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Psychologists' warning over masculinity offends the right | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 04:00

The APA’s sensible concern over the danger posed by traditional gender roles will save lives

Last August the American Psychological Association (APA) released its first-ever guidelines for therapists working with men and boys. Nobody paid much attention to these for several months, but they went viral this week. This was largely due to the APA condensing its academic report into a tweet explaining that the key takeaway is that traditional masculinity is harmful and socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage. Suddenly everyone on the internet was an armchair psychologist and conservatives were up in arms about war on men.

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Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 09:00

Scientists called study’s findings upsetting and said toxic air must be cut

Air pollution is as bad for pregnant women as smoking in raising the risk of miscarriage, according to a scientific study. They said the finding was upsetting and that toxic air must be cut to protect the health of the next generation.

Air pollution is already known to harm foetuses by increasing the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Recent research has also found pollution particles in placentas.

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The Guardian view on Andy Murray: great Scot, great guy, great backhand | Editorial

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 08:25
The former Wimbledon men’s singles champion is a man who reshaped the game, on and off court

Andy Murray, who has signalled his retirement from tennis, is a sports revolutionary. His claim in history was to be Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s singles champion in many decades, a feat he achieved in 2013 and 2016. He won two Olympic golds and is the only person to have been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year three times. He was also the first British tennis player to be knighted. But these achievements, remarkable as they are, don’t make him a revolutionary.

Three things make him a man who really shifted the dial. The first is the way he changed how he himself was seen. When he first came to notice, Mr Murray was a gifted but introverted player who found it hard to win over the public. His outsider’s awkwardness was often contrasted with the establishment entitlement of his predecessor as British number one, Tim Henman. Mr Murray was Scottish and had not risen through the system, training in France. “Tory Tim”, as some commentators dubbed him, was blazered and southern – and rose through the very traditional Lawn Tennis Association.

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Universal credit to be paid to main carer in attempt to help women

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 03:17

Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd unveils package of changes to benefits system

The government will seek to make universal credit payments to women if they are the household’s main carer, Amber Rudd has said, as part of a package of changes to the heavily criticised benefits system that have been unveiled by the work and pensions secretary.

Rudd, who also said she wanted the long freeze on working-age benefit levels to end next year, used a speech at a jobcentre in south London to further emphasise what she said is a more caring and thoughtful approach to the welfare system.

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'Irish history is moving rapidly': backlash to abortion law fails to emerge

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 01:19

Besides a fleeting protest in Galway, abortion has become available in 22 of Ireland’s 26 counties with barely a fuss

Ireland voted by a landslide to legalise abortion – but turning that social revolution into medical reality has fallen largely on the shoulders of just 200 GPs.

Related: Apprehension on all sides before launch of Irish abortion services

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India: teenage girl murdered and mutilated by family for eloping, say police

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 20:22

Girl killed with help of a butcher friend, say police in Bihar in so-called ‘honour killing’

Police in eastern India say a teenager who was found dead this week with her body dismembered and mutilated was murdered by her family in a so-called “honour” killing.

The body of the 16-year old from Gaya, a city in Bihar state, was discovered on Sunday. Pictures of her mutilated remains were widely shared on social media along with claims she had been doused in acid, sparking protests and candlelit vigils in the city.

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Mother and two boys suffocate in Nepal's latest 'period hut' tragedy

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 06:06

Practice of banishing women to small outbuildings during periods claims further victims despite country declaring practice illegal

A woman and her two sons have suffocated to death in a windowless shed to which they were banished in the latest tragedy linked to the illegal practice of chhaupadi, whereby women in Nepal are forced to sleep in “period huts”.

Police said Amba Bohara, 35, had spent four days in the cowshed with her sons Ramit, nine, and Suresh, 12, when her father-in-law discovered their bodies on Wednesday morning.

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Ocasio-Cortez has shown ‘shameless’ women are a powerful force | Suzanne Moore

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 05:33
Of course the rising Democratic star terrifies men who would oppress her – she has shown she is unafraid of them

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has feet. And she washes sometimes. In order to do this she takes off her clothes, the brazen hussy. I presume this to be the case, although the picture of feet in the bath that the Daily Caller published seems to have been falsely ascribed to her. Experts have been brought in to analyse the length of the toes in the image, because this is clearly the biggest issue in America right now.

This quite insane attempt to shame her is so bizarre after the video of her dancing on a rooftop at college backfired and she responded by dancing into her congressional office. She is more popular than ever. She excites the left because of her youth, her passion and her politics. She excites the right because she has a body – and, God knows, she may even enjoy that fact. This must be highlighted as sinful, over and over again.

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On trial: El Salvador's abortion ban

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 17:00

The shocking case of Imelda Cortez has put El Salvador’s strict abortion laws in the spotlight. Human rights lawyer Paula Avila-Guillen and reporter Nina Lakhani describe how a surprise verdict has given fresh hope to women in El Salvador. Plus, in opinion, Randeep Ramesh on the Guardian’s call for a citizens’ assembly to break the Brexit deadlock

El Salvador has a total ban on abortion, and the law is applied brutally. It’s not uncommon for women who have a miscarriage or a stillbirth to be charged with murder or, in the shocking case of Imelda Cortez, attempted murder.

Her case, and the ultimate acquittal of all charges against her, has given hope to women in El Salvador. Reporter Nina Lakhani and human rights lawyer Paula Avila-Guillen describe how Imelda Cortez came to be charged with the attempted murder of her child.

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The sexism in surgery is shocking – from 'banter' to discrimination | Daniella Donato-Brown

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 03:52

More diversity is needed in every way. Hopefully those changes are starting to be made

• Daniella Donato-Brown is a general surgery registrar

In 2016 58% of people applying to medicine and dentistry courses were women. However, according to the Royal College of Surgeons of England, only about 12% of consultant surgeons in 2018 were women. Why? A small survey in the BMJ medical journal points to the level of discrimination. As a general surgical trainee, I have been shocked by the experiences reported by some female colleagues. The discrepancy in the number of women applying to medicine and those going on to become consultant surgeons can partly be explained by the higher dropout rate. Could inherent gender discrimination within surgery itself play a part in that?

Female colleagues with children have struggled to be accepted and are seen as less than full-time surgeons, despite working similar hours in hospital to those surgeons with part-time hospital and research commitments. A female surgeon returning from maternity leave didn’t dare tell colleagues that she had a 10-month-old baby at home, fearing that she would be viewed as lacking “commitment to speciality”. Female surgeons are continually asked about their family plans. I was even asked at an international conference if colorectal surgery would be the correct career path if I plan to have children. These aren’t challenges that are unique to surgery – or to women, with more men taking longer paternity leave – yet the stigma seems more entrenched in surgery than other specialities.

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Life's better with Retta: How TV's 'treat yo self' queen conquered comedy

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 02:00

She turned a bit-part on the sitcom Parks and Recreation into TV stardom – all part of a plan she cooked up while working as a chemist

It’s lunchtime at a stalwart Beverly Hills steakhouse when the door swings open and the room lights up. Retta has arrived. The comedian and actor who spun a background part on the sitcom Parks and Recreation into major roles on two TV series – the heist drama Good Girls, and the fizzy and ferocious Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – plus her recent book of essays, So Close to Being the Sh*T, Y’all Don’t Even Know, sits down at a table. Across from us, industry titans Ron Howard, Judd Apatow and Brian Grazer split a shrimp cocktail.

Retta – full name Marietta Sangai Sirleaf – orders a caipirinha. She so adores the Brazilian cocktail that the writers for Girlfriends’ Guide put the drink in the show. The waiter doesn’t know what a caipirinha is, but he’s game to give it a try. For Retta, anything.

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Carcinogens in your cosmetics? Welcome to Brexit Britain | Caroline Criado-Perez

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 00:00

Leaving means losing stringent EU rules on hazardous chemicals in makeup in favour of opaque US-style self-regulation

How would you feel about putting a lovely dollop of formaldehyde on your nails? No? Well, perhaps I could interest you in a sprinkling of asbestos for your skin? Hmm, tricky customer, eh? OK, surely you couldn’t object to some coal tar on your eyelids, to really make them pop. Oh, come on, who wouldn’t risk a little light cancer for a really banging shade of eyeshadow? You wouldn’t? Too bad. In our brave new Brexit world, where EU legislation is no longer in force, and we are forced to accept trade deals on Trump’s terms, expect all these known carcinogens and more to be appearing on a beauty shelf near you.

Since 2007 UK consumers have been protected by the EU’s “precautionary principle”. Essentially, the EU doesn’t think that chemicals that have been linked to cancer and birth defects belong in cosmetics, and so they are banned from use in consumer products. And who could argue with that?

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Girls are still missing school because of period poverty. There is an answer | Amika George

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 22:00
Scotland has pledged free menstrual products in schools, why not England? Our campaign aims to force the government’s hand
• Amika George is the founder of #FreePeriods

Just over a year ago, more than 2,000 people braved the December chill and stood together outside Downing Street to collectively shout for an end to period poverty in the UK. We dressed in red and waved huge banners with period slogans, calling time on the government’s reluctance to act.

A few months later, an announcement came from Westminster that £1.5m of the tampon tax fund would be given to charities to address period poverty. We celebrated a small victory – evidence that activism can yield tangible results. But a year on from the protest, we are yet to see any meaningful policy change.

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Female surgeons frustrated by male-dominated field – study

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 20:30

A survey of female surgeons found the majority had experienced sexism at work

An old boys’ network, exclusion from events, scepticism from patients and incompatibility with family life are among the factors fuelling a dearth of women in surgery, research has revealed.

According to NHS figures for 2018, 1,138 women and 959 men were undertaking their first foundation year of medical training. However, only 14.5% of those at the top of their profession were women, with 1,389 female consultants to 8,164 male.

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Januhairy is great, but why is it always about women’s armpits – and not nipple hair?

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 08:32

I was a young, hairy girl and I hated it. It is time we got serious about women’s sideburns, ’taches and all the other unexpected sproutings

Women, throw down your razors: Januhairy is here. This month-long body-hair amnesty is the new Veganuary. Which is the new Dry January. Which, bless, is so retro it doesn’t even get a neologism. And even Brexit got one of those.

For the women who have been unwittingly celebrating Januhairy since the moment they caught a glimpse of their leg hair in the wintry split-second between removal of jeans and pulling-on of pyjama bottoms and thought: “Fuck it” … well done. You are ahead of the curve. And probably someone who, like me, reacts to any month-long initiative that is ostensibly designed to improve us, but often results in more shame, in much the same way as misogynists react to a woman with hairy legs.

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My lack of DIY skills is an embarrassment to lesbians everywhere | Arwa Mahdawi

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 05:00

It goes against the stereotype, but I, like every lesbian I know, am useless with a drill. This is the year I’m going to fix that

Lesbians, it’s fair to say, have a reputation for being good with their hands. Girls who like girls love DIY, according to the stereotypes. There’s nothing we enjoy more than pulling on a flannel shirt and sensible shoes and revving up our power tools.

These stereotypes seem to have some basis in reality. A YouGov survey from a few years ago found that American lesbians are uber-confident about their DIY abilities. For example, 77% of lesbians said they could build flat-pack furniture, compared with 58% of heterosexual men and 48% of straight women. And 87% of gay women said they were good at unblocking drains, compared with 78% of straight men. Please get your mind out of the gutter: these are serious statistics.

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Keeping up with the Kardashians means paying other women to have your babies | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 19:59
If a group of men have their say Britain could soon have its own lucrative surrogate industry

Behold the handmaid (#2) of the Kardashians. Or at least, that of Kim, the celebrity, and Kanye, artist and Trump loyalist. The couple have just announced the commissioning of their fourth child, using the womb of a gestational carrier who will, since this is the US, be paid for the rental.

In details shared after their previous carrier delivered, last year, Kim Kardashian explained to her millions of fans that she was the first person to have “skin on skin” contact with her baby and that the experience, from carrier vetting to the carrier’s organic diet to delivery, had gone so brilliantly she “would recommend surrogacy to anybody” (presumably as the purchaser rather than the provider). One of the few problems was remembering she was having a baby: “I’m totally gonna forget and then a month before I’m gonna be like holy shit, we need to get a nursery.” For the surrogacy industry, then, this ongoing Kimye promotion may be the most valuable publicity since Elton John and his partner acquired two delightful sons via a similar route – far more so, in fact, since Kardashian, though it could be risky for her to give birth again, at least had the not entirely tragic alternative to gestational assistance of remaining a mother of two healthy children. Conventionally, the attribution of desperation to infertile or gay would-be parents has been critical in eclipsing the other sorts of desperation that might make impoverished Indian, Greek or Ukrainian women consider becoming incubators for rich couples they are unlikely, post baby handover, to see again.

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We have 102 women in Congress. It's not Trump's Washington any more | Jill Abramson

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 03:38

Thursday felt like the start of something truly new and important and it was clear that it rattled the president

We knew that the 116th Congress was going to be the most diverse in history, with 102 women, many more openly gay members, more blacks, more Latinos, the first two female Native Americans, a Somali immigrant and the first ever Palestinian American woman elected to the House. But it was an altogether different thing to actually see that blazingly colorful diversity assembled under the portraits of the older white men who have lorded over the House of Representatives for so long.

As Nancy Pelosi made her way through the chamber to reclaim the speaker’s gavel, stopping after almost every step to receive a hug, it was a very emotional scene and the first time since Donald Trump’s election that I felt lightness and happiness radiating from the Capitol.

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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s jailed activists: let them go | Editorial

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 08:25
The Saudi regime locks up and tortures campaigners who advocate reforms it agrees with. This needs to stop

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom, civil liberties and women’s rights. This would not have changed much if the kingdom’s 82-year-old monarch, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, seen as a conservative figure, was in charge. However, the king is decrepit and does not run the country. Since he ascended to the throne almost four years ago, King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has driven Saudi policy. The prince has certainly shaken things up: starting wars abroad, sparking a crisis with Canada over its well-founded concern about human rights in the kingdom and ordering – it appears – the macabre murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The silver lining on the cloud of his reign was meant to be the prince’s vision for a new, modern nation. But it turns out that Prince Mohammed is too much of a dangerous narcissist to share the limelight with like-minded reformers. He no doubt cannot tolerate that others might take credit for moving the kingdom out of its medieval mindset. Hence the regime allowed women to drive last year, but a month before the ban was lifted it arrested activists who had for years peacefully advocated for the change. One of those detained was Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent campaigner who was photographed at the 2016 One Young World Summit with Meghan Markle. News of Ms al-Hathloul’s arrest leaked out a few days before Ms Markle married Prince Harry. Since November there have been credible reports that the activists, who have yet to be formally charged, have been tortured by Saudi authorities, a claim denied by Riyadh.

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Activists protest against Ireland's new abortion services

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 08:18

Pro-choice groups condemn picket of clinic as health service warns of fake websites

Anti-abortion activists have struck back against Ireland’s introduction of abortion services by picketing a clinic and by launching potentially misleading websites that mimic the state’s support service for unplanned pregnancies.

A group holding placards protested outside a doctor’s office in Galway on Thursday in an effort to deter women from seeking abortion pills just three days after abortion services became legal.

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