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4-9-18 World’s first over-the-phone abortion service hailed a success
An over-the-phone abortion service to end unwanted pregnancies in their early stages – operating in Australia - has been found to be safe and effective. An over-the-phone abortion service to end unwanted pregnancies in their early stages in Australia has been found to be safe, effective and convenient. Australia became the first country where women can legally access abortion pills without having to see a medical professional in person in 2015. Instead, women can order the pills over the phone from a private provider, called the Tabbot Foundation. A study of the first 1000 women who used the service shows that over 95 per cent had an abortion at home with no complications, and did not need to see a doctor afterwards. Over 97 per cent said they were highly satisfied with the service. Two-thirds of Tabbot’s clients were from rural areas, where abortions have traditionally been difficult to access. “It means they don’t have to travel long distances or face possible judgement from the one doctor or pharmacist in their town,” says Paul Hyland, the gynaecologist who set up the foundation. But Hyland says the service may benefit women in urban areas too, because it means they can avoid any protestors outside abortion clinics. Tabbot currently provides abortions to about 50 women a week and the demand is steadily increasing, he says. When a woman requests abortion pills, she is first called by a doctor from the Tabbot Foundation to rule out any medical conditions that might make the procedure unsafe. They also organise a blood test and ultrasound scan at a local provider to confirm she is less than nine weeks pregnant, because one of the drugs involved carries a higher risk of complications after this time. Once the doctor gives the go-ahead, a package is mailed to the woman with the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, as well as painkillers, antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. A nurse calls her after the package has arrived to explain how to take the drugs and calls her a set number of hours afterwards to check she is OK. A 24-hour hotline provides additional support if needed. The cost of the service is A$250, which is half that of the up-front cost of an equivalent abortion at a private bricks-and-mortar clinic in Australia.
12-13-17 'Feminism' is Merriam-Webster dictionary's word of the year
A leading US dictionary has named "feminism" as its word of 2017 following a surge in online searches. Merriam-Webster said interest in the term was driven by women's marches, new TV shows and films on women's issues and the string of news stories on sexual assault and harassment claims. The number of people searching for the word was up 70% on 2016, it said. The dictionary defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes". It adds that it is also "organised activity on behalf of women's rights and interests". In January the first spike in interest occurred after the Women's March on Washington and similar marches in cities across the world. Many wore pink knitted "pussyhats" in reference to controversial remarks Donald Trump was recorded making in 2005. March organisers claimed that women's rights were under threat following the election of Mr Trump to the White House. The following month, interest in feminism surged again when White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she did not consider herself a feminist. Speaking at a conservative event, she said she found it difficult for describe herself as a feminist because she was not "anti-male" and "pro-abortion". She said she was a "product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances", which she described as "conservative feminism". There was further interest in the meaning of feminism with the release of the TV series The Handmaid's Tale, based on the Margaret Atwood novel, and the hit film Wonder Woman, Merriam-Webster said.
A GREAT BOARD GAME
9-3-17 This young entrepreneur created a board game about arranged marriage
This young entrepreneur created a board game about arranged marriage
For many young women and their families across the globe, marriage isn't a game. In fact, it's taken so seriously that matches are arranged sometimes years in advance. Often, not much thought is given to how the young women feel about their partners. Well now, such marriages are a game. A board game called, fittingly, "Arranged!" "The game play involves a matchmaker running around, and trying to chase down three teenage girls, while they're trying to avoid her and a loveless marriage," the game's creator, 24-year-old Nashra Balagamwala, explains. The Pakistan-born graphic designer says she had just finished art school at the Rhode Island School of Design and had been working at a major games company in New York City when she came up with the idea for the game. Balagamwala says she was inspired by the pressure she felt from her own family to submit to an arranged marriage. "I tried everything to avoid it," she says. "I have worn fake engagement rings. I have worn skin tanning lotions" because in Pakistan, dark skin is considered unappealing. "I made sure I was seen in public with my male friends." And now, all of those creative machinations have become material for her board game. Players avoid "aunty," the nosy matchmaker, by drawing cards with commands like "You were seen at the mall with boys. The aunty moves 3 spaces away from you." Other cards that keep aunty away include "You were seen wearing a sleeveless shirt in public," "your older sister married a white man," and "the aunty finds out you used tampons before marriage" — which is also a no-no in Pakistan. Balagamwala raised the seed money for the game on Kickstarter. Now it's in pre-production. She already has more than 500 orders. She says the game is getting a great reception. Better yet, it's sparking some much needed conversation. (Webmaster's comment: If I can get it in English I'm going to buy this game! And bring it to a meetup.)
8-29-17 How science has fed stereotypes about women
How science has fed stereotypes about women
A new book shows how biased research branded women as inferior. Charles Darwin used his theory of evolution to argue that women were intellectually inferior and had not evolved for a work life outside the home. A recent book dispels that and other flawed notions about women. Early in Inferior, science writer Angela Saini recalls a man cornering her after a signing for her book Geek Nation, on science in India. “Where are all the women scientists?” he asked, then answered his own question. “Women just aren’t as good at science as men are. They’ve been shown to be less intelligent.” Saini fought back with a few statistics on girls’ math abilities, but soon decided that nothing she could say would convince him. It’s a situation that may feel familiar to many women. “What I wish I had was a set of scientific arguments in my armory,” she writes. So she decided to learn the truth about what science really does tell us about differences between the sexes. “For everyone who has faced the same situation,” she writes, “the same desperate attempt to not lose control but have at hand some real facts and a history to explain them, here they are.” In Inferior, Saini marshals plenty of facts and statistics contradicting sexist notions about women’s bodies and minds. She cites study after study showing little or no difference in male and female capabilities. But it’s the book’s historical perspective that makes it most compelling. Only by understanding the cultural context of the men whose studies and ideas first pointed to gender imbalances can we see how deeply biases run, Saini argues. Charles Darwin’s influential ideas reflected his times, for instance. In The Descent of Man, he wrote that “man has ultimately become superior to woman” via evolution. To a woman active in her local women’s movement, Darwin wrote, “there seems to me to be a great difficulty from the laws of inheritance ... in [women] becoming the intellectual equals of man.” If that idea sounds absurd now, don’t fool yourself into thinking it has vanished. Saini’s book is full of examples right up to today of scientists who have started from this and other flawed premises, which have led to generations of flawed studies and results that reinforce stereotypes. But the tide has been turning, as more women have entered science and more scientists of both sexes seek to remove bias from their work. Saini does an excellent job of dissecting research on evolution, neuroscience and even the long-standing notion that women’s sexual behavior is driven by their interest in stable, monogamous relationships. By the end, it’s clear that science doesn’t divide men and women; we’ve done that to ourselves. And as scientists become more rigorous, we get closer to seeing ourselves as we really are.
8-13-17 White supremacy: We are not the home of the free. We are a land of hatred for all non-whites and non-Christians, and denying all others their rights as human beings is the objective of the white supremacy groups. They would establish a White Male Dictatorship and establish death camps just like the Nazis did for all others; Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, Immigrants, LGBTs, any non-white or non-Christian! They would re-establish salvery and lynchings, and women would become totally subservient to men! We cannot claim to be the land of freedom as long as these groups continue to exist in America. In Europe they are outlawed and imprisioned. Just being a racist there will put you in prison. The Europeons know full well from the Nazis what kind of evil these groups represent. As long as these terrorist groups are tolerated America can not claim any moral superiority over other nations. WE ARE the immoral nation of the 21st century!
FGM, Female Genital Mutilation!
Still being practiced in the United States!
6-17-17 I Underwent Genital Mutilation as a Child—Right Here in the United States
I Underwent Genital Mutilation as a Child—Right Here in the United States
A doctor in Michigan was just arrested for cutting little girls. She’s not the only one. Last week, an Indian American doctor was arrested in Michigan, charged with performing female genital cutting on two seven-year-old girls. As the story hit the local press and then the New York Times, and as it was shared by George Takei and Nicholas Kristof, my phone kept blowing up with breathless messages and links from childhood friends across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half a million girls in the United States were affected by or at risk for mutilation in 2012. I know of dozens of Bohra women whose parents had them cut in America over the last 30 years, from New York City to Houston to Chicago. Others were taken out of country to have the procedure done, a practice called “vacation cutting” that’s now also illegal in the United States. There’s also little consensus about how the actual procedure is supposed to work; it’s often up to the interpretation of whoever is wielding the blade. In some cases, like mine, a “pinch of skin” from the clitoral hood is cut away, leaving no lasting physical trauma. Sometimes the entire clitoris is removed, or surrounding tissue is also damaged. Last year, writer Mariya Karimjee went on This American Life to tell the story of her cutting, which was performed in Pakistan and left her unable to have sex without unendurable pain. Bohras even disagree on why khatna is performed. The prevailing view is that it keeps girls and women from becoming sexually promiscuous. Others say it has something to do with “removing bad germs” and liken it to male circumcision, which is widely (though not universally) believed to have hygienic benefits. The World Health Organization says female genital mutilation has no known health benefits and “violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity of the person, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.” (Webmaster's comment: Female Genital Mutilation is alive and well here in the United States. Sex is for men to enjoy, women are here solely for men's pleasure and to make their babies. What an evil concept!)