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Samira Ahmed’s victory has taught us a lesson: it’s still gender that fixes our pay | Yvonne Roberts

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 22:30
‘Troublemakers’ across all sectors, not just at the BBC, should be encouraged to do what it takes to achieve justice at work

In 1971, I was working on a regional evening paper. The Equal Pay Act (superseded by the 2010 Equality Act) had been passed the year before but was not due to come into force until 1975, along with the Sex Discrimination Act. So, every Saturday afternoon, “girl reporters” were required to sit in a cubicle the size of an upright coffin and type whatever incomprehensible guff a half-cut (male) sports reporter bellowed down the phone as he filed his report on a local football match. We girls didn’t utter a peep of protest. Clearly we must have done something to deserve our fate.

The internalising of blame – it’s me, not systemic unfairness – has long made it easy to pay women less. It has also kept the focus on women’s behaviour, not on the conduct of employers who persistently break the law. Women tell each other they lack confidence, they avoid talking about money, they do not believe they are worth it, all true of many of my generation. We entered the workplace when we were often the only outsider ie female, in the office, allegedly earning “pin money”. But now?

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This Girl Can steps up taboo-busting campaign to boost female activity

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 12:00

• Advert will show women overcoming period pains and cramps
• ‘We can shine a spotlight on issues that need to be talked about’

The original This Girl Can campaign broke the mould by showing women of all shapes and sizes sweating to get active. Five years on the award-winning campaign is seeking to move the dial again by embracing some of the most taboo subjects in women’s sport.

A new television commercial, to be launched on Tuesday, will show women overcoming challenges such as severe menstrual cramps or coping with menopausal symptoms. In one notable scene, a woman is seen with her tampon string visible while getting changed for yoga - hardly a common sight on television screens - having taken the activity up to help her tackle debilitating period pains.

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Why are virginity tests still legal across America in 2020?

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 04:00

Reminder: the state of your hymen is not an indicator of whether you’ve had sex. Yet there are no laws banning exams

Sign up for The week in patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Unhappy with your love life? It’s time to locate your sex accelerator | Flo Perry

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 22:00

A third of British women report a lack of interest in sex. That’s often because they’ve forgotten what presses their buttons

A study has been released telling us that women aren’t enjoying sex as much as men. Research published in the BMC Public Health medical journal claims that 47.5% of women in the UK have poor sexual health, which in this study included emotional problems as well as physical ones, compared with just 17% of men.

Related: Half of British women 'have poor sexual health'

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Samira Ahmed verdict further damages BBC's reputation on equal pay

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:40

Decision means corporation is likely to face more cases and further public embarrassment

Samira Ahmed’s employment tribunal victory is the latest blow to the BBC in a gender pay gap row that has engulfed the corporation since it was forced to reveal the salary details of its top earners in 2017.

Published at the behest of the government under the BBC’s new royal charter, the list showed that only a third of its 96 top earners were women and the top seven were all men.

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BBC facing huge bill for equal pay cases after Samira Ahmed verdict

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:19

Broadcaster does not consider tribunal result a blanket ruling and could still fight other cases

Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay claim against the BBC in a landmark case that lawyers say could leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions for similar claims by other female staff.

Ahmed, the presenter of viewer feedback programme Newswatch, claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting the similar Points of View programme.

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Bafta to review voting system after diversity row

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 06:33

Film academy admits change needed after lack of female and BAME nominees for awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) is reviewing its voting process after criticism over the lack of female directors or black and minority ethnic actors nominated for its main categories on Monday.

Marc Samuelson, head of Bafta’s film committee, told Variety that there would be a “careful and detailed review within and outside the membership”.

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Half of British women 'have poor sexual health'

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 21:00

Research highlights need to reverse cuts to NHS sexual health services, experts say

Almost half of women in Britain have poor sexual health – almost three times the rate in men – researchers have said.

Women’s sexual problems have been found to be more varied than those experienced by men. Nearly a third of all women were found to experience difficulties rooted in a lack of interest in sex – a problem associated with distress and dissatisfaction with their sex life.

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Elizabeth Wurtzel showed women they could write the messy, humiliating truth | Megan Nolan

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:02
Prozac Nation kickstarted a genre often looked down on as exploitative. But such warnings risk silencing young women

“We begrudged her for being such a famous and hot little mess,” wrote a contemporary of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s in 2013. Following Wurtzel’s death on Tuesday, an author tweeted: “Elizabeth Wurtzel was a major factor in making personal essay the currency of women writers in the 90s. This was a blessing and a curse, both for her and for the rest of us.”

Related: Elizabeth Wurtzel, journalist and author of Prozac Nation, dies aged 52

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It’s the first awards season of a shiny new decade – but women and people of colour are still locked out | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 07:20

The Golden Globes and Grammys have increasingly become a vehicle for actors to make progressive, politicised speeches. What a shame nobody is listening to them

Despite the endless online commotion surrounding the new year and decade, you could be forgiven for thinking we have actually slipped back a few years this week. On Tuesday, the 2016 hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite was trending on Twitter again after the announcement of nominees, a list that contained not one person of colour in any of the acting categories.

And so begins the first awards season of a shiny new decade. This is not a Bafta-only issue, mind; the #sowhite hashtag can be affixed to almost any big awards ceremony, as can #somale. Even the breakthroughs seem to take us multiple steps back: Awkwafina become the first Asian person to win best actress at the Golden Globes while simultaneously being snubbed entirely at the Baftas.

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Record high in Hollywood films with female lead characters

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:00

Annual study finds 40% of 2019 blockbusters featured a female lead – with women’s involvement behind the camera a vital factor

In what is likely to be seen as a boost for Hollywood’s drive to redress decades of male dominance on screen, a new report suggests that a record percentage of leading characters in successful American films are female.

The new edition of It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World, an annual report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, finds that 40% of the 2019’s high-grossing US films contained a female lead character, compared with 43% male (with the remaining 17% having ensemble or equal male-female leads). This is the highest proportion that the survey has recorded, with the earliest figures, from 2002, at 16%. The lowest year was 2011, when the figure was 11%.

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Germany’s abortion law: made by the Nazis, upheld by today’s right | Mithu Sanyal

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 23:00

An old 1930s law that hinders women’s access to information about terminations has survived public protest – and is being exploited by anti-abortion groups

It’s like the holocaust only worse, according to babycaust.de, the German website dedicated to abortion, or as they call it: “The mass murder of unborn children.”

Every country has its nutters. The problem with these particular nutters is that their website is your best bet if you need to find a doctor who performs abortions in Germany. It provides a full list of practitioners with the “licence to kill” by town and postcode, decorated with images of hacked-up babies in petri dishes, some of them made into gifs to show the blood still dripping. Whatever for? They obviously don’t want you to go to these doctors. But they do want to make it easier for you to report these “killers” to the police.

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The Guardian view on attitudes to rape: from Ayia Napa to Manchester | Editorial

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 08:32
Two highly unusual cases shed light on our understanding of attitudes towards sexual assault

What can the most extreme cases tell us about more common ones? Generalising from extraordinary instances is risky. Yet outliers can still inform us. Their glare does not always distort our vision but can sharpen it too, allowing us to see muted patterns more clearly.

The conviction of a British teenager in Cyprus for lying about being gang-raped is such a case. On Tuesday she was handed a four-month suspended sentence. Though her family has expressed relief, given that she had faced the prospect of up to a year in jail, her lawyers will appeal her conviction. She has vowed to clear her name.

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The Cyprus rape case is a chilling reminder of the price women pay for speaking up | Gaby Hinsliff

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 06:39
It is impossible to feel the British teenager convicted of lying about what happened to her in Ayia Napa has received justice

All she wanted was one last summer adventure before buckling down to the beginnings of adult life.

If all had gone to plan, the 19-year-old would have flown home from Cyprus with nothing more than a few lively gap year stories to show for it, and by now would presumably have been happily settled into university life.

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White, male and boring: diversity row should make Bafta look in the mirror

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 05:57

This year’s outrageous crop of overwhelmingly white Bafta nominations shows that the academy needs to act now to make its members more diverse

This year’s crop of Bafta nominations are a dispiriting start to the decade. With its glaringly white, overwhelmingly male and thuddingly boring choices, its voting body of film industry members seem to have a limited understanding of “excellence”. All 20 acting nominations have been given to white performers: Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie received two nominations each, with Robbie claiming two spots in the best supporting actress category (a real slap in the face). No women appear in the best director category, and none of this year’s best film nominees were directed by women.

It’s not at all surprising, but it is outrageous. Consider exceptional female-directed films such as Atlantics, Booksmart, Clemency, The Farewell, For Sama, Harriet, Honey Boy, Hustlers, Little Women, The Nightingale, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and The Souvenir. Recall performances from Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lopez, Cynthia Erivo, Alfre Woodard, Marianne Jean-Baptiste. The work is there and should speak for itself, but institutions aren’t listening. The same small pool of “talent” continues to be rewarded.

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The film industry has utterly failed women. I won’t put up with it any longer | Alice O’Keeffe

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 21:00

I’m sick of films dominated by male characters and perspectives. This year I’m changing my cinematic diet

Recently I seem to have developed a sort of allergic reaction to films. The symptoms are as follows: about an hour into watching almost any given movie, I find myself contorted with irritation, and begin muttering like a mad person: “But what about her? What does she have to say?” After a lifetime of happily sitting through films directed almost exclusively by men, this allergic reaction seems to be telling me I need a more balanced cultural diet.

Admittedly I have always been more of a book lover, but my husband is a cinema buff, and every so often he’ll try again at converting me. “This one is critically acclaimed,” he will say. “Tipped for an Oscar! I’m sure it will be fine. Just give it a go.” Most recently, we settled on Marriage Story, the almost universally praised film by Noah Baumbach. I’d read a couple of reviews, which had assured me that this was an admirably balanced portrait of the disintegration of a relationship. Great! I love relationships. I love disintegration. Surely this would be a safe bet?

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Greggs, guilt and glucose: what I've learned from a life of dieting

Sat, 01/04/2020 - 03:00

I’ve spent decades trying every fad and detox, looking for the magic formula for weight loss

Since I’ve been a journalist, I’ve done a ton of diets for one article or another. I never had to justify it, or explain what I think about my own body, and how that relates to other women’s body images, and how the tension between living as a feminist and living as a woman in the world is resolved – because it was always for a piece.

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Republicans know that Americans don't support their anti-abortion extremism | Danielle Campoamor

Sat, 01/04/2020 - 00:30

Thirty-nine Republican senators signed a brief asking the supreme court to overturn Roe v Wade. But who didn’t sign is more telling

The anti-abortion movement has one resounding goal: overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 US supreme court case that solidified abortion as a constitutional right. And while this goal is often shrouded in faux concern for the safety of pregnant people or the sanctity of life, dismantling the right to bodily autonomy for more than half the population has always been their holy grail.

With the election of Donald Trump and the appointment of two conservative supreme court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the need to hide this goal from a public that overwhelming supports Roe v Wade has vanished. Recently, 39 Republican senators signed an amicus brief calling for the supreme court to reconsider and overturn Roe. It was the anti-abortion movement going all in – seizing a moment they’ve been working towards since 1973.

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Broadest ever therapeutic HPV vaccine to be tested in clinical trial

Fri, 01/03/2020 - 01:16

Treatment could clear up persistent infections and reduce risk of cervical cancer

The broadest vaccine yet that could clear up persistent HPV infections and reduce the risk of women developing cervical cancer is to be tested in a clinical trial.

Human papillomavirus infections are common and are generally cleared by the body. However, about 10% of infections are not cleared, with persistent infections of certain types of HPV known to increase the risk of a number of cancers, including cervical cancer.

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Drunk men are a danger to women. Should feminists oppose boozing? | Moira Donegan

Fri, 01/03/2020 - 00:15

Rather than moralist disdain, Prohibition activists wanted alcohol banned for a more practical reason: women’s safety

The temperance movement seized American public life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, galvanizing women in a mass social crusade. Linked to the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements – with which it shared prominent intellectuals and overlapping leadership, including the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony – the temperance movement was part of a mass mobilization of American women fighting for social change. Like the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, temperance eventually achieved its political goal: for the 13 years of Prohibition, 1920 to 1933, the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned in the US.

But unlike its sister struggles, the temperance movement now has a bit of a bad reputation. It is easy to see the woman-led, often explicitly religious movement as a group of reactionaries, attempting to impose moral obsequiousness on a public that did not share their values. In the end, Prohibition itself was an obscene failure: alcohol continued to be sold and consumed, and the government’s vain attempts to enforce the ban on booze bred their own kinds of violence. The leaders of the movement were mocked as nagging housewives, out to ruin the fun. The temperance movement petered out, and is now remembered as a Pollyannaish bust.

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