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Feminist queen: show explores how Victoria transformed monarchy

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 07:02

Queen Victoria began some of our best-known traditions, says Buckingham Palace exhibition curator

Queen Victoria was responsible for a “feminist transformation” of the monarchy and initiated some of its best-known traditions, according to the curator of a new exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

The story of how Victoria and Prince Albert rebuilt the palace into the most glittering court in Europe is explored through paintings, sketches and costumes, and includes a Hollywood-produced immersive experience that brings to life the balls for which she was famous.

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Impostor syndrome is a response to a world that doesn’t believe in women

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 06:15

New research shows the emotional exhaustion caused by it bleeds into our home life – but women are somehow expected to find a remedy within themselves

Impostor syndrome (originally defined, in 1978, as when “despite outstanding accomplishments, women [persist] in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise”) has been a talking point for years. And while the discussion has been important, it has slowly reduced an all-too-real experience to a buzzword. As something that more often affects women – a recent study showed that 66% of women had experienced it, compared with just over half of men – perhaps it isn’t surprising it isn’t taken particularly seriously.

But now, new research has shown that the very real, very negative effects of impostor syndrome are felt not just at the workplace, but at home. Employees experiencing impostor syndrome suffer from emotional exhaustion, which leads to a conflict between work and family life and dissatisfaction with the latter. While the idea that an issue at work can affect you at home may sound unsurprising, researchers hope that the results will finally add “legitimacy to discussing impostor phenomenon as an important talent-development issue”. And I hope it will add legitimacy to the conversation about impostor syndrome more generally.

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Pro-choice groups raise concerns over possible delays to Northern Ireland abortion law

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 05:01

No 10’s document suggests it may take up to 18 months to implement legislation

Pressure groups have warned against lengthy delays to extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland following a landmark legal amendment last week, after a government document said the process could take as long as 18 months to implement.

Downing Street has committed to introducing the abortion plan after an amendment to a separate Northern Ireland bill by the Labour MP Stella Creasy was passed overwhelmingly by the Commons.

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We shouldn’t have to live in a world where women are afraid to say no | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:02
The assault on a Manchester teen who refused a man’s advances shows why we need a new set of values

Some years ago, I worked for a man several decades older than me who consistently made oleaginous and sexualised comments to me and the other young women in our workplace. He was completely oblivious to the fact that our disgust towards him was a shared point of bonding, and that we would wince every time he was in the building; I expect because every time he said something we would force a smile, entrenching his delusion that we actually enjoyed his behaviour.

I thought about him again this week when I read that the Manchester teenager Gabrielle Walsh had been knocked unconscious after she told a man who followed her from a nightclub: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested.” Although Walsh’s experience is much more extreme and frightening than mine, both examples reveal the reluctance women feel to rebut a man’s unwanted advances when he holds some sort of power – be it physical or economic. In the wee small hours when alcohol is flowing, perhaps a man will just be crazy enough to physically harm you if you tell him no. If that man is your boss, maybe you’ll find your work life becoming that little bit harder after you inform him that what he regards as swashbuckling charm is actually sexual harassment.

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Adventuring while female: why the relationship women have with nature matters

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 21:00

Going camping alone, I was reminded that the great works of environmentalist female writers are often overlooked – and it’s our loss

It’s Monday in the Adirondack state park. I’m driving through little towns, passing junk stores, lumber businesses, small cafes and adventure outfitters. I have heard people call this part of New York state “poverty with a view”. The Adirondacks are a collision of hardship and wealth, but mostly wilderness. Six million acres of it.

It’s almost LaBastille Day, and to celebrate, I’m going to camp alone for the first time in my life.

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Why automation is a feminist issue

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:38
Working women are twice as likely as men to lose their jobs to AI, according to a thinktank. Which perhaps isn’t surprising, given that most of that work is menial and badly paid

According to a new study from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), nearly 10% of women work in jobs with a high potential for automation, compared with only 4% of men. So what, I hear you say. Substitute “robots” for “austerity”, “the demise of unionisation”, “public-sector pay freezes”, “modern life” – pick any of these and women will always come off worst. Except maybe this time the pointy heads are on to something: perhaps better understanding what the risks are will give us all some agency, and even allow us to change the future.

As Carys Roberts, the author of the IPPR report, tells me: “We don’t even talk about risks in this area, because there are so many different factors. The primary argument that we make is that this could go in different directions. Technology is not destiny.”

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Trump administration to ban abortion referrals at taxpayer-funded clinics

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:08

Department of Health to force end to abortion referrals, a rule widely seen as a blow against Planned Parenthood

Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately, the Trump administration has announced, declaring it will begin enforcing a new regulation hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups.

The head of a national umbrella group representing the clinics said the Republican administration is following “an ideological agenda” that could disrupt basic health care for many low-income women.

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South Korea employers face jail for sacking harassed staff under new bullying law

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 17:32

Abuse by those in power is so widespread that there is a word for it – ‘gabjil’

New legislation has come into effect in South Korea that could see employers jailed if they unfairly dismiss employees harassed at work.

Employees in South Korea have traditionally been expected to turn a blind eye to abusive behaviour by those in power – a phenomenon so commonplace that there is a word for it, “gabjil”. A recent government survey found that two-thirds of workers had experienced harassment on the job, while 80% had witnessed it.

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Women as likely to be turned on by sexual images as men – study

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 09:00

Neural analysis finds the brains of both sexes respond the same way to pornography

The belief that men are more likely to get turned on by sexual images than women may be something of a fantasy, according to a study suggesting brains respond to such images the same way regardless of biological sex.

The idea that, when it comes to sex, men are more “visual creatures” than women has often been used to explain why men appear to be so much keener on pornography.

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My breast reduction: why I had the surgery that helped Simona Halep win at Wimbledon

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 07:19

The operation freed me from chronic headaches, and back and neck pain. But nothing about the process was easy

Three days before Christmas 2015, when I was 19, I had my breasts reduced in size. Sitting alone in my flat after the operation at Ross Hall hospital in Glasgow, I confronted my scars for the first time, and I cried.

It was not the first time that I had cried over my body, but these were not the tears of a miserable, frustrated teenager. I felt as if I had been through a battle and had emerged victorious. Holding those stitched-up breasts, a manageable 32E down from a 34GG, I was finally, gloriously me.

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The new 007 is a black woman – don't make her a Bond girl

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 00:48

Online joy over Lashana Lynch inheriting James Bond’s codename may be premature. White men won’t give up their hero status so easily

Fans have been hoping for a black actor to play James Bond at least since 2012, when Idris Elba was first rumoured as a possible successor to Daniel Craig. The franchise seems to have finally come through; this weekend it was reported that Lashana Lynch is going to be the new 007.

There was much celebration on social media, which is understandable. But it may be a little premature. Casting black female actors as legacy characters is a great step towards rectifying the historical racism and sexism that has led to a disproportionate number of those characters being white men. But it’s only a step. Black women also need to be written with respect; they have to be presented as natural, worthy heroes who deserve to wear the cowl or cape or tux in question. Otherwise, the new hero just becomes another way to demonstrate that the real, worthy hero is the white guy.

There are numerous examples of this dynamic. One is the character of James Rhodes, who in various Marvel comics takes over from Tony Stark as the hero Iron Man. Rhodes is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), too, and has long been presented as a kind of successor in waiting for Robert Downey Jr’s Stark.

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Theresa May’s positive legacy? She’s a feminist champion | Martha Gill

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 19:00

She did good work on domestic violence and FGM, and has been tireless in helping other women to advance

Can you call yourself a feminist? Here’s my test, and it applies to both men and women: how do you treat your female juniors? Do you talk passionately about female advancement in public while quietly squashing the careers of the women under you? Or are you a true champion? It is easy to identify the latter: women who have worked for them sing their praises for the rest of their lives. And whatever else you may think of Theresa May, she is a true champion of women.

How history judges the UK’s second female prime minister depends on whether her successor messes up Brexit even more spectacularly than she has done. But she already has one positive legacy despite the fact the battle to be her successor is being fought by two men. She has made the Tory party more female. In 2005, sexism was particularly rife in the selection of female Tory candidates: associations then had a firm idea of what an MP should be, and this was a man with two labradors and a stay-at-home wife. When applying for selection that year, Margot James, who went on to become MP for Stourbridge in 2010, has talked about a letter she received, outlining what might happen if she won, that blithely assumed she was a man. Laura Sandys, who had lost a selection contest in Arundel and South Downs to Nick Herbert, who was gay, overheard one Tory member say to another: “Well, he may be a homosexual, but at least we didn’t get a woman.”

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Is this the end of wellness?

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 22:00

After a trend of magical thinking and quick fixes, science-based solutions may not be so dull

Like a worm cut in half, its head regenerating into a new, even angrier worm, the “wellness” trend is one that refuses to die. But this week, its wiggle appeared to wane. A certain weariness had set in. Is this the end of wellness?

The evidence: “I was a huge fan of Gwyneth,” one attendee of Goop’s recent “wellness summit” in London told website Page Six, “Now I feel like I have lost my faith in God.” “GP [Paltrow],” said another, “is a fucking extortionist.” These were people who had spent up to £4,500 on weekend tickets, getting off the tube in Hammersmith as if landing in Lourdes, expecting to leave healed. What do they need healing from, you ask? Well, what have you got? Creepy energy, deep thirst, smell of cardboard, troubled pits, babyish sleeping, bad vagina – the beauty of the term “wellness” is that it encompasses almost everything, and can cost almost anything. Which is why I was excited to see the attendees rebel – a tipping point has been reached. Somewhere among the self-care stations and lavender lattes, a healthless revolution.

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The US World Cup team is loudly, proudly claiming the applause women deserve | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 02:01

Celebrating yourself in a world which tells you you’re worth less than men is an act of resistance – and it’s angering insecure men

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

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Lizzo is a joyous inspiration – but body positivity has come too late for the likes of me | Grace Dent

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 22:01

There was no such thing when I was a teen in the 80s; there was the heavenly Maria Whittaker on Page 3 and Sabrina in the Boys Boys Boys video

As Lizzo paraded gloriously with her flute at Glastonbury last month, a paean to body positivity, a poster girl for billions of proud, perfectly-imperfect young women worldwide, I finally accepted that, when it comes to radical self-acceptance, I have missed the boat.

God speed you, Lizzo, majestic in a purple sequined bodysuit which fought to conceal her camel toe. As for me, despite being primed for many decades to “step into summer” with a capsule wardrobe of chic garments in du jour shades, my 2019 wardrobe divides into two distinct piles: things I can kind of wear (with some caveats) and things I am too fat to wear. The second pile is much more voluminous and has at least a dozen subcategories, including “Gorgeous but literally unzippable as bought during a heartbreak when I was surviving largely on Celine Dion and two fingers of KitKat per day”. Or “Spaghetti straps: with my knockers? What was I thinking?” And, of course, a pile of bright statement maxi dresses that I will don for 10 minutes pre-pub beer garden, before deciding yet again that, with my hips, they make me resemble Ermintrude from The Magic Roundabout.

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What Love Island teaches us about 'himpathy' | Rebecca Buxton and Joshua Habgood-Coote

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 22:01

Amy Hart’s departure from the reality show highlights the excessive sympathy women offer to the men who hurt them

You might be surprised to learn that Love Island is shedding light on contemporary developments in feminist philosophy. You might also be surprised that philosophers are avid watchers of reality television.

But the ITV show gives us a unique opportunity to observe the relationships of 20-somethings – from their beginnings to the point where they flourish and, often, break apart. With these glimpses of human behaviour – albeit in the context of a television show – we can get an insight into how many women act, particularly at the end of a relationship.

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Megan Rapinoe’s ‘egotism’ is the perfect antidote to Donald Trump | Emma Brockes

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 05:10
A man with little talent squats in the White House, so it’s like balm to see a female sports star with real ability who’s unafraid to brag about it

This week it has been gratifying to watch Americans – specifically, American men – grapple on social media with a concept long cherished by the British as a thing we love to hate. If our characters are organised as much around that which we despise as revere, it is safe to say that the ancient British revulsion for Being Up Oneself is a central force in national life that, until this week, many Americans claimed to find mystifying. And then along came Megan Rapinoe.

Traditionally in the United States, being up oneself has been a default attitude practically enshrined in the constitution. As an American, you are obliged to at least pay lip service to the idea that anything is possible, and all that stands between you and your dreams is your own winning hustle. Self-deprecation, that sly old song of Europe, is neither appreciated nor understood. There is no integrity, in the US, in hiding one’s light.

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The Guardian view on abortion in Northern Ireland: standing up for women’s rights | Editorial

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:35
With devolution still on hold, the decision by a huge majority of MPs to vote in favour of equal marriage and abortion should be welcomed

The law on abortion in Northern Ireland is an anomaly that should have been dealt with long ago. The near-total ban, dating back to 1861 and including abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality, is among the most restrictive in the world. It is also an affront to the rights of women – as both the UK supreme court and a United Nations committee ruled separately last year.

Since abortion is a devolved issue, and the proper business of the Stormont assembly rather than the UK parliament, Tuesday’s House of Commons vote in favour of liberalisation was not the ideal way to resolve an appalling situation. Given the circumstances, with power-sharing at Stormont suspended in 2017 and human rights violations ongoing, it was a humane and constructive step. Labour’s Stella Creasy deserves credit for her tenacity in pushing for it. That Conor McGinn’s amendment to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland also passed by a huge majority made the news all the sweeter. This was a day of celebration for many Northern Irish people, as Sara Canning, partner of the murdered journalist and LGBT rights campaigner Lyra McKee, explained in an article for the Guardian.

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Saudi Arabia 'planning to relax male guardianship laws'

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 06:17

Strict rules governing women’s lives could be changed according to Saudi newspaper

Saudi Arabia could be planning to relax the country’s strict male guardianship laws to allow women to leave the country without needing permission from a male relative, according to reports.

Travel restrictions for women over the age of 18 are due to be lifted this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting Saudi officials familiar with the matter.

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'Why should I have to work on stilts?': the women fighting sexist dress codes

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 23:00

Too many female employees are forced to wear high heels, or skirts, or even a particular type of bra. But the resistance is growing

It was at the beginning of a shift at Harrods that Georgia Brown told her manager where to go. Brown, then aged 22, was working for a temp agency that supplied shop assistants to the department store. She cannot remember the name of the manager. But she does remember why she lost her cool: she had had enough of being forced to wear heels on the job.

“Not just a mini-heel, but proper black stilettos. Bear in mind, you’re on your feet in Harrods all day – you can’t sit down,” says Brown. When she arrived at work, there was a mandatory uniform check, after which she would slip into flat shoes. This time, she got caught. “I said: ‘My feet hurt; who are you to tell me I have to work on stilts?’,” says Brown.

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