Women's News from the Web

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Updated: 9 hours 46 min ago

Glastonbury urged to boost number of women in headline slots

Sat, 06/29/2019 - 21:00

Emily Eavis pledges 50/50 gender balance in future lineups as 8 in 10 headlines were male since 2007

Festival goers were preparing to see Kylie Minogue’s much-anticipated performance on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury on Sunday, 14 years after the singer had to cancel a headline performance in 2005 to undergo cancer treatment.

The announcement of Kylie’s performance, in the “legends” slot at Glastonbury’s biggest stage, came amid criticism of the festival for its lack of women in major headline slots. Janet Jackson played on the Pyramid stage on Saturday after the singer used photoshop to promote herself in a line-up poster.

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An app using AI to 'undress' women offers a terrifying glimpse into the future | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 06/29/2019 - 02:00

Unless we start taking online misogyny seriously, we are going to face a future where women may not be able to exist online

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

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A break in and a burglary make me miss my fearless youth | Coco Khan

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 03:00

Perhaps as we age we take fewer risks. But I feel I have lost something

Recently I have had two nasty surprises. The first was finding my flat’s back windows shattered (“Was it a child’s football? Or a burglar’s fist?” I fretted). And the second was finding my car broken into. These events aren’t unusual, but because they came in quick succession, I couldn’t brush them off. I felt reduced, vulnerable and paranoid.

This, I know, is not my natural state. In my early 20s I was captivated by the idea of the flâneur – a French word for a man who roams society observing, often at night. Tellingly, flâneuse, the female equivalent, has never gained much traction.

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Yesterday: the latest jukebox movie to put its women on mute

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 01:58

Danny Boyle’s schmaltz-fest is all about musicians, and all of them are men. It’s another hero’s journey in which women are there to dote, scold and sell out

  • Warning: this article contains spoilers for Yesterday and A Star Is Born

The premise of Yesterday should be intriguing: what would a world without the Beatles look like? Yet having set the question, director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis don’t seem terribly interested in exploring its logic: if the Beatles had never existed, why are Oasis the only other band erased by this butterfly effect? Why do characters variously reference the Beach Boys and Coldplay, bands whose existence is contingent on that of the Beatles? Why does rabid fandom, ie the long-tail evolution of Beatlemania, remain intact?

It’s not that Boyle and Curtis are incapable of holding fast to a central concept: after all, Yesterday has no trouble committing to a world in which music by women doesn’t exist, and in which women themselves are only there to enable male musicians to live out their dreams.

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What a waist: why the corset has made a regrettable return

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 00:00

On the red carpet, on Instagram, even in Mothercare – corsets are everywhere. What is behind the disturbing trend for ‘waist training’?

What could be more enjoyable after giving birth than slipping into some high heels and squeezing your postpartum body into a corset? Last week, Mothercare was accused of pandering to the pressure on new mothers to lose their pregnancy weight and remain “sexy” by selling a corset, modelled by a woman wearing patent leather platform stilettos. “I’m very anxious for women who are getting the wrong message,” Jacqui Tomkins, the chair of Independent Midwives UK, told the Times. “It’s saying the most important thing is for you to be back in shape, looking like Kim Kardashian. That worries me.” The company has since removed the product and image, but is still selling a lace-print band, described as a “tummy tucker”, to be worn around the stomach, which it claims “helps with slimming down”.

Despite this furore, the corset has been creeping back into fashion for some time. In 2016, Prada revived the garment in a more utilitarian style, worn loosely laced over thick tailoring and sweaters. This style, while still designed to bring attention to a trim waist, was not rooted in old ideas of “sexiness”. But for autumn/winter 2019, fashion designers showed a more traditional style, with a return to full corsets and wide, waist-cinching belts.

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There's no duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment. That has to change | Emily Reynolds

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 23:01

A new campaign seeks to close the gap in the law that allows too many workplaces to treat such abuse as a sad inevitability

Most of us understand how our physical wellbeing is protected at work – health and safety measures, much maligned by the right, have made sure of that. But what if you’re sexually assaulted? Shockingly, employers currently have no legal duty to prevent harassment – a glaring oversight that a new campaign by an alliance of organisations including Time’s Up, the TUC and Amnesty International is hoping to change. The alliance has also launched a petition, which has reached nearly 8,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

When I told friends I was working on the development of the campaign, their stories came flooding out. Working in bars with colleagues who wouldn’t stop touching them, threats of rape from managers, incessant, inappropriate comments on their appearance or sex lives – everyone I knew had a handful of discomfiting experiences. I had my own tales, too. The job stacking shelves next to a middle-aged shift manager who would constantly ask my colleagues whether or not they’d have sex with me; the ad man who made constant “jokes” about raping clients.

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'It’s like we’re not even human': the reality of being a trans black woman in America

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 21:00

A spate of murders in Texas has triggered old traumas and the harsh reminder of just how dangerous being trans black woman is

LeShay Weeks almost didn’t make it to the party. For 18 years, she has managed to avoid the south Dallas intersection where her friend Teniesha Johnson was murdered in front of her eyes, but today, on the drive to meet her friends, there it was, like a black hole pulling her down. For a moment, it snatched her breath away.

For Weeks and a small group of black transgender women, the back-to-back murders of their friends Muhlaysia Booker, 23, and Chynal Lindsey, 26, two weeks apart, had triggered a deluge of old traumas that lurk below the surface: their own beatings and brushes with death, being shunned by families, churches and employers, not to mention the million and one other indignities they endure daily, simply trying to exist. If there was anything harder and more dangerous than being a black woman in America, the killings reminded them, it was being a black woman whom society insisted on denying their true gender.

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We need to talk about women’s bodies – without shame | Fiona Sturges

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 19:00

I’m delighted that, in a slew of cultural projects, discussion of vulvas takes centre stage

Are vulvas having a moment? It’s a ridiculous question, I know, given that more than half of us have them. It’s like asking if bicycles are finally fashionable, or if fingernails are now a thing. But in these supposedly enlightened times, our lady-parts continue to be overlooked, misunderstood, bossed about and violated. Still, it’s been heartening of late to see vulvas (or vaginas, or fannies, or foofs – let each woman decide what she calls what’s in her pants) discussed more openly, shown off in museums and celebrated on television and in books. This isn’t about the vulva-shaped soaps and cushions flooding gift shops, or Gwyneth Paltrow and her daft vaginal eggs. I’m talking about cultural conversations and artefacts that illuminate and educate us all on matters that, by rights, should be common knowledge.

Earlier this year, Channel 4 aired 100 Vaginas, a joyful, taboo-busting documentary in which Laura Dodsworth interviewed 100 women and photographed their vulvas. The series highlighted how little the issues that have most impact on women’s lives, from sexual violence to childbirth, infertility and menopause, are openly discussed. This spring, the pop-up Vagina Museum – the first of its kind in the world – opened in Camden, north London, with the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding women’s bodies and sexuality, and has since launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to secure a permanent home.

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Medical experts criticise BBC for use of phrase 'heartbeat bill'

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 06:51

Exclusive: Group attacks ‘dangerously emotive’ language in reporting of proposed US abortion laws

An international alliance of medical experts has accused the BBC of using “medically inaccurate” and biased “dangerously emotive” language after the corporation refused to stop describing US legislation seeking to ban access in some states to legal abortions after six weeks as a “heartbeat bill”.

The phrase helps “weaponise” descriptions of abortions, claim a group of family planning specialists that includes Marie Stopes International, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

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Body foundation to cover your veins? Why Kim Kardashian's new product has caused a ruckus

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 06:49

The debate over whether makeup empowers or oppresses can’t hide the fact that female imperfection is increasingly unacceptable

As with most things Kim Kardashian does, the reality star’s latest beauty product – an already sold-out Skin Perfecting Body Foundation – has sparked an online back-and-forth about whether makeup for arms, legs and other parts of the body is feminist or not. Many say body makeup is inherently anti-feminist; others argue that it is the critique of a woman’s choice to wear body makeup that is anti-feminist.

We live in an age where it seems that women can label anything as a feminist act. To me, however, the message the product sends is quite clear: that we would probably be more comfortable in the skin we’re in if you couldn’t see it has pores. As the years-old debate about whether face makeup is empowering or oppressive rages on, men for the most part continue without it. Most of us are in agreement that, however you slice it, beauty standards are rigid and beauty regimes are still driven by external pressures rather than enjoyment. There is a difference between tolerating this and seeking its active expansion and entrenchment.

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From first period to menopause: share physical experiences of life as a woman

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 22:55

Be it a first orgasm, experiences with contraception and menopause or something else, we would like to hear your stories

The experience of life in a woman’s body can be challenging, embarrassing, funny and even joyful.

Is there a physical experience you’ve had as a woman that has had a significant effect on your life – good or bad – and that you consider to be underreported? We’d love to hear your stories, positive or not, affecting, angry or humorous, from your first period to the menopause and beyond.

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Trans, black and loved: what happened when I returned to the deep south after transitioning

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 19:00

Imara Jones left Georgia to discover herself as a trans woman. Two decades later, she returns to meet her family as her whole self

There is one essential truth about human beings: we all come from somewhere. Me? I’m a black trans woman who left the deep south at 18.

It’s September 2018, two decades later, and I’m in a car headed back to Georgia for the first time as my whole self – with a new body, and a whole new way of being – to meet my 95-year-old great aunt Mama Rose and the rest of my family.

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Female BAME domestic violence victims 'being failed' in Manchester

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 13:01

Sisters for Change and The Manchester Maya Project warns of institutional racism and sexism

Public authorities in Manchester are failing to uphold the basic human rights of ethnic minority women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse, according to a report.

The report from international NGO Sisters For Change, in partnership with The Manchester Maya Project, warns of institutional racism and sexism at the local level in Greater Manchester. It also highlights that women and children from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) are not being adequately protected or getting the specialist help they need after suffering domestic abuse.

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At Code Club, 40% of students are girls – but we could still do more

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:05

Children need exposure to opportunities to experiment with computers, and encouragement to build their ideas

In the future world of work, many jobs will be automated. With that in mind, it makes sense for humans to focus on work that can only be done by us, requiring emotions and skills not replicable by machines, such as kindness, empathy and creativity. Despite this, our current education system focuses heavily on reading, writing and maths. They are certainly important, but focusing only on these is to the detriment of building rounded people. In my opinion, so-called “soft skills” are, in fact, essential skills for the future world of work. We need to prepare our future generations for working closely with machines by building their confidence in working with them and their agency over them.

To do this, children need exposure to opportunities to experiment with computers and encouragement to build their ideas with code. When I co-founded Code Club in 2012, which provides opportunities for children to develop coding skills through free after-school clubs, the aim wasn’t to turn every child into a programmer. It was to give them the confidence and the skills to work with technology.

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Air pollution 'may affect number of eggs ovaries can produce'

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 05:30

Results suggest environmental factors could play a role in female reproductive health

Air pollution has been linked to a drop in activity of a woman’s ovaries, researchers have revealed.

Experts say the findings suggest the female reproductive system is affected by environmental factors, although the study does not look specifically at the impact of air pollution on fertility.

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Have sperm will travel. But what would an all-female planet look like? | Stephanie Merritt

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 04:59
The discovery that frozen sperm can survive space flight opens up tantalising possibilities. But there’s no guarantee of utopia

If you’re a woman who has despaired over the past week, as you’ve observed the questionable conduct of jowly white men in positions of power and subsequently seen it defended by both men and women – take heart. The good news is that when our species eventually abandons this burned-out, used-up planet for a brave new world elsewhere in the universe, we can leave the men behind too. According to new research by scientists in Barcelona, frozen sperm can survive zero gravity conditions without deterioration, meaning that it will be far more economical to transport only women and sperm banks to populate our new intergalactic home, just as soon as we find a viable alternative planet.

Related: Political violence against women tracked for first time as attacks soar

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After the horror of the 'wolf pack' case, Spanish women have reason to be hopeful | Eloise Barry

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 22:00

The overturning of the original verdict in a notorious rape trial is a sign that attitudes towards sexual violence are changing

Justice was a long time coming for the young Spanish woman gang-raped during the Pamplona bull runs in 2016. On Friday, the supreme court in Madrid overturned a lower court’s verdict and found the five men who attacked her guilty of rape rather than sexual abuse, and raised their sentences from nine to 15 years in prison.

The men called themselves la manada (the wolf pack) and their case revealed gaping holes in the Spanish legal system’s approach to sexual violence. According to Amnesty International, three-quarters of EU member states, including Spain, legally recognise an assault as rape only when physical violence, threats or coercion are involved. A victim must have demonstrated resistance, but, in this case, the terrified woman appears frozen in a video clip of the 30-minute attack. The defence argued she was consenting and so the lesser charge was applied.

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Good, affordable nursery care benefits us all – but it’s nowhere to be found | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 20:00

Private nurseries are a boon for entrepreneurs, but – for all the sanctification of motherhood – women who are exhausting themselves to work are the people we actually care about least

My daughter has been looking at nurseries. I must admit it is a long time since I had to think about that kind of thing. What I have learned is that babies are more expensive than ever. Turns out you can no longer just put them in a drawer, and they have to be wheeled around in contraptions that cost more than an old banger. But childcare – well, childcare is impossible. The old feminist demand for free creches went the way of the habit some women used to have of demanding men pee sitting down.

Private nurseries have sprung up everywhere. The babies will be fed gourmet mush and entertained non-stop while their parents work every hour they can to pay for this.

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Appeal court overturns forced abortion ruling

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 08:16

Termination had been said to be in best interests of woman with learning disabilities

A court ruling that a woman with learning disabilities must have an abortion against her wishes has been overturned on appeal.

The decision came after the woman’s mother, a former midwife, challenged a court order issued on Friday.

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The Guardian view on female voice assistants: not OK, Google | Editorial

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 07:55
When computer assistants reply in female voices, are they saying that women lack power in their world?

Within two years there will be more voice assistants on the internet than there are people on the planet. Another, possibly more helpful, way of looking at these statistics is to say that there will still be only half a dozen assistants that matter: Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa in the west, along with their Chinese equivalents, but these will have billions of microphones at their disposal, listening patiently for sounds they can use. Voice is going to become the chief way that we make our wants known to computers – and when they respond, they will do so with female voices.

This detail may seem trivial, but it goes to the heart of the way in which the spread of digital technologies can amplify and extend social prejudice. The companies that program these assistants want them to be used, of course, and this requires making them appear helpful. That’s especially necessary when their helpfulness is limited in the real world: although they are getting better at answering queries outside narrow and canned parameters, they could not easily ever be mistaken for a human being on the basis of their words alone.

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