Women's News from the Web

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To stop women and girls carrying knives, tackle the abuse and violence they face | Carlene Firmin

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 03:06
Knife possession offences involving women and girls have soared. But the real problem is a lack of services and support

Figures released this week reported a 73% increase in the number of knife possession cases involving women and girls in England. This was accompanied by commentary about how the police and Home Office are responding to this “hidden” issue.

To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. First, the problem isn’t as hidden as it used to be. Women and girls are being arrested for these offences at increasing rates – so clearly they are being identified. Back in 2008 when I first started to interview women and girls about their experiences of serious violence, various services struggled to find people for me to interview. On some occasions I was simply told that girls weren’t affected by these issues and I was wasting my time. More than 10 years on, most local authorities, police forces, youth offending teams and community organisations can identify women and girls affected by or involved in weapon-enabled crime and violence. We really have no idea if more women and girls are carrying knives than they used to – we just know that more are being apprehended for such offences.

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Kenyan MP and baby ejected from parliament session

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 04:11

Several colleagues walked out of parliament after Zuleikha Hassan was forced to leave

Some Kenyan lawmakers are protesting against a decision by the temporary speaker of parliament’s lower house to eject their colleague who was holding her young child during a session of the legislature.

Zuleikha Hassan was ejected from the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday with her five-month-old baby.

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It’s last orders for sexist beer names. We can all drink to that | Nell Frizzell

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 03:09
Cheers to Camra’s ban on sleazy, misogynistic names – now more of us will be able to order a pint without flinching

It takes a certain kind of person to walk up to a bar and order a pint of Old Legover, a bottle of Piddle in the Hole and half an Old Growler.

We all know the sort of person: tweed jacket worn over a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, combat shorts all year round, the sort of beard that’s stiff with flecks of sausage roll and stained at the corners with nicotine. Scratches their belly button while trying to do any sort of mental arithmetic. Reads books about netherworlds and supernatural portals and giant battles. Goes home after one too many Bushy Beaver beers or pints of Leg Warmer and watches The World at War on DVD as they fall asleep on the sofa, farting like the Large Hadron Collider. Or so the stereotype goes.

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Books about ‘kick-ass’ women might be a pain in one – but we need to hear these wondrous stories

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 06:23
Just like men, women want the freedom to be utterly mediocre and then heralded for years to come. But until we have equality, we need as many books on great forgotten women as possible

The ever-insightful late Toni Morrison once famously said: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” The publishing industry’s appendage to that is: “And even if it has, write it anyway.” This week, it was announced that Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea will publish The Book of Gutsy Women – about the women who have inspired them and are “leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done”.

Over the past few years, a slew of similar books has attempted to fill the yawning gaps left in recorded history regarding women’s contributions. Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and its sequel taught girls to aspire to something more than tiaras and coma-kisses. Books aimed at adults such as 100 Nasty Women of History, the Forgotten Women series, Bloody Brilliant Women and A History of the World in 21 Women inspired but also educated, focusing on the many pioneering women who were rubbed out of school textbooks. There are several more titles dedicated to the strides many wondrous, hitherto invisible women have made in specific fields, countries, and time periods. The Little Leaders children’s series, for example, profiles “bold black women” in history.

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Monsters, men and magic: why feminists turned to witchcraft to oppose Trump

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 05:03

Whether it’s hexing the president, chatting in WhatsApp covens or featuring in TV reboots, radicalised women have been finding strength in the ancient pagan arts

‘This is the time for getting scary,” the writer Andi Zeisler told Elle magazine on the eve of the 2017 Women’s March. “We need to go full witch.”

At the dawn of the Trump administration, witches were suddenly everywhere in the US. Neo-pagans used blogs and social media to circulate popular rituals for hexing Brock Turner (who served less than three months in jail after he was convicted of sexual assualt), the supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh (accused of sexual assault, which he denies), and Donald Trump himself. The Trump curse was enacted by thousands of people, including the singer Lana Del Rey. “I’m a witch and I’m hunting you,” declared Lindy West in the New York Times; Jess Zimmerman and Jaya Saxena wrote a self-help book, Basic Witches, in which they explained: “If you speak when you’re told to be quiet, take pride when you’re told to feel shame, love what and who you love whether or not others approve, you’re practising witchcraft.” Half the women I know called their group chats “covens”. Trump developed a penchant for tweeting the phrase “WITCH HUNT” in caps whenever he felt persecuted, which the conservative political cartoonist AF Branco dramatised exactly the wrong way around, with the Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi depicted as gun-toting witches on the hunt for a helpless mortal man.

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Cancer researcher becomes first woman to win 4,000km cycling race

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 04:13

Fiona Kolbinger, 24, rode from Bulgaria to France in 10 days, two hours and 48 minutes

A German cancer researcher has become the first woman to win one of the world’s toughest cycling races in her first ultra-distance event.

Fiona Kolbinger, 24, from Dresden, said she was “so surprised to win” the Transcontinental, which traverses 2,485 miles (4,000km) from Burgas in Bulgaria to Brest in France.

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It’s not women’s menopausal bodies that need ‘fixing’ but society’s attitude to them | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 20:00

Instead of expensive and invasive operations, how about we support women for a change?

There is so much dosh to be made in them there hills. That was my first thought when I read of a new fertility treatment that is said to delay menopause for up to 20 years. A company called ProFam is offering it to women under 40 – and for those with endometriosis it is a gift. I heard one such woman talking on Radio 4’s Today programme in a four-minute slot that was allotted to the piddling issue of women’s bits.

But hell, why not delay the menopause, ageing, death? Have a baby at 65. Whatevs. For that is the other way this procedure is being discussed. Two things are happening: rising infertility rates (often male, but let’s not go there); and women choosing not to have children. These terrible, dreaded career women who don’t have children.

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It’s not a crisis of masculinity that’s responsible for mass shootings. It’s male power | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 04:45
US massacres such as those in El Paso and Dayton have become shockingly ordinary. How many people have to die before we confront what’s really happening?

You didn’t have to ask, did you, when you heard about the latest shootings in the US? You didn’t think: “Well, there are a hell of a lot of women out there who are utterly alienated, possibly with mental health issues, who have very screwed up attitudes about migrants in the US, so ‘the shooter’ in each case will clearly be one of them.” You just knew.

Before you get into the “not all men” groove, let me just say, no, not all men are murderous, for which I suppose I must be thankful. But I am not actually. Not at all. Not all men rape either, but in this country we have watched rape become virtually decriminalised because the justice system is so poor.

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Emma Watson launches workplace harassment legal advice line

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 21:17

Free service backed by Time’s Up UK aims to help women exercise their rights at work

The actor Emma Watson has urged women to understand their rights as she launched a legal advice line for those experiencing sexual harassment at work.

The Harry Potter star and Time’s Up UK activist said it was “completely staggering” that the free helpline for women in England and Wales was the only service of its type.

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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s reforms: not just a battle for women | Editorial

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 07:25
Relaxation of the guardianship system is long overdue. But more change is needed, and the credit for these reforms should go to the women who have fought for them – not Riyadh

The jubilation of women in Saudi Arabia was real – and understandable. Last Friday, the kingdom announced that it is allowing women to apply for passports, to travel without permission and to have more control over family matters – registering a marriage, divorce or child’s birth, and being issued official family documents. These changes to the guardianship system should be genuinely transformative. But celebration can only be partial when women’s rights remain so tightly constricted and the activists who have fought hard for such changes are paying so high a price.

Women will still need permission from a male relative to marry or divorce, or to leave prison or domestic violence refuges. The system needs not reform but abolition. Other laws still hold women back. And as Ms Saffaa, an Australia-based Saudi artist and activist, warned: “When women become equal to men, Saudi Arabia is still going to remain an authoritarian dictatorship that violates countless human rights.”

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New medical procedure could delay menopause by 20 years

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 03:39

Operation could benefit thousands of women who experience serious health issues

A medical procedure that aims to allow women to delay the menopause for up to 20 years has been launched by IVF specialists in Britain.

Doctors claim the operation could benefit thousands of women who experience serious health problems, such as heart conditions and bone-weakening osteoporosis, that are brought on by the menopause.

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Meghan seems to mix with all the ‘wrong’ people. So unlike the other royals ... | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 19:29

Surely the outrage over the duchess’s Vogue cover had nothing to do with race, did it?

Since it’s a good few weeks since Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has worn jeans to Wimbledon, carried her baby the wrong way or used a shawl made by impoverished workers, her mentors have been on the alert for further evidence that their continual inspection of this member of the royal family is not racist bullying but a series of pedagogic opportunities. They wish only to help her improve.

But her worst enemies, with which the UK press is strangely well supplied, could not have anticipated that Meghan’s next gift to them would be something so lavish, so rich in opportunities for point-by-point demolition, as an entire edition of Vogue, guest-edited while she was on maternity leave. That’s around the same time, Piers Morgan has pointed out, as she was not meeting his racist and sexist friend Donald Trump. A learning moment, then: see how the other royals dressed up for Trump and what a boon that has proved for Anglo-US relations?

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Vox pop superstar is a social media darling decades on | Lucy Siegle

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 04:30
The BBC’s lady in red broke the internet thanks to her witty and easy eloquence

Unexpectedly last week, a 42-year-old BBC Two vox pop featuring an East End woman in a red raincoat broke the internet. We don’t know her name, but this unassuming star has been watched by millions, decades after stopping to talk to a reporter on a London street. She trounced all the social media competition, including Kylie Minogue performing Do The Locomotion on a miniature railway in Scarborough.

The clip was filmed for a 1977 BBC Two series of 28 programmes marking the Queen’s silver jubilee. It was intended for a show called Thanks for the Memory, then billed as the BBC’s biggest vox pop to date, that would ask citizens, “from crofters to judges”, for their views on TV of the previous 25 years. Tweeted by the BBC Archive last week for a contemporary audience, there was one standout star.

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Far-right trolls still believe the antiquated notion that motherhood equals happiness

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 03:00

Women were happy to take Stefan Molyneux to task after his tweet insulting those who choose to remain childfree went viral

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

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It’s a woman’s choice: falling fertility rates are not the business of government | Gaby Hinsliff

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 19:00
The British birthrate is at a record low, but policymakers should steer clear of trying to influence this most personal of decisions

How many children should a woman have, and when? It’s a trick question, of course, because the answer is nearly always “none of your damn business”. There is no one perfect solution to this most personal and intimate of dilemmas, no iron rule for getting it right, and yet that doesn’t stop the world and its aunt seemingly having an opinion.

Young women who steadfastly insist they don’t want children are knowingly told that they’ll change their minds when they’re older, even as they’re begging doctors for sterilisations. Mothers of only-children can look forward to years of nosy questions about when they plan to try for another, to the eternal distress of those who for whatever reason can’t or won’t get pregnant again. Even sticking to the conventional two children doesn’t make you immune to criticism, judging by the reaction when Prince Harry let it slip that baby Archie might only be getting one sibling; although the Duchess of Sussex clearly can’t win with some people no matter what she does, the idea of a couple deliberately holding back for the sake of the planet seems to trigger some kind of broader kneejerk hostility.

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'We feel empowered': Saudi women relish their new freedoms

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 18:00

New laws on travel, divorce and applying for documents have largely been embraced

Saudi women have largely embraced new laws allowing them to travel, divorce, and apply for official documents without the permission of a male guardian, and claimed conservative resistance to the sweeping decrees is doomed to fail.

The measures, announced late on Thursday, amount to a partial dismantling of guardianship laws that have long confined women in Saudi Arabia to narrow gender roles and marginalised their role in society. Such moves have been long awaited and are a centrepiece of the kingdom’s much-touted reform programme, which has pledged to overhaul rigid laws and customs that have made the country one of the most oppressive in the world.

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Saudi women can now travel without consent – but this progress is fragile | Madawi al-Rasheed

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 05:26
Bit by bit, the Saudi feminist movement is winning more freedom for women

After the lifting of the ban on women driving last year, the Saudi feminist movement can now celebrate its second victory: the authorities have announced that women can be granted passports and travel abroad without the consent of their male guardians. They can also register a birth, marriage or divorce. But they still cannot marry, or leave prison or a domestic violence shelter without the consent of their male guardians – often a father, brother, or other male relative.

The bizarre guardianship system is pervasive in Saudi Arabia. It stipulates that women are not legal persons, and consequently, they have to be represented by male relatives to work, marry, study, travel, and seek medical care.

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Victoria’s Secret was never female-friendly – its shtick was about pleasing men | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 05:23
The lingerie brand’s runway show has been cancelled this year – it’s clear women are abandoning its pornified aesthetic

Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret seems to be having an identity crisis. For the first time since its launch in 1995, its runway show has been cancelled, with model Shanina Shaik telling reporters that the company is trying to work on its branding. This comes in the wake of falling sales and controversy surrounding the show’s lack of diversity.

Furthermore, the show’s whole shtick – a parade of almost naked models, each a perfect mix of skinny-curvy, decked in angel wings (an accessory the historians of the future will undoubtedly view with bafflement, if not complete derision) being ogled by men – looks dated after #MeToo. Donald Trump used to be a frequent guest at the shows; Les Wexner, CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s parent brand, L Brands, owned Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion and was one of his former financial clients (the brand has distanced itself from Epstein).

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Saudi Arabia allows women to travel without male guardian's approval

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 20:54

Women will also be able to apply for passports and register a marriage, divorce or birth

Women in Saudi Arabia will no longer need the permission of a male guardian to travel, according to laws published on Friday, in a key step towards dismantling controls that have made women second-class citizens in their own country.

Other changes issued in the decrees allow women to apply for passports, register a marriage, divorce or child’s birth and be issued official family documents. It also stipulates that a father or mother can be legal guardians of children.

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How a conference call sparked America's abortion obsession – video explainer

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 00:13

White evangelical Christians are on the frontline of the US's anti-abortion movement. But not so long ago this group was not interested in the politics of terminations. Its members are a crucial faction of Donald Trump's base, motivating him to further restrict abortion rights. How did it all change? Leah Green investigates how a group of men turned abortion into a tool that shaped the course of American politics

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