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Posted by Lusana Taylor

It's been a mixed week in terms of news - the good news being that Ireland voted for gay marriage in the referendum, the bad news being that Serbia's amazing body-positive song didn't win Eurovision!

Fear not, there's nothing on Eurovision in this week's round-up, but you can find an interesting piece on the referendum from New Statesman. If you'd like to comment on one of issues covered or share another article that we haven't included, feel free to get involved in the comments section below or on Facebook/Twitter.

As always, please remember that linking does not automatically mean endorsement or agreement from the F-Word and that some links may be triggering. It is also worth noting that, while we welcome engagement on the weekly round-up, any comments including racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted.

Bank of England wants an artist for £20 note (BBC News)

Is voting yes to same-sex marriage the first step towards a more progressive Ireland? (New Statesman)

Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" Video Is Not A Feminist Manifesto (The Concourse)

Cannes faces backlash after women reportedly barred from film screening for not wearing high heels (The Guardian)

Rape in Westeros: What "Game of Thrones" could learn from "Mad Max: Fury Road" (Salon)

Mic's Elizabeth Plank Takes Down Fox News' Absurd Anti-Feminist Talking Points (Media Matters)

The toy industry shuts out children with disabilities. We want to change that (The Guardian CiF)

Taylor Swift: 'Misogyny is ingrained in people from the time they are born' (The Guardian)

In awe of Emma Sulkowicz, who carried her mattress during her Columbia graduation (Hello Giggles)

No, feminism is not about choice (The Conversation)

What happens to head girls? (The Observer)

The Imaginary Choice Feminist (Tits and Sass)

How This Woman Helps Hundreds of Pregnant Women in Ireland Access Safe, Legal Abortions (Cosmopolitan)

Putting Femojis On IPhones Is Like Putting Women On Money: MAJORLY Important (Bust)

How Facebook Exposes Domestic Violence Survivors (The Daily Beast)

The On-Screen Response and Reaction to Televised Rape and Sexual Assault Needs to Change (The Mary Sue)

Joumana Haddad Talks Erotica, Atheism, and Feminism in the Middle East (Bitch)

Broken Ends: When People Won't Take No For An Answer When It Comes To Touching Your Hair (Black Girl Dangerous)

Maggie Gyllenhaal: At 37 I was 'too old' for role opposite 55-year-old man (The Guardian)

The photograph is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Beverley Goodwin. It is a black and white image showing three houses set against a very grey looking sky. However, there is a rainbow above the houses, which is depicted in colour.

[syndicated profile] thefword_feed

Posted by Lusana Taylor


There may only be a handful of links in this week's round-up sometimes short is sweet and there are still plenty of fascinating articles for you to read - with lots of focus on pop culture this time around! If you'd like to comment on one of issues covered or share another article that we haven't included, feel free to get involved in the comments section below or on Facebook/Twitter.

As always, please remember that linking does not automatically mean endorsement or agreement from the F-Word and that some links may be triggering. It is also worth noting that, while we welcome engagement on the weekly round-up, any comments including racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted.

'Bisexual' is just a label and Cate Blanchett is just a woman who's had relationships (The Guardian CiF)

Rebel Girls: Meet (Some Of) the Gal Pals of the Suffrage Movement (Autostraddle)

Amy Schumer's coarse, playful comedy explores how women are complicit in their oppression (And forgives them for it.) (New Statesman)

Alison Bechdel Misses Feeling Special (New York Times)

On Learning to Love My Body: Because Summer Is For Fat Girls, Too (Autrostraddle)

"Mad Max" Complicates Action Hero Masculinity--And That's Great (Bitch)

Exclusive Interview With Kathleen Hanna And The Julie Ruin (Bust)

The image is used under the creative commons license and was found on Wikimedia Commons. Thanks to Alvesgaspar for allowing the image to be used. The photo depicts thirteen rather spiky looking orange flowers (described as species of aloe plant) set against a very blue sea in the background.

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Posted by Guest Blogger

Janey is a feminist activist and filmmaker who is passionate about human rights and ending violence against women. She tweets @vegetarianjelly.


Not many people have heard of the Istanbul Convention. This is unsurprising; like a lot of international law it sounds a bit dry. But it has the power to end violence against women in the UK, which is why a group of campaigners are trying to pull it into the spotlight.

The Istanbul Convention's full name is the 'Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence' and it does exactly what it says on the tin: provides a strategic framework for governments to end violence against women.

It's the first human rights treaty ever to comprehensively focus on gender-based violence. It builds on the United Nations' CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) by providing detailed definitions for different forms of violence against women that can be introduced into national criminal law.

What does it mean for women in the UK?
Safety, justice and the chance to live a life free from the threat of violence. The convention spells out exactly what states need to do to address all forms of violence against women; from domestic, sexual and honour-based violence to sexual harassment, stalking, FGM, forced marriage and forced sterilisation.

If the government ratified this convention, they would have to put specific measures in place to tackle violence against women: from prevention through to protection and prosecution. They would have to provide helplines, provide refuges, access to legal aid and specialist support services. They would have to grant migrant women autonomous residence permits, allowing them to escape abusive relationships. They would not be able to get away with cutting funding for life-saving refuges in the way the last government has done.

But wait, what's ratification? It's when a state commits to embed an international convention into their national laws. When a government ratifies a convention, they are legally bound to follow it by embedding new laws and policies.

If the UK ratified the Istanbul Convention, they would be committed to systematic change. This is much more than a politician's promise: it's a legal commitment. Governments would no longer be able to conveniently ignore the huge levels of violence against women that have historically been locked behind closed doors.

Part of the prevention measures include adequate sex and healthy relationships education, as well as discouraging gender stereotyping in schools. The United Nations weren't kidding when they said the Istanbul Convention was the global 'gold standard' for tackling violence against women.

What's the government's problem?
So far, the UK government has only signed the convention. This means they support it in principle, but are not legally bound to actually do anything it says. Signing a convention is nothing more than stating your intention to ratify, but when an average of two women die each week at the hands of a partner or ex partner, we can't afford to wait any longer.

It's through total lack of public awareness that the government has been able to not only drag its heels on tackling violence against women, but also quietly remove funding from domestic violence support services under its austerity programme. None of the main political parties included any mention of the Istanbul Convention in their manifestos.

If the UK ratified the Istanbul Convention, it would have to rapidly shape up its act. Not only this, but it would be held to account by the Council of Europe. The convention subjects governments to scrutiny by an expert monitoring group that holds them to account and measures progress. This means that when governments are failing to exercise due diligence to prevent and protect against violence against women, feminist campaigners would be able to call on much higher powers to ensure that the UK government secures women's safety.

Women deserve better
For too long, politicians have gotten away with ignoring sky-high levels of gender-based violence. The only thing that can stop this epidemic is urgent, systemic change, and the Istanbul Convention could be the magic formula.

The important thing to remember is that the Istanbul Convention was drafted by gender experts, not politicians. These experts know exactly what needs to happen to stop violence against women, and have done all the thinking, research and leg work; all governments need to do is put their recommendations into action.

Throughout history, feminists have battled to get the government to recognise its responsibility for tackling violence against women. The achievement of gender equality is undoubtedly linked to the eradication of violence against women, and the Istanbul Convention would be a historical landmark for women's rights in the UK.

Women are dying. We can't wait any longer. The sooner the Istanbul Convention comes into power, the sooner we can be safer.

Add your name to the campaign demanding that the UK government ratifies the Istanbul Convention.

The image is a photo of the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.

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Posted by Lily Kendall


Kerry Campion is a 22 year old Irish student currently studying for her BA in English & Politics at Queen's University Belfast.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2013 and it has been a struggle to finally arrive at a place in my life where I have accepted the fact that I will more than likely not conceive a child. Before my diagnosis I had already decided that if I wanted children in the future I would probably adopt. Still, receiving the news that I had about a 5% chance of conceiving made me feel incredibly worthless and people's reactions to the news did not exactly alleviate these feelings.

I have compiled this guide of what not to say to people who are telling you they may not be able to conceive.

"But you never know, you might still be able to have kids if you have them early enough"

This continues to be the most popular response I get. Firstly, I don't need to hear how I can "get around" my issues of fertility; if I do try earlier in life and still find it very difficult to conceive, my feelings of failure will only increase.

Secondly, it's predicated on the idea that I should disrupt my future life plans in order to have a chance at conceiving. Instead of telling women to put their future plans on hold for the sake of having a baby, we should be trying to embrace all the other things in life we've set out to do. In order to avoid the follow-up explanation of what stage one endometriosis means fertility-wise - ("Well, I might be able to conceive, but it's a lot less likely") I have now taken the "I can't have kids" approach. At least this way I don't have to constantly explain myself to others.

"You can always adopt"

Whilst I mentioned adoption above as the preferred means by which I want to start a family, this suggestion is also predicated on the idea that the woman in question does in fact want children. I can already see a few eyebrows being raised, but believe me: just because a woman was not intending to have children does not mean she would not be upset by such news.

"What did your partner say?"

The subtext of this question is: "Does your partner still want to stay with you?" Feeling that you are letting your partner down is a major obstacle to overcome when faced with infertility and such questions only reinforce the idea that your partner will feel let down by you.

"There's all sorts of help, you could freeze your eggs/try IVF etc."

When I've actually built myself up to tell someone about my condition, the last thing I want is to have an in-depth discussion about all the other avenues that will help me conceive. Mostly, when I'm sharing this information, I just want to discuss how I feel about it, I don't need a 'how-to' list in order to get around my condition. Chances are if a woman feels particularly strongly about starting a 'natural' family, she has already painstakingly researched all these avenues and revisiting them can actually be quite exhausting and overwhelming.

"I totally relate to the pain, I get bad period pain"

No, just no. Endometriosis causes intense pain most prominently around the pelvic area, especially if a woman has stage three or four. Yes, periods can create chaos and severe pain, but don't try to 'relate' to me through your own period pain, quite frankly it makes me think that you don't really understand the severity of the disease or think I'm exaggerating the pain I experience.

"At least it's not cancerous"

The old patronising "Well it's not like you're going to die" response. Again, this falls under the category of people thinking I'm exaggerating, and I should just get on with it because hey, things could be worse. There's nothing worse than telling someone something of this nature to just be tossed or shrugged away like it's nothing. Yes, I'm aware it's not cancerous and likely won't kill me but don't try to use that as a means to minimise what this disease can do to me both mentally and physically.

So, how should you react to someone telling you about their endometriosis or other infertility disease? Ask open questions instead of interrogating them: "How do you feel about that?" is a good way to start. Asking a question like this opens up the conversation for the sufferer to discuss their disease in a way that makes them comfortable and means they don't have to disclose anything they don't want to or consider things that make them feel worse. And I'd would also appreciate it if you'd avoid the sympathetic head-tilt, that's just damn annoying.

Image by Anthony Easton shows white graffiti on a green background saying 'talk talk'. Used under creative commons license.


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May 2015

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