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Gloria Steinem meets Gloria Allred: ‘Donald Trump has made us woke’

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 02:00

The feminist activist and the US attorney trade notes on the president, Prince Andrew and abortion, then and now

Gloria Steinem, 85, is a feminist icon, in trademark black leather trousers and turtleneck top, hair streaked blond and back straight as a ballerina’s. Gloria Allred, sitting beside her on a green velvet couch, is, at 78, small and ferocious, one of the best-known attorneys in the world, with a four-decade history of defending women’s rights and an avowed “fangirl” of Steinem. We are in Steinem’s house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where the women have convened to talk about recent high-profile cases brought by women – many of them represented by Allred – against Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby, as well as the forthcoming US presidential election, attacks on abortion legislature, and the history of women’s rights in the US.

The women’s careers exist, to some degree, in tandem, with Steinem’s decades-long work as an activist changing public consciousness that Allred may then convert into victories in court. Hers has been a controversial career, defending victims of sexual harassment in class action suits, and going after powerful men in a way that has occasioned accusations of publicity-seeking. When a high-profile story breaks featuring allegations of sexual misconduct against celebrated men, Allred’s name is often not far behind. But she has also won victories in hundreds of unglamorous suits that represent the grunt-work of legal activism. In 2004, Allred successfully filed the first lawsuit in California challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage; in 2008, she secured a $15m payout for 200 women in an anti-age discrimination suit against a giant electronics chain. This month, she won a sexual harassment case against Alki David, a billionaire accused of harassing a former employee. And so it goes on.

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'No galaxies collapsed': Jodie Whittaker on being first female Doctor

Sun, 12/22/2019 - 20:00

Opening episode of new Doctor Who series will feature in BBC One’s New Year’s Day schedule

When Jodie Whittaker was cast as the 13th incarnation of the eponymous star of Doctor Who it made headlines everywhere because she was the first woman. Now, finally, that “gender question” is going away.

Whittaker will star in her second series of Doctor Who in 2020 with the opener being a highlight of BBC One’s New Year’s Day schedule.

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You're not helping, Obama – just reinforcing myths about men v women | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 03:00

Obama’s remark that women are ‘indisputably’ better than men points to the trope that women and men are innately different

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'Hey, beautiful ladies': Rotterdam man cleared of street harassment

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 00:57

First man convicted under catcalling law entitled to free speech, appeal court rules

The first man convicted under Rotterdam’s new street harassment laws, also referred to as the catcalling ban, has been cleared by a court of appeal on the grounds that he has a right to freedom of expression.

The 36-year-old had approached two women making kissing gestures as he called out: “Hey, beautiful ladies. Where are you going?”

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Lady Hale’s story is a lesson in self-belief. We need more like her in positions of power | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 20:00

The motto of our first female law lord is ‘women are equal to everything’. Now we must give everyone the chance to prove it

Brenda Hale only went into the law because her headteacher told her she wasn’t clever enough to read history.

So it’s no surprise she felt a little overawed on coming up to Cambridge in the 1960s and finding it full of blithely confident young men behaving as if a place at the university was merely their due. It was only when she excelled in her first-year exams that the woman who would eventually become the UK’s first female law lord and subsequently president of the supreme court realised she might actually be quite good at this, after all.

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Two Northern Ireland women to get abortion costs compensation

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 05:56

European court orders UK government to reimburse mother and daughter forced to travel to England for abortion

A mother and daughter from Northern Ireland who were forced to travel to England for an abortion are to be compensated by the government over their costs.

The European court of human rights has instructed the government to reimburse the women for the cost of travel and the termination at a private English clinic seven years ago.

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Will the new Tory intake help to build a more progressive party? Don’t count on it | Tim Bale

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 04:31
Many MPs who have taken over in former Labour strongholds are young, female or gay. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re moderate

Each general election brings with it a bunch of new MPs itching to make their mark – especially if, as in 2019, it results in a big turnover of seats. And this one has given us a new intake of 140, nearly 100 of whom are taking their places on the Conservative benches, a third of them from the so-called “red wall” seats gained from Labour on 12 December.

Related: Who are the Conservatives' most controversial new MPs?

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Low-cost breast cancer drug 'could save lives in low-income countries'

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 08:39

World Health Organization approved cheap version of ‘essential medicine’ Herceptin

A cheap version of the groundbreaking breast cancer drug Herceptin has been approved by the World Health Organization, raising the possibility of lifesaving treatment for the first time for women in low-income countries.

Herceptin is the brand name of trastuzumab, a drug which by 2006 in the UK was the subject of a huge battle for access for the 20% of women with the type of cancer, called HER2+, that it targets. Trial results released at a conference in the United States fired up campaigners. There were marches in the streets, legal actions and an unprecedented political decision by the then UK health secretary Patricia Hewitt to pay for the drug regardless before any cost-effectiveness assessment had been completed.

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Shiori Ito, symbol of Japan's MeToo movement, wins rape lawsuit damages

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 19:09

Civil court rules in favour of reporter, two years after she alleged a bureau chief date-raped her

A Japanese woman whose rape accusations against a prominent TV journalist turned her into a symbol of the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement has been awarded 3.3m yen [$30,000] in damages.

Shiori Ito went public in 2017 with allegations that Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a former Washington bureau chief for the TBS network with close ties to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had raped her two years earlier.

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Little Miss Period: the manga character challenging Japan's menstruation taboos

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 13:51

Film praised by women in Japan where talking about periods in public is considered dirty or embarrassing

A manga character shaped like a pink blob with bright red lips and leggings is challenging taboos surrounding menstruation in Japan, but not everyone is convinced that Seiri-chan – Little Miss Period – is a force for good.

The anthropomorphised period, now the star of an anime movie of the same name, has received a largely positive response from women in Japan where talking in public about menstruation is often seen as dirty or embarrassing.

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Trans reforms will not diminish cis women's rights, says Holyrood

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 06:14

Draft bill would make it simpler for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate

Reforms aimed at simplifying how transgender people change the sex on their birth certificates will not diminish the rights of cis women, the Scottish government has pledged as it seeks to strike a balance on an issue that has polarised opinion and divided the Scottish National party.

Holyrood’s social security secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, acknowledged in her opening remarks to the draft bill, which opened for consultation on Tuesday, that some organisations have made cis women feel “uncomfortable and less safe” in their attempts to be trans-inclusive.

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Hopes rise for statue of pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 06:16

Mother’s fundraising campaign in Lyme Regis has been backed by likes of David Attenborough

Evie Swire was nine years old when she first heard the story of a woman who had lived near her home in Dorset and, in her own way, changed the world.

Mary Anning was born into a humble family in Lyme Regis in 1799 and grew up hunting for fossils in the area’s cliffs to supplement their meagre income. When she was 12, she and her brother discovered one of the first ichthyosaurus skeletons, and she would go on to make many other pioneering finds and become immensely knowledgeable in the emerging field of palaeontology.

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No, Clint Eastwood, female journalists don't trade sex for information | Ankita Rao

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 01:17

The film Richard Jewell depicts women reporters in a way that is not only wrong, but actively harmful

Early in my career I trekked out to the Washington DC suburbs to interview refugee families for a story. By the time I was done it was 7pm and snowing. A coordinator from a local advocacy group offered to drive me back into the city since the trains had stopped running.

As we drove he started to remark on my appearance and asked if I had a boyfriend. I dodged each question, moving back to the story. But at one point he reached across the car at a red light to touch my shoulder. It was just for a moment, but my heart raced. I started to figure out how I might unlock the passenger door, wondering if I should jump out. Instead, I waited until we crossed into the city to quickly get out of the car, insisting that I could walk home.

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Clint Eastwood reminds us women don't have to do much to be branded a 'slut'

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 03:00

The film Richard Jewell promotes the trope that women sleep their way to the top. It’s sexist, insulting – and nonsensical

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UK elects record number of female MPs

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 23:14

Commons will have 220 female MPs but almost two-thirds of seats still represented by men

A record 220 female MPs will take their seats in parliament after this election, but the House of Commons will still fall far short of being gender balanced.

The proportion of female MPs will reach 34%, the highest portion of either chamber in parliament to date. However, there are stark differences across the party divide: just a quarter of Conservative party MPs are female, whereas the Labour party will now be represented by more women than men – with a record 104 female MPs.

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Activists protest at ‘sidelining of social justice’ at UN climate talks

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:41

Campaigners frustrated at how women and indigenous people have struggled to have voices heard

Youth climate activists have called for a global strike on Friday to protest that human rights and social justice have been sidelined at the UN climate talks in Madrid, where governments look set to wrap up two weeks of negotiations without a breakthrough on the pressing issue of greenhouse gas reduction.

Campaigners have been frustrated not only at the slow progress of the talks but also that groups representing women, indigenous people and poor people have struggled to have their voices heard within the conference halls where the official negotiations are taking place, even while 500,000 people took part in a mass protest in the streets outside last Friday.

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Johnson’s casual misogyny has kept women out of the election campaign | Zoe Williams

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 00:56

The macho imagery has been all diggers and oven-ready Brexits. There’s no room for female Tories to get a look-in

Does Boris Johnson have a problem with women? The Conservative campaign has certainly been very male: Matt Hancock and Michael Gove the most prominent voices besides the prime minister. Liz Truss ranking 65th among media presence of cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers, with a mere 0.2% of appearances.

In the interests of fair-mindedness, it should be pointed out that all female Conservatives who are halfway decent – in the sense of stringing effective sentences together that aren’t composed mainly of lies – have left the party. Amber Rudd, Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, all supposedly the faces of the new, caring Cameroonianism, all gone. You could say that to lose a couple was natural wastage, but to lose them all signals that the party had taken a masculinist turn that its female futures couldn’t support. You could say that if the prime minister had any serious commitment to gender diversity, he would have worked harder to keep them, maybe even to the point of brooking some ideological compromises. What you can’t say is that he has a rich pool of female talent in his cabinet to draw from that he’s ignoring. I cannot call it misogyny to keep Priti “52 extra murders a year under Jeremy Corbyn” Patel out of the dead centre of the limelight. The longer she speaks, the greater the risk of her doing a Jacob Rees-Mogg.

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What can we learn from a vagina museum?

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 00:00

From 12th-century carvings to 90s coy euphemisms, women and their sexual organs have been on a journey, and a new space invites further contemplation. Like: who would wear a pussy pendant?

‘There’s nothing wrong with that word: it’s not a dirty word.” Sarah Creed, curator at the Vagina Museum in Camden Market, north London, is ending a story about a gynaecologist friend whose child at nursery was told it was inappropriate to say “vagina”. Obviously I know there is nothing wrong with it. But would I wear a pussy pendant, by the Dutch artist Denise Rosenboom, which are apparently flying off the shelves? Would I have Sam Dawood’s period sculpture in my house? (I can see that this is quite a philistine criterion for appreciating art). Or a model of the vulva, identifying all the parts?

A lot of myths are busted in the opening exhibition, titled Muff Busters, at this new museum: what we tend to call the vagina is actually the vulva, for example. There is only one word that describes the whole kit and it was appropriated some centuries ago as an expletive. Discharge is not effluent, it is a sign of self-cleaning. The hymen is not like a wall that you punch through. Most moderately competent feminist adults will know all this, plus, you know, Google. Which is not to say that it doesn’t need saying; rather, that there is something deeper going on here than the correction of an information deficit.

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The Women’s Equality party has taken on abuse in Westminster – and won | Mandu Reid

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 22:00
The party I lead has proved that politicians have a mandate to do right by women. It’s up to all of us to hold them to that

As people go to the ballot box today in one of the most important UK elections in recent history, you might expect the leader of a political party to be obsessively checking the polls. I am not doing that. That’s because I am in a unique position – as the leader of the Women’s Equality party, I can proudly say that we have already won.

That’s not to say that we are happy with predictions about the overall outcome of the election, or the toxicity and polarisation that has infected our politics. Nor have we won in terms of seats; although we are still running three amazing candidates and hope they do well, for us this election has never been simply about vote share. We have won because we campaigned with the aim of moving the issue of violence against women and girls up the political agenda – and we have succeeded in making every other party take notice.

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Hannah Dines on going public with her labia surgery: ‘It started a big conversation’

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 20:00

The Paralympic cyclist wrote about the damage the sport had caused her. The article caused an outcry, others with similar experiences contacted her – and manufacturers finally began designing saddles for women

The day after I wrote in the Guardian about how my life as a female cyclist, and Paralympian, led to me having reconstructive surgery of my vulva – all because saddles are not designed for women – a book arrived in the post. It was The Vagina Bible by Dr Jen Gunter. It was a gift from my mum, who had read the searing details about my labial surgery. She has always had a good sense of humour.

The response from other people was overwhelming. That is the thing when you share – people share back. When the first professional cyclist contacted me to tell me she had gone through the same thing, the relief was so profound that I cried. I can now say with certainty that there are other people like me who, due to the wrong kind of pressure, experienced a cycle of chronic inflammation and swelling. These are people for whom cycling is as necessary to life as breathing and they face an impossible dilemma.

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