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The idea of 'too much information' is bad for our health. It's time we ditched it | Kylie Maslen

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 16:55

Cultural codes that encourage us to stay silent about our pain and suffering only lead to more of it

I have been in pain for more than 20 years. From my very first period I knew something was wrong, but I found it hard to pinpoint what.

I asked my friends at school what their cycles were like. We shared the most common symptoms – the cramps and fatigue – to some extent. A few were bold enough to mention the impact on bowel movements or that they experienced hormonal migraines. No one wanted to go into details, though. No one was willing, or equipped, to use the medical terminology for the things that hurt us. The conversation ended swiftly with talk of chocolate cravings.

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GP cash incentive linked to fall in UK abortion rates, study finds

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 08:00

Use of long-acting reversible contraceptives rose due to scheme encouraging targeted advice to women

A scheme that gave GP surgeries cash incentives to tell women about long-acting reversible methods of contraception has been linked to a sharp fall in abortion rates.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives, known as Larcs, include the implant, intrauterine device and contraceptive injection and are highly effective.

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Vida Goldstein was the first woman in the western world to stand for parliament. Her fight still resonates today | Jacqueline Kent

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 07:30

A woman of courage, intellectual force and determination, she faced an uphill battle in Australian politics

Vida Goldstein, born in the Victorian city of Portland in 1869, was the first woman in the western world to nominate for a national parliament. If that was all she stood for, her name would simply be the answer to a pub quiz question. But Vida was one of Australia’s foremost women of courage and principle. All her life she fought for women’s equality – and her battles resonate to this day.

Related: My life has been defined by anxiety. The pandemic has helped me let go | Ewa Ramsey

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‘It’s about breaking boundaries’: Nicola Adams on dancing with a woman on Strictly

Sun, 09/13/2020 - 19:00

The Olympic boxing champion retired last year, but her competitive spirit will soon have a new chance to thrive – when she takes to the ballroom and makes TV history

Nicola Adams is used to being a trailblazer. As a boxer, she fought her way to historic firsts, picking up trophies in a sport that had only relatively recently allowed women to compete, powered by determination and quick feet. She became boxing’s first female gold medal-winner at the London 2012 Olympics. Four years later, in Rio, she successfully defended her title. She retired last year aged 37, but her pioneering spirit is as strong as ever – recently announced as one of the contestants on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, Adams is the first celebrity to be paired with a same-sex partner. She wanted to do the show for the challenge, she says, “and to show the fun side of me”.

When Adams was approached a few months ago to be on the BBC show, she said she would do it only if she could have a female partner. “I guess it’s just breaking those boundaries and showing people that it’s OK,” she says. “It’s not such an uncommon thing: professional dancers dance with people of the same sex all the time; you dance in a nightclub with your friends. I just wanted to break down the thing of it being a big deal when it’s not really a big deal.” She thinks she will be dancing the traditionally male lead steps and mostly wearing suits. “Dresses aren’t my thing,” she says.

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Take the boy on the anti-female website, and watch him grow into an adult misogynist | Sonia Sodha

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 21:45

Treating misogyny as a hate crime will allow us to stop young males from being ‘groomed’

Two books about hate and gender have been published in recent weeks; one is pretty much irrelevant, but has been propelled into the global spotlight thanks to an overly zealous French official and a tiny but astute publisher. The other is a profoundly important piece of work that is unlikely to get the universal attention it deserves. These topsy-turvy reactions reveal much about skewed societal reactions to feminism.

First, the irrelevant: a tract entitled I Hate Men by a 25-year-old French feminist, set for an initial print run of 450. None of us would have heard of it but for the civil servant who wrote to her publishers telling them to pull it because “incitement to hatred on the grounds of gender is a criminal offence”. Except it turns out the civil servant was freewheeling rather than speaking for the French government. I’ve never encountered any feminists who hate all men, but the global media’s fascination with this niche provocation shows that there is something irresistible about associating feminism with misandry.

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A Japan trade deal is little consolation if Britain is locked out of the EU

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 20:00

Europe is a far more important export market for the UK, as business leaders know – bigger even than the US

There was a consistent message from business leaders to international trade secretary Liz Truss’s claims that she had signed a “historic” deal with Japan to lower tariffs and gain access to previously restricted markets.

Thank you, they said, but could you please sign a deal with the EU because that is our most important export market.

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Margaret Atwood: ‘If you’re going to speak truth to power, make sure it’s the truth’

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 21:00

A polarising US election, a global pandemic, the rise of cancel culture: what does the queen of dystopian fiction make of 2020 so far?

Margaret Atwood is smiling, waving a green copy of her book The Testaments at me, while I wave a black one back at her. High-cheekboned, pale-skinned, her curly grey hair like a corona, she’s wearing a jewel-green blouse that makes her eyes glitter. Behind her stretches her large, comfy, slightly darkened sitting room in Toronto, with books and wall hangings and a whirring fan. Atwood gleams out of my screen, bright in all senses.

She is talking about being a grouch. She tells me she turns down a lot of interview requests, “and then I get a reputation as being very grumpy and hard to deal with. But who cares?” Grumpy seems wrong to me. I had been warned that Atwood was scary – super-sharp and impatient – but she’s not like that either. She is unsentimental, clear, sure of her facts and opinions, but she also has a light, mischievous quality. She says my name as though constantly on the verge of teasing me.

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German military mulls bringing in feminine form for army ranks

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 02:26

Under current system a female captain, for example, is called Frau Hauptmann – Mrs Captain

Germany is considering introducing feminine forms for military ranks, according to reports, 20 years after women gained the right to join the Bundeswehr.

The army has resisted using the feminine form even after women gained the right to join in 2000. A female captain in the Bundeswehr is addressed as Frau Hauptmann, the equivalent of “Mrs Captain”.

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'She began the real sexual revolution for women': Shere Hite dies aged 77

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 06:30

Reviled by Playboy, her 1976 study of 3,500 women challenged male assumptions about sex

The pioneering feminist Shere Hite, known for her research on female sexuality, has died at the age of 77. She was best known for The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which has sold more than 50m copies since publication in 1976.

Based on the views of 3,500 women, it challenged male assumptions about sex by revealing that many women were not stimulated by sexual penetration. It also encouraged women to take control of their sex lives. It was dismissed as “anti-male” and dubbed the Hate Report by Playboy.

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The Oscars' new diversity rules are all well and good, but will they make any difference? | Steve Rose

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 04:23

The Academy has made a set of rules for best picture nominees that almost every film already meets. So will they lead to any actual change?

Here’s a quiz for cinephiles: think of a movie that wouldn’t have won best picture under the Academy’s new representation and inclusion standards. Under the new regulations, which will come into effect for the 2025 Oscars, entries for best picture must satisfy two of four criteria to be eligible. The headline criterion is on-screen representation: at least one lead character in the movie must be from “an underrepresented racial or ethnic group”; at least 30% of the general ensemble cast must be from at least two underrepresented groups (women, racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+, or people with disabilities); or the movie’s subject must concern one of those groups.

Related: Oscars reveal new diversity requirements for best picture nominees

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French book I Hate Men sees sales boom after government adviser calls for ban

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 03:00

Ralph Zurmély, who advises the gender equality ministry, says Pauline Harmange’s ‘ode to misandry’ should be withdrawn for inciting hatred

A French government official’s attempts to ban an essay entitled I Hate Men over its “incitement to hatred on the grounds of gender” have backfired, sending sales of the feminist pamphlet skyrocketing.

Pauline Harmange’s Moi les hommes, je les déteste explores whether women “have good reason to hate men”, and whether “anger towards men is actually a joyful and emancipatory path, if it is allowed to be expressed”. Its small French publisher, Monstrograph, called it a “feminist and iconoclastic book” that “defends misandry as a way of making room for sisterhood”.

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Regina King makes history at Venice film festival with One Night in Miami

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 07:02

King’s directorial debut is the first film directed by an African-American woman to be selected in the festival’s history

Regina King’s directorial debut stood out at this year’s Venice film festival. There’s the intriguing subject matter: it’s an adaptation of Kemp Powers’s dramatisation of a real-life meeting between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke after Clay’s surprise win over Sonny Liston in February 1964. But there’s another reason: it’s the first film directed by an African-American woman to be selected in the festival’s history.

At the event on Monday, King recognised that the success or failure of her film, One Night in Miami, could have ramifications for other black female directors. “It’s interesting because how this film performs will open doors or maybe close doors for more black female directors … that’s how things seem to work,” she said over video link.

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Two-thirds of black Britons believe NHS gives white people better care, finds survey

Sun, 09/06/2020 - 13:00

Black women especially feel unequally treated by health service, says report put to MPs

Almost two-thirds of black Britons think the NHS does less to protect their health than that of white people, research has found.

That negative view of the health service is shared by a majority of black people of almost all ages, and is held especially strongly by black women, according to findings of a study commissioned by a parliamentary committee.

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Village effort saves those caught short

Sun, 09/06/2020 - 06:12

Public toilets | National anthem | Local poo | Comfort blanket | Overkill

The closure of public toilets has caused a panic, not least for those travelling by car (The Shewee revolution: how 2020 has changed urination, 3 September). When our parish council decided to close the village centre toilets a splendid initiative took them over. Now, they are a pristine facility, funded and run by volunteers. Significantly, they are the only roadside toilets on the 50 miles between Harrogate and Kirby Lonsdale. Closure would have been a disaster for visitors to the Dales and the Lakes.
David Handley
Gargrave, North Yorkshire

My mother and I once went to a theatre in Altrincham that played the national anthem (Letters, 3 September). As a staunch republican, she refused to stand. In the row in front was the only other person still sitting, so my mother leant forward to express solidarity, only to discover they were in a wheelchair.
Bob Hughes
Willoughby, Warwickshire

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The young royals draw deep on family tradition: opting for weird child-rearing ways | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 21:00

Blood sports for all is the chosen approach as the Cambridges take the children shooting

The British royal family rather prides itself on its affinity with young people. Perhaps they are seen as mercifully uncritical as well as, in time, potentially well-disposed. Anyway, after Prince Philip, a distant father to his own children, had launched his character-building Duke of Edinburgh awards, Prince Charles followed up with his Prince’s Trust endeavours; now they are joined by both Prince Andrew’s ex, with her “Storytime with Fergie and Friends” promotions and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton for anyone with occasional title-blindness), who is going in for early childhood development. The BBC has dutifully stressed Kate’s professional-level seriousness: “She has built up an expertise and wants to prevent the same problems affecting the same families generation after generation.”

Pre-lockdown, for instance, the duchess, on her quest to prevent the same problems affecting the same families generation after generation, spent “over an hour at a daycare in Cardiff, south Wales”. A royal reporter said she “joined in a drawing session with the pre-schoolers and visited an outdoor play area, where she met the centre’s guinea pigs”.

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How Victorian female brewers broke the (pint) glass ceiling

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 20:03

As more women take charge of commercial beer production, a new book reveals their pivotal role in the industry historically

It’s an industry long associated with men, from the whiskered industrialists of the 19th century to the hipster craft brewers of the present. But women have played a significant role in brewing beer in Britain, and are increasingly running breweries and creating new beers.

A new book, published this week, unearths the pivotal role of women in family breweries. “Beer is often portrayed as a male domain, even though many iconic breweries would not be what they are today if they didn’t have strong women at the helm,” says its author, the veteran beer expert and real-ale advocate Roger Protz.

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Sorry, gym bunnies, but men with dad bods just make better fathers | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 06:30

A new study shows what women really look for as ideal parent material

Men who have put on lockdown weight, rejoice – women have a positive opinion about it. Researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi found that women perceived men with dad bods to be better parent material. While the gym-honed body is considered generally more attractive, it scores the lowest with women regarding monogamy and child-rearing.

For the study, 800 women were shown bodies ranging from lean to slightly overweight. The dad bod came out on top, while the gym bod came last. Dad bods scored high with positive behaviours: “Babies melt this person’s heart”; “This person tries to teach their child new things”. Gym bods were assigned negative traits, such as “This person thinks kids are annoying” and “This person grabs or handles their child roughly”. The research also alludes ominously to gym bods’ “pluralistic mating strategies”.

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Tilda Swinton: championing talent, regardless of gender | Rebecca Nicholson

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 05:00

The star was the first to welcome the abolition of male and female awards at the Berlin film festival

It is rare that a move being described as “eminently sensible” is newsworthy; still, at the Venice film festival last week, this is how Tilda Swinton referred to the fact that the Berlin film festival will no longer be handing out acting awards by gender.

“I think it’s pretty much inevitable that everybody will follow. It’s just obvious to me,” she said. Cate Blanchett also expressed her support, explaining that she prefers to be known as an actor. “I am of the generation where the word actress was used almost always in a pejorative sense. So I claim the other space,” she said.

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Jessica Krug is a symptom of a bigger problem: the way blackness is appropriated | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 03:00

There are endless examples of celebrities and Instagram influencers changing their appearance to make it seem like they have black heritage

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Women's sex lives in lockdown prove online comedy hit

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 20:00

Show backed by BBC Studios using real-life stories and starring Aimee Lou Wood and Miriam Margolyes being adapted for TV

A groundbreaking new comedy sketch show based on women’s sex lives during lockdown, starring Aimee Lou Wood and Miriam Margolyes, is designed to “claim the stage” for women, its co-creator, Joanna Scanlan, says.

Sex Lives, believed to be the first interactive comedy backed by the BBC’s commercial wing, BBC Studios, documents stories submitted anonymously by women and has proved a hit online.

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