Break a leg
Condolences to Dave Grohl, who, owing to a fall on stage in Sweden, is in a wheelchair and unable to perform at Glastonbury. And congratulations Florence Welch! Who, along with her trusty Machine, will be replacing Grohl’s band, the Foo Fighters, as the Friday headline act on the Pyramid stage. We don’t want to rub salt in the wound here, but this is great news and not just for Florence’s fans. Not since 1999 and Skunk Anansie has a female-fronted British band headlined Glastonbury. Nineteen. Ninety. Nine. And before that, it was Shakespears Sister in 1992. In fact, in all of Glastonbury’s 45-year history, you can count the female headline acts – band or solo – on one hand. The aforementioned bands aside, Beyoncé, Suzanne Vega and Sinead O’Connor are the only women to have got the big slots at the festival. Kylie Minogue would have joined that number, but pulled out when she discovered she had breast cancer in 2005.
Speaking about being bumped up to the main slot, Florence said:
I’m so sorry to hear that Dave Grohl has broken his leg. I met him when we were just starting out and he is honestly one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Glastonbury have asked us to step in which is an incredible honour. We hope we will be able to give you just as good a Friday night as the Foos …
While this has come about through less than ideal circumstances (again, sorry Dave), hopefully it will pave the way for more women on the Pyramid stage, post 9pm.
Grow up, Hollywood
If there’s one thing Helen Mirren does well (apart from acting of course), it’s telling it like it is. You can always trust Ms Mirren not to mince her words, and she didn’t disappoint this week as she let her thoughts on the matter of ageism in Hollywood be well and truly known. “[It’s] fucking outrageous”, was Mirren’s response to Maggie Gyllenhaal being deemed too old (at 37) to play the love interest of a man aged 55.
It’s ridiculous. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”
While decent parts for women over age 37 might still be hard to come by, there is at least one positive story to come out of Tinseltown this week. Namely that Jennifer Lawrence is set to earn almost double that of her male co-star, Chris Pratt, in the upcoming movie, Passengers. Lawrence is said to be taking home a cool $20 million, while Pratt will pocket the relatively humble sum of $12m. More of that please. It looks like the Sony hack benefitted one person at least.
And so to this week’s most thinly veiled attempt to get women to strip off in the name of charity, the Boobs Over Belly Button campaign. Created in response to last week’s belly button challenge (do keep up), which saw members of the Chinese social networking site Weibo upload photos of themselves wrapping their arms behind their backs and then trying to touch their midriffs, this new campaign has far a worthier cause at its heart. That is, it’s asking women to undress to their underwear and feel their breasts (and, crucially, share pictures of themselves on social media in a bid to raise awareness of breast cancer. As you can see from the huge response (253 Instagram posts at the time of writing and counting), it’s really taken off. Or not.
The morning after
The new morning after pill, EllaOne, which is now effective for up to 120 hours after sex, as opposed to the 72 hours Levonelle offered, was made available to under-16s for the first time this week. Now, any girl of reproductive age in Europe can buy the morning-after pill over the counter. It will come as no surprise that opinions have been mixed over this change in licensing. While somehave seen it as a revelation for sexually active teenagers everywhere, others see it as a green light for children to practice unsafe – and illegal – sex.
Like it or not, teenagers are having sex. Latest figures show that last year there were 4,648 pregnancies in under-16s, which, although a dramatic drop on the previous year (and the lowest it has ever been) is still the highest number in Europe. This is one of the reasons Tony Fraser, the general manager of HRA Pharma in the UK and Ireland, has said it is:
Important that we look at these things pragmatically and realistically. Girls don’t go to the pharmacy unless something has happened and they need care.”
He’s right: it’s important that vulnerable girls are able to access medical care. But at £34.95, EllaOne isn’t exactly cheap (Levonelle is £25), and one wonders how a 16-year-old would easily come by that kind of money. And while it might seem a liberal move, it’s worth remembering that girls will be subject to an interview before they can receive the pill. Which is why it’s also important to look beyond EllaOne at the bigger picture, and to remember that this pill isn’t a quick fix.
And finally – to news that a woman will appear on US currency, over a 100 years since FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) Martha Washington appeared on the one dollar bill. According to a poll conducted last year, African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman is the public’s favourite to appear on the new $10 bill. However, the final decision will lie with Treasury Secretary, Jacob J Lew, whose choice will appear on notes starting from 2020 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.