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Poverty exists. Shooting the UN messenger won’t erase that fact | Nesrine Malik

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 20:00
The government can’t go on dismissing evidence that its policies create a two-tier society with deepening divisions

When the then UN special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, visited the UK in April 2014, she had strong words of condemnation for the country’s institutional misogyny and sexist popular culture. She projected what many were familiar and frustrated with: the old boys’ network, the pervasive sexualisation of women, the black hole of human rights that women in detention were thrown into. But nothing happened. Instead the headlines bastardised an observation she made on how overt the UK’s sexist culture was, into “UN special rapporteur says UK most sexist country in the world”.

Media debates erected straw men, asking if the UK really was worse than Somalia or Saudi Arabia. Edwina Currie asked why Manjoo couldn’t “go to a country where women can’t drive cars, or have maternity leave? There are plenty of countries where women face serious problems.’’ One Daily Telegraph blogger argued that, not only is all well, the country is in fact, a “gynocracy” because we’ve had a queen since 1952. Politicians were glad of the misquoted soundbite, and the media was happy to go with it. What was completely missed was that, after a two-week investigation touring prisons and detention centres, and a 4,000-word report, Manjoo raised the alarm, pointing to the disproportionate impact of funding cuts on the provision of services to women and girls at risk of violence. She spelled it out: “Current reforms to the funding and benefits system continue to adversely impact women’s ability to address safety and other relevant issues.”

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Rear view: the big business of bottoms

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 02:00

As more and more women go under the knife in pursuit of curves, it’s clear they are paying with their health

The press briefing for October’s Clinical Cosmetic Reconstructive Expo in London was delayed – there had been another death. A cluster of journalists gathered on the mezzanine while below them visitors filtered past signs for She Lase and Zero Gravity Skin and a stand for a company called Eurosilicone that claims to have been “Empowering women for over 30 years”. At the far end of the conference hall, a woman was having her jawline enhanced with fillers in front of a rapt crowd; the Safety in Beauty stand was empty.

Back on the mezzanine, there was a rustle of suits as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) entered the room. Apologies for the delay, one said solemnly, there has been another death. A second British woman has died this year after a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL). Which made their announcement that they were henceforth warning surgeons not to perform the procedure particularly urgent. The brief was called “The Bottom Line”.

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Enough of the neurosexist bilge. It’s not all pink and blue when it comes to our brains | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 20:00

There’s no genetic reason women should be disadvantaged in the workplace – unless someone is looking for it

In a week of dismaying news, there was a ray of sunshine: a scientific breakthrough with the potential to change lives. Men and women’s brains have finally been proved, by actual scientists, in a massive study, to be completely different! This, you gathered, was the substance of a prominently reported new study that made the front page of the Times: “Men and women really do think differently, say scientists.”

In another paper, the headline specified how: “The sex divide: female empathy vs male logic”. Dr Varun Warrier, of the research team, was widely quoted, saying: “These sex differences in the typical population are very clear.”

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Anya Hindmarch: ‘Trust yourself. Life is short’

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 03:59

The designer, 50, on channelling fear, the Queen’s brilliant curtness and her dad’s E-type Jag

You remember the times your parents were happy. It makes you happy. I remember sitting in the back of my father’s E-type Jaguar when I was very little. It was such a beautiful car – grey, with navy blue on the outside. My father was quite pleased with it.

If there’s one thing I would say to my childhood self, it’s trust yourself. Life is short, so take the risks. I always say to my children, go for it. Never be ordinary. Sometimes it’s important to be brave.

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Feminists gave Sheryl Sandberg a free pass. Now they must call her out | Jessa Crispin

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 23:00

Those feminists who were quick to embrace Sandberg should now publicly condemn her. Otherwise, they risk proving their critics right

The latest New York Times investigation into the goings-on at Facebook is less of a revelation and more of a reiteration of what was already on the record about the powerful platform: not only does Facebook have a problem with the dissemination of propaganda by the alt-right, white nationalists, and international genocide purveyors, those who own and operate the site have known about this and have repeatedly chosen not to address it.

Related: Facebook told us it wasn't a typical big, bad company. It is | Jessica Powell

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Thong protest in Belfast raises concerns over rape trials

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 09:56

Case in Cork sparked outrage after defence barrister referred to complainant’s underwear

It was a mere scrap of fabric, deep blue and edged with lace. But when the legislator Ruth Coppinger drew it from her sleeve and held it up in the Irish parliament this week, the item of women’s underwear caused consternation among her colleagues.

Elsewhere, women took to the streets carrying lingerie. In Cork, dozens of thongs were laid on the steps of the courthouse. In Belfast on Thursday, protesters tied knickers to placards and chanted: “My little black dress does not mean yes.”

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From ghosting to oversharing: the new rules of breakups

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 20:00

Relationship splits are even messier in the online age. When must you change your Facebook status? And who gets custody of Netflix? Here’s all the advice you need

In the early stages of a breakup, going online can feel like the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, only instead of waiting artillery there are pictures of your ex, ready to blow you to bits. If there is any animus or unfinished business between you, looking at your ex’s profile is a form of psychic self-mutilation. “It’s called ‘shopping for pain,’’ says Peter Saddington, a counsellor with Relate.

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Free tampons in Victoria's schools promised by Labor as election nears

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 14:22

Daniel Andrews says if party re-elected he will introduce an ‘Australian first’ move

Victorian girls will receive free tampons and pads at state schools, if the Labor party is re-elected to government in the state election in nine days, the premier, Daniel Andrews, announced the policy on Thursday.

“It’s an Australian first. It’s the right thing to do,” Andrews said on Twitter.

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Yes, yes, yes: why female pleasure must be at the heart of sex education

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 01:00
Bring in compulsory sex education classes from the age of four – and end the idea that sex is only about power and pleasure for men

I was given a shell-clasped plastic case in pearly pink. Inside were two sanitary towels so small they could have been used as rugs in a doll’s house, and a leaflet about other sorts of period products. I had started my period at least a year before receiving these treasures. The trinket box was wasted on me, and the conversations about my periods came way too late.

I genuinely don’t remember any other sex education at primary school. By the time they started talking to us about it at secondary school, I think in the third year (year 9), most of the girls in my class had had their first sexual encounters. These were mostly at the Bill Clinton level: not full intercourse, but all the other stuff. The teachers were clearly counting on us not having had intercourse (although some of us had) because our sex education was about Aids (it was the early 90s) and babies. It was essentially a lesson in contraception. I would wager that almost every girl in my class carried a condom in her purse long before she came to this lesson. In fact, we used to keep them as charms to show how grown up we were, accidentally on purpose spilling them out of our bags and pretending to be embarrassed.

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Female prisoners in England left to give birth without midwife, report reveals

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 20:00

Exclusive: research reveals lack of proper medical care for pregnant women and babies in some prisons

Women are giving birth in prison cells without access to proper medical care, according to a startling report shared with the Guardian.

Concerns for the welfare of pregnant women and their babies are raised by a detailed report into experiences in three prisons that highlights cases of women giving births in cells without a midwife present, including one where the baby was premature and born feet-first.

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Politics and science need more women, says Angela Merkel

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 13:26

German chancellor makes speech in Berlin on 100th anniversary of female suffrage

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that her role as the most powerful woman in Germany should not let society off the hook for the small proportion of women in politics.

As Germany marked the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, Merkel said in a speech in Berlin that there was a lot still to do to achieve gender equality, notably in the worlds of politics, business, science and culture.

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London women tell UN poverty envoy about impact of welfare cuts

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 08:18

Residents of deprived Newham describe domestic abuse and hunger to Philip Alston
UN rapporteur starts UK austerity tour
‘I’m scared to eat sometimes’
‘It’s unfair’: UN envoy meets children in Scotland

Women in London have told the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty they are bearing the brunt of government welfare cuts, and described how austerity has left infants homeless and exacerbated problems including overcrowded housing and domestic violence.

More than a dozen women addressed Philip Alston at a highly charged meeting in Newham, east London, and urged him to tackle British ministers over the disproportionate effects on women of eight years of spending cuts.

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The rape case in El Salvador shows what happens when hatred of women is enshrined in law

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 08:00

A 20-year-old woman has been imprisoned for 20 years for attempting to abort a baby conceived in a rape. It proves again that it is a deeply dangerous thing to be a woman in 2018

It is already a cliche to compare the treatment of women in whatever part of the world they happen to be under attack to the monstrosities imagined in The Handmaid’s Tale. (And when references to an unremittingly bleak feminist dystopia became banal, you are really in trouble.)

Then, a case like that of 20-year-old Imelda Cortez surfaces and its extremity, horror and breathtaking injustice blows everything else out of the water. What we are left with is the incontrovertible fact that, for many, it is a deeply dangerous thing to be a woman in 2018. This is what can, does and will continue to happen when the right to an abortion is removed entirely.

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Is it legal for your boss to make you wear a bra to work?

Sun, 11/11/2018 - 21:00

Many women dislike wearing bras, but is it inappropriate to go without? A lawyer explains women’s rights

A woman on Netmums recently waded into a question many bra-wearing women have pondered: why am I wearing this?

In a post titled “Can I get in trouble for not wearing a bra at work?”, a contributor wrote that she finds bras uncomfortable. “I am not doing this for attention,” she wrote. “It’s 2018 – I shouldn’t have to wear something because it will make people feel less uncomfortable, stop men looking or just because it’s the norm.”

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Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

Sun, 11/11/2018 - 20:00

Dr Leana Wen, who takes over as president of the US’s biggest reproductive healthcare institution this week, says she plans to expand services despite attacks

Dr Leana Wen takes over as president of Planned Parenthood – America’s biggest, best-funded and most vilified reproductive healthcare institution – at a time of unprecedented attacks on the organization’s values and work.

Last week, Alabama voters passed a fetal rights law; the Trump administration finalized rules to allow employers to opt out of health insurance requirements to provide birth control; and liberal women collectively held their breath as one of their champions – 85-year-old supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leader of the court’s liberal wing – was hospitalized with three cracked ribs.

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Boardroom boys still full of excuses for lack of equality

Sat, 11/10/2018 - 23:00
A government review into the shortage of female executives – due to make its final report this week – has exposed amazingly backward attitudes

Sunday is the day that, by rights, no one could really complain if women in the UK simply downed tools and put their feet up for the rest of the year. Equal Pay Day, which fell on Saturday, reflects the disparity between the wage deals enjoyed by men and women.

The gender pay gap may be at its lowest ever, but men still get paid 8.6% more on average than their female counterparts. Given that we are now 91.4% of the way through the year, why should women lift a finger again until 1 January? It’s fitting that Equal Pay Day should fall shortly before the final report of the government’s Hampton-Alexander review is released on Tuesday.

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Half of white women continue to vote Republican. What's wrong with them? | Moira Donegan

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 01:00

Some 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election – the real story of white women voters is both more grim and more complex than the figure reveals

For the past two years, the American left has been haunted by a number: 53. It is the percentage of white women who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. In the sectors of the left where the figure and its implications have become a perennial theme, the number is treated both as disappointing and darkly unsurprising, a reflection of the conventional wisdom that white women would rather choose the racism espoused by the Republican party than join in the moral coalition represented by men of color and other women. On the left, this number can elicit exasperation, rage, and even suspicions about the moral legitimacy of the feminist project. It casts doubts on the political convictions of liberal white women, colors leftist perception of female-coded liberal political projects like the Women’s March, and has prompted long-overdue calls for increased political leadership by women of color.

The real story of white women voters is both more grim and more complex than the 53% figure reveals. The truth is that the 53% of white women who voted for Trump in the last presidential election was actually an improvement on even worse numbers from previous cycles. White women supported Mitt Romney at 56% in 2012, and supported George W Bush by 55% in 2004. Even these robust showings by Republican white women were down from their previous highs: Ronald Reagan won a staggering 62% of white women in 1984. All of these totals were lower than those for white men, who continue to support Republicans at alarming rates, but they were solid majorities nonetheless.

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Can’t get a pension, can’t get work: a special dystopia for older women | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 20:00

Older women face considerable prejudices at work, and now they are being forced to retire later. Old-held assumptions must be challenged

Emile Ratelband wants to be younger. He wouldn’t be the first 69-year-old man to say so but what makes Ratelband unusual, to put it mildly, is that he has just launched a lawsuit in the Netherlands demanding to be legally recognised as only 49. If a trans woman can identify as female and change her official documents accordingly, he argues, why can’t he change his registered date of birth and thus get more dates on Tinder? After all, his doctor says he’s very fit for his age, and if he could only claim to be under 50 then surely “with this face I will be in a luxurious position” with women.

This makes significantly more sense as a PR stunt, obviously, than as any sort of argument. Age is not a mutable fact or a social construct, and “age dysphoria” is – unlike its gender variant – not even remotely a thing. You’re born when you’re born and if other people make madly unfair assumptions based on something as arbitrary as a date then it’s the assumptions that need changing, not birth records. And unless he’s arguing that only as a born-again fortysomething could he finally get women in their 60s to look twice at him, then Ratelband himself seems guilty of some pretty dodgy assumptions about age. Older women, so often spurned on dating apps by vain old goats who stubbornly refuse to “settle” for someone their own age, may not shed too many tears over this one.

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World's female MPs gather in London and pledge to form 'giant sisterhood'

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 07:08

A century since legislation paved way to universal suffrage in UK, parliament hosts meeting of female MPs from around the world

Female MPs from around the globe have pledged to form an international sisterhood and to support each other’s fight for gender equality.

In the centenary year of legislation paving the way to universal suffrage in Britain, the UK has hosted the first-ever meeting of female MPs from every parliament in the world.

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Brexit: Hunt says he is 'confident' UK and EU will reach deal within three weeks - Politics live

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 06:19

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

4.16pm GMT

4.02pm GMT

This morning David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, suggested that the Commons would vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal. That would prompt a renegotiation, he said, implying that a revised deal would then get approved by MPs. (See 9.03am.)

Rupert Harrison, who was chief of staff to George Osborne in the Treasury, also thinks that getting the Brexit deal through the Commons will end up being a two-state process.

Quick Brexit punt: my view all along has been there would be a deal - still feeling ok about that. But starting to wonder if Parliamentary vote will be like TARP in the US in 2008 - voted down, markets puke, passes second time with small changes... would make for a bumpy ride!

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