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Ignorance about menopause is destroying lives – and it’s not only women who suffer | Diane Danzebrink

Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:01

Like many women, I struggled to get basic information and help for debilitating symptoms. Now we are campaigning for change

A few years ago I hadn’t given menopause a second thought. These days it’s pretty much all I think, talk and write about, but that was never the plan. In the summer of 2012, I had to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy, including the removal of both of my ovaries, due to suspected ovarian cancer.

Two days after surgery I was back at home, my feet up as instructed, which was perfect timing for the London Olympics. There was no discussion before or after my surgery about all the possible implications of surgical menopause, the state I now found myself in. When leaving the hospital I was simply told to see my GP at some point to discuss hormone replacement, but concerns about it meant that I initially chose not to take it. That was a big mistake. But I had no idea at the time, because nobody had explained it to me.

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World's 22 richest men wealthier than all the women in Africa, study finds

Sun, 01/19/2020 - 23:42

Startling scale of inequality laid bare as Oxfam report highlights chronically undervalued nature of care work

The world’s 22 richest men have more combined wealth than all 325 million women in Africa, according to a study.

Women and girls across the globe contribute an estimated £8.28tn ($10.8tn) to the global economy with a total of 12.5bn hours a day of unpaid care work, a figure more than three times the worth of the global tech industry, claims an Oxfam report published on Monday ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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Catcalls, cabs and classroom comments: how girls struggle to find a safe place in the UK today

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 21:48

Blackpool comes bottom of all UK local authorities for girls’ human rights and quality of life, according to research by Plan International

Blackpool is the hardest place to be a girl in the UK, according to new research which campaigners say should act as a wake-up call for the government. The north-western town comes bottom among all local authorities for key indicators of girls’ human rights and quality of life, a report by children’s charity Plan International UK found.

Local authorities in the bottom 10 were mainly in the north of England or Midlands, the charity found: Nottingham and Hartlepool are in the bottom three with Blackpool, considered England’s most deprived local authority. While three of the 10 highest-ranked local authorities (Orkney Islands, East Renfrewshire and Shetland) are in Scotland, the rest are in the south of England. “Right across the UK, there are challenges in being a girl,” said Plan CEO Rose Caldwell. “Even in top-performing areas, we would expect it to be much better than it currently is.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow has capitalized on vaginal shame and celebration | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 04:10

Why are vaginas suddenly everywhere? Partly because of the rise of ‘wellness’ – but also because they’re now a symbol of resistance

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

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'Believe women' is being cheapened to score political points. That will backfire | Jessa Crispin

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 01:20

It’s dirty politics – and using the phrase to land blows on a political opponent will end up hurting women

It’s a familiar scenario. An exchange occurs in private. Only the two figures involved – a man and a woman – know what truly transpired. But once they leave that room and start to tell their version of events, the man is given the benefit of the doubt and the woman faces intense scrutiny and skepticism.

Related: Warren and Sanders appear to move on following debate tensions – live

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Sexual harassment victims to take part in government survey

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 23:29

Minister reveals she was once harassed as she encourages people to share experiences

Ministers are to survey thousands of victims of sexual harassment to strengthen protections for workers.

Victims of sexual harassment are being urged to share their experience in what the Government Equalities Office has described as one of the largest surveys of its kind ever to be carried out.

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Long-Bailey says abortion limit should not be different for disability

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 03:55

Long-Bailey ‘unequivocally supports woman’s right to choose’ but believes disability and non-disability should be treated equally

Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she does not agree with allowing abortion on the grounds of disability after the standard limit of 24 weeks – but stressed that this was a personal view.

The Labour leadership candidate confirmed her position after comments emerged showing she argued last year against being able to abort on the grounds of disability later than if there is no disability.

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This is what midlife looks like for women

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 23:00

Guts, blood, hair, sex and love – it’s time to reclaim menopause as a time for self-discovery

Middle-aged women have long been treated as the punchlines of jokes in popular culture – as the crazy witches at the end of the street, or worse, as invisible members of society who cease to exist once their reproductive years are over. But a host of artists have recently focused their attention on the experiences of women in midlife, from Darcey Steinke’s Flash Count Diary to Susan P Matterns’ The Slow Moon Climbs.

This new wave of attention is joined by photographer Elinor Carucci’s Midlife. In her introduction to the book, Kristen Roupenian writes that Carucci’s photographs invoke the “intense, exhausting self-monitoring that can feel like an inescapable part of owning a female body”.

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Croatia has enchanting words for genitalia. Why doesn't the UK? | Adrian Chiles

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 23:00

I am friends with a Croatian couple who translate erotic fiction. This is eye-opening – not least my realisation that the UK doesn’t have nearly enough female-friendly euphemisms

Some time at the end of the last century, I made a mistake. Friends of mine, a Croatian couple, asked me to find them a book called The Art of Selling, and take it to them in Zagreb when I was next there. This was pre-internet and Amazon and all that caper, so it took some finding. Upon slapping it triumphantly on my friends’ kitchen table, I was told this wasn’t the book they were after; far from it. They had asked me for The Art of Sailing. Imagine their disappointment.

However, in a lifetime of unforced errors, this one was more or less alone in that it actually turned out for the best. My friends read The Art of Selling, liked it, saw a market for it, translated it into Croatian, sold lots of copies, and their publishing business was born. I saw them last week; these days they are engaged in the translation of erotic fiction into Croatian. This, as you can imagine, has its challenges. The word “manhood” is one. “What’s that all about?” my friend Zrinka asked me.

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Readers on the pain of miscarriage: ‘In my head I was already a mum and then suddenly I wasn’t’

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 07:05

According to a new study, a third of women experience PTSD after losing a baby in early pregnancy. Guardian readers describe their experiences

I had three miscarriages in 2018, all under 12 weeks. I became very anxious to the point that it was impacting every area of my life. It affected my sleep and I had very negative thoughts. I spent a lot of time crying and kept having flashbacks to the third, most traumatic miscarriage, particularly when I was trying to sleep or relax. I had such severe bleeding that I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. My family struggled to understand the impact it had on me. Only one friend, who had also had a miscarriage, seemed to get it. The professionals who dealt with me when I was admitted were clearly ill-equipped to cope with any mental health implications, which was not their fault. It was only when I self-referred for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) months later that I was able to get the support I needed.

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Women don’t need new year resolutions: we’re expected to improve ourselves every day | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 06:31

Don’t worry if you haven’t kept your promises this month: there’s always the rest of the year to feel the expectation to make yourself better

At the start of every year, my friends and I discuss new year resolutions: comparing and contrasting them, keeping each other on course and consoling each other when we’ve all caved come February. But a number of them were uncharacteristically unbothered about the chance to set goals at the start of the new decade. New year resolutions simply are not as relevant to them as they once were, now they are in perpetual pursuit of improvement.

The rise of “wellness” and the encroaching culture of public goal-setting means our resolutions start anew not annually but every few days. Healing crystals, luxury water bottles and meditation apps are not the preserve of dippy LA hipsters but the paraphernalia of your average millennial woman. Self-improvement is now integral to our every day; what’s a new year resolution when every other month is a Dry January, a Veganuary or a Stoptober?

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Being Jo March: Little Women finally has an ending grown women deserve | Josephine Tovey

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 06:30

For independent women, Jo March is an icon but until Gerwig’s version there has always been a catch

Long before internet quizzes asked women to reduce themselves to female archetypes by finding out “which Sex and the City character are you?” generations of girls grew up reading Little Women and playing, in their own imaginations, “which March sister are you?”

Like the creative, tomboyish heroine of Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel about four very different sisters, I was a Josephine who went by the more boyish name Jo, the second daughter in a big family of girls. The choice seemed preordained.

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Hugh Grant defends Prince Harry: 'The tabloids effectively murdered his mother'

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 02:08

The actor and activist has backed up Harry’s desire to ‘protect his family’, while Stormzy has said there is no ‘credible’ reason to dislike Meghan

Hugh Grant has defended Prince Harry’s decision to “step back” from formal royal duties and seek a self-financed life based partly in Canada.

Speaking on Andy Cohen’s Radio Andy show on Sirius XM, Grant said: “I’m rather on Harry’s side. The tabloid press effectively murdered his mother, now they’re tearing his wife to pieces.”

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How long can this nonsense of the Oscars failing to nominate female directors go on? | Ellen E Jones

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 06:55

This year’s Academy Awards show that diversity drives will only get us so far. Filmgoers and the industry must question what makes a film award-worthy

Congratulations to those men – I guess? Issa Rae summarised the mixed feelings of many when yet another all-male list of best director Oscar nominations was announced yesterday. It’s possible to note – entirely without snide – that it has been a bumper year for films about men by men. The frontrunners – Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Sam Mendes’ 1917, and even Todd Phillips’ Joker – provided plentiful and pertinent insights into male power, male ego and male fallibility. But what about the rest of us?

We must content ourselves with Little Women, the lone female-directed film on the best picture list, for, as Aunt March would counsel, that is our lot in life. After decades of being mischaracterised as a cosy tale about sweet-natured sisters and their domestic trifles, Louisa May Alcott’s sardonically titled Little Women finally has a faithful adaptation. Under Greta Gerwig’s passionate direction, it rages righteously about the patriarchy’s narrow definition of artistic merit – amusingly embodied by Tracy Letts’ belittling publisher, Dashwood – and how it works to crush female creativity. How apt.

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Forget cat ladies: the real tribes of modern dating, from fantasists to routiners

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:00

Finding a mate now involves navigating the perils of sword enthusiasts, 9/11 ‘truthers’ and the risk that it’s your beagle they really want, rather than you

Ten years ago, in my second year at university, I threw a Lord of the Rings-themed party. I would be embarrassed about committing this to print had it not been in New Zealand, where all parties are Lord of the Rings-themed.

I was a Ringwraith, having spent an unfeasible amount of money on eBay for a hobby horse. Some guests on the way to my house in costume, were accosted by strangers of about our age, who asked: were they going to a Lord of the Rings-themed party?

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Stop talking about 'wine o'clock': Holly Whitaker on how women can stop drinking – and get happy

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 23:25

When she decided to quit drinking, Whitaker turned, like many people, to Alcoholics Anonymous. She didn’t like what she found there, so she decided to create her own unique approach

When Holly Whitaker looks back on the many nights that would disappear in a boozy haze, it wasn’t the anxiety and regret that made her realise she needed to get help for her drinking, but sheer exhaustion. Each weekend, while hungover, she would wearily erase all evidence of her drinking binges: the stains on her bed, the empty bottles, the rubbish bags. She was holding it together with a lucrative job as the director of a healthcare startup, had a great flat in San Francisco and a busy social life, but suddenly she just couldn’t do it any more.

“When I binged, I would close my eyes while I did it,” she says. “I was trying to not see how horrific it was. I would go through this process of scrubbing it away, then presenting myself to the world and pretending that nothing was wrong. Then I had this moment when I couldn’t not see it.”

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It’s not just Meghan and Harry. I’d like us all to escape this dire royal circus | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 20:00

The Duchess of Sussex is compared to Yoko Ono and subjected to big-bucks bigotry. She and her husband should be allowed to go – then we can rethink what monarchy means

There is a meme doing the rounds in which Prince Harry, instead of cuddling up to Meghan, is embracing Yoko Ono. You may find this hilarious. Yoko broke up the Beatles; Meghan is now ripping apart the royals. I find it racist, sexist, untrue and a sign of how little we understand our own prejudices, and those of our rulers. Yoko is a brilliant artist in her own right. She was also, if you care to remember, described at the time as “simian-looking” by John Lennon’s biographer Albert Goldman. She faced an enormous amount of racism.

No one is that explicit about Meghan. Instead we have toddlerish waffle about her “exotic DNA” and her unbearable wokeness, which is clearly worse for the royal family than having someone accused of having sex with a 17-year-old in your midst (which Prince Andrew denies). One of the most excruciating things about all this is who gets to define racism, and it’s the likes of Piers Morgan and Sarah Vine, who refuse to understand either racism or indeed humility. They don’t even work hard for the money. Lazy, sloppy, big-bucks bigotry.

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Do women feel guilt after having an abortion? No, mainly relief | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:18

Most women don’t regret their decision to have a termination – and that outlook could help us protect reproductive rights

Women know themselves! Shock! Women can make the right decisions about their own bodies. Isn’t that amazing? Though I and most of my friends who have had abortions know this, I guess that’s just anecdata. You can’t trust women when they tell you that the main feeling was relief and that they didn’t really want a load of counselling about adoption or to wait another few weeks.

Still, a study conducted over five years across 21 states in the US has found that this is true. Of all the emotions that women were asked about – including sadness, guilt, regret, anger and happiness – it was relief that was the main one expressed.

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Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani to explore #MeToo in comedy drama

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 15:31

Channel 4’s Chivalry will take a satirical look at gender politics in today’s film industry

Steve Coogan is shining a light on gender politics after the rise of the #MeToo movement in a new Channel 4 comedy drama in which he plays a successful “ladies’ man” film producer who has to reshoot his sexist film in order to save his career.

Chivalry looks at the changing nature of the film industry after the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, in the form of an unlikely attraction between Coogan’s character, Cameron, and a liberal director called Bobby played by Sarah Solemani.

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‘Body positivity’ has had its day. Let’s find peace with ourselves

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 23:00

Women are now told to feel good about their bodies – whatever their shape – but it’s not as simple as that

If the beginning of the decade in bodies was defined by “size zero”, clavicles worn proudly by tanned celebrities as if Cartier necklaces, and the end was defined by a loudly proclaimed yet slippery embrace of “body positivity”, where are we right now on the body hatred spectrum?

Much came in between the two, of course, and little of it good. There were the eating disorders (hospital admissions for which continue to rise sharply), which sistered a worldwide obesity epidemic, and the pills that helped desperate women defecate fat. There was the speed at which it had become familiar to see an actress turn to the side on a red carpet and simply disappear. In January 2010, three diet TV shows competed for ratings: Fat Families, Generation XXL and My Big Fat Diet Show, an “interactive diet-along”.

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