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Invisible Women - Heading into another lockdown like...

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - Heading into another lockdown like...
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #33 • View online
Well, GFPs, I can’t pretend I’m not gutted. Back in March, when Invisible Women was Waterstones Book of the Month and there were adverts for Invisible Women in trains stations all across the country, the UK locked down. They were even stocking it in airports, which is genuinely something I never thought would happen to a book I wrote. And it sucked – it really, truly sucked; those sales and the sales that would have come off the back of those sales, are never coming back. That amazing opportunity was gone forever, and honestly I was devastated.
But it also felt like we we were in it together, we were all hurting, and that the government really had no choice. We had to buy time.
Nearly eight months later, Invisible Women is a Waterstones Paperback of the Year. I am lucky enough to get a second bite at the apple. Maybe being part of window displays and piles of books by the door, by the till, can make up for what was lost in March.
Except, no it won’t, because here we are, locking down again.
I know, I know, there are so many so much worse off and in the grand scheme of things this must seem trivial to many of you. But the sense of absolutely gutting unfairness that it’s now happened twice in one year, well it just sucks. It really and truly sucks.
And it particularly sucks because this doesn’t feel like the first time when we didn’t have any choice. This time we can look around at countries around the world who didn’t squander the time they bought by locking down, and have now managed to return more or less to normal. Many of them, are, like us, island nations.
Meanwhile what have we spent the past eight months doing?
  • Seeding the second wave via the spectacularly misguided Eat Out To Help Out, for which any fool could have predicted the inevitable outcome. (I’m not saying the hospitality industry didn’t need help, I’m saying the money should have been distributed to them without funding our way into another lockdown at the same time)
  • Failing to test and indeed trace.
  • Blaming the public for government failure to create enough capacity in the testing system
  • Failing to screen travellers at airports – and then failing to do anything to make sure the quarantine we chose instead was actually happening, with the accounts in this article very much mirroring what my mum reported when she returned from visiting our family in Portugal back in August.
  • Failing to self-isolate, which again, any fool could have predicted in the absence of proper compensation. I had to self-isolate when Mum was ill (she’s a lot better this week) and it sucked, but it would have sucked a lot more if doing it meant I couldn’t afford to pay my bills.
  • Oh and as was reported yesterday, failing to develop a test and trace app that actually works
All of which to say, I don’t feel like this was an unavoidable force of nature, as the PM suggested in his three-hour-delayed press conference on Saturday night, but rather the result of almighty mismanagement on a catastrophic scale. So, yeah, I’m angry, and upset, and utterly gutted. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy of Invisible Women, or if anyone you know hasn’t yet bought a copy of Invisible Women, well, now would be a lovely time to do so.
Look, I’ve even made it easy for you with some links:
Yes, other booksellers are available, but it’s the brick and mortar ones who are going to be hit by this second lockdown, so if you can buy from them instead of amazon, please, please do. We would really miss IRL bookshops if they went.

There are so many people who will be hard hit with this second lockdown, but I’m currently feeling particularly devastated for the live arts, who were only just getting back onto their feet after the first one. I watched The Royal Ballet: Back on Stage on Saturday while waiting for the PM to deign to show up and tell us all what we were and weren’t going to be allowed to do for the next month.
It handily fit neatly into the 3 hour delay and while it was beautiful and a joy to watch, it was also utterly heartbreaking seeing these amazing dancers, so happy to finally be back on stage, anticipating a new season they had just announced – knowing all the while the axe was about to fall on them.
If you enjoy dance, I can thoroughly recommend paying to watch some of the Royal Ballet content online. It all helps to keep them afloat and watching an art done so spectacularly well really does help with the lockdown gloom.
Gender data gap of the week
Women have been marginalised in Covid-19 media coverage
In news that should surprise precisely no one, it turns out that when it comes to covid, despite the vast majority of health professionals being women, including in biomedical sciences, and despite women suffering disproportionately from the economic and social fall-out, the media has been mainly talking to….men.
I know, Rowan, I know. None of us saw this coming.
I know, Rowan, I know. None of us saw this coming.
The research, by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, is based on an analysis of 146,867 articles related to Covid-19 published between 1 March and 31 July, in 15 leading news sources across the UK, Australia and the US.
And the results are pretty damning.
The good news it, this male dominance didn’t hold for every topic. Women dominated when it came to classic “women’s issues” like domestic violence and childcare, because famously, women are beating themselves up and make children all by themselves.
This table is kind of grimly fascinating: you can actually track the socially-deemed significance of an issue relative to how many female voices are included.
Just a totally unimportant aside, last year a UK Home Office analysis found that the social and economic cost of domestic violence in England and Wales for a single year was £66 billion. That is equal to the cost of Brexit to the entire UK economy over three years! A US analysis found that the federal government spent $55 billion a year simply dealing with the impact of domestic violence on children. And of course domestic violence has risen sharply during the pandemic. But still, just an unimportant women’s issue.
Meanwhile, several economic analyses have shown that investment in care would be a far more effective route out of the Covid downturn than a traditional investment in construction. Still, where’s the fun in a major policy announcement that doesn’t include hard hats?
to be fair, this does look like fun
to be fair, this does look like fun
Default male of the week
Because we all need a laugh, instead of our usual gloomy fare I’m giving you this amazing and extremely funny essay from Ursula K. Le Guin, filched from the excellent Helen Lewis’s newsletter, which you should all sign up to.
So when I was born there were actually only men. People were men. They all had one pronoun, his pronoun; so that’s who I am. I am him, as in “If anybody needs to throw up he will have to do it in his hat,” or “A writer knows which side his bread is buttered on.” That’s me, the writer, him. I am a man.
Not maybe a first rate man. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I may in fact be a kind of second-rate or imitation man, a Pretend-a-Him. As a him, I am to a genuine male him as a microwaved fishstick is to a whole grilled Chinook Salmon. I mean, after all, can I inseminate? Can I belong to the Bohemian Club? Can I run General Motors? Theoretically I can, but you know where theory gets us. Not to the top of General Motors, and on the day when a Radfcliffe woman is the president of Harvard University you wake me up and tell me, will you?
Come for the default male, stay for the brutal Hemingway drive-by.
The radicalisation of the female members of my family continues
First up, my mum, who now she is feeling better is fighting the good pockets fight
Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2
Not to be outdone, my very horsey aunt wrote in to her fave mag…
Joanna Bovis
@CCriadoPerez you’re in horse and hound! Your aunt sounds great! And yes I can confirm this is a deeply irritating female sized hands problem!!
My work here is done.
GFP corner
Quite a few interesting responses from GFPs to last week’s ramble about rambling!
One GFP noted the intersection between rambling and gender:
Twice in the last few years I’ve been shouted at by groups of men. Once, it was by a 4x4 with at least two men inside, because I was away from the footpath by less than10 metres (it was muddy and the track was covered) the second time, I was on the footpath, but the men shouted that there was shooting going on ahead. Both times I was left feeling shaken and worried, I don’t think I would walk around the local paths if I didn’t have a dog with me…
which made me think about the not very scientific experiment I ran (which I thought I mentioned in a previous newsletter but can’t seem to find) when I was shouted at by a man for passing by him as socially distanced as I possibly could on a pavement while wearing a mask, while the man who walked past immediately after, and who made no effort to distance, passed by unremarked. Or this exchange currently going on in my mentions.
A cursory glance at google doesn’t throw up any research on whether women are more subject to generalised intimidation, aggression and bystander policing (I just made that term up but let me know if there is an actual name for this!) than men, but my experience certainly suggests that they are. Any GFPs know?
Another GFP wondered, in response to the stat I cited about half of England being owned by less than one per cent of its population, how much of England’s land is owned by women? Very good question to which I have been unable to find an answer – if any GFPs know hit reply!
Toilet queue of the week
This week, instead of a toilet queue, comes a chance to end toilet queues forever! At least in the UK, where the government is holding a consultation on the provision of toilets for women (soz, international GFPs). Here is what I had to say on the subject in Invisible Women:
On the face of it, it may seem fair and equitable to accord male and female public toilets the same amount of floor space – and historically, this is the way it has been done. 50/50 division of floor space has even been formalised in plumbing codes. However, if a male toilet has both cubicles and urinals, the number of people who can relieve themselves at once is far higher per square foot of floor space in the male bathroom than in the female bathroom. Suddenly equal floor space isn’t so equal.
But even if male and female toilets had an equal number of stalls, the issue wouldn’t be resolved, because women take up to 2.3 times as long as men to use the toilet.3 Women make up the majority of the elderly and disabled, two groups that will tend to need more time in the toilet. Women are also more likely to be accompanied by children, as well as disabled and older people. Then there’s the 20–25% of women of childbearing age who may be on their period at any one time, and therefore needing to change a tampon or a sanitary pad.
Women may also in any case require more trips to the bath- room than men: pregnancy significantly reduces bladder capacity, and women are eight times more likely to suffer from urinary-tract infections than men which again increases the frequency with which a toilet visit is needed. In the face of all these anatomical differences, it would surely take a formal (rather than substantive) equality dogmatist to continue to argue that equal floor space between men and women is fair. 
Strongly recommend that UK-based GFPs write in! I had intended to provide a template response in this email but I’m running out of time this morning – and in any case, individually written responses always carry more weight. The info I’ve provided above gives you the basic facts; also always worth checking out what Prof Clara Greed aka Queen of Toilets has to say on the subject. If there is huge GFP demand I will try to put together a response for next week’s newsletter.
Event of the Week
Data Against Feminicide is a series of sessions and workshops designed for feminist activists, civil society organizations, international organizations, data journalists, policy makers, government officials or academics, whether they are considering or already working with feminicide data. The event aims to foster a community of practice: a network to share and review data collection practices about feminicide, create connections, support each other and elaborate a roadmap for actions, to continue developing feminicide data and promote good data practices around feminicide.
Organised by the Data + Feminism Lab at MIT, ILDA and Feminicidio Uruguay.
The sessions are free of charge and open. Dates as follows:
  • Thursday, November 5th - 11AM (EST)
  • Thursday, November 12th - 11AM (EST)
  • Week of November 16th - various workshops
  • Tuesday, November 24th - 11AM (EST)
Poppy pic of the week
Heading into another lockdown like…
That’s it, GFPs! I will close with two recommendations.
1) If you are not watching The Queen’s Gambit, sort it out. You can thank me later.
2) If this song doesn’t get you swaying your hips there is something wrong with you
Until next time, GFPs….support your local bookshop by buying my* book!
*ok ok ok, *a* book. (But also mainly my book.)
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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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