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‘It’s not just a wolf whistle’: how catcalls became anti-harassment street art

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 02:25

With teenage girls a particular target of street harassment, Farah Benis is on a mission to document incidents and raise awareness

CatcallsofLdn is an Instagram account that raises awareness about street harassment using chalk art. Inspired by and working with @catcallsofnyc, founder Farah Benis collects submissions from the public then chalks them onto the pavement in the place where they happened. The hope is that chalking, documenting and sharing images of the words will help to raise awareness of street harassment and ultimately prevent it.

72% of submissions are from under 17-year-olds, 60% of those were wearing school uniforms and 100% of the perpetrators were adult men

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Why is the left blinkered to claims about Assange and sexual assault? | Nesrine Malik

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 19:00

In the hierarchy of progressive political causes, women seem to be relegated to the bottom of the pile

In case you’ve forgotten, or have been confused by politicians who failed to mention it, let me remind you why I believe Julian Assange was in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years before he was ejected and arrested last week. I don’t believe it was for being a journalist or a truth-teller to power, and it wasn’t for releasing evidence of America’s war crimes. He was in the embassy because, in 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant so that he might answer allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange would not accept extradition, jumped bail in the UK and absconded.

So it was curious to hear Diane Abbott, when answering questions about Labour’s enthusiastic objection to Assange’s possible extradition to the US to face charges of involvement in a computer-hacking conspiracy, say those sexual assault charges were “never brought”. The allegations were made, she generously conceded, but the charges were never brought.

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Julian Assange’s case makes it clear women’s rights are still secondary to political games | Jess Phillips

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 22:00
It was shocking that neither main party pointed out he’d evaded facing sexual charges

Women’s issues are always the political side salad, never the main event. We are always told we have to wait until everything else is perfect and then we can focus on the fact that women are being sexually abused in their workplaces, beaten in their homes and sexually assaulted in their personal lives.

For example, in recent months I and others have been pushing the government to make it a legal duty on all employers to protect their staff from sexual abuse and harassment at work, just as they have to make sure their employees’ fingers don’t get chopped off or that staff aren’t doused in bleach.

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The heady intensity of platonic love between women in their 20s | Eva Wiseman

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 22:00

The story of Ilana and Abbi in Broad City is one of female friendship at its best

I’m not a poo joke kind of girl. No thank you. Yesterday I retched when someone described a smell. And yet the wild, warm effluviant humour of Broad City only made me like it more. This was a platonic love story about two women who adored each other. Rather than compete over boys or success, they supported each other unconditionally, and their very best days were spent yomping through the hot streets of New York complimenting each other’s bodies and/or choices. In the final episode, the two paused to stare out over the river, and Ilana told Abbi: “I’ve never felt so cool as when I’m with you.” Despite the fact that a filthy toilet they’d been dragging across town sat between them as they said goodbye, this was the first scene in 48 episodes that made me cry.

And it shouldn’t have taken me this long to realise it, but of course, of course, the gross moments were never just cheap jokes, never just plopped in for effect. It took five series to reveal to me the real role of poo jokes in this beautiful show but, yep, I realised that by opening the toilet door they offered two things. The first, an appreciation of women’s bodies as something other than sex-meat to be gazed at. In fact, as working machines, but ones that sometimes fart, and without shame. The second thing was a new authenticity, which reflected the grand honesty of the characters’ lives, and their insistence on being free. You saw it in their yomping, the way they danced down the street, and you saw it in the way they each had sex, both intimate and regrettable, but mostly in the way they’d decided to prioritise each other, their main relationship, despite all conventions advising otherwise. And not the kind of authenticity we often talk about today in relation to social media, with its careful absences and earnest crops, but a lifting, playful thing that leans into the vulnerability of youth. A way of being that is fearless and easy, if sometimes unhygienic.

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How our capacity for wonder was challenged by the black hole image | Tim Adams

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 21:00
We marvelled at the first image of an event horizon 55m light years away, but struggled to grasp its majesty and dimensions

A few years ago, during a period of insomnia, I briefly got into the habit of contributing to the online project Galaxy Zoo. I would log on to a website that presented, one after another, singular images of tens of thousands of galaxies observed by the Hubble telescope, each billions of light years away. There were so many of these images that cosmologists had opened them up to thousands of amateur volunteers to help narrow down the field of those galaxies that warranted closer study.

Peering at my dimmed computer screen in the early hours, at catherine wheels of stars that perhaps no human eye had ever seen, I ticked the relevant boxes that would assist in classifying them – “elliptical or spiral?”; “smooth or fuzzy?” – and then paused for a while over the open-ended final question: “Is there anything odd in this image?” (An inquiry that always seemed to beg the reply: “You mean, beyond the fact that it is a rotating mass of incalculable solar systems that likely expired untold millions of years ago?”)

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Period poverty: Wales schoolgirls to be given free sanitary products

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 05:10

Some girls are forced to miss school due to being unable to afford menstrual protection

Free sanitary products are to be handed out to tens of thousands of schoolgirls in Wales in a bid to tackle “period poverty”.

As many as 141,000 girls attending both primary and secondary schools in the country will benefit from the free menstrual products as part of the £2.3m scheme, the Welsh government has announced.

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There’s a dark side to women’s health apps: ‘Menstrual surveillance’

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 02:00

Employers and health insurers are using family-planning apps to gather intimate information about your fertility, menstrual cycle and pregnancy

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Upskirting law comes into force in England and Wales as cases rise

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 22:54

Police say 94 incidents reported last year for offence now punishable with jail term

Upskirting has become a specific criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment.

The scale of the problem has been laid bare by an investigation that reveals allegations reported by police have increased over the last four years, with a 70-year-old woman and schoolchildren as young as seven among the victims in 2018.

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Daily Star covers up its Page 3 girls, signalling end of tabloid tradition

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 19:00

Newspaper was last print daily using topless images but says it will trial non-naked pictures

Almost two decades into the 21st century, the days of the Page 3 girl look to be finally over, after the Daily Star announced it would no longer feature pictures of topless women.

The newspaper was the last daily print outlet maintaining the British tabloid tradition, after the Sun stopped doing so following political pressure in 2015.

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Death sentence for abortion? The hypocrisy of US pro-lifers is plain to see | Jill Filipovic

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 00:00

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. The repercussions are chilling

Do “pro-life” advocates care about life or do they care about punishment? The latest abortion debate out of Texas gives a clear answer: the goal is to hurt women, not defend life.

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. For context of how extreme that is, even in the United States before Roe v Wade made abortion broadly legal, the procedure was outlawed in most states but was not considered murder – abortion was its own crime. Texas in 2019 wants to be even more barbaric than that, and turn women who end their pregnancies into felons, killers, and even death row inmates.

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South Korean court rules abortion ban must be lifted

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 22:57

Historic decision sparks celebrations in Seoul following decades of campaigning

A court in South Korea has ruled that the country’s decades-old ban on abortion must be lifted, in a historic decision that sparked celebrations in Seoul.

Thursday’s decision by the constitutional court marks a major victory for pro-choice campaigners, 66 years after the country banned abortions in all but a few cases.

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I used makeup to appear lighter – until I redefined black beauty for myself

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 19:00

I followed YouTube makeup tutorials to feel more feminine but saw the errors of my ways

Colorism is more than being called a cockroach, having guys compare my nether regions to a medium rare steak, or seeing my crush preferring lighter-skinned women over me. No, it goes deeper than that. Colorism has programmed me to view myself as everything but beautiful, or even a woman.

Masculinity, ugliness and undesirability are traits that I have identified with since early adolescence. I was a tomboy, and being a dark-skinned black girl only added another layer to any discomfort I had regarding my appearance.

As a young teen, I was never comfortable wearing anything too feminine or skin-revealing. Hoodies, jeans, and sneakers were the only things in my closet. And yet, my bedroom was the opposite of this attitude: I had posters of the Jonas Brothers and the Twilight cast plastered over my walls, a large hot pink Hello Kitty blanket laid across my bed and a vast collection of Barbie and Bratz dolls. It was a stark contrast to the girl who mainly hung out with boys to play video games and football, and who liked riding bikes around Philadelphia.

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White House plans to screen anti-abortion film Gosnell

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 06:30

The graphic drama about Kermit Gosnell, a doctor found guilty of murdering three babies, will reportedly be screened by the Trump administration

The White House has plans to host a screening of anti-abortion indie film Gosnell this Friday, Slate reports. This screening takes place just weeks after the Donald Trump raised concerns about late-term abortions following the passing of New York’s Reproductive Health Act. Invitations to the screening of the film, which depicts second- and third-trimester abortions in graphic detail, have been sent to pro-life activists across the US.

Released last year, Gosnell (full title: Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer) follows the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a doctor prosecuted in 2013 for first-degree murder. Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphiawhere he performed illegal late-term abortions for disadvantaged women and was convicted for the killing of three babies born alive. Investigators noted a wealth of health code violations in the clinic, calling it a “house of horrors”.

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‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 07:18

The woman at a Khartoum demonstration ‘was trying to give hope,’ says eyewitness

The image is striking: a young woman, alone, standing above the crowd, urging them on with songs of revolution.

Taken on Monday night in the centre of Khartoum, as tens of thousands thronged the roads in front of the heavily guarded complex housing the headquarters of the military and the feared intelligence services, the picture of the woman in white with gold circular earrings has become an icon of a protest.

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Penny Mordaunt says UK will defend abortion rights amid global pushback

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 01:46

Development secretary vows government will ‘hold a strong line’, after attempts by Trump administration to weaken commitments

Britain’s international development secretary has promised to stand firm in her support for abortion rights in the face of growing opposition.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Canadian embassy on Monday, Penny Mordaunt said: “Leadership means not shying away from issues like safe abortion when the evidence shows us these services will save women’s lives.”

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Coalition announces $10m for endometriosis research and awareness

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 20:33

Women living with crippling pain experience average eight- to nine-year diagnostic delay

After allocating $4.7m in 2018 towards a national action plan to tackle endometriosis, the health minister on Tuesday announced a further $10m towards researching and raising awareness about the crippling and chronic menstrual condition.

Related: Endometriosis action plan follows decades of lobbying – and suffering

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The #MeToo movement gave a voice to silenced women – so why are films about it all made by men?

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 20:00

From the David Mamet play Bitter Wheat to Steven Berkoff ‘s Harvey, how ironic that women directors are being written out of the narrative

The #MeToo movement intended to give a voice to the silenced, and one of the more literal ways it is now attempting to do so is through the stage and screen. There’s a highly anticipated offering on the Fox News boss Roger Ailes, written by Charles Randolph and directed by Jay Roach. John Malkovich will play the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in the David Mamet play Bitter Wheat, and Harvey, another play about him, was directed and performed by Steven Berkoff. Ryan Murphy is in talks for a #MeToo-themed anthology series called Consent. The stories that were scaremongered, bribed and blackmailed out of the public domain are finally being told – and almost entirely by men.

There is a churning sense of irony in the fact that a campaign created to amplify women’s voices is instead amplifying the voices of men. The silencing, albeit in a different, less obvious form, continues. This, in my mind at least, is not to say that men cannot write accurately, or empathetically, about sexual assault and power dynamics. It is also not to suggest that there aren’t male victims who have been part of the #MeToo movement also, as in those allegedly abused by Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer (though it is worth noting that it is the stories of abuse against women specifically that directors are choosing to tell). Weinstein, Spacey and Singer deny all claims against them. It doesn’t bode well for women in the film industry if, even in instances where they are the mobilisers of a movement, it is men who still dominate its narrative.

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From overlooked extra to Spike Lee star: how I beat Hollywood's colorism

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 19:00

Like many darker skinned actors, DeWanda Wise was offered stereotypical roles of criminals and prostitutes. So she made her own movie and caught the eye of one of the industry’s leading directors

Growing up in the DC metro area, I was cute with a caveat: I had chocolate skin.

When I was six years old, a close relative quipped that if I continued to play in the sun, I would end up “looking like a tar baby”. It was like touching a hot stove for the first time: I hadn’t even thought about the color of my skin before that moment, even though I went to an all-white school.

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Vera Brittain challenges the idea that wifehood is an occupation - archive, 9 April 1929

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 18:30

9 April 1929 Wifehood and motherhood are not jobs; like husbandhood and fatherhood they are personal relationships

Perhaps no argument against the combination of marriage and a career is quite so popular as the familiar cliché that wifehood is a profession. “I was always taught that marriage was a career in itself,” disapprovingly remarked a young woman at the close of a recent lecture in which I had maintained that if wives preferred employment outside their homes they should be free to make the choice. Shortly afterwards I opened the pages of Dr. Meyrick Booth’s newly published treatise Woman and Society to find the old confusing argument stated with all the old naive simplicity. “The occupation of wifehood,” remarks the author, “is the largest of all the careers open to the young citizen of our country. And this career is a female monopoly … Being a husband is not an occupation by which a man earns his living. But 5,000,000 women secure their economic existence by being wives.”

Related: Shirley Williams: testament to my extraordinary mother Vera Brittain

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Seasons of the witch: as women we nurture the riches of earth, food and health

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 17:42

The correlation of the feminine to nature, repressive for so long, can be a source of power

In the past few months I have started putting down roots. It’s a cliche but it’s literally what I’m doing. I spend my weekends transforming the tired old lawn into garden beds, layering woodchips, straw and horse shit I’ve shovelled from the paddocks next door into rich soil to grow my lettuces and kale. I have always loved gardening but now, more than ever, working with the earth has taken on an element of the spiritual.

As a teenager, like many suburban white girls, I got way into Wicca, that gentle, nature-centred neo-pagan religion beloved by would-be witches everywhere. Much later, in my early 20s, I revisited witchcraft, finding an unstructured feminine spirituality that helped me make sense of the world.

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