Women's News from the Web

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Updated: 3 hours 37 min ago

ACLU and Planned Parenthood file lawsuit against Alabama abortion ban

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:14

Groups filed lawsuit to block extreme ban before it can take effect as Missouri’s governor signed an eight-week ban into law on Friday

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit to stop Alabama from implementing a law making abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy.

The lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Alabama abortion providers, seeks to block the near-total abortion ban before it can take effect.

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The reels on the bus: inside Cannes's first creche

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 02:15

Children are the new VIPs, say organisers of a nursery to help festival-goers balance deal-making with childminding

Away from the hustle of the Croisette, some Cannes film festival attendees are busy taking a nap. You might surmise that they are recovering from one of the festival’s many afterparties, but you’d be wrong. Alongside them, other “delegates” are busy singing nursery rhymes, or having their nappies changed.

For the first time, a daycare centre has been installed at Cannes, as part of Le Ballon Rouge, an initiative designed to make the festival more accessible to parents of young children. As well as childcare services, a breastfeeding and nappy changing room has been installed in the Palais, and free passes are available for children, nannies, carers or family members. The centre, which is open from 10am to 6pm until 24 May, costs €50 for the whole festival.

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Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in nice-guy misogyny | Arwa Mahdawi

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 01:01

While the musician might not spout misogynistic lyrics, he’s no feminist

If someone had said the word “Moby” a week ago, chances are the first thing you’d have thought is “Dick.” That probably hasn’t changed – but now you’d likely be referring to the 90s musician rather than the 19th century whale. Over the past few days, Moby has been stress-testing the adage that “all publicity is good publicity” by repeatedly insisting that he and Natalie Portman used to be an item, even if she says they weren’t.

In his new memoir, When It Fell Apart, Moby claims that he dated Portman when he was 33 and she was 20, after they met backstage at one of his concerts. A memoir is traditionally considered a work of non-fiction, however it would seem that the 53-year-old’s book strays into fantasy: Portman has denied the pair ever had a romantic relationship.

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'Democracy has been hijacked by white men': how minority rule now grips America

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 20:00

The US is becoming more diverse and progressive, but white men’s grip on power is being exercised via the courts, gerrymandering and dark money in politics

The exercise of political power by legislative majorities of white, male elected officials in ways that disproportionately exclude or harm women and people of color is such a familiar part of the American political landscape that it sometimes goes underremarked.

That was not the case last week after 25 white Republican men in Alabama voted for a near-total abortion ban in the state, an act that focused the national attention and sparked fears of a broader assault on women’s rights.

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Campaign for change puts Queensland's rape laws under the spotlight

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 14:00

Ministers urged to revist ‘mistake of fact’ defence amid claims police and legal attitudes persistently frustrate prosecutions

Lawyers and women’s advocates say Queensland’s archaic sexual consent laws have created a system in which victims face hostility from the police and courts, amid a renewed push for legal reform.

Hundreds of letters have arrived on the desks of state ministers this week, calling for changes to sexual assault laws, particularly the “mistake of fact” defence. Accused rapists in Queensland can beat a charge by claiming they honestly believed a sexual encounter was consensual, even when it was not.

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The Victorians were no prudes, but women had to play by men’s rules | Kate Williams

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:34

An exhibition of Queen Victoria’s nude paintings belies the fact that sexual freedom was a one-sided affair

Much has been done to redress the popular vision of Queen Victoria as a dull censorious woman swathed in black: ITV’s Victoria drama series, new documentaries and books suggest a less buttoned-up life. But the image prevails, as does is the idea of Victorian society as prudish, covering table legs in case they offended, and refusing to countenance any reference to sex.

However, a new exhibition of Victoria and her husband Albert’s gifts to each other – including art with plenty of nudity – offers a rejoinder. The display, marking the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth, is at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was the couple’s sanctuary, away from public gaze – and they adorned it with quite a few nudes. Florinda, by the German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter, was hung in front of their writing desk – Victoria described it as a “group of beautiful women” about to bathe.

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Menopausal? Yes. But at 50 I’m hotter than I was in my 20s | Cally Beaton

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:23
As an older woman, I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin. And I still wouldn’t be seen dead in a linen blazer

I’m new to being 50 and I’m waiting for it to happen to me: the moment when I vanish without trace. My 51st year started with the B-list French celebrity Yann Moix making global headlines after saying that women over 50 were invisible. (Fun fact: he had to put out a request to stop fiftysomething women spamming him with pictures of their perky body parts in the aftermath. Poor him. )

It turns out that he prefers the “extraordinary” body of a 25-year-old. The thing is, at 50 I know I am objectively more attractive than I was in my 20s, when I was unhappy, insecure, overweight and all round not conventionally hot. I am more attractive than I was in my 30s (raising young kids and juggling a big day job with splitting up with their dad) or in my early- to mid-40s (perimenopause hitting hard and somewhat losing my shit, or at least my way, for a few years).

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Alexa, why does the brave new world of AI have all the sexism of the old one?

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 06:39

Virtual assistants such as Google Home and Siri only encourage the attitude that women exist merely to aid men in getting on with more important things.

When women are over-represented in the workforce, it tends be in industries of assistance – cleaning, nursing, secretarial work and, now, the world of virtual assistants. Research by Unesco has shown that using default female voices in AI – as Microsoft has done with Cortana, Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Assistant and Apple with Siri – is furthering the belief that women exist merely to help men to get on with more important things.

There is no real reason for AI technologies to be gendered at all, but we are at the mercy of tech companies “staffed by overwhelmingly male engineering teams”, fixated on living out a Captain Kirk fantasy and delegating to the subservient, silky-voiced computers of Star Trek. These systems are unapologetically built by men, for men. They can even struggle to understand the “breathy” voices of women as software is often developed with male voice samples.

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I tried to sexually harass Siri, but all she did was give me a polite brush-off | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 05:51
Virtual assistants are millennial Stepford Wives. But perhaps there’s an upside for real women

“Hey Siri, show me your tits,” is not something I ever thought I’d say, especially not while sitting in an empty kitchen while wearing fluffy slippers. I have many hobbies, but sexually harassing disembodied digital entities is not one of them, even in the interests of journalistic research.

But having read that a UN report that claimed virtual assistants coded female by default (i.e. most of them) were reinforcing gender stereotypes that portray women as subservient – for example, by responding to sexual harassment in a tolerant, even coquettish, manner – I thought I had better conduct an experiment. “Hey Siri, wanna fuck?” I was trying to do my best frat boy impression, but ended up sounding sad and apologetic, a bit like how I wish men would in real life. “Hey Siri,” I said, lugubriously, “you’re a slut.”

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Universal credit hardship 'linked to prostitution'

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 04:10

Benefits reform forcing women to sell sex for cash, food or shelter, MPs’ committee told

Women are increasingly forced to take up sex work to get money for food and rent after becoming desperate over financial hardship caused by universal credit, an MPs’ committee has heard.

A series of witnesses from specialist charities that work with women involved in prostitution told MPs on the work and pensions committee there was a strong link between benefits changes and so-called “survival sex”.

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‘Pregnancy is a time bomb’ – what I learned about motherhood working in a women’s prison

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:54

Pregnant women in jail are revered by other inmates – but the question of what will happen to the child is never far away

Prison is full of mothers. Mothers of adult children, who visit at weekends bringing grandchildren in tow; mothers whose motherhood is on pause because their children are being looked after by foster families; mothers whose mothers are doing the mothering for them – an army of grans and nanas collecting children from school and footing bills for food and clothes; and mothers whose children, passed from pillar to post by the care system, have followed in their footsteps and live just up the corridor.

There are also, often, mothers-to-be. Pregnancy seems to happen more rapidly in prison, as though life is hurtling towards the surface faster than anyone could prepare.

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Photo exhibition celebrates 25 years of female priests

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 20:00

Images of 12 women from Southwark diocese capture variety of a priest’s work

Joyce Forbes looks after her grandson five days a week and campaigns for affordable housing. Susie Simpson absorbs the anger and pain of young men locked up in prison. Helen Harknett fights for social justice and LGBTI inclusion. At 92, Ann Gurney lives quietly these days.

The link between these four women is their membership of a growing band: female priests in the Church of England. Along with eight others, they feature in an exhibition of photographs, Here Am I, celebrating this year’s 25th anniversary of women’s ordination. It opens at London’s Oxo Gallery on Wednesday.

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Revealed: 21,000 US women order abortion pills online in past six months

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 20:00

Three-quarters of mail order requests came from states with strict anti-abortion laws

Thousands of American women have obtained abortion pills online in the past six months, according to figures that highlight the escalating difficulty in accessing safe abortions on the ground.

Data shared with the Guardian reveals that 21,000 women requested abortion medication between October 2018 and March this year from the charity Aid Access. Between a third and a half of the women who made the requests were then sent abortion pills in the mail. The majority of the recipients live in states with hostile abortion policies.

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Older women new face of poverty in Australia, Salvation Army warns

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 18:07

Data reveals 39% rise in women over 65 seeking financial help as Red Shield Appeal nears

The Salvation Army has warned that older women have become the “unexpected face of poverty in Australia”, revealing figures showing a 40% increase in demand for financial help.

Data released on Wednesday to support the Salvos’ Red Shield Appeal found the number of people receiving financial counselling from the charity had increased from nearly 13,000 in the 2013-14 financial year to about 18,000 in 2017-18.

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Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa entrench gender biases, says UN

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 13:27

Female-voiced tech often gives submissive responses to queries, Unesco report finds

Assigning female genders to digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa is helping entrench harmful gender biases, according to a UN agency.

Research released by Unesco claims that the often submissive and flirty responses offered by the systems to many queries – including outright abusive ones – reinforce ideas of women as subservient.

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If Roe v Wade is overturned, we should worry about the rule of law | Shira A Scheindlin

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 02:15

Affirming precedence is an important legal principle. If it’s ignored, which other supreme court decisions could be overturned next?

Donald Trump was staunchly pro-choice until he sought to become President Donald Trump. From that moment on, a centerpiece of his campaign was a promise to do whatever he could to ensure that the 1973 supreme court’s landmark decision in Roe v Wade that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion would be overturned. He has kept his promise and his base loves him for it. He undoubtedly believes that his strong and now unwavering anti-abortion stance will go a long way to ensuring his re-election in 2020.

How did he keep his promise? The answer is not complicated. He did it by consistently appointing judges to the federal courts that he believes are committed to the goal of overturning Roe. He has succeeded in reshaping the supreme court through his appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and has now appointed more than 100 judges to the courts of appeals and the district courts, many of whom have been openly hostile to abortion rights in their academic writings, public speeches or judicial decisions. He now expects these judges to achieve the big prize – the overturning of Roe v Wade.

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Why Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela’s kiss is a terrifying glimpse of the future | Arwa Mahdawi

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 21:00

An advert featuring the human and virtual models is late-capitalist hell, ‘queerbait’ and digisexuality all at once

Bella Hadid, a human supermodel, has been accused of “queerbaiting” after making out with Lil Miquela, a computer-generated influencer, in order to sell designer underwear. I know, I know, there’s a lot going on in that sentence. Please take a deep breath: we will unpack this late-capitalist hell together.

Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela, is a fictional character created by a Los Angeles startup called Brud. Miquela has 1.5m followers on Instagram, where she shares pictures of her imaginary life and proclaims her support for LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter. In the past few years, the virtual model has become a veritable celebrity: starring in Ugg ads, interviewing artists at Coachella and collaborating with Prada. In her latest project, a video for Calvin Klein, she kisses a half-naked (and heterosexual) Hadid as a voiceover proclaims some marketing nonsense about dreams and doors.

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Google changes policy to block misleading ads for anti-abortion groups

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 13:28

A certification process would require organizations to identify themselves as either providing or not providing abortions

Google changed its advertising policy this week, after facing scrutiny for providing tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to an anti-abortion group that runs misleading ads designed to deter women from terminating their pregnancies.

Starting in June, advertisers running ads “using keywords related to getting an abortion” will first have to distinguish themselves as an organization that “either provides abortions or does not provide abortions”, according to the new policy update.

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'I don't feel safe': Alabama newspapers publish letters by women on abortion ban

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 12:02

Three local publications devoted their Sunday editions to essays from women, ranging from fear to grappling with personal beliefs

Three major Alabama newspapers devoted their Sunday editions to letters from women across the state, offering an expansive look into the reactions after a nearly all-male state legislature passed the nation’s strictest abortion ban last week.

The Alabama Media Group, which operates the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register, filled their Sunday papers with 200 essays from Alabama women of various backgrounds, ages and political leanings. The essays were also available as a package online under the title “It’s time to hear Alabama’s women”.

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Trump Baby is back – and this time it’s more than just a balloon | Nona Hurkmans

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:30

Poking fun at the president is all well and good, but let’s use his UK visit to raise cash for migrant, green and abortion charities

“The greatest insult to a sitting US president ever.” It’s not often that I turn to the words of Nigel Farage to seek confirmation I might be involved in doing something right, but last July was different.

It was a few days before Donald Trump was due to touch down for his first visit to British shores since his election to office. And things weren’t quite going to plan. Britain was in thrall to the story of whether a 20ft-high bright orange helium balloon would be given permission to soar above Parliament Square in central London: Trump Baby had arrived.

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