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In a society that fetishises female self-sacrifice, saying ‘no’ saved me | Grace Jennings-Edquist

Sun, 09/05/2021 - 07:30

Women continue to take on a disproportionate amount of unpaid household labour and the ‘mental load’. But the road to ‘no’ can be a long one

As a working mother, one word has saved me as the pandemic has worn on: “No.” I’ve learned to say no to being the parent who will automatically take carer’s leave when childcare centres and schools close. No to being the only one to plan meals for the week. No to being the type of Instagram-worthy mother who mindfully makes her own hummus throughout lockdown.

Mastering the word has been liberating. It has freed up time, energy and headspace to do my paid work, focus on self-care essentials and actually enjoy free time with my family. It’s also supported a positive relationship with my partner because we both equally pull our weight at home, heading off the resentment that can fester in some relationships when the unequal division of labour takes its toll.

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What would happen if I were pregnant in Texas right now? | Zoe Ettinger

Sun, 09/05/2021 - 01:15

Texas just banned abortion at six weeks. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until five, and that’s earlier than most

Four years ago, when I was a 22-year-old college student in Virginia, I found out I was pregnant. I knew I was late, maybe a bit longer than a week, but that wasn’t unusual – I’d always had irregular periods. Like I had many times before, I picked up a test just in case. It came back positive.

I didn’t tell anyone at school I was pregnant, but I called my mom. She assured me it would be OK, and told me to schedule an appointment nearby, rather than drive home to New York. She was right; I probably didn’t need a seven-hour car ride of contemplative dread.

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‘A kick in the teeth’: British mothers and pregnant women fear return to workplace

Sat, 09/04/2021 - 04:58

Companies recalling staff this month have been accused of not offering flexitime and failing to protect employees

Before the pandemic, every morning and night was a cycle of stress and rushing around for single mother Emma Woodburn, getting her two young sons to and from school, childcare before and after work and staying on top of housework.

But when, 18 months ago, the 39-year-old from Lancashire was told by her employer she could work from home, everything changed. “It was like a weight was lifted. It was less rush in the morning. I could put the washing on throughout the day and hang it out on my dinner break. It just felt easier.”

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It’s not just Texas – anti-abortion activists are targeting women’s rights in Europe | Mara Clarke

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 04:00

Draconian laws in European countries and the effects of Brexit and Covid-19 are making safe terminations harder to access

  • Mara Clarke is the founder of Abortion Support Network

The state of Texas now has the most restrictive abortion law to be passed in the US since Roe v Wade legalised abortion in 1973. Texas residents must now add out-of-state travel to the many barriers that already exist to getting an abortion. There has been an outpouring of support for Texas women from people in the UK and European Union, but it’s worth remembering that while the UK and Europe are an abortion utopia compared with some American states, abortion access is still not guaranteed.

Let’s start with the UK. Due to the herculean efforts of activists (and despite the best efforts of a foot-dragging, anti-abortion government), Northern Ireland now has limited access to legal abortion. But Alliance for Choice, the campaign group in Northern Ireland, says that proper access to abortion is still not guaranteed across the country. Women are still waiting for the department of health to commission abortion services, telemedicine and more types of available abortion. Currently, the majority of abortions happen in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and are performed with pills, which carry a small risk of failure. Because there is virtually no provision for abortions after the first trimester, people seeking these services are still forced to travel to England.

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Republicans seethe with violence and lies. Texas is part of a bigger war they’re waging | Rebecca Solnit

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 00:22

This extremist vigilante abortion law is of a piece with everything else Republicans are doing: overturning democracy itself

The American right has been drunk on its freedom from two kinds of inhibition since Donald Trump appeared to guide them into the promised land of their unleashed ids. One is the inhibition from lies, the other from violence. Both are ways members of civil society normally limit their own actions out of respect for the rights of others and the collective good. Those already strained limits have snapped for leading Republican figures, from Tucker Carlson on Fox News to Ted Cruz in the Senate and for their followers.

We’ve watched those followers gulp down delusions from Pizzagate to Qanon to Covid denialism to Trump’s election lies. And rough up journalists, crash vehicles into and wave weapons at Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist protesters at least since Charlottesville, menace statehouses, issue threats to doctors and school boards testifying about public health, and plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, for imposing Covid-prevention protocols.

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As female journalists flee Afghanistan, the future looks dire for media freedom | Jane Martinson

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 22:00

While individual countries try to do what they can for those caught up in the mayhem, international pressure is lacking

When Beheshta Arghand questioned a Taliban spokesman live on Afghan television two weeks ago, the very fact that he was prepared to answer a woman led to hopes that the Islamist group had changed. Within a week, we now learn, the young journalist had left Afghanistan.

She is not alone. Despite Taliban promises to protect the rights of women to go to school and work, few on the ground appear to believe them. Even as their spokesman spoke of respect for human rights, the Taliban had already taken two female state broadcasters off air and attacked and beaten many journalists.

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TikTokers flood Texas abortion whistleblower site with Shrek memes, fake reports and porn

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 14:44

Critics of Texas’s new law have been filing hundreds of fake reports to the whistleblowing website in hopes of crashing it

Pro-choice users on TikTok and Reddit have launched a guerrilla effort to thwart Texas’s extreme new abortion law, flooding an online tip website that encourages people to report violators of the law with false reports, Shrek memes and porn.

The law makes it illegal to help women in Texas access abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. To help enforce it, anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life established the digital tipline where people can send anonymous information about potential violations.

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The Guardian view on the Texas abortion ban: this is not the end | Editorial

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 07:45

The supreme court’s refusal to block the law marks a grave blow to the freedom and safety of women

The cruel, vindictive and dangerous law that has taken effect in Texas is much more than the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the United States. To many, it understandably feels like the beginning of the end – denying women the rights enjoyed under the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, which established that abortion is legal before the foetus is viable outside the womb, at around 24 weeks. It will further embolden the religious right. Though polling suggests the majority of Americans believe that terminations should be legal in most or all cases, this is already the worst ever legislative year for restrictions.

But it is better understood as the end of the beginning. The right to abortion has, in practice, been systematically dismantled through methods ranging from intimidation to cynical regulation. This moment is the culmination of the first stage in a decades-long war on the rights of women, made possible by Donald Trump’s appointment of judges known to support restricting reproductive rights. A divided supreme court refused to block the legislation while the legal battle over it plays out.

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Jane Campion: #MeToo felt like ‘end of apartheid’ for women

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 03:39

Speaking before the premiere of The Power of the Dog in Venice, director and star Benedict Cumberbatch discuss toxic masculinity and recent success of female film-makers

Jane Campion has spoken of her optimism about the role of women in the film industry, before the premiere of her latest drama at Venice film festival.

“All I can say is that, since the #MeToo movement happened, I feel a change in the weather,” she said. “It’s like the Berlin Wall coming down or the end of apartheid for us women.”

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Democrats condemn supreme court for failing to block Texas abortion law

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 09:46

Critics denounce law as unconstitutional and a threat to women’s health

Top Democrats across the country are condemning the US supreme court over its silence on Texas’s latest and most extreme abortion law to date after it came into effect on Wednesday.

The so-called “Heartbeat Act”, which was signed into law by Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, in May, bans abortions at six weeks and does not make exceptions for incest and rape. Furthermore, it empowers private citizens to sue any abortion provider who violates the law.

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It’s time to brace ourselves for a world without Roe v Wade. Here’s what we must do | Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F Kay

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 03:53

We have to stop hoping the rightwing-controlled supreme court will have a change of heart. Instead we must prepare a worst-case-scenario battle plan

Since Roe v Wade was decided nearly 50 years ago, abortion opponents have been plotting its demise. Now the end may be near. Feminists need our own plan to advance reproductive freedom. That means preparing for a post-Roe world. That’s not a future any of us want – but it is one for which we must be ready.

Related: Texas enacts most extreme abortion law in US after supreme court inaction – live

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My husband just told me he is bisexual. Should I be worried about our future?

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 01:10

He later said that it’s just the male physique he’s attracted to, but I feel he’s not being completely honest with me

My husband and I have been together for 16 years and have two kids. He recently told me he’s bisexual. I was shocked and feel uncomfortable thinking of him having sex with men. I am not homophobic, but I just didn’t think my husband liked men. After asking him if he has urges he needs to fulfil, he said maybe bisexual was the wrong word and that he’s just attracted to the male physique. I feel like now he’s not being completely honest. I’m also worried that he will want to have sex with men and not want me as much.

It is never easy for a person to come out, and it can be equally hard for a partner to learn that his sexual orientation may be different from what it seemed. Try not to “catastrophise” this situation. Your partner married you, and you have so far been confident about his desire for you. Nothing has really changed – he has simply tried to share something important about who he truly is. Whether he will want to act on his interest in men is a separate matter that may need to be discussed and negotiated at some later point and I understand that that may seem threatening to you.

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I like handicrafts, but this takes the basket | Brief letters

Tue, 08/31/2021 - 06:28

New skills for later life | Taking the knee | Unwelcome guests | Ages of women and men | Rain in Scotland

Regarding changes of direction in later life (Letters, 29 August), aged 88 and still interested in how things are made, I looked up basketry courses and found one that includes “make your own coffin”.
Monica Channell
Beckenham, London

• Having spent nearly 50 years working with computers, I have just learned how to drive and maintain a miniature steam engine. The tricks may take a little longer to learn, but they are no less satisfying when they work.
Mike Lowcock
Sandbach, Cheshire

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The schoolday I’ll never forget: ‘We were told about periods – and I wanted to disappear’

Mon, 08/30/2021 - 19:00

Were any of us really ready for the news that we would bleed each month? Only one reaction made sense. Destroy all the sanitary towels

Let me take you back to south-west London circa 1988. Eddi Reader singing, “It’s got to be-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee perrrrrrrr-fect” on the radio and Margaret Thatcher in No 10 for all eternity. A time when internalised misogyny is so deeply internalised that no one knows it exists. I’m nine-ish, sporting a dark-blue checked dress and a nonchalant expression – and at school we’re learning about periods.

By this point, everything I know about menstruation, nay life, probably comes from the author Judy Blume. My best friend Galia and I start writing letters to one another that begin “Are You There God? It’s Me, CHITRA!” In a few years copies of Forever will be traded in the playground with a vigour currently only applied to Garbage Pail Kids cards. It’s a difficult period (the other kind). I’m one of those children who loves being a child and – spoiler alert – will turn into an adult who, in fundamental ways, remains one. I’m deeply unhappy about the dark hair sprouting in places I don’t want to know about and the budding discs of tenderness in my chest. The word puberty makes me dissolve into giggles or pull faces. Time, as far as I’m concerned, can be rewound as easily as a pencil inserted into a C-90 cassette tape. I don’t want to grow up.

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Texas poised to ban most abortions as court denies emergency motion

Mon, 08/30/2021 - 04:00

Law letting individuals sue those helping women access service will go into effect on 1 September unless federal court intervenes

Texas could become the first state in decades to ban most abortions, if a federal court allows a law called SB8 to take effect on 1 September.

A hearing was originally scheduled on Monday on whether the court should block the law. But the fifth circuit court of appeals cancelled the hearing late on Friday, and denied reproductive rights group an emergency motion on Sunday.

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In lockdown I entered the abortion clinic alone, hiding trepidation behind my mask | Madison Griffiths

Sat, 08/28/2021 - 10:00

With no way of knowing how long her fertility would prevail, Madison Griffiths did what she felt she had to, with the tools she was afforded

Two weeks before discovering I was pregnant, I sat in a fertility clinic, riddled with uncertainty.

This is because by the time my mother was my age, 27, she had become infertile. Diagnosed with a genetic condition known as early onset menopause, she –in ways similar to her own mother, and her mother’s mother before her – had been forced to accept the stark reality of a childless future.

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My wife says she is too tired for sex. So why has she bought a vibrator?

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 21:00

We used to have a sex life that would make other people envious. Then we had two kids, our connection waned – and I just found out she’s ordered a sex toy


I love my wife but our sexual relationship isn’t great right now. She complains about being too tired to make love, as we have two kids (ages one and two) and we’re living in a one-bedroom apartment while our house is being remodelled. I accidentally found out she has ordered a wand massager – a kind of vibrator. Now I don’t know what to think. Before the kids were born we used to have the kind of sex life that would make people envious.

Listen to her when she says she is tired. Caring for two young children will exhaust anyone, so any way she can make her life easier – including on-the-run sex – will be attractive. Wands can be a low-maintenance way to have pleasure and de-stress, and it would be understandable if she was simply trying to get her needs met quickly.

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‘Use your £11bn climate fund to pay for family planning,’ UK told

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 19:30

More than 60 NGOs call for spending rule change, saying people on frontline of climate crisis want greater access to reproductive healthcare

The UK government has been urged to open up its £11bn pot of climate funding to contraception, as research from low-income countries shows a link between poor access to reproductive health services and environmental damage.

In a letter to Alok Sharma, president of the UN Cop26 climate conference, an alliance of more than 60 NGOs has called for the funding eligibility rules to be changed to allow projects concerned with removing barriers to reproductive healthcare and girls’ education to access climate funds.

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More than 90% of female doctors have faced sexism at work, finds BMA

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 13:01

Doctors’ union says reports of unwanted physical contact and denial of opportunities are shocking

Nine in 10 female doctors have experienced sexism at work in the UK, including unwanted physical contact, denial of opportunities and being asked to massage male colleagues in meetings.

The findings have emerged from a survey of medics by the British Medical Association, which said the results were appalling and the incidents made for shocking reading.

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‘Don’t avert your eyes’: Afghan teachers urge world to defend girls’ education

Tue, 08/24/2021 - 22:43

Educators say they fear reversal of hard-won progress as aid workers call for Taliban’s desire for international legitimacy to be used as leverage

Afghanistan’s only boarding school for girls has temporarily relocated to Rwanda, its co-founder has said, just days after a video of her burning class records to avoid Taliban recriminations was widely shared on social media.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who escaped Kabul with 250 students and staff, urged the world to “not avert your eyes” from the millions of girls left behind.

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