Smear Tests and being a survivor – #SmearForSmear @helen_a15

Cross-posted from: Helen Blogs
Originally published: 22.01.18

Roll up roll up … according to Twitter today, having a smear test is quick, easy, and nothing to be embarrassed about.

Apparently research has shown that women are too embarrassed to go for a smear test. This is being tweeted about today under the hashtag #SmearForSmear – a campaign which encourages women to post selfies of themselves with smeared lipstick on. Its to highlight that the number of women going for their routine cervical screen testing is falling.

The hashtag has been trending all morning, and all you have to do is have a quick look to see the mass consensus – that there is nothing to be ashamed of, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about, it doesn’t matter what your ‘lady garden’ looks like or doesn’t look like, that its quick, that it could save your life, that the nurse has seen it all before,  that its worth it and so on.
Read more Smear Tests and being a survivor – #SmearForSmear @helen_a15

When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate, by @helensaxby11

Cross-posted from: Not the news in brief
Originally published: 26.11.17

When there is conflict between trans rights and women’s rights (such as whether toilets and changing rooms should be segregated by ‘sex’ or ‘gender’) an open debate should be encouraged to ascertain how best to accommodate the rights of both parties. This hasn’t happened, and it hasn’t happened in a big way, so it’s worth looking at how and why the debate has been stifled.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gave trans people a right to be legally recognised as the opposite sex. The Equality Act 2010 gave the characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ a protected category status. At that time ‘gender reassignment’ essentially meant ‘sex change’ – the language used in the Act refers to transsexuals, and people understood ‘trans’ to mean a transition of some sort, usually (at that time) from male to female. The Act was for a person who was ‘…proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex’. Although biologically impossible, sex change was recognised in law as it was the only treatment which could alleviate the suffering of a minority of people with gender dysphoria.
Read more When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate, by @helensaxby11

Abortion Is Legal in South Africa — But Illegal Clinics Are Thriving. Why?, by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Ferguson
Originally published: 03.04.17

faded poster with the word ‘ABORTION’ in purple capital letters is plastered on a lamppost near my house in Grahamstown, South Africa. At the bottom of the poster, a phone number is printed in large font. Similar posters can be spotted in cities like Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. It might be on an electricity box in a small town, or on the side of a traffic light in a coastal area. The posters live all over South Africa — in fact, they’re so ubiquitous I rarely noticed them until a foreign friend mentioned them.

“Are these clinics legal?” she asked. “Because, I mean, abortion is legal here, right?”


Read more Abortion Is Legal in South Africa — But Illegal Clinics Are Thriving. Why?, by @sianfergs

Maria Miller’s Report Puts Feminists In An Impossible Position by @cwknews

Cross-posted from: Stephanie Davies-Arai
Originally published: 24.01.16

Maria Miller transgender reportMaria Miller has stated that she is ‘taken aback’ by the ”hostility’ towards the government’s recent transgender reportfrom ‘purported feminists.’ She says: “I think that all of us who are feminists know that equality for other groups of people, and a fairer deal for other groups of people, is good for us as well.”

Yes of course, as a society nobody wants to see any group suffering discrimination so why would anyone not give just a passing nod of approval to this new report, even those horrible feminists?

This time it’s not so simple; ‘transgender’ is not one of those ‘other groups’ defined by distinct boundaries, as all other minority groups are. By definition, ‘transgender’ stakes claim to membership of already existing groups; the mantra ‘transwomen are women’ accordingly puts them into two protected categories; both ‘transgender’ and ‘women’.

In the blurring of boundaries, ‘women’ as a distinct group ceases to exist; we have to say ‘women-born women’ now to make the sex-based distinction clear, and we are losing the right to do even that: any sex-based comparisons are seen as ‘transphobic.’

This is the crux of the matter; if the recommendations in this report are passed into law as expected, it means that in important legal terms the distinction between men and women will become ‘gender’ instead of ‘sex’. This is an arbitrary move; when did we decide that ‘gender’ is a stronger marker than ‘sex’ if you need to differentiate between men and women? Gender, as a concept of masculinity and femininity, is based on subjective opinion; a means of dividing men and women along personality lines. ‘Correct’ gendered behaviour and presentation is already enforced and policed by society in a million different ways from birth, and the group it mostly harms is women. This report does not ask women to support transgender rights, it demands that we accept a definition of women which reinforces a limiting stereotype and at the same time deny the biological sex which is the basis of discrimination against women.
Read more Maria Miller’s Report Puts Feminists In An Impossible Position by @cwknews

When do women stop being people? by @Sianushka

When do women stop being people?

Actually, there are lots of times. When we’re treated like objects to be remarked upon on the street. When we’re treated like objects to be assaulted on the streets. When our utterly personal right to bodily autonomy is violated and stolen from us by abusers and rapists. When we’re reminded once again that men are default human, and we’re a vague category of ‘other’.

However, in this one particular post I want to talk about one particular moment when women stop being seen as their own person – pregnancy.


Read more When do women stop being people? by @Sianushka

Twitter censors online abortion service by @newsaboutwomen

(Cross-posted from Women’s Views on the News)

Calling upon all Twitter users to send a complaint; tweet the hashtag #FreeWomenonWeb.

Twitter has disabled the link to the Women on Web website and made it impossible to tweet a link to the website.

Women on Web was founded by Women on Waves in 2005, to respond to the urgent request for help for an abortion of women in countries where this healthcare service is not available.

Women on Waves is a charitable organisation focussing on women’s health and human rights. Its mission is to protect maternal health by preventing unsafe abortions.

The work of Women on Web has featured in the New York Times Magazine (NYTM) and in a documentary Vessel made by Diana Whitten and available through iTunes.

Founder Rebecca Gomperts is a Dutch general-practice physician and activist who, when working as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel, landed in Mexico, and met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship sailed on to Costa Rica and Panama, Gomperts met more women who told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to safe abortions. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told NYM. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”

On returning to the Netherlands, Gomperts worked out how to help women like those she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbour of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, sail with them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry – and began Women on Waves.

In 2005 Women on Web, was set up. It is a telemedical service that supports women in countries where there is no access to safe abortion to obtain a medical abortion. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year 42 million women have an abortion and half of these, 20 million, are illegal and unsafe.

An abortion with pills is very safe and effective to do at home till 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is very similar to a natural miscarriage. Millions of women have done abortions at home in the United States and Europe and it is standard practice there.

The medicines used are on the list of ‘essential medicines’ issued by the WHO. By removing the possibility to link to or tweet the website of Women on Web, Twitter has severely violated Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights, the right to freedom of information, as well as Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the freedom of expression. WoW has filed a complaint, but there has been no response from Twitter. Women on Waves and Women on Web are calling upon all Twitter users to send a complaint and tweet the hashtag #FreeWomenonWeb. Thank you.

 

Women’s Views on the News (WVoN): is a women’s news, opinions and current affairs site, and our management team, writers and editors all work on a voluntary basis. Our aim is to redress the gender imbalance in global news reporting by telling the stories that the mainstream press ignores, while at the same time encouraging more feminist writers to become news reporters and editors. If you interested in volunteering for us as an editor or writer please contact: volunteers@womensviewsonnews.org

Please create a legal exclusionary zone outside of abortion clinics

PETITION

Just to explain my latest petition by Extreme Crochet….

After seeing the Youtube video of a pregnant woman confronting protestors outside an abortion clinic (for want of a better term)….. I was amazed to learn that people can protest, film and harass women as they attend their appointments. Apparently, protesting directly outside a clinic is illegal in France, Canada and the US. Why not here?

I realise that we are talking about talking away someone’s right to protest but what of the rights of these women to be left in peace? I’m not saying ban all anti abortion protests as I am a firm believer in freedom of speech – even if I totally disagree with them. What I’m saying is, let’s have an exclusion zone set up so no protesting can take place directly outside a clinic.

This is a highly emotional time for a woman. Some may be in incredible distress but know that abortion is the right choice for them. You may think what they are doing is wrong although, do you not also value these women’s rights to be free from being videoed?

In my eyes it’s a subtle form of violence against women and trying to take control over their bodies, their choices.

This isn’t about making all protests about abortion illegal, this is about protecting women from being harassed outside of clinics (and whilst they are walking up to the entrance). No ones freedom of speech is being impared!
Exclusion zones are already set up outside the Houses of Parliment. A legal buffer zone to give women privacy is not much of an ask really.

So please consider signing this petition to make protesting outside clinics illegal.

 

PETITION

Why I need to follow the Daily Mail by Adventures in Housing

(Cross-posted from Adventures in Housing)

I love Twitter, for lots of different reasons.

I originally signed up back in 2008 because it seemed to take the bit I really liked about Facebook – the short status updates – and cut out the rest of the rubbish. Once I’d signed up I wasn’t really sure what to do – I only knew one other real life person on Twitter, so I followed them, and a couple of celebrities, and dipped in and out occasionally but didn’t really do much with it.  Six years later and things have changed – I spend a LOT of time on Twitter. I manage five accounts currently – three for work, one for the blog and one just for me.

Twitter is the place I go to for news, both mainstream and industry related; for something to read when I’m bored; to keep up with what’s going on in Cardiff, occasionally to have a rant; and often for a quick chat with a small bunch of folk who despite never having met, I quite like. It’s where I go to peek into the windows on different worlds that have always interested me – medicine, education, writing – as well as learn about stuff I’m interested in for work, or politically, or just because it takes my fancy at that moment. As such, I’d have said that using Twitter has made my world bigger rather than smaller – I get to listen in to, and take part in, conversations that I’d never be part of in my day to day life.

Because I generally filter work/blog people through to the relevant accounts, my personal timeline has become curated into a circle of people just like me.  Well, not *just* like me – that’d be a LOT of muppets. But people who have broadly the same outlook on life as me, or people with whom I’ve got something in common.

On my own timeline, I don’t tend to give people second chances – if someone tweets a racist comment once, they’re unfollowed. If someone advocates violence – unfollowed. Horribly sexist, or misogynistic? Unfollowed. Bully other people through twitter? Jump on the judging bandwagon about other people’s life choices? Behave in a generally ignorant fashion? Tweet something from the Daily Mail in a non-ironic or non-disgusted way? Unfollowed.

I get my current affairs fix from people who rail against injustice and stupidity. Polly Toynbee. Zoe WilliamsDeborah OrrGeorge MonbiotOwen JonesCaitlin MoranFleet Street FoxJack Monroe. I follow people and organisations who are about making the world better – The Do LecturesNesta. The New Economics FoundationUK UncutThe World Development Movement. Fixers UK. UnLtd.

Well, this is all very lovely, isn’t it. My twitter timeline is like a lovely warm bath of me-ness.  And, relax.

But. BUT. I’ve only recently come to realise the problem with this. I have forgotten that once I get out of the bath of me-ness, there’s a whole other world out there. Because I follow the folk that are constantly raising awareness of how messed up the UK is, I’m sort of of the opinion that there’s some hope. That, like me, everyone realises that the current political climate is about demonising the poor, about creating a subservient underclass, about creating myths to set the majority of us against one another, so we’re too busy scrapping to realise that our masters are rub their hands in glee at their ever increasing bank balances. Until recently, I genuinely believed that everyone knew and understood that, and I equally genuinely believed that because everyone knows that, our world would change for the better, and soon.

I had the shock of my life recently. I found myself idly wondering how badly UKIP were going to get trounced in the forthcoming elections, and how long it would be before they were a distant, slightly humorous memory. So I did some research, and whaddya know, they are actually on the up, and in a big and scary way. I mentioned this to the Husband, horrified, to be met with the reply ‘well, you spend all your time reading stuff, surely you KNOW that?’

No – I didn’t know that. I’m ashamed and a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I had no idea. My timeline is full of people the Premier Inn YOU KIP poster, people tearing up UKIP flyers and amusing and witty put downs of Nigel Farage. It’s full of people writing brilliant articles that have me nodding my head and make me furious along with the writer, and the mistake I’ve made is to assume that everyone else is nodding their head and is furious too.

I thought my timeline made my world bigger. In actual fact, I have made my world smaller.

I’m going to do some following this morning, of people that I would probably punch if I met them. Dishface. Farage. Littlejohn. The Daily Mail. I feel a bit ranty about adding to their so called standing in the world by following their bile, but if I don’t follow them, and people like them, then I’ll remain in my lovely bath of blissful ignorance, and that’s a bit too close to joining them rather than beating them.

Adventures in Housing:   Blogging about my adventures in Housing. (@michelle_cadwyn) (google +)