Period-tracking apps are not for women

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“The design of these tools often doesn’t acknowledge the full range of women’s needs. There are strong assumptions built into their design that can marginalize a lot of women’s sexual health experiences,” Karen Levy, an assistant professor of information science at Cornell University, tells me in an email, after explaining that her period tracker couldn’t understand her pregnancy, “a several-hundred-day menstrual cycle.”

Levy coined the term “intimate surveillance” in an expansive paper on the topic in the Iowa Law Review in 2015. At the time, when she described intimate data collection as having passed from the state’s public health authorities to every citizen with a smartphone, she was mostly alone in her level of alarm. This was just after Apple Health launched (sans menstrual tracking), hailed as the future of medical care. But even before that, Levy argued, the “data-fication” of romantic and sexual behaviors was everywhere. There were smart pelvic floor exercisers that could pair with smartphones via Bluetooth. There were sex-tracking apps that quantified performance by counting thrusts and duration and “noise.”

“The act of measurement is not neutral,” Levy wrote. “Every technology of measurement and classification legitimates certain forms of knowledge and experience, while rendering others invisible.” Sex tracking apps and their ilk “simplify highly personal and subjective experiences to commensurable data points.”

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On Social Media’s Fringes, Growing Extremism Targets Women

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Two of modern society’s most disruptive forces — anger among many men over social changes they see as a threat, and the rise of social media upending how ideas spread and communities form — are colliding. The result is that movements like the incels are becoming at once more accessible and more extreme.

Although attacks like the one in Toronto that killed 10 people are rare, the hate being spread online is leading increasingly to threats and calls for violence. More often than not, the threats target women.

A Chat Room of Their Own

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In the fall of 2015, Nina Lorez Collins, a former literary agent, writer and mother of four young adults, including a pair of twins, was experiencing a fairly typical middle-aged malaise. She had a complicated second marriage, and her body was betraying her — textbook perimenopausal stuff, awaking most nights at 3 a.m., heart pounding, soaked in sweat. When she Googled “perimenopause,” it amused her to read that one of the symptoms was “impending sense of doom,” and she noted her discovery in an uncomplicated (until recently) manner: a Facebook post.

Friends wrote back, half-seriously, suggesting she start a group for their cohort, but what to call it? Black Cohosh (for the herbal remedy)? How about What Would Virginia Woolf Do? one friend joked darkly, because of course what Woolf did, at 59, was kill herself.

Within a week or so, Ms. Collins, now 48, had created a secret Facebook group with just that title, inviting her friends into the internet era’s version of a consciousness-raising group, where women of a certain age could talk about things they didn’t want to share with husbands, partners or children.

A Meme About Taylor Swift Is Being Used To Teach The History Of “Bad Bitches”

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OK, so back in early November, a fan of Taylor Swift asked their Twitter followers to “name a bitch badder than Taylor Swift.”

… Twitter began sharing and celebrating the stories of “bad bitches” and incredible women throughout history who’ve been overlooked and underappreciated.

All women’s shoe emoji have high heels. One woman wants to change that

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Flip to your emoji keyboard and scroll until you reach the clothing options. You’ll notice five shoe emoji; a brown “man’s shoe,” a gender-neutral trainer or sneaker, and three high-heeled women’s shoes. Hutchinson says this absence of a flat women’s shoe emoji is problematic.

“The fact that women cannot opt in to have a female shoe without a heel is deeply problematic as the vast majority of women simply do not wear heels in their daily lives,” says Hutchinson.

“The implicit expectation, albeit a virtual one, that women would and/or should wear high heeled shoes (be it a stiletto, a mule, or a boot) is simply absurd,” she continues. Hutchinson notes that her campaign is far from a “stiletto boycott,” but instead an effort to give “women who prefer flats” an icon they can identify.

 

#MeToo Floods Social Media With Stories of Harassment and Assault

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Women are posting messages on social media to show how commonplace sexual assault and harassment are, using the hashtag #MeToo to express that they, too, have been victims of such misconduct.

The messages bearing witness began appearing frequently on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on Sunday, when the actress Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot outlining the idea and writing “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

…The #MeToo movement is not the first to use social media to highlight abuse against women. In 2014, a #YesAllWomen campaign drew notice on social media after a man cited his hatred of women as his reason for killing people in Southern California. The activist Laura Bates started the #EverydaySexism campaign in 2012 to document widespread sexism, harassment and assault.

Cellphones in Hand, Saudi Women Challenge Notions of Male Control

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The three cases are part of a campaign by Saudi women, who have been broadcasting daring videos with their cellphones, using Facebook to organize street protests and posting Twitter messages to challenge the very idea of male supremacy in their famously patriarchal society.

The campaign, started by a loose network of activists who have enlisted young, media-savvy women, has gone far beyond earlier protests against the kingdom’s reaffirmed ban on female drivers, and has become a challenge to the pervasive guardianship system. In this entrenched system of guardianship, a male relative — usually a father or a husband, but sometimes a brother or even a son — has the legal right to control a woman’s movements.

What use is the right to drive, the young activists ask, if a woman still needs a man’s permission to leave the house?

Even among some of the activists themselves, there has been surprise at the response. “I’m very impressed; a few years ago I thought I was the only one who thought this way,” said Moudi al-Johani, 26, a Saudi woman who said she was locked up by her family when she returned from Florida during a college vacation.