Invisible Women

By Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women - "sweety, you're in my a-hole"


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Invisible Women
Invisible Women - "sweety, you're in my a-hole"
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #54 • View online
Hellloooo GFPs*! And welcome to this, the 54th edition of the Invisible Women newsletter ✊It’s so exciting seeing this community grow and grow: there are now over 20.5k of us – a real force to be reckoned with! Although of course we can always get bigger, so if you know of any GFPs-in-waiting, GET THEM HOOKED UP 😃

SO. This week was our very first GFP LIVE! Thank you SO MUCH much to everyone who joined me even after I changed the date (if you missed me on Steph’s Packed Lunch you can catch up here) – and special thanks to GFP members who submitted such great questions (if you’d like to be able to submit questions for the next GFP Live, you can sign up to become a member here).
I think the first experiment with GFP LIVE went pretty well, other than of course my starting with the camera the wrong way round which basically means I have now fully transformed into my mum. If you missed it live: DON’T WORRY! First of all, I fully intend to do more of these as it was great fun, and second of all, I have uploaded the video onto a brand spanking new Invisible Women youtube channel, so those of you who don’t use instagram can still view it.
GFP LIVE! Episode 1
GFP LIVE! Episode 1
Eek! I’ve disabled comments on the video for obvious reasons, but feel free to tell me what you think here :)
Oh! And THIRD! Since a load of you don’t like using instagram, I will be varying the platform I use so everyone gets a chance to join in live :)
So all in all: hooray!
AND IN FURTHER HOORAY NEWS! As regular GFPs will know, we have over the past few weeks been talking about the pain many women experience when having various gynae procedures from IUD insertion to hysteroscopies. As many GFPs will also know, the far too common response when women complain about pain is for their pain to be dismissed.
I’ve had far too many women write in to me not only about their procedure being painful, but about the medical gaslighting they faced in response, with practitioners essentially (sometimes literally) rolling their eyes at them for “making a fuss”, telling them it “shouldn’t” hurt, as if the woman in pain is the problem rather than the lack of pain relief (or perhaps the practitioner’s lack of expertise).
I have also been told far too often, again by medical practitioners, that by platforming women’s voices on this I myself am the problem, because by allowing women to talk about the pain they have experienced I will put other women off these procedures. Again, as if the pain and the medical gaslighting women experience in the face of that pain aren’t far more likely to put women off from going to any further appointments. As if a better response than telling women to “shut up about bad medical procedures so you don’t frighten [or prepare?] other women” wouldn’t be to, oh I don’t know, talk to women like adults about the possibility that they may experience pain and let them make an informed decision about pain relief?
I would probably still choose to have a copper IUD put in, despite the pain (although I must say it’s been a DELIGHT not being doubled over in pain during my half-the-length period now it’s out) because I don’t get on with hormones and it’s therefore my only option [side-note maybe we could do some research here so women *do* have better options than have existed for the past 50 years?]
In any case, the number of women who have written in to me to thank me for talking about this, because it made them realise that, contrary to how their medical practitioner made them feel for “making a fuss” they are in fact not a wimp and nor are they a freak.
No, not every woman will experience pain during insertion (my first insertion was, for example, absolutely fine). But some women will experience extreme pain and trauma, and the answer to that experience is NEVER to tell them to shut up about it. The answer is (of course) to collect data on how many women are affected (which we are not currently doing, because of course), and then to analyse that data to figure out WHY these women are experiencing pain – is it because, as is the case for some women who experience extreme pain during a smear (I am thankfully not one of them, although it is more than “uncomfortable” ffs), the tools are too big and they need a smaller speculum? Is it a because of the “tilted cervix” that some women have that again can cause extreme pain during smears? Is it because (and this is definitely what happened to me) we shouldn’t be letting inexperienced practitioners stick metal spikey things up someone’s vagina while they’re awake? Yes, doctors need training. No women don’t need to be put through extreme pain to allow them to do it.
And just to prove that no, medical practitioners don’t always know better than you about your own body, here is an actual real life thing that happened:
I rest my case.
I rest my case.
BUT WHERE, you ask, entirely fairly, is the HOORAY NEWS??? WELL, my dear GFPs, because it turns out, when women start to speak, other women join in, and eventually, there are too many of us shouting to be able to tell us to shut up anymore.
Following on from Caitlin Moran’s excellent piece that I linked to in last week’s newsletter, BBC 5 live picked up the story, with presenter Naga Munchetty talking about her own traumatic experience. And from there it spread like wildfire. It was covered by Grazia, it was covered in The Telegraph, it was covered on BBC Breakfast. The issue was addressed in the Health and Social Care Committee.
And then came the statements. Nadine Dorries, the women’s health minister, said that “no woman should suffer as a result of having an IUD or other scopes procedures,” and that she wanted to “use the Women’s Health Strategy to absolutely reverse this assumption that because you’re a woman and because you might have been through labour or because you’re going to go through labour, then therefore pain is a part of your existence.”
And perhaps most excitingly, Dr Diana Mansour, vice president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare said that the FSRH would "share updated clinical guidance on this matter.” (emphasis mine)
Now, of course, this is all early days. These are just words, and words are cheap. But they have been spoken, in public, and now we can make them stick to it. GFPs, women’s voices on this are being heard at the highest level of government. And it is HUGE that we are finally moving on from “shut up stop whining and stop scaring other women,” to actually LISTENING TO WOMEN WHEN WE SAY IT HURTS.
And remember, this ALL started with just one woman, who after going through a painful IUD insertion decided to ask other women if she was the only one. Never doubt the power of using your voice to speak to other women.
RIGHT! That’s one gender data gap down (well, on the way to being down – please do sign Lucy’s original petition to keep the pressure up), what’s NEXT?!
Gender data gap of the week
So! As GFPs will also remember, we have also been discussing the lack of data on whether or not vaccines are causing disruptions to some women’s menstrual cycle (as I said last week, my first period post-jab went ahead entirely as usual). A few newsletters ago I included a survey that has been set up to close this data gap and I do urge all GFPs (well, the ones with periods) to fill it out whether or not you experience a disruption, as if only those who do experience a disruption fill it out, the data won’t really tell us as much as we’d like.
HOWEVER! It now turns out that even if we DO get a good range of both those who did and didn’t experience a disruption, the data from this survey won’t be as useful as like anyway BE-CAAAUUUUSE…
Viki Male 🏳️‍🌈
@toadmeister That’s partly because we don’t have very good data on how common it is for someone who has regular periods to have an unusual period one month. And that’s partly because this is an area that is understudied. 6/
Excuse me while I just…
However! The good news is that Viki has designed a study to look into this VERY QUESTION. It’s currently going through ethics approval, but as soon as it’s passed that, yes I DO see some homework in your future, why do you ask 😏
Here’s to closing another data gap, GFPs, we are on FIRE!
Default male of the week
GFPs, I regret to inform you the scientist and indeed the media outlets are at it again.
A report in The Times informs us that “scientists have shown for the first time that it is possible to reverse the ageing process through dietary changes.”
“There are so many claims made about reversing the ageing process,” Fitzgerald [the lead author] says. “But ours is the first and only randomised, controlled and peer-reviewed clinical trial to show that diet and lifestyle changes can bring immediate and rapid reduction in biological age.”
GFPs, I have to say I’m feeling pretty good about this, given the sexy lady sucking not at all fellatio-y in the pic accompanying the article.
What to eat to look younger: the scientist’s age-reversal diet | Weekend | The Times
Plus the lead researcher “wanted to find out if these changes in cell function could be reversed through adopting a healthy diet, effectively making our bodies younger,” and I know for a fact that women eat AND also have bodies so I have NO CONCERNS about continuing to read, indeed I am RARING to…ah.
it me, GFPs, it me. I guess the sexy lady is just for, er, illustrative purposes....
it me, GFPs, it me. I guess the sexy lady is just for, er, illustrative purposes....
GFPs fixing it
But it’s not all bad, GFPs. I’m pleased to report that there are many many scientists who are working on CLOSING the data gap as opposed to opening up new ones. This week I’d like to draw your attention to the sterling work done by the TOP GFPs at Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines, Epidemics and New Technologies (PREVENT), who have been working for years at changing the default wholesale exclusion of pregnant women from research and even treatment up and including when it could save their lives. Some of those involved in this work have been banging this drum for so long that they were instrumental in getting women included in research at all back in the 90s, so I wouldn’t bet against them managing this one.
That said, as we know, and despite PREVENT calling from the very outset for COVID vaccines to be tested for safe use in pregnancy, that research was not done (it is now finally being done by SOME vaccine developers).
GFPs may also remember that when the vaccine was first being rolled out in the UK, in the absence of that solid data, pregnant women, and even pregnant health-workers, were wholesale denied access to the vaccine. That has now thankfully changed, but there are still many countries that where pregnant women are being denied the vaccine, despite the growing evidence that Covid is linked to severe complications in pregnancy including increased maternal mortality, preeclampsia, miscarriage and stillbirth.
As a result, the excellent people behind PREVENT have set up the COVID-19 Maternal Immunization Tracker (COMIT) to track global access to the COVID vaccine during pregnancy. The aim is primarily data collection (✊), but the hope is also that showing the variability in access will “convince policy makers worldwide to expand access to vaccination for pregnant people.”
As they say,
Although pregnant people are at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death, countries around the world vary widely in their policies on COVID vaccination in pregnancy, with 41 countries recommending against it.
Let’s hope this website can be part of changing that 💪
Product of the week
Another one from the world of sport this week, Ida Sports! Who have designed football boots around the female foot.
'We've done something crazy': the football boots designed for women | Women's football | The Guardian
“The modifications that we’ve made are narrower heels, a wider toe box, a slightly different position for where it bends, different insoles and we’ve changed the studs around as well,” explains Youngson. “We’ve heard of women shaving down the one under the ball joint because it puts too much pressure on some of the bones.”
This does not sound crazy to me tbh. Hurrah Ida Sports!
Homework of the week
No homework this week! Aren’t I nice!
EVEN nicer: Instead of homework, have a Waterstone’s discount code (scroll down for details) for Katrine “Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner” Marçal’s EXCELLENT new book……
Or as I like to call it, #MASCULINITYSOFRAGILE: the book 😎
Or as I like to call it, #MASCULINITYSOFRAGILE: the book 😎
ONLY JOKING, my dear GFPs, only joking…😘
Anyway, the discount code is INVENTION and it gets you THIRTY PER CENT!!!! off a copy of this excellent book, which explains, among other things, why it took a thousand years to put wheels on a suitcase and why electric cars took a century to take off. It is quite eye-roll inducing but also very funny and very smart. So here is the link to buy it from Waterstones at 30% off till the 30th July! Don’t say I never do anything for you 😘
Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men (Hardback)
Event of the week
Women's Budget Group
Are you interested in understanding cost of childcare in your local area? Attend our online workshop on 7th July, 10:30am- 12:30pm where we will be calculating cost of childcare.

No previous knowledge of data, maths or statistics required

Find out more:
OK the event isn’t this week, but from experience these sell out quickly, so if you’re interested sign up now!
Calculating the Cost of Childcare: LDP Briefing Series Tickets, Wed 7 Jul 2021 at 10:30 | Eventbrite
Poppy pic of the week
That’s it! Thanks so much for reading!
Don’t forget if you want to support the work we are doing (and get a few extras) you can become a paying GFP here.
Otherwise, until next time, keep GFP-ing! ✊xoxoxo
*Trying a new way of explaining GFP here to new, well, GFPs, since a fair number of people seem to miss the hyperlink 😘
WTF is a GFP?? | Caroline Criado Perez
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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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