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Women Lifestyle «TheGuardian»

Mon, 21 May 2018 12:00:25 GMT
Should I feel guilty about dressing my daughter as a 'girly girl'?

I never felt anything but delight about dressing my son, but the glee of putting my baby girl in a dress quickly gave way to guilt – and then anger

I put my baby in a dress for the first time the other day and it felt great. What’s not to love about a pair of tiny bulging legs encased in white tights poking out of a sundress? OK, full disclosure: a pink sundress. Then I felt guilty, as if it were somehow unfeminist of me to delight in my daughter looking like a “girly girl”. And then I felt angry, because, well, she is a girl. I was once a girly girl myself and still managed to grow into a raging bisexual feminist. How did we get to the point where it is girls’ stuff – as opposed to the way gender is circumscribed from the moment of birth – that has become shameful?

For the first nine months of her life, my daughter has worn her brother’s hand-me-downs. A lot of stripes, because in the facile world of childrenswear, stripes equal male. Basically, she was mistaken for a boy at least once a day, which is what happens in a society that presumes every baby is a boy unless a bow circumnavigates its balding head. I don’t give a damn – babies are babies – but it does say something about how early stereotyping starts. And how easily we fall prey to default male syndrome.

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Sun, 20 May 2018 17:03:47 GMT
The coiled glory of a Cumberland sausage | Brief letters
Owen Jones’s father | More Tory peers | Barbecues | Oyster virus warning | Gender gap | Cannabis

I was very moved by Owen Jones’s article about grief (12 May). Partly for personal reasons (Owen’s father was my much-loved first cousin, Rob) and also because Owen’s sentiments apply to all or many of us. Rob and I, both only children, both bilingual when young in Welsh and English, were close. We shared many beliefs. He worked tirelessly for a better world. His legacy will, I’m sure, be continued by his wife and children. Owen’s remarks about cancer will I hope give solace to other families. Surviving cancer is a matter of luck and early diagnosis. Sadly Rob didn’t have either.
Maureen Birch
Newcastle upon Tyne

• Any other country calling itself a democracy that has the prime minister putting her friends into the political arena to vote for her legislation would be seen as corrupt. Not here, though (May names new peers to boost party in Lords, 19 May).
Richard Bryant-Jefferies
Epsom, Surrey

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Fri, 18 May 2018 16:36:19 GMT
The right to bare arms: why women should reject the tyranny of 'bingo wings'

Judy Murray has said she’ll no longer show her arms, and she can obviously wear what she likes – but I favour the halterneck, the almost-ultimate in audacious arm nudity

Judy Murray, Strictly Come Dancing mother of those sporty Murrays, is set to eschew the vest top, owing to her fear of “bingo wings”. This, the Mail recaps informatively, is the “wobbly flesh on the backs of the upper arms that afflicts most women of a certain age” (Murray is 58; the age window for bingo wings is actually 20 to 100, but obviously the curve is more or less exponential).

In the toolkit of oppressing women with perfectionism, criticising arms is a weird tool: it can be used on almost everybody, but you’re not quite sure what it is meant to achieve. Breasts, we can all understand: that’s sexual objectification, spliced with the ultimate in unattainability (they’re meant to be huge, but you’re still required to be thin). The washboard stomach, that’s self-discipline crossed with eternal youth; the Toblerone tunnel (look it up, I can’t describe it because I am prim), that’s: “OK, you’re trying, but could you look a bit more like Kate Moss?”

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Wed, 16 May 2018 23:01:14 GMT
Nobody's fault but the law: Tini Owens boosts case to legalise no-fault divorce

Hugh Owens does not consent to dissolving his marriage so Tini must return to court for the third time. No-fault divorce would cut conflict between couples, say family law experts

The strange case of Tini Owens, who cannot escape her loveless marriage, comes before the UK’s highest court on Thursday as pressure grows to legalise no-fault divorce.

Owens, 67, who lives in Worcestershire, has applied to overturn a ruling by the court of appeal that her union with her husband Hugh, 79, a retired mushroom farmer, has not broken down irretrievably despite her having an affair.

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Tue, 15 May 2018 05:00:50 GMT
How sex toys are being redesigned to help survivors of sexual assault

A healthy sex life can feel unattainable for survivors of sexual assault. But new products, from brushes to non-penetrative tools, are giving women a powerful way to reclaim their bodies

For many survivors of sexual assault, a happy sex life feels out of reach. While much of the treatment on offer is focused on emotional and psychological healing, people are often left to work out for themselves what sex after trauma looks like for them.

But some people are working to change that, and are reconfiguring and reappropriating sex toys as tools for healing. Last year, the Dutch designer Nienke Helder created a range of objects to help survivors reprogramme how they deal with physical sensations. Drawing on her own experience, she wanted to redress what she saw as the “clinical” approach to recovery currently employed. “The tools are an opportunity to explore your personal sexual recovery,” she says. Her collection, titled Sexual Healing, includes a horsehair brush to explore touch and tickling, a mirror designed to help you better view your vulva, as well as a pelvic device that vibrates when your muscles are too tense, and a bean-shaped sensor that lights up if you’re breathing too fast, to remind you to slow down and relax. “By getting biofeedback through the tools, you can visualise what kind of processes are happening inside your body, which can help you understand in which situations your body reacts with a reflex.”

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Mon, 14 May 2018 15:15:17 GMT
Eight out of 10 of women have felt unable to cope in the past year – here's why we're so stressed | Chitra Ramaswamy

I am one of the women who has felt overwhelmed. And this isn’t due to hormones, or any of the other explanations that are used to blame women

Like every other age known to humankind, these are hard times to be a woman. According to the UK’s biggest survey into the impact of stress, 81% say they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year (compared with 67% of men). The other 19% were probably too damn busy, or perhaps just drained by being paid less than the man sitting next to them, to respond.

Related: Three in four Britons felt overwhelmed by stress, survey reveals

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Wed, 23 May 2018 12:28:33 GMT
My budget flight to get an abortion: the story no one in Ireland wants to tell – video

At 20 weeks pregnant, Siobhan Donohue knew her foetus wasn't going to survive, but the eighth amendment in Ireland's constitution meant getting an abortion was impossible. Before this week's historic referendum on whether to repeal the law, she describes a heartbreaking journey to UK to get a termination

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Wed, 23 May 2018 09:07:14 GMT
Labour suspends activist challenging gender self-identification policy

David Lewis stood for women’s officer role claiming that he was ‘a woman on Wednesdays’

Labour has suspended an activist who attempted to stand as women’s officer while claiming he identified as a woman “on Wednesdays”, as the party’s ruling body reaffirmed transgender women were eligible to stand on all-women shortlists.

Party sources said David Lewis, who was a candidate to be Basingstoke Labour party’s women’s officer, had been suspended pending an investigation.

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Tue, 22 May 2018 23:01:07 GMT
Just 16% of screenwriters in UK film are women, study finds

Writers’ Guild says number of women in film and TV has ‘flatlined’ and urges commissioners to ‘let women tell stories’

The lack of female writers in British film and TV is producing a “self-sustaining loop” that perpetuates the gender imbalance, it has been claimed, after a study revealed women write 28% of TV episodes and make up 16% of film screenwriters.

A report commissioned by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) gathered data for more than 10 years to identify a continuing bias and systemic gender inequality in the two industries.

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Tue, 22 May 2018 13:14:37 GMT
How Iowa anti-abortion bill activists eye Roe v Wade – and the supreme court

Activists helped legislators pass a law banning abortion after fetal heartbeat is detected – and hope to challenge a landmark ruling

Inside the Family Leader’s office near Des Moines, Iowa, photographs of Republican presidential contenders past grace the walls. Housing secretary Ben Carson, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Texas senator Ted Cruz all stand frozen onstage, informing visitors of the Family Leader’s influence.

Alongside them is the group’s president, Bob Vander Plaats, a member of a coalition of abortion foes who worked in Iowa to pass one of the industrialized world’s most restrictive bans on abortion. In one portrait, Donald Trump’s face looms over Vander Plaats speaking to a congregation, heads bowed.

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Wed, 23 May 2018 17:11:38 GMT
The Guardian view on the abortion referendum: Ireland’s choice will have a global impact | Editorial

The world will take heed when voters decide whether to repeal the constitutional clause that ensures terminating pregnancies is illegal in almost all circumstances

On Friday, Ireland will vote on whether to remove a single sentence which enshrines a near-total ban on abortion in the constitution, even in cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality. The eighth amendment underpins the strictest controls in a western democracy, placing the “right to life of the unborn” on a par with the life of the mother.

This is, as it must be, Ireland’s decision. But its impact will not end there. It will be felt first in Northern Ireland, with its own punitive laws, and then globally. The influx of cash from foreign anti-abortion groups shows that the vote must be understood in the context of efforts to roll back rights, from the US to Brazil to Poland. A yes vote would hearten those resisting the pressure, a no vote embolden those trying to ban safe, legal abortions. Moreover, the amendment exports rather than halts abortions. In recent decades more than 150,000 Irish women have travelled to have abortions, mostly to England. Others use smuggled pills, risking prosecution if they subsequently need medical attention.

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Wed, 23 May 2018 16:28:45 GMT
The answer to Britain’s productivity crisis? Meghanomics | Larry Elliott
The duchess wants to champion female empowerment. Letting women participate fully in the workforce would be a good start

There’s nothing quite like a royal wedding to get the British to part with their cash, so in one respect the idea that the new Duchess of Sussex could be good news for the economy is a statement of the blindingly obvious. Retailers have had a tough time recently, and a bit of Meghanmania was just what they needed to get the tills ringing.

Interest in the newest member of the royal family will linger longer than the feelgood factor. People are clearly fascinated by her backstory and take notice of what she thinks. Role models are important, and just as it matters that Christine Lagarde sees fighting for women’s rights as a vital part of her job as head of the International Monetary Fund, so it matters that the Duchess of Sussex calls herself a feminist and wants to champion female empowerment. Feminism is an economic issue.

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Wed, 23 May 2018 12:31:09 GMT
I had to travel abroad to end my doomed pregnancy. Ireland must change its abortion law | Siobh

Tue, 22 May 2018 08:03:25 GMT
When we cheer the royals, democracy suffers. What a retrograde moment | Suzanne Moore

Meghan Markle brings glamour to the royals, and they benefit enormously, but Broken Britain can’t be patched together by pageantry and a kiss

A friend texts from the US: “Is the monarchy safe for another 100 years now?” Yes, I tell him, I think it is. Saturday was a sunny day and we were brought a vision of ourselves as open, inclusive, free of politicians, full of celebs and horses; this was balm itself. The two people at the centre of it all radiated love, there was a gospel choir and a preacher, and a single mother sitting all alone with immense dignity. I was happy for them.

Meghan is a self–declared feminist, while Harry is a besotted prince. Thus the institution renews itself and there is a mood of self-congratulation. Look at us! We are not a mean-spirited, racist country, because we have let a little bit of the “other” into our theme-park monarchy. This is symbolically important: a woman does not have to be white to get her prince. The fairytale opens the door and in slips the wondrous Meghan.

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Tue, 22 May 2018 05:00:45 GMT
Ireland’s abortion referendum is revolutionary politics, whoever wins | Lizzie O’Shea

Women’s reproductive rights have been ill-served by top-down politics. The campaign to repeal the eighth should inspire us all

No matter what happens in Ireland’s abortion referendum on Friday, the campaign should serve as an inspiration. For too long, women in Ireland and elsewhere have paid the price for the notion that abortion is electoral poison and no good will come of politicians campaigning on it.

The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, introduced in 1983 and valuing the life of the mother and foetus equally, in effect prohibited lawmakers from regulating abortion. This law has had insidious and devastating consequences. In 1992 women were given the right to travel abroad to obtain an abortion, and about 170,000 women have, usually to England, effectively sweeping the issue under the carpet. In 2012 the case of Savita Halappanavar brought the issue back home. Seventeen weeks pregnant, she went to hospital in pain and began to miscarry. She was denied an abortion and later died of septicaemia. Partly as a result of this tragic case, the sense grew that this law had generated a crisis in women’s health, but there was little appetite to take the necessary steps to achieve reform.

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Wed, 18 Apr 2018 20:06:33 GMT
Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau talk to young Londoners – video

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand and Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, join London mayor Sadiq Khan to take questions on gender equality from young Londoners. In a Q&A session, the two heads of states touched on gender equality, feminism and how to bring about change in society

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Thu, 08 Mar 2018 11:06:51 GMT
Gatwick Express honours women in International Women's Day announcements – video

The Gatwick Express train service used public announcements to honour women on International Women's Day. The London service is using its displays to provide inspiring quotes, to the delight of passengers

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Thu, 08 Feb 2018 01:36:02 GMT
Pole dancers and hostesses: ICE Totally Gaming conference – video

A Guardian reporter who attended ICE Totally Gaming conference, held at London’s ExCeL centre, found gambling firms defying calls from the industry regulator to stamp out sexist behaviour. One of the companies, Endorphina, hosted a popular stand at which pole dancers entertained a mostly male audience. Women working at the event were harassed and propositioned 

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Mon, 09 Apr 2018 05:00:50 GMT
Terrified of public speaking? Start with what you really want to say

Most of us are afraid of oratory – and women’s voices are judged particularly harshly. Could I conquer my fears with the help of a voice coach?

“I want you to stick two fingers between your teeth vertically, then say a line from a nursery rhyme.”

Biting my hand while trying to talk is less comfortable than lying on my back huffing out breaths to a count of 10, which is what I have been doing for the past half an hour, but I do as I am told. I can’t remember a single nursery rhyme. “The moon is made of green cheese,” I mumble. “Louder,” instructs Kate Lee, a former actor whose voice is vibrant yet relaxed. I try again. And again. It is hard to talk when you are gagged. “Now take out your fingers and repeat the phrase. Listen to the difference.”

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Fri, 30 Mar 2018 15:28:45 GMT
What’s in a name, women ask | Letters
Readers reflect on Joanna Moorhead’s article ‘Don’t dare call me Mrs’

I share Joanna Moorhead’s joy at John Bercow’s calling out of Boris Johnson for his sexist remarks to Emily Thornberry (Don’t dare call me Mrs. I kept my name for a reason, 29 March) as I have long been struck by one other example of this same “everyday sexism”. Can anybody explain why, in this day and age, women are still asked on almost every form they fill in whether they are married or not? This is the only information that is gathered by asking women to opt for one of the “Mrs”, “Miss” or “Ms” options. In which scenario is this at all relevant? The absurdity of the outmoded requirement to ask for one’s title in this way affects both sexes and is obviously completely superfluous as offering “Priestess” or any other randomly chosen “title” has no effect with online forms other than to allow their completion. It is time that all such outdated thinking is challenged, so well done to John Bercow for not letting this pass.
Angela Barker
Weybridge, Surrey

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Thu, 01 Feb 2018 06:00:07 GMT
Diane Abbott on feminism in the 1980s: ‘It was so exciting being in a hall full of black women’

The rise of black feminist politics was of particular importance in a decade that saw inspiring council leaders ensure a voice for radical feminism and real change in the mainstream

In the 1980s there was a belief in sisterhood, and we saw real change. Feminist politics took place in the context of what was happening more generally on the left. We had the 1984-85 miners’ strike, and the Women Against Pit Closures movement, which was really important for women in what are now post-industrial areas. They were the wives and daughters of the miners and organised, raised money and built support for the strike. It was important for focusing people on what women were doing.

I vividly remember going to one of the first black feminist conferences. It was so exciting to be in a hall full of black women who shared my beliefs. Black feminist politics was one of the highlights of the decade for me. I did a lot of work on Scrap Sus – a campaign against stop and search and abuses of policing. The mums got involved because of the experiences of their children and their friends’ children.

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Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:00:20 GMT
‘Women’s equality still doesn’t centre on women of colour – and it needs to’

In the 2010s, the internet changed the way we campaign, and helped me create the gal-dem community. But there are still massive gaps – feminism needs to be more inclusive

More: Afua Hirsch on the 1990s | Frances Ryan on the 2000s

I was only 16 at the start of this decade, so the easiest way for me to map the changes in opportunities for women is to look generationally. When I talk to my grandmother, who came to this country from Guyana in 1961, about gal-dem – a publication I founded, dedicated to supporting the creative work of women of colour and the things I am doing, she probably thinks: “Bloody hell – when I was growing up, there were signs that said ‘No blacks, no dogs’.” My mum says that, in her lifetime, there has not been a better time to live as a black woman.

But there are still huge gaps. When you look at the dominant narrative of women’s equality now, it is not one that centres on women of colour. The racism and discrimination we face now is more covert. Think about things such as the representation of women of colour in academia – in that space, things are similar to how they were when my mum was my age. We need to start by trying to empower the women with the biggest number of intersections, rather than white, middle-class women, who probably have the fewest gaps when it comes to their opportunities versus those of white men. We need to do better when it comes to the inclusion of trans women’s experiences and those of women who are not cis and able-bodied.

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Fri, 01 Jul 2016 07:06:01 GMT
A day in the life of an executive coach

‘My job is helping people become aware of their strengths and the mindsets that sabotage them.’

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Thu, 30 Jun 2016 06:00:04 GMT
Obama on feminism and other lessons from the first United State of Women summit

There are more people fighting for gender equality than ever before. We need to harness this power while there’s still time

“Wow, that’s a lot of women.” Those were the first words my taxi driver uttered since we left my Washington DC hotel and embarked on our journey to the White House-convened United State of Women (USOW) summit. As I opened the car door, I couldn’t help but blurt out “and now I am one of them”.

Normally, I am not comfortable in a mass of people. Yet, there I was, one of many and all I could think was: I found my people. The people around me, mostly women and a few good men, were invited to the summit because of their work in elevating the state of women around the globe.

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Wed, 29 Jun 2016 11:47:52 GMT
Women's talk: why language matters to female entrepreneurs

When Sue Stockdale set out to find women business-owners with fast-growth companies she found the language we use to offer opportunities to women is key

“Wanted – successful women entrepreneurs running fast-growing companies”. You would think that an advert like this would have hordes of women making contact wouldn’t you? Well, that’s not the case.

A few years ago I was involved in an initiative whose target market was women entrepreneurs running fast-growth companies. My role was to find these businesses to see how they could be supported in raising capital, and gaining access to mentors to help them during their growth journey. However, the problem was that we could not find many women who identified with this description. The traditional advertising routes were not working, so I set out to check if the lack of interest meant that they actually didn’t exist.

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Mon, 27 Jun 2016 06:57:09 GMT
Three simple steps to better employee engagement

With nearly a quarter of UK employees feeling as though they are ‘coasting’ at work, how do managers create a workplace where staff actually want to work?

A recent study from Aon Hewitt revealed that among 250 international organizations, those that reported the highest levels of employee engagement demonstrated a 58% higher return for shareholders. With results like this, employee engagement seems to be the key to a successful company.

However, a similar report by the Hay Group revealed that low employee engagement is costing the UK

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 06:24:29 GMT
'If diversity means giving white men more work writing about black women, we've failed'

Black women need to be in control of their own stories says screenwriter Misan Sagay – and that means hiring more black talent across all aspects of film and tv

Screenwriter Misan Sagay doesn’t identify with the “sassy black women” portrayed in films and on television.

“I have never met a black woman who behaves like that. I wouldn’t know how to be sassy,” says the Anglo-Nigerian, a former A&E doctor. “The way black women are portrayed in film has never been in the hands of black women – until really very recently – and so there are certain stereotypes people are comfortable with.”

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