Archives for : April2015

Pope Francis: It’s ‘pure scandal’ that women earn less than men for the same work

Pope Francis image

‘At the same time, we must recognise the maternity of women and the paternity of men as a perennially valid treasure, for the benefit of children’ … Pope Francis spoke out for women’s rights on Wednesday at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he supports equal pay for men and women who perform the same jobs. The fact that a disparity exists, the pontiff said, is a “pure scandal.”

Francis’s comments highlighted the church’s longstanding social teachings on workers’ rights, in a speech on the importance of marriage in society.

In his Wednesday general audience remarks, Francis asked Catholics to consider “the Christian seed of radical equality between men and women” when discussing the reasons behind declining marriage rates around the world, according to Vatican Radio.

In response, Christians should “become more demanding” for that “radical equality,” the Pope added. For example, “by supporting the right of equal pay for equal work.”

“Why should it be taken for granted that women must earn less than men? The disparity is pure scandal,” Francis said, according to the Italian news service ANSA.

“The witness of the social dignity of marriage shall become persuasive, precisely by this way: the way of witness that attracts,” he added.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Pope also said it was “not true” and an “insult” to suggest that women’s rights movements should take the blame for declining marriage rates. Doing so “is a form of chauvinism that always wants to control the woman,” Francis said.

John Carr, until recently the longtime head of the social justice arm of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Francis’ statement is not new in Catholic teaching, but that the pope is highlighting it in a notable context – saving families.

“Others talk about the moral pressures on families, but he also focuses on the economic issues. He is stating it in the context of the importance of the family and he considers economic justice essential to the family,” Carr said.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II addressed the issue of equal pay directly in a “letter to women,” writing that ” there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights.”

Francis’s message on Wednesday was also in line with another influential aspect of Catholic teaching on gender found in John Paul II’s work, on the “complementary” natures of men and women.

“At the same time, we must recognise the maternity of women and the paternity of men as a perennially valid treasure, for the benefit of children,” Francis said.

The Washington Post


Henry Sapiecha

UN report reveals the countries where it is hardest to be a woman

Over the past two decades, the number of women in the paid workforce has fallen from 52 to 50 per cent

Over the past two decades, the number of women in the paid workforce has fallen from 52 to 50 per cent. Photo: Michele Mossop

The United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality, UN Women, has released a damning report on the progress of women worldwide.

Its headline findings include that women earn three-quarters of men’s earnings and do almost two and a half times the domestic work.

But the report, more than 300 pages long, also contains sobering figures about what life is like for women in specific countries.

Over the past two decades, the number of women overall in the paid workforce has fallen from 52 to 50 per cent. But some countries have fared better than others.

In Australia, there is a clear gap between 58.8 per cent of women in paid work compared with 71.8 per cent of men.

Greece, which has waved the flag for economic woes in Europe, has 44.2 per cent of women in the workforce, while rising economic powerhouse India has just 27 per cent and Iran 16.6 per cent.

This is not necessarily bad news. As the UN report states, declining female participation rates in India are due to both a general lack of opportunities for women as well as younger women staying in education.


The UN has looked at the poorest 20 per cent of households and, within those, the level of education women have attained. (This doesn’t involve statistics on developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand or the United States.)

The report notes that women with little or no education are forced to accept whatever low-paid, low-skilled work is available.

Yemen and Pakistan are standout non-performers, with 93 per cent of women in their poorest households having had no formal education. Despite improvements in education in India, 85 per cent of the women in this group are uneducated, with similar levels recorded in Sierra Leone and Nepal.


“Across all economies and cultures, women and girls carry out the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work,”  the report states.

Globally, it finds that there is a large gap between the time women spend cooking, cleaning and caring and the time men put in. Women also tend to pick up the slack where health and childcare services are not widely available. And where water and energy are not easy to access.

As the graph shows, women in Guatemala do almost seven hours of unpaid work a day, compared with 82 minutes for men.

Turkish women do more than six hours, compared with116 minutes for men.

Australian women are not that far behind at five hours. But here there is more effort made by men, who do almost three hours.


A very important measure for women’s well-being and safety is the healthcare to which they have access, particularly when they are having a baby.

The UN has examined the number of nurses and midwives there are per 1000 people across the world, and finds that some women have to make do with very little professional support when they may need it most.

Australia is well supplied with 10.6 nurses and midwives per 1000 people.

This is significantly more than Pacific neighbour Fiji (2.2) and ​Asian neighbour Vietnam (1.1), and considerably more than Italy and Liberia, with just 0.3 each.


Henry Sapiecha


These were on sale at the markets today, presumably next to the leeches and butter churns.

girl & boy signs image


Henry Sapiecha



Outlander: The sex scenes in this series – the continuing adventures of time-travelling nurse Claire Randall – have been praised for their rare female gaze: the main dude’s a virgin (well, ‘was’ a virgin), there’s no gratuitous nudity, and Claire’s sexually empowered, often making the first move.


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The Spectacular Now (2013): You won’t find a more honest depiction of first-time sex. No hysterical giggling, no over-anxious pawing – just quiet nervousness and steamy longing.


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The Affair: Unlike Hollywood’s female ‘O’-face fixation, this series portrays sex more realistically: “Why have I always got to do the orgasm face? There should be a male orgasm face. Why is it always the woman who’s orgasming? Let’s analyze the male orgasm,” said star Ruth Wilson.


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Blue Valentine (2010): Ryan Gosling famously went after the MPAA after they slapped the film with a box office-killing NC-17 rating due to a scene in which his character goes down on Michelle Williams’: “There’s plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it’s a man receiving it from a woman – and they’re R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it’s perceived as pornographic.” Isn’t he dreamy?


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Don’t Look Now (1973): There’s no denying the raw power of this film’s infamous sex scene; the emotional intimacy is ramped up by director Nicholas Roeg’s decision to intercut stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland’s roll in the sheets with scenes of domesticity as the couple get dressed to go out.


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Coming Home (1978): The sex scene, in which paraplegic veteran Luke (Jon Voight) shows conservative military wife Sally (Jane Fonda) the tenderness that leads to her first orgasm, is a stunner.


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Out Of Sight (1998): Remember George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez’s super romantic “interlude” in a hotel room on a snowy night?


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Pride & Prejudice (2005): Not even first base, but the final scene on the moors, when Lizzie kisses Darcy’s cold hand, is hot enough to melt the permafrost.


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Titanic (1997): The steamed-up window that launched a thousand fanfics.


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Black Swan (2010): In between the horrifying hangnail incident and the rest of Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-related horror schlock, there was a brief moment of steamy respite in Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman’s sex scene.


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Pleasantville (1998): In retrospect, Gary Ross’ Pleasantville feels a little heavy-handed, except for the scene in which Joan Allen’s Betty Parker masturbates to orgasm for the first time in the bath, and her black and white world suddenly explodes into colour.


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Y Tu Mamá También (2001): Alfonso Cuarón’s wonderful road movie has a number of ~moments~, but few compare with the film’s crescendo, a threesome between the much older Luisa (Maribel Verdú) and the barely legal Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna).


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The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Pt 1 (2011): The bit before the bed-breaking bonking – perfect depiction of foreplay at its dumb, slightly embarrassing best.


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9½ Weeks (1986): Includes everything from Basinger’s strip tease to ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ to the hottest midnight fridge raid of all time.


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Atonement (2007): Proof that sometimes the sexiest sex scenes happen fully clothed.


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Take This Waltz (2011): Michelle Williams’ character Margot has an (extended) sexual awakening when she finally gets it on with the dreamy Luke Kirby, not to mention a few extra men and women.


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Wayne’s World (1992): Damned if there’s not a better example of how FUN sex can be than when Wayne finally gets into bed with Cassandra in her cool loft apartment, socks and all.



Henry Sapiecha

ESPN reporter Britt McHenry’s ‘Mean Girls’ routine evokes little sympathy

mchenry on show image www.goodgirlsgo (2)

ESPN has suspended reporter Britt McHenry after a video surfaced of her insulting a towing company clerk’s intelligence, job and appearance.

It seemed more like a scene from Mean Girls, as Deadline Hollywood suggested in its headline: “Mean Girl remarks caught on video.”

There she was, ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, in a sweatshirt and blonde bun, berating a towing company clerk after her car was towed from a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia. “I’m on television, and you’re in a f—ing trailer, honey,” she said.

“That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.” “Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?” “Lose some weight, baby girl.”

It’s been a day since a video showing her lash-out lit up the internet. After it was leaked, ESPN responded, saying that the station has suspended her for one week. But, for many, that’s not enough.

People took to social media, calling her a “disastrous role model” and saying her rant did a “major disservice to female sports journalists.” Someone even invented the hashtag #firebrittmchenry.

One blogger created a poll asking whether she should be fired. Someone else launched an online petition to try to make sure that happens. Early Friday morning, it had more than 500 signatures.

McHenry, 28, from Mount Holly Township, New Jersey, got a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. After she joined the network in 2014 from Washington’s WJLA, she was given high accolades by ESPN’s Senior Vice President and Director of News, Vince Doria.

“In a relatively short time, Britt has established a reputation for strong, aggressive reporting in the DC area, and an ability to land big interviews,” Doria said, according to CNN. “Her presence there will be a great benefit to ESPN’s newsgathering and, as with all of our bureau reporters, she will be assigned to high-profile stories around the country.”

The website, LiveLeaks, which posted the video online, said the incident at the towing company occurred on April 5. The next day, McHenry posted a comment on Twitter calling the company “corrupt,” according to news reports. She has since deleted it. On Thursday afternoon, she posted a statement, apologising for her behaviour.

“In an intense and stressful moment,” she wrote, “I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”

Some have come to her defence, arguing that although her rant was wrong, many others in shoes don’t behave much better.

There wasn’t a lot of love for the towing company either. Some thought Advanced Towing in Arlington, Virginia, had it coming.

Earlier this month, NBC Washington reported that one of the company’s trucks tried to tow a car while two children were inside.

“The car started to lift up,” one of the kids said. “I was like scared. I looked out the back and then saw the tow driver and then I opened the door a little bit and said, ‘wait, wait, wait.'”

To his credit, the driver relented. The company responded that the car was illegally parked and had tinted windows.

A similar incident occurred last year when it towed a car with a woman’s eight-year-old Golden Retriever still inside.

The company has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 1.5 star rating on Yelp. But one Twitter user had a good point:

” Someone defended Britt McHenry by saying the towing company had terrible Yelp reviews. Who would give positive reviews to a TOWING COMPANY!?”

The Washington Post


Henry Sapiecha

Addressing ‘boring science’ with grants for women engineers to teach robot lessons at school


Female students at Brunel University London will teach schoolchildren to programme robots in a new bid to balance the gender divide in STEM subjects.

The university will train 40 Women in Engineering postgraduates to deliver the unique Robo-Code sessions at secondary schools – the result of a £29,625 Ingenious grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Pupils will use the code to create their own robot – and then programme it to do battle with their classmates’ creations, introducing them to engineering thinking and computer programming.

The Robo-Code initiative is part of a wider bid by Brunel University London to engage all genders in science and tackle teenage drift away from the subject.

The sessions will complement the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach lab being created as part of a facilities upgrade to excite young people about the jobs that flow from STEM.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Brunel University London, Professor Geoff Rodgers, said: “Thanks to the backing of the Royal Academy of Engineering, our fantastic female engineering students will be able to share their passion and expertise for science and programming with a new generation of potential scientists.

“As women in engineering they are forging new ground and we hope this will challenge pupil perceptions that science is boring, irrelevant or not for them. The experience will in turn give our students vital career skills.”

Brunel University London students taking part in Robo-Code will be taught creative public engagement and communication skills. The grant will also provide the specialist equipment and tools needed to run the sessions.

Over time, the participants will share their knowledge with other students and professional engineers. This “train the trainer” model should mean the effects of the Academy’s Ingenious grant will be felt widely for years to come.

The Brunel project is one of 22 to be supported by Ingenious grants.

Professor Sarah Spurgeon, chair of the Ingenious funding panel, said: “The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious projects are finding new and innovative ways to get the public – whether student, family, or adult-audiences – engaged with engineering. Our projects don’t just showcase the diversity of engineering – they also give the public a meaningful opportunity to interact with engineers, ask questions and share their views.”


Henry Sapiecha

These 10 Little Things Make Every Man Feel Special…

When it comes to relationships, men and women tend to want the same things – it just seems we want or need them in different ways. For most men, respect and love are synonymous and are weighed the same, but how we show love and respect to a man may not always fall in line with what we women expect from our mate. Small gestures can yield great rewards when dealing with the heart of a man, so applying some of these simple practices can breathe air into your relationship by simply letting him know that you love and appreciate him….just as he is.


Gas him up!

Men like compliments too – so if your man has a killer smile, amazing washboard abs or big biceps – tell him! We all know how great we feel when a man pays us a sincere compliment, so letting your man know that you love his style or the way he walks will make him feel 12 feet tall! Choose something specific, and maybe unexpected, that you find attractive about him, and let him know in a genuine way that you only have eyes for him. Try to tell him 3 things that you love about him every day. He’ll be on Cloud 9 for weeks!


Make him feel needed
Most men like to feel useful – whether it’s fixing the kitchen sink, screwing in a light bulb or solving your crisis at work. I’m not suggesting you nag him to death or bog him down with chores, but find ways to let him know you need him by asking him for his help or his advice every once in a while. Men are great problem solvers, and they truly want to help the woman they love through their challenges. The reason most men shy away from “independent” women is because they sometimes send a message that they don’t “need” a man. But being self sufficient doesn’t mean the men in our lives serve no purpose, so let him be the man and thank him for all that he does on a daily basis.


Stroke his ego in the bedroom
Even if he isn’t the best lover you’ve ever had, make him feel as if he is. Men can be very delicate when it comes to their sexual prowess, and they take pleasing their woman very seriously. Let him know how attracted you are to him sexually, how he turns you on, and what you love about his body. Send him a text saying you can’t wait to get home to him and turn him out, then drink a Red Bull and get ready. He’ll be so turned up you’ll need all your energy to handle the monster you’ve created!


Ask him about his job and praise his accomplishments
Most men take pride in their career and place a certain value on the level of success they’ve achieved. In most cases, men tie success directly to their manhood, and their work gives them a sense of purpose. If they share their achievements with you, it’s because they want to impress you, and show you that they are capable of providing a future for you both – so acknowledge that! Be his biggest cheerleader and give him the admiration and respect he seeks and deserves – the returns will be tenfold.


Ask him about his interests or hobbies as well
All work and no play can make any man a dull boy…so ask him what he likes to do for fun – and be genuine about it. I know for some women, we really couldn’t care less what a touchdown or an RBI is, but it wouldn’t kill us to sit with him while he’s watching the game and ask questions (during the commercial). He’ll be delighted that you’re interested in something he enjoys, and if he is truly digging you, he will gladly share and feel special that you have an interest in HIS interests.


Laugh at his jokes
Men LOVE a woman with a good sense of humor – it shows she doesn’t take life…or herself too seriously. Men also tend to tie their sense of humor to their egos, so if we show them that we get their jokes, and actually think they’re funny, it’s a sign of approval and validation in a fun way. Appreciating a man’s comedic delivery can mean that we understand him, thus creating a connection…and what’s not to love about a person with a funny sense of self?


Cater to him sometimes
If your man has been hard at work or stressed out, rub his neck or give him a nice massage. Draw him a bath or prepare a nice meal for him. Even if you aren’t much of the “domestic” type, catering to your man can simply mean not crowding him as soon as he walks in the door, giving him time to unwind before you launch into a speech about how your day was or what needs to get done around the house. Sometimes realizing that he wants you there, but that he doesn’t feel like talking, is all the catering you need to do. So hand him the remote, let him kick his feet up and be quiet. When he’s ready to talk, ask him how his day was…and listen.


Don’t sweat the small stuff
Not everything in a relationship needs to be over analyzed or beaten down into the ground. So if he unintentionally offends you by not noticing your new hairstyle, let it go. Focus on what he does right instead of harping on everything he does wrong. So he left a glass in the sink…so what??? Be forgiving. Praise his great decisions and minimize his bad ones. Don’t say “I told you so” or take the opportunity to always have the last word. Don’t argue just to hear yourself talk, and don’t focus on always being “right.” Give him the benefit of the doubt and don’t expect him to read your mind. Chances are he really doesn’t know why you’re upset or what he did wrong – and we know that. Just let it go.


Brag about him to your friends
Men love this. Giving him compliments privately is a wonderful thing, but letting the world know how great your man is will having him blushing and wondering how he got so lucky to have a woman like you. Even when he’s not around, let others know what you love and appreciate about your boo. It sets the tone for mutual respect, love and admiration as he will do the same for you unconsciously. It’s easy for us to get complacent in our relationships, so doing a little boasting about your man every once in a while can serve as a reminder of why you love him and just how important he is to you.



Henry Sapiecha

These are 15 Male Stereotypes Men Are Tiring of



Man checking woman out

If we could sum up all female stereotypes into one sentence it would be, “Women care too much” and if we could sum all male stereotypes up into one sentence it would be, “Men don’t give a $*%&.” But there are plenty of people whose blood boils at these types of gross generalizations. Here are 15 male stereotypes men are sick of.


They’re embarrassed of “couples activities”

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They gloss over it when their friends ask what they’re doing on Sunday, and the true answer is, “Going to Target with my girlfriend.” They roll their eyes and moan and groan, right?. That’s not necessarily true! Guys have errands they have to run at Target too, ya know? If they really love you, they enjoy taking care of house chores


They’re football obsessed

Football/sport/Super Bowl

If football is on in the room, you couldn’t possibly get a man’s attention. It’s like their brains shut off and they become yelling, huffing and puffing animals, right? Mmmm there are actually plenty of guys who, while they enjoy football, are perfectly mature and will engage you in conversation, even if a game is on nearby.

If football is on in the room, you couldn’t possibly get a man’s attention. It’s like their brains shut off and they become yelling, huffing and puffing animals, right? Mmmm there are actually plenty of guys who, while they enjoy football, are perfectly mature and will engage you in conversation, even if a game is on nearby.


They don’t eat healthy

"Gourmet burger pf"

All men hate salads and are embarrassed to eat your vegan cooking, wouldn’t you say? Actually, men hate weight gain and indigestion just as much as women do. Plenty of grown men are proud to eat healthy, and even swap healthy tips with their friends.


They’re afraid of girl talk

"friends talking pf"

If you and your friends are sitting around, analyzing someone’s relationship, your guy is going to quietly back away, isn’t he? Actually if he is an emotionally mature person, he probably enjoys talking about human nature too.


They don’t want to talk about feelings


Perhaps men aren’t as open immediately and indiscriminately as women are, but when they care about someone, they’ll talk about


They don’t like cuddling

"Couple cuddling on couch pf"

Oh please: they’ve been looking for someone to spoon them and hold their faces in their busum since they left their mothers. Cuddling is the best and everybody knows it.


They don’t understand women’s clothing


Actually I have plenty of straight men compliment me on detailed aspects of my outfits.


They don’t like women with opinions


Most men assume you’re a b*tch if you give an assertive opinion, and don’t sugarcoat it, ammiright? Maybe terrified little boys. But grown men find a woman who is proud of her opinions attractive.


They’re messy


By now we have to know that there are plenty of clean men and there are plenty of messy women. Messiness or cleanliness really has nothing to do with gender, but rather your personality type.


They don’t listen

Business man ignoring, hand in ears, Shutterstock

If a guy has chosen to spend his life with you, it’s because he values your opinions, cherishes your advice, and cares about what’s happening in your life. Don’t accept anyone who tunes you out.


They all want to cheat


After a certain age, a lot of men value a deep connection and commitment with someone they care about more than fleeting physical pleasure.


They don’t pick up on the details


Actually, many men do notice your manicure or the highlights you added around your face or the basil garnish on their dinner.


They’re terrified of periods


Sure, periods aren’t their favorite thing. But after a certain age, men have had enough girlfriends, female friends and female relatives to hear, “I need a tampon” without cringing


They hate “intellectual” movies


Boy, men kinda sound like brute animals huh? Not fair! In fact, plenty of men have a better attention span than I do for films that take time to appreciate


Taking photos annoys them


You might be sneaking selfies with your guy, but in reality, he probably cherishes the memories just as much as you do.



Henry Sapiecha

Women march in Washington D.C. in defence of abortion rights.

Purvi Patel has been jailed over charges of feticide and neglect after what she said was a miscarriage.

Why Purvi Patel’s imprisonment matters for all women

Purvi Patel has been jailed over charges of feticide and neglect after what she said was a miscarriage.

After the fallout from Indiana’s new legislation allowing discrimination against gay people, you’d think the American state would be looking to redeem itself in the public eye. But no, that would require just a little more humanity than it seems the folks in power over there have to give. I mean, why exercise understanding and compassion when you can be intolerant and hateful?

In keeping with that spectacular recommendation, Indiana this week emerged as the first American state to send a woman to jail for “an attempted self-abortion”. During the trial, prosecutors argued 33-year-old Purvi Patel had ordered drugs online to help facilitate a miscarriage and had taken them towards the end of her second trimester. They then contended that Patel had given birth to a live fetus before abandoning it in a dumpster.

Women march in Washington D.C. in 2004, in defence of abortion rights. A decade on, the issue burns as brightly as ever.

Women march in Washington D.C. in 2004, in defence of abortion rights. A decade on, the issue burns as brightly as ever.

Despite the unreliability of much of the state’s evidence (a toxicologist testified there was no trace of abortifacient drugs found in Patel’s system), it took jurors less than five hours to find Patel guilty of the contradictory crimes of ‘feticide’ and ‘neglect of a child’. On Monday, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Ten of those years have been suspended, meaning she now faces an incarceration period of 20 years.

There are a number of issues going on here, not least of which is that reproductive health care laws in the United States are informed by terrifying misogyny and classism. Patel is not the first woman to be jailed for what essentially amounts to a miscarriage and it’s doubtful she’ll be the last. As legislative bodies around the country introduce more and more restrictive laws around the whys, hows and whens women are entitled to seek terminations, cases like Patel’s will become more commonplace. And, as has always been the case in a social system where money and privilege opens doors, it will be marginalised women who bear the full brunt of such horrendous discrimination and dictatorial patriarchy.

Let’s be honest. Throughout history, it has never been the rich, white women who’ve been sent to jail for ending pregnancies they either didn’t want or had thrust upon them. Women of colour, poor women, disabled women, immigrant women – these are the people who will be confined to jail cells because they have even fewer options for support and medical assistance available to them in a system already predisposed to discard them.

As Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), said in commentary published in Think Progress, “What this prosecution makes clear is that not only is abortion being recriminalised in America, but that the women themselves – not just the people who perform abortions on them – can be arrested, investigated, prosecuted and sent to jail for 20 or more years.”

But, in an almost dystopian execution of laws purely designed to reinforce a conservative notion of women as incubators with secondary personhood, this grotesque bastardisation of the judicial system has already been used to punish women for having miscarriages or stillbirths. Before Patel there was Rennie Gibbs, who was just 16-years-old when she delivered a stillborn baby before being arrested on charges of murder. She faced life in prison before a judge dismissed the charges against her. Before that, there was Amanda Kimbrough. Kimbrough’s fourth child was born prematurely in 2008 and tragically died 19 minutes after birth. While still grieving her child’s loss, Kimbrough was arrested and charged with ‘chemical endangerment’. Prosecutors contended that Kimbrough, like Rennie, had caused harm to her child by consuming drugs during her pregnancy, a claim Kimbrough disputed. And, back in Indiana, in 2011 Chinese immigrant Bei Bei Shuai was arrested and imprisoned for more than year after an attempted suicide resulted in the death of a fetus she was carrying while sparing her own life.

When presented with the question of punitive justice, anti-choice protestors have largely argued against punishment for childbearers. Opposition to abortion is not, they have stressed, about punishing vulnerable people but about criminalising what they call the ‘abortion industry’. But, despite fetal homicide laws (which exist in at least 38 US states and which we are at dangerous risk of being introduced into parts of Australia) ostensibly being designed to protect unborn fetuses from third party assaults on childbearers (particularly from violent partners), their execution has been rather more terrifying. According to NAPW, by 2011 in South Carolina there had been 300 childbearers arrested as a result of fetal homicide laws. In contrast, only one man had been charged.

Listen. We will never stop the practice of terminating unwanted pregnancies. As long as there are people who can become pregnant, there will be people who seek to end those pregnancies. Criminalising the fundamental rights of women (and men with biologically female bodies) to control their own reproductive systems is an act that cannot be tolerated in a society that claims to oppose totalitarianism. There is no shortage of irony in the fact that the vast majority of people opposed to reproductive freedoms are critical of government intervention in so-called ‘private’ matters like socialised healthcare and religion in schools.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Comprehensive, widespread access to abortion saves women’s lives. The rarity of their occurrence is a caveat that gets thrown around by people whose public opinions are constrained by political concerns. Every person of childbearing capability has the right to determine their own reproductive choices.

Abortions should be safe, legal, widely accessible and, most importantly, nobody else’s business. And until women like Purvi Patel are free, none of us will be.

So what happens when your kids walk in on you & you’re sprung

Tracey Spicer: "We'd avoided sex for a year for fear of being sprung. (Actually, that's not true. We were just too buggered to be bothered, most of the time.)"

Tracey Spicer: “We’d avoided sex for a year for fear of being sprung. (Actually, that’s not true. We were just too buggered to be bothered, most of the time.)”

As a child, there’s nothing more disgusting than learning about sex. I’m reminded of this while watching a hilarious video of parents asking kids, “So, where do babies come from?”

A five-year-old boy points to his Mum’s lap, saying, “There’s some kind of hole here, like an ig-a-loo.” When asked about how her aunty had a baby, one young girl declares, “It came out of her butt.”

A third, when prompted with, “You know the place between Mummy’s legs?” answers confidently, “Oh, the van-gina!”

Soon there’s a panoply of parents umming and ahhing about a “special dance” they do “under the sheets” with “no clothes on”. “That’s really disgusting, you know,” says a boy, crinkling his nose. Others bury their faces in their hands, or cover their ears, when they discover how the penis gets into the vagina.

We were forced to fast-track The Talk after our five-year-old daughter walked in on us. To be fair, we’d avoided sex for a year for fear of being sprung. (Actually, that’s not true. We were just too buggered to be bothered, most of the time.)

It happened during a family holiday in a small cabin on the NSW Central Coast. (You know, near The Entrance, yuk yuk. Benny Hill, eat your heart out.) Hubby and I thought the kids were watching cartoons, until we heard a small squeak. Yep, we’d forgotten to lock the bedroom door.

“Oh, I’m sure she didn’t see anything,” hubby reasoned. “And if she did, she wouldn’t have known what it was.” Wrong. Within minutes, Grace was in the room, giggling: “Hee-hee, you had scissor legs, Mummy. Was Daddy squashing you?”

“Er, no, darling, we were just having a cuddle,” I answered. “Do you want some chocolate?”

Gotta love distraction.

Sadly, the seed had been planted (in her mind, not my belly, I mean). So, on another holiday several years later, with the kids aged seven and nine, we decided to have The Talk.

There’s none of this “When a man and a woman love each other very much…” because, hey, it’s 2015, not 1915. And there are no euphemisms, like “pocket” for vagina or “thingy” for penis. And we don’t delve into details from the Kama Sutra.

It’s somewhat of a science lesson, involving sperm fertilising an egg, which implants in the uterus, forming an embryo. In order to do this, the penis must enter the vagina. Fortunately, they seem satisfied. Unlike me, when I misconceived my parents’ explanation.

I had it in my head that the man deposits his sperm on the bed and the woman sits on it. Kinda like a bird with its eggs. For years, I refused to sit on any man’s bed for fear of being impregnated. Thus began a series of unfortunate events, culminating in my first sexual experience at the age of 17.

As I was unable to sit on Eamonn’s bed – for obvious reasons – our early dates were destined to be in the back seat of a 1966 Toyota Corolla. Still, I managed to convince young Eamonn to come to my house one afternoon for a private viewing of the movie, The Blue Lagoon.

As Brooke Shields’ character, Emmeline, says to Richard, “You’re always staring at my buppies”, I made my move. Mimicking something I’d heard at school, I asked, “So, how about a root?” in a way I hoped was both sassy and sexy. (I am the queen of romance. Just ask my husband.)

I shan’t soil your minds with images of the spectacle that followed.

I suspect my children will face a similar fate. After all, whose first time is a bed of roses? But at least they’ll be able to use the appropriate terms, rather than, “Hey Mum, just taking my van-gina for a spin!”

I’m re-reading the classics at the moment. (Yes, I am a nerd. *Adjusts glasses*.) The latest is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë or, should I say, Mr Ellis Bell, because female authors weren’t taken seriously at the time. The novel challenges the strict Victorian standards for women, exploring their egregious disempowerment, and I love the main character, Catherine, a “shape-shifting, Gothic demon”, according to feminist author Ellen Moers. Gotta love a woman like that.

Aside from my usual diet of ABC TV’s 7.30 and Four Corners (see nerd confession, above), I’m waiting for the new series of Game of Thrones and House of Cards. Despite being middle-aged suburbanites, my hubby and I have taken to binge-watching these shows. Frankly, they’re our heroin. In fact, the kids have been known to berate us in the morning with, “You’re overtired because you stayed up all night watching that show about boobies” in the case of the former. I hasten to add that we enjoy the political machinations in both series, not just the boobies.

To continue my frabjous* frolic in old and new media at Sky News, Fairfax, The Hoopla and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. But my abiding passion is convening Women in Media, a networking and mentoring group aimed at amplifying female voices in the industry.

*One of my favourite words, a blend of fair, fabulous and joyous, from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.


Henry Sapiecha

Stop putting female content in the corner

Sarah Homewood, AdNews journalist

Social media lit up this week with the news that much-loved female news and opinion site The Hoopla was closing. This was promptly followed by the news that News Corp was launching its own female-focused news website.

Hoopla co-founder Wendy Harmer said that international players coming into the market with endless funds was what put her out of business. The players she’s referring to are the likes of Mail Online recently hiring a Femail editor for the Australian market, News now entering the fray, and further afield to the US, startups eyeing Australia, as Neil Ackand, Sound Alliance CEO alluded to in his feature in the 20 Feb issue of AdNews.

However there are many local players without a global brand name and back account, doing swimmingly off the female dollar. Mia Freedman’s Mamamia empire is an example, as well as Fairfax’s The Daily Life.

I would argue, though, that it’s oversaturation rather than global players, which led to The Hoopla closing its doors.

Publishers are more likely to pile into female-focused content – and you can see why. Women are big bucks to advertisers and publishers. It might make commercial sense to separate female-based content, and male-focussed content, for that matter, but is it what’s best for the audience?

After high school, and except in public bathrooms – excluding trendy clubs that think unisex toilets are a good idea – there is rarely a situation when men and women are separated. It doesn’t make sense. So why separate content?

Other than the commercial benefits, I honestly can’t wrap my head around it.

Publishers still do what the first edition of The Australian did 50 years ago – it had a women’s interest section called “Mainly for Women”. I struggle to spot the difference.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the content. I read The Daily Life and am a subscriber to the Mamamia newsletter, I am a young female in the demographic that these publishers and their advertisers want to target.

What would make me more more engaged with a publisher’s content and want to spend money with their advertisers is if I logged onto a home page and saw content that speaks to me. Publishers will rush to say: “We do that already.” And some do. But then why do all major publishers host their female-focused content on separate parts of the site?

I don’t believe there is any such thing as a women’s (or a man’s) issue, they’re all people issues. So if publishers want to talk to – and profit from – female audiences, treat them like people and don’t hide them a in a far corner of your website.

Did we learn nothing from Dirty Dancing?


Henry Sapiecha

Online dating tips for women: 5 steps to success!

Online dating has created a brave new world for single women in search of love. Indeed, the functionality of the web gives singles the ability to look for a partner using specific criteria (and to screen those who don’t fit the bill) – which means that there is a very good chance of finding someone truly compatible online.

Little wonder then, that more and more Australians are turning to the internet to find someone. In fact, nearly a quarter of Australian singles are currently using online dating, a number that only looks set to increase. In other words, it makes sense to look for love on the web. To female daters do just that, we created some online dating tips for women- guidelines to help make the most of the online dating adventure (and, who knows, maybe the men can pick up a tip or two as well!)

5 of the best online dating tips for women

1. Make that profile count.

You are fabulous. Funny, smart, educated, successful – but how can any potential dates know all that unless you are prepared to put yourself out there? A perfected profile might not be the easiest thing in the world to write but it is worth doing. It shows the world who you are and what you can offer. It may seem crude to think of dating in marketing terms, but there’s a simile here: your profile should be a bit like a window display. You are showcasing the best of yourself in order to pique the interest of someone equally wonderful.

2. Authenticity goes a long way

One of the ways you can get the most success from your ‘window display’ is to be authentic in your online interactions. While some statistics seem to suggest that following a formula is the best to way to ramp up interest, this doesn’t really tell the whole story. Yes, taking photos a certain way or writing a certain type of profile may result in more messages, but if this projected persona doesn’t match the authentic you then the messages you receive won’t match either. Being honest in your interactions – answering messages honestly and using current photos – means that those who do get in touch will be interested in the real you. When it comes to messages from matches, quantity might be one thing, but quality is so much more rewarding.

3. Know what you want

Being honest is important when relating with others online, but it is also important that you be honest with yourself. Indeed, some dating experts even suggest starting out your online journey by making a really precise wishlist, including everything from specific location to future plans. That way, when it comes time to fill in your profile details, or to look through potential matches, you will already have an idea in mind of what you think will work.

4. Confidence is attractive

It is a truism that confidence can be very attractive. One of the key online dating tips for women is to learn to embrace this, using that confidence to make a first move. If someone interesting sounding pops up as one of your suggestions then why not be the first to get in touch? After all, there’s a good chance they simply may not have seen your profile yet, so waiting on them could result in a missed opportunity. If you find someone intriguing, then there is no harm in reaching out and saying hello. If that sounds too daunting, then make sure to the most of our guided communication service – it is ideal if you don’t know where to start!

5. Be kind to yourself

Even the most confident women know that looking for love is not always a social whirl. You can be armed with every online dating trick in the book and still experience a quiet patch or send a message that gets no reply. The thing is, these quiet patches happen to everyone. They are not a reflection of anyone’s worth. This is why it is so vital to be kind to yourself when online. Taking the time to remind yourself that you are in fact wonderful and that you are worthy of love is the best way to get your head back in the game – and you may just find that the appeal of a positive attitude is the quickest route to a successful match.

Internet romance may be a brave new world but it is one that is easy to navigate when armed with the right online dating tips. When you mix an eye-catching profile with an authentic, confident approach and a dash of kindness, you have a recipe that is bound to cook up success for many Australian women. Exciting prospect, isn’t it?


Henry Sapiecha

Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict in this silicone valley saga

Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

llen Pao, center, walks to Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco, Friday, March 27, 2015. The jury are due back in court on Friday in Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias. Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A long legal battle over accusations that a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm demeaned women and held them to a different standard than their male colleagues became a flashpoint in the ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms.

Though Ellen Pao lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Silicon Valley observers say her case and the attention it received will embolden women in the industry and continue to spur firms to examine their practices and cultures for gender bias.

“This case has been a real wake up call for the technology industry in general and the venture capital community in particular,” said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who teaches gender equity law.

The jury of six men and six women rejected all of Pao’s claims against Kleiner Perkins on Friday, determining the firm did not discriminate against her because she is a woman and did not retaliate against her by failing to promote her and firing her after she filed a sex discrimination complaint.

In making their case during the five-week trial, Pao’s attorneys presented a long list of alleged indignities to which their client was subjected: an all-male dinner at the home of Vice President Al Gore; a book of erotic poetry from a partner; being asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting; being cut out of emails and meetings by a male colleague with whom she broke off an affair; and talk about pornography aboard a private plane.


But the heart of their argument was that Pao was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women.

Kleiner Perkins’ attorney, Lynne Hermle, countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door. They used emails and testimony from the firm’s partners to dispute Pao’s claims and paint her as a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances in her lawsuit and had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

Rhode and other experts say Kleiner Perkins and the venture capital industry in general did not come out looking good even though they won the case.

“Venture capital firms recognize it’s not appropriate to be out in the streets celebrating,” said Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, a nonprofit that aims to boost minority representation in science, technology, engineering and math fields. “They don’t have the moral high ground.”

Even before the Pao trial started, a succession of employment statistics released during the past 10 months brought the technology industry’s lack of diversity into sharper focus.

Women hold just 15 percent to 20 percent of the technology jobs at Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo, according to company disclosures. The data were mortifying for an industry that has positioned itself as a meritocracy where intelligence and ingenuity are supposed to be more important than appearances or connections.

The venture capital industry is even more male-dominated, with a study released last year by Babson College in Massachusetts finding that women filled just 6 percent of partner-level positions at 139 venture capital firms in 2013, down from 10 percent in 1999.

Klein said before the verdict she was contacted by more than a dozen venture capital and technology companies asking how they could improve the environment as a result of the Pao case. She expects some firms will be “smug” after the verdict and do little to change for fear of being dragged through the mud while others will step up.

The attention surrounding the case makes it more likely other women who believe they have been discriminated against will go to court, said David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc., a human resources consulting and contracting firm. Two women who formerly worked at Facebook and Twitter filed gender discrimination cases against the companies during the Pao trial. One of Pao’s attorneys, Therese Lawless, is representing the plaintiff in the Facebook lawsuit.

At the very least, Pao’s suit will prompt more women to open up about their experiences in the workplace, said Nicole Sanchez, founder of Vaya Consulting, which tries to help Silicon Valley companies increase diversity.

“I do see a trend now in the name of Ellen Pao,” Sanchez said, pointing to the Twitter hashtag, “ThankYouEllenPao” that popped up as the verdict came in. “Women in technology are telling their stories.”


Henry Sapiecha

Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame her story on video as she speaks out

Published on 20 Mar 2015

In 1998, says Monica Lewinsky, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become a constant. In a brave talk, she takes a look at our “culture of humiliation,” in which online shame equals dollar signs — and demands a different way.


Henry Sapiecha

WOMEN WITH AMBITIONS HAVE FLAT HEADS Dame Stephanie Shirley says in this video presentation

Stephanie Shirley is the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members. In this frank and often hilarious talk, she explains why she went by “Steve,” how she upended the expectations of the time, and shares some sure-fire ways to identify ambitious women …

For more information visit


Henry Sapiecha