Weekly round-up and open thread

Did you know it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9 to 15 May) in the UK? I say this cautiously because it turns out that Googling this term brings up a mix of toxic positivity, distraction techniques and charity-minded advice, such as how to “lift someone out of loneliness”. This is presumably supposed to help people (who are already suffering after 12 years of Tory rule, with Brexit and a pandemic on top) to ‘keep busy’ by filling the gaps left by the steady destruction of the NHS and Tory cuts to other vital services. Obviously, you won’t find such material in this round-up! I’ve also tried to avoid any self-help entirely geared towards building resilience, though there is some pragmatic stuff (such as an article about acknowledging and tackling cost of living stress).

The other prominent theme in this round-up is abortion, as a leaked draft from the US Supreme Court (in a related case) suggests it plans to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, resulting in fears that there will be a global impact on (already restricted) abortion rights around the world. Put that particular threat together with the UK healthcare crisis leading to both trans and cis people in this country being denied life-saving hormones, and there is a creeping authoritarian message: our bodies are not our own and we must put up with whatever happens to them and not seek help to change the situation.

I appreciate this post is getting a bit gloomy, so I’ll let the links do the talking from here. As always, linking to articles doesn’t mean they’ve been endorsed by the whole team. We do our best to add appropriate content notes, but some links may contain further upsetting details about oppression and injustice, so please click with caution. And if you notice we’ve missed out any important articles/issues from the past week, let us know via the comment form at the bottom of this page…


This week’s links were sourced and compiled by Holly, with thanks to Jenny and Lissy for contributions.

Why do TikTok’s beauty trends feel like repackaged eugenics? (Funmi Lijadu, gal-dem)
From the article: “Ultimately, as Gen-Zs embrace turning to TikTok to explore their identities, bodies and beliefs, harmful and deeply entrenched frameworks like eugenics will continue to operate if the fast-paced, trend-driven app is treated like a place that is too lighthearted for critique. Also, the way the app thrives on sharing advice and ‘hacks’ means that the content viewers see is likely to be internalised, meaning the repetitive nature of trends about body image could stick with a viewer long after the video is turned off.”

Coping with “mental health imposter syndrome” (Aiden, Young Minds)
From the article: “If you’ve ever struggled with your mental wellbeing, you may have felt like your problems weren’t real or that you were overreacting, you didn’t need or deserve support, that you were somehow causing your symptoms, or that you could just ‘wish’ yourself better. This may have made realising you struggle with your mental health difficult, and it may have been a hurdle to asking for the help you needed.

“It’s a phenomenon that many people struggling with their mental health experience – but it has no proper name, and is talked about very little.

“I’ve called it ‘mental health imposter syndrome’ as, like imposter syndrome, it makes it hard for you to believe in yourself. Instead of making you doubt your abilities and your eligibility for your achievements, this ‘mental health imposter syndrome’ makes you doubt your mental health and your eligibility for support.”
[For a discussion of this term’s more problematic uses, such as in business advice, please see this article (by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey) and this one from The F-Word archives.]

A thread of brilliant books I’ve compiled for mental health & recovery (@GraceyOutreach) [Twitter thread, 26 April]

‘Antiquated’ mental health laws in England and Wales set for overhaul (Ben Quinn, The Guardian)
From the article: “Details of the new draft mental health bill were announced on Friday night by Downing Street, which said it met key manifesto commitments.

“They include ending a situation in which people with learning disabilities and autistic people can be detained under the act even if the patient does not suffer from any mental health conditions. This practice will be ended by removing learning disabilities and autism as mental health disorders.”

How to look after your mental health through the cost of living crisis (Furvah Shah, The Independent)

Everyone should set boundaries – but it’s hard when you’re disabled (Samantha Renk, Metro)
From the article: “Disabled people have a lot of external pressures not only to fit into an able world but also because when we speak our truths and set boundaries, it can put us in financial or emotional danger.

“Taking time off can not only hit us in our pockets, but it can also mean we experience rather harmful ableist comments from colleagues or the media to perpetuate the narrative that disabled people are lazy or hard to work with. Attitudes that reinforce the view that disabled people are always sick, incapable or a burden.

“Society often views the need for rest as failure. We live in a world that praises overworking as a sign of our passion and productivity.”

Treasury hides documents that show equality impact of Sunak’s spring statement (John Pring, Disability News Service)

Navigating your love life when you have ADHD (Fizzy Noor, Cosmopolitan)
From the article: “At just 25, my dating history took 5 hours to get through with my therapist and while it initially took a while to sort through my past relationships, the process was invaluable, opening my eyes to how ADHD has made me more prone to abuse in the past. Looking back now, I realise that my ADHD tendency towards intense love and attraction made me more susceptible to manipulation tactics like love-bombing whereas impulsivity led to struggles enforcing boundaries when partners became controlling.

“Stephanie explains that, sadly, this isn’t uncommon for women with ADHD. According to her, the ‘weaponisation of ADHD’ can be a key component in the gaslighting tactics of abusers; essentially that the ADHD brain’s difficulty with attention, memory, flexible thinking, organisation and time management are symptoms that can be used to control women.”

Amber Heard’s ‘diagnosis’ shows how mental health is misused (Martha Gill, Evening Standard)
[CN: BPD diagnosis and vulnerability to abuse]
From the article: “…Perhaps most importantly, [using Heard’s diagnosis] erects a huge barrier to justice for those with personality disorders — people who are already more vulnerable to abuse than average. How can you testify against an abuser if your mental health paints you as inherently unreliable?”

What the memes about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial reveal (Patricia Grisafi, Think, NBC News)
[CN: misogyny]
From the article: “It’s disheartening and sickening to see the meme-ification and commodification. Domestic violence is not funny. It shouldn’t spur popularity contests. It shouldn’t create an industry in which people are vending merchandise on Etsy, in which Rolling Stone reports that sellers are making items such as pins, T-shirts and coffee mugs featuring the phrase ‘Justice For Johnny.’ It shouldn’t be a spectacle in which a woman shows up bringing two emotional support alpacas to the courthouse to cheer Depp up. It shouldn’t prompt writers to publish articles with lines like ‘The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial is the entertainment we didn’t know we needed in 2022.'”

The striking toll of ‘ageism,’ according to research (Daily Briefing, Advisory Board)
From the article: “According to Span, many people absorb negative stereotypes from a young age, ‘through disparaging media portrayals and fairy tales about wicked old witches.’ However, Levy noted that institutions, including employers, health care organizations, and housing policies, exhibit a similar form of prejudice with ‘structural ageism.’ Reversing this type of ageism will require widespread changes—an ‘age liberation movement,’ Levy added.”

Big Joanie: ‘It’s tougher than ever to be a working-class musician’ (Günseli Yalcinkaya interviews Chardine Taylor-Stone, Dazed Digital)
Part of Dazed’s Class Ceiling series
From the article: “Becoming a musician takes time and you need a part-time job if you really want to make a career out of it. Sometimes this means relying on the dole so you can have time to actually make music and tour. It also means sacrificing certain things, so you might live in a shit place so you can afford to do stuff. Other people seem to tour for months on end despite not being a massive band, but someone’s clearly subsidising them somewhere, whether that’s parents helping with rent or buying and fixing instruments.”

80 per cent of journalists now come from higher class backgrounds (Serena Smith, Dazed Digital)
Part of Dazed’s Class Ceiling series

Results from a Multistate Survey of Sex Workers: Sex Work, COVID-19, and Half-truths (V Kalyan Shankar, Economic and Political Weekly) [India]

Sex Work in the Special Collections (Bishopsgate Institute, London)
Research on how sex workers in London and beyond have been viewed and treated by the police, the media, and society since the mid-eighteenth century. This showcases some of the research materials that inspired Sexquisite, a community arts company and sex worker artist collective, co-directed by Guildhall School alumni Maedb Joy.

People from ethnic minorities are changing their names to get a job – I was very nearly one of them (Hira Wasif, iNews)
From the article: “Adopting a more Western sounding name is a practical but damaging way of playing a very broken system. For some people, their name is as integral to their identity as the colour of their skin, but still today ‘whitening’ your name remains a way for marginalised applicants to level the screening stage’s playing field.”

Scared of trans people in bathrooms? We’re the ones who should be afraid of you (Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, Metro)
From the article: “Before I came out, I was considered ‘too gay’ and the boys would harass me, berate me or refuse to share a locker room with me at school because I could ‘perve’ on them.

“After I came out as trans at the age of 17, things changed overnight, and now I was suddenly a ‘threat’ to women — despite being a victim of constant harassment growing up, sexual violence and abuse myself.”

How a Debut Graphic Memoir Became the Most Banned Book in the Country (Alexandra Alter, New York Times) [US]
[Paywall]
Standfirst: “Maia Kobabe’s book “Gender Queer,” about coming out as nonbinary, landed the author at the center of a battle over which books belong in schools, and who gets to make that decision.”
From the article: “When you remove those books from the shelf or you challenge them publicly in a community, what you’re saying to any young person who identified with that narrative is, ‘We don’t want your story here’.”

The UK’s First LGBTQ+ Museum Is Finally Opening (Sam Ramsden, Bustle) [Via Jenny]

Women’s Super League, Six Nations & Women’s Cricket World Cup key to record UK television audiences (BBC Sport)

‘Sex Education’ actor Ncuti Gatwa will be the first Black lead in ‘Doctor Who’ (Becky Sullivan, NPR)

why we love elle argent in heartstopper (Piper Huxley, oestrogeneration) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “though elle was only a secondary character in season one of heartstopper, she has so much potential.

“with this storyline of her blossoming situation-ship with tao developing, could there be a depiction of a healthy relationship on tv between a straight cisgender boy and a trans girl? practically unheard of.”

Turns out breastfeeding really does hurt – why does no one tell you? (Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian)

CN for abortion on the articles that follow:

Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows (Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, Politico) [Via Jenny]

‘Bad News for the Whole World’: Activists Fear Global Impact of Ending Roe v. Wade (Sophia Smith Galer, Vice)

Number of Ukrainian refugees unable to access abortion in Poland ‘skyrocketing’ (Gergana Krasteva, Metro) [Via Jenny]
[CN: rape]

Cis or Trans, Our Bodily Autonomy is Under Attack (Tiffany Berruti, Novara Media)
From the article: “Rather than inherently contradicting each other, the liberation of cisgender women and trans people is bound together, now more than ever. Both cisgender women and trans people face political and social barriers to necessary healthcare, including (but not limited to) abortion and gender affirming care. And while the repeal of Roe primarily affects cisgender women, it will also affect trans people who require reproductive healthcare, including abortion access. In order to fight and win against both types of bans, we must acknowledge this shared struggle, and use it as the basis for collective organising towards full bodily autonomy for all.”

‘It’s already having an impact’: LGBTQ people fear abortion rights reversal (Jo Yurcaba and Tat Bellamy-Walker, NBC News)
From the article: “”Josiah Ramos, a Black transgender man, said he fears that a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn longstanding precedent protecting access to abortion would have a greater effect on transgender and nonbinary people, who already face barriers to care.

“‘We all should have the right to decide what we want to do with our bodies,’ said Ramos, 23, who is also the co-director of Black Trans Blessings, a trans-led organization in New York City. 

“‘I’m not ready to have a kid,’ he added. ‘So if I, God forbid, was to get pregnant, and I wanted to have an abortion, you’re basically trying to strip my right … and that’s not fair.'”

Grievous Bodily Harm: How the GOP and “Radical Feminists” Teamed Up to Attack Women’s Autonomy (Kitty Stryker, Medium)
From the article: “…My brain couldn’t let go of the absolute bullshit that is a woman who writes for right-wing papers because ‘they let me say what I want’ not having the critical thinking available to consider that perhaps that’s because she’s arguing the same bigoted things as evangelical Christians and white supremacists…

“…Here’s the thing. Once you start saying that the government has a right to tell you what medical care you can and cannot access for, say, trans people, it’s pretty easy to let that slime trickle up the chain. Abortion, birth control, and access to gender-affirming healthcare — it is the same issue, at the core…”

Countries where abortion is illegal (World Population Review)

Why are IVF and abortion tightly linked? [Twitter thread] (@ncrawfordmd)

From The F-Word archive: Reproductive Rights: Women Pitched Against Each Other (Again) (an old piece of mine!)
From the article: “Despite the obvious difference in desired outcome, I would say the woman having fertility treatment and the woman having an abortion actually have something very important in common. They are both experiencing a lack of reproductive control that, in many cases, can only be blamed on the unfairness of biology and the ruthlessness of chance. They are also both equally reliant on the intervention of doctors if they don’t want to leave nature to take its course.”

The best gift for Mother’s Day [US]? Give moms control over their bodies (Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post)
[Intermittent paywall, depending on browser and device]

The US Supreme Court is wrong to disregard evidence on the harm of banning abortion (editorial, Nature) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “Moving in the opposite direction runs contrary to 50 years of research from around the world showing that abortion access is a crucial component of health care and is important for women’s equal participation in society.”

Why dismantling abortion rights in the U.S. will be disastrous for its poorest communities (Annabel Sowemimo, gal-dem) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “When abortion is restricted, marginalised communities suffer the most – they are women who do not have the money or resources to travel and seek out a professional, and are unable to access safe procedures. Every year, it is estimated that 25 million unsafe abortions take place across the globe, with almost 70,000 pregnant people dying due to unsafe procedures, making it one of the biggest killers of pregnant people globally.”

‘It will be chaos’: 26 states in US will ban abortion if supreme court ruling stands (Jessica Glenza, The Guardian) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “More than half of US states will outlaw abortion immediately or as soon as practicable, if a leaked draft decision from five supreme court justices remains substantially unchanged.

“The result would send hundreds of thousands of people in 26 states hostile to abortion elsewhere to terminate a pregnancy – either by traveling hundreds of miles to an abortion clinic or seeking to self-manage abortion through medication from grassroots or illicit groups.”

How to Help Abortion Seekers In Trigger Law States Right Now (Cáne López, them) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “When many think about how to donate to help preserve abortion rights, they often default to large national organizations like Planned Parenthood. However, advocates say contributing to local organizations is more crucial than ever.”

Becoming a Mother in Louisiana Has Only Made Me More Supportive of Abortion Rights (Lorena O’Neill, Jezebel)
From the article: “To everyone who feels that wearing a piece of cotton over your face takes away your ability to breathe: Allow me to introduce you to the experience of carrying a baby the size of a watermelon in your body as it moves your organs around and presses on your ribcage. I know it’s really hard to wear a mask in a grocery store for five minutes, but I wore one while birthing a human, so, you can kindly shut up now. (Not for nothing, wearing a mask while bringing a life into this world is not among the top 10 pain points of that experience.)”

What people can do to support abortion rights in the UK (Saman Javed, The Independent) [Via Jenny]
From the article: “Although women have a legal right to abortion in the UK and the grounds for abortion are broad, rights groups say it is still a ‘bureaucratic, patriarchal procedure’ which requires the approval of two doctors.

“Additionally, abortion still remains a criminal offence under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 if a woman ends her own pregnancy without the approval of two doctors.

“Barriers to accessibility of abortion services also remain.”

Do women have a Right to Life? (Laurie Penny) [Via Lissy]
From the article: “Arguing with facts against articles of faith is a waste of everyone’s time. No scientific study, no matter how sensibly explained, will ever convince a true believer that a foetus is not a human being with a soul. It is more useful by far to consider what else we know. Instead of asking whether abortion is ‘really’ killing, it is more productive – and more honest – to ask whether the violence of abortion is justified.

“Because the answer must be – yes. Yes, it is. The mere fact that an abortion is taking a life – if that is truly what you believe – is not, cannot be, a good enough reason to justify jailing a little girl for getting one. There are plenty of situations where American law permits one individual to take a life: home invasion, self- defence, membership in the armed forces. […] As the philosopher and legal scholar Judith Jarvis Thomson put it, what matters more – far more – is women’s freedom to control their own lives. She argues that pregnancy is consistently the only circumstance where anyone is legally obliged to sacrifice their health, against their will, for somebody else. ‘No person,’ Thomson argues, ‘is morally required to make large sacrifices to sustain the life of another who has no right to demand them.'”


The featured image is by SHYCITYNikon and is taken from the Rally for Abortion Rights and march through downtown Chicago on 7 May, 2022. This shows a back view of protestors, with the largest visible placard (in the middle) showing the words ‘WON’T GO BACK’ and drawings of coat hangers, while a smaller visible placard shows ‘Not Healthcare’. The image is shared under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.


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