Invisible Women

By Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women -- extreme women & default male antibodies

#65・

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Invisible Women
Invisible Women -- extreme women & default male antibodies
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #65 • View online
My dear GFPs, I have MANY announcements for you this week, so strap in!
But first! To the people who are signed up to this newsletter using a British Medical Association email address, I strongly recommend, should you wish to actually read it, you sign up with an alternative email, as the BMA keeps blocking it. I’m not sure what triggered it last week – perhaps it was the murderous period blood recipe? Anyway, this is of course assuming you get this edition, which promises to be EQUALLY SCURRILOUS.
And now, the coming attractions…

TONIGHT! I will be in conversation with Elvie’s founder Tania Boler over on Instagram at 6pm BST. If you’d like to join us head over to Elvie’s Instagram page, where we’ll be chatting all things gender data gap.
TOMORROW! I will be on a panel with Karen Messing, Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC, and Hilda Palmer, of Hazards Campaign and FACK, to celebrate the launch of Karen’s EXCELLENT new book, and to discuss the past present and future of female bodies in the workplace. If you want to join us you need to register here.
NEXT TUESDAY AT 12:30 BST! I will be doing another GFP LIVE! with special guest Joeli Brearly, the ASTOUNDINGLY PRODUCTIVE founder of Pregnant then Screwed. I’m super excited to chat to her about what she’s up to - which is basically everything as far as I can tell. There’s a bit in her book where she talks about the evidence that mothers are the most productive workers out of all of us and the incredible amount she gets done with Pregnant then Screwed feels like a one-woman effort to prove that true. If you’d like to join us (of course you do!) you just need to sign up as a member BEFORE midnight on Monday 13th September. Membership also includes access to our excellent new members area, plus the warm glow that comes from supporting this newsletter.
I will send out the Zoom link (fingers crossed the correct one this time 🤪) to all members on Tuesday morning first thing, ready for you to join us at lunch! (or breakfast if you’re in the US/bedtime if you’re a super keen Aussie)
NEXT MONTH! ON SEVERAL DATES! IN SEVERAL IRL LOCATIONS!!! I am going on tour! ARGGGHHH!!! This snap tour is to make up for the original tour which was cut short by this little pandemic thing some of you may have heard of. You can get tickets here, and because I love you all so much I have secured an EXTRA SPECIAL GFP DISCOUNT FOR YOU! Enter the code VISIBLE15 (case sensitive) when you book and you get 15% off.
And if you’re not completely exhausted by ALL THESE EVENTS (😱) I spotted this on twitter, which looked good. I unfortunately can’t make it myself, but if any GFPs go, please report back!
AND NOW! On to business…
This week’s newsletter is kindly sponsored by Elvie.
Elvie was born out of the frustration of one woman: Tania Boler. After Tania had her first child, she quickly became fed up with the lack of innovation in tech solutions for women who have been pregnant and/or given birth. She also felt frustrated with the cultural norms that stop women from talking openly about their bodies. And so, in true GFP fashion, she decided to do something about it. That thing was founding Elvie, a company that produces tech that women actually need and want by doing that revolutionary thing: asking women what they want and need. 
Elvie’s product design process always starts by listening to women, finding more about the challenges they face - and then applying world-class design and engineering technology to create better solutions that work with women’s bodies.
Check out their smarter technology for women here
Gender data gap of the week
GFPs, this one is going to p*ss you off.
As we have known for some time now, women are more likely to suffer from Long COVID. We don’t know why, because we know very little about the female immune system, because obviously. Still, this is an improvement on what was going on at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone insisted Long COVID didn’t exist, but then men started getting it so we couldn’t put it down to female hysteria anymore.
But now it turns out that we may be underestimating the number of women with Long COVID, because antibody testing isn’t as effective in women – something that will particularly affect those women who caught COVID early on before widespread testing was available.
Hannah Davis 🌈
Antibody testing to diagnose #LongCOVID disenfranchises women!

1) Males are 4x more likely to retain antibodies
2) 36% of females lost antibodies by 3-6 months vs 8% males
3) 80% of those who lose antibodies are female
4) Men have higher antibody levels

https://t.co/luaWofFN4g
Anyway, no one knows why this is:
The reason why male and female antibody prevalence differs in this asymptomatic cohort is currently unknown
although…
Similar gender differences have been observed with the effectiveness of both seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccinations and are linked with, cytokine, antibody and memory immune responses
Although as we explored last week that historical data nevertheless did not result in anyone bothering to do any sex analysis of the COVID vaccine, which btw may be slightly less effective in women 🤪
The antibody sex discrepancy might have something to do with T cells….
This study also confirms males have a higher antibody titre than females with similar viral exposure, with females showing a higher T-cell response. Further studies are required to determine why females having lower antibody titre in response to COVID-19 infection do not progress to have disease as severe as their male counterparts. Sex differences in both innate and adaptive immunity go some way in explaining this potential disparity, where females have a higher number of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells, offering a further level of immune protection.
But again no one’s really bothered into looking at this previously so
Oh and don’t forget the icing on the cake…
Hannah Davis 🌈
And overall, antibody tests are most sensitive on middle-aged men, especially patients between age 40-59:

https://t.co/dz4p5ZpH4G #LongCovid
Because of course they are. OF COURSE.
Default male of the week
So, GFPs, remember how in Invisible Women I wrote about how women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die than a man in the same car crash? And how for eg a female car crash test dummy (actually just an extremely scaled down male dummy, but let’s put that aside for now) is used in only one out of the EU’s 5 regulatory tests and only in the passenger seat? With the average male dummy being the most commonly used dummy?
GFPs, let me introduce you to Richard Schram, Euro NCAP’s technical director. Speaking to Auto Express, Schram explained to us hysterical ladies that it’s nothing to do with his tests and all to do with how women are doing everything wrong.
“Biologically, females are slightly weaker,“
“and women sitting closer to the steering wheel can be an issue,” Schram says.
YES THAT IS BECAUSE WE HAVE TO TO REACH THE PEDALS, SO MABYE DESIGN CARS THAT MEAN BEING AN AVERAGE FEMALE HEIGHT ISN’T A DEATH TRAP EH RICHY MY MAN
“There is a difference between men and women; I acknowledge that, and I acknowledge this may be hard for women to accept. But this is not an easy problem to solve. You could say the same thing about the elderly, because they are not average, either.
OH MY G0D RICHARD! WOMEN ARE AVERAGE! WE ARE HALF THE BL00DY WORLD!
“Now we have solved so many things, we can look at the extreme ends,” says Schram. “Because if you solve a lot in the middle, proportionally the upper and lower ends become more important. Everybody strives to make cars safer.”
deep breath. Richard, listen carefully.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. EXTREME.
AND IN CONCLUSION
WOMEN. ARE. NOT. F4CK1NG. EXTREME.
Take it away, Jen
Just after I finished writing this section I was sent this tweet
Sarah Taylor🐌
I'm 5ft 3, the average height for a woman in the UK. We were just in a near-miss accident/emergency stop in an Uber and I was nearly garotted by the (standard) seat belt. Got a bruise coming up on my clavicle and neck. Fed up of this world not being built to accommodate us.
Probably the extreme Sarah was sitting too far forward, eh Ricky
If you are enjoying this newsletter, consider becoming a member! Members get access to member-only events, a members-only area, plus the warm glow that comes from supporting the work that goes into producing this weekly blast 😍
GFPs fixing it
But not to worry, GFPs, because where there is a Richard, there are many many excellent women and men who are working on addressing this.
Like Maria Kuhn and Hana Schank, both of whom were involved in serious car crashes in which women suffered from fractured spines and torn intestines but from which the men escaped with lesser injuries. They have since both written about their experiences and are lobbying the US government to make cars safer for women.
They also co-authored this excellent article that came out last week
10,000 women die in car crashes each year because of bad design
Which has some excellent news for American GFPs about possible progress in addressing one of the world’s most lethal gender data gaps:
Now, there may be hope. Embedded in the House of Representatives INVEST in America Act is a provision requiring updated and more equitable dummy implementation tested in every seat.
GFPs who are interested in keeping up with the progress of this legislation can head here where you will find the latest updates as well as useful resources for defeating the annoying person in your life who insists, in the face of all the evidence, that there is nothing to see here.
I just thought we could do with that. I miss Fleabag.
Product of the week
I was first alerted to Dovetail Workwear via twitter where someone recommended their work gloves as being actually designed for women. This was obviously catnip to me, so I went to check them out. And sure enough their website does describe their gloves as “the glove that fits women’s hands—finally!”
This would, as the kids say, be big if true. But as GFPs know to our cost, women have been told many times that things are designed for us only to find that what this actually means is “we took the man’s product and made it smaller and pink WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT GOD YOU’RE SO UNGRATEFUL TYPICAL WHINING WOMAN”
So I decided to ask Dovetail what was up. And this is what they told me.
The company itself was built out of need: two of the founders, Kyle Marie and Kate, were themselves professional landscapers and spent a lot of time in the rain and mud. They were also frustrated by the lack of options for women when it came to workwear. It was all “either ill-fitting and tailored for men’s bodies or offered stereotypical colors and patterns.”
GFPs everywhere
GFPs everywhere
And so they decided to make their own, extensively field-testing them on real women from bike mechanics and construction workers to artists and firefighters.
They started with trousers (of which more in a later edition), but let’s get back to the gloves. As GFPs may remember, I have had some problems with gloves in the past.
But it’s not just comically large “one size” gloves. It’s ALL gloves. I don’t think I’ve ever had a pair of gloves that weren’t too long for me in the finger. And, it turns out, there’s a reason for that! The female hand is not, and you may want to sit down for this, just a small male hand.
It’s true, Joey [I’m here every week]. As well as being on average smaller than male hands, there are also absolute differences such as, drum-roll please, differences in the length of fingers, with men’s being longer irrespective of overall size.
Cersei, too, has struggled with default male gloves
Cersei, too, has struggled with default male gloves
There are also absolute differences in the ratio of index to ring finger.
All of these differences, taken together, is why your gloves never fit. ENTER DOVETAIL WORKWEAR.
“Even with the best of [the women’s gloves available], the bias was still inherent,” explained Sara DeLuca, co-founder and lead designer. “We would ask to look at women’s workwear gloves and they would say “They exist. Here are some pink ones.” As always, women were the afterthought. And we set out to change that.”
When I asked about the sex differences hands and how Dovetail accommodated for those differences in their design, DeLuca replied that yes, women’s hands are different in shape, in palm-to-finger ratio and more, which is why the shrink it and pink it approach doesn’t work for gloves, but “because we engineer for women first, and our gloves are not a derivative off men’s, I don’t pay attention to the differences, tbh. I simply don’t think about men at all.”
😮
After coming up with the initial prototype without reference to male hands whatsoever, they gave the female-design gloves to dozens of tradeswomen and asked them to “work [the gloves] as hard as they work,” and then to give Dovetail feedback on things like:
  • Where did the cuff hit? (Very important for utility gloves)
  • What happens in the high-wear areas? 
  • Where do you need more reinforcement? Where do you need less?
And, LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
  • Are THE FINGERS THE RIGHT LENGTH (they may not have asked this question in all caps)
The result is a glove that is the first glove to fit me like, well, a glove – Dovetail were kind enough to send me a pair to try out.
I was going to take a pic of myself wearing the gloves but, well, I forgot and in any case mine are now covered in glorious mud, so I thought this incredibly hardcore woman wearing them would do as well if not better. They really are great gloves tho!
I was going to take a pic of myself wearing the gloves but, well, I forgot and in any case mine are now covered in glorious mud, so I thought this incredibly hardcore woman wearing them would do as well if not better. They really are great gloves tho!
And a glance at the reviews on their gloves page suggests I’m not alone in being blown away by gloves that actually fit my hands.
I was also really interested to see quite how many women mention the “too long for my fingers” issue
I PROMISE I DIDN'T WRITE THIS ONE (but the author is *clearly* a GFP!)
I PROMISE I DIDN'T WRITE THIS ONE (but the author is *clearly* a GFP!)
These reviews must be lovely to read for Dovetail, as the outpouring of enthusiasm is clearly genuine. But it’s also depressing because of how pathetically grateful we are for things that actually fit our bodies. We shouldn’t be this grateful for things that we pay for actually being designed for us!
Although, also: TAKE NOTE, OTHER COMPANIES, WOMEN LIKE THINGS THAT FIT THEM PROPERLY.
Homework
GFPs, I’m sure many of you are already aware of the new law in Texas that bans abortion after 6 weeks. What not all GFPs may know, as I certainly didn’t before I got pregnant, is that 6 weeks isn’t what it sounds like, because those weeks aren’t counted from the date of conception, but from the first day of your last period – the point at which you are literally as non-pregnant as you could possibly be. Most women do not know they are pregnant at 6 weeks because it is only 2 weeks after your period is due, and that is only if you are one of the lucky women who has regular, four-week cycles. For women who have 6-week cycles, for women whose periods are irregular, well you’re all out of luck. Which is, presumably, the law working exactly as it was intended.
And this is all abortions. Including those of pregnancies that result from incest and rape. For example, this woman’s abortion would be illegal.
When Kate was raped by an employee at her Texas group home, she and her family didn’t learn she was pregnant until over two months later, when they went to a reproductive health clinic.
Kate, who was in her mid-twenties at the time, didn’t know about her pregnancy because she has a disability that causes stunted mental maturation and prevents her from explaining what she experienced. (Source)
So would this woman’s
watch how much i can ignore your wit 🏳️‍🌈🐝
Tonight I'm thinking about Jill, whose partner removed condoms during sex, flushed her birth control pills down the toilet, and yanked out her IUD. Eight and a half weeks.
and this woman
watch how much i can ignore your wit 🏳️‍🌈🐝
Tonight I'm thinking about Chelsea, impregnated by an abusive husband she managed to escape from only days ago. Fifteen weeks.
and this girl
watch how much i can ignore your wit 🏳️‍🌈🐝
Tonight I'm thinking about Caroline, who had not yet had her first period before becoming pregnant. Just over eight weeks.
As with all restrictive abortion laws, this law will not impact all women equally. Poor women, women of colour, women with disabilities, undocumented women, and girls, will all be disproportionately affected since they are the least likely to be able to find the money, the time, and the wherewithal to travel out of state.
It also will not prevent abortions from taking place.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, “in analyses that exclude China and India, whose large populations skew the data, the abortion rate is actually higher in countries that restrict abortion access than in those that do not.” And “in countries that restrict abortion, the percentage of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion has increased during the past 30 years, from 36% in 1990–1994 to 50% in 2015–2019.”
What this law will do is drive unsafe abortions – and women’s deaths – up. You can stop a desperate woman driving across state lines. You can’t stop her attacking her own body with battery acid.
If Texan state legislators are serious about the health of women and children they would expand access to birth control (more than 1.7 million women in Texas live in contraceptive deserts), and they would improve access to healthcare for the women and children that already exist. The US has the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rate in the developed world, both of which have risen over the past decade, and Texas is no outlier in this regard.
…in Texas, the rate of maternal deaths rose from 72 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 148 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012. Reproductive health experts linked the uptake in maternal deaths to state-based limitations on abortion and reproductive health funding—including cuts to family planning services and a defunding of Planned Parenthood—that occurred during the same window of time. (Source)
Texas also has the worst rate of child health insurance in the nation — 12.7% — which is over twice the national rate – and these are pre-pandemic figures. Texan lawmakers have also refused to accept Medicaid expansion funding, leaving millions of Texans without access to healthcare.
Forgive me if I don’t believe that these laws have much to do with the sanctity of life, but everything to do with controlling women and their bodies.
So. What can a GFP do? Here’s a simple and easy you can help.
Chip in for Texas Abortion Funds
It won’t change the law, it won’t change the hypocrisy of politicians who are interested in life only while it is in the womb and not a second after, but it might just help a desperate woman.
Poppy pic of the week
Well we all need this don’t we.
Poppy says she believes in a woman's right to choose! Especially if that choice is bacon.
Poppy says she believes in a woman's right to choose! Especially if that choice is bacon.
That’s it! Until next time, my dear 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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