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Invisible Women - A Sub-Category of Men

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - A Sub-Category of Men
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #32 • View online
My dear GFPs, before I say anything else I want to thank you so much for your many kind emails after last week’s newsletter. They meant a lot to me during a tough time. Mum was sent to hospital again on Friday night, and has been discharged with a new course of antibiotics – which, unlike the last course, fingers crossed, seem to be making a difference. She is eating much better and seeming, mostly, to be breathing much better. I have, however, been left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth about some of the treatment she received, none of which was alleviated by reading the front page story in yesterday’s Sunday Times. This quotation in particular hit me hard:
he says it was easier to exclude the elderly from intensive care because the fear of infection meant there were no families visiting who might challenge the decision. “Certainly for some of the fitter 75 year olds we could have taken, we should have taken [into intensive care] and we probably would have done as a result of pressure from families,” he said.
…because that was exactly how I felt about not being able to accompany her when she was sent to hospital struggling to breathe, with a respiration rate well above normal and with oxygen saturation levels below normal. I just wish I could have been there. And I think we have to do more to ensure families *can* be there. To advocate, to make sure the person you love is recognised as a person and not a number, but also just to be there with someone who is scared they might be about to die.
Anyway, thankfully, she seems to be doing better – at least yesterday. She is asleep as I write and I am letting her rest.
In other news, because the world does go on even during Covid, I had some nicer news this week, in that Waterstones have selected Invisible Women as their Paperback of the Year. AND we were back in the Sunday Times top ten this week. I guess someone decided I needed a break.

IN OTHER NEWS. Some of you may remember that back in lockdown I started to get quite radical about Rights of Way. I’ve actually been quite cross about them for a number of years now – ever since Poppy came into my life, really. But it reached fever point during lockdown, and I’ve been meaning to do a bit of reading on the history of land-ownership ever since. Note the “meaning to”. Inevitably I didn’t really get around to it, instead choosing to remain nebulously annoyed and uninformed. Until this week, when I finally listened to a podcast I’ve been meaning to listen to for ages
‎99% Invisible: 313- Right to Roam on Apple Podcasts
Mind. Blown. Did you know: Britain’s first National Park was only established in 1951! In my mum’s lifetime!!! (I’m sure a lot of you did, but I did not). And it was all thanks to a group of Manchester-based ramblers who did not believe that the life-giving joy of walking across mountains and fields should be restricted to a few wealthy families and their mates.
I also did not know that Madonna went to court to get people orf her land and has mostly succeeded [insert Borderline pun here. Or Holiday. Or, at a stretch, Beautiful Stranger]. Anyway, in conclusion, a big boooooo to the Material Girl.
I have also discovered that an utterly bizarre provision in the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act requires all rights of way to be recorded by 2026 or lost forever – a fact which I imagine many villagers merrily walking along what they assume to be a recorded right of way, but is in fact just a path they’ve used for decades, have no idea of. And of course landowners are in no hurry to remind them that their rambling days are numbered.
There is a currently a campaign to get England’s laws more in line with Scotland, where citizens’ right to roam (in place since 2003) has not, as yet, resulted in the apocalypse. And here are some more reasons you should support it:
  • Half of England is owned by 25,000 landowners – less than 1% of its population
  • We do not have access to 92% of England’s land and 97% of its waterways. 92%!!! NINETY SEVEN PER CENT!!!!!!!!
  • The Conservatives intend to make trespass a criminal offence – it is, in fact, a manifesto commitment.
Nick Hayes, the campaigners who is spearheading the campaign for the right to roam and against the criminalisation of trespass, notes in an Observer interview from earlier this year that there are some “good landowners” who behave very differently to Madonna. And indeed there are, but the right of citizens to walk in woods and alongside streams should not be left to the whims of whichever rich person happens to own the land at any particular time. Good landowners die and their land is inherited or bought by not-such-good-landowners.
My interest in this is personal. In the village where my mum lives we have our very own Jane Austen / Downton Abbey scenario. The local landowner was the absolute epitome of the good landowner Hayes refers to. He leased the local wood to the Forestry Commission for the princely sum of £1 back in the 50s, for a period of 999 years. It, along with the avenue of shaped trees alongside it, became a hugely popular walking spot. He allowed villagers to walk across his land as they completed walking loops back to the village.
But then he died, survived by a daughter – and his land was entailed down the male line. Who knew such a thing still happened? But apparently it does, and the land was inherited by some distant male relations in America, who promptly sold it to a man who is certainly not what anyone could call a “good landowner”. The walks over the new landowner’s vast estate were put a stop to post haste (just getting into my Austenese there, you will forgive me); one family was told their small terrier would be shot if they trespassed into the land again (bear in mind this is a single field villagers have walked through for years).
Meanwhile, another landowner has put up “private keep out” signs all over a path villagers have used for decades, as well as putting pressure on the Forestry Commission not to clear the paths in the wood alongside his land, because he wants to develop the field the path runs alongside. An attempt to have this path recorded as a right of way was granted by the council, but lost on appeal. The landowner does, however, let his other local landowner friends walk their dogs on the land. It’s just the local riff-raff he wants to keep out.
All this to say: it doesn’t matter how “good” landowners may or may not be: a good landowner can easily become an extremely bad landowner. The vast, vast majority of England’s land is in private hands, (for historical reasons I will not go into here, but I have ordered a copy of Nick Hayes’ book, so probably expect to hear more about this, signed, someone who is still pissed off about enclosure), and it cannot be right that access to so much of this country’s beauty (not to mention, taxpayer-subsidised-beauty) is left up to whoever has enough money to own the view. So let’s fight for our right to roam!
I will never see Madonna the same way again
I will never see Madonna the same way again
ANYWAY, I know you don’t sign up to this newsletter to hear my rambles about rambling, so let’s get back to the gender data gap shall we?
Gender data gap of the week
This week’s gender data gap of the week is both good news and bad news. The bad news is, as we have been saying for some time now, masks are not adequately designed for female faces. The good news is, at least one NHS trust has decided as a result to start collecting sex-disaggregated data on mask fit. Hurrah!
That trust is Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, who, when I FOId them on mask fit failure rates for men versus women back in May, told me they did not collect sex-disaggregated data on mask fit failure rates. They have since published a paper on the subject, in which they found that women are indeed more likely to fail mask fit tests. They also point to data showing that “young female staff have been reported to have double the COVID-19 related mortality rate compared to age matched females in the general population,”
Since the trust does not collect sex-disaggregated data, they inferred sex from names, which, as they themselves acknowledge, is not an ideal way to determine sex since it “may introduce information bias, in particular for transgender healthcare staff.”
As a result, they have now improved their data collection and the Trust “now routinely records gender, sex assigned at birth (if different from gender), and ethnicity data for all respirator fit tests so that we may better study the impact of these demographics on respirator fit.”
I am 100% taking this as a win. My only remaining criticism is that they don’t record reasons for fit test failure – anecdotally, and from a couple of FOI responses, it seems that facial hair is the main reason men fail fit tests. While this is not ideal, it is not entirely the same as failing because of face shape in that one is fixable by having a quick shave, while changing your face shape is not possible without surgery. (to be clear I am very much not advocating face surgery for female medics so they can pass their mask fit tests)
Anyway, in conclusion: hurrah for sex-disaggregated data and hurrah for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust!
live footage of GFPs at the news
live footage of GFPs at the news
Where you lead, may others follow. Especially Poole Hospital 😒
Default Male of the week
It’s Strava in the dog-house again this week, with women represented as a sub-category of men:
Dr Sophie Mullins
Hey @StravaEng it might look like a small thing but I have a few of these and, well... If the men’s record isn’t also formatted “CR (<gender>): <time>” then when a woman has the CR this happens & “CR” is not the CR. It feels like we’re a sub-category, not equal (even when faster) https://t.co/w0h9zLcm9A
You’d think they might have learnt after the Ellie Pell debacle, but I guess there’s no accounting for default male 🤷‍♀️
Poppy pic of the week
Poppy coveting the A[merican]B[eefcake]'s lunch
Poppy coveting the A[merican]B[eefcake]'s lunch
That’s it, GFPs! Apologies for the long rambling ramble – in recompense, have a TV recommendation: Deadwater Fell is bloody brilliant and well worth your time. I won’t say too much as I don’t want to give it away, but it is EXCELLENT on masculinity in its many forms, both good and bad. Also just a jolly good show: chilling, engrossing, and real.
Byeeee! xoxoxo
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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