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Pressuring women to stay in their homes will kill them | Anna Spargo-Ryan

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 13:44

Women don’t need marriage counselling. They need help for starting over and law enforcement that takes abuse seriously

Against expert advice, the government has created a $10 million grants program to deliver services to people (mostly women) being violently abused by their intimate partners. The conditions of the grant actually state that it is to deliver a “whole of family approach”, incorporating counselling, dispute resolution and education for violent or abusive individuals. “Whole of family” includes both the person being abused and the person abusing them.

When this was announced, a close friend shared her experience. In her mid-20s, she told her husband she was leaving. It was the second time she had tried, after her husband had refused to accept it. This time he offered a non-compromise: that they would try marriage counselling first, and if it didn’t help, she would be allowed to go. The counsellor, appointed by the church, saw the couple in her home. Each week, she was made to justify why she wanted to leave while her husband sat less than arm’s reach away.

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Three cheers for Holly Willoughby's refusal to talk about her diet | Frances Ryan

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 04:51

By not indulging the media’s toxic obsession with celebrities’ bodies, the This Morning presenter is showing that women are worth more than their weight

“It’s not up to me to give you a blow-by-blow account of what I’ve eaten that day. It’s not helpful, and it’s not what’s important,” Holly Willoughby told the Sunday Times, presumably to the cheers of women everywhere.

The This Morning presenter’s weight loss last year was predictably picked over by the tabloids. And Willoughby is used to attention for how she looks – she shares her wardrobe with her 5 million Instagram followers daily. But she explained that the silence over the issue of her smaller frame has been intentional.

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Why women need to stop saving their cash – and start investing

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 04:11

Money is still a taboo subject for women and they are the poorer for it. But it’s easy to invest in stocks and shares, starting with £25 a month

Fourteen years ago, I edited a magazine for investors. I took over the job from another woman, many of the journalists I commissioned were women, and most of the press officers I spoke to were women. But when it came to the fund managers we interviewed, almost all were men. The readership, too, was overwhelmingly male. Women clearly understood how the stock market worked; they just weren’t investing in it themselves.

An adage in the financial sector goes that women save and men invest – and this still rings true. It seems that even women who have money to put aside tend to squirrel it away rather than try to grow it. In 2015/16, the last year for which data is available, 892,000 women invested in the government’s stocks and shares Isas (which allow you to invest up to a fixed amount with potential tax-free returns) as against 1.1 million men. In contrast, when it comes to much safer cash Isas, 5.2 million women invested in the same year against 4.4 million men.

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Why we asked 27 black women to speak out on taboo of colorism

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 19:00

Guardian US’s new series will explore the discrimination based on skin complexion that exists within the black community

  • Share your experience of colorism: use #ShadesofBlack on social media
  • Have you experienced colorism? Share your story here

You already know black American women are paid considerably less than white men; that young black men are five times more likely to be incarcerated as white youth; and that black children are suspended from school at a much higher rate than white children.

This is how racism works. But what is less discussed is another “ism” that also derives from slavery.

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'People don't even look at me': eight black women discuss politics of light and dark skin – video

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 19:00

As part of our Shades of Black series, we invited eight women to talk about their experience of colorism in their relationships, careers and everyday life. 

Colorism is the discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone. This means that darker-skinned black people have to fight prejudice even within their own community, where lighter skin is seen as more desirable. As such, darker-skinned black people can experience both racism and colorism.

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Tampon tax: women's charities urge for cash to be ringfenced

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 08:04

Open letter from Women’s Resource Centre says current allocation damages ‘fragile women’s charity sector’

The struggling women’s charity sector is suffering further damage as a result of the way funds raised from the tampon tax are being allocated, it has been claimed.

In an open letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, more than 100 women, including academics and representatives of women’s charities, have urged the government to ringfence cash raised from the unpopular levy to be donated to organisations dedicated to women.

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Five ways to give up using tampons

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 04:00

Whether you want to lessen your reliance on standard tampons for the sake of the environment or your health, or simply for a change – here are some options

Made of medical-grade silicone and typically available in two sizes, menstrual cups can hold up to 12 hours’ flow, compared with four to eight hours with a tampon – and as they are reusable and can last up to 10 years, they are much better for the environment. Though the Mooncup may still be the best-known, there is now an abundance of menstrual cups, from Intimina’s Ziggy, which claims to be the only one that can be worn during sex, to the FemmyCycle designed specifically for low cervixes. However, Dr Leila Frodsham, a consultant gynaecologist and spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, warns that menstrual cups are not suitable for women who have been advised not to use tampons.

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More vagina dialogues are needed, but they shouldn’t be about profits

Sat, 04/06/2019 - 21:59

It’s healthy to talk publicly about something so private, but there’s a risk of commercialisation, too

You can’t move at the moment for vaginas. For something so private, the vagina has never been more public. Walk down the high street, whomp, there’s a massive one made of felt, winking at you from a Waterstones window. Turn on the telly, kerflump, there’s an earnest conversation about them before the breakfast news. Books with covers in pink and red pile politely beside my desk, a user’s guide, a re-education, a history, one with a lipsticked mouth printed vertically. Crowdfunding has opened to build the world’s first Vagina Museum. Silver vulvas hang around feminists’ necks on fine chains, slogan T-shirts imply Vagina is a hot new band.

I could go on. In fact, I will. This month, makeup shop Cult Beauty launched its Vulvalution campaign by urging customers to “stop beating around the bush”. Under the vast and fleshy umbrella of “wellness”, they’re selling “everything from pH-balanced cleansers to lubricants, pelvic-floor trainers to sex tech by way of libido-enhancing ingestibles” with 10% of profits going to a charity that promotes awareness about gynaecological health. In New York recently, I trotted up subway stairs papered with adverts for period underwear – suggestive photographs of grapefruits, split. I feel a little like I’m seeing the world through the eyes of a pubescent straight boy. But, it’s not just me. Vaginas are in fashion.

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The sex revolution of my youth wasn’t so great. Maybe today’s celibacy is a sign of progress | Yvonne Roberts

Sat, 04/06/2019 - 18:59

For many women, the swinging decade was a grim affair. Perhaps less is better after all

In 1967, in the so-called summer of love, hippies, drug dealers and the homeless young filled San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, saturated with the scent of incense and dope. Flower power, love and peace were visibly fraying into psychedelic seediness. I was 19, a British student on a full grant, travelling by Greyhound bus. I had stopped off in California to see what the revolution was all about.

While I dressed the part – mini-skirt and silver boots – the 60s for me, until then, had been identical to that experienced by the poet Michelene Wandor, “full of people I didn’t sleep with/ joints I didn’t smoke/ plays I wasn’t in”. On this particular afternoon, a heavily bearded male, not much interested in personal hygiene and festooned in beads, stopped me in the street. “Wanna ball?” he asked speculatively. So much for free love. I politely declined.

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Don't get your hopes up about Chicago's first black lesbian mayor | Arwa Mahdawi

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 21:00

While the election of Lori Lightfoot made history, many fear she will simply maintain the status quo

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

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Fleabag proves that women can do glorious failure, too | Gaby Hinsliff

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 05:04
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliant comedy reminds a generation of anxious young women that low-flying can be enormous fun

It isn’t just because of the hot priest. Although to be honest, the hot priest does have quite a lot to do with it. But the other reason almost every woman I know is gripped by the bittersweet BBC comedy Fleabag is that there’s something so exhilarating about its attitude to women getting things wrong. Its heroine leads an intensely interesting life but a faintly disappointing one, at least in the eyes of her well-to-do family: she is the classic underachieving younger sister, the screw-up, the damaged one always on the verge of doing or saying something inappropriate. Compared with older sister Claire – she of the hysterically uptight manner, creepy husband and tediously successful corporate career – she’s a mess.

Related: 'It is complete': final episode of Fleabag to air on Monday

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Fiona Bruce: BBC boss queried need for pay rise as I had a boyfriend

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 01:06

Presenter says her boss asked her: ‘What does your boyfriend do?’ when she sought a rise

The TV presenter Fiona Bruce has said a BBC boss once suggested she did not need a pay rise because she could rely on her boyfriend.

Bruce, who took over from David Dimbleby as Question Time host, also said the corporation, at which she has spent 30 years, was previously “not a nice place to be”.

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Undercover police conned us into ‘relationships’. We need a judge who understands | Alison

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 00:53
The inquiry head, Sir John Mitting, is causing us more distress. Here’s why we believe he is unfit for this crucial job

Those of us who were deceived into intimate relationships with undercover police officers infiltrating political groups have been paying careful attention to the case of Stocker v Stocker, in which the judge, Sir John Mitting, ruled that a victim of domestic violence was liable to her abuser in defamation after she used imprecise words to describe his violence towards her.

Related: I was abused by an undercover officer. But how far up did the deceit go? | Kate Wilson

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Paul Kagame orders release of women and girls jailed over abortion in Rwanda

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 00:06

Women’s rights activists welcome presidential pardon of 367 female prisoners as evidence of progress

Rwanda’s president has pardoned hundreds of girls and women jailed for abortion.

The women are expected to be released immediately under the presidential prerogative.

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Gender pay gap figures show eight in 10 UK firms pay men more than women

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 08:12

Some companies claim their pay gaps are ‘skewed’ due to few male employees

A quarter of companies and public sector bodies have a pay gap of more than 20% in favour of men, according to new gender pay gap figures.

There was no significant improvement in the gender pay gap between 2017 and 2018 with the gap shrinking slightly from 9.7% to 9.6%.

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It’s gender pay gap reporting day. Treat claims of progress with a pinch of salt | Josie Cox

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 04:22
Throwing money at the problem is a short-term fix and a PR stunt. Only long-term, deep-rooted change will benefit women

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could put a number on gender inequality? If we could quantitatively measure the challenge women face every day to be treated on a par with their male counterparts – financially, socially and culturally. Then we could track precise progress numerically and hold ourselves accountable undeniably, because statistics are great like that. They don’t lie and they don’t tell half truths.

Related: Jobs for the boys: how the civil service is failing to close the gender pay gap

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Joe Biden’s inappropriate touching is the embodiment of male privilege | Suzanne Moore

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 03:26
Unwanted touch is an expression of power. There is no such thing as ‘connection’ without consent, so get off us

We tell our children to let us know if a grownup touches them in a way that they don’t like or makes them feel uncomfortable, don’t we? Although we also then plonk them on the laps of strange men in fake beards and suggest they tell them their secrets. The whole Santa Claus thing has always been extremely weird, and you often see little ones far from enchanted, and actually scared, by this “tradition”.

Related: So Joe Biden's not a pussy grabber. Is that really good enough? | Moira Donegan

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Alabama pushes to make abortion a crime as conservatives target Roe v Wade

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 03:26
  • Planned Parenthood attacks bill as ‘death sentence for women’
  • Republican proposal would criminalize almost all abortions

Alabama has become the latest Republican-leaning state seeking to propose a strict abortion ban as conservatives take aim at the 1973 US supreme court decision that legalized abortion.

Related: Georgia approves abortion ban if foetus has heartbeat

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Jobs for the boys: how the civil service is failing to close the gender pay gap

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 02:00

Some Whitehall departments are taking innovative steps to tackle disparity – but in others, the problem is just getting worse

A once-in-a-lifetime professional opportunity to work at the heart of government and contribute to our future with the EU”. This job ad for a senior policy adviser, with a salary of up to £70,302 and the ability to work flexibly, is for the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU). We know the civil service needs new staff – it is hiring at least 15,000 recruits to cope with whatever lies ahead in the UK’s relationship with Europe. More interesting is that the job was posted on Mumsnet. It’s a sign that some parts of the civil service are finally starting to think more innovatively about how to tackle its widening gender pay gap.

It’s no coincidence that DExEU, a new civil service department created in July 2016 after the Brexit referendum, has been more agile in addressing the gender pay gap, including leadership programmes for female staff. Clare Moriarty, its new permanent secretary, is one of just five women departmental bosses in Whitehall, out of a total of 16.

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So Joe Biden's not a pussy grabber. Is that really good enough? | Moira Donegan

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 00:00

After being accused of inappropriate touching, the excuses being made for Joe Biden are disappointing

The pretext that Joe Biden is not yet running for president is beginning to wear thin. Biden, who has lost two previous Democratic presidential primaries, has been the presumed frontrunner of the 2020 contest for months, with his name polling strongly alongside other candidates’ and his supposed status as the only Democrat who can beat Donald Trump in a general election repeated ad nauseam.

His camp has behaved in shortsighted ways that imply a frontrunner’s arrogance, from a botched rollout of a plan to appeal to progressives by floating the idea of having Stacey Abrams as his running mate (Abrams declined), to the drawn-out political stagecraft of Biden’s postponed presidential campaign announcement, in which he has insulted the nation’s intelligence by pretending to be vexed or uncertain about doing something that we all know he is going to do.

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