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The Guardian view on boosting maternity leave: from small beginnings | Editorial

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 08:25
Increasing entitlements for mothers will not reduce gender inequality. What’s needed is a rebalancing between work and home

It is a mark of how much society has moved on that a woman’s right to paid maternity leave, introduced in the UK in 1975, is now taken for granted. That fathers’ rights to time off lag so far behind, meaning that women continue to do the vast majority of unpaid domestic work and earn less money as a result, is a mark of how far we have still to go.

Labour’s announcement on Thursday that statutory maternity pay (which can be transferred to employed fathers) will under a Corbyn government be extended to a year, from nine months, is a promising signal that the party is thinking about parents and children. So is its new commitment to extend flexible working. Promises made at the same time, to introduce workplace menopause policies and extend gender pay gap reporting, appear aimed squarely at women voters – like policies from the other parties expected to follow soon.

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Japanese women demand right to wear glasses at work

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 06:55

Public outcry after TV show exposes businesses imposing ban on female staff

Japanese women on social media are demanding the right to wear glasses to work, after reports that employers were imposing bans.

In the latest protest against rigid rules over women’s appearance, the hashtag “glasses are forbidden” was trending on Twitter in reaction to a Japanese television show that exposed businesses that were imposing the bans on female staff.

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'Waking up to our power': witchcraft gets political

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 06:16

One eve of Witchfest event, radicals say they believe magic and occult are natural extensions of feminism and eco activism

The south London borough of Croydon, often derided as the capital’s most unloved suburb, is the birthplace of dubstep and London’s modern tram network. But the area now lays claim to a new title: the UK’s witch capital.

On Saturday, about 4,000 pagans and witches will descend on Croydon to delve further into the occult. While many are simply drawn to the aesthetics of being a witch, there are a growing number of radicals in the country who believe witchcraft and magic are natural extensions of their feminist and environmental activism.

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The continuing gender pay gap is shameful. Labour will use the law to end it | Shami Chakrabarti

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 00:51

Women will never be paid equally until government takes enforcement seriously – that’s what we will do

• Shami Chakrabarti is the shadow attorney general

Jane thought she tasted something not quite right about that can of beans. But money was tight and she was hungry. So she ate some of it and became violently ill the next day. She kept the leftovers in the fridge but lacked the expertise or equipment to analyse it.

The Food Standards Agency had long since been abolished, so she would have to sue the manufacturer or the retailer of her contaminated supper by herself, without recourse to legal aid. This wasn’t realistic, so for several months many other people were poisoned too. A senior politician remarked that they should have used their “common sense” before eating the cut-price pulses. Jane received an equally dismissive reception when complaining about her unsafe rented housing and the chemicals that a multinational plant kept tipping into the nearby stream.

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Lebanese women demand new rights amid political turmoil

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 21:00

Feminist bloc plans to build on role in protests that brought down prime minister

A man may just have stepped down as prime minister, but the women of Lebanon are not going anywhere.

During the protests that led to the resignation of Saad Hariri, women were among those chanting, blocking roads and debating the future of the country’s politics.

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Sydney obstetrician said women should sign a consent form for vaginal births

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:32

Health professionals say Sydney University professor Hans Peter Dietz has repeatedly insulted midwives and other women

A high-profile obstetrician and gynaecologist who is also a professor with the University of Sydney made remarks to peers attending a medico-legal conference in Melbourne that were so sexist and condescending that some attendees were in tears and conference organisers vowed never to invite him back.

Prof Hans Peter Dietz, an internationally renowned pelvic floor expert, has been the subject of numerous complaints to his employers, the Nepean hospital and the University of Sydney.

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Mothers promised full year of maternity pay in Labour manifesto

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:30

Party seeks ‘step change’ in rights of women at work, with pledge to cut gender pay gap

Mothers will be given maternity pay for a full year after the birth of their children and all employees will have a right to work flexibly as part of a Labour manifesto pledge to improve life for parents.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, said she wanted to see a “step change in how women are treated at work”, which would be reflected in the party’s manifesto when it is published in a few weeks’ time.

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Women's writing began much earlier than supposed, finds academic

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 06:56

The first female English authors were thought to have begun writing in the later middle ages, but a new book claims the tradition dates back to the eighth century

There is the eighth-century abbess who wrote the first surviving example of poetry known to have been authored by an Englishwoman. Or her contemporary, a nun who was the first woman to write a full-length prose work in English and hid her name in the text. A new history of women’s writing argues that there was a thriving female literature far earlier than previously believed, and that earlier histories have deliberately excluded or marginalised the contributions of early medieval women.

The first English women’s writing is usually dated to the later middle ages, to the likes of the 12th-century courtly writer Marie de France and 14th-century visionaries Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.

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How Tasnim Lowe survived the death of her family – and the truth of her father’s horrific crime

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 00:00
She was a baby when her mother, aunt and grandmother died. But only now, nearly 20 years on, has Lowe discovered the terrible reality about her parents’ relationship

Tasnim Lowe was 16 months old when she was found under the apple tree where her father had left her, wrapped in a blanket. Behind her, the house in Telford, Shropshire, where her mother, aunt and grandparents lived was on fire and would soon be totally gutted. Her 16-year-old mother, Lucy, who was pregnant again, her 17-year-old aunt, Sarah, and their mother, Linda, were killed; Lowe’s grandfather, George, managed to escape.

The following year, 2001, Lowe’s father, Azhar Ali Mehmood, was convicted of three charges of murder and one of attempted murder. Eighteen years on, he is seeking parole, with a hearing likely to take place in the next couple of weeks.

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Porn to my ears: I tried audio erotica – would it turn me on?

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 23:00

A slew of platforms have sprung up that explicitly cater to female sexuality – and no naked bodies. Why do women like them so much?

I never thought I’d be paid to listen to audio erotica at work, but two hours before the end of Monday it’s happening – and I’m uncomfortable about it.

Related: The truth about the clitoris: why it's not just built for pleasure

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Young Kurdish feminists make me hopeful for the future of the region

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 21:00

A conference on sexual violence in Iraqi Kurdistan has given women an overdue opportunity to voice their experiences

When I received an email from the Kurdish feminist writer and activist Houzan Mahmoud, asking if I would speak at the first conference on sexual violence against women and girls to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan, I could barely contain my excitement.

Mahmoud, a campaigner for Kurdish and Iraqi women’s rights – “honour” killings, the rape and abduction of women in Iraq and the imposition of Islamic sharia law are among the areas she tackles – was supporting the Sofia Society, a group of roughly 40 young feminists.

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The bizarre outrage over Kat von D's decision to tattoo her arm black

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 09:45

The response to the tattoo artist’s latest ink could be summed up with the headline ‘people give unsolicited advice to woman who changes her appearance’

Kate von D, the tattoo artist and businesswoman, made an appearance on the TLC show LA Ink this week, got a new tattoo and posted a photo of it online. Sounds pretty on brand, right? But the art – which blacks out most of her left arm and covers up previous tattoos – is invoking a vociferous reaction.

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Why do people keep blaming the female victims of revenge porn?

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 05:53

The leaking of naked photographs of congresswoman Katie Hill has prompted a similar reaction to other acts of revenge porn – that it was somehow the woman’s fault

When it comes to offences that disproportionately affect women – rape, harassment, revenge porn – the onus is almost entirely placed on the victim to avoid them by taking the “right” steps and conscientiously avoiding the “wrong” ones.

This sentiment was reiterated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in comments made regarding the resignation of Democratic congresswoman Katie Hill. Her departure came after an ongoing campaign against her that included the leaking of naked photographs. “It goes to show you, we should say to young candidates, and to kids in kindergarten really, be careful when transmitting photos,” Pelosi said.

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The truth about the clitoris: why it's not just built for pleasure

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 05:01

Debate has raged for years as to whether female sexual pleasure exists for its own sake or has a role in reproduction. But the two views need not be at war

The results are finally in – a study in Clinical Anatomy has found that the clitoris does play an important role in reproduction, activating a series of brain effects (taking as read, incidentally, that it is done right: so we are talking about a female orgasm, not about an ignored clitoris, sitting there, minding its own business). Those brain effects in brief: enhancement of vaginal blood flow, increased lubrication, oxygen and temperature, and an altered position of the cervix, which paradoxically slows down the sperm and improves their motility.

From a lay perspective, this feels pretty uncontroversial. The clitoris is right there in the reproductive ballpark; it would be weird if it did not at least try to help. Yet this – perhaps predictably, since female sexuality is involved – is a highly contested space.

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No woman should be slapped for screaming as she gives birth | Ann Yates

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 21:00

Respect in childbirth is a human right. As a midwife of many years’ experience, I am calling for a global effort towards more compassion in maternity care

Respectful maternity care is a universal human right due to every childbearing woman in every health system around the world. So why do women continue to endure violence, abuse and substandard care during childbirth?

As a midwife with more than 44 years of international experience, I have seen disrespect and abuse in many countries.

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Is it sexist to call a brilliant, fit, younger male lover a toyboy?

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 21:00

Helena Bonham Carter is dating a man 21 years her junior and has decried the use of the term ‘toyboy’

Name: Toyboy.

Age: Considerably younger.

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50 years of pickup artists: why is the toxic skill still so in demand?

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 01:01

Teaching men how to approach women they don’t know is a $100m industry. But does it help men find their dream mate - or just encourage street harassment?

In an upmarket bar near Oxford Circus in London, I am watching two men hit on women with all the desperation of a doomed cavalry charge. But without the heroism.

Mike and Raj (not their real names) circle the bar, scanning for women, drinks held at an awkward right angle to their chests. When they identify a target, they approach. The women stiffen, their smiles tightening. They swirl drinks with straws and chit-chat politely before mentioning boyfriends – real or imagined. The men retreat, regroup, identify fresh women. Advance, engage, retreat. On and on it goes.

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'Let's burn stuff': Q&A panellists debate violence and shattering the status quo

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 12:26

Special episode coinciding with Broadside feminist ideas festival ponders killing rapists and ‘positive masculinity’

When Q&A came to an end on Monday night, one thing was clear: this was no ordinary episode.

In a special to coincide with the feminist ideas festival Broadside, the panel considered questions and topics such as whether violence was a warranted and preferred method of effecting change, whether the police should be abolished, and what “positive masculinity” could look like.

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David Attenborough: the making of a British icon – podcast

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 17:00

Patrick Barkham joins Anushka Asthana to chart the rise of one of Britain’s best-loved personalities: the natural history broadcaster David Attenborough. Plus: Gaby Hinsliff on women and the myth of ‘likability’

At a BBC editorial meeting in the 1980s, managers discussed how to approach the subject of David Attenborough’s retirement. How would they replace the presenter who had become synonymous with their natural history programmes but who was now in his 60s? They never found an answer and Attenborough has proved irreplaceable.

The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham spoke to Attenborough before his major new series Seven Worlds, One Planet, and tells Anushka Asthana how he became such a cherished national icon.

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Abuse, threats, vile colleagues… why would you want to be an MP? | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 21:30

The current exodus of first-rate female MPs is an indictment of politics in Britain today

Wanted: men – and women – who are comfortable around misogyny. We are looking for strong, confident, disagreeable characters who enjoy verbal abuse, exchanging insults, and predominantly male company. Must be able to point and shout and use a smartphone. A diagnosis of narcissism will be considered an advantage, a proven lack of empathy is essential. Are you an angry white person with a history of insulting and socially transgressive behaviour? Then a career as an MP is waiting for you, starting salary £79,468 basic + expenses. No qualifications, references or previous experience necessary. Start date ASAP. Apply to your local political party quoting ref #GE19.

The abuse of female politicians by online persecutors is supplemented by more crafted insults from media professionals

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