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It was lonely being a female football fanatic. Not any more | Julie Welch

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 19:00

The huge interest in the England Women’s World Cup team shows that, finally, female involvement in our national sport is normalised

On Tuesday night, England played the USA in the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup. BBC viewing figures showed that it was the most-watched TV programme this year, with a peak of 11.7 million people tuning in, far more than Britain’s Got Talent. Another 1.7 million watched online. What I love most about this is the normalisation of the women’s game, the normalisation of women reporting and commentating on it, the normalisation of men watching it. Of course there have been those dark corners of Football Twitter where the dinosaurs and losers huddle together for warmth, making jokes about women getting back into the kitchen. The ones who are still stuck in the 1960s.

Let’s rewind right back to there. When I was in my teens, the manager of West Ham United, Ron Greenwood, was friendly with my parents. He knew I liked football (I kept quiet about my love of Spurs so as not to cause offence), and was a source of tickets for matches at Upton Park. One Saturday the whole family was invited. My father was whisked off to the boardroom, while my mother and I were ushered into the purdah of the ladies’ lounge with the players’ and directors’ wives. They might as well have shut us away in a drawer out of sight.

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Four women allege discrimination in major Disney pay gap case

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 10:25

The claims widen a previous class-action case alleging gender bias and extend to the company’s music label and theme parks

Four women joined a major pay gap case against the Walt Disney Company, accusing the entertainment giant of gender discrimination at its Hollywood Records music label, its world-famous theme parks and other divisions.

The complaint filed in Los Angeles on Friday, alleges that Disney routinely compensates women less than men, denies women promotions, and classifies female employees in lower job titles that don’t match their responsibilities. The claims have widened a class-action suit filed in April, intensifying pressure on the media and entertainment industry in California to confront longstanding pay disparities.

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The Guardian view on women’s football: winning on and off the pitch | Editorial

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 07:25

Broadcasting women’s football games live on the BBC would help the sport make the most of the moment

When England face Sweden tomorrow in the third-place play-off of the eighth Women’s World Cup, the nation will be justly proud of the players’ achievements. The Lionesses have provided at times breathless and exciting football, scoring more goals in France than at any previous World Cup. Phil Neville, the team’s manager, has an enviable record of just four defeats in 23 matches. England’s semi-final loss to the United States this week was the biggest UK television event of the year, with the BBC’s peak figure of 11.7m taking more than half of the audience share – a fivefold increase on England’s semi-final against Japan four years ago.

Women’s football has come of age in time to make the very most of such a moment. Across western Europe it is growing in popularity. The misogyny of the past, which saw women’s football banned in England, has thankfully gone. Sexism, unfortunately, has not completely disappeared: Patrice Evra, the former French captain who appeared as a pundit during last year’s men’s World Cup, applauded his female English co-panellist Eni Aluko, who writes for the Guardian, as if astonished to hear a woman offer a fluent and pointed analysis. It is a good thing for the beautiful game that such attitudes are the exception rather than the rule.

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I can’t write about a world without rape – because I don’t live in one

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 05:45

Women read and write crime fiction as a way to understand real experience. I was raped – and being told by the Staunch prize that books like mine are preventing justice is outrageous

That rape cases are hard to prosecute is no shocker, but the claim that crime writers are partly to blame shocked me. According to the Staunch prize for books with no violence against women, writers who include sexual violence and rape in their books are contributing to a wider culture in which jurors are “reluctant to convict ‘ordinary’ men” because “they don’t fit the idea of a rapist they’ve internalised through the stories and images they’ve received through popular culture”. In great thriller tradition, the call is coming from inside the house.

As someone who analyses culture for a living and often finds it wanting, I’m in the unaccustomed position of noting that what we’re talking about is, after all, only fiction – where the bad guys, more often than not, meet a satisfactory justice that reality often fails to provide.

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Government obliged to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland, says Labour MP

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 04:32

Stella Creasy backed by 60 cross-party MPs calling for human rights to be upheld

The Labour MP Stella Creasy is leading another attempt to extend access to abortion to Northern Ireland, tabling an amendment arguing that the government is obliged to do this to comply with human rights obligations.

Up to 60 MPs from across different parties were expected to co-sign the amendment, according to the Walthamstow MP, who has tried in the past to change Northern Ireland’s notoriously strict abortion laws.

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Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 00:08

Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors

Crime novelists have hit out at the claim that fictional depictions of sexual assault influence the outcomes of rape cases, after a prize for books with no violence against women asserted that stereotypical portrayals of attackers could “seriously affect justice”.

The Staunch prize, awarded to a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered, was launched last year to “offer an alternative narrative to stories based around violence to women”. When it was announced, it was widely criticised by major writers including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. McDermid said that “as long as men commit appalling acts of misogyny and violence against women, I will write about it so that it does not go unnoticed”, and Hannah told her publishers not to submit her books for the prize.

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Maternal stress and the male foetus | Letters

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 06:27
When women are secure and optimistic they produce more boys than usual, writes Sebastian Kraemer

Zoe Williams cites the American sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong, who “examined the evidence for the detrimental effects of stress on a pregnancy. The only demonstrable correlation was between a profound stress event – the death of an existing child, or spouse – during pregnancy, and a negative outcome” (The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama, 2 July).

Several scientific studies have shown a significant effect on the offspring of pregnant women living in the area of catastrophic events, such as 9/11 and the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. The ratio of boys to girls born alive a few months later is always reduced. The male foetus is more vulnerable than his female sister to death from severe maternal stress.

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States are prosecuting women in the name of 'fetal rights'. We should all be alarmed | Moira Donegan

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:00

The indictment of Marshae Jones is part of a larger trend of states criminalizing women for unintended pregnancy outcomes

In December, 28-year-old Marshae Jones saw a woman she didn’t like, Ebony Jemison, in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and confronted her. The fight turned physical, and Jemison shot Jones, who was five months pregnant, in the stomach. Jones was rushed to a hospital. She survived, but lost her pregnancy. The fetus had been struck by a bullet.

Yet a grand jury indicted Jones – not Jemison – for manslaughter. Under Alabama law a fetus has the same rights as a living person, and the grand jury ruled that Jones had an obligation to avoid anything that could potentially cause harm to her pregnancy, like making herself available to be shot.

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'A haven': New York sees rise in women traveling across state line for abortions

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 19:00

A growing number of women are travelling for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country

When Courtney Buckman made the difficult decision to have an abortion, the obvious solution should have been to go to her nearest abortion clinic in Montana.

In fact the most practical option for Buckman was to have the procedure nearly 2,000 miles away from home – in New York.

Buckman is one of a growing number of women who are travelling to New York for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country.

Under the Trump administration, 27 abortion bans have been signed so far this year across 12 US states – including in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi, according to the Guttmacher Institute. As a result, Choices Women’s Medical Centre in Jamaica, Queens, has already seen a significant rise in women coming to the centre for abortions from the affected states.

Related: How gerrymandering paved the way for the US's anti-abortion movement

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Alabama: attorney drops charges against pregnant woman shot in stomach

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 09:57

Lawyers defending the woman argued the state used a ‘flawed and twisted rationale’ that ‘ignores the law and ignores reason’

An Alabama district attorney said on Wednesday she is dropping charges against a woman who was indicted for manslaughter after she lost her foetus when was shot during a fight.

Marshae Jones was arrested last week after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her foetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.

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Sexism in dictionaries: why are 'hussy, baggage and filly' still used to describe a woman?

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:35

From the Oxford English Dictionary to Google’s own, the synonyms given for woman are shockingly derogatory – while the entries for ‘man’ are almost universally positive. Now one campaign is trying to take sexism out of the dictionary

Think of the word “woman” and do you automatically think “bitch”? Or hussy, baggage or bit? These are, according to various traditional dictionaries, synonyms for “woman”, which came as a bit of a shock to Maria Beatrice Giovanardi as she typed the word into a search engine one night in January. Giovanardi was seeking inspiration as she tried to name a new project for the women’s rights group she was involved with and was looking for alternative words for “woman”. What she discovered instead was a wealth of derogatory entries. “They are offensive and I don’t believe they are synonyms for ‘woman’,” she says. “I don’t understand why they are there.”

Giovanardi started looking into it more deeply, using the default dictionaries on different search engines. And she began to explore whether men were given similar treatment. They weren’t – the most derogatory synonym for “man” given by dictionaries she found were “bozo” and “geezer”. She was alarmed, too, by the example sentences given below the definitions. Many, she noticed, were themselves sexist, involving stereotypes and centring men. “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman,” is one from Oxford Dictionaries.

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We're having a fantastic summer of women’s sport – even if some men refuse to move with the times

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:21

Women’s football, cricket and netball are more popular than ever, and provide us with role models that break stereotypes of what women can do or should look like

This summer is a great one for women’s sport. We will see England, the reigning Commonwealth champions, going for gold at the Netball World Cup 2019 next week, and the Women’s Ashes are in full swing. But nothing has captured the nation’s imagination quite like the women’s football World Cup.

I’m one of those people who, when asked if I watch football, replies: “Only when the World Cup is on” - but I never thought that response would also encompass the women’s game. Given how generously the title “role model” is handed out to footballers, it has been refreshing to watch players living up to it for once. Simply by existing, the Women’s World Cup teams provide a direct challenge to stifling ideas of what a woman can do – and what a healthy woman looks like. And while there are still no openly gay male footballers active in the upper echelons of the sport, there are many openly lesbian players, coaches and trainers who are outspoken about LGBT and women’s rights in the female game.

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The week the internet cancelled the Dalai Lama

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 05:32

Spiritual leader issued a statement saying he is ‘deeply sorry’ after outcry from Twitter users over his remark that a female successor must be ‘attractive’

The Dalai Lama has become the latest person to be “cancelled” by the internet, a victim of today’s online culture, in which one conversation can get anyone disavowed.

Sixty years ago, the Dalai Lama fled his homeland of Tibet on horseback because of Chinese persecution against Buddhists, and 30 years ago he received the Nobel peace prize for being a messenger of non-violence.

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Mordaunt targets ‘appalling’ Northern Ireland abortion laws

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 02:31

Equalities minister calls for government to act after Tory rivals rule out reform

The women and equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, has signalled her determination to change the “appalling” abortion laws in Northern Ireland a day after the two Conservative leadership rivals ruled out reform on the issue.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were accused of pandering to religious fundamentalists in the Democratic Unionist party by claiming that abortion rights were a matter for the devolved assembly if power sharing was restored.

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Gary Lineker is BBC's best-paid star again, but women close gap

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 01:50

Many female stars have had pay rises, while male news presenters have taken cuts

Gary Lineker has maintained his status as the BBC’s highest earner after the broadcaster’s leading male sports presenters refused to take pay cuts, although many of the corporation’s foremost women have had substantial wage increases.

The Match of the Day host took home £1.75m from the corporation last year, while his fellow pundit Alan Shearer was paid £440,000. Other highly paid sports pundits include Jermaine Jenas on £210,000 a year and Ian Wright on £205,000, while John McEnroe is paid £190,000 for taking part in the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.

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Only 1% of gender equality funding is going to women’s organisations – why? | Kasia Staszewka, Tenzin Dolker and Kellea Miller

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 20:00

There’s been a $1bn boost in support in the last two years, but only tiny pots of money are trickling down to feminist groups

In the past two years alone, governments and international institutions have announced more than $1bn (£0.8bn) in new commitments to support gender equality globally.

These include: €500m (£440m) for the European Union and UN’s joint Spotlight Initiative, €120m by France for its feminist foreign policy and $114m by Norway to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts. Canada has announced CAD$490m (£290m) towards three programmes: women’s leadership ($150m), the LGBTQ2 Fund ($40m), and the Equality Fund ($300m). This fund was among the nearly $600m committed to women and girls in June at the Women Deliver conference.

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The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama. Women must heed the warning | Zoe Williams

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

The ludicrous indictment of Marshae Jones for the manslaughter of her unborn child is an extreme example of a disturbing pattern

Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when another woman, Ebony Jemison, shot her in the stomach, in an Alabama town called Pleasant Grove. The 27-year-old Jones survived but the foetus, hit by the bullet, did not. Jemison successfully pleaded self-defence, since her gun was drawn in the middle of a fight that Jones reportedly started and was winning – according to an unnamed police source – until the gun was fired.

Since the shooter was exonerated, it seems odd still to be preoccupied with who started the fight. But this is one of two key elements in the extraordinary case against Jones, who was indicted for the manslaughter of her unborn child. As a pregnant woman, Jones’s alleged decision to provoke an altercation represented wilful endangerment. Since the law in Alabama confers “personhood” on a foetus, Jones was treated as she would have been had she endangered a child. Her lawyers have yet to decide whether or not to build a challenge to that idea of “personhood” into their case.

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Boys love these Lionesses too. A football revolution is coming | Sam Haddad

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

My sons are just thrilled England are in a World Cup semi-final. That enthusiasm means a threshold has been crossed

Last Friday morning I woke up to my nine-year-old son shouting: “Did you see that Lucy Bronze goal!?” as he burst into the bedroom. His six-year-old brother was right behind him, earnestly re-enacting the England player’s 20-yard thunderbolt with all his might. They’d followed our usual protocol for evening kickoffs on school nights, inaugurated with England’s men in the World Cup last summer and honed with Liverpool in the Champions League this season. They watch the first half with my husband and me before bed, then watch the second half on catch-up the next morning.

That this time it was women playing rather than men made no discernible difference to their levels of interest or excitement. For them it was just football – and compelling football at that, in which England were doing well.

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Billie Eilish embodies the angsty spider-eating teenage girl in all of us | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 07:00

The 17-year-old was astonishing at Glastonbury and reminds me of Kate Bush – but she should not have to disappear like her to express her artistic freedom

I had an inkling Stormzy might be quite good at Glastonbury this year. Down with the kids, innit? But much of the festival on telly was a bit dull. Please don’t tell me you had to have been there. I have been there, which is why I will never go back. Nonetheless, loads of people have a brilliant time, and good luck to them. And every year someone astonishes me.

This year it was Billie Eilish, who seems to have been alive for less time than the set the Cure played to end the festival.

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You can expel your MP for fiddling expenses – but not violence or misogyny. Why? | Mandu Reid

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 02:06
As long as they avoid a custodial sentence, men who assault or harass cannot face recall from Commons. This is a scandal

• Mandu Reid is leader of the Women’s Equality party

I have never grabbed someone by the neck. Nor have I ever groped anyone, or looked at porn at work. I’ve never sent a colleague an inappropriate text message or asked someone I manage to buy sex toys for my partner. I have never been accused of rape. You would think that I wouldn’t need to clarify those things but, as a politician, I increasingly feel the need to. After all, there are more than a dozen men sitting in our House of Commons who have been accused of doing at least one of the above.

When Mark Field was caught on camera last week shoving a peaceful Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, seizing her by the neck and roughly escorting her from a black-tie dinner there was public outcry. As a result he has been temporarily suspended from his ministerial position and police are investigating third-party reports of assault against him. I believe he should face recall by his constituents. But under current legislation that is impossible.

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