Women and men should not be secretly suffering loss, the “M” word must be spoken about and part of comprehensive fertility education
'I'll stay fit in lockdown,' I said. What an absolute joke. Six months of pandemic has taken its toll on my body. Maybe the only sane response is acceptance
At 11 years old we were ushered into an empty classroom for "The Talk". Girls went into one room and boys into another, emphasising the secret nature of the things to be discussed. For about an hour, the nurse they had called in told us about the female reproductive system, periods and how it all worked. At the end there was a Q&A; and the brave few who raised their hands were given practical, shame-free answers. We all left with a “goodie-bag” containing a packet of tampons, a handful of sanitary towels and a booklet on how our bodies worked. Whilst the science was no secret and we had sex education lessons all together in our class, the idea that periods were “woman things” and not to be discussed with the boys was cemented in our minds.At 14, I read Carrie by Stephen King. From the brutal beginning (a girl gets her first period in a high-school changing room and believes herself to be dying), to the final blood-soaked climax, the whole book is a testament to the primal nature of menstruation and the negative associations. For Carrie, her blood inspires cruelty in other girls, religious insanity in her mother and, ultimately, her death as she leaves the book the way she entered it – blood-soaked and publicly humiliated. The book was written in 1974 but banned from American school libraries in 1992 due to the swearing, anti-religious themes and references to puberty.
Covid-19 has pushed Britain outdoors – but will the habit stick?. It remains to be seen whether our ‘alfresco revolution’ is sustainable or just another of No 10’s overoptimistic, short-term fixes
Britain's obesity strategy ignores the science: dieting doesn't workRather than counting calories and stigmatising fat, we need to take on the food and weight-loss industries
Think a 'mild' case of Covid-19 doesn’t sound so bad? Think again. Otherwise healthy people who thought they recovered from coronavirus are reporting persistent and strange symptoms - including strokes
For those waking up and scrolling through a repetitive feed of lockdown sourdough starters, quarantine craft projects and kids scribbling their latest artwork, the news that a quarter of Brits aged between 18 and 24 used the Instagram as a main source of coronavirus news in April may come as a shock. The social media platform is now poised to overtake Twitter as a primary news source.At first the finding, part of a broader report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, seems rather unusual. Instagram is the ship that launched a thousand Z-list celebrities – the queen of whom, Kylie Jenner, is alleged to have overinflated the value of her digital presence. Instagram is where you to find out where the Love Island stars partied at the weekend, or to ogle at your favourite yoga influencer’s picture-perfect life.
Necessity, rather than choice, has prompted some into “do it yourself” healthcare during the Covid-19 crisis. Thankfully dentists are opening again, so people don’t have to pick up a set of pliers to relieve toothache. But we’re beginning to get some insights into how people in lockdown are dealing with other aspects of our wellbeing – mental health in particular.These insights have been provided not by mental health services, who have recorded a downturn in referrals since the outbreak of coronavirus, but from a recent survey of illegal drug use. Although there have been a few surveys of drug use by various organisations, this survey not only asks which drugs people are using but crucially why they are taking them.
Sustainability has been a key topic in the fashion industry for many years now, but it has come under even sharper focus during lockdown.In May, the British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America released a detailed plan – and a warning – to the fashion industry on how they must slow down production and use the coronavirus crisis as an “opportunity to rethink and reset”. Time will tell whether brands take heed of that warning.
Most people will likely know Elon Musk more recently for his use of Twitter missives than for his exploits as an entrepreneur with Tesla and his SpaceX programme.From the liberal left, Professor Neil Ferguson to even shareholders in one of his own companies, Musk is never shy of ploughing his own path and courting the media controversy that involves. The tycoon is obviously aware of the rewards, and the pitfalls, of such an approach for his brands. Whether he is doing it for his businesses or for his own entertainment is clearly of little consequence.
“Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.”When your home isn’t a safe place to be, that vital public health message must seem like an incredibly difficult one to hear.
With Britain’s families suddenly stuck in household lockdowns that span generations, one silver lining is that some of us are able to use the opportunity to enjoy unprecedented amounts of family fun. Cheerful gangs of relatives are getting up to mischievous raw egg japes and Les Mis-style singalongs. It’s all good wholesome intergenerational bonding.But if you find yourself struggling for a family friendly activity to fill some of the hours, how about having some conversations about sex?
I don’t think you have to be a memorabilia-clutching royal super-fan to be a little bit sad that today marks Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's last official engagement for a while.The couple will join the queen at the Westminster Abbey Commonwealth day service, a day designed to celebrate the cultural links between former territories of the British Empire – although it used to be the less politically correct “Empire Day” – in other words, a day dedicated pushing a sense of British superiority onto the rest of the world...
I regularly attend meetings where a group of women talk politics while a group of men look after our children. They cook and serve us a meal, and do the washing up, too. The meetings are of the Women’s Strike Assembly, a collective that – as part of a growing international movement – is struggling towards a red feminist horizon, “dismantling the capitalist patriarchal systems of power that oppress us all.”The global women’s strike movement calls upon all women able to refuse to work – we’re building a strike fund to support those who otherwise couldn’t – to do so on 8th March, International Women’s Day. Our strike won’t look like traditional industrial action, because most of the work women do is unpaid: preparing kids’ food (and picking it up when they spill it), washing bedsheets, remembering appointments, keeping husbands happy. Where “women’s work” is paid, it is often performed by women of the Global South, and therefore underpaid and undervalued.
It’s not easy being a bloke. On the one hand we want them to show their emotions more, speak up, not to bottle things in, but on the other hand we still expect them to be the “strong” ones when life rattles and we all go tumbling down.Remember the Friends episode where Rachel goes out with Bruce Willis and he’s a super macho man who never makes himself vulnerable with her? She pushes him to emote, then dumps him after the dam breaks, and he spends the entire evening sobbing in her arms about every little detail of pain he has suffered over the years. How deeply unsexy we all agreed it made him, sympathising with Rachel. In a society where the biggest killer of men under 40 is suicide, that scene may not stand the test of time.
Rarely has a headline writer’s coinage proved as bankable as "Megxit". The parallels between the two news events are unending: a seemingly snap decision that anyone looking hard enough should have spotted a mile off; outrage from the corners of society that precipitated the crisis; an outpouring of anger that, for some, smacks heavily of racism and xenophobia.The only difference between the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the Sussexes’ decision "step back" from royalty is that Harry and Meghan, at least, seem to know what they are doing.
Corporations are getting better at imbuing the same anxieties into men that women have about their beauty and bodies, says writer Dejan Jotanovic.
You may be forgiven for thinking this election began and ended with three words: “Get Brexit done”. But as an academic clinical fellow in general practice, I was left wondering: what does the Tory majority mean for the future of our NHS?Somewhat buried in election coverage was the news this week of the longest A&E; waiting times since records began – 12-hour trolley waits are five times what they were in 2012. This on top of the worst cancer referral and treatment waiting times on record. It’s been repeated so many times it’s almost lost its meaning, but the NHS is in crisis.
In the great election giveaway, our main parties are outbidding each other to offer more free childcare, but neglecting parents who wish to care for their own young children at home. Free childcare encourages parents to entrust their babies and toddlers to professionals and return to work. It penalises parents who would prefer to do the job of raising their children themselves. These policies reveal a failure of imagination and threaten to skew parental choice.I’m a first-time mum to a one year old and I’ve experienced for myself the chasm of social support between the end of parental leave and the start of the school term following a child’s third birthday, when they become eligible for at least 15 hours of free childcare per week (more if both parents are working). Aware of parents facing the crunch, the parties are now vying to narrow this gap. Labour says it will extend paid maternity leave to one year. The SNP matches this pledge and wants to extend overall shared parental leave too.
Facebook’s “report abuse” function has long been a go-to in sibling arguments and friendship groups around the world. For me, it was a weapon my sister regularly used to counter attack my uploading a photo of her not looking her best. (Ok, fine, looking pretty atrocious.)We laugh about it, but conversations around social media rights always come back to the same, not very funny, question for me now. Who are the people that don’t get that choice? Who don’t get to, jokingly or not, “report abuse” on their brother, sister, mother, father, or friend’s photo if they don’t want it to be shared online. And the answer is always the same – children.
How low is the bar set for men these days? The bar is the floor, Keanu Reeves just casually walked over it and now people are rushing to scream his praises all over social media.The notoriously reclusive actor hasn’t been pictured on the red carpet with a romantic partner in years. Cue surprise and admiration when he was photographed on 2 November in Los Angeles holding hands with artist Alexandra Grant.
Sometimes I’m thankful that there are people out there who are so deeply misogynistic that they will openly admit to it – even brag about it – for all the world to hear. Because without them, things stay silent and hidden and people say things like: “I just think feminism’s gone too far now.” I don’t think anyone will be saying that today, after reading TI’s comments about his adult daughter’s sex life.The rapper admitted on a podcast that he takes his now 18-year-old daughter Deyjah to a gynaecologist every year after her birthday, asks her to consent to her confidential medical information being shared with him, and then demands a doctor confirms that her hymen remains intact.
This week, pictures emerged of a slimmer looking Adele, as the singer arrived at rap star Drake’s birthday party.Instantly people were tweeting and sharing the photos, congratulating her on her “revenge body” – a reference to her ongoing divorce with Simon Konecki. Across my social media feeds, it seemed that everyone was sharing headlines that discussed her "sensational new look”, posting her “before and after” snaps. The resounding reaction was: “She looks so good now!”
As a parent, there’s nothing worse than hearing your child is in distress or unhappy. So when my son Archie was diagnosed with autism earlier this year, I'll be completely honest, I cried.They were tears of relief, as the diagnosis had taken years to get. After lengthy waiting lists and being pushed from pillar to post, I’d resigned myself to never knowing why Archie was struggling. But they were also tears of fear. Like any parent in my situation, I instantly worried about what happens next and how my child would cope.
Outsiders still think that veganism is radical, but it’s only when you are inside the community that you see how consumerist many vegans have become. As chain after chain – and even major brands such as them musician Taylor Swift – try to cash in on veganism’s growth, plant-chompers now seem to believe that we can simply spend our way to animal liberation. They say all we have to do is descend on supermarkets and restaurant chains, stuff our trolleys and tummies with vegan products and – tada! – the human race will suddenly decide to stop exploiting animals.But that is the stuff of fairy tales: you don’t end exploitation by handing your money to the exploiters. All you do is bankroll further exploitation.