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Wellcome prize shortlist celebrates books about masculinity and mental illness

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 20:01

A transgender boxer’s memoir and Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation are among the six titles vying for the £30,000 prize

From a memoir by the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden to a novel inspired by the life of Alan Turing, the exploration of gender is a key theme on the shortlist for this year’s Wellcome book prize.

The £30,000 award is open to fiction and non-fiction, and aims to celebrate a book that best illuminates “the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives”. The six books shortlisted this year include transgender boxer Thomas Page McBee’s memoir Amateur, an exploration of gender and masculinity that judges said “challenges and confounds some of our most ingrained prejudices”, and Will Eaves’s novel Murmur, which fictionalises the period of Alan Turing’s life when the mathematician was undergoing chemical castration, before he killed himself. The chair of judges, novelist Elif Shafak, said it would “grip your mind in the very first pages, break your heart halfway through, and in the end, strangely, unexpectedly, restore your faith in human beings and their endless capacity for resilience”.

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Khloé Kardashian says we should show love to racists – but why coddle them? | Yomi Adegoke

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 08:34

In the minds of many, being colourblind is seen as a type of kindness, that racism cannot exist if we are all just humans

Over the weekend, Khloé Kardashian posted on Instagram about a T-shirt that seemed, at first glance, forgivably mawkish. It encouraged her followers to “love thy neighbor” and listed neighbours of differing levels of disenfranchisement: “Thy black neighbor. Thy gay neighbor. Thy Jewish neighbor,” and so on. The penultimate line read: “Thy racist neighbor.”

The internet, unsurprisingly, lost it. It can easily be inferred from the T-shirt that “racist” is a neutral, even misunderstood, status: it suggests that, like being gay or black, it is something you are born with that the world unfairly vilifies. In Kardashian’s mind, a racist’s struggle is comparable to that of a homeless person or an addict (who were also offered a serving of love, as opposed to anything substantial). Her endorsement of that message suggests she sees “racist” as an identity – and a marginalised one at that. This is the logical conclusion of a dangerous rhetoric that posits the intolerant as victims of a system that they seek actively to uphold.

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Italy accused of restoring honour killing defence after lenient femicide rulings

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 03:56

Anger after judges cut prison sentences given to two men convicted of killing women

Decisions by two appeal judges to grant lighter sentences to men convicted of femicide have further exposed deeply rooted cultural stereotypes within the Italian judiciary system and wider society.

In the first case, a judge in Bologna ruled in early March that an “emotional storm” brought on by “unhappy life experiences” had motivated Michele Castaldo, 57, to murder Olga Matei, 46, a month into the couple’s relationship, and so reduced his jail term from 30 years to 16.

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Do not fear the smear: how to overcome anxiety about cervical screening

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 03:13

Many women, particularly those who have survived sexual abuse, are scared of being tested. But there are ways to change this, from asking for a smaller speculum to singing Frozen hits

It was only three months. Four, at the most. Throughout, the letters kept coming, so regularly that Laura Flaherty didn’t need to open them to know what they contained: a repeated request for her to make an appointment for a cervical screening. The procedure gathers cells from your cervix, a narrow “neck” that joins the uterus to the top of the vagina, which are then screened. But it is better known as a smear test because cells that are removed from your cervix with the help of a speculum (a device that keeps the vaginal walls open) and a brush are then smeared on to a slide for analysis. Abnormal cells sometimes require further testing because they may indicate cervical cancer, the best-known gynaecological cancer and, in the UK, the most common cancer in women under 35.

It is also one of the most preventable cancers – if women go for smear tests. Screening is estimated to save 5,000 lives a year. It is 10 years since the reality TV star Jade Goody died of cervical cancer at the age of 27, after which the number of women having smear tests rose by a third. Now, rates of cervical screening are the lowest they have been for 20 years. Why?

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US accused of trying to dilute global agreements on women's rights

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 21:00

Draft documents suggest US will refuse to reaffirm commitment to international declaration on women’s rights at New York forum

US officials in New York are attempting to water down language and remove the word “gender” from documents being negotiated at the UN, in what is being seen as a threat to international agreements on women’s rights.

In negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which resume at UN headquarters this week, the US wants to replace “gender” in the forum’s outcome document with references only to women and girls.

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Male and female writers’ media coverage reveals ‘marked bias’

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 20:01

The Emilia Report, named for England’s first published female poet, analysed the fortunes of writers of opposite sexes in the same market areas

Emilia Bassano became England’s first published female poet in 1611 and – according to some – could be the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. But Bassano has largely been forgotten by posterity, with her reputation eclipsed by male contemporaries. Four hundred years later, research commissioned by the producers of Emilia, a play about Bassano’s struggle for recognition as an artist, has found that women writers continue to be judged by the “pram in the hallway”, and pigeonholed as domestic rather than taken seriously as authors.

The Emilia Report compared broadsheet coverage of 10 male and female writers in the same market. It found a “marked bias” towards male writers, who received 56% of review coverage. Looking at comparable authors Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris, who had both written new works of fantasy – Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and Harris’s A Pocket Full of Crows – researchers found that while Gaiman’s received widespread coverage, Harris’s did not receive any coverage at all. A similar story emerged for commercial fiction authors Matt Haig and Rowan Coleman; his How to Stop Time was mentioned 12 times by newspapers, in a mix of reviews, interviews and news, while her The Summer of Impossible Things got just three mentions.

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UK's top gynaecologist spearheads women's health task force

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 20:00

Lesley Regan argues maternity checks ignore lifelong health, letting women fall through the cracks

One of the UK’s top doctors is leading an effort to revolutionise health services for women, from helping them prevent unplanned pregnancies to staving off disease in old age.

Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is co-chairing a women’s health task force with the government minister Jackie Doyle-Price, which aims to help the 51% of the population who are women get joined-up care and attention to their needs throughout the lifespan.

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Let big data unlock the secrets of our bodies | Ida Tin

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 19:59

Technology will help to map female mysteries, from menstruation to menopause

International Women’s Day was this year, for the first time, a public holiday in Berlin where I live. For many, this meant a “free” long weekend at the tail end of a grisly winter.

I didn’t begrudge many of my fellow Berliners being wilfully oblivious of the reason for the holiday, but it would have been good to feel a greater awareness of the UN’s theme for this year: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.” For me, that means how can we advance gender equality via technology when we live in a world where I can be guided across the planet with just a few taps on the phone in my pocket and yet we still struggle to understand what is going on with our bodies.

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Beto 2020: a masterclass in male entitlement | Arwa Madhawi

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 03:00

The Democratic presidential hopeful said: ‘Man, I’m just born to be in it.’ He is, after all, a rich kid from a well-connected family

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

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Older female workers 'twice as likely as men' to be informal carers

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 06:07

ONS report says women, unlike men, are equally likely to work whether they are carers or not

Older female workers are almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to be informal carers, a report by the Office for National Statistics has found.

People in their 50s and 60s have the most caring responsibilities, with one in five providing unpaid care.

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Why so few women in the boardroom? Because men won’t listen to them | Christina Patterson

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 22:59
Here’s a deal – we’ll stop the fuss about gender if the other half will just occasionally shut up

Wasn’t it great? All those lunches! All those parties! All those speeches, saying how great we are and how far we’ve come!

Perhaps it was for you. I spent International Women’s Day in the way I spend most days: sitting at home, in front of my computer, looking forward to the odd trip to the kettle. I saw the tweets, and read the articles, but it all felt a bit like bring-your-daughter-to-work day. It felt like dress-up-as-Hermione for World Book Day. It felt like Crufts.

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Pakistan torn as women’s day march sparks wave of ‘masculine anxiety’

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 16:34

Public figures spoke of humiliation and rape threats surged online after rally posters hit too close to home for some men

One poster read: “Keep your dick pics to yourself.” Another had a drawing of a vagina and two ovaries and the words: “Grow a pair!” A third said, “If you like the headscarf so much, tie it around your eyes.”

The posters featured at women’s day marches across Pakistan last week, and were just a handful among hundreds that highlighted fundamental rights issues such as access to education and employment. They have since unleashed a social media storm. Thousands complained the marchers were “vulgar” opportunists who had infringed on conservative values in the Muslim-majority country and supplanted a legitimate fight for rights with a liberal, anti-Islamic agenda. Many called for a parallel men’s march.

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FTSE 350 firms under fire over ‘unacceptable’ lack of female directors

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 14:01

Investor group urges listed firms with only one woman on board to address diversity targets

An influential investor group has written to more than 60 publicly listed companies with only a single female director, including Domino’s Pizza and JD Sports, raising concerns over a lack of gender diversity and warning of a backlash if progress is stalled.

The Investment Association (IA), which represents 250 firms with £7.7tn in assets under management, has joined up with the Hampton-Alexander review team to criticise FTSE 350 firms with “one and done” boardrooms that have a single female board member.

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Mind the gender pay gap: Berlin women to get public transport discount

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 06:45

Gender-specific “Frauenticket” will be 21% cheaper than usual and available on 18 March in stunt to flag German pay gap

Women travelling on Berlin’s metro, buses or trams will pay 21% less than men next Monday in a stunt to boost the visibility of Germany’s gaping gender pay gap.

The city’s public transport operator, BVG, said its “Frauenticket” will be available on 18 March only, to mark Equal Pay Day in Germany. Under the slogan “Mind the pay gap”, it said its cut-price ticket was intended to flag the 21% difference between men and women’s average earnings, one of the biggest gender pay gaps in Europe.

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French gynaecologists' union threatens to stop performing abortions

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 06:43

Health minister calls protest about lack of medical insurance ‘taking women hostage’

A French gynaecologists’ union has threatened to halt pregnancy terminations in an attempt to force the country’s health minister to meet disgruntled doctors.

The Syngof union wrote to its 1,600 members calling them to be prepared to stop carrying out abortions to “make ourselves heard” and force the government’s hand.

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Government to provide free sanitary products in English secondary schools

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 04:47

Chancellor’s statement follows campaigns to end period poverty

The government will provide free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year.

The chancellor made the announcement in the spring statement, where the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast growth of 1.2% this year – a downgrade from the 1.6% forecast at the budget in 2018.

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Genetics may reduce efficacy of hormonal contraception – study

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:15

Tentative link found between genetic variant and faster breakdown of hormone

An unintended pregnancy while using hormonal contraception may not always be down to the woman’s mistake, according to research that suggests for some genetics could play a role.

Millions of women use hormonal contraceptives such as different types of the pill, contraceptive implants or hormone-releasing intrauterine systems (IUS) or vaginal rings. These devices release hormones to prevent the release of an egg, as well as triggering other changes in the body to prevent a pregnancy.

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Pete Davidson is dating an older woman - why is the world shocked?| Arwa Mahdawi

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 06:00

Misogyny is behind the criticism of the Saturday Night Live comedian’s relationship with Kate Beckinsale

Quiz time! Put your calculators away, please, I have a maths problem designed to test every inch of your natural intelligence. Ready? Here we go: Pete Davidson is a 25-year-old comedian. He is dating Kate Beckinsale, a 45-year-old actor. What’s their age difference?

Twenty years? Wrong. The correct answer, judging from popular responses, is: “Too many years to be acceptable”. While society takes older men hooking up with younger women for granted, we still seem to have a lot of hang-ups about women dating younger guys. There is a one-word explanation for this: misogyny.

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Tucker Carlson's sexist rants reveal an ugly truth | Moira Donegan

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 04:27

The Fox News host has shown us just how much misogyny continues to be tolerated – and encouraged – by men

Tucker Carlson, the Fox News commentator with a primetime show and a history of vitriolic racist rants, is in the news again after the media watchdog group Media Matters unearthed recordings of him from the mid-aughts, in which Carlson calls into a radio shock jock program to make a series of luridly sexist assertions and racist asides, palling around with a host who goes by the moniker “Bubba the Love Sponge”.

Related: R Kelly and the art of the male meltdown | Arwa Mahdawi

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BirthStrikers: meet the women who refuse to have children until climate change ends

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 02:00

A movement of women have decided not to procreate in response to the coming ‘climate breakdown and civilisation collapse’. Will their protest be a catalyst for change?

As soon as Blythe Pepino got together with her partner Joshua two years ago, she felt “this overwhelming urge to create a family with him”, she says. “I think it was the fifth day after having met him, I said: ‘I’ve got to meet your parents.’ He was like: ‘You’re mad.’”

Then, late last year, she attended a lecture held by the direct action group Extinction Rebellion, which set out starkly the catastrophic reality of the changing climate. That galvanised Pepino, an activist and musician (she is the former singer of Vaults, now Mesadorm), to do research of her own and, eventually, to have a series of sad conversations with Joshua.

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