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Invisible Women - cosplaying Edith Wharton

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - cosplaying Edith Wharton
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #38 • View online
Good morning GFPs! Or good afternoon if this newsletter takes longer than expected, or you know, good night if you’re in Australia.
Let’s dive straight in, shall we?

Gender data gap of the week
Latest despatch from the department of petty bulls***. As well as partners still being routinely banned from pregnancy appointments in England (in defiance of new guidance effective as of 14th December 2020), it now transpires that women are being denied the only workaround available to them. A new survey by the excellent Pregnant then Screwed has found that 52% of women are being prevented from filming or taking pictures doing their appointment, being told that it is “illegal”.
First of all, it is not illegal, and NHS trusts need to get a handle on staff making specious claims. But more broadly, this petty resistance to anything that might help a woman cope better with a stressful and often traumatic experience is yet another reminder of the central issue for women when it comes to pregnancy: our humanity is forgotten. We are seen as just a vessel for the baby, not ourselves the patient too. So who cares if we have to go through it on our own?
All right, CCP, I hear you say, this is all very stirring rhetoric [why thank you, imaginary reader!!!], but what has this got to do with the gender data gap? Very simply, because this failure to remember that the person carrying the baby is still a person even when they are growing another person inside them, seems to lie at the heart of so many of the data gaps that do surround pregnancy.
Pregnant women get used very quickly to being told that there is no data that can tell them whether or not a medication they need is safe to take during pregnancy, so probably just don’t take it, after all there’s no harm in being cautious is there?
No harm, sure, except to the mother herself. I myself suffered immense harm during my short-lived pregnancy after being told to come off the acid reflux medication I have been on for more than a decade, because the safety data just wasn’t there, particularly for the first trimester. I was in constant pain and mainlining gaviscon day and night – and I am still dealing with the after effects. And of course I am dreading getting pregnant again and being faced once again with the choice of being able to eat or being cautious.
The worst of it is that the lack of data doesn’t even protect these babies, because what actually happens is that women just end up having to take the medication anyway. The only difference is that instead of it being in the context of a well-designed and controlled clinical trial, it’s done blind, and at her (and her baby’s) own risk – and the data is not systematically collected. This works out well for pharma companies and their insurers, but pretty much no one else.
Default male of the week
GFPs, I regret to inform you that the New York Times Phys Ed section is at it again. Here is the gender neutral headline for one of their most recent pieces on sports science research:
And here, buried eight paragraphs down, is the acknowledgment that this study was in fact carried out only in men:
Let’s ignore for the moment the study’s entirely specious reasons for excluding the body inhabited by 50% of the global population both for reasons of space and also my blood pressure. We cannot perhaps overnight fix the systemic bias with which the research community is riddled (although we can certainly try and just to be clear excluding women because they have periods is total bullsh*t). But we *can* fix the way the media reports these studies, and there is simply no good reason for that NYT headline to be gender neutral, and it would cost nothing for them to amend it now, and amend their style guide going forward. So why don’t they?
Win of the Week
Sticking with the theme of gender neutral headlines for extremely single sex studies, I found a very disappointing example of the genre in last week’s New Scientist. An all male study on lying [resists obvious joke] was presented with a gender neutral headline, illustrated with a picture of a woman and a man. Perhaps worst of all, the article itself used gender neutral terms like “student” and “people” throughout, and didn’t mention that the study was conducted only in men. Naturally, I tweeted my outrage.
Caroline Criado Perez
Oh come ON @newscientist really expected better from you. Not only does the headline not say it’s a male only study, the article doesn’t either. And the picture is very misleading too. Nul points. (3rd pic is from study)
BUT, CCP, WHERE IS OUR WIN, you ask – I don’t know why you keep interrupting me in this newsletter, imaginary reader, but I’m not sure I like it. Anyway the win comes from the EXCELLENT response from the New Scientist’s Deputy News Editor, who not only updated the piece to reflect the study’s male-only cohort, but also updated their internal guidance to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
Showing the NYT how it's done ✊
Showing the NYT how it's done ✊
A happy ending! And not just for men.
Poppy pic of the week
GFPs, believe it or not, shortly after my newsletter a fortnight ago where I extremely stupidly announced that things could only get better, my beloved Poppy ended up in hospital on a drip – hence no newsletter last week. I can only conclude that in a past life I was an extremely bad person. Anyway, she has pulled through and we are just so so happy to have her home. Have a whole series of Poppy pics of the week as celebration.
back from the hospital
back from the hospital
And a bonus pic of me cosplaying Edith Wharton in my mum’s spare room
(for those who have no idea what I’m on about)
That’s it! Until next time, my beloved GFPs 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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