Invisible Women

By Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women - THE OLYMPIC EDITION

#57・

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Invisible Women
Invisible Women - THE OLYMPIC EDITION
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #57 • View online
Hello! This newsletter is free to read and it will remain free – but it isn’t free to produce. If you want to support the work that goes into this newsletter please consider becoming a member.Thank you!

HELLLOOOOOO GFPs!!!! And welcome to this, the OLYMPIC EDITION of the Invisible Women newsletter. Don’t worry, it won’t be Olympic sized, only Olympic themed.
FIRST THOUGH…
It’s time for another GFP LIVE! And this time it’s going to be a bit different. First of all I’m going to host it on zoom and live viewing will be limited to members only. But more importantly, it’s not going to just be with me! Regular GFPs may remember that a few issues back I covered the amazing work that Make Space for Girls are doing. Well, founders Susannah and Imogen have very kindly agreed to join us for Episode 2 of GFP LIVE to tell us all about what they are doing, how they got going, and generally to inspire us with how to be a GFP who is getting out there and FIXING IT! I will spend the first half chatting to them and then open up for audience questions so you can ask them whatever you like – maybe advice for doing your own GFPing?!
If you are not yet a member and would like to be part of this zoom you can sign up here. All members who sign up before Monday 9th August (ie by midnight on Sunday the 8th) will be sent a zoom invite along with instructions for how it’s all going to work. Eeeeeh!
I’m EXCITED! (and also a little terrified)
I will be recording the zoom and putting it up on the IW youtube channel after for those who weren’t able to make it. In future I may make (some of) these recordings available only to members too, (not just to be churlish but so people feel more comfortable about speaking freely) but we’re still figuring things out here so for now I’m sticking to the model of GFP LIVE being available to members only, but everyone can watch them after the fact on YouTube.
I also have some news on the members area! Thanks to the many lovely GFPs who got in touch with ideas about where to host this I’ve had a play around with various different platforms and I’m pretty set on Circle as the most user friendly, and also with the best functionality for what we want to do. I’ve been hard at work setting things up there in anticipation that I will plump for their offering for our MIGHTY GFP WORLD DOMINATION PLANS. Their platform also promises that events will be coming soon which will hopefully make GFP LIVE even easier to manage in future – I have a meeting booked in with them tomorrow evening so will report back! And maybe even go live shortly after! EEH! MORE EXCITING!
Sign up! Sign up! Hear ye hear ye! etc.
In other news, you may have noticed this little thing called “The Olympics” that got going recently. Shall we have a look and see how they’re handling the ladies? Oh come on, it can’t be that bad…..🤪
Gender data gap of the week
Back in the misty days of 2016 B[efore]C[ovid] there was another “The Olympics” that took place in Rio, Brazil. And in this Olympics the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted a rule introduced by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to remove headgear for male boxers. If this seems like a batsh*t idea to you, it isn’t.
As, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at the time, “AIBA provided medical and technical data that showed the number of concussions is lower without headgear. They have done a lot of research in the last three years.”
So, the headgear was out. For men.
Female boxers, however would carry on in the headgear BECAAAAAUUUSSE, drum-roll please, of a “relative lack of data”.
Fast forward five years and of course the IOC and AIBA have been busy funding research to get hold of that data right? Let’s see what Will Smith has to say on the matter.
Thanks Will.
He’s right though, because it turns out that the IOC and AIBA have not in fact spent the past five years doing the corresponding “a lot of research” in female boxers and so here we are in 2021 and the men are not wearing headgear because headgear has been shown to increase concussions, but women must carry on wearing headgear because we can’t be bothered to do the research.
As you can imagine, this has annoyed me.
Thanks to pioneering work done by women like Katherine Snedaker and Liz Williams we know that a) women are more susceptible to concussions, b) the symptoms are often more severe and c) the effects often last much longer.
Liz Williams explains :
“Recent research in the neurology field has reported that axons [nerve fibres] in women’s brains are a lot thinner and they have fewer microtubules [hollow tubes that give shape to cells].
"They suggest that, subject to the same external force, a woman’s brain will have a higher risk of injury than a man’s brain.”
So if either sex should be prioritised for concussion research it should be women (of course neither sex should be prioritised, they should just do sex disaggregated research ALWAYS ARGH). That not having happened, because it never does, it is unforgivable for the IOC and AIBA to have sat on their hands for FIVE YEARS and not filled in this crucial data gap.
It has been hypothesized that concussions aren’t as much of an issue for women because they often lack the power to cause brain injuries with their punches. 
Excuse me while I…
Default male of the week
GFPs, this is a story about two sports, one called baseball and one called softball. They are kind of similar, both involve bats and balls and running around a pitch, but there are some key differences, such as the distance between each base (90 feet in baseball; 60 feet in softball); the distance between the where the pitcher and the batter stand (60 ft vs 43 ft); the difference in what the pitcher is standing on (a mound in baseball; a flat circle in softball). And, of course, the fact that, on the whole, softball is played by women, and baseball is played by men.
You can probably see where this is going. And you would be right, because in a classic case of “this’ll do,” the Olympic powers that be decided, for whatever reason, not to bother building a softball pitch for this year’s Olympics. This has meant that the Olympic sport of softball will this year be taking place on a baseball pitch, because NATURALLY they did get around to building a baseball pitch, rather like they got around to doing research on the impact of headgear in male boxers.
The New York Times, which covered this story, quoted a couple of softball players being very game about the whole situation, insisting that they are good enough to “adapt”. and that’s great. But why on earth should they have to adapt? I would love to see the reaction if they built a softball field and told the baseball team to “adapt”.
Me to me
Me to me
Product of the week
Sticking with the sports theme, this week’s product of the week comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by rugby-playing GFPs: some rugby shorts for women that are actually designed for women. Imagine!
Here’s what the creators have to say about them:
Here at ScrumBum we were sick of having to buy men’s and boy’s shorts to play rugby. No matter where we looked it was always just “Rugby Shorts” and they were designed with men in mind. This meant crotch bunching, excess material, rolled up waist bands and shorts that ended up under your armpits. It then became apparent that this was happening in other sports too, and if you wanted a pair of women’s shorts they were going to be very short, very flimsy and not an every day go to short.
Sounds about right. But the ladies at Scrumbum are CLEARLY GFPs because they didn’t just get annoyed: they “decided to take action!”
The finished result is rugby shorts that “have been specially designed for the female competitor. The thick waistband ensures maximum comfort, whilst the cut means no more crotch bunching or unwanted drag from excess material.” They’re even made of 100% recycled material! You can pick up a pair here. Hurrah!
GFPs fixing it
As everyone knows, the workplace is no place for a mother, and the world of sports is no different. Or at least that’s what some corporate sponsors seem to believe.
“Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete,” said Nike-sponsored runner Phoebe Wright in a 2019 New York Times exposé. “There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”
Olympian Kara Goucher scheduled a half-marathon three months after she had her son, Colt because Nike would not pay her until she started racing again. When her son became dangerously ill, she had to leave him in hospital to go and train “for the race that she hoped would restart her pay.”
Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, who was also sponsored by Nike, told Fast Company about competing in the World Championships shortly after she gave birth. “Not only was I still breastfeeding and physically and mentally exhausted from being a first-time mom while training and competing — I was assigned a roommate at the competition. There was no way I could bring my daughter into a shared room with another athlete who is trying to get in her zone.”
And these are the women who have a major corporate sponsor. Lora Webster, a 34-year-old Paralympic volleyball player, doesn’t. She has also kept pregnancies secret, and she and her husband have had to pay thousands of dollars for babysitters while she’s traveling to compete.
But not this time.
Because Allyson Felix is clearly an OLYMPIC SIZED GFP and she is DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. Specifically:
The most decorated Olympian in track and field history is giving fellow athletes $10K each for childcare
😍
Lora Webster is among the recipients of the fund and says she is “floored” by what Felix has done. “It sends the message to all female athletes that we don’t have to choose between motherhood and our sport. We can do both.”
This really is so beautiful, and is why it matters that we have women in positions of power. It’s also an excellent example of what women who get power can and should be doing with it. ✊
Homework of the week
As many GFPs will remember, I miscarried last year. When it happened I was really horrified to discover just how lacking the research is into early pregnancy and miscarriage. We really know very little about it. We don’t know why miscarriage happens, we don’t know how to prevent or treat it.
Part of that is because the research isn’t being done (classic gender data gap) – but it’s also because the research that is being done isn’t standardised, meaning it’s often difficult to compare one study to another.
So I was delighted to come across this project that is looking to address that by developing internationally agreed, standardised sets of outcomes for research in miscarriage prevention and management.
This is such important work. If you work in the field, or if you’ve been through a miscarriage, please get involved. One of the worst things about miscarrying was that no one could tell me WHY. No one seemed interested in even finding out why. It would be great to get that changed.
Our teams need your help to improve miscarriage research | Tommy's
Poppy pic of the week
ferocious
ferocious
That’s it! Until next time, my dear GFPs, and don’t forget to sign up to become a member before Monday if you want in on next week’s VERY EXCITING GFP LIVE!
Love you byeeeee!!! 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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