographics, Mattel has done a 180, and has embraced Ruth Handler’s message of choice, who once said, “Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” Mattel’s recent focus has been on Barbie’s choice of career. One report on the popular website TwentyTwoWords claims that Barbie has had “over 200 careers… she’s been everything from robotics engineer to journalist; a few more of her careers include a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, a paleontologist, a fashion editor, a sign language teacher, and a presidential candidate!”

Barbie was around when the percentage of women entering the labor force shot up dramatically., and Mattel’s decision reflected this change. “In 1970, about 43 percent of women ages 16 and older were in the labor force. By 2000, 61 percent of adult women were in the labor force ,” reports the Population Reference Bureau.

In another move to recognize women’s outstanding contributions, Mattel honored a number of female heroes (Sheros) with their own Barbie dolls, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay , tennis champ Naomi Osaka, fashion executive Eva Chen and Olympic fencer  Ibtihaj Muhammad.  The list of continues to grow by recently introducing big wave surfer Maya Gabeira; Kristina Vogel, a disabled Olympic Gold Medal cyclist from Germany who has gone into politics; Tessa Virtue, a Canadian Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing; Yara Shahidi , co-star of the popular sitcom Blackish; Vogue cover model Adwoa Aboah; Dipa Karmaka, an Indian visual artist; Chinese photographer Chen Man and Ita Buttrose, an Australian journalist and editor. And, in 2016, “Mattel went a step further and released a range of dolls with different body types, more hairstyles and seven skin tones, to better represent the world we live in.”

Mattel has also incorporated other changes to reflect the diverse world of today. As of 2016, Barbie is no longer universally slim, blonde, and pale skin. She is now brown, black, and Asian. She also mirrors society by featuring some dolls in wheelchairs and even wearing a prosthetic leg.

So Mattel is clearly getting some things right, but there is one glaring omission. Barbie may have Ken, but she certainly doesn’t have children. In that way, she is just as one-dimensional as the original Barbie. Apparently, she can choose to have a career, but she cannot choose to have a career and children. Yet the choice of being a working mother is the overwhelming choice of her target audience. In an important way, Mattel is sending the age-old message: Women cannot have it all.

But young women are ignoring that advice. A 2014 large-scale Gallup poll concludes, “There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that millennials — both married and single/never married — are putting off having children. Even among the small percentage (2%) of married 18-year-old millennials, less than half (44%) have no children, and the percentage decreases with age to just 17% at age 34. And while few single 18-year-old millennials have children (4%), that percentage rises to almost half by age 34. Essentially, almost half of the oldest millennials who have never married nonetheless have children. In 2000, the comparable number for Gen Xers aged 30 to 34 was just 30%.”

Regardless of whether they delay marriage or decide not to marry, millennials are definitely choosing to become parents. In fact, working mothers are now the norm, according to a 2017 report from the Department of Labor. Indeed, “Seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-tim Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11 percent in 1960.”

Women are clearly are opting to have it all, while Barbie is still stuck in the days when that option was not available. She may look different, she may not be tied to the house, but she is clearly out of touch with the life most of her target audience envisions for itself.

Maybe Mattel needs to add working mom Barbie to its cast of characters. She could be wearing a suit for the office, scrubs for the operating room, a police uniform or work clothes for the building site.

She would also come with a detachable snugli with a baby in it.

Dr. Rosalind C. Barnett is a senior scientist who has directed studies for the National Science Foundation, NIMH and the Sloan Foundation and Caryl Rivers is a professor of Journalism at Boston University They are the authors of The New Soft War on Women (Tarcher/Penguin) 

Death sentence for abortion? The hypocrisy of US pro-lifers is plain to see | Jill Filipovic

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 00:00

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. The repercussions are chilling

Do “pro-life” advocates care about life or do they care about punishment? The latest abortion debate out of Texas gives a clear answer: the goal is to hurt women, not defend life.

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. For context of how extreme that is, even in the United States before Roe v Wade made abortion broadly legal, the procedure was outlawed in most states but was not considered murder – abortion was its own crime. Texas in 2019 wants to be even more barbaric than that, and turn women who end their pregnancies into felons, killers, and even death row inmates.

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South Korean court rules abortion ban must be lifted

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 22:57

Historic decision sparks celebrations in Seoul following decades of campaigning

A court in South Korea has ruled that the country’s decades-old ban on abortion must be lifted, in a historic decision that sparked celebrations in Seoul.

Thursday’s decision by the constitutional court marks a major victory for pro-choice campaigners, 66 years after the country banned abortions in all but a few cases.

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I used makeup to appear lighter – until I redefined black beauty for myself

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 19:00

I followed YouTube makeup tutorials to feel more feminine but saw the errors of my ways

Colorism is more than being called a cockroach, having guys compare my nether regions to a medium rare steak, or seeing my crush preferring lighter-skinned women over me. No, it goes deeper than that. Colorism has programmed me to view myself as everything but beautiful, or even a woman.

Masculinity, ugliness and undesirability are traits that I have identified with since early adolescence. I was a tomboy, and being a dark-skinned black girl only added another layer to any discomfort I had regarding my appearance.

As a young teen, I was never comfortable wearing anything too feminine or skin-revealing. Hoodies, jeans, and sneakers were the only things in my closet. And yet, my bedroom was the opposite of this attitude: I had posters of the Jonas Brothers and the Twilight cast plastered over my walls, a large hot pink Hello Kitty blanket laid across my bed and a vast collection of Barbie and Bratz dolls. It was a stark contrast to the girl who mainly hung out with boys to play video games and football, and who liked riding bikes around Philadelphia.

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White House plans to screen anti-abortion film Gosnell

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 06:30

The graphic drama about Kermit Gosnell, a doctor found guilty of murdering three babies, will reportedly be screened by the Trump administration

The White House has plans to host a screening of anti-abortion indie film Gosnell this Friday, Slate reports. This screening takes place just weeks after the Donald Trump raised concerns about late-term abortions following the passing of New York’s Reproductive Health Act. Invitations to the screening of the film, which depicts second- and third-trimester abortions in graphic detail, have been sent to pro-life activists across the US.

Released last year, Gosnell (full title: Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer) follows the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a doctor prosecuted in 2013 for first-degree murder. Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphiawhere he performed illegal late-term abortions for disadvantaged women and was convicted for the killing of three babies born alive. Investigators noted a wealth of health code violations in the clinic, calling it a “house of horrors”.

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‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 07:18

The woman at a Khartoum demonstration ‘was trying to give hope,’ says eyewitness

The image is striking: a young woman, alone, standing above the crowd, urging them on with songs of revolution.

Taken on Monday night in the centre of Khartoum, as tens of thousands thronged the roads in front of the heavily guarded complex housing the headquarters of the military and the feared intelligence services, the picture of the woman in white with gold circular earrings has become an icon of a protest.

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Penny Mordaunt says UK will defend abortion rights amid global pushback

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 01:46

Development secretary vows government will ‘hold a strong line’, after attempts by Trump administration to weaken commitments

Britain’s international development secretary has promised to stand firm in her support for abortion rights in the face of growing opposition.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Canadian embassy on Monday, Penny Mordaunt said: “Leadership means not shying away from issues like safe abortion when the evidence shows us these services will save women’s lives.”

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Coalition announces $10m for endometriosis research and awareness

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 20:33

Women living with crippling pain experience average eight- to nine-year diagnostic delay

After allocating $4.7m in 2018 towards a national action plan to tackle endometriosis, the health minister on Tuesday announced a further $10m towards researching and raising awareness about the crippling and chronic menstrual condition.

Related: Endometriosis action plan follows decades of lobbying – and suffering

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The #MeToo movement gave a voice to silenced women – so why are films about it all made by men?

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 20:00

From the David Mamet play Bitter Wheat to Steven Berkoff ‘s Harvey, how ironic that women directors are being written out of the narrative

The #MeToo movement intended to give a voice to the silenced, and one of the more literal ways it is now attempting to do so is through the stage and screen. There’s a highly anticipated offering on the Fox News boss Roger Ailes, written by Charles Randolph and directed by Jay Roach. John Malkovich will play the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in the David Mamet play Bitter Wheat, and Harvey, another play about him, was directed and performed by Steven Berkoff. Ryan Murphy is in talks for a #MeToo-themed anthology series called Consent. The stories that were scaremongered, bribed and blackmailed out of the public domain are finally being told – and almost entirely by men.

There is a churning sense of irony in the fact that a campaign created to amplify women’s voices is instead amplifying the voices of men. The silencing, albeit in a different, less obvious form, continues. This, in my mind at least, is not to say that men cannot write accurately, or empathetically, about sexual assault and power dynamics. It is also not to suggest that there aren’t male victims who have been part of the #MeToo movement also, as in those allegedly abused by Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer (though it is worth noting that it is the stories of abuse against women specifically that directors are choosing to tell). Weinstein, Spacey and Singer deny all claims against them. It doesn’t bode well for women in the film industry if, even in instances where they are the mobilisers of a movement, it is men who still dominate its narrative.

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From overlooked extra to Spike Lee star: how I beat Hollywood's colorism

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 19:00

Like many darker skinned actors, DeWanda Wise was offered stereotypical roles of criminals and prostitutes. So she made her own movie and caught the eye of one of the industry’s leading directors

Growing up in the DC metro area, I was cute with a caveat: I had chocolate skin.

When I was six years old, a close relative quipped that if I continued to play in the sun, I would end up “looking like a tar baby”. It was like touching a hot stove for the first time: I hadn’t even thought about the color of my skin before that moment, even though I went to an all-white school.

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Vera Brittain challenges the idea that wifehood is an occupation - archive, 9 April 1929

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 18:30

9 April 1929 Wifehood and motherhood are not jobs; like husbandhood and fatherhood they are personal relationships

Perhaps no argument against the combination of marriage and a career is quite so popular as the familiar cliché that wifehood is a profession. “I was always taught that marriage was a career in itself,” disapprovingly remarked a young woman at the close of a recent lecture in which I had maintained that if wives preferred employment outside their homes they should be free to make the choice. Shortly afterwards I opened the pages of Dr. Meyrick Booth’s newly published treatise Woman and Society to find the old confusing argument stated with all the old naive simplicity. “The occupation of wifehood,” remarks the author, “is the largest of all the careers open to the young citizen of our country. And this career is a female monopoly … Being a husband is not an occupation by which a man earns his living. But 5,000,000 women secure their economic existence by being wives.”

Related: Shirley Williams: testament to my extraordinary mother Vera Brittain

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Seasons of the witch: as women we nurture the riches of earth, food and health

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 17:42

The correlation of the feminine to nature, repressive for so long, can be a source of power

In the past few months I have started putting down roots. It’s a cliche but it’s literally what I’m doing. I spend my weekends transforming the tired old lawn into garden beds, layering woodchips, straw and horse shit I’ve shovelled from the paddocks next door into rich soil to grow my lettuces and kale. I have always loved gardening but now, more than ever, working with the earth has taken on an element of the spiritual.

As a teenager, like many suburban white girls, I got way into Wicca, that gentle, nature-centred neo-pagan religion beloved by would-be witches everywhere. Much later, in my early 20s, I revisited witchcraft, finding an unstructured feminine spirituality that helped me make sense of the world.

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Pressuring women to stay in their homes will kill them | Anna Spargo-Ryan

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 13:44

Women don’t need marriage counselling. They need help for starting over and law enforcement that takes abuse seriously

Against expert advice, the government has created a $10 million grants program to deliver services to people (mostly women) being violently abused by their intimate partners. The conditions of the grant actually state that it is to deliver a “whole of family approach”, incorporating counselling, dispute resolution and education for violent or abusive individuals. “Whole of family” includes both the person being abused and the person abusing them.

When this was announced, a close friend shared her experience. In her mid-20s, she told her husband she was leaving. It was the second time she had tried, after her husband had refused to accept it. This time he offered a non-compromise: that they would try marriage counselling first, and if it didn’t help, she would be allowed to go. The counsellor, appointed by the church, saw the couple in her home. Each week, she was made to justify why she wanted to leave while her husband sat less than arm’s reach away.

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Three cheers for Holly Willoughby's refusal to talk about her diet | Frances Ryan

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 04:51

By not indulging the media’s toxic obsession with celebrities’ bodies, the This Morning presenter is showing that women are worth more than their weight

“It’s not up to me to give you a blow-by-blow account of what I’ve eaten that day. It’s not helpful, and it’s not what’s important,” Holly Willoughby told the Sunday Times, presumably to the cheers of women everywhere.

The This Morning presenter’s weight loss last year was predictably picked over by the tabloids. And Willoughby is used to attention for how she looks – she shares her wardrobe with her 5 million Instagram followers daily. But she explained that the silence over the issue of her smaller frame has been intentional.

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Why women need to stop saving their cash – and start investing

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 04:11

Money is still a taboo subject for women and they are the poorer for it. But it’s easy to invest in stocks and shares, starting with £25 a month

Fourteen years ago, I edited a magazine for investors. I took over the job from another woman, many of the journalists I commissioned were women, and most of the press officers I spoke to were women. But when it came to the fund managers we interviewed, almost all were men. The readership, too, was overwhelmingly male. Women clearly understood how the stock market worked; they just weren’t investing in it themselves.

An adage in the financial sector goes that women save and men invest – and this still rings true. It seems that even women who have money to put aside tend to squirrel it away rather than try to grow it. In 2015/16, the last year for which data is available, 892,000 women invested in the government’s stocks and shares Isas (which allow you to invest up to a fixed amount with potential tax-free returns) as against 1.1 million men. In contrast, when it comes to much safer cash Isas, 5.2 million women invested in the same year against 4.4 million men.

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Why we asked 27 black women to speak out on taboo of colorism

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/07/2019 - 19:00

Guardian US’s new series will explore the discrimination based on skin complexion that exists within the black community

  • Share your experience of colorism: use #ShadesofBlack on social media
  • Have you experienced colorism? Share your story here

You already know black American women are paid considerably less than white men; that young black men are five times more likely to be incarcerated as white youth; and that black children are suspended from school at a much higher rate than white children.

This is how racism works. But what is less discussed is another “ism” that also derives from slavery.

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'People don't even look at me': eight black women discuss politics of light and dark skin – video

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/07/2019 - 19:00

As part of our Shades of Black series, we invited eight women to talk about their experience of colorism in their relationships, careers and everyday life. 

Colorism is the discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone. This means that darker-skinned black people have to fight prejudice even within their own community, where lighter skin is seen as more desirable. As such, darker-skinned black people can experience both racism and colorism.

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Tampon tax: women's charities urge for cash to be ringfenced

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/07/2019 - 08:04

Open letter from Women’s Resource Centre says current allocation damages ‘fragile women’s charity sector’

The struggling women’s charity sector is suffering further damage as a result of the way funds raised from the tampon tax are being allocated, it has been claimed.

In an open letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, more than 100 women, including academics and representatives of women’s charities, have urged the government to ringfence cash raised from the unpopular levy to be donated to organisations dedicated to women.

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