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Labour leadership: row over support for trans rights charter

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 02:46

Candidates criticised for endorsing group that describes Woman’s Place UK as ‘trans-exclusionist hate group’

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler have backed a new trans rights charter that calls on Labour to expel “transphobic” members and describes campaigns including Woman’s Place UK as “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

A row broke out over the endorsements after Long-Bailey, a leadership candidate, as well as two deputy hopefuls, Rayner and Butler, all expressed support for the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’ 12-point pledge card.

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The 1975 commit to playing only gender-balanced music festivals

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 02:43

Following criticism of Reading and Leeds festival for its heavily male lineup, frontman Matt Healy says ‘this is how male artists can be true allies’

Matt Healy, frontman of Brit award-winning band the 1975, has said the group will only perform at festivals with a gender-balanced lineup.

Healy was responding to a call by the Guardian’s deputy music editor Laura Snapes for the band to “add a condition to your rider that says you’ll only play festivals that commit to X% (ideally 50%!) acts that include women and non-binary performers”. He wrote: “Take this as me signing this contract – I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who already have tickets. But from now I will, and believe this is how male artists can be true allies.”

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Erykah Badu is making vagina-scented incense. A perfumer explained it to us

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 23:10

After Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina-scented candle, we asked an expert what’s going on in the world of fragrances

Last month, at the request of absolutely no one, Gwyneth Paltrow released a candle that smells like her vagina. She was promptly followed by Erykah Badu, who announced she was going to sell her own vagina-scented incense. (“The people deserve it”, she said.)

We asked a perfumer, Christopher Gordon from the Perfumer’s Studio in Los Angeles, whether it is possible to make a candle that smells like a vagina; whether he’s ever made one before; and what exactly is going on in the world of perfume.

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The cheating wife, her rich lover and a court case for 'immoral' Pakistan TV hit Meray Paas Tum Ho

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 23:00

Creators of Meray Paas Tum Ho could be facing legal suit amid accusations the hugely popular show was ‘misogynistic’

A court in Pakistan has summoned the creators of a wildly popular television series after a petition was filed demanding they apologise for portraying Pakistani women as “greedy, selfish and non-professional”.

In the petition filed at the Sindh high court last month, lawyer Sana Saleem said the television series Meray Paas Tum Ho (I Have You) was “ridiculing a woman who makes the same decision as every other man in society”.

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Sing a song of sex work – why no one needs a Pretty Woman musical | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 22:00

The sanitisation of sex work and the view of women as commodities was deemed acceptable in the 1990s, but it does not deserve a retread

I covered the Cannes film festival once and it was instructive. I drifted around following the money, succumbing to the madness of trying to get into parties on boats as big as castles. I watched minor royals doing drugs. I watched women get sewn into dresses, get into limos, drive 100 metres and then hobble up the red stairs. The one thing I didn’t do there was watch a film.

The performance that really fascinated me was the performance of pitching – that’s where the money is. Big-screen writers told me all about good and bad pitches; unfailingly, what I thought was bad – a movie very similar to another successful movie – was deemed good.

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Want gender equality? Then fight for fathers’ rights to shared parental leave | Alexandra Topping

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 21:00

The UK should take a leaf out of Finland’s book and give men non-transferable time off to care for their children

So Finland has done it again. Not content with trialling universal basic income, solving homelessness and producing an all-female political coalition, the Nordic country has now introduced one of the most equitable parental leave policies in Europe.

Under new rules, all Finnish mothers and fathers will both get nearly seven months’ paid leave, half of which will be non-transferable, while all references to maternity and paternity leave are being scrapped. That sends a very clear message: all parents, from all types of families, are equal in this endeavour.

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Feminism, flour bombs and the first black Miss World

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 21:55
Millions watched as protesters took over the 1970 Miss World contest. Now, as a film recounts the story, Jennifer Hosten tells of winning the crown and her own battle with racism

It was the era of apartheid in South Africa, the civil rights movement in America and women’s liberation in Britain. And they all came together at one of the most-watched live television events of the time, when feminist protesters stormed the stage at Miss World 1970, and a black woman walked away from the beauty contest with the crown for the first time.

Fifty years on, that night is being retold in a film, Misbehaviour, inspired by the memoir of Jennifer Hosten, who won the contest and made history. In the decades that have followed, the one-time beauty queen has come to the conclusion that she and the women disrupting the competition had more in common than they might have thought.

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My husband left me for another woman – but now wants me back | Dear Mariella

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 20:00

He’s now deceiving his mistress, so think hard about the reality of your 20-year marriage, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma Last year I found out that my husband of 20 years had been having an affair for a few months. It came as a terrible shock – I cried and cried for weeks. When asked to choose between her and me, he chose her and left me. I kept on crying. Two months after this revelation, I met someone and fell in love. This was a lifesaving event. Suddenly I could endure the pain of my husband’s betrayal. I felt alive and young again.

Now, my husband wants me back. He sees me happy and free from him, which of course is more attractive than a lamenting woman. He is still with his girlfriend and is probably worried to leave her in case I don’t take him back. I am torn. I’m happy with my new lover, especially sexually, but I also long for the relationship I had with my husband. He remains my best friend and we have so much in common.

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The menopause myth: how demonised HRT came back from the brink | Ginni Mansberg

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 09:00

We need to normalise menopause, not be shamed by it. And women need to cast off their fear about treatment and feel empowered to seek help

Statistics tell us that ultimately all women who reach a certain age – average 51 – will hit menopause. Of these, 75% will get symptoms from the well-known hot flushes to others like weight gain, low libido, mood swings, insomnia, aches and pains and a whole delightful suite of vaginal and urinary symptoms like burning, pain and incontinence.

If I mention hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to my patients as a way out, many recoil in horror. They suspect I might be trying to give them breast cancer. “It’s not that bad,” they often say. “I don’t want to put hormones in my body.” They’d rather sacrifice their sleep, comfort, sex lives and minds rather than take the “poison apple” offered by their doctor when we know that when given to the right women, HRT is 98% effective for relieving at least the hot flushes … Seriously?

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Of course women trusted Manish Shah. Wasn’t he their doctor, after all? | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 06:10
If female patients can’t even feel safe at their doctor’s surgery, where can they?

It sounds to me that the London GP Manish Shah not only sexually assaulted female patients, but that he despised them too.

Shah has been given three life sentences for committing a total of 90 sexual assaults on 24 female patients at Mawney medical centre in Romford, east London, between 2009 and 2013. Claiming he was practising “defensive medicine”, he gave healthy women under 25 smear tests (generally performed by a nurse) and performed unnecessary breast examinations on women under 50. Shah breached NHS guidelines by not offering a chaperone for intimate examinations and didn’t always wear gloves. He left one patient entirely naked on the table. The youngest of his victims was 15, and her experiences left her “anxious, fearful and shaking” and afraid of visiting doctors.

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Republican lawmaker is about to regret messing with drag queens | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 04:00

A Missouri representative has filed a bill that takes aim at Drag Queen Story Hour, establishes censorship and punishes librarians

Who’s afraid of the big bad drag queen? Missouri, apparently. A Republican lawmaker in the conservative state has introduced a bill that could jail librarians who host a Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) or let kids check out “inappropriate” books.

Ben Baker’s Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, filed last month, would establish a panel of parents that would determine whether or not a book is “appropriate for children”. Books deemed to contain “age-inappropriate sexual material” would be moved to a restricted part of the library. Any librarian who allowed kids access to these books could get up to a year in jail; the library would also lose funding.

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Bids on Tracy Brabin's off-the-shoulder dress pass £14,000

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 01:44

Proceeds from online auction of House of Commons dress to go to Girlguiding charity

Bids on an off-the-shoulder dress worn by Tracy Brabin in the House of Commons have passed £14,000 in a charity auction.

The Labour MP was forced to defend her attire after the dress slipped off her shoulder when she leaned on the dispatch box because of a broken ankle on Tuesday.

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Prince William's Baftas tirade was insultingly misdirected – he should resign as its president | David Cox

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 03:04

Is the Duke of Cambridge sabotaging the voting system? Or simply saving face by attacking an acceptable – if innocent – party?

The other day, I wrote to Prince William, urging him to resign. Not from his second-in-line thingy: he seems to do that job OK, if nowhere near as well as his wife does hers. The post I called on him to renounce was the presidency of Bafta. As a voting academician, I felt obliged to take this step after puzzling over the opaque remarks he read from notes at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

The purpose of the academy’s annual awards is “to recognise, honour and reward individuals for outstanding achievement in feature films released in the UK within the awards year”. In casting my votes, I aimed to observe this rubric. From what I know of my fellow academicians, they would have done likewise. Yet our president appeared to think we had done something wrong.

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Missouri lawmaker wants police officers to stop women from getting abortions

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 00:00

Mike Moon introduced bill that would redefine fertilized egg as a person and effectively turn any attempt to terminate a pregnancy into murder

A Missouri state representative who once beheaded a chicken on Facebook to make a point about abortion wants police officers to stop women from terminating pregnancies.

Mike Moon, a Republican Missouri state representative, introduced a bill he calls the Right to Due Process Act, which redefines a fertilized egg as a person with all the constitutional rights of any other citizen. The suggested law then requires police and the courts to “affirmatively enforce” the Missouri constitution’s due process clause which guarantees legal rights to people, effectively turning any attempt to terminate a pregnancy into murder.

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We will end female genital mutilation only by backing frontline activists

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 23:00

From the Gambia to Kenya, FGM has been fought most successfully at grassroots level. The world must pay heed

I underwent female genital mutilation at the age of seven, while on holiday in Djibouti. When I returned to school in the UK my teacher told me that this happened to “girls like me”.

Thankfully, this type of reaction is no longer common, and this country is much better equipped to protect girls at risk. FGM is now seen as a global issue, which we know has affected more than 200 million women and girls around the world.

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We should celebrate the sex appeal of pregnant women, not shame them | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 07:11

Nothing makes me happier than seeing women such as Jodie Turner-Smith deem their bump a part of their body to show proudly

It was hard to believe that Jodie Turner-Smith, the chiselled-from-black-marble female lead of Queen & Slim, the feature film debut from Melina Matsoukas, could get any more resplendent. Then she got pregnant. Last Friday, she glowed on Graham Norton’s couch, her bare bump on display below a chic, one-shouldered crop top.

Not everyone was as taken with the vision. Inevitable uproar ensued over her audacity to don anything other than a muumuu, to which she clapped back via Twitter, sharing a picture of herself in the outfit with the caption: “Gives zero fucks about your disdain for pregnant women’s bodies on British television.” Personally, I love maternity looks where the bump is treated like another piece of flesh to flash, even if somehow it still rankles with some people.

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Why Tracy Brabin was right to give sexist critics the cold shoulder

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 04:04

The MP responded to comments about her clothes in fine style, but the heavily gendered insults aimed at her prove that male counterparts in the Commons are held to different standards

Tracy Brabin MP is a class act. Following a tide of hate on social media for wearing an off-the-shoulder top in the House of Commons, she tweeted: “I can confirm I’m not a slag, hungover, a tart, about to breastfeed, a slapper, drunk or just been banged over a wheelie bin.”

Notice, if you will, how gendered most of these slurs were: the full kaleidoscope of every crime a woman can commit, across the whole middle section of her life cycle, from having sex to nurturing a child. We cannot, therefore, make a straight comparison between Brabin and her male colleagues, in terms of whose attire is the most policed. Even if the prime minister, say, were to look like he had just rolled in a pile of jumble and stood up, nobody would infer recent sexual activity from it (unless “just got divorced” falls into that category).

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What I learned talking to 120 women about their sex lives and desires

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 23:00

I spoke with widows, newlyweds, monogamists, secret liaison seekers, submissives and polyamorists and found there was no such thing as desire too high or low

Male desire is a familiar story. We scarcely bat an eyelash at its power or insistence. But women’s desires – the way they can morph, grow or even disappear – elicit fascination, doubt and panic.

In 2014, as experts weighed the moral and medical implications of the first female libido drug, I found myself unsatisfied with the myths of excess and deficit on offer, and set out to understand how women themselves perceive and experience their passions.

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Jersey scraps 'only husbands talk tax' rule

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 06:51

Channel island politicians back proposal that married women should have equal tax rights

An “archaic” tax law on the island of Jersey in effect deeming that a wife’s income belongs to her husband is being scrapped.

Politicians on the Channel island have backed a proposal that married women should have the same income tax rights – and responsibilities – as their husbands.

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The treaty of Waitangi was forged to exclude Māori women – we must right that wrong | Emma Espiner

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 03:00

The signing of the treaty marks the point at which Māori women began to be written out of history

This week, to mark Waitangi Day, the Guardian is publishing five pieces of commentary from Māori writers.

This year I’m not interested in the symbolism of what Jacinda Ardern does or doesn’t do or say at Waitangi. I’m looking to the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa inquiry. Nearly 30 years since it was instigated, the inquiry investigates the role of the Crown in contributing to the disadvantage that has inequitably burdened wāhine Māori since the Treaty was signed. At the end of this month a judicial conference will be held to consider the claims.

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