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Hugh Grant defends Prince Harry: 'The tabloids effectively murdered his mother'

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 02:08

The actor and activist has backed up Harry’s desire to ‘protect his family’, while Stormzy has said there is no ‘credible’ reason to dislike Meghan

Hugh Grant has defended Prince Harry’s decision to “step back” from formal royal duties and seek a self-financed life based partly in Canada.

Speaking on Andy Cohen’s Radio Andy show on Sirius XM, Grant said: “I’m rather on Harry’s side. The tabloid press effectively murdered his mother, now they’re tearing his wife to pieces.”

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How long can this nonsense of the Oscars failing to nominate female directors go on? | Ellen E Jones

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 06:55

This year’s Academy Awards show that diversity drives will only get us so far. Filmgoers and the industry must question what makes a film award-worthy

Congratulations to those men – I guess? Issa Rae summarised the mixed feelings of many when yet another all-male list of best director Oscar nominations was announced yesterday. It’s possible to note – entirely without snide – that it has been a bumper year for films about men by men. The frontrunners – Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Sam Mendes’ 1917, and even Todd Phillips’ Joker – provided plentiful and pertinent insights into male power, male ego and male fallibility. But what about the rest of us?

We must content ourselves with Little Women, the lone female-directed film on the best picture list, for, as Aunt March would counsel, that is our lot in life. After decades of being mischaracterised as a cosy tale about sweet-natured sisters and their domestic trifles, Louisa May Alcott’s sardonically titled Little Women finally has a faithful adaptation. Under Greta Gerwig’s passionate direction, it rages righteously about the patriarchy’s narrow definition of artistic merit – amusingly embodied by Tracy Letts’ belittling publisher, Dashwood – and how it works to crush female creativity. How apt.

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Forget cat ladies: the real tribes of modern dating, from fantasists to routiners

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:00

Finding a mate now involves navigating the perils of sword enthusiasts, 9/11 ‘truthers’ and the risk that it’s your beagle they really want, rather than you

Ten years ago, in my second year at university, I threw a Lord of the Rings-themed party. I would be embarrassed about committing this to print had it not been in New Zealand, where all parties are Lord of the Rings-themed.

I was a Ringwraith, having spent an unfeasible amount of money on eBay for a hobby horse. Some guests on the way to my house in costume, were accosted by strangers of about our age, who asked: were they going to a Lord of the Rings-themed party?

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Stop talking about 'wine o'clock': Holly Whitaker on how women can stop drinking – and get happy

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 23:25

When she decided to quit drinking, Whitaker turned, like many people, to Alcoholics Anonymous. She didn’t like what she found there, so she decided to create her own unique approach

When Holly Whitaker looks back on the many nights that would disappear in a boozy haze, it wasn’t the anxiety and regret that made her realise she needed to get help for her drinking, but sheer exhaustion. Each weekend, while hungover, she would wearily erase all evidence of her drinking binges: the stains on her bed, the empty bottles, the rubbish bags. She was holding it together with a lucrative job as the director of a healthcare startup, had a great flat in San Francisco and a busy social life, but suddenly she just couldn’t do it any more.

“When I binged, I would close my eyes while I did it,” she says. “I was trying to not see how horrific it was. I would go through this process of scrubbing it away, then presenting myself to the world and pretending that nothing was wrong. Then I had this moment when I couldn’t not see it.”

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It’s not just Meghan and Harry. I’d like us all to escape this dire royal circus | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 20:00

The Duchess of Sussex is compared to Yoko Ono and subjected to big-bucks bigotry. She and her husband should be allowed to go – then we can rethink what monarchy means

There is a meme doing the rounds in which Prince Harry, instead of cuddling up to Meghan, is embracing Yoko Ono. You may find this hilarious. Yoko broke up the Beatles; Meghan is now ripping apart the royals. I find it racist, sexist, untrue and a sign of how little we understand our own prejudices, and those of our rulers. Yoko is a brilliant artist in her own right. She was also, if you care to remember, described at the time as “simian-looking” by John Lennon’s biographer Albert Goldman. She faced an enormous amount of racism.

No one is that explicit about Meghan. Instead we have toddlerish waffle about her “exotic DNA” and her unbearable wokeness, which is clearly worse for the royal family than having someone accused of having sex with a 17-year-old in your midst (which Prince Andrew denies). One of the most excruciating things about all this is who gets to define racism, and it’s the likes of Piers Morgan and Sarah Vine, who refuse to understand either racism or indeed humility. They don’t even work hard for the money. Lazy, sloppy, big-bucks bigotry.

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Do women feel guilt after having an abortion? No, mainly relief | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:18

Most women don’t regret their decision to have a termination – and that outlook could help us protect reproductive rights

Women know themselves! Shock! Women can make the right decisions about their own bodies. Isn’t that amazing? Though I and most of my friends who have had abortions know this, I guess that’s just anecdata. You can’t trust women when they tell you that the main feeling was relief and that they didn’t really want a load of counselling about adoption or to wait another few weeks.

Still, a study conducted over five years across 21 states in the US has found that this is true. Of all the emotions that women were asked about – including sadness, guilt, regret, anger and happiness – it was relief that was the main one expressed.

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Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani to explore #MeToo in comedy drama

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 15:31

Channel 4’s Chivalry will take a satirical look at gender politics in today’s film industry

Steve Coogan is shining a light on gender politics after the rise of the #MeToo movement in a new Channel 4 comedy drama in which he plays a successful “ladies’ man” film producer who has to reshoot his sexist film in order to save his career.

Chivalry looks at the changing nature of the film industry after the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, in the form of an unlikely attraction between Coogan’s character, Cameron, and a liberal director called Bobby played by Sarah Solemani.

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‘Body positivity’ has had its day. Let’s find peace with ourselves

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 23:00

Women are now told to feel good about their bodies – whatever their shape – but it’s not as simple as that

If the beginning of the decade in bodies was defined by “size zero”, clavicles worn proudly by tanned celebrities as if Cartier necklaces, and the end was defined by a loudly proclaimed yet slippery embrace of “body positivity”, where are we right now on the body hatred spectrum?

Much came in between the two, of course, and little of it good. There were the eating disorders (hospital admissions for which continue to rise sharply), which sistered a worldwide obesity epidemic, and the pills that helped desperate women defecate fat. There was the speed at which it had become familiar to see an actress turn to the side on a red carpet and simply disappear. In January 2010, three diet TV shows competed for ratings: Fat Families, Generation XXL and My Big Fat Diet Show, an “interactive diet-along”.

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Samira Ahmed’s victory has taught us a lesson: it’s still gender that fixes our pay | Yvonne Roberts

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 22:30
‘Troublemakers’ across all sectors, not just at the BBC, should be encouraged to do what it takes to achieve justice at work

In 1971, I was working on a regional evening paper. The Equal Pay Act (superseded by the 2010 Equality Act) had been passed the year before but was not due to come into force until 1975, along with the Sex Discrimination Act. So, every Saturday afternoon, “girl reporters” were required to sit in a cubicle the size of an upright coffin and type whatever incomprehensible guff a half-cut (male) sports reporter bellowed down the phone as he filed his report on a local football match. We girls didn’t utter a peep of protest. Clearly we must have done something to deserve our fate.

The internalising of blame – it’s me, not systemic unfairness – has long made it easy to pay women less. It has also kept the focus on women’s behaviour, not on the conduct of employers who persistently break the law. Women tell each other they lack confidence, they avoid talking about money, they do not believe they are worth it, all true of many of my generation. We entered the workplace when we were often the only outsider ie female, in the office, allegedly earning “pin money”. But now?

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This Girl Can steps up taboo-busting campaign to boost female activity

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 12:00

• Advert will show women overcoming period pains and cramps
• ‘We can shine a spotlight on issues that need to be talked about’

The original This Girl Can campaign broke the mould by showing women of all shapes and sizes sweating to get active. Five years on the award-winning campaign is seeking to move the dial again by embracing some of the most taboo subjects in women’s sport.

A new television commercial, to be launched on Tuesday, will show women overcoming challenges such as severe menstrual cramps or coping with menopausal symptoms. In one notable scene, a woman is seen with her tampon string visible while getting changed for yoga - hardly a common sight on television screens - having taken the activity up to help her tackle debilitating period pains.

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Why are virginity tests still legal across America in 2020?

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 04:00

Reminder: the state of your hymen is not an indicator of whether you’ve had sex. Yet there are no laws banning exams

Sign up for The week in patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Unhappy with your love life? It’s time to locate your sex accelerator | Flo Perry

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 22:00

A third of British women report a lack of interest in sex. That’s often because they’ve forgotten what presses their buttons

A study has been released telling us that women aren’t enjoying sex as much as men. Research published in the BMC Public Health medical journal claims that 47.5% of women in the UK have poor sexual health, which in this study included emotional problems as well as physical ones, compared with just 17% of men.

Related: Half of British women 'have poor sexual health'

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Samira Ahmed verdict further damages BBC's reputation on equal pay

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:40

Decision means corporation is likely to face more cases and further public embarrassment

Samira Ahmed’s employment tribunal victory is the latest blow to the BBC in a gender pay gap row that has engulfed the corporation since it was forced to reveal the salary details of its top earners in 2017.

Published at the behest of the government under the BBC’s new royal charter, the list showed that only a third of its 96 top earners were women and the top seven were all men.

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BBC facing huge bill for equal pay cases after Samira Ahmed verdict

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:19

Broadcaster does not consider tribunal result a blanket ruling and could still fight other cases

Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay claim against the BBC in a landmark case that lawyers say could leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions for similar claims by other female staff.

Ahmed, the presenter of viewer feedback programme Newswatch, claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting the similar Points of View programme.

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Bafta to review voting system after diversity row

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 06:33

Film academy admits change needed after lack of female and BAME nominees for awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) is reviewing its voting process after criticism over the lack of female directors or black and minority ethnic actors nominated for its main categories on Monday.

Marc Samuelson, head of Bafta’s film committee, told Variety that there would be a “careful and detailed review within and outside the membership”.

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Half of British women 'have poor sexual health'

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 21:00

Research highlights need to reverse cuts to NHS sexual health services, experts say

Almost half of women in Britain have poor sexual health – almost three times the rate in men – researchers have said.

Women’s sexual problems have been found to be more varied than those experienced by men. Nearly a third of all women were found to experience difficulties rooted in a lack of interest in sex – a problem associated with distress and dissatisfaction with their sex life.

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Elizabeth Wurtzel showed women they could write the messy, humiliating truth | Megan Nolan

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:02
Prozac Nation kickstarted a genre often looked down on as exploitative. But such warnings risk silencing young women

“We begrudged her for being such a famous and hot little mess,” wrote a contemporary of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s in 2013. Following Wurtzel’s death on Tuesday, an author tweeted: “Elizabeth Wurtzel was a major factor in making personal essay the currency of women writers in the 90s. This was a blessing and a curse, both for her and for the rest of us.”

Related: Elizabeth Wurtzel, journalist and author of Prozac Nation, dies aged 52

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It’s the first awards season of a shiny new decade – but women and people of colour are still locked out | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 07:20

The Golden Globes and Grammys have increasingly become a vehicle for actors to make progressive, politicised speeches. What a shame nobody is listening to them

Despite the endless online commotion surrounding the new year and decade, you could be forgiven for thinking we have actually slipped back a few years this week. On Tuesday, the 2016 hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite was trending on Twitter again after the announcement of nominees, a list that contained not one person of colour in any of the acting categories.

And so begins the first awards season of a shiny new decade. This is not a Bafta-only issue, mind; the #sowhite hashtag can be affixed to almost any big awards ceremony, as can #somale. Even the breakthroughs seem to take us multiple steps back: Awkwafina become the first Asian person to win best actress at the Golden Globes while simultaneously being snubbed entirely at the Baftas.

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Record high in Hollywood films with female lead characters

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:00

Annual study finds 40% of 2019 blockbusters featured a female lead – with women’s involvement behind the camera a vital factor

In what is likely to be seen as a boost for Hollywood’s drive to redress decades of male dominance on screen, a new report suggests that a record percentage of leading characters in successful American films are female.

The new edition of It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World, an annual report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, finds that 40% of the 2019’s high-grossing US films contained a female lead character, compared with 43% male (with the remaining 17% having ensemble or equal male-female leads). This is the highest proportion that the survey has recorded, with the earliest figures, from 2002, at 16%. The lowest year was 2011, when the figure was 11%.

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Germany’s abortion law: made by the Nazis, upheld by today’s right | Mithu Sanyal

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 23:00

An old 1930s law that hinders women’s access to information about terminations has survived public protest – and is being exploited by anti-abortion groups

It’s like the holocaust only worse, according to babycaust.de, the German website dedicated to abortion, or as they call it: “The mass murder of unborn children.”

Every country has its nutters. The problem with these particular nutters is that their website is your best bet if you need to find a doctor who performs abortions in Germany. It provides a full list of practitioners with the “licence to kill” by town and postcode, decorated with images of hacked-up babies in petri dishes, some of them made into gifs to show the blood still dripping. Whatever for? They obviously don’t want you to go to these doctors. But they do want to make it easier for you to report these “killers” to the police.

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