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Does anyone know what emotional labor means any more?

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 01:00

The term has been overused and badly applied – to everything from Bernie Sanders’ stance at inauguration to being a good friend

It was 42F, and the 79-year-old senator from Vermont was cold. Bernie Sanders slumped uncomfortably in his folding chair, coat pulled to chest, hands clad in chunky mittens. Probably because of the expression on Sanders’ face – a mix of discomfort and irritation, the sort of grouching that Larry David has forged a career out of – the image flew across the internet. There were memes of Sanders on the Iron Throne, alongside Forrest Gump and sitting courtside with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Almost immediately, the feminist backlash began. The Drexel University professor Amelia Hoover Green tweeted: “Ice cold feminist take: I love Bernie, I really do, but sir: emotional labor is not beneath you. Not feeling it? Fucking pretend for one minute, like [most] women do every minute.” The artist Anne B Kelly tweeted: “This is misogyny.” The TV writer Liz Sczudlo added: “White men get endless latitude and forgiveness other Americans aren’t afforded.”

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Don’t mess with Jackie Weaver, boys. She’s got a mute button and knows how to use it | Gaby Hinsliff

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 23:00

An acrimonious online parish council meeting became a viral hit, making a heroine of its unflappable host

Some day, there will surely be a statue to Jackie Weaver.

Women will take their small daughters to see it and deliver homilies about the importance of standing your ground with pompous and aggressive men in meetings, which their daughters won’t understand at the time but will remember with startling clarity once they actually start work. And just as MPs entering the Commons chamber used to touch the bronze foot of Winston Churchill’s nearby statue for luck, aspiring politicians will stop and offer silent thanks to Jackie, the patron saint of women who are having absolutely none of your nonsense.

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A love letter to Sheffield - from a most unlikely source | Rachel Cooke

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 22:00

How could old Etonian Ferdinand Mount possibly understand the character of the northern city? He used his imagination

It comes over you only rarely in life: the swoony feeling that a book might almost have been written for you. Two weeks after I finished it, I can’t stop thinking about Kiss Myself Goodbye, Ferdinand Mount’s extraordinary memoir of his Aunt Munca. Like someone in love, all I want to do is talk about it, a situation that’s sorely testing the patience of my domestic colleague, who must now attend a Munca symposium at approximately 7.30pm every night. (There is only one speaker: me.)

When first we meet Munca, it’s the late 1950s and she is living it up in Surrey, a luxurious realm of golf courses, plumped cushions and endless deceptions. But then, slowly, we scroll back to where she was born – and it was at this point in the story that I was amazed to see a fuzzy picture of a certain house on a Sheffield street: the very spot where I was first kissed. My God, I thought, what a nerve! Mount, a former editor of the TLS, is an old Etonian, a cousin of David Cameron and in the 1980s ran the No 10 policy unit under Mrs Thatcher. How could he possibly understand Sheffield? His one-time boss ripped apart our city.

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Misogynists are trying to silence me: abuse bill commissioner

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 11:30

Anonymous social media users are banding together to harass and discredit a domestic abuse campaigner

London’s first commissioner for victims has revealed how misogynists are attempting to silence her attempts to tackle domestic violence.

Claire Waxman, who is campaigning for amendments to the domestic abuse bill, says her work is prompting an increasingly coordinated online response from largely anonymous social media accounts designed to discredit and intimidate her from continuing. “Particularly around the area of the family courts and domestic abuse bill I have received a huge amount of abuse which has misogyny at its root, people who are trying to create a gender war,” she said.

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Why does writing about motherhood provoke so much rage?

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 20:00

The subject is guaranteed to attract a tsunami of bile, stemming from resentment, sexism and disgust

My friend E has written a book. “It’s not as though it hasn’t all been said before,” she said. “I suppose the most interesting thing about it is how many times it can be said without anything changing.”

I can’t work out whether I’ve forgotten what my friends are like, or forgotten how to have a conversation, but this doesn’t sound like E at all. It sounds sheepish, like she has stepped on a toe, or overshared, or fallen in some way beneath her standards (which are, granted, as complicated and precise as the laser alarm system in Mission: Impossible). But I’ve never heard that tone in her voice. Politically, she is a radical. Personally, she is more radical. You can’t get a sheepish radical – it’s a philosophical impossibility. It would be chased straight back into its pen by the dogs of convention.

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Tokyo 2020 chief pressed to resign after saying women talked too much at meetings

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 18:43

Yoshiro Mori said he would not stand down after saying female participants meant meetings tended to ‘drag on’

Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, has apologised for making sexist remarks about “talkative” women in sports organisations, but said he would not resign.

Mori, a former Japanese prime minister with a history of demeaning remarks, told a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) this week that meetings attended by too many women tended to “drag on” because they talked too much.

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What a picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a bikini tells us about the disturbing future of AI | Arwa Mahdawi

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 21:00

New research on image-generating algorithms has raised alarming evidence of bias. It’s time to tackle the problem of discrimination being baked into tech, before it is too late

Want to see a half-naked woman? Well, you’re in luck! The internet is full of pictures of scantily clad women. There are so many of these pictures online, in fact, that artificial intelligence (AI) now seems to assume that women just don’t like wearing clothes.

That is my stripped-down summary of the results of a new research study on image-generation algorithms anyway. Researchers fed these algorithms (which function like autocomplete, but for images) pictures of a man cropped below his neck: 43% of the time the image was autocompleted with the man wearing a suit. When you fed the same algorithm a similarly cropped photo of a woman, it auto-completed her wearing a low-cut top or bikini a massive 53% of the time. For some reason, the researchers gave the algorithm a picture of the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and found that it also automatically generated an image of her in a bikini. (After ethical concerns were raised on Twitter, the researchers had the computer-generated image of AOC in a swimsuit removed from the research paper.)

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'People heckle me': top female runners speak out over abuse on streets

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 05:34

Athletes who cannot access usual facilities in lockdown talk of harassment while out training

A group of leading female runners have spoken out about the abuse and harassment they experience when they are training out on the streets and in parks because they cannot access their usual facilities during lockdown.

One runner revealed she no longer felt safe exercising in public while another described a violent incident in which an empty beer can was thrown at her.

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Sophie's triumphantly plastic music moulded a new world for trans people

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 02:07

The producer’s death is crushing, but we’re left with hyper-real music and an iconography that upends femininity and points to a new way of living

Long before the late Scottish producer Sophie’s astonishing 2017 track and video It’s OK to Cry were released – an image of Sophie’s transgender body in joyful, anxious, and deeply felt flux – this artist was already special to trans people. Sophie had long crafted electronic dance tracks that freed femininity and bodies from their usual contexts and let them dance with abandon. In 2013 it didn’t matter to me, as a not-yet-out-even-to-myself transgender woman, whether or not Sophie was transgender. What mattered was that in early singles, such as the genre-redefining Bipp that year, we felt as though we could become something else.

Related: Sophie: 10 of the greatest tracks by a genius of pop's expressive power

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The menstrual month: how to exercise effectively at every stage of your cycle

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 01:30

The physiological changes that take place around a woman’s period can affect her training. Experts assess when to take it easy – and when you should go hard

When Evgenia Koroleva started learning about her menstrual cycle and the effect it was having on her, week to week, she says: “It blew my mind. Why did I know so little about my body?” A gym owner, Koroleva has since created a training programme based around an individual’s cycle, which she says will optimise results.

Hers is not the first to take the menstrual cycle into consideration when it comes to exercise. Interest has grown hugely in recent years, with elite athletes tracking physiological changes and coaches educating themselves about the effects. For the rest of us, there are apps and cycle trackers, but the area is still woefully under-researched (blame male-dominated medicine and sport).

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Worker at H&M supply factory was killed after months of harassment, claims family

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 06:21

Fashion brand to investigate the death of 20-year-old Jeyasre Kathiravel, reportedly killed by supervisor at Natchi Apparels

The family of a young garment worker at an H&M supplier factory in Tamil Nadu who was allegedly murdered by her supervisor said she had suffered months of sexual harassment and intimidation on the factory floor in the months before her death, but felt powerless to prevent the abuse from continuing.

H&M said it is launching an independent investigation into the killing of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a 20-year-old Dalit garment worker at an H&M supplier Natchi Apparels in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu, who was found dead on 5 January in farmland near her home.

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Pregnant women going for scans alone told they cannot film baby

Sun, 01/31/2021 - 05:13

Exclusive: NHS urged to act after survey finds some women wrongly warned taking photos is illegal

Pregnant women attending scans and appointments alone are repeatedly being told they cannot record or take photographs of their unborn child to show their partner, according to a survey.

The poll of more than 3,450 pregnant women by the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed found that more than half of respondents (52%) attended scans alone and were also told that they could not record or take photographs during the appointment.

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‘Making our home safe again’: meet the women who clear land mines

Sun, 01/31/2021 - 02:00

After decades of war, more and more women are working to remove lethal mines and IEDs from the fields and cities of their homelands. It’s dangerous, but it’s helping to rebuild their lives

As a child, Hana Khider dreamed of Sinjar. Born and brought up in Syria, she remembers her mother telling her stories about the district in northern Iraq where her relatives lived. “I always imagined it in my mind,” she says, smiling over our video call. “It was beautiful and peaceful.” Today, Sinjar is her home. She lives with her husband and three children in a village close to Mount Sinjar, which she describes as “very special to our community”. Khider is Yazidi and they believe the mountain was the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. The rocky peak has long been considered a sacred refuge for persecuted people.

It was the mountain that saved her and more than 40,000 other Yazidis when they fled Islamic State in August 2014. Driven from their villages, they camped on the mountain for months – some for years – after a genocide that, according to the UN, saw 5,000 Yazidis massacred and up to 7,000 women and girls captured and sold as sex slaves to Isis members. “We feared for our lives,” Khider, now 28, says, explaining how Isis fighters surrounded the mountain. Luckily, she escaped to Kurdistan, where she lived in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp until her village was liberated. Her family returned in May 2016. A few months later, she applied to work as a deminer at the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a charity that finds and clears mines in places of conflict.

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How lockdown has revived a certain type of online lothario | Eva Wiseman

Sat, 01/30/2021 - 22:00

Cultured, well-read, romantic, emotional… In theory the ‘softboi’ makes a perfect boyfiend, it’s in reality that things get a lot more complicated

It was on one of those endless fabulous afternoons of the past, when we were walking down a crowded canal path after lunch, that my friend first introduced me to the concept of a “softboi”. She was single at the time and painfully gorgeous – watching her talk, my skin would prickle as if sunburned. She had amassed a sophisticated understanding of the available dating apps and was able to answer questions about their differences, their clientele, their various ways to hurt you, much like a black cab driver having studied the Knowledge. She could tell you the fastest route to a bad decision both in and out of rush hour.

There was a type of man that she seemed to attract, and it was on this leisurely walk (I picture it now through pandemic lenses, the sky a Technicolor turquoise, the smell of strangers’ cigarette smoke like expensive perfume, a dolphin leaping up the lock) that she tried to describe him. At first glance, he was decent. Interesting. Interested. He was in touch with his feelings. His bio was carefully littered with cultural detritus, an author’s name here, a song lyric there. He’d read all the Jonathans, from Franzen to Livingston Seagull. When he respectfully entered her Instagram DMs with a question about her thoughts on such topics as post-feminist marketing or the gentrification of the internet, he was halfway home. It was in the medium of the private message where the softboi could relax. This was his stage, his canvas: an “I’m typing” ellipsis showed the artist was present.

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Third night of protests in Poland after abortion ban takes effect

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 13:03

Thousands join rallies in Warsaw and other cities after delayed ban finally becomes law

Thousands have protested for a third consecutive night in Warsaw and other parts of Poland after the country’s rightwing government implemented a court ruling imposing a near-total ban on abortion.

Protesters have defied coronavirus restrictions and sub-zero temperatures to rally after the controversial judgment was given legal force on Wednesday.

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'It was a misuse of power': how screen sex scenes have been forced to change

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 07:35

As Keira Knightley says she won’t shoot one with a male director, the use of intimacy coordinators means that actors can be more comfortable with what they are asked to do

Once ubiquitous, the screen sex scene is in deep trouble. Keira Knightley, star of Misbehaviour, Official Secrets and Colette, appears to have driven the final nail in the coffin of the traditional sex scene with recent comments that she will no longer participate in “those horrible sex scenes where you’re all greased up and everybody is grunting”, and that she is not prepared to shoot sex scenes with male directors so as not to “portray the male gaze”.

Knightley’s stance reflects an increasing dissatisfaction with the way film-makers have handled such scenes in films and TV shows. Philippa Lowthorpe, who directed Knightley in Misbehaviour, the 2020 film about feminist protesters who disrupted the Miss World competition in 1970, admires the actor for her comments. “I totally understand where Keira is coming from. Intimate scenes make actors vulnerable by their very nature, so can be – and on many occasions have been – open to a misuse of power by directors.”

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Biden move to refund UN population agency is 'ray of hope for millions'

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 00:37

‘Women’s bodies are not political bargaining chips’ says UNFPA director, as US funding restored after Trump era

The decision by US president Joe Biden to refund the UN population fund, UNFPA, offers “a ray of hope for millions of people around the world”, said the agency’s executive director.

Dr Natalia Kanem said the announcement on Thursday would have an “enormous” impact on the agency’s work, particularly as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

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UK sex workers face rising violence and hardship during pandemic

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 22:00

Some women have taken up sex work for the first time because of money worries, while others who had left the trade have returned

Sex workers across the UK are facing increased violence and hardship as a result of lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions, charities and support organisations have warned.

They say sex workers are in more dire and drastic situations than they have ever seen before. Women who had left the sex trade have fallen back into it, others who had regular clients and who had stopped working on the streets have had to return and some have taken up sex work for the first time because they have no money and are desperate.

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No 10 pulls 'sexist' Covid ad showing all chores done by women

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 08:06

Lone man on withdrawn social media image lounges on sofa, while females clean, iron and home-school

The government has been lambasted for apparent sexism after issuing a social media advertisement showing women, but no men, undertaking domestic chores – including home-schooling.

On Thursday, the government attempted to distance itself from the official social media ad which urged people to “Stay Home. Save Lives”.

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'They said I wasn't hot enough': Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 00:52

Variety review of black comedy Promising Young Woman prompts actor to speak out on industry’s institutionalised sexism

Carey Mulligan has said she was alarmed after a major publication ran a review of her new film which appeared to question whether she was attractive enough for the role.

Related: Variety's apology to Carey Mulligan shows that the critic's ivory tower is toppling | Peter Bradshaw

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