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When poetry can help to ease the pain | Letter

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 07:37
Tim Maguire on poems that may offer solace while grieving ‘for a child that had not yet lived’

I was touched by Devika Bhat’s article about losing her baby (G2, 28 October) and shared it with my humanist celebrant colleagues. Devika says: “There is no established narrative around grieving for a child that had not yet lived and, it turns out, that is reflected in literature too.”

She is right that the subject is rarely discussed but, because of what we do, we are aware that there are many beautiful poems available. Noteworthy examples include The Noble Nature by Ben Jonson and When the Heart by Michael Leunig. Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, has also published an anthology of poems written by parents and other family members called A Gift of Words. I hope this information can help anyone affected find at least some solace at this most difficult of times.
Tim Maguire
Celebrant, Celebrate People

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For women to talk about money, let alone demand equal pay, is still taboo | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 07:34

Is Jeremy Vine really worth six times as much as Samira Ahmed? Or is it that women in their 50s are routinely paid less than men?

Most people are more interested in a woman’s thigh gap than the pay gap. Equal pay? Oh, not again – that’s as dull as talking about pensions. Most of us would rather die. But if we haven’t actually died, then, unfortunately, we have to live on something.

Women’s relationship with money is still somehow considered embarrassing by society. Young women write confessionals full of masochism and the world is fascinated by these unspoken desires, which are part of our romantic ideology. Older women talk about being poorer and duped out of their pensions and it’s considered a bit icky. To talk of money, in any personal way, is taboo – actually, dirty. Having too much or too little – both of these states are used to disqualify women from talking openly. We are too demanding. Always.

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Grassroots women’s football is booming – but where are the pitches?

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 02:57

The Women’s World Cup has attracted thousands of new players but space to play is at a premium

Colin Lowe, a football coach in Manchester, often receives calls from women in the area keen to join his new grassroots team. But when one woman called last week to ask where the team trained, he couldn’t give an exact answer. “I said to her: I’ll ring you back next week and let you know where we’re playing, because we’re struggling to find places to play.’”

Lowe’s problem is one affecting grassroots women’s football teams across the country. The number of girls and women taking up the sport has skyrocketed since the Women’s World Cup, with 605 new girls’ youth teams and 260 new women’s clubs registered to play this season. But grassroots teams say the lack of affordable and accessible pitches has made it a struggle to establish themselves or grow to meet increasing demand.

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Women paid £260,000 less than men over their careers – report

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 02:17

Figures lay bare scale of UK pay gap, revealing huge gulf even among most highly qualified

Women are paid just £380,000 on average over their lifetimes compared with £643,000 for men, according to official figures that lay bare the scale of Britain’s gender pay gap.

The figures in the Office for National Statistics’ Human Capital Estimates report revealed huge inequality between men and women even at the highest levels of educational attainment. It said women with a master’s or PhD degree still made one-third less over their lifetimes than men with the same qualifications.

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Belgium gets first female PM as Sophie Wilmès takes office

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 01:04

Caretaker leader replaces Charles Michel, who will be European council president

Belgium’s first female prime minister in its 189-year history has taken office, after Sophie Wilmès was named as the head of the country’s next caretaker government.

Wilmès succeeds the liberal leader Charles Michel, who will become president of the European council on 1 December. Her role has been described as a poisoned chalice, as linguistically divided parties struggle to form a government.

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Grieving for a child who nearly made it into the world

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 22:00

The loss of a baby at almost six months pregnant brought special challenges, including the trauma of giving birth – and it didn’t help that the subject is so rarely discussed

The children’s garden at Golders Green crematorium, in north London, is tucked away at the edge of a vast site but it signals its purpose the moment you walk in. If the stone toadstools - the sort you would find in a kids’ playground - and smiling teddy bears aren’t enough of a clue, the small plaques resting on the soil are the giveaway, their inscriptions as short as the lives they commemorate. The same phrase is repeated again and again: “Born sleeping”.

When I became pregnant in the autumn of 2017, I never imagined that the late spring week in which my baby girl was supposed to be born would see me not cradling her body in my arms, but rather scattering her dusty grey ashes beside a yellow rose bush in this tranquil spot. I had no inkling as the leaves fell and nights darkened that a few weeks after Christmas I would lose her at nearly six months of pregnancy and that my then two-year-old son was not, after all, to have the little sister we had started introducing into conversation. That the once-blurry visions of nursing and nurturing which I had dared to let become more fully formed after passing the 12-week mark would be replaced by having to plan my child’s funeral and a depth of grief I didn’t know it was possible to feel.

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Post-term pregnancy research cancelled after six babies die

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 21:00

Swedish researchers say proceeding with induction trial would have been unethical

Sweden has cancelled a major study of women whose pregnancy continued beyond 40 weeks after six babies died.

The research was halted a year ago after five stillbirths and one early death in the babies of women allowed to continue their pregnancies into week 43.

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A welfare system that drives mothers into prostitution is not a safety net | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 10/26/2019 - 06:13

Universal credit was definitively discredited by the testimony of a few brave women

Is it really such a surprise that “survival sex” has become normalised by years of Tory austerity?

Last week, a group of women told the work and pensions committee how they sold sex to survive. Everything from being coerced into giving oral sex after being caught shoplifting food for the kids to turning to sex work full time. While the cliched image of sex work – women on drugs – remains sadly true, there are also “welfare” sex workers, supplementing their benefits to buy not heroin but groceries or clothes for their kids.

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Strike a contrapposto pose to look more attractive, science says

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 00:39

Study finds pose makes waist-to-hip ratio seem lower on one side and looks more appealing

Dancers do it, Instagrammers do it, even the Venus de Milo does it. When it comes to striking a pose, it seems the only way is contrapposto. Now research has shed light on why the attitude is so appealing.

Experts say the pose, which involves standing with weight predominantly on one foot with a slight twist in the upper body, makes the waist-to-hip ratio appear strikingly low on one side of the body.

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Three-quarters of mothers now in work, figures reveal

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 07:59

Number of employed women who care for dependent children hits 75.1%, reports ONS

More than three-quarters of mothers are in work according to official figures, a record high for the UK.

Rising steadily from 2009, the proportion of working mothers with dependent children jumped to 75.1% in June. It compared with 74.2% last year, the Office for National Statistics said.

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Vagina museum gets alcohol licence despite hen and stag party fears

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 05:25

Residents in Camden worry display could attract rowdy revellers

A museum dedicated to vaginas has been granted an alcohol licence despite residents’ concerns it could attract rowdy stag and hen parties.

The Vagina Museum is due to open on 16 November at Camden Market in London, with the aim of increasing knowledge of “gynaecological anatomy and health”. It is the “world’s first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to vaginas”, according to its website.

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Meet Adrenaline: Asterix gets first female hero in 60-year history

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 00:41

Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, released on Thursday, stars a rebellious teenage Gaul who keeps Asterix and Obelix on their toes

Asterix, the indomitable pint-sized Gaul forever outfoxing the Romans, is taking a step back for a female hero for the first time in the beloved comic’s 60-year history.

In a move to update the books, which have been entertaining readers since 1959 and spawned multiple movie spinoffs and a theme park, the action in Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter revolves around Adrenaline, the teenage daughter of famous Gaulish king Vercingetorix.

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We need more than 'girl power' to solve music's sexist rot | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 05:43

A survey of 31,000 musicians suggests harassment in the industry is rife, yet it still pushes the same old ‘sex sells’ mantra

The music industry has a woman problem. It’s a long-standing fact. Looking at last year’s biggest hit singles in the UK, there were three times as many male as female pop stars. It lingers behind the scenes, too; women made up just 12% of songwriters and 2% of producers on the Billboard Hot 100 between 2012 and 2018.

Despite years of head-scratching over the cause, one reason is hiding in plain sight. Or, perhaps it is intentionally overlooked. New figures from the Musicians’ Union – which represents more than 31,000 artists, from rock musicians to orchestral players – suggests almost half of its members have experienced harassment at work. More than four in five did not report it.

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Woman in Northern Ireland abortion pills case formally acquitted

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 02:22

Judge instructs jury to find woman not guilty after legal changes come into force

A court in Northern Ireland has acquitted a woman who was prosecuted for buying online abortion pills for her daughter, after the decriminalisation of abortion in the region.

The judge, David McFarland, directed a jury at Belfast crown court on Wednesday to find the woman not guilty a day after Northern Ireland’s Victorian-era abortion laws were liberalised. The prosecution offered no evidence.

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Men are like muffins: my leadership tips to help guys win in the workplace

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 20:00

Inspired by an accountancy firm’s guide for women (whose brains are 6-11% smaller than men’s!) in the workplace, Arwa Mahdawi presents her own take

It is a wonderful time to be an ambitious woman. The corporate world really is your oyster as long as you lean in and learn the rules of interacting with men in the workplace. These rules can, admittedly, be a little intricate to navigate – particularly when you are burdened with a smaller and more pancake-like brain than a man – but some forward-thinking companies are giving their female employees a helping hand.

Take EY, for example, a multinational accountancy firm which describes its purpose as “building a better working world”. According to a report by HuffPo, EY offered a women’s leadership training last year, called Power-Presence-Purpose, which offered up empowering pearls of wisdom like this:

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‘Save Catholic church' by lifting ban on female priests, activists say

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 07:23

Campaigners gather outside Vatican as church struggles with shortage of priests

Campaigners have gathered in Rome to call for the lifting of a ban on female priests that would “save the Catholic Church” where it is failing to ordain enough men.

Activists from the Women’s Ordination Worldwide (Wow) group protested outside the Vatican on Tuesday as the church’s hierarchy pondered the idea of allowing married men in the Amazon to become priests in order to plug the shortage in the region.

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Why I worry about men who marry women 40 years younger than them | Poppy Noor

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 07:12

65-year-old Dennis Quaid is engaged to 26-year-old Laura Savoie – which will be his fourth marriage and continue an interesting pattern

Dennis Quaid, a 65-year-old man who already looks like his own waxwork, yesterday announced his engagement to Laura Savoie. At 26, she already looks like every one of his three ex-wives – if none of them ever aged. And while I do think we should all be able to date anyone we like as long as it’s consensual, I do worry about him a little bit.

In general, I worry about any man who chooses to date a woman 40 years younger – mainly because she will always outperform him in sports, but also because it’s awkward when people can’t tell if your companion is your daughter or your wife.

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Cambridge isn't the only university to fail at handling sexual misconduct complaints | Georgina Calvert-Lee

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 00:52

The Trinity Hall harassment row is just another example of how unfit for purpose universities’ complaints processes are

Last weekend saw calls for a reform of the University of Cambridge’s collegiate system after one college, Trinity Hall, readmitted an (emeritus) fellow accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment, only two years after stating that he “will not be present in college at any time in the future”. It must have felt like a gross betrayal to the students.

This looks like a u-turn, given that the university promotes itself as a leader in tackling campus sexual misconduct through its Breaking the silence campaign. What was its response? Nothing about social responsibility or “zero tolerance”, but rather that “the colleges are all semi-autonomous” and that “the central university is not involved”.

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Sexist doctors are a stark reminder that workplaces still penalise women | Jane Dudman

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 00:10

From patronising colleagues to inferior pensions, UK women get a raw deal. All public services must support gender equality

Inexcusable, appalling behaviour. An old boys’ club culture that treats women as of less importance and ability.

More revelations about the film industry or the charity sector? No. It turns out that male doctors – trusted, valued public servants – can’t treat female colleagues decently.

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Why Helen Mirren’s Catherine the Great is a sexual revolutionary | Jane Martinson

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 20:59

In her portrayal of the much younger queen, the actor is reminding us that many women continue to enjoy sex as long as men do

The majestic Helen Mirren is showcasing how much more straightforward it is for a woman to play at being royal than it is to marry into royalty.

Even better, by playing, at the age of 74, the title role of HBO’s Catherine the Great, Mirren is portraying a woman “half her age”, while simultaneously reminding the world that many women actually like sex. And continue to do so as long as men do. Shocker.

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