James Franco accusers are ‘jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon’, say actor’s lawyers

Franco denies allegations and asks Los Angeles county superior court to dismiss lawsuit against him

James Franco has responded to allegations of sexual harassment by two former students by claiming they were an attempt to jump on the [#MeToo] bandwagon and played into the medias insatiable appetite to ruin the next celebrity.

In a demurrer filed on 28 February to the Los Angeles county superior court, Francos lawyers asked that the lawsuit filed in October by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal be dismissed, saying none of the alleged events detailed had happened, and the statute of limitations had passed for the accusations.

Tither-Kaplan and Gaal have alleged that a now-defunct programme run by Francos Studio 4 acting school had enabled Franco and his male collaborators to engage in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects. Among other claims, Tither-Kaplan say Franco allegedly removed plastic guards that had been placed over actors genitals while he simulated oral sex.

In the demurrer, Francos lawyers state: The salacious allegations in the complaint have made great tabloid fodder, but like most tabloid stories, they are false and inflammatory, legally baseless and brought as a class action with the obvious goal of grabbing as much publicity as possible for attention-hungry plaintiffs.

The filing by Franco denies that actors were pressured to participate in nude scenes, saying that all performers had signed nudity waivers and no complaints were made at the time. It also denies that vaginal guards were removed as Tither-Kaplan alleged, saying that all of the performers using them confirmed this was the case.

In a statement the plaintiffs lawyer James Vagnini rebutted the filing. Mr. Francos aggressive effort to position himself as the victim and smear the reputation of the survivors who have come forward is, unfortunately, a tactic commonly used by perpetrators of wrongdoing We firmly believe Mr Francos claims to be without merit and we are confident that, as we work through the legal process and hear from numerous other witnesses and survivors, we will achieve full justice.

In 2018, he was accused of sexual misconduct by five women (including Tither-Kaplan), which he denied, and was sharply criticised only, including by Breakfast Club actor Ally Sheedy, after wearing a Times Up badge to the 2018 Golden Globes.

Franco is described in the statement as an ardent believer in the righteousness of the #MeToo and Times Up movements.

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Experience: I survived a boating accident that killed my family

My brother was shouting that water was coming in. Then we were tipped into the sea

It happened so fast. One minute I was at the helm, steering our little boat across the calm expanse of Melbournes Western Port Bay. The next, the acceleration cut and my 16-year-old brother, Bill, was shouting that water was coming in. Our leisurely family boat trip had turned into a disaster in the space of 30 seconds. Our boat sank and my mum, dad, Bill and me were tipped into the sea. It was later found that the bottom of the boat was completely rotten. It just wasnt visible to the naked eye.

Shocked and unprepared, we had no option but to start swimming. Nobody had seen us go down and, as it was about 7pm, other boats had headed to shore. It was up to us to rescue ourselves. I was 15 and a reasonably good swimmer. We all had lifejackets on, but the 3.5km to land looked a long way. I worried whether wed make it. Then darkness started to fall. Dad had difficulty soon after we left the boat, so Bill went to help him. Mum and I stuck together, but as time went by I was getting further ahead. Wed call out to each other every few minutes.

Susan, are you OK?

Yes, Mum. Our voices bounced out of the dusk, the only signs of life in the terrifying expanse of water. At some point the calls stopped. I must have pulled too far ahead to hear. I was filled with the need to swim quickly to get help. Gulls shrieked overhead and I kept imagining they were warning me of an attack from the sharks that inhabited the bay. I could see land, but it didnt seem to be getting any closer.

After more than three hours in the water, I finally felt the bottom. Id reached the mudflats of what I thought was the mainland. Weak, cold and exhausted, I dragged myself through the quicksand mud, which was up to my waist. This was more terrifying than swimming. The mud sucked me down and I feared I could be swallowed. My muscles ached and it didnt feel as if I was making any progress. The clock was ticking in my head. I needed to get help for my family. When I finally made it ashore, I realised I was on French Island a former prison island inhabited by only 60 people. I was terrified that if I didnt find help quickly my family may die.

I ran through scratchy bushland and, after about two kilometres, found a house. I scrambled to get my story out to the couple who answered the door and they took over from there.

I was hopeful my family was still alive, but felt overcome by the guilt of taking a hot shower when they were still out there in the dark. As the water streamed over me, I cried and cried.

Mum, Dad and Bills bodies were recovered the following morning. Why had I survived? I had been driving the boat. I had left Mum. I should be dead, too. The guilt was terrible.

I couldnt deal with what had happened and for the next few years I didnt care if I lived or died. I was on a path of self-destruction that only changed when I had my son, William, five years later.

For years, I avoided water at all costs. But in 2015, 30 years after the accident, a friend suggested I face my fears and do a local 1.2km charity swim. My first trip to the pool was very short. My anxiety was so bad that I couldnt breathe. I had to get out.

I tried for four months, but nothing worked until a local swim coach heard my story and offered to help. At first the water was filled with terrible memories: a bird calling overhead reminded me of the gulls; I imagined my family, helpless in the waters grip. But over the next six months the beauty of my training grounds at Half Moon Bay started chipping away at my terror. I imagined how proud my family would be. I even started to enjoy it.

Fourteen months after my challenge was set, I completed the charity swim with William cheering me on. I went on to swim The Rip a notoriously dangerous stretch of water and recently swam the English Channel as part of a four-person relay. My fear no longer controls me, and now I use my swimming to raise awareness of domestic violence, an area close to my heart.

It took 30 years, but I understand that what happened wasnt my fault. Ironically it took water to heal me; swimming has gone from being the hardest thing Ive ever done to something I crave.

As told to Emma Levett.

The Girl Who Lived, by Susan Berg, is out now.

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The ‘female pirate printer’ who creates fashion from manhole covers

Artist Emma-France Raff decorates clothing and tote bags guerilla-style in the street using ink, a roller and manhole covers as her printing press

Its not often manhole covers and fashion are uttered in the same sentence, but for Emma-France Raff, these functional metal structures have a distinct charm.

So much so that she scours the streets of cities for ones with intricate details and textures which she uses as a printing press – painting them with ink and transferring their designs onto t-shirts, hoodies and bags.

The artist, who brings a whole new meaning to the term streetwear, gets some curious looks when she gets her roller, ink and equipment out, and starts printing on the ground in public places.

A

Taking

Capturing

  • Raff copying designs from Berlin and Budapests distinctive manhole covers as well as a more abstract design from Portos tram tracks

But Raff, who has turned the streets of Berlin, Barcelona, Istanbul, Paris, Porto and Stavanger among others into fashion has always been fascinated with tiny details spotted while out and about, and finding inspiration in often overlooked elements of the urban landscape. The appeal of manhole covers, she says, is that they often have a local flavour.

Often drain covers will have symbols or letters that make them unique to that certain place. They have something from the city on them, she says. In Berlin, for example, they have the TV tower on them and other monuments.

Vienna

  • Raff at work in Vienna in 2017

The Berlin one is very nice because it has a lot of details but I also like the abstract ones. Theres so much variety, you have thousands of different ones. Theyre special because they always have something local.

Raff, whose parents are German, was born in France. Her family moved to Portugal when she was nine, and she came up with the idea of using manhole cover as prints with her father while she was studying textile design in Porto.

Raff

One

  • Raff capturing a floral tile pattern in Barcelona

She went on to create experimental printing project raubdruckerin which means female pirate printer which is based in Berlin, although she travels to different cities to do the printing, and sells the t-shirts and other hand-printed merchandise via her website.

In addition to manhole covers, she finds other neglected patterns in city streets. I did a sign for bicycle parking in Amsterdam. In Barcelona we printed tiles on the concrete floor. If theres chewing gum I leave it on, sometimes you can see it on the print. It makes it very unique – its the idea that this print comes from one specific place, and maybe in two years it will not be there, so it has to do with time and place.

After the printing it can take between half an hour to an hour to clean up. She says she uses a water-based ink, which reacts with the fabric but it doesnt connect with the metal. Its like painting with water marker on plastic, it makes pearls.

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How we met: Im a staunch Brexit critic but it did lead to us falling in love

Tom Browne, 43, and Nara Falcn, 36, have been together since 2018. They have a baby daughter

Tom and Nara met in a queue last year. Id spent three years living in the UK, jokes Ireland-born Tom. Id picked up some of your ways. Forced to relocate to Madrid because of Brexit, he had been in town only three weeks and had a friend visiting from Dublin, so he was ticking off some of the local attractions.

Wed done most of the tourist stuff, so we ended up in El Retiro park, queueing to go on a boat ride, he says. Waiting in front of them was Nara. There was a vibe from the start. Nara is beautiful and has this warm personality that I could see when she was talking to her friend, even though I couldnt understand the words she was saying. Shes gorgeous, open and friendly.

His ice-breaker was hardly the stuff of romcoms. We were in the queue, exchanging glances, and I think I said something very basic like: Do you know how long we have to wait? It wasnt exactly a Hollywood opener. He and Nara, who is Mexican, and their friends Paula and John decided to hire a boat as a foursome. I trapped her for an hour on a little rowing boat, so she had to listen to all my nonsense, Tom says. My friend John and I did most of the rowing. We were showing off a little bit, I suppose. The lake is small enough that you can cover it in half an hour, but they were there for an hour. We took the piss a little bit.

The attraction was mutual and immediate. I was trying to stop myself, of course, and take it step by step, says Nara. But it was the perfect timing. When we met, I was single. Also, for me, Tom was so perfect that I was surprised he was single. Everything was just perfect. After their time on the lake, the quartet went to a bar for tapas and a drink. Paula and John were enjoying it, too, says Tom. But it was clear as day, Id say, that Nara and I were falling in love.

Tom, an engineer, works for an EU project called Galileo, which is why he had to move from Southampton to Madrid. I am a staunch Brexit critic, he says. I think its a regressive idea and too divisive, but in this case it did lead to falling in love. Its a cliche and all of that, but it was instant and amazing. If Id written a list of all the characteristics of the perfect girl, she ticked every single one.

The couple had been together for about four months when Tom was due to fly to Thailand for a month-long Thai boxing training camp in the middle of the forest. I didnt know if I should cancel, because wed only just got together, says Tom. But Nara is a synchronised swimmer she was once on the Mexican Olympic team and appreciated the importance of an active, physical, adventurous life.

I basically said: This is your personality, this is who you are, if you dont go and do it Ill kill you, Nara laughs.

Although he had not met Naras parents by this point, Tom got in touch with her father, Carlos, to ask if he could fly to Mexico and surprise her at Christmas, after hed finished in Thailand. He said that I was making her daughter very happy, that Id be welcome any time. He gave me the nicest reaction, says Tom. Both parents were so lovely.

It was quite a journey. I went from Madrid to Thailand, then from Thailand to China, China to Canada and finally Canada to Mexico. They were the only flights that werent 10m. By flying so slowly through so many time zones, he managed to have three Christmas Eves and two Christmas Days. When he arrived, Naras father collected Tom from the airport while Nara was in bed, somehow managing to keep the entire thing secret. When I came back to the house she was asleep, says Tom. I think her cousin has it on video, but she just didnt know what was going on.

Almost exactly nine months after that surprise reunion in Mexico, Tom and Naras daughter, Chloe, was born in hospital in Madrid. I cant wait to tell Chloe this story of how we met, says Nara. I think shell love it.

Want to share your story? Tell us a little about you, your partner and how you got together by filling in the form here.

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Peasant revolt at earls bid to build flats on allotments

Anger at attempt by green aristocrat Earl Percy to develop wilderness site in London

It is a row that the scion of one of Britains oldest aristocratic families could rather do without as he carves out a career promoting his green credentials.

And, gallingly for the Percy dynasty (one of whose ancestors was the inspiration for Blackadders half-witted sidekick, Lord Percy) much of it has been self-inflicted. In the one camp is Earl Percy, friend to Wills and Kate and owner of Syon House, a historic Grade-I listed pile in west London where Henry VIIIs body once lay in state.

In the other camp are the 40 or so disgruntled members of the Park Road Allotments Association in Isleworth who have been ordered to vacate their plots on land adjacent to the stately home, having seen off a bid by the earl and his father, the Duke of Northumberland, to turn it into flats.

The fact that the land was leased to the local authority in 1917 by a previous duke, to grow vegetables for the war effort, has added piquancy to a dispute that has been simmering since the family reclaimed control of it from Hounslow Council in 2015.

Syon
Syon House in west London, one of the ancestral homes of the Percy family. Photograph: Maurice Savage/Alamy

In hand-delivered letters, Northumberland Estates, the management company that oversees the interests of the Percy family, informed the allotment holders that they must vacate their plots by the end of March next year. We thought we were out of the woods and then we were all served with notice to quit, which seemed somewhat spiteful, said Annie Aloysius, secretary of the association. There is a suspicion that they will leave [the land] fallow and then put in another application. Theyve been trying to wear us down but were not going without a fight.

Their bellicose response has triggered headlines about a peasants revolt, which threaten to embarrass the 34-year-old earl, who is the founder of a green energy company, Hotspur Geothermal. The companys website explains its mission is to benefit local communities through employment, positive social impact, and the development of new and sustainable businesses.

However, for the earls father, the Duke of Northumberland, a close friend of Prince Charles who takes a keen interest in environmental matters, planning problems are nothing new. Proposals to develop an elf-themed playground next to the Percy ancestral home, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, famous as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film franchise, have met with resistance from some local councillors.

Allotment map

The redevelopment of the Park Road allotments would have seen the construction of eight blocks of flats, the rent from which would have gone towards the upkeep of Syon House, which Northumberland Estates said needs major restoration work costing almost 19m. This is partly thanks to an ill-fated makeover given to the home by a previous occupant. In the 1830s, the third Duke of Northumberland had its facade re-faced with Bath stone held in place by iron cramps that have now rusted and caused the stonework to disintegrate. Lying under the flightpath to the north runway of Heathrow airport, there are concerns that aircraft emissions are contributing to the decay of the ironwork.

Rory Wilson, CEO at Northumberland Estates, said that even though planning had been refused, difficult decisions had to be taken if it was to preserve Syon House, Alnwick Castle and the 120 other listed monuments under its ownership. Options are very limited at Syon, and the former allotments site, which was underused and overgrown when it came back to us from the council, will be required for alternative use. Northumberland Estates has to remain a viable entity if it is to carry out its heritage obligations, maintain and create employment opportunities and play its role in supporting the rural economy.

The
The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

This claim was rejected by Tim Lugg, an allotment holder for more than 15 years. When they took it back under management from the council, they said Well manage it better, but theyve done nothing of the sort. They havent filled any vacant plots, theyve really run it down. Lugg described the land as a haven. When you look at it, its almost a bit of a wilderness. There must be 20 different types of apple tree, there are newts in the pond, a bat corridor. From a wildlife flora and fauna point of view its quite unique.

Christine Diwell, secretary of the Isleworth Society, said it would watch what Northumberland Estates did next closely. The allotments are the remnant of the last market gardens in the area. Given that so many flats are going up, the need for allotments will only increase rather than decrease.

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My wife and I dont have sex, and I have secretly been buying womens clothes

Until you test your the boundaries of your desires, youll be perpetually dissatisfied, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I am a man in my late 50s. I am youthful and go to concerts, festivals and art exhibitions. I have been married for 34 years. My wife and I get along quite well. We share a sense of humour, talk often and holiday together. But there has been no sex between us for 15 years. I have always been a sensitive and feminine man. I like emotional movies, poetry, womens clothes and so on. I like being surrounded by women and feel uncomfortable among men. Lately I have secretly been buying womens clothes from online stores and have started using makeup when I am alone. This happens often, because I live in my employers apartment in another city during the week. I am almost always alone when I am not with my wife. I have no friends any more. I closed all my social media accounts years ago during a period of depression. I am confused about who I am. In which direction should I go? What about my marriage situation? I know I am getting older day by day and that time is running out.

Mariella replies Youre hopefully aware that its a pretty sad missive youve just dispatched to me. Youre at a terrifying but conversely pretty exciting crossroads and it will require a mammoth degree of forbearance if you take one path and enormous courage for the other. Im no expert on the specifics when it comes to transvestite lifestyles, cross-dressing or issues of gender realignment, but I can tell a life half-lived when I see one. Everything you are describing sounds like an alternative way of living is not just beckoning but building to a reality that you need to explore for your own peace of mind.

At the moment it sounds as though youre inhabiting a twilight zone between one life and another, and until you take decisive action, youll remain happy with neither. Encouraging you to take radical action is easy for me in my entirely unremarkable, safe, heterosexual, white, middle-class world. Im not going to have to do any of the legwork or risk undoing many years of peaceful, convivial co-existence to step out into a world that Im unfamiliar with and possibly ill-equipped to countenance at the beginning at least.

Any radical lifestyle change requires courage to embrace, but happily you are at the perfect time of life for seismic shifts. The majority of people who divorce or come out do so in their 50s and while Im not suggesting either is your destiny it seems the appropriate decade to confront the notable absences in your marriage and lack of fulfilment in your day-to-day existence. Until you test the boundaries of your desires, youll be perpetually dissatisfied and compromised and thats no way to live.

Right now, youre existing with so much of who you really are shrouded in secrecy and your most compelling impulses hidden from the world. You and your wife sound like you have a fantastic friendship and thats really important because you will need as much support as you can muster. Does that shared sense of humour mean youd dare be honest with her about your experimenting? I have no idea how she might react, but Im pretty sure that she is where you need to start when it comes to any attempt to express a more honest version of yourself. It sounds as though your partner is the one person who remains close to you, so trying to enlist her support and understanding is the obvious first move. She may well be your saviour in terms of urging you to find yourself. In an ideal world she might even join you on an experimental journey but after 15 years of sexual abstinence thats less likely.

Empathetic support would take quite a strong person and a robust relationship, so you need to be prepared for the opposite reaction. You of all people shouldnt be surprised at the lies we all tell ourselves to avoid complication, embarrassment and confrontation. If youre in agreement about approaching your wife first, you do need to be prepared for a less sympathetic hearing. Theres no telling what her reaction will be or what narratives shes created around the nature of your relationship. Youre already leading semi-separate lives, so if this is an adventure shes not happy to have a role in, the most likely solution would be separation. Logistically it may not be too complicated, as youre already leading semi-divided lives, but dont be deluded into thinking untangling emotions would therefore be simple.

Finally, theres the online community you abandoned some years back. Usually in this column youll find me railing against the internet and the hold social media has on us. In your situation, however, I think it could be of great benefit. It certainly seems a good place to start connecting with people whove experienced similar desires and who can perhaps invite you in from the cold. It would also be good to see a therapist or counsellor who can give you dispassionate support while you negotiate what may turn out to be a huge and liberating life change! As I say often, in your 50s, youve got a whole part two to live, so its worth taking radical action to make sure you squeeze every drop out of the miracle of human existence.

If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to mariella.frostrup@observer.co.uk. Follow her on Twitter @mariellaf1

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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Finland is the happiest country in the world, says UN report

Nordic nations take top four places in happiness rankings, with annual study also charting the decline of the US

Finland has overtaken Norway to become the happiest nation on earth, according to a UN report.

The 2018 World Happiness Report also charts the steady decline of the US as the worlds largest economy grapples with a crisis of obesity, substance abuse and depression.

The study reveals the US has slipped to 18th place, five places down on 2016. The top four places are taken by Nordic nations, with Finland followed by Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

Burundi in east Africa, scarred by bouts of ethnic cleansing, civil wars and coup attempts, is the unhappiest place in the world. Strikingly, there are five other nations Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic which report happiness levels below that of even Syria.

For the first time the UN also examined the happiness levels of immigrants in each country, and found Finland also scored highest.

Finland has vaulted from fifth place to the top of the rankings this year, said the reports authors, although they noted that the other three Nordic countries (plus Switzerland) have almost interchangeable scores.

The report, an annual publication from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, said all the Nordic countries scored highly on income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. The rankings are based on Gallup polls of self-reported wellbeing, as well as perceptions of corruption, generosity and freedom.

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The UN placing is the latest accolade for Finland, a country of 5.5 million people that only 150 years ago suffered Europes last naturally caused famine. The country has been ranked the most stable, the safest and best governed country in the world. It is also among the least corrupt and the most socially progressive. Its police are the worlds most trusted and its banks the soundest.

That Finland is the top scorer is remarkable, said Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark. GDP per capita in Finland is lower than its neighbouring Nordic countries and is much lower than that of the US. The Finns are good at converting wealth into wellbeing.

In the Nordic countries in general, we pay some of the highest taxes in the world, but there is wide public support for that because people see them as investments in quality of life for all. Free healthcare and university education goes a long way when it comes to happiness. In the Nordic countries, Bernie Sanders is not viewed as progressive he is just common sense, added Wiking, referring to the leftwing US politician who galvanised the Democrat primaries in the 2016 presidential election.

In Britain, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest people have become happier in recent years. But the UN ranking places the UK in a lowly 19th place, the same as last year but behind Germany, Canada and Australia, although ahead of France and Spain.

The UN report devotes a special chapter to why the US, once towards the top of happiness table, has slipped down the league despite having among the highest income per capita.

Americas subjective wellbeing is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases, notably obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction) and depression, said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York, and one of the reports authors.

Despite African countries getting the worst happiness scores, one west African nation has bucked the trend. Togo came bottom in 2015 but was the biggest improver in the 2018 report, rising 18 places. Latvians and Bulgarians are also reporting higher levels of happiness.

Venezuela recorded the biggest fall in happiness, outstripping even Syria, although in absolute terms it remains a mid-ranking country. The report notes that Latin American countries generally scored more highly than their GDP per capita suggests, especially in contrast to fast-growing east Asian countries.

Latin America is renowned for corruption, high violence and crime rates, unequal distribution of income and widespread poverty, yet has consistently scored relatively highly in the happiness report. The authors attributed this to the abundance of family warmth and other supportive social relationships frequently sidelined in favour of an emphasis on income measures in the development discourse.

Meanwhile, the greatest human migration in history the hundreds of millions of people who have moved from the Chinese countryside into cities has not advanced happiness at all, the report found.

Even seven-and-a-half years after migrating to urban areas, migrants from rural areas are on average less happy than they might have been had they stayed at home, according to John Knight of the Oxford Chinese Economy Programme at the University of Oxford and one of the contributors to the UN report.

Top 10 happiest countries, 2018

(2017 ranking in brackets)

1. Finland (5)

2. Norway (1)

3. Denmark (2)

4. Iceland (3)

5. Switzerland (4)

6. Netherlands (6)

7. Canada (7)

8. New Zealand (8)

9. Sweden (10)

10. Australia (9)

The 10 unhappiest countries, 2018

(2017 ranking in brackets)

147. Malawi (136)

148. Haiti (145)

149. Liberia (148)

150. Syria (152)

151. Rwanda (151)

152. Yemen (146)

153. Tanzania (153)

154. South Sudan (147)

155. Central African Republic (155)

156. Burundi (154)

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Men, you want to treat women better? Here’s a list to start with

Over the last week, theres been a lot of talk about how women are treated in the workplace and elsewhere. TV writer Nicole Silverberg argues that if men want to step up, they can

Hey men, what are you planning to do better? Because you need to do better. Here are ideas on how you should treat women better.

  • Talk to your friend who is kind of a creep at work.
  • Dont talk over women.
  • If you are asked to be on a panel/team and see that its all men, say something. Maybe even refuse the spot!
  • When you see another guy talk over a woman, say: Hey, she was saying something.
  • Learn to read a fucking room.
  • Dont call women crazy in a professional setting.
  • Dont use your feminism as a way to get women to trust you. Show us in your day-to-day life, not in your self-congratulatory social media.
  • Dont touch women you dont know, and honestly, ask yourself why you feel the need to touch women in general.
  • Do you feel that any woman on earth owes you something? She doesnt. Even if youre like, Hm, but what about basic respect? ask yourself if youve shown her the same.
  • Dont send pictures of your penis unless she just asked for them.
  • If a woman says no to a date, dont ask her again.
  • If a woman has not given an enthusiastic yes to sex, back the hell off.
  • If a woman is really drunk, she cannot consent to you and she also cannot consent to your buddy who seems to be trying something. Your buddy is your responsibility, so say something and intervene.
  • If you do the right thing, dont expect praise or payment or a pat on the back or even a thank you from that woman. Congratulations, you were baseline decent.
  • Involve women in your creative projects, then let them have equal part in them.
  • Dont make misogynistic jokes.
  • Dont expect women to be nice or cute and dont get upset when they arent those things.
  • Dont make assumptions about a womans intelligence, capabilities or desires based on how she dresses.
  • Pay women as much as you pay men.
  • If a woman tells you that you fucked up, and you feel like shit, dont put it on that woman to make you feel better. Apologize without qualification and then go away.
  • Dont punish women for witnessing your vulnerability.
  • Dont get defensive when you get called out.
  • Dont need to literally witness a man being horrible in order to believe that hes horrible. Trust and believe women.
  • Dont use your power to get womens attention/company/sex/etc.
  • Be aware of your inherent power in situations and use it to protect women, especially via talking to other men.
  • Stop thinking that because youre also marginalized or a survivor that you cannot inflict pain or oppress women.
  • If womens pain makes you feel pain, dont prize your pain above hers, or make that pain her problem.
  • Dont read a list like this and think that most of these dont apply to you.

(These also apply to how to better treat transgender and non-binary people, who are in more danger than cis women).

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I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But thats what he was | Suzanne Moore

Now that hes dead, the old sleaze in the Playboy mansion is being spoken of as some kind of liberator of women. Quite the opposite, writes Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore

Long ago, in another time, I got a call from a lawyer. Hugh Hefner was threatening a libel action against me and the paper I worked for at the time, for something I had written. Journalists live in dread of such calls. I had called Hefner a pimp. To me this was not even controversial; it was self-evident. And he was just one of the many libertines who had threatened me with court action over the years.

It is strange that these outlaws have recourse in this way, but they do. But at the time, part of me wanted my allegation to be tested in a court of law. What a case it could have made. What a hoot it would have been to argue whether a man who procured, solicited and made profits from women selling sex could be called a pimp. Of course, central to Playboys ideology is the idea that women do this kind of thing willingly; that at 23 they want nothing more than to jump octogenarians.

Now that hes dead, the disgusting old sleaze in the smoking jacket is being spoken of as some kind of liberator of women. Kim Kardashian is honoured to have been involved. Righty ho.

I dont really know which women were liberated by Hefners fantasies. I guess if you aspired to be a living Barbie it was as fabulous as it is to be in Donald Trumps entourage. Had we gone to court, I would like to have heard some of the former playmates and bunnies speakup in court because over the years they have.

The accounts of the privileged few who made it into the inner sanctum of the 29-room Playboy mansion as wives/girlfriends/bunny rabbits are quite something. In Hefners petting zoo/harem/brothel, these interchangeable blondes were put on a curfew. They were not allowed to have friends to visit. And certainly not boyfriends. They were given an allowance. The big metal gates on the mansion that everyone claimed were to keep people out of this nirvana were described by one-time Hefner girlfriend no 1 Holly Madison in her autobiography thus: I grew to feel it was meant to lock me in.

The fantasy that Hefner sold was not a fantasy of freedom for women, but for men. Women had to be strangely chaste but constantly available for the right price. Dressing grown women as rabbits once seen as the height of sophistication is now seen as camp and ironic. There are those today who want to celebrate Hefners contribution to magazine journalism, and I dont dispute that Playboy did use some fantastic writers.

Part of Hefners business acumen was to make the selling of female flesh respectable and hip, to make soft porn acceptable. Every mans dream was to have Hefners lifestyle. Apparently. Every picture of him, right to the end, shows him with his lizard smirk surrounded by blonde clones. Every half-wit on Twitter is asking if Hefner will go to heaven when he already lived in it.

But listen to what the women say about this heaven. Every week, Izabella St James recalls, they had to go to his room and wait while he picked the dog poo off the carpet and then ask for our allowance. A thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred dollar bills from a safe in one of his bookcases.

If any of them left the mansion and were not available for club nights where they were paraded, they didnt get their allowance. The sheets in the mansion were stained. There was to be no bickering between girlfriends. No condoms could be used. A nurse sometimes had to be called to Hefners grotto if hed had a fall. Nonetheless, these young women would have to perform.

Hefner repeatedly described as an icon for sexual liberation would lie there with, I guess, an iconic erection, Viagra-ed to the eyeballs. The main girlfriend would then be called to give him oral sex. There was no protection and no testing. He didnt care, wrote Jill Ann Spaulding. Then the other women would take turns to get on top of him for two minutes while the girls in the background enacted lesbian scenarios to keep Daddy excited. Is there no end to this glamour?

Well now there is, of course. But this man is still being celebrated by people who should know better. You can dress it up with talk of glamour and bunny ears and fishnets, you can talk about his contribution to gonzo journalism, you can contextualise his drive to free up sex as part of the sexual revolution. But strip it all back and he was a man who bought and sold women to other men. Isnt that the definition of a pimp? I couldnt possibly say.

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The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life: the new sleep science

Leading neuroscientist Matthew Walker on why sleep deprivation is increasing our risk of cancer, heart attack and Alzheimers and what you can do about it

Matthew Walker has learned to dread the question What do you do? At parties, it signals the end of his evening; thereafter, his new acquaintance will inevitably cling to him like ivy. On an aeroplane, it usually means that while everyone else watches movies or reads a thriller, he will find himself running an hours-long salon for the benefit of passengers and crew alike. Ive begun to lie, he says. Seriously. I just tell people Im a dolphin trainer. Its better for everyone.

Walker is a sleep scientist. To be specific, he is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute whose goal possibly unachievable is to understand everything about sleeps impact on us, from birth to death, in sickness and health. No wonder, then, that people long for his counsel. As the line between work and leisure grows ever more blurred, rare is the person who doesnt worry about their sleep. But even as we contemplate the shadows beneath our eyes, most of us dont know the half of it and perhaps this is the real reason he has stopped telling strangers how he makes his living. When Walker talks about sleep he cant, in all conscience, limit himself to whispering comforting nothings about camomile tea and warm baths. Its his conviction that we are in the midst of a catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic, the consequences of which are far graver than any of us could imagine. This situation, he believes, is only likely to change if government gets involved.

Walker has spent the last four and a half years writing Why We Sleep, a complex but urgent book that examines the effects of this epidemic close up, the idea being that once people know of the powerful links between sleep loss and, among other things, Alzheimers disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, they will try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night (sleep deprivation, amazing as this may sound to Donald Trump types, constitutes anything less than seven hours). But, in the end, the individual can achieve only so much. Walker wants major institutions and law-makers to take up his ideas, too. No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation, he says. It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families. But when did you ever see an NHS poster urging sleep on people? When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself? It needs to be prioritised, even incentivised. Sleep loss costs the UK economy over 30bn a year in lost revenue, or 2% of GDP. I could double the NHS budget if only they would institute policies to mandate or powerfully encourage sleep.

Why, exactly, are we so sleep-deprived? What has happened over the course of the last 75 years? In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people is. The reasons are seemingly obvious. First, we electrified the night, Walker says. Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commuter times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. And anxiety plays a part. Were a lonelier, more depressed society. Alcohol and caffeine are more widely available. All these are the enemies of sleep.

But Walker believes, too, that in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep were getting. Its a badge of honour. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours sleep. Its embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. Theyre convinced that theyre abnormal, and why wouldnt they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say What a lazy baby! We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]. Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason. In case youre wondering, the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero.

The world of sleep science is still relatively small. But it is growing exponentially, thanks both to demand (the multifarious and growing pressures caused by the epidemic) and to new technology (such as electrical and magnetic brain stimulators), which enables researchers to have what Walker describes as VIP access to the sleeping brain. Walker, who is 44 and was born in Liverpool, has been in the field for more than 20 years, having published his first research paper at the age of just 21. I would love to tell you that I was fascinated by conscious states from childhood, he says. But in truth, it was accidental. He started out studying for a medical degree in Nottingham. But having discovered that doctoring wasnt for him he was more enthralled by questions than by answers he switched to neuroscience, and after graduation, began a PhD in neurophysiology supported by the Medical Research Council. It was while working on this that he stumbled into the realm of sleep.

Matthew
Matthew Walker photographed in his sleep lab. Photograph: Saroyan Humphrey for the Observer

I was looking at the brainwave patterns of people with different forms of dementia, but I was failing miserably at finding any difference between them, he recalls now. One night, however, he read a scientific paper that changed everything. It described which parts of the brain were being attacked by these different types of dementia: Some were attacking parts of the brain that had to do with controlled sleep, while other types left those sleep centres unaffected. I realised my mistake. I had been measuring the brainwave activity of my patients while they were awake, when I should have been doing so while they were asleep. Over the next six months, Walker taught himself how to set up a sleep laboratory and, sure enough, the recordings he made in it subsequently spoke loudly of a clear difference between patients. Sleep, it seemed, could be a new early diagnostic litmus test for different subtypes of dementia.

After this, sleep became his obsession. Only then did I ask: what is this thing called sleep, and what does it do? I was always curious, annoyingly so, but when I started to read about sleep, I would look up and hours would have gone by. No one could answer the simple question: why do we sleep? That seemed to me to be the greatest scientific mystery. I was going to attack it, and I was going to do that in two years. But I was naive. I didnt realise that some of the greatest scientific minds had been trying to do the same thing for their entire careers. That was two decades ago, and Im still cracking away. After gaining his doctorate, he moved to the US. Formerly a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, he is now professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California.

Does his obsession extend to the bedroom? Does he take his own advice when it comes to sleep? Yes. I give myself a non-negotiable eight-hour sleep opportunity every night, and I keep very regular hours: if there is one thing I tell people, its to go to bed and to wake up at the same time every day, no matter what. I take my sleep incredibly seriously because I have seen the evidence. Once you know that after just one night of only four or five hours sleep, your natural killer cells the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day drop by 70%, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, or even just that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen, how could you do anything else?

There is, however, a sting in the tale. Should his eyelids fail to close, Walker admits that he can be a touch Woody Allen-neurotic. When, for instance, he came to London over the summer, he found himself jet-lagged and wide awake in his hotel room at two oclock in the morning. His problem then, as always in these situations, was that he knew too much. His brain began to race. I thought: my orexin isnt being turned off, the sensory gate of my thalamus is wedged open, my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex wont shut down, and my melatonin surge wont happen for another seven hours. What did he do? In the end, it seems, even world experts in sleep act just like the rest of us when struck by the curse of insomnia. He turned on a light and read for a while.

Will Why We Sleep have the impact its author hopes? Im not sure: the science bits, it must be said, require some concentration. But what I can tell you is that it had a powerful effect on me. After reading it, I was absolutely determined to go to bed earlier a regime to which I am sticking determinedly. In a way, I was prepared for this. I first encountered Walker some months ago, when he spoke at an event at Somerset House in London, and he struck me then as both passionate and convincing (our later interview takes place via Skype from the basement of his sleep centre, a spot which, with its bedrooms off a long corridor, apparently resembles the ward of a private hospital). But in another way, it was unexpected. I am mostly immune to health advice. Inside my head, there is always a voice that says just enjoy life while it lasts.

The evidence Walker presents, however, is enough to send anyone early to bed. Its no kind of choice at all. Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. More than 20 large scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. To take just one example, adults aged 45 years or older who sleep less than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven or eight hours a night (part of the reason for this has to do with blood pressure: even just one night of modest sleep reduction will speed the rate of a persons heart, hour upon hour, and significantly increase their blood pressure).

A lack of sleep also appears to hijack the bodys effective control of blood sugar, the cells of the sleep-deprived appearing, in experiments, to become less responsive to insulin, and thus to cause a prediabetic state of hyperglycaemia. When your sleep becomes short, moreover, you are susceptible to weight gain. Among the reasons for this are the fact that inadequate sleep decreases levels of the satiety-signalling hormone, leptin, and increases levels of the hunger-signalling hormone, ghrelin. Im not going to say that the obesity crisis is caused by the sleep-loss epidemic alone, says Walker. Its not. However, processed food and sedentary lifestyles do not adequately explain its rise. Something is missing. Its now clear that sleep is that third ingredient. Tiredness, of course, also affects motivation.

Sleep has a powerful effect on the immune system, which is why, when we have flu, our first instinct is to go to bed: our body is trying to sleep itself well. Reduce sleep even for a single night, and your resilience is drastically reduced. If you are tired, you are more likely to catch a cold. The well-rested also respond better to the flu vaccine. As Walker has already said, more gravely, studies show that short sleep can affect our cancer-fighting immune cells. A number of epidemiological studies have reported that night-time shift work and the disruption to circadian sleep and rhythms that it causes increase the odds of developing cancers including breast, prostate, endometrium and colon.

Getting too little sleep across the adult lifespan will significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. The reasons for this are difficult to summarise, but in essence it has to do with the amyloid deposits (a toxin protein) that accumulate in the brains of those suffering from the disease, killing the surrounding cells. During deep sleep, such deposits are effectively cleaned from the brain. What occurs in an Alzheimers patient is a kind of vicious circle. Without sufficient sleep, these plaques build up, especially in the brains deep-sleep-generating regions, attacking and degrading them. The loss of deep sleep caused by this assault therefore lessens our ability to remove them from the brain at night. More amyloid, less deep sleep; less deep sleep, more amyloid, and so on. (In his book, Walker notes unscientifically that he has always found it curious that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both of whom were vocal about how little sleep they needed, both went on to develop the disease; it is, moreover, a myth that older adults need less sleep.) Away from dementia, sleep aids our ability to make new memories, and restores our capacity for learning.

And then there is sleeps effect on mental health. When your mother told you that everything would look better in the morning, she was wise. Walkers book includes a long section on dreams (which, says Walker, contrary to Dr Freud, cannot be analysed). Here he details the various ways in which the dream state connects to creativity. He also suggests that dreaming is a soothing balm. If we sleep to remember (see above), then we also sleep to forget. Deep sleep the part when we begin to dream is a therapeutic state during which we cast off the emotional charge of our experiences, making them easier to bear. Sleep, or a lack of it, also affects our mood more generally. Brain scans carried out by Walker revealed a 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala a key spot for triggering anger and rage in those who were sleep-deprived. In children, sleeplessness has been linked to aggression and bullying; in adolescents, to suicidal thoughts. Insufficient sleep is also associated with relapse in addiction disorders. A prevailing view in psychiatry is that mental disorders cause sleep disruption. But Walker believes it is, in fact, a two-way street. Regulated sleep can improve the health of, for instance, those with bipolar disorder.

Ive mentioned deep sleep in this (too brief) summary several times. What is it, exactly? We sleep in 90-minute cycles, and its only towards the end of each one of these that we go into deep sleep. Each cycle comprises two kinds of sleep. First, there is NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement sleep); this is then followed by REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When Walker talks about these cycles, which still have their mysteries, his voice changes. He sounds bewitched, almost dazed.

During NREM sleep, your brain goes into this incredible synchronised pattern of rhythmic chanting, he says. Theres a remarkable unity across the surface of the brain, like a deep, slow mantra. Researchers were once fooled that this state was similar to a coma. But nothing could be further from the truth. Vast amounts of memory processing is going on. To produce these brainwaves, hundreds of thousands of cells all sing together, and then go silent, and on and on. Meanwhile, your body settles into this lovely low state of energy, the best blood-pressure medicine you could ever hope for. REM sleep, on the other hand, is sometimes known as paradoxical sleep, because the brain patterns are identical to when youre awake. Its an incredibly active brain state. Your heart and nervous system go through spurts of activity: were still not exactly sure why.

Does the 90-minute cycle mean that so-called power naps are worthless? They can take the edge off basic sleepiness. But you need 90 minutes to get to deep sleep, and one cycle isnt enough to do all the work. You need four or five cycles to get all the benefit. Is it possible to have too much sleep? This is unclear. There is no good evidence at the moment. But I do think 14 hours is too much. Too much water can kill you, and too much food, and I think ultimately the same will prove to be true for sleep. How is it possible to tell if a person is sleep-deprived? Walker thinks we should trust our instincts. Those who would sleep on if their alarm clock was turned off are simply not getting enough. Ditto those who need caffeine in the afternoon to stay awake. I see it all the time, he says. I get on a flight at 10am when people should be at peak alert, and I look around, and half of the plane has immediately fallen asleep.

So what can the individual do? First, they should avoid pulling all-nighters, at their desks or on the dancefloor. After being awake for 19 hours, youre as cognitively impaired as someone who is drunk. Second, they should start thinking about sleep as a kind of work, like going to the gym (with the key difference that it is both free and, if youre me, enjoyable). People use alarms to wake up, Walker says. So why dont we have a bedtime alarm to tell us weve got half an hour, that we should start cycling down? We should start thinking of midnight more in terms of its original meaning: as the middle of the night. Schools should consider later starts for students; such delays correlate with improved IQs. Companies should think about rewarding sleep. Productivity will rise, and motivation, creativity and even levels of honesty will be improved. Sleep can be measured using tracking devices, and some far-sighted companies in the US already give employees time off if they clock enough of it. Sleeping pills, by the way, are to be avoided. Among other things, they can have a deleterious effect on memory.

Those who are focused on so-called clean sleep are determined to outlaw mobiles and computers from the bedroom and quite right, too, given the effect of LED-emitting devices on melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Ultimately, though, Walker believes that technology will be sleeps saviour. There is going to be a revolution in the quantified self in industrial nations, he says. We will know everything about our bodies from one day to the next in high fidelity. That will be a seismic shift, and we will then start to develop methods by which we can amplify different components of human sleep, and do that from the bedside. Sleep will come to be seen as a preventive medicine.

What questions does Walker still most want to answer? For a while, he is quiet. Its so difficult, he says, with a sigh. There are so many. I would still like to know where we go, psychologically and physiologically, when we dream. Dreaming is the second state of human consciousness, and we have only scratched the surface so far. But I would also like to find out when sleep emerged. I like to posit a ridiculous theory, which is: perhaps sleep did not evolve. Perhaps it was the thing from which wakefulness emerged. He laughs. If I could have some kind of medical Tardis and go back in time to look at that, well, I would sleep better at night.

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreamsby Matthew Walker is published by Allen Lane (20). To order a copy for 17 go toguardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99

Sleep in numbers

Two-thirds of adults in developed nations fail to obtain the nightly eight hours of sleep recommended by the World Health Organisation.

An adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention.

A 2013 study reported that men who slept too little had a sperm count 29% lower than those who regularly get a full and restful nights sleep.

If you drive a car when you have had less than five hours sleep, you are 4.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash. If you drive having had four hours, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident.

A hot bath aids sleep not because it makes you warm, but because your dilated blood vessels radiate inner heat, and your core body temperature drops. To successfully initiate sleep, your core temperature needs to drop about 1C.

The time taken to reach physical exhaustion by athletes who obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep, and especially less than six hours, drops by 10-30%.

There are now more than 100 diagnosed sleep disorders, of which insomnia is the mostcommon.

Morning types, who prefer to awake at or around dawn, make up about 40% of the population. Evening types, who prefer to go to bed late and wake up late, account for about 30%. The remaining 30% lie somewhere in between.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us