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Cate Blanchett says she would rather be called an actor than an actress

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 13:57

Venice film festival jury chief backs Berlin event’s move towards gender-neutral prizes

The Hollywood star Cate Blanchett has said she would rather be called an actor than an actress.

The Australian, who is heading the jury at the Venice film festival, gave her backing to Berlin festival’s controversial decision last week to do away with gendered prizes and only give a best actor award.

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Childcare crisis risks pushing women out of workforce, says TUC

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 13:00

Families in Britain struggle with reduced access to nurseries and informal care during pandemic

Two in five working mothers with children under 10 in Britain are struggling to find the childcare they need, as breakfast and after-school clubs remain shut and care from friends and family remains limited, according to a survey for the TUC.

The lack of access to childcare has resulted in a crisis that risks turning the clock back on decades of labour market progress, warned Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress.

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'It destroys lives': why the razor-blade pain of vaginismus is so misunderstood

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 02:54

This common condition can lead to relationship breakdown and unnecessary surgery. So why is treatment still so poor and underfunded?

I was just a few weeks into a new relationship when the pain started. Whenever my boyfriend and I started to have penetrative sex, it felt as if there were razor blades inside me. At first I laughed it off, but soon I became terrified of intercourse. My body would freeze with fear as my clothes came off. By the time we said: “I love you,” even kissing made me feel anxious. I would spend entire day trips and holidays with him worrying about the pain.

When I first went to my GP, the advice I got was to “try and relax”. It was about as helpful as telling someone having a panic attack to “just chill out”. Without a real solution, I started to question whether I was imagining the pain. Or if maybe, somehow, I was to blame for it. My boyfriend was kind and supportive but I felt I was letting him down. Some days, I would feel so ashamed that it was hard to think about anything else. Other days, I’d feel an overwhelming sense of loss for the carefree woman I had been.

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‘Women are future of the Catholic church’: Anne Soupa leads renewed fight for equality

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 23:12

French academic’s bid to become archbishop of Lyon reflects growing calls for women in leadership roles

A French female academic has put herself forward to be the next Catholic archbishop of Lyon in a move that is gathering support around the world even though she stands no chance of succeeding.

Anne Soupa, 73, a theologian and biblical scholar, says there is “an awakening of women within the Catholic church”. Seven other Catholic women in France have followed her move in applying for ministries that are open only to men.

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Ladies, don't worry about Zoom face - the rapacious beauty industry is here to help | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 20:52

Botox has become a solution for ageing – even for leading feminists

If we date British lockdown to 23 March, it seems to have taken all of four weeks before video meetings were identified as the cause of “Zoom face”, a sort of reverse Narcissus experience whereby contemplation of your own face leads only to dissatisfaction and despair. On the other hand, a happy ending – facial repair work – is possible.

It may be superfluous to add that sufferers from this syndrome are, predominantly, women. “Are you suffering from Zoom face?Grazia asked. “Looking at ourselves on video-conferencing calls is taking a toll on our faces and our minds.” While carefree male users were still chewing gum in glistening close-up, it emerged that women, including very young women, were experiencing agonies of self-consciousness in meetings via laptop, which were only exacerbated by the lockdown ban on hair and skin treatments.

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'I don't have to smile if I don't feel like it!': Covid freed me from politeness and unwanted touching

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 02:32

I had been brainwashed into ‘nice girl’ behavior, meaning: never do or say anything that might anger or humiliate a man. Then came a global pandemic

Just before the New York shutdown for Covid, I’d been kvetching all over the place about people touching me too much. It was the feminist rant of a woman with experience in the service industry, mostly. But in particular, a guy who’d recently not-really-asked me out had decided to repeatedly reinforce his ambiguous, undeclared interest in me by putting his hands on my shoulders at the slightest provocation whenever he ran into me in public, coming up from behind me while I sat working at my computer at a cafe, or just going full-frontal, sometimes sideways, even.

Along came the shutdown. Suddenly, people who used to reach for me found themselves spasmodically curling their arms back to bring their hands to their chests, and standing six feet away from me.

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Lesbian love story wins Popcorn Writing award for new play Edinburgh never got to see

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 01:00

Jennifer Lunn wins £2,500 prize for drama Es and Flo, whose fringe premiere was sabotaged by the Covid pandemic

A drama about an ageing lesbian couple’s love, and their experience of discrimination and dementia, has won a prize for new plays that were due to be presented at this year’s Edinburgh fringe.

Jennifer Lunn’s play, Es and Flo, was set to premiere at Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre this summer before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the fringe’s cancellation. It has now beaten more than 130 other scripts to win the Popcorn Writing award 2020 for new work.

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Laura Bates on the men who hate women: 'They canonise and revere and idolise murderers'

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 00:00

For years, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project has had vile abuse heaped upon her. But that still didn’t prepare her for what she found in the toxic world of online misogyny

Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism project in 2012, when she was 25, inviting women on social media to detail sexist encounters they’d had. Two years later, she published the book of the same name, curating a document that was horrifying but unsurprising. It should have been shocking but nobody was shocked. Six years on, we meet in King’s Cross, in London, where the cafe has separated the tables with Perspex, so I have a flash-forward to a dystopian near-future where one of us is in prison for feminist activism (obviously her, I decided, ruefully). She is as passionate and determined as I have ever seen her (I have met and interviewed her a few times before), yet somehow more cautious, for reasons that become clear.

Bates was surprised by certain elements of the Everyday Sexism project, like how many of the accounts came from girls in their mid-teens (she had expected more responses to be from women working in offices), but not the phenomenon of sexist harassment itself, which she knew was “hidden in plain sight. It was an invisible problem and this was very much trying to make it visible.” In doing so, Bates seeded an idea that would be proved again and again in the following years, in more and more vivid ways. From the #MeToo movement to Black Lives Matter, the inflection point for resisting injustice is not when one crusader saves the day, but when everybody is emboldened to speak out at once. Bates comes back to this repeatedly, and not, I think, for reasons of modesty. It was never, she insists, about her.

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A third of girls say they won’t post selfies without enhancement

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 19:00

Charity behind survey says unrealistic images increase pressures as girls spend more time online

A third of girls and young women will not post selfies online without using a filter or app to change their appearance, while a similar proportion have deleted photos with too few “likes” or comments, research has found.

About half regularly alter their photos to enhance their appearance online and “find acceptance”, Girlguiding’s annual Girls’ Attitudes survey found.

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Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding receiving chemotherapy for cancer

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 04:47

38-year-old singer, who had 21 Top 10 hits with Girls Aloud, says breast cancer ‘has advanced to other parts of my body’

Sarah Harding, former member of pop group Girls Aloud, has announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In a series of tweets and an Instagram post, she wrote:

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Men going their own way: the rise of a toxic male separatist movement

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:00

The men of the MGTOW movement aim to live their lives with no female contact. The idea began on the fringes of the internet – so how has it made it all the way to the White House?

‘There has been an awakening … changing the world … one man at a time.” These are the dramatic words that appear when you visit mgtow.com. In a video that looks a lot like an action-movie trailer, the words are soon followed by five more that appear to smash through the screen, smouldering fiery red: “Men … going … their … own way.”

If you stumbled across this website and had never heard of “men going their own way” (MGTOW) before, you would probably assume this was a tiny, extreme movement. But you would be only half right.

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'This year has made me feel, at times, that I look like a freak. What should I do for my head?' | Leading questions

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 16:10

It can be traumatic for women to lose their hair, writes advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith, but your hair doesn’t need to be a symbol of fragility

I had breast cancer in 2002. It came back a second time this year. I had a double mastectomy and chemo. I have had reconstructive surgery but expect more. It’s been a rough year. Mostly I am proud of getting through all this. But I am concerned about my daughter’s wedding, which is in six weeks.

I have a wig for Zoom calls, but it doesn’t look great and it is not me. I bought it online; because of Covid I could not go to a wig shop. I have very little hair, a quarter inch, but you can still see my scalp. I don’t know what to do for my head. Do I wear a wig that is hot and not me? Do I go with my own hair and look like a man with a crew cut, but wear it as a symbol of pride for a tough year? Do I wear a scarf that will hide my head but not the fact that I have no hair?

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French minister defends 'precious' right to sunbathe topless

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:15

Gendarmes’ request for topless sunbathers to cover up on south coast prompts outcry

France’s interior minister has defended the “precious” right to sunbathe topless on beaches, after police asked a group of women to cover up on the southern coast.

French gendarmes patrolling a beach in Mediterranean seaside town Sainte-Marie-la-Mer last week asked a group of topless sunbathers to cover up in response to a complaint from a family, the local gendarmerie said in a statement on Facebook.

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Cervical cancer: minority ethnic women more likely to miss screenings in pandemic

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 02:47

Study by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust finds almost 40% feel unsafe visiting surgeries

Minority ethnic women are less likely than white women to attend cervical cancer screenings, with four in 10 saying they would feel unsafe attending a doctor’s surgery as a result of the pandemic.

The findings in a study for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has revealed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women are twice as likely (20%) to be strongly worried about contracting the virus at a cervical cancer screening than white women (9.4%). It also found that BAME women are a third more likely (39.6%) to feel unsafe visiting a doctor’s surgery at the moment than white women (27.2%).

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Cricketers in India pad up to push periods out of the shadows

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 18:00

Niine’s sponsorship of Rajasthan Royals aims to help remove stigma around periods

When the Rajasthan Royals walk on to the pitch this September, it will mark more than a long awaited return of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket.

Emblazoned on the back of their purple jerseys will be the name Niine, making it the first time any Indian sports team has been sponsored by a sanitary towel brand.

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Stephanie Yeboah: ‘How I learned to stop using my body as a punch bag’

Sat, 08/22/2020 - 21:00

As a plus-size black woman, Stephanie Yeboah has faced decades of racism and fat phobia. Here the author of Fattily Ever After reveals how she overcame prejudice to accept herself – and live with confidence

Let me paint the scene. It’s October 2019. I’m on a deserted beach in St Lucia, on a work trip with other influencers. It’s a balmy 38C and I’m wearing a duo-toned glitter bikini underneath a yellow beach skirt. In a moment of sheer spontaneity, I rip off the skirt and run into the sea. To most people, this would be an everyday response to hitting the beach, but for me it was an act of emancipation; a decision, made in the moment, that I would never let the opinions of others hold power over my body and my self-esteem. It was an attempt to stick two fingers up at “bikini body” culture – the idea that in order to wear a bikini, or to feel confident at the beach, you need to present as super slim. Here I was in this fat body – in a bikini nonetheless – having fun, feeling free, unapologetically me. It felt exhilarating.

It had taken many years to get to this point. Until the age of eight or nine, I had been a happy, active child. I was a bit taller and bigger than other kids, sure, but it had mostly been a non-issue for me, until I started to be made aware of my weight by my dad. He would frequently snatch away my plate in the middle of a meal and comment on how much bigger my arms and legs were getting.

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First ladies: voices of reason and compassion, central to US politics today

Sat, 08/22/2020 - 20:22

Michelle Obama’s powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention showed how the roles of leaders’ wives are more important than ever

Michelle Obama may think that Donald Trump “cannot meet this moment”, but she has proved without a doubt that she can.

When Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last week, she pleaded for Americans to vote for Joe Biden like their “lives depend on it”. She used her recent history as America’s “mom-in-chief” to make her case in what was the most talked-about speech of the convention. And she made clear that first ladies have enormous platforms, if they choose to use them.

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Hello, Harriet: how the pandemic has led me back to an old friend, and my young self | Kate Cole-Adams

Sat, 08/22/2020 - 10:00

In a world without coronavirus, there are conversations that might never have happened. Their nature, too, is different

  • This is part of a series of essays by Australian writers responding to the challenges of 2020

Early on the morning of my 59th birthday I carry a mug across the backyard and into the studio to wait for Harriet. We haven’t been in the same country in nearly a decade, but through the alignment of datelines and digital technology we create a nest of impossible time: me in Melbourne (PJs, Ugg boots, celebratory cup of tea); she at her kitchen table in Devon, England, late evening on the second anniversary of the day her husband took himself to the highest point in the small town where they had loved each other for 20 years, and jumped.

I’ve known Harriet since I was 11. She was friends with Jo whose twin sister was friends with me. We all lived around the corner from each other in Islington, London, where my father was posted for five years as correspondent for Melbourne’s Age newspaper. I’d seen her around and had a vague idea that she might be a bit annoying. Certainly, she was exuberant (the great wide smile; the sense of all of her bounding forward at once). My reserve lasted until we found we were enrolled in the same secondary school, at which point our parents arranged a get-together and we fell in love.

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Uganda court rules government must prioritise maternal health in 'huge shift'

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 01:29

Ruling is result of lawsuit filed over deaths in childbirth of two women due to staff negligence and lack of facilities

Health rights activists in Uganda have welcomed a landmark court ruling that the government should increase its health budget to ensure women receive decent maternal healthcare services.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2011 over the deaths in childbirth of two women – Jennifer Anguko and Sylvia Nalubowa – in a public health facility.

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Selective abortion in India could lead to 6.8m fewer girls being born by 2030

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 19:30

New study shows preference for a son is highest in north of country with Uttar Pradesh having highest deficit in female births

An estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent use of selective abortions, researchers estimate.

Academics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia projected the sex ratio at birth in 29 Indian states and union territories, covering almost the entire population, taking into account each state’s desired sex ratio at birth and the population’s fertility rates.

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