Women's News from the Web

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Mulan: why it was a missed opportunity to create a strong Asian woman on screen

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 21:00

In casting waif-like Liu Yifei in its live-action remake, Disney squandered its chance to show a Chinese audience that girls can be both beautiful and tough

As a child who grew up in China with little exposure to Disney until I was eight, the idea of a princess marrying a prince and living happily ever after was something entirely foreign. I was more familiar with the fox and snake spirits in Chinese folklore that transformed into beautiful women and sorceresses, and the cross-dressing heroines of wuxia martial-arts TV shows of the 90s.

It’s no surprise, then, that Disney’s 1998 film Mulan was more relatable than Sleeping Beauty. Mulan was not only Chinese but had a mission greater than marriage – to save her father and country – and she didn’t need saving herself. For Disney, she was the first “non-princess” who did not end up marrying a prince. It was a mortal’s story: there were no spells or supernatural forces to help her fight her battles, and she did not levitate off rooftops like the wuxia women. Her only celestial remedy was a plump, cheering squad of ancestor spirits and a funny little serpent called Mushu.

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BBC subjects older women to 'lookism', says Libby Purves

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 19:00

Broadcaster, 70, claims female presenters not allowed to grow old gracefully like men are

Older women are subject to “lookism” at the BBC, even on the radio, while men are allowed to age gracefully, the broadcaster Libby Purves has said.

Purves, who presented Radio 4’s Midweek from 1983 until it was dropped in 2017, said the corporation had a problem with older women as they were under more pressure to appear attractive and youthful.

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UK plan to use all-male team to host UN climate summit angers observers

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 00:08

All senior politicians, civil servants and negotiators to represent Britain at next year’s Cop26 talks are men

The UK is fielding an all-male team to host a vital UN climate summit next year, flouting international norms and angering activists and observers, who say the lack of gender balance imperils progress on key issues.

All of the politicians who will host the Cop26 talks for the UK in Glasgow are men, from the business secretary Alok Sharma, who will act as president of the summit, to his team of climate and energy ministers – Lord Callanan, Zac Goldsmith and Kwasi Kwarteng – who have represented the UK in recent online meetings.

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Despite being vilified in the rightwing media, Black Lives Matter will endure | Nesrine Malik

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 04:35

A phrase that depicted solidarity with the victims of racial injustice has been rebranded by those who see it as a threat

In the rightwing culture war that has subsumed our politics, a handful of key words depict “the enemy”, all of them increasingly interchangeable: political correctness, identity politics, #MeToo, cancel culture, and above all, wokeness. (You can tell when this category of terms is being used to this effect when they slot neatly in the headline “Now ****** really has gone too far!”) Collectively, the words have come to pose a threat to readers, ready to be outraged by an unwelcome change to our politics and society, hiding under the guise of equality and justice.

The terms have been subject to a successful rebranding exercise that started on the right, but then leapfrogged into the mainstream. As notions that began as efforts to redress imbalances in society, challenge embedded power structures, and organise effectively against them, the terminology of equality has since been savaged. “Woke”, a call to stay alert to injustices in society, is now almost exclusively a slur, a sneer at someone’s over-worthy and counterproductive politics.

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I was assaulted by government minister, says Joan Bakewell

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 21:52

Broadcaster says junior minister had to be ‘fended off’ after he made a grab for her

Joan Bakewell has said she was sexually harassed early in her career by a junior government minister, as she described sexism she experienced while working for the BBC.

The broadcaster told Times Radio about a career spanning more than 50 years, and revealed how she was the “victim of unwelcome attention” during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Making a demon of JK Rowling is a wretched sport, born of misogyny and resentment | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 20:45

Publication of her latest detective novel has triggered a storm of hatred and abuse

The most powerful way to attack a book, Salman Rushdie writes in his memoir, Joseph Anton, “is to demonise its author, to turn him into a creature of base motives and evil intentions”.

The same thing, it turns out, can be said of a “her”. Now that Twitter content doubles as news, you don’t need to be a member of that habitually irate community to have gathered that Troubled Blood, the new Cormoran Strike detective novel from JK Rowling, has been denounced by people who would not read it on principle, on account of it being by JK Rowling. Some copies are reportedly being burned, with the more frugal preferring to incinerate their old Harry Potters.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy will survive the bitter battle over her successor | Kenan Malik

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 19:45

Her death has created a political crisis but that’s not why this pioneering supreme court justice should be remembered

When, in 2015, Time magazine made Ruth Bader Ginsburg one of its 100 most influential people, it was the conservative and fellow supreme court justice Antonin Scalia who observed: “Ginsburg has had two distinguished legal careers, either one of which would alone entitle her to be one of Time’s 100.”

Yet Ginsburg’s death on Friday is as likely to be marked by a political firestorm over who should replace her as by any consideration of her legacy. Of the many undemocratic features of US democracy, one of the most egregious is the political nature of the supreme court.

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Bernardine Evaristo: living as a lesbian made me stronger

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 13:01

Booker prize winner recalls angry decade as part of ‘counter-cultural, black womanist’ community

Bernadine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker prize and a co-founder of Britain’s first black theatre company, has spoken of an angry, lesbian period she went through in the 1980s and of a decade spent living in a “black womanist” community.

Although she looks back on it now as “fun”, at the time she was “very angry as a woman”, she says.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed America long before she joined the supreme court | Moira Donegan

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 14:31

She spent her extraordinary career fighting for women’s rights and ensuring the promise of the constitution applied to all

The most important feminist lawyer in the history of the American republic has died. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a supreme court justice and singularly influential legal mind, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, the court’s second-ever female justice, and served for nearly 30 years. She passed away due to complications from cancer on Friday. She was 87.

Strategic, contemplative and disciplined, but with a passion for the feminist cause that is rarely admitted into the halls of power, Ginsburg established an impressive legal legacy long before she became a judge. Over the course of a two-decade career as a lawyer before her appointment to the DC circuit court of appeals, she successfully argued cases that expanded civil rights law and 14th amendment protections to women, undoing a dense network of laws that had codified sex discrimination in all areas of American life. After she was elevated to the nation’s highest court, she found her own views moving left as the institution was pushed to the right. Her career was defined by courageous dissents that stood up for the principle of equal justice and kept alive the promise of a more free and fair America.

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Bilge, booze and misogyny: why I'm outraged by a new idea to police pregnant women

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 05:33

Perhaps I should be more shocked by the latest proposal to control women. But what else can you expect in this supremely sexist era?

Last week I got an email from a reproductive rights campaigner I have known, liked and admired for many years. “Good morning,” it began. “I thought this would make you cross.” She went on to describe a fresh frontier in the war against pregnant women: that any woman drinking anything during pregnancy, even a glass of wine in the first week of it, would have that marked on her medical records, which would then be transferred to her baby’s records. It was a Nice idea (for clarification, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – this is not a nice idea), being put out for consultation.

It did make me cross. Not because of the gross infringement of women’s privacy – it would probably be illegal to transfer a woman’s health records over to those of her child – and complete obliteration of trust between a prospective mother and her midwife, but because this is just bilge. Welcome to the age of bilge, where mindless hysteria accrues around risks for which there is no evidence; where experts are disregarded in favour of fanatics; where real and demonstrable threats to pregnant women – which come mainly from underfunded services – are ignored in preference for finger-pointing; where no explanation is ever more complicated or less divisive than: “People (especially women) are weak.” But far more than cross, I felt nostalgic. Because I remember a time when this unusual approach was limited to pregnant women, and now it’s our whole politics.

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US warns Afghan women of increased risk of extremist attack

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 04:26

Message from the US embassy comes during long-postponed direct talks between the government and the Taliban

The United States has warned women in Afghanistan that they are at increased risk of attack by extremist groups.

The US embassy in Kabul warned on Thursday that “extremist organisations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets […], including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.”

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More than 1,500 NHS breast reconstructions delayed due to Covid

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 18:00

Breast cancer patients in UK facing waits of ‘months, possibly years’ because of cases backlog

More than 1,500 breast cancer patients in UK face long waits to have reconstructive surgery after hospitals could not operate on them during the pandemic because they were tackling Covid-19.

The women are facing delays of “many months, possibly years” because the NHS has such a big backlog of cases to get through, according to research by the charity Breast Cancer Now.

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Ice hysterectomy allegations in line with US's long and racist history of eugenics | Moira Donegan

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 06:00

Forced sterlizations were endorsed by a supreme court ruling and have been repeatedly imposed on women of color

An Ice detention center in Georgia is reportedly the site of a mass involuntary sterilization project. A whistleblower report published by the non-profit Project South alleges that large numbers of migrant women held at the Irwin county detention center, a privately run facility that imprisons undocumented immigrants, received hysterectomies that they did not want and which were not medically necessary.

The allegations reported by Project South were first made in a formal complaint by a nurse working at the detention center, Dawn Wooten, who describes the conditions there and conversations she had with imprisoned women in detail. The hysterectomies were all allegedly performed by the same outside gynecologist, Mehendra Amin, of Douglas, Georgia. Wooten says that one migrant woman referred to Amin as the “uterus collector”. Amin told The Intercept that he had only done “one or two hysterectomies in the past two [or] three years.” Responding to the allegations, he said “Everything is wrong” and urged Intercept reporters to “talk to the hospital administrator” for more information.

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Missing voices: guide to female philosophers counters absence in textbooks

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 05:14

The Philosopher Queens highlights thinkers from Hypatia to Hannah Arendt who the authors say are missing in most accounts of the subject

Two philosophy graduates are bringing out a book celebrating history’s unsung female philosophers, after realising that most textbooks and guides they found on the subject didn’t include a single woman.

Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting came up with the idea for The Philosopher Queens while searching for a book about history’s greatest female thinkers.

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BBC Newsnight accused over failure to interview any BAME guests for a week

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 19:00

‘Shocking’ lack of racial diversity and women across UK journalism reported by survey in wake of Black Lives Matter protests

BBC Newsnight went an entire week without featuring a single live interview with a guest from a minority ethnic background, according to an analysis of national media output.

All 17 individuals interviewed live on the flagship current affairs programme during one week in mid-July were white, according to a survey conducted by the Women in Journalism group amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.

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UK's revenge porn helpline registers busiest year on record

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 04:46

Government-funded helpline received equivalent of nine reports a day so far this year

The UK’s revenge porn helpline has experienced its busiest year on record, with experts predicting the number of images it deals with will increase by 60% this year.

The helpline, run by the charity SWGfL, part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, had cases almost double in April compared with the same month last year – from 122 to 242. But while the number of cases has dropped slightly since April, they remain higher than in any previous year, prompting campaigners to warn of a “new normal” post lockdown.

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Late DJ Erick Morillo accused of further sexual assaults

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 03:14

House music star died earlier this month after being arrested on sexual abuse charge

Erick Morillo, the dance music star who died early this month, weeks after his arrest for sexual battery, has been accused by numerous other women of similar attacks.

A new investigation by Mixmag has spoken to 10 people who accuse the DJ of sexual and physical assaults, either against them or people they know. Prior to his death, Morillo consistently denied the accusations: he was arrested after turning himself in when a rape kit tested positive for his DNA.

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Dalits bear brunt of India's 'endemic' sexual violence crisis

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 15:00

Girls in Uttar Pradesh targeted in assaults aiming to reinforce caste and gender hierarchies, say activists

A spate of brutal rapes and murders of young girls in a single district of India over the past month has provoked outrage and exposed the ongoing use of sexual violence as a tool of oppression and revenge against lower caste communities.

Over the past month, the Lakhimpur Kheri district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed four incidents of girls being raped and brutally murdered. At least two of the girls were Dalits, the lowest caste in the Hindu system of social hierarchy, who were previously referred to as “untouchables” and cast out from society.

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Women are not financially illiterate. They need more than condescending advice | Kristine Ziwica

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 07:30

Structural issues are the real drivers of women’s economic insecurity, but once again it appears to be women that need ‘fixing’

Debate about recent and upcoming changes to superannuation, including the early release scheme and the proposed rise to the superannuation guarantee, has been running hot for a few months now. Likewise, the fact that women have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic has also been the subject of much commentary.

But an issue related to both those current debates that hasn’t gotten anywhere near as much attention as it should is women’s economic security. Or more specifically, their lack thereof.

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Women lose court of appeal challenge against UK pension change

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 01:21

Judges rule that raising state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination

Increasing the age at which women born in the UK in the 1950s are entitled to receive their state pension to 66 is lawful, the court of appeal has ruled.

The unanimous judgment is a major setback for campaigners who have argued that the government’s changes will be a “disaster” for those on lower incomes.

Having lost in the high court, the two claimants, Julie Delve, 62, and Karen Glynn, 63, had appealed to the higher court.

In their decision on Tuesday, however, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice Rose said that adopting the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination under either EU law or the European convention on human rights.

“There is no basis for impugning the [high court’s] conclusion that the legislation equalising and then raising the state pension age was justified,” the judges said. “The [high court was] right to approach the issue on the basis that this legislation operates in a field of macro-economic policy where the decision-making power of parliament is very great.”

State pensions were introduced in 1909 with the same eligibility age for everyone. In 1940, the age of entitlement was reduced only for women, from 65 to 60.

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