Women's News from the Web

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Kellyanne Conway is no 'badass' – and she's certainly no feminist | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 05:42

Conway plays an integral role in Trump’s racist and misogynist agenda. She’s no feminist – she’s simply a bad person

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Gripping refugee tale wins Waterstones children's book prize

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 05:17

Anti-trafficking campaigner Onjali Q Raúf was inspired to write adventure story The Boy at the Back of the Class by a Syrian mother and baby she encountered in a Calais camp

Onjali Q Raúf has won the Waterstones children’s book prize with her debut novel, which she wrote while recovering from life-saving surgery.

Raúf is founder of the charity Making Herstory, which fights the trafficking and enslavement of women. After botched surgery for endometriosis left her vomiting and in crippling pain, she was told she had only three weeks to live. Further major surgery saved her life, but forced Raúf to spend three months recovering in bed.

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Mary Warnock embodied the best of Britain’s ruling class before Thatcher | Andrew Brown

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 04:18

Her ambition was harnessed to a kind of patriotism and an ideal of serving society that is much less widely believed in today

In many ways Mary Warnock, whose death was announced on Thursday, represented the best of Britain’s ruling class as it was between the war and the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The kind of tough-minded, realistic and self-confident liberalism that she embodied was once a quality that foreigners admired in Britain. It was elitist and not particularly democratic: she and her husband rose to the very top of the Oxbridge system, he as vice-chancellor of Oxford University, she as the head of colleges in both universities. When I went to see her in her semi-retirement, in a village on the edge of Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, she was unashamed about collecting her attendance allowance from the House of Lords. She needed the money, she said, and she earned it – she did the work.

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'She's rebellious': actor on giant Plymouth sculpture she inspired

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 23:40

Nicola Kavanagh says crude criticism of Messenger may be fuelled by fear of the unknown

An actor who was the inspiration behind a giant bronze sculpture of a female figure has described her sense of awe at the scale of the piece, and suggested crude criticism of it may be fuelled by fear of the unknown.

Nicola Kavanagh said she found the 7-metre-high, 9.5-tonne statue, Messenger, which was delivered in suitably dramatic fashion to the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week, striking and beautiful.

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Kachin women from Myanmar 'raped until they get pregnant' in China

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:26

Women from Kachin minority are allowed to go home only if they leave baby behind, says HRW report

Burmese and Chinese authorities are turning a blind eye to a growing trade in women from Myanmar’s Kachin minority, who are taken across the border, sold as wives to Chinese men and raped until they become pregnant, a report claims.

Some of the women are allowed to return home after they have given birth, but are forced to leave their children, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, titled Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go.

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The depressing truth about female creativity and the pram in the hallway | Fiona Sturges

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 20:00

Sweeping the subject of working mothers under the carpet only implies there isn’t a problem

There are times in every parent’s life when, however much they try to avoid it, the professional and the domestic messily collide. It happened to me a few years ago when, during a teachers’ training day, I took my seven-year-old with me to interview Joan Collins over lunch. Collins was delighted at her presence and ordered her a giant bowl of ice-cream. However, halfway through the conversation, she suddenly looked startled, fumbled under the table for a bit, and then pulled out a sticky, pink-spattered Chanel shoe. “I do believe dear Lily has dropped ice-cream in my shoe,” she announced, looking a little pained.

Related: It is a scandal that working mothers are 40% more stressed than other people | Chitra Ramaswamy

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Arrests over hotel spycam porn ring that filmed 1,600 guests across South Korea

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 16:56

Cameras were set up in hair dryer holders and wall sockets in 10 cities, say prosecutors

Police in South Korea have arrested two men for secretly filming 1,600 hotel guests and streaming the footage live online, in the latest voyeurism scandal to hit the country.

The suspects, who have not been named, set up secret cameras in 42 rooms at 30 hotels in 10 South Korean cities between November last year and the start of this month, media reports said.

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NHS removes cervical screening contract from Capita

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:44

Outsourced service’s blunders led to nearly 50,000 women not receiving vital information

NHS chiefs are bringing the cervical screening service back in-house after expressing dissatisfaction at the way it has been performing.

The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, told the Commons public accounts committee that the changes would come into force from June.

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The Guardian view on regulating porn: wrong step, right direction | Editorial

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:31

Damaging both to the producers and the consumers, online pornography is finally being tackled

Successive governments have been under pressure to control children’s access to pornography and, after years of wrangling, something is to be done soon. Next week an announcement is expected on when regulations will come into effect that make age verification compulsory on commercial pornographic websites. No one under 18 will be able to access them legitimately. That, at least, is the theory. In practice the regulations have been attacked both for being too onerous and too easy to evade. The requirement that users prove that they have verified their age disturbs privacy advocates.

One of the chief suppliers of such technology is a subsidiary of Mindgeek, a company best described as the Facebook of the online pornographic industry, and just as keen to use algorithms to manipulate its users. Although the company says it will have no access to the data collected by its subsidiary, such undertakings don’t inspire confidence. Beyond these practical objections lies a philosophical swamp. As a society we have very confused ideas about pornography. It is a growing blight of uncertain reach. One survey concluded that people in the UK had spent a total of 2,600 years watching porn online in the month of December 2013 alone, an accomplishment that required the efforts of nearly a quarter of the adult population.

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Emilia Bassano isn’t the only woman denied her place in the literary canon | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:49
This week’s report into the gender gap for authors is a timely reminder of bias in the media against female writers

Have you heard of Emilia Bassano? I hadn’t until this week, when her name was lent to a report on media coverage of male versus female writers. Bassano was England’s first published female poet, in 1611, and a play has been written about her struggle for recognition. It’s good timing – across the arts, people have been dredging the depths to conjure up history’s forgotten women and, in the case of books, reassess the canon.

The Emilia report into the gender gap for authors, commissioned by the play’s producers and written by Danuta Kean, found a “marked bias” towards male writers in the review pages of newspapers. Furthermore, references to women’s ages were ubiquitous, and female writers told Kean how coverage tended to focus on the domestic rather than the academic. The report also highlights cover design as a factor in gender bias – gender stereotypes on covers “undermine the credibility of fiction by women and their ability to be taken seriously”.

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Police failing to protect rape and abuse victims, says super-complaint

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 21:00

Data from 11 frontline services shows forces failing to use legal powers, says group

Police are “systematically failing” to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence, according to campaigners in the second super-complaint made to a national watchdog.

The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) has accused police forces of failing to use existing powers to deal with domestic abuse, harassment, stalking and rape.

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The teenage dandy's tale: how a female biographer saw Chaucer afresh

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 06:19

The young Canterbury Tales author was paraded by his employer in scandalously tight outfits, says Oxford academic Marion Turner

He may be revered as the father of English literature, but Geoffrey Chaucer’s first appearance in recorded history is as a teenager wearing leggings so tight one churchman blamed the fashion for bringing back the plague.

Scholars have known since at least 1966 that Elizabeth de Burgh, who employed the adolescent Chaucer, bought him a “paltok” for four shillings at Easter 1357, spending a further three shillings for black and red hose, and a pair of shoes. But Chaucer’s first female biographer, the Oxford academic Marion Turner, suggests that no previous biographer had ever considered what a paltok might be. Delving into contemporary chronicles, she found commentators at the time describing paltoks – a kind of tunic – as “extremely short garments ... which failed to conceal their arses or their private parts”.

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My wife believes it is normal to lose interest in sex post-menopause – but I disagree

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 22:00

I’m 50, she is 48 and her sex drive has plummeted. The situation is starting to damage our relationship

I am a man with a female partner – I will be 51 in a few months, and she is 48. Until a little over a year ago we had a very healthy sex life, but she was hit hard by menopausal symptoms, and along with many of the typical problems associated with that situation, her sex drive has plummeted. She started taking Chinese herbal medication about six months ago, and is now feeling much better. However, the medication does not address any hormonal issues, and she has utterly lost interest in sex. I have asked her many times to go to a doctor to discuss this. The problem is that she thinks the current situation is completely normal – that it is natural that people lose appetite for sex when they reach our age. She cannot understand why I still want to have sex, and has even told me that I am the one who should undergo counselling for this.

The situation is starting to damage our relationship, as after being rejected countless times I now feel constrained from even touching her in a sensuous way. What should I do?

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Wellcome prize shortlist celebrates books about masculinity and mental illness

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 20:01

A transgender boxer’s memoir and Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation are among the six titles vying for the £30,000 prize

From a memoir by the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden to a novel inspired by the life of Alan Turing, the exploration of gender is a key theme on the shortlist for this year’s Wellcome book prize.

The £30,000 award is open to fiction and non-fiction, and aims to celebrate a book that best illuminates “the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives”. The six books shortlisted this year include transgender boxer Thomas Page McBee’s memoir Amateur, an exploration of gender and masculinity that judges said “challenges and confounds some of our most ingrained prejudices”, and Will Eaves’s novel Murmur, which fictionalises the period of Alan Turing’s life when the mathematician was undergoing chemical castration, before he killed himself. The chair of judges, novelist Elif Shafak, said it would “grip your mind in the very first pages, break your heart halfway through, and in the end, strangely, unexpectedly, restore your faith in human beings and their endless capacity for resilience”.

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Khloé Kardashian says we should show love to racists – but why coddle them? | Yomi Adegoke

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 08:34

In the minds of many, being colourblind is seen as a type of kindness, that racism cannot exist if we are all just humans

Over the weekend, Khloé Kardashian posted on Instagram about a T-shirt that seemed, at first glance, forgivably mawkish. It encouraged her followers to “love thy neighbor” and listed neighbours of differing levels of disenfranchisement: “Thy black neighbor. Thy gay neighbor. Thy Jewish neighbor,” and so on. The penultimate line read: “Thy racist neighbor.”

The internet, unsurprisingly, lost it. It can easily be inferred from the T-shirt that “racist” is a neutral, even misunderstood, status: it suggests that, like being gay or black, it is something you are born with that the world unfairly vilifies. In Kardashian’s mind, a racist’s struggle is comparable to that of a homeless person or an addict (who were also offered a serving of love, as opposed to anything substantial). Her endorsement of that message suggests she sees “racist” as an identity – and a marginalised one at that. This is the logical conclusion of a dangerous rhetoric that posits the intolerant as victims of a system that they seek actively to uphold.

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Italy accused of restoring honour killing defence after lenient femicide rulings

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 03:56

Anger after judges cut prison sentences given to two men convicted of killing women

Decisions by two appeal judges to grant lighter sentences to men convicted of femicide have further exposed deeply rooted cultural stereotypes within the Italian judiciary system and wider society.

In the first case, a judge in Bologna ruled in early March that an “emotional storm” brought on by “unhappy life experiences” had motivated Michele Castaldo, 57, to murder Olga Matei, 46, a month into the couple’s relationship, and so reduced his jail term from 30 years to 16.

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Do not fear the smear: how to overcome anxiety about cervical screening

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 03:13

Many women, particularly those who have survived sexual abuse, are scared of being tested. But there are ways to change this, from asking for a smaller speculum to singing Frozen hits

It was only three months. Four, at the most. Throughout, the letters kept coming, so regularly that Laura Flaherty didn’t need to open them to know what they contained: a repeated request for her to make an appointment for a cervical screening. The procedure gathers cells from your cervix, a narrow “neck” that joins the uterus to the top of the vagina, which are then screened. But it is better known as a smear test because cells that are removed from your cervix with the help of a speculum (a device that keeps the vaginal walls open) and a brush are then smeared on to a slide for analysis. Abnormal cells sometimes require further testing because they may indicate cervical cancer, the best-known gynaecological cancer and, in the UK, the most common cancer in women under 35.

It is also one of the most preventable cancers – if women go for smear tests. Screening is estimated to save 5,000 lives a year. It is 10 years since the reality TV star Jade Goody died of cervical cancer at the age of 27, after which the number of women having smear tests rose by a third. Now, rates of cervical screening are the lowest they have been for 20 years. Why?

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US accused of trying to dilute global agreements on women's rights

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 21:00

Draft documents suggest US will refuse to reaffirm commitment to international declaration on women’s rights at New York forum

US officials in New York are attempting to water down language and remove the word “gender” from documents being negotiated at the UN, in what is being seen as a threat to international agreements on women’s rights.

In negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which resume at UN headquarters this week, the US wants to replace “gender” in the forum’s outcome document with references only to women and girls.

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Male and female writers’ media coverage reveals ‘marked bias’

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 20:01

The Emilia Report, named for England’s first published female poet, analysed the fortunes of writers of opposite sexes in the same market areas

Emilia Bassano became England’s first published female poet in 1611 and – according to some – could be the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. But Bassano has largely been forgotten by posterity, with her reputation eclipsed by male contemporaries. Four hundred years later, research commissioned by the producers of Emilia, a play about Bassano’s struggle for recognition as an artist, has found that women writers continue to be judged by the “pram in the hallway”, and pigeonholed as domestic rather than taken seriously as authors.

The Emilia Report compared broadsheet coverage of 10 male and female writers in the same market. It found a “marked bias” towards male writers, who received 56% of review coverage. Looking at comparable authors Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris, who had both written new works of fantasy – Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and Harris’s A Pocket Full of Crows – researchers found that while Gaiman’s received widespread coverage, Harris’s did not receive any coverage at all. A similar story emerged for commercial fiction authors Matt Haig and Rowan Coleman; his How to Stop Time was mentioned 12 times by newspapers, in a mix of reviews, interviews and news, while her The Summer of Impossible Things got just three mentions.

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UK's top gynaecologist spearheads women's health task force

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 20:00

Lesley Regan argues maternity checks ignore lifelong health, letting women fall through the cracks

One of the UK’s top doctors is leading an effort to revolutionise health services for women, from helping them prevent unplanned pregnancies to staving off disease in old age.

Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is co-chairing a women’s health task force with the government minister Jackie Doyle-Price, which aims to help the 51% of the population who are women get joined-up care and attention to their needs throughout the lifespan.

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