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From Jack the Ripper to Ted Bundy, why are dead women’s bodies still being used as entertainment?

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 23:00

A BBC documentary airing this week will place the Ripper’s victims on a digital autopsy table. It just shows how anaesthetised audiences have become to brutalised and raped women

We are all familiar with what the police officer sees when he enters the room; we have seen it more times than we care to recall – on TV, in films, in graphic novels, we have heard it described on podcasts. The place looks like an abattoir, but it is a woman’s bedroom. Blood is splashed on the walls and seeping into the drenched mattress. The room’s inhabitant, a sex worker known as Mary Jane Kelly, is lying prone, her body partially dismembered. Somehow, when the photographer arrives to take this now infamous picture, she still manages to appear coquettish. Her legs are splayed; her head is tipped ever-so-come-hithery to the side.

More than any of the other five canonical victims of Jack the Ripper, it is Kelly who has become the poster girl for these crimes. At 25, she was the youngest of the five women murdered between August and November 1888. Kelly, described as being attractive and overtly sexual (on account of her profession), is regarded as the most “popular” among Ripperologists – people (mostly men) for whom investigating the unsolved murders is a hobby. Kelly also happens to be the one most heinously murdered by the killer. Although we know the least about Kelly, the sickening image of her corpse, alongside the equally disturbing photos of the other four victims, continues to drum up interest.

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Vaginal mesh: new guidelines insufficient, say campaigners

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 19:00

Measures could lead to next generation of women being harmed, says Sling the Mesh

New guidelines on the use of vaginal mesh have been met with anger by campaigners who say they do not sufficiently reflect the experiences of women who have been left with serious complications after such procedures.

The use of plastic mesh in treating urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse – conditions that are especially common after childbirth – has come under intense scrutiny. While many women have the mesh implanted without problem, for others it can lead to debilitating complications including mesh cutting into organs or through tissues, intense pain and recurrent infections.

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‘Where are all the black women in grime? The same place they are in the rest of the music industry – sidelined'

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 06:40

From pop to UK rap and Afro-bashment, black women artists are rarely heard in the charts – and the blacker your skin, the more invisible you are

A year ago, I wrote an article for this paper asking where all the black women were in grime. Not just as artists and MCs but as managers, journalists, photographers and producers. The genre is now a mainstay of the mainstream and celebrated for championing the voices of diverse Britain, but notable black women remain largely absent. Curious, considering its history is rooted in the lives of Britain’s black working class.

I recently asked the same question in a documentary with BBC Radio 4 and though there were several answers, the one that felt most pertinent is that this is hardly a “grime problem”. The music industry as a whole has a dearth of black women. Whether it is pop music or more so-called “urban” sounds such as UK rap and Afro-bashment, black female artists are very rarely heard above the underground. Even in styles such as afrobeats (where gender is the issue as opposed to race) you’ll likely name heavyweights such as Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy before one female artist.

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Ads about bus stop harassment and 'bonus wives' normalise sexism | Rosebell Kagumire

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 01:16

In the race to attract customers, Ugandan firms show scant regard for the intimidation faced by women on a daily basis

Uganda’s leading telecom company MTN has launched a new advert. It depicts a scene at a city bus stop, which in Uganda we call a stage.

A man approaches the stage, where two women are sitting on benches, one either end. Before he takes his seat between them, he launches into some forced conversation with one of the women reading a magazine. Before the woman responds, the man moves closer to her. The second woman looks on, perhaps just curious, but perhaps concerned.

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She invented a birth control app – with some unintended consequences

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 00:00

Elina Berglund says her Natural Cycles app has worked for her. Now her focus is on the US, where women’s healthcare is a political battleground

In an air-starved meeting room in Manhattan’s Financial District, heavily pregnant particle physicist Elina Berglund, 35, is explaining how she inadvertently went from the cutting edge of scientific discovery to the frontline of birth control.

In spring 2012, the Swedish scientist was working in Geneva at Cern, where she was part of the team looking for the Higgs boson particle (the finding would later win the Nobel prize). It was then that she started looking for a natural alternative to hormonal contraceptives.

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All the old dudes: Nicks and Jackson want more women in rock hall of fame

Sat, 03/30/2019 - 11:01

Musicians encourage women to join them as they are inducted alongside five all-male British bands

As they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside five all-male British bands, Stevie Nicks and Janet Jackson called for more women to join them in music immortality.

The bands inducted at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night were the Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead, Roxy Music and the Zombies. Neither Jackson or Nicks were around at the end of the evening when another Briton, Ian Hunter, led an all-star jam to All the Young Dudes. The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs was the only woman onstage.

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Christian right summit in Verona draws massive protest

Sat, 03/30/2019 - 08:18

20,000 rally in Italy against anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-feminist conference

An estimated 20,000 people have protested in Verona against a conference which has brought a global network of anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-feminist activists to the northern Italian city.

The hosting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a US coalition that promotes the values of the Christian right, has been especially contentious in Italy as it is supported by the far-right League, a partner in the country’s coalition government. Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s deputy prime minister, spoke at the event on Saturday evening.

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New literary festival feeds growing appetite for female-led cultural events

Sat, 03/30/2019 - 07:59

Sandi Toksvig and Helen Lederer lead the drive to tackle gender inequality in the arts

From this month’s Women of the World gathering on London’s South Bank to many smaller bespoke festivals and competitions, the demand for public events and festivals centred on the female experience is growing across Britain.

Now a group of 16 prominent women that includes writer Kit de Waal, broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, editor Sabeena Akhtar and BBC comedy chief Sioned Wiliam is to announce the creation of a new literary event, the Primadonna festival, which will be staged in Suffolk this summer and is designed to put women’s writing in the foreground. For its organisers, the event is a way to redress a faulty gender balance in publishing.

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'The Leggings problem': can we just never hear about them again? | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 03/30/2019 - 02:00

The spandex-based controversy has been broiling in the west for years; and it’s not just men policing women’s bodies, women are doing it to themselves

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

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Male NHS doctors earn 17% more than their female peers

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 14:01

Biggest ever study of public sector gender pay shows female GPs earn a third less than men

Male doctors in the NHS earn 17% more, on average, than their female peers, the biggest ever study of gender pay in the public sector has found.

Female GPs experience the greatest disparity. They earn, on average, £75,600 – a massive £38,000, or a third, less than the £113,600 average salary among male colleagues.

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Greg Hunt pledged $2.5m for endometriosis research. We’re yet to see a cent | Kate Young

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 15:59

The aim is to improve the lives of women with the painful condition. The burden to do so should not fall on their shoulders

Every day this month I have opened my social media to an ocean of yellow women’s surgical constellations and words of hope and frustration. It is Endometriosis Awareness Month, a useful time to reflect on what Australia has achieved in supporting women with the condition. And what we still need to do.

The national action plan for endometriosis was officially launched mid last year by the federal health minister, Greg Hunt. The government promised $4.7m towards implementing the priorities outlined in the plan. This consisted of a $2.5m grant program under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), $1m for a steering group to oversee the plan’s implementation, $1m to educate GPs and health professionals about endometriosis, and $200,000 to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health for an awareness campaign for women.

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Tampon tax: £1m to go to charity supporting grooming gang victims

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 14:01

Changing Lives to receive £1m to help victims in Rotherham, Newcastle and elsewhere

Victims of sexual exploitation scandals in Rotherham and Newcastle are among those who will benefit from this year’s tampon tax disbursement.

The charity Changing Lives will receive £1m to support vulnerable women groomed by gangs for sexual exploitation in the north-east and Yorkshire, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced.

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Eleven female Saudi activists appear in Riyadh court

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 01:06

Women are on trial for unspecified charges relating to human rights work

Eleven female Saudi Arabian activists have appeared in court in Riyadh for the latest hearing in their trial on unspecified charges relating to their human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats.

Reporters and foreign diplomats were barred from entering the courtroom and escorted from the building despite petitioning the authorities to attend the trial, which has drawn sharp criticism in the west.

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Are sexual abuse victims being diagnosed with a mental disorder they don't have?

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 23:45

The lack of recognition for complex PTSD by the psychiatric establishment means it is difficult for sexual abuse victims who might suffer from it to receive the right diagnosis

Suppose, for the sake of a thought experiment, that a new psychological disorder was discovered. It is supported by dozens of studies and recognized by some of the world’s leading psychiatrists and psychologists, but not by the North American psychiatric establishment. And let’s say the refusal to accept this new disorder had devastating consequences for #MeToo survivors.

That claim is asserted by a growing number of sexual abuse victims, psychiatrists and psychologists worldwide.

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White Ribbon has ended up selling something that stinks | Van Badham

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 18:12

Its latest campaign ‘Cheese for Change’ is a river of dairy pouring through a chasm of staggering misjudgment

“The aim of marketing,” explained the corporate guru Peter Drucker, “is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”.

If that’s the theory, I am more than intrigued to understand the practice which informed one Australian organisation’s recent “Cheese for Change” campaign.

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Trump expands global gag rule that blocks US aid for abortion groups

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 06:07

Policy bans aid going to foreign groups that support abortion rights as secretary of state Pompeo says: ‘This is decent and right’

The Trump administration has expanded its ban on funding for groups that conduct abortions or advocate abortion rights, known as the global gag rule, and has also cut funding to the Organisation of American States for that reason.

Related: How Trump signed a global death warrant for women | Sarah Boseley

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Nasa cancels all-female spacewalk, citing lack of spacesuit in right size

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 01:57

Space agency blames shortage of outerwear after first-of-its-kind mission falls through

Nasa’s plans for the first all-female spacewalk have fallen through – at least in part because the agency doesn’t have enough spacesuits that fit the astronauts.

What should have been a giant leap for womankind has turned into a stumble after Nasa said on Monday night that they will only have access to one correctly sized spacesuit top by Friday when the walk was scheduled. One of the two women on the mission, Anne McClain, will now have to give up her place to a male colleague.

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‘I had a huge swelling’: why my life as a female cyclist led to vulva surgery

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:59

There needs to be serious, urgent research into better saddles for female cyclists, says Hannah Dines, who has endured years of pain and swelling caused by friction as she rides

The plastic surgeon, in that particularly endearing way of surgeons, was trying to reassure me that although he had never operated on an endurance cyclist before, he had seen “presentations” like mine. “I’ve seen chronic inflammation and long-term trauma to the vulva like this. You know …” he paused, “in patients who compulsively rub up against bedposts.” Silence.

I decided against explaining that the relationship with my bike saddle did not, perhaps, deserve to be in among the psychiatric cases in his cognitive filing system. However, he had a point. While there is no love lost between me and the necessary evil that is my saddle, I have continued to train, despite huge amounts of destruction to my body, pain and trauma.

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Girls of 13 are lining up for Botox. Here’s why

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 08:29

Cosmetic surgeons are concerned that a growing number teenagers are trying to stave off wrinkles before they arrive – so what or who is really to blame?

We’re living in an age where messages of “self-love” are everywhere: from high-street stationery to pop music. Yet young women’s self-esteem is abysmally low, with cosmetic surgeons becoming increasingly concerned at a spike in girls as young as 13 getting Botox. Doctors cite mental health problems and, of course, the ever looming bogeyman of “celebrity culture” as being responsible. “Girls are having treatment at an age when they don’t need it,” Dr Nick Lowe, the dermatologist who helped to pioneer the injections in the 1990s, told the Sunday Times. “We’re seeing body dysmorphic syndromes and a terrible loss of self-confidence. They’re convinced that looking like a celebrity is going to make them happier and more successful.”

While it is particularly troubling that tweens are smiting smile lines before they can feasibly form, the very idea that Botox is “needed” at any time in a woman’s life is as much a part of the problem as anything else. Young girls are trying to preempt a grim reality: that their worth dwindles as their age increases. Yet it seems that the horror of an older woman is still greater than that of needles jutting from baby faces – there are still no legal age restrictions on Botox and the industry remains woefully unregulated.

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Women’s lib freed us from domestic drudgery – so what’s with today’s competitive cleaning? | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 07:43

Forget about gleaming worktops and shiny showerheads. Life is for living, not for tidying your cutlery tray

The world is a mess. Pollution and all that eco-jazz. Your body is also a mess, full of toxins that need cleansing. Your skin is ungodly and needs a good hot-cloth treatment and expensive cream. And your house? Well, it’s an absolute tip.

Foxes have eaten my recycling, so rubbish is strewn all over the road. A card was popped through my door offering to steam my carpets, a treatment that seemed more expensive than buying some new carpets. The last man who cleaned my windows disappeared after a complicated divorce and, quite frankly, I can’t be bothered any more.

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