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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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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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