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Invisible Women: women's many bad lifestyle choices

Invisible Women
Invisible Women: women's many bad lifestyle choices
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #73 • View online

Hellloooooo GFPs! If you missed out on Friday’s GFP Live with the brilliant Tracy Chou, DON’T PANIC! I recorded it and it’s now available as usual on the Invisible Women YouTube channel, AND I thought I’d try uploading it as well to SoundCloud for those of you who prefer a podcast-like experience. I’ll be honest it’s also because I managed to screw up the video and most of it is in gallery view 😭. I still have no idea how that happened.
ANYWAY, it was a really fascinating chat and I recommend a listen for anyone who’s interested in women & tech, start-ups, and sexism in investment. Also worth a listen if you’re interested in anti-harassment tools, although be warned, both Tracy and I get a little bit into what we’ve been through with online harassment so it might be triggering for some.
On that note, I do thoroughly recommend Block Party, the anti-harassment tool Tracy has developed for social media. I’ve been using it for a while now and it really does make my Twitter experience better: the best thing about it is feeling more in control of when I am going to engage with material that might possibly upset me, ie, at a time of my choosing rather than whenever some random person on the internet decides to take a cr4p on my day. It’s also useful being able to hand Block Party over to someone else to go through for me and, on a darker note, very useful for being able to keep track of people you don’t want in your normal twitter mentions, but who you’re worried may escalate, a capability which is a major gap in the main platforms’ anti-harassment tools.
Block Party is free to use, although Tracy has recently launched some extra functionality for premium users – and has very kindly offered GFPs a month free 🙌 Just use the code GFP2021
And no, this isn’t a paid ad, I just really believe in what she’s doing and happen to think the app is great.
Anyway, here is the video:
GFP LIVE x Blockparty
GFP LIVE x Blockparty
And here is the SoundCloud!
Stream episode GFP LIVE x Blockparty by Invisible Women podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud
IN OTHER NEWS: It was so great to see so many of you at my Durham and Leeds events last week, and a huge thank you to Rose George and Jess Knappett for being such brilliant chairs 😍
For those of you who have yet to book in for my Manchester date on Wednesday, there are still a few tickets left, including this one right in the middle of the stalls…
wtf, Row F
wtf, Row F
There are also seats up in the various circles, so if you would like to come and don’t fancy being right in the middle of the stalls on your own (although no shade if you do, in fact I salute you) you have other options! And don’t forget, GFPs get a 15% discount, just type VISIBLE15 in at the checkout. Hooray!
Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women | What's On | The Lowry
Gender data gap of the week
GFPs, I can’t believe I missed World Menopause Day last Monday! Well, I mean, yes I can because as women over the age of 50 have often told me (and yes I know it’s normal for the menopause to start 5 years earlier than that and for some women it comes even earlier), if women are invisible in general, older women are…what’s more than invisible? Practically non-existent? So yes, Ms Invisible Women herself missing a day to mark the women who are perhaps the most invisible of all is an irony that is not lost on me.
Luckily, just as it’s not illegal to write about women on a day other than the 8th of March, I am reliably informed that writing about the menopause outside of World Menopause Day is also allowed. So let’s jump in – and just as a heads up, this week’s Homework of the Week is all about fixing the issues I’m about to raise here so DO NOT MISS THAT SECTION
The first thing to say about the menopause is that I’m terrified of reaching this inevitable life stage. I’m terrified because the symptoms sound terrible (although I should stress this is not apparently the case for all women, although the data is naturally quite 🤪 on that point) and because I have no confidence that when it starts for me my doctor will a) recognise that this is what is happening and b) will be able to treat me adequately.
I have good reasons for my lack of confidence. First, just watching my friends go through it has made me realise how patchy and inconsistent menopause care is, and therefore how much of my own research and self-advocating I will have to do - yet another woman-tax on my time I am not looking forward to.
More broadly, the evidence tells me that my friends’ experiences are fairly standard and that the reason behind the substandard and patchy treatment is a lack of training. A recent FOI by Menopause Support found that 41% of UK medical schools do not have mandatory menopause education on the curriculum.
ikr, Barack. The universities defended this practice by explaining that “they expected their students to gain menopause education whilst on GP training placements,” but this, says Diane Danzebrink, the founder of Menopause Support, is not good enough. “It relies entirely on whether the GP trainer is knowledgeable about menopause and HRT and is following up-to-date NICE menopause guidance and advice. Unfortunately, many have little or no formal menopause education and are not familiar with current guidance.”
Members of Diane’s 18,500 strong menopause support community group and women more widely on social media repeatedly say they are denied treatment even though HRT is the first line recommended treatment under NICE guidelines.
“Many women say they are turned away by their doctor, denied treatment for debilitating symptoms when they are not recognised as being connected to menopause and incorrectly offered antidepressants rather than first line treatment which is HRT.”  
The result is that almost half of women going through the menopause have been forced into paying for private care because their GPs are failing them, either by refusing to prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or failing to provide adequate support in some other way.
Oh and by the way, remember how a few weeks ago we spoke about how insurance companies refuse to cover a women’s stress incontinence because pregnancy is a “choice” but will cover her husband’s knee injury because football is the sixth law of thermodynamics? (The fifth law of thermodynamics is we don’t talk about thermodynamics). Anyway, it turns out that menopause must also be one of women’s many bad lifestyle choices, because that isn’t covered by most insurers either.
women
women
Meanwhile, as Lisa, the GFP who first alerted me to this gap pointed out, “all prostate issues are covered, even benign prostatic hypertrophy which occurs to some extent in ALL males as they age.” Her insurer would not, however, cover for “vaginal atrophy (amongst 100 other things) to be investigated because it is part of the menopause. WTF do women pay medical insurance for???”
Anyway what this means is that even women who are lucky enough to be able to afford medical insurance find they are not covered. In their desperation women are turning to friends and family to help them scrape together the money for their private treatment. Other women borrow on credit cards, and end up in debt
It’s also worth noting that suicide rates are highest for women between the ages of 45-54, which happen to coincide with the average perimenopause and early post-menopausal years. Both Menopause Support and Louise Newson (a leading menopause specialist who this week told The Times she has more than 10,000 women on her waiting list, most of whom have been denied hormone replacement therapy by GPs) believe that this peak in suicides is connected to the menopause.
Newson also points out that the failure to provide adequate menopause support “is a problem for the NHS because menopausal women who are not treated adequately are more likely to have a heart attack or a hip fracture due to osteoporosis.” Meanwhile, “40 per cent of NHS employees are menopausal women and 20 per cent of menopausal women give up their jobs.”
But despite compelling evidence that menopausal women are being failed by the NHS, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) continues to insist that there is no problem.
live footage of RCGP headquarters
live footage of RCGP headquarters
Look, they say*, will you bl00dy stop being so bl00dy hysterical. The menopause is already in the curriculum, u idiots. Although could we please also clarify that we don’t actually deliver or approve the training programmes and nor do we supervise the trainees and in any case you can’t insist that some conditions [like ones that literally 50% of the population will go through] are mandatory and others aren’t THAT’S JUST CRAZY TALK.
I’ll admit I’m at a bit of a loss here over whether they are saying it is mandatory (already in the curriculum) or it isn’t mandatory (making it mandatory is crazy talk) so let’s go to Mr Obama to see what he thinks about it all
no me neither
no me neither
*my legal team aka poppy has advised me i should clarify i have no evidence that the RCGP has called women hysterical. they’re just acting like that which, legal counsel informs me, is not the same thing
Default male of the week
Meanwhile, in Germany, some men are getting very upset at the idea of cars no longer killing women. Apparently, Katharina Fegebank, a Green politician and senator for Science and Equality (can we just take a moment to stan that title, I would KILL for a senator for science and equality), very foolishly said,
In many ways, men are still the measure of all things for industry. This applies to the design of car seats, which for many women are not well-shaped. Among other things, because their legs and arms are usually shorter. The same applies to uncomfortable seat belts that can cut some people’s chests, to airbags that are measured for taller people.
And further: the typical crash test dummy measures 1.75 and weighs 78 kilos, the alternative dummy even 1.88 m and weighs 101 kilograms. This alone shows that car safety is also viewed as masculine - primarily by male engineers. [translation by Google]
This was TOO MUCH for Daniel Peters at German tabloid BILD:
If the Greens have their way, not only the German language will be “crossed over” in the future. Soon it will also be “gender inclusive” in the production of cars and in accident research! [translation also by Google]
😂 hahahahaha ikr, Danny, too funny that women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die if they’re in a car crash – imagine anyone wanting to do anything about that hahahahaha what r women like lmfao
Danny goes on to quote someone from VW who says “Volkswagen cars are generally also developed by and with women. There is safety and comfort for all occupants - perfectly tailored to all genders and body sizes. “
Oh well if a car manufacturer says it’s fine I’m sure it is! There’s definitely no history of Volkswagen being dishonest about its cars and anyway probably women are just making it up when we point out an average female car crash test dummy literally doesn’t exist and the stats about women being so much more likely to die are probably GREEN PROPAGANDA amirite Danny.
Next up, Markus Arndt weighs in and he’s just Furious — FURIOUS — with Katharina Fegebank for thinking women are “too stupid and clumsy to adjust a car seat or the seat belt.” Oh Marcus, your chivalry knows no bounds bestill my beating heart
According to Marcus, thinking women are too stupid or clumsy to adjust a car that literally cannot be adequately adjusted to be safe for their bodies “is the only way to explain that Fegebank still believes in a prototype male road user who drives to work and back.“
I mean, I dunno Marcus, like, it could also be that this is what the data shows about typical male vs typical female travel? I’ve heard that there’s a very good book that’s quite instructive on this topic, it’s even available in German 😘
This article, by the way, was published on the 15th October. On the 18th October this happened:
I’m sure the lack of care for women’s lives displayed in the 15th October article is in no way connected to the editor allegedly treating his place of work like a frat house, what do you think Barack?
Fair.
GFPs fixing it
Back in the misty days of 2016, after the Bank of England had agreed to feature one (1) female historical figure on the back of their banknotes, but before we had our first statue of a woman in Parliament Square, I decided to spend my weekend counting. Specificaly, counting statues – all of the 925 statues listed in the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association database. Following my realisation that all the statues in London’s Parliament Square were of men, I couldn’t help but wonder: where are the women??
After a bit of googling, I came across this database, and I’ll be honest, I assumed I would just be able to click a button and the database would automatically disaggregate by male/female.
In my defence, this was before I had started writing Invisible Women
In my defence, this was before I had started writing Invisible Women
Anyway, so I decided I would disaggregate them myself, by hand. And actually I ended up being glad I did, because I found out all sorts of interesting things I wouldn’t otherwise have realised, such as that of all the statues of fictional characters, only one was from a work by a woman, or that there are more statues of men called John than there are of named, historical, non-royal women – and that the only reason women pipped the Johns was because of Queen Victoria, whose love of erecting statues of herself I have a grudging respect for.
I discovered that female statues were most likely to be allegorical, naked, and only there to provide an adoring foil to your Great Man — Virginia Woolf’s female looking-glass made stone, rather like this statue of a half-naked Euterpe weeping over Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan. Or, more precisely, Sullivan’s head, because why pass up a perfectly good opportunity to hammer home the universal truth that men represent the life of the mind while women scrabble around in their own sordidly corporeal filth, GROSS (but also hot because #men)
top man head
top man head
Failing that, the Virgin Mary is always popular, as is the good old random naked female, as in this rather fetching “Girl in a Hat” at Birmingham University…
nice hat
nice hat
…which incidentally has a facade that features statues of twelve historical men ranging from Shakespeare to Virgil.
more men
more men
After all that excitement almost the least interesting outcome of the whole exercise was my discovery that only 2.7% of all the statues in the database were of named, historical, non-royal women (one of whom was a ghost and only there because she was (probably still is, poor lass) looking for the spirit of her murdered husband.)
By contrast, named, historical men made up 54% of the UK’s statue population (82% of male statues were of this type).
But why, you ask, am I digging up all this arcane statue knowledge now? Well, because it seems that SOMEONE ELSE has also decided to have LOTS OF FUN counting statues. Specifically, statues in London. Although it seems they got paid to do it and now I feel like a MUG.
Anyway, their findings are similarly instructive. The stand-out line here is that “the number of sculptures that feature animals in London is double that of named women”. Only 4% of London’s monuments are dedicated to named women. The study does not as far as I’m aware distinguish between royal and non-royal women, but given my previous findings, where royal women made up 68.8% of the total, that brings the total female numbers down to….2.6%, which is quite remarkably similar to my own count.
For women of colour, naturally, it’s worse: just 0.2% of all sculptures in London “are dedicated to women of colour” and I’m quoting there because I’m not sure what “dedicated to” means. When I did my count I was only looking at figurative statues because, to be blunt, abstract representations are a total waste of time if your aim is to diversify public representation. When someone is walking through a city, you have seconds, if that, of their attention; if your aim is to level up the amount of space women, and in particular, women of colour, take up in our minds compared to the default male, you’d better make sure your sculpture is very obviously a woman. Do I sound annoyed? Well you try having this argument a million times 0ver three years and see how calm you sound 🤪
ANYWAY, now comes the good news! The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who incidentally was also mayor when we got the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, has just announced a £1m fund for community-led organisations who want to diversify their public spaces. SO, if YOU are a London-based community-led organisation, get on it! You can submit an application for a grant worth up to £25,000 – and it doesn’t have to be a statue! It can be other kinds of street art, or street names or some other kind of project that changes the story we are telling through our public spaces. The deadline for the first round of funding is 12pm, on Wednesday 12 January. So, GFPs, get cracking!
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 😍
Product of the week
Goodness gracious me, GFPs, did last week’s pockets-in-leggings special whip you into you a verbal frenzy.
FIRST OF ALL, someone TOLD ON ME to Rainbows and Sparkles! Come on, own up, WHO WAS IT.
Anyway, a very lovely lady got in touch to inform me that while their older styles only have a waistband pocket, several of their newer styles have a side pocket instead, and in other styles still, like this one, you can choose between either a back pocket or a side pocket, to which, like the little girl in the ad, I can only say
wise words to live by
wise words to live by
Their designs are gorgeous, so other GFPs may vary, but I remain tough on pocket rationing, tough on the causes of pocket rationing and therefore decline to buy while pocket rationing remains in place.
In a similar vein, several GFPs tried to convince me that these M&S leggings suited the brief – to which this GFP says: accept no pocket rationing! While M&S leggings include only one side pocket they can get in the bin.
GFP Roos got me temporarily excited about adidas’s POCKET FILTER
I was all
…until I started clicking on the leggings themselves, only to find MORE INEXPLICABLE POCKET RATIONING.
All the leggings I clicked on had one single solitary pocket. My favourite was one pair that boasted a “hidden zip side pocket” that was so hidden I couldn’t figure out at all where it even was to figure out if this single solitary pockets was in any way functional. Adidas: we are not ashamed of our pockets! Spend less time hiding them and more time providing them
GFP Tracy got in touch to recommend Feed Me Fight Me, a veteran-owned activewear company that donates a portion of their profits to combat veteran homelessness, addiction and PTSD
Our Paddleboarding club often have conversations about the best leggings as they’re the best thing to wear when out on the water, not too hot, not too cold, can layer up, can dry quickly in case of a splash and having access to stuff is essential so pockets are a must.
The leggings all have 2 side pockets, and as Tracy points out, the contribution to charity is an added bonus, as, I will add, are the bright, fun designs – if I have to go do some boring exercise could I not do it in boring leggings please and thank you and yes I’m aware that my list of demands gets longer and more demanding as we go
GFP Serena got in touch to suggest Girlfriend Collective leggings, which have a lot to recommend them: ethically made, eco-friendly (they’re made out of recycled ocean waste) and they seem very size-inclusive, which is something a lot of GFPs have been asking for and I know is a common criticism of brands like Lululemon. And, for the purposes of this section, they have two side pockets. No waistband pocket, but this brand does have a lot of other things going for it, so some GFPs may feel that a lack of waistband pocket is a price worth paying. It’s a US-based brand, but does seem to be available in the UK here.
GFP Katy pointed me towards these leggings from the Swedish based Nine Pines, which she described “the perfect leggings” due to the trifecta of being warm, having large pockets, and staying up. They also plant a tree for every order. “Dreamy,” concludes Katy and who am I to argue with that.
Next up, a VERY strong contender from This Mum Runs, submitted by GFP Gail. Love the brand name, love the company concept (which is all about connecting mums for runs – and they even have an app for that), but most of all LOVE THE POCKETS:
A product description that has CLEARLY been written by a GFP
A product description that has CLEARLY been written by a GFP
They also make a point about their sizes being inclusive, “because we believe that running is for everyone, regardless of size or experience.”
This Mum Runs HQ, I imagine
This Mum Runs HQ, I imagine
In answer to my call-out for toasty winter running leggings, GFP Kirsten kindly got in touch to recommend these by Title Nine, which initially had me very excited as I love the striated pattern (I was very sad when Sweaty Betty stopped doing that design as I find most of their newer patterns absolutely hideous) and I love the mission, but WHY OH WHY ONLY ONE POCKET?? THAT’S NOT VERY TITLE NINEY OF YOU, TITLE NINE
The same pocket rationing problem arose with GFP Daisy and GFP Hannah’s kind suggestions of thermal leggings from, respectively, Running Bare and Acai Outdoorwear, both of which have sadly fallen victim to the pocket rationing virus.
look they made Leslie Knope cry, HOW COULD THEY
look they made Leslie Knope cry, HOW COULD THEY
GFP Hannah alerted me to another organisation focused on getting Mums out to run called Run Mummy Run. They two have two thigh pockets and a back zip pocket, AND they are soon releasing a thermal version of their leggings. So, one to watch.
GFP Jennifer pointed me towards Oiselle, where all my pocket and legging dreams could come true. Like Adidas, they have a pockets filter…
Which unlike Adidas does not lead to leggings with a single pocket that is so hidden it is invisible to the human eye, but to this:
😍
😍
I think we may have a winner! Phew!
Leslie always has our back
Homework
RIGHT, GFPs, we’re trying something a bit new this week – I hope it works! Thanks to the generosity of GFPs who support this newsletter with a paid membership, I felt able to buy a bit of software that is going to enable us to easily email MPs about the issues GFPs care about.
They’re going to love it! And us! 😇
SO THIS WEEK, I’m asking you all to email your MP to ask them to attend the second reading of Carolyn Harris’s Menopause Bill.
All you have to do is click here and enter your postcode. That will take you to a pre-populated page ready to click send to your MP. All you’ll need to do is finish filling out your address (so they know you are a constituent), make any edits to the email that you’d like – the more personalised it is the better and I would encourage you in particular to change the subject header to make sure they open it –and then click send. And that’s it! I estimate it will take you all of 3 minutes absolute maximum. So go on!
ALSO! Just quickly sign this petition demanding mandatory menopause training for doctors, because as Barack Obama says*, wtf how is it not mandatory not already??
Petition · Make Menopause Matter in Healthcare, Employment and Education. #MakeMenopauseMatter · Change.org
*legal counsel has advised me i should clarify i have no evidence barack obama ever said this, however i strongly believe that were he to hear about this massive raging data gap, his reaction would definitely fall somewhere in that ballpark
Thanks, Bar
Legal counsel pic of the week
That’s it! See you next week, 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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