‘Who the fuck cares what it looks like from the inside? Slavery, suffrage, civil rights, Vietnam, what all those things have in common is there were leaders. The only thing leaders cared about was getting it done. If you guys had leaders then you’ll find a man with a fucking map that’ll tell you the thing about Capitalism is that it is politically accountable.‘
The words of Will McAvoy, ACN Anchor when speaking to Occupy Wall Street movement member Shelley in this weeks episode of The Newsroom on HBO.
Now what do the words of a fictional character of a TV show have to do with feminism. Well the point about leaders is what I’m keying in on here. One of the biggest problems with the feminist movement is that there is no key defined end goal. Gender equality is a pretty broad stroke and I think we can all agree that is where we want to be but the interpretation of that varies wildly from person to person and until an end game can be more precisely defined then I think it will always struggle to get to where they want to be.
A perfect example on this is the #twittersilence protest on Sunday. Some women thought it was a great idea whereas some thought it sent out the wrong message. So what were people to do if they wanted to show solidarity with those who felt twitter needs to do more to protect women on their network? Should they have stayed off twitter or stayed on twitter? Over on the Lib Dem Voice two female members and quite probably two future MPs had two very different views. Kelly-Marie Blundell stayed off twitter whereas Cllr. Marie Jenkins stayed on. Both have valid points but it sends out a mixed message and doesn’t actually push the movement forward because people aren’t sure exactly what is trying to be achieved.
Last week new peers to the House of Lords were announced and ten of them were Liberal Democrats. Five were men and five were women which most would see as gender equality – but not all. Again over at LDV Caron Lindsay said, ‘There is an argument, though, that he could have gone further. Our gender balance in Commons and Lords is appalling. There would have been no problem with him submitting a list with a significant majority of women.’ Of course there wouldn’t have been a problem with this but it implies that there would be a problem with the list having a majority of men on it. So reading between the lines here (and Caron can put me right should she ever read this) then in her opinion the end game would be for gender balance in the House of Lords (and House of Commons).
See. I think that is a good aim and in an ideal world that would be the best way to go but what if more women wanted to be MPs than men? Now of course this is not the case but would women be happy having All Male Shortlists should the male quota be needed be create gender balance across the party? This of course is hypothetical and is in no way the case at the moment but it is an interesting question I think.
I have always been of the belief that men and women deserve exactly the same opportunities. Whether they choose to take them then that is their prerogative. I do not think anyone should be raised or held back based solely on what sexual organ they use to procreate.
Take the No More Page 3 campaign for example. Last night I was told ‘That’s probably the most dickish thing you’ve ever said. You don’t support women because it might be a jab at Murdoch. Riiight. This is because I had the audacity to suggest that the No More Page 3 campaign is illogical that they only go after topless women in The Sun and not the Daily Star. I was told that once they win on The Sun then all the other publications with naked women will fall into line. That is laughable. Unless there is political legislation against it then there is a market for naked women and if The Sun dropped page 3 then the Daily Star probably picks up a quarter of a million sales a day (and that is a conservative estimate). Page 3 in The Sun is the big boy on the block but it isn’t the only boy and when other boys are doing exactly the same and not being campaigned against then it is probably fair to at least question the strategy.
Also the line ‘you don’t support women’ hacked me off royally. It may surprise people but I actually know two or three women and it may surprise you lot even more that one or two of them actually speak to me and get this – not all women are against page 3. Heck not all feminists are. Are those women and feminists against women because they don’t support a page 3 ban? No. No they are not. People are free to have their own opinions.
The most fun argument on this is that if Page 3 is sexist (which it is) then it is actually sexist against the male species. Isn’t sexism defined as ‘prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex?’ Well men cannot model on Page 3 based solely on their gender. Isn’t that blatant sexism? Of course you can’t actually say this because people don’t like hearing it but it is true. Now if you say Page 3 is damaging then that is a very fair PoV and one I to some degree subscribe to. However celebrity and teen magazines are far more damaging in a direct sense in my opinion as more young women read them and crucially take notice of them. Page 3’s damage is on young men and how they view women.
Now you see I have a solution to this and it comes in the form of government legislation. If The Sun and the Daily Star and any other publication want to have photographs of naked women then they should be free to do so. If women want to sell photos of their body then they should be free to do so. However they should also have an 18+ label so only those old enough can view its content. If alcohol and cigarettes are considered as damaging to young people then so is this. This would give the publications a choice to continue its policy or not whilst going a long way to stop young minds being influenced by it. Now of course this isn’t foolproof but it is a step forward and one that doesn’t impinge of the freedoms of a publication and on the models.
Back to the end game. Is the end game to ensure equality everywhere? For example the Open was held this year at an All-Male club and Harriet Harman was not happy about this. She felt that all clubs should be open to women as well as men but what about the Women’s Institute? They do not allow men to be members. My old chestnut of the scouts and the guides. Boys and girls can be scouts but only girls can be guides. Why is this so? The argument is of course that some young women need a place to grow away from young boys but young boys do not deserve the same. However do members of the Women’s Institute need said sanctuary?
So we have a problem. Single sex clubs seem to be fine if they are women only but men only is less ok. Where is the equality in that? It is essentially us being told in one instance that we are all the same and deserve to be treated as such but in some respects we are different and that women deserve special treatment. That does not compute with my definition of equality. My vision of equality is – as I referred to earlier – we all have the same opportunities no matter whether we are xx or xy. Do I have an issue that a golf club is male members only? To a degree I do but I also have an issue that the WI is women only. You can’t have one rule for one and one rule for another unless you want to say you want unequal equality. Is that what we want?
What about male midwives? It has been known on more than one occasion that women refuse male midwives believing that only women can provide the care and nursing skill required to deliver their baby. Do women (even those who have never had a baby) have more knowledge than men who have been through exactly the same training? Isn’t that just a bit bizarre?
Going back to the opening quote. Until the feminist movement has a clearly defined end game strategy then it will never reach their goals. They may have wins along the way but they’ll never be satisfied. When feminists disagree over something so simple as whether staying silent on twitter for a day is good or bad in their goal to promote equality and in this instance stop vile abuse from men then you struggle to see how they can get to where they want (I say they but I really mean we) want to be. My hopes for feminism is that no-one will ever get judged or discriminated against solely along gender lines. If more men are MPs or more women are I couldn’t care less. I just want people who are passionate and will work hard.
I don’t care whether my doctor is male or female. I don’t care if the person serving me at the local shop is male or female. I don’t care if the person cutting my hair is male or female. I don’t care if I’m in a car and the driver is male or female. I don’t care if my MP is male or female. Gender is not something that I look at to define a person. However I know there are some that do. This is why the feminism movement is important but until they have a clear defined goal and leaders then it will struggle. Mixed messages do not work and at times I feel as though we are bogged down in mixed messages and not getting anywhere and anywhere we are getting, we are taking too long to get there.
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