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The SNP’s failure to defend abused politicians belies its caring image | Kevin McKenna

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 19:00

Female MPs and MSPs with unpopular views on abortion and gender have been the target of vile attacks

Do Tory prime ministers, on taking office, begin immediately to brace themselves for the moment when they are finally undone by the blows of their friends? There was Theresa May last week reflecting on her own wretched tenure and admitting that she hadn’t reckoned with the hatred that had engulfed her party over Brexit. “You know what some people call us: the nasty party,” she told the Tory conference in 2002 when she was its chairwoman. Like several of her predecessors, she eventually came to discover that her party reserves an exquisite level of malevolence for its own.

They spend their years in power striving to convince voters that compassion and decency lie at the party’s heart. In the end, they are knifed by those grey men with the vulpine grins when they are deemed to be of no further use. How else did she think it would end in a party that devised the Windrush scandal and the evil of benefits sanctions?

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Condemning poor children to a life without culture is a form of cruelty | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:30
From music to sport, too many kids are losing out on vital life-enhancing activities

Disadvantaged children in England are being priced out of a cultural hinterland. A Social Mobility Commission study, from the University of Bath, reports that children aged 10-15 from low-income families are three times less likely than wealthier peers to engage in out-of-school musical activities, such as learning an instrument or joining a choir or orchestra.

There were also differences according to race – 4% of British Pakistani children took part in music classes, compared with 28% of Indian children and 20% of white children – and regional divides: 9% of children in north-east England played a musical instrument, compared with 22% in the south-east.

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Like a natural woman: why taboos about discussing the female body are dying

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 04:01
Periods, miscarriage and menopause were traditionally ‘private topics’. A raft of new books is changing that

When comedian Eleanor Thom first decided to write about her life with endometriosis, a long-term and often incredibly painful gynaecological condition, she did so because “I felt that this was the sort of thing I needed to read when I was a teenager.

“There’s a lot of medical stuff out there but it’s very much ‘this is what happens; these are the theories behind it’. They don’t tell you how to live with it day after day.”

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Yes, women like porn too – we're all just trained to believe they don't | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 02:00

We’re told men are biologically wired to be more sexual than women, but this is junk science used to excuse bad behavior

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

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Sharon Stone: I was forgotten like Princess Diana after I had a stroke

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 07:25

Actor says it took seven years to recover from illness that first struck in 2001, during which time the actor says she was treated with ‘brutal unkindness’ by Hollywood

Sharon Stone has accused Hollywood of being “brutally unkind” in its treatment of her as she struggled to recover from a stroke in 2001.

Stone made the comments to Variety magazine at an event to raise awareness for the Women’s Brain Health Initiative in Los Angeles, after explaining she had had a “massive stroke … a nine-day brain bleed”.

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Cost of global push to prevent women dying in childbirth to increase sixfold

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 22:00

As Trump funding drought continues, UN figures show billions more will be needed to meet global target on maternal mortality

The cost of preventing women from dying in childbirth is projected to increase sixfold by 2030, requiring billions of dollars to achieve global targets, according to the UN.

The estimate was released by the UN population fund (UNFPA) on Thursday, offering a snapshot of the scale of the challenge the agency has set itself to end preventable maternal deaths by 2030.

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Pardon the rant, but here’s why I love my Mooncup so much | Sophie Wilkinson

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 22:00
Menstrual cups are eco friendly, save money and now are officially just as reliable as tampons

If you’re a Guardian-reading woman of a certain age, it’s likely you’ll have been party to the evangelical Mooncup rant. In the Mooncup rant, one woman tells the other about a convex piece of medical-grade silicone that has saved her life. She uses it each time she gets her period, and spends the rest of her time talking about it. The cup has saved her thousands, is proof of her eco credentials and is now, essentially, the best thing ever.

I’m relatively new to menstrual cups, turning to them two years ago after an organic tampon company’s cardboard applicators injured my gentlest parts. And I’ve got the devotion of a convert, regularly proselytising about my Mooncup with all the spittle-flecked frenzy of a televangelist. A new study published by the Lancet this week has proved my claims. Researchers from the Medical Research Council, the Department for International Development and the Wellcome Trust found that menstrual cups were just as reliable as tampons.

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I reported on misogyny in parliament 29 years ago – shockingly little has changed | Jennifer Nadel

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 02:30
To stamp out bullying, harassment and sexism in Westminster, we need to shift the whole way we do politics
• Jennifer Nadel is the co-founder of Compassion in Politics

Twenty-nine years ago this week I carried out an investigation for the Guardian about the endemic levels of sexism in parliament. A generation later, although much has been done, it is shocking to discover that so little has changed.

Last week’s reports on bullying and harassment in the Commons and Lords by the QCs Gemma White and Naomi Ellenbogen reveal a parliament that is still chauvinistic, lecherous and patriarchal.

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‘We don’t need to bleed’: why many women are giving up on periods

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 23:00

With recent confirmation that periods have no health benefit, an increasing number of women are using contraception to stop them altogether

For some, it is about bringing an end to debilitating pain or dark thoughts. For others, it is as simple as being liberated from the sinking realisation that you need a tampon – but you left them in your other handbag.

When a new wave of feminist authors and activists are calling on women to embrace their periods, the idea that some do not want a monthly bleed and are seeking to avoid having them altogether can seem radical.

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After falling for a con artist, I lost trust in the world – but I am anything but a damaged soul

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:00

The author of Fake, Guardian Australia’s new Unmissable book, says her story is far more than ‘lonely childless woman who fell for a fraud’

In 2013, I wrote my first “personal essay”. I told the world that I frequently felt acutely lonely. Even then, two years before Slate declared there were too many of these “solo acts of sensational disclosure” and four years before Jia Tolentino wrote a piece for the New Yorker carrying the headline “The personal-essay boom is over”, I feared there was something potentially unseemly about airing my private agonies.

The author of the Slate article, Laura Bennett, called essays such as How I Came to Forgive My Rapist (Vox) and My Gynaecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina (xoJane) “professional dead ends, journalistically speaking”.

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KLM tells breastfeeding women they may be asked to cover up

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 07:14

Airline provokes outcry with response after woman says she was asked to cover herself with a blanket

The Dutch airline KLM is facing a storm of protest after warning that women who breastfeed their babies on its flights may be asked to cover up to avoid offending other passengers.

The company’s policy emerged after a woman claimed on Facebook she had been asked to shield herself from view while feeding her one-year-old on a flight between San Francisco and Amsterdam last month.

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Feminist queen: show explores how Victoria transformed monarchy

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 07:02

Queen Victoria began some of our best-known traditions, says Buckingham Palace exhibition curator


Queen Victoria was responsible for a “feminist transformation” of the monarchy and initiated some of its best-known traditions, according to the curator of a new exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

The story of how Victoria and Prince Albert rebuilt the palace into the most glittering court in Europe is explored through paintings, sketches and costumes, and includes a Hollywood-produced immersive experience that brings to life the balls for which she was famous.

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Impostor syndrome is a response to a world that doesn’t believe in women

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 06:15

New research shows the emotional exhaustion caused by it bleeds into our home life – but women are somehow expected to find a remedy within themselves

Impostor syndrome (originally defined, in 1978, as when “despite outstanding accomplishments, women [persist] in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise”) has been a talking point for years. And while the discussion has been important, it has slowly reduced an all-too-real experience to a buzzword. As something that more often affects women – a recent study showed that 66% of women had experienced it, compared with just over half of men – perhaps it isn’t surprising it isn’t taken particularly seriously.

But now, new research has shown that the very real, very negative effects of impostor syndrome are felt not just at the workplace, but at home. Employees experiencing impostor syndrome suffer from emotional exhaustion, which leads to a conflict between work and family life and dissatisfaction with the latter. While the idea that an issue at work can affect you at home may sound unsurprising, researchers hope that the results will finally add “legitimacy to discussing impostor phenomenon as an important talent-development issue”. And I hope it will add legitimacy to the conversation about impostor syndrome more generally.

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Pro-choice groups raise concerns over possible delays to Northern Ireland abortion law

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 05:01

No 10’s document suggests it may take up to 18 months to implement legislation

Pressure groups have warned against lengthy delays to extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland following a landmark legal amendment last week, after a government document said the process could take as long as 18 months to implement.

Downing Street has committed to introducing the abortion plan after an amendment to a separate Northern Ireland bill by the Labour MP Stella Creasy was passed overwhelmingly by the Commons.

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We shouldn’t have to live in a world where women are afraid to say no | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:02
The assault on a Manchester teen who refused a man’s advances shows why we need a new set of values

Some years ago, I worked for a man several decades older than me who consistently made oleaginous and sexualised comments to me and the other young women in our workplace. He was completely oblivious to the fact that our disgust towards him was a shared point of bonding, and that we would wince every time he was in the building; I expect because every time he said something we would force a smile, entrenching his delusion that we actually enjoyed his behaviour.

I thought about him again this week when I read that the Manchester teenager Gabrielle Walsh had been knocked unconscious after she told a man who followed her from a nightclub: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested.” Although Walsh’s experience is much more extreme and frightening than mine, both examples reveal the reluctance women feel to rebut a man’s unwanted advances when he holds some sort of power – be it physical or economic. In the wee small hours when alcohol is flowing, perhaps a man will just be crazy enough to physically harm you if you tell him no. If that man is your boss, maybe you’ll find your work life becoming that little bit harder after you inform him that what he regards as swashbuckling charm is actually sexual harassment.

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Adventuring while female: why the relationship women have with nature matters

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 21:00

Going camping alone, I was reminded that the great works of environmentalist female writers are often overlooked – and it’s our loss

It’s Monday in the Adirondack state park. I’m driving through little towns, passing junk stores, lumber businesses, small cafes and adventure outfitters. I have heard people call this part of New York state “poverty with a view”. The Adirondacks are a collision of hardship and wealth, but mostly wilderness. Six million acres of it.

It’s almost LaBastille Day, and to celebrate, I’m going to camp alone for the first time in my life.

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Why automation is a feminist issue

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:38
Working women are twice as likely as men to lose their jobs to AI, according to a thinktank. Which perhaps isn’t surprising, given that most of that work is menial and badly paid

According to a new study from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), nearly 10% of women work in jobs with a high potential for automation, compared with only 4% of men. So what, I hear you say. Substitute “robots” for “austerity”, “the demise of unionisation”, “public-sector pay freezes”, “modern life” – pick any of these and women will always come off worst. Except maybe this time the pointy heads are on to something: perhaps better understanding what the risks are will give us all some agency, and even allow us to change the future.

As Carys Roberts, the author of the IPPR report, tells me: “We don’t even talk about risks in this area, because there are so many different factors. The primary argument that we make is that this could go in different directions. Technology is not destiny.”

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Trump administration to ban abortion referrals at taxpayer-funded clinics

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:08

Department of Health to force end to abortion referrals, a rule widely seen as a blow against Planned Parenthood

Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately, the Trump administration has announced, declaring it will begin enforcing a new regulation hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups.

The head of a national umbrella group representing the clinics said the Republican administration is following “an ideological agenda” that could disrupt basic health care for many low-income women.

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South Korea employers face jail for sacking harassed staff under new bullying law

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 17:32

Abuse by those in power is so widespread that there is a word for it – ‘gabjil’

New legislation has come into effect in South Korea that could see employers jailed if they unfairly dismiss employees harassed at work.

Employees in South Korea have traditionally been expected to turn a blind eye to abusive behaviour by those in power – a phenomenon so commonplace that there is a word for it, “gabjil”. A recent government survey found that two-thirds of workers had experienced harassment on the job, while 80% had witnessed it.

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Women as likely to be turned on by sexual images as men – study

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 09:00

Neural analysis finds the brains of both sexes respond the same way to pornography

The belief that men are more likely to get turned on by sexual images than women may be something of a fantasy, according to a study suggesting brains respond to such images the same way regardless of biological sex.

The idea that, when it comes to sex, men are more “visual creatures” than women has often been used to explain why men appear to be so much keener on pornography.

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