Women's News from the Web

Syndicate content The Guardian
Latest Women news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 3 hours 26 min ago

Exercise can help prevent cancers, new research finds

Sat, 02/13/2021 - 21:15

Obesity could soon overtake smoking as the main preventable cancer risk

Taking regular exercise is going to become increasingly important in helping to prevent cancers as the UK emerges from lockdown, say scientists.

Since the pandemic began a year ago, growing numbers of people have reported gaining weight after cutting down on physical activity while others say they have been eating more junk food.

Continue reading...

Contraceptive pill could be sold over counter in first for UK

Fri, 02/12/2021 - 12:40

Public consultation led by the MHRA is looking for views on the potential reclassification of two pill types

Two types of the contraceptive pill could be sold over the counter for the first time, the government has announced.

As part of a public consultation, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking for opinions on the reclassification of two progestogen-only pills.

Continue reading...

Framing Britney Spears exposes the contradictions of American womanhood | Moira Donegan

Thu, 02/11/2021 - 05:06

The documentary makes it clear Britney Spears had a real enthusiasm for performing – and that any woman who became that famous would have been treated that badly

“It’s something that would not have happened to a man in America,” a blond fan says in the opening moments of Framing Britney Spears, a New York Times documentary about Britney Spears. The woman is talking about Spears’ conservatorship, an elaborate legal arrangement, in place since 2009, in which the singer has been declared unfit to manage her own affairs. The conservatorship means that Spears’ life – and her money – are largely under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, who has been appointed conservator by the court. That arrangement has come under scrutiny as fans speculate that Spears’ independence has been needlessly curtailed by a greedy father and a misogynist court system, and that the singer has been trapped in a literal, court-ordained patriarchy. Spears herself has petitioned for the court appoint a different conservator, saying that she is afraid of her father.

Related: The time has come – I’m joining team #FreeBritney. Here’s why you should, too | Arwa Mahdawi

Continue reading...

Labour backs bill giving ministers longer maternity leave

Thu, 02/11/2021 - 01:13

Party support conditional on government pledging to end discrimination over pay and leave

Labour will back measures allowing six-month maternity leave for cabinet ministers through a bill rushed through parliament later on Thursday but will demand a commitment to tackle maternity protections for women during the pandemic as a price for its support.

The legislation has provoked a backlash among MPs and campaigners because it will offer six months’ paid leave only to ministers – not backbenchers – and will give ministers far more generous rights than the general public.

Continue reading...

Moufida Tlatli, Silences of the Palace director, dies aged 73

Tue, 02/09/2021 - 01:33

Tunisian director of multi-award-winning features won wide acclaim for film about the trauma suffered by generations of women

Moufida Tlatli, the pioneering Tunisian film-maker behind much-admired festival hits The Silences of the Palace and The Season of Men, has died aged 73. News media said that she died on Sunday, with the news confirmed by the Tunisian ministry of culture.

Tlatli remains best known for her breakthrough 1994 feature The Silences of the Palace, a lyrical study of a woman’s return to an abandoned royal residence, which tackled the themes of exploitation and trauma as experienced across generations of Arab women. It won a string of international awards, including the Sutherland trophy at the London film festival for the most “original and imaginative” film of the year, and was named as one of Africa’s 10 best films by critic and director Mark Cousins. The film was inspired by her mother’s difficult life; in 2001, Tlatli told the Guardian she “was riven with guilt … It was so insupportable, exhausting, suffocating.”

Continue reading...

I am so sick of being asked if I regret not having children | Elmo Keep

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 19:00

For some women not having kids is a freely given, affirming choice. For others, it will be the most painful point in their entire lives

“Is there a part of you that regrets having children?” I had to ask this of a woman, older than me, who, like so many other buzzkills before her down the ages, thought that asking a single, child-free woman if she regrets not having children is an appropriate topic of dinner conversation.

“Yes, of course,” she said.

Continue reading...

UK risks ‘turning clock back’ on gender equality in pandemic

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 14:01

Select committee issues 20 recommendations including maintaining universal credit increase

The government risks “turning the clock back” on gender equality by overlooking the labour market and caring inequalities faced by women during the pandemic, a report published by the women and equalities committee warns.

The select committee has issued 20 recommendations for the government to tackle inequality, including maintaining the £20 increase to universal credit.

Continue reading...

'Witch' tweets reflect society's fear of older women, says Mary Beard

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 14:01

Inside Culture host draws parallel between witch trials of the past and the online abuse she receives

The academic and broadcaster Mary Beard has said she is frequently branded a witch in an attempt to discredit her and older women generally.

Beard, who is professor of classics at the University of Cambridge and the presenter of BBC Two’s Inside Culture, drew a parallel between witch trials of the past and the kind of online abuse she receives now.

Continue reading...

Does anyone know what emotional labor means any more?

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 01:00

The term has been overused and badly applied – to everything from Bernie Sanders’ stance at inauguration to being a good friend

It was 42F, and the 79-year-old senator from Vermont was cold. Bernie Sanders slumped uncomfortably in his folding chair, coat pulled to chest, hands clad in chunky mittens. Probably because of the expression on Sanders’ face – a mix of discomfort and irritation, the sort of grouching that Larry David has forged a career out of – the image flew across the internet. There were memes of Sanders on the Iron Throne, alongside Forrest Gump and sitting courtside with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Almost immediately, the feminist backlash began. The Drexel University professor Amelia Hoover Green tweeted: “Ice cold feminist take: I love Bernie, I really do, but sir: emotional labor is not beneath you. Not feeling it? Fucking pretend for one minute, like [most] women do every minute.” The artist Anne B Kelly tweeted: “This is misogyny.” The TV writer Liz Sczudlo added: “White men get endless latitude and forgiveness other Americans aren’t afforded.”

Continue reading...

Don’t mess with Jackie Weaver, boys. She’s got a mute button and knows how to use it | Gaby Hinsliff

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 23:00

An acrimonious online parish council meeting became a viral hit, making a heroine of its unflappable host

Some day, there will surely be a statue to Jackie Weaver.

Women will take their small daughters to see it and deliver homilies about the importance of standing your ground with pompous and aggressive men in meetings, which their daughters won’t understand at the time but will remember with startling clarity once they actually start work. And just as MPs entering the Commons chamber used to touch the bronze foot of Winston Churchill’s nearby statue for luck, aspiring politicians will stop and offer silent thanks to Jackie, the patron saint of women who are having absolutely none of your nonsense.

Continue reading...

A love letter to Sheffield - from a most unlikely source | Rachel Cooke

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 22:00

How could old Etonian Ferdinand Mount possibly understand the character of the northern city? He used his imagination

It comes over you only rarely in life: the swoony feeling that a book might almost have been written for you. Two weeks after I finished it, I can’t stop thinking about Kiss Myself Goodbye, Ferdinand Mount’s extraordinary memoir of his Aunt Munca. Like someone in love, all I want to do is talk about it, a situation that’s sorely testing the patience of my domestic colleague, who must now attend a Munca symposium at approximately 7.30pm every night. (There is only one speaker: me.)

When first we meet Munca, it’s the late 1950s and she is living it up in Surrey, a luxurious realm of golf courses, plumped cushions and endless deceptions. But then, slowly, we scroll back to where she was born – and it was at this point in the story that I was amazed to see a fuzzy picture of a certain house on a Sheffield street: the very spot where I was first kissed. My God, I thought, what a nerve! Mount, a former editor of the TLS, is an old Etonian, a cousin of David Cameron and in the 1980s ran the No 10 policy unit under Mrs Thatcher. How could he possibly understand Sheffield? His one-time boss ripped apart our city.

Continue reading...

Misogynists are trying to silence me: abuse bill commissioner

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 11:30

Anonymous social media users are banding together to harass and discredit a domestic abuse campaigner

London’s first commissioner for victims has revealed how misogynists are attempting to silence her attempts to tackle domestic violence.

Claire Waxman, who is campaigning for amendments to the domestic abuse bill, says her work is prompting an increasingly coordinated online response from largely anonymous social media accounts designed to discredit and intimidate her from continuing. “Particularly around the area of the family courts and domestic abuse bill I have received a huge amount of abuse which has misogyny at its root, people who are trying to create a gender war,” she said.

Continue reading...

Why does writing about motherhood provoke so much rage?

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 20:00

The subject is guaranteed to attract a tsunami of bile, stemming from resentment, sexism and disgust

My friend E has written a book. “It’s not as though it hasn’t all been said before,” she said. “I suppose the most interesting thing about it is how many times it can be said without anything changing.”

I can’t work out whether I’ve forgotten what my friends are like, or forgotten how to have a conversation, but this doesn’t sound like E at all. It sounds sheepish, like she has stepped on a toe, or overshared, or fallen in some way beneath her standards (which are, granted, as complicated and precise as the laser alarm system in Mission: Impossible). But I’ve never heard that tone in her voice. Politically, she is a radical. Personally, she is more radical. You can’t get a sheepish radical – it’s a philosophical impossibility. It would be chased straight back into its pen by the dogs of convention.

Continue reading...

Tokyo 2020 chief pressed to resign after saying women talked too much at meetings

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 18:43

Yoshiro Mori said he would not stand down after saying female participants meant meetings tended to ‘drag on’

Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, has apologised for making sexist remarks about “talkative” women in sports organisations, but said he would not resign.

Mori, a former Japanese prime minister with a history of demeaning remarks, told a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) this week that meetings attended by too many women tended to “drag on” because they talked too much.

Continue reading...

What a picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a bikini tells us about the disturbing future of AI | Arwa Mahdawi

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 21:00

New research on image-generating algorithms has raised alarming evidence of bias. It’s time to tackle the problem of discrimination being baked into tech, before it is too late

Want to see a half-naked woman? Well, you’re in luck! The internet is full of pictures of scantily clad women. There are so many of these pictures online, in fact, that artificial intelligence (AI) now seems to assume that women just don’t like wearing clothes.

That is my stripped-down summary of the results of a new research study on image-generation algorithms anyway. Researchers fed these algorithms (which function like autocomplete, but for images) pictures of a man cropped below his neck: 43% of the time the image was autocompleted with the man wearing a suit. When you fed the same algorithm a similarly cropped photo of a woman, it auto-completed her wearing a low-cut top or bikini a massive 53% of the time. For some reason, the researchers gave the algorithm a picture of the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and found that it also automatically generated an image of her in a bikini. (After ethical concerns were raised on Twitter, the researchers had the computer-generated image of AOC in a swimsuit removed from the research paper.)

Continue reading...

'People heckle me': top female runners speak out over abuse on streets

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 05:34

Athletes who cannot access usual facilities in lockdown talk of harassment while out training

A group of leading female runners have spoken out about the abuse and harassment they experience when they are training out on the streets and in parks because they cannot access their usual facilities during lockdown.

One runner revealed she no longer felt safe exercising in public while another described a violent incident in which an empty beer can was thrown at her.

Continue reading...

Sophie's triumphantly plastic music moulded a new world for trans people

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 02:07

The producer’s death is crushing, but we’re left with hyper-real music and an iconography that upends femininity and points to a new way of living

Long before the late Scottish producer Sophie’s astonishing 2017 track and video It’s OK to Cry were released – an image of Sophie’s transgender body in joyful, anxious, and deeply felt flux – this artist was already special to trans people. Sophie had long crafted electronic dance tracks that freed femininity and bodies from their usual contexts and let them dance with abandon. In 2013 it didn’t matter to me, as a not-yet-out-even-to-myself transgender woman, whether or not Sophie was transgender. What mattered was that in early singles, such as the genre-redefining Bipp that year, we felt as though we could become something else.

Related: Sophie: 10 of the greatest tracks by a genius of pop's expressive power

Continue reading...

The menstrual month: how to exercise effectively at every stage of your cycle

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 01:30

The physiological changes that take place around a woman’s period can affect her training. Experts assess when to take it easy – and when you should go hard

When Evgenia Koroleva started learning about her menstrual cycle and the effect it was having on her, week to week, she says: “It blew my mind. Why did I know so little about my body?” A gym owner, Koroleva has since created a training programme based around an individual’s cycle, which she says will optimise results.

Hers is not the first to take the menstrual cycle into consideration when it comes to exercise. Interest has grown hugely in recent years, with elite athletes tracking physiological changes and coaches educating themselves about the effects. For the rest of us, there are apps and cycle trackers, but the area is still woefully under-researched (blame male-dominated medicine and sport).

Continue reading...

Worker at H&M supply factory was killed after months of harassment, claims family

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 06:21

Fashion brand to investigate the death of 20-year-old Jeyasre Kathiravel, reportedly killed by supervisor at Natchi Apparels

The family of a young garment worker at an H&M supplier factory in Tamil Nadu who was allegedly murdered by her supervisor said she had suffered months of sexual harassment and intimidation on the factory floor in the months before her death, but felt powerless to prevent the abuse from continuing.

H&M said it is launching an independent investigation into the killing of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a 20-year-old Dalit garment worker at an H&M supplier Natchi Apparels in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu, who was found dead on 5 January in farmland near her home.

Continue reading...

Pregnant women going for scans alone told they cannot film baby

Sun, 01/31/2021 - 05:13

Exclusive: NHS urged to act after survey finds some women wrongly warned taking photos is illegal

Pregnant women attending scans and appointments alone are repeatedly being told they cannot record or take photographs of their unborn child to show their partner, according to a survey.

The poll of more than 3,450 pregnant women by the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed found that more than half of respondents (52%) attended scans alone and were also told that they could not record or take photographs during the appointment.

Continue reading...