17/50 states graded A or B in reproductive health and rights

That proportion is far too small. In the Population Institute’s third annual report card on the United States’ reproductive health and rights, the overall grade for the country was a C.

Again, far too low. Reproductive rights affect men and women. Women bear children, many of whom grow up to be men. It thus boggles my mind how any man could deny a woman affordable, accessible reproductive health care. They wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for a woman. To prevent or block reproductive health care and access is a violation of women’s fundamental human rights.

See how your state fares in the latest report card.

Studying the impacts of sexism difficult because women normalise the fear and anxiety

Researchers recently published an article in Sex Roles examining the effects everyday sexism has on women and women’s health. It’s no surprise that they found that “some of the sexism women face makes women generally more fearful and anxious.”

Even more upsetting is the knowledge that one of the main barriers to this type of study is the normalisation process that women undergo in order to handle the variety and constancy of sexism.

Speaking to The Guardian, one of the researchers used the example of her decision to cross the road when she saw a man in a van in front of her on her daily run.

“I didn’t think twice about it,” she said.

“Over time, existing in a state of hypervigilance has a negative impact, and leads to a higher level of psychological distress.”

Rate of environmental degradation worldwide worrying scientists

Researchers have identified nine processes that underpin life on Earth, and of those nine, four have exceeded safe levels.

And while there is drastic variation around the world, scientists say that “the overall picture is one of deterioration at a rapid rate.

“Since 1950, urban populations have increased seven-fold, primary energy use has soared by a factor of five, the amount of fertilizer used is eight times higher and the amount of nitrogen entering the oceans has quadrupled.”

Without change, scientists say that humans will follow the pattern of rising to the top of the social chain and then collapsing as a race because of the refusal to adapt to and acknowledge the need for sustainable practices and processes.

The scandal is that there is no scandal

A few weeks ago, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, denounced Saudi Arabia’s subjugation of women and disregard for human rights, calling Raif Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes “mediaeval.”

She was staying true to her principles, personal and those publicly declared – she took office as Sweden’s foreign minister on a platform of feminist foreign policy.

Rather than public support throughout the Western world, she has been met by disheartening and upsetting silence in Europe and North America, and worse, pressure from Swedish businesses who want her to back down from her position.

A Spectator article by Nick Cohen says it well: “[This] shows us that the rights of women always come last. When a politician tries to campaign for the rights of women suffering under a brutally misogynistic clerical culture, she isn’t cheered on but met with an embarrassed and hugely revealing silence.”

Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, writes in Open Democracy, “There are choices that we have to make. We can have foreign policies that give succor to regimes that kill, torture and maim their own citizens, or we can choose a fundamental change in the way we do business and demand foreign policies that promote human rights.

“Margot Wallström showed us what can be done when we put principles and human decency above ‘business as usual.’ This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like.”

Most cancers caused by bad luck, not lifestyle

A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that of the 31 cancers studied, only nine were found to be linked to lifestyle or genetic faults.  The majority of cancers are due to “bad luck,” which in scientific terms means “random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells.” So most cancers are beyond our control. Do you find that comforting? I do, especially when faced with what often feels like an endless list of things to do or not do, or eat and not eat, all in the name of health! The research was published in the journal Science.

Speaking while female

Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant writing in The New York Times

“When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance.

“Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.

“This speaking-up double bind harms organisations by depriving them of valuable ideas.”

“The long-term solution to the double bind of speaking while female is to increase the number of women in leadership roles.”

At present we know only that the imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. George Orwell