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One in five girls and young women bullied about periods – study

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 20:59

Two-thirds of UK girls miss classes because of periods in culture of ‘stigma and shame’

One in five girls and young women in the UK are teased or bullied about their periods, with many suffering in silence, according to research.

Of the 20% of 14- to 21-year-olds to tell pollsters they were targeted, nearly half (49%) said they had not spoken to anyone about the abuse. About 67% said abuse mainly happened at school, and 66% said they had missed classes because of their period.

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Access to menstrual health and hygiene is a right. Period. | Elizabeth Payne

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 18:20

Right now, 800 million girls and women are menstruating: so why is it still ‘secret women’s business’?

That time of the month, shark week, Aunt Flow, on your rags, the flowers, period.

There are more than 69 different terms that we use globally to describe menstruation other than the word itself. We have so many code words and euphemisms because, in 2019, sadly, many of us are still uncomfortable talking openly about periods. Don’t you think it’s time we got over it?

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Marriage and children don’t always make women happy. Who knew? | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 07:12

Should Prof Paul Dolan’s pronouncements change the way we think about life? Er …

Some of my best friends are in a subgroup: “unmarried and childless women”. Its members, according to a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, are the “happiest subgroup in the population”. Paul Dolan, in a talk at the Hay festival, told the audience that the latest evidence, including longitudinal studies, shows that the markers conventionally used to measure success – marriage and children – do not correlate with happiness. Well, knock me down with a Fetherlight condom. Who knew? Except the many women who actually have quite nice lives?

We are told that marriage, usually of the heterosexual, monogamous kind, is the key to intimacy, if not ecstasy, and that it is somehow good for our health. It is good for men because their wives nag them to see the doctor and, possibly, to eat better. For women, this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, as most women have children and work, life can be pretty tough.

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The Guardian view on ‘discovering’ overlooked artists: look to the present, too | Editorial

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 07:25
It’s wonderful when artists are given the attention they deserve late in life – but there’s little cause for self-congratulation

Last week an exhibition opened at the Serpentine Gallery in London devoted to an artist whose work, hitherto unheard of by most art lovers, is receiving a glowing response from critics. This “emerging” artist, receiving her first solo show at a public institution, is 98 years old. Luchita Hurtado, who was born in Caracas, has lived a long, eventful and peripatetic life in the Dominican Republic, Chile, the USA, Mexico and Italy. She was friends with the De Koonings, Chagall, Léger and Duchamp, among others. The exhibition contains work from a career spanning the 1930s to the present.

Her third husband was a painter, Lee Mullican. As the Guardian’s critic, Adrian Searle, noted, it appears that his work “took up most of the physical and mental space” in the marriage. Though she never stopped making art, she hardly ever showed her paintings. Some are self-portraits, done without a mirror, produced in confined spaces – herself looking down on her own body. This lack of room seems an eloquent metaphor in itself. It was only by chance that she was “spotted”. The director of Mullican’s estate found paintings of hers stacked among her husband’s work.

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Dominic Raab defends calling feminists ‘obnoxious bigots’

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 03:35

The potential future PM says he does not want ‘double standards’ in equality debate

Dominic Raab has defended his claim that feminists are some of the most obnoxious bigots and that men are getting a raw deal, saying he does not want “double standards” in the debate on equality.

The former Brexit secretary, a leading candidate to be the next prime minister, was challenged on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show about his comments from 2011, when he said: “From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.”

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Christian rightwingers warn abortion fight could spark US civil war

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 20:00

Wave of extreme bans seems to have amped up predictions of coming conflict

Prominent figures on the Christian right in the US ranging from religious magazines to authors to elected politicians have warned that the fight over abortion rights could lead to a new civil war.

Though such dire predictions are not necessarily new on the extreme right wing in the US, the passing of a wave of hardline anti-abortion laws in numerous states this year appears to have amped up the conspiracy-minded predictions that depict abortion squarely as a root cause of a coming conflict.

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My ex was charming but critical. Now I’ve lost all my confidence | Dear Mariella

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 19:00

Work out why you were so susceptible to him – and pursue only what appeals to you, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I’m a woman in my early 30s and six months ago I was dumped. Our relationship was long distance, developed quickly and was the most intense of my life. He is 10 years my senior and is a unique, charismatic, charming man who makes a good impression on everyone. In private, however, he could be unkind, judgmental and emotionally distant. He could also be demanding, controlling and critical. During our relationship he pushed me to enter his world of ideas, books, films and art. If I didn’t show enough interest, he would become disappointed and irritable. He would often ask me to articulate my thoughts and tell him what I needed, but I felt put on the spot and could never seem to act decisively in those moments – including in the bedroom. Now I am suffering a crisis of confidence as I struggle to define what makes me interesting. I can’t seem to separate my own interests from his – and they all remind me of him. I was in the process of moving to his city (for career reasons as well) when he ended it. My plans have become totally destabilised and I have lost my sense of self.

Mariella replies No wonder. That’s exactly what he was programmed to do. Most women I know have one such Svengali-style relationship under their belt. My own took up most of my late 20s, so I know what you are feeling. Often it’s men that little bit older whose inability to achieve their own ambitions gives them a craving for moulding others. These characters thrive on the taste of power it offers and the distraction from their own insecurities. Mostly, such relationships occur in our 20s when we are young enough to still be searching for our true selves and impressionable enough to cede responsibility to someone who makes it very clear that we’re not up to scratch. These “role models” tend to impress upon us our own deficiencies with enough conviction that we foolishly hand over the reins to them to make better people of us.

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Men don’t have abortions. That’s no reason not to fight for women’s rights | Kenan Malik

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 19:00

Traditionally feminist arenas of campaigning for social equality are everyone’s concern

The decision by Alabama effectively to ban abortion has refocused attention in America on the issue of reproductive rights. The Alabama law is the most dramatic move in a long-running campaign by Republican states to curtail abortion rights and perhaps even overthrow Roe v Wade, the 1973 supreme court decision that legalised abortion in the US.

Inevitably, the abortion debate has come to be seen through the lens of the gender divide. It’s women who get pregnant, women who need abortions, and women who suffer when abortion rights are restricted.

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Women are happier without children or a spouse, says happiness expert

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 03:47

Behavioural scientist Paul Dolan says traditional markers of success no longer apply

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

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Can someone please send mushrooms to all the men’s rights activists out there? | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 02:00

If Roosh V, rape-apologist and leading voice in the online ‘manosphere’, can change his ways, perhaps psychedelics can advance feminism

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

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How about the ‘pro-life’ lobby get behind these life-positive causes instead? | Hadley Freeman

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 22:00

Banning abortion isn’t the most effective place to start if you want to save lives

It’s always more fun to be on the winning side, and in the US right now there is no question that the pro-life side is – well, “killing it” seems like the wrong term, so let’s say it’s enjoying some triumphs. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio have banned abortion from six to eight weeks into a pregnancy – before many women even know they’re pregnant – and last week, 25 men passed a law in Alabama banning nearly all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, which was then signed by the state’s female governor, Kay Ivey. I encourage all of you to look at a photo of these men and say their names out loud: Jabo Waggoner. Garlan Gudger. Shay Shelnutt. If Martin Amis were writing a book about a bunch of woman-hating morons, he would reject these as just too on the nose.

It must be a real bummer to the smug bros (and Susan Sarandon) who insisted in the run-up to the 2016 election that there was no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Well, no difference to them, perhaps. But to millions of vulnerable women in the US, things are a little different. President Trump has effected a rightwing judicial wave across the US, filling the federal court system at all levels with deeply conservative judges. This includes, of course, the supreme court, with the appointments of justices Neil Gorsuch and the famously charming Brett Kavanaugh; “pro-life” law-makers are hoping to take advantage of this and overturn Roe v Wade.

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Like many women before her, Theresa May was set up to fail | Stefan Stern

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 21:00

While men like Chris Grayling manage to keep their jobs, the prime minister’s failure will confirm to macho Westminster that women just can’t cut it

You can have sympathy for the person even while you are reading out a lengthy charge sheet. This is not a plea in mitigation for the departing prime minister. Theresa May was handed a difficult task and she botched it. By her own admission, she failed. But then there is no such thing as a good Brexit, and no one can achieve one.

In a pattern familiar from senior appointments made in business and elsewhere, the step up to the top job proved a stretch too far. The qualities which seemed to have served May pretty well in her career to that point proved a weakness and a vulnerability in the highest office. Sadly, she (or her advisers) believed her own hype. May appeared to relish being labelled “a bloody difficult woman”, and saw obstinacy as a virtue – fatal at a time when flexibility and imagination were required.

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ACLU and Planned Parenthood file lawsuit against Alabama abortion ban

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:14

Groups filed lawsuit to block extreme ban before it can take effect as Missouri’s governor signed an eight-week ban into law on Friday

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit to stop Alabama from implementing a law making abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy.

The lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Alabama abortion providers, seeks to block the near-total abortion ban before it can take effect.

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The reels on the bus: inside Cannes's first creche

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 02:15

Children are the new VIPs, say organisers of a nursery to help festival-goers balance deal-making with childminding

Away from the hustle of the Croisette, some Cannes film festival attendees are busy taking a nap. You might surmise that they are recovering from one of the festival’s many afterparties, but you’d be wrong. Alongside them, other “delegates” are busy singing nursery rhymes, or having their nappies changed.

For the first time, a daycare centre has been installed at Cannes, as part of Le Ballon Rouge, an initiative designed to make the festival more accessible to parents of young children. As well as childcare services, a breastfeeding and nappy changing room has been installed in the Palais, and free passes are available for children, nannies, carers or family members. The centre, which is open from 10am to 6pm until 24 May, costs €50 for the whole festival.

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Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in nice-guy misogyny | Arwa Mahdawi

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 01:01

While the musician might not spout misogynistic lyrics, he’s no feminist

If someone had said the word “Moby” a week ago, chances are the first thing you’d have thought is “Dick.” That probably hasn’t changed – but now you’d likely be referring to the 90s musician rather than the 19th century whale. Over the past few days, Moby has been stress-testing the adage that “all publicity is good publicity” by repeatedly insisting that he and Natalie Portman used to be an item, even if she says they weren’t.

In his new memoir, When It Fell Apart, Moby claims that he dated Portman when he was 33 and she was 20, after they met backstage at one of his concerts. A memoir is traditionally considered a work of non-fiction, however it would seem that the 53-year-old’s book strays into fantasy: Portman has denied the pair ever had a romantic relationship.

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'Democracy has been hijacked by white men': how minority rule now grips America

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 20:00

The US is becoming more diverse and progressive, but white men’s grip on power is being exercised via the courts, gerrymandering and dark money in politics

The exercise of political power by legislative majorities of white, male elected officials in ways that disproportionately exclude or harm women and people of color is such a familiar part of the American political landscape that it sometimes goes underremarked.

That was not the case last week after 25 white Republican men in Alabama voted for a near-total abortion ban in the state, an act that focused the national attention and sparked fears of a broader assault on women’s rights.

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Campaign for change puts Queensland's rape laws under the spotlight

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 14:00

Ministers urged to revist ‘mistake of fact’ defence amid claims police and legal attitudes persistently frustrate prosecutions

Lawyers and women’s advocates say Queensland’s archaic sexual consent laws have created a system in which victims face hostility from the police and courts, amid a renewed push for legal reform.

Hundreds of letters have arrived on the desks of state ministers this week, calling for changes to sexual assault laws, particularly the “mistake of fact” defence. Accused rapists in Queensland can beat a charge by claiming they honestly believed a sexual encounter was consensual, even when it was not.

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The Victorians were no prudes, but women had to play by men’s rules | Kate Williams

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:34

An exhibition of Queen Victoria’s nude paintings belies the fact that sexual freedom was a one-sided affair

Much has been done to redress the popular vision of Queen Victoria as a dull censorious woman swathed in black: ITV’s Victoria drama series, new documentaries and books suggest a less buttoned-up life. But the image prevails, as does is the idea of Victorian society as prudish, covering table legs in case they offended, and refusing to countenance any reference to sex.

However, a new exhibition of Victoria and her husband Albert’s gifts to each other – including art with plenty of nudity – offers a rejoinder. The display, marking the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth, is at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was the couple’s sanctuary, away from public gaze – and they adorned it with quite a few nudes. Florinda, by the German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter, was hung in front of their writing desk – Victoria described it as a “group of beautiful women” about to bathe.

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Menopausal? Yes. But at 50 I’m hotter than I was in my 20s | Cally Beaton

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:23
As an older woman, I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin. And I still wouldn’t be seen dead in a linen blazer

I’m new to being 50 and I’m waiting for it to happen to me: the moment when I vanish without trace. My 51st year started with the B-list French celebrity Yann Moix making global headlines after saying that women over 50 were invisible. (Fun fact: he had to put out a request to stop fiftysomething women spamming him with pictures of their perky body parts in the aftermath. Poor him. )

It turns out that he prefers the “extraordinary” body of a 25-year-old. The thing is, at 50 I know I am objectively more attractive than I was in my 20s, when I was unhappy, insecure, overweight and all round not conventionally hot. I am more attractive than I was in my 30s (raising young kids and juggling a big day job with splitting up with their dad) or in my early- to mid-40s (perimenopause hitting hard and somewhat losing my shit, or at least my way, for a few years).

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Alexa, why does the brave new world of AI have all the sexism of the old one?

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 06:39

Virtual assistants such as Google Home and Siri only encourage the attitude that women exist merely to aid men in getting on with more important things.

When women are over-represented in the workforce, it tends be in industries of assistance – cleaning, nursing, secretarial work and, now, the world of virtual assistants. Research by Unesco has shown that using default female voices in AI – as Microsoft has done with Cortana, Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Assistant and Apple with Siri – is furthering the belief that women exist merely to help men to get on with more important things.

There is no real reason for AI technologies to be gendered at all, but we are at the mercy of tech companies “staffed by overwhelmingly male engineering teams”, fixated on living out a Captain Kirk fantasy and delegating to the subservient, silky-voiced computers of Star Trek. These systems are unapologetically built by men, for men. They can even struggle to understand the “breathy” voices of women as software is often developed with male voice samples.

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