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Invisible Women - universal adult size

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - universal adult size
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #53 • View online
First things first: I am an idiot. I had forgotten to put the instagram live in my diary and now I’ve got double-booked for doing a tv show called Steph’s Packed Lunch on the same date. ARGH! I’m so sorry!
I am instead therefore going to do the instagram live on WEDNESDAY 23rd JUNE at 12:30. All exactly the same, except 24 hours later. And I’m putting it in my diary now! Thank you very much to members who have already submitted such great questions; since I have screwed up I am giving you till the end of today to get them in! Check your emails for details :)
Oh and I guess you could watch Steph’s Packed Lunch as well? It’s on tomorrow (Tuesday) and I will be spreading the “women-are-not-small-men-and-you-might-like-to-design-for-our-actual-bodies” message HARD. Oh gawd, it’s just occurred to me I will have to wear actual clothes being as this is in an actual studio and not in my home where I can wear pyjamas from the waist down. I miss lockdown 😭
In further CCP-is-an-idiot news, I discovered a bit of a tech screw-up on some of the links I included for becoming a member in the last couple of weeks: a few of them led to a form that was meant to be pre-populated with your email address – but was instead pre-populated with mine. I’m so sorry, especially to the poor person who then tried to become a member using my email address! To whoever that was, I wasn’t able to contact you personally as the email address I had for you was…mine 😬 your membership has been cancelled, but feel free to sign up again! And thank you to the kind GFP who alerted me to the problem ✊
For those of you who want to sign up and would like a correct link, here you go!
AND FINALLY: I had my first period since getting my vaccine. It came on time and was pretty much uneventful. I did experience more hormonal mood-swings than usual, but that could be caused by anything. Anyway, just an extra data point for GFPs worrying about impact on your menstrual cycle. Yes, the evidence suggests it may temporarily affect it, but that doesn’t mean it definitely will. I am still going to be filling out the survey I shared a few newsletters ago, as it’s important to hear from people who haven’t experienced any impact as well was those who have, so we can more accurately determine the number who will be affected. So if you’re vaccinated and get periods, fill it in! And if you aren’t vaccinated: get vaccinated!
And now for something completely different….

Gender data gap of the week
I jest of course. It’s not completely different at all. It’s the exact same s*t as always. Hurrah!
This week in more of the exact same s*t we learn that we don’t believe women when they tell us how much pain they are in.
when male and female patients expressed the same amount of pain, observers viewed female patients’ pain as less intense and more likely to benefit from psychotherapy versus medication as compared to men’s pain, exposing a significant patient gender bias that could lead to disparities in treatments.
Disparities in treatment like, say, the differences in pain relief offered for colonoscopies and prostate biopsies versus hysteroscopies, colposcopies and IUD insertion???
Disparities in treatment like, say, the differences in pain relief offered for colonoscopies and prostate biopsies versus hysteroscopies, colposcopies and IUD insertion???
Additionally, the study concluded that the gender of the perceivers did not influence pain estimation. Both men and women interpreted women’s pain to be less intense.
Thank you. Can we please now put to bed the ridiculous idea that a woman saying something isn’t a sexist is a valid argument for said thing not being in fact sexist? JK of course, the fact that ACTUAL WOMEN CAMPAIGNING AGAINST FEMALE SUFFRAGE didn’t achieve that means this tedious argument will never die.
Meanwhile, would you like a side order of tedium with your tedium? I can help with that!
What’s more, psychotherapy was chosen as more effective than medication for a higher proportion of female patients compared to male patients.
None of this is, of course, news. As I wrote in Invisible Women,failing to listen to female expressions of pain runs deep, and it starts early.” A 2016 study found that fathers perceived the same baby’s cry as expressing more pain when they were told it was a male as opposed to a female baby. Meanwhile, studies going back to the 80s show that when they report pain, women are more likely to be given antidepressants than, you know, pain relief 🤪(For more details see Chapter 11 of Invisible Women)
Which is not to say this study isn’t important: it is. When I was writing Invisible Women it was frustrating how little there was in terms of systematic follow-up on the landmark 1980s and 1990s studies on the extent to which women’s pain is dismissed as psychosomatic in comparison with men’s pain. Disheartening as it is to see how little has changed in forty years, it’s great to have the updated data…that we are still systematically ignoring the important data point that is women’s expressions of pain.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that this study had a female lead author (Lanlan Zhang) and an almost entirely female research team, which chimes with another piece of research I cited in Invisible Women: “an analysis of 1.5 million papers published between 2008–15 found that the likelihood of a study involving gender and sex analysis ‘increases with the proportion of women among its authors’. The effect is particularly pronounced if a woman serves as a leader of the author group.” 
STOP PRESS! Sort of literally! Just as I was finishing up writing this edition, this paper came across my twitter mentions:
Rem Koning
Our new @ScienceMagazine paper shows that biomedical patents invented by all-female teams are 35% more likely to focus on women's health than all-male teams. Only 4% of these patents are from all-female teams suggesting there are 1,000s of missing female-focused inventions.
it's almost like representation matters or something???
it's almost like representation matters or something???
STOP PRESS TWO! And THEN Caitlin Moran went and covered the painful IUD issue!
Why we all need pain relief when having an IUD fitted | Magazine | The Times
Closing the gender data gap one GFP at a time ✊
Default male of the week
In the introduction to Invisible Women I had a little rant about how what is male is seen as universal, while what is female is seen as niche:
It is because what is male is universal that when a professor at Georgetown University named her literature course ‘White Male Writers’, she hit the headlines, while the numerous courses on ‘female writers’ pass unremarked.
It is because what is male is universal (and what is female is niche) that a film about the fight of British women for their right to vote is slammed (in the Guardian, no less) as ‘peculiarly hermetic’ for not covering the First World War – sadly proving that Virginia Woolf’s 1929 observation (‘This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room’) is still relevant today. It is why V. S. Naipaul criticises Jane Austen’s writing as ‘narrow’, while at the same time no one is expecting The Wolf of Wall Street to address the Gulf War, or Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard to write about anyone but himself (or quote more than a single female writer) to receive praise from the New Yorker for voicing ‘universal anxieties’ in his six-volume autobiography.
It is why the England national football team page on Wikipedia is about the men’s national football team, while the women’s page is called the England women’s national football team, and why in 2013 Wikipedia divided writers into ‘American Novelists’ and ‘American Women Novelists’. (IW, pp.12-13)
So you can imagine my reaction when I was sent this tweet:
Two Jabs in the High Peak
How can a well known helmet manufacturer put a universal fit starting at 54 when the mean women's head circumference is 54.5cm. This misses out a whole bunch of us.
GFPs Fixing it
So. LAST week, you may remember I highlighted the sterling work of GFP Naomi and her one-woman campaign to collect data on default male school readers.
WELL! This generated a huge response and I’m just going to highlight a few.
First off, GFP Jess, who pointed us to A Mighty Girl, a website that lists a huge range of books with female protagonists.
GFP Alexandra, who got in touch to say she too changes the sex of characters in books like Dear Zoo, but who worries about confusing her daughter when she starts to read. “What I wish existed,” she writes, “is a set of stickers in different font sizes with "her” and “she” on them that I could stick onto the books. I’ve googled, but all that comes up are stickers people can wear announcing their pronouns. 
Do you think any of your readers might know of where I can get some and/or we could get some made?“
Mind. Blown.
SHALL WE MAKE SOME OF OUR OWN?? Yes I have actually set up a survey to get answers to this question 😃
ANYWAY, then the big guns came out, because GFP Jen and GFP Debbie got in touch, from the campaign End Sexism In Schools, a new grassroots campaign set up last October, and "made up of (angry) parents, teachers, School Governors and young people”
Our first campaign is crowd researching (whole) novels read in English in secondary schools to publish the evidence - because although we know that Naomi’s findings are true throughout the whole taught curriculum, there is little actual published evidence.
And they want our help! (OK, so there may be a little homework in this section AS WELL AS in the homework of the week section so sue me)
Anyone can volunteer as little as 15-30 minutes from the comfort of their own home to contribute! Our team provides full instructions on what to do and is on hand if anyone encounters difficulties but it’s really simple to do. You can see our data as it comes in which really starts to hammer home the problem. 
Data check: does it?
Oh wow. Yep, yes it does.
Anyway, this is only the start for these excellent GFPs:
We’re planning all sorts of other activities, including creating resources to support schools in shifting the gender imbalance out of the curriculum and calling for Ofsted to take responsibility and actually inspect schools for equality (they currently don’t).
If you want to keep up with their work you can also follow them on Twitter @NoSchoolSexism.
Product of the week
Wow! a LOT of you wrote in to help out our GFP who would like to swim while in possession of boobs! There were hundreds of responses, from which two strong themes emerged:
  1. Bravissimo, who many GFPs said not only do sell by bra size, but also have a sports swimsuit section, from which several GFPs recommended the Zoggs and Speedo version. Since I am a lazy yet vain GFP I have fallen in love with this one and now I need to find myself an excuse to buy it despite having no near term plans to be near any water that is warm enough to swim in 🧐
  2. MANY GFPs had Very Strong Feelings about Deakin and Blue, a swimwear company started by a woman, Rosie, who had the exact same problem as our GFP from last week:
“I realised that swimwear offered either style or substance but almost never both. On one hand – beautiful, flimsy bikinis for lounging about and ordering cocktails; on the other – serious sportswear that offered little shape, support or style. But I wanted a swimsuit that could offer me both.”
Clearly, Rosie is a GFP-in-waiting, since like any good GFP, she decided to solve the problem herself…and started by collecting the data 😍
She has now developed a set of pieces made from regenerated ocean waste and with a 3 body shape system so that the designs fit “a range of body shapes and sizes.” Some of them are a little pricier than your standard swimsuit, but the fabric they use is not only sustainable and ethically produced, it’s also “twice as resistant to chlorine, sun cream and oil as standard Lycra®” so they should last twice as long. Hooray!
They are also gorgeous and now I have a serious problem 😬
Anyway, since you were all so helpful to last week’s GFP, how’s about a go at this one??
FIRST UP: did any of you get a response from Levi’s??? I sure didn’t…maybe we should give another jeans company the benefit of our money! Happy to take another recommendation of a mainstream jeans company that would be up for committing to proper pockets for women in all its jeans!
In the meantime, “enjoy” this pic sent in by GFP Nicole
Dr Nicole Ackermans 🐑 (she/her)
@CCriadoPerez @LEVIS @Levis_UK May I contribute: the same size @LEVIS for women and men (half my forearm fits in the pocket!)
But onto your homework, which I know you are all KEEN to receive 😘
Before I researched and wrote Invisible Women, I thought what a lot of people think: homelessness affects men more than women. It’s a fair assumption: you are more likely to see a homeless man on the street than a homeless woman, and of course, the official data does represent it as a male-dominated problem. But, as I discovered, “there is reason to doubt the official data on this issue.”
Homelessness is usually measured by counting those who use homeless services, but this approach only works if men and women are equally likely to use these services, and they aren’t. Women made homeless as a result of domestic violence are often likely to seek refuge in domestic-violence shelters rather than homeless shelters. In the UK this means that they will not be counted as homeless. They are also likely to live in precarious arrangements with other people, ‘without their own front door, privacy and their own living space, and without access to any housing of their own to which they have a legal right’. Sometimes, as witnessed by the recent rise in ‘sex for rent’ agreements across the UK, they will, like women in refugee camps, be sexually exploited.
According to Canadian research, women fall into these precarious arrangements because they don’t feel safe in the official emergency accommodation, especially when it’s mixed sex. And these safety issues are not a product of women’s imaginations: the CCPA calls the levels of violence experienced by women in shelters ‘staggering’. Supposedly ‘gender-neutral’ services that are ‘presumed to be equally accessible for men and women’, concludes the CCPA, ‘actually put women at significant risk’. (Invisible Women, p.307)
Ever since writing those paragraphs I have become ever more frustrated with lazy gender neutral approaches to homelessness that don’t account for the female experience – despite the fact that women are actually *more likely than men to experience homelessness*.
So you can imagine my delight when GFP Caroline (no not me, ANOTHER GFP CAROLINE 😱) got in touch to tell me about a project she was involved in called 18 Keys: “a capital fundraising project to address the lack of intensive support for women who have experienced long term street homelessness”
These women are often harder for outreach teams to find as they seek out night buses, libraries, A&E departments, airports, or anywhere they judge to be safer than the street. The fact women are also intimidated by the overwhelmingly male environment of hostels and day centres means they are considerably less visible and so much harder to support.
We know from the data available, including these shocking life expectancy statistics, that women sleeping rough tend to be in poorer mental and physical health than their male counterparts.
The project is led by Campaign Committee comprising 18 women from diverse backgrounds and with a great range of talents and expertise and it is currently at the design and planning stage – which means you can make a real impact. 18 Keys, 18 campaign committee members, 18 studio apartments when it is finished. 
So what is your homework, you ask, the massive keenos that you are. GIVE US HOMEWORK!
First of all: DONATE. Whatever you can. Big or small. It all counts, it all adds up.
And second: if you want to get involved, or know someone who should, get in touch.
That’s it! Easy as pie, don’t say I never do anything for you 😘
Poppy pic of the week
Poppy is as pooped as you are after reading this newsletter
Poppy is as pooped as you are after reading this newsletter
That’s it! Thanks for reading, sharing, replying and acting, my lovely wonderful GFPs 😍
Until next time! 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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